Email: Why can’t science ever prove God?


Andrew writes:

I’ve stumbled across your show and personal beliefs aside, I just have to say that people are really stupid. As a Catholic, I’m ashamed of the logic of Christians trying to prove the existence of God as it presents itself on your show. I do have a question which I don’t get about what atheists state: God can never be proven through science. If something exists, it can be proven. Yet with the logic that the Christians use, they change Christian belief and twist it into personal assumptions rather than going by fundamental doctrine. I guess my questions are: 1) Why can’t science ever prove God? ; 2) What, besides God walking up to you, can be proof for the existence of God?

And by God, I mean a physical entity that can come down and walk amongst us, wrestle with us and looks like us. Basically, if you stood next to God, you’d see that humans were created to be in the image of God. I know how you love to get definitions of God.

Andrew,

You have to understand that we can only respond to claims that we are offered about God, and there are thousands of conflicting versions of God. I know many atheists have put forth the case that God should be possible to investigate through science, and have suggested specific ways that the claim could be testable.

However, to understand how much the waters have been muddied, you ought to familiarize yourself with the history of the creationism movement. A hundred years ago, it was illegal to teach evolution in schools at all. By the 1960’s, evolution was accepted as standard science. However, there was a movement to demand that creationism must be taught as science by law. This was finally rejected because creationism, at the time, was considered purely religion with no scientific merit.

So in the mid 60’s there was a push to create “scientific creationism.” At the time, creationists still attempted to make testable claims, generally centered around a literal interpretation of the Bible. For instance, they attempted to prove that the global flood was real. But the problem with such specific claims is that science can not only test them; it can prove them wrong. And it did, which eventually led to more legislative defeats for creationists.

Since that time, creationists have gotten a lot more crafty in trying to advance a watered down form of creationism in schools. The 1990’s saw the rise of “intelligent design” which, while heavily borrowing elements of traditional creationism, made the definition of “the designer” continually more vague and without specific testable claims. In their effort not to be labeled as yet another drive to teach religion in schools, they refuse to say anything specific about God. They just say “we logically infer that there must be a designer” and they don’t propose any claims about what the designer is like or how he could be tested.

This achieves the objective of being harder to counter with observable facts, yes, but it also renders meaningless any efforts to actually investigate “God” or some other sort of designer.

So can science investigate God? It depends, of course. If the concept of God is attached to specific claims about the way he interacts with the world, then yeah, you’re right, that God should in principle be testable. Of course, no scientific investigations have ever revealed anything like the God of the Bible.

But on the other hand, when people propose a God that is deliberately made vague, that is untestable. An amorphous “intelligent designer” can’t be investigated, and as I’ve explained, that is pretty much on purpose. Likewise, vague claims like “God is love” or “God is a universal consciousness” don’t lend themselves easily to testing. If we ever said that God is not a scientific concept, you can bet that we were probably responding specifically to a person who was advancing this kind of nonspecific notion of God.

As for your second question: “What, besides God walking up to you, can be proof for the existence of God?” Well, I mean, God walking up to me would be a pretty good one. It’s not even all that outlandish a request. After all, according to the Bible, God used to appear to people all the time. He talked to Moses in a burning Bush, he showed his puncture wounds to Doubting Thomas, he dropped in on Saul of Tarsus, he told Abraham to kill his son (before going on to say “just kidding!”).

If God is bothered by the existence of atheists, then clearly he knows how to fix that. What’s weird is that God is seemingly so selective. A few scattered people get to have a fireside chat with God. The rest of us apparently have to make do with clearly apocryphal stories about the appearances, and believe blindly with no such concrete evidence whatsoever. If this is the way God works, then either he enjoys playing mind games with the millions of atheists on the planet, or else he really does want them to remain atheists.

As for me, I don’t think there is a god. If it turns out I’m wrong, he knows where I live.

Comments

  1. says

    "As for me, I don't think there is a god. If it turns out I'm wrong, he knows where I live."What a short, clever response. I hope you don't mind, but I'll be stealing it for use in the future ;p

  2. says

    God cannot be proven, even by Him walking up to you. There are too many possible other explanations to go straight from non-belief to belief.If some problem in science were to be shown that made more sense positing God as an explanation than simply "saying we don't know" then the best God would be is a working hypothesis – like every law and theory in science currently is. For example many great scientists of old saw the universe of humans as so complex that they must have had a creator, e.g. Newton. The problem with going in this direction is that so much of what has been put at the door of God has subsequently been shown not to be: from natural disasters; to weather; to evolution; to morality; that we cannot sensibly use God as the most likely candidate for anything in the natural world with no proof of His existence let alone His having an effect.

  3. says

    I had someone ask me a question like that a few months ago."If you don't believe god exists how could he do anything to prove you wrong?""Um.. come knock on my door and say, Hey, I'm God, how are you?"

  4. says

    "As for me, I don't think there is a god. If it turns out I'm wrong, he knows where I live."Definitely something I need to "borrow". 8~}A serious question though, if God did come to your house how would you determine it was God? Just playing the Devils Advocate here.

  5. says

    I had a discussion with a couple of theist friends a while back about why I didn't believe in god. My simple answer to them was "I've never been shown any evidence that something like that exists". One of my friends replied "Well maybe he did show you signs, but you just didn't see them". My rebuttal to that was "Perhaps. But if this god of yours exists, then he knows exactly what sort of evidence would convince me that he exists. And furthermore he would know in advance whether a "sign" he sent me would work or not. I'm fallible, but you claim that he is not. So why would god send me evidence of his existence when he knows in advance that it would not be sufficient to convince me?". Yeah, they had nothing in response to that. Checkmate? :)Here's another related story. A while back I wrote on my own blog about what kind of evidence would convince me that a god exists. I skipped over the obvious "appear to me in person" since I'm often told by believers that that is pretty much an impossible request. So I devised a simple three question test for a believer to prove to me that their particular god exists. Amusingly, the very first response I got to my "divine evidence test" was the following:"Do not put the Lord your God to the test"- Luke 4:12…*facepalm*

  6. says

    This is easy. Ask the god to borrow his omniscience for a few seconds and or allow you to create your own universe. After that you would get better indication of who you are dealing with. Even if it is really highly advanced Aliens tricking you then you still might as well call then a sort of God if they have that those abilities.

