Regarding the studio technical problems »« Notice how misogynist the GOP has gotten lately? Want to do something fun about it?

Open thread on episode #695

Today’s show was, as usual, fraught with difficulties, though not as many as we originally suspected. Once again, the calls were problematic, with some callers having a hard time hearing us. Whether the problem is with our audio, their cell phones, or a combination of everything, is unclear. But we’re well aware of ChannelAustin’s long history of audio problems. Not only that, we dropped the damn UStream feed in the last ten minutes, but the full video should be fine.

It turns out that the first call today, with Mark from Austin Stone Church, may not have been a problem on our end after all. Russell and I thought we just lost the call, which happens. After the program, Frank and John in the control room told me that Mark’s feed was just fine. Only after we’d brought up problems with Matt Slick’s TAG, Mark apparently stopped talking, then hung up.

If that’s the case, it can’t have been Mark’s proudest moment. According to him, he had the whole congregation watching (awesome!), and, if he indeed hung up, they watched him basically wither in his defense of the faith without much of a fight. Still, we’d have put him at the head of the line had he called back. Better luck next time, Mark.

Note to self: When Christians call the program and immediately demand politeness from us, they are probably about to launch into a string of absurdities and falsehoods that they don’t want us to call them on. Frankly, the minute Mark listed the risible Ray Comfort as some authority on evolution, and repeated the tiresome canard that there are “no transitional fossils,” I was done with politeness. No, I’m not going to scream nasty names at you while I correct you. But the fact is, with the plethora of scientific literature and research out there demonstrating to as high a degree of certainty as science can promise that evolution is real, there is no excuse for willful ignorance and the deliberate dissemination of disinformation about what science actually says. Frankly, the creationist line that there are no transitional fossils is on the same level of intellectual irresponsibility as flat Earth belief.

This is an aspect of religious fundamentalist dishonesty I think deserves zero tolerance, and there’s been way too much coddling and misplaced “fairness” towards a “controversy” that does not actually exist. If you’ve only read Ray Comfort and not any actual scientific text, and you want to call us and challenge us on evolution, know this: it will not be a pleasant experience for you. You are simply not in possession of the facts, and we will steamroll you with them.

Also, since the gang at Stone Church seem to think Matt Slick is impressive somehow, let me share with you an email we got from a viewer today, who passed along a question from Slick.

How can an atheist trust his own judgments if his brain is completely restricted to the neurochemical laws and cannot operate outside of those laws? Doesn’t this necessitate that all the laws/chemical reactions/brain arrangement require certain reactions based upon the stimulus that produces a specific and predictable result due to that person’s particular neurochemical arrangement in his brain? How then can such a person trust that his conclusions about the universe be accurate since what he believes and interprets is governed by those laws? How does such required neurochemical reactions produced truth and proper logical inference? If the atheists cannot answer this, then it, demonstrates his worldview has serious problems.

Jeff Dee caught this grenade and lobbed it right back.

How can a theist trust his own judgments if his mind is completely unconstrained by any rules? Doesn’t this necessitate that all of his thoughts are random disconnected nonsense? How then can such a person trust that his conclusions about the universe are accurate, since what he believes and interprets is NOT governed by any laws? How does such unconstrained rambling produce truth and proper logical inference? If the theist cannot answer this, then it demonstrates his worldview has serious problems.

So I’d suggest apologists start looking for another hero. Matt Slick isn’t as slick as he thinks.

Comments

  1. says

    Somehow, I was sure that Jesus-dude had hung up on you. It was obvious that he thought he had some sort of slam-dunk that would impress his fellow cultists, and when he started to falter he ran away as fast as he could. Oh, and I clicked on the link to the church… is it a church, or a taco stand?

  2. says

    I've always wondered at the "can we really trust our senses" nonsense that atheists get from theists. I suppose their point is "in the turbulent chemical and subjective maelstrom that is reality, we have to rely on god's input to know what is really true." And of course that leads to the question for theists "if a materialist can't trust his senses, why do you think you can?"

  3. says

    Coincidentally I was just reading Bertrand Russell's "The Problems of Philosophy". He discusses the idealistic metaphysics of Berkeley, where the idea of things existing in the mind of God occurs. Can't say Mark gave Berkeley the treatment he deserves. If someone wanted to support an idea like that, then obviously they'd also have to take in all the objections levelled against it by other writers. Instead of picking a Reader's Digest version of a philosophical argument that happens to have the word "God" in it.

  4. says

    With all due respect guys, how do you continue to have such trouble with the phones? It would seem you could put a cell phone on speaker and hold it up to a mic and get better results! I remember the angels had no problems talking to Charlie on speakerphone and that was back in the 70's!

  5. Martin says

    It's just ChannelAustin. Their equipment is just jacked half the time. They had the send the hardware out of state for repair at one point, which is why we had those two (or was it three?) eps in a row with no calls at all. Sigh. Be nice to have a few hundred grand to construct our own studios with. But then, we might miss the benefit of local Christian callers, not being on local TV any more.

  6. says

    Hey,I have a comment, but it regards Saturday's non-prophets show rather than this week's TV show (which sounds good so far!).On Saturday you were discussing Bill O'RLY and his crap about "how can we trust your opinions on god, is you can't explain the MOOOOOON?!?!!1?1!" (checkmate, atheists!). Maybe Linnea was saying that we should batter O'Reilly and his type with the fact that, yes, in fact we do know where the moon comes from.I agree with her, but I think I would go even further. Perhaps we should rather point out that we do know where the moon comes from, and that if he doesn't, we have no reason to take his opinions on god's existence seriously. Obviously, if he is ignorant to such simple scientific facts, he is not in a good position to determine what is actually real.So far, I have seem people saying he's obviously a bit dumb on this subject, but I haven't seen anyone actually suggesting that we turn his own argument against him. I think that could potentially be very effective.

  7. says

    IRT Joseph from Seattle, I think you are misremembering a few things. The study of a single gray wolf pup is only anecdotal and proves nothing as to the origin of dogs. One theory holds that some gray wolves (or another wolf for that matter) started coming to groups of humans and eventually made itself at home. The other study from Russia was foxes and iirc was started in the late 40s. Really interesting study. I think PBS covered it so you might go their and search, if you're interested

  8. says

    @Kilgore – seriously, dude. What Martin said. Did you think we hadn't thought of that?All the technical glitches we've had in the last 3 weeks, and >90% of the glitches we've had in at least 3 years, have happened in real time. There was nothing anyone could have done to prevent them.

  9. Mamba24 says

    I really hope Mark and his church call back so that Matt can intellectually demolish them and their Ray comfort level arguments… Matt should go through this argument with Mark and show him the logical fallacies and false premises in the argument…then the little church kids can learn something actually. Wow did he really just hang up like that? The conversation was just getting started, you hadn't really addressed any of the key points yet and he apparently just gave up. This is what is frustrating when theists just hang up and not listen.

  10. Martin says

    Frank tells me there's a point on the recording where they could clearly hear the click of him hanging up. Oh well, what can you do?

  11. Mamba24 says

    Not a whole lot I guess except hope they call back and are polite enough to listen you all the way through, not demand you guys to be polite….then just hang up on you while you are calmly addressing a point and asking him a question. Obviously they are concerned for the "children" and felt like they could call in and present some argument that you guys have never heard of before…:) I wouldn't be surprised if they told the children to stop watching the show after this.

  12. Mamba24 says

    clearly he didn't know how to respond to your point of…"couldn't this be true of Greek mythology or any other religion?"…Of course you could have just pointed out that "conceptual vs. Physical" is a false dichotomy and that conceptual is contingent on a physical brain.

  13. says

    @Martin Even if the click heard was not him hanging up and he was disconnected, why didn't he call back? If I'm in the middle of a conversation and we get disconnected somehow, I try to call back, as I'm sure most people do.

  14. says

    One observation I've made is that a certain amount of christian's like to call us atheist's 'intellectually self-righteous' especially when we mention the FSM. I think christian's don't understand that atheist's are atheist's simply because we reject the proposition or premise of a god. Christian's seem to think the best way to win an argument is emotional appeal and faith. The preacher who called the show had no logical defense.

  15. says

    Mark from the church will tell his flock that he devastated you guys with his arguments and that you guys, not he, hung up because you couldn't stand up to him. And he will not call back because you will just hang up again. If I'm wrong, I'll eat a bug.

  16. Neato Spiderplant says

    I haven't had my coffee yet, lets see if I can articulate.I can understand why he asked for "politeness". I think he had mentioned he had seen some clips on youtube. A lot of the more pupular clips on youtube tend to be the feistier calls. If all his experiences are watching Jeff or Matt, he might not be familiar with Russell's calm and patient way of pointing out why the caller is wrong.

  17. Admin says

    At least now we can email and taunt the people at the Austin Stone Church. Here is the one I just sent:If there was a god, it would send somebody more competent than Ray Comfort and your Mark to speak to atheists. Ray Comfort has absolutely no understanding of evolution, yet fights it as hard as he can. He does not even understand the things that evolution postulates. He is a joke among both scientists and atheists, not even to be taken seriously. For many of us, he is the very worst apologist we've ever seen, which is why he's so popular with us. Yes, it's a guilty pleasure, but we often enjoy laughing at the ignorant and stupid. Yet for all of those people who are completely ignorant of science, he might be speaking at their level. Ray has no scientific education or knowledge. His pride and joy is the Croco-duck. He laughs that these should exist if evolution was real, not knowing that if one of those things DID exist, it would go a long way to DISPROVING evolution. It would at minimum require a major re-writing of the theories. Ray's idea of a "transitional form" cannot exist if evolutionary theory is correct. If I argued to you that Jesus could not have been real because not even a divine being could survive taking 200 bullets to the head from a helicopter gunship while falling off a 1,000-foot cliff, what would you say? And by the way, Ray Comfort has been invited and challenged several times to appear on the Atheist Experience as a caller. Not only has he not been man enough to do that, allowing you to be embarrassed by his ideas instead, but he has repeatedly denied that he has ever been invited. He's a habitual liar.Tell the truth now, did your Mark hang up on the Atheist Experience? Did he cower away? Why doesn't he call back next week, so we can all be entertained by his incompetence again?

  18. Martin says

    Well, I won't tell people not to exercise their free speech and all that. But on the whole I think it'd be better if folks didn't bombard Stone Church with derisive emails. For one thing, they may think we've put you up to it. For another, we don't know if Mark was being altogether truthful that he represents the church in any official capacity; or that, as he claimed, he had his whole congregation watching; or if that was just a bit of bluster he thought would intimidate us for some silly reason. I'm thinking whoever at the church opens your email might wonder "What's this guy talking about?"

  19. Wired For Sound says

    I suggest moving back to Dillahunty Studios. The new studio has been a disaster. It seems like something goes wrong every show now.

  20. sans_Dieu says

    Oh wow. Some of the courses on the website of the Austin Stone Church are very interesting! For example, the course about "Defending Our Hope" is already full (darn) and past participants say something like "Phenomenal. This class has broken my heart even further for the lost."about it.This course "reflect(s) on all that God has done for us in the gospel and give(s) reason for the hope that is in us by digging into big questions like: How can a loving God send people to Hell? How could a good God allow suffering?"Sounds very interesting – that assembly needs some Atheists to take notes! Maybe we can overcome our doubts and questions… or would this actually be a bad thing?"This class has transformed my life from the inside out. It took every question, doubt and baggage I had and blew it out of the water. I had been walking around in religious bondage for years only to be let loose in power and confidence."Sounds like they got even more baggage to carry around with.

  21. Admin says

    Martin wrote:"For another, we don't know if Mark was being altogether truthful that he represents the church in any official capacity; or that, as he claimed, he had his whole congregation watching; or if that was just a bit of bluster he thought would intimidate us for some silly reason."Well then, my email will test the water, won't it? Let's see if they deny all knowledge of his existence.Al wrote:"I could not find Mark in the elders or staff of A. Stone."Did he claim to be an elder or staff? Fake name is also a possibility.

