Science and Reason Yes, Science-and-Reason No

Science and reason belong together, right?

Yes. Obviously so, in fact. Science and reason are both means for determining truth. Science depends on reason: every valid scientific conclusion is also a valid logical conclusion, the endpoint of a rationally conceived and rationally conducted process, and usually also a midpoint in a much larger rational process. So yes, obviously they go together.

There’s a problem with that relationship, though. In some circles, reason is spoken of almost as if it depends on science. More specifically (for few would actually make the mistake I expressed there), it seems as if, for those in those circles, reasoning isn’t really reasoning unless it’s scientifically-approved reasoning; reasoning that leads to non-scientific conclusions is hardly reasoning at all. For

Thus we have the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Victor Stenger telling us about The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, The Center for Inquiry pronouncing it’s time for science and reason, and on and on I could go.

For purposes of this post I’m calling this the science-and-reason crowd. This group seems virtually to think that the two are inseparably joined at the hip, with science in charge. It’s not science and reason, but science-and-reason. (Say it fast to get the point I’m trying to make. It loses about one-and-a-half syllables when I speak it the way I mean it.)

Why would they say that? Why should science have a special lock on reason? Do scientists apply reasoning processes any more stringently than, say, specialists in music theory, or history, or the law?

Some would say yes; that science can check its errors more reliably than history or music theory could ever hope to, and therefore it’s more rational to trust in its results. I agree: science can do this. (It doesn’t always do it, but it can.) Even at its best, though, the difference between science and other disciplines is a difference of degree: science’s error-checking is far from perfect in its processes and in its results; and just because it’s hard to be certain one has reasoned to the right conclusion, that doesn’t mean one hasn’t reasoned to one’s conclusion.

Or take the case of theology. Every systematic and biblical theology work I’ve studied has been closely reasoned; philosophical theology even more so. If there’s one chief cause of division among theologians, it’s not in their reasoning processes, it’s in the sources they choose and the premises they rely on.

And that, rather obviously, is at the heart of the problem, as far as the science-and-reason crowd is concerned. Theology leads to a dizzying array of answers because it starts from a dizzying array of sources and premises—and where is the reasoning that leads one to choose his preferred starting point? What reasoning leads me to choose the Bible and historically orthodox Christianity, while someone else chooses the Bible and liberal Christianity, someone else chooses the Qur’an, and someone else the Book of Mormon?

Someone has got to be coming to the wrong conclusion. Probably we all are, according to the science-and-reason crowd. Not them, though. They’ve got nature as their sure starting point, and error-correction built in to their methods. They won’t be fooled. They won’t be taken in. You won’t find them drawing any conclusions they can’t be sure of.

It’s as if they’ve taken on a quasi-Kantian moral maxim for reasoning: it is the duty of the reasoning person not to draw false conclusions. It’s better to believe too few things than to believe what might not be true. W. K. Clifford said it this way: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

I call it defensive reasoning: always on guard against believing what shouldn’t be believed.

But do you remember what this crowd objects to in theology—the uncertainty of its starting points? The science-and-reason crowd chooses defensive reasoning as its starting point. How do they know that’s the right one? By what revelation from the four fundamental forces did that reach their ears? Did nature tell them nature knows everything? I don’t recall it having that much to say.

Defensive reasoning is contained reasoning: if there is some truth that cannot be found inside the bounds of Clifford’s neo-Kantian maxim, then the science-and-reason crowd will never find it. It seems to me that this ought to bother them more than it does; for if God is real, then it’s reasonable on first principles to think that he could not be contained in this way. Even apart from any religion’s claims of revelation, it’s at least possible that God (if there is a God) would not allow himself to be the subject simply of scientific methodology, but would find a more personal way, taking his own initiative, to make himself known.

What this means, then, is that there is no such thing as Clifford’s contained reasoning; for the choice to believe only what can be demonstrated through naturally-found evidences is a choice to believe, without evidence, that there is nothing else important to know, or that there are no other truths that matter. It is a theological decision: the commitment to believe that whether God exists or not, one thing we know for sure is that he has not made himself known, for he has not done so in the preferred, contained manner. And therefore also, for many, God doesn’t matter.

This is an unreasoning approach. There are better ways to discover True Reason.

But I want to make sure I have communicated the right thing about science and reason. I’ll do it with a bit of family biography. My dad is 91 years old, and for many reasons he is the one man I respect more than any other in the world. I won’t go into the most important reasons, which have to do with his leadership in the family. What’s relevant here is that he was a chemical engineer, and was, for many years, a top international expert in the manufacture of hyperpure, electronics-grade silicon.

He brought home a scrap cylinder of silicon from the part of the rod that gets cut off because the last of the impurities has flowed into it. I used it as a paperweight. I asked him, “How impure is it, really?) He said, “It’s probably seven nines pure.” That was the scrap.

Dad’s top international specialty was in plant start-up, but he spent most of his professional time as production superintendent of a silicon plant, in a location I can (barely) remember being a plot of land with nothing but a farmhouse on it. Now it covers most of a square mile. For a time under his leadership, it supplied more than 85 percent of the silicon used for electronics worldwide.

He has a picture of himself and a half dozen other men in that farmhouse, the planters (you might say) of that chemical plant. He’s the last of them still living.

Dad was more engineer than pure scientist, but as an engineer he was all about science regardless. He was and still is very much a reasoning person, and in fact reasonable enough to know there’s more for us to reason about than just science. He’s a science and reason person without being what I’ve called, in this post, a science-and-reason person.

Science and reason make all the sense in the world together; science-and-reason is confined, contained, and ultimately not very reasonable.

Comments

  1. Ray Ingles

    The science-and-reason crowd chooses defensive reasoning as its starting point. How do they know that’s the right one?

    It’s actually possible to use reason to select some fundamental axioms.

    It seems to me that this ought to bother them more than it does; for if God is real, then it’s reasonable on first principles to think that he could not be contained in this way.

    There’s a difference between ‘contained’ and ‘detected’, though, isn’t there?

  2. TFBW

    … every valid scientific conclusion is also a valid logical conclusion …

    Please, Tom. I know where you’re coming from with this post, but to lead with a gross inaccuracy like that can’t be helpful. Perhaps you are simplifying for expedience, but I’m of the view that the most fundamental problem we face in this field is a widespread lack of understanding as to what science and logic are, exactly, and statements like this are only going to exacerbate that problem.

  3. GM

    Ray,

    “There’s a difference between ‘contained’ and ‘detected’, though, isn’t there?”

    Please let me know if I’m misunderstanding you.

    This seems, to me, to beg the question: Why assume something like God ought to be detected by the set of criteria contained within the study of nature as a manner (or in some cases THE manner) of concluding His reality one way or the other? What kind of scientific data should/could objectively demand “God?” A number? A certain “odd” molecular composition?

    All science, as far as I can see, has proven about God is that He has not left signatures within scientific data that leave no room for subjective interpretation as far as His existence and purpose is concerned. Every case where I’ve seen an atheistic appeal to scientific data-as-evidence about the non-existence of God has just been a different way of saying “If I were God, I would have done this differently,” which is theology.

  4. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    What’s wrong with it, TFBW? Could there be a conclusion that’s valid scientifically that’s not valid logically? I can’t see how that’s possible.

  5. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Yes, Ray, there’s a difference between “contained” and “detected.” Your point is…. ?

    I don’t disagree with you that it’s possible to use reason to select fundamental axioms, or perhaps rather to endorse them; because some of the fundamental axioms I would endorse/select by reason are the same axioms upon which that reasoning depends. I mean, for example, I could never reason to the conclusion that there is a process of reasoning that leads to conclusions; but by reasoning I can select that as being reasonable. Basically I agree with you, I’m just clarifying.

    Besides the basic principles of reasoning (laws of identity, non-contradiction, excluded middle; principles of inference, etc.), I would suggest that the best way to choose an overall worldview is by its breadth and depth of explanation, which also could be viewed in terms of its internal coherence and its alignment with reality. So I’m not as agnostic as I might have sounded in the middle of the post.

    That wasn’t the point of the post, after all. The point of bringing that up was to identify a problem science-and-reason folks have with theology, and then to show they have that same problem.

  6. TFBW

    Could there be a conclusion that’s valid scientifically that’s not valid logically?

    I know what a valid logical conclusion is: it’s a conclusion, the truth of which is assured by the truth of its premises. I do not know what you mean by “conclusion that’s valid scientifically,” however. That’s part of the problem. In an effort not to be obtuse about it, though, I offer inductive and abductive reasoning (about observations) as examples of modes which might be acceptable to science, but which do not produce valid logical arguments.

  7. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    That’s fair, TFBW; I took a technical term that applies to deductive arguments and applied it in a non-technical way to inductive/abductive situations. Let me try it again this way. There is no reasonably good scientific conclusion that is not reasonable; there is no sound scientific process that defies rationality. Good science is always rational; good rationality, however, is not necessarily scientific.

  8. Jenna Black

    Tom,

    Thanks for an interesting and relevant discussion. IMO, there are some egregious examples of atheist scientists who are engaged in theology but for self-serving reasons, call what they are doing science, so as to give it an air of “scientific” authority and legitimacy. Victor Stenger is one of the more notorious cases. The problem here is the lack of a clear definition of science, which is a systematic methodology for inquiry into the natural world. From a theological perspective, science is the study of how God’s creation works. Therefore, science can and does inform theology, but is not theology. There is no possible way that the scientific method can be applied to reach any conclusions about “existence” vs. “non-existence”, the issue at the very heart of atheism. Consequently, atheists don’t really have science on their side at all. I wonder when they will wake up this reality.

  9. Ray Ingles

    What kind of scientific data should/could objectively demand “God?” A number? A certain “odd” molecular composition?

    Carl Sagan gave a potential example, in the novel “Contact”, of an anomalous pattern in the digits of pi. (Even mathematics is alleged to be a creation of God, by some theists at least.)

    But in terms of something more physical, Tom and I have discussed possibilities before (some specifics here).

    Note that the whole thrust of “Intelligent Design” “theory” (quotes intended) is to study nature to show the existence of God.

    Going on vacation for a few days. Might have some time tomorrow to continue this, we’ll see.

  10. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    It’s fine to suppose that God might have communicated his reality that way. That is, if one knew nothing about God and had nothing but questions and open options, this might be one of those open options.

    To take it that God must have communicated himself in that way, on the other hand, is to practice contained reasoning.

  11. GM

    Well, I have my own criticisms of ID theory. Pascal had a lot of contempt for the idea of saying to someone “Look at this bird, isn’t it weird? Therefore, God.” (bastardized representation of Pascal, but still.) I agree with him. At the same time, I don’t think anyone working in ID theorizing would say “This project is the conclusive and all-encompassing test of God’s existence.” At best, the ID project should simply be to highlight the subjective nature of the interpretations of the data made available by science. All visions in the sky, out of body experiences and miracle studies could do is present data to be interpreted in the same way that the existence of DNA does. The atheist evidence request is just demanding something weirder than what they are used to.

  12. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,

    “Someone has got to be coming to the wrong conclusion. Probably we all are, according to the science-and-reason crowd. Not them, though. They’ve got nature as their sure starting point, and error-correction built in to their methods. They won’t be fooled. They won’t be taken in. You won’t find them drawing any conclusions they can’t be sure of.”

    The science-and-reason crowd are constantly adjusting their conclusions as new evidence comes to light. Things that were previously sure of are abandoned (eventually) after new evidence shows that their previous conclusions can’t possibly be correct.

    “But do you remember what this crowd objects to in theology—the uncertainty of its starting points? The science-and-reason crowd chooses defensive reasoning as its starting point. ”

    I think you are using the phrase “starting point” in two different ways in those two sentences meaning a comparison is not apt. Simply put I think it is a noun when talking about Theology (an actual starting point) but a verb (a continuous process) when talking about science. So theology could be “road” and science could be “walk”, but correct me if I’m reading that wrong.

    “Defensive reasoning is contained reasoning: if there is some truth that cannot be found inside the bounds of Clifford’s neo-Kantian maxim, then the science-and-reason crowd will never find it. It seems to me that this ought to bother them more than it does; for if God is real, then it’s reasonable on first principles to think that he could not be contained in this way.”

    It seems to me you’re saying that there might be a truth without evidence, and the lack of evidence means science will never find it. You would be correct. In fact there are plenty of things right now. How do the 4 naturals forces work, for example? We know what gravity is and how to calculate its effects, but we have no idea why mass is attractive over the vast distances of the universe. Do you have a suggestion as to how to discover truth without evidence? Do you think it’s a good idea to accept things as truth without evidence?

    “What this means, then, is that there is no such thing as Clifford’s contained reasoning; for the choice to believe only what can be demonstrated through naturally-found evidences is a choice to believe, without evidence, that there is nothing else important to know, or that there are no other truths that matter.

    It’s not that truths without evidence are not important and don’t matter. Again, gravity is vital, even though we don’t know how it works. But making assertions about truth without hard evidence to back them up are misguided. You can make guesses (about a graviton particle, for example) but you couldn’t say you reasoned your way to an unproven answer.

    “It is a theological decision: the commitment to believe that whether God exists or not, one thing we know for sure is that he has not made himself known, for he has not done so in the preferred, contained manner. And therefore also, for many, God doesn’t matter.”

    It seems to me that is either a fact or a false statement that contradicts the facts. Either way I don’t see how you can label that a theology. Whether God matters or not based on that statement is where the theology comes in, but that’s after the work of science and reason.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  13. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Shane, I’m not sure what your first response was there for–perhaps to clarify?

    I’m using “starting point” similarly in both instances, although you’re right, it’s not quite the same. In both cases, “starting point” refers to the attitude taken toward the material under consideration. It also refers to the material chosen for consideration. In the case of theology there is global disagreement as to what that material should be, whereas in science there is global agreement that it should be nature. Even in science, though, there is some level of disagreement over what constitutes nature, and considerable subjectivity in the specific phenomena chosen for investigation.

    It seems to me you’re saying that there might be a truth without evidence, and the lack of evidence means science will never find it.

    Why does it seem to you that I’m saying that?

    The last segment you quoted from me is not “a theology;” theologies are conventionally understood to be systematized treatments covering a considerable range of material. It is, however, a theological decision, in that it is a decision based on one’s understanding of God.

  14. DJC

    Tom,

    Defensive reasoning is contained reasoning: if there is some truth that cannot be found inside the bounds of Clifford’s neo-Kantian maxim, then the science-and-reason crowd will never find it. It seems to me that this ought to bother them more than it does; for if God is real, then it’s reasonable on first principles to think that he could not be contained in this way. Even apart from any religion’s claims of revelation, it’s at least possible that God (if there is a God) would not allow himself to be the subject simply of scientific methodology, but would find a more personal way, taking his own initiative, to make himself known.

    I can answer why it does not bother me more than it does. It’s because I can not understand the kind of free will that lets God avoid the scientific method as a means of revelation to humankind and still be called “good”. That concept of contra-causal free will is basically a “square circle” to me and I can not get it, grasp it, make it work, no matter how hard I’ve tried.

    Since I can’t accept contra-causal free will on logical principle, there’s no force left in the argument that God would use a personal way rather than scientific method to reveal himself.

  15. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    The idea of contra-causal free will is a contained idea that depends on there being no spiritual reality, and claims, based on evidence-free first principles, that reasons and personal volition cannot be causes.

  16. DJC

    Tom,

    The idea of contra-causal free will is a contained idea that depends on there being no spiritual reality, and claims, based on evidence-free first principles, that reasons and personal volition cannot be causes.

    The idea of contra-causal free will or the rejection of contra-causal free will?

    If the latter, I would disagree. (1) It is certainly possible to have a spiritual reality in which contra-causal free will is nonexistent. Sort of a Calvinistic determinism.
    (2) I haven’t heard that reason is evidence of contra-causal free will. The causation of reason seems more deterministic then anything else.
    (3) personal volition is not necessarily evidence of contra-causal free will because it is perfectly reasonable to see personal volition as limited to and by the nature of the person. Unless one can be ultimately responsible for one’s nature (which is the sticking point for my difficulty with the whole concept), one can’t claim to have contra-causal free will.

  17. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    djc, in response to 2, actually you have heard that.

    In response to 1 and 3, perhaps you thought I said, “If there is spiritual reality or personal volition, there is no ‘contra-causal’ free will.”

    If I had said that, then your assertions there would have been contrary to mine. What I said, though, was that the idea of contra-causal free will is one that depends on there being no spiritual reality and on reasons and personal volition not being causes.

    Let me expand on that.

    First, your idea of “contra-causal free will” is tendentious. When you say contra-causal, surely you mean “against deterministic physical causation,” as if being caused by non-physically determined reasons or personal volition means being uncaused, or worse, against causation.

    This is begging the question terminologically, however; stacking the deck against causes other than deterministic physical ones.

    So instead of saying “contra-causal”, for the sake of legitimate discussion you would do better simply to say “not caused by deterministic physical causes.” It doesn’t have the same cachet, but hey, honesty can be just as sexy as alliteration. You can overcome the clunkiness by whatever means you prefer. I’ll use the initial letters until a better idea comes along: NCBDPC. Sorry I can’t do better, but I won’t go with “contra-causal” except where it really fits. I don’t believe in contra-causal myself.

    I do think that there are such things as reasons and personal volition that can be causes of effects, not within the contained realm of NCBDPC. Your answer #1 misses the point. You’re correct that spiritual reality (with “spiritual” defined very loosely) does not entail the non-existence of NCBDPC; but the assumption of NCBDPC certainly does entail the non-existence of spiritual reality. It begs the question in favor of philosophical materialism.

    Similarly, one could view personal volition (of sorts) as a category of causation within NCBDPC assumptions, but only personal volition within a certain contained view.

    The sum of it is this. You say,

    I can answer why it does not bother me more than it does. It’s because I can not understand the kind of free will that lets God avoid the scientific method as a means of revelation to humankind and still be called “good”. That concept of contra-causal free will is basically a “square circle” to me and I can not get it, grasp it, make it work, no matter how hard I’ve tried

    You don’t have to understand how it works. See point 4 here. If you “understood” how it “works,” you’d be understanding something in the wrong category. But as I’ve already said, I think you’ve defined the problem wrongly anyway with your idea of “contra-causal.”

  18. DJC

    Tom,

    I’m happy to drop any controversial terms; how about “libertarian free will”?

    So my original comment should be amended:

    That concept of libertarian free will is basically a “square circle” to me and I can not get it, grasp it, make it work, no matter how hard I’ve tried.

    Since I can’t accept libertarian free will on logical principle, there’s simply no force in the argument that God would use a personal way rather than scientific method to reveal himself.

    So I would need to understand and accept libertarian free will before I could accept that God would use a personal way rather than scientific method to reveal himself.

    Note that I’m not making an argument for or against free will. I’m just
    pointing out that your argument requires the science-and-reason crowd to accept libertarian free will without reservations.

  19. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Which argument requires that, djc? I mean, I can certainly think of some that would, but I’m wondering which one you’re referring to.

  20. scblhrm

    A note from the sideline,

    “…I don’t see how/why…..God would use a personal way rather than scientific method…” (paraphrase)

    The Scientific method is Man’s mind in motion as it measures contingent, temporal, created paradigms. Such things exist. The physicalist must insist that both the Mind that measures and the contingent some-thing it measures are both – at bottom – at the end of regression – something other than Mind, Person, Will, Reason, and so on.

    Whereas, God, the Non-Contingent, we can try to say “uses” Himself to touch, speak, be present, to other Persons, but that is our limits of language leaking through. God is Himself, and He can “use” whatever He volitionally chooses – to enter the eye of, perception of, Man. Only, whatever Man’s eye sees, there, of Him, will be some Non-Contingent Some-Thing. Here we come to the borderlands of Science and what it can do. God – should He use the Contingent (Science) to reveal Himself – will in so doing reveal some Non-Contingent (Immaterial) contour of Himself.

    Nonsense is nonsense. Contingency cannot measure, weigh non-contingency. If it is Mind and Reason to which God’s revelations via Nature (Physical) breaks through and touches, then – Reason and Mind are now at the point of presupposition: Physicalism or God. Or, since we all know that Hawking’s Timeless and Immaterial out-reaches both Time and Material, we can press the physicalist to explain how it is that physical things – which physics now knows cannot self-account – are to somehow be the end of measurement and without even bothering with “God” we still must reach past the limits of Time and Space (Material).

    Volitional motions amid Reason, amid Person, amid Will, and so on, are what the physicalist cannot account for – and to merely foist that “volitional” “just must be nonsense” is begging the question as it presumes that “volitional” cannot be “a real nature”. But that presupposition about “what can be a real nature” has no Science / Contingency by which to make that claim on Non-Contingency / God’s Nature. It just begs the question.

    The science and reason crowd are – rapidly – with Hawking and others leaving Time and Material behind as such things house no capacity to self-explain – at bottom. Whatever “immaterial” is it is of some nature/form of which we cannot now conceive, perceive with any of our current paradigms of Mass, Space, Energy, and Time. This says nothing about God, rather, it only goes to show that the physicalist must join a rather non-science-and-reason crowd. Of course, the semantics here do match up with, are congruent with, the Theist’s metaphysical regressions….. the “nature” of Actuality being at hand.

  21. scblhrm

    “Choosing One’s Nature” is a phrase which reveals our limits of perception:

    Such language works well here in our contingent sightlines. A commentator over at Stand To Reason noted however that with God we must reveal our limits and say of God either one or the other here: A) God’s Impeccability limits His Omnipotence, or, B) His Omnipotence limits His Impeccability. “Why should we assume that His Impeccability limits His Omnipotence?…….He could sin (you’ll see how below in just a minute as sin is defined) but to do so, He would have to violate His own Nature? That is something that we cannot conceive, but which is not outside of God’s Omnipotence. If we make the latter assumption, then we are saying that God, alone among all the beings in the universe, chooses His own Nature, His own essential character. And if that is so, He alone, among all the beings in the universe, is praiseworthy for the attributes that He has essentially.”

    The dance in our perception of Divine Simplicity becomes absurdity as we attempt to foist either A or B there. “Cannot sin” becomes even more troubling for those opposed to Volition as a real Nature when we consider what “sin” must be in metaphysical terms. As in:

    This approach is buttressed by Augustine’s very coherent paradigm of Evil as the Privation of Good. And here we begin to see that God can “sin” in terms of what volitional motions are availed to both God and Man amid Person’s motions into / out-of the Self and the Other in that Sin is the Privation of the Self within itself. Man – the contingent Self – should he motion into – choose – Self and not Other must land in a place where God is not. This is Insufficiency, Want, Pain, Evil, Death. And so on. It is Me minus God. Whereas God in Whom we find Trinity – those concepts of Self-Other-Us, very well can motion into all that is the Self, and in so doing lands within the Great I AM. The Contingent thus on necessity can “sin” because it can on necessity volitionally motion out of Other and thereby end up with Insufficiency. Whereas the Non-Contingent Alone is incapable of making a (volitional) move within Trinity’s Self-Other-Us which lands Him in Insufficiency as all motions land Him in the Great I AM, in All-Sufficiency.

    The metaphysics of Contingency and Non-Contingency reveal Volition as Nature to be fully intact and coherent.

    More buttressing: When Christ “becomes sin” He does not “do evil”, but rather He motions into Word-Flesh and thereby enters Contingency, and on His Cross All-Sufficiency subsumes, satisfies, pours into all In-Sufficiency and therein rescues it from its Isolation, its Privation. Augustine’s Privation of Good and our limits of arbitrarily choosing between Omnipotence/Impeccability leave us with Volitional Motions amid Self/Other fully intact in all metaphysical directions.

    Volition, Reason, Will, Person, there at the end of ad infinitum is wholly coherent as Nature. The physicalist’s blind foisting that such cannot be “a real nature” not only reveals an unawareness of theological metaphysics, but also simply begs the question.

  22. scblhrm

    To close the loop:

    The motion into Self, which is what Sin “is” is exactly what God can do within Trinity. Both God (All-Sufficiency) and Man (Insufficiency) made in His Image necessarily house freedom amid Self-Other-Us. As discussed, Augustine’s Privation of Good, and, Trinity help reveal the Nature of God in Whom we find at the ends of all regressions the topography of Person, of Reason, of Will, of Volition, in all causation. Hard Stop. We find that “cannot sin” and “choose one’s own nature” are simply used in manners which fail to employ a proper and robust brand of theological metaphysics as housed specifically in the Triune (Christian) paradigm.

  23. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,
    #13

    “Shane, I’m not sure what your first response was there for–perhaps to clarify?”

    It was there to refute.

    “They won’t be fooled. They won’t be taken in. You won’t find them drawing any conclusions they can’t be sure of.”

    They do this continuously. But the point is they adjust their beliefs when new evidence comes to light. They use the new evidence to reason their way to a new conclusion. This is the opposite of the Christian, who must be adjust the evidence to fit the conclusion they already have … or at it’s most extreme, deny the evidence, as the young earthers do, for example.

    “Why does it seem to you that I’m saying that?”

    W. K. Clifford said it this way: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

    if there is some truth that cannot be found inside the bounds of Clifford’s neo-Kantian maxim, then the science-and-reason crowd will never find it.

    Therefore if there is truth that cannot be found inside the maxim of believing something with sufficient evidence, than it is truth to be found without sufficient evidence.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  24. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Shane, your previous paragraph didn’t disagree with anything I said. That’s why I wondered what your purpose was.

    The point is [scientists] adjust their beliefs when new evidence comes to light. They use the new evidence to reason their way to a new conclusion. This is the opposite of the Christian, who must be adjust the evidence to fit the conclusion they already have … or at it’s most extreme, deny the evidence, as the young earthers do, for example.

    Scientists in general adjust belief slowly, but over the years, yes, when new evidence demands it, and their worldview permits it, they adjust their beliefs. Worldview affects scientists’ beliefs, too, you know.

    Young earthers are not representative of “the Christian” but of young earthers, and I have no idea what you’re talking about with Christians adjusting evidence to fit our conclusions. Feel free to provide evidence.

    What is sufficient evidence, in your view, anyway?

  25. scblhrm

    “This is the opposite of the Christian, who must be adjust the evidence to fit the conclusion …”

    I guess stereotypes and ignorance of group X lead to such a hateful, damning statement about all people of group X.

    So much for dialogue.

  26. scblhrm

    Jenna Black said something helpful:

    “The problem here is the lack of a clear definition of science, which is a systematic methodology for inquiry into the natural world. From a theological perspective, science is the study of how God’s creation works. Therefore, science can and does inform theology, but is not theology. There is no possible way that the scientific method can be applied to reach any conclusions about “existence” vs. “non-existence”, the issue at the very heart of atheism. Consequently, atheists don’t really have science on their side at all. I wonder when they will wake up to this reality.”

  27. DJC

    Tom,

    Which argument requires that, djc? I mean, I can certainly think of some that would, but I’m wondering which one you’re referring to.

    From your OP:

    Defensive reasoning is contained reasoning: if there is some truth that cannot be found inside the bounds of Clifford’s neo-Kantian maxim, then the science-and-reason crowd will never find it. It seems to me that this ought to bother them more than it does; for if God is real, then it’s reasonable on first principles to think that he could not be contained in this way. Even apart from any religion’s claims of revelation, it’s at least possible that God (if there is a God) would not allow himself to be the subject simply of scientific methodology, but would find a more personal way, taking his own initiative, to make himself known.

    Why doesn’t God reveal himself unambiguously, through a testable and repeatable means? Because doing so would compel belief and God wishes to preserve the libertarian freedom of human decisions, goes the usual explanation. Why doesn’t this bother the science-and-reason crowd more than it does? Because libertarian freedom is a highly questionable premise. I would go so far as to say those who accept libertarian free will are those who already believe in God (which the exception of some who think randomness can somehow be worked into free will).

    If we do not start with the premise of libertarian freedom, we could still postulate an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God who desires to be hidden or desires to be known, true. But in this case, if such a God wanted to be known, he would reveal himself unambiguously through a testable and repeatable means. If such a God did not want to be known, he would remain hidden and doing so would be fully part of his omnibenevolent plan. From my perspective, such a God may well exist but he is utterly unconcerned about my lack of belief in him. My lack of belief affects my destiny good or bad in no way whatsoever.

  28. SteveK

    Because libertarian freedom is a highly questionable premise.

    You’re speaking about a small fringe group of people.

  29. SteveK

    From my perspective, such a God may well exist but he is utterly unconcerned about my lack of belief in him.

    If you know something about the reality of goodness, then you know something about the reality of God. That you twist yourself into philosophical knots with the goal of absolving yourself from this knowledge isn’t God’s problem – it’s your problem.

    You seem to share something in common with Solipsists who tell us we really can’t know if external reality is, you know, really there. They would say, “If external reality exists then why doesn’t it make itself known?”

  30. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    SteveK @28: Not when we’re talking about “libertarian free will” as a philosophical concept, which is different from political libertarianism.

  31. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Also:

    From my perspective, such a God may well exist but he is utterly unconcerned about my lack of belief in him.

    What if God is concerned about it from God’s perspective?

  32. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,

    “Scientists in general adjust belief slowly, but over the years, yes, when new evidence demands it, and their worldview permits it, they adjust their beliefs. Worldview affects scientists’ beliefs, too, you know.”

    I should hope people adjust their beliefs slowly. It takes time to examine evidence and put theories to the test. Feel free to post a scientific worldview that affects their belief of the facts.

    “Young earthers are not representative of “the Christian” but of young earthers,”

    40% of U.S. Adults believe in young earth creationism (apologies for dropping the third word above, I thought my meaning was clear). That’s over 92 million of the 181 million adult Christians or more than half. How is that not representative?

    “and I have no idea what you’re talking about with Christians adjusting evidence to fit our conclusions. Feel free to provide evidence.”

    My paragraph above is what I mean. Th

    “What is sufficient evidence, in your view, anyway?”

    I believe you count the age of the earth and the universe in billions of years. So I think you have a handle on what constitutes sufficient evidence in this case. Visit Answers in Genesis or rewatch the Nye/Ham debate if you need a refresher on Christians adjusting the interpretation/denying evidence because of their preconceived conclusions.

    Cheers
    Shane

  33. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm

    “I guess stereotypes and ignorance of group X lead to such a hateful, damning statement about all people of group X.

    So much for dialogue.”

    My statement was not at all hateful. Nor ignorant or guilty of using stereotypes. The figures are in the post above.

    Cheers
    Shane

  34. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Young earthers remain representative of young earthers, not of “the Christian,” even if they do constitute a large proportion of believers. (Your 40% number is both unsourced and unlikely, however. See Gallup: 46% believe in a recent arrival of humans on the scene, but that’s not YEC.)

    Scientists’ worldview? Philosophical naturalism is the obvious one that comes to mind.

    Why is it that when I asked for what constitutes sufficient evidence in your view, you answered by reminding me that I have a view on it?

  35. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    Re #33:

    Actually, Shane, when you use a minority of Christians to stand for “the Christian,” when you interpret data falsely to count how many Christians that stands for, and when you lump all Christians into one category of “the Christian” and condemn “the Christian” as one who adjusts evidence to suit conclusions, that really is ignorant stereotyping.

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  38. scblhrm

    Shane,

    You missed Jenna Black’s definition of science. There is no reason to alter data. It leads to physical stuff and mechanism and so on. Except for Hawking’s Timeless and Immaterial Eternal Singularity, the semantics of which blur science/philosophy. But blurring is okay among you and I…. we’re grown-ups who know the difference. Yes. We.

  39. scblhrm

    DJC,

    Nonsence is nonsence. What instrument will reveal how many kilograms love is, or how many centimetres forgiveness is, or the density of delight?

    Yet you know all such actualities.

    SteveK is right about your Solipsist-trait….

  40. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    DJC,

    I would go so far as to say those who accept libertarian free will are those who already believe in God (which the exception of some who think randomness can somehow be worked into free will).

    Those who strictly deny the possibility of God and accept philosophical naturalism cannot believe in libertarian free will. It’s impossible on PN. (Randomness is not LFW.)

    Those who make decisions about what they’re having for breakfast are making their own decisions, whether they “believe” they can or not.

  41. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    If we do not start with the premise of libertarian freedom, we could still postulate an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God who desires to be hidden or desires to be known, true. But in this case, if such a God wanted to be known, he would reveal himself unambiguously through a testable and repeatable means.

    Or personal means, or means that have differential impact on people with differential desires to know God and to walk in his ways.

    Or some other means.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much people who deny the existence of God think they know so much about God that they can tell the rest of us what he would do.

  42. scblhrm

    DJC,

    Volition as Nature is coherent. Ignoring theological metaphysics isn’t an arguement against that.

  43. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Here’s an interesting puzzle for you, scblhrm (or anyone).

    Somewhere between comments 22 and 40, there is an accusation made of some persons using evidence falsely to fit their preconceptions. There is also a clear instance of someone using evidence falsely. Arguably (though not certainly) that was done to bend the data to fit that person’s preconceptions.

    Can you find both instances, and what do you notice about who wrote those comments?

  44. GM

    Shane,
    When dealing with American Christianity, you are dealing with several subcultures that can look very different from one another. For example, Black Evangelicalism can socially manifest very differently from a white counterpart church where the theologies between the two are basically indistinguishable. This sounds obvious, I’m sure, given the different social and economic challenges faced by the Black community.

    While the debate over the interpretation of Genesis has gone on for some time within the church (long, long before modern science came on the scene), the particularities of the arguments in the 20th century have been, I think, at least as cultural as have been exegetical and scientific. Speaking from experience, I was first introduced to YEC-as-truth as a kid. As I grew up, the only alternative given to me by anyone, Christian or otherwise, was Darwinian Evolution As Atheism’s Proof. Many YEC Christians are culturally isolated, more or less, from any discussion of evolution as being theologically neutral outside of a particular exegetical method of the first two chapters of Genesis. With time and a younger generation growing up in a culture with more access to information, I strongly predict a sharp decline in YEC in the American church in the next 20-30 years.

    The skeptic cannot be totally shocked. While I’m certainly not assigning all the blame to the skeptical community (whatever that has meant for the last 150 years), I think it’s been just as silly and bullish to claim darwinian evolution demands atheism. That’s actually an equal exchange with the YEC who demands evidence to change to fit their assumption: “The skeptic” forces an interpretation of evidence of one area (biology) into an entirely unrelated area (exegesis), and leaves no room for theology to do its job, in order to support an atheist agenda. Do all skeptics do that? No, of course not. Just like not all Christians adjust evidence. When they DO, I think as a rational person with a modern liberal education, you are obligated to ask for a more complete answer as to why they do that beyond a boorish, sound byte explanation as “Faith is for dummies.”

  45. scblhrm

    Tom,

    Well, perhaps your link to Wiki combined with GM’s #44 reveal some things about another’s incomplete data and/or lack of context as related to their misperceptions of or mislabelling of Christian thinking. Or, perhaps, we know we choose ham or eggs, yet some deny it else they must face God as Person rather than God as Gravity.

  46. DJC

    Tom,

    Those who strictly deny the possibility of God and accept philosophical naturalism cannot believe in libertarian free will. It’s impossible on PN. (Randomness is not LFW.)

    I suppose so, but I was referring to those who do not, a-priori, deny the possibility of God (such as myself) but reject libertarian free will because it’s so difficult to formulate in a coherent manner.

    But in this case, if such a God wanted to be known, he would reveal himself unambiguously through a testable and repeatable means.

    Or personal means, or means that have differential impact on people with differential desires to know God and to walk in his ways.

    Or some other means.

    Only if you start with libertarian free will assumptions do you get a God who uses means which have differential impact. Under deterministic assumptions, not libertarian free will, it would be irrational for God to act so as to reward people differently based on the different ways he designed them.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much people who deny the existence of God think they know so much about God that they can tell the rest of us what he would do.

    This is not meant to be a complicated or subjective argument, just one following logically from the premises. My point was that an omnipotent, benevolent, (and I assume rational) God that exists in a universe without libertarian free will is bound by that definition to behave in a certain way. If such a God wanted to be known, he would reveal himself unambiguously through a testable and repeatable means because that is the only way an omnipotent, benevolent, rational God can behave in a universe without libertarian free will.

    Also:
    From my perspective, such a God may well exist but he is utterly unconcerned about my lack of belief in him.

    What if God is concerned about it from God’s perspective?

    Again, it follows from the premises. A God in a universe without libertarian free will who wants to be known ensures that everyone knows him. Therefore, if such a God exists but is not known by everyone, it is because he wants to remain hidden to some. But since this God is also defined as benevolent as well, no penalty or harm can result from that ignorance.

  47. Post
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    Tom Gilson

    A God in a universe without libertarian free will who wants to be known ensures that everyone knows him.

    What about a God who wants to be loved?

  48. SteveK

    Again, it follows from the premises. A God in a universe without libertarian free will who wants to be known ensures that everyone knows him.

    According to God’s plan and timing, yes. Scripture agrees with you here. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.

    Therefore, if such a God exists but is not known by everyone, it is because he wants to remain hidden to some.

    According to scripture, God is known by everyone. See Romans 1:18-20.

    God apparently has given some over to their sinful/selfish desires (Rom 1:24-32), and as a result God is hidden from these people. But this hiddenness came after their knowledge of God was willingly exchanged for a lie. I see you taking a similar approach, BTW.

    But since this God is also defined as benevolent as well, no penalty or harm can result from that ignorance.

    There’s no doubt that willful ignorance comes with a penalty. It’s wise to avoid going down that path. My question to you is this: when will you stop feigning ignorance and turn around before it’s too late?

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  51. DJC

    Tom,

    A God in a universe without libertarian free will who wants to be known ensures that everyone knows him.

    What about a God who wants to be loved?

    I would think such a God behaves exactly like any of us who want to be loved: behave in such a way that others find us worth loving.

    This God is also defined as just and good; and goodness and justice are not compatible with ignoring evil.

    True, but God doesn’t have to ignore evil, he can correct it (under the assumptions of a universe without libertarian free will).

    DJC, have you given any thought to the difference between “known” and “known about”?

    I understand you to be referring to the range of intimacy possible in relationships, from shallow to personal. If God exists as a personal being in a universe without libertarian free will, and he desires deeply personal relationships with human beings, he would likely act the way a person acts who desires a deeply personal relationship: showing concern, reaching out, sympathetic listening, opening up, making emotional connections, etc. I might not be getting your point.

  52. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    You missed the point in my question, “What about a God who wants to be loved?” You see, up until then you were focused and completely on God wanting to be known. I suggest you go back and look at what you had written then, and see how differently your questions would have to be asked if the issue were being love rather than being known.

    To speak of God behaving in such a way that others find worth loving, is to misunderstand the meaning of the word God. He is not one among others. He is love. For us to love him, we must understand his love, not judge or approve his love. But to understand his love is different than simply to be persuaded that there is a God.

    You say, “God doesn’t have to ignore evil, he can correct it.” That is very true. He is in the middle of that process. Your disbelief in him is evil that he is seeking to correct by drawing you towards himself so that you can know him and love him. If your disbelief is not correctable that way, he will correct it in other ways.

    I have no idea what you mean by, “if God exists as a personal being in a universe without libertarian free will.” I have no idea what it could mean for a being like God, having no libertarian free will ( and pardon the contradiction there, I’m trying to make a point), could desire anything, “act” like anything, “Show” anything, or take any initiative whatsoever. The concept is completely incoherent. Where there is no libertarian free will in the spiritual space where God is, there is no acting, there is only being acted upon. And by what? If you can grapple with that hard question, then you’ll have some idea of the problem that you have unwittingly set for yourself. H

  53. scblhrm

    DJC,

    Man’s final Good is Immutable Love.

    All you’ve really asserted so far is that sin (or NO-thing) should house capacity to fragment us and / or our relational motions available with God.

    If nothing in this world were evil you’d have an argument.

    But this: Evil exists. Fragmentation. Privation.

    Therefore, your argument fails.

    The very pains of Privation you complain of and the very ends within love you say ought-be and the very means of Immutable Love in reconciliation in every bit of all of it which you assert are the proper means just is the whole Christian narrative.

    Welcome to the undeniable knowledge of Truth.

    You’ve argued what you know.

  54. DJC

    SteveK,

    You seem to be slightly out of step with the discussion. Your points are all perfectly valid and accurate under the assumption of libertarian free will. But my whole point to Tom was that the science-and-reason crowd isn’t likely to grant libertarian free will as a basic premise, as a first principle. So they (and me) are not likely to hypothesize about God’s behavior in exactly the same way one who believes in libertarian free will would hypothesize.