  7. says

    The whole 'god showing up at my door' bit is good shorthand, but essentially it is saying that, if a god exists, He/She/It knows exactly what it would take for me to believe. Therefore if a god wanted me to know its existence, I would know it.

  8. says

    Well, requiring a god to approach every atheist personally is perhaps a bit much really. And proving god is also never the issue from a scientific perspective, just like you cannot prove that there is no unicorn anywhere in the world.The only things you could possibly say are (1) that all other explanations for a phenomenon that you can currently think of except divine intervention have been rejected, or (2) that of all explanations for a phenomenon that you can currently think of divine intervention is the most probable. Both are, of course, vulnerable to somebody proposing a better explanation that you just did not have the imagination to formulate.Nevertheless, in that vein many atheist scientists have used their recent books to point out what would be observations in nature that would, if they had been made, have made a higher intelligence behind the universe a very likely explanation. Victor Stenger, for example, mentions things like the universe starting in a state of maximum order (which it did not), the sky being a firmament (which it is not), or the sum of all energy in the universe not being zero (which it is). Again, it would still not have been a proof from a scientific perspective, but these observations would have been difficult to explain without an act of creation, if they had been made.

  9. says

    I don't think its that clever, as it is founded on arrogant and unsubstantiated claims.BWAH HAH HAH HAH….*wipes away tear*Seriously though…*rereads original post* what "claims" exactly? I see no claims other than some fairly straightforward historical facts and description of the process of science.I'll come right out and say it too…I don't think there is a god; I have never seen any convincing argument, let alone evidence, for his existence, and the science does well enough on its own to explain the universe. (By the same token, I've never seen any convincing argument or evidence *against* physics or biology that wasn't utter bovine exhaust)I'm open to having my mind changed. God knows where I live, and if he's omniscient, he knows what would and would not convince me.

  10. says

    The claim I was talking about was god would know how to make you believe, and should just come and see if you if it wanted you to believe. The unsubstantiated claims I was refering to is god knows how to make you believe and the claim that god "know where to find you". To me these are totally unfounded claims, that don't really mean anything at all, but get there power through mocking, much like the rest of you atheist babble.

  11. says

    Well, requiring a god to approach every atheist personally is perhaps a bit much really.This is stupid. Who the hell are you to place such strict limits on what is by definition limitless?Creating a trillion stars? CheckCreate all life on earth? CheckVisit a million or two of these humans? Far to difficult!I mean I know he can totally read your thoughts and listen to a billion prayers at once, but that is really asking to much!To me these are totally unfounded claims, that don't really mean anything at all, but get there power through mocking, much like the rest of you atheist babble.What the hell do you except, an apology? There's a reason people mock these ideas – they are laughable.

  12. says

    Why would anyone visit anyone else, if that person didn't believe in the other person, and mocked all their "friends"?But beyond that what logic or reason is used to justify the absurd atheist claim, that god could visit them if they wanted to? I mean you think your being so clever, but its really just simple and childish. Atheist have no solid reason why god would in fact come and visit them, anyways. It is just a childish, flippant, response to a very serious question, typical atheist bull. If god exists I bet it doesn't care too much if you believe or not. Also it is reasonable for a god to be omnipotent and still have a plethora of other reasons not to come visit some cynical atheist children…

  13. says

    Why would anyone visit anyone else, if that person didn't believe in the other person, and mocked all their "friends"?Beats me. I was told by some people that the god loves me and wants me to love it back. I have a hard time believing that's true based on how petty you think it is.But beyond that what logic or reason is used to justify the absurd atheist claim, that god could visit them if they wanted to?Because… God is supposedly omnipotent? Because… as I pointed out in the OP, God has apparently visited people before?I don't know, if you believe in a god who can't even do something like that that's certainly your prerogative, but it must be a pretty puny and powerless god and I'm not sure why it deserves the label. I mean, even I can go visit people and provide enough physical evidence to demonstrate that I exist, with tremendous ease. As far as I can tell, your god can't, which makes me more powerful than your god.I mean you think your being so clever, but its really just simple and childish. Atheist have no solid reason why god would in fact come and visit them, anyways. It is just a childish, flippant, response to a very serious question, typical atheist bull.I don't need a reason why god would come visit me. I was responding to email asking what God could do to convince me that He exists. I suggested a course of action. If God doesn't want to convince me that he exists, who am I to argue?If god exists I bet it doesn't care too much if you believe or not.See, that's exactly what I said in the first place. Read my post again."If this is the way God works, then either he enjoys playing mind games with the millions of atheists on the planet, or else he really does want them to remain atheists."That's what I said. And apparently, you think he wants us to remain atheists. Fine. We are in agreement. Huzzah!Also it is reasonable for a god to be omnipotent and still have a plethora of other reasons not to come visit some cynical atheist children…Yep, because he either likes playing games or doesn't care. That pretty much nails it. Thank you.