  22. says

    Regarding why we Mark might not have called back even if he didn't hang up: You have to understand that we have four lines, and they are full all the time once we get a few minutes into the show. The moment we hang up on somebody, someone else calls. Even if he was trying to call back, it's quite likely he wasn't able to.However, I listened to the audio again and I do think he hung up now. At first I thought it was an odd place to leave the conversation but here's what I think was going on in his mind:I don't think the conversation was going the way he expected. We surprised him by not denying that we had compared God to Bigfoot; and again when we didn't just accept his interpretation of Matt Slick having pwned us. He was trying to quit the conversation with the upper hand and make something he thought was a good point. So when we brought up Greek gods, he said "Aha! Greek gods don't have eyewitnesses!" and then, satisfied that he'd scored an important point, he hung up without waiting for an answer. Of course, the problem is that it's our show and it doesn't end at the click, so we got to keep answering after he was gone.By the way, one additional point: Greek gods have equal claim to "eyewitnesses" as does the Christian religion. Lots and lots of stuff written in that time period (such as the Iliad and the Odyssey) has gods stomping around on earth influencing the outcomes of fights and getting involved with politics. There is just as much record of this as of Jesus.

  23. sans_Dieu says

    By the way, of which eyewitness accounts was he talking about? As far as I know, the people that allegedly witnessed all the magic stuff were long dead when the Gospels were put together. And the earliest copies… ah.. well.

  24. says

    This caller Mark said he was from a New Testament church. What does that mean? Do they throw out the old testament? Well, good for them I suppose, but doesn't that disrupt any semblance of a coherent fall-to-redemption story there is to begin with?@Sungyak: No, I don't. It's a good point he brings up —I've heard a similar argument being used against the claim that quantum uncertainty somehow saves free will— but it's not an answer to the question and it's a cheap tactic to avoid answering a question by asking an irrelevant new question (irrelevant to the original question that is). I would say the reason why we can trust our brains to some degree is that awful devil sent bloody theory of evolution by natural selection again. Brains that couldn't be trusted to a high enough degree were eaten or ran into trees or were late for the appointment with the big black monolith or whatever. Does this mean our brains can be trusted 100%? No, it doesn't. O no, panic, what to do?! World view collapse imminent! Wait, let's try to come up with some, o I don't know, some `methodology' to try and minimize the effect of the limitations our clunky brains. Let's call it "science"!

  25. Martin says

    Plain Simple: but it's not an answer to the question and it's a cheap tactic to avoid answering a question by asking an irrelevant new question (irrelevant to the original question that isI have to disagree. Jeff's response was designed to show the utter absurdity of the premises in Slick's question, which it did with pinpoint marksmanship. If Slick is suggesting that a person's perceptions of reality are "limited" by "neurochemical laws" (whatever those are), what exactly is he suggesting is the kind of brain that would allow proper perceptions? One that was somehow unbound by any such laws or "neurochemical reactions"? How would such a brain work? And how does he know?Anyway, perhaps a less snarky response is more to your taste, in which case I present Matt's:We are forced, by necessity, to assess the world with the senses we have (how could it be otherwise?). We're either getting accurate information, or we aren't. If we are, then our assessments are justified. If we're not, then until someone demonstrates another way of acquiring this information, it doesn't matter. Slick and others who posit some alternate 'way of knowing' have an even bigger problem: how do they demonstrate that their alternate way of knowing is reliable?They're stuck using the same tools we all use…and they continually fail to demonstrate that their alternate 'way of knowing' even exists, let alone that it provides reliable information.So we rely on reason to reach tentative conclusions about the world we experience…and Slick and his ilk rely on reason, plus something else and they cannot demonstrate the efficacy of that 'something else'.We're not the ones with the 'serious problems'.

  26. says

    Martin, for my own sanity's sake and for the sake of those who wish to have a reasonable dialogue about it, I only explained it for the two followers I have on my responsive blog. Cheers.

  27. says

    I do get the point he was making and I agree. Like I said, it was a good point, but still it feels wrong to only throw out another question, without actually also defending your own position. Pointing out the holes in one position, doesn't mean your own position is the right one, as I'm sure I don't need to tell you. I think Slick's question is one that deserves an answer and an answer is easily given (and even if it wouldn't be, that wouldn't do anything to promote Slicks' position). Matt's answer, as usual, cuts straight to the point, my point about evolution could be seen as a little elaboration on Matt's point that "we are forced, by necessity, to assess the world with the senses we have". When I wrote my previous post I wondered whether "irrelevant" was too strong. It might have been, but at least its use won me Matt's answer. Thanks.

  28. says

    Martin: "If Slick is suggesting that a person's perceptions of reality are "limited" by "neurochemical laws" (whatever those are), what exactly is he suggesting is the kind of brain that would allow proper perceptions? One that was somehow unbound by any such laws or "neurochemical reactions"? How would such a brain work? And how does he know?"Martin, you're only adding onto Slick's point. Because you can only assume with blind faith that your brain functions properly, you have an unstable worldview. You cannot know anything as an atheist that what you are perceiving to be true is indeed true.

  29. says

    Martin, you're only adding onto Slick's point. Because you can only assume with blind faith that your brain functions properly,We don't say that at all. In fact, we atheists are the ones bringing up the fact that brains are unreliable all the time.He have tools and protocols to eliminate subjective error – such as the scientific method.Your ability to drive down the road and not get into an accident 99.9% of the time is a demonstration of this.We take the uncertainty and unreliability and reduce the error through repeated objective empirical testing. It works.Even if you think that we're just in some Matrix style solipsism, we can still test that "reality" even if it's not completely real. If it consistently responds to testing in the same ways, it can be understood with high accuracy.Your side, conversely, has the approach of making stuff up and calling it true.

  30. says

    @Sungyak: "You cannot know anything as an atheist that what you are perceiving to be true is indeed true."If by "true" you mean "absolutely 100% true for ever and ever" then no, we can't be sure and I don't think you can be either, but the methods of science have proven to be reliable enough to figure out many things about the world so for all intents and purposes it works. If you claim you have a way to go beyond "truth" to "Truth" of the absolute kind, then it's up to you to justify that claim. Faith per definition, as I understand it, cannot be the way to knowing absolute truth, since in its core it embraces the notion that lack of knowledge is somehow a good thing.From your blog (since I see no reason to move the discussion to another place than where it started): "Without the soul one has no grounds to believe that one can operate outside of the laws of nature, hence acting as a morally responsible free agent."Whether your choices are driven by laws of nature or by some supernatural entity that has taken possession of your body and apparently doesn't care about laws of nature (yes, I know you wrote "he has the freedom to choose and operate within those rules", but that makes little sense, since those rules as we understand them leave no room to operate within), choices still have to be made and these choices can be judged against a moral framework. So morality definitely does not depend on the concept of a soul. What a "free agent" is, I do not know. As far as I know I have never seen anybody in this world act against the laws of nature. So, have I never met a "free agent" then?For some good podcasts on the subject, if you're interested, listen to Reasonable Doubts, http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/, in particular their episodes on free will and determinism: episodes 29, 30 and 34.

  31. says

    I think Slick's question is born of fear. The fear that not everything he believes is true is, in fact, 100% true. It's similar to the fear of not knowing everything that I see in theists when they use a god to fill in the gaps in their knowledge.Personally, I don't see it as a problem that I don't have answers to everything, and I have to make assumptions about reality.As for TAG, I would suggest in the future that instead of discussing it at all (other than tell callers that no, Matt Slick didn't embarrass Matt) you'd just point callers to the Iron Chariots Wiki (or any other website) that dismantles the argument. It's too long to get into each time it's brought up, and frankly most theists won't get it anyway. I was really hoping the caller would have stayed online to explain the Bible "proves" the Christian god…

  32. Martin says

    Sungyak: Martin, you're only adding onto Slick's point. Because you can only assume with blind faith that your brain functions properly, you have an unstable worldview. You cannot know anything as an atheist that what you are perceiving to be true is indeed true.Back to your "brain in a jar" stuff again, I see. Again I refer you to Matt's reply. We have no choice but to experience the world through the senses and the brains we have. Either these are reliable or they are not. It is possible that I am a brain in a jar, but if I have no evidence that this is so, and I have ample evidence that I am not (through my sensory experience of the world around me), why should I assume that it is those sensory experiences that are wrong, and that it is more likely I am a brain in a jar?JT took the worlds right out of my mouth: you are practicing what I have come to call "Matrix apologetics." Goes like this: atheist points out that, if nothing else, science operates upon evidence, whereas religion functions on blind faith alone. Irritated by this, the theist constructs arguments to suggest that everything is based on blind faith, and that there's no such thing as objective truth, perceptible by our senses, which we can't prove aren't lying to us. In this way, he hopes Christianity wins by default, since it's at least a more popular form of blind faith and delusion than atheism.Of course, if the theist really believes his own premise that our very sensory organs are deceiving us every waking moment, and that we cannot know anything, then he has no basis to claim anything at all, including that his (and my) senses are at fault and we're relying on blind faith that our brains function properly and that anything we perceive actually exists. The position is essentially self-refuting.So no, I hardly think I'm the one with the unstable worldview here. At least, that's what the evidence is telling me. It also tells me that theists like yourself probably don't believe your premise, and the whole exercise is little more than rhetorical shenanigans designed once again to shift the burden of proof onto atheists. If the theist can distract the atheist by constantly challenging him to prove that a perceptible reality exists at all, that lets the theist off the hook (so he thinks) in meeting the burden of proof for his God's existence. Nice try, but it's a little too obvious.

  33. Martin says

    Todd: As for TAG, I would suggest in the future that instead of discussing it at all (other than tell callers that no, Matt Slick didn't embarrass Matt) you'd just point callers to the Iron Chariots Wiki (or any other website) that dismantles the argument.While we certainly have no desire to bore the crap out of everyone with another hour-long phone call retreading the same ground, I think it was far more effective in this case to point out a couple of quick examples of how TAG simply doesn't work the way Matt Slick and his fans think it does. Mark was utterly unprepared for my telling him that TAG works equally well for any mythical being. And after his initial bluster that he was highly experienced in scholarly and academic defenses of religion, it drove him to hang up, which must have been humiliating. I'd say that was far better than just telling him "Go check the Wiki, dude," which would have seemed like we weren't prepared to answer him.

  34. says

    Martin: "It is possible that I am a brain in a jar, but if I have no evidence that this is so, and I have ample evidence that I am not (through my sensory experience of the world around me), why should I assume that it is those sensory experiences that are wrong, and that it is more likely I am a brain in a jar?"Martin, you're missing the point. The point is not that one is more reasonable than the other. The point is IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF. I hope the caps help. Probably not.

  35. says

    Sungyak, are you truly positing that I am equally justified in believing that you are a human being using a computer to post comments on this blog as I am in believing you are a plastic replica of the amputated leg of a world war 3 survivor floating in orbit around Pluto pissed off at the loss of planetary status of Pluto bombarding earth with telepathically transmitted CAPS LOCKED evasive comments?

  36. says

    "Martin, you're missing the point. The point is not that one is more reasonable than the other. The point is IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF."And since your theism is based on what your senses tell you about reality, YOU CAN'T BE SURE YOUR GOD EXISTS EITHER.Welcome to reality…

  37. says

    Martin, you're missing the point. The point is not that one is more reasonable than the other. The point is IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF. Why do theists have this obsession with absolutes?Knowing something 100% is not only unnecessary, it's is entirely irrelevant. The question is, can we demonstrate something beyond a reasonable doubt.The answer is very yes. We demonstrate it each and every single day.You didn't address my car example. If you can't trust your brain enough to accurately understand what's going on outside your skull, why haven't you died in a car accident yet? (Of course, I'm assuming you drive)And again, it is NOT blind faith. You've utterly butchered that word. If it's based on evidence, it is not faith. Every time you drive that car without dying, you've just provided yet more evidence that our brains are capable of accurately understanding what's going on around us, and taking actions accordingly.Thus, not faith. Please either learn the definition of the word, or stop intentionally misusing it.

  38. says

    I think we should give Mark the benefit of a doubt. I frequently fingers on thing around me when I am on the phone, like the phone itself. Maybe Mark accidentally hanged up and there was no line for him when he tried to get back.Maybe he was nervous, he was part of a very important conversation. In his perspective: the souls of the crew as well as the viewers could be saved if he put his words right.If he made a misstake and disconnected, he will probably try to come back next show. Please take him on immediately if he does, that was the best call for months.

  39. Martin says

    Sungyak: I hope the caps help. Probably not.No, caps lock does not magically make bullshit true. Sorry.As Todd has pointed out, you are in the same boat. Your belief in God is something you are employing your senses to experience. So why you think atheists are the only ones with the problem, assuming for the sake of argument that it even is a problem, is a mystery.As I have no reason not to trust what my senses are revealing to me about the world (and no alternative to them anyway), and I have no evidence that I am living in the Matrix instead of an actual objective reality, then I see no reason to take anything you say on the subject seriously any further, Sungyak. Why not just admit that this whole line of argument is in aid of shifting the burden of proof, and try something better?