    If you want to argue that libertarian free will *is* a basic premise that everyone should accept, you are free to do so. But the problem today as surveyed by Robert Kane in “The Significance of Free Will” is:

    There are a host of unresolved problems about the intelligibility of libertarian free will conceived as the power of ultimate creation of ends or purposes. Many thinkers have come to believe that such a power is incoherent and has no place in enlightened contemporary views of human behavior.

  55. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Really???

    DJC, if you’re hypothesizing about God who does not possess libertarian free will, you’re the one who’s out of step. If the science-and-reason crowd won’t accept that view of God, that’s about as reasoned as stamping your foot and saying, “I WON’T believe, I just WON’T!”

    If you find it unacceptable that there might be a God who is beyond understanding, then you are searching for a God you can understand, which is another way of saying, “How DARE there be a God I can’t figure out. I need to be smarter than God so I can comprehend him. So if I can’t be God then NOBODY can!”

    I have given some thought as to whether that’s overstated. I don’t think so.

    How about letting us argue that libertarian free will is a concept that’s on the table for discussion even if you can’t understand it?

  56. scblhrm

    Can’t understand X by physicalism?

    So what?

    Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere can’t cohere in physicalism either. But that timeless, immaterial X is there. We “know that”.

    That says a lot about DJC’s premise.

  57. SteveK

    DJC,
    A photon being both a wave and a particle is mysterious and perplexing. The fact that there are a host of unresolved issues associated with that reality ought to be enough to make Robert Kane and you take several steps back from your hard-line position regarding who God is. Just because you don’t understand God doesn’t mean he isn’t who he says he is in scripture.

  58. DJC

    Tom,

    To speak of God behaving in such a way that others find worth loving, is to misunderstand the meaning of the word God. He is not one among others. He is love. For us to love him, we must understand his love, not judge or approve his love. But to understand his love is different than simply to be persuaded that there is a God.

    I don’t disagree, necessarily (keeping in mind that I’m imagining a God in a universe absent libertarian free will).

    You say, “God doesn’t have to ignore evil, he can correct it.” That is very true. He is in the middle of that process. Your disbelief in him is evil that he is seeking to correct by drawing you towards himself so that you can know him and love him. If your disbelief is not correctable that way, he will correct it in other ways.

    In a universe absent libertarian free will, there is no “disbelief” as an immoral concept. If God exists, he may draw one to himself in such a way that one’s ignorance or lack of belief is overridden. Or, conversely, God persists in allowing ignorance according to his benevolent plan. Or perhaps God is amoral, not motivated by human social concerns. All possibilities among many.

    I have no idea what you mean by, “if God exists as a personal being in a universe without libertarian free will.” I have no idea what it could mean for a being like God, having no libertarian free will ( and pardon the contradiction there, I’m trying to make a point), could desire anything, “act” like anything, “Show” anything, or take any initiative whatsoever. The concept is completely incoherent. Where there is no libertarian free will in the spiritual space where God is, there is no acting, there is only being acted upon. And by what? If you can grapple with that hard question, then you’ll have some idea of the problem that you have unwittingly set for yourself. H

    If God is defined to be a being having libertarian free will, then, true, he can’t exist in a universe without libertarian free will.

    However, I’m suggesting that the definition of “God” doesn’t need libertarian free will. Imagine God as the universe with a “being” component and then posit determinism after that. Conscious beings act according to who they are, and who they are in turn is shaped directly by other forces, and those forces are shaped by other forces and so on in cause and effect through time and space going back to God. All conscious beings are part of the same chain of cause and effect so are in a sense all the same.

    How about letting us argue that libertarian free will is a concept that’s on the table for discussion even if you can’t understand it?

    That was the point of my first comment. When the science-and-reason crowd restricts what they classify as reliable knowledge, they are not bothered by angering or irritating a God because they believe the space of possible universes does not include any with libertarian free will and God only gets angry in those universes. Falsifying libertarian free will is much easier than the monumental task of falsifying God. Therefore, strengthening libertarian free will might be more important to your argument.

  59. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    DJC, I suggest you consider using some word other than “God” for this whatever-it-is that has whatever-kind-of-relationship with whatever-there-is in a universe lacking libertarian free will, because the word God is contradictory to lacking free will.

    If you cannot imagine God as one who acts freely, join the crowd: God is supposed to be hard to imagine, otherwise he wouldn’t be God, we who imagine him accurately would be instead.

    But to call this strange imagined entity of yours “God” is no more accurate than calling it “ether,” “Brahman,” or “nose hairs.” There is no meaning of the word God, in anything remotely resembling Christian theology, that lacks God’s sovereign ability to do as he chooses. By “defining God” as not having that sovereignty, you define God completely out of existence.

    So if you want to talk about God, please grapple with the idea of God. If you want to talk about something that lacks free will, please don’t call it God, you’re only confusing yourself.

  60. Post
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  61. SteveK

    Imagine God as the universe with a “being” component and then posit determinism after that.

    Thank you for stating, in your own words, what is wrong with your way of thinking.

    DJC: God* doesn’t make any sense to me so I don’t believe in him.
    Me: Okay, but we Christian’s are talking about God, not God*. When do we get to talk about God?

  62. scblhrm

    DJC,

    The science / reason crowd embrace the reality of SteveK’s Photon paradox, and, Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere, and, so on. None of which cohere within Physicalism by any means. The premise that science / reason ipso facto dump perceived actualities which physicalism cannot contain is nonsense.

    It’s an invalid premise.

    Both scientifically and theologically.

    #1 That obviously invalid premise, combined with #2 an evasion of the “acted on by what” problem, combined with #3 blindly re-defining God to *god* and then #4 going on as if one is actually making some sort of coherent case about Christianity’s metaphysical regressions leaves the Christian wondering to whom are you speaking.

  63. DJC

    Tom,

    It’s a little amusing to hear you take a strong atheist position against my concept of God.

    However, my concept of God (if God is possible) is really no different from yours when it comes to free will: God still acts according to who God is and according to what God values. Although I allow the possibility that God is formed out of prior “stuff”, I also allow the possibility that God exists infinitely, outside of time in some sense. This latter sense seems indistinguishable from the Christian God and indistinguishable from libertarian free will, while not requiring the mystical components of libertarian free will.

    You haven’t begun to work through the “acted on by what” problem yet.

    Any hypothetical being that exists without some sort of beginning is by definition not acted on. However, this being is also perfectly compatible with determinism and a deterministic universe and requires no libertarian free will assumptions.

  64. scblhrm

    This has been tried often by determinists. Since the capacity to be unmoved – to sit still and ponder – and move-not / move, being wholly untouched, wholly free, is of a Nature we call volition wholly unmoved by ANY-thing, the end of regress there is I.

    Now, that being undefeatable the determinist has of late gone down this road of DJC, that of “If Nature, Then Moved”, or, in other words, if Being X has a Nature, it cannot Not-Move thereby/therein, as the Nature trumps the I. Or, another way of trying to say this is simply that If Nature – Then Determined. The I is differentiated from the Nature. But this is nothing more than taking the I out of the Throne and demanding there be some some-thing which moves the I. But nothing moves the I. The I is the end of regress. And this is the very definition of Person, and in God’s case, of the Unmoved Person. Stuck with that in God’s case the determinist must then try to differentiate between Omnipotence vs. Omni-Benevolence vs. Omni-Justice vs. Omni-Mercy and so on ad infinitum. If determinism, something has to win-out and thereby push the I. This is the physicalist’s definition of how personhood “works”. We are made of up of a lot of neurobiological substrate and all that stuff drives the I. Note the difference between the Substrate/Stuff, and the I.

    Whereas, in Theism, there is no difference, no dividing point. God is I AM. To say He is “unfree” because He cannot make round-squares takes nothing from Him. To say He is “unfree” because He cannot sin just reveals an ignorance of Privation – the Pure-Self in isolation as such stands in the Contingent Self (Man in our case) as compared to the Uncreated Self (God). Of course in Trinity God motions into the Pure-Self. And in doing so He lands on the Great I AM, on All-Sufficiency. He cannot sin – and there again the assertion that God is unfree because He cannot be In-Sufficient is just as vacuous as the bit about round squares.

    What wins out? His Impecability? His Omnipotence? His Love? His Justice? To be Free amid Multiple Perfect Distincts, and to be unmoved by said Distincts, the I the end of regress, is the definition of Perfect Freedom. Divine Simplicity frustrates the Determinist as much as the Triune’s Multiple Perfect Distincts as he cannot get his physical-ist thinking around God – the Perfectly Free Being.

    The Determinist cannot fathom Divine Simplicity nor Trinity nor Perfect Love nor Perfect Justice all before the Unmoved Mover. Perfect Freedom just is Perfect Freedom, and in all directions….whatever “direction” means amid the Part-Less Being Who is Perfectly Free. So, he just denies it on physicalist’s terms and rants the absurd: God has a nature and so just must be made of parts and those parts must just make Him unfree to make round squares, or must just make Him unfree to be In-Sufficient (Sin). Because He must be made of parts and parts just make Him unfree because….because….well physicalism.

    Fine. God is *god*, on physicalist’s terms.

  65. scblhrm

    It’s funny.

    When God says, “Light exists”, well, it exists. His Word is His Will is His Power is His Perfection is Actuality is Reality. That is the definition of Necessary Existence. Being unfree to Not-Exist is absurdity akin to being unfree to make round squares as the Necessary Being is the ontological definition of God.

    “The Necessary Being Cannot Lie, be Insufficient, make Round Squares…..” “Oh! But *god* is not free to lie!” So? As if the Necessary Being’s Word is not Him is not His Will is not His Power is not Actuality is not Reality.

    God / *god* all over again. And again.

    Instead of discovering our own limits here as we find in our own Contingency, we find in the Necessary Being Perfect Freedom. There are things unfree, only, such are found unfree by contingency, and amid His Multiple Perfect Distincts we find no Contingency, no Imperfection, no In-Sufficiency, as God is the Part-Less One there within the Triune’s Divine Simplicity. If there is no contingent any-thing there is no determined any-thing. There is only Freedom.

    DJC wants to assert that if there is no contingent any-thing, there is still no freedom, but that is illogical, for a determined motion is so via its contingent-upon-X-status.

    God has no parts. We find no contingency in Him, and worse, we find only All-Sufficiency, only Perfection, and thus, there is only Perfect Freedom.

    Ascribing “God Can’t Do X” when X is some form of absurdity or some degree of In-Sufficiency or some form of Non-Actuality of He Who Is Actuality, Whose Word is Himself is His Power is His Will is Actuality is Reality is the Necessary Being, and so on all Perfectly Perfect, all Perfectly Un-Contingent-Upon-X, well… all of those moves fail ipso facto and leave Perfect Freedom untouched, unmoved, unchanged. The Necessary Being is the Perfectly Free Being. DJC’s employment of the phrase “mystical components” isn’t a defeater of any sort here and in fact again uses the terminology of parts/components. Or….. *god* rather than God.

  66. scblhrm

    Another problem for the *god* of the physicalist:

    To say of the Necessary Being that He “has” “a” Nature is to ascribe a part to God. As in, there is God and there is some some-thing, some Part that “He” (pause) “has”. But the semantics here just do not work for the Necessary Being as He is not made of parts. The Necessary Being does not “have” “a” Necessary Being. Many thus say of God that He does not “have a nature” in the sense we think of such semantics from here within a contingent matrix/universe. In The Necessary Being there is no such some-thing as a motion that is contingent-upon-X. The Physicalist will not like that…… because all of his thinking is housed within a physical universe, a contingent world made up of parts. Thus, he just keeps employing the only semantics he knows….. that of parts, that of contingent-upon-X-motions. But “not liking” the fact that the Necessary Being is the Perfectly Free Being is not a defeater of God and grants no credibility to *god*.

  67. SteveK

    These reports always manage to give me a chuckle or two.

    “Do We Live in a 2-D Hologram? Physicists Aim to Find Out”

    Because detecting “jitters’ in the space-time continuum mean that the universe is a hologram.

    Science!!

  68. Ray Ingles

    Tom –

    Yes, Ray, there’s a difference between “contained” and “detected.” Your point is…. ?

    Something that I’ve noted before – that being able to detect God scientifically does not imply being able to contain God scientifically. Even the ID people understand that. Looking through science for God is neither blasphemous nor hubristic, inherently.

    That doesn’t mean one can assume such a search will automatically be fruitful, of course. But the idea isn’t automatically self-contradictory or anything.

    The point of bringing that up was to identify a problem science-and-reason folks have with theology, and then to show they have that same problem.

    Well, to be fair, we had that whole ‘convergence’ discussion that touched on this. And atheism is a range, rather than a black-and-white demarcation, as even Dawkins has said.

    For example, I don’t claim metaphysical certainty that there’s no God. I find most of the conceptions I’ve come across to be very unlikely or even incoherent, though, and the ones that aren’t seem ill-defined enough not to have much consequence either way.

    To take it that God must have communicated himself in that way, on the other hand, is to practice contained reasoning.

    Note that I didn’t insist “that God must have communicated himself in that way”. I was answering a different – and more specific – question, that of “What kind of scientific data should/could objectively demand “God?”” I take that to mean something like, ‘If God chose to reveal Its existence through science, then what kind of ways might It do so?’

    GM –

    Pascal had a lot of contempt for the idea of saying to someone “Look at this bird, isn’t it weird? Therefore, God.”

    And yet he proposed his Wager, which suggests belief without respect to evidence at all.

    The atheist evidence request is just demanding something weirder than what they are used to.

    That sentence jumps from “request” to “demand” in the space of only four words. But requests and demands are different things. I’d like some scientific demonstration, sure, but I don’t demand it. I’ve prayed for revelation in the past, for example, but so far as I can tell such prayers have gone unanswered.

  69. GM

    Well, Pascal’s Wager as is most often demonstrated, I think, is something of a pariah in the corpus of his own thought. I get just as annoyed when Christians hang arguments on it in the way that they do as the atheists it’s offered to. From what I can see, Pascal’s soteriology could be seen as a Christian proto-existentialism. Kinda sorta.

    Pascal spent a lot of time focusing on the experiential requirements of conversion. The Wager, it seems, in the context of the fragments we have of his writing, looks like it’s addressing specific obstacles to faith an atheist in a particular circumstance might face. It’s rather ignorant to assert the Wager as a legitimate means of full-blown conversion and call it reflective of Pascal, which a lot of Christians do.

    Pascal sees the wager as an act of human will, not one of intelligence. While I don’t have time or room to fully explain it, I can offer a small primer.

    Jean Mesnard has a fantastic little commentary on Pascal. In the section on the wager, he says:

    The wager is a human act; faith is a gift of God. The reasoning [of the wager], therefore, concerns the situation of the person who is an atheist or at least indifferent. Does this mean that the conversion -even outside of its supernatural aspect- is realized by the wager for God? It does not. Pascal means to demonstrate just one thing: that the will is reasonable only in making this bet. But this wager engages only the will, which can neither force intelligence to associate itself to it nor prevent the protestation of the libterine: “My hands are tied and my mouth is mute. I am made in such a way that I cannot believe.” However, will can change behavior; will can force the accomplishment of gestures of faith; and will can even force the uttering of acts of faith that, if they do not carry the adherence with them, at least do not contradict this intelligence, which does not know to which truth to cling, and which if it does not posit this affirmation, will implicitly posit the contrary affirmation- in which it can believe no more in the other one.
    The wager, then, invites the libertine to arouse in himself the reflexes of faith, to abandon the habits of disbelief in favor of those of belief, to settle into a state of faith. This state is not, to be sure, a true faith, for that would include the adhesion of intelligence. But is it not an access road to faith? So it would seem.
    (forward a few paragraphs)
    The wager is… far from being the conversion [however.] It even draws away from the attitude that Pascal designated under this name to the extent that it contradicts [the conversion]… We have considered it under its positive aspect as a means of access to God, whereas Pascal aimed only at the negative result of exorcizing the libertine possessed by the love of earthly goods, bringing him around to a sort of rudimentary penitence in the name of only that reason to which the libertine claims adherence.

    Me again. This is actually very important. Pascal is suggesting that reason can be subverted by will motivated by desires or circumstances and prevent the ability to be open to belief. There is a double-edge to that, in that motives for an existential need for a god in an individual could prevent a reasonable disbelief. I totally grant that. All he’s suggesting in the wager, in that specific event, is that the atheist who wants to believe, turn his motive-stunted-reason against itself, and force him to acts that leave him open to faith on the very terms of that reason. It’s a leveling of scales that are held down by certain desires and dispositions. So it doesn’t really apply to people who are just genuinely unconvinced, nor could it be offered as a direct challenge to someone. “You only disbelieve because you are selfish.” That would be obnoxious. It’s offered almost rhetorically, to be considered privately within someone’s own self-awareness.

    Now, I really do appreciate your prayers for revelation. I imagine the frustration there is palpable, and in a sense, I wish it were different for you. If I might offer some thoughts. I am not arguing with you here, I’m just relaying my experience. Too often, these conversations are about “winning” or being vindicated, and that’s petty, especially in relation to the experience of life.

    When Christ says “If you keep my word, then you will be my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” He’s offering a cyclical, regenerative order of operations. The doing makes relationship, the relationship brings enlightenment, the enlightenment brings power to do, which builds the relationship, furthers enlightenment, and expands power, and so on.

    You start with faith in the doing, in the recognition of the goodness of the actions, not with full understanding. It’s remarkably similar to the AIM of Pascal’s wager. Pascal’s wager is simply a maneuver around a particular obstacle between a person and the doing. Essentially, Jesus is not asking you to believe everything about Himself metaphysically from the get-go, He’s asking “What do you think of my teaching? Do you think it’s what the world, and you, need?” If not, then the conversation ends there. Knowledge is important, vital even. I’m not denying that. But consider people who could not have access to a certain kind of knowledge. Christ is opening the avenue to faith to all of humanity by starting with the universal, yet individual, human condition. Our hopes, dreams, failures and fears. It’s the thing we have the most access to, every day of our lives.

    The teaching is not simply “Do unto others.” The teachings of Christ point to a vocation of repairing creation, in a superlative sense. Jesus asks us to leave behind all sense of limits of responsibility, and recognize that the world, and us individually, require the fullest transcendence of self-oriented attitudes and actions. Right there, our hopes and our despairs collide: We cannot reasonably deny that would be the best thing to do, but we cannot reasonably expect the ability to do it. Thus, it’s a foreshadowing of the Gospel.

    Christ challenges us to the beautiful and the impossible, and then scandalously, at the greatest cost, offers grace in the face of the impossibility. In my life, revelation has chiefly come in the touch of that grace. I believed in the beauty of His challenge, I ran repeatedly into the reality of the impossibility, and nothing at all made any sense until I met grace. All the interpretation of the meaning of the physical world that supported the ideas of my beliefs were just graffiti compared to it, but after, they fit like a glove in the broader enlightenment of God’s purpose. While I fully agree with Paul when he says creation speaks to God’s character and therefore man is without excuse, I also fully agree with him when he reminds us that grace moved us to faith. Not just faith in God’s existence, but faith in God’s character and purpose.

    I don’t know if this is repellant to you or not, or if it’s even coherent. People find faith in different ways, and usually it takes more of the whole self then we expect. You’ve asked God for a relationship on certain terms, whatever they are. That’s good, that’s a brave step. But please consider that His silence in the face of that request could be directing you to other terms which could fit you as a beloved human person in better, fuller ways.

  70. Ray Ingles

    GM –

    I get just as annoyed when Christians hang arguments on it in the way that they do as the atheists it’s offered to… it doesn’t really apply to people who are just genuinely unconvinced, nor could it be offered as a direct challenge to someone.

    Fair enough.

    Now, I really do appreciate your prayers for revelation. I imagine the frustration there is palpable

    Not really. I’ve essayed it as an experiment. I’m quite willing to concede I don’t know everything, and I can easily be mistaken. I’m sure many of the things I believe will turn out to be incorrect. If there’s a way to test something, I’m happy to give it a shot.

    But I didn’t really expect it to work, so “frustration” doesn’t really apply. Perhaps a little disappointment – I would, for example, like for myself and my loved ones to live forever, for example – but not “frustration”.

    Many Christians would conclude – in fact, have concluded – that, because they failed, the prayers were therefore insincere. That can indeed be a little frustrating, I admit. I’m afraid I believe they were sincere, and that I trust my judgment of my own motives better than others in this regard.

    But please consider that His silence in the face of that request could be directing you to other terms which could fit you as a beloved human person in better, fuller ways.

    It’s possible, I suppose. But here’s something I wrote when I first came to this site:

    The thing is, I do know what it’s like to be pursued.

    At the very first, it was my wife who pursued me. She met me at a party, sent me emails, etc. Before long, we were dating, and as I realized how great she was, who was pursuing who changed decisively.

    Of course, I knew that she existed – I’d, like, met her and all before I got any emails. Spam messages frequently claim to be women seeking men for a relationship (three this week in my spam folder) but I have no reason to believe that they are real people.

    I don’t see why an introduction would be out of line, would impact my free will, or would degrade God’s sovereignty.

    I’m “genuinely unconvinced” of God’s existence. Establishing existence would seem to be the very first step in establishing a relationship. I’ve done what I’ve been told should establish that existence, and come up empty, so far.

  71. scblhrm

    Ray,

    That is sincere and valid and we do have to wrestle with such things. It seems Reason is a part of our humanity which we move within, though, it is not the whole of Truth-Knowers. You have to be careful on that end when in prayer to be able to freefall into the intuited and allow it to lead reason rather than the other way around.

    Love will be the first thing, and the last thing, there perceived.

    You’ve spent an awful amount of energy on this blog reducing Love, God, to that which is not Love at all, to pitiless reverberations of photon fluxes within our skulls – all the stuff of physicalism.

    God is Love, Ray.

    Hard Stop.

    If it must be Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere void of “actual” cause/effect, or, a Static Hologram void of all/any motion/flux, void of any/all cause/effect, or, the stuff of God, my reason leans towards the stuff of God.

    That cause/effect seem real, are real, is reason’s volitional motion on my end.

    That has nothing to do with meeting God. It’s just a best guess willing to embrace perceived Time as Real Time and not Imaginary Time, willing to embrace…….. and so on.

    In my view, on my reason, knowing what I know, should I “hold out” in the Now for the Sphere, the Hologram, for that fateful proof that Cause/Effect are in fact non-entity and my entire anthology of experience is delusion, then, on rationality, I have chosen something in order that I not choose the other thing. If that were true of me – it is not true of you, Ray – but if were true of me then on rationality’s end I am not open to His Existence.

    On Love’s end, well, that is yet a whole other arena. And, it is the far more serious of rejections. If I should – on perceiving the actual beauty of the beloved – on tasting that actual worthiness of it being her and not me, and so on in all directions – to the bitter ends of physicality and then – on necessity – beyond its reach, there too my reason comes to my entire anthology of what is housed within prayer’s motions.

    Love there motions. Following it into what just is a frightful freefall means losing at least two things up front – all that I can call my own Self, for it truly is the fact of the matter, the bit about her and not I, and that in all directions, the horizontal and the Vertical, and so on, and, that bit about insisting that we – before letting go – first measure how many micrograms love weighs.

    We must be open to the reality of our experience here inside of Real Time, actual Cause and Effect. But, more importantly, should we all the day long perceive love’s motions only to refuse the frightful freefall there required, then it can only be Self and not Other there found.

    Christ – Love’s Eternally Sacrificed Self – spreads His arms wide, pours out all that is Self, and this for the Beloved Other.

    That is the Way to Truth.

  72. scblhrm

    The Self then, in freefall, there and nowhere else, can finally begin to pray. There can be no prayer outside of such motions. Mind begins then, to be still. Waiting for the immaterial Other. Prayer’s motions seem to become that of waiting, and sometimes that of adoring the loveliness of the Good – for its own sake – without explanation. Love’s motions begin to look like that inside of prayer. Let us just expect it – He leads us to the ugly, the filth of the world – and there hits us with the realization of their worthiness – without explanation – we see, begin to see, other in that other human being – The freefall there motions that we there feed, clothe, embrace, fill up the naked bastards as they steal the wallet out of our pocket. Prayer is still going on in that street – we’re still freefalling into the worthiness of the other – without explanation. The freefall motions us – whenever it seems right to Him – into His Own landscape, into something without an end in sight, into an immutable – towards His Face, without explanation – and we – in stillness – perceive, watch, taste, know the unexplained goodness of The Real. We begin to realize, perceive, that what has been up till now a blind freefall is morphing into filling, rising, seeing. Love’s motions of ceaseless reciprocity merge into focus – Prayer here begins to fade, Water begins to quench, two now spied, the singular there begotten.

  73. Ray Ingles

    scblhrm – I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I just can’t parse the vocabulary you’re using. I’m an engineer. I handle prose a lot better than poetry.

    I think I have a hazy notion about “the intuited”. I don’t use reason to tell me I love my wife or my kids, for example – I feel it, I know it intuitively. That’s not irrational, contrary to reason – it’s prerational, something that feeds into reason as a premise. At most, it could be arational, orthogonal to reason.

    Beyond that, I can’t follow. I don’t think I share some critical intuitions with you or something.

    You’ve spent an awful amount of energy on this blog reducing Love, God, to that which is not Love at all, to pitiless reverberations of photon fluxes within our skulls

    Actually, I haven’t. I don’t have less respect for love because I think it possible to intelligibly account for it – I just have more respect for what “photon fluxes” seem to be capable of.

    Of course, that’s love, like the love I feel for my family. Not sure about “Love”. I don’t see how God could be the love I have for my family.

  74. scblhrm

    Yes physical systems / photon fluxes seem to offer volition – but as the neuroscientist Sam Harris knows – and is unafraid to embrace – such is at bottom delusion. Hawking must have this we live in be Imaginary Time and not Real Time, else God, and others must have the Delusion of love’s volition and not such actually, else God. We all make our choices. Person / Program / Hologram. These choices surface even as we deny we’ve made them.

  75. scblhrm

    From “The Experience Of God” by David Hart:

    A straw man can be very convenient property, after all. I can see why a plenteously contented, drowsily complacent, temperamentally incurious atheist might find it comforting – even a little luxurious – to imagine that belief in God is no more than a belief in some magical invisible friend who lives beyond the clouds, or in some ghostly cosmic mechanic invoked to explain gaps in current scientific knowledge. But I also like to think that the truly reflective atheists would prefer not to win all his or her rhetorical victories against childish caricatures. I suppose the success of the books of the new atheists – which are nothing but lurchingly spasmodic assaults on whole armies of straw men – might go some way toward proving the opposite. Certainly, none of them is an impressive or cogent treatise……… The new atheists’ texts are manifestoes, buoyantly coarse and intentionally simplistic, meant to fortify true unbelieves in their unbelief; their appeal is broad but certainly not deep; they are supposed to induce a mood, not encourage deep reflection………..

    Regarding the ultimate nature of reality, at least, neither the general consensus of a culture nor the special consensus of a credentialed class should be trusted too readily, especially if it cannot justify itself except by reference to its own unexamined presuppositions. So much of what we imagine to be the testimony of reason or the clear unequivocal evidence of our senses is really only an interpretive reflex, determined by mental habits impressed in us by an intellectual and cultural history………. If we examine the premises underlying our beliefs and reasoning honestly and indefatigably enough, we will find that our deepest principles often consist in nothing more – but nothing less – than a certain way of seeing things, an original inclination of the mind toward reality from a certain perspective. And philosophy is of little use here in helping us to sort out the valid preconceptions from the invalid, as every form of philosophical thought is itself dependent upon a set of irreducible and unprovable assumptions. This is a sobering and uncomfortable thought, but also a very useful reminder of the limits of argument, and of the degree to which our most cherished certitudes are inseparable from our own private experiences……..

    ……..I have to admit that I find it impossible to take atheism very seriously as in intellectual position. As an emotional commitment or a moral passion – a rejection of barren or odious dogmatisms, an inability to believe in a good or provident power behind a world in which there is so much suffering, a defiance of “Whatever brute and blackguard made the world,” and so forth – atheism seems to me an entirely plausible attitude toward the predicaments of finite existence; but, as a metaphysical picture of reality, it strikes me as a rank superstition. I cannot imagine how it is possible coherently to believe that the material order is anything but an ontologically contingent reality, which necessarily depends upon an absolute and transcendent source of existence. To me, the argument for the reality of God from the contingency of all composite and mutable things seems unarguably true, with an almost analytic obviousness; and all philosophical attempts to get around that argument (I am fairly sure I am familiar with all of them) seem to me to lack anything like its power and lucidity. And the same is true in only slightly lesser degree of the argument from the unity, intentionality, rationality, and conceptual aptitudes of the mind, or the argument from the transcendental structure of rational consciousness.

    Even so, I must ruefully admit, I would be deceiving myself if I did not acknowledge that my judgments follow in large part from a kind of primal stance toward reality, a way of seeing things that involves certain presuppositions regarding, among other things, the trustworthiness of reason. Ultimately, though, I know that if the materialist position is correct, there can be no real rational certainty regarding ontological questions, or regarding anything at all; so the very assumption that what seems logically correct to me must in fact be true already presumes part of the conclusion I wish to draw.

    There, however, my generosity of spirit on the matter is exhausted. True enough, all of us derive our pictures of the world from certain fixed principles that we take as self-evident but can neither prove nor disprove, either empirically or dialectically. If, however, there is any legitimacy at all to the elementary categories of logic or the discriminatory powers of the intellect (and I think we have to believe there is), we can certainly say which perspectives on reality possess greater or lesser relative logical strength and internal consistency. So it is more than fair to point out that philosophical naturalism is among the most irrational and arbitrary visions of reality imaginable. This much is clear simply from the arguments typically made in its favor, all of which tend to be nothing more than catechetical assertions. Consider, for instance, the very popular but also purely doctrinaire claim that the principle of “the causal closure of the physical” precludes all possibility of supernatural agency in the world: an entirely tautological formula, warranted by neither reason nor science. It is indisputably true, admittedly, that any closed physical system that might happen to exist is by definition both physical and closed, but there is no compelling reason to think that our reality is such a system. And, anyway, a “closed” physical system still could not be the source of its own existence, and so would be truly closed only at the mechanical level, not the ontological; its existence would still have to be explained in “supernatural” terms. By the same token, claims that ………….the physical order is demonstrably devoid of final causality, and so on, are all just so many empty assertions masquerading as substantive arguments. As for the asseveration that naturalist thought has proven its cogency in the success of the modern sciences, this is simply a confusion of issues. Between the triumphs of the inductive, empirical, and theoretical sciences of modern age (on the one hand) and the metaphysical premises of naturalist thinking (on the other), any association is entirely a matter of historical accident and nothing more. Empiricism in the sciences is a method; naturalism in philosophy is a metaphysics; and the latter neither follows from nor underlies the former.

    The most egregious of naturalism’s deficiencies, however, is the impossibility of isolating its supposed foundation – that strange abstraction, self-sufficient nature – as a genuinely independent reality, of which we have some cognizance or in which we have some good cause to believe. We may be tempted to imagine that a materialist approach to reality is the soundest default position we have, because supposedly it can be grounded in empirical experience: of the material order, after all, we assume we have an immediate knowledge, while of any more transcendental reality we can form only conjectures or fantasies; and what is nature except matter in motion? But this is wrong, both in fact and in principle. For one thing, we do not actually have an immediate knowledge of the material order in itself but know only its phenomenal aspects, by which our minds organize our sensory experiences. Even “matter” is only a general concept and must be imposed upon the data of the senses in order for us to interpret them as experiences of any particular kind of reality (that is, material rather than, say, mental). More to the point, any logical connection we might imagine to exist between empirical experiences of the material order and the ideology of scientific naturalism is entirely illusory. Between our sensory impressions and the abstract concept of a causally closed and autonomous order called “nature” there is no necessary correlation whatsoever. Such a concept may determine how we think about our sensory impressions, but those impressions cannot in turn provide any evidence in favor of that concept. Neither can anything else. We have no immediate experience of pure nature as such, nor any coherent notion of what such a thing might be. The object has never appeared. No such phenomenon has ever been observed or experienced or cogently imagined. Once again: we cannot encounter the world without encountering at the same time the being of the world, which is a mystery that can never be dispelled by any physical explanation of reality, inasmuch as it is a mystery logically prior to and in excess of the physical order. We cannot encounter the world, furthermore, except in the luminous medium of intentional and unified consciousness, which defies every reduction to purely physiological causes, but which also clearly corresponds to an essential intelligibility in being itself. We cannot encounter the world, finally, except through our conscious and intentional orientation toward the absolute, in pursuit of a final bliss that beckons to us from within those transcendental desires that constitute the very structure of rational thought, and that open all of reality to us precisely by bearing us on toward ends that lie beyond the totality of physical things. The whole of nature is something prepared for us, composed for us, given to us, delivered into our care by a “supernatural” dispensation. All this being so one might plausibly say that God – the infinite wellspring of being, consciousness, and bliss that is the source, order, and end of all reality – is evident everywhere, inescapably present to us, while autonomous “nature” is something that has never, even for a moment, come into view. Pure nature is an unnatural concept.

  76. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,

    #34

    “(Your 40% number is both unsourced and unlikely, however. See Gallup: 46% believe in a recent arrival of humans on the scene, but that’s not YEC.)”

    That’s a pretty interesting thought. That people might believe in an ancient universe including the evolution of life on the planet, but that man was created, with all the tell tale evidence that we are a part of that evolution, a few thousand years ago.

    Question asked of Americans in 2009

    “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and the first two people within the past 10 000 years.”

    39% voted true.

    http://ncse.com/rncse/30/3/americans-scientific-knowledge-beliefs-human-evolution-year-

    “Actually, Shane, when you use a minority of Christians to stand for “the Christian,” when you interpret data falsely to count how many Christians that stands for, and when you lump all Christians into one category of “the Christian” and condemn “the Christian” as one who adjusts evidence to suit conclusions, that really is ignorant stereotyping.”

    It would be. But that’s not what I did. I never asserted that Young Earth Creationists stood for “the Christian” that’s why I used the phrase “at its most extreme”. I think that makes it obvious that I don’t view them as representative of the group. I don’t believe I interpreted the data falsely either. I didn’t quote a source originally, you’re right, but I didn’t think it was open to much debate.

    Christians believe they already have the conclusion to any question. God and His will. Therefore everything they view is taken on board with this end in mind. All evidence presented is examined as fitting into this framework. This is different to following the evidence to where it will lead. Christians know God and His will through the Bible, which is why the example of literal interpretation is the extreme end of the Christian spectrum, and any and all evidence that doesn’t fit into a 6 day creation week must be distorted or ignored.

    “Why is it that when I asked for what constitutes sufficient evidence in your view, you answered by reminding me that I have a view on it?”

    Because I didn’t realise you were asking for a specific answer. You understand I can’t give one as a general rule, right? Regarding the age of the earth, it is more the fact that there is an absence of evidence to bolster the claim that it is merely thousands of years old, which means all the available evidence points to it being billions of years old.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  77. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “You missed Jenna Black’s definition of science.”

    I did not. I read it both when she post and when you reposted.

    “There is no reason to alter data.”

    Not altering. Just interpreting. Do you believe the earth is thousands or billions of years old? And why?

    “The problem here is the lack of a clear definition of science, which is a systematic methodology for inquiry into the natural world. From a theological perspective, science is the study of how God’s creation works. Therefore, science can and does inform theology, but is not theology. There is no possible way that the scientific method can be applied to reach any conclusions about “existence” vs. “non-existence”, the issue at the very heart of atheism. Consequently, atheists don’t really have science on their side at all. I wonder when they will wake up to this reality.”

    And she sums it up nicely. We cannot prove or disprove God. Atheism, the lack of believe due to the total lack of evidence, is the logical stance to take.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  78. Melissa

    Shane,

    And she sums it up nicely. We cannot prove or disprove God. Atheism, the lack of believe due to the total lack of evidence, is the logical stance to take.

    I think you need to read more carefully. You flow of thought only follows from what Jenna wrote if scientific evidence is the only type of evidence. Now, we all know that scientific evidence is not the only kind of evidence, therefore you have given us no reason to think that atheism is the logical stance at all.

  79. Shane Fletcher

    Hi GM
    #44

    Thanks for taking the time. Growing up as a YEC myself, I understand what you are saying. I believed the universe was created a short time ago, the first couple sinned and ruined things/us, Christ sacrificed himself for our salvation. But the evidence shows that the universe is ancient and there was no literal Adam and Eve, because we are the biological cousins of all life on the planet, having evolved from the first replicating cell. And if there were no first humans, created in a perfect world free of death, there was no fall that no requires our salvation. This is where the evidence lead me.

    But other Christians, who already have the conclusion that there was a fall, and we need salvation, have to adjust the evidence to fit this conclusion. Either you can refute the evidence and cling to the Young Earth, which quite frankly makes the most sense to me, theologically speaking. Or you can accept the evidence of an ancient universe but try and shoe horn in an original sin concept somehow; ancient universe with a modern earth built on aeons of death and extinction that man is placed into and somehow we get blamed retroactively for introducing death into this Eden. This makes no sense to me at all. I cannot reason my way to a sensible story here, which is why I understand the Young Earthers position.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  80. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    I do hope Tom gets the time to work on his Evidence for Faith series. I am keen to read and discuss the remainder of his arguments.

    Cheers
    Shane

  81. scblhrm

    Atheism and Naturalism are, by far, less rational, no, actually, they are in fact irrational, knowing what we know, and, knowing how we know, as per #75.

  82. scblhrm

    Unexamined presuppositions combined with axiomatic assumptions about knowledge and perception are hallmarks of Naturalism’s incoherence. Naturalism and Atheism being, by far, “irrational and arbitrary visions of reality”, as per #75, we find that the Naturalist must, given his presuppositions, forbid himself from following the entirety of the anthology of evidence paradigms wherever they may lead him. Whereas, the Theist stands with his arms wide open, able to subsume what and how it is that mind knows without fatal decrements, and, further, is quite happy to embrace all forms of evidence and thereby his explanatory power is by default wider, deeper, and more exhaustive than the Naturalist’s can ever be. We thus find that Theism’s plausibility is far higher on all fronts. This includes the ease with which Theism digests the unthinking assertions that old earth and/or evolution (Etc.) are somehow “mysteriously” incompatible with Theism. Theism, it turns out, is happy to follow the evidence into young or old, into this or that micro or macro lens of evidence, whichever may apply. This is especially true given what we know and how we perceive anything at all, and, even further, such is easily extricated by the following essays from William Lane Craig, available on his webpage: Evolutionary Theory and Theism Q&A #253, and also, Skepticism about Neo-Darwinism Re-Visited Q&A #84, and also, the full-bodied twenty two part series of “The Doctrine of Creation and Evolution (parts 1 – 22 are separate essays/links), and also, The Limits Of Reason Q&A # 272. One of these houses the familiar, “C’mon Man!” You know better than that. You can be a theist and a Christian and accept the documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch as well as a Darwinian theory of evolution, if you think that’s where the evidence leads.”

  83. scblhrm

    Default-Position:

    Given perception’s landscape and these many other contours, obviously that metaphysical position cannot be Naturalism. Well, it can be, only, the cost is far, far higher than that of Theism, on all fronts.

  84. BillT

    Either you can refute the evidence and cling to the Young Earth, which quite frankly makes the most sense to me, theologically speaking. Or you can accept the evidence of an ancient universe but try and shoe horn in an original sin concept somehow; ancient universe with a modern earth built on aeons of death and extinction that man is placed into and somehow we get blamed retroactively for introducing death into this Eden.

    Shane,

    A false dichotomy. Those just aren’t the only two options. Here is a quite reasonable alternative.

  85. GM

    Hi Shane,
    I wish I had more time for a thorough response, but for now, all I can say is that I simply reject the premise of choices restricted to YEC or naturalism. The text does not support the idea that Adam was the first human being, and as far as I know, the only thing that makes me entertain the idea that Adam was real and not symbolic is Paul’ comparison of Christ’s efficiency for salvation for all to Adam’s sin effecting all. However, since Genesis 3 depicts the fall as shared guilt between Adam and Eve, I’m not sure how axiomatic I’m forced to treat that illustration. I have my own hypotheses which I will try to find time to post on later.

