Atheists and “Evidence”

Atheists and “Evidence”

Mike Gene got me thinking about atheists and evidence with a post today at Shadow to Light. (If you’re not following his blog, you really ought to be.) I comment there with the following thoughts, which I think are worth sharing more publicly. His post provides some necessary context, although if you’ve been involved in some of these conversations before you’ll be able to pick this up right from here.

 

Atheists frequently say “evidence” when they mean “proof.” For them (as Mike Gene pointed out) it isn’t “evidence” unless it’s “evidence strong enough to convince me.”

But that’s not what the word means. Evidence properly understood is any true information I or valid line of reasoning L such that knowing I or L increases one’s confidence in the truth of some conclusion C.

Fingerprints are evidence because they increase confidence in the truth that some person could have committed the crime in question. What if the fingerprints you’re looking aren’t proof? Nothing could be more common: Fingerprints on their own are probably never the whole evidence needed to convict. They’re still evidence.

What if there are ten other sets of fingerprints there, and any one of the ten could have been the perp? The first set of fingerprints still count as evidence, according to any normal understanding of the word.

Evidence comes in varying degrees of quality. An eyewitness who can testify to someone’s general height, weight, and body frame can deliver evidence, but not like an eyewitness who can testify that the person involved is definitely his brother-in-law. The latter may serve as proof, where the former couldn’t. Either way it’s still evidence.

The Bible itself is evidence of Christianity: Is Christianity more likely to be true, given the existence of the Bible? Of course! Obviously the existence of the Bible, on its own and without close inspection of its contents, doesn’t come anywhere near providing proof. It’s still evidence, on any normal understanding of the term. And of course there is much more and much stronger evidence than the mere existence of the Bible.

Atheists and Evidence: Why?

Atheists say they want evidence and that it doesn’t exist. Why? I think it’s probably because “Christianity has no evidence going for it” makes Christianity look really stupid. It serves their purposes a whole lot better than, “Christianity hasn’t been proved to my satisfaction.” And that gives them what they want: making Christianity look stupid. Even if their use of the word “evidence” looks stupider than they would ever dare own up to.

Image Credit(s): Public Domain Files.

240 thoughts on “Atheists and “Evidence”

  1. The essential question that an atheist who demands evidence must answer before a Christian can offer a response to his/her demand is this: Evidence of what? To refer again to the courtroom analogy, no evidence is presented for consideration to a jury unless and until there is an indictment. The indictment must spell out the particulars of the crime the defendant is accused of and all evidence that is presented in the trial must be relevant to proving or disproving the charges. Evidence is not some free-floating set of facts. The same is true in science. As Mike Gene points out, evidence is considered, accepted or rejected in relationship with a scientific hypothesis.

    The atheist cannot claim that there is no evidence of God’s existence without a stated hypothesis about what God is and based on their concept of what God is, what does it means for God to NOT exist. Having to state his/her definition of God immediately places the atheist in a conundrum, since to demand evidence of non-existence is tautology, since obviously, non-existence leaves not a trace of evidence. At this point, the Christian can point out that a theology of God as Creator means that all of creation is evidence of God since a creation is evidence of the agency of a creator.

  2. Atheists don’t want to see the evidence which exists as the article demonstrates. It is their wills that are the problem not that there is no evidence. They are also blind to the immaterial necessary eternal laws of logic on which they use in order to reason , think, evaluate, understand, know ( scientia) . These laws are a reflection of the Logos , the eternal Godhead who is the basis of logic , epistemology, uniformity in nature and objective morality. Without God there is no basis for reality itself

  3. The definition of evidence seems to vary with one’s willingness to tolerate reductions to absurdity, or even “degrees” of said reductio(s) (…a case in point are discussions amid the trio of Physics, Eternalism, and Presentism…).

    More generally, physics-full-stop, rationally followed, leads one beyond physics-full-stop, which is fine, as both the Theist and the Non-Theist agree that neither Cosmology nor Physics are convertible with Ontology. Well, most of our Non-Theist friends seem to “get” “that”.

    But then that too loops us back to those many and varied “points” which our Non-Theist friends seem to never get around to, busy as they are dealing with the intellect’s richer patterns over inside of various stocks, bonds, and pesky bugs within Windows.

    That loop also seems to inexplicably employ several slow drive-through-passes via “God-Of-Gaps” as if it were of some utility for their polemic (…hence we simply → GRANT http://disq.us/p/1njdjp5 ← our Non-Theist friends all knowledge of all physical systems…). Sure, traversing said points is often attempted by the Theist but what typically follows from our Non-Theist friends is a. various sorts of category errors related to some flavor of the fallacy of composition which then births some sort of fallacious god-of-the-gaps conflation for those pesky “points” being ignored, and then some flavor of b. the pains of brute fact, and, then, c. at some ontological seam somewhere, the end of reason itself is finally conceded which lands the entire affair not in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to its own being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being.

    But then that concession is quickly dropped by our Non-Theist friends as some new complaint is raised in place of actually finishing one’s sentence. That is understandable given that “ontological seam” or “interface” and the need to avoid the absurdity of this or that “ontological cul-de-sac“. Obviously to affirm their Edge of Reason with respect to non-being just is to say that reason, rationally followed, leads one beyond one’s own unavoidably contingent reason and into the Necessary & Irreducible vis-à-vis Reason Itself. The Divine Mind presses in.

    From there, well, the nature of the entire discussion immediately hits a hard “Y” in the road, wherein on one arm the Non-Theist is eager to abort lucidity’s necessary means and ends, while the Theist refuses such reductions to absurdity. The soft hedges vis-à-vis various Bud-Lite versions of Solipsism just can’t do the necessary work once we put any weight upon them.

    ~

  4. To follow up on the last comment:

    Sean Carroll states, “….Our metaphysics must follow our physics. That’s what the word ‘metaphysics’ means….”

    But of course that is not only backwards, it is incomplete. As Feser notes “….metaphysical premises that any possible natural science must presuppose. For that reason, they are more certain than anything science itself could in principle ever either support or refute….” (…see https://strangenotions.com/cosmology-and-causation/ …)

    One’s T.O.E., or one’s Metaphysic, or one’s Explanatory Terminus, and so on, must both precede and outdistance descriptives of physical systems (physics). Else one has made the untenable claim that “Physics” (…or Cosmology…) is convertible with Ontology.

    The term “evidence” must satisfy all such contours. If it does not then one’s definition of “evidence” is either wrong or incomplete.

  5. I am pleased to see that we agree on the distinction between evidence and proof; the former makes a given hypothesis more likely, while the latter conclusively shows a given hypothesis to be true. Unfortunately, saying that ‘Christianity has evidence/proof’ in any sense is difficult because Christianity is not a clearly defined hypothesis. For the purposes of this discussion, I would like to acknowledge the fact that although ‘more likely’ and ‘conclusively’ is dependent upon an individual’s own subjective willingness to accept either evidence or proof, we should consider both parties rational and capable of reevaluating their beliefs or lack thereof. In addition, the hypothesis that I believe best describes Christianity is: The God described in the Bible exists.

    First, I would like to begin with the assertion that not only does this hypothesis have no proof, it lacks any evidence whatsoever. Your assertion that the Bible’s existence functions as evidence of Christianity (that the God of the Bible exists) is the equivalent of saying: The existence of an assertion is evidence that the assertion is true, which I am sure you will recognize is absurd. The fact that a book exists which asserts that a God exists does not make that proposition anymore true or false. If that is the case, I suppose that the number of books written on the existence of H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu means that there is more evidence for Cthuluhu than the God of the Bible, yet we both agree that at least one of those gods do not exist. While you correctly use the technical definition of evidence and proof, I am not sure you understand how that definition is applied based on this assertion.

    Hypotheses are by nature abductive, which means they attempt to explain a given set of observations. This is the foundation of the scientific method; however, within the bounds of science a hypothesis requires evidence or proof before it is accepted as true. The hypothesis is not proof of itself. Evidence for a hypothesis is found by experimentation, which is predicated on empirical data. Without empirical data, a hypothesis cannot have any evidence. Likewise, it would be absurd to assert that the phenomena which the hypothesis attempts to explain are proof that the hypothesis is true.

    So, when you attempt to argue that Christianity is true (that the God of the Bible exists), you require some empirical data that exists independent of the phenomena you are attempting to explain. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of circular reasoning. A scientific hypothesis must necessarily be testable for this reason, or else we would never make any meaningful progress toward determining whether a hypothesis is true. Because the hypothesis of Christianity (that the God of the Bible exists) cannot possibly be tested, it lacks any evidence or proof that would either make it more likely or prove it to be true. It is by nature unscientific and thus a vapid hypothesis.

    The ball is in your court. You bear the burden of proof if you are going to make such a hypothesis, and though I doubt you will be able to meet it, I am interested to see you do so. If there is a God, I should like to ask him a few questions.

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  6. As soon as you say, “it lacks any evidence whatsoever,” you reveal your bias and your misunderstanding of the meaning of the term “evidence.”

    As soon as you say,

    Your assertion that the Bible’s existence functions as evidence of Christianity (that the God of the Bible exists) is the equivalent of saying: The existence of an assertion is evidence that the assertion is true,

    You show that you haven’t learned to read, for you have not noticed that all I said was that the truth of Christianity was more likely with the Bible than it would be without it. Think, man! Would Christianity’s truth be less likely if we didn’t have the Bible? Don’t knee-jerk. Don’t answer reflexively. It’s not hard, if you’ll just decide to read. And think.

    Recognize, too, the place that has in my article here. It’s not there to argue from the existence of the Bible to the truth of Christianity. It’s there to illustrate the meaning of the word “evidence.”

    It is by nature unscientific and thus a vapid hypothesis.

    Are all non-scientific hypotheses vapid? Is all non-scientific knowledge unjustified?

  7. No, the truth of Christianity (that the God of the Bible exists) is not made anymore likely with or without the Bible. Certainly, you and I would not be having this conversation if the Bible did not exist, but merely thinking about the proposition that God exists does not make that proposition more likely to be true. The God described in the Bible purportedly existed prior to the Bible having been written, but does that make God’s existence less likely? No, obviously not. Nor does the Bible being written make God’s existence more likely.

    And yes, I am aware that you are distinguishing between evidence and proof. I am simply noting how you misapplied the term evidence, which I think is quite important to the discussion as to whether God exists.

    Unscientific hypotheses (i.e. those which cannot be empirically tested) are vapid because we have no method of proving them, such as the God hypothesis.

    To address your first point, I shall simply say that I have yet to see any evidence that God exists. Perhaps it’s out there, but I have no knowledge of its existence, and so far it seems that neither do you.

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  8. VOR,

    The God of the Hebrew Bible is the Creator of everything that exists. This is spelled out in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Evidence of a creator is a creation. Evidence of the God of the Hebrews is “the heavens and the earth.” Whatever created the heavens and the earth is what the Hebrews call Elohim. To argue that no creator of creation exists is circular nonsense. There is no “God hypothesis.” There is simply that which the ancient Hebrews and Christians worship as God.

  9. Unscientific hypotheses (i.e. those which cannot be empirically tested) are vapid because we have no method of proving them, such as the God hypothesis.

    Is that your hypothesis? How do you test it?

  10. That is more of an analytic proposition than a synthetic one, and hence when I say unscientific hypotheses are vapid, I am referring to those propositions which make a synthetic claim without being empirically verifiable. The God hypothesis falls into this category because it is a synthetic, nonscientific hypothesis, which means it aims to describe the state of the world yet cannot be empirically tested, ergo cannot be proved. A scientific hypothesis is a synthetic proposition that can be empirically verified, which means it is able to be proved.

  11. Jenna,

    Genesis 1:1 is the God hypothesis. You hypothesize that God is the creator of all things, which would include all natural phenomena; yet, you then make the logical fallacy of asserting that the phenomena which your hypothesis aims to describe is proof that the hypothesis is true. That is a non sequitur.

    Calling the universe “creation” presupposes that there is a creator, which is the point in question. This is circular reasoning.

  12. I agree that a definition is not something which can be proved scientifically. Definitions fall under analytic propositions, which are by nature not scientific.

  13. asserting that the phenomena which your hypothesis aims to describe is proof that the hypothesis is true. That is a non sequitur

    Really? Huh! You’d have a hard time selling that to any scientists research methods prof!

    That is, scientists are often wary of speaking terms of “proof,” but if we substitute “strong support” or “high probability” for the word, then profs would have real trouble agreeing with you there.

  14. That is more of an analytic proposition than a synthetic one

    It’s analytically false, for reasons of being performatively self-contradictory.

    The idea that a proposition must be empirically testable to be meaningful or true has been examined closely over many decades. It was popular in the mid 20th century or thenabouts. Now it’s universally recognized that the obvious rejoinder is a valid one: the proposition fails its own test, for it is not empirically demonstrable.

    In other words, it’s wrong. It’s wrong even if you substitute “”hypothesis” for “proposition.” Yes, there are some hypotheses that depend on empirical demonstration, but that’s becauae of the king of hypotheses they are, not simply because of their being hypotheses.

    It’s wrong, as is is almost all of your take on the book of Hebrews, unfortunately.

  15. I’m curious, VOR. Apart from your strange and historically, linguistically, and epistemologically insupportable assertion that faith is belief without evidence, I’d like to know, what kind of thing would you actually count as evidence for God, if you were somehow to encounter it?

  16. 1) It is not analytically false. I clarified my statement by saying that “I am referring to those propositions which make a synthetic claim without being empirically verifiable.” A synthetic proposition makes a claim as to the actual state of the world. A synthetic proposition which cannot be empirically tested (i.e. cannot be demonstrated more or less likely to be true or false by experimentation) is vapid because we have no means of knowing whether or not that proposition is true. I am not referring to all propositions here. I quite specifically said I am referring to synthetic, nonscientific hypotheses, which the God hypothesis falls into.

    2) No explanation is proof of itself. I doubt you will find many science professors who believe that a hypothesis proves itself.

    3) That’s an excellent question. The definition of God seems to be so devoid of meaning that in all honesty I do not know. A unicorn, for example, is something I can conceive of, but I’m not sure that I could ever imagine a timeless, spaceless, immaterial being. In fact, this definition appears to be paradoxical if not self-contradictory. So put simply, I don’t think a God as you define it is even a logically coherent idea, let alone provable.

  17. I could just as easily use your definition to describe Ra, Zeus, or Thor. The best argument I have encountered for any form of belief in a god is deism, and even that is dubious.

  18. There would be more dignity in simply admitting that your argument is mostly an appeal to emotion rather than based on logic. Your persistent use of logical fallacies, such as ad hominem, straw men, and circular reasoning are efforts to undermine a clearly sound refutation of your position. These are all common responses to cognitive dissonance.

    I’d respect you more if you simply admitted you do not know everything. I’ll be the first to tell you I certainly don’t.

    And that’s the difference between us.

  19. No, silly, you couldn’t use our definition to prove Ra or Zeus.

    My goodness! You really don’t have any idea what we’re talking about here, do you? But then you’ve gone ahead and said so, haven’t you, almost bearing a triumphant tone to your voice as you’ve done it. Don’t you realize the deadly defeat you’re admitting when you do that? You’re not losing an argument with me. You’re losing the ability to apprehend the One who loves you, who created you, who most wants to be in relationship with you.

    Don’t give that up for the sake of your false definitions and your early dismissals of God Himself!

  20. I admit I don’t know everything. I’m not sure why that was ever in question, but I am certa8nly more than happy to own up to it.

    I’m not appealing to emotion. I’m explaining my position.

    I’m not appealing to circular reasoning. You’ve made that claim in regard to Genesis 1:1, but I hadn’t been talking about Genesis 1:1. I was talking about what the author of Hebrews was trying to communicate, and in that discussion I explained my position in definite, clear terms.

    That’s what this discussion was about, remember?

    Please don’t think you can hold me accountable for illogic in the defense of propositions I haven’t sought to defend here. That’s illogical on your part!

    I could defend the existence of God, but that’s not what this is about. The question of the existence of God is logically distinct from the question of what the writer of Hebrews intended to communicate. The question of whether that author spoke truly is also logically distinct from the question of what he intended to communicate.

    So before you fry me for doing something wrongly that I haven’t so much as attempted to do, why not get back on the subject you’ve deflected us from?

  21. VOR,

    You use what I call the unicorn argument. When you use the word “unicorn” (derived from Latin roots meaning “one horn”) I conjure up in my mind an image. This image is an assemblage of things that exist in nature: an animal with horns, a long pointy horn, a horse, the color pink, etc. You and I both know that there is no such animal assembled with exactly these body parts that exists in nature, so of course we don’t go looking for its droppings. However, I have not assembled a unicorn in my imagination from anything that does not exist in nature. And if I go to the toy store and find my grand-daughter a pink stuffed unicorn, that unicorn exists because someone imagined it and then created it from his/her imagination. The non-existence in nature of the assemblage that you and I both imagine that we call a unicorn says nothing about whether or not God exists.

    Yours is a common flaw in logic among atheists. References to the gods of polytheism and idolatry prove nothing about God as the ancient Hebrews understood God. We know that Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, does not exist, but no one can argue that rain does not exist. To make your argument, you must define what it is that monotheists worship.

  22. No, Mr. Gilson. I like you am an atheist regarding all the other gods for all the same reasons. I just go one God further.

  23. Jenna,

    A toy unicorn and a living, breathing unicorn are not the same thing. I do not believe that unicorns do not exist because I have never seen a unicorn. I do not necessarily assert that unicorns do not exist, nor could not exist, though I find their existence improbable.

    While the toy unicorn may have been produced by a human being, we know that toys are produced by human beings from experience. If toy unicorns fell from the sky everyday, we would regard that as a natural phenomenon just as we consider water falling from the sky as natural. And in either case, we both agree this says nothing about the existence of God.

    I also agree that what other people believed about their gods does not necessarily have any bearing on the existence/nonexistence of the God of the Hebrews.

    You assert that Tlaloc does not exist. How do you know Tlaloc doesn’t exist?

  24. “First, the refutation of the Christian monotheistic God could not conceivably take the same form as the refutation of polytheisms’ gods.”

    I’d love to see you refute the existence of any of these other gods.

  25. As I explained earlier, I am not sure how one could go about proving the existence of God as you have defined him. The God which you have defined is not knowable, so asking me how I could know him if he was knowable is something I cannot begin to answer.

  26. Very well. If the God you have described is immaterial, spaceless, and timeless, how can I know he exists?

  27. You think you can refute YHWH the same as you can Tlaloc. You have to know what both those names refer to before you can do that. You don’t know what YHWH refers to, though, do you?

  28. How can you know he exists? First, by opening yourself to the possibility. Second, by recognizing that some very important things are knowable without being knowable scientifically.

    Are you willing to go that far, for starters?

  29. 1) YHWH is the Hebrew name for God, considered to be the most sacred. Interestingly, if you read Genesis, you will note that there is a difference between ‘God’ and ‘the Lord God’ in the original text. Yahweh elohim is used to refer to the Lord God while elohim, which is simply the plural form of god in Hebrew, is used to refer to God. There is a case to be made that there are in fact multiple gods in Genesis, and that ‘God’ is simply the lord of the Gods in the same sense that Zeus is. And before you say, “Ah, but that’s the Trinity,” the Trinity was a foreign concept to the Hebrews and was not developed until the rise of Christianity. I simply tell you this to indicate that I do, in fact, know what YHWH is. My challenge is for you to refute the existence Tlaloc, as you claim you are able to do so. You can disregard my point about multiple gods as trivial and irrelevant, if you fancy.

    2) I cannot assert that it is possible for God to exist unless you can define him. If the definition is self-contradictory, he cannot possibly exist. So to your first point, please provide a non-contradictory definition of God, and I will say it is possible he exists. To your second point, I’d like you to provide an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically. If you can do so, I shall assent to your second point as well.

    Neither of these requests are unreasonable, I don’t believe.

  30. The same way we both know what the definition of a unicorn is, yet recognize that a unicorn probably does not exist. Definitions do not equal existence.

  31. “I’d like you to provide an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically.”

    What I actually said was, “without being known scientifically.”

    Consider for example what you had for breakfast this morning. Do you know that? Do you know it through the methods of science?

    Consider your belief that there is nothing knowable except what can be known scientifically. Do you know that scientifically?

    God is the eternal, immutable, holy, loving, transcendent Creator of all that is.

    (Something in this comment is self-contradictory. Can you identify it?)

  32. VOR,

    You asked Tom this question: “Very well. If the God you have described is immaterial, spaceless, and timeless, how can I know he exists?”

    Allow me to ask you this question: Do you think that monotheists believe that God exists in the same way as the physical, material world exists? IOW, is material, physical existence the only meaning of the word “to exist”? Gravity is not a material thing that occupies space. Therefore, do you claim that gravity does not exist? Or that gravity is unknowable because it is immaterial and does not occupy space? What I am trying to get at is your definition of “exist” since you claim that God does not.

  33. VOR,

    You have not defined a sesquipod. You have merely asserted that one does not exist without defining what it is (or isn’t). This actually confirms my point. It is impossible to define something that does not exist because a non-existent “thing” has no characteristics and performs no actions. How can God perform miracles if God does not exist?

  34. I do not believe I asserted that “there is nothing knowable except what can be known scientifically,” and I do not hold this position.

    The methods by which one knows something is either through experience (empiricism) or reason (rationalism). Synthetic propositions, such as existence, are predicated on the state of the world. For example, the existence of unicorns is a synthetic proposition. The definition of a unicorn is an analytic proposition.

    So when you ask me if I know what I had for breakfast this morning, you are asking me to first make an analytic proposition as to what breakfast is, and then offer a synthetic proposition as to the existence of that breakfast.

    Breakfast is the first meal of the day. (Analytic proposition)
    I ate a bowl of cereal today. (Synthetic proposition)
    Therefore, I had breakfast. (Conclusion)

    I can offer evidences that I had breakfast. For example, I have less cereal now than I did before, there are microscopic particles of cereal on my teeth, my stool has some of the same material that is found in the cereal. All of this is empirical data which supports the hypothesis that I ate breakfast this morning. So yes, I can know this by the methods of science.

    Yet empirical data merely forms the basis for justifying my conclusion. Without a definition of breakfast, I could not begin to support the synthetic proposition that I had breakfast. Asserting that I had breakfast without a definition of breakfast is meaningless. Likewise, if I did not have any empirical data, I could not justify my assertion that I had breakfast.

    The statement that “God is the eternal, immutable, holy, loving, transcendent Creator of all that is,” is a synthetic proposition because it states that God created all that is, which is a claim as to the state of the world. Therefore, you must provide some evidence that this proposition is true.

  35. My apologies for thinking you held the position that there is nothing knowable except what can be known scientifically. I merely read, “I’d like you to provide an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically. If you can do so, I shall assent to your second point as well.”

    It would have been less roundabout for you simply to have said you assented to my second point.

  36. Your ability to offer someone these evidences you had cereal for breakfast, or the fact that you could know it through scientific means, has nothing to do with how you actually do know it. You know it by memory, not through science.

    Anyway, are we good with my starting two propositions?

  37. Jenna,

    I have in fact defined a sesquipod. A sesquipod is something that does not exist. Anything that does not possess the quality of ‘existence’ is therefore a sesquipod. Once again, definitions do not necessitate existence.

    Of course it is possible to define something that does not exist. A definition is simply a list of characteristics for a given thing. ‘Nonexistence’ is, by definition, a characteristic of sesquipod. Definitions are arbitrary, but are essential to communication.

    We agree that a nonexistent thing has no empirical characteristics and performs no actions.

    Yet you assert that it is possible for an existent thing to have no empirical characteristics (God) and perform actions.

    So, let me ask you, how do you define existence?

  38. I do not assent to your second point because as of yet you have not provided an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically.

    And while memory is a support for the fact I had breakfast, this is not the only method by which I know I had breakfast. My memory itself is based on my experience (empirical data) of having consumed breakfast. I also have other empirical evidences to support the assertion I ate breakfast, which I listed previously.

    Also, you will need to provide definitions for the terms: eternal, immutable, holy, loving, and transcendent. I am not sure that we necessarily hold the same understanding of these words.

  39. You have said you do not hold the position that there is nothing knowable except what can be known scientifically. But you want me to provide an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically. Otherwise you won’t assent to my proposition that some things are indeed knowable without being knowable scientifically.

    Do you realize you’re asking me to provide an example of something you already agree exists? Or did that fact pass you by somehow?

  40. And please, if you really are the “Voice of Reason,” please quit explaining to me that there are other ways you can know you had breakfast. I know that. You know that. My point is that there is a way you can (and do) know it, which is not by way of scientific means. Thus not all knowledge depends on science.

    Wasn’t that clear enough already? How clearly did I have to specify it for you? What kind of hoops do you want me to jump through for you?

  41. This is the definition of “exist” from the Merriam-Webster online: “Exist: 1 a: to have real being whether material or spiritual.” John 4:24 says that …”God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” I do not think that it is logical to talk about “a non-existent thing” but we can talk about the concept (idea) of non-existence. If you as an atheist claim that God is non-existent, then you have an idea in your head as to what it must mean for God to exist. Are you familiar with the concept of aseity? The term is derived from the Latin words a + se, which mean “existence derived from itself, having no other source. This concept in theology explains how God’s existence is different from the existence of God’s creation. Certainly we can agree that God’s existence is not material, so do you reject the idea of God’s spiritual existence?

  42. If you believe that “some things are indeed knowable without being known scientifically” then you should be able to “provide an example of something that is knowable that cannot be known scientifically.” Perhaps changing the word ‘scientifically’ to ’empirically’ would be more clear.

    Memories are based on empirical data and therefore do not constitute as something which is knowable without empirical data.

    I’ll make this easier for you:

    Analytic propositions can be known to be true because they are definitionally true. If we cannot recognize analytic propositions as true, then the entirety of language breaks down and we can no longer communicate.

    I asked you to offer something which can be known without being known scientifically because I wanted to illustrate the absurdity of making a synthetic assertion without empirical support. One cannot assert anything about the state of the world without using empirical data as justification, like the breakfast example. If you will agree that all synthetic propositions require empirical data, we can proceed. If you disagree, I ask you offer a counterexample.

    And I am prepared to accept your definition of God once you provide definitions for the words listed beforehand. Like I said, we need to make sure we have the same understanding of those words if we are going to have an intelligent conversation.

  43. VOR,

    IMO, Tom does not need to define the list of attributes that he gave of God. You need to explain how Tom or I or anyone can describe attributes of something that does not exist. Non-existence has no attributes.