  40. says

    The point is IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF.What's this fascination with knowing for sure? Nobody has known or will know anything for sure ever. Period. Why is this a relevant metric for evaluating anything? It seems that you think that there are only two way in which you can hold a position: by blind faith or by absolute certainty. I hope I'm wrong on that.Once we've chucked out the moronic idea of "knowing for sure", it's more a matter of to what degree we can be sure of something. So, to what degree can we rely on our senses? To quite a significant degree, it turns out. Our senses generally agree. If I see a bottle, I can also touch the bottle; I can knock it against something and hear it; I can open the bottle and taste or smell the contents.Then I can turn to the next guy and ask him if he senses the same thing. He usually will.While it's possible that this is all a delusion, that's pretty irrelevant, since it's a stable illusion, which makes it, in effect, real.A dream I never wake up from is not a dream; it's real life.I don't know if I should really go on much more, but in short, it's my contention that a proper analysis of solipsism returns you to methodological naturalism.

  41. says

    Sungyak, you are proposing that our senses/minds/etc cannot be trusted in any degree. You've just opened the door saying that anything that is theoretically possible is equally probable. If this was indeed true then if we jumped off a building then it would be equally probable that I would fly off into space, or float in place rather than fall to the ground. It would be equally probable that I could survive jumping into a volcano as jumping into a swimming pool. All of this is absurd. Nobody operates like this, not even yourself. We function as human beings precisely because we are able to deduce probabilities about our environment. To selectively say that this mode of operation does not apply to god questions is silly. Nobody would claim that because it is conceptually possible for horses to sprout wings and fly that it is then justifiable to believe that I rode into work that way, just because "YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY".

  42. Martin says

    I should add that "Matrix apologetics" — where theists attempt to undermine the very foundations of epistemology by arguing everything is a "blind faith belief" — is not new, though it may have seen a revival in the last ten years among theists overly fond of the movie. George H. Smith totally nuked the whole confused mess in chapter five of Atheism: The Case Against God back in 1979.

  43. says

    I've actually been to the Austin Stone church service once, at the request of a friend. I talked about it once on the show when I called in, episode #590 I think. They seemed like a nice and friendly group of people. Almost all of them were around my age or younger it seemed. The first half hour was just nothing but Christian rock singing which was absolutely boring to me. Then they spent the next half hour talking about sex and how you need to think about Jesus when you're getting it on, which I thought was both hilarious and disturbing. That particular service/time slot I went was clearly catering to a younger audience.I know not what Mark meant when he said "We're a new testament church". I think they are non-denominational as that was what my friend claimed to be, but I'm not sure. One thing that did concern me was the fact that they were holding a church service in a public school. I don't know if they pay to use those facilities or if the school just lets them use the building every Sunday. If they don't pay any fee, then I think that's a gross violation of state/church separation and I sure as hell don't like the fact that my tax dollars are supporting a religious institution.

  44. says

    I wonder if 'free will' can't be hurled back at the theist who makes the 'how do you know' argument. If god is 'supporting' your mind to make sure you are getting accurate or pretty accurate information, isn't he gaming the system? He's not allowing you genuine free will to experience whatever 'chaos' or insensibleness the theist is imagining god to be preventing; god is directing your mind along certain channels no less than the 'natural laws.'

  45. Martin says

    Tyler: If they aren't using school facilities during actual school hours, then the courts have said that's okay. There are a number of religious student groups that have been around for ages — FCA, Young Life — that meet after hours or on weekends in full compliance with Constitutional law.

  46. Martin says

    Chris: That's a good point, though it may be the case that Sungyak is not one of those Christians who's all about "God gave us free will!" For those who are, though, it would be doubly absurd to propose a God who bestows free will upon us, but then intentionally gives us defective brains incapable of properly perceiving reality (and therefore reliably exercising said "free will").Anyway, I don't think Sungyak's solipsism is a view shared by too many mainstream Christians.

  47. says

    guys, it's not that hard. IF the Christian God exists, then we are endowed with a rational mind so that we would come to know who God is and his creation. so as i experience the world with my senses and my mind, i have a BASIS to believe that these are trustworthy. this is rational faith. all of the above is absent if the Christian God does NOT exist. so you're left with a blind faith. that's you guys. chew on that a little bit before another diarrhea of replies.

  48. says

    If you assume the conclusion of your argument, then it's true. Yes, nice one.If the magical fairy of absolute knowledge and running around naked in meadows exists, then it has given me a rational mind (and the power to run around naked in meadows) and I have a basis to believe in my nakedness while running around in meadows.

  49. says

    IF the Christian God exists, then we are endowed with a rational mind so that we would come to know who God is and his creation. so as i experience the world with my senses and my mind, i have a BASIS to believe that these are trustworthy. this is rational faith. Try this.IF the world is real, and evolution happened, then we are endowed with a brain and rational mind so that we would come to know and understand the world around us. so as i experience the world with my senses and my mind, i have a BASIS to believe that these are trustworthy. this is rational reason.

  50. says

    Sungyak,Wearing my moderator hat, I'm asking you nicely for the first time to tone down the belligerent emphasis in your posts. You're welcome to continue posting here. Referring to others' replies as "diarrhea" is beyond basic civility, and the kind of thing that is likely to put an early end to our relationship to you. Also, surely you don't want to come across as a bad emissary for your faith, do you?Thank you.

  51. Martin says

    Sungyak: IF the Christian God exists, then we are endowed with a rational mind so that we would come to know who God is and his creation. so as i experience the world with my senses and my mind, i have a BASIS to believe that these are trustworthy. this is rational faith.Find = "Christian God"Replace = "Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo"Execute…IF Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo exists, then we are endowed with a rational mind so that we would come to know who Gus the Magic Cosmic Hippo is and his creation. so as i experience the world with my senses and my mind, i have a BASIS to believe that these are trustworthy.See, works just as well. I'd think you'd know better than to fall back on a tautology, Sungyak, jeez. How do I know God exists? He gave me a rational mind. How do I know I have a rational mind that isn't deceiving me? God gave it to me.Here's the pointy hat. There's the stool, in the corner. Go have a seat till the lunch bell rings.And by the way, you're not out of the boat. Your senses and your mind could be deceiving you into believing the above is true. HOW CAN YOU BE SURE? Hope the caps helps.this is …….. faith.Fixed.

  52. says

    Gus the magic hippo? Martin, Martin, Martin… the magical fairy of absolute knowledge and running around naked in meadows is not pleased with your lack of faith. How do you think hippos gained the ability to run around naked in meadows (or rivers)? Hmm?

  53. says

    @Sun. How else could the human mind work other than neurochemical? The answer is really obvious. The bible was channeled via psychic means and written down. Modern science is looking into the possible of a 'quantum mind' and in particular the function of quantum microtubules in the brain to explain consciousness. I talked with a top psychic from Houston lately and she told me science always lags behind spiritualism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mindhttp://www.quantumconsciousness.org/

  54. says

    There are limits to what we can observe and understand, sure. In the strictest sense, there can be no absolute 100% certainty about anything. This does nothing for a theist hypothesis. When it comes to things outside our ability to observe or understand, one can make the honest assessment of "I don't know", or the dishonest assessment of "if it cannot be disproved it must be true and I can assert anything I want along these lines."If there is no evidence for a claim, it is only wise not to accept it as true. No faith is involved, and certainly not blind faith. There COULD be gold at the end of the rainbow, but I will not accept this claim until there is evidence for it. Before that, everything is pure speculation.

  55. Martin says

    There are so many levels at which one can mock the sheer cluelessness of Sungyak's assumptions. But here's something else he hasn't considered.If no Christian (or other variety) God exists, and we are the result of a natural, evolutionary process, one of two things could happen.1) Our species evolves brains well suited to perceiving, understanding and interacting with our environment. Result: our species survives.2) Our species fails to evolve brains well suited to perceiving, understanding and interacting with our environment. Result: our species goes extinct.#2 is what happened to Homo erectus. Though physically powerful and of large stature, their brains did not develop to the degree of Homo sapiens. Therefore, they subsisted on a diet of plants, small game, and whatever they could catch on their own, while Homo sapiens learned to develop tools and hunt in groups to bring down the bigger game that could feed a whole tribe. Homo erectus just didn't have the gray matter to figure any of those things out, failed to improve and adapt, and went extinct.We're still here, so it looks like we drew #1.No need for gods when we can look at the past and see what the evidence tells us about how well we grasp our environment.

  56. says

    Martin: "1) Our species evolves brains well suited to perceiving, understanding and interacting with our environment. Result: our species survives." Martin, I'm afraid you're mistaken about evolutionary biology if you're assuming that adaptive behavior is necessarily correlated with true beliefs. Natural selection doesn't give a dime for what's true or not true in reality; it only 'cares' that one's behavior is beneficial to survival. False beliefs can be just as advantageous to survival as a true belief can. A lamb might run from a wolf not necessarily because it perceives that the wolf wants to eat it, but it can produce the same effect (running away) even if it thought the wolf and the lamb is playing a game of tag. Natural selection doesn't care which of these the lamb believes, as long as it runs when it sees a wolf. So in the end atheism is left with a blind faith belief that the human mind perceives reality as it really is instead of some other thing that produces adaptive behavior.

  57. says

    "Martin, I'm afraid you're mistaken about evolutionary biology if you're assuming that adaptive behavior is necessarily correlated with true beliefs."Sungyak, all of your posts that I've seen indicate that you have a very unfounded opinion of your own knowledge and intellectual abilities. You may be smart to some degree, but you are not the genius you imagine. This is not meant to be insulting; it is derived from your repeated overconfidence combined with your inability to argue points. The caricature of evolutionary biology you produced with your lamb-and-wolf scenario is an absolute embarrassment and proof that you are the one who lacks even the most rudimentary understanding of evolution.A game of tag indeed.

  58. says

    Natural selection doesn't give a dime for what's true or not true in reality; it only 'cares' that one's behavior is beneficial to survivalThis is true, as far as it goes. However, for any given subject, there is one true belief, a few false beliefs that will still be beneficial and an almost unlimited number of false beliefs which are detrimental.True beliefs are superior, since they have utility beyond any one situation. A false belief (such as "wolves want to play tag") is beneficial in only one situation. For example, if the sheep believes the wolf wants to play tag and it runs and the wolf gives up the chase, wouldn't the sheep go back to look for its playmate? Would that be beneficial?True beliefs are beneficial in ANY situation, which gives them higher utility. Therefore, brains which produce true beliefs win out over those which produce false beliefs that may or may not be beneficial in certain very circumscribed situations.Further, if the reason for a brain producing true beliefs is that it produces beliefs according to rules which are in accordance with reality, then it will tend to produce true beliefs in all areas of life.In contrast, a brain which produces false beliefs could only ever occasionally produce beliefs which are beneficial and the vast majority of the beliefs such produced would be detrimental.It only takes one mistake to die and opportunities for death come along daily.By the way, is there any particular reason why you're so obviously evading direct questions? One might get the mistaken impression that you're not interested in a serious discussion.

  59. says

    Ray totally believes in transitional forms. "There are millions of transitional forms in the fossil record. Millions." That's from his own blog. The twist is transitions within kinds. But he also thinks kind and species are interchangable. "The word "kind" is the biblical word for "species."Just a ride on the Merry Go Round that is Ray's brain.

  60. says

    Sungyak, your example isn't quite right. There is a difference between doing the right thing for the wrong reasons and doing the wrong thing. While the deer may escape being eaten without realizing it is actively being hunted, the deer that stands around and doesn't do anything at all will die. Natural selection may not provide a 'best' answer but it definitely punishes wrong ones. Also you could argue that a deer that knows the truth of the situation, that it is hunted and not playing tag, would respond better to the situation than a deer that believes the former and hence would have higher survivability rates. I think it is fair to say that something's survivability goes up in correlation to its ability to accurately interpret the reality in which it inhabits.If our perceptions about reality were 100% inaccurate then we would not survive (like the deer that does not flee a predator). Even if mostly fallicious, if our perceptions are at least partially correct we might survive and over time could deduce which small percentage of our perceptions are true based on trial and error, repetition, and so on; basically the scientific method. We don't need perfect senses/minds to eventually discover truth, we only need ones that are partially correct and if you claim that our perceptions are 100% unreliable then I don't know what to call you other than insane. Not trying to snark, but I just don't see that as a defensible position at all.