  86. Ray Ingles

    David Hart (via scblhrm) –

    I cannot imagine how it is possible coherently to believe that the material order is anything but an ontologically contingent reality, which necessarily depends upon an absolute and transcendent source of existence.

    “The Philosopher’s Syndrome: Mistaking a failure of imagination for an insight into necessity.” – Daniel Dennett

    And, anyway, a “closed” physical system still could not be the source of its own existence

    Well, he can’t imagine a way for it to be, that is. And therefore only what he can imagine must be true?

    Such a concept may determine how we think about our sensory impressions, but those impressions cannot in turn provide any evidence in favor of that concept.

    On the other hand, it would be fairly easy for our sensory impressions to disprove such a concept, and yet it doesn’t seem to work out that way.

  87. Ray Ingles

    scblhrm –

    Yes physical systems / photon fluxes seem to offer volition – but as the neuroscientist Sam Harris knows – and is unafraid to embrace – such is at bottom delusion.

    Consciousness is obviously deeply interwined with, and dependent on, the brain. We know that much. When you – or Harris – or anyone can explain what consciousness is and how it works, well, then you can assert that it’s a delusion or not. Until then, you’re speculating ahead of the evidence.

  88. Jenna Black

    Ray, #87

    I hope that you can see the glaring flaw in this reasoning:

    RI: “Consciousness is obviously deeply interwined with, and dependent on, the brain. We know that much. When you – or Harris – or anyone can explain what consciousness is and how it works, well, then you can assert that it’s a delusion or not. Until then, you’re speculating ahead of the evidence.”

    The brain is the human organ that senses and processes (sensorially and cognitively) the phenomenon we call “consciousness.” To say that consciousness is “dependent” on the brain is like say that food is “dependent” on the stomach. It is like speculating that if there were no human stomach to process and digest food, food would not exist. Don’t confuse the God-given biological function through an organism and process that we humans possess in order to interact for surviving and thriving in our environment with the environmental reality itself.

  89. scblhrm

    Ray,

    Since you believe that containers of vibrating particles are actually intentional, free, your misread of Hart’s premise on perception, and contingency, and presuppositions, is understandable.

    Good luck with volitional containers free of the deterministic machinery you (certainly not science) want to address as “autonomous nature” (whatever that is).

  90. scblhrm

    Ray,

    We want to be clear here:

    Science / Physics (neuroscience) and so on are unmistakably clear that vibrating and reverberating particles in the whole of perceived reality are not free of nature’s deterministic machine. Yet, despite that anthology, you actually believe your perception of free volition?

    You have “imagination” to hope in.

    Is that right?

    All physical evidence tells us otherwise. Just as with Non-Contingent particles: such are contrary to all evidence.

    But you have “imagination” to hope in.

    Is that right?

  91. scblhrm

    Ray,

    Your misread of what presuppositions combined with perception can offer any of us of any argument is a surprise. As is your approach to perceived volition – in that you believe in it – and, third, your belief in non-contingent particles is equally surprising. Fourth, your misread of what “closed” necessarily entails in physical machines is a surprise. Fifth, the price you are willing to pay in “logic” dead-ending in – enslaved in – aimless deterministic vibrations is a surprise, all Sight there dying. Sixth, it is it seems to subtle – those lines wherein on all these fronts and more the stuff of time and material comes up short all the while leaving our sight intact to peer beyond such obvious boundaries. Love void of micrograms, People Matter, are there too atop all these others. Its funny. You choose volition out of thin air – else (we know) delusion awaits you – and yet People Matter, and Sight – emancipated from “pure nature” (whatever that is) – these you reject – else (we know) God awaits you. Our default position need only follow these omnipresent vectors.

  92. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black –

    The brain is the human organ that senses and processes (sensorially and cognitively) the phenomenon we call “consciousness.”

    Oh, it’s a trifle more complicated than that. Damaging the brain damages consciousness – awareness – and it does it in ways that don’t fit the ‘reception’ model. I’ve discussed it before here; to save time you might want to skim that discussion a bit before you reply.

  93. scblhrm

    “Complicated” fails to grant volition/freedom. Hard stop. “Complicated” fails to justify the false identity claim amid the related and (therefore) non-identical 1st and 3rd person paradigms. Hard stop.

  94. Ray Ingles

    scblhrm –

    “Complicated” fails to grant volition/freedom. Hard stop.

    Sorry, nix on the hard stop. It also fails to deny volition/freedom. We don’t know what consciousness is, any more than people in the 1500s had the slightest clue what lightning was.

    You harp on “nature’s deterministic machine” when physics hasn’t been deterministic since the advent of QM, and otherwise use a private vocabulary that bears, so far as I can tell, only a superficial resemblance to English. I see no sign you actually read any of what I linked to, so I’m sorry, but I don’t see any purpose in continuing this conversation.

  95. scblhrm

    Ray,

    Okay. You believe in intentional particles. Or collections of intentionless particles which – inexplicably – are intentional, free of those blind fluxes of which they themselves are actually composed. All of which are non-contingent, or some of which are non-contingent.

    As I said, I’m surprised. Because there is no evidence of such.

    Except our perception of choice.

  96. Jenna Black

    Ray, RE: #92

    Whether you intended it so or not, this response to my post comes across as rather patronizing and condescending. I don’t see how the review of a different conversation is really relevant to the point we are discussing, which is whether or not “consciousness” is “dependent” on the human brain, and therefore, if I read Sam Harris’ arguments and yours correctly, more or less IS the brain.

    The discussion of “consciousness” both is and isn’t “complicated.” Like when we use words and terms to label complex and abstract concepts, we need to define what we mean specifically in these conversations. So please answer this question: What is consciousness consciousness of? We really don’t need to speculate much IMO about what consciousness IS since yes, to be conscious of anything, we must be conscious beings who are conscious (not unconscious or dead).

    Have you read any of the many books by Dr. Andrew Newberg? Or by William Alston? Here are a few titles you may have read, as I have, or if not, I highly recommend that you do.

    William P. Alston (1991). Perceiving God: The epistemology of religious experience.

    Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew Newberg (1999). The mystical mind: Probing the biology of religious experience.

    Andrew Newberg, Eugene d’Aquili and Vince Rause. (2001). Why God won’t go away: Brain science and the biology of belief.

    Andrew Newberg (2014). The metaphysical mind: Probing the biology of philosophical thought.

    Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman (2009). How God changes the brain: Breakthrough findings from a leading neuroscientist.

    So please don’t talk down to me about the biology of belief, Ray, simply because you don’t believe that consciousness is consciousness of what/that which is commonly called God.

  97. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black – Tone doesn’t come across well in comboxes; I assure you, I had no intention of being condescending or patronizing. It’s just that I’ve written a fair amount about the topic of consciousness already on this site, and was hoping to save time by not having to rewrite stuff.

    Book-wise, would you agree to a trade? You might consider reading some Oliver Sacks, in particular “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat” and “An Anthropologist on Mars” and “The Mind’s Eye”. I believe these offer concrete support for the idea that the brain is quite a bit more than a ‘receiver’ of consciousness. How consciousness arises in the brain is certainly puzzling at this point, but I think the details strongly indicate that somehow, it does.

    (Note that I, sadly, have experience with late-stage Alzheimer’s. I honestly can’t see how what’s left then is, in an real sense, the person. Have you had the same experience and reached a different conclusion?)

  98. scblhrm

    Alzheimer’s Disease and Personhood:

    In materialism, dualism, idealism, and so on, we look for that path from the 1st person reality that is the Person to the 3rd person reality that is some brain state reality. “You are, simply, lovely” just is not found on any power point slide of chemistry. Ever. Obviously the materialist asserts that Brain = Mind, that Brain = Person.

    By definition, Relation amid A/B = Non-Identity amid A/B. Unfortunately for the physicalist, as agents of experience immersed in an ocean of perception the very reality that he speaks of inside of the 3rd person descriptive (brain state X) just never is the perceived reality inside of the 1st person (“You are simply beautiful”). Person is not Molecule, as in, A = B is there a false identity claim. B is related to A, and this is troubling for the assertion that Brain = Mind as relation makes identity impossible. In relation, as B is destroyed, A suffers, just as a hammer to our laptop voids the Skype communique’, and so on, but relation (there and elsewhere) fails to grant the physicalist that critical missing-mass called identity.

    The false status of the identity claim amid the related and (therefore) non-identical 1st person (“You are simply lovely”) and 3rd person (insert chemical power point slide here) paradigms will always be perceived by the very first-person reality the materialist is trying to convince with his power point slides as the first person reality ever utters to the materialist and his slides, “Nope….that isn’t this…..” Not to commit to Idealism on the whole, but, well, as perceiving beings awash in that pesky ocean of experienced impressions we are ipso facto stuck with its necessary presence to a degree which we can minimize (if so inclined) but which we can never eradicate. Ever. Our experienced reality, our first person reality just is lost in the move downhill to third person descriptives of brain state realities.

    At Stand To Reason a few exchanges in a related thread (shortened here) touches on this non-identity, that pesky loss of meaning, that pesky step which is ever found between the first person reality and the molecular reality. The thread (there) is: “August 21, 2014 Challenge Response: There Is No Soul”:

    “Materialist:

    ….there is no contradiction in saying the mind is dependent on chemicals, and saying you will be more likely to be personally happy once your psychological needs are satisfied…

    Christian:

    But I’m not just saying that you are more likely to be happy when your desires are satisfied. You are mired in the notion of explanation as nothing more than prediction. It is not just that you can predict happiness from the satisfaction of desire. I’m saying that the satisfaction of desire is what happiness is. What is more, if I didn’t understand what happiness is, I would understand it very well after being told that it is the satisfaction of desire. In contrast, you can tell me all day about electro-chemical motions in my brain that predict happiness, and you’ve taken me not one step closer to having any idea about what happiness is. Though I may have an excellent picture of the causal interactions involved in the meat-machine that our brain is. I might also come to understand that, almost like clockwork, certain motions in the brain happen at about the same time that certain feelings happen in my mind. Happiness is an idea that has to be conveyed by references to desires and similar mental states, events and processes. If you try to convey the idea by reference to motions in the brain, be prepared for blank stares from the person you are trying to convey the idea to. And those desires and such will also not make any sense except in terms of other mental states, events and processes. And so on. At some point, of course, the explanation comes to an end, and we find mental states, events and processes that we understand, not because they are constructs of more basic mental entities, but because we have direct perception of them.

    Materialist:

    But the brain is the mind.

    Christian:

    All of the evidence given shows that on some mental states happen at almost the same time as some brain states. Something that has not been in doubt for the last 2000 years, let alone the last 200. That mental states are the same thing as brain states is as unwarranted as the claim that smoke is the same as fire………. the knee-jerk conclusion I think you would draw is that some brain states cause some mental states. And if that is so, the claim that the mind is the brain is automatically false, since that would be saying that sometimes the cause is the same thing as the effect, which can never be true……. Any mind-body conclusion you draw from the evidence given, be it materialism, dualism, or idealism, is unwarranted. Any mind-body conclusion you draw from that evidence is a conclusion you are jumping to, not one that the evidence compels you to accept. But the fact that the most tempting conclusion to jump to is that some brain states cause some mental states, a dualistic conclusion, shows that the [challenge] isn’t even a very good non sequitur for materialism………….. If two events or states are causally related it is impossible for them to be identical.

    Materialist:

    All right, so what you are saying is that explanation cannot replicate experience. Obviously not: I can explain to you what kind of physics keep a bridge standing, but I cannot replicate the aesthetic and emotional experience of moving across a bridge looking down. Now what does that have anything to do with whether the mind has to be non-material?

    Christian:

    Talking about the physics that holds up the bridge is not attempting to describe or explain any aspect of the experience of moving across it. It does predict that the experience of falling won’t be a part of it.

    If there’s a piece of reality that undeniably exists, but that cannot be explained without reference to the mental, and if in our explanations of it we’re always talking about desires, experiences, beliefs and so on, and if we can’t get those ideas expressed, without loss of meaning, in terms of motions in the brain or in some other material entity (and I think you can see how hopeless that project really is…we’ve never completed one step in it), then it has everything to do with whether the mind is non-material. It settles the question.

    Just to be clear, I was not saying that explanation can replicate experience. Did my explanation of happiness make you happy? Highly unlikely.

    Did it tell you what happiness is so that you understood what I am talking about when I use the term “happiness”? Yes. Did it appeal even remotely to motions in the brain? No. Did it appeal to other mental states events and processes? Yes. Are those other mental entities liable to be explained in terms of motions in the brain where happiness wasn’t? No, they’re liable to be explained in exactly the same way happiness was. Either that, or they’re liable to end up being mental states events or processes that I simply understand because I directly experience them happening, and which no discussion of motions in the brain would get me to understand.

    Am I saying that those basic mental entities that I understand because I directly experience them are ones where a materialistic explanation would have to replicate the experience? No. I’m saying that no material explanation is likely to express, without loss of meaning, what such mental entities are. And no explanation is really needed because I already just do understand them as mental entities.

    ……..For materialists, the claim is that they just do understand matter and its motions and properties (I actually don’t think that that is true, but for now let’s leave that to one side). Then the attempt is made to explain everything else in terms of what you just do understand. I think that there are some mental entities that I just do understand because of my intimate and direct experience of them.

    If it turned out that the things we just do understand could also be explained, without loss of meaning, under some other system, well, then we would be in a quandary about whether the posits of our system exists. Maybe, instead, it’s the posits of that other system. Now, I don’t think I’m in such a quandary when it comes to mentalism vs. materialism. Materialism hasn’t gotten close to explaining, without loss of meaning, what I just do understand as experiences in the mind. And I really see no hope of it doing so.”

    Alzheimer’s disease: such finds in the loss of all that is shown up on the physicalist’s power point slides just no loss of any some-thing which our beloved ever knew, ever lived, ever encountered. Not once. Ever. We stare with blank stares at his power point presentation of particle in motion and nothing there houses the content of what just was the beloved’s lived life. Such just is the case past tense exactly because such just is the case present tense. Content evades particle in motion. Perceived experience evades particle in motion. Relation evades – necessarily – Identity. Mind evades – necessarily – Brain. Our beloved evades – necessarily – body.

  99. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT

    “A false dichotomy. Those just aren’t the only two options. Here is a quite reasonable alternative.”

    I am afraid you will have to explain how that explanation is not shoehorning original sin into an ancient universe.

    Cheers
    Shane

  100. Shane Fletcher

    Hi GM,

    “I have my own hypotheses which I will try to find time to post on later.”

    I look forward to that. For me, the universe must have been made perfect. We then must have ruined that perfection by sinning, which we must have undertaken through free will. If the world already had sin in it before our arrival, then it came from God. If we were sinful upon our creation, or had no choice in the sinning, then that is also God’s responsibility. I have not come across a model that makes sense with respect to the death and extinction that occurred before we were on the scene. Perhaps you have it.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  101. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “The brain is the human organ that senses and processes (sensorially and cognitively) the phenomenon we call “consciousness.” To say that consciousness is “dependent” on the brain is like say that food is “dependent” on the stomach. It is like speculating that if there were no human stomach to process and digest food, food would not exist.”

    That is not an apt analogy. Food is entirely separate from us as individuals. “Consciousness is to brain as digestion is to stomach” is closer. So, it is more like speculating that if there was no stomach, then digestion would not exist.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  102. scblhrm

    Shane,

    @ #99-100,

    Coherent models are linked in #82. You may not like them, but it can’t be for lack of coherence.

    @ #101,

    Relation fails to grant us our Identity, as alluded to in #98. We arrive at the non-identity simply by calling entities what they are.

  103. Ray Ingles

    Shane Fletcher –

    “Consciousness is to brain as digestion is to stomach” is closer.

    Indeed, consciousness seems to be more something the brain does (a process) rather than something the brain has or even interacts with (a substance). A process, note, is inherently time-based. As I wrote before: “In science fiction, there’s the concept of a ‘stasis field’, inside which time stops. No time is experienced. If someone were enclosed in a stasis field, it’s perfectly obvious to me that they could not be termed ‘conscious’ in any sense. (If you disagree – what would they be conscious of?)”

  104. BillT

    I am afraid you will have to explain how that explanation is not shoehorning original sin into an ancient universe.

    Shane,

    Can’t help you. If that explanation isn’t clear enough to you then I think nothing will be. However, that doesn’t mean you haven’t presented a false dichotomy. (And there was no “shoehorning” going on there either.)

  105. BillT

    scblhrm,

    I have enjoyed some of you recent posts and I think we have all seen you make an effort to be more brief and straightforward. However, the above 1,569 word post is…. (I’ll stop there.)

  106. scblhrm

    BillT I agree 😉
    – but the necessary offense of indifference against all that is the beloved there was worth the overkill (for me) – Material stuff’s hopelessness in finding anything close to an identity claim there amid A/B is defendable both in practice and in principle. Naturalism’s diagnosis of indifference on Alzheimer’s, on all that is person, is laced from top to bottom with the blind and the pitiless and such is an affront worthy of condemnation.

    Shane,

    #82 references several places to find coherent models on your question for BillT. Not that coherence in that specific arena will matter to your overall definition of things, but, it’s worth pointing out that such things are not problematic for the Christian.

  107. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT

    “Can’t help you. If that explanation isn’t clear enough to you then I think nothing will be.”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t clear. I said it was an unreasonable compromise between the concept of original sin ruining a perfect world made by God (as told in Genesis) and what we know about the actual way life evolved on Earth.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  108. Shane Fletcher

    Hi schblrm,

    “This includes the ease with which Theism digests the unthinking assertions that old earth and/or evolution (Etc.) are somehow “mysteriously” incompatible with Theism.”

    I don’t say that old earth or evolution are incompatible with Theism. I say it’s incompatible with Christianity. That one specific religion that explains how the universe was created perfect, was ruined by our sin, and therefore required a blood sacrifice of the creator and our acceptance of it to save us from the very same creator. The Fall is incompatible, and therefore Christianity is incompatible.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  109. Shane Fletcher

    Hi schblrm,

    “Given perception’s landscape and these many other contours, obviously that metaphysical position cannot be Naturalism. Well, it can be, only, the cost is far, far higher than that of Theism, on all fronts.”

    What is the respective cost of Naturalism and Theism? Why must the preferred position be the theory with the less “costs”?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  110. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “You believe in intentional particles. Or collections of intentionless particles which – inexplicably – are intentional, free of those blind fluxes of which they themselves are actually composed.”

    The idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts is not a new one. All living things are necessarily made up of non-living components. To suggest free cannot be a product of things that don’t have free will is a simple minded approach at refutation.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  111. Melissa

    Shane,

    That one specific religion that explains how the universe was created perfect

    No it doesn’t. You’ve repeated this quite a few times in this thread. Could you explain why you think this is true?

    was ruined by our sin

    Probably close enough.

    therefore required a blood sacrifice of the creator and our acceptance of it

    That’s one quite simplistic and possibly a little warped view of the cross and it’s significance. I know it’s probably a dominant interpretation in some areas of the US but as a representation of what biblical scholars and Christian theologians would say it’s way off the mark.

    to save us from the very same creator.

    Ditto, although probably not a dominant interpretation.

    May I suggest that it is your particular understanding of Christianity that is causing conflict with science.

  112. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Creation, Privation, Innocence:

    Your thin slices of analysis seem unaware of contingency, of personhood, of possible worlds. But before we look at that: #82’s referenced essays find old/new earths and so on not at all problematic for Christianity’s maintenance of coherence through a wide array of possible geographies. I won’t unpack those few hundred pages here in a blog. We can then now move on to a far more pressing problem in your analysis, which, as it happens, is indirectly related to your concern about creation: If God, then: Any Theistic definitions of reality which lack a necessary pouring-out of, debasement of, what is necessarily the All-Sufficient (God, the Uncreated, Etc.) and a necessary filling-up of, glorification of, what is necessarily the In-Sufficient (Man, both in mutable innocence / Eden and in mutable fragmentation / privation) is from the start incoherent. Your approach to God’s Love, His Cross, is on many levels unseeing in this regard – particularly as such lines apply to possible world semantics. Personhood’s motions in terms of Self/Other, in terms of any contingent self and “God” – particularly should that God “be love” – as manifest either outside of time/physicality or inside of time/physicality, and those both in terms of actual love and in metaphysical terms of contingency vs. non-contingency amid possible worlds, are all utterly incoherent in all theistic frameworks except for Christianity. I won’t unpack Pantheism, various mono-theisms (etc.) here. Man, or, say, any contingent self – should he spy God – finds, beholds, his Great Emancipator, whether in innocence or in privation. Man’s volitional motions within what is a necessarily triune landscape of personhood’s self/other/us fail to afford him (man) a “way out” of beholding such means and such ends. In all possible worlds the created agent’s Means cannot be some lesser something than God Himself. In all possible worlds (should Power/God will His triune image of personhood, of love, in the created agent’s landscape) it cannot be otherwise that both the stuff of Innocence and the stuff of Privation find what just is All-Sufficiency amalgamating with, subsuming, filling, the corporeal to its bitter ends, there with His arms spread wide, pouring Himself out for, and into, His beloved. Whichever Tree Creation (Man) dives into, Privation or Life, that is to say, Self or Other, finds him there amid these necessary contours. All theistic frameworks outside of Christianity here fall into absurdity as they all annihilate, ultimately, either love, or contingency, or personhood, or volition, or means/ends which are necessarily all-sufficient. Creation cannot escape such contours and what the unstoppable love of the Necessary Being is afforded in possible world semantics reduces our analytical hubris to means we are forced to sum. It is certain that your tiny sliver of analysis of Calvary, of His Eternal Sacrifice of Self within His triune immutability, falls into the very same errors which all other theistic frameworks suffer from. If logic means anything, if we deny anti-realism’s nihilism, then we are left with Christ, or, Naturalism. Interestingly, C.S. Lewis saw the absurdity of materialism and put Pantheism as second to Christianity, but, again, the incoherencies touched on here ultimately take it out of the running.

    This brings us to your next question:

    Intellectual Cost of Naturalism: As per # 75 as a basic introduction.

    Then:

    Volition / Greater than sum of parts:

    This is wish fulfillment leaking into one’s worldview given the entire anthology of physics. Parts of her (Nature) are free of her (Nature). That is a nonsense statement. Such simply redefines volition – or – just begs the question against the roaring current of evidence. If Mind is free of Body, free of Genome, free of Brain, then # 98 and Theism as Person escapes the natural world intact. And, as we just alluded to: if Theism, then Christianity, given the inescapable semantics of contingency, of personhood, of necessity and sufficiency, and of possible worlds.

    Archetype:

    God – Necessity – finds Man in the lap of Personhood’s inescapably triune milieu of Self-Other-Us within the ceaseless reciprocity of the immutable love of the Necessary Being. There within the Triune love’s timeless sacrifice, pouring out, of the Self – amid and among the timeless filling of the Beloved brings us to the ends of what Man can call sight as he peers into He Who first precedes, then endures, and finally outreaches, outdistances, all possible landscapes – all possible worlds.

  113. BillT

    I said it was an unreasonable compromise between the concept of original sin ruining a perfect world made by God (as told in Genesis) and what we know about the actual way life evolved on Earth.

    Shane,

    You know the “actual way” life evolved? Please, do tell. And if you were talking about how the species evolved then there is nothing unreasonable about the explanation given. At least we know you’re good at name calling. First, it was “shoehorning”and now it’s “unreasonable”. Is there a point where you actually explain yourself or are you just practicing your use of the pejorative.

  114. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “That one specific religion that explains how the universe was created perfect

    No it doesn’t. You’ve repeated this quite a few times in this thread. Could you explain why you think this is true?”

    Because God is all powerful, created the universe and saw that it was good. If God is perfect, and the universe was the way he wanted it, then it was perfect. If it contained imperfections then they were imperfections he wanted. Perfect in this instance means, exactly the way a perfect God wanted it.

    “That’s one quite simplistic and possibly a little warped view of the cross and it’s significance. I know it’s probably a dominant interpretation in some areas of the US but as a representation of what biblical scholars and Christian theologians would say it’s way off the mark.”

    I was deliberately being brief, but is it not accurate of the Christian faith? What percentage of Christians are biblical scholars or theologians? Feel free to summarise it in a way to explain it to me and the majority of Christians who do not have a tertiary education on the matter?

    “May I suggest that it is your particular understanding of Christianity that is causing conflict with science.”

    Well of course it is. I can’t directly utilise someone else’s understanding of Christianity or science. All I can do is point out my problem and see if someone is willing to use their understanding to explain why there is no conflict. Generally everyone here is very gracious in doing so.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  115. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT

    “Is there a point where you actually explain yourself or are you just practicing your use of the pejorative.”

    Melissa and GM seemed to have grasped what I am saying. Maybe you should just watch from the sidelines.

    Cheers
    Shane

  116. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    Let’s take this small steps at a time.

    “If God, then: Any Theistic definitions of reality which lack a necessary pouring-out of, debasement of, what is necessarily the All-Sufficient (God, the Uncreated, Etc.) and a necessary filling-up of, glorification of, what is necessarily the In-Sufficient (Man, both in mutable innocence / Eden and in mutable fragmentation / privation) is from the start incoherent. ”

    Why?

    Cheers
    Shane

  117. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Simply b/c that is the (necessary) difference between contingency and necessity, all sufficiency and insufficiency, thirst and joy, lack and fullness, and so on in countless contours beyond what we can rightly call sight ~

    A ceaseless pouring / filling Archetype finds no first, no last there amid this/that, self/other, I/You, and so on, ever outward ~

  118. BillT

    Shane,

    Let me go a bit further since you’ve at least hinted at your issue. You seem to believe that original sin/Adam and Eve can’t logically exist in an ancient world. However, a quite clear expression of this reality exists right in the book of Genesis and right in the story of Adam and Eve.

    In Gen. 4: 13-15 are these words:

    13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

    So just who is it that Cain so fears. It’s certainly some other people or persons. All the standard cross references indicate that as opposed to fear of wild animals, say. That not to mention the mark placed on him in v15 would need someone who could recognize and understand such a mark. So some other people existed at the time of Adam and Eve. Where did they come from, how long had they and their ancestors existed.

    So it’s “unreasonable” to postulate original sin/Adam and Eve in an ancient world and one must “shoehorn” these facts into the Biblical narrative. The plain language of the Bible would seem to disagree.

  119. BillT

    We cannot prove or disprove God. Atheism, the lack of believe due to the total lack of evidence, is the logical stance to take.

    Shane,

    Just to return to your earlier statement and even accept it on your own terms. You start out ok, “We cannot prove or disprove God.” True. But then you jump to an unwarranted conclusion that somehow atheism is the “logical stance to take”. If there is no proof in either direction then both belief or unbelief must share the same attribute. In this case, the attribute is that they are beliefs. You use the word yourself. Your atheism is a belief, a position based on faith, without proof just as is our theism a position based on faith, without proof. Thus, atheism is no more logical than theism and just calling it that (which is what you have done) doesn’t make it true.

    And as has been pointed out many times here and I would think likely pointed out to you as well proof, as you yourself make clear, is an inappropriate standard given, as you stated, neither side has any. Our belief in God is based on evidence and philosophical argumentation. That those evidences don’t convince you is neither here nor there. They certainly exist and continue to stand, even in the face of contrary argumentation, as valid expressions on which to base our belief. What does atheism, also a belief without proof, offer as evidence of its beliefs outside of the quite illogical argument you posed above.

  120. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Melissa speaks of something Good.

    Innocence is Good – though not Perfect. “Subdue the Earth” speaks volumes. And: The contingent Self there in Eden houses volition. Then: the Perfect – the Amalgamation, the Wedding, amid God/Man, Word/Corporeal, Timelessness/Time, is a motion of Wills – pleural. Neither Magic nor Rape will yield Love’s Image in Man.

  121. SteveK

    BillT,
    The atheist’s conclusion (belief) is based on the philosophical argument succinctly stated as “Your (theist) evidence and philosophical arguments aren’t convincing to me, and this proves that I’m more rational than you.”

    But this is not an argument. It’s an assertion in response to an argument.

  122. BillT

    SteveK,

    I am tying to give Shane the benefit if the doubt. I realize he could be drawing the conclusion you point out or as it can be alternatively summarized “I believe nothing for no reason.” The “atheism isn’t a belief” shtick is pretty much over. With all the time Shane has spent here I hope he’s beyond that.

  123. Melissa

    Shane,

    Because God is all powerful, created the universe and saw that it was good. If God is perfect, and the universe was the way he wanted it, then it was perfect. If it contained imperfections then they were imperfections he wanted. Perfect in this instance means, exactly the way a perfect God wanted it.

    If perfect means exactly the way God wanted it then yes creation was “perfect”. I’m still not getting where the contradiction is between this and evolution and death of creatures pre-Adam and Eve. One thing to keep in mind is that Creation is both an act of power and an act of sacrifice. God voluntarily gives up something of his own power to allow his creatures to exercise power in their own right.

    I was deliberately being brief, but is it not accurate of the Christian faith?

    No. Penal substitutionary atonement theory as the primary way to understand Christ’s work on the cross is relatively recent and limited to the Protestant tradition. It would be completely foreign to our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters. Even within a strictly reformed tradition the view is much more nuanced than “a blood sacrifice was required”. If you want to go back to the biblical texts, in Paul’s writings he uses at least 13 narrative patterns when referring to Christ’s death indicating that he saw it as a multi-dimensional work that could not be summed up in one neat package. Currently there a four main views of Christ’s death and in my opinion each one captures something important and true.

    Although many Christians in particular traditions may, if asked to articulate why Jesus died may articulate similarly to the way you have because that’s the way they’ve been taught, but their actual understanding and the way they would elaborate on their faith would suggest that their real, full understanding is much more than this. And if in their practical understanding they identify with Christ and let the story of the cross shape their life, they demonstrate that they know experientially what the Christian faith is all about.

    I would highly recommend Tom Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” as a good entry into exploring further and getting past a simplistic Christianity that just sees intellectual acceptance of Jesus sacrifice as a ticket to a disembodied heaven. Specifically on the cross I’ll need to go looking for something that is popular level so I’ll get back to you on that.

  124. scblhrm

    “…..sacrifice as a ticket to a disembodied heaven….”

    Such thinking isn’t thinking. That is to say, such fails to do the work required. Scripturally, ontologically, metaphysically, and hermeneutically it is either the stuff of half-hearted lethargy or the stuff of willful shoddiness.

    Very broadly speaking perhaps it is worth, here, an attempt at a brief exegesis of connotation, of nuance, of subtext to draw out by inference that “multi-dimensional work that could not be summed up in one neat package”. The whole of which just is Scripture’s metanarrative. The affairs of denotation will be left for those more adept at such things. Heavy on metaphysical connotation, rather than on express denotation, then, here amid contingency and immutability:

    God – Immutable Love – finds Man in the lap of Personhood’s inescapably triune milieu of Self-Other-Us within the ceaseless reciprocity of the immutable love of the Necessary Being. Therein – in Trinity – love’s timeless Sacrifice, pouring out, of all which we call Self – amid and among the timeless Filling of all which we call the Beloved/Other forever begets within such living waters all which just is the singular Us – and this ad infinitum void of what we call First, void of what we call Last, void of what we call Thirst. Such triune contours within the immutable love of the Necessary Being bring us to the ends of what Man can call sight as he peers into He Who first precedes, then endures, and finally outreaches, outdistances, all possible worlds. The exegesis of filiation, of the eternally begotten as a proper and orthodox semantic paradigm is there forever housed within the Triune, that is to say, within those motions which both the intellectual and existential affirm as comprising love, Who is Himself God. Man is by necessity the Contingent Self, fashioned in His Image, and therein Man’s Means and Ends just are those motions found within Trinity by which all his hope – all his means and ends – are reduced to one word: Other.

    The geography amid Contingency and Necessity never changes as the motion of trusting-in, of faith in the Contingent Self into/in itself finds – necessarily – insufficiency, lack, want, and this ad infinitum, in permanence of the un-whole, whereas, that same business of volition – of motion – into what just is Immutable Love finds mutability fading into non-entity as – ad infinitum – He fills us full with our final felicity such that no person shall have the need to be taught of love by man ever again – as it will be Immutable Love Himself Who fills us. Wherever we shall there motion, whether beneath our feet, or above our heads, or into our chests, we will find that beautiful freedom called Permanence.

    In Christ alone we spy all these lines, all these contours, such that whether we speak of the Timeless/Immaterial, or, of Time/Physicality, all vectors are unchanging as He fills all in all, as in Christ all worlds converge in the only coherent Means ever perceived. All theistic frameworks outside of such motions here fail for Means cannot be some lesser something than all the affairs of Amalgamation, of Timeless/Time, of Immaterial/Material, of Incorporeal/Corporeal, of Word/Flesh – of Incarnation there amid God-In-Man, Man-In-God. Whether in mutable innocence or in mutable privation it is the case, perhaps, that the stuff of permanence awaits all contingent selves as Contingency, Insufficiency, Lack, Need, Want, always knew it would find no other Way to pierce, enter into, the skin of God Himself for Necessity cannot be otherwise. The Cross of Christ finds man’s possible worlds there in Means and Ends to be nothing less than All-Sufficiency Himself – both in innocence and in pain’s privation, in hope and in hopelessness, in beauty and in ashes – as in Him all such paradigms amid All-Sufficiency and In-Sufficiency are first defined, and then affirmed, and then fulfilled. Of Him alone it is true when He expresses to all contingent selves, “I Am the A and the Z, the First and the Last”.

    The full hermeneutical extrication, or, the complete exegesis, or, whatever other fancy word one wishes to use, is found in all the stuff of our brutally repeatable experience both morally and physically within the existential even as it is found in all the stuff of logic’s lucidity within the inescapable metaphysics of time and of timelessness, of immaterial and of material – of the contingent and of the immutable – there within Scripture’s ceaselessly cogent Meta-Narrative.

  125. JAD

    SteveK to BillT:

    “The atheist’s conclusion (belief) is based on the philosophical argument succinctly stated as “Your (theist) evidence and philosophical arguments aren’t convincing to me, and this proves that I’m more rational than you.”

    But this is not an argument. It’s an assertion in response to an argument.”

    Actually, all Shane, Ray and all the other interlocutors like them ever give us are personal opinions, which have absolutely no relevance to anyone else but themselve. So, what’s the point? If there is no God there is no point. That why I have said, here and elsewhere, if I didn’t believe in God I wouldn’t bother anyone else and I certainly would not have a smug condescending attitude about my non-belief.

  126. Ray Ingles

    JAD – Actually, I’ve presented things like the argument from evil and such, and pointed out problems I see in other arguments for God.

    And I actually don’t “bother anyone else” – I like arguing about this stuff, so I seek out places where actual polite argument can happen, but I certainly don’t bother people in day-to-day life. I do have a problem with religion impacting me politically, but that’s a separate subject.

    And I don’t think I’ve presented a “smug condescending attitude about my non-belief”. If you have examples of that, I’d be curious to see them.

    Maybe you’ve run into interlocutors who do all that, but I’m afraid I object on the above grounds to being included with them.

  127. GM

    I’ve actually found Ray to be a compelling conversationalist. He’s under no obligation to me to walk on egg shells, and I feel I’ve been given some space to at least comment on some of these topics from the perspective of my personal spiritual experiences, which would be totally derided and picked apart with carnivorous glee in other parts of the internet. Then again, I’m from a pretty secular part of the country and I’ve faced some really rude treatment from people because of my faith, and I like to think that’s given me something of a thick skin, all possible comments on atheists as champions of tolerance notwithstanding.

    I think one of the reasons these conversations are so weird is because of two frustrating-to-the-other-side factors. I would imagine, to the atheist, that there is a myriad of interpretations of doctrine across a number of traditions, to the point where they are arguing against a seemingly moving target. That would get under my skin.

    On the other hand, what does frustrate me as a theist is a good majority of atheist arguments are more or less demands along the lines of “If God was real, He would have done things my way, given what I interpret Christian definitions of God mean.” And any appeal to mystery or limitations of individual mortal perspective is just dismissed out of hand. When we KNOW human reason has it’s limits, the fact that faith is seen as such a pariah that has no place in the argument makes the table set with frankly bizarre rules. There is no conceivable worldview that’s liveable that could be argumentatively justified like that.

  128. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    Simply b/c that is the (necessary) difference between contingency and necessity, all sufficiency and insufficiency, thirst and joy, lack and fullness, and so on in countless contours beyond what we can rightly call sight ~

    A ceaseless pouring / filling Archetype finds no first, no last there amid this/that, self/other, I/You, and so on, ever outward ~”

    That hasn’t helped clarify. Try it more simply than that .

    Cheers
    Shane

  129. scblhrm

    Shane,

    I’m not sure God has blood to sacrifice.

    Red blood cells?

    So that’s Christianity’s claim on the nature of the Uncreated, the Contingent, and of Personhood as such in each of those?

    It hardly seems worth moving forward here.

    The real estate of personhood in motion, that is to say, of Theism and so on, on necessity is not naturalism’s metaphysics. Naturalism as a metaphysics, quantum indeterminism, antirealism, and so on simply fail to alter the problem of cause, of effect, and Hawking’s move to a sort of pseudo ontological pluralism to evade such is of no help. The Energy of Vacuum, and so on – even if a byproduct of psychotics adrift in an ocean of delusion – is still either Energy, in which case absurdity, or, it is a delusion, in which case absurdity. The cost of such hemorrhaging mounts and comment #75 is (as an introduction) enough as it commits us to our presuppositions – coherent or otherwise. For Theism, for the geography of person in motion, all the business of Pantheism, an array of Monotheisms, and Christianity’s God, the I AM, (others having failed even – simple – dissections) all speak to their own prescriptive, their own descriptive. In Theism, of course, the self-evident remains in that we exist, logic is reliable, that this keyboard is not that galaxy, and so on, despite ontological pluralism’s infinite equivocation. I may as well mention that Creation’s mutable innocence amid death, and, or, sin, though troubling for you, just is not problematic for the Christian’s ontological regressions, as per comment # 82 (and BillT’s #119). Your recent employment of the imperative to my keyboard aside, given your non-Christian definitions of what Christ’s Cross actually is, what such does, what such employs, it hardly seems worth moving forward when you clearly do not apply the discipline of whole ontological / categorical thinking to the paradigm which is Christianity’s logical and metaphysical regressions. Rather, such lines are a sort of ticket to a sort of Disney in the sky. Given that missing piece of looking at Christianity’s Meta-Narrative, I’ll leave you with comment #125 here, which, within some contours, touches on your question of the relationship between the Uncreated/Created, though, far more importantly, it touches on what Melissa aptly termed the “multi-dimensional work that could not be summed up in one neat package”, that Meta-Narrative of Scripture’s A – Z.

  130. scblhrm

    Clarification:

    Red blood cells?

    Hemoglobin? And loaded with oxygen too? Before creation? Perhaps if we move that the state of affairs within Uncreated Mind is more Actual (or perhaps just as actual) than any state of affairs which said Mind creates. Perhaps. Though I would say even that is not what is in play there. It seems sort of obvious that that isn’t what you meant anyway. And, besides, God, All-Sufficiency, does not rescue insufficiency, want, lack, from Himself, He rescues it from itself, from insufficiency, from want, from lack, from privation. The necessary Means there being – well – Himself, as obviously – it is self-evident – nothing short of All-Sufficiency could tie up all the loose metaphysical ends in that whole paradigm.

  131. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT

    “So it’s “unreasonable” to postulate original sin/Adam and Eve in an ancient world and one must “shoehorn” these facts into the Biblical narrative. The plain language of the Bible would seem to disagree.”

    In evolution, there cannot be a first person. Every child is indistinguishable from their parent. So Adam cannot be the first man to arrive on the scene through the natural process of evolution. There was no such person. I assume that your mention of the other people Cain had to fear is an extrapolation of that, showing that at the time of Adam there was a group of humans and Adam was just one of those. Adam was chosen by God, in the same way that Noah, Abraham, David and Mary were chosen from all the individuals that were on Earth at that time.

    So, Adam (and by extension) the entire human race at that point were without sin. Adam and Eve were placed in Eden and given the first opportunity to sin, by eating of the Tree of Knowledge that was expressly prohibited by God. Why does the rest of the human race alive at that time get cursed because of Adam’s actions? That seems to be the definition of ‘unreasonable’. These other humans (and their ancestors) cannot inherit sin from their father, because they are not part of his bloodline. Perhaps they will intersect down the track, and no doubt they were all wiped out during the flood, but before that point it seems very likely there were people on earth that were not descendants of Adam. And these people, who had not inherited sin, were apparently the most wicked on the Earth?