  44. Jenna,

    The definition of real according to Merriam-Webster include “not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory,” “occurring or existing in actuality,” “existing as a physical entity and having properties that deviate from an ideal, law, or standard,” and “having objective independent existence.” A synonym for spiritual is also incorporeal, which is defined as “having no material body or form.”

    So tell me, how can a being who is real (existing as a physical entity) likewise have no material body or form? Is this not contradictory?

  45. VOR,

    You seem to be interpreting these definitions as saying that the only “things” that are real are “things” that have a material body or form. Love has no material body or form. Gravity has no material body or form. Yet love is real and gravity is real. So no, there is no contradiction. When St. John says that “God is spirit”, he is stating that God is not a physical entity. The God of the Bible is not a physical entity but God is real.

  46. Jenna,

    (I’m not sure why this didn’t load the last time. If I repeat myself, apologies.)

    I do not know how much more clearly I can state that definitions do not necessitate existence. Harry Potter can be defined as a sorcerer who attended Hogwarts School of Magic and defeated Voldemort in fulfillment of the Prophecy, but that doesn’t mean Harry Potter actually exists.

    Once again, we agree that things which do not exist in the real world have no real attributes. But defining our terms does not necessarily mean we assert that those terms actually exist. If you assert that something actually exists (i.e. is present somewhere in the universe) you must have evidence for that claim.

    I can define Harry Potter without asserting he exists. It is when I go the next step and assert that he exists that I now bear a burden of proof.

    I hope this is clear to you now.

  47. Empirical is not synonymous with scientific, so the distinction you make there is helpful and important. I think you’re saying we know things either analytically or by experience. Is that correct?

    No, it’s not contradictory for a being who is real to have no physical body or form. It’s only contradictory if Merriam-Webster’s definition is the ruling definition without exception. In that case Merriam-Webster has defined God out of existence, and if so (though I doubt they actually do that) I’ll note that as an interesting thing to know about Merriam-Webster.

    Since Merriam-Webster does not actually present itself on the final authority on that question, I don’t think we should regard it as such. There must be another coherent, normal-language usage for “real” that doesn’t put the dictionary in the position of having decided the question of the ages (and without anyone even noticing!).

    And I think you know at least one such usage. That which is, is real in the form in which it is. That’s one broad, positive definition. Or negatively, real means not false, not fake, etc.

    You could have done that as easily as I. Why didn’t you? You’re not really wondering if the existence of God could be knowable. If you were, you’d be interpreting us in the language of, “This is what they might be saying and how it could at least conceivably make sense.” You did t do that. You want us to define things down to the very bone.

    I believe you’re having fun watching us jump through hoops.

  48. Jenna,

    Love is empirical. We have both, I’m sure, had the experience of being in love. We can also perform brain scans and identify chemicals which are associated with the experience of love. Sure, the idea ‘love’ is not floating around in space, but we use the word love to describe various experiences and observations we make about the universe, specifically, interactions between animals.

    Likewise, gravity is an empirically measurable phenomenon. Not only do we experience gravity, we can quantify it. Neither of us are disputing that either love or gravity exists because we observe a set of events and ascribe a word to those events in order to describe them. They are empirical – not spiritual.

    You have yet to provide any definition of God which can be empirically shown to have an effect on the real world.

  49. VOR,

    You say this: “If you assert that something actually exists (i.e. is present somewhere in the universe) you must have evidence for that claim.” Harry Potter exists as a fictional character created by J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is not a physical biological person. If you asked me to provide evidence that Harry Potter (HP) exists as a physical, biological person, I would say to you, “Why? I don’t claim that HP is a physical, biological person so I have no way to provide evidence that he is and no need to present such evidence because I make no such claim. I do not claim that God exists as a physical, material entity so there is no “burden of proof” on me to provide evidence that God exists as a physical, material entity. I claim that God exists as spirit. God exists as the Creator of everything that exists. I have ample and convincing evidence from my own experience and the experiences of other people, as well as through science, which is the systematic investigation into how God’s creation works.

  50. I consider the conversation I am having with you to be separate from my conversation with Jenna. I do not believe that Merriam-Webster is the arbiter of all language, and I very much doubt that Merriam-Webster believes they are, either. I simply used Jenna’s source of definitions as a starting point.

    I have made two simple requests:

    1) That you agree that all synthetic propositions (propositions regarding the state of the world) require empirical evidence if they are to be reasonably proved true. If you disagree, provide a counterexample.

    2) That you provide a non-contradictory definition of God, and ensure that each of the components of that definition are understood by both parties. This is to make sure we are on the same page and not arguing two different points.

    And yes, the only methods by which anyone arrives at knowledge that I am aware of are either through empirical observation or reasoning based on those observations.

    When you are trying to tell me that there is a sentient agent that is immaterial, spaceless, and timeless, we are forced into these word games because we are in essence trying to redefine our colloquial usage of words like ‘real,’ ‘existent,’ and ‘actual.’

    Normally, we would have dismissed any other mythological being or deity by now. Trying to have this conversation in person would have made our heads explode.

  51. God is the one who created the world. Does that count as having an observable effect on it?

    But look, VOR, you’re going at this backwards. You’re asking for a systematic theology of God, in finest philosophical detail. That’s not something we can offer. That’s not how God offers himself. The Bible is a gradual unveiling, a narrative, not a systemization.

    Do you want to know what we mean when we say the word God? Or do you just want us to run through the hoops that will ultimately prove we don’t have every definitional detail nailed down?

    Do you want to know what we mean when we say the word God? Because if you do, I can show you.

  52. Asserting that something which is immaterial, spaceless, and timeless exists flies in the face of our normal use of the word ‘exists.’ In any other context, we would use exist in the sense of empirically verifiable.

    In every conversation I have with an apologist, we always end up going headfirst into an epistemological brick wall. And in every conversation, God is always this exceptional object which gets its own special definition of existence because God is just that special.

    You’re tired of jumping through hoops? I’m tired of watching you try. But nonetheless, I’m determined to follow your reasoning to the end.

  53. “God is the one who created the world. Does that count as having an observable effect on it?”

    Once again, you would need to prove that it was indeed God that created the world. If you want to define God as the first cause, that’s fine, but then that’s just a weak form of deism, and you would need to explain why God itself did not need to have a first cause.

    “Do you want to know what we mean when we say the word God? Or do you just want us to run through the hoops that will ultimately prove we don’t have every definitional detail nailed down?”

    I knew from the beginning of this conversation you didn’t have every definitional detail nailed down, but I respect you more for admitting this. This is very close to where I had hoped you would end up: Asserting that you are an agnostic theist.

    “Do you want to know what we mean when we say the word God? Because if you do, I can show you.”

    Yes, and here we return to Hebrews 11:1. Faith is the conviction of things not seen, and the followers of God show what they mean by God through their works and faith. Just as the Greeks, Romans, Hindus, and Muslims. I was a believer once. I know the meaning of those words just as well as you do.

    Mr. Gilson, I do not enjoy being pedantic, and I know that you do not enjoy my pedantry. But you understand that when you make claims as extraordinary and incomprehensible as the existence of things beyond observable reality, we are forced to the very limitations of understanding. The difference between you and I is that I go as far as my understanding permits, and then I stop. You, on the other hand, take the proverbial leap of faith.

    I recognize the strong allure Christianity has. The reward of heaven, the threat of hell, the reunion with loved ones, the fellowship of the Church, the assurance of relief from pain. These things all have a powerful pull to them, even if they are imaginary.

    But you have to grow up sometime.

  54. VOR,

    You say this:

    “Jenna,

    ”I claim that God exists as spirit.”

    Prove it.”

    On what basis do you demand that I “prove” that God exists as spirit unless you deny the existence of spirit? Do you claim that the term “spirit” is a label for a non-existent something? Spirit is experienced. I experience spirit. Don’t you? If you claim that you do not experience spirit, then you have no way to say that what I experience that I label using the word spirit does not exist. IMO, you are not differentiating between language and the concept (idea, understanding, notion) that language is used to communicate (describe, explain). What I experience as God is not “beyond observable reality” at all. It is impossible to experience something that does not exist. What I experience as God or Spirit is experienced by millions of other people. This is why religion exists. For you to demand that I or anyone else “prove” our experiences to you is not logical or reasonable.

  55. “Agnostic theist”? That’s funny.

    You assume wrongly that I was going to take you back to Hebrews 11:1. By now I’ve learned you won’t read that in context, so I was going to suggest a different direction for you to go with your quest.

    You go as far as your ur understanding permits, I take the further step of going where God can show us all to go.

    What is growing up? Is it not recognizing truth and grappling with it? Why then do you insist on misreading the things you criticize — including Hebrews, including the apostle Paul, including Romans 6, which you referenced on Twitter, and including me?

    And is growing up not also a matter of recognizing one!s limitations? You think that you are qualified to determine truths of ultimate reality based on your own reasoning. I don’t. It’s a whole lot bigger than either you or me.

    Do you want to learn about God as Christians actually understand him? I can show you how. Your choice. The conversation either continues from here or it ends.

  56. Your understanding of Christianity’s appeal is far too thin and one-dimensional. I’m sorry to see that in you —- mostly that you think you know so thoroughly. Why don’t you ask instead?

  57. “You think that you are qualified to determine truths of ultimate reality based on your own reasoning. I don’t. It’s a whole lot bigger than either you or me.”

    Yes, this is my point exactly. You laugh that I say you are in fact an agnostic theist, yet here you admit that ‘ultimate reality’ is not knowable based on our own reasoning. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the difference between agnostic and gnostic, atheist and theist? I am not the one asserting that I know a being exists outside of observable reality, an assertion which in of itself is paradoxical.

    “Is it not recognizing truth and grappling with it? Why then do you insist on misreading the things you criticize — including Hebrews, including the apostle Paul, including Romans 6, which you referenced on Twitter, and including me?”

    You seem to have a problem with the fact that you do not have unilateral authority when interpreting scripture. We have examined these verses in context, and I have explained to you why the implication of Hebrews 11 is that faith is belief without evidence, and that Jesus on a number of occasions holds that faith is superior to evidentially based knowledge. We can agree to disagree on this issue, because you have already demonstrated my point.

    The philosophical jargon about synthetic propositions requiring empirical data was simply a convoluted way of arriving at the fact that there is no such thing as ‘non-phyiscal evidence.’ Any claim you make about how the world actually is requires some observable evidence to support it, and if it is not physical, it cannot be observed. In any other context this would be a presupposition, but you insist on making special pleading fallacies, intentionally or no, because you recognize that God as you define him does not actually exist in the sense that everything else in the universe exists. The universe is a jigsaw puzzle, and you’re trying to fit God in like an extra piece.

    I made two simple requests:

    “1) That you agree that all synthetic propositions (propositions regarding the state of the world) require empirical evidence if they are to be reasonably proved true. If you disagree, provide a counterexample.

    2) That you provide a non-contradictory definition of God, and ensure that each of the components of that definition are understood by both parties. This is to make sure we are on the same page and not arguing two different points.”

    You never agreed to the first point, and wisely so if you wanted to dogmatically subscribe to your beliefs. You and I both know there is no empirical evidence for the existence of God, that the best hope you have of defending that belief is by making unsubstantiated presuppositions about the world, and wrongly shifting the burden of proof on to me when I am not asserting that God does or does not exist. I gave you the opportunity to provide a counterexample if you disagreed with my first premise, yet you did not do this, either.

    And to your second point, you listed a set of characteristics yet failed to clarify what any of those characteristics meant. As you did not agree to my first premise, I highly doubt you would have been able to prove that God created the universe, and once again, this was a judicious move on your part. If you gave your assent to this rule, you would no longer be able to use special pleading as to the existence of God. Even if you had been able to “prove” that God created the universe and had the characteristics you listed, arriving at your particular God of the Bible (which you notably failed to include in your definition) would have been an insuperable task, as it has been for every apologist of every religious creed in history. It’s a faith based position. We both know that.

    In my experience, most apologists have given up on proving that God exists because they know they have lost the intellectual argument. Usually the argument shifts to ‘the usefulness of believing God’ as opposed to the actual truth of the claim. In reading your other article about what it would take for you to give up your faith, I noted that you believe because Christianity is to you the most cogent explanation for the state of the universe. You don’t actually know why the universe is the way it is, and neither do I. Perhaps we could reason together and find out, rather than jump to unsupported conclusions.

    That you have given up on this argument is apparent by your insistence on making ultimatums, refusing to assent to the most basic premises, and trying to shift the argument away from the truth of the claim to the usefulness/effect of the claim, as evidenced by the quotations below:

    “Do you want to learn about God as Christians actually understand him? I can show you how. Your choice. The conversation either continues from here or it ends.”

    “Your understanding of Christianity’s appeal is far too thin and one-dimensional. I’m sorry to see that in you —- mostly that you think you know so thoroughly. Why don’t you ask instead?”

    “Do you want to know what we mean when we say the word God? Because if you do, I can show you.”

    Perhaps it may interest you to know that I was a fundamentalist Christian for 12 years. Neither you nor your religion offers anything new, “spiritually” or intellectually. Your emotional appeals are ineffectual.

    I’d be happy to rebut any arguments you present as a response to this, if they actually constitute as arguments. I doubt you’ll be giving me the last word.

    Cheers!

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  58. Jenna,

    If you are going to assert that God is a spirit, it is not at all unreasonable for me to ask that you furnish evidence for your claims. You cannot shift the burden of proof on to me when you are the one making the claims.

    Your argument is predicated on fallacious reasoning. First, you attribute whatever experience you claim to have to God without having first demonstrated that any such thing exists. Second, you say that millions of others have had experiences with this spirit, yet those same millions of people are likely to have a totally different interpretation of God(s) than you do. How can you demonstrate that these experiences come from a God, and how can you differentiate that God from all the other versions created by the people who claim to have the same experience?

    Asking you to furnish evidence for your claims is not unreasonable nor fallacious, and frankly, it’s absurd for you to say that.

  59. VOR,

    The concept of “burden of proof” is a legal concept that applies to a trial by jury where the prosecution has the duty/responsibility/task to present evidence to the jurors to convince them of the truth of the guilt of the defendant in order to convince him or her of the crime of which s/he is accused. This concept does not apply in religion. A Christian such as I have no “burden” to convince you, an atheist, of the authenticity and power of my religious/spiritual experiences or my relationship with God. I find wisdom in these words from Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (1959, 2004, p. 16) in his book “God, Man and History” in the Rabbi’s response to demands for proof (evidence) of God’s existence:

    “The foundation of biblical religion, therefore, is not an idea but an event—an event that may be called an encounter 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?”

  60. Jenna,

    You are correct. Burden of proof is, in addition to being a component of philosophical discussion, also a part of law. And why is this a part of law? In order to ensure that the ruling of the court is honest and fair, lest an innocent person be punished or a guilty person go unpunished. The entire foundation of the legal process rests upon ‘innocent until proven guilty’ or in other words, a person cannot be punished for a crime unless sufficient evidence is presented to convict that person of a crime.

    So why do you, who purport that there is a God who has some special deed not only to my life and to the life of every human being, but to the very universe itself, a matter far more momentous than the guilt or innocence of a single man, receive special license to absolve yourself of any obligation to actually prove your claim? Shall we believe you because you whimsically concluded that a God exists? Shall we dispense with all our reason because you claim you had a special experience and miraculously God appeared in your life? I do not care to what you attribute your feelings. I am only interested in what you can prove, and your insistence that you do not have to prove anything you say is only evidence of the fact that you cannot.

    Your line of thinking is patently absurd.

  61. So. I guess you weren’t joking when you said I was an agnostic theist.

    I do know the meaning of the word “agnostic.” You need not worry about my vocabulary. I have told you there are things that I cannot define in detail regarding God. That does not fit the meaning of the word “agnostic.” I know certain things to be true of God. I do not know everything. That’s just plain theism.

    I have grappled with the fact that I do not have unilateral authority regarding Scripture. You, however, have not grappled with the context of the passages we have discussed. You say you have, but the fact is, you still haven’t learned to read. I say that on the authority of actually knowing what I’m talking about. If you say you have taken the context fully into account, you are simply wrong, and you need to go back and examine that context again.

    “Non-physical evidence” isn’t something I’m going to worry about. There is the evidence that comes from experience and observation, the evidence that comes by way of logical reasoning, and another kind of evidence you aren’t ready to hear about.

    You say I never agreed to the first point you requested of me. I could agree with you on condition that we agree there is no God. If there is no God, then all synthetic propositions depend on empirical evidence. If there is a God, then it is at least logically possible that he could make himself known directly and immediately, without empirical evidence. You can discount that only on pain of begging the question of God’s existence. Or, to quote your own comment, you can hold to your belief if you “want to dogmatically subscribe to your beliefs.”

    As to the second, I have offered you, I think twice now, a way to know about God truly. The starting point isn’t definitions, it’s something different than that. No Christian in the world believes that the starting point for knowing God is in defining him, so if I were to play along with you in a game to start with definitions, I’d be on track toward trying to help you find a God I don’t believe in. If you want to know about the God Christians believe in, the way to do that is to start where God actually starts with Christians and Christians actually start with God, not where you think we should start.

    I predict you will see that as a deflection. It isn’t. It’s a redirection, certainly, but it’s a redirection toward the God we actually believe in.

    You thinking it’s apparent that I’m giving up on the argument because I haven’t assented to these premises. No, the reason I won’t assent is because I know better than to give in; the premises are wrong.

    I’ll bet that in your actual experience with apologists, they haven’t given up on proving God’s existence because they’ve lost the intellectual argument. It’s because they’ve recognized that you won’t respond to the argument; you’ll continue forcing it in your preferred direction rather than actually listening; that you will continue not knowing how to read; that there is nothing to be gained from trying any longer because you refuse to come to terms with the arguments we present. Granted, I don’t know the details of your previous arguments; I only know how you’ve presented yourself on Twitter and here. But that’s enough to make it my bet a reasonably safe one.

    You “will be happy to rebut any arguments…” here. That, my friend, is intellectually irresponsible and in fact reprehensible. You decide in advance that my arguments will be unsound. D’you suppose that might not represent bias on your part?

    If I can’t offer you anything new, and if you’ve already decided in advance that you will rebut arguments you haven’t even seen, and if you don’t care to hear what I’ve offered to say about taking a different direction toward knowing God, then there is no reason to continue this conversation. Feel free to have the last word as you depart — but make it a departing word. If you try to continue the argument, I will continue it back, and you will not be offered the opportunity to give the last word after that.

  62. Attempting to prove that God exists without properly defining him is, as we explored earlier with the breakfast example, a superfluous task. You state that you can know certain things to be true of God, but if you are unable to actually define such a thing, how can you say you know anything about it to be true? Asking you to provide a non-contradictory definition of God is perfectly valid. Trying to prove a God without defining the word is meaningless.

    Based on your reasoning, we will arrive at one of the following:

    1) If you define God, our line of thought will arrive at a God which you do not believe in.

    2) If you do not define God, attempting to prove that such a being exists will be meaningless and impossible.

    This is very telling.

    As for Hebrews, I have already stated it is no longer necessary to continue the hermeneutic exercise. You believe without evidence. Or at least, you have failed to provide any evidence as of yet. You can call that my opinion if you fancy.

    And here we have a fundamental disagreement. The only methods by which someone arrives at knowledge is empirical observation or analytic reasoning based on those observations. This third kind of evidence is, I presume based on your invocation of God as a giver of knowledge, divine revelation.

    There are two flaws with this argument:

    1) The thing in question is the existence of God. A discussion as to the implication of God’s existence is irrelevant as to whether or not it actually exists.

    2) The claim that religious knowledge is divinely revealed by God leads to vastly different conclusions and is therefore an unreliable method of arriving at knowledge. An alternative method must be used in order to differentiate between these claims.

    Most Christians who I have encountered are capable of defining their God. You are, I admit, the first apologist I have ever talked to who outright refused to define what he’s talking about.

    As to my confidence that I can rebut your arguments, I will simply say that the arguments for the existence for God have hardly changed throughout history, and I doubt you will present an argument I have not heard of before. The most common flaws in these arguments are they shift the burden of proof, make unproven presuppositions, or are arguments from ignorance. I will be more than willing to examine any arguments you present, independent of whether I have heard them before. It is not intellectually irresponsible to say that I doubt you will be able to provide a cogent argument. It is intellectually irresponsible to refuse to consider it, and I am quite happy to consider your arguments. Just don’t be upset if I have some questions along the way.

    Naturally we both have a bias. This point is not in question. Hence at the beginning of our conversation I said that we should agree that both parties are rational and capable of reevaluating their beliefs or lack thereof.

    Asking that you provide evidence for your claims is not ‘shifting the conversation the way I want it to go.’ It is how any rational dialogue is conducted whenever an interlocutor makes a claim. Asking you to do something so basic as define the word you’re talking about is about as simple as it gets.

    I’m not interested in rhetorical bravado. Just make your argument.

  63. I have no further argument to make. I’ve already answered the great majority of what you’ve rehearsed above; you have decided, wrongly, that you can rebut my arguments no matter what they are; you are not interested in knowing the God in whom Christians believe, who makes himself known relationally and by demonstration rather than by analysis; and you and I both know that further argument will be fruitless.

    I do need to point out one new thing, I suppose. Your second point 2 above is what one might call atheist theologizing. You assume that even if there is a God, he would be incapable of making himself known to persons with whom he wanted to do that. I wonder how you know that much about God?

    But even if we were to work that through, there’s still plenty of evidence already to know there’s no good reason to continue investing time in this. Unless you want to know about the God in whom Christians really believe, that is.

    Your self-description as formerly “Fundamentalist” is telling, actually. I have encountered a lot of legalism and anti-intellectualism among churches that describe themselves that way. It leads me to suspect your experience may have been like that. If so, it wasn’t Christianity, it was law-religion with a Christian veneer. Law-religion, or legalism, was one of the major heresies Paul combated in Galatians (especially) and also in Colossians and Romans. It was “a different gospel,” he said, and deserving of the anathema.

    So again, if that was your religion, it wasn’t Christianity. I still extend you the offer of discovering the real thing. Feel free to respond to that, if you would; but let’s agree the arguments don’t need to continue, okay, for reasons I’ve just stated above, okay?

  64. What part of “I am quite happy to consider your arguments,” do you not understand? If the God of the Bible exists, I have every interest in knowing that it does exist! You purport that this being can be known “demonstratively” and so I ask that you provide a demonstration. I am being quite amicable and receptive to your argument.

    And there is a case to be made for fundamentalism, but because the question of God is as of yet undecided, I shall not take a position on the issue. You may say that I was not practicing Christianity if that pleases you. I have no reason to dissuade you from this particular point as it has no bearing on the current topic.

    If you would grant that you believe in God on the basis of emotion and faith rather than analytical reasoning and evidence, I shall consider this conversation to have been mutually productive.

  65. The part I don’t understand is where you actually fail to consider my arguments while saying at the end you’re “happy” to consider them.

    I didn’t say “demonstratively.”

    Your last paragraph is unbelievable. You’re not willing to consider anything, VOR. Goodbye.

  66. “You purport that this being can be known “demonstratively” and so I ask that you provide a demonstration.”

    “I didn’t say ‘demonstratively.'”

    ” you are not interested in knowing the God in whom Christians believe, who makes himself known relationally and by demonstration rather than by analysis” [emphasis added].

    demonstrative:
    a : demonstrating as real or true
    b : characterized or established by demonstration

    Good day to you.

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  67. You say that my “line of argument is patently absurd.” This is insulting and uncalled for in what is supposed to be a respectful dialogue. This conversation is pointless because you, like Tom says, are not reading what I say. You are merely using my comments as a pretext to parrot platitudes from the latest version of the Atheists’ Playbook. You can have the last word.

  68. Jenna,

    Saying you don’t have to justify your claims is absurd. I could not care less if you think my calling your line of reasoning absurd is insulting. I find it insulting that you would actually treat that assertion like a serious argument. Why? Because it is not an argument.

    I have no idea what the Atheists’ Playbook is. I do not need to read a book on how many different ways I can choose to not believe in God. I outgrew my imaginary friends a long time ago.

    Thanks for the last word.

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  69. VOR,

    So far you seem to thrive on re-defining X into Non-X and then asking folks to defend Non-X. So far all of our exchanges on Twitter sum to just that.

    Logical necessity and logical absurdity are easy enough to follow through, outward to this or that terminus. Such is only one contour of evidence, but that you don’t allow yourself to interact with the Christian’s actual premises in even that one, isolated contour is itself evidence of your own modes within your own doxastic experience. It’s autohypnotic at best, dishonest at worst. As in [1] http://disq.us/p/1gxarix and [2] http://disq.us/p/1h06j3a and [3] good’ol Zeus http://disq.us/p/1lydvkq

    Unfortunately you’ve proven to be the proverbial Glib Internet Meme awash in an unfortunate Noetic Frame of Self-Deception in that you are forever intentionally leaving out the actual Christian metaphysic as you analyze the…. Christian metaphysic (…just take a peek at our Twitter exchanges yesterday with respect to the definition of Faith…).

    Such self-deception isn’t new or unique to you of course, as per http://disq.us/p/1huc02c […which references both http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541683395#c5184040431704814012 and also http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541694376#c6385469427809387454].

    It would be better for you to interact with people’s actual premises rather than your own re-definitions. Sure, we get that you believe, at bottom, that The Earth Is Flat as per https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ but the Christian just isn’t obligated, intellectually or morally, to dance to such a flat and monotone melody.

    scbrown (lhrm)
    https://www.metachristianity.com/
    https://twitter.com/M_Christianity

  70. We need to keep in mind that when an atheist demands that a Christian define God, he or she is demanding that a finite human creature make finite the Infinite.

  71. Brown,

    “So far you seem to thrive on re-defining X into Non-X and then asking folks to defend Non-X.”

    No. I am asking that X actually be defined if X is asserted to exist; a logical necessity predicated on the fact that all ‘existing things’ are concomitantly able to be defined.

    “but that you don’t allow yourself to interact with the Christian’s actual premises in even that one . . . . It’s autohypnotic at best, dishonest at worst.”

    No. I had two starting premises that, if we could not agree to, would make any rational dialogue impossible. The first being that all statements regarding the state of the world require empirical evidence if they are to be reasonably proved true, the second being that a non-contradictory definition of God actually be presented. Mr. Gilson rejected both of these premises, thereby nullifying any possibility of engaging in reasonable discourse. The merits of these two premises are open to dispute, if you please.

    “you are forever intentionally leaving out the actual Christian metaphysic as you analyze the…. Christian metaphysic”

    Perhaps I am mistaken, but I do not remember you actually presenting any metaphysical claims whatsoever. If you would do so, we can discuss them if you please.

    “It would be better for you to interact with people’s actual premises rather than your own re-definitions.”