  61. says

    Lukas, I appreciate someone finally giving some kind of rational response to an argument. Your rebuttal is summed up in your statement, "True beliefs are beneficial in ANY situation, which gives them higher utility. "If you are suggesting here that true beliefs are therefore beneficial to survival for their higher utility, a few simple counterarguments will disprove this. Take the true belief of the mother that she loves her infant son. Take also the belief that the son is in a tiger's cage. Both true beliefs (if she believes them) will lead her to jump into the tiger's cage risking her life for the sake of the son, leading not to her survival but to the possible death of both of them.Take also the true belief of the soldier that his comrades are in danger and that he will most likely hurt himself or get himself killed if he were to go rescue his comrades. Risking his own survival he nevertheless jumps back in the line of fire. The point is that true beliefs are not always beneficial to survival, while survival is the only thing on the mind of natural selection. I'm not sure which question you think I was evading. If there was a rational question asked I'd be glad to entertain it.

  62. says

    Gonna tone this down a bit.So in the end atheism is left with a blind faith belief that the human mind perceives reality as it really is instead of some other thing that produces adaptive behavior.No, it's not. At this point you are being willfully ignorant. Faith is accepting a claim as true without supporting evidence.We can establish our position with evidence – thus, it's not faith. You can read up through the thread for examples of evidence testing.Repeating the same lie doesn't make it more true.I'm sorry that you're stuck with a belief that cannot be corroborated by any kind of objective testable evidence.

  63. says

    And please re-read JT's version of your sentence about "rational faith". Also if your Christian god exists then you claim using your senses is justified but if your god existed and by virtue of its existence made our senses trustworthy then suddenly I can once again able to trust my senses, and my materialist claims become justified again as well. You claim that trustworthy senses rely upon a god however you claim that mine are untrustworthy, which is just another way of saying that god can't exist using your own definitions because in your logic the only world in which senses are untrustworthy (like you are claiming) is one in which the Christian god doesn't exist. People haven't be posting refutations because they have been trying to point out that your claim itself is self-refuting. It is like trying to explain to someone why 2 is 2 and not 3. If you just don't get the self-evidence of it then there really isn't much more to tell that person.

  64. says

    Lukas, I appreciate someone finally giving some kind of rational response to an argument. Again with the ad hominems. We're using logic and reason to demolish your claims. Simply labeling them as 'irrational' doesn't make them so. This theistic love for repeating falsehoods until they're supposedly magically made true is tiring.

  65. says

    Jeremiah: "We don't need perfect senses/minds to eventually discover truth, we only need ones that are partially correct and if you claim that our perceptions are 100% unreliable then I don't know what to call you other than insane." Hey Jeremiah, I don't think I was the one who raised probabilities, and I certainly didn't raise 100%, but I was making an argument that the probability of its reliability is UNKNOWABLE according to atheism, therefore UNRELIABLE. Darwin, as good a darwinian as any, had similar doubts himself. "But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" – Charles Darwin

  66. says

    It's a great position to take, if you think about it.If anyone has a devastating refutation of something you're claiming, then just label them 'irrational' and dismiss anything they have to say!.

  67. Martin says

    Sungyak: False beliefs can be just as advantageous to survival as a true belief can.Really. Okay, go jump off a skyscraper. On the way down, believe that you will fly.Let me know how that goes.

  68. says

    Take the true belief of the mother that she loves her infant son…You need to read up on the evolutionary basis for altruism. When a mother risks her life for her offspring, she is securing her own reproductive success. As such, securing such protective instincts is entirely sensible and, in the long term, quite advantageous. Take also the true belief of the soldier that his comrades are in danger… Also not a problem, for much the same reason. Group loyalty is highly advantageous. While it may sacrifice some individual members, if protects the group as a whole. Since human group in evolutionary history, have been closely related, this amounts to protecting your relatives and as such gives similar advantages as protecting your children.This is material you learn in first year biology. I'm not sure which question you think I was evading. If there was a rational question asked I'd be glad to entertain it. How about the very direct question I asked above:There are only two possibilities: absolute certainty and blind faith.Agree or disagree? Your posts seem to imply that you agree. Is that correct?

  69. says

    @SungyakOf course. One, you're thinking. Two, I'm thinking and disagreeing with you. You are in complex communication with something that you can't detect within your own mind. That's evidence that at least one mind exists (yours), because that's definitionally what a mind does, plus additional ones. This data supports the hypothesis of one or more minds.

  70. says

    JT, no scientists will consider that foul proof evidence. You have to prove that all that you say is happening is in fact happening within something called the 'mind', which you haven't shown. You can show us the mind right? I mean, you're not thinking the mind is invisible?!

  71. says

    Addition:Group loyalty is also related to the fact that we are social animals by nature. Even if there's no direct relation to anyone else in the group, if a male is killed in combat, he can rely on the group to take care of his mate and offspring (and as such, in a genetic sense, he didn't really die).On the contrary, if he abandons his group, he might survive the immediate threat, but in the long term, his genetic line is much less secure.

  72. says

    JT, no scientists will consider that foul proof evidence. You have to prove that all that you say is happening is in fact happening within something called the 'mind', which you haven't shown. You can show us the mind right? I mean, you're not thinking the mind is invisible?!And you yet again demonstrate that you have no idea how science works.There's no such thing as "fool proof evidence" in science. Evidence is data that supports a claim. You've been given that on a very basic level, which is even above and beyond the fact it's self evidence.Secondly, science doesn't rely on 'seeing' that's a tired strawman of science. We can't show you gravity or magnetism either, but it can be explored indirectly. We have a very functional and in-depth model of the atom without being able to 'see' one, even with an electron microscope.Science works by building models through hypothesis testing. "If my model XX were to be true, I should expect to see YY occur.", and you can either confirm or disqualify that hypothesis.The mind can be learned about and verified indirectly, like many other things in existence, including many of the base mechanism for which your computer runs.

  73. says

    Lukas, as it turns out I have read a bit on evolutionary altruism, so I think I know where you're coming from. Unfortunately, what you describe their is not really 'altruistic' in the strictly darwinian sense. The interpretation more loyal to darwinian evolution would be that altruistic behavior is really a strategy for increasing one's advantage in a gene-pool over other genes, thus its altruistic appearances are in fact illusory. Closer to the point of our discussion, however, I think you need to stay on what natural selection likes to select, not our psychology. For your benefit, however, I could easily substitute the child with a handicapped, adopted child, who has no kin-selective advantage, nor increase one's reproductive success. And the true beliefs that lead the mother into the tiger's cage will lead her to her death. I think it's perhaps helpful to make clear that I am not claiming there may not be any overlap between true beliefs and adaptive behavior. Once again, the point is that given atheism one simply cannot know how often they do or don't. Cheers.

  74. says

    JT, that's great. But I don't see how your scientific methods serve as evidence or proof that the mind exists. You've asserted it but you haven't demonstrated it scientifically, which was why I said no scientist would accept your statements as a testable, repeatable, falsifiable statement. Are you sure you're not just guessing that a mind probably exists? :)

  75. says

    Martin: "'False beliefs can be just as advantageous to survival as a true belief can.' Really. Okay, go jump off a skyscraper. On the way down, believe that you will fly." Martin, I'm afraid you're a little behind on the discussion here. I didn't say that false beliefs will ALWAYS be just as advantageous as true beliefs. I said they CAN. If they CAN, then you CAN be wrong about everything you believe to be true. If you CAN be wrong about everything you believe, then you CANNOT trust your perceptions. If you CANNOT trust your perceptions, you CANNOT claim anything is true or false, including theism and atheism.

  76. says

    But if you can't claim that anything is true or false then why can't you claim that you can fly by jumping off the skyscrapper? At the beginning of your sentence you seemed to acknowledge that the idea was false but then go on to say that knowing such a thing is not possible. See, that is the problem with solipsism, it simply doesn't work on a practical level and nobody lives their life that way. You are essentially arguing that the proof of gods existence is that reality is un-provable. If you don't get what is wrong with that then I don't know what to tell you.

  77. says

    This Mark guy sounded like a young, naive youth minister probably in his early 20's. Totally unprepared, used to having 14-19 year-old youth group kids eating out of his hand because he can talking about the Bible like it's "cool", has a nice goatee and can play acoustic guitar. Bottom line is he was totally unprepared for anything. Did anyone else notice the way he kept letting out those loooong sighs anytime you made a point? It was like he couldn't believe that you didn't like Matt Slick or that you care whether or not what you believe is true.Next time, ask the guy why so many of his little youth group supplicants are tuning in so regularly to such a nasty, mean old atheist show. I mean, if you guys really are so mean and bad at making arguments, what's the point in watching?

  78. says

    JT, that's great. But I don't see how your scientific methods serve as evidence or proof that the mind exists.There is no proof in science, only weak or strong evidence.You've asserted it but you haven't demonstrated it scientifically,It's funny that you should say that, since your whole point is to baldly assert the existence of invisible indetectable nonmanefesting magical sky man with zero evidence whatsoever.which was why I said no scientist would accept your statements as a testable, repeatable, falsifiable statement.Testable: By the definition of a mind, we would expect to see independent creative thoughts (complex ideas produced above and beyond habitual instinct) and in various entities.Repeatable:We can repeat this test on as many different entities or objects that we want.Falsifiable:As per the testable hypothesis and the expected behavior of a mind, if minds didn't exist, we would expect to not find creative thoughts (etc.) emerging from entities. If no creative thoughts (etc.) are not found, then my claim of the existence of external minds is falsified.It falls well within science, and you'd be hard pressed to find a scientist that would say we can't scientifically verify one. (Just throwing your bald faced assertion back at you).

  79. says

    The interpretation more loyal to darwinian evolution would be that altruistic behavior is really a strategy for increasing one's advantage in a gene-pool over other genes, thus its altruistic appearances are in fact illusory.Yes, quite. That's rather the point. It gives an entirely practical, even cynical, explanation for an action which feels entirely selfless to the individual taking it.The mother genuinely feels nothing but nurturing protectiveness for her child, yet she feels that way only because it has a practical advantage to the species as a whole.Closer to the point of our discussion, however, I think you need to stay on what natural selection likes to select, not our psychologyNot quite sure what you mean by this. please clarify.I could easily substitute the child with a handicapped, adopted child, who has no kin-selective advantage, nor increase one's reproductive success. And the true beliefs that lead the mother into the tiger's cage will lead her to her death.You mean the false belief that it's her child when it's really not?Regardless, caring for any member of our group, whether related or not, is an advantage because we are social beings, as I said. The health of the group is our health and the health of our children.Sometimes this has spill-over effects into protecting members that are not in any way helpful to the group (such as handicapped children or very old members*), but I would consider that an expression of a belief which has not yet been fully adapted to be true in all occasions. This is not a problem, since the scientific world-view freely admits that we are not perfect. That's precisely why we have science, after all. We simply need to be mostly correct. Since these examples are all related to somewhat advanced traits, not primary sensation, I'm not sure it's really all that relevant to the central argument, come to think of it.Surely, if our primary sensory ability and basic reasoning skills are reliable, then the rest we can derive from that. We have every reason to believe our senses are reliable (or we wouldn't survive getting out of bed in the morning), and our reasoning is at least sufficiently reliable to allow us to make tools and employ various physical principles. As such, I don't see that's there's much of a problem here.

  80. says

    Goddamn these posts are getting longI think it's perhaps helpful to make clear that I am not claiming there may not be any overlap between true beliefs and adaptive behavior. Once again, the point is that given atheism one simply cannot know how often they do or don't.In your examples above, you conveniently leave out other true beliefs which are relevant to the actions in question. Let us take the example of the soldier:Take also the true belief of the soldier that his comrades are in danger and that he will most likely hurt himself or get himself killed if he were to go rescue his comrades. Risking his own survival he nevertheless jumps back in the line of fire.So, you describe the true beliefs as:1) my comrades are in danger2) If I help them I'll be hurt or killedPlease show how the action "I'll jump in the line of fire" follows from those beliefs.It doesn't. That action requires other beliefs, such as "My comrades cannot escape from the danger alone", "I'll be court-martialed and executed if I don't help them" or even "Helping your friends, even at your own peril, is the right thing to do". It also precludes certain beliefs, such as "I'm a lousy shot, I wont make any difference in this fight" or "Johnson is a lousy rapist, if he dies it'll save some innocent girl".In short, your examples are so simplified as to be useful for prolonged discussion.I'd much rather have you come up with an example where:1) a person does something which is harmful to themselves2) the action has no beneficial results for anyone else3) you clearly state all the beliefs this person must hold in order to justify that action4) you demonstrate that all those beliefs are true and inevitably lead to that actionand if possible5) you demonstrate that no other true beliefs would preclude that action**Thanks for the answer:Lukas: "There are only two possibilities: absolute certainty and blind faith. Agree or disagree?"Disagree.Given that, please explain how you justify the statement:IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF.It seems to pretty clearly set up a choice between these two with no alternatives.* No offense intended to anyone. I mean this simply in the hyper-practical sense of "will this child grow up to be a good hunter", "can this old man defend the camp", etc.** I'm not sure this last step is absolutely necessary, so while I'd like it, I'm willing to give on that point.