    The Christian faith hinges on redemption through Christ.
    We need redemption because we are sinners.
    It would be unreasonable if we were originally made sinners by God, requiring that redemption, so we must have been made sin free and somehow corrupted ourselves.
    This corruption cannot be part of the natural flow of evolution, because we can not be held accountable for that either, especially if you believe that God has been tinkering with the evolutionary flow to make humans in the first place.
    Therefore this corruption must be a act freely chosen by the original parents of man kind thus tainting the entire huma race.
    Through evolution, there is no original parents of man kind, so Adams sin must be affect all his contemporaries.
    This is unreasonable.

    Beyond this is the idea that the consequences of sin, pain in child birth, for example, did not exist before The Fall. That is also an unreasonable assertion to make. Again, trying to make the Garden of Eden story work with the theory of evolution is shoehorning in an incompatible idea.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  132. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT,

    “Just to return to your earlier statement and even accept it on your own terms. You start out ok, “We cannot prove or disprove God.” True. But then you jump to an unwarranted conclusion that somehow atheism is the “logical stance to take”. If there is no proof in either direction then both belief or unbelief must share the same attribute. In this case, the attribute is that they are beliefs. You use the word yourself. Your atheism is a belief, a position based on faith, without proof just as is our theism a position based on faith, without proof. Thus, atheism is no more logical than theism and just calling it that (which is what you have done) doesn’t make it true.”

    No. Atheism is a lack of belief, based on a lack of evidence. Let me try a different example.

    Do I believe that you like Ethiopian food?

    No. I can’t believe that. I have no evidence to support that belief at all. Someone that knows you better might believe that. They may have taken you to Ethiopian restaurants and taken note of the gusto with which you ate, or you complimenting the chef, or your assertion that you like it and want to return to the restaurant to eat it again. They have evidence to back up their belief. I have no evidence and therefore can have no belief.

    But you will note, that this is not the same as believing that you dislike Ethiopian food. I have no evidence for that belief either. So here I am, not believing that you like Ethiopian Food and not believing you dislike Ethiopian food. I have a lack of belief for either, because I have no evidence to support either claim.

    It is incorrect to make a correlation between believing something with evidence and not believing something because of the absence of evidence. Not believing something due to an absence of evidence is the natural default position. We don’t believe anything until we are presented evidence in favour of it. Jenna said that there can be no scientific evidence put forward to prove God. So the default position is not to believe, because there is no evidence. Again, this is different to putting forward evidence to believe that there is no God.

    “Our belief in God is based on evidence and philosophical argumentation. That those evidences don’t convince you is neither here nor there. They certainly exist and continue to stand, even in the face of contrary argumentation, as valid expressions on which to base our belief.”

    Of course. You have examined the evidence and you find it supports your belief. I wouldn’t argue against that. If you examined the evidence and found that it contradicted your belief the rational step is to stop believing. This is what happened to me. I will also say that there is no doubt a large number of Christians who have not examined the evidence, and are basing their belief on the fact they trust the person who told them. This was also me. Christianity through apathy. The final thought on this, is that we cannot choose what to believe. We find the evidence compelling or we don’t. But we cannot choose to believe something that we don’t. I am here, to find out if anyone can put forward compelling evidence.

    “What does atheism, also a belief without proof, offer as evidence of its beliefs outside of the quite illogical argument you posed above.”

    I hope I have illustrated that atheism is not a belief, but a lack of belief, and have explained why it is a natural default stance, that does not stand on evidence but is rooted in the lack of it. The burden of proof must sit with the person who presents the evidence to back a belief. Someone must put forward evidence to show that you like Ethiopian food. I don’t have to provide any to say that I don’t believe you do.

    Cheers
    Shane

  133. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “If perfect means exactly the way God wanted it then yes creation was “perfect”. I’m still not getting where the contradiction is between this and evolution and death of creatures pre-Adam and Eve. One thing to keep in mind is that Creation is both an act of power and an act of sacrifice. God voluntarily gives up something of his own power to allow his creatures to exercise power in their own right.”

    I’m wondering how else you might define perfect?

    As in my post to BillT above, how does sin from 2 people in a community infect the world? And does that seem reasonable to you?

    Cheers
    Shane

  134. Shane Fletcher

    Hi JAD,

    “Actually, all Shane, Ray and all the other interlocutors like them ever give us are personal opinions, which have absolutely no relevance to anyone else but themselve.”

    Can anyone give anything other than a personal opinion. Hopefully based on an examination of the evidence, but it is a personal opinion none the less.

    “So, what’s the point? If there is no God there is no point. That why I have said, here and elsewhere, if I didn’t believe in God I wouldn’t bother anyone else and I certainly would not have a smug condescending attitude about my non-belief.”

    I will apologise right now if I have ever come across as smug or condescending. I don’t consider myself smarter than anyone here, and I know I’m not as well read as most of you. But as I have said in the past when you have posted this sentiment, religious people impact others with their actions that are fuelled by their beliefs. Obviously we want to be part of that conversation.

    Cheers
    Shane

  135. Melissa

    Shane,

    Jenna said that there can be no scientific evidence put forward to prove God. So the default position is not to believe, because there is no evidence.

    Once again you write that no scientific evidence is the same as no evidence. As we have already many, many times pointed out how this is incorrect why are you still basing an argument on obviously false premises.

    As in my post to BillT above, how does sin from 2 people in a community infect the world? And does that seem reasonable to you?

    Of course if you think (in my opinion against the evidence) that humans are nothing more than animals (just more complex) then it is difficult to make heads or tails of the Fall. The problem you have us that you are trying to shoehorn the Fall into what amounts to materialism, and of course you’re not going to make sense of that. This is a good article that covers the subject well:

    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/08/modern-genetics-and-the-fall-science-and-religion-in-collision.html

    As you can see no shoehorning required.

  136. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #133

    I find myself misquoted and misrepresented here in this statement of yours:

    “Jenna said that there can be no scientific evidence put forward to prove God. So the default position is not to believe, because there is no evidence. Again, this is different to putting forward evidence to believe that there is no God.”

    First, I believe(d) that we all agree that the word “prove” and concept of “to prove God” is not a cogent or relevant concept and the science is not an appropriate methodology for the study, much less the “proof” of God. Science cannot study God because it cannot even define what God is. So therefore, we/you cannot talk about any such thing as “scientific evidence” to “prove” something that science cannot even describe or define.

    Sad to say, but all of atheists’ talk about a lack of evidence of/for God being the cause or reason for their atheism is pure nonsense. It is most certainly possible for a person to conceptualize what she or he means by the term “God” as something for which there is no evidence and then draw the conclusion that because s/he has defined God as something for which there is no evidence, that whatever it is that they believe “God” to be does not “exist.” This follows logically since, by definition, there can be no evidence of something that does not exist because non-existence leaves not a trace. Don’t you see how silly all of this is? I don’t believe in the non-existent “God” that you don’t believe in either.

    Remember these words from the Gospel According to John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” I have and all Christians have ample evidence of God as spirit and we worship God as spirit. Do you claim that among all human beings for all time throughout history there is a lack of evidence of God as spirit, or do you and can you admit that you yourself, personally and individually, find no evidence of God as spirit credible. Then so be it. You take responsibility for your own perceptions and beliefs, but you can only speak for yourself and no one else as to our understanding of God based on the evidence, our experiences of/with God.

    Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1959, 2004) in his book “God, Man and History” calls these experiences “encounters” with God and says this about “proof.”

    “If the encounter is experienced in reality, what need of proofs? If, however, the encounter is not part of possible human experience, what use all proof?”

  137. scblhrm

    Scientism is itself a failure, an oxymoron, as a theory of knowledge.

    Hint: it’s not methodological naturalism, and, it is equally as hopeless as – but is not identical to – metaphysical naturalism, and, it has a cousin named positivism.

    That entire method of thinking about – defining – reality and offering up its (scientism’s) parameters as the end of reality and of sight fails right out of the gate when it presupposes no presupposing. But it gets worse from that self-negation as one moves outward with it…….

    Unpacking that whole paradigm and its close cousin positivism and the assortment of stawmen seen of late isn’t worth the effort this many posts in.

    The search box at W.L. Craig’s reasonablefaith.org – if one enters “scientism” and/or “the limits of reason” and/or “positivism” – will be helpful for readers. Metaphysical naturalism is a whole other story, though a few searches there would yield some fruitful perspective as well.

  138. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “First, I believe(d) that we all agree that the word “prove” and concept of “to prove God” is not a cogent or relevant concept and the science is not an appropriate methodology for the study, much less the “proof” of God. Science cannot study God because it cannot even define what God is. So therefore, we/you cannot talk about any such thing as “scientific evidence” to “prove” something that science cannot even describe or define.”

    I’m not sure about the ambiguity of definition, but God’s interaction with the world would be supernatural, which science is not equipped to study. But you say …

    “There is no possible way that the scientific method can be applied to reach any conclusions about “existence” vs. “non-existence”, the issue at the very heart of atheism. Consequently, atheists don’t really have science on their side at all. I wonder when they will wake up to this reality.”

    … as though this lack of evidence from the scientific method is damaging to atheism, which is a lack of belief due to a lack of evidence. A lack of evidence is the basis of atheism.

    “It is most certainly possible for a person to conceptualize what she or he means by the term “God” as something for which there is no evidence and then draw the conclusion that because s/he has defined God as something for which there is no evidence, that whatever it is that they believe “God” to be does not “exist.” This follows logically since, by definition, there can be no evidence of something that does not exist because non-existence leaves not a trace.”

    An all powerful and all knowing God can also make sure He leaves no trace. It’s been an argument of Toms on many occasions. An absence of evidence is not proof of anything. As I posted above, just because I don’t have evidence that BillT likes Ethiopian food doesn’t mean I am justified in taking the position that he doesn’t like it.

    “Do you claim that among all human beings for all time throughout history there is a lack of evidence of God as spirit, or do you and can you admit that you yourself, personally and individually, find no evidence of God as spirit credible. Then so be it. You take responsibility for your own perceptions and beliefs, but you can only speak for yourself and no one else as to our understanding of God based on the evidence, our experiences of/with God.”

    Of course I only speak for myself.

    “I have and all Christians have ample evidence of God as spirit and we worship God as spirit.”

    But why is it you feel that you can speak for the experience of all Christians? With all due respect, it’s hypocritical to suggest that my voice is mine alone but you can speak for more than 2 billion people.

    I will also reiterate something I have posted above; no-one chooses what they believe. You can not choose to believe the world is flat when all the evidence you have tells you it’s round. Your beliefs are your beliefs based on your interpretation of the evidence. Too often it is suggested that atheists choose not to believe. This cannot be the case. We just don’t find the evidence compelling.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  139. scblhrm

    On the absurdity that is Scientism, and that is its cousin Positivism, one day the “Atheist” will be intellectually honest and that word (Atheist) will fade out of sight, and the term “Agnostic” will take its place.

    Theist: God

    Atheist: No God

    Agnostic: We cannot know, or, on charity, we do not know.

    The Theist makes a positive, non-neutral, case that there is a God.

    The Atheist makes a positive, non-neutral, case that there is no God.

    The Agnostic makes a case that we cannot know, or, (being charitable) we do not know. Or, stands unconvinced of what must be both. Of course, such assumes intellectual honesty, rather than ontological pluralism and/or antirealism’s infinite equivocations.

    On Science, on Methodological Naturalism – it’s a tie. Stalemate.

    Hard Stop.

    Only in Philosophy can Atheism and Theism converse.

    Meta-Narratives there emerge, and the natural order comes in as a buttress but never can stand alone. The Philosophical stands ever as the Primary and lets us be clear – honest – about who is making what claims on reality.

  140. BillT

    I hope I have illustrated that atheism is not a belief, but a lack of belief….

    No Shane, you haven’t. You haven’t because it isn’t. Atheism is an affirmative belief that God does not exist and it’s a belief in the solely materialistic nature of the universe at the very least. It encompasses many other obvious manifestations and affirmative beliefs. And, like I said, I was hoping you were past claiming that you believe in nothing for no reason. Sorry that you’re not.

  141. BillT

    And Shane. as far as your explanation of why original sin/Adam and Eve couldn’t exist in an ancient world you, to begin with, never addressed the plain language of the text. There were certainly people there at the time of Adam and Eve. You draw any number of conclusion but they are nothing but unsupported assertions based on your presuppositions. I’m glad to see you think you have it all worked out but you statements just aren’t based in any supportable understandings.

    Let me point out a few:

    In evolution, there cannot be a first person….So Adam cannot be the first man to arrive on the scene through the natural process of evolution.

    Never said he was. That’s not necessarily the only option.

    Adam was chosen by God, in the same way that Noah, Abraham, David and Mary were chosen from all the individuals that were on Earth at that time.

    Never said he was. That’s not necessarily the only option.

    Why does the rest of the human race alive at that time get cursed because of Adam’s actions?

    Never said they were. That’s not necessarily the only option. (Which, BTW, you yourself pointed out.)

    This corruption cannot be part of the natural flow of evolution,

    Never said it was. That’s not necessarily the only option.

    Shane, I get it that you think you have it all figured out. However, none of the things you describe has to be true in the way you describe them. And if these understanding are not true then neither is your conclusion.

  142. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #139

    You say this: “I will also reiterate something I have posted above; no-one chooses what they believe. You can not choose to believe the world is flat when all the evidence you have tells you it’s round. Your beliefs are your beliefs based on your interpretation of the evidence. Too often it is suggested that atheists choose not to believe. This cannot be the case. We just don’t find the evidence compelling.”

    You completely contradict yourself here. Of course we/you choose what to believe and what not to believe about God. Belief in God is an act of free will. Not believing in God is an act of free will. You are telling us that you choose not to believe in God because you “don’t find the evidence compelling.” This is a statement of your reason why you CHOOSE not to believe in God. Fine. We Christians choose to believe in God, and to seek and have a relationship with God, because we do find the evidence of/for God compelling. I, we, and you are each and all exercising our free will in choosing what we believe and what we don’t believe and how we act in our lives in response to those freely chosen beliefs.

    Atheism is not a “lack of belief.” It is a belief. And primarily, it is simply a belief (opinion) of what atheists think other people believe about God and the atheist’s own rejection of what s/he chooses to believe about God. And, as I have said before, if I believed about God what you believe about God, I wouldn’t believe IN God either.

  143. BillT

    And just to offer up some further information on the topic of whether atheism is a belief here is an article quoting WLC and referencing some others on the topic.

  144. Jenna Black

    BillT, RE: #144

    Thanks for the link to this article, which also has links to William Lane Craig’s debates. This was very helpful. I appreciate it.

    Have a wonderful day. JB

  145. BillT

    G. Rodriguez

    I alluded to that in my #120. But really where can Shane go. He can’t support his atheism in any other way but really few can. He isn’t here because he “doesn’t find the evidence compelling”. He’s here because he thinks he’s right but he can’t defend that so he tries to hide from it.

  146. Melissa

    Shane,

    I posted a reply to you yesterday but it seems to have got lost in moderation. So briefly …

    Jenna said that there can be no scientific evidence put forward to prove God. So the default position is not to believe, because there is no evidence.

    No scientific evidence does not equal no evidence. This has been pointed out so many times that it is very hard to see why you are still putting this forward as a reason for your atheism.

    On to Adam and Eve. Obviously if the evolutionary account of human origins as interpreted within the framework of materialism then you have to shoe horn in the fall but that would be a rather bizarre way to approach the problem since Christianity rejects materialism’s view of the human being. It also requires putting to one side the philosophical reasons to reject a purely physical view of human beings. This link might help:

    Modern Genetics and the Fall

  147. Scott_In_OH

    This conversation has raised several points, but I wanted to comment on just two:

    1. The compatibility of a literal Adam and Eve who committed the literal first sins with what we know about evolution.

    In Humani Generis (1950), paragraph 36 tells Catholics that they may believe the evidence for evolution, but paragraph 37 makes clear they must believe in a literal Adam and Eve:

    “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.”

    This is not from a fly-by-night, radical, not-really-Christian sect. It’s the Roman Catholic Church. And as best scientists can tell, it is incorrect. On this question, the two are incompatible, and the Church’s answer is that “the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of Church,” especially regarding the nature of Original Sin, are to be privileged over the findings of biology and other sciences.

    2. Substitutionary atonement.

    At the beginning of Tom’s series on “Evidence for the Faith,” he wrote in “What I Believe, or The Christianity I Am Defending” that we could find his faith (more or less) in the statements of faith of Ratio Christi or Cru (aka Campus Crusade for Christ). Both of those include language like this (from Cru):

    “He lived a sinless life and voluntarily atoned for the sins of men by dying on the cross as their substitute…”

    Melissa is presumably right that other subsets of Christians see things differently, but again, this is not some made-up, how-could-you-possibly-think-Christians-believe-that teaching. It is quite common for American Protestants, including our host. Raising objections about it is not attacking a strawman.

  148. Melissa

    Scott_In_OH,

    And as best scientists can tell, it is incorrect. On this question, the two are incompatible

    No they are not. See here.

    Melissa is presumably right that other subsets of Christians see things differently, but again, this is not some made-up, how-could-you-possibly-think-Christians-believe-that teaching. It is quite common for American Protestants, including our host. Raising objections about it is not attacking a straw man.

    Since Shane’s specific question was “is it not accurate of the Christian faith?” I stand by my comment. Aside from that, his caricature I doubt very much that his caricature accurately reflects Tom’s view on the matter.

  149. Scott_In_OH

    Melissa @150:

    On Adam & Eve

    Feser says God might have infused souls into only 2 of the 10,000 or so humans (or human-like animals, in Feser’s view) that were ancestors of all of humanity. If that is correct, then for Pius’s words to hold, all of humanity would still have had to descend from those 2 people, while the other 9,998 didn’t have offspring (or at least not lines of descendants that lasted very long). All of those “not true humans” must have died out. But there is no indication of this in the evidence scientists have examined.

    Science and religion co-exist all the time, but if a religion claims that all of modern humanity descended from two people, then on that claim it is incompatible with science.

    On substitutionary atonement

    You are correct that substitutionary atonement is not how all Christians understand Jesus’s death. My point was only that it is how a significant portion of mainstream Christians understand it.

  150. Melissa

    Scott,

    If that is correct, then for Pius’s words to hold, all of humanity would still have had to descend from those 2 people, while the other 9,998 didn’t have offspring (or at least not lines of descendants that lasted very long).

    No, that’s not correct. Their lines would not have needed to die out, just be intermingled with the lines from Adam.

    Science and religion co-exist all the time, but if a religion claims that all of modern humanity descended from two people, then on that claim it is incompatible with science.

    No science is incompatible with the claim that all of modern humanity descended only from one single couple.

    You are correct that substitutionary atonement is not how all Christians understand Jesus’s death. My point was only that it is how a significant portion of mainstream Christians understand it.

    So what? That doesn’t make Shane’s statement any less wrong, or any less of a caricature of what proponents of penal substitutionary atonement believe.

  151. Ray Ingles

    Melissa, a couple observations:

    First, science cannot disprove that all humans have a particular couple as ancestors, true. However, it can put a lower bound on how long ago something like that could have happened, which currently seems to be no more recently than about 100,000 years ago. That implies some rather large elidations in things like the genealogies listed in the Bible, at least the ones that trace back to Adam.

    Secondly, you’re quite correct that Christianity is, in practice, an umbrella large enough for some fairly significant doctrinal differences. And an argument against one doctrine may well not apply to other versions.

    However, note that atheism doesn’t have popes, bishops, doctrinal statements, even founding documents. One would expect that atheism would thus have an even greater range of opinion, and that arguments that target one particular branch of atheistic thought might well not apply to other versions.

  152. Jenna Black

    Ray Ingles,

    Your efforts to apply science to what is obviously a mytho-poetic narrative and allegorical “explanation” of profound and complex theology written for pedagogical purposes for sacred and religious teaching by the ancient Hebrews, the Adam and Eve story in the Book of Genesis, seems to me to be rather odd and quite contrived. Have you considered the symbolic and representational aspects of the story, such as the meaning the name “Adam” as “man” for purposes of creating a prototype of mankind, rather than going off on a tangent about whether or not all humankind descended from only two parents?

    Rabbi Michael Samuel does an excellent and very thorough job of analyzing the mytho-poetic and allegorical features and interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis in his book:

    Samuel, M. (2010). “Birth and Rebirth Through Genesis: A Timeless Theological Conversation Genesis 1-3.”

    I don’t think it really serves much of a useful purpose to attempt to turn a “theological conversation” into a treatise on human ancestry from the viewpoint of the science of evolution.

    I refer often to the allegory of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve’s story and my interpretation of what it tells us about sin. In the GOE, everything that the humans needed was provided. They felt no suffering or pain or need because their relationship with God was one of complete dependence and complete obedience. But they were given one prohibition: not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The reason for this one rule (law) is that once a human has knowledge of the difference between good and evil, we must be accountable for our choices between the two, righteousness or evil, obedience of God or disobedience, since we know the difference. Suffering came into the world when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree and acquired knowledge of good and evil because without our suffering, we cannot has empathy for the suffering of others and the suffering we cause others.

    JB

  153. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black –

    Your efforts to apply science to what is obviously a mytho-poetic narrative

    Wait, my efforts?

    Shane brought up the topic of reconciling modern understanding of human origins with the doctrine of original sin via Adam and Eve as real persons. Scott_In_OH has expanded a bit on that, and Melissa referenced an article by Feser that attempts to do just that – reconcile the modern understanding of human origins with the doctrine of original sin via Adam and Eve as real persons.

    I noted one condition that that reconciliation has to deal with. I’m not trying “to apply science to what is obviously a mytho-poetic narrative”! Feser (and, I assume because she referenced him, Melissa) is.

  154. Scott_In_OH

    Melissa @152,

    Pius writes that “the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that … after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him…” To me, that says that the other 9,998 didn’t have any descendants at all, which is false.

    Your interpretation is broader, saying that Adam’s and/or Eve’s genes (and therefore a soul, stained with Original Sin) spread throughout the entire population through intermingling. I don’t know whether that hypothesis fits with available evidence, but I suppose it could be investigated.

    Do you know if the RCC has made a formal statement on this matter since 1950? I would think they must have, but I haven’t come across it.

  155. Melissa

    Scott,

    To me, that says that the other 9,998 didn’t have any descendants at all.

    That is one interpretation, but as I have already said there are others and since there are others the contradiction is just apparent and not real. A good question to ask yourself is why, if there are at least two possible ways of interpreting what is written, you are so keen to interpret it in the way that forces a contradiction.

    Ray (and Jenna),

    I noted one condition that that reconciliation has to deal with. I’m not trying “to apply science to what is obviously a mytho-poetic narrative”! Feser (and, I assume because she referenced him, Melissa) is.

    I’m sorry Ray, but you misunderstand what is being argued. It is not how, taking the Genesis account as history, we might reconcile it with science (I agree with Jenna on that one), hence why your comment on the need to reconcile the genealogies is off target. The question being argued is whether the Christian doctrine of the Fall (or original sin) is in contradiction with the current scientific understanding of human origins.

  156. JAD

    Christianity is a system of belief that is based on certain truth claims. Truth claims are not the same thing as opinion. For example, in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 the apostle Paul make some claims concerning the resurrection; or, in Hebrews 11: 3 the writer makes some claims about the creation of the universe (and we could list many others.)

    History (and historians) in general make truth claims. For example, Roman history informs us that Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15 (the ides) 44 BC at the Senate house in ancient Rome by several men wielding daggers. This is what is attested to by a number of Roman historians, including writers like Suetonius and Plutarch. It’s clear from their writings that neither writer is just giving us just his opinion, rather each man is trying to inform the reader as to actually what happened, as far as they can infer from the records they have. In other words, they are making the truth claim that what they are writing about is “historical fact.”

    Now suppose someone (a non-historian) were to show up here and express the opinion to what I have just written that we can’t trust ancient Roman sources, because writers like Suetonious were superstitious. For example, in his account Suetonious talks about Caesar receiving forwarnings of his death– so called omens or portents of doom. Now who’s opinion should I trust? This drive-by amateur nobody or Latin scholar Michael Grant, the historian and reknown British scholar who, in his introduction to his translation of Suetonius’ Twelve Caesars, says that Suetonious was among the first ancient historians to demonstrate ” a high degree of objectivity.” Grant also tells us that Suetonius was a librarian who had privaledged access to government archives. So from what Grant tells me then Suetonius is a very trustworthy source.

    Is early Christian history any different?

    Here’s my point:

    Up above @ #135 Shane responded something that I wrote earlier.

    JAD (from #126): “Actually, all Shane, Ray and all the other interlocutors like them ever give us are personal opinions, which have absolutely no relevance to anyone else but themselves.”

    Shane: “Can anyone give anything other than a personal opinion. Hopefully based on an examination of the evidence, but it is a personal opinion none the less.”

    If all Shane is sharing with us is his personal opinion, why should I take him seriously at all? Who is Shane Fletcher to tell Christians what to believe or think about their theology, Christian history or their world view? Is it because he’s an atheist that he thinks he’s qualified to do this? I can think of dozens of better informed sources (including some who comment here) who actually know what they are talking about.

    Furthermore, as an atheist who (according to what he has told us) doesn’t really have any beliefs (atheism, according to Shane, is no belief) have to offer in place of the Christian faith? So why is Shane here? To tear down Christianity and offer nothing in it’s place? There is a name for a position like that. It’s called nihilism. Sorry, I’m not going to convert to nothing because some nobody who believes in nothing has a very uninformed personal opinion about what he thinks I believe. So again, what’s Shane’s point in being here?

  157. Ray Ingles

    Well, Jenna, since you addressed the post specifically to me, and I’m not a group of people, I hope you can understand my confusion!

    (In any case, did you want to take me up on the book swap from #97? Or comments on the difference between digestion and food re: consciousness, from #101 & #103?)

  158. Ray Ingles

    Melissa –

    The question being argued is whether the Christian doctrine of the Fall (or original sin) is in contradiction with the current scientific understanding of human origins.

    And… Genesis doesn’t relate to that doctrine? Ok, I guess.

  159. Jenna Black

    Ray,

    You say this: “How consciousness arises in the brain is certainly puzzling at this point, but I think the details strongly indicate that somehow, it does.”

    I don’t know of anyone whose posting here that sees consciousness as “arising” in a human being anywhere in our anatomy other than the brain, which is, as I pointed out, the organ that processes all stimuli from the outside world and from each of our internal “world.” But did you miss my big question? What is consciousness consciousness of? Surely you will agree that our human consciousness includes self-awareness–an awareness of our “personhood” and “selfhood” that transcends our biological, physical body. This awareness of our selfhood and personhood is processed by the brain, the bodily organ that has that function, but the brain is NOT that selfhood (which we Christians call the soul). It is merely the processor of that “something.”

    So please answer the question: What is consciousness consciousness of, Ray?

  160. Scott_In_OH

    Melissa @159,

    I am not keen to jump on any particular interpretation. I am keen, in a discussion of whether religious claims are compatible with modern science, to nail down what those religious claims are. This builds directly on GW’s point @128.

    I think you and I actually agree that if someone insisted that the Adam and Eve story was literally true, they would be contradicted by modern science. Neither you nor I believes the story is literally true, but there are many Christians who do, so that’s important to point out. Likewise, if someone claimed all of humanity was descended directly and solely from a single pair of beings, I think you and I would agree that science says that is incorrect. Again, though, many Christians believe it, so it is important to point out the contradiction with scientific findings.

    I am happy to think more about the interpretation you have given, drawing on Feser, if I can find more evidence that it is a widely held belief. It’s obviously not your responsibility to show me that evidence, but I did wonder if you knew off the top of your head whether the Catholic Church had published any more official statements on the matter since Pius in 1950.

  161. Melissa

    Ray,

    And… Genesis doesn’t relate to that doctrine? Ok, I guess.

    Genesis doesn’t need to be actual history for the doctrine of The Fall to be true, therefore when we are arguing that science doesn’t contradict the Fall we are not simultaneously trying to reconcile historical science with an historical Genesis.

  162. Melissa

    Scott,

    Sorry if I came across as a bit snippy. My main concern in the conversation was with showing that the claim that science and the doctrine of The Fall are in conflict is not correct.

    I think for many reasons Christians don’t read their bibles carefully. I think anyone who does would realise that what’s in there doesn’t necessarily match the kids bible stories version. I’d be surprised that anyone who is willing and able to think carefully about the actual text (and there are many reasons why someone might not) and the possible scenarios would insist that everyone must be solely descended from Adam and Eve.

  163. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black –

    Surely you will agree that our human consciousness includes self-awareness–an awareness of our “personhood” and “selfhood” that transcends our biological, physical body.

    Depends a heck of a lot on how “transcends” is understood.

    A process supervenes on the materials undergoing the process. Like a tornado isn’t a thing in itself, it’s something air does. The individual air molecules that make up a tornado move in and out but there’s a process that continues. Like a stream or a fountain – the material that makes them up is always changing, but the process remains.

    If consciousness is a process, then (in humans, at least) it supervenes on the brain. It’s something the brain does. Consciousness is awareness of things – ones’ environment, ones’ memories, ones’ body, and sure, even consciousness of the process of consciousness. We can be aware of processes – tornadoes, fountains, streams, variation and selection – so being aware of the process of consciousness doesn’t need to be anything special in that regard.

    but the brain is NOT that selfhood

    Of course not, any more than the air molecules that make up a tornado are the tornado. The brain is what carries out the process of selfhood.

  164. Jenna Black

    Ray,

    We may be making progress. The brain cannot carry out the process of selfhood if there is no such thing as selfhood to be “carried out.” Therefore, selfhood exists whether or not the brain is capable or incapable of “carrying it out” such as in the case of brain damage or infirmity, such as Alzheimer’s. The personhood of a human being transcends the biological organism and its specialized organs that allow the body to function and thrive in the environment.

    Your tornado analogy does not work. Air molecules are not to a tornado what the brain is selfhood (the soul).

  165. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black –

    The brain cannot carry out the process of selfhood if there is no such thing as selfhood to be “carried out.”

    Let’s rephrase that slightly: ‘The brain cannot carry out the process of selfhood if there is no such thing as the process of selfhood to be “carried out.”’

    Of course, I think that ‘selfhood’ – consciousness – is and must be a process. (Again, the hallmark of a process is that it’s inherently time-based, and consciousness is inherently time-based too.) I don’t think – and am definitely not claiming – that there’s “no such thing as selfhood”. I just understand selfhood differently than you do.

    Air molecules are not to a tornado what the brain is selfhood (the soul).

    Can you explain in more detail why this is so, rather than just asserting it?

  166. Jenna Black

    Ray,

    Yes, we appear to understand “selfhood” somewhat differently. My understanding is framed conceptually and linguistically using terms such as “the soul” and “the spirit”, which I don’t think of in terms of simply a “process.” I think more in terms of “self-actualization”, an on-going expression of an existing reality. A book that I have referenced before that I think describes my understanding of this/these phenomenon/phenomena more thoroughly and articulately from the viewpoint of neuroscience is this one:

    Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman (2009). How God changes the brain: Breakthrough findings from a leading neuroscientist.

    I don’t think that the tornado and air molecules is apropos because a tornado is moving air molecules, most certainly, but the brain is not a “molecule” of selfhood, the soul, the spirit or whatever you call that “it” we are talking about.

  167. Ray Ingles

    Jenna, an air molecule, even one participating in a tornado, isn’t a “tornado molecule”. A tornado exists on a different level, as a dynamic pattern or organization of a lot of air molecules.

    Neither have I claimed that a brain is a ‘selfhood molecule’ or anything like that. Consciousness would exist as a dynamic patten, a process (vastly more complicated than a tornado, of course) of molecules in the brain. (And who knows, maybe Penrose is right and quantum mechanics actually are integral to that process.)

    I think our understandings (and terminology) may differ too much to make progress at this time. Looks like your book is available at my local library; I’ll see if I can grab hold of a copy. Any chance you’d do me the favor of reciprocating with some Oliver Sacks?

  168. Jenna Black

    Ray,

    I checked Oliver Sacks’ books that you recommended out on amazon.com. Sorry, but I’m not much interested in the topic. I’m much more interested in the neuroscience of healthy, fully functioning brains and the neuroscience of spirituality and philosophy.

    Thanks for the conversation. JB

  169. Ray Ingles

    Jenna Black –

    I’m much more interested in the neuroscience of healthy, fully functioning brains and the neuroscience of spirituality and philosophy.

    I can understand that, but note: examining how something breaks can offer a great deal of information about the internals and how it really works. In any case, until next time, thanks yourself!

  170. JAD

    Eric Metaxas said something in a Breakpoint article that I think is very relevant to the discussion here:

    Most of the leading lights of the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could reasonably be described as devout Christians. This makes sense, since “the rise of science was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine.” It was based on the belief that “Nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it’s necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork.”

    That our contemporaries sometimes think otherwise represents the triumph of propaganda that had its origins in the Enlightenment and has reached its apogee in the dogma of scientism, which holds that empirical science “constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.”

    (emphasis added)

    http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26091

    In other words, non-theist secularists have co-opted the so-called scientific revolution– a movement, which at it’s roots, is fundamentally a theistic-Christian movement.

  171. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    #137 & 149

    “Once again you write that no scientific evidence is the same as no evidence. As we have already many, many times pointed out how this is incorrect why are you still basing an argument on obviously false premises.”

    I do apologise for the sloppy writing. Jenna’s point is that the scientific method cannot offer evidence to prove or disprove God. She then says that this means science is not on the atheists side. As “lack of evidence” is a reason to not believe in something, the fact that science can offer no evidence does not mean it is not on the atheists side, but rather it is a reason to not believe. This is not a universal claim about all avenues of evidence, just the scientific one, as this is what Jenna’s remarks were limited to.

    “Of course if you think (in my opinion against the evidence) that humans are nothing more than animals (just more complex) then it is difficult to make heads or tails of the Fall. The problem you have us that you are trying to shoehorn the Fall into what amounts to materialism, and of course you’re not going to make sense of that. This is a good article that covers the subject well:

    http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2011/08/modern-genetics-and-the-fall-science-and-religion-in-collision.html

    As you can see no shoehorning required.”

    I’m sorry, but I still see a clunky addendum here. Would you mind clarifying what you believe, please? Is it that God gave man his spiritual self or that our spiritual self occurred in us through evolution? If the former, did He bestow this upon he entire species at the time? Is The Fall the result of a specific act of rebellion on the part of an ancestor or just an inherent part of our nature? If the former, why is all mankind punished and if the latter how can we be held responsible for the way God made us? Do you believe that there was no pain in child birth before The Fall and if so how do you reconcile that?

    Thanks in dance
    Shane

  172. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT

    “No Shane, you haven’t. You haven’t because it isn’t. Atheism is an affirmative belief that God does not exist and it’s a belief in the solely materialistic nature of the universe at the very least.”

    And Faith means believing things without evidence.

    Oh wait, you don’t like it when people mis-define a word you use as a descriptor? Annoying isn’t it. When you go to great detail to illustrate what you mean and why, and instead of offering a counter argument, or explaining why your illustration is flawed, they just flat out say you are wrong.

    Schblrm

    “On the absurdity that is Scientism, and that is its cousin Positivism, one day the “Atheist” will be intellectually honest and that word (Atheist) will fade out of sight, and the term “Agnostic” will take its place.

    Theist: God

    Atheist: No God

    Agnostic: We cannot know, or, on charity, we do not know.

    The Theist makes a positive, non-neutral, case that there is a God.

    The Atheist makes a positive, non-neutral, case that there is no God.

    The Agnostic makes a case that we cannot know, or, (being charitable) we do not know. Or, stands unconvinced of what must be both. Of course, such assumes intellectual honesty, rather than ontological pluralism and/or antirealism’s infinite equivocations.”

    No. The anti-theist makes a positive, non-neutral, case that there is no God. Anti, a prefix meaning “opposite”. A is a prefix that means non or without. So

    Theist – believes in a singular personal God
    Atheist – is without belief in a singular personal God.
    Anti theist – believes there is no singular personal God.

    Agnostic again adds the prefix ‘a’ meaning ‘without’ to gnostic, from the Greek root meaning knowledge, and is used as a signifier of uncertainty. This is why you can have the phrase “agnostic theist” meaning someone who is not sure of the evidence but believes in a personal God. Using your definitions the term “agnostic theist” would be a contradiction, but a Google search shows it is in wide use.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  173. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT,

    “Shane, I get it that you think you have it all figured out. However, none of the things you describe has to be true in the way you describe them. And if these understanding are not true then neither is your conclusion.”

    At no point do I claim to have anything all figured out. I am merely pointing out what I see as inconsistencies in the two,options as I understand it. If you want to explain to me exactly what it is you believe then we can move forward from there. Saying “That’s not what I believe.” with no further explanation doesn’t move the conversation forward.

    Cheers
    Shane

  174. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “You completely contradict yourself here. Of course we/you choose what to believe and what not to believe about God. Belief in God is an act of free will. Not believing in God is an act of free will. You are telling us that you choose not to believe in God because you “don’t find the evidence compelling.” This is a statement of your reason why you CHOOSE not to believe in God. Fine. We Christians choose to believe in God, and to seek and have a relationship with God, because we do find the evidence of/for God compelling. I, we, and you are each and all exercising our free will in choosing what we believe and what we don’t believe and how we act in our lives in response to those freely chosen beliefs.”

    All my life experience tells me it is impossible to choose to believe something. What you are saying is that you could, if you wanted, just stop believing in God right now. I don’t think that is true. You could say the words, and act as though you didn’t believe, but beliefs run deep, and are based on experience and knowledge.

    I understand that the concept of Free Will is vital to the Christian doctrine, but we will all agree that it has limitations, and arbitrarily changing what you believe is one of them. This seems like a fruitful line of discussion, so I welcome thoughts from all.

    Cheers
    Shane

  175. Shane Fletcher

    Hi JAD,

    “So again, what’s Shane’s point in being here?”

    I have questions that I want the answers to. In this particular instance I sincerely am trying to understand the process of The Fall and the need for redemption as BillT and Melissa understand it.

    But I must ask what is your point in posting here? Is it to try and convert me? Get me back on the Christian path like the Prodigal Son? Save another soul in Jesus name and bring more glory to God? Because honestly, your posts don’t have that feel about them. And if you are not here arguing the point for God’s greater glory, then perhaps you should take a moment to think about your motivations.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  176. Shane Fletcher

    Hi JAD,

    “Most of the leading lights of the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could reasonably be described as devout Christians. This makes sense, since “the rise of science was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine.” It was based on the belief that “Nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it’s necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork.”

    The last two sentences aren’t born from the first, and are an ad hoc conclusion. Similar to me writing

    Most of the leading lights of the scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries could reasonably be described as men. This makes sense because God bestowed a sense of curiosity on men, whilst women were made placid, accepting and uninterested in the deeper workings of the world.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  177. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #179

    My sense of this conversation is that what you mean by “belief in God” and what I mean by belief in God are not the same thing. Frankly, atheists seem to be rather “hung up” on the concept of God’s “existence” and the question of whether or not “God” “exists” as a “belief” and this is, of course, without ever having clearly defined or articulated what THEY mean by the terms “God” or what it means for whatever they call “God” to do whatever it is they mean by “exists.”

    Christianity is not just about “belief”, which has to do with acceptance of some idea, concept, principle or statement as true. Christianity is about a relationship with God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For Christians, the question of God’s existence is not a question at all. Nor is it a “claim” that we make or have to defend or debate with atheists. The question of God’s “existence” stems from our puzzling out the question of our own existence (which is not in doubt). How did we get here? How did everything get here? What is our relationship as mortal beings with that everything that gives us life and sustains life? The choice comes in our formulation of coherent, rational and live-enhancing understandings to address the questions and the mysteries of our existence, collectively, individually and universally.

    The choice of which I speak is the choice of whether or not to love the reality that we name “God” and to have a relationship with that Ultimate Reality. You choose not to frame your interactions with reality through an understanding of what we name, conceptualize and understand as “God.” That is a choice, an act of free will. Your atheism is no more something you did not choose of your own free will than my Christianity is something that I did not choose of my own free will.