    All I ask is that a definition is presented. I cannot redefine a definition that was never actually made.

    So, why don’t you present a cogent argument for the existence of God, and include a definition of God?

    Your friend,
    VOR
    (@WeOfLittleFaith)

  72. VOR,

    Did you see my comment #57? In any case, you can respond to this statement of mine, keeping in mind that it is impossible for a finite human creature to define the Infinite.

    “God” is the term or generic name used within the limitations of human language to signify the whole unified array of forces, energies, processes, natural laws and events that created/create the universe and life as evidenced by the existence of everything, seen and unseen, material and spiritual, in the heavens and on earth; a universal creative force.

  73. Jenna,

    “We need to keep in mind that when an atheist demands that a Christian define God, he or she is demanding that a finite human creature make finite the Infinite.”

    If you say that God is infinite, you have just defined God as being infinite. Clearly you are not above defining God, nor is it unreasonable that anyone should ask you to do so.

  74. ” “God” is the term or generic name used within the limitations of human language to signify the whole unified array of forces, energies, processes, natural laws and events that created/create the universe and life as evidenced by the existence of everything, seen and unseen, material and spiritual, in the heavens and on earth; a universal creative force. ”

    There a number of problems with this definition, and it is also contradictory to your first few statements.

    First, you suggested that God could not be defined and that asking you to define it would be impossible or else a misrepresentation of what God is. Then you offer a definition.

    Second, you asserted that God is spirit, and now you have vastly expanded this definition to include all physical, natural laws and processes of the universe. That an incorporeal being without form or body is also energy and a physical force is logically absurd.

    Third, this definition notably excludes any characteristics of sentience, agency, or personal interest in human affairs. This definition also excludes any reference to a holy book, which means that even if we accept this definition, there is no inherent connection between this God and any religion.

    This appears to be very close to pantheism.

  75. Let us be clear about the purpose of this exercise. A definition is merely a statement of an individual’s understanding of the meaning of a term or concept. You appear to think that your task as an atheist is to tell me, a Christian, that my understanding of God is wrong (incorrect, incomplete, a misrepresentation). This you can only undertake based on your belief that you have a complete, thorough and entirely accurate understanding of what God is (nor isn’t) and therefore, you are in a position to critique my understanding of God and consequently, the understanding of God of monotheism and monotheists. All this you assume while claiming that God does not exist. We have already discussed how nonexistence has no attributes or characteristics. Nonexistence is nothingness. It cannot be represented or misrepresented. It cannot be said to be or not to be anything.

    Do you really expect a Christian who has a life-long relationship with God as I understand God to put the entirety of my understanding of God into a 57 word definition? Do you really presume to tell me that my understanding of God “excludes” attributes of a God or is “logically absurd”?

    I have chosen to try to engage in discussion with you again to illustrate to you the impotence of your atheism as a basis for a critique of Judeo-Christian monotheism.

  76. “You appear to think that your task as an atheist is to tell me, a Christian, that my understanding of God is wrong (incorrect, incomplete, a misrepresentation). This you can only undertake based on your belief that you have a complete, thorough and entirely accurate understanding of what God is (nor isn’t) and therefore, you are in a position to critique my understanding of God and consequently, the understanding of God of monotheism and monotheists.”

    No. I have quite repeatedly expressed my ignorance as to your own understanding of God, and hence I have endeavored to inquire as to what exactly you mean when you use the word ‘God.’ The fact that you, at first, insist that God cannot be defined, and then go on to provide a contradictory definition of God suggests that you — I say without the intent of being ironic or facetious, but quite literally — do not know what you are talking about. As the word ‘God’ is so often used to describe totally different things, from a supernatural agent that governs the universe to the universe itself, it would be incurious of me to not ask you what you meant. I am in a position to critique any position you take on any subject if I so choose, as you are also able to challenge any view or position I hold. This is one of the merits of secularism and freedom of thought, something which most religions are vehemently opposed to.

    Nor was it my position that defining God would lead to a misrepresentation of God: this was entirely your own. You say that asking you to define God is to limit the infinite, which in of itself presupposes that God can be defined as infinite. You then vary between God being exclusively spiritual and not physical, to having a dualistic existence. And now, after pointing out the contradictory nature of these definitions, you say I have no grounds to critique any definition you offer and that in doing so I fancy myself the one and only interpreter of what God is — something I have repeatedly denied. All of this after you say God is an experience and you do not have to justify your experience to me or anyone else. I am reminded of the verse “the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). You simply refuse to take any concrete stance on anything.

    “We have already discussed how nonexistence has no attributes or characteristics. Nonexistence is nothingness. It cannot be represented or misrepresented. It cannot be said to be or not to be anything.”

    I agree with the claim that things which do not exist have no real attributes or characteristics, and by this I mean real as having physical or empirical traits. Harry Potter, for example, may have black hair within the context of Rowling’s books, but because he does not exist he does not have the real attribute of black hair. You seem to be stuck on the fact that defining a thing does not necessarily mean the thing exists. You can make a word mean anything by fiat, but you certainly cannot define a thing into existence by fiat. Surely you understand that an idea can be said to be anything, but that does not make that idea correct or actual? Nonexistence things can be said to have abstract attributes, but that does not suddenly confer upon them actual, physical existence. To say that Harry Potter is a girl is a misrepresentation of the character of Rowling’s books. That is not to say, however, that Harry Potter actually exists.

    “Do you really expect a Christian who has a life-long relationship with God as I understand God to put the entirety of my understanding of God into a 57 word definition? Do you really presume to tell me that my understanding of God “excludes” attributes of a God or is “logically absurd”?”

    I should think that has been a very one-sided relationship, unfortunately. And as for your understanding of God, I have by no means imposed upon you a 57 word limitation, but if you present a definition which is self-contradictory, there is nothing unreasonable with declaring that your definition is absurd. If I said a sesquipod is something that exists and that does not exist, I have made a logically absurd definition. Also, that your definition did not include any connection to the Bible is significant because you are (I presume) a Christian who purports to believe in the God of the Bible yet also define the God you believe in without a necessary connection to the Bible. In other words, from my point of view, you believe in two different Gods: The God of the Bible and the God as you have defined him, which bear no connection to each other.

    For these reasons, perhaps you can see why I have difficulty understanding what you believe, because you vary so much that I cannot even begin to address what you sincerely believe!

    “I have chosen to try to engage in discussion with you again to illustrate to you the impotence of your atheism as a basis for a critique of Judeo-Christian monotheism.”

    My atheism is not a basis for critique. I could critique your beliefs if I was a Christian, as well. I lack a belief in God because I have yet to be presented with any convincing argument or empirical data which supports the assertion that a God exists.

    And you have proved impotent to define a God that even corresponds with Judeo-Christian monotheism, so who are you to tell me what I do or do not believe?

  77. There is another point here that you raise with this statement: VOR: “I lack a belief in God because I have yet to be presented with any convincing argument or empirical data which supports the assertion that a God exists.” Who exactly do you think has to present a convincing argument or empirical data of God’s existence? God Himself presents all evidence needed of His existence. It is called Revelation. It is not the task of any follower of Jesus Christ to present evidence that God exists since God reveals Himself to humankind. What you do or do not believe about God or whether or not you believe in God is only a matter between you and God. No one else bears any responsibility whatsoever in the matter of your relationship or lack thereof with God.

    The purpose and function of Christian apologetics is for Christians to share our understanding of God based on our relationship with God, individually and collectively. If you are entering into this dialogue just to find out what I, Jenna Black believe without having an understanding of what Christians believe based on the Hebrew Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then what is your purpose here?

  78. Jenna,

    “God Himself presents all evidence needed of His existence. It is called Revelation. It is not the task of any follower of Jesus Christ to present evidence that God exists since God reveals Himself to humankind.”

    Clearly not, seeing as there are many religions that claim to have been revealed by God or gods that are not concordant with your particular holy book, the Bible. The Muslim says that Muhammad received a revelation from God and from this revelation the Quran is derived. Here, we have the same God giving two mutually exclusive revelations. How do we know which is true, if either of them are true? And how we do we differentiate these two claims of revelation from those who have totally different gods? What about the revelation given to Joseph Smith? God supposedly revealed himself through an angel to Smith, and how can you say this revelation is any less valid than your revelation?

    “What you do or do not believe about God or whether or not you believe in God is only a matter between you and God. No one else bears any responsibility whatsoever in the matter of your relationship or lack thereof with God.”

    1 Peter 3:15 gives some indication that you have an obligation to be able to account for your belief in God, yet you shirk this obligation off to me and in essence say “Here’s what I believe, now you figure a way out to prove it.” It is not my responsibility to justify your beliefs for you.

    “The purpose and function of Christian apologetics is for Christians to share our understanding of God based on our relationship with God, individually and collectively.”

    And yet you have failed to share this understanding with me because you have defined a God that has no necessary connection to Christianity, nor have you demonstrated that such a God exists, or that there is any relationship between you or anyone else with that God.

    “If you are entering into this dialogue just to find out what I, Jenna Black believe without having an understanding of what Christians believe based on the Hebrew Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then what is your purpose here?”

    I dare say I have a fairly developed understanding of what Christians believe, however, there are an abundance of nuances among Christians that I must account for. To assume you believe something about the Bible would be intellectually irresponsible. If you believe in the God of the Bible, particularly Jesus Christ, your position is very precarious as the historicity of the Bible and indeed the existence of both God and Jesus are dubious propositions.

    As for my purpose in this discussion, I am here to question your beliefs to see if there is any truth to them, and thus far, you have not shown any of your beliefs to be true. I doubt that you would concede to me that you in fact have false beliefs, however, I encourage you to examine your own beliefs and see if you know intellectually that they are true, or if you simply ‘feel’ that your beliefs are true. The only person who ever convinces you of anything is yourself.

    Think honestly about what you believe and if it is true. Prove that it is true. You cannot wish anything into existence, no matter how much you want to.

  79. Well, so much for my second attempt to have an honest and respectful dialogue with you, VOR when you claim to have the authority and knowledge to tell me there is no truth to my Christian beliefs…

  80. If you cannot offer any evidence for your claims, I have no reason to believe they are true, especially when your claims include the suspension of natural laws and the existence of beings which you cannot define. I do not claim to have any special knowledge or authority. You are the one making that claim.

  81. The only claims that Christians ask you to address are the claims of Jesus Christ. Whether or not you believe my claims is irrelevant. You seem to be unwilling to do this, so I have nothing further to say to you. I’ll try very hard not to think of you as the prototypical atheist. JB

  82. “God Himself presents all evidence needed of His existence. It is called Revelation. It is not the task of any follower of Jesus Christ to present evidence that God exists since God reveals Himself to humankind.”

    Clearly not, seeing as there are many religions that claim to have been revealed by God or gods that are not concordant with your particular holy book, the Bible.

    That’s really shoddy epistemology on your part. The existence of error hardly precludes the existence of truth. It doesn’t even preclude the existence of identifiable truth.

    And how we do we differentiate these two claims of revelation from those who have totally different gods? What about the revelation given to Joseph Smith? God supposedly revealed himself through an angel to Smith, and how can you say this revelation is any less valid than your revelation?

    My goodness, let me count the ways. That is, do you honestly mean with all the interaction you’re involved in on this topics, you don’t already know? Unbelievable.

    Shall I begin? Or do you insist on an analytically complete definition of God before I start?

  83. “That’s really shoddy epistemology on your part. The existence of error hardly precludes the existence of truth. It doesn’t even preclude the existence of identifiable truth.”

    No. When two or more people make the claim that they have received a divine revelation from different gods, or different revelations from the same god, or even different revelations from different gods, we have no method of determining which if any of these claims are true. Shoddy epistemology is believing something purely because someone else claimed they received a revelation.

    So the question becomes: How do you differentiate between mutually exclusive claims of revelation and determine which, if any, are true?

    “My goodness, let me count the ways. That is, do you honestly mean with all the interaction you’re involved in on this topics, you don’t already know? Unbelievable.”

    I’d like to point out that I used Muhammad and Joseph Smith as examples of others who claimed divine revelation and yet derived totally different messages. My question above is meant in the universal sense, and is not limited to any particular prophet or revelation.

    Please, enlighten me.

  84. Jenna,

    If asking you to furnish evidence for your claims is the prototypical atheist, then outright refusing to do so is the prototypical Christian. I regret that we could not continue an intelligent conversation.

  85. VOR,

    Per your evidence handling techniques Jesus probably didn’t exist and Pontius Pilate probably didn’t have him executed. That’s your conclusion after looking at “the evidence”.

    Your moves there are a nice demonstration of something so basic and elementary with respect to plain old even-handed rules of historicity that we’ve all the evidence we need to conclude that Category 1 isn’t accessible to you, for many reasons.

    As for Category 2, you’ve demonstrated several times over at Twitter that you cannot draw even rudimentary distinctions. For example, causal agents (physicians) intentionally manipulate physical systems and induce seizures in so-and-so — and/or — causal agents intentionally manipulate physical systems and suspend X’s on top of water — but you claim that the Christian Metaphysic believes otherwise.

    You’re uninformed. That you NOW AGAIN cannot draw distinctions and actually equate reality’s explanatory terminus as per Pantheism to Allah to Celestial Teapots to the Trinitarian Life v. Underived Mind wrt Being Itself is more evidence that you ought to stop telling Christians what they “really” believe.

    Yours is a nice demonstration of something so basic and elementary with respect to plain old even-handed reasoning that we’ve all the evidence we need to conclude that Category 2 isn’t accessible to you, for many reasons.

    As I pointed out to you elsewhere, my goal is exposing 1. the uninformed status of your claims about what Christians claim and 2. the areas where you leave out key premises in the Christian’s body of claims.

    That you NOW AGAIN cannot draw distinctions (Allah, Pantheism, Celestial Teapots, Etc.) is satisfying those two goals.

    Three more basic examples for you follow below. Please respond to their content as I wouldn’t mind still more demonstrations on your part of missing fairly basic distinctions:

    [A] http://disq.us/p/1nx4mkc
    [B] http://disq.us/p/1nphbgm
    [3] http://disq.us/p/1nppieu

    This isn’t complicated. You merely need to stop re-defining the Christian’s actual metaphysic and instead interact with that metaphysic’s actual premises.

    Christians don’t believe people can walk on water just as they don’t believe that animals can talk — as in:

    https://twitter.com/m_christianity/status/991744995936829440?s=12

    Recall from our exchange there: With BBI and DBS (deep brain stimulation) you’re missing rudimentary distinctions even as you (also) miss yet other rudimentary distinctions in equating Pantheism to Allah to Celestial Teapots to the Trinitarian Life v. Being Itself.

    It’s interesting that long before we understood the causal content v. Being, Mind, and, say, the syntax of “X brought Y back to life” — and so on, the Christian’s predictions and prescriptions nicely affirmed then the science and observations of today v. such causal agents and DBS and intentionality and rearranging nature’s fundamental building blocks (and Etc.) — so again it is your redefinitions which are antiscientific — so again we’ve looped back to disq.us/p/1lwb0de

  86. VOR,

    “We have no method of determining which is true….”

    False. Any T.O.E. which forces absurdities in order to retain this or that X is ipso facto rationally rejected.

    That removes all / any Non-Theistic hopes as the baggage of Metaphysical Naturalism just won’t do —. https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/

    Whether it is QM or Atheism or Christianity or X or Y or Z, the issue is not uncertainty/certainty unless one wants to assume the unfortunate posture of defending what can only be a radical, opaque skepticism. Of course, the Christian is quite satisfied in these discussions when Non-Theists assume that unfortunate posture. The Christian there only needs to simply coach the Non-Theist further and further down the Non-Theist’s own wish-list of premises in that path and, when the Non-Theist finally embraces the manifestly absurd, it is a sort of intellectually satisfying “QED” for the Christian.

    If uncertainty/certainty do not necessarily compel reason (…in her role as truth-finder…) then what will rationally (…and necessarily…) compel her? That’s obvious: the proverbial “Y” in the road is when and if one is forced to embrace this or that reductio ad absurdum — this or that reduction to absurdity.

    The goal of reason as truth-finder is [1] avoiding reductions to absurdity and [2] satisfying reason’s demands for lucidity. On occasion our Non-Theist friends are confronted with that and they argue-by-emote with something akin to, “Sophistry! Pure sophistry!” but of course that’s not surprising given the Non-Theist’s (…somewhat common…) decision at that proverbial “Y” in the road.

    All that remains is something fairly straightforward but which seems to trip you up in that HERE NOW AGAIN you cannot draw distinctions and actually equate reality’s metanarrative and explanatory terminus in/of 1. Pantheism to 2. Allah to 3. Celestial Teapots to 3. the Trinitarian Life v. Underived Mind wrt Being Itself (…btw that is evidence that you ought to stop telling Christians what they “really” believe…).

    The explanatory power of each differs with respect to the means/ends of reason, of good, of mind, of the self, of the physical order of contingent X’s, of the beautiful, of person, and so on and in fact it’s not even close.

    Given Christianity — God has given reason as an eye and also the peculiar decree that reality will in fact retain intelligibility — contra Sean Carroll’s illusory knot of equivocations in his slow and gentle slide into “useful but not true“. Now, a few of those other Theisms peripheral to Christianity are indistinguishable from that mess once we travel far enough downstream / upstream, and so perhaps you’d find them quite intriguing.

    Just as catastrophic for metaphysical naturalism is https://www.metachristianity.com/design-causal-ecosystems-x-designed-y-un-designed-designers-and-naturalisms-necessary-conservation-of-non-design/

    Explanatory power anid distinctions isn’t a difficult concept.

  87. VOR,

    Per our discussion of Category 1 (…plain and boring and evenhanded rules of historicity…) and Category 2 (…your seeming move to infer that those rules CAN and DO comment on Metaphysical Naturalism…) we found the following:

    Per your evidence handling techniques Jesus probably didn’t exist and Pontius Pilate probably didn’t have him executed. That’s your conclusion after looking at “the evidence”.

    Your moves there are a nice demonstration of something so basic and elementary with respect to plain old even-handed rules of historicity that we’ve all the evidence we need to conclude that Category 1 isn’t accessible to you, for many reasons.

    As for Category 2, you’ve demonstrated several times over at Twitter that you cannot draw even rudimentary distinctions. For example, causal agents (physicians) intentionally manipulate physical systems and induce seizures in so-and-so — and/or — causal agents intentionally manipulate physical systems and suspend X’s on top of water — but you claim that the Christian Metaphysic believes otherwise.

    You’ve a premise which is uninformed. That you NOW AGAIN cannot draw distinctions and actually equate reality’s explanatory terminus as per Pantheism to Allah to Celestial Teapots to the Trinitarian Life v. Underived Mind wrt Being Itself is more evidence that you ought to stop telling Christians what they “really” believe.

    Yours is a nice demonstration of something so basic and elementary with respect to plain old even-handed reasoning that we’ve all the evidence we need to conclude that Category 2 isn’t accessible to you, for many reasons.

    As I pointed out to you elsewhere, my goal is exposing 1. the uninformed status of your claims about what Christians claim and 2. the areas where you leave out key premises in the Christian’s body of claims.

    That you NOW AGAIN cannot draw distinctions (Allah, Pantheism, Celestial Teapots, Etc.) is satisfying those two goals.

    Three more basic examples for you follow below. Please respond to their content as I wouldn’t mind still more demonstrations on your part of missing fairly basic distinctions:

    [A] http://disq.us/p/1nx4mkc
    [B] http://disq.us/p/1nphbgm
    [3] http://disq.us/p/1nppieu

    This isn’t complicated. You merely need to stop re-defining the Christian’s actual metaphysic and instead interact with that metaphysic’s actual premises.

    Christians don’t believe people can walk on water just as they don’t believe that animals can talk — recall from our exchange at Twitter that in BBI and DBS (deep brain stimulation) you’re missing rudimentary distinctions even as you (also) miss yet other rudimentary distinctions in equating Pantheism to Allah to Celestial Teapots to the Trinitarian Life v. Being Itself. Those two “misses” are all one package.

    It is noteworthy that long before we understood the concept of causal content v. Being, Mind, and, say, the syntax of “X brought Y back to life” — and so on, the Christian’s predictions and prescriptions nicely affirmed then the science and observations of today v. such causal agents and DBS and intentionality and rearranging nature’s fundamental building blocks (and Etc.) — so again it is your redefinitions which are antiscientific — so again we’ve looped back to disq.us/p/1lwb0de

    ~~~

  88. Brown,

    I shall endeavor to imitate your apparatus of elocution, not as a mere jaunty, whimsical exercise of ostentatious verbosity, but rather as a means of explicating, and indeed, perhaps I may be so audacious as to say ‘expostulating,’ upon your pedantic and unrepentant refusal to utilize any intelligible syntactical convention of the language and legerdemain, even hucksterish insistence on deploying battalions of superfluities presumably as a vain attempt to obscure the latent intellectual shallowness of your position beneath a veneer of abstruse enunciation. For this reason I will eschew addressing a substantial portion of your previous statements as they are devoid of logical claims and do not warrant any protracted repudiation.

    “As for Category 2, you’ve demonstrated several times over at Twitter that you cannot draw even rudimentary distinctions. For example, causal agents (physicians) intentionally manipulate physical systems and induce seizures in so-and-so — and/or — causal agents intentionally manipulate physical systems and suspend X’s on top of water — but you claim that the Christian Metaphysic believes otherwise.”

    This statement is blatantly false. I quite explicitly delineated between man functioning as a causal agent manipulating the environment and God functioning as a causal agent manipulating the environment. The former is not in dispute by any party, but the latter has yet to be furnished with any evidence that would even remotely suggest that the natural world, for example, is undergoing a similar process. This is no more than a thinly-veiled attempt to smuggle intelligent design into the conversation without explicitly stating it so that you might have the opportunity to say of your Non-Theist friends “You are misstating the premises,” when in fact you are inserting them as presuppositions rather than offering them as a definitive position to be debated. Sophistry, indeed.

    “As I pointed out to you elsewhere, my goal is exposing 1. the uninformed status of your claims about what Christians claim and 2. the areas where you leave out key premises in the Christian’s body of claims.”

    A critical point of note is that I have implored you to offer a concrete set of premises related to your own hermenutical reading of Christian metaphysics, and I say hermeneutic because I am of the impression that these premises would be derived from the Bible rather than a personal contrivance clad in the trappings of Christian theology, which you have given me numerous reasons to suspect is the case. If you are going to be so obtuse as to continually accuse me of misrepresenting premises which you simply will not present, then I shall vindicate myself from your patent falsehoods and recriminate you by saying that you are in fact nothing more than a sophist undeserving of my continued attention.

    Ergo, present an argument and the premises of your metaphysical claims, or else I shall disregard you as an intellectually deficient, pompous charlatan.

  89. We have no method of determining which if any of these claims are true.

    Part of your problem, VOR, is that you know so many things that aren’t true, including the above.

    Shoddy epistemology is believing something purely because someone else claimed they received a revelation.

    Your shoddy epistemology is showing in the fact that you think that’s what Christians do. If you had a decent epistemology you’d have known long ago that this is a straw man. Obviously a straw man. Extremely a straw man. Embarrassingly (for you) a straw man.

    Please enlighten me.

    You’re not ready to listen yet. You’re still stuck in knowing things that aren’t true. You’ve got to let that go first.

    For one thing — something you can do on your own — you could decide for yourself to ask, “Is there anything fundamentally different about Christian revelation compared to Muslim and Mormon revelation?” You lump them together in one undifferentiated category. You draw conclusions based on that categorization. It should be obvious to you in multiple ways that these revelations are so very significantly different, it’s epistemologically irresponsible to draw conclusions as if they were all of the same category.

    I’ll be glad to enlighten you when you display a real interest in it. Merely typing “please enlighten me” doesn’t get there. And you know it.

    When will I be able to see that you’re really interested? When you really are. It will show. Until then, pretense will also show.

  90. VOR,

    You’re equivocating. Or worse. Three times I presented you with weather or not Christians believe animals can talk (Scripture claims no such thing) and three times you inferred that I was denying Scripture or else quoted scripture. But if Scripture DOES draw the distinctions you are NOW finally conceding then it was your claim all along, and not the Christian’s, which denied / expunged scripture.

    Now that we’ve agreed on the reality of those distinctions in Scripture, we arrive at our current location where you say there IS NO WAY to draw distinctions (…and so you actually equate…) amid reality’s metanarrative and explanatory terminus in/of 1. Pantheism to 2. Allah to 3. Celestial Teapots to 3. the Trinitarian Life v. Underived Mind wrt Being Itself.

    Never mind Non-Theism’s affirmation of a Flat Earth as per the Edge, and End, of Reason. Carroll’s gentle slide ensues ~~ https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/

    “No Way To Draw Distinctions” ?

    Granted.

    I’m satisfied with that stoping point of your analytical reach as it demonstrates a key element in your occasionally fallacious mode, which is one of the general goals. The reason for that goal is simply that this is a fairly common pattern with some of our Non-Theist friends.

    One need not bother presenting arguments FOR Christianity when the questioner INSISTS that Christianity claims that iron just floats, all by itself, on top of water. Surely you can see why.

  91. “Evidence”

    Our Non-Theist friends re-define both Evidence/Miracle and then fuss that they’ve none of each. On “Miracle” they demand evidence of a “violation” of physics, which guarantees they will find neither Miracle nor Evidence. Then they re-define again and affirm the now scientifically outdated Humean/Mackiean shouts of Black-Magic (… http://disq.us/p/1nppieu …).

    According to Scripture’s narrative, or to be precise, Metanarrative, Reason amid the natural order (Natural Theology) leads one out of Non-Theism and into Theism, and we see why as Reason’s demands for lucidity eventually hit a hard “Y” in the road leading one either into the proverbial Reductio Ad Absurdum or else the proverbial Reductio Ad Deum. A few inroads there are at [1] https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-128848 and its links, and also [2] at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/09/qed.html

    As for Knowledge, Privation, the fragmentation of Knowledge, the Church, both sin/error within all things “Adamic” (which includes the Church), and the predictions of Scripture’s “Metanarrative”, we’ll leave the silliness of “But disagreement exists within Christendom! Therefore No-God!” to the side for now.