  81. says

    I think that's the first time I've had to split a post. As a result, the note in the first post (marked by *) has it's corresponding footnote in the second post.

  82. says

    and I certainly didn't raise 100%, but I was making an argument that the probability of its reliability is UNKNOWABLE according to atheism, You're the one who brought up "We can't know FOR SURE". Perhaps you have a different understanding of what this phrase means? And yes, it is knowable according to science, because we have a demonstrably effective means of knowing things (Your computer is evidence of this). Generally, there is no "according to atheism", anyway.Making up delusional fantasies isn't knowledge accumulation. Your whole argument appears to be an argument from ignorance. "We can't know FOR SURE that the brain works right, so this alternative unsupported fantasy of mine must be the answer, even though I'm ignoring the vast amounts of available evidence that the brain is very adept at working on its own."

  83. says

    JT, your 'testable' science is based on a definition of the mind that does X, and since X is detectable that counts as evidence that the mind is real? Aren't you begging the question then when you say that the definition of the mind is that which produces X? What if one were to define God as a being that produces universes? Does the existence of the universe make God real to you? Is God therefore scientifically evidenced?

  84. says

    Lukas, I think you're slowly digressing into evolutionary morality while my interest is in evolutionary epistemology. I'd be glad to have a separate discussion on whether evolutionary morality is tenable (I don't think it is), but for now I'd like to stay on the point regarding the basis for rationality for the atheist. In the end, I found that the struggle to find the correlation between true altruism and natural selection is an emotional task, not an intellectual one. The question I'm asking is 'Is any intellectual quest possible for the atheist?' "IN THE END YOU CANNOT KNOW FOR SURE EITHER WAY AS AN ATHEIST, THEREFORE IT IS A BLIND FAITH BELIEF.It seems to pretty clearly set up a choice between these two with no alternatives."The two choices I set up are not between absolute certainty and blind faith as you initially understood, but between rationality with proper basis or without proper basis. If you don't have a truth-conducive basis for rationality, the whole of rationality becomes untrustworthy at the basis. That is not to say that you cannot think that you're rational. It means you don't have good reasons to think so. Maybe I should pause here to see if you understand my point.

  85. says

    JT, your 'testable' science is based on a definition of the mind that does X, and since X is detectable that counts as evidence that the mind is real?YES! That's how science works. 1) Define what it is you're trying to demonstrate as true.2) Define a set of attributes of this mechanism/thing.3) Propose some tests that would corroborate those attributes, and thus, your claim.4) Gather that evidence (or fail to).Upon peer review, the logical connection between the attributes and the claim can be contested, as they must be logical.If we can't agree on what the definition of a mind is, we may as well be talking about two separate things. The word 'mind' is a label to a concept. This defining can also be contested.Aren't you begging the question then when you say that the definition of the mind is that which produces X?I'm sorry, but begging what question exactly?What if one were to define God as a being that produces universes? Does the existence of the universe make God real to you? Is God therefore scientifically evidenced?As per that definition and attribute, yes, it is evidence. It is, however, vastly insufficient evidence, because of the issue of exclusion.Someone else could say that the Big Bang, as a natural phenomenon, created the universe. The existence of the universe would support that claim too. With two contrary claims having the same evidence indicate both of them, that piece of evidence doesn't carry much weight. We'd need more data to demonstrate one of the claims over another.It's sort of like (very loosely) qualifying for a loan. If your credit score is > 700, you might get the loan from most banks… but that 700 score is the combination of all kinds of positive evidence that you're responsible, and very little to no evidence that you're irresponsible. It takes a lot to build up that score, and the bigger the loan you're trying to get (analogous to making a claim that's further outside of the ordinary), the higher the score you'll need.

  86. says

    JT, then what excludes the mind from 'the issue of exclusion'? what if one were to argue that creative thoughts come not from a mind but from a tiny (atom size) aliens that reside in our brains? that's where you beg the question by assuming your definition of the mind to be better than another's.

  87. says

    @JT: "I'm sorry, but begging what question exactly?"Begging the question is a specific logical fallacy, where you assume your the point you're trying to prove: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_questionWhich ironically is not what you're doing, but what Sungyak did in his "God exists, he gave me rationality, therefore I can trust my rationality to be right about God existing" argument, unless I misunderstood his train of thought there.""What if one were to define God as a being that produces universes? Does the existence of the universe make God real to you? Is God therefore scientifically evidenced?"

As per that definition and attribute, yes, it is evidence. It is, however, vastly insufficient evidence, because of the issue of exclusion."The question is loaded, on two accounts:-It presupposes that the universe needed to be produced.-It presupposes that a being needed to do the producing.So no, I would not consider this evidence for anything.

  88. says

    The question I'm asking is 'Is any intellectual quest possible for the atheist?'You argued that if we assume that god exists, we have reason to trust our senses, but atheism necessarily leaves us with no such reason.In answer, many have pointed out that evolutionary theory (a theory which requires no god and therefor is atheistic, in a sense) can explain why we should expect that our senses and thoughts are generally reliable.To refute this, you presented false, but adaptive beliefs.I made the argument that true beliefs are more adaptive and thus would win out in the evolutionary race.You presented examples of what you think are maladaptive true beliefs. I explained why I think these examples are too simplified to be useful.You have not responded.Maybe I should pause here to see if you understand my point.I don't think I do, because it sounds to me like you're saying exactly what you just said you weren't saying. Quite frankly, I don't understand that whole paragraph.

  89. says

    "So no, I would not consider this evidence for anything."Okay, let me specify. I would consider the universe existing to be evidence of just that: the universe existing. Not of a being being responsible for it. But we now more than just that the universe existed, we have reasonably good evidence for an event very near the beginning of time that we call "big bang". If you really want to call that event "god" then I have no objections to that in principle, but it seems very impractical, since the word "god" carries a lot of connotations that have nothing at all to do with what we know about the big bang.I would argue similarly for the mind. Just observing complex behavior by itself would not necessarily point to something called a mind, just to the existence of complex behavior. But other lines of evidence, the fact that similar complex behavior arises in objects with certain characteristics (having brains) and that damaging the brain changes this behavior etc etc does point to something specific causing the complex behavior. If you want to call that a mind, then fine. Even though that's a word with quite a lot of baggage itself, at least this baggage seems relevant to the issue at hand.

  90. says

    JT, then what excludes the mind from 'the issue of exclusion'? what if one were to argue that creative thoughts come not from a mind but from a tiny (atom size) aliens that reside in our brains? that's where you beg the question by assuming your definition of the mind to be better than another's.It gets ahead (if you wish to consider a race analogy between multiple models) by having more positive evidence for it than others.Also, I would contest the attribute/definition of aliens residing in my brain, because that's essentially more minds, which is what I'm trying to demonstrate anyway. To make that particular claim, you'd have to provide a way to test for it. If you can't, you have no traction for the model.Science is heavily competitive, for instance between the different models around quantum physics, like M-theory, string theory (in general), and others. There were a bunch of different atomic models for awhile, if I recall correctly, before one of them won out.

  91. says

    @plainBegging the question is a specific logical fallacy, where you assume your the point you're trying to prove:Thanks. I was wondering why I couldn't make sense of the question.

  92. says

    Lukas: "To refute this, you presented false, but adaptive beliefs. I made the argument that true beliefs are more adaptive and thus would win out in the evolutionary race. You presented examples of what you think are maladaptive true beliefs. I explained why I think these examples are too simplified to be useful."Let's pick it up from here. I'll divide my argument up into premises so you can pick on the one you disagree with. A. There are possible cases in which false beliefs can lead to adaptive behavior. (Whether true beliefs are more adaptive than false ones is besides the point really, and leads to a rather ethical discussion instead of an epistemological one. So I'll dump the examples that you find "too simplified" for now.) B. If A is true, then the basis for rationality is compromised. Given atheism there is no basis to believe that our adaptive behaviors are 100% a result of true beliefs. C. Without this absolute basis in rationality, rationality is not ultimately trustworthy. D. Atheism is therefore not trustworthy for the atheist. Now, I'm guessing your disagreement is with A. Would you mind stating again why you do so? Are you claiming that it is somehow impossible for false beliefs to be adaptive?

  93. says

    JT: "Also, I would contest the attribute/definition of aliens residing in my brain, because that's essentially more minds, which is what I'm trying to demonstrate anyway. To make that particular claim, you'd have to provide a way to test for it. If you can't, you have no traction for the model." JT, having more minds isn't evidence that humans have a mind. My question was how do you give evidence for the human mind. You have not provided a way to test for the human mind to be scientifically demonstrable or falsifiable.

  94. says

    JT, having more minds isn't evidence that humans have a mind.That would definitionally BE the mind. Again, it comes down to making sure we agree on what this 'mind' thing is we're discussing.It's like you're saying that compound eyes aren't really eyes because there's more than one, instead of one central one. My question was how do you give evidence for the human mind. You have not provided a way to test for the human mind to be scientifically demonstrable or falsifiable.At this point you're just straight up lying.I told you how it qualifies, and you can give no reason why what I said is invalid. Given that you have no understanding of how science works, this isn't surprising.

  95. says

    JT, you are essentially saying science has no way of differentiating whether we humans have a human mind or have little aliens (with minds) projecting thoughts in our brains. My intention was to demonstrate to you this very limitation science has. It is very useful in one sense, and very limited in another. And this also applies to issues in morality, philosophy, and theology.

  96. says

    @Sungyak:If I may jump into your conversation with Lukas here."C. Without this absolute basis in rationality, rationality is not ultimately trustworthy. D. Atheism is therefore not trustworthy for the atheist. "The jump from C to D is the point of disagreement for me. Absolute certainty is unattainable under any circumstance as I and others have repeatedly said, so yes, in particular it is unattainable for atheists as well, but that doesn't mean that the tools we have are completely untrustworthy. Yes, we should be skeptical of them, that's exactly what we're advocating, but using the means we have, including our limited rationality, works demonstrably better than just claiming that there is a god who gave you an infallible ratio and pretending you therefore do not have the `problem' of not attaining absolute certainty.

  97. says

    Now, I'm guessing your disagreement is with A. Would you mind stating again why you do so? Are you claiming that it is somehow impossible for false beliefs to be adaptive? Not really. My main objection is that the question of "whether true beliefs are more adaptive than false ones" is NOT besides the point at all. If true beliefs are more adaptive than false beliefs, then true beliefs win out over time and our senses can therefore be trusted.This is not an ethical question at all (I wonder where you got that idea). On the contrary, it's a central point of the whole discussion.If true beliefs have higher adaptability, then evolution will lead to trustworthy senses and reliable thought mechanisms. Thus, your claim that without god we have no basis to trust our senses is refuted.

  98. says

    @Sungyak: "JT, you are essentially saying science has no way of differentiating whether we humans have a human mind or have little aliens (with minds) projecting thoughts in our brains."Of course science has that ability. Open up the brain and see if there are little aliens inside, or if they use signals from the outside, shield the brain and see if it stops working. Science has no way of distinguishing between two theories that have exactly the same empirical predictions, but at that point I would argue there is no relevant difference between the theories anyway. Distinction without a difference.