  14. says

    God either likes playing games or doesn't care about atheist? Geez way to consider all the other options, that's not at all reductive…Maybe it is important for people to not believe…maybe there is some reason god doesn't want to appear, or can't…maybe god recognizes the process atheist are going through and sees the benefit in that…as him appearing to some groups of people and not others, well there's no reason to accept those stories as such…and once again there could be a plethora of reasons why he choose those people and that time, and not these people at this time….you think your making a clever argument but it is reductive and childish

  15. says

    as him appearing to some groups of people and not others, well there's no reason to accept those stories as such…and once again there could be a plethora of reasons why he choose those people and that time, and not these people at this time….As usual, PM, you have hit the nail right on the head. There's no good reason to accept any of those stories. Or the claims of God's existence, for that matter. Your insight is unparalleled, and you are a credit to our comments section.

  16. says

    so you agree, you do think its silly for Atheist to make the argument that god would appear to them if it wanted to?I didn't agree that there was no reason to think a god exists….once again an atheist conflating issues how special!

  17. says

    March Hare wrote God cannot be proven, even by Him walking up to you.You seem to be using the absolute definition of proof here, as in "something which is show, beyond which any doubt or criticism may be valid".That's not scientific "proof", for science is always willing to entertain the possibility that it might be wrong. Theories are provisional.So, absolute proof of God's existence – impossible. Scientific proof of that existence – possible, but only so far as the definition is testable. God walking up to you and asking for a smoke would, indeed, be scientific proof. Not unassailable, but proof nonetheless.

  18. says

    so you agree, you do think its silly for Atheist to make the argument that god would appear to them if it wanted to?Of course not. If the god wanted to appear, and was omnipotent (hence capable of acting on its desires) then it would appear. But you said that the god probably didn't want to appear.Look, I'm trying to address the version of God that you are pulling out of your ass right now. Earlier when I responded to this email, I was referring to what the author had as his own conception of God. It's no surprise to me that everybody's version of God is different, and difficult to compare, since there doesn't seem to be a neutral objective entity that exists so we can compare your claims.I didn't agree that there was no reason to think a god exists….once again an atheist conflating issues how special!You did, however, say that there was no reason to believe any of the stories which have led other people to believe that a god exists. And I agree.

  19. says

    Kazim, your losing me, I never said god didn't want to appear, I said there could be a plethora why it chooses not to"pulling a god out of my ass" well that'd be evidence huh? But once again your doing atheist knee-jerk tricks, I have not spoken or described my own belief in god. Kazim, are you acknowledging that you do in fact conflate issues? And therefore create bullshit claims?

  20. Martin says

    No, he's simply responding to the claims you're making, which are taking an increasingly flailing tone. All you seem to be able to do when he points out how poorly you're arguing is to whine about how mean atheists are to mock you. Well, boo hoo. Either man up and take it, or present better arguments. You can start by explaining why it's "childish" to suggest an omniscient deity would, in fact, know how to reveal its existence to us, because omniscient deities tend to know, oh, everything.

  21. says

    Kazim, your losing me,That has been obvious for some time now.I never said god didn't want to appear, I said there could be a plethora why it chooses not toWell, if an omnipotent being can take a certain action but chooses not to, then it must not actually want to. Otherwise, being able to take the action, it would. Pretty simple, eh?"pulling a god out of my ass" well that'd be evidence huh? But once again your doing atheist knee-jerk tricks, I have not spoken or described my own belief in god.Don't be coy. I certainly don't know or care whether or not you actually believe in the god you have been presenting, but you certainly have been presenting one. You've already proposed the existence of a god who is upset by mocking atheists insulting its "friends" — implying, incidentally, that the god regards theists and not atheists at friends, which certainly gives a clear indication of the god's state of mind. You've also stated that "you bet" the god does not care whether we believe in it or not, which is another distinct claim.Of course, you don't have enough confidence in this hypothesized god to even defend it, instead fleeing to this defense that you haven't suggested any such thing. So in addition to pulling imaginary characteristics of a god out of your ass, you also lie about it. And there you go.Kazim, are you acknowledging that you do in fact conflate issues? And therefore create bullshit claims?Oh, unquestionably I do that sometimes. After all, it is human nature.In this case, though, I think most people reading have already formed an opinion about which of us is full of shit.

  22. says

    @ "…Philospher's mess that we've told him to clean up a thousand times and he still won't and that's why he's groundy, the naughty boy"You're using the sort of logically unsound tactic of "throw the first punch" victory. Not sure what it's exactly called but basically you seem to be under the impression that if you show up and treat people with an insulting tone you can then declare victory if they get mad. "You can't win, I HAVE THE MORAL HIGHGROUND" sort of thing.You should reconsider this tactic.

  23. says

    Since Martin has just put Philosopher's Mess in "time out" as per this other thread, his latest comment has been rejected. I can, however, provide the flavor of his final message:"Blah blah blah silly and childish blah blah are you smoking rocks? blah blah blah pompous jerk!"(And yes, I realize that it is genuinely both silly AND childish to dismantle his obviously very mature, calm, and collected treatise by presenting only the funniest parts. So sue me.)

  24. says

    (If Philosophers mess is banned)He reminds me of the MST3K: Sampson Vs the Vampire Women…the professor who invites someone over, is rude and tells him to leave 5 seconds after starting the conversation.Professor "Why don't anyone talk to me?"

  25. says

    Anyone ever came to you at the AE with the hypothesis that God once existed but had died since then, by choking on a red giant or something? No, but seriously, even in the Bible, God's manifestations are widely inconsistent. He seems to appear pretty casually to Adam, Cain and even Abraham, but to Moses he is more dramatic, and if I remember correctly it is implied that the mere sight of God could be fatal to human. In later stories, he seems more equivocal and shows up to a selected few.