    An excerpt from another thread for context:

    Begin excerpt:

    You ignore reality and your own Humean/Mackiean rejection of miracles from the get-go with this self-contradiction:

    “…There is an infinite array of evidence which would satisfy me. Here are a few examples:

    Miracle… Miracle… Miracle…”

    You deny miracles and call them a violation of physics and then proceed to offer mere hand-waving when it’s pointed out to you that your definition of miracle is a Non-Christian straw-man. That you persist in that is evidence that you have an irrational disbelief and that you’re a cousin of the following, from https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2017/02/john-loftus-hypothetical-god/

    Quote:

    “…no amount of evidence that God could provide would ever be sufficient to non-coercively overcome a disbeliever’s doubt if the disbeliever did not wish to be convinced. Indeed, given the ability for hyper-skepticism to create doubt no matter what the evidence is, it must be pointed out that no matter what God did, a skeptic could always — if he wanted — attribute the event to aliens, or a hallucination, or that he was in a computer simulation, etc. And skeptic Michael Shermer even has a “law” which states that any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence would be, to us, indistinguishable from God; as such, atheism and naturalism are thus unfalsifiable if they wish to be given that any seemingly miraculous event could always be attributed to aliens rather than God. In fact, I know a prominent atheist who admitted that even if the stars spelled out the Apostles Creed and the whole world saw it, he would likely go mad or believe everyone had gone mad rather than believe that God had made a miracle occur. So, the point here is that even God could not freely convince certain unbelievers to believe in Him no matter how much evidence He might provide…”(by R. Initiative)

    End quote.

    Quote:

    “…On another note, one of the essays in that volume linked above drives home the very clear point that no matter what type of “evidence” God might choose to give us, the clever skeptic can always seek to rationalize it away. Let’s say that God were to inscribe into the moon in shimmering gold letters a passage from scripture every night, or some such thing. I think that if someone really wanted, they could conclude that the existence of aliens who might try to commandeer us by doing such a thing is a “more likely” explanation than the existence of God as the ontological grounding of reality itself, and so by “occam’s razor” would still dismiss the existence of God.

    The argument:

    1: Golden passages of scripture appear on the moon every night.
    2: Such would only happen if there were a God.
    3. Therefore there is a God.

    Seems to fall apart on premise 2, where the skeptic could easily suggest the possibility of observing and manipulative aliens. Since the belief in such aliens doesn’t involve a paradigm shift in understanding the nature of reality as contingent upon a divine mind — they would probably not find it very difficult to go with “aliens”. In fact, I think skeptics would tout that reasoning as evidence against Christianity. “See, you used to think that there was a God, but this recent business with the moon shows that it was probably aliens all along.” They’d probably suggest that Jesus was an alien all along.

    Likewise with a “voice” appearing in everyone’s head. Likewise with some sort of “alien artifact” which would probably be the easiest to dismiss for anyone who is familiar with video editing and special effects.

    Consider instead what I think is evidence that we actually have available to us, the existence of our own consciousness which seems inexplicable on a philosophical naturalist paradigm. The existence of us as volitional beings seems to directly imply something about the nature of reality. To say (as we can with those others above) “ah well maybe there are other contingent, conscious aliens out there who made us” doesn’t actually seem to get us anywhere with consciousness but kicking the can down the street a little way.

    You say, “Schellenberg’s nonresistant nonbelievers need not successfully rationally undergird their nonbelief. All they need to do is be nonbelievers, and be both epistemically and personally open to changing their minds.”

    If one cannot rationally undergird their position (irrationality?), then how would one be epistemically and personally open?

    It seems relatively intuitive to me based on my personal observations that nonbelievers often have an innate resistance to having their mind changed that has very little to do with reason. For many there quite obviously seems to be an emotional stumbling block which prevents them from making an accurate assessment of the data….” (by T. Wakeman)

    End quote.

    End excerpt.

    But which miracles? Which T.O.E.’s claims?

    Weather it is Billy-Bob-Joe’s claim of Alien Abduction, or of QM, or of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pantheism, and so on, the process is always the same: collect data, unpack premises, align all the dots, and… and… and so on.

    Now, sure, the Non-Theist is too often surprised by that because he assumes that Reason, Logic, and God’s Decreed Revelation of Himself via the Natural Order (…Natural Theology / http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/09/qed.html …) is not contained in Scripture’s wider Metanarrative.

    As explained to one of our Non-Theist friends:

    You need to allow reason to take the lead and keep science in the front of your thinking and stop worrying about causal agents per se. Remarkably, if you continue doing so you will rapidly rule out out any claim of “miracle” by all but one or two T.O.E.’s., well, three if you count Philosophical Naturalism’s regress to its god… well… on that term “god”…. […… “the reader might even find it useful to put the word “God” out of his mind for the moment — given all the irrelevant associations the word might lead him to read into the present discussion — and just think instead of “the ultimate source of things”……”]

    ….Let’s start over: …..well, three if you count PN’s regress constituted of the duo that is [A] the nature of an ultimate self-explanatory principle (on the one hand) amalgamated with [B] intelligibility (on the other hand), both of which force Non-Theistic definitions into the inexplicable, into brute facts which are anything but self-explanatory or intelligible. If you don’t know why that is true regarding those two or three T.O.E.’s then you’ve allowed being uninformed to drive your analysis – which reasoning people don’t do.

    Following reason and logic, one will not only rapidly rule out any claim of “miracle” by all but one or two (Christianity/Pantheism) – well – or three (PN) T.O.E.s, but, also, within those select T.O.E.’s one will have a fairly good contextual framework by which to investigate any such claim.

    The last few paragraphs were taken from a few links/comments:

    Part 1 http://disq.us/p/1cz6gff
    Part 2 http://disq.us/p/1d0laqg
    Part 3 http://disq.us/p/1d0lt8u
    Part 4 http://disq.us/p/1nx4mkc
    Part 5 http://disq.us/p/1nppieu

    ~~~

  92. Tom,

    With respect to your two items, “How Would Jesus Blog?: Answering Online Adversaries Jesus’ Way” and also “argumentum ad fragenblitzen” (… https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2015/01/saying-no-to-fragenblitzen/ ..), a few items:

    Setting The Mirror” is certainly helpful, and at some point needed as it takes a purely intellectual exercise and personalizes it. My goal of eliciting demonstrations of where our Non-Theist friends expunge and/or re-define key elements out of the Christian’s body of premises addresses the first half of your goal there but not the second, and I agree that perhaps I should end with or merge into Setting The Mirror at some point in all such exchanges. As you note in part 8’s “Dealing With Our Own Hearts” ~

    Who among us hasn’t felt the temptation to smack down some atheist for the utter ignorance of claiming  — in full confidence, as if they alone had access to truths we Christians have ignored for centuries! — that Jesus probably never even existed? (Or maybe you haven’t run into that one. That’s okay; you can feel free to substitute in your own most recently encountered “false fact.”)

    I think we agree that smack-downs are unacceptable, and I would add that “that” ought to instead play out as a goal of drawing out, or to elicit, to connect the dots, step by step… by… step, as it were.

    There is value in starting with, say, “Christians believe that iron just floats, all by itself, on water… because the Bible says so….” and working through that progression of connecting the dots to “establish” that that premise is in fact “vacuous”.

    Now, that said, I can’t help but agree that all of that is ..perhaps.. ..probably.. NOT a complete goal and/or effort and/or package unless and until one also Sets The Mirror (…via your book’s description…).

    Lastly, it’s clear that AT SOME POINT a line is reached where, despite clarification, some of our Non-Theist friends will just dig in their proverbial heels and just insist that iron floats…. etc.

    At that juncture it becomes prudent to Set The Mirror and to also leave off by pointing the Arrow God-ward.
    ~~~

  93. Once an interlocutor has shown himself uninterested in the substance of the Christians’ argument, as VOR has clearly done here, Jesus’ example is to stop playing as if the person actually did care.

    In other words, my strong advice would be to turn the discussion toward the interlocutor’s pretense, and let the argument resume if and only if the pretense is dropped, as in my 8:50 pm post last night. I have come to consider it unseemly to debate a person who is only faking interest in that debate.

  94. Tom,

    “Your shoddy epistemology is showing in the fact that you think that’s what Christians do. If you had a decent epistemology you’d have known long ago that this is a straw man.”

    No, I am not claiming this is what Christians do. I am stating that this is a poor way of arriving at knowledge and by implication that you realize this as well. Hence, I am asking you to elaborate on your position more.

    ““Is there anything fundamentally different about Christian revelation compared to Muslim and Mormon revelation?” You lump them together in one undifferentiated category.”

    This is the question I am asking, and explicitly asked in my previous post. My exact words were: “How do you differentiate between mutually exclusive claims of revelation and determine which, if any, are true?” If you are a Christian, then I presume you must believe there is a way to differentiate between these claims, and I am asking you to explain how.

    “You draw conclusions based on that categorization. It should be obvious to you in multiple ways that these revelations are so very significantly different,”

    Asking a question is not at all drawing a conclusion. In of themselves, we have no means of drawing a distinction between one person’s revelation and someone else’s. I am glad you state that there is a way of differentiating — now please tell me how.

    I would appreciate it if you would stop cramming words down my throat (particularly when all of this is publicly available and everyone can see you are lying) and assuming my thoughts. Please explain how you can differentiate between mutually exclusive claims of revelation; because I do not know how you would go about doing it.

    Here is your opportunity to enlighten me.

  95. You mean you can’t see it for yourself? You say you used to study and follow Christianity. There’s at least one blazing difference between Judeo-Christian revelation and all others. It’s a hugely consequential difference, too, with respect to all that you’re challenging us on here.

    What gives you the chutzpah to claim you’ve got Christianity in a corner when you don’t even know the basic difference between its form of revelation and all others?

    I don’t think you need me pandering to you. I think you need to humble yourself enough to admit you don’t know as much as you think you know. If I see that in you, well, maybe by then you’ll have figured it out anyway. It’s obvious enough.

  96. VOR,

    You didn’t ask “How”. Instead, you gave an example of disagreement — full stop — and then CLAIMED that there is no way to …tell which… to… first follow various premises “downstream” and “upstream” and thereby draw distinctions and then repeat that process with each distinction.

    As per earlier comments, “…Weather it is Billy-Bob-Joe’s claim of Alien Abduction, or of QM, or of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pantheism, and so on, the process is always the same: collect data, unpack premises, align all the dots, and… and… and so on…”

    You’re denying the reality of gravity on the grounds of disagreement. But we all share in, live in, move in, and find our very being morphed by, Gravity — segue — the universal and necessary transcendentals you need to expunge in order to remain within Non-Theism and opine about “disagreement” are in the end far too costly.

    Similarly, you’re expunging Scripture’s metanarrative with respect to Knowledge, Church, Privation, Error, and change over time. Increases / Decreases (Peaks, Nadirs, Fluxes, Etc.) in Knowledge within and across Time comports with reality as we see it. Read the Bible. AFTER the resurrection (…so it’s “the-church” now in Acts…) God interfaces with Peter about Peter’s racism. You’re asking, “But Peter is a Christian so why would God have to interact with Peter about Peter’s racism? Disagreement!! Lack of Knowledge!!” Well, that line of analysis is uninformed with respect to Scripture’s ACTUAL Metanarrative.

    ~~~

  97. Tom,

    “I think you need to humble yourself enough to admit you don’t know as much as you think you know.”

    “Please explain how you can differentiate between mutually exclusive claims of revelation; because I do not know how you would go about doing it.

    “What gives you the chutzpah to claim you’ve got Christianity in a corner when you don’t even know the basic difference between its form of revelation and all others?”

    I’m beginning to think you don’t have an answer to this question.

  98. VOR,

    So you’ve flip-flopped. Now you’re claiming there ARE hard distinctions. What motivated your change of heart?

    So which carries reason into greater explanatory power? You CANNOT tell? We’ve NO means to interpret reality? Intelligibility?

    Now you’re moving down that unfortunate path of having to defend not only [A] [Knowledge Equals Certainty] (…which all by itself is catastrophic to your polemic..) but also [B] [Knowledge Equals Certainty Without Disagreement] (…again catastrophic…).

    Why are you claiming that, on Planet Earth — per Scripture’s predictions and prescriptions — “A” and/or “B” are in-play?

    You’re re-defining. You’re expunging. You’re inventing Non-Christian straw-men.

    Why?

    ~~~

  99. Brown,

    You are not offering an argument for the existence of God. We have nothing further to discuss.

  100. Tom and Friends,

    One valuable insight that I got out of my attempts to dialogue respectfully with VOR is what he views as his purpose on this website, which is this:

    Quote VOR

    “As for my purpose in this discussion, I am here to question your beliefs to see if there is any truth to them, and thus far, you have not shown any of your beliefs to be true. I doubt that you would concede to me that you in fact have false beliefs, however, I encourage you to examine your own beliefs and see if you know intellectually that they are true, or if you simply ‘feel’ that your beliefs are true. The only person who ever convinces you of anything is yourself.”

    As I stated, I attempt to avoid seeing any individual atheist as a prototype for all atheists, which is actually fairly easy since I know a lot of atheists personally. But I do think that it is fair for us as Christians who contribute our time and our faith to blogging here out of a commitment to Christian apologetics to ask ourselves if an atheist’s purpose in blogging with us is not perhaps incongruent and incompatible with our purpose in blogging with him/her. I can say honestly that I react quite negatively to being asked to “concede” that I “in fact” have “false beliefs” by a person who doesn’t know me from Adam and only bases his assessment of the “intellectual truth” of my beliefs on the fact that I am a Christian.

    Is it the atheists’ project to question each and every one of the 2 billion living Christian’s in the world today to get us to examine our “feeling” that Christianity to true? And how about all of those Christians during the 2,000 year history of Christianity who cannot examine whether or not they “feel” that Christianity is true? This is why I have implored VOR to address what Jesus Christ himself said about God and his relationship with God and about God’s relationship with humankind, collectively and individually. If atheists who blog here would agree to do this, then they can avoid the inevitable arrogance and condescension reflected in preaching to a well-meaning Christian about her “feelings” about her beliefs.

    And we must also pay close attention to what VOR says with this statement: VOR says … “The only person who ever convinces you of anything is yourself.” Is this perhaps not the very problem that VOR has with his beliefs?

  101. Jenna,

    When the entire foundation of what you believe is in question – namely, that God exists – appealing to that foundation is circular. What Jesus said about God is only pertinent if God actually exists, which is the whole basis of this discussion. You are the one who stated that your belief was based on your ‘experiences’ and ‘feelings,’ not me.

    I’ll try to put this quite explicitly, at the risk of losing all ethical appeal: I literally could not care less how much you love God or else feel he has had an impact on your life. If a person insists that he is being followed by a talking pig that walks on its hind legs, no amount of feeling or personal conviction will convince me until I am provided with some evidence this is true. Not only do you refuse to furnish any evidence that God exists, you do not even claim to have any!

    Show me God or else show me the pig that’s stalking you.

  102. VOR,

    The entire foundation of atheism rests on a misunderstanding of the distinction between language and the reality that language represents. There is no way that you can say that the reality that I express through the collection of phonemes G-o-d does not do or be whatever it is that the collection of phonemes e-x-i-s-t-s means (expresses, symbolizes, represents phonetically). IOW, you cannot disprove a reality. You simply cannot. Theism is the expression of the lived experiences of reality and relationship with reality of billions of people. Atheism is simply the denial and rejection of the reality of the universe as expressed through the language of theism.

  103. VOR,

    You’re so Coyne-esc. You seem to actually believe your own statements of “Christianity claims X!” despite the repeated demonstrations to the contrary. Your Flip-Flopping aside.

    Part of my agenda is to demonstrate that your premises of what the Christian actually claims are so often misguided. You have not only demonstrated THAT, but, also, you of late have also demonstrated that your approach to defining Knowledge is misguided.

    Defending the rational and evidence based paradigm that is Christianity in part entails drawing attention to the flimsy and misguided nature of premises employed to challenge said paradigm. If one’s premises cannot even make it past that initial gatekeeper WHILE digging in one’s heels and insisting that X is equal to Non-X then it’s reasonable to question one’s motives.

    Motives: As Feser observes, psychoanalysis is dangerous and is often abused. So he’s cautious. And therefore the following will do, as your premises are quite Coyne-esc:

    [1] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541683395&m=1#c5184040431704814012

    [2] http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html?showComment=1444541694376&m=1#c6385469427809387454

  104. scbrown,

    Thanks for the links. I especially liked this statement:

    “Hence, if someone is unwilling to make an effort to represent an opponent’s views accurately, I would say that he is ipso facto intellectually dishonest. “

  105. Jenna,

    If you assert positive claim X, you bear the burden of proof. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in the positive claim “God exists” because the burden of proof has not been met. I am not ‘denying the universe’ as you claim.

    Theism is defined as “belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures.” You have yet to provide any evidence supporting the validity of theism, or how you arrived at your particular theistic belief in the God of the Bible.

    Language does not create reality, language describes reality. Theism does not have its own language, its own facts, or its own reality. Your failure to furnish any evidence for your claim beyond emotive statements of ‘shared experiences with billions of people’ is an indication that you have no factual grounds to support your beliefs. For me to demand that you provide evidence is the natural consequence of me being a rational, thinking person. I am confident that in most other aspects of your life, you likewise are a rational, thinking person. Why you suddenly do away with reason for the most important questions of life is beyond my own understanding.

    Your inability to articulate your position is not my failure as a listener, but your failure as a communicator. The blame does not lie on me because you cannot actually present a cogent argument in support of your beliefs.

    I am not misrepresenting your views. Your views are just factually incorrect.

  106. VOR,

    An evidence based calculation:

    [Jesus executed by Pontius Pilate] probably didn’t exist according to your evidence handling techniques. That’s just basic evenhanded application of historicity.

    Per your evidence handling techniques Scripture claims that animals can talk. Despite the fact that it doesn’t. That’s just basic reading comprehension v. context and metanarrative.

    It’s your technique. That is why trusting you with the time and effort of unpacking Being, God, Necessity, Contingency, Metaphysical Naturalism’s forced reductio as affirmed by Non-Theists themselves, final intelligibility, and so on, isn’t yet justifiable.

    Had you started of with questions instead of false claims it’d be justifiable to trust that various amounts of time/effort are merited. So you see? It is an evidence based decision to mistrust your request for time, energy, and effort.

    Interesting how that works…

  107. VOR,

    We have been over this before. No, Christians do not have a “burden of proof” to or for atheists. As I pointed out, the term “burden of proof” is a legal term used in describing the obligations of the prosecution in a trial. It is inaccurate to use a jury trial as a metaphor in an attempt to foist a “burden” unto Christians. This is because atheists and Christians and every human being are jurors in the metaphorical trial of the question “God exists/God does not exist.” We are all peers on the jury. We are all presented with the same evidence and are called upon to arrive at our verdict, each individually, based on our own knowledge and experience. You, as my peer on a jury cannot reasonably demand that I present evidence to you. I can only describe and explain to you my interpretation and understanding of the evidence God presents of His existence and how I individually experience God’s existence. For me, God has met His burden of proof. My verdict based on the evidence that God presents is that God exists. As for my verdict, you can take it or leave it. If my sharing helps you arrive at your verdict on the question, wonderful. If not, you are free to ignore and dismiss it. I most certainly believe that God is undisturbed by the fact that there is a “hung jury” on the question of God’s existence because we humans have free will. The choice to have or not have a relationship with God is an act of free will.

    And as to your statement “… Your views are just factually incorrect.” Views are not facts. So how is it that you can judge my “views” to be “factually incorrect.” Are you claiming that my experiences are “factually incorrect”? I am astounded at your chutzpah.

  108. Odd.

    Tom stated:

    So. I guess you weren’t joking when you said I was an agnostic theist.I do know the meaning of the word “agnostic.” You need not worry about my vocabulary. I have told you there are things that I cannot define in detail regarding God. That does not fit the meaning of the word “agnostic.” I know certain things to be true of God. I do not know everything. That’s just plain theism.

    What is odd about that is that Tom actually had to say it at all. Our Non-Theist friends are found trying to Re-Define and Expunge until all DISTINCTIONS with respect to Knowledge / Agnostic / Theism are eliminated.

    It seems an inevitable strawman in these discussions (…via our Non-Theist friends…) to travel down that unfortunate path of having to defend their untenable claim not only of [A] [Knowledge Equals Certainty] (…which all by itself is catastrophic to their polemic..) but also of [B] [Knowledge Equals Certainty Without Disagreement] (…again catastrophic…).

    Themselves unable, or unwilling, to draw out even the most rudimentary DISTINCTIONS, they press in, eyes closed, fists clenched, shouting such silliness as “Agnosticism Equals Theism Equals Atheism Equals Knowledge” or some such Slice of some such Pie with respect to the contingent being’s noetic frame / doxastic experience.

    Final intelligibility begins and ends in nothing less than Reason Itself in and of and by Being Itself, but that’s another topic.

    ~

  109. Jenna,

    Your metaphor presupposes that God exists, which is the entire point in question. God could not satisfy a burden of proof if it does not exist, and unless you or it provides evidence for its existence, you cannot logically conclude that the burden has been satisfied. And seeing as God is not doing it itself, jury duty falls on you.

    “Views are not facts. So how is it that you can judge my “views” to be “factually incorrect.” Are you claiming that my experiences are “factually incorrect”? ”

    I describe your assertion that “God exists” as a view because the assertion is not factually correct. In other words, your assertion is that God exists, but that is factually incorrect, and therefore can only maximally be qualified as a view. If I said “Your incorrect statement is factually incorrect,” this would be a redundancy and hence my word choice.

    And once again, your personal experiences and convictions mean nothing to me. Only what evidence you can provide has any bearing on this conversation, and now I am quite certain you have absolutely no evidence to provide.

  110. VOR,

    The burden of proof metaphor is YOUR metaphor. I merely point out how it doesn’t work.

    Cite for me exactly where in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament the two words “God exists” are found. I insist on this since you claim that this is my “view” or “assertion” rather than arguing this “assertion” from the scriptures of a monotheistic religion. It is not MY view or MY assertion that is allegedly called into question by atheism. So, you need to establish where the “assertion” that “God exists” is articulated in some religious scripture. I remind you of Genesis 1:1 from the Torah: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If you ask a monotheist for evidence of God, who is known in Judaism and Christianity by God’s action of creation, that is the departure point for any discussion of evidence.

  111. VOR,

    If you should ever demand both evidence and lucidity of your own blindly foisted premises v. your own Metaphysical Naturalism, you will find both evidence and lucidity necessarily compelling your reason (…though not necessarily your will…) into [God Is].

    That work would also force you to correct many of your misguided definitions with respect to the actual ontological referents of Christian premises.

    Your frustration is inevitable here. So long as you’re willing to cling to your beliefs in Magic & Absurdity there is no form of perception capable of delivering what you mean when you say “evidence”.

    You have to be willing to examine the unexamined beliefs of your youth and allow the discomfort that comes when Science, Logic, and Reason are placed at the front of the line, regardless of the cost.

    [1] https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/hebrews-11-1-faith-evidence/#comment-128953
    [2] https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/hebrews-11-1-faith-evidence/#comment-128955
    [3] https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/hebrews-11-1-faith-evidence/#comment-128964
    [4] https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/hebrews-11-1-faith-evidence/#comment-128965

  112. Jenna,

    “The burden of proof metaphor is YOUR metaphor. I merely point out how it doesn’t work.”

    No. The burden of proof is not a metaphor – it is the logical requirement that you provide evidence for your claim if it is to be believed. This is not debatable. It is the method by which we evaluate every claim anyone ever makes, including yourself. You assert that God exists. You bear the burden of proof.

    At every juncture in this conversation, you have thrashed against the idea of having to prove your claim. You utterly refuse to give any evidence presumably because you have no evidence to offer.

    The jury metaphor (which is the only metaphor in this context) was created by you in an effort to undermine the fact you have the burden of proof. You say you do not have to satisfy the burden of proof because God himself satisfies the burden of proof – a claim which utterly breaks down when the very fact that God’s existence is being called into question!

    “Cite for me exactly where in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament the two words “God exists” are found. I insist on this since you claim that this is my “view” or “assertion” rather than arguing this “assertion” from the scriptures of a monotheistic religion. It is not MY view or MY assertion that is allegedly called into question by atheism.”

    That the Bible asserts that God exists and that you agree with this assertion makes this equally your claim as it does the Bible. This line of reasoning is absurd. “I agree with this book, but I do not claim that it is right! That is its assertion, not mine! But I agree!”

    I am not sure if you are aware how foolish you sound when you ask that I find a Bible verse that says “God exists” as if the entirety of the Bible does not revolve around the premise that God exists, and that the mere fact that God is doing anything in the Bible presupposes it exists. Psalms 14:1 calls those who do not believe in God fools. John 1:3 says that all things originate from God. Psalms 86:10 says that God is the only God. What more can be said?

    And once more, the mere fact that the universe exists does not prove that God exists. If you believe God could exist with a universe or without one, what does the fact we have a universe have anything to say about the existence of God? And if you say, “the universe could not have existed without God,” you must prove that such an assertion is true.

    But, of course, you refuse time and time again to furnish any evidence, so what is the purpose in asking you to do something you absolutely refuse to do?

  113. VOR,

    The claim that God exists is God’s claim. Monotheism is a response to God’s claim. The Hebrew Bible is the testimony of the Hebrews to God’s claim. The Gospel is Jesus Christ’s teachings about his relationship with God and God’s relationship to humanity.

    Exodus 3: 13-15

    “13 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?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.'” 1 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.…”

    As I said before, whether or not you believe God’s claim based on the evidence of Himself that God provides humanity (equally to everyone), that is strictly a matter between you and God. No one bears any responsibility in the matter of your relationship with God, or lack thereof, but you yourself. No one has a burden of proof to you, a self-identified atheist. You have free will to choose to accept God’s claim ” or reject it.

    There is no commandment from God or Jesus Christ that the faithful must prove to non-believers what God has proven to them. The fact that you have declared yourself to be an atheist does not give you a license to bully Christians.

  114. VOR,

    Glorious Adventures of Childhood T.O.E.’s

    If there is a burden of proof it is on the one demanding that we embrace, not gaps, but the many reductions to absurdity of this or that T.O.E.

    Typically this is what we find our Non-Theist friends doing, as you do here, which develops over time with (initially) re-defining Christian premises into various straw man X’s. Then when it becomes unquestionable that they’ve done so, we often find the typical follow up mode as we’ve found here with you, which is to then employ such a bizarre definition of “evidence” that in fact there can be no form of perception capable of delivering what you mean when you say “evidence”.

    The reason for that is apparent, as it allows such folks to continue on in their unexamined beliefs of their youth’s Magical Stories of Ontological Cul-De-Sacs, Positivist Folk Tales, Legends of the Good Lord Empiricism, Glorious Humean/Mackiean Dragons, and Fables of Illusory Non-Entities. And various other adventures mixed in to fill in the boring Gaps of childhood.

    That is of course far easier than allowing the discomfort which comes when Science, Logic, and Reason are placed at the front of the line.

  115. Jenna,

    “The claim that God exists is God’s claim.”