  178. Melissa

    Shane,

    As “lack of evidence” is a reason to not believe in something, the fact that science can offer no evidence does not mean it is not on the atheists side, but rather it is a reason to not believe.

    The fact that science can offer no evidence is only a reason not to believe if science is the only avenue through which evidence could be obtained. The conclusion just doesn’t follow.

    As to the rest of your questions- from the available evidence there are only certain things that we can say with any degree of certainty, a lot of the rest amounts to speculation but the fact that an account can be given in which science and the Bible do not conflict is enough to show that your conclusion is flawed. That being said I think we can say that philosophical arguments show that man cannot be explained purely by materialistic evolution plus the biblical account would suggest that Adam and Eve were the first “true humans”. I don’t think there was a species wide “lifting up”. I think the Fall was a result of man turning away from God ways. I don’t think it is a matter of the rest of humanity being “punished” for Adam’s rebellion but rather all humanity experiencing the consequences of that choice just as I experience the consequences of my own parents choices. Paul sees the creation being under the reign of sin and death, we cannot free ourselves from that.

    Do you believe that there was no pain in child birth before The Fall and if so how do you reconcile that?

    It might help the conversation if you actually went back to the biblical text. Gen 3:16 “To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Notice it does not say that from now on you will have pain in childbearing but rather pain will be increased.

  179. SteveK

    …the fact that science can offer no evidence does not mean it is not on the atheists side, but rather it is a reason to not believe.

    Science offers no evidence for what I did today or yesterday or for what I am doing now. The conclusion isn’t that a person therefore has no reason to believe that his convictions are true. The conclusion is that there are other valid reasons besides scientific reasons.

  180. Jenna Black

    Steve, RE: #184

    Not only that, but science is not conducted for the purpose of “offering” evidence. It is a systematic methodology for examining evidence. When atheists claim that science is a basis for arguing against the existence of God because “science can offer no evidence”of God, s/he merely declares that science is the wrong tool for the job. Ethical scientists recognize and readily acknowledge science’s limitations. Science is the systematic method of inquiry into how God’s creation works. It can examine the creation but not the Creator, but then, there is no need for it to. The creation tells us much of what we need to know about the Creator.

  181. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “Frankly, atheists seem to be rather “hung up” on the concept of God’s “existence” and the question of whether or not “God” “exists” as a “belief” and this is, of course, without ever having clearly defined or articulated what THEY mean by the terms “God” or what it means for whatever they call “God” to do whatever it is they mean by “exists.””

    Whether a deity exists or not is entirely independent of whether we believe in it or not. It matters not which deity is being referred to, because I am atheist with regards to all of them. I know of no evidence to convince me of any of their existence.

    “The choice comes in our formulation of coherent, rational and live-enhancing understandings to address the questions and the mysteries of our existence, collectively, individually and universally.”

    Again, I don’t see as that a choice, but rather a conclusion you have reached based on the evidence you have.

    “The choice of which I speak is the choice of whether or not to love the reality that we name “God” and to have a relationship with that Ultimate Reality. You choose not to frame your interactions with reality through an understanding of what we name, conceptualize and understand as “God.” That is a choice, an act of free will. Your atheism is no more something you did not choose of your own free will than my Christianity is something that I did not choose of my own free will.”

    No. I do not believe in God. I cannot choose to “interact with reality” if I don’t believe in it. You cannot choose to live a life through an understanding of Allah because you do not believe in Him or the religion of Islam. This is not a choice you made, but is a conclusion you reached based on the evidence you have.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  182. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “The fact that science can offer no evidence is only a reason not to believe if science is the only avenue through which evidence could be obtained. The conclusion just doesn’t follow.”

    Again, Jenna was only referring to Science and so was I.

    “… but the fact that an account can be given in which science and the Bible do not conflict is enough to show that your conclusion is flawed.”

    I have no conclusion. I am asking questions to try and reach one. I do not understand the initial premise. But regarding that …

    “Notice it does not say that from now on you will have pain in childbearing but rather pain will be increased.”

    So you believe that pain was increased? I’m not sure why you think that is a better alternative, but can I ask how you justify thinking that?

    “… the biblical account would suggest that Adam and Eve were the first “true humans”. I don’t think there was a species wide “lifting up”.”

    To confirm, you think that Adam and Eve were lifted up? Did that separate them from the rest of the species, meaning that all of humanity were the offspring from Adam and Eve? Do you disagree with BillT’s comments that the rest of the similarly evolved “humans” at the time were amongst the gene pool of humanity?

    “I think the Fall was a result of man turning away from God ways. I don’t think it is a matter of the rest of humanity being “punished” for Adam’s rebellion but rather all humanity experiencing the consequences of that choice just as I experience the consequences of my own parents choices.”

    So again, to confirm, humanity is limited to Adam and Eve’s offspring? If that is the case, why not believe the literal story of the forbidden fruit? What were God’s ways? Were Adam and Eve instructed in these ways or were God’s instructions part of the “lifting up”?

    “Paul sees the creation being under the reign of sin and death, we cannot free ourselves from that.”

    I understand that concept, but I want to know the specifics of why and how.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  183. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “When atheists claim that science is a basis for arguing against the existence of God because “science can offer no evidence”of God,”

    Again, offering no evidence for something is not the same as arguing against the existence of something. Atheists will argue there is no evidence for God, not that the lack of evidence proves something doesn’t exist.

    “s/he merely declares that science is the wrong tool for the job.”

    Yes. For proving something doesn’t exist. It is however an excellent tool for showing there is no evidence, and therefore that not believing (outside of any other evidence you might want to put forward) is a rational place to start.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  184. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #186

    You say this: “Whether a deity exists or not is entirely independent of whether we believe in it or not. It matters not which deity is being referred to, because I am atheist with regards to all of them. I know of no evidence to convince me of any of their existence.”

    First of all, You need to explain very specifically what you mean for a deity to exist, specifically and uniquely, what you mean by for the deity of monotheism to “exist.” In other words, you need to articulate what exactly it is that monotheism deifies. The Aztecs deified rain through the deity named Tlaloc. No one denies that rain exists and no one that I know of is at all concerned about whether or not Tlaloc “exists”, knowing as we do that Tlaloc is the deification of something that no one denies exists. No one that I know of would ever attempt to give you evidence of Tlaloc’s “existence”, knowing as we do that Tlaloc is the deification of something that no one denies exists: rain.

    This is the fundamental problem that atheists have with all of this “no god/deity exists” nonsense. They/you seem to be unable to distinguish between the idol gods of ancient polytheistic religions and the God of monotheism, which we monotheists are strictly forbidden to make graven images of and represent like the god Tlaloc, or any god from the pantheon of gods of any religion.

    So, when you tell me/us that you aren’t convinced of the existence of any gods, you are merely lumping monotheism together with polytheism in a way that renders your denial that the God of monotheism “exists” a totally meaningless assertion. There is no nobility or wisdom in denying something you clearly do not understand.

  185. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #188

    Don’t you see the contradictions in what you and other atheists are saying? Really, don’t you?

    Let’s examine non-existence. If a “something” doesn’t exist, we don’t even have a name for it. There is no need for a name for a non-existent anything. Non-existence leaves or presents no evidence, so of course, we look for and find no evidence of a non-existent something/anything because we expect to find none and even before that, we cannot even conceptualize what it is to look for or what evidence there might be of this nothing, this non-thing, non-being, non-anything.

    Atheists claim that they/you are atheists because of a lack of evidence of something named, labeled, understood as “God.” You can’t have it both ways: either there is a total non-existence of any evidence because non-existence leaves not a trace of evidence, none, nada, zilch or there is evidence of something called “God” but you don’t believe it, reject it, deny it or otherwise make judgments about the evidence, thereby nullifying your own claim that there is no evidence of God.

    You have said it yourself. Your “lack of belief” in God is not based on anything science tells you. It is your subjective judgment of the evidence of/for God, which science is totally neutral about. The theological implications of science affirm and enrich my/our belief in God. Science is not an epistemology (tool for the acquisition of knowledge) that validates or affirms atheism in any way, contrary to what you choose to believe.

    I really don’t understand where you think you are getting with these arguments and your arguments about choice. Do you want me to believe that you are an involuntary atheist, or perhaps an inevitable atheist rather than simply an atheist by choice?

  186. Melissa

    Shane,

    Again, Jenna was only referring to Science and so was I.

    Yes but your claim was that since science could offer no evidence for God then the most reasonable stance to take is that God does not exist. The conclusion doesn’t follow.

    I have no conclusion. I am asking questions to try and reach one. I do not understand the initial premise. But regarding that …

    No conclusion? So you don’t still believe that science and The Fall are necessarily contradictory? The initial premise is that there is at least one account in which science and Christianity do not contradict each other, Feser and others also offer their own take on it. Now since there are accounts where they do not contradict you either need to show how the science or the Bible is wrongly interpreted in those accounts such that there really is a contradiction or you need to accept that there is no actual contradiction.

    So you believe that pain was increased? I’m not sure why you think that is a better alternative, but can I ask how you justify thinking that?

    Please offer up your science to contradict that the pain could have increased, otherwise there is nothing I need to justify.

    To confirm, you think that Adam and Eve were lifted up? Did that separate them from the rest of the species, meaning that all of humanity were the offspring from Adam and Eve? Do you disagree with BillT’s comments that the rest of the similarly evolved “humans” at the time were amongst the gene pool of humanity?

    Yes. Yes. No.

    So again, to confirm, humanity is limited to Adam and Eve’s offspring? If that is the case, why not believe the literal story of the forbidden fruit?

    Because the genre is obviously not history. My position, based on my own reading of the text and interaction with scholarly opinion is that Genesis draws on the symbolism of the surrounding cultures to give an alternative account of the nature of human beings and their plight.

    The fact that Genesis doesn’t answer every possible question we might have does not mean that what it does have to say is not truth. Now I think we’ve pretty much covered the fact that there is no necessary contradiction between the Fall and science which was your original subject. I’d appreciate you acknowledging that before moving onto a different topic.

  187. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    Firstly, looking up Tlaloc, I find that He is the God of rain, fertility and water. This is not the same thing as deifying rain itself. I also like the way you bring up this Aztec God and then use it as evidence that I am speaking nonsense.

    “First of all, You need to explain very specifically what you mean for a deity to exist, specifically and uniquely, what you mean by for the deity of monotheism to “exist.”

    But when I do that, you use it as an excuse to find some problem with my definition and then use the rejoinder “I don’t believe in that God either.” As GM pointed out above, this moving of the goal posts by Theists is frustrating. So I am left with having to make generalisations rather than aim for specifics.

    “There is no nobility or wisdom in denying something you clearly do not understand.”

    I would agree with that. Climate Change deniers are a perfect example. But disagreeing with you is not the same as not understanding. While it is true that I am not inside your mind to know exactly what you think, I know Christianity is based on the premise of an all powerful God who created the universe, man’s fall into a sinful life due to his own choices, and the need for Christ to die on the cross and be resurrected to redeem us all. I see no evidence for any of that and therefore cannot believe it.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  188. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “Let’s examine non-existence. If a “something” doesn’t exist, we don’t even have a name for it. There is no need for a name for a non-existent anything.”

    That’s blatantly wrong, as the work of literary fiction attests to. Not to mention dragons, unicorns, leprechauns and pixies.

    “You can’t have it both ways: either there is a total non-existence of any evidence because non-existence leaves not a trace of evidence, none, nada, zilch or there is evidence of something called “God” but you don’t believe it, reject it, deny it or otherwise make judgments about the evidence, thereby nullifying your own claim that there is no evidence of God.”

    It seems logical that those are the two options. And I think it is the first one. I’m not sure what your point is there.

    “I really don’t understand where you think you are getting with these arguments and your arguments about choice. Do you want me to believe that you are an involuntary atheist, or perhaps an inevitable atheist rather than simply an atheist by choice?”

    Yes, that is the point I am making. I cannot choose to believe the evidence, or lack there of, shows me something it doesn’t. I cannot choose to believe in God if I don’t have a compelling reason to do so. In the same way I can’t choose to believe in unicorns, leprechauns, etc. Pascal’s wager is flawed in that way. And I think this lack of choice is another flaw in the Christian religion. If we can’t choose what we believe, then we can’t be genuine in a choice to accept Christ as our saviour. For the most part. I think there are probably a few that do believe the way to salvation is through Christ and deliberately choose to reject him, but they would be an incredibly small minority.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  189. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “Yes but your claim was that since science could offer no evidence for God then the most reasonable stance to take is that God does not exist. The conclusion doesn’t follow.”

    No my claim was that based on solely on the scientific evidence there is no reason to believe that God exists (different to believing that God does not exist). We’re obviously just going back and forth on this, so I’ll leave it there.

    “So you don’t still believe that science and The Fall are necessarily contradictory? The initial premise is that there is at least one account in which science and Christianity do not contradict each other”

    It’s not they must be necessarily contradictory, but that I see a contradiction.

    “Do you disagree with BillT’s comments that the rest of the similarly evolved “humans” at the time were amongst the gene pool of humanity?”

    “No.”

    And this is where the contradiction is. If Adam and Eve were not the only people, why does the consequences of their sin get passed on to the other humans that were living concurrently? Why does the rest of the human race alive at that time get tainted by the sin of Adam and Eve?

    “Please offer up your science to contradict that the pain could have increased, otherwise there is nothing I need to justify.”

    We know why there is pain during child birth, or any other time. It is a defence mechanism in the body to protect it from damage. How could Eve have been different prior to the Fall that meant child birth before then was less painful? Did this change happen to the entire human race?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  190. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #192

    I really do understand that you do not believe in Christianity and that we do not agree on the truth of Christianity and God. However, I continue to assert that this has very little and possibly nothing at all to do with evidence. Do you really claim that there is no evidence on which the followers of monotheism base their understanding of God the Creator? Do you really see no evidence on which to base metaphorical and mytho-poetic and allegorical representations of the human condition as one of being plagued by what is commonly known as “sin”? Do you really claim that there is no evidence that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected and that therefore there is no evidence on which to understand the meaning of these events in terms of redemption, an abstract and complex concept?

    Your talk of “evidence” is completely disconnected from any of the foundational beliefs and historical, religious and spiritual basis of/for Christianity. Atheists’ “evidence talk” simply is beside the point and does not reflect any real comprehension of why Christians are Christians and why we believe what we believe. This is not about theists “moving goalposts” at all. This is simply your rejection of Christianity as a religion for whatever reasons you may have that are totally unrelated to the evidence on which the Christian religion is based.

  191. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    One more thing, what do you think the Lifting Up of Adam and Eve entailed? What did they get that other humans didn ‘t have? Language, reasoning, morality? Physical changes? What separated them from the others?

    Cheers
    Shane

  192. Melissa

    Shane,

    No my claim was that based on solely on the scientific evidence there is no reason to believe that God exists (different to believing that God does not exist). We’re obviously just going back and forth on this, so I’ll leave it there.

    I think you need to be a bit clearer when you write then, because if we put scientific into all your statements about the superior reasonableness of atheism we will see that your conclusions do not follow from the evidence:

    Atheism, the lack of believe due to the total lack of (scientific) evidence, is the logical stance to take.

    Jenna said that there can be no scientific evidence put forward to prove God. So the default position is not to believe, because there is no (scientific) evidence.

    I could go on but since we both believe that there are types of evidence that aren’t scientific your statements are wrong.

    It’s not they must be necessarily contradictory, but that I see a contradiction.

    You see a contradiction because you are locked into a particular understanding of The Fall that is not necessary, not to mention a decidedly materialistic interpretation of science which is also not necessary.

    And this is where the contradiction is. If Adam and Eve were not the only people, why does the consequences of their sin get passed on to the other humans that were living concurrently?

    You wrote “humans” not humans. Now since I have already written that I think Adam and Eve were lifted up in a special way, it also follows that the others alive were not fully human (rational, spiritually aware). So once again no contradiction.

    How could Eve have been different prior to the Fall that meant child birth before then was less painful?

    Pain is a very complicated biological mechanism. We know that there are many variables governing the level of pain a person may feel in response to a particular event, and even for one person at different times. Therefore there is no reason to think that subtle changes either physically or psychologically in humans could not occur that would cause pain in childbirth to be more acute. There is no scientific reason to dismiss the possibility that childbearing is more painful but there is also no theological reason why this detail in the account must be literally true either. This is the kind of thing that is interesting to speculate on but IMO you could go either way without serious theological consequences.

    One more thing, what do you think the Lifting Up of Adam and Eve entailed?

    Intellect and will, mainly because IMO the philosophical arguments that these cannot be purely physical processes are unassailable. With these “humans” become moral beings.

  193. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “I really do understand that you do not believe in Christianity and that we do not agree on the truth of Christianity and God. However, I continue to assert that this has very little and possibly nothing at all to do with evidence. Do you really claim that there is no evidence on which the followers of monotheism base their understanding of God the Creator?”

    I’m confused by those last two sentences. Are you claiming that evidence isn’t important to the truth of Christianity and God or that it is? And to answer your question, No, not very good evidence. Nothing Tom has mentioned in his series so far has been compelling.

    “Do you really see no evidence on which to base metaphorical and mytho-poetic and allegorical representations of the human condition as one of being plagued by what is commonly known as “sin”?”

    I do not.

    “Do you really claim that there is no evidence that Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected”

    Not very good evidence, no.

    “and that therefore there is no evidence on which to understand the meaning of these events in terms of redemption, an abstract and complex concept?”

    I can understand the meaning of the events, but I don’t see convincing evidence to believe they are real.

    I don’t understand why this would be surprising to you. If I saw convincing evidence I would be convinced. By definition.

    “Your talk of “evidence” is completely disconnected from any of the foundational beliefs and historical, religious and spiritual basis of/for Christianity. Atheists’ “evidence talk” simply is beside the point and does not reflect any real comprehension of why Christians are Christians and why we believe what we believe. This is not about theists “moving goalposts” at all. This is simply your rejection of Christianity as a religion for whatever reasons you may have that are totally unrelated to the evidence on which the Christian religion is based.”

    Is your argument that I am really well aware of convincing evidence but am just ignoring it? How could you know that?

    Is your argument that you are aware of convincing evidence? Do you think the other 2 billion Christians are aware of the same evidence? Do you think I should have been aware of it when I was a Christian? Is it easy for you to expound on this evidence?

    Your last sentence is just plain wrong. The reason I stopped being a Christian is because I see no evidence to give credence to the story of God’s creation, original sin and Christ’s sacrifice, the tenets on which the religion is based.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  194. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “And this is where the contradiction is. If Adam and Eve were not the only people, why does the consequences of their sin get passed on to the other humans that were living concurrently?

    You wrote “humans” not humans. Now since I have already written that I think Adam and Eve were lifted up in a special way, it also follows that the others alive were not fully human (rational, spiritually aware). So once again no contradiction.”

    Does this mean the consequences were not passed on to the other people who were alive when Adam and Eve were?

    “Intellect and will, mainly because IMO the philosophical arguments that these cannot be purely physical processes are unassailable. With these “humans” become moral beings.”

    So BillT suggests that when Cain mentions being scared of being killed by others because of what he has done, he is referring to other people who were alive at the time Adam and Eve were lifted up. Did these people not have intellect and will? Were they not moral beings?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  195. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #198

    You say this: “The reason I stopped being a Christian is because I see no evidence to give credence to the story of God’s creation, original sin and Christ’s sacrifice, the tenets on which the religion is based.”

    Again, you “see” what you choose to see from the evidence. It is not that you “can’t” believe in God and Christianity, it is that you DON’T believe. This is a choice. We Christians see the same evidence you do and choose to believe.

    Let me offer an analogy of my own to explain why the question of “evidence” that atheists claim there is none. Belief in God is like a trial by jury of the God, yes/no question where you and I (along with all humans) are members of and peers on the jury. We must both weigh the evidence and must arrive at our verdict independently. This is called free will. If we come to different conclusions (verdicts) based on our hearing, seeing, considering all of the evidence available and make our decision based on the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt”, it is not up to me to convince you that my verdict is “right” and yours is “wrong” nor vice versa. Because a juror does not see, understand, appreciate or accept any evidence of God does not mean that there is no evidence, nor does it mean that God does not exist. For those who practice a theistic religion, their verdict has been decided on the God yes/no question. It is a settled issue. They/we are under no obligation to convince our fellow jurors and peers of the truth of our verdict.

    My question to you is this? Now that you have chosen to reject Christianity, what is it that you want from Christians?

  196. Melissa

    Shane,

    As I have repeatedly said all these details are speculation and IMO not theologically significant which way you take them, but I’ll humour you a little longer, although I suspect you are just trying to desperately cling to your position that there must be a contradiction there even if you can’t pin it down.

    Does this mean the consequences were not passed on to the other people who were alive when Adam and Eve were?

    Depends what consequences you’re talking about and what you mean by passed on. Just like we cannot help but be affected by the consequences of other’s decisions, so to for all creation including those others.

    Cain mentions being scared of being killed by others because of what he has done, Did these people not have intellect and will? Were they not moral beings?

    Not necessarily, and Cain was just scared of being killed, not of being killed because of what he had done. If you read the passage you will find that the inference is that it is his seperation from family and status as a wanderer that will increase his risk if being killed, not any moral outrage on the part of the others.

    This has been fun, but you still haven’t grasped my point. Even if I am wrong about intellect and will there are other options that fit the data anyway, for example Bill’s position in the article I linked to. There is no necessary contradiction.

    I consider there to be 3 main types of questions:

    1. Scientific and how questions: these are the detailed how/what happened.

    2. Philosophical questions

    3. Theological or existential questions.

    Both Christianity and naturalism are consistent with our current scientific knowledge. They both have many how questions unanswered though.

    Naturalism has in principle philosophical objections against it. Christianity accepts certain truths that we do not fully understand.

    Christianity makes sense of my experience as a human being, whereas naturalism either waves my experience away as “illusion” or tacks on extras that sit unsupported by anything rational.

    You are concentrating your questions in the first area, and seem to be concerned about unanswered how/what questions in Christianity without showing that you have the same concern for the gaps in naturalism. Christianity and naturalism come up fairly evenly in the first set of questions but it is in the other two areas that your real problems lie.

    On the subject of existential questions, my feeling is that Christianity does not connect with your experience and from what you have written I am sympathetic as to why that might be so. The gospel must be articulated into our context. You have been exposed to a very one-dimensional articulation of the gospel, one that spoke into the lives of people in a very different context and as such fails to answer the questions you’re asking in a way you can understand. To me what you have written seems very abstract and almost clinical no wonder it doesn’t seem like good news.

  197. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “Again, you “see” what you choose to see from the evidence. It is not that you “can’t” believe in God and Christianity, it is that you DON’T believe. This is a choice.”

    Maybe there’s a subtlety in the language that I’m not seeing there, but I don’t (can’t?) see much of a difference between those two words, and neither of them imply a choice. I don’t believe the world is flat. I can’t believe the world is flat. If there is a difference between those two sentences that is related to me being able to choose what I believe, you will have to explain it to me.

    “We Christians see the same evidence you do and choose to believe.”

    Again you speak for 2 billion of your fellow humans without any authority. When I was a Christian I had not seen the same evidence that I have seen today. I was in the same group as a large percentage of Americans that believe the universe is less than 10 000 years old. It was the absence of being exposed to the evidence that had me believing it. And again, I reject that it was a choice of mine, but the result of me being indoctrinated into the religion from a young age. I believed in God because people in authority told me He was real. My evidence was here say from people I trusted implicitly.

    “My question to you is this? Now that you have chosen to reject Christianity, what is it that you want from Christians?”

    Jumping to the end of your post because this follows on from what I am saying … I am here to learn if you have any evidence that would lead me to believe.

    “Let me offer an analogy of my own to explain why the question of “evidence” that atheists claim there is none. Belief in God is like a trial by jury of the God, yes/no question where you and I (along with all humans) are members of and peers on the jury. We must both weigh the evidence and must arrive at our verdict independently. This is called free will.”

    I think your analogy makes the assumption that we are all exposed to the same evidence. This is obviously not the case in a world of 7+ billion individuals. If you believe God has any influence over the planet and it’s workings then He makes some choices about what evidence is shown to which people, which is akin to jury tampering, in my mind. It also doesn’t strike me as free will either. No choices are made. The evidence is weighed up by the individuals according to their understanding of it, filtered through their life experience and an obligatory answer is given. True free will would allow an individual to decline to provide an answer.

    “If we come to different conclusions (verdicts) based on our hearing, seeing, considering all of the evidence available and make our decision based on the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt”, it is not up to me to convince you that my verdict is “right” and yours is “wrong” nor vice versa.”

    I actually think that is exactly the duty of the jurors. That is why a consensus must be reached. If you truly believe the person on trial is guilty/innocent then it is your duty to ensure that justice is served.

    “Because a juror does not see, understand, appreciate or accept any evidence of God does not mean that there is no evidence, nor does it mean that God does not exist.”

    I agree with that. But any evidence that is not seen by a juror cannot be prescribed as a failing of that juror. The juror can not be blamed or held accountable for not taking into account evidence s/he is unaware of.

    “For those who practice a theistic religion, their verdict has been decided on the God yes/no question. It is a settled issue. They/we are under no obligation to convince our fellow jurors and peers of the truth of our verdict.”

    I believe spreading the good word, making all of humanity aware of the evidence, is certainly the obligation of all Christians.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  198. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “This has been fun, but you still haven’t grasped my point. Even if I am wrong about intellect and will there are other options that fit the data anyway, for example Bill’s position in the article I linked to. There is no necessary contradiction.”

    Contradiction was a word you introduced to the dialogue, which isn’t really what I said originally. My objection was that in an ancient world God’s intervention to make man is unnecessary, and as such is shoe horned in to the story where it isn’t needed. And the reason you have to shoe horn him in at the end to create man is because you must have a point of perfection for man that is ruined by man’s sin, requiring redemption. The article you linked to does not provide a decent answer to many questions, but primarily, did man have a choice in not sinning, which is key. What was this first sin that doomed mankind? How explicit was the instructions from God regarding this sin? If the other people on the planet at the time of Adam and Eve could recognise a mark on Cain and had names, they obviously had language and could reason, so what lifting up could have been applied to Adam and Eve? If all mankind was lifted up simultaneously, then why does the sin of a few affect everyone?

    “I consider there to be 3 main types of questions:

    1. Scientific and how questions: these are the detailed how/what happened.

    2. Philosophical questions

    3. Theological or existential questions.

    You are concentrating your questions in the first area, and seem to be concerned about unanswered how/what questions in Christianity without showing that you have the same concern for the gaps in naturalism.”

    There are gaps in our understanding of naturalism, but there is no eternal punishment for professing that I don’t know the answers with that world view. Therefore there is no need to be stringently right in a belief in naturalism. Not understanding or being wrong with regard to The Fall and the necessary salvation has dire consequences, and is therefore something that must be understood, on pain of eternal death.

    Regarding questions 2 and 3, even if naturalism comes up short in those categories, there are many religions that offer explanations. The conclusion that a god is necessary to explain the meaning/purpose of life does not mean that it must be the Christian one.

    In this thread, which is about science and reason, I am focussing on the natural world and the explanation of how we got here, and the idea that Christianity necessitates adding an unnecessary step due to the need to have The Fall.

    Cheers
    Shane

  199. scblhrm

    Shane,

    “And the reason you have to shoe horn him in at the end to create man is because..”

    So there is no contradiction amid Scripture and Science, and yet you keep foisting “shoehorn”.

    You are in a location now where Naturalism is no longer necessary, because God fits the facts.

    See how easy that was.

    And yet I bet you were impressed when you used it, but not when we used it.

    You are shoehorning metaphysical naturalism where it is not needed.

    I mean, if that’s all you want to do………..

    On your website you say of vacuums that they “go a long way” to explain / account for the absurd infinite regress. Now THAT is “shoehorning” an ISM into some very UN-fitting FACTS.

    This line of logic (your line) is even worse for YOU than for US because God/Fall has no contradiction with Science, whereas, past eternal energy DOES. So, since Naturalism cannot explain the infinite regress of energy, and God can, then, on your reasoning here we can with even MORE assurance say: THEREFORE naturalism is unnecessary and you are just squeezing your ism into where it cannot fit.

    See how easy that was.

    So, did that impress you? Change your mind? Prove anything?

    But it was your method of arguing.

    You have to have it all figured out – “or else”.

    Whereas, Theism is unafraid to follow definitions and data wherever they take us.

    That’s the beauty of Theism – it is intrinsically more accessible to more paradigms than the stuff of material and time. Given the Timeless and Immaterial which we all know precedes and outreaches time, space, and material, whatever is out there, the Theist need never fear. Methodological naturalism can go as far and as wide as we can take her. In fact, God commands we do so, that we tackle, subdue, and so on. The theist stands with arms wide open ready for any new data – physicalism easily embraced to all its natural ends whither they may go, ever happy to readjust definitions as more data comes in, whereas, the naturalist – should he stumble upon some shadow of some whiff of God – well he must then and there readjust, fudge, evade, hedge – because he already knows stuff cannot be over there. He’s got it figured out and thus – he will go wherever data will take him – but only until………

  200. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #202

    Thank you for your response. I see that you have answered my question about what you want from Christians. You state it this way: “I am here to learn if you have any evidence that would lead me to believe.”

    You realize, I assume, that this goal or objective takes you away from the trial by jury of the God yes/no question and each person as juror. This is because in a trial, no juror presents evidence. It is the job of the prosecution to prevent evidence, and not only to present the evidence but to give the jurors their theory of the crime with which to analyze and interpret the evidence.

    I point this out because this is also the way it is with belief in God. It is God who provides the evidence of Himself. This is called revelation. You seem to agree with this since you complain that God chooses what evidence to present to whom, which is a half-truth, since there is clearly evidence that we all have of God. That is the evidence to which I refer in the trial by jury analogy.

    You say this: “I think your analogy makes the assumption that we are all exposed to the same evidence. This is obviously not the case in a world of 7+ billion individuals.” I agree that some of us have evidence of God that others don’t, which is the evidence that comes from our unique and personal experiences of/with God. From these experiences are not “unavailable” to some because experiences of/with God are possible for all of us. We also have these experiences available to us through what we call “witnessing” where we give our testimony of and about our experiences of/with God. This is, in fact, exactly what the Bible is: the testimony of many thousands of individuals about their experiences of/with God.

    Which brings me to this quote from your comment:

    “The evidence is weighed up by the individuals according to their understanding of it, filtered through their life experience and an obligatory answer is given. True free will would allow an individual to decline to provide an answer.”

    Yes, the evidence that God provides of Himself to all humanity through revelation is filtered through our individual life experience, namely our own experiences of/with God. But I’m not sure exactly what you mean by an “obligatory answer.” Here is where free will is manifest. We are free to either “answer” God or not answer God. And keep in mind that the answer that God seeks from us is love.

    So, I will summarize. It is not the duty of a juror to ensure a consensus verdict. There always exists the possibility of a “hung jury.” If you are looking for evidence of God from Christians, ask us for our testimony as to our experiences of/with God. Ask us why we believe in God and why we love God. Ask us why Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” that leads us to God. Look to see and understand how God has transformed and redeemed our lives, collectively and individually. We do not have a duty to convince you of anything. Our Lord Jesus commands us to teach and to baptize. Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Every teacher knows that we are responsible for teaching but only the learner is responsible for learning.

  201. Melissa

    Shane,

    I think scbrlm has covered the “shoehorning”, but I will add that any shoehorning happening is on the side of the naturalist with intention, human choice, morality etc. basically non-existent if you carry you assumptions that allow you to reject God consistently through to their final implications.

    Not understanding or being wrong with regard to The Fall and the necessary salvation has dire consequences, and is therefore something that must be understood, on pain of eternal death.

    You really are being silly now. You do not need to have every detail worked out and your theology lined up perfectly.

    Regarding questions 2 and 3, even if naturalism comes up short in those categories, there are many religions that offer explanations.

    Except that Christianity makes the vest sense if my experience and needs as a human being.

    In this thread, which is about science and reason, I am focussing on the natural world and the explanation of how we got here, and the idea that Christianity necessitates adding an unnecessary step due to the need to have The Fall.

    You do realise what the OP is about? You do realise that the unstated assumption behind your arguments for the reasonableness of atheism and the need to shoehorn The Fall is that science is really the only worthwhile source of knowledge. It’s never stated outright but it lurks in the backround of every argument you make. Maybe that assumption is buried so deep in your thinking that you’re not even aware of it.

  202. Melissa

    Shane,

    Also as has already been stated the genre of Genesis (especially 1-11) is myth, not history and not science. It’s very likely that the questions being answered are not the questions you have, since your thinking is conditioned by your particular context. Are you really going to judge it on the basis of not providing answers to questions it was probably not even meant to provide answers to?

  203. Shane Fletcher

    Hi schblrm,

    “So there is no contradiction amid Scripture and Science, and yet you keep foisting “shoehorn”.”

    You don’t shoehorn in a contradiction. You shoehorn in an unnecessary element to the story which is not supported by the evidence.

    I can see how life evolved from the replicating cell to the present day. I see reasoning, rationality, empathy, morality and language in other animals, so these things are not special “gifts from God given exclusively to man” but available to “higher” animals. Pain, suffering and death also existed long before man and therefore cannot be a consequence added to the world after our sin. So I cannot see how The Fall can have happened as described. It is unnecessary to the story of life on Earth as I understand it, so suggesting it is fact is shoehorning it in to the story of man. If you want to have a go at explaining the specifics of what happened then, and why it is a necessary detail, please do.

    “… since Naturalism cannot explain the infinite regress of energy, and God can, …”

    God is not an explanation of anything. It is just removing the explanation back another step, because you then have to explain God, which you cannot do. So the two options are:

    “I don’t know what happened prior to the Big Bang.”
    “God was the cause of the Big Bang but I don’t know what God is or how He did it.”

    Sincerely
    Shane

  204. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “It is the job of the prosecution to prevent evidence, and not only to present the evidence but to give the jurors their theory of the crime with which to analyze and interpret the evidence.

    You realize, I assume, that this goal or objective takes you away from the trial by jury of the God yes/no question and each person as juror. This is because in a trial, no juror presents evidence. It is the job of the prosecution to prevent evidence, and not only to present the evidence but to give the jurors their theory of the crime with which to analyze and interpret the evidence.”

    Well it was your analogy where your originally said this:

    “Belief in God is like a trial by jury of the God, yes/no question where you and I (along with all humans) are members of and peers on the jury. We must both weigh the evidence and must arrive at our verdict independently.”

    I pointed out that every individual has different evidence which you agree with. I want to be exposed to as much evidence as possible. That’s how you get to the truth.

    “But I’m not sure exactly what you mean by an “obligatory answer.” Here is where free will is manifest. We are free to either “answer” God or not answer God.”

    Free will would allow us not to answer at all. If God exists, and is asking the question, with a reward and a punishment depending on the answer, true Free Will would allow me to decline the answer and skip the reward/punishment.

    “And keep in mind that the answer that God seeks from us is love.”

    I believe the answer God seeks from us is, “Jesus was your Son who was sacrificed for my salvation. I believe He died so that I may live eternally in heaven.”

    Cheers
    Shane

  205. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “I think scbrlm has covered the “shoehorning”, but I will add that any shoehorning happening is on the side of the naturalist with intention, human choice, morality etc. basically non-existent if you carry you assumptions that allow you to reject God consistently through to their final implications.”

    You still haven’t explained how The Fall worked.

    “You really are being silly now. You do not need to have every detail worked out and your theology lined up perfectly.”

    I don’t have any of the details of how you understand The Fall. It seems like you are saying you don’t know any of the specifics and don’t care. That is your prerogative. But it is unfair for you to say I am being silly. It is the underpinning of Christianity. And I cannot believe it without a reasonable explanation of how it happened with regards to what we know concerning the evolution of life on Earth.

    “You do realise that the unstated assumption behind your arguments for the reasonableness of atheism and the need to shoehorn The Fall is that science is really the only worthwhile source of knowledge. It’s never stated outright but it lurks in the backround of every argument you make. Maybe that assumption is buried so deep in your thinking that you’re not even aware of it.”

    I have not even been given a story/timeline of how The Fall would work with evolution. I am trying to get the bible and evolution to work as a coherent explanation and no-one can supply me with one (or they haven’t yet). So I am left with two choices, either evolution is wrong or the Bible is. If you can give me a coherent whole that uses both elements they can be reconciled.

    “Also as has already been stated the genre of Genesis (especially 1-11) is myth, not history and not science. It’s very likely that the questions being answered are not the questions you have, since your thinking is conditioned by your particular context. Are you really going to judge it on the basis of not providing answers to questions it was probably not even meant to provide answers to?”

    I’m trying not to. Give me an explanation that uses both coherently. Feel free to tell me the Bible is just a metaphor at this point, which would allow you to dismiss as much of the detail as you like. But I need to understand “original sin” that permeates mankind and required the crucifixion of Christ. How did it happen?

    Respectfully
    Shane

  206. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #209

    You say this: “I pointed out that every individual has different evidence which you agree with. I want to be exposed to as much evidence as possible. That’s how you get to the truth.”

    This statement misrepresents what I have said or reflects a misunderstanding of my previous comments. Keep in mind that I emphasized that we are peers of this metaphorical jury in the trial of the God Yes/No? question. As peers, we do have the same evidence on which to base our individual verdicts. It is not that we have “different evidence” but that we have different experiences of/with God. Atheists claim that they/you don’t believe in God because you don’t have any evidence (at all) of God.

    Rarely have I heard an atheist argue that s/he doesn’t believe in God because s/he doesn’t have evidence that I, the Christian have. As I explained before, this is a completely contradictory claim because atheism makes/is the claim that God does not exist. The atheist cannot simultaneously and credibly claim that I, the Christian, believes in God because of evidence of God that I have but that s/he has no access to because to acknowledge any evidence of God whatsoever nullifies the atheist’s claim that God does not exist.

    This is why the jury of peers concept is apropos and is a relevant and illustrative metaphor. Think about this when reading the words of St. Paul the Apostle from Romans 1:20, “So they are without excuse.”

  207. Melissa

    Shane,

    I have not even been given a story/timeline of how The Fall would work with evolution. I am trying to get the bible and evolution to work as a coherent explanation and no-one can supply me with one (or they haven’t yet). So I am left with two choices, either evolution is wrong or the Bible is. If you can give me a coherent whole that uses both elements they can be reconciled.

    You have been given a coherent story of how the two can be understood together, you just haven’t been given a timeline or the answer to every question you might have. I pointed you in the direction of two answers and rather than showing how they don’t to resolve the apparent contradictions you just go in about how they don’t provide detailed how answers. That does not mean they do not cohere. You are just applying blatent double standards to what you expect from a naturalistic scheme and what you expect from a theistic scheme. I don’t know every single detail, but I’m willing to bet that neither do you know the details of exactly how human beings came about through a naturalistic framework either, complete with timeline, names and the chemical composition of the first living thing, so what exactly is the problem here? The fact is that the big picture makes enough sense that even though we don’t have a detailed how we are still justified in thinking it’s the truth.

    I’m trying not to. Give me an explanation that uses both coherently. Feel free to tell me the Bible is just a metaphor at this point, which would allow you to dismiss as much of the detail as you like. But I need to understand “original sin” that permeates mankind and required the crucifixion of Christ. How did it happen?.

    I’ve linked to two explanations in this thread, tell me why they don’t use both coherently. The bible contains many different genres. There are many ways to understand things other than just in terms of how it happened.

    This is a helpful article on Jesus’ death:

    http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mischedj/ca_lewisatone.html

  208. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Just a few simple observations.

    Scientism is hopeless, and, there is no mystically fatal incoherence between the stuff of observed physicality and the stuff of God.

    Now, if you want to track things out to their bitter ends, you may want to start with your comment on your webpage that vacuums “go a long way to explaining how our universe could have come about….” (words to those ends).

    That is pure fantasy on your end, and, even worse, it is expressly contradictory to the entire anthology of observed physics. So it is unscientific fantasy. Not because it lacks evidence – but because it assumes against all known evidence of energy/particle.

    X’s source is X, and therefore X’s existence is explained. Well, when it comes to energy that just won’t do. In fact, it is even hopeless. Better to dive into Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere than into vacuums.

    All of this is just to point out real, physical, naturalistic, “problems” you face yet you persist in feeling comfortable that solutions are out there given the whole-show of observed reality as you perceive it to be.