  26. says

    Just read the comments. PM is such a nice guy. Here's my two cents on this (and I know I am not bringing anything new): if God exists and has his reasons not to reveal himself to atheists, fine by me, but then I cannot be blamed for not believing in him.

  27. says

    "Anyone ever came to you at the AE with the hypothesis that God once existed but had died since then, by choking on a red giant or something?"Didn't that happen to God in Stephen King's "It"?

  28. Admin says

    Philospher's Mind is being a fool, but I'd like to see him/her learn the difference between "your" and "you're". The mistake has been repeated over and over.Anyway, most religious people argue that their god(s) interacts with our universe. If this is true, it is absolutely testable scientifically. Show me that prayer works. Demonstrate that faith healing is real. Get the god(s) to appear and do some cool magic tricks in front of James Randi. etc, etc, etc.

  29. says

    If the author of this comment: Maybe it is important for people to not believe…maybe there is some reason god doesn't want to appear, or can't…maybe god recognizes the process atheist are going through and sees the benefit in that…Actually believed what he said then the whole conversation is over. However, the author obviously found such a statement purely false since he continued to argue about it.Am I wrong in this observation? It seems that Kazim is more like a mediator to the PM's desire to argue against himself.

  30. says

    PM's attitude wouldn't fly in a flipping D&D game…I don't know WHY he expected us to be so tolerant of his "fuck you snobby snobs!" attitude.

  31. Admin says

    Why did I call him "Philosopher's Mind"? I guess that just made more sense to me. But Philosopher's Mess definitely is a better description of what is going on in his head.

  32. says

    @Ing-Pennywise claims that the Turtle (i.e. the good god in IT) died, but if I remember correctly the Turtle then manifest itself to the kids again. Theologically speaking, IT is a strange novel, as God and Satan's sphere of influence seems to be mainly within the limits of a small town in Maine. Another hypothesis: God existed, created the universe but died doing so, in childbirth so to speak. Sure, I have no proof of this, but this is just as valuable as any other belief. Or the creator god is Azatoth, maybe?

  33. says

    Hi Jim, I don't really understand your response. The original post was about the idea that god could just reveal itself to any non-believer if it wanted to, all I was saying with my comment was there could be limitless reason why it would not want to do that? I don't understand how that's arguing with myself?

  34. says

    No. 2 Religion I am not sure how to respond to you question, why do Christians care so much? I am not sure if you mean why do they care so much about believing in god, or why do they care so much about people who don't believe, or something else? But my point, in what you quoted was that if their was some all powerful god out there, it probably surpasses the concerns of the average person. It seems the question "why doesn't god just appear to me" is a very human question and one that a higher power would be unconcerned with…hope that clears up my point friend!

  35. says

    I am very sorry admin for typos, and quickly posted responses. Its been a busy week for me and so I have been responding in between my other work, but thanks for the grammar tip, I really appreciate the close reading and will approve. Ok buddy? As for fool? Well that's not very nice,but your probably right in certain respects, thanks again for making me a better person.

  36. says

    Hi Jim, I don't really understand your response. The original post was about the idea that god could just reveal itself to any non-believer if it wanted to, all I was saying with my comment was there could be limitless reason why it would not want to do that? I don't understand how that's arguing with myself?It's quite simple. You made that original statement and Kazim agreed with it but you continued to argue with him about it. Had you actually believed what you said, there never would have been an argument and the conversation would have been over. But, alas, that's not what happened. You were in an argumentative mood, going by your recent posts, and it degraded into mindless sophistry.

  37. says

    General Comment:PM is much more likable, even if he still thinks we're hypocritical mouth breathers, now that his attitude's adjusted.

  38. says

    @Philosophers MessSorry my question was not clear but I was asking why Christians care so much about people who don't believe?I ask this in reference to their god possible not caring.

  39. says

    Alright Jim, I got cha. I would just respond that the statement being discussed is my real opinion. That's the only thing I disagreed with in your comments, so thanks for the great response!

  40. says

    Thanks ing, I'm really here to just discuss the subjects;I'm just an emotional cat, struggling with these things in my own life. I know some of my comments don't reflect that, but I will keep it on the side of "nice" from here forward…hopefully lol.

  41. says

    I don't really know how much Christians "care", ya know? I mean as is often obvious from the show, with the hell and damnation stuff, Christians often have a unique form of "caring", when they do this type of thing.The other thing is I think we have become really xenophobic in our culture, where differing opinions are often not really listened too and it is easier to form bad opinions of the things and people which you don't really relate to.I think Christians might seem to "care" about atheists, because as has been touched on in the blog, the non-religious have been marginalized through history and so it is just now recently, that people are being exposed to atheist ideas, and de facto they become an object of attention, just because of a certain "otherness" they represent.

  42. Admin says

    After saying he recognises his grammar mistakes, PM says:"As for fool? Well that's not very nice,but YOUR probably right in certain respects, thanks again for making me a better person.""Lol YOUR right Admin and that's why I choose the name, YOUR spot on! Thanks!"What a putz. By the way, still waiting for you to design an experiment to prove god's existence.I'm going on vacation now, so don't consider any lack of response from me as a victory.

  43. Martin says

    Well, lots of people make the your/you're mistake, though I do wish everyone would learn that one at the very least. Let's try to focus our criticisms on the substance of arguments. We're not grading English papers here.

  44. says

    That's hilarious. I said I understood it, not that I wouldn't make the mistake again…it's not that i don't "get it", I guess I'm just to absent minded and a lazy proof reader …it's funny I make that mistake repeatedly, but tomorrow I get to go take an exam translating large sections of Ovid "Metamorphoses" so who knows it's a crazy world! thanks admin it was silly of me; I appreciate the attention to detail though, for sure, even if you call me names! funny funny funny

  45. says

    Anyone else think that PM seems to be doing an "oh yes, Smeagol shall be very nice to hobbits, nasssty hobbits are always so polite, yes precious" kind of thing?