    You have just lost all credibility. You are beyond reason.

  116. VOR,

    …beyond reason…

    It’s your choice to claim that you don’t believe in the undeniable fact that is Being Itself and to deny that such in fact saturates reality with nothing less than Speech / Communique, but that is not, and can never be, a justification to appeal to Reason Itself.

    Just saying.

    OH! those Glorious Adventures of your childhood are so, so hard to let go of.

  117. VOR,

    I am not in the least disturbed by your claim that I have lost all credibility since my credibility has never been the issue in this discussion. The issue here is God’s credibility vs. the credibility of atheism. Atheism has no credibility because its foundation is a meaningless assertion: God does not exist. Who is humankind to believe; God, the Creator of all that exists or the atheist, who claims that God does not exist?

  118. VOR,

    The nature of the question here has significant overlap with the “One Fewer God” or “One Less God” challenge often foisted as a challenge against the Christian, or more precisely as a claim which the Non-Theist makes with respect to his own belief-state. The core of that is obviously fallacious given the fact that the doxastic experience is not – and cannot be – a vacuum void of belief and given the fact that all of our own upstream beliefs give life to all of our downstream claims upon what counts as rational inquiry and what counts as rational metrics. Therein everyone has his or her explanatory terminus:

    “The reason is that for the classical theist, whatever else we mean by “God,” we certainly mean by that label to name the ultimate source, cause, or explanation of things. Properly to understand classical theism, the hostile atheist reader might even find it useful to put the word “God” out of his mind for the moment — given all the irrelevant associations the word might lead him to read into the present discussion — and just think instead of “the ultimate source of things.” (E. Feser)

    The following is perhaps also helpful for context:

    “Actually it is quite easy to reject atheism because atheism is the rejection of a certain conceptualization or definition of the term God. Monotheism in the Abrahamic tradition conceptualizes God as the one source of all that exists. To claim that all that exists has no source or cause is simply to deny reality, most particularly, to deny science itself. Atheists can’t have it both ways: to deny that there is an explanation through science for all that exists and to deny that what we monotheists give the name God to as the source of all that exists Himself/itself exists. Atheism is inherently illogical and inconsistent.” (by J.Black)

    Description isn’t explanation. Cosmology is not, and cannot “become”, ontology just as physics is not, and cannot “become”, ontology:

    “This is arguably the besetting mistake of all naturalist thinking, as it happens, in practically every sphere. In this context, the assumption at work is that if one could only reduce one’s picture of the original physical conditions of reality to the barest imaginable elements — say, the “quantum foam” and a handful of laws like the law of gravity, which all looks rather nothing-ish (relatively speaking) — then one will have succeeded in getting as near to nothing as makes no difference. [Yet] in fact, one will be starting no nearer to nonbeing than if one were to begin with an infinitely realized multiverse: the difference from non-being remains infinite in either case. All quantum states are states within an existing quantum system, and all the laws governing that system merely describe its regularities and constraints.

    Any quantum fluctuation therein that produces, say, a universe is a new state within that system, but not a sudden emergence of reality from nonbeing. Cosmology simply cannot become ontology. The only intellectually consistent course for the metaphysical naturalist is to say that physical reality “just is” and then to leave off there, accepting that this “just is” remains a truth entirely in excess of all physical properties and causes: the single ineradicable “super-natural” fact within which all natural facts are forever contained, but about which we ought not to let ourselves think too much.” (by D.B. Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss)

    Regarding J.B.’s comment about science and one’s source, you’ve Eternalism and/or Presentism to work with. Non-Theistic Physicists are not hard to find with respect to each. I suggest you read over in that corner.

  119. VOR,

    Regarding the last paragraph there, bear in mind that permitting frail and contingent reference frames to define one’s T.O.E. is inexplicable. And ultimately irrational. It sometimes seems that our Non-Theist friends really do not comprehend the sheer Totality of our dependence upon the unavoidable Ontic Arrow of the Absolute’s Own Reference Frame whether we are traveling Downstream or Upstream.

    Wittgenstein–esc indeed, only, the Christian refuses to settle for a half-narrative. The very syntax of “Any X” and all contours of that very concept are themselves but frail and contingent reference frames. The Absolute’s Own Reference Frame necessarily sums to Self-Reference (… https://www.metachristianity.com/thoroughly-trinitarian-metaphysic/ …) and, also, we find that the Non-Theist misses the unavoidable fact that the Absolute houses a fundamental relationship with — not SOME — but ALL frames of reference whether Possible or Actual.

    At some ontological seam somewhere you’re going to have to traverse that interface, that “Y” in the road, and whether or not you retain your own Non-Theism and pay the price of Absurdity is a choice you are free to make despite the fact that reason’s demands for lucidity compel the rational mind away from absurdity.

    With respect to what Absolute Self-Reference, Infinity, and the Trinitarian Life all share in common vis-à-vis the Christian metaphysic, that is another topic as, here, we still have no idea, at all, what you “mean” by your term “evidence”.

  120. Our Non-Theist friends live and move and find their very being within the metaphysical absurdity of the “ontological cul-de-sac“. As in:

    They speak and reason “As-If” reality can in fact be made up of all sorts of little ontological histories all floating in midair, like so many bubbles, all disconnected from one another. There’s “morality” and there’s “rationality” and there’s “biology” and there’s “flourishing” and there’s “better” and there’s “worse” and there’s “intentional” and there’s “cosmology” and there’s “ontology” and there’s “philosophy”, and so on, each its own Ontic-Bubble and each defined “as-if” its own ontological history of becoming gets along just fine sort of, somehow, on its own.

    Reality’s Concrete Furniture:

    Non-Theistic physicist Sean Carroll alludes to these “layers” of syntax in his Big Picture (…Poetic Naturalism and so on…) as he unpacks the How and the Why of what ends up being his nominalism through and through, as they are useful but not true (real) layers, not actually real with respect to reality’s concrete furniture. Why? Because there are no such things as metaphysical / ontological cul-de-sacs for one thing, which is to say that reality does not work that way. For another thing, in his particular case there is (again) ONE Metaphysic (…to propose more than one, or less than one, is a move which is rationally rejected…) but at a certain “Y” in the road it will be all the syntax of G-O-D or else it will be the Illusory Knot of Equivocations in a slow but inevitable slide into Negation, Contradiction, and Absurdity (…https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ …).

    ~

  121. Bobbles and Bubbles

    Continuing from the previous comment (… https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129008 …) → →

    Trading away both logic and love for a bobble in a reduction to absurdity is an option. Why our Non-Theist friends seem to want to trade down instead of up for reality and truth and the beauty of lucidity just isn’t clear. In fact, it’s even inexplicable.

    But of course the doxastic experience (…the noetic frame, the nature of belief and knowing, and etc., …) is not “just” the rational mind but is also impacted by motive and appetite and so on. Therein the claim of, “….my claim of not-your-god is “nothing-but” non-belief….” with respect to the doxastic experience is a straw-man for said experience is not – and cannot be – a vacuum void of belief given the fact that all of our own upstream beliefs give life to all of our downstream claims upon what counts as rational inquiry and what counts as rational metrics. Therein again the fallacious nature of “Nothing-But Non-Belief” is, eventually, unmasked, as per the following:

    a. http://disq.us/p/1gxarix
    b. http://disq.us/p/1h06j3a
    c. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04/one-god-further-objection.html
    d. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/04/further-thought-on-one-god-further.html

    Truth/Reason does not ultimately refuse us but, rather, we ultimately refuse Truth/Reason, as in:

    While we are free to knowingly trade away the necessary transcendentals of logical lucidity (…and for completeness love’s timeless reciprocity…) in order to gain a bobble named Reductio ad Absurdum, we are also free to do otherwise.

    Postscript:

    Regarding Trades, we at times also freely trade away Cosmic Fairness and the Ethic of love for yet another Bobble. As in https://www.metachristianity.com/heaven-hell-cosmic-fairness-ethic-love/ and as in https://www.metachristianity.com/truth-metrics-the-afterlife/
    ~

  122. VOR,

    You tell Jenna that if she is going to claim that the universe could not exist without God’s existing, she must prove that claim is true.

    For whom must she prove it?

    Does this proof have to be apodictic (or alternatively, does it have to be the kind of proof that would compel belief among all reasonable persons), or would you settle for something like, “considerably more plausible than alternative explanations”?

    Is the theist allowed, in your view, to make a cumulative case for the existence of God, such that his reality is more plausible than the alternatives in multiple ways, and the evidence adds up to his reality being much, much more plausible than any alternative? Or must the theist who says what Jenna did provide proof for that claim on its own?

    I’m just trying to get at the nature of what you think you are requiring here. For in reality, the case for God isn’t the kind of thing that must compel belief for all reasonable persons. We know that. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature, because the nature of God is such that believing in him should and indeed must include an element of (moral, mostly) choice. It’s also the theist’s claim that our knowledge of God is multi-modal, not dependent on one argument but on many reasons for belief.

    So where do you stand on that? I caution you: If you want a Christian to prove God in such a way that the proof would compel belief in any reasoning mind, you’re asking for us to prove a God we do not believe in. We believe in a God who leaves room for choice.

    Why? Because believing in him isn’t merely an intellectual matter, it has moral implications. So there must be a moral component to belief.

  123. Tom,

    I object to your claim that your inability to prove that God exists is because God made the universe in that fashion. I could just as easily say that about any fantastic being I can imagine. I am sure you recall that I said most apologists have abandoned the intellectual argument — and here you demonstrate my point. Now you have shifted away from “What does the evidence say?” to “Why doesn’t the evidence say what I want it to say?” The answer, of course, is that God didn’t want enough evidence to convince people he actually exists. Naturally.

    But, the God which you believe in, the God of the Bible, does not always allow for choice in believing in him. For example, 2 Thessalonians 2:11 is an excellent example where God compels people to believe a lie. Consider also that in the Christian mythology, God does not want mankind to know the difference between Good and Evil in Genesis. He also hardens the heart of Pharaoh while also insisting that he let the Israelites go. Clearly this is not a god who cares about free choice.

    Morals do not apply to beliefs. Morals apply to actions. When you make a belief ‘immoral’ you declare freedom of thought to be evil, and that is something no rational person will ever stand for.

    Which is, I suppose, exactly why you think so.

  124. So you object to my contention that we should try to prove the God we believe in, rather than the God we don’t believe in.

    A while ago you were insisting we couldn’t even start this conversation without defining the term “God.” What I’ve just told you is part of this definition. But you’d rather us talk about the god you’ve defined, the one we have to prove according to your rules, even though it’s not the God we believe in.

    What did you say your nom de blog was again?

    Your interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3 is execrable. Your understanding of Pharaoh and of 2 Thess. 2:11 is incomplete at best. But you throw it all at us as hard facts, as if your interpretation was final and unquestionable.

    Do you realize how irrational that is?

    What a person chooses to believe may be a moral choice, but you tell us no. You tell us that without the slightest concern for listening, learning, or understanding the position you’re pronouncing irrational.

    You don’t give a damn what we have to say. You’re a poser.

    It would have saved a whole lot of electrons flowing here if you’d just said, “Look you guys are all idiots, because I know everything you think you know, and I know it better than you do because I’m rational, and you’re all faith-head idiots.”

    That’s what you’re saying. You’re saying it in roundabout fashion, but you’re saying it. It’s what you believe, obviously. And you think morals don’t apply to beliefs. Phah!

    Do you like yourself this way?

  125. VOR,

    Leading The Horse To Water (Evidence)

    Tom makes an interesting point with respect to the nature of belief and your own Metaphysical Naturalism, the nature of contradictions, and the willingness of many to commit to Absurdity merely because of their own presuppositions.

    As it is you don’t seem to have a firm grasp on the nature of the doxastic experience as it relates to the fundamental nature of reality, or Reality’s Rock-Bottom.

    If you mean to take the line of the Opaque Skeptic with respect to the intelligibility of reality, you needn’t bother. Why? Because it is enough to find you embracing Absurdity right here within whatever metaphysical cul-de-sac you mean to hide within.

    If you mean to take the line of the Metaphysical Naturalist, well then you’re dropping the Unknowable bit and will then be asked to exit your little Metaphysical cul-de-sac and justify your explanatory terminus.

    That is relevant because you say you seek evidence, and we’re leading the proverbial horse to the water here, and that Water is constituted of your Will & Reason.

    I know you don’t like that, but that’s the nature of Self, Other, Reciprocity, Love, & (metaphysical) Necessity.

    You must be willing to open up your own premises to actual scrutiny for whether we travel upstream or whether we travel downstream, where Reason Itself (…for completeness we can add Love Itself….) is concerned all Non-Theism(s) find that Reason itself is by necessity lost, finally, to non-being at some ontological seam somewhere.

    Yet both the Non-Theist and Theist here mean to speak, not of Non-Being, but of Being. Nowhere does this press upon us more relentlessly than in the elemental and irreducible processions constituting Love and Logic, or Reciprocity and Reason (…God… or… Strong/Weak Nuclear forces… and so on v. one’s T.O.E….). Therein the “Non-”of Non-Theism becomes manifestly infinite.

    There’s no need to lead the horse to anything further than THAT WATER, for at such a “Y” in the road should you cling to any Non-Theism you will have demonstrated your own insincerity when you …askdemand of others their Brand’s lucidity and coherence.

    It unmasks your insincerity (at worst) or else your confusion (at best).

    Are you happy with either endpoint in your own noetic frame?

    ~

  126. scbrownlhrm,

    I think VOR has indicated he’s not following your vocabulary. At least, it’s not communicating to him in some form or other. It doesn’t for me, either, as I wrote above. Your explanation of another term for atheism leaves something out: It makes more sense to you, but I’m not finding it makes a lot of sense to me. (I think the term materialistic naturalism covers it less confusingly, if you want something more specific than “atheism.”)

    Anyway…

    Of course you’re going to disagree with each other, but there’s a lot to be said for communicating clearly, so you know where the point of disagreement really is.

  127. Tom,

    That’s valid, and that is why, several times so far, I’ve pointed VOR to https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ as it discusses both “Non-Theism” and “absurdity” with respect to what is actually being stated with those terms as they relate to metaphysical naturalism and atheism.

    A key element is that there are several positive claims within “I merely lack belief in X”. Anyone’s lack of belief in X (…the “negative”…) stands atop premises about several first principles (…the “positive”…).

    That’s true of all, and isn’t being directed at Non-Theists, but at the nature of inquiry, which metrics count, belief, and etc.

  128. VOR,

    In your comment #108 to Tom, you cite only one isolated verse from 2 Thessalonians 2 as “evidence” to support your claim that God “is not a god who cares about free choice” but you omit the context of this verse. Here it is, thanks to the Bible reference feature:

    “The Man of Lawlessness

    2 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers,1 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or ea letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness 2 is revealed, the son of destruction, 3 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

    Clearly, in this passage, God gives a choice between belief in the truth and pleasure in unrighteousness.

    Your misrepresentation of the meaning of a single verse from the NT is an example of the problem of decontextualized citation for the sake of argument.

  129. VOR,

    More about your comment #108 to Tom, which is, as I understand it, your response to this comment by Tom: “Why? Because believing in him [God] isn’t merely an intellectual matter, it has moral implications. So there must be a moral component to belief..

    You say this in response: “Morals do not apply to beliefs. Morals apply to actions. When you make a belief ‘immoral’ you declare freedom of thought to be evil, and that is something no rational person will ever stand for.”

    Tom did not say that a belief is immoral. Tom is saying that to believe or not believe in God is a choice and that choice has a moral component and moral implications. If you claim that morals only apply to actions, could you please address what actions you think stem from a belief that God does not exist (atheism)? In your view, are there moral implications to atheism? Does the decision/choice to self-identify as an atheist have a moral component?

  130. Tom, your last response to VOR contained a lot of name-calling and ad hominem. Do you like yourself for doing that?

  131. I’m fine with it. Mostly. He needs to hear the truth. See here for a full exposition of why and how I think this needs doing with some recalcitrant, adversarial people.

    On a second read, I think I could and should have softened the language and approach to the way I said it. I’ll say this by way of apology to VOR: I was wrong to say it the way I did. It’s fine you asked, too Jens.

    But I’m still fine with the content and substance of what I said. Take away the fire of it, and the facts of what I told him are still true. He has taken a truly irrational approach, he has treated us as faith-heads who don’t need to be listened to, he has decided not to care what we say and to judge us as foolish in spite of what he doesn’t hear and doesn’t know. Yet he calls himself Voice of Reason, which is false and (if he could only see himself clearly!) demonstrably, observably hypocritical. I stand by that.

  132. That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is that he has attempted to counter your arguments with evidence from the Bible. That he was not humble about his interpretations and that he ascribed them to you is unfortunate. But I am sure you can correct any misapprehensions you feel he has without resorting to name calling.

  133. I believe that VOR’s central point is that there is not enough evidence for God’s existence to warrant a belief in His existence. You seem to be saying that if there were such solid evidence, we wouldn’t have room for a moral choice. Does that mean you agree with VOR’s point?

  134. He attempted to counter our arguments with what from the Bible?

    Proof-texts severely misinterpreted are not “evidence from the Bible.” They’re evidence of a person’s unwillingness to find out what’s really in the Bible.

    If they’re represented as final truth, they’re also not evidence of a person who values reason.

    We have tried to correct his misapprehensions. I have retracted my name-calling as it applies to his person. I stand by my description of his behavior. It is hypocritical with respect to the name he uses for himself on this blog.

  135. No, I don’t agree with VOR’s point.

    I believe there is enough evidence to warrant belief in God’s existence, just not enough to compel belief by any reasoning person. That is, there is good (and I think, more than sufficient) reason to believe, but there remains room for a person to decide whether he or she will believe or not.

    (VOR has made many points besides the one you stated, of course.)

  136. I don’t think the way he interpreted those passages is uncommon for a non-Christian. It’s a narrow, literal reading that does not try at all to understand the context. I think perhaps you forget that not everyone is as schooled as you. There’s a Dunning-Kruger effect of overconfidence for people who aren’t as schooled. But it’s not their fault.

  137. Perhaps so.

    If he had said, “Doesn’t Genesis 1 through 3 mean…?” and “Doesn’t 2 Thess. mean …?” I would have responded differently.

    But this is just the most recent of many topics of interaction like this. Some of it took place on Twitter, not here. I’m afraid I see more than Dunning-Kruger here.

  138. I find VOR’s tone in #43 arrogant and extremely condescending. He does not appear to be willing to listen but is doing the online equivalent of talking over you and then blatantly insulting you.

    Personally, I don’t think descending to that level is the best response. I would call it out calmly and then depending on his response, decide whether to continue the conversation.

    With a username like “Voice of Reason”, he doesn’t seem likely to be the humble type, so I think you probably have to expect a bit of this as part of his personality (disorder) and not get wound up by it.

    I’ve met people like VOR and discovered there’s often a lot of self-hatred behind the superior image they try to present.

  139. Tom,

    I’d rather not fall into the quagmire of biblical interpretation. The Bible is so vague that from one religion literally hundreds of denominations have sprung. But frankly, if you’re going to say you believe in the God of the Bible, you will be hard pressed to say he cares about free will.

    Earlier you tried to straw man my argument, saying that I am asking you to prove a God you do not believe in. I am in fact asking you to prove the God you do believe in, but when you then make statements with the implication that God has designed the universe without conclusive evidence so that man might have a choice in believing in him, you lose all credibility.

    At the risk of sounding crass, I could say the same of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He has designed the universe so that we must believe in him by faith — that is to say, without evidence — because otherwise it would not be a choice. The FSM values our free will, but will punish us if we fail to believe in him because it is immoral not to.

    I agree to some extent that one must choose to believe in God with a measure of faith. Unfortunately, however, it seems that belief is entirely based on faith, because you have yet to provide the slightest modicum of evidence.

  140. This wasn’t psychological analysis, psychoanalytic or otherwise. It was an observation based on behavior. Slander? No, it’s a description. Sorry.

    I’m really sorry. Sorry it’s not reaching you. It really ought to make a difference in your mind when someone points out you’ve jumped to a premature conclusion and made solid, final statements on that inadequate basis. (I’m referring especially to your interpretation of the Bible here; it’s the most concrete example of your doing that.) It really ought to cause you to wonder what the real story would be if you pursued it, searching out a more complete answer. It really ought to cause you to back up and ask questions, rather than delivering pronouncements.

    That’s what intellectual integrity would do in a case like this. That’s what a voice of reason would do.

    My saying that isn’t shallow. Your not responding with intellectual integrity — well, I’m sorry to see that in anyone. I’m sorry to see it in you. You still could, if you wanted.

  141. Your equation of the FSM with the God whose reality has been subjected to centuries of intellectual analysis, including hostile analysis, and has yet been believed by some of the finest mind in the world both in the past and now, is historically and philosophically unaware. I’m sorry to see that in you as well. But you could still take time and energy to find out more, if you wanted.

  142. VOR,

    You’ve been given sufficient evidence here. It’s right there. In your own premises with respect to evidence and intelligibility.

    You’re freely and knowingly choosing to champion the irrational and the absurd at the cost of the lucid and the true.

    By your own metrics you’re immoral for doing so, which is to say you’re incriminating, slandering, yourself. I’m merely describing your behavior. You’re free to point out the description’s error.

    It’s quite basic, or elementary:

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129008

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129009

    scbrownlhrm / https://www.metachristianity.com

  143. Earlier you tried to straw man my argument, saying that I am asking you to prove a God you do not believe in. I am in fact asking you to prove the God you do believe in, but when you then make statements with the implication that God has designed the universe without conclusive evidence so that man might have a choice in believing in him, you lose all credibility.

    I’m sorry you think that as well. The God I believe in — whom billions have believed in — is a God who allows man and woman the ability to make a choice about him.

    It’s strange you would consider it a loss of credibility for me to speak of the same God so many billions have believed in. Which other God should I be talking about instead??

    If you want me to prove the existence of God, what I can do instead is offer you strong reason to consider his existence far more plausible than his non-existence. I cannot offer conclusive proof, because God didn’t reveal himself that way.

    If that situation is not satisfactory to you, there’s nothing I can do to change it. The God in whom I believe is the only God I can present to you.

  144. Tom,

    Well put.

    The necessary contours of reciprocity and relationship (love) are immutability embedded in the nature of what is being reviewed here.

    If I may:

    Truth/Reason does not ultimately refuse us but, rather, we ultimately refuse Truth/Reason, as in:

    While we are free to knowingly trade away the necessary transcendentals of logical lucidity (…and for completeness love’s timeless reciprocity…) in order to gain a bobble named Reductio ad Absurdum, we are also free to do otherwise.

  145. I haven’t offered evidence so far — on this thread, that is (you can find a ton of it elsewhere on the blog) — is because so far I’ve been trying to settle the terms of the discussion with you. You started out asking for systematic definitions; I said there’s a better approach. You’ve rejected it.

    If you want evidence, feel free to ask for it, but let us answer. Don’t tell us how we have to speak, let us speak. I haven’t noticed you doing that in your requests for evidence so far.

    It takes a while to set forth a case, so let us do that without needless interruption. Would you do that? We could go along with that.

  146. Jens, with the exception of one comment that I’ve already apologized for, I’m basing my responses on a very detailed examination of Jesus’ approach to adversarial persons, and especially persons lacking in humility. It’s in my very short book, How Would Jesus Blog?.

    You’re free to disagree, of course, and I want to be quick to listen. You intervened with a very good word of correction earlier, and I heard it and I appreciate it.

    At this point I think I’m following a good example here — Jesus himself — to the best of my very imperfect ability. I’ll admit VOR got to me for a while, but I’m not getting wound up by it (now).

    Thanks.

  147. Tom,

    Sad to say but my dialogue with VOR has to end. I find his demands for “evidence” to be very insincere and hostile. He expects nothing less than this:

    “You have yet to provide any evidence supporting the validity of theism, or how you arrived at your particular theistic belief in the God of the Bible.”

    In other words, VOR demands from me a defense of theism and an account of my spiritual journey. I am sensing shades of Torquemada and the Inquisition in his aggressive demands, rules and requirements. In response, I quote the words of our Lord Jesus Christ from the Gospel according to Matthew, with a reminder that VOR made reference first to the same animal in a metaphor in his Comment #84:

    Matthew 7:6

    “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

    I do not believe that Jesus expects us to witness to our relationship with God on demand to hostile and aggressive non-believers.

    May God bless your ministry, Tom.

  148. VOR,

    Part of the problem you’re facing is that you’re not interacting with what is being given to you. You seem to want to agree with Sean Carroll and others when you’re asked about what reason’s demands for lucidity are telling you when you arrive at that aforementioned “Y” in the road. That is fine, but what isn’t fine is to ask for evidence, and then ignore the reply which points you to your own reason and will at that very same “Y” and tells you that the very evidence you’re looking for, asking for, is there.

    You’ve shown a. an unwillingness to examine one’s own content combined with b. an unwillingness to allow others to tell you what their content in fact (actually) is.

    Your demonstrable circles there demonstrate just why it is that “More Facts” are not always the solution – and why is that? Well because the Intellect and data may be rescued by “More Facts” whereas, there is that ontological seam where the Will also has her say and therein “More Facts” may, or may not, be “enough”. As volitional beings we cannot just “expunge” that “slice” of what is “in-play” here.

    A meticulous picture of the process that is the kind of self-deception which your approach (…of evading both your own content and the content of others…) actually sums to is in the following quote, and, to set the frame, it concludes with this:

    So, though I don’t doubt that some of these folks in some sense sincerely believe what they say, that doesn’t absolve them of the charge of intellectual dishonesty. Self-deceived people would not be self-*deceived* if they didn’t in some sense really believe what they say.” (by E. Feser)

    The path to get there is not a pure, isolated box called “I-Will-Now-Deceive-My-Self” but is – as all human psychology is – comprised of an array of “boxes”.

    Begin Quote:

    I agree that one must always be very careful about “psychoanalyzing” an opponent. However, there is a distinction to be made between:

    (a) purporting to answer an argument by “psychoanalyzing” the person giving it, and

    (b) “psychoanalyzing” a person in order to try to understand some odd behavior he is exhibiting.

    Doing (a) amounts to a kind of ad hominem fallacy. But doing (b) is not fallacious. Now, what I was doing in the post above is (b). I was not saying “Coyne and Co. raise such-and-such objections to the cosmological argument. Let me answer those objections by uncovering what I take to be Coyne’s hidden psychological motivation for raising them.” That would be ad hominem. Nor, of course, did I ignore his actual objections. Instead, I explained how they rested on misunderstandings of the arguments he’s attacking. And of course, neither did I say (nor would I ever say) that atheists in general have the psychological motivations described in my post. (Of course they don’t.)