    Materialism is hopeless. Hence the Imaginary Sphere and Holograms and so on.

    Now, that doesn’t mean your chosen paradigm is dead, it is just to point out your own problems.

    Evidence and ontological regressions on the whole find the stuff of reason well in hand in the Christian’s metaphysics.

    That you don’t like it does not mean it is incoherent.

    We don’t like Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere. In fact, we do find it utterly incoherent. Reason itself, the very argument itself, must die a death for that imagined sphere to even cohere, delusion subsuming all known reality.

    Ontological pluralism and all those other inextricable ties to absurdity…… to which we say: Good Luck!

  209. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Vacuum, shoehorn, contradiction, etc.

    In Theistic metaphysics, there is no fatal incoherence in stuff outside of Man’s Soul, outside the Garden, and so on, there in physicality, whereas, there are irreducible contradictions in your energy “thinking process” about vacuums. Again – better to go into that Imaginary Sphere – else shoehorning.

    Whereas, Theism’s metaphysics easily accommodates observational reality on all fronts. In fact, it is ever yet wide open to yet new data when it comes to Man and Universe, as Man’s Moral dance atop genomic stasis is commanded to subdue all that chaos outside the Garden. Of course such lines take various turns, but, all such paradigms are easily embraced, ever happy to digest new data. We’ve no idea whether the wires and fractions of wires crisscrossed amid parts here and parts there points to your naturalistic assumptions or to those very same wires and fractions of wires crisscrossed amid parts here and parts there found in just any/every system of built things. Either way, the data is the same: both sides pointing to various fractionations of bits and parts affixed here and there in this and that permutation by this and that combination. Whatever. Either way, it’s all good if God. Not so much for the Atheist. Best to hedge if new data looks threatening. Naturalism may yet die, or thrive, as all data there just is the data which the creation-folk point to. Presuppositions are a funny thing relative to data. Either way, the Theist is happy.

    Your vacuums? Well, on energy, there are no such shoes.

    Imaginary Spheres? Well then, the word “shoe” becomes mere absurdity – on the grounds that all that is the stuff that is ‘word’ becomes mere absurdity.

    Again – on ontological pluralism’s ends – good luck!

  210. scblhrm

    On a separate note – while Eden’s paradigms, worlds, doors, await actualization we spy Man’s dance atop genomic stasis finding, actualizing, Genesis’ Protoevangelium’s Means and Ends in that dance into, of, yet wider reaches subduing yet more distant reaches of chaos there in Christ – as fruits emerge in All-Sufficiency’s Means and Ends.

  211. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “The atheist cannot simultaneously and credibly claim that I, the Christian, believes in God because of evidence of God that I have but that s/he has no access to because to acknowledge any evidence of God whatsoever nullifies the atheist’s claim that God does not exist.”

    This contradiction only exists with the claim “God does not exist”. An atheist claiming “I do not believe in God” has no such problem. I can make the claim “I don’t believe you have a dog”. I can make this claim because I know nothing about your personal situation. But I can not make the claim “You do not have a dog”. Whether you have a dog or not is a fact and is entirely independent of what my belief is. You will know whether you have a dog, or not, because you have the evidence that I do not have access too. This does not affect the claim “I do not believe you have a dog.”

    The question of evidence for God is obviously not as polarised as something that you have physical evidence for, and I have a total absence of, as in the question of “do you have a dog”.

    “As peers, we do have the same evidence on which to base our individual verdicts. It is not that we have “different evidence” but that we have different experiences of/with God.”

    How can the evidence be the same if our experience is different?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  212. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “I don’t know every single detail, but I’m willing to bet that neither do you know the details of exactly how human beings came about through a naturalistic framework either, complete with timeline, names and the chemical composition of the first living thing, so what exactly is the problem here?”

    The problem is that I don’t need to know all the details of our evolution to understand the process that gets us to here. The details of The Fall that I am looking for are the most important part of the Christian story. They are critical to the story. Without The Fall nothing else is relevant because their does not need to be salvation.

    “I pointed you in the direction of two answers and rather than showing how they don’t to resolve the apparent contradictions you just go in about how they don’t provide detailed how answers.”

    Okay, I’ll try and be specific. From your link:

    “This spiritual selfhood came into existence through a spiritual encounter with the divine self. In this I-Thou encounter, the divine self elicited or triggered man’s latent spiritual self. This spiritual self did not emerge naturally; what emerged naturally was the potentiality to hear a divine call which called man to his vocation, his higher destiny, namely, a sharing in the divine life. The divine call is from beyond the human horizon.

    But in the encounter with the divine self which first triggered man’s personhood or spiritual selfhood, there arose man’s freedom and his sense of being a separate self, an ego distinct from God and from other egos. Thus was born pride and self-assertion and egotism. Sensing his quasi-divine status, man asserted himself against the One who had revealed himself, the One who simultaneously called him to a Higher Life but also imposed restrictions and made demands. Man in his pride then made a fateful choice, drunk with the sense of his own power: he decided to go it alone.”

    Firstly, where is the evidence that this is the message from the bible?

    Secondly, where did this pride self-assertion and egotism come from? If God gave it to us (either through this final contact or as a result of natural evolution), then how can we be accountable for it? If it was a result from us a sinning (as per the story of original sin) then what was our action that caused it? And who did it and why was all of mankind blamed for the actions of one man?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  213. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Schblrm.

    “Now, if you want to track things out to their bitter ends, you may want to start with your comment on your webpage that vacuums “go a long way to explaining how our universe could have come about….” (words to those ends).”

    Went looking for that and I cannot find where I have mentioned that. Would you mind pointing me in the direction?

    “Either way, the Theist is happy.”

    Again, it is because the Theist is ignoring the important, and unanswerable, questions about God. What is His beginning, His purpose, His power, etc. Ignorance can be blissful. I’m happier with “I don’t know” myself then forcing a belief in something to fill in the gaps.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  214. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #216

    You ask this question: “How can the evidence be the same if our experience is different?”

    Returning to the trial by jury analogy, the evidence that the jurors are presented in the trial is the same, regardless of their experience(s). In the God Yes/No question, we all share the human experience. The only possible evidence of/for whatever it is that people name “God” is comes to us through our experience(s) as human beings. It is God who gives us evidence of Himself, which we all view, interpret and understand through the filter of our own experience. Again, this is why we are peers on the jury in the metaphorical trial of the “God yes or no?”question.

    Frankly, it doesn’t trouble me, and I speculate that it doesn’t trouble most Christians, that there is a “hung jury” in the “God yes/no” trial. This is simply evidence of free will.

    You also say this: “This contradiction only exists with the claim “God does not exist”. An atheist claiming “I do not believe in God” has no such problem.” Since you state that “I do not believe in God” is not a claim, then you must agree that “I believe in God” is not a claim. So who is it that claims that God exists? My answer to this question is that it is God Himself who claims (and proves through revelation) that God exists.

    Exodus 3:13-14 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

  215. Melissa

    Shane,

    The details of The Fall that I am looking for are the most important part of the Christian story. They are critical to the story.

    How is whether and to what extent bearing children was painful before the Fall the most important part of the Christian story. How is it critical to the story?

    Firstly, where is the evidence that this is the message from the bible?

    It is one understanding of what it means for God to breathe life into human beings and for The Fall. It is one possible interpretation of the bible.

    Secondly, where did this pride self-assertion and egotism come from? If God gave it to us (either through this final contact or as a result of natural evolution), then how can we be accountable for it? If it was a result from us a sinning (as per the story of original sin) then what was our action that caused it? And who did it and why was all of mankind blamed for the actions of one man?

    I get the feeling you’re not really trying that hard to understand. Pride etc didn’t “come” from anywhere, it is wrapped up with our ego, our free will and our ability to choose. We can choose to say “stick it” to the one who made us. You are not being “blamed” for what Adam did, if a child is kicked out of their house with the rest of their family because their parents didn’t pay the rent, are they being blamed for it? No. We suffer the consequences of living under the reign of sin and death because we follow Adam. (I’ve already answered this question further up the thread) Of course we are not blameless because we continue to say “stick it!”.

  216. scblhrm

    Shane,

    On your webpage you said in a conversation:

    “Either the effect of these particles being spontaneously created is an uncaused effect OR the fact that there is a vacuum is the cause that results in the effect of spontaneous matter generation. You are left with either Premise 1 being false OR that we have an example of a “natural” cause that goes some way to explaining the spontaneous creation of the universe.”

    Vacuums are energy-laden. Just FYI. Any appeal to energy to explain energy is just contingency explaining contingency. You can argue that energy exists necessarily, that the necessary being is the universe. Good luck proving it inside of natural means/ends. Everything the naturalist points to has a prior blip on the screen, and so on, ad infinitum.

    In this thread you equate Necessity to Contingency with this:

    “What is His beginning…”

    Equivocation on necessary and contingent is a bit silly.

    God has a cause? God has a beginning? That’s pretty funny Shane. Especially coming from someone as adept at these items as you (genuinely) are. I guess if you want to redefine words and then talk about non-god gods and so on, you can do so.

    Either way the Theist is happy: That simply referred to what Melissa and JB have been pointing out to you on the ease with which Theism accommodates man from the dirt up, man’s moral dance atop genomic stasis, chaos outside of Eden, and so on. All sorts of lines can emerge there, some may yet fall off (are you open to that in your worldview? The Christian is) and some may yet arise with new information (are you open to that in Naturalism? The Christian is). Whatever. It’s all good as far as Scripture’s meta-narrative is concerned as Man is commanded to subdue, tackle, the chaos – methodological naturalism embraced as far as she will take us into the lap of Hawking’s and Genesis’ Timelessness and Immaterial.

  217. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Pain rising and falling is easy – bio-lines can be changed. You assert that evolution can do something to genomic lines that God couldn’t by questioning such simple bio-lines. How odd. Or just silly.

    And worse for your line of thinking: Death comes in along many lines, paradigms. You need to think more openly, wider, farther. On the day you eat you’ll die. Well, what of physical death the day we ate? Did it pop into existence on that day? No. Was his lifespan of hundreds of years unchanged by this “death”? Changed? So what is Death in that line of paradigms? For the same reasoning-s, what is pain in that line of paradigms? Adam didn’t die the day he ate. But on the day he ate, he died. Now, even teens can see the point there of two different employments of the same word. It’s surprising you can’t. And so on with pain. And so on with whatever. Meta-narratives are not obtained in and by 489 words in chapter X. You get what that means I’m sure. Or perhaps (you give us reason to think so) you really do take that to “mean” or to “reveal” that then 490 words ought to have revealed all, or 488 words ought to have revealed the whole show? Hopefully not. That would be, well, a silly to read that 489 paradigm/line.

    The metanarrative of Christianity is far more plausible than that of naturalism for many reasons and on many fronts. Being open to all paradigms of sight is one of those reasons. Reading scripture, and in fact reading the real world as we actually find it, with more sophistication than the 488, 489, 490 bit you seem to employ is another.

    Scripture is, from A to Z, about Man’s redemption. It is there to reveal Christ, that is to say, it is given to reveal Love’s All-Sufficient Means and Ends for the Contingent Self called Man.

    God has given us the natural world, our minds, our reasoning, and so on, and so on, to subdue and tackle the chaos outside the Garden. There are all sorts of Gardens in play here, Shane. Eden and Gethsemane are, in all possible worlds, inescapable given Man’s necessary coming to the end of himself. The last Adam proves that sin was not necessary for those motions of Gethsemane. The very nature of Man necessitates that Man must either face Privation, Insufficiency, Lack, or, he must find Amalgamation, Unity, All-Sufficiency there in the only road out of Eden – which is Gethsemane. Man is made in the Image of the Triune – that of the Self/Other/Us, and Man therein has no other options. It will be His All-Sufficiency pouring into us, or, it will be the pain of our privation.

    The stuff of Time is the stuff of Man’s motioning in those lines, his choosing, his weighing of his own delight.

    Lest God pour out, fill us, and lest we drink the cup that is Him, we are hopeless here in this that just is the pain of privation.

  218. Melissa

    Shane,

    Again, it is because the Theist is ignoring the important, and unanswerable, questions about God. What is His beginning,

    Yeah, I admit it. I do ignore nonsense questions. Your point?

    The problem is that I don’t need to know all the details of our evolution to understand the process that gets us to here.

    And I don’t need to have the answer to every question to know that Christianity makes sense and naturalism as a serious alternative is a non-starter. As I already pointed out you have a serious case of double standards.

    I’m happier with “I don’t know” myself then forcing a belief in something to fill in the gaps.

    Once again there is no forcing, the reason why it seems that way is because of all the things you don’t know (and from the direction this conversation is going – don’t want to know. I guess you’re happy not knowing about a lot of things that you could know). Even the questions that you ask about the explanations show us that when you read them you are trying to force them into your current understanding instead of taking a step back and realising there’s a whole lot of stuff you need to rethink.

  219. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “You ask this question: “How can the evidence be the same if our experience is different?”

    Returning to the trial by jury analogy, the evidence that the jurors are presented in the trial is the same, regardless of their experience(s). In the God Yes/No question, we all share the human experience. The only possible evidence of/for whatever it is that people name “God” is comes to us through our experience(s) as human beings.”

    As you show, our experience(s) are different. Therefore our evidence is different.

    “Frankly, it doesn’t trouble me, and I speculate that it doesn’t trouble most Christians, that there is a “hung jury” in the “God yes/no” trial. This is simply evidence of free will.”

    But again, beliefs are not the result of any sort of will, free or otherwise. They are the interpretation of data. You can not “will” yourself to believe the world is flat when everything you know about it indicates it is a sphere.

    I have no reason to believe that God is real, and I cannot will myself to believe it. You believe I am going to Hell because of my lack of belief, but you cannot say it is because of my own choices or will. A true use of free will would be believing that God is real, and defying him anyway. Such as Satan did. He exercised free will and his punishment is earned. If my children disobey rules, then exercising their free will will earn them a punishment. It would be entirely unjust of me to punish them for … let’s say … not believing they had a great, great grandfather called Alfred. And you certainly couldn’t say that their lack of belief had anything to do with them exercising their free will to not believe. Their lack of belief is due to the ignorance of their family tree.

    If an all powerful God exists, and He chooses to send billions to Hell for not believing in Him, He can choose to do so. But you can’t say it is because the people who don’t believe in Him were exercising free will.

    “You also say this: “This contradiction only exists with the claim “God does not exist”. An atheist claiming “I do not believe in God” has no such problem.” Since you state that “I do not believe in God” is not a claim, then you must agree that “I believe in God” is not a claim. So who is it that claims that God exists? My answer to this question is that it is God Himself who claims (and proves through revelation) that God exists.”

    I don’t state that I am not making a claim. In fact you quoted me where I say quite clearly that I am making a claim. Belief or not is obviously a claim. I’m not sure what you are trying to say here.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  220. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “The details of The Fall that I am looking for are the most important part of the Christian story. They are critical to the story.

    How is whether and to what extent bearing children was painful before the Fall the most important part of the Christian story. How is it critical to the story?”

    That is not a detail of The Fall. It is one of the consequences of The Fall. The details of The Fall are the What, the How and the Why of it. Also, the Who, I guess. The Where and the When are not so critical to the story.

    The consequences listed in Genesis are important because they all existed before The Fall. Everything that we apparently have in the world now because of Adam’s sin necessarily existed before he sinned. So the consequences aren’t really consequences. Now if you want to say that child birth was painful, snakes crawled on the ground, weeds existed, etc, but after The Fall they were emphasised in some small way, I can’t argue with that, but it makes Gods power seem small and diminished.

    “I get the feeling you’re not really trying that hard to understand.”

    I promise you, I am.

    “Pride etc didn’t “come” from anywhere, it is wrapped up with our ego, our free will and our ability to choose.”

    Pride is a sin. It could not exist in us if we were made by God sin free. Acting in a prideful way would be impossible.

    “We can choose to say “stick it” to the one who made us.”

    But why would we choose that? If we are perfect and free of sin we would not choose that. This is my problem with original sin.

    “You are not being “blamed” for what Adam did, if a child is kicked out of their house with the rest of their family because their parents didn’t pay the rent, are they being blamed for it? No. We suffer the consequences of living under the reign of sin and death because we follow Adam.”

    Well your argument is that I have to remain homeless because an ancestor from millennia ago couldn’t pay their rent. That doesn’t’ seem fair. If a woman uses heroin whilst pregnant, her child will be born with a heroin addiction through no fault of it’s own. But that does not mean the grandchildren will be born with the same addiction. Or the great grandchildren, etc.

    “Of course we are not blameless because we continue to say “stick it!”.”

    But you believe we are born into sin. We are sinners from birth (conception?) long before we have a chance to make any choices what so ever. And because of that sin, we have no choice but to sin ourselves. It is in our nature. Which brings me back to Adam, and his first sin, which was not in his nature.

    Cheers
    Shane

  221. scblhrm

    Shane,

    In marriage comes all the discomfort of trust and love.

    Your semantics house none of those motions. Which reveals your flawed reduction of relation to pitiless cascades. Offering the beloved a mere glance which is refused makes the offer of a hand a fool’s move. God – Love – not being a fool is it seems unlikely to offer the night of fire to one who calls the innate value of person the stuff of “something” akin to irrationally conditioned illusion. Such a choice on your part to deny the subtle glance is akin to that which effectively seals the deal on the night of fire.

    If you choose to believe that life is so cheap – really is – at bottom – on your regression, then the Author of Life, Love, has nothing you will choose to believe, for He is Love, He is Life, and these you’ve chosen to label as akin to “something” related to delusion.

    You choose to say “stick it” to Love – while asserting that you can’t help believing that the real is the unreal.

    Really?

  222. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    Thanks for the quote, which says “… goes some way” not “goes a long way” as you first said. That will be why a search produced no results.

    “Vacuums are energy-laden. Just FYI. Any appeal to energy to explain energy is just contingency explaining contingency.”

    I do appreciate that observations inside our universe are not the same as observations outside of it, but that is what we are stuck with. That’s why I used the phrase “goes some way” rather than saying “definitive proof”. I was also using the illustration to show an effect without a cause. Energy does not generally spontaneously turn into matter. The universe would be a very different place if this happened as a regular occurrence. But assuming that it is the vacuum energy that is converting to matter in this case, then what is the cause of this effect?

    “You can argue that energy exists necessarily, that the necessary being is the universe. Good luck proving it inside of natural means/ends. Everything the naturalist points to has a prior blip on the screen, and so on, ad infinitum.

    In this thread you equate Necessity to Contingency with this:

    “What is His beginning…”

    Equivocation on necessary and contingent is a bit silly.

    God has a cause? God has a beginning? That’s pretty funny Shane. Especially coming from someone as adept at these items as you (genuinely) are. I guess if you want to redefine words and then talk about non-god gods and so on, you can do so.”

    I make no bones about the fact that I have no idea what occurred before the Big Bang. I don’t know what existed then. But you are saying, “Something must necessarily exist for eternity. That thing must be God.” I’m not sure the first must be true. And quite certainly the second doesn’t necessarily follow from the first. All the evidence I can see shows that more complex things build up over time. The aftermath of the Big Bang created the first three elements. Super Novas created the heavier elements. These heavier elements created life, which evolved into more and more complex beings. Theism starts with the most complex thing ever, and all things that follow afterwards are necessarily less complex. This is the opposite of what nature and our experience shows us.

    “Pain rising and falling is easy – bio-lines can be changed. You assert that evolution can do something to genomic lines that God couldn’t by questioning such simple bio-lines. How odd. Or just silly.”

    I’m not saying that He couldn’t. Just that He didn’t. Or if He did it was merely tuning a mechanism that was already in place. That seems odd and silly to me, for an all powerful God.

    “Scripture is, from A to Z, about Man’s redemption.”

    I will agree with that. Redemption from what is what I am trying to get to the bottom of with my conversation with Melissa.

    “The very nature of Man necessitates …”

    Is this nature the way God made us? If so how can we be blamed/punished for it? If we were made sinless but our nature changed after we sinned, then how could we have sinned in the first place?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  223. scblhrm

    Shane,

    If you don’t know the difference between mutable innocence (Eden, Gethsemane) in the arena of Self – and/vs. – the Immutable Love in the triune arena of Self, Other, Us, that isn’t the theist’s burden. Pointing to energy state A to explain state B isn’t explanatory on topic – at all. God changing genome is what creation means – powerful or not if you want to play like that. Death and Pain? On what day?

  224. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “In marriage comes all the discomfort of trust and love.”

    A terrible analogy. I have been married for quarter of a century, and my wife is someone I can verify exist through all 5 senses and who responds directly back to me when I talk to her.

    “Such a choice on your part to deny the subtle glance is akin to that which effectively seals the deal on the night of fire.”

    What if I just don’t see the glance?

    “Offering the beloved a mere glance which is refused makes the offer of a hand a fool’s move.”

    Again, not if I just didn’t see the glance. Men are pretty stupid and not looking for subtlety. Again, ask my wife.

    “God – Love – not being a fool is it seems unlikely to offer the night of fire to one who calls the innate value of person the stuff of “something” akin to irrationally conditioned illusion.”

    I think it’s pretty brave of you to make any sort of suggestion about what God might do in any given situation. I also think you’re wrong, and God would try again and again if He really “loved” me.

    “If you choose to believe that life is so cheap – really is – at bottom – on your regression, … ”

    Do you have any evidence or examples to suggest that we can choose our beliefs? In this example, if my supposed belief about life is wrong, it can only be changed by people showing evidence/examples of the flaw in my understanding. It is not a choice I am making.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  225. scblhrm

    Shane,

    If you choose to believe that Life, that Love, are all – at bottom – so cheap – delusion even – then you won’t find He Who is Love, is Life.

    Change genome? What day?

  226. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “If you don’t know the difference between mutable innocence (Eden, Gethsemane) in the arena of Self – and/vs. – the Immutable Love in the triune arena of Self, Other, Us, that isn’t the theist’s burden.”

    lol. I think explaining what you are saying here is definitely your burden.

    “Pointing to energy state A to explain state B isn’t explanatory on topic – at all.”

    You bought that in from a conversation I was having with another. Not I.

    “God changing genome is what creation means – powerful or not if you want to play like that.”

    But it is impossible to show that God did change our genome. Can you point to part of our genome that must necessarily have been the intentional work of God at the time God made Adam his first man? That would be some nice evidence to have on your side.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  227. scblhrm

    Shane,

    If you choose to believe that Life, that Love, are all – at bottom – so cheap – delusion even – akin to that itch/scratch of amoral flux – then you won’t find – choose – He Who is Love, is Life.

    Change genome? What day? The day he ate? Why think that?

    Dirt to Man is all Scripture commits us to.

    Timelessness touching Time.

    The rest is wide open …… Those two seem solid.

  228. Jenna Black

    Shane,

    You say this: “If an all powerful God exists, and He chooses to send billions to Hell for not believing in Him, He can choose to do so. But you can’t say it is because the people who don’t believe in Him were exercising free will.”

    It seems to me that you are listening to entirely the wrong people as the source of your understanding of Heaven and Hell in Christian theology, as well as in Judaism. No one that I know, Jew or Christian, believes in a God of our religions that “chooses to send billions to Hell” for not believing in Him. Our religions believe that God loves righteousness and punishes unrighteousness, not unbelief. The ancient Hebrews held the belief that Gentiles (non-Jews) were held to the seven laws of Noah (the Noachide Law) and not the Law of Moses that required love of God (monotheism). In Judaism, people who are righteous receive favor in God’s eyes and are not condemned. Since Jesus Christ said clearly that he came to fulfill the Law, then how do you, or anyone else, extrapolate the notion that unbelief is grounds for God Himself to condemn anyone to Hell, most especially believing as you do that your atheism is involuntary, that you have no choice in the matter?

    I would certainly agree with you that involuntary non-belief, as in the case of a person who lacks the mental capacity to formulate a belief, to be condemned for their involuntary non-belief would indeed be cruel and arbitrary. You appear to, once again, claim that your atheism is just that, involuntary and inevitable. But do you also believe that righteousness or unrighteousness is beyond your capacity to choose of your own free will?

    Unfortunately, there are some Christians who give much too much importance to belief and not enough to righteousness. I believe in the God to whom it is inconsequential whether or not we get God right but to whom it is of great consequence that we get right with God.

  229. scblhrm

    Shane,

    “You bought that in from a conversation I was having with another. Not I.”

    Nonetheless, you equivocate on necessity and contingency.

    “But it is impossible to show that God did change our genome”.

    Yes, things, all things, are made of parts. I know you think that is proof of naturalism, just like some Christians think it is proof of Creation. Both of you are wrong. Even worse for you, you argue that God can’t or shouldn’t. Huh? Things, parts…. A Priori…..

    [God is the] “Most complex thing ever”? You make the same straw-man of Dawkins:

    “The problem here, I’m sure, is that the word “simple” in English can mean “easy” or even “dumb,” so that to call God simple sounds rather like an insult. But “simple” can also mean “non-composite,” that is to say, not composed of parts, and this is the relevant sense here. An electron, for example, is a simple particle, whereas a proton is not, the latter being composed of quarks. The degree to which an entity is simple is the degree to which it is made up of potentially separable parts. Far from being a misguided attempt to save the cosmological and design arguments, simplicity is one of the classic attributes of God! For example, the very first attribute of God which is discussed by Thomas Aquinas following his five proofs of God’s existence is God’s simplicity (Summa theologica pt. 1, ques. 3). Thomas upholds an extraordinarily strong doctrine of divine simplicity, arguing that God is utterly without composition of any sort. In my discussion of this divine attribute in “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” (IVP, 2003), I reject Thomas’ very strong view in favor of a weaker form of divine simplicity. I see no reason, for example, to think that God’s essence and existence are the same. Still, as a mind without a body, God is amazingly simple. Being immaterial, He has no physical parts. Therefore to postulate a pure Mind as the explanation of fine-tuning is the height of simplicity! If you doubt this, then I invite you to explain the sense in which a pure mind is complex. What Richard Dawkins does is to confuse the mind itself with a mind’s thoughts. Certainly a mind’s thoughts can be complex, but a mind’s thoughts are not the mind itself (for a mind can cease to think its complex thoughts and contemplate something else instead). So even if we accept the (erroneous) principle that an explanation, in order to be a good one, must be simpler than the thing to be explained, postulating a mind behind the universe, with all its variegated and contingent constants and quantities, does represent an advance in simplicity.” (William Lane Craig)

    Now, since you really do believe in Simple/Part-less to Parts/Complex, your embrace of Theism will ensue we’re sure. Or at least you will count it as evidence – which we all have – of the Uncontingent’s Nature. You choose. Now, since you just SAID that you BELIEVE that simple to complex is the path worth following, then you SAY that you BELIEVE “that”, so, again, you choose what evidence to follow by BELIEVING that line of evidence and then not following it to where it goes – as in the value of a person – as in slavery’s innate cut against that peculiar grain.

    “lol. I think explaining what you are saying here is definitely your burden”

    It’s odd you don’t know the contours of love and person, being married and all. But then, if that whole thing is a collection of irrational itches? Love is triune, Shane. You haven’t found you, Self, and her, Other, and all the stuff of One, of Us? To choose to deny such, to choose to think it really is, at bottom, a cheap set of cheap itches but for the itch that it isn’t cheap, is a choice you make.

    Your choice doesn’t change reality, though, as morality just does regress to relation’s triune, as love itself just is triune. There is no love void of I-You there within Unity’s singular Us. That is to say, there is no love, whole love, void of the Self, or void of the Other/Beloved, or void of the embrace that just is singularity’s Us. The ceaseless reciprocity within the immutable love of the Necessary Being finds such lines of Timelessness touching Time, of Genesis’ singular Us, there in Trinity. The Self there in Eden, there in Gethsemane, finds in mutable innocence all the stuff of marriage as it will be the choice you yourself are here inside of Time making which is to deny Love, to deny the Innate Worth of Her, to declare her delusion’s harlot, or, it will be the choice to enter love’s landscape. To deny is to retain that which is the Self and nothing more, while to enter in is to – at first – enter love’s sacrifice, a kind of death, for that which would know life must first do thusly, and then in that eternal sacrifice of Self gain all the stuff of Self-Other-Us. E Pluribus Unum.

    Trinity, Eden, Gethsemane, Privation, Amalgamation/Incarnation, and so on are not scriptural composites anyone will draw out for you here in fifty words or less, Shane. Nor will anyone draw out which day Adam died, there on the day he ate, for pain and death and day and creation, all, clearly, have many lines which emerge, may emerge, may fade. The Theist is happy either way, as has been pointed out to you, like, a bunch of times now.

  230. Melissa

    Shane,

    The problem is that I don’t need to know all the details of our evolution to understand the process that gets us to here.

    You have independent evidence of what Adam and Eve’s life was like before the Fall? Fill us in please.

    Pride is a sin. It could not exist in us if we were made by God sin free. Acting in a prideful way would be impossible.

    God made us with free will and with that comes the ability to choose to do all sorts of things, good and bad.

    But why would we choose that?

    You tell me. Why do you choose that?

    Well your argument is that I have to remain homeless because an ancestor from millennia ago couldn’t pay their rent.

    Well, you don’t have to. It’s your choice.

    If a woman uses heroin whilst pregnant, her child will be born with a heroin addiction through no fault of it’s own. But that does not mean the grandchildren will be born with the same addiction. Or the great grandchildren, etc.

    It’s much more like being born into poverty.

    But you believe we are born into sin. We are sinners from birth (conception?) long before we have a chance to make any choices what so ever.

    You are equating two different things, the idea of being born under sin and the idea of being sinners. Some people think these are these are just ways of saying the same thing, I do not. When I say we are born under sin, I mean we are born under the reign of sin and death. We can’t get ourselves out from under that. Of course we are also sinners because of our own choices.

  231. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Jesus said that if one had no light one would be without sin. With awareness of truth comes choices in sin ……. And Etc. You’re not talking about any Christian anything (again) in your inaccurate analysis of sin’s various lines. Looking at one’s wife and / or child, one perceives – often – a line of sight inside of ought which philosophical naturalism must outright d-a-m-n as delusion. Light is there at once given by Love and refused by Man (in your case).

    That’s reality.

  232. BillT

    Shane,

    Here’s a question for you on the “It’s not fair that I’m born with sin because of the actions of someone from a long time ago.” (paraphrased). If God had chosen you as Adam would you have done any better?

  233. Jenna Black

    Shane,

    As I said, you have been listening the the wrong crowd in formulating your understanding of Hell. I highly recommend this web page about C.S. Lewis and his understanding of Heaven and Hell. I give you just a few quotations.

    Heaven and Hell as Idea and Image in C.S. Lewis
    https://www.cslewis.com/blog/heaven-and-hell-as-idea-and-image-in-c-s-lewis/

    “Jesus at times does describe hell as what follows a sentence imposed by a judge (as in Matthew 25: 41-46). This itself is an example of Jesus using a picture (or parable) to convey a truth. The image of a judge imposing a sentence upon the guilty should vindicate God, not the opposite. A judge in a courtroom is (or ought always to be) not a vindictive punisher, but one who weighs evidence objectively, reaches conclusions impartially, and imposes sentences equitably.”

    “The torture of separation and the terror of ceasing to exist are better seen not as punishments imposed by God, but as the natural and inevitable outcome of choices humans themselves make and attitudes they themselves develop.”

    I hope that you enjoy this reading. JB

  234. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Schblrm,

    #232

    “If you choose to believe …”

    I have explained that no-one chooses what they believe, so the conclusion you come to there is wrong.

    “Change genome? What day? The day he ate? Why think that?”

    Any day at all.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  235. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “No one that I know, Jew or Christian, believes in a God of our religions that “chooses to send billions to Hell” for not believing in Him.”

    Are any unbelievers accepted into Heaven?

    “Our religions believe that God loves righteousness and punishes unrighteousness, not unbelief.”

    Is it unrighteous to not believe in God?

    “But do you also believe that righteousness or unrighteousness is beyond your capacity to choose of your own free will?”

    Do you mean the definition is beyond my capacity or my ability to act righteously?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  236. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “Even worse for you, you argue that God can’t or shouldn’t.”

    Where in the world did I say that? Saying he didn’t is not the same as can’t.

    “Still, as a mind without a body, God is amazingly simple. ”

    I would suggest A: That doesn’t sound simple at all, and B: What evidence do you have to suggest that is what God is?

    Although I do appreciate you trying to save time by having me believe unquestioningly in what you say and explain the mental processes that I would then have. The idea that God is simpler than a single electron, let alone all the matter in the Universe and the laws that control them seems patently false to me, and you will have to go to far greater lengths to explain that to me.

    “It’s odd you don’t know the contours of love and person, being married and all. ”

    I meant I couldn’t make head nor tail of the sentence you wrote. Not what ever meaning you had ascribed to your words, though obviously, if I couldn’t understand the sentence, then the meaning was lost as well.

    It often seems to me that for someone trying to argue a position, you go out of your way to be unclear. Maybe you’re not good at concisely making a point. Maybe you’re not good at tailoring your language to how well read your audience is. Maybe you can’t help but skip over the explanations of the words you use which seem perfectly obvious to you. In any case, it makes you poor at arguing your position.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  237. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “God made us with free will and with that comes the ability to choose to do all sorts of things, good and bad.”

    And this ability to choose is something he gave to Adam? The rest of the animal kingdom does not choose to do or not do things? The observations of my cat tell me that she chooses to do things all the time. It seems obvious that the ability to choose is something that evolved in animals.

    So going with the story, that what God gave us was the knowledge of consequences of our actions; of doing good and evil. Before this point we could do anything and not be judged because we had no knowledge that there was right and wrong. If you believe that it was only given to a select two of the population at the time, what happened to the rest of the “people” alive when Adam and Eve were chosen? Did they not have this knowledge? Were they still blameless in God’s eyes?

    Actually, that’s not how the story goes though, is it? God was trying to shield us from this knowledge, and we acquired it anyhow. That’s different to God blessing us with it. Never mind that tangent.

    “You tell me. Why do you choose that?”

    I choose that because I am born sinful. Unless you think I am not born sinful? Am I born perfect and then I have to sin to condemn myself? My understanding of the scripture is that I am a sinner from birth/conception because of my lineage from Adam. It seems to me his must be the case because all sin and need salvation. If we were in fact born sinless there would be people who would not need salvation. Because if everyone freely choose sin then we would have been made imperfectly, or would not have true free will. If people did actually have free will, of the billions who have lived, there would be more than one person who had never sinned. By simple numbers. So we must all be born sinners.

    Except Adam, which is who I am asking about. If he had no sin in him, why did he sin?

    “When I say we are born under sin, I mean we are born under the reign of sin and death. We can’t get ourselves out from under that. Of course we are also sinners because of our own choices.”

    As above, if we are born free of sin, there would be people who would never sin, no matter the fact of the world we live in. Just by simple statistical numbers. If we truly have free choice. If our choices are tainted by the world we live in, we don’t have free choice.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  238. Shane Fletcher

    Hi BillT,

    “Here’s a question for you on the “It’s not fair that I’m born with sin because of the actions of someone from a long time ago.” (paraphrased). If God had chosen you as Adam would you have done any better?”

    Good question. Do you have any reason to believe I wouldn’t have done better than Adam?

    And as an aside, better at what? I am still trying to get a firm answer as to what he did that caused this.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  239. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    Thanks for the link. A good read. But …

    “The image of a judge imposing a sentence upon the guilty should vindicate God, not the opposite. A judge in a courtroom is (or ought always to be) not a vindictive punisher, but one who weighs evidence objectively, reaches conclusions impartially, and imposes sentences equitably.”

    The difference is that the judge doesn’t create the laws whereas God obviously has. You can not blame a judge for imposing a sentence that is required by the law but you can blame the lawmakers. You can also petition to get laws changed, but none of this is possible regarding the afterlife. God is the final arbitrator and God must shoulder the responsibility.

    Cheers
    Shane

  240. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #240

    First off, let me be clear here that I am giving you my interpretation of and thoughts about the teachings of Judaism and Christianity about heaven and hell, since you asked. IMO, it is wrong for any Christian to threaten any non-believer that s/he is going to hell since only God makes these judgments. In fact, Jesus admonished us not to judge others. See Matthew 7: 1-3.

    I make the distinction between righteousness and “believing in God” because this is an important distinction. I do believe that people can be righteous without a belief in God, which is to say that I know personally and also know of righteous people who are atheists and non-Christians.

    But you haven’t answered my question and ask a question I can’t decipher back at me with this: “Do you mean the definition is beyond my capacity or my ability to act righteously?”

    Are we getting anywhere? I’m asking again, do you think that righteousness is a choice, a way of being and acting according to free will? I ask this again because based on what you’ve said previously, I gather that you don’t believe that believing in God or not believing in God is an act of free will.

  241. Melissa

    Shane,

    The observations of my cat tell me that she chooses to do things all the time. It seems obvious that the ability to choose is something that evolved in animals.

    Your cat may do many things, whether or not it chooses to do those things is anything but obvious.

    If you believe that it was only given to a select two of the population at the time, what happened to the rest of the “people” alive when Adam and Eve were chosen? Did they not have this knowledge? Were they still blameless in God’s eyes?

    They would not be, strictly speaking, fully humans, rather they would be animals, unable to intellectually grasp the good and choose to pursue it or not.

    Actually, that’s not how the story goes though, is it? God was trying to shield us from this knowledge, and we acquired it anyhow. That’s different to God blessing us with it.

    No, God didn’t want Adam and Eve to have experiential knowledge of evil, which is what they got when they disobeyed God.

    As above, if we are born free of sin, there would be people who would never sin, no matter the fact of the world we live in. Just by simple statistical numbers.

    Um no, first we are not all born free from sin and your statistically argument would only work if all our choices are like the toss of a coin.

    This is all fun and games but you are still trying to squeeze everything into your framework instead of putting that aside and trying to look at it with fresh eyes. What you get is a mismatched hodge lodge that of course does not make sense.

  242. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Since you pointed to an electron, rather than to your end of regress, in a discussion about the potentially simplest cause for everything, this will be my last post in this thread.

    “Where in the world did I say that? Saying he didn’t is not the same as can’t.”

    You said such lines makes God seem weak in #225’s “but it makes Gods power seem small and diminished”. The tone there is akin to, “God shouldn’t do X because, well, God – if He really were God – would instead do Y, because X seems weak to me.”

    “The idea that God is simpler than a single electron, let alone all the matter in the Universe and the laws that control them seems patently false to me”

    None of the items you listed there created the universe. So you have nothing to compare. So you are not arguing anything.

    Great job. A pencil is simpler than Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere. Or than God. So therefore no-god. Well then no Sphere either. Thus we’re ending here with this post.

    What “it” is, if God, is One, Uncaused, Timeless, Immaterial, Changeless, Part-less, void of the contingent, and the Necessary and Sufficient Cause of all Effects (including Time). Now, if you want to believe in an endless regress of “things” then you’ve something more complex. Hawking’s Imaginary Sphere is made of…..? Parts? Things, pleural? Waves, pleural? Particles (pleural) coming into/out of vacuum fluxes (pleural)? Then God is still simpler. Also: God is partless, and that non-physical [Mind + Nothing] is not only simpler than anything you can point to but it is also simpler than [Mind + Body]. So, either way, God or no-god, your regress thus far is more complex. Perhaps you’d like to borrow the Theist’s paradigm of One, Uncaused, Timeless, Immaterial, Changeless, Part-less, void of the contingent, and the Necessary and Sufficient Cause of all Effects (including Time). No regress you’ve shown, or even hinted at, has shown us, or even hinted to us, of such a Singularity as that – as God “is” there in His Simplicity. Not even close. Show your work, Shane, in your end of regression. And “an electron” isn’t that end of regress, so you’ll need to bring up some other something. Wow. An electron. Do you realize how silly it was to point to an electron as an argument for your simple-ist-cause? But if it wasn’t your end of regress then why did you point to it? It often seems to me that for someone trying to argue a position, you go out of your way to be unclear. Very tedious for something so obvious. Since you’ve nothing One / Partless / Contingent-Less / Singularity to point to then you ought to follow that evidence where it leads you – to God. If you want to redefine the Christian God into a being full of contingent parts, then fine, you can talk about that non-God *god*. Otherwise: the Essence, or Nature, there is Divine Simplicity.