  99. says

    Hey Plain, I have a few more minutes to stay on the blog for the night. Your thoughts are welcome (and they sound more reasonable than most I've come across today). Plain: "Yes, we should be skeptical of them, that's exactly what we're advocating…" I wonder if by 'we' you are speaking for every atheist here, because no one sounds skeptical of atheism as far as I can tell… More importantly though, I think it's important we understand each other on this point you make: "but using the means we have, including our limited rationality, works demonstrably better than just claiming that there is a god who gave you an infallible ratio and pretending you therefore do not have the `problem' of not attaining absolute certainty." If you read back on my posts you will not find anywhere that I claimed theists have absolute certainty in anything. The point I've been trying to make to Lukas is this, that theists, while they cannot claim anything with absolute certainty, have a rational basis to trust that their minds function properly to acquire true belief. Theists need not entertain the view that evolution is not guided by any higher power or disinterested in truth. Atheistic naturalism is what necessitates this epistemological foundation. What I'm pointing at therefore is not what is demonstrably better or worse in practice; but rather which worldview is more stable in terms of providing the ultimate basis for a person to trust that what seems demonstrably true is indeed the truth. Cheers.

  100. says

    JT, you are essentially saying science has no way of differentiating whether we humans have a human mind or have little aliens (with minds) projecting thoughts in our brains.No, I'm not. Did you even read what I said?The different models can be differentiated by the addition of more (and higher quality) evidence over the other models.I guess I'll restate the second part. If you are positing that we have multiple little aliens projecting thoughts into our brains, you would have to also posit a means of testing for that. If you cannot, then the other models will easily be differentiated over this one.My intention was to demonstrate to you this very limitation science has.For being 'limited', science has produced the understandings behind ALL the advanced technologies you use. Whereas, alternative "methods" for knowledge accumulation can't even verify of demonstrate their claims.Science has a proven history of being the #1 unambiguously effective means at demonstrably and accurately investigating reality that humanity has ever conceived. Nothing else even comes close.

  101. says

    because no one sounds skeptical of atheism as far as I can tell… That's because it makes no freaking sense. How can I be skeptical of "I don't believe your claim"?

  102. says

    Plain: "Of course science has that ability. Open up the brain and see if there are little aliens inside, or if they use signals from the outside, shield the brain and see if it stops working." These aliens are so small it's impossible to see em or detect them. Their technology also makes the signals they use untraceable while simultaneously penetrating any shield.

  103. says

    These aliens are so small it's impossible to see em or detect them. Their technology also makes the signals they use untraceable while simultaneously penetrating any shield.(Weird, that's starting to sound like a typical theistic excuse)Then you'll have to provide a mechanism for how that'd work, and provide evidence. If you can't do that, then this claim/model fails, and is thus differentiated from the others.

  104. says

    JT, im afraid you're failing to see the point of the hypothetical. there are things that are possibly real that science can't possibly test. that is the point you either fail to see or admit to time and time again. there is no knowable mechanism because the mechanism is beyond human comprehension. to conclude that it's therefore unreal is to commit a logical fallacy based on a very dogmatic naturalistic materialism and scientism.

  105. says

    Lukas, Plain, hope ill catch your responses next time i visit the blog. (although i'm beginning to doubt the benefits of each visit very seriously, with all the nonsense that goes on here.) please drop me an email if i forget to reply to your posts. cheers.

  106. says

    Tip of the hat to you all, I'm not sure i could be this patient…If I was playing tag and got tired or bored why not just get caught and play tag again tomorrow…

  107. says

    @SyngyakJT, im afraid you're failing to see the point of the hypothetical. there are things that are possibly real that science can't possibly test.No one denies that. Science is the only thing we have that can produce any accurate results AT ALL. All we can do is trudge forward and keep gathering knowledge, and hope we get to everything.Also, don't assume that because we haven't figured something out, that we won't.What is your alternative for figuring out those potentially real things? Making up fantasies? Consulting a Magic 8-ball? Taking drugs? What?Can you demonstrate that this alternative works better and more accurately than science?that is the point you either fail to see or admit to time and time again.I readily admit it. I didn't even think it was a relevant issue, considering science is the only tool for discerning reality that demonstrably works, that we have so far.there is no knowable mechanism because the mechanism is beyond human comprehension. to conclude that it's therefore unreal is to commit a logical fallacy based on a very dogmatic naturalistic materialism and scientism.Who said anything about concluding that it's unreal? The claim is falsified. That has nothing to do with asserting that it isn't true at all.Years ago, there was this guy who claimed to have achieved Cold Fusion. Within days, hundreds of scientists attempted to duplicate the method, and could not succeed.The guy's claim is falsified, however, the conclusion wasn't that Cold Fusion is impossible, but that the claim and model asserted failed.Your assertions of dogma and "scientism" are based on an absolute and utter void of any comprehension of how science works, any kind of reading comprehension (or simple reading) of what we're saying. You, sir, are fractally wrong. You are The One.

  108. says

    @Sungyak: "I wonder if by 'we' you are speaking for every atheist here, because no one sounds skeptical of atheism as far as I can tell…"If you go back to my original sentence you'll see that the "them" I'm referring to in "we should be skeptical of them" are "the tools we have", meaning our brains, rationality, science etc. I'm saying that one of the claims you often hear atheists make is that you cannot trust your own senses always, that's why science tries to eliminate biases as much as possible, Science (and by extension those atheists who are also scientific skeptics) acknowledges the limits of our ratio and tries to do the best job it can within those confines. Faith on the other hand does nothing of the sort, since it requires no standard of evidence whatsoever. Make something up (or pick something that has been made up in the past or has evolved out of other ideas or whatnot), believe it, et voila, faith. So, here's the crux of the argument:-Science and its philosophy acknowledge the limitations of the human brain and try to minimize the effects of these limitations as best they can.-Faith lacks any standard or methodology and is thus incapable of taking anything into account. (Note, I'm not saying that individual believers don't, but faith as an epistemological concept doesn't.)Agreed or not?"that theists, while they cannot claim anything with absolute certainty, have a rational basis to trust that their minds function properly to acquire true belief."That depends on what you mean by a rational basis. Yes, it is a basis for rationality within the confines of the theistic narrative, but no, the basis itself is not rational because there has been no rational (or scientific) argument to establish this god that supposedly forms this basis of rationality."These aliens are so small it's impossible to see em or detect them. Their technology also makes the signals they use untraceable while simultaneously penetrating any shield."Read the rest of my post that you quoted. If you are proposing two theories that have exactly the same outcome in reality, then they are indistinguishable to me, if they are not there is in principle a scientific way of discerning which is the better theory. Science is concerned with describing nature, not with dictating an ontology that does not make itself known in nature. It two descriptions have the same outcome in nature, they are for all intends and purposes the same description. I cannot take Einsteins theory of relativity, just replace the word "gravity" with "babblebob" and claim that I've made a new theory (well, I can claim it of course, but it would be a false claim; and to be precise I should probably say that it's not new in the sense that it is a theory which is empirically isomorphic to some existing theory). The empirically testable output of both theories would be exactly the same. This is a simple example, but there are different ones. Your aliens seem to go the same way. Reminds me of Sagan's dragon, although that was more concerned with special pleading: http://www.users.qwest.net/~jcosta3/article_dragon.htm

  109. says

    there are things that are possibly real that science can't possibly testTrue, but since the category of the "possibly real" contains everything that hasn't conclusively been demonstrated to be unreal, that's not really saying much, is it? Also, the box labeled "possibly real" by definition contains an infinite number of items. No matter how long we work and how much we test we will never exhaust it. Furthermore, the box of "possibly real" by necessity contains a whole lot of ideas that really should be in the box labeled "not real", we just haven't gotten around to putting them there yet. An infinite amount of them, in fact. However, the number of ideas that fit in the box labeled "real" is limited. It may be large, but it's finite.Ergo, the "possibly real" box contains infinitely more ideas that should go in the box "not real" than should go in the box "real". So, why are the "possibly real" ideas so interesting, again?A much more interesting question is this: Is there something which is actually real, which science cannot test, and if so, is there another way of testing for it?

  110. Martin says

    JT: It's even more basic than that. What is the difference between aliens who are impossible to detect in any way whatsoever, and aliens who simply don't exist? Epistemologically, none.In the swirling, chaotic vortex of confusion that is Sungyak's mind, he seems to think that this lack of evidence makes it more rational than not to conclude the aliens (aka God) must exist, because, since we don't know everything for certain, we must accept the possibility that they do and they are simply "beyond our knowledge."What he misses is that any "mechanism" that is beyond human comprehension is also indistinguishable from one that does not exist. Nor does he explain why the current mechanisms of the scientific method, which have up to now led us to a great many things hitherto unknown and unimaginable, cannot reliably continue to do so into the foreseeable future.This is the rhetorical cul-de-sac you always end up senselessly spinning around in when you waste your time trying to talk with Matrix Apologists. They don't seem to grasp epistemology, and they spend all of their energy in a nonstop exercise in dodging their own burden of proof for God's existence by trying to trap atheists into forever defending the concept of objective reality, as well as the validity of the entire scientific method. Rationalists shouldn't fall for that.Unless Sungyak can present some straightforward, cogent arguments for the existence of God that do not rely on tautologies and shifting-the-burden fallacies, I think he's pissing away his time and ours.

  111. Martin says

    Regarding Sungyak's "proof" in this comment:B does not follow from A. That specific instances in which a false belief has been helpful to an individual rather than harmful may occur (e.g.: a person takes comfort in believing a dead loved one is happily residing in Heaven) in no way undermines rationality. Rational beliefs — those whose objective truth can be confirmed by means of the scientific method, if we want a clear definition to work with — are as rational as they ever were, as are the methodologies used to confirm them.One might as well argue that, because some people smoke cigarettes all their lives and never get lung cancer or emphysema, the claims that smoking can lead to health problems are "compromised." Or that because Congresswoman Giffords was shot through the head and didn't die, the claim that getting shot through the head will kill you is "compromised."The point was made well that on balance, the more your beliefs map to actual reality and the less they are delusional, the better off (and more likely to survive) an individual, let alone an entire culture or species, will be. Certainly our minds are imperfect, but most people learn from mistakes they make, and seek to remedy their ignorance with knowledge and experience. (Some people emphatically resist that process.) But even with our imperfections, we are still best served when more of what we believe turns out to be actually true than not. When the opposite is the case, you're looking at someone who needs to be institutionalized, or at the very least medicated. Because their poor grasp of reality makes them a danger to themselves and others.

  112. says

    Sungyak's giving a version of the Trancendental Argument. Although somewhat strangely framed.It's one that I have a certain sympathy for, in a sense. I think the fact that people find it compelling observes some aspect of the brain/mind many people have. It's probably been discussed by actual smart people on the show, but I have this idea that the mind often needs this zero point, this fulcrum, an ultimate arbiter of some sort in order for reason to take place (horrid vague metaphors, I know. Sorry. All I got right now).From a vague sense of that structure comes these weird circuitous "proofs", not that god exists, but that he supposedly can't not-exist so usual methods of verifying exitence or reality don't apply (Kalam covers the physical world; Trancendental takes on the existence of mind. They're not Cartesians at all these folks, nono of course not). It's all arch, arch sophistry of course, particularly as it has been put here. Sungyak's taken it one step further from safe-ish ground to assess these points of view as equivalent further in the abstract than I've seen it before. It's like arguing from an arithmetic series that a door moving to close at a consistent pace gets infinitely closer to the door frame but never actually shuts, because that's what the numbers say.It's true, in a sense. The numbers it produces are even useful up to a point. But after that point it ceases to be practical. The universe didn't just prevent all doors closing because the logic said so. The solution is get better logic.It's thinking that's short a couple of dimensions.

  113. says

    @Muz: "It's like arguing from an arithmetic series that a door moving to close at a consistent pace gets infinitely closer to the door frame but never actually shuts, because that's what the numbers say."I have to disagree here. It's not what the numbers say. If the door closes at a consistent pace, then the time it takes to cover the ever decreasing distances that still need to be closed decreases as well, and doors can actually close. It's a bit of a tangent to your point (yes, like that makes geometrical sense), but it would be weird to claim that logic says doors can't close.

  114. Mamba24 says

    So basically Sungyak's argument was, "We can't trust that our perception of reality is actually real…therefore god exists." ….? I don't know I didn't actually take the time to read through all the posts, but that's the general idea I got from it. If this "environment" or "Universe" that we live in isn't actually real…Maybe he could point out some evidence for why this is so. Otherwise I don't see how his argument carries any weight.