  46. says

    Say, Philosopher's Mess, now that you are all nice and polite and everyone is your friend, I wonder if you could do me a little favor.Earlier you mentioned repeatedly that you hadn't yet told anyone what you actually believed about God. I think many of us are still curious about that and would like to hear your point of view. You also responded to one comment by saying that we had labeled you as an atheist. Do you think you are one? If not, are you a fan of some strain of Christianity, or something else entirely?

  47. says

    "Anyone else think that PM seems to be doing an "oh yes, Smeagol shall be very nice to hobbits, nasssty hobbits are always so polite, yes precious" kind of thing?"I did at first, but I honestly don't care as long as it's not annoying.

  48. says

    @Kazim I am not here to "preach" and "convert", and I don't know what I would preach or what I would offer for conversion, and I am a little confused because I have already told you my theological and religious background in our personal email discussions, so I don't know why I am being singled out here. I don't mind retelling these things. It just seems I have already heard your response…but for Russel again and all the rest of you fine people for the "first" time, I find considerable legitimate evidence for supernatural events in my readings, research, personal testimonies related to me and personal experiences. There is a tradition explaining these events called religion, when I study these religions, they come up with these things called gods. In this process I find these things describing gods and the spiritual, that seem to communicate with my own intuitive, intrinsic sense of the truth of god and spiritual as well, this process leads me to believe more in god. This is getting "preachy", but blame Kazim not me. I also don't agree with the rigidity your question assumes; I am not holding a fixed concept of god in my mind, god's characteristics seem to be diverse and mysterious in the religious and mystical traditions. At the same time, I am aware of the history of certain arguments for the existence of god, and the critiques of those argument as well, and I am also aware of the empirical skeptical position as well, and these ideas create an "atheist" self in my psyche, also. See this is why I am interested in the show and the blog and the discussion itself, cause I really don't know, and I know I don't know, but there is a part of me that thinks I do know, it is a confusing mess of ideas. I am just always in awe of the world, and in awe of the world of ideas.I will wrap this up and I am so sorry for those out there that just hate hearing that type of talk. As I also said, Russel in our emails, I was raised a two times a year Catholic, but went to Catholic grade school and High School. In 8th grade, the school pulled me in one day in with a teacher, a Priest (a real jerk of a one), and a school counselor, to criticize my family for not attending church more and to strong-arm me into becoming a more active participant, threatening my sacrament of Catholic Confirmation if I didn't get my act together. I told them I didn't want to be confirmed. I was told I would have to tell the class about "my decision", which I did. That's about my history with organized religion. I am sure my mystical beliefs find their origins in this indoctrination…I am not sure about the historically "real" Jesus, but I do see in the story some profound mystical truths…but I'll end there because I think I have provided enough ammo for the fun, already.

  49. says

    "I don't know why I am being singled out here."*snorts soda out nose*Look I like you more now that you're behaving but HONESTLY you have no idea why?

  50. says

    "I do see in the story some profound mystical truths…but I'll end there because I think I have provided enough ammo for the fun, already."Sorry, but you stumbled upon a major theme of mine. PM/e-mail me if you want the larger discussion but my assertion ist aht those truths are neither unique to the bible/stories nor are they the best example.

  51. says

    I have always been rational. as far back as i can recall. The nuns could never explain this: if this 'god' gave me a mind and the ability to think and reason, why does he disrespect that and expect me to NOT use my intellect?why does this 'god' want me to believe something with no proof?

  52. says

    @Philosopher's MessYou mentioned a whole bunch of wishy-washy stuff but never nailed down any specifics:Do you believe in ESP? Telepathy? Sourcery? Life after death? Communication with the dead? A universe/god that cares what humans do? An objective set of morals that have been put in place by a being outside of the universe? Fairies (don't laugh, this belief was common until the 20th century)? Ghosts? Feng Shui? Accupuncture? Reincarnation? Crystal balls? Crystal healing? Miracles? Virgin births? Revealed truth? Visions? Monotheism? Polytheism? Any particular religion having some truth that no other one does? Telekinesis? Raising the dead? Parting the seas? Rapture? The Second Coming? The anti-Christ? Angels? Demons? Satan?Come on, annunciate your beliefs or views…

  53. says

    @ Adam and no2religionOf course I was not saying that an omnipotent god could not visit every atheist, merely that the god people believe in is not necessarily mean a god that would be willing to do so.I then pointed out what I consider more convincing "proofs" of the existence of a higher intelligence that created the universe. You can point at these things to show theists that science would be open to accepting god(s) if the data required it. Heck, if all manner of physical trauma to the brain would leave our memory and character intact, science could have to accept an immaterial soul. Note the subjunctive in all cases.