    Instead, what I was saying is: “Coyne and others of a specifically New Atheist bent have a tendency to attack the same straw men over and over and over again, to ignore attempts to explain why they are straw men, to lash out even at fellow atheists who try to point out why these are straw men, etc. This is very odd and unusual, especially since these people are mostly not stupid. It cries out for explanation, and I think the explanation is this…”

    But I agree that one needs to make sure that in doing (b) one does not slide into (a). And if Coyne ever actually tried seriously to respond to something I wrote, I would certainly not even get into (b) in replying to him, let alone (a).

    Indeed, four years ago I really thought Coyne might do so when he said he was “dead serious” about wanting to find out what the best arguments for theism were, said he would read up on Aquinas, etc. I thought “Great, maybe he’s a decent guy after all and this could lead to a more interesting exchange.”

    Hence it was very disappointing to see him almost immediately slide back into New Atheist hack mode and to see his pledge to look into the best arguments, study Aquinas, etc. go right down the memory hole.

    I also want to emphasize that I don’t dismiss the work of Coyne, Dawkins, Dennett, or other New Atheists in general. I think that Dennett, for example, has very interesting things to say on issues in philosophy of mind despite the fact that I think his whole project there is misguided and ultimately rests on certain key fallacies. In general, you can really learn from someone who thinks through a position thoroughly and systematically, even when the position is ultimately doomed. In part this is because an erroneous position typically takes one aspect of the truth and exaggerates its importance, and often people who do that will see things that are missed by people who don’t make the same exaggeration. In part it’s because an intelligent and systematic thinker is unlikely in the first place to be wrong about everything, but will make important discoveries which can be disentangled from his errors. And in part it’s because errors themselves can be instructive in that we can learn how and why certain ideas and lines of argument which seem attractive ultimately won’t work. Similarly, I’m happy to learn whatever I can from Coyne and Dawkins when they write on biology and other areas in which they have some real expertise.

    The trouble is that these guys simply don’t have anything interesting to say on religion, specifically. Many atheists do — e.g. Mackie, Sobel, Oppy, and many others I’ve mentioned over the years — but not the New Atheists. And it’s such a glaring defect in the thinking of otherwise intelligent people that, again, it cries out for a type (b) treatment.

    …..[There] is the question of what we mean, or should mean, or might mean, by “intellectual dishonesty.” Certainly I don’t think Coyne or the more unreasonable people in his combox are consciously and explicitly thinking “I know this isn’t what theists mean, but I’m going to pretend otherwise for rhetorical purposes.” But I don’t think that intellectual dishonesty is usually as blatant or self-conscious as that. I think it is usually a kind of self-deception, and self-deception is, of course, by its nature less than fully conscious. It involves a tendency to avoid letting one’s attention dwell on unpleasant facts or ideas, a tendency to try to focus one’s attention instead on evidence and ideas that will reinforce what one wants to believe, and so forth. It also typically involves a kind of touchiness when some other person raises some uncomfortable piece of evidence that might jeopardize the self-deceiver’s attempt to convince himself that the thing he wants to believe is really true. Think of the alcoholic who doesn’t want to face his problem, lets his mind dwell only on ways of interpreting his behavior which make it seem within the normal range, minimizes behavior that other people would take to be clear evidence of addiction, gets touchy and defensive when the subject arises, etc.

    Now, when someone like Coyne keeps attacking the same straw men over and over and over again, over the course of many years and despite the fact that even people who otherwise agree with him gently advise him to stop doing it, when he gets touchy even with atheist readers who call him out on it, when he doubles down on the rhetoric about how obviously stupid his opponents’ arguments are, etc. — well, that sort of behavior is pretty consistent with that of someone who is interested in convincing himself that he was right all along rather than that of someone who really wants to find out if he is in fact right. That is to say, it sounds like classic self-deception. And that’s the kind of intellectual dishonesty I’m talking about.

    Second, it is true that analytic philosophers do, at least “officially” if (unfortunately) not always in practice, highly value a willingness and ability to try to reconstruct an opponent’s arguments in as plausible and fair-minded a way as possible. Certainly that was something drilled into me in grad school, and I have always been grateful for it. Again, there are analytic philosophers who do not live up to this ideal, and I can certainly think of some analytic philosophers with a prominent online presence who do not even try to live up to it at all when they think that refraining from doing so might further some political cause they favor. Still, it is an ideal that analytic philosophers all know they should strive to live up to. It is also an ideal that Scholastic philosophers value highly.

    Now, as a Scholastic trained in analytic philosophy, it is certainly an ideal I value highly, and I confess that I have very little patience for academics and other intellectuals who don’t value it. I make no apologies for that, because the reason analytic philosophers and Scholastics value it is that philosophy, science, and intellectual pursuits in general are about truth, about finding out how things really are and not merely confirming prejudices, furthering agendas, etc. Trying to give an opponent’s views a fair-minded reading is just part of this project of attaining truth, both because you never know when an opponent might have seen something you’ve missed, and because getting into the practice of reading an opponent’s views fairly is a good way of training oneself not to be blinded by one’s own prejudices.

    So, I don’t see a willingness to try accurately to represent an opponent’s views as merely a special interest of professional philosophers. I would argue that it is partially constitutive of serious inquiry of any kind, and thus of intellectual honesty. Hence, if someone is unwilling to make an effort to represent an opponent’s views accurately, I would say that he is ipso facto intellectually dishonest. So, since Coyne and other New Atheists have demonstrated this sort of unwillingness, they have to that extent shown that they merit the charge of intellectual dishonesty.

    Furthermore, Coyne and Co. make a very big show out of how much they allegedly value evidence, not letting preconceptions color one’s inquiry, etc. So, they can hardly complain when they are asked to look at the evidence concerning what their opponents actually have said, and when they are expected not to let their own preconceptions about what theists believe color their interpretation of arguments like the cosmological argument. And they certainly get touchy when they think their own arguments have been misrepresented. So, they can hardly complain when someone expects them to show the same courtesy to their opponents.

    So, though I don’t doubt that some of these folks in some sense sincerely believe what they say, that doesn’t absolve them of the charge of intellectual dishonesty. Self-deceived people would not be self-deceived if they didn’t in some sense really believe what they say. (…by E. Feser)

    End quote.

    ~

  149. A number of years back when the New Atheists were still new, I heard the kind of argumentation that they engage in described as “burning straw men at the stake.” I think this image is very apropos.

    Thanks.

  150. Tom,

    You have conceded that you have no evidence to offer that – that the entirety of your argument relies upon speculation that “it is better to believe than to not believe.” You have resorted to petty name calling and sophistry, and at this point, I think this is the most you are willing to concede to.

    Your psychoanalysis is amusing, but any rational person who looks at this conversation will clearly see who has psychosis and who does not.

  151. At this point, VOR, you are violating the discussion policy. See the link under the combox.

    I never accused you of any psychopathology. That’s over the line of “civil” in item 2.

    I never said “it is better to believe than not to believe.” I suspect you got that from a distortion/misrepresentation of “strong reason to consider his existence far more plausible than his non-existence,” which has slight semantic overlap with “better to believe than not to believe,” but contains considerably more content than that. That’s a violation of item 10.

    I never conceded I have no evidence to offer. I told you there is tons of it on this website alone, and I explained why I haven’t offered it to you here so far. That also violates item 10.

    You flat-out ignored me when I told you I explained — with reasons — why my responses to you haven’t been “psychoanalysis.” That’s a violation of item 8. And by the way, I’ve got enough psych education to know what I’m talking about. Not that that should matter; we really hold people accountable for what they say here, not for the degrees they hold.

    These are not the first instances of your running over the discussion policy. This is your first warning, though. And there will not be a second.

    Note carefully, since I’ve had this happen often before: If you decide to continue this stuff, and if you get banned, and if you then claim (as others have) that I banned you because I couldn’t handle your arguments, you will be saying that in contradiction to the actual evidence. I am very willing to continue in discussion with you, no matter how vociferously you disagree, if we can have a clean, civil, productive discussion, which includes your not offering psychodiagnosis and not distorting and misrepresenting as you have persistently done.

    Disagreement has always been welcome here. Spinning our wheels and getting nowhere, because we have to keep re-explaining and correcting misrepresentations, is a waste of time I will not host on this site, however.

  152. VOR, you said:

    You have conceded that you have no evidence to offer that – that the entirety of your argument relies upon speculation…

    This is your evaluation of what Tom has said, but you are stating it as if it’s a fact.

    Why don’t you state it more humbly (and more accurately) by saying explicitly that it is your evaluation. You could also ask if it’s a fair summing up.

    I think you are highly intelligent, but it seems to have gone to your head to the extent that you seem to believe everything you say is a fact. Until you learn to be more humble and willing to check your understanding and listen instead of assuming, you’re always going to be rubbing people up the wrong way.

  153. Tom,

    If you are going to be fastidious about discussion policy and cite every rule I have broken, I will quickly lose interest in this conversation. We’re adults. We both know what a civil discussion looks like. I have exercised an admirable degree of patience with your quips. Perhaps you shall exercise some patience with my own.

    Contrary to your assertion that there is an abundance of evidence on this site, I have yet to see any such evidence despite my own exploration, though I admit I have not examined the entirety of the site. As I expressed earlier, if the existence of God does not depend on whether or not the universe exists, the point is moot. Otherwise, one would have to prove that the existence of the universe is contingent upon the existence of God — not vice versa.

    And on this point, your argument is dare I say sorely lacking.

    You have already suggested that the primary reasons you believe in God are 1) God is in your view the most comprehensive explanation for the universe and 2) The probability that this explanation is true is more likely than the probability it is false. If I misunderstand this, I’ll not object to correction.

    Nonetheless neither of these parameters satisfy my requirement for belief. The God hypothesis has no explanatory power, predictive power, or falsifiability. If, when presented with any question, one can simply reply with “God did it!” then you have a functionally meaningless answer. This does not tell us how something happened, why something happened, nor allow us to predict what will happen in the future. The questions of consciousness, cosmology, and morality cannot and should not be reduced to arbitrary invocations of divinity. I find such blind leaps of faith intellectually unsatisfying, nor would I consider one claim of divinity to be anymore probable than another. Pardon the expression, but to me they are all equally “made up.”

    So when you say that God’s existence seems more probable than his nonexistence, you intentionally or otherwise reveal that you simply wish God exists. No feature of the universe could prove the existence of God if he is an immaterial, timeless, spaceless, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient being. There is nothing to establish that God’s existence is probable if even possible merely by observing the universe. No tabulation of empirical data could ever establish that anything exists beyond the empirical realm — and more critically, no amount of empirical data could ever establish that something exists outside of the empirical realm that simultaneously influences the empirical realm. This, to me, is the silver bullet against theism and virtually every other supernatural claim.

    If you cannot agree with my point of view, I hope you can at least understand why I am skeptical.

  154. That, my friend, was the clearest thing you’ve said in this entire conversation.

    You’ve still misunderstood my position, but in potentially helpful and productive ways, which is to say, I believe I can clarify and I have hope that you will be able to hear it and deal with it for what it is, rather than in the ways you’ve distorted it before now.

    I believe if we move forward in this manner, I stand a good chance of understanding your position better, too, and dealing with it for what it is, rather than some misconception I may have formed in my mind.

    Now for the unfortunate part of it: I’ve got responsibilities that are going to keep me from giving you the kind of answer you deserve here for a while. Please be patient; it might not be until Monday, depending on how my work day goes tomorrow (I work Tuesday through Saturday, and Saturday is normally my busiest day).

    So hang on for a bit, please. I’ll be back for, I hope, some good conversation.

  155. Brown,

    I will not seriously entertain your accusations that I am simply throwing up straw man to be “burned at the stake” as it has been called. It is beneath me to do so. I have strenuously endeavored to understand and refute the position of my opponents without resorting to such underhanded tactics because if their position is false then illustrating that fact would not, and indeed does not, require them.

    You have persistently made that accusation and thus the conversation has left you far behind. If you want to keep fallacy dropping, that is your prerogative and I cannot stop you. But I will likewise lose all reasons to take you seriously.

  156. VOR,

    [A] I have consistently told you exactly where the evidence you say you want to see can be found. You consistently avoid interacting with it. (…the “Y” … from earlier…).

    [B] Sure, you’re redefining the Christian’s X into Not-X and then arguing against Not-X “as-if” you’re arguing against a Christian premise.

    But content in [B] isn’t relevant to the content in [A]. Opining about [B] “as-if” there has not been, repeatedly, the [A] is just one more melody through which you avoid [A].

    ~~ https://www.metachristianity.com

  157. Brown,

    You have likewise written in such a dense and inarticulate way that I have not bothered to peruse what you have said. So if you have evidence, please provide it in an intelligible manner and I shall examine it honestly.

  158. scbrown,

    In Comment #130, in point out the use of the straw man argument(s): “But content in [B] isn’t relevant to the content in [A]. According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of a straw man argument:

    “A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent’s argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.[1] One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man.”

    Here is an example from VOR’s Comment #128, to which you are responding:

    “No tabulation of empirical data could ever establish that anything exists beyond the empirical realm — and more critically, no amount of empirical data could ever establish that something exists outside of the empirical realm that simultaneously influences the empirical realm.”

    Judaic and Christian theology does not argue that God can be proven to exist through “empirical data” which I think VOR is making equivalent to science. Nor does science claim that God can be proven to exist (or not exist) through empirical data. The US National Academy of Sciences states their policy clearly:

    “Science is a way of knowing about the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”

    Consequently, an atheist’s assertion that because his/her request or demand for empirical data as evidence to prove that God exists goes unmet is evidence (proof?) that God does not exist is a straw man argument.

    So, if an atheist attempts to argue that since science cannot prove that God exists, s/he must explain why scientific evidence has not falsified the assertion of the Hebrews in Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

    I refer you to the thorough treatise of the science of cosmology in regard to creatio ex nihilo in the excellent book by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig (2004). Creation out of Nothing: A biblical, philosophical and scientific exploration. On p. 240 in regard to the claim of the Book of Genesis that the universe is finite and had a beginning, Copan and Craig say this: “It can be confidently said that, with regard to the standard big bang model, no cosmogonic model has been as repeatedly verified in its predictions, as corroborated by attempts at its falsification, as concordant with empirical discoveries, and as philosophically coherent…. Scientific evidence is always provisional; yet in this case there can be little doubt where the evidence points.

    Burning straw men at the stake generates much more heat than light.

  159. The reason the claim that God created the universe has not been falsified is that it is impossible to falsify. The same is true of the claim that Brahma, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or an unknown committee of gods created the universe. The existence of God is not a scientific question because science works with falsifiable hypotheses, which God is not.

    “Consequently, an atheist’s assertion that because his/her request or demand for empirical data as evidence to prove that God exists goes unmet is evidence (proof?) that God does not exist is a straw man argument.”

    No. If something exists, it has some effect on the universe. The only way by which we know something has an effect is by observation, which necessitates some empirical data to draw a connection between the purported cause (the thing being asserted to exist) and the purported effect (the observed phenomenon). You know I exist because I am writing to you. I know you exist because you are writing back. The characteristics of “I” and “you” may not be totally understood by either party, but nonetheless, we at least know that both of us exist using these principles.

    If God exists, therefore, we should be able to see some empirical evidence of his existence and be able to draw a definitive connection between the observed phenomenon and God. As you are asserting that God exists, you are the one responsible for providing that empirical data and proving that God is the cause of that effect. You have failed to do so, and therefore I do not believe you.

    Where there is smoke, there is fire. You have shown neither.

  160. VOR,

    First of all, let me thank you for approaching the conversation with a more civil and respectful tone, which allows me to continue the discussion.

    I ask that you keep in mind that the term/name God (written with a capital letter G to signal that we are talking about the “theos” of monotheism) is a linguistic expression for that which monotheism worships as divine. There is no theism without a “theos.” So I question your notion that either theology or science can “draw a definitive connection between [an] observed phenomenon and God…” as you suggest.

    In Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning…” the Hebrews identify whatever it is that created everything that exists with the name “Elohim”, which we translate into English using the name “God.” The Hebrews are explaining their reasons for worshipping that which created everything that exists (creatio ex nihilo) as the Divine, the Creator. There are many synonyms for this conceptualization of God: the Creator, First Cause, etc.

    There are many types or categories of evidence. Three general categories are empirical evidence, logical evidence and anecdotal evidence. You appear to only want to consider empirical evidence and more specifically, cause and effect evidence. This is problematic in discussing a “theos” since all three of these forms of evidence are entertained in the mind of the theist to arrive at a choice to consider a Theos to be divine and therefore worthy of worship.

    I argue to you that empirical evidence for convincing a worshipper of God that God is indeed worthy of worship is derived from science. The worshipper of God is not the sole possessor of scientific evidence to support his/her belief in God. Therefore, for you to ask that a believer in God provide you with empirical evidence of God is redundant since we both/all have equal access to such evidence. If the scientific evidence supports belief in creatio ex nihilo, which is a foundational concept in monotheism, then we need not worry about whether or not you believe me.

    Has it occurred to you that the reason that the assertion that God created everything that exists cannot be falsified is because it is true? We do not need to demonstrate or know “scientifically” that God exists. We just need to demonstrate it or know it reasonably.

  161. I am willing to agree with the statement that there was a First Cause. But once again, we can say that was Brahma, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a divine committee of gods. We could also say it was the Big Bang. The mere fact that the universe had a beginning does not prove that God as you understand him exists. So while I agree that there was a First Cause, you have not laid sufficient grounds to establish that this First Cause is the God of the Bible.

  162. VOR,

    I’d like to see if I can answer your evidence question the way you want it answered.

    The Christian’s claim is that there is a personal, holy, loving, omnipotent, omniscient creator God. I’d like to know how you would finish this sentence: “If that God existed, humans might know it through… “

    The idea here is to find out what, if anything, you’d ever be willing to count as evidence for God. So bear that in mind, please, as you answer, since that’s what I’m trying to learn from you here.

    And for the sake of our getting your answer to that important question, if you think that description of God is incoherent or anything, please do this. Please give Christians who have studied this and answered questions about this down through the centuries the benefit of doubt, that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t incoherent after all. In that case, how would you finish that sentence?

    It would help to know what you think about this.

  163. VOR,

    So let’s talk about what is meant by “the God of the Bible.” First of all, I’m sure that you will agree that “the God of the Bible” is whatever the authors of the Bible mean by “God” (who is referred to by multiple names throughout the Bible). All I ask of you at this point is to consider that which the Hebrews identify as “God” or Elohim in Genesis 1:1. Obviously, what they meant by “God” in the first sentence of their Holy Scriptures, the Torah, is that which, whatever it is, that created the “heavens and the earth”, by which they meant everything that exists. So, we can logically conclude that the Hebrews identified the First Cause, the cause of all existence, as Elohim or God. So rather than laying “sufficient grounds to establish” that the First Cause of the existence of everything is that which the Hebrews gave the name Elohim/God, can’t we simply agree that Elohim is the ancient Hebrew’s linguistic representation (name) for that which brought the universe into existence? Whatever brought the entire universe into existence is not named Frank or Francisco or Franco. Its/His name in the Bible is God (in English). I don’t think this is that difficult to assent to when we keep in mind that Judaism is a monotheism, so according to the ancient Hebrews, there is one and only one God, so the “God of the Bible” is the only God there is. Therefore, whatever name we call Him by, He is still God.

  164. “If that God existed, humans might know it through…”

    …a physical manifestation of the agent known as God, and a demonstration of the violation of natural laws at whim, where this demonstration is available to all of humanity and could continuously be demonstrated at request, or else, that the original demonstration(s) were so well detailed within the historical record, and so widespread globally at the approximate time in which these demonstrations occurred, that belief that this event occurred could not reasonably be doubted, with the inclusion of a written message which that God attested was his own word, and no other word was, is, or ever shall be unless he returns again.

    I do not believe this is an unreasonable request.

  165. VOR,

    In your response to Tom, why do you include the words “at whim” in a “demonstration of the violation of natural laws…” ? Why do you think a supernatural deity (god) would violate natural law on a whim without a reason to do so? Can we correctly infer from your response that you are talking about miracles?

  166. If you define miracle as “suspension of natural law” then yes. And I say “at whim” because it would be important to establish that this suspension of natural law was volitional and contingent upon this being’s will. I gave my requirements for belief, and I am sticking with them.

  167. To clarify, by “at whim” you mean by “at will” or by volition of the “being’s” will and not at random? Is this a correct understanding of what you mean to say?

    So, by “my requirements for belief” that you are “sticking to” you are saying to God that He must meet your requirements before you will believe in Him?

  168. VOR,

    The fact that you find Sean Carroll, Presentism, and Eternalism unintelligible does not mean you get a free pass on your choice to reject evidence of God.

    You’re dancing all over the place and avoiding the VERY simple location of the evidence which you claim you want to see, namely Sean Carroll, Physics, Presentism, Eternalism, and the “Y” in the road in which Carroll makes his choice, the same choice you affirm.

    I say the “same” because on Non-Theism you are free to choose either Presentism or Eternalism and, either way, you run into what Carroll runs into, and embraces, namely the option to retain both reason itself and also coherence, or, the other option, which Carroll and others describe with referents to “illusory” layers, wherein at some ontological seam somewhere, the end of reason itself is finally conceded which lands the entire affair not in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to its own being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being.

    Here is the, well, evidence of that evasive behavior on your part:

    I said in #130 the following:

    VOR,

    [A] I have consistently told you exactly where the evidence you say you want to see can be found. You consistently avoid interacting with it. (…the “Y” … from earlier…).

    [B] Sure, you’re redefining the Christian’s X into Not-X and then arguing against Not-X “as-if” you’re arguing against a Christian premise.

    But content in [B] isn’t relevant to the content in [A]. Opining about [B] “as-if” there has not been, repeatedly, the [A] is just one more melody through which you avoid [A].

    You evaded that “Y” (…the evidence you say you seek…) yet again by pretending to not understand what it is Sean Carroll is discussing and concluding by embracing the illusory on all levels of reality (…well, all but one…) when you replied with this:

    You have likewise written in such a dense and inarticulate way that I have not bothered to peruse what you have said. So if you have evidence, please provide it in an intelligible manner and I shall examine it honestly.

    Now, again, three or four times now I’ve pointed you to that “Y” in the road. And, again, just because you find Sean Carroll, Presentism, and Eternalism unintelligible does not mean you get a free pass on your choice to reject evidence of God. If you DO understand that “Y” in the road with respect to Carroll’s nominalism at all layers of reality (…well… all but one layer…) as it relates to frame of reference, presentism, eternalism, and physics then you are simply unwilling to put your own premises on the table where they’ll need to stand up to reason’s demands for lucidity “through and through” as they say, or as some say, “from A to Z”, as it were.

    Notice that along your journey in your demands for evidence, your moves are beginning to sum to your free and informed choice to avoid dialing in on said evidence.

  169. VOR,

    “Violate”? We intentionally created many novel elements on the Periodic Table by intentionally manipulating and rearranging nature’s fundamental building blocks. By your definition it is in principle impossible to do that just as it is in principle impossible to build a living organism out of dirt (…out of nature’s fundamental building blocks…).

    The syntax you initially tried muddying up is the syntax of science. Which means you briefly attempted an anti-scientific move (… “violate” …). Until you were called on it.

    You’re therefore back to square one: Christianity, science, Being, Intentionality, Presentism, Eternalism, and reason.

  170. If that’s the only evidence you’d accept, then you are assuming something of God that cannot be known from within the framework you’ve defined for knowledge. You’re suggesting that if there is no God who would choose to do that, then there is no personal, creator God such as Christians believe. But that assumes some knowledge of what a God would want, if there was a God. From where do you obtain this knowledge of what God must be like, if there is a God?

  171. Pointing out Strawmen vs. Giving Evidence:

    Pointing out that X is a strawman can be, in isolation, unfruitful. That is why it’s helpful to point out that X is a strawman but to not stop there, to actually add into the mix a. the concepts surrounding Paul’s / Roman’s appeal to Natural Theology (…reasoning about observations and about the created order bringing one to God-Is, and so on…), and b. the Gospel of John’s appeal to historical evidence and c. offering light and instruction on Scripture’s actual landscape (…which in part will always entail correcting misinformation …strawmen… etc…), and d. Etc…

    Those all are, according to scripture, actually woven into our own doxastic experience with respect to reason and belief. Which of course makes sense. Also, we expect all of that, which is nothing more than Genesis’ command to “Go out and subdue the physical order….”, and we also expect that all of that will not be the “Whole Story” because Scripture’s narrative also adds to the mix “Come in and taste, see, know…” with respect to God Himself. In short, Scripture describes a trio comprised of a. the self (you and I, etc.) and b. one channel of perception and c. a second channel of perception.

    Physics is helpful, because if taken in isolation (…as in physics-full-stop…), then physics ends up leading one beyond physics, and we begin to see why Presentism & Eternalism both fail on Non-Theism, but not on Theism.

    ….But the catch is that the causality of each intermediate is *not* fulfilled in its prior cause, since that cause, too, is dependent on yet a prior cause to fulfill its causality. Regression to infinity means that the causality never gets completely fulfilled, and thus, the chain fails for want of an uncaused first caused….(Dr. Bonnett / → http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h )

    Causality and Perception: Physics-full-stop, rationally followed, leads one beyond physics-full-stop. What typically follows (from out Non-Theist friends too often) is a. various sorts of category errors related to some flavor of the fallacy of composition amid god-of-gaps, b. the pains of brute fact (… → http://disq.us/p/1ol4spf …), and, c. at some ontological seam somewhere, the end of reason itself which lands not in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being. Which is to say that reason, rationally followed, leads one beyond one’s own unavoidably contingent reason and into the Necessary & Irreducible vis-à-vis Reason Itself. The Divine Mind presses in. From there, well, the nature of the entire discussion immediately hits a hard “Y” in the road, wherein on one arm the Non-Theist is eager to abort lucidity’s necessary means and ends, while the Theist refuses such reductions to absurdity (… → http://disq.us/p/1ociarg …).

    See #141 at → https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129078

    Also:

    http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h
    http://disq.us/p/1ol4spf
    http://disq.us/p/1ociarg

    ~

  172. Special Revelation vs. General Revelation:

    Quote:

    If I could first nitpick your terminology a bit … the traditional classification that I’m aware of is between “special revelation” (conveyed in a “local”, idiosyncratic, personal manner) and “general revelation” (conveyed in a manner that is third person verifiable from more or less any vantage point in space-time). Both of those types revelation are “supernatural” in the sense that they point us toward something that transcends nature (or, in a more traditional phrasing, they reveal something beyond nature).