  115. says

    Plain Simple:It does, if you remove or ignore some important relevant aspects to it (was the point I was going for). Logic doesn't say "doors can't close" but "a linear series progresses infinitely" (let's leave it basic for now), but they don't tell you that at the start. It's still logic as far as the numbers are concerned, but badly applied. We know it's badly applied because experience disagrees.It's why they show you a linear series like that in year eight maths or whenever and say "So, do you think a ball never stops bouncing or a door can't close? Of course not. So we add other information to find the correct point"It's something of a tortured analogy I suppose, but Sungyak's thinking reminds me of that. He thinks he's found an intractible 'regression to infinity' in knowledge. He's correct, in a limited way, but when told of the added dimensions needed to consider the problem (or problems generally) he rejects them (and its his problem to, only god bails him out or something). I'm not really saying anything others haven't already said at this point, just complicating things really. I do think in there somewhere is how I find that argument unconvincng.It seems to me that, like the false paradox, this kind of theological argument is extrapolating from a fixed position. But, as we've seen, it's ignoring or spuriously excluding the, I don't know, procedural aspects of life and experience. So they're fun mental calisthenics now and then, but so abstract as to be incapable of describing anything.And I'm repeating things once more.

  116. says

    @Sungyak: Unfortunately, I don't have the time right now to scroll through all 100+ comments currently on this thread, so if what I'm saying is predicated on a falsehood that has been answered in one of the threads since that which I've read, please forgive me.One particular theme I seem to be noticing in your posts across the board is your critique of the philosophy you variously call “evidentialism” and “empiricism” which, btw, are actually two different philosophies. Now, I've consistently offered the same response to this, which I haven't seen you actually address (well, to be fair, you probably didn't notice, since the view I'm taking is probably different from most, if not all, other people on this blog.I'm going to get to the crux right away—I'm a pragmatist/post-analytic philosopher. This epistemological view equates or defines the word “truth” with what has the most utility. My metaphysical view is what Stephen Hawking calls “model-dependent realism” which states that, while objective reality exists (and, if you want a justification for that premise, go see Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and his transcendental deduction that we can, in fact, have objective knowledge of the phenomenal realm while at the same time having no theoretical knowledge of the noumenal realm), we can only know it in terms of our models on it. So, how do we go about constructing these models? Well, some are innate—our brain constructs them automatically. Others, we have to make ourselves. It follows from my pragmatism that the models with the most utility are the ones we should use. It is perfectly possible, for example, to construct a model of the universe with the Earth at the center that is consistent with all we observe (and I've personally done just that). So, why don't we use that? Well, the model is horribly complicated. I learned Newtonian physics in high school, but you have to be in grad school to understand this model.Now, science is demonstrably a model-builder of immense utility. If you don't believe that, I advise you immediately unplug the computer in front of you, chuck it away, put on animal skins and live in the savanna. In fact, the models constructed by science are among the greatest contributors to human good.By contrast, can you give me a single demonstrable increase in human good that theism, the fideism that you're advocating, or any other static ideal has given us that couldn't be achieved by other means?You know, when I first saw you critique “evidentialism,” I thought you might be advocating a form of rationalism, the philosophy that we can unlock the world as it is, by reason, without necessarily appealing to empirical facts. But, I now have noticed, you seem to actually be advocating fideism, the philosophy that faith is superior to reason and experience as a method of knowledge. Good luck defending that point of view to a pragmatist!

  117. says

    Well, that's just it. Sungyak's entire technique seems to be to deliberately dismiss the whole notion of finding things out; therefore he argues that everything is based on faith; therefore only personal preference is relevant; (…); therefore God.I think it's very telling that when I asked one basic question — how can you use faith to determine that the Christian god exists and not a Muslim one — he went off on a massive tangent, insisted on his right not to answer, and then got very angry with me when I brought it up a second time. Instead of answering the question, he'll go off on these long rants dripping with sarcasm and full of apologist name drops.To me, this isn't a trivial side issue; it's the core of the problem with faith. If you're the sort of person who dismisses evidence and insists that faith is the sole determinant of what is real, everything absolutely comes down to personal preference, whether or not you pick "God" as the source of your faith. There's no way to distinguish between the draw of one religion or another.It's kind of ironic, really — when I talked with Chuck Colson a while back, one central thesis of his book was that faith is being undermined by a postmodern understanding of the world. He accused secularists of denying "Truth" and only recognizing things that are "true for me." I argued then, and I stand by it now, that by centering everything on faith, it is theists who are promoting that stuff, not us. Sungyak is a great example, and I think he and Chuck would have some interesting discussions.

  118. says

    Can't help myself, one last comment"That is not to say that you cannot think that you're rational. It means you don't have good reasons to think so. "Your claim is that atheism/materialism/etc cannot be justified because they rely on deductions/evidence/etc that lie within the reality in which we inhabit and therefore, by definition, cannot be independently verified for accuracy by something that is not tainted by their own influence. We get that, but where you have failed is by thinking that you have provided a viable alternative. You claim that believing in a creator gives you a rational justification. About 50 posts ago a half dozen people or so re-worded your paragraph on justified faith in an attempt to point out than when we appeal to supernatural explanations, those that are by definition outside of our reality, we can make up any explanation that we want and be equally justified in doing so. Magic gods, hippos, or space hobos can all provide equal justification for our senses because we can make up any story we want about them since they reside outside of our reality.I would propose that we are justified in trusting our perceptions because I would find it illogical to believe that a sensing being could exist in a universe without being able to mostly accurately perceive it's environment. If this premise is true then this is a justification to rely on our senses just as much as your claim is. Can we prove this? No, but no less so then your supernatural claims. However, this claim does provide two distinct advantages over yours. First, as an explanation it doesn't rely on the existence of something beyond existence which just sounds absurd on its face. By virtue of this it can secondly lay claim to Occam's razor as being the simplest explanation for our present situation. Appealing to the simplest explanation that also happens to be self-contained strikes me as infinitely more rational than appealing to the literally endless possibilities of the make-believe realm of the supernatural.

  119. says

    I'd like to throw in my 2p here.Sungyak basically wants to paint science/atheism as a faith based position because it is based on axioms. However, the theist's hypothesis that their rational mind is god-given is irrelevant because they still need to assume an objective reality and that knowledge of reality is possible for that mind. On this point they are both the same. If Sungyak wants to feel smug because therefore they are both "faith" based then fine. However, it twists the meaning of faith to something very different to what it usually means and is basically only highlighting the difference between absolute certainty (not possible) and an axiomatic correspondence theory of truth.Sungyak dodged the real question, which Matt identified: does he believe in an objective reality that we can have knowledge of or not? If he does then theism is irrational because it does not correspond to reality (lack of evidence). If he doesn't then he's a solipsist who's come on the Internet in his mind to argue with himself.

  120. says

    @John S: "Sungyak dodged the real question, which Matt identified: does he believe in an objective reality that we can have knowledge of or not? If he does then theism is irrational because it does not correspond to reality (lack of evidence). If he doesn't then he's a solipsist who's come on the Internet in his mind to argue with himself."I don't think solipsists believe that their own mind is necessarily all that exists, but only that that is the only thing whose existence they can have knowledge of. Still, all fine and dandy as an abstract philosophical position, but not a way anyone lives their life I'd think,

  121. says

    Somebody once said, "The best way to deal with a solipsist is to punch them in the face. You'll feel better, and the solipsist has to write it off as self-inflicted."

  122. says

    Yikes, this is like running up/down an Escher staircase. Has anyone gone as basic as to ask this guy how he defines atheism? He answers as if we are asserting definitively there is no god.I don't understand why the absolute certainty thing is such a hold up here. A lot gets lost in these giant, multi-point responses. It makes it easier for him to address less relevant quotes and evade the hard questions. Maybe we can shorten our responses and try to corral him into answering the important stuff?

  123. says

    Whew! I just read all of those posts and now my brain hurts. I am not sure what the hell Sungyak is really trying to say. He seems to have taken a bunch of philosophical rhetoric and thrown it on a blender, put it on puree, consumed it and then, after the inevitable biological process, flung it at us like a monkey in a zoo.He begins with solipsism: "How do you know you aren't in the matrix!?" Then moves promptly on to you can't trust your reason at all. This is quite a leap, and ammounts to nothing more than an assertion on his part. He simply ignores any arguement that makes sense and then flings some more of the same drivel he has been flinging all along.He is even arguing the whole thing backward. The traditional arguement, as I understand it, is, "Reason exists. Reason couldn't exist without God. God exists!" But He has mangled even that. His interpretation seems to be, "Reason has no foundation without God. I want to trust my reason. Therefor I believe in God!" The primary problem with his arguement is that reason is reliable. We know this because we sucessfully interface with our surroundings. As our understanding advances we are more and more able to understand where our reason has come from without resorting to gods as an answer.

  124. says

    The desire for 1000% certain knowledge is a neurosis of those with a weak stomach for existentialist angst.Sure, as material animals using chemical flesh-brains in a confusing subjective material universe, it's impossible to know for certain that our ideas are Absolutely True. The best we've got is the falliable ape minds we've been given by hominid evolution, whose inadequacies at the task of comprehending objective reality are shown starkly whenever we try to grasp the nature of entropy or quantum tunelling. So stating that some idea is true can only be an expression of a personal view.This is not a problem. Deal with it.

  125. Afterthought_btw says

    I realise that I've come late to the party, and perhaps that Sungyak will never see this, but I've just got to get this out there, because it is something that theists often do, and it bugs me:Sungyak – immediately any premise in your argument contains words to the effect of 'atheists believe X', or 'the atheist world view cannot account for X' then your argument fails.The reason for this is quite simple.An atheistic world view is one in which a theistic god does not exist. That is all – literally anything that conforms to that one requirement is an atheistic world view. There is not one shared belief contained in the set of atheistic world views, just one belief which may not be there. This set of world views contains both supernatural and natural world views. A world view that hinges upon a supernatural bunny rabbit creating the universe, and then hopping off somewhere is an atheistic world view.A world view that hinges upon natural processes creating this universe that are unfathomable to our brains is an atheistic world view.A world view that says 'I don't understand why certain things are the case, but I see no evidence to suggest a god exists' is an atheistic world view. A world view that says that I am a brain in a vat, and everything I sense is a product of my imagination – as well as being solipsistic – is an atheistic world view.There are infinite possible different atheistic world views, in fact, for any atheistic world view you put forward, there exists another atheistic world view that is precisely contrary in every single point apart from whether a theistic god exists. Thus, it should be clear, that any statement you make regarding them other than 'an atheistic world view does not include a theistic god' is automatically false.Now, as throughout this thread you've been talking about 'atheistic world views', hopefully you'll see why I cannot take your arguments seriously.

  126. says

    The Austin Stone has a facebook page with link on their website. Would it be wise to direct their attention to the fact that someone called into the Atheist Experience TV show and claimed he represented their church..?

  127. Afterthought_btw says

    Just thought I'd add something to the above which I assumed was obvious, but just in case it isn't:Sungyak, when you argue with atheists as you have in this thread, you are only trying to disprove their particular atheistic world view. As a result even if you are successful, and your opponent concedes that they cannot account for certain things, you are still no closer to an argument for god: all you have done is shown that their particular world view is false, you have done nothing to show that your own one is true or that the infinite possible other atheistic world views are false.Bottom line:With this strategy, no matter how well you dismantle the atheist's arguments, you are still no closer to proving that a theistic god exists.ATB

  128. says

    I Was just wondering why assume that there is a god when there is no proof for it, why explain stuff that you can't explain with a being that is all powerful but not powerful enough to show evidence of his existence

  129. says

    @Snoochipaloo – In response to you questionHas anyone gone as basic as to ask this guy how he defines atheism? He answers as if we are asserting definitively there is no god.Yes, I have asked him a number of times, and have tried to show him his error, but to no avail.@Afterthought_btw – I have made those points to Sungyak myself, but not as well as you. Maybe he will begin to understand after he reads your post.I have gone around in circles with him, and until he shows even a basic understanding of the term atheist, I have written him off.

  130. says

    The audio and video are not in sync for this episode when watched on Blip.tvCall it divine intervention if you will, but I'm calling it damn annoying.

  131. says

    One thing I didn't see anyone bring up is that the bible is replete with instances of God himself sending a spirit of deception, of hardening hearts against the word of prophets, of providing prophets with falsehoods to manipulate his enemies.To say nothing of the fact that an omnipotent Magic Man can, by definition, suspend whatever rational existence we think we are rationally experiencing through our God-given mind and senses.So, as written, IF the Christian God exists, then any a rational mind we are endowed with is unreliable. So as I experience the world with my senses and my mind, I have no basis to believe that these are trustworthy.As Chapman Cohen pointed out way back in 1919 in "Theism and Atheism: The Great Alternative," if a God exists then any observation or prediction we might make necessarily must be qualified D.V., "deus volt."Beyond that, Sungyak is basically regurgitating Alvin Plantiga's "Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism" and it KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY TIME I HEAR IT.