  54. says

    PM:I am not here to "preach" and "convert", and I don't know what I would preach or what I would offer for conversion, and I am a little confused because I have already told you my theological and religious background in our personal email discussions, so I don't know why I am being singled out here.Don't worry. Nobody, I think, would accuse you of "preaching" for answering a question about what you think.As for why I am "singling you out," well, when you first showed up here you have to admit you were pretty combative. I do appreciate the way you have moderated your tone since then, but it's hardly surprising that I, along with many other people here, are still a bit wary that you might return to your original style. I will freely admit that I responded by matching your tone, and things spiraled out of control from there. So, sorry about that, and hope this time around may be more productive.Anyway, when you were writing like that, you accused me and others of making claims that were "arrogant," while offering a number of alternative explanations which you later claimed not to believe at all — when I responded to your own words, you said "I have not spoken or described my own belief in god." I don't like to be in the position of have to guess at (and probably misinterpret) someone's position because they will not say what it is. So, I thought it would be more productive to just ask you.There is a tradition explaining these events called religion, when I study these religions, they come up with these things called gods. In this process I find these things describing gods and the spiritual, that seem to communicate with my own intuitive, intrinsic sense of the truth of god and spiritual as well, this process leads me to believe more in god.Okay. So you are a theist. I appreciate your honesty.At the same time, you shouldn't expect the idea of a god to be persuasive to others simply because it appeals to your own intuitive, intrinsic sense of truth. That is a personal and subjective opinion, and one which atheists do not share. Also, I think it's maybe a bit glib to group religions together as saying anything consistent about "God," or any number of gods, or various spiritual "truths." There are thousands of religions and millions of individual sects, and a great many of them believe tremendously different things.This is getting "preachy", but blame Kazim not me. I also don't agree with the rigidity your question assumes; I am not holding a fixed concept of god in my mind, god's characteristics seem to be diverse and mysterious in the religious and mystical traditions.Well, again, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that you believe in a non-fixed kind of God based on "religions," because those religions make very specific claims about what the god is like. I mean, the idea that Jesus Christ was God's only begotten son is a claim about reality, not about feelings. It is either true or it isn't. Ditto for the notion that heaven and hell are real places, and any number of other claims. That's why I think that March Hare, above, made a reasonable point. Do you believe in any particular god or spiritual truth? Or just a general feeling that there are some spiritual truths, without caring what they are?At the same time, I am aware of the history of certain arguments for the existence of god, and the critiques of those argument as well, and I am also aware of the empirical skeptical position as well, and these ideas create an "atheist" self in my psyche, also.All right. I think I see what you are saying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you mean that you lean towards theism because the notion of spiritual truths is appealing to you, but you are not confident enough in the logical arguments to erase your doubts. Is that a fair statement?Continued next post…

  55. says

    See this is why I am interested in the show and the blog and the discussion itself, cause I really don't know, and I know I don't know, but there is a part of me that thinks I do know, it is a confusing mess of ideas. I am just always in awe of the world, and in awe of the world of ideas.Well, okay. I do wish to be nicer to you than before, but I think I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that some of what you say still sounds suspiciously exaggerated and I wonder if it's sarcastic. Whereas beforehand you were saying that everything we said was childish, now you seem to be saying that you are here to be awed by ideas. I don't know whether you are being sincere now or whether you are just going to great lengths not to get banned again. If it is the second one, I would just say "lighten up a bit." You don't have to act like you think everybody here is brilliant. You were only banned before for out-and-out hostility and insults, and that was only after a long string of escalations.I will wrap this up and I am so sorry for those out there that just hate hearing that type of talk. As I also said, Russel in our emails, I was raised a two times a year Catholic, but went to Catholic grade school and High School.In 8th grade, the school pulled me in one day in with a teacher, a Priest (a real jerk of a one), and a school counselor, to criticize my family for not attending church more and to strong-arm me into becoming a more active participant, threatening my sacrament of Catholic Confirmation if I didn't get my act together. I told them I didn't want to be confirmed. I was told I would have to tell the class about "my decision", which I did. That's about my history with organized religion. I am sure my mystical beliefs find their origins in this indoctrination…I am not sure about the historically "real" Jesus, but I do see in the story some profound mystical truths…but I'll end there because I think I have provided enough ammo for the fun, already.All I would say about this is that I would never say that a bad experience with a religious authority figure is any reason not to believe in god. On the other hand, if you care about whether you believe in things that are true or not, I would think you owe it to yourself to ask how you can tell the difference. After all, there's no denying that plenty of people in the world feel a strong sense of personal conviction and rightness about something that is, in fact, false. That has to be the case, since many of these people believe mutually contradictory things. So I think what I was trying to get at before is, what's your belief filter?

  56. says

    Maybe, but I can't see a deistic god being a source of "spiritual truths." A deistic God would likely have been gone before human brains were capable of caring about such things.

  57. says

    "All I would say about this is that I would never say that a bad experience with a religious authority figure is any reason not to believe in god."I'd argue that if they claim morality and authority from said god and evidence contradicts them it should trigger a questioning of their claims.

  58. says

    Well, just because there is a god doesn't mean that the person is actually talking to God.It's kind of like something I've said about the spiritual powers. Suppose that, for example, Sylvia Brown is not a fraud at all, but really talks to the dead. The spirits talk back to her privately, and they never say anything that is possible to test scientifically, but they're really there.Even granting that she has these powers, how do I tell the difference between a real medium like Sylvia Brown and a fraud? Because there will still be frauds… just because Sylvia Brown turns out to be telling the truth doesn't prove that anyone else is.That's why I would say that a power like Sylvia Brown claims to have is ultimately useless even if it's real, because there's no way to tell between the real power and an imitation.

  59. says

    @ Kazzimbut if there's no discernible difference between a real and fake why would you assume there's any real to begin with?It's like a 3 card monte. The con isn't in the cards at all, it's in tricking you into believing there is a right answer at all.

  60. says

    Again it's like the convo we tried to have with Seth (but might as well have had it with a brick wall). Forget even being proactive in protecting their flock, any god that lets evil be done in their name or by their clerics is guilty of gross incompetence and dereliction of duty.Even the greek gods, as irresponsible as they were were careful about making sure their representatives stayed sort of in line.

  61. says

    "I meant specifically in regards to my religious beliefs and history, which I had already explained to him through email, why do you gotta bring up old stuff? lol"Well, no offense but you do really only get one 'first impression'.