    If you accept that refinement of your statement, then I agree that not everything essential can be known through general revelation. We have to enter into relationships of trust and complementarity in order to get at the nuggets of special revelation, and we are necessarily impoverished to the extent that we withhold ourselves from that.

    I don’t agree that special revelation is required to know merely that God exists…. Almost all humans in all times have been aware of the existence of God, mostly apart from any special revelation. The affirmation that “God exists” is akin to the affirmation that “life exists”: if one understands what is being affirmed, then it is more or less self-evidently true (though of course, doubt is always an option, whether we are talking about the existence of God or the existence of a discernible category called “life”).

    End quote (…from http://disq.us/p/1s2i49c …)

    Let us add the Self itself, as per Me myself to those “doubts” as Sean Carroll’s layers of “the illusory” expunges all hope of sanity.

    For context, add in the following layers:

    Quote:

    Whether existence is a predicate or not is a tricky topic, and it depends on what you mean by “exist”. If we work with the etymology, “to exist” is to be real in a way that “stands out” (ex-sistere). Things only “stand out” if they are finite: I notice my dog’s existence because he is here and not everywhere. Whatever is everywhere cannot not “stand out” because there is no contrast to bring it into relief. So it is with being-itself, a.k.a. “God”. Being-itself is everywhere, so it does not “exist” in the etymological sense. But being-itself is nonetheless real (it is more real than things that exist). If being-itself were not real, then my dog could not instantiate being.

    End quote (..from http://disq.us/p/1r5lif8 ..)

    As for the instantiation of reason, or, to turn it around, that which reason in fact instantiates, is an interesting segue.

    ~

  173. VOR, not wanting to get off a trail of fruitful question asking, I wonder anyway about your 5:59pm response yesterday. Do yo think “We could say…” is much of an argument?

    You shoot a basketball. It flies upward in the direction you throw it but not forever. There’s a great explanation for that in Newton’s laws of motion, with inertia keeping it going but friction and gravitational forces slowing and pulling it earthward.

    Now, we could say that it was really little invisible hummingbirds pushing it around, but just being able to say it doesn’t make it likely.

    It only approaches an argument if it engages with the reasoning people gave for their position that you are saying could be said another way. Do you think you’ve done this with respect to the First Cause?

    I hate to tell you this, but given all that would logically have to be true of the First Cause, your suggestions of Gautama Buddha or the Flying Spaghetti Monster are as reasonable as the invisible hummingbirds.

    Do you think you’ve engaged reasonably, rationally, and knowledgeably with that line of argument? In the past, I mean. You haven’t done so here, with these suggestions of yours.

  174. @VOR
    @J. Black

    VOR, of interest here is where J. Black offers several inroads to Sean Carroll and the evidence you seek. Evidence which, several times now, I’ve pointed you to via that proverbial “Y” in the road with respect to Sean Carroll, Physics, Presentism, and Eternalism. I also did over in the thread on Hebrews v Faith v Evidence at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/hebrews-11-1-faith-evidence/#comment-128850

    You are asking about reason and evidence. As noted, the evidence you seek is found by following your own reason into the illusory shadows of non-being which catches you off your guard at some ontological seam somewhere, and which marks the Edge of your Flat World and so also, then, the End of reason itself (… https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ …).

    J. Black comments (…from 2014 here at Tom’s webpage…) on Sean Carroll and “Reason” at:

    1. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83789 and also at
    2. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83820 and also at
    3. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83823

    Reason itself, on Non-Theism (Metaphysical Naturalism), lands NOT in the convertibility of the necessary transcendentals with respect to being but, rather, in the illusory shadows of non-being. Which is to say that reason, rationally followed, leads one beyond one’s own unavoidably contingent reason and into the Necessary & Irreducible vis-à-vis Reason Itself as nothing less than the Divine Mind presses in. The evidence leads to the syntax and the syntax leads to the Map.

    From there, well, the nature of the entire discussion immediately hits a hard “Y” in the road, wherein on one arm the Non-Theist is eager to abort lucidity’s necessary means and ends, while the Theist refuses such reductions to absurdity.

    J. Blacks and others allude to Sean Carroll and these SAME problems which you claim to be just Oh-So-Unintelligible. But of course these discussions are widely accessible. Hint: Google. And NONE of this is “new” or “spooky” or “difficult” if one simply takes the time to open up one’s own premises and follow them through to their respective explanatory terminus. Hint: Google.

    The evidence is quite clear and unavoidable assuming one counts Reason Itself as a full fledged member of the Jury of Peers. It all comports with one particular Map with respect to Reason, Sean Carroll, and Non-Theism, or as you call it, Atheism or Metaphysical Naturalism. Another helpful term would be “Physics-Full-Stop” and the reason that is helpful is because of the intellectual honesty of Sean Carroll and many other Non-Theists who are quite up-front about their Map of Reality beginning and ending with Physics and what THAT particular Map either does, or does not, Permit and/or Force-Upon-Us (so to speak) with respect to conclusions about reality’s ultimately concrete furniture.

    A few basic, and widely accessible, starting points / references:

    https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/

    https://strangenotions.com/the-big-problem-with-sean-carrolls-poetic-naturalism/

    https://strangenotions.com/why-sean-carrolls-the-big-picture-is-too-small/

    https://strangenotions.com/sean-carroll-determinism-and-laplaces-demon/

    https://strangenotions.com/sean-carrolls-ten-considerations-for-naturalists/

    https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/

    BTW, since you think the argument from reason (Sean Carroll etc.) is so spooky or unintelligible, see Edward Feser’s “Five Proofs of God”.

  175. Argument From Reason:

    It is the case that Reason Itself is in fact a full fledged member of the Jury of Peers. The Examiner and the Cross Examiner and their cases are widely accessible, and, of course our Non-Theist friends are free to eject that particular Member of the Jury.

    The many problems discussed so far with respect to the Argument from Reason, which VOR has repeatedly labeled as unintelligible and which VOR has also, about eight times now, avoided / evaded, and so on, is presented by the Examiner Sean Carroll as per the links in the above comment (… https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129085 …) and also by the Cross-Examiner as per E. Feser’s Five Proofs of the Existence of God (… http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html …).

    While our Non-Theist friends seem to cling, inexplicably, to their childhood tales of Glorious Voyages Atop The Flat World (… https://www.metachristianity.com/atheism-world-flat-none-non-non-theist/ …), we must, as Jurors who value both science itself and Reason Itself, take the time to inform our Non-T. friends that the Earth or World is not Flat.

    Five Proofs has several chapters, all of which our Non-Theist friends are, in this thread about “Evidence”, invited to dive into and unpack with us, and so on, but in focus here is the following chapter:

    5 – The Rationalist Proof

    Informal statement of the argument: Stage 1

    Common sense and science alike suppose that there are explanations for the existence of the things we encounter, the attributes things exhibit, and the events that occur……”

    Etc. ~~

  176. VOR,

    On the Argument from Reason: You claim to know both Christendom and Science better than centuries of Christendom and centuries of Science and the reason that is true is the following:

    You have, repeatedly, treated the Argument From Reason (…that proverbial “Y” in the road discussed so… sooo many times now….) as if it’s all New or else Unintelligible. But surely the “Y” in the road which Sean Carroll and any Thinking Atheist / Physicist and Edward Feser (… http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html …) and StrangeNotions (… https://strangenotions.com/why-sean-carrolls-the-big-picture-is-too-small/ …) and Jenna Black & Tom Gilson (… https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129085 …) and so, sooo many others have, for so, sooo long openly unpacked is something you have a firm grasp on.

    However, IF you’ve a firm grasp on that fateful “Y” in the road as it relates to Physics, Presentism, Eternalism, the Argument from Reason, and the Christian metaphysic with respect to “Being Itself” and/or “Reason Itself“, well THEN your evasive moves here are inexplicable in that you’ve labeled that “Y” and the premises / conclusions it forces as unintelligible. Or, perhaps you didn’t actually READ any of my comments and… the…. links… provided… but just evaded and hedged and avoided.

    You SAY you seek “evidence” but you AVOID said evidence when it comes racing towards your own childhood memories of those Glorious Voyages Atop The Flat World (…perhaps as per Define Atheism @ https://www.metachristianity.com/define-atheism/ …).

    Why?

    The Earth is not Flat, and it is, truly, acceptable or rational or okay to allow reason to be your guide in that arena.

    ~

  177. Tom,

    Flying hummingbirds are to me what you are describing when you invoke God. You asked me what evidence would satisfy the burden of proof for that God, and I provided that threshold for you. We are in agreement that not all explanations are created equal. Why do I, therefore, have to change the burden of proof to something within the framework of knowledge when I have outlined what would constitute definitive evidence of God? Is it not more reasonable to say that, seeing as God does not meet these criteria, he cannot be known to exist?

  178. VOR,

    I have to ask you this in regard to your “definitive evidence of God”: Why do you think that God must satisfy a “burden of proof” that you set for Him? Why is it not reasonable for an omniscient, omnipotent God to expect you to know Him through the evidence He provides to all humankind? Why do you expect God to bend to your will rather than the other way around? Would you find a God who bends to your will to be worthy of worship?

  179. VOR,

    Why do you equate a contingent being like a hummingbird, and what that term referents, to that which is referenced by the terms Reason & Being?

    Perhaps a dictionary would help?

    Intellectual honesty isn’t your strength, though it is with many, MANY Non-Theists.

    Perhaps you could explore their works?

    ~

  180. VOR,

    Don’t be confused about what we’re saying here about burden of proof. You don’t have to change your burden of proof to satisfy us. You need to do it for three other reasons:

    ( 1 ) Your standard theologizes. I’ve already told you that and you ignored it. Your standard is one such that if God exists, then he must be kind of God you’ve outlined here. I don’t know how you think you know so clearly what God must be like if there is one. I don’t understand how you of all people could be content with making statements that depend on your chosen theology being true.

    ( 2 ) Your standard is fallacious, and is therefore contrary to your own self-image of being a Voice of Reason. (Voices of reason may commit fallacies but they acknowledge and correct them quickly when it’s pointed out to them.) It is fallacious in that your reasoning comes down to this:

    a) If the Christian God exists, then he would meet my standard of evidence.
    b) No God meets my standard of evidence.
    Therefore,
    c) The Christian God does not exist.

    But you’ve provided no reason to believe that (a) is true, and in fact no Christian has ever believed God was that way. This re-defines the term “God” to mean something no Christian has ever meant by the term.

    The fallacy is technically equivocation, changing the meaning of “God” to something it doesn’t mean elsewhere in this discourse.

    If we were to take your understanding of the term “God,” and speak of it univocally (where everyone means the same thing when they use the term “God”), then we would all agree that this God does not exist. But that just means you have effectively disproved the existence of some hypothetical god that no one has ever believed in. You have said nothing even interesting, much less determinative, about the God we Christians are actually trying to tell you about.

    Again, if you are indeed a Voice of Reason, you will acknowledge this as the fallacy it is, and backtrack, reject it, and start over again answering the question I asked you earlier.

    ( 3 ) You don’t need to change your burden of proof on our account in any event. My concern for what you believe extends to the fact that I care about you and your spiritual future. It’s about you, not about us.

    For suppose the Christian God exists. That possibility has not been ruled out — not even touched! — by his failure to meet the standard you’ve demanded, for reasons I’ve just explained in (2). So the possibility of his existence still remains; and if he actually does exist, then you are personally accountable to him. You face an eternity of goodness if you will seek him, and an eternity of darkness if you reject him for these fallacious reasons.

    If it weren’t for my concern for you personally, I would have no stake at all in the burden of proof you decide to accept. You, however, have a whole eternity’s stake in it. Or at least as far as you can know, you might — and that possibility ought to keep a reasonable person searching. Not being content with equivocations and other fallacies that only seem to prove your point.

  181. Or I could put it more simply.

    Let’s take the term “God” as you understand it, and let’s work with it until we’ve reached solid agreement. Okay with you?

    As you’re using the term, it refers to some hypothetical being, who, if he existed, would reveal himself in the manner you’ve laid out for us here.

    We don’t believe in that God. Not you, and not us. None of us.

    Solid agreement reached. In record time, even! Let’s call that the success that it is. We agree completely on the non-existence of that God. Yay!

    So, with that that topic having been thoroughly discussed and worked over, and since we’ve had a proper moment to celebrate our agreement on it, would you care to move on to another one, say, the existence or non-existence of the God we actually do believe in?

  182. Tom,

    “a) If the Christian God exists, then he would meet my standard of evidence.”

    No, this is not my position at all. You asked me specifically “If God existed, humans could know him by…” to which I added a list of evidences that I believe would sufficiently qualify as knowledge. I do not posit that if such a God exists that he would necessarily meet these criteria; only that if he did meet these criteria, one could say that they know God exists.

    The fact that God has never met these criteria is sufficient justification for not believing that such a being exists. If it ever came to pass that a being satisfied these criteria, then it would be unjustified to not believe such a being exists. I am simply explaining what it would take for me to believe, not necessarily that I think God would actually bother to do that — a fact consistent with the view that God does not exist.

  183. You’re not thinking this through. You have disproved the existence of the sort of being who would do this. So what? You haven’t even so much as addressed the existence of the Christian God.

    You’re equivocating on the term ” God.” That’s been explained to you as the fallacy it is. You’re theologizing as well, based on pure supposition, and that’s fallacious, too.

    You call yourself Voice of Reason. A person who fit that description wouldn’t commit such fallacies. Or if he thought they weren’t fallacies, he would address the question, rather than avoiding it as you’ve done here just now.

    You say, ” I do not posit that if such a God exists that he would necessarily meet these criteria…” But you do not recognize that if such a God as meets those criteria does not exist, that tells you exactly nothing about whether the Christian God exists. Which is the point at question, and the point that will determine whether your eternal destiny is great, horrific, or nothing at all.

    As long as you don’t know whether the Christian God exists, you do not know your destiny. It’s not my problem except as I wrote last time about caring for a fellow human being. But it could well be yours.

    But you won’t even open your mind to the kinds of evidence that would actually be relevant to the question of the Christian God.

    I fear that not only do you believe in God too little, you believe in your reasoning too much.

  184. How to begin . . .

    1) “You’re not thinking this through. You have disproved the existence of the sort of being who would do this. So what? You haven’t even so much as addressed the existence of the Christian God. You’re equivocating on the term “God.” That’s been explained to you as the fallacy it is. You’re theologizing as well, based on pure supposition, and that’s fallacious, too.”

    No Tom, I have done my absolute best to broach the subject of the existence of the Christian God, but unfortunately, I am persistently sidetracked by the need to explain to you how to construct an argument, while simultaneously being subjected to didactic lecturing. Despite my pleas, you have refused to provide a definition of God and stick with it, and will not provide any evidence for anything that you say whatsoever. The question “What would constitute evidence for God?” is valid and productive; however, when I provide a cogent answer you then accuse me of equivocating and that I have disproved a God you don’t believe in. Have you considered the possibility that the God you believe in simply doesn’t exist, and that the fact this God has not met the evidence threshold is a fairly good indication of this?

    2) “You say, “I do not posit that if such a God exists that he would necessarily meet these criteria…” But you do not recognize that if such a God as meets those criteria does not exist, that tells you exactly nothing about whether the Christian God exists.”

    I purposefully left my definition sufficiently broad enough to include any deity from any religion I could think of, including Christianity. If God cannot satisfy this threshold, I have no valid reason to believe that such a being, and nor does anyone else. Naturally, I am sure you will find this objectionable, but this is not even a remotely unreasonable burden of proof given the truly extraordinary nature of the claim being made here. If God, no matter how you define him, cannot satisfy this, there is no good reason to think such a thing exists.

    3) “But you won’t even open your mind to the kinds of evidence that would actually be relevant to the question of the Christian God.”

    I have told you what you must do to prove the existence of God. I am quite open to the evidence, if only you would provide any.

  185. VOR,

    You say you purposely left your definition broad enough to include any god.

    Well, if so then you’re SO broad that you’re broad enough to avoid (actually) interacting with any of the particularities of the (actual) Christian body of premises. Whether that’s intentional or not on your part isn’t the focus of this comment.

    “What I do see, though, is a lot of attempts by man to reach the deepest truths about himself and God through methodologies taken from natural science. While not denigrating these at all, I would make the case that some of the more profound works dealing with such issues are found in classical philosophical sciences and works and those of theologians as well. We have to be careful not to truncate the pyramid of knowledge at the level of natural science. Even if we prevent positivism from eliminating the reality of God from our knowledge, we also have to realize that a noesis limited to natural scientific methods is limited in its reach. There is an entire classical intellectual tradition found in Western Christian thought to be tapped.”

    (…quote from https://strangenotions.com/how-gods-nature-is-known-the-three-fold-way/#comment-3827612364 ..)

    [1] The argument from reason.
    [2] Sean Carroll’s nominalism.

    [3] Physics.
    [4] Presentism.
    [5] Eternalism.

    [6] Being Itself v. “God”
    [7] Reason Itself v. “God”

    [8] Reference frames: all contingent frames of reference, both possible and actual.

    [9] Reference frames: The Absolute’s Own (God’s Own) Reference Frame, that of Totality, that which cannot be > 1, that which is necessarily Self-Reference (…Trinitarian lines there…) (…as per Ravi Zacharias Etc…).

    ~~~

  186. We are at an impasse, VOR.

    You complain that I have not provided any evidence. But this is what I have done: I tried to re-boot a very contentious conversation by asking you what you would count as evidence for the Christian God. I said that this was so that I could provide the kind of answer you’ve been looking for all along.

    You answered with a list of things that would provide evidence for some other God, not the Christian God at all. I explained that very clearly to you just now.

    If you could actually tell me what kind of thing you would count as evidence for the God I believe in, I would gladly show you what we have to offer.

    Meanwhile, you’ll have to live with my explanations as I give them. The word you used for it, “didactic,” seems to imply you think I’m being patronizing or something. But really, in the course of argument, it’s not “teaching” to point out fallacies and errors. It’s normal argumentation. And if you’ve committed fallacies, you’ve committed fallacies.

    You ask “Have you considered the possibility that the God you believe in simply doesn’t exist, and that the fact this God has not met the evidence threshold is a fairly good indication of this?”

    Again, yes, of course! The God who would meet your evidence threshold doesn’t exist. We agree on that 100 percent. Was I not clear on that already?

    But why should you be the one who decides the threshold? How (again) do you know what a God must be like, if there is a God? I’ll say it again: you are making assumptions about what God must be like if there is a God; which is well outside your realm of experiential knowledge, isn’t it?

    You think you have no valid reason to believe in God. I say you have no valid reason to believe in the God you’ve assumed must exist, if there is a God. And I agree with you to that extent.

    I will not provide you the evidence you say you are open to, though, because I don’t believe in that God.

    So let’s define terms again. I believe in an infinite, personal, eternal, holy, righteous, loving, just, creator God, who desires a relationship of love with humans, and who revealed himself in the course of history through direct personal interactions as well as through the fact of the world he has created. I believe this God wants love to be given him freely, and that this is his greatest and highest instruction for humankind. I believe he revealed himself supremely in the life of Jesus Christ, a life that is accessible to the tools of historical research.

    I do not believe God’s highest desire for humans is to know and agree that he exists. If that were in fact his highest desire for us, I am sure he would reveal himself with the kind of evidence you have listed. Better yet, he would simply impress his reality directly on our minds so that no one would even have the capacity to question his existence; for why would a God have to resort to secondary means like you’ve proposed, when he can get the point across so much more directly?

    But if he were to do that, our awareness of his reality would hardly be a matter of love, would it? Our conviction of his power couldn’t be a matter of personal trust, because it would be without any choice.

    You say, “I purposefully left my definition sufficiently broad enough to include any deity from any religion I could think of, including Christianity.” But this is simply not true. You’ve left your definition broad enough to account for any God’s power but not for any God whose intent differs from what this would require. This, VOR, you have not even begun to account for; and what kind of God do you suppose you’re contesting, if not one who has his own intentions?

    There is evidence for God, VOR, but it’s not evidence such as you’ve asked for, evidence that compels belief, that forces assent, that’s inescapable and unavoidable, so that no one could make a choice regarding what God is in his life.

    No, the evidence we have is, by God’s clear purpose, the kind of thing that leaves room for moral choice.

    This is the God for whom I am ready to offer evidence. I’ve been ready all along. The conversation up until now has not been conducive to my presenting it. Even now, if you insist on evidence for the other kind of God you want us to hypothesize, I will simply say no, and wait for you to show interest in evidence for the God I believe in.

    If you want that evidence, great. We’ll continue with what I would hope might become a different kind of conversation.

    If not, then say so. We’ll agree together that there is no God such as you want us to hypothesize. I won’t celebrate that much; it’s too blindingly obvious. But maybe at least you’ll get that much of our point, finally. And then if that’s the tack you take, I think it will be time for all of us — you, me, Jenna, and scbrownlhrm — to shake metaphorical hands and call it enough. And I’ll close comments here, just to seal it.

    Your choice.

    But one more thing: Don’t ask me for evidence you’re not willing to look at with open eyes and an open mind. It will be obvious enough if you’re not taking that attitude, and if that’s how it goes, I’ll call it enough anyway.

  187. Jens,

    I was surprised at that comment you had in here today. I deleted it. I thought you were calling us to a higher level of discourse.

    Openly shutting down a person is not the most respectful form of criticism. If you want to tell someone his comments are unreadable — as I have done more than once with scbrownlhrm, and as I don’t mind reiterating even now — it’s better simply to say so.

  188. Jens,

    The Argument from Reason as it relates to Sean Carroll’s book, “The Big Picture”, physics, presentism, and eternalism is a bit tedious. And nuanced.

    The “Y” in the road amid Non-Theism (Metaphysical Naturalism) vs. Theism (God) is part of that entire discussion.

    The Christian term “Being Itself” is centuries old and widely accessible, as is the term “The Divine Mind”.

    The concept of the convertibility of necessary transcendentals is also widely accessible.

    Of course all of that segues into the fundamental nature of reason given any discussion on the ages old “argument from reason”.

    Physics v. Sean Carroll’s nominalism there does not defend reason’s irreducible or necessary being, but rather it unmasks its inevitable non-being. On Non-Theism.

    That too is somewhat tedious and nuanced.

    Nonetheless the argument from reason is helpful. Despite the work required.

    See http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html

  189. Tom, I apologize. Please let me explain.

    I have absolutely nothing against scbrownlhrm. He obviously cares about the subject matter and seems to have read widely.

    The trouble is, at least as far as I can tell, he is not actually taking part in the debate. He is making comments, but they are not being heard. I would be very happy if he could take part in a meaningful debate, but I think in reality that’s not going to happen.

    He doesn’t appear to be capable of writing in plain English. Every comment that I’ve read of his has left me utterly baffled and I don’t think I am the only one who experiences it this way. I have not noticed anyone else seriously take up or enter into a discussion with him on any of his points.

    I believe his comments are a net negative on the site. They seem to muddy the water a lot without adding significant value. The question is whether his insights are worth the downsides of your readers having to try to parse and make sense of his (often lengthy) comments. I quickly found myself skipping over them and then worked out a way to hide them. I decided to share it, in case I wasn’t the only one who prefers to skip his comments. I didn’t want to ask you to kick him out because that’s your decision and the fact that he’s still here suggests you evaluate the signal/noise and benefit/cost differently to me.

    My own feeling is that he is operating at a different level to the rest of us and it might be better all round if he could find somewhere more suitable for a high-falutin conversation.

  190. Now, that I can agree with, Jens.

    Since yesterday, scbrownlhrm, I’ve been asking myself why items 3 and (especially) 8 in the discussion policy shouldn’t apply to your comments here. The word we hear from other commenters here has been consistent: your style and vocabulary aren’t proving helpful. People scroll past your longer comments, if not all of them. I’ve said several times I can’t read them — and I assure you the problem isn’t my reading skill.

    That’s not to say I can’t read anything you write. I know enough to see your heart, and to appreciate your love for God. I would suggest that it’s time to consider what love for your fellow humans would mean here on this site. Meeting us where we are, in language, in tone, in vocabulary, in the allusions you choose to make, would be a very incarnational move for you to make. What you’re doing now is distancing yourself. You give us an act of intellect but not of connection or communication.

    So I urge you to make that incarnational move. Intellect counts — God help me make more people aware of that! — but love counts more. Read 1 Cor. 13, please!

    As for the discussion policy, yes, I must enforce it consistently, and I have not done so. I don’t ever enforce it without some warning — not unless there’s something really nasty going on, which isn’t the case here. This then must count as your first warning. The first, that is, unless we count the warnings given much, much longer ago in the opening verses of 1 Cor. 13.

  191. I have explained to you what would count as evidence for the God you believe in. Your motives for suggesting I have not done so are suspect. If you cannot meet the burden of proof set for this conversation, then we are not merely at an impasse — the argument is over. The burden of proof is not tailored so that you will necessarily meet it, nor made to preclude any possibility of your God existing: it is a reasonable requirement of evidence for your position. If you can meet it, then you have converted me. If you cannot, then you have no justified reason to believe such a being exists.

    The proposition is not if God exists, he will necessarily do these things, but if God exists, this is how we humans might know that God exists. The question is not a matter of what God can or cannot do, nor even the nature of that God; the question is whether or not we can have justified reasons for believing in a god of any kind. I am explaining to you the threshold you must meet if you are to have a reasonable belief in such a God. My qualification for setting this threshold is that I have the right to decide how much evidence I would require for believing something. This brings us to a particular point you raised:

    “How (again) do you know what a God must be like, if there is a God? I’ll say it again: you are making assumptions about what God must be like if there is a God; which is well outside your realm of experiential knowledge, isn’t it?”

    These questions are for you, not for me. I am not asserting that a God exists. I am not asserting what I think a God would be like if one existed. I share your incredulity as to how one might actually know what a God would be like if one existed, but it is not for me to prove that I know a God exists nor what that God thinks or feels. That burden rests solely on your shoulders.

    And unfortunately you have conceded you cannot satisfy this burden, choosing instead to say that this lack of evidence is in fact part of this deity’s plans. I am reminded of conspiracy theorists who often assert that the lack of evidence for their claims is proof of a cover-up. Of course, your response to this objection, I suspect, will be that if I do not accept this premise of your argument, I will have redefined God and thus proved only that a God you do not believe does not exist. In other words, you will continually rely upon an unfalsifiable argument and assert you know it as true, knowing that your position is unassailable by skeptical criticism but without the benefit of being buttressed by evidence. This is a sacrifice you are all too willing to make, for reasons I can only speculate upon.

    And so, I must wonder why we carry on with this conversation, when you have surrendered the argument in everything but name.

  192. You have not given evidence for the God Christians believe in. You have ignored my explanation of the difference between the Christian God and the one you have hypothesized.