    “It’s odd you don’t know the contours of love and person, being married and all” (you didn’t get the triune nature of love)

    That was a lead-in to what followed that, Shane, and that is (was) that love is innately triune.

    Teens get this on the first go, so let’s run through it again:

    In relationship, that is to say, in whole love, there is, well, there is you (the contour of the “self”), and there is the friend, or the beloved (the contour of the “other”), and there is (if it helps) E Pluribus Unum therein – relationship’s whole, love’s Whole, the singular Us. Again, teens “get it”. Anything void of any of those three is not whole love. Annihilation of any of the three lands love in some kind of fragmentation. Relationality, Love, when whole, is triune, Shane. If you can’t figure out that elementary diagram which even teens we know see at first glance in discussing relationship, then we can’t help you. But we all know you’re smarter than teens. You just must not want to go there. To recap this very basic, very elementary drawing of relationship: God is Love. God is Triune. The familiar E Pluribus Unum may help. Relationship just is triune as it houses (we can’t make it any more basic) “I and You and Us”. Love’s nature of oneness there amid I-You comes into play. Teens get it, Shane. Love, Relationality, just is triune. The immutable love of the Necessary Being just is Love, just is Triune. God just is Triune.

    Now, if you want to argue that love is a collection of itches which don’t matter except for yet another itch that says the itches really do, in fact, matter, then that is your definition of all that is transpiring there inside of that arena of relationship, of love.

    Your free choice to refuse love, to refuse God:

    You have a free choice for in looking at one’s wife and / or child, and/or beloved (and so on) one perceives – often – a line of sight inside of love’s ought which philosophical naturalism must outright d-a-m-n as not just delusion but a bizarrely “arbitrary” delusion. Light is there at once given by Love to you and then is simultaneously there refused by you.

    If you reject that Light on the grounds that you think Scientism (it’s just incoherent, Shane) is the only means to justified knowledge, you are wrong and hence you’ve no “scientific” reason to deny / turn down that Light you see in the beloved, in Philosophical sightlines which cohere with reality.

    In fact you are indebted to philosophy to even understand what science can and cannot do – you are indebted to philosophy to avoid the absurdity of Scientism. There is no evidence that our microscopes can answer all our questions and in fact, for painfully obvious reasons, scientism is incoherent and self-defeating.

    Philosophy thereby trumps (physical) science for it is by philosophical means that we finally come to know, to see the self-evident essence that scientism is incoherent. We don’t rationally comprehend the limits of methodological naturalism, of science, by science, but by philosophy. We can’t use a microscope to teach us where the reach of science (physical science) ends (and it does end – on pain of scientism’s incoherence) but rather we need Philosophy to show us about science and its reach there in the very analysis of the incoherence of “Scientism”. Were it not for philosophy we would fall into the absurd mistake of believing that science is the only way to reach justified knowledge, to know truth.

    Where (physical) science ends, philosophy – the immaterial – the self-evident – easily, casually, carries on. In fact, even that statement is not complete because philosophy – in showing us the self-evident, the incoherence of scientism – must therefore even precede the work of (physical) science. Justified knowledge (therefore) comes by many vectors. Not merely one. That is a strength of Theism and a weakness of Naturalism because Paradigms beyond the microscope are easily, casually, embraced. Expected even. Predicted even. Scientism’s self-evident incoherence is itself a great weight of evidence to methodological naturalism’s innate indebtedness to Philosophy for the golden prize of justified knowledge.

    Therefore, the fact that Philosophy is the paradigm though which knowledge is coming to you there in His Light through love’s vector is not, and never will be, adequate intellectual grounds for your refusal of that knowledge for it being “unjustified”.

    Psychopaths look into their children and spouses and see nothing – and that is pathologic. If we do see, though, and yet choose to d-a-m-n such as ultimate delusion, and arbitrary delusion at that, despite the fact that Light is there given (beware of that appeal to scientism as grounds to reject philosophical insight for science is itself indebted to her to know her very self) then one is in fact freely refusing Immutable Love – and such is the refusal of God in the full light of the day.

    The bottom line in Scripture’s meta-narrative is love in all directions. They ask of Christ which is “the” (one) greatest – bottom line – commandment. He gives them two, not one, and ties them together as one – and the wisdom there is that void of Immutable Love all the rest becomes arbitrary and fragmented. God will come to us though those lines – through love in the vertical and through love in the horizontal. To d-a-m-n such sightedness as arbitrary delusion is to freely refuse God and that when scientism gives one – there in the light of day – no coherent reason to refuse Philosophy as one of many lines of justified knowledge.

    If you dispute that location of philosophy’s delivery of the self-evident there in relation to physical science / methodological naturalism, then it will be Scientism. And if it is Scientism, then it is the incoherence and the absurdity which is there embraced on necessity. It is better to embrace logical lucidity – which leads us to Immutable Love, that is to say, which leads us to E Pluribus Unum (if that helps), to Community, to (teens get this on relationship/love) the contours of that inescapably triune landscape of Self-Other-Us – it is better to embrace logical lucidity and go there than it is to embrace Isolation, Darkness, the Pure-Self, void of the Other, void of Community, void of I-You in its actual fullness.

  243. scblhrm

    The nature of reality affirms William Lane Craig’s employment of the word “erroneous” here from the quote in #234:

    “So even if we accept the (erroneous) principle that an explanation, in order to be a good one, must be simpler than the thing to be explained, postulating a mind behind the universe, with all its variegated and contingent constants and quantities, does represent an advance in simplicity.”

    A man building a microwave oven is a more complex something (man’s contingent parts outnumbering the oven’s) building a less complex something (oven’s fewer contingent parts). So there ARE explanations more complex that flow “down hill”. In the real world, that is.

    In other words, no one needs this erroneous argument, but if we go there, the very essence, nature, of Theistic Divine Simplicity will, in the end, find more coherence than anything the materialist can point to. Having said that, when the non-contingent comes into the picture, THAT is when the discussion gets interesting ~~~

  244. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #244

    You say this regarding God as Judge of our fate regarding the Afterlife: “God is the final arbitrator and God must shoulder the responsibility.”

    God does shoulder His responsibility as Judge. And we must shoulder our responsibility as sinners.

  245. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Final arbitrator?

    As per #247 the final motion of volition is your free decision to refuse love. Also as was described there is the added layer that science is indebted to philosophical means – thus you’ve no rational grounds to label such means as “unjustified knowledge”. Your volitional embrace of the incoherent fog of scientism over the undeniable sight of love’s innately triune contours is your own volitional motion.

  246. scblhrm

    Melissa / Shane:

    @ #246

    There seemed to be this odd and unnecessary fascination with cats.

    Go ahead and grant volition to animals and atheism. It changes nothing.

    Animals choose many things, but diving into God does not seem to be a paradigm availed to them. Granting Volition to Animals and/or to Man and/or to Atheism’s Paradigm doesn’t change the fact that Love’s Ought is still – short of God – wholly arbitrary at bottom.

    Volition is not the necessary and sufficient. God is. That is to say, immutable love is. Shane, Hebrews 11 is full of volitional trust in God, but yet they could not enter-into-Him. He must pour out, fill up, open (thus Christ) – else Man finds all the same painful ends of privation. Of mutability. Of arbitrariness. Volition gives you (atheism) nothing. It’s a fantasy in Naturalism b/c there is no part of nature that is free of nature. The very concept is a contradiction. But, we can just grant it for this discussion.

    As in:

    “If there were no God, then…..” and there we can fill in the blank here for the Atheists have a bad habit of doing this: there would be… More accountability, more honesty within loving (whatever love void of volition amounts to), more morals, less evil in the world, and so on. Well, that is witty but once we apply the rigors of History, Reason, Logic, and the unavoidable results of a Final and Immutable Grain be it Love or be it Life-Less-Ness we discover such arguments ultimately fail. We know that the trinity of [Mindset, Action, Philosophical Necessity] that is Athe-ism has no necessary contradiction to all sorts of violations against personhood (and so on) and that the same trinity which houses “God is Love” (Ultimate Actuality is Love) has all sorts of necessary outcomes where personhood is concerned (and so on).

    One’s Mindset, Actions, and Philosophical Necessities (that trio) can be all over the map and thus incongruent or incoherent but such is not the sort of sickly logic we are concerned with here. When we find this trio embracing all of its necessarily open and necessarily closed doors where Life-Less-Ness and where Love come streaming in upon Accountability, Ought, Love, motions toward Self, motions toward Other, egocentric morality, Immutable Love, evil, volition (the contradiction that nature is free of nature), innate ill will where evil is concerned, and so on and so on, we find that Immutable Love trumps all of atheism’s regressions in appeal after appeal after appeal to all of its mutable whatever-s.

    And this is so even when we grant the absence of eternal life, the absence of any belief in (or awareness of) God, and, to the horror of atheism, we find this is so even when we grant its fantasy of Volition whereby it pins its religion on the contradiction that some part of nature is “free of nature” for even when atheism is granted such (Volition) we find that Man is still in violation of no Necessary Ought anywhere on the map no matter what his appetites demand for what ought can he himself not overrule? The Criminal and the Judge and the Jury are one in the same and provides atheism (even when volition is granted) the necessarily open door that is Self-Acquittal on all counts.

    The laws of chemistry and physics are nature’s only immutable Laws and are beholden to, enslaved to, necessarily accountable to nothing but themselves. All of Man’s volition (a fantasy and a contradiction, as no part of nature can be free of nature, but granted for this discussion) simply serve to allow his hand to intentionally steer his sinking ship into the nihilistic ocean of Life-Less-Ness which drowns every river of cascading photons. His necessarily egocentric morality makes of him the god of his own making and he is thus not only the criminal but also the prosecution and the defense, the judge and the jury. Yes, his hand of intention upon the wheel of his sinking ship, we find that all his sins against his gods of chemistry and physics now find themselves alive and thus his accountability seems now more alive as well but of course there is just no accountability at all for The-Self truly is his temporal and mutable god and he is thus accountable only within the Context of Egocentricity that is The-Self. All his sins drown in an ocean of egocentricity by default and this only for a brief season at that for soon the Nature that is free of Nature (the contradiction which is the atheist’s only hope of volition) once again becomes enslaved to Nature (she was never really free of herself in the first place, but we grated it for this discussion) ultimately as the temporal psychic phosphorescence that was Man’s “accountability” or “crimes” against the god that is Life-Less-Ness thus evaporates as that god simply takes back what was hers all along.

    We find thus in atheism that no matter what we grant it, short of Immutable Love, it houses but contradictions, absurdities, and no accountabilities other than the purely egocentric which amounts to The-Self’s Self-Acquittal forever housing necessary validity on all counts and, even worse, we find that all these vectors, yes each and every temporal tangent, are drowning in an ocean of Life-Less-Ness wherein all these vectors necessarily dissolve.

  247. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “First off, let me be clear here that I am giving you my interpretation of and thoughts about the teachings of Judaism and Christianity about heaven and hell, since you asked. IMO, it is wrong for any Christian to threaten any non-believer that s/he is going to hell since only God makes these judgments.”

    I do appreciate the clarification, although it does seem obvious to me that any comment made by one of us humans must be our understanding of things, rather than any definitive claim about the actuality of the universe or the actions/intentions of God.

    “But you haven’t answered my question and ask a question I can’t decipher back at me with this: “Do you mean the definition is beyond my capacity or my ability to act righteously?””

    I’m sorry my request for clarification on your part was unclear. That makes my wording particularly bad. I wanted to know if you were asking can I know what is righteous or can I act in a righteous way? Were you asking a question about things I can know or things I can do? You clarified in your post …

    “I’m asking again, do you think that righteousness is a choice, a way of being and acting according to free will?”

    … but it still leaves me a little unsure how to answer. It seems you are asking do I have the free will to act in a righteous way? But are you referring to what I think is righteous or something else? I believe I have an understanding of right and wrong (leaving aside where that has come from for the moment). I choose to follow that moral code or not. For example, I need some paper at home for my printer and I choose to buy some, or pilfer some from my employer. That is a choice I make. But the reasons I make that choice are many and varied, conscious and subconscious, and are due to the sum total of my experience as a person. Does that help answer your question?

    “I gather that you don’t believe that believing in God or not believing in God is an act of free will.”

    I don’t see how it can be, and if you want to illustrate how it’s possible, please do. I see evidence so I believe in something. I don’t see evidence so I don’t believe in something. Now if you are trying to say that you can believe in something without evidence … well once upon a time I would have called that “faith”. But everyone here is quite adamantly against believing in something with no evidence. And, in my opinion, quite rightly so.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  248. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “Your cat may do many things, whether or not it chooses to do those things is anything but obvious.”

    Of course it is. My cat is constantly receiving stimuli through three of it’s five senses during its waking hours; sight, smell and hearing. Touch as well, I guess, but let’s ignore that one for now. It is not continuously physically reacting to the stimuli it receives. It can see, smell and hear a bird, and sometimes it will stalk it, and sometimes it will just lay there and ignore it. If it is not compelled to react according to the stimuli it is receiving then it is making a choice.

    “They would not be, strictly speaking, fully humans, rather they would be animals, unable to intellectually grasp the good and choose to pursue it or not.”

    And were they part of the gene pool that Adam’s children married into? Were the children of Cain and Seth (and the others) fully human having only half human parents? Was it a 50/50 chance depending on the mix of DNA? Without the possibility of the other “people” being able to choose good or bad, what benefit was there in God marking Cain to protect him from them?

    “No, God didn’t want Adam and Eve to have experiential knowledge of evil, which is what they got when they disobeyed God.”

    Were Adam and Eve doing evil things before this but unaware it was evil so therefore blameless? God gave them the knowledge and then told them to stop doing what they had been doing or suffer the consequences?

    “Um no, first we are not all born free from sin and your statistically argument would only work if all our choices are like the toss of a coin.”

    So we are born/conceived as sinners?

    “This is all fun and games but you are still trying to squeeze everything into your framework instead of putting that aside and trying to look at it with fresh eyes. What you get is a mismatched hodge lodge that of course does not make sense.”

    How can I look at it with fresh eyes? What do I need to put aside?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  249. scblhrm

    Shane,

    How odd of you to just assume that Man murdered Man prior to Man murdering Man. You have no evidence that Man murdered Man prior to Man murdering Man. Or do you?

    Good luck with that.

    You just assume past-eternal murder within Mankind.

    On what grounds?

    Show us your evidence of Man murdering Man before Man murdered Man.

    As Melissa noted, you’re trying to shoehorn. Natural death, whether 900 hundred years old, or less, isn’t the issue. Sin is. The former is not granted (eternal life is not granted) until Man dives into God. Mutable Innocence prior to Sin, to Murder, and so on, just is not the location of Eternal Life. Read Genesis if you doubt this.

    Scripture contradicts your analysis, Shane.

    Also, Mathematical models of genetics to do.

    As in:

    “The diversity in the population of the earth today is such that it would have required a minimum population of a few thousand or so and therefore, given the genetic diversity that we see today on this planet, it is argued that there could not have been an original human pair from whom the human race descended.

    Last time I looked at some challenges to this. It is predicated upon mathematical models that assume that the mutation rate is constant over time and that genetic diversity is not subject to natural selection. We saw, at least in one example on the sub-Antarctic archipelago, that these models yielded false predictions with regard to the sheep population on that island. The amount of genetic diversity exhibited by the present day population of sheep would have seemed to require, given these models, a much larger initial population. But in fact we know that it was only two original sheep that were introduced onto that island in 1957. So it seems that the person who believes in the historical Adam can challenge the assumptions that underlie these mathematical models.

    Calling into question these estimates of the size of the ancestral population is not without precedence. For example, back in the 1990s the evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala, a very prominent evolutionary biologist, attempted to estimate the ancestral population size based upon present day genetic diversity in a portion of the human genome involving what are called HLA genes. Assuming a constant mutation rate and a lack of natural selection for genetic change, Ayala arrived at an estimate that there must have been at least 32 separate versions of these HLA genes at the time of our last common ancestor with chimpanzees. Before the tree of primate evolution broke into separate branches for chimpanzees and human beings there must have been enough of a population size to carry these 32 separate versions of these HLA genes. Indeed, Ayala estimated that that population size must have been around 4,000 individuals at a minimum. That would obviously be incompatible with the origin of the human race from an ancestral pair.

    It turns out, however, that these assumptions that Ayala made were very likely false for HLA genes. Subsequent estimates which have corrected for those assumptions yield a number of different versions of the HLA gene to be, not 32, but only 5. And of those 5, only 3 were ancestral, primary before chimps and human beings diverged on the tree of human evolution.[1]

    So the last common ancestor may have carried only three different versions of the HLA gene and that could have been easily transmitted by an original human pair to the present day population with the HLA diversity in the human genome that is exhibited today.” (W. Craig)

    Now, all of this is just to grant you your presuppositions, which philosophical naturalism cannot assert – on pain of Hume’s problem of deduction – if you care to go to “utility” as opposed to “truth” in the stuff of perception. It seems unclear that we need to grant these lines, though. The list of a priori assumptions in play is true bias at its best. My laptop has more evidence that it evolved than does the human genome. Math is truly pesky; a thorn in the materialist’s side. However, oddly, so granting these lines for this discussion is just not problematic after all. Even better, genetic mathematics gives us all the margin we need on this or that key point.

    Of course, on Hume’s problem of deduction, the naturalist just may argue against Mathematics too – doubting even the multiplication table as “actually” representing “actual” reality.

    So far, Shane, you’ve gotten exactly nowhere.

  250. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Evidence and Math and so on.

    As noted: My laptop has more evidence that it evolved than does the human genome. Math is truly pesky; a thorn in the materialist’s side.

    I wonder what sort of fun we can have calculating the number of ancestors needed to account for the summation that is my laptop. And here is the best part: It would be “strong evidence” of the “none-guided-ness” of it all.

    Huh?

    (As if God must create a ripple in the pond should He dip His finger therein. Ripple? You mean like material touching material? … a priori… )

    Guided evolution, or special creation, or both, or Man dancing in motion atop the stasis that is genome, or reason, or Hume, or eternal life not equating to Eden, or cats freely choosing to jump into my lap not equating to volitional motions into / out-of Immutable Love (God) (as noted earlier my comment to you and Melissa), no evidence of past eternal murder Man on Man (watch those a priori identity claims), or whatever it may be, so far the philosophical naturalist just has not really said anything that the Theist finds problematic.

    Your a priori assumptions are not the Theist’s problem. The data fits his Model just as well as it fits your Model, Shane.

    Only, the data fits the Theist’s Model far, far better. While the Christian is commanded to dive into methodological naturalism as he subdues physicality, the lines of Truth, of Reason, of Inference, of Identity, (and let me add – and Love), just never do (coherently) end “there”.

    And therein your Model suffers irrecoverably.

    As in:

    “The most egregious of naturalism’s deficiencies, however, is the impossibility of isolating its supposed foundation – that strange abstraction, self-sufficient nature – as a genuinely independent reality, of which we have some cognizance or in which we have some good cause to believe. We may be tempted to imagine that a materialist approach to reality is the soundest default position we have, because supposedly it can be grounded in empirical experience: of the material order, after all, we assume we have an immediate knowledge, while of any more transcendental reality we can form only conjectures or fantasies; and what is nature except matter in motion? But this is wrong, both in fact and in principle. For one thing, we do not actually have an immediate knowledge of the material order in itself but know only its phenomenal aspects, by which our minds organize our sensory experiences. Even “matter” is only a general concept and must be imposed upon the data of the senses in order for us to interpret them as experiences of any particular kind of reality (that is, material rather than, say, mental). More to the point, any logical connection we might imagine to exist between empirical experiences of the material order and the ideology of scientific naturalism is entirely illusory. Between our sensory impressions and the abstract concept of a causally closed and autonomous order called “nature” there is no necessary correlation whatsoever. Such a concept may determine how we think about our sensory impressions, but those impressions cannot in turn provide any evidence in favor of that concept. Neither can anything else. We have no immediate experience of pure nature as such, nor any coherent notion of what such a thing might be. The object has never appeared. No such phenomenon has ever been observed or experienced or cogently imagined. Once again: we cannot encounter the world without encountering at the same time the being of the world, which is a mystery that can never be dispelled by any physical explanation of reality, inasmuch as it is a mystery logically prior to and in excess of the physical order. We cannot encounter the world, furthermore, except in the luminous medium of intentional and unified consciousness, which defies every reduction to purely physiological causes, but which also clearly corresponds to an essential intelligibility in being itself. We cannot encounter the world, finally, except through our conscious and intentional orientation toward the absolute, in pursuit of a final bliss that beckons to us from within those transcendental desires that constitute the very structure of rational thought, and that open all of reality to us precisely by bearing us on toward ends that lie beyond the totality of physical things. The whole of nature is something prepared for us, composed for us, given to us, delivered into our care by a “supernatural” dispensation. All this being so one might plausibly say that God – the infinite wellspring of being, consciousness, and bliss that is the source, order, and end of all reality – is evident everywhere, inescapably present to us, while autonomous “nature” is something that has never, even for a moment, come into view. Pure nature is an unnatural concept.”

    It just is the case (Hume, Etc.) that on force of reason no one can ever be intellectually obligated to believe in philosophical naturalism.

  251. scblhrm

    Apologies: The quote in the last post was from “The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss” by David Hart.

  252. Melissa

    Shane,

    It can see, smell and hear a bird, and sometimes it will stalk it, and sometimes it will just lay there and ignore it.

    Because the stimuli of seeing the bird does not happen in a vacuum.

    Were the children of Cain and Seth (and the others) fully human having only half human parents? Was it a 50/50 chance depending on the mix of DNA?

    Are humans just physical?

    what benefit was there in God marking Cain to protect him from them?

    If you think for about 1min I’m sure you can come up with the benefit yourself.

    Were Adam and Eve doing evil things before this but unaware it was evil so therefore blameless? God gave them the knowledge and then told them to stop doing what they had been doing or suffer the consequences?

    Go back and read what I’ve already written. Adam and Eve were quite capable of understanding what was good and evil before they ate from they tree. After they ate they had experiential knowledge of evil. You ask how you can look at it with fresh eyes, I really don’t know, I guess you would need to want to.

  253. scblhrm

    Philosophical Naturalism’s need for shoehorning itself into the data to get a workable model is just to costly. As such, we are not intellectually obligated to pay anything close to the full asking price.

    Philosophical naturalists (PN) are forever trying to rip out all the obvious coherence there amid Theism and Physicality. They do so by always redefining definitions and then pointing out a (straw-man) misfit. Genetic mathematics leaves the Theist with two, make that three, comfortable doors where Man and creation are concerned. On the one hand is straightforward special creation over “shorter” (biogenesis?) blocks of time. On the other is guided creation over “longer” blocks of time. And the third door is simply some of both.

    Spontaneous biogenesis? That’s fairly straightforward if we just follow observational reality – the evidence at hand. As in: given what all available evidence reveals regarding architecture, blueprints, and the irrefutable bench-top behavior of biochemistry proving that without the perpetual input of Mind and Hand nothing good ever happens – it is probably safe to reason that that is the stuff of special creation in short blocks of time.

    Identity? Being? Reason? Logic? Inference? Selfhood? Well, again, we only need to follow the self-evident. What is unavoidably a full and final absurdity in all the affairs of Identity, of Being, of Reasoning, of Inferring, of Logic, in any physical reductionistic model leaves the PN (philosophical naturalism) folks asserting without rational justification that DNA = Man. We see (in this thread) that even though genetic mathematics leaves the Theist enough margin to just grant that to the naturalist (we need not), the naturalist still tries to shoehorn a problem into the works.

    But there is no problem.

    All the while the PN ignores the very consequences of his own PN on all of his own work. Talk about shoehorning. The PN is the king of shoehorning. The world champion. After all, he claims his prize blindly – without the necessary presence of ends there in full and final Logic.

    The rest of creation? Well, whatever. We’ll just follow the data. It all works. The physical data is, after all, compatible with all three Theistic models. Hawking and science eventually figured out Timelessness and Immaterial. Sooner or later science and evidence tell a wider story. Genesis didn’t give us Gravity, though it gave us Timelessness and Immaterial. Some things come sooner. Some later. Logic and Reason, and Time, and Timelessness, are in the Theist’s corner.

    Speaking of shoehorning: volition in an animal seems to be a favorite topic of the PN folks. They seem to think it is incoherent with Theism. As if a paradigm’s width, as if the margin of some swath of ontological geography availed to Man or availed to Animals – or to Angels – or to any created being – is – literally – defined by the mere presence of choice within this or that swath of ontological geography. What a non-problem for the PN folks to try to shoehorn into problem-hood.

    Shoehorning: the PN will just redefine God to be a material being and assert that He ought to therefore make ripples in the pond if He touches the pond. Because (they reason) when material touches material, vibrations (etc.) ensue. Such shoehorning of straw-man “problems” is forever going on by PN’s seeking to find an incoherence in Theistic models.

    More shoehorning goes on in evolutionary morality too (not surprisingly) as despite Man’s brutally repeatable moral experience being comprised entirely of Knowledge in motion atop genomic stasis (Nadirs/Peaks just don’t happen so rapidly in genome) the PN folks still attribute all such nadirs and peaks to “evolution at work before our eyes”. The rapidity of moral Nadirs/Peaks and the (simple) fact that neonates can be taught to hate, or love, well, all the facts and anthropology affirm that it is, simply, Knowledge in motion atop genomic stasis which is “at work before our eyes”.

    Since we don’t need evolution to explain man’s physical experience nor his moral experience, we see no need to pay the high, painful, terrible price of shoehorning – that is to say – of surrendering – all those costly states of affairs within the contours of the self-evident realities of logic and reason and identity and inference and being and Self and so on just so that we can defend a few irrational a priori philosophical commitments to PN.

    That would be very bad science. Very, very bad science. Justified Knowledge just cannot afford to pay that price. And given the evidence at hand, it is clearly the case that the price need never be paid.

    Speaking of Knowledge: the very work “done” by knowledge, that is, arguing itself, deduction itself, reason itself, inference itself, logic itself, mandates that – necessarily – we leave PN behind for the very ends of logic, of inference, of reasoning, of being, of identity – and so on – themselves all achieve final incoherence therein. Logic and Morality here bring us now to an interesting “Y” in the road: arbitrary consequentialism within the ends of any Moral Paradigm is just as fatal to that (moral) paradigm as arbitrary utility inside of any Logic Paradigm is to that (logic / reason / argument) paradigm. Circular suicide rapidly ensues in either case.

    How then to proceed?

    It is reason and logic, and therefore not PN, which allow us to follow God’s command to dive into and embrace methodological naturalism as he (Man) is commanded by God to subdue physicality. And, as we all know, that road just never “ends” there with respect to Truth, to Reason, to Logic, to Inference, to Identity, to Being.

    That utility rather than truth wins out in any purely naturalistic worldview brings us to a location, a juncture, at which it just is the case that on force of reason no one can ever be intellectually obligated to believe in philosophical naturalism.

    For the same reasons, when we then move to the Moral Paradigm, we find once again all the same problematic topography inside of any moral paradigm of PN. Seamless lucidity occurs, however, in continuousness of coherence as we – again – follow the patterns and the evidence of Man’s brutal moral experience amid his many painful fragmentations. Such carries us easily, necessarily, even rapidly, out of the murky fog of irrationally conditioned itches and into the clarity of love’s ceaseless reciprocity within the triune landscape of the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

    It’s absolutely telling: as in Logic, so in Love. These are the two eyes by which we see the world in which we awake to find ourselves. Our brutally repeatable physical and moral experiences find in the end just no room at all for the bizarre and irrational landscape of PN’s shifting sands of final dis-logic (where logic ultimately becomes necessary in all regressions) nor for that same landscape of PN’s shifting sands of final indifference (where immutable love ultimately becomes necessary in all regressions). Final causes trump absurdity regardless of which of those two eyes we employ in our perceiving of reality. Necessarily. There within the Christian’s metaphysical regressions both eyes are – without fear – wide open.

  254. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #252

    You say this: “I don’t see how it can be [referring to free will and belief], and if you want to illustrate how it’s possible, please do. I see evidence so I believe in something. I don’t see evidence so I don’t believe in something.

    It appears to me that you “see” (view, think of, understand) the relationship between what you call “evidence” and what you call “belief” as sort of like a toggle switch: evidence = belief; no evidence = no belief. Okay, so far as that goes. But it’s your use of the term to “see evidence” that I ask you to focus on in this conversation. I assume that when you use the verb “see” in relationship to and about God, the deity of monotheism, you do not mean the verb to mean the visual function of the eyes or sense of sight. I’m assuming that you agree that God is invisible and is not seeable with the use of human eyesight. Correct? John 4:24: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

    (And please be assured that I’m not trying to patronize you. I’m merely trying to clarify how tricky words can be in conveying our exact meaning.)

    Do you agree that even with our vision, we can look at something or someone and not “see” it/him/her, meaning to recognize or to acknowledge truth about it/him/her? I must ask, what “evidence” do you expect to “see” of/for God as Spirit/spirit that you don’t “see” and that obviously others who do belief in God do “see”? And can’t you “see” that your inability to “see” God is in fact your volitional, willful and conscious choice to not “see” what is there in reality to “see”?

    Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1959, 2004) in his book “God, Man and History” says this about “proof” of God and what he calls “encounters” or experiences of/with God:

    “If the encounter is experienced in reality, what need of proofs? If, however, the encounter is not part of possible human experience, what use all proof?”

    What we as humankind know about God is based on our encounters with God, which we know about both directly from experiencing such encounters ourselves and/or the testimony of others about their encounters with God, individually and collectively. You commit a logical fallacy in thinking that simply because someone finds (sees, knows, observes) no evidence of whatever it is that you conceptualize to be God that there are no grounds in reality for belief in God. Belief in God is based on encounters with God. Since God is experienced, there is no need for proof. If God is not experienced, no “proof” is convincing.”

    Those of us who believe in God believe because of our encounters with God, our experiences of/with God. This is the evidence that we “see” and with this evidence, we have all the “proof” of God that we need. This fact of life is what the atheist is up against in the sideline arguments about “evidence” that God exists. There are none so blind as those who will not see. JB

  255. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “Because the stimuli of seeing the bird does not happen in a vacuum.”

    Of course. This is why there are determinists who don’t believe in Free Will. They believe all actions are the end result of everything leading up to that point. It’s interesting that you believe that the actions of all animals save from people are deterministic, but you can’t believe that our actions are.

    “Are humans just physical?”

    You tell me what you think. Then answer my question, please.

    “If you think for about 1min I’m sure you can come up with the benefit yourself.”

    I thought about it a great deal before I posted it. I am asking to find out what you think. How can a group of deterministic animals, with no knowledge of good and evil, adjust their actions because of a commandment of God?

    “Adam and Eve were quite capable of understanding what was good and evil before they ate from they tree.”

    No, before they ate from the tree. They were touched by God, made human, yes? Given that knowledge before they sinned? I want to know if you think they were doing bad things previously, but were given a pass because they lacked the knowledge?

    “You ask how you can look at it with fresh eyes, I really don’t know, I guess you would need to want to.”

    That’s … not very helpful. And a little condescending. It’s making an assumption that I mustn’t want to really look at it with fresh eyes. Useful to you, to put the blame back on me. But it falls apart if I assert I do want to.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  256. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “But it’s your use of the term to “see evidence” that I ask you to focus on in this conversation. I assume that when you use the verb “see” in relationship to and about God, the deity of monotheism, you do not mean the verb to mean the visual function of the eyes or sense of sight.”

    God can be invisible and still leave visible evidence. Anyone that has been convicted of a crime without an eye witness has been found guilty because of the evidence they left behind. If God can affect the physical world then He can leave evidence. If we see no evidence either:

    A) God has not affected the physical world (possibly because He doesn’t exist and therefore is incapable of doing so).
    B) God affects the physical world in such a way as to leave no evidence.
    C) God affects the physical world and leaves evidence, but we do not recognise it.

    Of these three, it seems to me, A is the most likely.

    “Do you agree that even with our vision, we can look at something or someone and not “see” it/him/her, meaning to recognize or to acknowledge truth about it/him/her?”

    Most certainly, and I think this is indicated by C in my choices above.

    “I must ask, what “evidence” do you expect to “see” of/for God as Spirit/spirit that you don’t “see” and that obviously others who do belief in God do “see”?”

    I can’t give you a specific. But God could. He would know what evidence I would require to believe and he could make that available. Just as importantly, I expect to have no contradictions presented to me. My conversation with Melissa is to try and find out why man sins if we were created without sin. I would expect to see a clear cut delineation between animals and man if we are such a stand alone species, but evidence does not paint that picture.

    “And can’t you “see” that your inability to “see” God is in fact your volitional, willful and conscious choice to not “see” what is there in reality to “see”?”

    Can you not see that your ability to “see” God is in fact just your wishful thinking and deluded choice to “see” what is not actually there to “see”? These types of arguments can easily go both ways Jenna. But my argument is based on the things we can count and measure and yours is based on “revelatory experience”. I really don’t know why everyone is so gung ho to avoid using the term “faith” to mean believing something with no physical evidence. It seems to me you should take pride in that. I certainly did when I was a Christian. I understand the problems that it makes you seem foolish to claim it, and more importantly, that it puts the onus back on God to reveal Himself, but you seem quite at ease making the assertion that He has done so, and therefore my impending trip to Hell is my own problem.

    “Those of us who believe in God believe because of our encounters with God, our experiences of/with God. This is the evidence that we “see” and with this evidence, we have all the “proof” of God that we need. This fact of life is what the atheist is up against in the sideline arguments about “evidence” that God exists. There are none so blind as those who will not see. JB”

    People have experiences of being abducted by alien life forms. They believe these things just as fervently as you believe in your God, and these people are referring to real life physical encounters. Does this make you believe there stories are true? If not, is that because you are so blind you will not see? Or is it because you are not presented with physical evidence to back up their story? You know that the mind is a strange and malleable thing, capable of adjusting or creating memories to fit a belief. You have no good reason to believe anyone has been abducted by aliens. I have no good reason to believe anyone has had an experience of God. I can believe you believe you have. But there is no evidence to back up your story.

    Oh and earlier you said this

    “You say this regarding God as Judge of our fate regarding the Afterlife: “God is the final arbitrator and God must shoulder the responsibility.”

    God does shoulder His responsibility as Judge. And we must shoulder our responsibility as sinners.”

    God must shoulder his responsibility as the lawmaker and our father as well. If the laws and their punishments are unjust, He does not set them out clearly, and/or He has done a poor job of raising us, He must take some of the responsibility for how we turn out, and what laws of His we break.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  257. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    I will be getting to your posts when I can find time. For the moment

    …this will be my last post in this thread.”

    Apparently you just couldn’t help yourself.

    Shane

  258. scblhrm

    Shane,

    On your denial of evidence with JB, there are many avenues, but one undeniable vector you can’t get past is #250 without rejecting justified “sight” outside of scientism (absurdity). Scientism is vacuous and we do not “see” that by science – but by those self-evident lines in the philosophical. If you reject such vectors you are left ipso facto with scientism. Such justified sight brings us undeniably to the “entirety” that just is love and love in fragmentation – you choose to damn such as irrational itches…. while sitting with those you “say” you “love”. You’re a walking contradicting inside the arena of evidence. How desperate are you to avoid God? As for your (erroneous) argument that the simplest wins, your dishonest “electron” bit ended that. I built a model car. So reality isn’t “always” from simple to complex. It’s funny how you chase erroneous and easily deniable “EVIDENCE” like that (and waste time) yet you willingly reject brutally present EVIDENCE inside of Man’s identity, love, moral pain, volition, genetic mathematics – and so on – which PN must tie itself into incoherent knots in order to get either PAST or else AROUND and all the while no one ever can – on force of reason – be intellectually obligated to believe PN.

  259. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Typo:

    It should have read: “You’re a walking contradiction inside the arena of evidence.”

    Oddly, as we observe your choices in this thread to embrace and chase the petty and irrational while refusing (and damning in some cases) the undeniably present and the logically coherent such becomes more apparent. And all the while the ends which await you over there in PN just are ends which neither Hume nor anyone else ever can be – on force of reason – intellectually obligated to believe.

    A walking contradiction.

  260. scblhrm

    The PN at work – shoehorning:

    Volition in an animal seems to be a favorite topic of the PN folks. They seem to think it is incoherent with Theism. As if a paradigm’s width, as if the margin of some swath of ontological geography availed to Man or availed to Animals – or to Angels – or to any created being – is – literally – defined by the mere presence of choice within this or that species and / or swath of ontological geography. What a non-problem for the PN folks to try to shoehorn into problem-hood. And all the while they have no mechanism THEMSELVES for volition as they deny the brutally present EVIDENCE of choosing what to have for breakfast – and all for their irrational a priori philosophical commitments to PN – which they can never be – on force of reason – intellectually obligated to believe.

    Walking contradictions who shoehorn their own petty / irrelevant, their own irrational………

  261. scblhrm

    Shane,

    A few interesting points:

    First, Angels have choice, and, we find that from such heights there is no redemption should they have refused Love (God). Now, it is unclear if the reason behind there being no redemption for them is that they had such sight, or, very possibly, for all we know (we’re not told) there are other reasons. But that they have choice and are beings is obvious. Thus non-amalgamation with the divine is not incompatible with choice in the end. And of course, the swath of ontological geography availed to an animal does not equate to Man’s merely by the presence of volition.

    Two: Given that the PN must deny volition, Harris is correct to do so. And he does so on a priori commitments. He refuses such obvious evidence (I decided…) that he may avoid the logical conclusions which that leads to (God). In a similar way – and for the same unscientific reasons – you choose to reject the self-evident there inside of love.

    Thirdly, I am being charitable by saying, pointing out, that no one ever is – on force of reason – intellectually obligated to believe PN.

    The logical truth is that it is far worse than that.

    It is actually the case that one must outright – on logical calculation (the irony) reject ends which house logical lucidity – reasoning. And one must reason to do so (again, the irony).

    In short – one chooses between (eventual) absurdity on the one hand and (eventual) God/Mind/Person on the other hand.

    We see this very move in Harris with Volition.

    We see it in you with Love.

    We see in in any tolerance of any degree of PN.

    Whereas, the Mind of God is the only coherent (ontological) END should one insist on (ontological) logical lucidity and continuousness of coherence through and through.

    The chasing of the petty and irrelevant which you are doing in this thread (I build models….but you insist that can’t be – cause – it has to be from the simple to the complex) along with yours and Harris’ damning of the self-evident on pain of scientism’s absurdity, combined all the while with refuting the self-evident, leaves you choosing between Absurdity / God.

    It is quite clear why Harris and other PN folks make these moves.

    It is to avoid the logical ends which lead us to God/Mind/Person.

    Otherwise there is no good reason to embrace a paradigm wherein one must ultimately reject the Self-Evident and wherein it is fully established that we “cannot reason”. We must presuppose that we do. And for that we must presuppose that we…… and for that we must presuppose that we…. It is all – at bottom – ad infinitum – the Self-Evident and thereby such PN folks are – in the true sense of it – walking contradictions.

  262. scblhrm

    Shane –

    Doing evil without personhood? Without knowledge?

    That’s incoherent.

    Outside Eden is that which needs subduing.

    We don’t put spiders on trial for eating a fly.

    Or do we?

    In Eden genetic mathematics leaves us with data points ever narrowing over the last 100 years. From millions to 100’s of thousands to ….. thousands… .to.. . now a few necessary ancestors. Science isn’t about one data point – it’s about trends over time…. and it’s perpetually narrowing.

    No need for murder amid such small numbers in Eden.

    The data allows that.

    It fits.

    Man isn’t DNA Shane. Your forgetting the (necessary) Self-Evident which genome cannot contain – on pain of absurdity.

  263. scblhrm

    JB, Shane,

    Just so you know JB whether it is alien abduction or “I decided to do X” Shane’s response is identical. He equates those two reports as equally without evidence. Which is consistent with Harris’ disbelief of brutally undeniable volition – cause naturalism – and is also consistent with his own treatment of Love – cause naturalism – which is consistent with the PN embrace of ends void of logical means – it’s okay – cause naturalism.

    It’s telling. The alien abduction is a red herring. For even their own undeniable volition equates to the “alien thing” – cause naturalism.

    Harris is bold enough to skip the childish alien thing and get to the bottom line of what is in play.

    In short – if deciding on eggs instead of toast is void of “evidence” – cause naturalism – then your efforts JB on lines of evidence will be fruitless.