  62. says

    @ March HareThat was a long list and I can not respond to each directly, with a simple yes and no. Each would need a specific definition and then it would require research into that definition. I also in my original post, and your free to label this wishy-washy, but I don't really hold to a rigid set of dogma from any religion. So things like the "virgin birth", I am basically detached from. It seems each thing you listed warrants a large amount of research in itself, so how could we have an intelligent conversation about them in this short space? Also as I said I'm not here to "preach" or "convert" so I don't feel too much obligation towards any of those concepts. I think there are things like "ESP","Acupuncture", and "objective morals" in your list, which at first glance seem more reasonable than things like "the rapture", and the "anti-christ", but that is speculative.A lot of the things you listed I do have an interest in and I hope to be able to dedicate more time to their study in the future, but if we wanted to have a further discussion about any one of them, we should pick one and focus on it.

  63. says

    @ Kazim's first response Responding to you is a difficult process for me. As I genuinely want to answer your questions, but your rudeness and personal attacks constantly motivates me towards responding differently."I do appreciate the way you have moderated your tone"Growl, I just want to say this is especially frustrating as the "tone", was partly influenced by a series of emails that you (Russel) and I had and those left me with "the attitude" which unfairly I brought here to this blog. I changed my "tone" as I want to continue to offer my ideas on the subjects, which are discussed here and I am interested in other peoples reactions to these ideas, as well and I recognized that I was directing my negativity at the wrong party. And I realized one or two atheists treating me like shit, isn't a good enough reason to act hostile to all, but must importantly I accept this is "your house" and so if I want to speak I have to have your permission.Russel it seems in both our emails, and my post here, you are uncomfortable with the level of emotion and energy in my texts, I don't really know what to say to this. When I wrote I was "in awe" that is how I feel. When I listen to a scientific concept properly explained, or a piece of eloquently rendered prose, or a gracefully portrayed spiritual or human truth, it does produce in me a feeling I label "awe", I don't know why you want to change that, with your negative directions."At the same time, you shouldn't expect…"I am sorry I have to make this personal, but your response just kills me. I told you I was uncomfortable answering your question, I told you I didn't want to "preach" or "convert", in our personal correspondences I told you I understood certain of my personal beliefs aren't enough to convince anyone else, and still you respond with cookie-cutter answers directed towards an individual who isn't even in our specific conversation.In regards to "religions" making some specific religious claims….First of all religious history is a sketchy, complicated subject so I don't know how much "consensus" there is in fact through out history on many of these subjects. The fact that a group of people at any time believed a set of dogma, doesn't mean that I as an individual have to buy that dogma wholesale now. And I can still have legitimacy in findings "truths" which communicate to me. About the statement of Jesus being god's only son, being a statement of reality not feeling; I reject the distinction being made and don't understand how you construct it. I think we can find plenty of examples in the religious record where people are working with the concept of "Jesus as god's only son", more as a spiritual or emotional truth, than a reality statement. The contradiction only applies if a person wants to see a given text as a "literal" truth, I don't see that it like that, so why do you consistently respond that way, are you truly unable to imagine an alternative spiritual perspective? I understand this is done with believers who usually present this problem, but I am not in that camp, so I don't know how all this applies to my perspective."notion of spiritual truths is appealing…."I don't know if I accept the connotative implications of the word "appealing", a lot of times the spiritual truth is frightening or discomforting… a lot of time's I feel pushed towards belief out of a frightening paradox, that is not at all appealing…I want to end this response with one more observation I don't self label theist or atheist, or anything else in regards to spirituality…I thought I kind of made this clear in the post, when I said I see a lot of validity in different positions, even the atheist one…I am developing my perspective which is why I'm here…

  64. says

    @ kazim response to second postI wasn't relating my story, to suggest it had anything to do with my belief in god. I was just sharing a personal moment with organized religion, which I thought would provide an authentic feel to what my experience has been, that's all. I was responding do you question about my religious orientation which I had already answered. What's my belief filter? Well I don't really have just one…My belief filters are the same as yours I imagine and involve all my senses, and intellectual abilities. Different situations correspond to different filters.

  65. says

    @ Kazim (response to whateverman)"I can't see a deistic god being a source of spiritual truth."I don't understand what this statement is based upon. You are mistaking terms like theist, and deist, as if they have been rigidity constructed and well defined beliefs through time. Those words are abstractions and stand for nothing…can someone's understanding of a god not escape this semantic classification system you are creating…how would stories or philosophies that describe a deistic god not be sources of spiritual truths? Just because the god is not "present" in this world does not mean that we can't learn something from the story or philosophy, about our own spirituality?

  66. says

    @ ing I would just add the greek gods relation to each other and to humans is one of lying, coercion, fear, and domination…sometimes it is the god's "job", in these stories, to bring death and destruction, so to say it is a "dereliction" of duty, when that is portrayed, kind of misses the point, don't you think?

  67. says

    I read this blog a lot, but never post. I must ask PM one question.Earlier, you stated that requesting god to "come visit me" is a purely "Human" request, and one that a god would possibly have no interest in.My question is: If this (very basic yet profound) question is so "stupidly human" to ask(To the point of name calling.) How do you find in any way possible to believe the extremely unreasonable, stupidly human, and just plain silly claims that religion and "spirituality" make? If your statement is true, how could you trust even your own theories of anything supernatural, let alone those made in two or three languages detached, thousands of years ago? Either we're credible enough to make claims(or requests) or not, pick one.Furthermore, with all due respect you to attempt to rip apart these individuals ATTEMPTS to answer questions, while making assertions that in reality don't support your own view (or at least what i think your view is)You seem too smart to try to use logic to trash that particular example, to turn around and completely turn all logic off to hold your own variations of beliefs. You're much smarter than i am tho, so take what i say with a two or three grains of salt.