    Your motives for suggesting I have not done so are suspect.

    If you believe in evidence-based reasoning, you would do better responding to my argument for what I’ve just stated (again!), rather than speculating about what you cannot see.

    It is a reasonable requirement of evidence for your position.

    No, actually it isn’t. It’s a requirement of evidence for some other position, for a God I don’t believe in.

    I am not asserting what I think a God would be like if one existed.

    You are asserting what a God must be like if a God existed and could be known to humans. That’s what an evidence requirement like yours is.

    And unfortunately you have conceded you cannot satisfy this burden, choosing instead to say that this lack of evidence is in fact part of this deity’s plans.

    Not merely to say, but to explain in depth, with reasoning you refuse to engage in.

    I am reminded of conspiracy theorists who often assert that the lack of evidence for their claims is proof of a cover-up.

    Not in the slightest. The lack of evidence in this case is a clear sign that the deity in question doesn’t exist. I’ve agreed with you on that half a dozen times.

    Of course, your response to this objection, I suspect, will be that if I do not accept this premise of your argument, I will have redefined God and thus proved only that a God you do not believe does not exist.

    Why would you “suspect” that, when I’ve stated it explicitly more than once? When I’ve argued for it at length? When I’ve made it the central point of my answer to your demand for evidence? When I’ve offered multiple times to have a conversation with you on the God we do believe in, rather than this hypothesized God we do not?

    And so, I must wonder why we carry on with this conversation, when you have surrendered the argument in everything but name.

    I have surrendered over and over and over again. How clear must one be? The God you have hypothesized doesn’t exist!

    But I have not surrendered anything with respect to the God I believe in. I’ve been working hard, and I have tried repeatedly, to get you off the subject of this oft-disproved hypothetical god so we can talk about the one in whom Christians believe.

    You keep reminding me what I told you myself long ago: The God you’ve hypothesized cannot be found. It does not exist. You won’t quit telling me what I’ve already told you. And you won’t even recognize that there’s another question on the table, which is the existence of the God in whom Christians believe.

    This conversation is over. You have had your last word, and this is mine. I trust you will recognize yourself as the subject: The one who still needs to learn to read.

    Goodbye.

  193. VOR,

    In #31, you said, “My memory itself is based on my experience (empirical data) of having consumed breakfast.” It was not the only empirical support for the assertion you ate breakfast, nevertheless you counted your experience as empirical data.

    What prevents you from accepting the experiences of millions of Christians as empirical data? Not proof, but evidence nonetheless.

  194. Jens,

    On “Setting The Mirror” (…see #77…) notice that you actually have to talk with the person you are seeking to set the mirror with. That is important given that you claimed that I was not engaging others, and that my raising of the content of, well, the box that is [….Sean Carroll vis-à-vis Presentism & Eternalism as that content interfaces with the Christian’s content from the (Christian’s) argument from reason…] was my raising of unintelligible content. That is a bit unsociable, even dismissive, on your part given the following:

    #113 finds you were kind enough to discuss Tom, not with others, but with Tom. So far that’s a good way to engage others (Tom) about their own (Tom’s) content. However:

    #115, #116, #118 finds you discussing VOR, not with VOR, but with Tom.

    #155: Apparently you then repeated that pattern with respect to me, as #155 finds me addressing you, one on one, after Tom’s note to you about what was apparently you discussing me, not with me, but with others (Tom).

    #156 was again you discussing me, not with me, but with others (Tom).

    I would suggest that when sitting at a table with four people, you should avoid carrying on criticisms about others at the table with your back turned to them, pretending as if they’re out of hearing range, and simply criticizing without actually engaging.

    Notice that I’ve taken the opposite of your approach in my own comments with VOR, and with you, and with Tom. What is in the later stages of this thread my own one-sided replies to VOR is being done on my part intentionally, with a specific demonstration in mind (…part of a preamble to setting the mirror… see a pending comment with Tom).

    It would be more constructive for you to address #155 as to what it is you find inaccurate in the content there. It is one thing to be unfamiliar with content such as the interplay of 1. Atheism’s use of Physics as “the sole map” and 2. The Christian’s use of both physics and the argument from reason as the proverbial “map” as each (both 1. & 2., or both of those ‘maps’) navigate the widely discussed topic of Presentism / Eternalism.

    To be unfamiliar with that content is fine. However, to encounter it from me (one of four sitting at a table) and then turn your back to me (the one who opened it up with you and the table), and speak as if that person is out of hearing range and merely criticize that person’s content as unintelligible is a bit, well, unsociable on your part and perhaps a bit uninformed on your part.

    What would work much better in that situation is to ask, one on one, about what you don’t understand (…vis-à-vis #155 etc…).

    Perhaps you can tie it into #146 and the following from Jenna Black:

    1. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83789

    2. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83820

    3. https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2014/02/evidence-god-rationality-argument-from-reason/#comment-83823

    ~~

  195. @ Tom / @ VOR

    Setting The Mirror amid (actual, real) demonstrations:

    The initial goal of mine is not to Set The Mirror (…see #77…). It can’t be. Something else has to come first.

    The initial goal (or first step) is to carry the definition of evidence further. The (Christian) “argument from reason” has several intimate ties with the philosophical approach of Sean Carroll (an academically adroit atheist and physicist). Essentially the overlapping areas that create inroads in mutual understanding are in the areas of presentism and eternalism. In those we find all parties involved having to account for their respective definition of “evidence” and “science” and “change”.

    While I agree that mine is a one sided reply to VOR in the later stages here, that is intentional (not disrespectful) as there is benefit in demonstrating an evasive posture in the person across the table before Setting The Mirror can actually carry any weight.

    That specific “demonstration” is nothing more than challenging VOR, one on one, rather than with my back turned to him, on his definition of evidence (Sean Carroll, presentism, eternalism). (VOR, see all of my above comments kind enough to open up one-on-one by opening with “VOR”)

    Setting The Mirror #1 – It should be noted that demonstrations necessarily precede said Mirror — or else one risks what will come across as an empty accusation in the very setting of that very Mirror.

    Setting The Mirror #2 – The observed posture of our A-Theist (Non-Theist) friends of taking a firm (moral?) stand and insisting that they’ll no longer converse with a Christian until the Christian drops the silliness of presentism and eternalism — in a discussion about what counts as evidence — will hopefully provide our A-Theist (Non-Theist) friends with a bit of self-awareness with respect to that particular posture.

    Setting The Mirror #3 – In my own exchanges with you (VOR) I’ve been asked (by you VOR) to DROP YOUR OWN paradigm’s more weighty premises (Sean Carroll, Presentism, Eternalism). That sums to my statement of this:

    “According to the A-Theist’s (Non-Theist’s) demands, I cannot use A-Theism’s own content to challenge A-Theism’s own definition of evidence.”

    Setting The Mirror #4 – In your two’s (Tom & VOR) exchanges, you VOR have insisted that Tom DROP HIS OWN (Christian) paradigm’s more weighty premises (the actual God of Christianity). That sums to my statement of this:

    “According to the A-Theist’s (Non-Theist’s) demands, I cannot use Christianity’s own content to challenge A-Theism’s definition of evidence.”

    Setting The Mirror #5 – Perhaps Tom’s https://stream.org/insidious-illiteracy-people-who-havent-learned-to-read/ adds context.

    VOR, the definition of Evidence matters. The thread is about evidence. Sean Carroll vis-à-vis Presentism and Eternalism specifically hammers away at that very term (“evidence”). Your observed posture of taking a firm (moral?) stand of 1. insisting that you’ll no longer converse with a Christian until the Christian DROPS YOUR OWN paradigm’s Carroll / Presentism / Eternalism, and 2. that you insist that the Christian DROPS HIS OWN premises of “God” or else the Christian is somehow disingenuous (immoral?), and, 3. using as your justification for 1. (just listed) for that firm (moral?) stance a claim that Carroll vis-à-vis Presentism / Eternalism is some sort of un-intelligible Christian invention, and 4. that same posture in all of that on your part is done within a discussion about what counts as evidence – is – well – is in all four observations somewhat peculiar, even odd. How odd? Well, one-on-one, and not behind your back, see # 86, addressed to you, one-on-one, and its two links v. Edward Feser.

    Setting The Mirror: All of that will hopefully provide you with a bit of self-awareness with respect to your particular posture. It’s all a bit Coyne–esc.

    scbrown(lhrm)
    https://www.metachristianity.com/

    ~~~

  196. @scbrownhlrm

    My intention wasn’t to “set the mirror” for you, but to explain my earlier actions to Tom.

    In any case, I’d question your assumption that to set a mirror you have to address the person directly. So long as the targeted person sees his or her reflection in other people’s eyes, it doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s placed directly in front of them. That Tom seemed to agree with what I wrote hopefully gives you more to reflect on. It’s your choice whether you take it as feedback or not.

    I get that you didn’t like me talking about you, but I didn’t speak behind your back (e.g. via email). You were able to read everything I said. I tried to be civil and I tried to be fair to you.

    The reason I didn’t broach the subject or discuss your ideas with you directly was that I judged from your comment history that such a conversation would likely end up violating Discussion Policy #8.

    “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

  197. Jens,

    Thank you for the reply ~~ and I agree that the content of Presentism & Eternalism as it relates to the definition of evidence (…and ‘science’ and ‘change’ obviously…) particularly in the shadows of Sean Carroll’s (philosophical) nominalism isn’t quickly and simply hashed out. It’s a thick and knotty topic, yet, it’s widely discussed and available. VOR is obviously intellectually adept and widely read, as anyone who reads him can quickly see, and that’s one of the reasons the topic doesn’t seem out of bounds to me — or at least raising the issue as a challenge to several definitions/premises. The “Y” in the road there between the metaphysical naturalist and the Christian “just is” so much of the proverbial meat and potatoes defining “evidence”

    VOR,

    That’s why your immediate stance demanding that I drop that unintelligible topic else face your silence just doesn’t pass the sniff test. Well, let me add “IMO”.

    A sort of segue:

    “…if I believed about God what the atheist believes about God, I wouldn’t believe in God either. So to be induced to somehow change my mind about belief in God…. I would have to accept the atheist’s misunderstanding of what God is…” (Jenna Black)

    (…from https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/02/atheists-lack-listening-arrogance-defensiveness/#comment-128230 …)

  198. scbrownlhrm, where’s your evidence that VOR can keep up with your allusions and your argument? I don’t see it. He hasn’t kept up with a thing I’ve written, and that’s been a lot simpler. I just don’t agree with you on your tactic with him, because it’s plain that you’re missing him by a mile. If you want to continue interacting with him, why not find out a way that will actually connect?

  199. scbrownlhrm,

    I am very flattered and affirmed that you quote me and provide links to my past comments (from as much as four years ago) in making your arguments. I really appreciate this. I know that you listen and understand the nuances of the arguments and topics that we discuss here. I enjoy your comments because I always learn something new from you. I can tell that you think critically and do extensive reading and research that is reflected in the depth and intelligence of your analysis. Your style is “ornate” and sometimes challenging, but I get your points and appreciate the time you take with your comments.

    I think that it is important to keep in mind that atheism is an ideology that is based entirely on a denial that God exists. Atheism is the ultimate null hypothesis: God does not exist. . As my statistics professor explained it, the null hypothesis is like saying that there are no snakes in the desert. To reject the null hypothesis, we need only find one snake. In order to maintain a belief in this proposition, it is necessary for the atheist to reject any evidence whatsoever. The problem is that we people of faith will go out into the desert, find a snake and present it to the atheist to show why we reject the null hypothesis. The atheist will inevitably say, “That is not a snake” (definitional problem) or “You didn’t find it in the desert” (boundaries of evidence problem). This is what we have experienced with VOR.

  200. J. Black,

    “The atheist will inevitably say, “That is not a snake” (definitional problem) or “You didn’t find it in the desert” (boundaries of evidence problem).”

    That’s well put. And concise (…not my strength!…).

    Tom (& VOR),

    I’m not so sure Tom. VOR’s writing gives him away IMO. I could be mistaken but I think he’s well above average on these topics. I’ve not gone further down the road of simplifying when it comes to opening the door into “presentism & eternalism” because he’s never asked for or sought any such clarification — and IMO that’s because he doesn’t need to. “Presentism & Eternalism” isn’t a door which goes to a place that is unfamiliar to him. IF he didn’t understand where the door into the topic of “presentism & eternalism” led to, THEN surely he would have said as much and asked about it — revealing a will to connect.

    The evidence you requested: You’ve made things VERY simple and yet conclude that VOR just isn’t getting it. I disagree with your assessment that VOR just isn’t getting an X which has been made very simple.

    VOR: At some point one’s will and one’s reason must talk to one another. Could it be possible that your will’s reach is truncating your reason’s reach?

    (…Tom… that is me meeting VOR where VOR genuinely is… IMO…)

    ~~~

  201. @scbrown(lhrm)
    I think we all agree vis-a-vis the “Y” in the road between the proverbial meat and potatoes defining “evidence” that teleogy ceaselessly and painfully absconds for the Non-Theist. It is dolorously obvious that the Non-Theist hasn’t factually (given Non-Theism’s constutitional structure of reality) surfaced an argument (yet) for a coherent metaphysical chain of continuity by which Reason herself – given Non-Theism’s elementary properties of reality – recall Debilis infamous “singular and seamless continuum of particle (or whatever) in motion” in which all cutting points are necessarily arbitrary rather than ontological – cannot reasonably disagree with him and simply shift his transitory norm’s slice to some other foci, all a matter of definition rather than of ultimate explanatory terminus in one’s own metaphysics.

  202. Jens,

    That’s fine even though it’s a change in your initial complaint, because as I recall the question I had asked you (in response to your initial complaint) was what it is about Presentism and Eternalism that you find incoherent and (it seems) unintelligible (…as it relates to the definition of “evidence”…)?

    I’m glad we agree on the “Y” in the two different philosophical responses.

  203. @scbrownlhrm

    No, my “hic et nunc” (whimsically mimetic) complaint is about your unhesitating propensity to adopt ostentatious periergia in a fashion that is unparalleled by any other commenter on this site.

  204. Jens,

    Purple Prose aside did you actually (honestly) not see the landing zone of 1. the argument from reason and 2. Presentism and 3. Eternalism and 4. Sean Carroll’s approach within the proverbial Purple? It’s not hard to transition out of this or that style of prose (…fun is fun after all…) once someone is actually interested in the painfully obvious (…argument from reason …Presentism .. Eternalism .. Sean Carroll…), but then you seem to make my point here: You certainly saw the obvious landing zone but elected to avoid the actual point of landing the plane and, instead, decided to take aim at and land upon something lesser rather than the topic at hand, namely the definition of “Evidence” as it relates to the widely accessible discussion of 1. the argument from reason and 2. presentism and 3. eternalism and 4. Sean Carroll’s philosophical approach.

    Now, take note of my use of the phrase Purple Prose in the above paragraph. I get it. That’s not difficult. However, that’s not an “excuse” for you or VOR to “claim” that you really (honestly) did not see the landing zone of those four items such that you had NO options in that you COULD NOT, even if you HAD a will to connect, DECIDE to connect and then carry those initial primers into something far more concrete.

    An exercise follows. Why? For… fun…and, well, I’m sorry if that is “offensive” or “stupid” but try not to be so serious and hard-core here….I can be sort of hard core too.. when someone demonstrates a will to connect… but where’s the “reach” and the “stretch” and the “exploration” in “nothing-but” buttoned-down-hard-core? On that note then…

    Begin Exercise:

    My opening comment in #4:

    The definition of evidence seems to vary with one’s willingness to tolerate reductions to absurdity, or even “degrees” of said reductio(s) (…a case in point are discussions amid the trio of Physics, Eternalism, and Presentism…).

    My follow up in #5:

    To follow up on the last comment:

    Sean Carroll states, “….Our metaphysics must follow our physics. That’s what the word ‘metaphysics’ means….”

    But of course that is not only backwards, it is incomplete. As Feser notes “….metaphysical premises that any possible natural science must presuppose. For that reason, they are more certain than anything science itself could in principle ever either support or refute….”
    (…see https://strangenotions.com/cosmology-and-causation/ …)

    Then:

    A bit more on “evidence” at https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-128871

    Lost so far? All Purple?

    Then:

    Tom stated this in reply to my intention to carry through with VOR:

    “….Once an interlocutor has shown himself uninterested in the substance of the Christians’ argument, as VOR has clearly done here, Jesus’ example is to stop playing as if the person actually did care….”

    Now, see #89 for my own way (Purple?) of saying, to VOR himself, one-on-one, that he (VOR) did not care about the Christian’s actual beliefs. See #93 for another way (Purple?) of saying that.

    Then:

    Tom was right of course in that VOR did not care about his own justifications and, so, did not like being asked to justify his own definitions as he (VOR) stated to me the following:

    “Brown, You are not offering an argument for the existence of God. We have nothing further to discuss”

    It was clear at that point (see #86) that VOR’s straw-man (as discussed prior to 86) of “Christians believe people can walk on water” was not something he wanted to change to include the participation of God as an Agent of causation there. I went so far as to say that we, as agents, suspend iron on top of water but that does not “equate” to “Christians believe that iron just floats on water…all by itself”. To go further would require VOR to do what Tom was trying to get him to do: Include the actual God of Scripture in his definitions of “what Christians believe”.

    Then:

    That brings us to #96 and four links to “the argument from reason / rationality” at an interesting but peculiar site…perhaps you’ve heard of it… by the name of thinkingchristian.net Well then…. 96? Too Purple?

    Then:

    #99 opens with an obvious attempt at Purple Prose in a different setting and #101 continues that prose:

    Glorious Adventures of Childhood T.O.E.’s….

    ….it allows such folks to continue on in their unexamined beliefs of their youth’s Magical Stories of Ontological Cul-De-Sacs, Positivist Folk Tales, Legends of the Good Lord Empiricism, Glorious Humean/Mackiean Dragons, and Fables of Illusory Non-Entities. And various other adventures mixed in to fill in the boring Gaps of childhood….

    OH! those Glorious Adventures of your childhood are so, so hard to let go of….

    Not technical enough? Too Non-Scholastic & Non-Heavy-Meta? Gotta-be-all-button-down Hard Core through-and-through?

    VOR actually “got it” (see #102). That he (VOR) “gets it” is an observation I’ve made several times, though it seems that Tom and I disagree on that point (see #164 https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2018/04/atheists-and-evidence/#comment-129125 ..).

    So that takes us to about #102 so far out of 162-ish comments.

    For that and for the rest I’m happy to juxtapose any item side by side to all of that and walk through them one-by-one with you if you really don’t see the intended landing zone of 1. the argument from reason and 2. Presentism and 3. Eternalism and 4. Sean Carroll’s approach – as they each relate to the definition of “evidence”.

    End exercise.

    BTW: Why did YOU employ your own Whimsically Mimetic?

    Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? THAT is… well… well that is, well, FAR, FAR too (…in a really deeeeeep Pharisaical monotone voice..sort of throaty and scratchy….) P_U_R_P_L_E (…allow the _L_E to trail off into a slow, almost too-long fade….).

    I mean…Just saying.

    (…how was that…? Sorta… dare we say it…. fun-ish and segue-ish all at the same time-ish…?)

    Sigh.

    ~~~

  205. Tom,

    Children’s book:

    Magical Stories of Ontological Cul-De-Sacs — Positivist Folk Tales — Legends of the Good Lord Empiricism — Glorious Humean-Mackiean Dragons — Fables of Illusory Non-Entities

    To supplement:

    https://apps.biola.edu/apologetics-store/products/books/item/learning-logic

    VOR admittedly got it. Gets it. There’s just no will to connect. IMO.

    Meeting people where they are, and then, rather then merely and kindly cutting it short and going straight to Setting The Mirror, is at times lengthy but helpful in demonstration with respect to the hard fact that, for everyone, BOTH our Will AND our Reason populate the doxastic experience.

    Contrary to several claims by A-Theists / Non-Theists, no one is immune.

    It’s not (IMO) an improper use of Setting The Mirror if we push through to that end. That demonstration. Willful refusal to discuss one’s own premises and one’s own definitions is a clue. Willful refusal to believe the Christian when the Christian says, “I don’t believe in that God either” is a clue. Willful refusal to define what one means by “evidence” is a clue.

    Now, the term “Willful” is a loaded term and best avoided until one has elicited several, several demonstrations by which to reasonably infer said interplay of Will/Reason/Belief. IMO.

    I get the Purple Prose discussion (and your goals). But I want us to be mutually clear about goals, both yours and mine.

    ~

  206. I don’t have any problem — and never have — with pushing through to an ending point. I don’t want you to think that’s what any of my concerns here have been about. My concern is with clarity of communication. I disagree with you that VOR understood what you were getting at, or even that he showed any sign of understanding what I was saying. In that regard it all comes out the same, for he didn’t get what either of us were saying. But when people repeatedly inform you that your idiosyncratic vocabulary and tortuous phrasing aren’t communicating successfully, as folks have been telling you for as long as you’ve been commenting here, that’s what concerns me and ought to concern you.

    If you speak with tongues of men and angels… if the trumpet sounds an uncertain note… if you’re not communicating, you’re not communicating. It is an act of intellect, not an act of connecting.

  207. Tom,

    Agree on the Purple.

    Disagree on VOR’s “getting it”, as in, something like:

    pre·var·i·cate
    prəˈverəˌkāt

    verb
    present participle: prevaricating
    speak or act in an evasive way.
    …he seemed to prevaricate when journalists asked pointed questions…

    synonyms: evasive, hedge, dodge (the issue), sidestep (the issue), equivocate…

    So, now the problem is how to incorporate the word Prevaricate in various layers of auspicious auditory tones and vibrant visual hues comprised of anything other than red, blue, and magenta. Why? Well, obviously because https://wikihow.com/Make-Purple-Paint ;-}

    ~

  208. Tom,

    I am not entirely sure how much more clear I can make this without sounding pointed, but I am not the one…

    1) …providing evidence for God.
    2) …defining God.
    3) …asserting God exists.

    Telling you what would constitute as evidence for God is not the equivalent of defining God. This equivocal “But I don’t believe in that God” is void. The burden of proof is meant for any deity howsoever you define it, be it Brahma, Yahweh, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    And when you make the claim that God deliberately designed the universe without conclusive evidence, you have ceded the argument. By implication, there cannot be any evidence by which we can prove God’s existence.

    The fact of the matter is you cannot prove the existence of the God you believe in, you have conceded that you never can, and yet when you are finally backed into a corner, you resort to calling me illiterate and throwing up straw men.

    I only wish we could have done this debate publicly and in person. I’d have made a room full of atheists, or at least, imbued some skepticism in a dogmatic people.

  209. I think I said I was done trying to explain all this. I really am.

    You can declare yourself the winner all you want. I’m thinking there’s a Dunning-Kruger explanation for your thinking that. But we’re going to end up disagreeing no matter what. You have the right, naturally, to think what you think, I will go on thinking what I think, and others who read here will draw their own conclusions. I’m content to leave it at that. I’m done trying with you.

  210. VOR,

    Sorry to say, but you give yourself and atheism much too much credit. To tell Tom or any Christian or for that matter, any believer in God, that he or she cannot prove that God exists is to merely state the obvious. But it matters not in the least, since it is God’s job to prove that God exists and He has done an excellent job of this Himself. Atheists accept no evidence of God because to do so would force the collapse of their ideology. So it is no mystery whatsoever why atheists will not acknowledge any of the evidence God has given humankind of His existence.

    As I have stated before several times, whether or not you believe in God is strictly a matter between you and God. I, as a Christian, bear no culpability for your non-belief. Nor does Tom or any other believer. This is not about winning a debate, on the internet or in public. It is about our relationship with God and about the fate of our eternal souls. I pray in Jesus’s name for your spiritual awakening. More I cannot do.

    JB

  211. For the benefit of others who may read this without having been through the rest of the comments, I should mention that VOR’s May 12 statement on what he would count as evidence for God is what I have repeatedly explained as constituting a new definition for “God,” one that no one actually believes in.

    Obviously he disagrees, but I think my explanations above make the point solidly enough.

    I have offered to provide evidence for the God we do believe in, but he has not budged on his insistence that we give evidence for the god he wants us to prove, which I have repeatedly explained is not our God.

    VOR, this was intended for reference purposes for other readers, not to re-open our debate.

  212. VOR,

    ….defining God…. evidence for God…

    You’ve been given both: Reason.

    To be more accurate, we can say “Reason Itself” in the sense of mirroring the “classical theism” phrase of, “Being Itself”.

    “Classical theism is the conception of God that has prevailed historically within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Western philosophical theism generally. Its religious roots are biblical, and its philosophical roots are to be found in the Neoplatonic and Aristotelian traditions. Among philosophers it is represented by the likes of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Avicenna…..” (E. Feser)

    It’s widely accessible. For centuries. And with it the argument from reason. It too is widely accessible. For centuries.

    I’ll leave you to address THAT, the long standing “argument from reason” or the related theme along similar lines with “The Rationalist Proof” (…see Five Proofs of The Existence of God at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/08/five-proofs-is-out.html ..). Widely accessible. Centuries old.

    Why leave you with THAT? Because that way you don’t have the excuse of claiming it’s an unintelligible invention of mine.

    Whereas, what follows is not for you at all, but instead is my own brief segue into THAT. So you can stop reading “here” and simply choose to 1. evade or 2. ignore or 3. redefine or 4. address just THAT, just that ONE specific definition / proof.

    Segue:

    Often I find that many of our Non-Theist (A-Theist) friends are, when it comes to being, quick to trade away permanence in their paradigm when it comes to the moral, whereas very few are so bold when facing the argument from reason. And for good reason (no pun intended). The inevitable shipwreck suffered by trading away permanence in the paradigm of metaphysical naturalism when it comes to reason is just too costly. Why? Because at that juncture it becomes evident that while they have been forced to leave “Being Itself” on the table, they have, by their own hand, stripped reason away from it (away from “Being Itself”) such that reason finds that it “is” what it always has been in metaphysical naturalism, which is no-thing, as in non-being. Non-Theism is intrinsically anti-reason with respect to “being”. That is to say that Non-Theism just is Non-Reason.

    Five Proofs has several chapters, all of which our Non-Theist friends are, in this thread about “Evidence”, invited to dive into and unpack, and so on, but in focus here is the following chapter:

    5 – The Rationalist Proof

    Informal statement of the argument: Stage 1

    Common sense and science alike suppose that there are explanations for the existence of the things we encounter, the attributes things exhibit, and the events that occur……”

    E. Feser is intelligible and widely accessible, which is fortunate for our Non-Theist friends.

    ~~~

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