    Shane-

    You must presuppose that you are thinking this delusion bit through… aliens, eggs, toast…. whichever…. and for that you must presuppose…. and for that you must presuppose….and again for THAT you must presuppose….. Every bit of your whole show here is – at bottom – ad infinitum – the Self-Evident.

    Welcome to Theism’s means and ends – which are at bottom unavailable in PN’s ends.

  264. Melissa

    Shane,

    It’s interesting that you believe that the actions of all animals save from people are deterministic, but you can’t believe that our actions are.

    Yes, well I have the evidence of my own experience that I choose and to believe otherwise is to inevitably drop into incoherence at some point.

    You tell me what you think. Then answer my question, please.

    Of course I don’t think humans are just physical, but it is only if humans are just physical that your question makes sense, that’s why I didn’t answer your question. This is the kind of thing I’ve been referring to, you need to start again instead your trying to fit my answers into your own flawed paradigm. Yes, theism doesn’t make sense if you try to build on top off materialist assumptions. If you drop those assumptions the bible and science there is no contradiction. What is interesting to me is that you are so fixated on these details and completely unconcerned about the in principle problems with materialism and it’s own incoherence.

    How can a group of deterministic animals, with no knowledge of good and evil, adjust their actions because of a commandment of God?

    Do animals regularly run off cliffs?

    I want to know if you think they were doing bad things previously, but were given a pass because they lacked the knowledge?

    I doesn’t make sense to think of animals acting immorally.

  265. Post
    Author
  266. scblhrm

    Melissa (and Shane),

    “Theism doesn’t make sense if you try to build on top of materialist assumptions. If you drop those assumptions the bible and science [have] no contradiction.”

    Beautifully said Melissa.

  267. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,

    “Shane, are you really finding something “interesting” about her belief that people are different from (other) animals?”

    I wouldn’t be continuing this discussion if I was bored by it.

    Cheers
    Shane

  268. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “Yes, well I have the evidence of my own experience that I choose and to believe otherwise is to inevitably drop into incoherence at some point.”

    Yes, but you don’t have the experience of other animals. I’m more interested in your belief that they don’t choose.

    “Of course I don’t think humans are just physical, but it is only if humans are just physical that your question makes sense, that’s why I didn’t answer your question.”

    Why does my question not make sense?

    “This is the kind of thing I’ve been referring to, you need to start again instead your trying to fit my answers into your own flawed paradigm.”

    Please explain where the flaw is.

    “Yes, theism doesn’t make sense if you try to build on top off materialist assumptions. If you drop those assumptions the bible and science there is no contradiction.”

    What are the assumptions that I am making/building on?

    “What is interesting to me is that you are so fixated on these details and completely unconcerned about the in principle problems with materialism and it’s own incoherence.”

    Well I’m trying to focus on the incoherence I see in the story of The Fall. Materialism being wrong doesn’t mean that Christianity is right. These are separate issues.

    “Do animals regularly run off cliffs?”

    Do you think they don’t because God told them not too?

    “I doesn’t make sense to think of animals acting immorally.”

    Is it the intent that makes it immoral? Were they performing the same actions before they were given the knowledge of right and wrong?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  269. scblhrm

    Shane,

    You haven’t pointed out any incoherent lines between fall / science. The Theistic presuppositions and metaphysical regressions and the data are all compatible.

    Not so much with PN.

  270. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Perhaps if you showed a data trend that was actually incompatible with Theistic presuppositions and metaphysical regressions you’d be happier with the results you’re (not) getting.

  271. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    Gonna have to condense this down a wee bit. Just going to skip over all your posts that I don’t understand.

    “You said such lines makes God seem weak in #225’s “but it makes Gods power seem small and diminished”. The tone there is akin to, “God shouldn’t do X because, well, God – if He really were God – would instead do Y, because X seems weak to me.””

    The argument that God did X seems weak to me. I am attacking your argument that God did X, not God Himself.

    “Love, Relationality, just is triune. The immutable love of the Necessary Being just is Love, just is Triune. God just is Triune.”

    A better argument than stating something is a fact, Just Is, is to give some evidence. The fact that teenagers “get it” is not good evidence. Would you like a list of the dumb things teenagers believe? And why did this come up in the conversation?

    “Psychopaths look into their children and spouses and see nothing – and that is pathologic. ”

    Isn’t the fact that people with minds that work a different way don’t see this Love Triune you talk about, evidence that the Love Triune is just a product of a certain type of brain instead of this “fact” you claim it to be?

    “A man building a microwave oven is a more complex something (man’s contingent parts outnumbering the oven’s) building a less complex something (oven’s fewer contingent parts). So there ARE explanations more complex that flow “down hill”. In the real world, that is.”

    Sure. But I know where the man came from. I can take that journey backwards to just after the emergence of life. A living replicator began this journey that got us to a man so complicated he can harness the elements and reorder things according to his will. The idea that God has no such beginning makes no sense to me.

    “There seemed to be this odd and unnecessary fascination with cats.”

    I have a cat. I see how it interacts with the world.

    “Go ahead and grant volition to animals and atheism. It changes nothing.

    Animals choose many things, …”

    If animals evolved the ability to choose then it eliminates the need for it to be bestowed from God.

    “Volition gives you (atheism) nothing. It’s a fantasy in Naturalism b/c there is no part of nature that is free of nature. ”

    Why does nature have to be free of nature for my cat to have the free will to choose?

    “How odd of you to just assume that Man murdered Man prior to Man murdering Man.”

    Where did I assume that?

    “Your a priori assumptions are not the Theist’s problem. The data fits his Model just as well as it fits your Model, Shane.

    Only, the data fits the Theist’s Model far, far better. ”

    I don’t know what assumptions you think I’m making. And I don’t know why the data fits the Theists Model better. Can I suggest you quote my sentence, and then concisely try and point out the flaw in my thinking? These long rambling passages are hard to follow, especially when I don’t know what you are trying to refute.

    “First, Angels have choice, and, we find that from such heights there is no redemption should they have refused Love (God). Now, it is unclear if the reason behind there being no redemption for them is that they had such sight, or, very possibly, for all we know (we’re not told) there are other reasons. But that they have choice and are beings is obvious. Thus non-amalgamation with the divine is not incompatible with choice in the end. And of course, the swath of ontological geography availed to an animal does not equate to Man’s merely by the presence of volition.”

    I know the story. But it is just a story. You have no evidence to back up the claim. I can see my cat and how it interacts.

    “Two: Given that the PN must deny volition, Harris is correct to do so. And he does so on a priori commitments. He refuses such obvious evidence (I decided…) that he may avoid the logical conclusions which that leads to (God). In a similar way – and for the same unscientific reasons – you choose to reject the self-evident there inside of love.”

    How is the belief in determinism unscientific? I thought your whole point was that in that world view every action is an effect from a previous cause? What is the problem with that?

    “I build models….but you insist that can’t be – cause – it has to be from the simple to the complex”

    Please quote where I insisted that.

    “It is quite clear why Harris and other PN folks make these moves.

    It is to avoid the logical ends which lead us to God/Mind/Person.”

    Or, it is because they have no evidence to believe in the God/Mind/Person and so are left with determinism.

    “In Eden genetic mathematics leaves us with data points ever narrowing over the last 100 years. From millions to 100’s of thousands to ….. thousands… .to.. . now a few necessary ancestors. Science isn’t about one data point – it’s about trends over time…. and it’s perpetually narrowing.

    No need for murder amid such small numbers in Eden.

    The data allows that.

    It fits.

    Man isn’t DNA Shane. Your forgetting the (necessary) Self-Evident which genome cannot contain – on pain of absurdity.”

    Don’t what you’re arguing here, but it seems like it might have been interesting, if you want to point to my sentence that started this.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  272. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm

    “You haven’t pointed out any incoherent lines between fall / science. The Theistic presuppositions and metaphysical regressions and the data are all compatible.”

    How did man sin if he was without sin? What happened?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  273. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “Perhaps if you showed a data trend that was actually incompatible with Theistic presuppositions and metaphysical regressions you’d be happier with the results you’re (not) getting.”

    I’m trying to understand your results. I’m not examining any results of my own.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  274. scblhrm

    Shane,

    We agree on animal volition. It’s compatible with theism.

    You though have no rational mechanism for that.

    It changes nothing on morality. Love’s ends beyond the arbitrary (if granted to you).

    You’re not reading.

    Try again when you’ve read what I wrote.

    Do you think we’re that stupid to let that sloppiness get by?

  275. scblhrm

    Shane,

    We’ll beat this point on animal volition to death then we’ll hit the rest which you’ve obviously not read either.

    We’re still on animal volition being incompatible with theism and compatible with physicalism…..

  276. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Scblhrm,

    ^^ Awesome. Lets you and I focus on one thing at a time.

    It’s not that it is incompatible with Theism, but that it favours the explanation that free will evolved. This means human free will was not bestowed upon us by God.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  277. scblhrm

    Shane ,

    Favors evolution?

    1) So the problems of physicality faced in man magically evaporate when we move to animals? You’re wrong. So it favors theism.

    2) You’re assuming theism posits non-Volition in animals. You’re wrong. So #2 evaporates. So we’re back to number 1.

    Net yield: Favors theism.

  278. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Since volition clearly favors theism, I’ll await your semantic dance as to “what we mean by volition”, which Harris doesn’t waste anyone’s time with.

    Theism is clearly favored. You’re left with Harris irrationally insisting that brutally undeniable volition is utter delusion – void of evidence – um – well – ‘cause naturalism. Just like alien abduction.

    Having settled that, let’s move to simplicity.

    You assert that there are no such events as, examples of, physically determined cascades (all of reality) which consist of complex cascades flowing into simple cascades. Events like that never happen. That is your model, assertion, as to what “happens” inside of space / time.

    Enter here: one billion observable, verifiable, measurable, and thus scientific proofs of, physically determined cascades which “happen” inside of space / time, which move from complex to simple. Dinner turning to feces is one. Reality matters. As in the real word of physical cascades that “happen” inside of space / time.

    That leaves [1,000,000,000,000 – 1] to go in our exploration of physical cascades which (verifiably) “happen” from the complex to the simple inside of space / time.

    So your point is nonsense when it comes to the real world of what happens inside of space / time.

    So now we come to the end of the regression. The infinite regress as your last hope to salvage this erroneous point that “Physically determined events always happen from the simple to the complex”.

    Before that (absurd) regress, lets establish, and agree, that so far we’ve established that in just billions of examples your model of reality just fails to apply to the real world as to what goes on inside of space / time.

    I’m sure we agree.

    If not we can back up.

    So now we move to a different model.

    Because we’re leaving your erroneous model of what goes on inside of Space/Time behind us because, clearly, unquestionably, both directions “happen” inside of space / time. It’s undeniable. Like volition. Perhaps that simple/complex stuff then too is a delusion like volition. Your call.

    So that next model: the infinite past eternal regress of physical parts.

    “The idea that God has no such beginning makes no sense to me.” That is irrelevant to your assertion of physical cascades ALWAYS fluxing from the simple to the complex.

    Don’t change the subject.

    We just listed a billion times in which you are wrong inside of space / time.

    So we end up in your infinite regress outside of space / time.

    1) You have no evidence that physicality is anything but contingent. Non-Contingent Parts?

    2) Simple to complex “always” back there before space/time? Huh? Are you sure you want to go there? Can you go there? With what data?

    Show your work on both 1 and 2.

    Show us the non-contingency that is itself within itself void of effect-hood and is itself the necessary and sufficient cause of all effects.

    Don’t bother pointing to an effect.

    And you’ll need to establish non-determined inference, reasoning, in your pointing rather than mere input/output cause/effect. You’ll have to show your work there otherwise you are left with Harris and so on with Volition and Reason all in the same garbage dump of “the delusion-laden, of the non-evidence”. In short, you’ll land on equal footing with alien abductions (unless you show your work).

    And you’ll need to show us that the IT you point at isn’t a perceptual model – but the ontological end that is that abstraction of self-existing nature.

    Don’t bother employing any lines of the self-evident. Like Logical Presuppositions. Your PN can’t afford it.

    And:

    “To me, the argument for the reality of God from the contingency of all composite and mutable things seems unarguably true, with an almost analytic obviousness; and all philosophical attempts to get around that argument (I am fairly sure I am familiar with all of them) seem to me to lack anything like its power and lucidity. And the same is true in only slightly lesser degree of the argument from the unity, intentionality, rationality, and conceptual aptitudes of the mind, or the argument from the transcendental structure of rational consciousness.”

    You’ll need to show your work on all those counts. Using only what you can (ontologically) afford.

    All of this has nothing to do with your erroneous model of simple/complex inside of space / time. Clearly you’ve wasted our time there. You saw that so then you moved to the infinite regress. Well okay then. Show your work.

  279. scblhrm

    It’s fun watching atheists argue that inside of space / time the law of entropy is not the “net direction” overall.

    And its fun too here: The contracting / expanding universe ad infinitum being given as a proof of their erroneous model of UNI-DIRECTIONAL simple to complex.

    What a waste of time.

    This may not be worth the time if such unthinking assertions are all that await…. and if volition equates to alien abduction then all brutally undeniable vectors will be similarly dismissed by the atheist (PN)….. I don’t see any hope of progress. Perhaps Shane will pleasantly surprise us.

  280. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Shane, you answered my question, “Are you really finding something ‘interesting” about her belief that people are different from (other) animals?” by saying, “I wouldn’t be continuing this discussion if I was bored by it.”

    I wouldn’t have asked the question if I hadn’t thought you might recognize there was a reason for asking it.

    You have a way of being annoying.

  281. scblhrm

    Shane,

    You said you’re not looking for flaws in your own PN.

    But it is your own PN by which and into which you are trying to shoehorn Christian claims. So your use of “science” is – as we’re beginning to see, inaccurate, such as thinking simple to complex (the reverse of entropy) is what “happens all the time, every time”, or such as thinking you can prove some mystically physicality that is UNI-directional in your regress outside of space / time. Now, given that your science is rather a pseudo form of non-science, we have not even begun to get to a spot where we can examine Christian claims fitting into such erroneous thinking.

    As for volition equating to alien abduction on “net summation of evidence value” (both are essentially delusional / without real merit) well that will have to wait until we sort out this stuff about animals and simplicity and entropy and your mystical uni-directional material outside of space / time.

    Tom is right. You’re evasive. You put up all these ridiculous pseudo-science models and then demand that the theist explain why he is shoehorning his regressions into “science”.

    If that continues on your end I don’t see the need to continue on my end.

    The animal thing is ANOTHER example of your evasive and dishonest behavior. I stated that granting you volition changes nothing on morality. So you say that “Well if animals have volition then that is evidence that it evolved”.

    That is like saying, “Well since you granted me my mechanistically impossible ends, then we seem to have evidence that my means are sound.” But it was granted on the line of morality – not as evidence for full blown physicalism. As #251 discussed.

    Again: You’re evasive. You put up all these ridiculous pseudo-science models and then demand that the theist explain why he is shoehorning his regressions into “science”.

    If that continues on your end I don’t see the need to continue on my end.

    As for volition and alien abductions being essentially without merit “eventually’ – ’cause naturalism – well then it is quite clear your definition of evidence amounts to scientism’s absurdity. IF that is the case THEN no fruit can come of any explanation given to you. Not ultimately. For IF scientism’s “evidence” void of the self-evident THEN hints of nihilism would be ever lurking…..

  282. Jenna Black

    Shane, RE: #261

    I see that we are getting nowhere fast. In this post, you have dismissed all of God’s revelation to humanity, collectively and individually, over thousands of years using a false and irrelevant metaphor of alien abductions. Please give me measurements and statistics here, since you are so fond of them: How many human beings in 5 thousand years have claimed or claim to have been abducted by aliens? Now tell me how many people over a period of 5 thousand years and living today claim to have experienced God (had a revelation of God or encounter with God)? How many of these people can and do show real and concrete evidence of their lives being transformed and positively impacted by these experiences and encounters with God?

    The other fatal flaw in your arguments against God is your refusal to acknowledge that the Creator’s “effect” on the universe (world, humankind) is creation. Creation is the sine qua non of effects. No Creator = no creation. This is the God that monotheism deifies and this same God, the Creator is the One who affects our lives. Your denial of this totally trivial and unconvincing.

    So there really is nowhere left to go in this conversation, Shane. You deny all evidence of God the Creator in/through His creation and you deny the truth and authenticity of all human experiences of/with God. Your denial is complete and thorough. As to your fate in terms of the Afterlife, that is a matter between you and God. I have no opinion on the matter. But I clearly recognize and acknowledge that nothing I say will change your mind.

    I wish you all the best as a fellow creature of our Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

  283. scblhrm

    Shane,

    As I’ve added those last two posts I’ll clarify here were we are located in our actual dialogue so we don’t get lost due to my multiple posts:

    1) Volition (Sam Harris, etc.) has no feasibility in physicalism / PN (philosophical naturalism).

    2) Animals have volition.

    3) Man has volition.

    4) #2 and #3 affirm Theistic regressions, not physicalism’s regressions.

    5) Entropy (diffusion into ever simpler constructs) is the net overall direction inside of space-time.

    6) You have no evidence for an eternally UNI-directional (simple to complex) materialistic regress outside of space-time.

    7) #5 and #6 annihilate your erroneous argument that “everything” just “has to be” simple to complex. (Whether you mean inside space-time our outside space-time)

    8) All of the above affirm that your “science” is not scientific at all.

    9) #8 affirms that you are starting with nonsense and then asking Theists to explain why their regressions fail to fit into science (which isn’t science, just generally bad thinking on your end). Genetic mathematics actually ends up just as sloppy and full of very non-concrete assumptions on your end leaving us again inside of yet-in-flux data-tracking over time, which seems to be heading in a direction in favor of Theism’s regressions as more data points accumulate over time.

    10) Alien abduction and brutally undeniable volition are on equal footing as far as you and Sam Harris (PN) are concerned. X perceived by 1 or 2 folks is just as useless, just as void of evidence, as is Y perceived by everyone – ‘cause naturalism.

    11) #10 hints at the future direction of this thread as it cannot lead to anything short of what I’ve seen in other threads in these discussions – eventual equivocation into semantic dances asking for ever thinner slices of reality – until mereological nihilism ensues. A “door” really isn’t a “door”. Then the PN folks claim that the Theist really thought the door was the end of physicality, all the while the Theist didn’t. Semantic gamesmanship nadirs/peaks for awhile. Logic’s death rapidly ensues – and all truth claims with it – as all coherence is sliced up ever thinner and all that physicality (methodological naturalism) cannot contain is forced to take a dive into the abyss that is ultimate absurdity void of the Self-Evident – PN ever willing to pay that price – else God – though it must first borrow from Him to thusly refuse Him.

    In short, none of this is looking very promising for any meaningful dialogue based on current trends.

  284. Melissa

    Shane,

    Yes, but you don’t have the experience of other animals. I’m more interested in your belief that they don’t choose.

    All that matters for this discussion is that human beings choose, if animals happened to not be determined by the physical it just means that I’m wrong on that philosophical point, no big deal. For me that is, for the materialist it is a major problem.

    Why does my question not make sense?

    Because it assumes that humans can be explained solely by chemistry (or probably ultimately physics). Do you know what s loaded question is? It’s a fallacy, and your posts are littered with them. I’m assuming that it is not deliberate on your part, but rather you are unaware of it because you are unaware of your own background assumptions.

    Please explain where the flaw is.

    That the world could be explained by chemistry or physics.

    Do you think they don’t because God told them not too?

    Of course not. Do you think the mark of Cain had to be understood in terms of “God told them not to”.

    it the intent that makes it immoral? Were they performing the same actions before they were given the knowledge of right and wrong?

    It’s not so much God giving humans the knowledge or right and wrong but rather that the intellect allows humans to grasp universals and hence the good. Reasoning like that, is in principle not explainable by reference to physical processes therefore any animal that is purely material will not be moral. Before they became human they could not be moral. I will just reiterate that the details are all speculative, an idly interesting diversion from the more important questions.

    Barring a change on your part to drop the fallacious questioning I will not be continuing the discussion because you continue to treat my answers as if they are tweaks to your thinking rather than having implications that require you to rethink from the ground up. Either you refuse to rethink or you don’t have the necessary skills, and I can’t help you with that in a blog comments section. You can consider that condescending if you like or you can consider it advice to do something about it from someone whose academic qualifications in both science and theology are very likely to be better than your own.

    I will reiterate that any contradiction that you see is a result of the assumptions you bring to the table.

  285. scblhrm

    Science-and-reason? That’s just scientism. It borrows what it cannot itself, ever, demonstrate: the Self-Evident. We do not “see” scientism’s innate vacuousness “by” science, but by those lines of the self-evident inside of the philosophical.

    Whereas:

    Logic and Reason coherently contain the Self-Evident.

    Thus it is science and reason – else the final dis-logic of scientism.

    How then to proceed?

    It is reason and logic, and therefore not PN, which allow us to follow God’s command to dive into and embrace methodological naturalism to its bitter ends as he (Man) is commanded by God to subdue physicality. And, as we all know, that road just never coherently (and coherence matters) “ends”there with respect to Truth, to Reason, to Logic, to Inference, to Identity, to Being.

    The PN must presuppose that he is thinking this delusion bit through… alien abduction, eggs or toast this morning…. whichever…. and for that he must presuppose…. and for that he AGAIN must presuppose….and again for THAT he must presuppose….. Every bit of his whole show is – at bottom – ad infinitum – the Self-Evident.

  286. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    I’m going to take you at your word that we’re going to finish with Animal Volition before moving on, so for the moment I’m ignoring all the posts you made after the one I quote below.

    “1) So the problems of physicality faced in man magically evaporate when we move to animals? You’re wrong. So it favors theism.

    2) You’re assuming theism posits non-Volition in animals. You’re wrong. So #2 evaporates. So we’re back to number 1.

    Net yield: Favors theism.”

    1. What are you trying to say here? What problems of physicality? And I would appreciate you giving evidence to back up your claim rather than just pronouncing me wrong in an absolute way.

    2. I see that the “higher” evolved the animal, the greater the observable free will. This indicates that it is something that evolved along with the brain and is therefore not something that was bestowed upon us by God.

    Cheers
    Shane

  287. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Tom,

    “I wouldn’t have asked the question if I hadn’t thought you might recognize there was a reason for asking it.

    You have a way of being annoying.”

    I can recognise you were trying to get at something, but I have no idea what that something is. I’m sorry I didn’t understand your implied question, but to be annoyed because I didn’t respond to something you didn’t say is all on you.

    Respectfully
    Shane

  288. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Sam Harris. He’s a neuroscientist. He disagrees with you. There is no such thing as free choice. As in volition freely amid A and B and C.

    If you have evidence that that particular neuroscientist is wrong, then show your work. He doesn’t play the boy’s game of “Well what do you mean by “volition” anyway in ends of regress?”

    You’ll need to show your work and prove Harris wrong. Physicality is your paradigm’s end of regress. Not the Theist’s.

  289. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Jenna,

    “I see that we are getting nowhere fast. In this post, you have dismissed all of God’s revelation to humanity, collectively and individually, over thousands of years using a false and irrelevant metaphor of alien abductions. Please give me measurements and statistics here, since you are so fond of them: How many human beings in 5 thousand years have claimed or claim to have been abducted by aliens? Now tell me how many people over a period of 5 thousand years and living today claim to have experienced God (had a revelation of God or encounter with God)?”

    Do you think numbers matter? Because there are a few religions with more members than yours.

    Would you agree that some, if not all, of the people claiming to be abducted by aliens are entirely mistaken in their belief? Do you believe its possible that any people claiming to have experienced God are mistaken in that belief?

    Do you think that people believing in God are more likely to interpret their experiences in a way that reinforces that belief?

    The bottom line is, no-one else’s experience can be offered as evidence to me. I only have my own experience. So while it is possible that aliens have landed here, kept their presence a secret, and kidnapped a handful of humans, it is much more likely that it hasn’t happened, and people who claim it have are lying, or mistaken.

    “How many of these people can and do show real and concrete evidence of their lives being transformed and positively impacted by these experiences and encounters with God?”

    I’m sure there are many, many people who show evidence of their lives being transformed and positively impacted by a belief they have experienced and encountered God. That’s not the same thing.

    “The other fatal flaw in your arguments against God is your refusal to acknowledge that the Creator’s “effect” on the universe (world, humankind) is creation. Creation is the sine qua non of effects. No Creator = no creation. This is the God that monotheism deifies and this same God, the Creator is the One who affects our lives. Your denial of this totally trivial and unconvincing.”

    You believe that because there is something rather than nothing, there must be a creator who made it. The problem is I can carry on that supposition to the next level. Because there is a creator who made us, rather than no creator who made us, there must be a creator who made Him. Ad infinitum. Any argument you can make about God being outside of Space and Time, being the uncaused cause, can be made about anything, without having to call that thing God.

    “So there really is nowhere left to go in this conversation, Shane. You deny all evidence of God the Creator in/through His creation and you deny the truth and authenticity of all human experiences of/with God. Your denial is complete and thorough. As to your fate in terms of the Afterlife, that is a matter between you and God. I have no opinion on the matter. But I clearly recognize and acknowledge that nothing I say will change your mind.”

    I hope you can recognise why nothing you have offered will change my mind. None of it is a very good answer to the questions at hand.

    “I wish you all the best as a fellow creature of our Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

    And to you, Jenna. I hope your life is a long and happy one.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  290. Shane Fletcher

    HI Melissa,

    “I will just reiterate that the details are all speculative, an idly interesting diversion from the more important questions.”

    The important question, in my mind, is why did man sin if he had no sin in him. You dismiss it as unimportant but it is the basis of Christianity. Or you dismiss it as unknowable, and accept that it happened, but I think that is just glossing over a flaw in the story. Quite frankly, it is the whole point I was originally making, that you don’t know how sin entered the world if we evolved over time, and you just accept it in to the fold unquestioningly.

    “Barring a change on your part to drop the fallacious questioning I will not be continuing the discussion because you continue to treat my answers as if they are tweaks to your thinking rather than having implications that require you to rethink from the ground up. Either you refuse to rethink or you don’t have the necessary skills, and I can’t help you with that in a blog comments section. You can consider that condescending if you like or you can consider it advice to do something about it from someone whose academic qualifications in both science and theology are very likely to be better than your own.”

    I know a great many people here are far more learned than I, and I appreciate your time. One more question, to try and look at man sinning/free will in another way. Do you think we will continue to sin in heaven? After death when the saved are with God, will they continue to sin for eternity because we have the free will to choose to?

    Cheers
    Shane

  291. scblhrm

    Jenna,

    No need to worry. As noted, Shane takes that which is perceived by a few folks as equally void of evidence as is that which is perceived by everyone – ’cause naturalism. Push him on Logic and Volition and mereological nihilism will slice all of those up into thinner and thinner slices – and finally into non-entity. Eventually, that is. Nothing physical will outdistance, outlive, such slicing. As you can see he equivocates in his reply to you on necessary vs. contingent ontological regressions. You’re wasting your time with him. He’ll start the semantic dance of equivocation with me shortly and I’ll be getting out too. It’s not like we didn’t predict this behavior on his end not that long ago in this thread. BTW, for what it’s worth, I’ve found your comments particularly helpful for my own thinking and perspective.

  292. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    “Shane,

    Sam Harris. He’s a neuroscientist. He disagrees with you. There is no such thing as free choice. As in volition freely amid A and B and C.

    If you have evidence that that particular neuroscientist is wrong, then show your work. He doesn’t play the boy’s game of “Well what do you mean by “volition” anyway in ends of regress?”

    You’ll need to show your work and prove Harris wrong. Physicality is your paradigm’s end of regress. Not the Theist’s.”

    Well he is a much smarter man than I. Of course other “much smarter men” disagree with him. There is quite the debate over it.

    I don’t particularly care either way. Either we have free will, or just the appearance of it. It makes no difference to me, how I interpret the world and live my life. You are the one that needs to prove Harris is wrong and that we have free will. Your religion depends on it. Without free will there can be no accountability for our actions. You are the one that said

    “So the problems of physicality faced in man magically evaporate when we move to animals?”

    Please expound on the problems that you see.

    Cheers
    Shane

  293. scblhrm

    Shane,

    “Either we have free will, or just the appearance of it.”

    As a materialist you say we do. You say your cat does. I agree. You have no means to get there (materialism’s ends of regression). I do (Theism’s ends of regression).

    So the burden is yours.

    Not mine.

    Show your work.

    Or declare it a delusion.

    Or withdraw all that fuss about your cat that you labored over with others.

  294. scblhrm

    Melissa,

    If you take the time to reply to Shane then be sure to answer his questions on Theism’s metaphysical regressions of mutability, necessity, contingency, privation, amalgamation, and volition, and so on, with something his Scientism can “philosophically contain”. BTW, I’ll be getting out soon too – as that dance of equivocation and/or mereological nihilism is/are coming. Eventually.

  295. scblhrm

    Shane,

    I have no idea why you said your cat has volition. Or why you think you do too. It’s your paradigm.

    Show your work.

  296. Shane Fletcher

    Hi scblhrm,

    We both appear to have the ability to make choices according to external stimuli. Harris argues that it only seems like we are choosing, because all effects have a cause. That could be the case. It doesn’t bother me either way (either because I choose not to be bothered, or the sum total of my experience results in my not being bothered). You still haven’t pointed to any problem of physicality that I can see.

    Cheers
    Shane

  297. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Since you’re now equivocating on all that fuss you made about your cat and what you perceive in that and in your own experience and believing your own experience I see no need to continue. “A is A. No. Actually it’s B. No. Actually it’s A and then C for all we know…..”

    No thanks Shane. I’m not into dishonest dancing.

  298. Melissa

    Shane,

    The important question, in my mind, is why did man sin if he had no sin in him.

    What does it mean to have no sin in him? The only sensible answer to that, is that it means they have never sinned, which prompts me to ask – what is so strange about a man doing what they have never done before? Or do you think there is something called sin inside us that is the primary cause of our sin, that’s not my position, and I think I’ve been pretty clear about that.

    As I have been telling you, your questions are poorly formulated and not thought through. Which is why the conversation is a waste of time.

  299. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    On the off chance you come back to this thread to check, or have an email notification enabled.

    “Or do you think there is something called sin inside us that is the primary cause of our sin, that’s not my position, and I think I’ve been pretty clear about that.”

    Well then the confusion must be mine because I haven’t taken that from this conversation. If you don’t think the sin in the world is the primary cause for us sinning, then what is the primary cause? Do you believe anyone on earth right now can make the choice, and successfully refrain from sinning for the rest of their life? And what are the scriptural passages that lead you to that conclusion? And as asked above, do you think you will no longer be sinning in the afterlife?

    Cheers
    Shane

  300. Melissa

    Shane,

    The primary cause of our own sin is our own choices but because all creation is under the power of sin and death no one can not sin (except Jesus if course).

    We can choose to identify with Jesus and be part of the new creation, and to forestall the obvious question, why didn’t God make the new creation first, the answer is that it would be an impossibility. Who we will be is shaped by now and even God can’t do the logically impossible.

  301. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “The primary cause of our own sin is our own choices but because all creation is under the power of sin and death no one can not sin (except Jesus if course).”

    Can you explain to me how “my own choices are the primary cause of my sin” AND “because I am under the power of sin and death I am incapable of not sinning”? That seems obviously contradictory to me. If I am incapable of not sinning then my choices are not the primary cause of my sin. It’s probably a stretch to say my choices are even a secondary cause.

    But the more important question is, was Adam under the power of sin and death? Did he actually have any choice in the matter of sinning?

    “and to forestall the obvious question, why didn’t God make the new creation first,”

    This is not the first question that occurs to me, but your answer is not a satisfying one because I see nothing logically impossible about making his second creation first. I can see that God would want to do things this way, because our lives on Earth will shape our after lives, but that’s not to say it must have happened this way.

    But it again raises the question of Adam’s choice in sinning? If the first creation was under the power of sin and death from the beginning, then Adam was always doomed to fail, and we were going to be judged by our actions which are out of our control. Or if Adam was always going to sin to create this imperfect world, then the game was rigged from the start. Was there any chance that Adam was not going to sin? This would have robbed God of his chance of making a second creation. So either God choose this creation where He knew Adam would sin AND/OR His creation gave Adam no choice but to sin. And now we are being judged because of our actions, which are beyond our control in a world under the power of sin and death.

    Sincerely
    Shane

  302. scblhrm

    Skeptics often say something like: “I see nothing logically impossible about making his second creation first”

    That is because the skeptic sees nothing logically impossible with False Identity Claims in general, such that mutable innocence = immutable perfection, such that sighted = blind, such that A = B, such that 2 = 1, such that a Bride and a Groom diving into amalgamation on the volition of one and the affront to the volition of the other [equals] love’s landscape there within the Trinity.

    To reason perfectly is to find the perfectly moral, and this in turn is the perfectly loving, perfect reciprocity, and this in turn is the perfectly volitional. Divine Simplicity awaits us there at the end of things and there is no such thing as some faint contour thereof which Man perceives which houses a part and not the whole. Eden’s Innocence is found in Gethsemane’s sinless Adam for Man whole or Man fragmented matters not as Man cannot fail to behold love’s peculiar reciprocity whether in acquiescence or in glorification.

    Marriage cannot be something other than Marriage.

    Two become one.

    Insufficiency free falls into All Sufficiency such that wherever Insufficiency shall turn its eyes, whether above its head, or beneath its feet, or into its chest, it shall find not its own insufficiency but instead the All Sufficiency of He Who fills by pouring, Who glorifies the Other by that peculiar debasement of Himself and thereby gifts to His Bride that beautiful freedom called Permanence.

  303. scblhrm

    Shane,

    Your false identity claim rests on the two absurdities that, first, Man/Insufficiency – prior to his amalgamation with the Divine – can find a way into Marriage outside of Gethsemane’s posture, without his own filling up, his own glorification, and, second, that God, that All-Sufficiency, can find a way into Man, into insufficiency, without His Own pouring-out, without His Own debasement. It is said that He first glorifies us and we then glorify Him. It cannot be some other way there amid God-In-Man, Man-In-God. Disobedience – Man in fragmentation – the First Adam, cannot change this, just as, the Last Adam, Man in Innocence, cannot change this. Love is love and cannot be some other landscape, because God’s Image – Trinity’s Ceaseless Reciprocity – cannot be some other Image, just as, marriage is marriage and cannot be some other something, just as, Insufficiency and All-Sufficiency are what they are and cannot amalgamate but by those necessary contours and robust vectors which we find merging there in Christ.

    If we want to know what reality “looks like” at its epicenter, we need only look at Him, at Christ. Eden houses many possible worlds, though Man’s Means and Ends in all possible worlds cannot be some other means, some other ends. And those Means are God, and those Ends are God.

  304. Melissa

    Shane,

    I see nothing logically impossible about making his second creation first

    I’m not quite sure how to respond to someone who thinks that there is nothing impossible about 2nd being 1st.

    I will just add that sin and death ruled over creation after Adam and Eve sinned and while the reign of sin and death does not work in each individual choice to force us to sin (you must agree that we are able to do good), it does mean that in practical terms no human being does not sin.

  305. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “I’m not quite sure how to respond to someone who thinks that there is nothing impossible about 2nd being 1st.”

    I peeled an apple first then ate it second. You think it would have been logically impossible for me to eat the apple first? What would be impossible is to peel it second, and if I said I see nothing logically impossible with making his first creation second, you might have had a point in your argument. But I didn’t. Mainly because I was parroting your words and you didn’t ask the illogical “Why didn’t God create his first creation second?”

    “I will just add that sin and death ruled over creation after Adam and Eve sinned and while the reign of sin and death does not work in each individual choice to force us to sin (you must agree that we are able to do good), it does mean that in practical terms no human being does not sin.”

    If each choice is a matter of free will, and we can choose not to sin at each individual choice, then it must be possible for us not to sin throughout our lives.

    Unless you meant “sin and death does not work in every individual choice …” but some choices are out of our control, and therefore we will sin.

    Cheers
    Shane

  306. Melissa

    Shane,

    I peeled an apple first then ate it second. You think it would have been logically impossible for me to eat the apple first?

    Yes, it would be impossible for you to eat the peeled apple first.

    then it must be possible for us not to sin throughout our lives.

    Do you see any evidence around you that it is possible not to sin throughout our lives? Do you see any evidence inside you?

  307. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “Yes, it would be impossible for you to eat the peeled apple first.”

    That’s a fair point. But your argument is that it would be impossible for God to make the apple already peeled. It seems that would be easy for an all powerful God.

    “Do you see any evidence around you that it is possible not to sin throughout our lives? Do you see any evidence inside you?”

    That tends to indicate that we are born sinful, don’t you think? That it is outside of our control? Another question along these lines, do you believe children who die in child birth, or even before, have sinned in the womb? Or if they die before they have developed the ability to reason and choose, are they perfect not requiring the sacrifice of Jesus to enter into heaven?

    Sincerely
    Shane

  308. Melissa

    Shane,

    That’s a fair point. But your argument is that it would be impossible for God to make the apple already peeled. It seems that would be easy for an all powerful God.

    An apple that is created already peeled is not the same apple as one that has been created then peeled. Would you be the same if you sprang into being yesterday? No. It’s not that hard to grasp.

    That tends to indicate that we are born sinful, don’t you think? That it is outside of our control?

    I know that I will sin. I know that I need God if I hope not to sin. I don’t think that it follows that when I sin I am not in control.

    Or if they die before they have developed the ability to reason and choose, are they perfect not requiring the sacrifice of Jesus to enter into heaven?

    The Christian hope is the new creation. We all need to be reborn. To be freed from the reign of sin and death. What Paul envisages in his letters is a new humanity and babies will need that just as much as we do.

    Shane I don’t know the answers to every question I might have. I can speculate but not everything has been revealed. I know that naturalism is absurd. I know what God has done in my life, in the lives of people through history and those around me. I see the truth of the human condition in the biblical writings. Some unanswered questions do not outweigh the mass of evidence in Christianity’s favour.

  309. Shane Fletcher

    Hi Melissa,

    “An apple that is created already peeled is not the same apple as one that has been created then peeled. Would you be the same if you sprang into being yesterday? No. It’s not that hard to grasp.”

    God making an already peeled apple identical to an apple that is created and then peeled seems obvious. This is God we are talking about. Likewise, God knows all, and so knows all the choices I can and will make. Creating me right now with my previous memories seems like a doodle. But I think we’re going to have to disagree here and leave it at that.

    “Shane I don’t know the answers to every question I might have. I can speculate but not everything has been revealed. I know that naturalism is absurd. I know what God has done in my life, in the lives of people through history and those around me. I see the truth of the human condition in the biblical writings. Some unanswered questions do not outweigh the mass of evidence in Christianity’s favour.”

    We obviously disagree here, lol. The questions I’m asking are fundamental to my understanding the workings of Christianity. And I think you glossing over them as unanswered highlights the ability of the Christian to ignore the problems with it. This, as I said in the beginning, is the opposite of science that is always trying to find the answers and will throw away what it knows when contradictory evidence, or a better explanation is found.

    Thanks for your attempts to enlighten me.

    Shane

  310. Melissa

    Shane,

    God making an already peeled apple identical to an apple that is created and then peeled seems obvious. This is God we are talking about.

    The apple and all physical things are embodied in time and space. The apple will not her identical. This is the old God can’t make a square circle chestnut.

    We obviously disagree here, lol. The questions I’m asking are fundamental to my understanding the workings of Christianity. And I think you glossing over them as unanswered highlights the ability of the Christian to ignore the problems with it. This, as I said in the beginning, is the opposite of science that is always trying to find the answers and will throw away what it knows when contradictory evidence, or a better explanation is found.

    I realise that we disagree on the absurdity of naturalism, you have persistently shown that you are either unable to grasp or unable to face it’s problems. Performative contradictions matter not one jot to you, glossing over the problems a specialty.

    And speaking of glossing over … acknowledging that some of my answers to some of your questions are tentative is hardly glossing over. Isn’t that what you claim to be in favour of? I think your understanding of Christianity is wrong if you think only having tentative or no answers to some of these questions should outweigh the evidence for Christianity. The issues are just not that fundamental. We started this thread with me challenging you on the supposed contradictions, I think we established that they reside solely in your head and yet here you are still banging on about them. so much for being open.

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