  68. says

    @ wesley I am not saying I am smarter than anyone, and it saddens me that I come off like that. I tried to relate that a lot of my original angst was misdirected.But on the god appearing as evidence for a nonbeliever, all I really wanted out of that discussion was to point out that there were limitless reason why god may choose not to, that's it basically. So I thought saying if god could just appear, why doesn't he, ignored other possibilities. I have been that person screaming at the sky, why and please appear, so I am not denigrating this angst…I am confused by your question, and I am genuinely sorry. I think these post take a lot of the humanity out of the author, so I'm sorry you have the wrong impression of me. Maybe I can give an example of my thought process to see if it will clarify my perspective. Let's take the well known symbolic object of Achilles' heel. For me I read and try to construct the deeper intellectual, spiritual, emotional truth, as it relates to reality. The symbol relates a lesson about the imbalance between strength's and weaknesses, the limits of an individual, the evil of wrath and pride, etc; this is what I meant by seeing spiritual truths in texts…i don't know if that helps or not…

  69. says

    @PMYou are mistaking terms like theist, and deist, as if they have been rigidity constructed and well defined beliefs through time. Those words are abstractions and stand for nothing…can someone's understanding of a god not escape this semantic classification system you are creating…"Theist" does have a specified, though extremely broad definition. "Deist," however, is a very specific theological term that gets misused a *lot.* More on this below.how would stories or philosophies that describe a deistic god not be sources of spiritual truths? Just because the god is not "present" in this world does not mean that we can't learn something from the story or philosophy, about our own spirituality?A Deistic God cannot be the source of spiritual truths because it does not interact with the universe in such a way as to communicate any information. The Deistic god is a Watchmaker who, having built and wound the watch, does not interfere or necessarily even take an interest.In my opinion, Deism is now obsolete–I would argue that it was the product of scientifically-minded non-theists who did not fully abandon belief in god because they had no information on the origin of the universe or the solar system. If those are the "spiritual truths" you are referring to, meaning our attempts to deduce the origin and purpose of existence through Reason, then the Deity is not the source of those truths.As gaps in scientific knowledge have subsequently been filled, it would seem to me that Deists of previous centuries would have little trouble living as atheists, now that sufficient explanations for the universe are available.

  70. says

    @ Derrick"specific, though extremely broad definition"that seems kind of contradictory, these terms are labels we put on certain sets of belief, my point is that the label is being mistaken for a thing in itself, and it is being employed as a criterion for understanding, my point is there are various positions available which escape this classification system. And many groups that we want to label one or the other through out history, is a nominative move, not one that describes their actual beliefs.To say these deists would now be atheists, kind of destroys their own autonomy, I also don't accept the idea that science has "all the answers", which is sort of implied in your "sufficient explanations for the universe" statement; I still discover an abundance of mystery in my experiences and research. I mean even an introduction to a concept like the Big Bang, leaves me basically as I said earlier in awe…There also seems to be the problem of infinite regress of causation, which suggest that ultimate explanation will always escape us…

  71. says

    "There also seems to be the problem of infinite regress of causation, which suggest that ultimate explanation will always escape us…"I love the way this is used by theists as a way to justify their belief in a God who is beyond causation.

  72. says

    To say these deists would now be atheists, kind of destroys their own autonomy, I also don't accept the idea that science has "all the answers", which is sort of implied in your "sufficient explanations for the universe" statement.I admit it's a bold statement, however, given two to three hundred years of cosmology and physics research into universal origins, I think the statement that at least some of them would discard deism as a necessary explanation is perfectly plausible.I still discover an abundance of mystery in my experiences and research. I mean even an introduction to a concept like the Big Bang, leaves me basically as I said earlier in awe.I experience awe and wonder, of course, but what you call "mystery" I call "interesting questions worthy of further research." And if you're going to bitch about other posters putting words in your mouth, do not put them in mine. I did not, do not, and in all likelihood will *never* if I live a thousand years, say that science has all the answers. I said that scientific explanations are "sufficient." adj. "1. adequate for the purpose." In my estimation and research, the available scientific theories are adequate, so as not to require hypotheses of the supernatural or numinous, though unanswered questions remain. There's no reason to expect that as we close up gaps in any field you care to name, that we will find gods there.When it comes to positions such as, "in this process I find these things describing gods and the spiritual, that seem to communicate with my own intuitive, intrinsic sense of the truth of god and spiritual as well, this process leads me to believe more in god," please see the definition of the antonym, "insufficient."

  73. says

    You missed, PM.You said: There also seems to be the problem of infinite regress of causation, which suggest that ultimate explanation will always escape us… No, it really doesn't. "Goddidit" has that problem. By building a particle accellerator big enough, we could in theory simulate as much as 10^-43 seconds after the singularity, and beyond that, "we don't know" means "we don't know." It may be that "before" may not even have a coherent meaning, which is only a problem for people with small minds, too small to acknowledge that the human mind isn't wired up to model such things intuitively.Even assuming that "before" does mean something, if you have to imagine something eternal and uncreated, it makes zero sense to insert a bodiless immortal into the equation, when we could go with the simpler explanation that what we actually observe is eternal.

  74. says

    Science gives us the chance and potential to know everythingReligion gives us the assertion that we already do.as to the infinite regress, I'm not convinced it's a problem. We know that on several levels how we perceive the universe is incompatable with some of its mechanics. Light acts as both a wave and partical even at it's quantum level, etc etc. We can understand that such things occur without being able to really visualize and wrap our heads around the counter intuitiveness of it. A infinitely existing universe or a spontaneous existing universe is not unimaginable if we remove the preconception that 'things need a beginning'

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>