  132. says

    Sungyak said;Closer to the point of our discussion, however, I think you need to stay on what natural selection likes to select, not our psychology. For your benefit, however, I could easily substitute the child with a handicapped, adopted child, who has no kin-selective advantage, nor increase one's reproductive success. And the true beliefs that lead the mother into the tiger's cage will lead her to her death. I appreciate much water has passed under the bridge since this post, but it is a common misconception, which I hope I can clear up.The mistake here is in thinking that natural selection produces perfect machines – it does not. NS tends to give us neurological "rules of thumb" that we follow. These rules of thumb are rules which have proved useful to our bodies and genes for most of evolutionary history. For most of us, our evolutionary history doesn't include guns (a recent invention), large societies of unrelated individual (again, recent), or tigers. In an environment where instantaneous and certain death is exceptionally rare, a rule of thumb like "protect your child under all circumstances" can evolve. In an evolutionary environment where certain death of both individuals under a certain set of circumstances occurs on a regular basis another rule would predominate.We should also understand that we have many rules in our brain, and the differences in brain chemistry and organization will make people behave in different ways. You discuss the soldier which sacrifices or puts himself in danger for others. Most of us think that is noble. The more sensible among us may think it's bloody stupid. Nothing wrong with either of those opinions. But realize one thing – it is rare. Most people don't do that. It is not the norm. We expect, simply through random mutation that we'll get some aberrations, while most will be normal. Many societies will have a strong man, or a strong leader. These courageous / stupid invdividuals may simply have genes conducive to being a strong man, which in a war context result in the "make yourself cannon fodder" behaviour.Evolution isn't perfect, as you note. But, as others have noted, on average, brains and senses which are evolved to accurately report and understand reality will have an evolutionary advantage over those which don't. There is a reason that coroners check for drugs and alcohol in car crash victims – brains which don't report the universe accurately often end up being eliminated from it.

  133. says

    Kazim: "I think it's very telling that when I asked one basic question — how can you use faith to determine that the Christian god exists and not a Muslim one"I think it's very telling that in order to have faith make sense one has to deny objective reality–or our ability to perceive it reliably.

  134. says

    I'm still trying to work out what the point of the new testament is without the old testament. I mean, without the fall, Jesus kinda got sacrificed for nothing, didn't he? Or do the go with the whole 'Jesus was killed because the authorities were convinced he was a political threat' thing?

  135. says

    Hey, just a thought for all of you trying to get through to Sungyak; he ain't gonna get it.Realize I'm not saying that you are wasting your time or anything like that, just realize that you are talking to the proverbial brick wall.

  136. says

    Very rarely do I comment/argue to change the mind of somebody who is so entrenched in their beliefs. It is usually for the benefit of others who are undecided and curious.And before Sungyak accuses me or others here of being equally entrenched; we're not the ones resorting to epistemological sophistry to try and argue for something that is supposedly self-evident. We just want some evidence please!

  137. says

    "my brief visits to the Atheist Experience website has been a learning experience. firstly, i learned that there are a wholly different type of atheists than the ones i have encountered throughout my life. these people (on the internet) don't carry their dialogue through argumentation/counter-argumentation, but by emotional rhetoric and repetition of digressions. interestingly they have accused me of something similar. i felt that their interest is seldom philosophical inquiry for truth or a coherent worldview, but rather a prosecution of stereotyped strawmen (they think God is somehow equivalent to created physical objects like the teapot) and defense of their own romanticized ignorance (in history, philosophy, and theology). their religion is irreligion, and their faith is in the meaningless beauty of not having faith. "Funny how his blog-post pretty much says people here only use emotional rhetoric, when he won't even answer some questions honestly

  138. says

    @MichelNot surprised one bit that his "understanding" of what we're saying is so disconnected from reality.After all, that's his entire position – disconnect yourself from reality as much as possible until magic man in the sky seems feasible.

  139. says

    Deep deep down I think Sungyak is highly defensive. His responses have the typical staccato way of shifting subject wildly and randomly. This is a sign of a theist who is responding only to each point made to him in isolation: not to the whole conversation.Several people have provided very clear and concise explanations of the problems with Sungyak's points – but he doesn't care. He will cycle round and round on already refuted points because he defensively tries to counter each poster one at a time, without ever seeing how they all connect.

  140. says

    Well, I guess we can't expect Sungyak back anytime soon. Too bad, since he still hasn't responded to the refutations of his main argument, which mean I must conclude that his argument has failed and he either knows it and is trying to save face, or he is terminally obtuse.I also note at least two points on which I asked for clarification, which he never provided and add to that his strange digressions and seeming (but not explicit) redefinitions of common words.Not impressive.

  141. says

    lukas, it's impossible (nearly) to find your 'refutations' to my argument in this jungle of nonsense. to help us communicate maybe it'll be helpful that we 'take this outside'? if you could address the argument that i laid out some months ago for kazim that'd be even greater. it's on my blog. (i'll close the other one to avoid the confusion. and this will be my last post on this site.) as for the few invites to call in on the show from some of you, i have doubts as to what difference that would make to help folks here actually understand the argument before they think they can refute it. but my doors always open for an open, rational discussion. cheers.

  142. says

    Why are you so eager to move the discussion to your blog? Let's just finish it where it started, I'm sure the people who stuck around this long are interested to see where it goes. If all these other posts really confuse you so much, just concentrate only on Lukas's posts.

  143. says

    Moving this already fractured discussion to another blog will just cause it to be even more fractured. If you're just trying to get people here to visit your blog, there are better ways to do so (for example, if you've made a post on your blog that is relevant to a post that is made here, provide the link and a brief summary of your argument). Since there were a lot of people replying to Sungyak it can't be helped that the discussion is somewhat messy. But part of the mess is your own fault, Sungyak, for glossing over many of the counters that some people here have made or not acknowledging when someone makes a valid point. Your typical behavior when confronted with a sound counter-argument, it seems, is to simply move on to another tangent and leave the topic alone. This can only lead to a discussion that is more difficult to follow than necessary. And it leaves the people here feeling frustrated with you, as many have clearly expressed already.In the future, if you wish to prevent a "conversation jungle" , do your part to keep the flow of the argument and topics coherent instead of jumping all over the place and refuting what you think you can and completely dropping what you think you can't.As for calling into the show, why wouldn't you? It couldn't hurt the quality of discussion, could it? With a call, you'll be able to direct your arguments at only two people instead of 20, and the rest of us can listen and learn. I for one would be delighted if you called in and presented your arguments to the hosts of the show.

  144. Neato Spiderplant says

    I was one of the people who commented on his blog that Sungyak call into the show. I had mentioned that it might be a better way to make his point since it would allow him to hold a single conversation where points can be clarified in real time and probably reach just as many, if not more, people than the blog. I'm a little surprised that he doesnt seem to see the benefit.

  145. says

    hey tyler, today a good friend of mine agreed with most of your analysis regarding the disorganized flow being partly my responsibility. there was also some constructive criticism/advice that illuminated why it's been an unsuccessful endeavor to debate here as we have. namely, we did not agree on any ground rules or definition of some crucial terms, or where certain burden of proof lies. this is a good friend of mine and im comfortable yielding to his analysis. my hand goes up in admitting this failure. some of the frustrating mental wounds were self-inflicted. if some of these previous mistakes can be remedied, and some ground rules are laid out, i dont see why i cant talk with the AE hosts on their show. id be willing if they are. im only a few clicks away to set it up i guess. cheers.

  146. says

    Lukas, i dug through the threads multiple times and im not sure but is this what you want to point to as an unaddressed reply? (i hope so cause i just dont have the time or will to look for it again.) "My main objection is that the question of 'whether true beliefs are more adaptive than false ones' is NOT besides the point at all." if so ill take tyler's advice and summarize my response here briefly and post a fuller answer on my own blog. to argue that true beliefs are more adaptive you must presuppose that natural selection really cares about truth, but that is what you need to prove, not assume. secondly, the claim is essentially self-defeating for the atheist given our adaptiveness has led humanity to theistic convictions much more often than not. (im sorry i dont know how to put a direct link here other than: http://sungyak.blogspot.com) thanks.

  147. says

    Since Sungyak took the time to write a post on his blog explaining his point of view, I took the time to write a lengthy response to it, to be found on his blog. I didn't want to post it here, since it explicitly addresses points from his blog post which is not posted here. So those who are interested can have a look over there. I didn't intend to speak for anyone except myself, although I might have made statements (about the opinions of people on this blog) in some places, that are more general then strictly warranted.

  148. says

    I'm very keen to hear Sungyak call the live show, especially if the definitions are agreeable and the argument well formulated. However, I think it is the definitions that will be the problem. My suspicions were confirmed when Sungyak explicity stated, in the comments on his blog, that he was working to a definition of faith where all beliefs that were held without absolute certainty are faith-based. This is a misapplication of the word faith, as he has done before when equating faith (belief without evidence) to faith (trust in something). The hosts of the show will not let this slide and this will kill the argument.He also tries to rationalise faith in a Christian god over that of other gods or the FSM in such a way that it leaves him with relativism, where "it's true for me" is rational and therefore reality is not objective. This will not fly either.Lastly, his assertion that a mind contingent on the physical has to have "faith" in an objective reality whereas a theists' mind does not is also going to be show-stopper.

  149. says

    I've read about two thirds of the way down this page, and I can go no further without replying to this annoying argument going on. Perhaps on the bottom third of the page this gets resolved, but if not I'll address it.Sungyak, remember saying this?Sungyak: 'Martin, for my own sanity's sake and for the sake of those who wish to have a reasonable dialogue about it, I only explained it for the two followers I have on my responsive blog. Cheers.'Then, without Martin even replying to you, you start into this whole explanation of Matt Slick's comment from the top of the post. After dozens of replies, I think the quote above rings hollow.I have a solution to this whole damn debate going on here with Sungyak and JT and Lukas, et al. Sungyak, are you arguing for the philosophy of solipsism? I'm not sure you're going there, because that would mean that even God is not independent of your mind. Perhaps you are raising a false dichotomy of either A) Reliable knowledge only because of God, or B) Not knowing anything for sure at all. Like many of the other people replying to your posts, I would suggest C) Reliable knowledge due to our own independently-confirming senses in a natural world.Anyways, why don't you actually postulate what you DO believe based on your reasoning. Do you believe in God, and if so, then define the term so the others can respond to your claim. You must have some End Game in mind, why don't you tell us where you are trying to take this (what overall point are you actually trying to get to)? Don't move the goalposts, don't use ad hominen attacks, and address the general rule of thumb comments posted rather than addressing the exception. Stop this, 'can you really know for sure' stuff, atheism is not dealing with absolute certainty, we're dealing with probabilities. Good fucking god, it's like trying to shadow box, it's just pointless and tiresome.

  150. says

    Wow that was quite a bit to read through. I have to give kudos to everyone who stuck with the whole debate with Sungyak. I just wanted to comment that I hope the caller Mark was telling the truth about the younger members of his congregation watching the show. That is something that I think could be of great benefit to those young minds. I've only been watching the show for a few months now and I've already learned a lot about atheism and just logic and reasoning in general. Maybe if these kids keep watching they will learn how to rationally observe their religion and come to conclusions based on science and logic instead of blind faith. Religion often teaches us that there is no need to seek information outside of church and I personally think this is something that holds us back as a society. I wrote about this on my blog: http://www.religionphilosophyandpolitics.blogspot.com(Hope you don't mind me plugging my blog here)Anyways to Martin and everyone at AEtv keep up the good work. I love both shows and it's nice to be able to escape to a little sanity once a week.

  151. says

    @Plain Simple – the post on Sungyak's NEW blog that you replied to has already been well refuted by Jemmer. Sungyak has wiped out his theisticexperience blog, and placed that up as a new post.Through the magic of the internet, you can still see a cached version here the original can knowledge be justified by faith, unfortunately it only has the first few comments by Jemmer.You can see some of the old topics that were discussed here.His latest post, as of this writing, on his latest blog shows his still doesn't grasp the basic notion that atheism is simply a disbelief in a god.evolutionary argument against atheismAtheism has nothing to do with evolution.atheism is not trustworthyHow could a disbelief be either trustworthy or not trustworthy?Sungyak's lack of understanding boggles the mind, especially when these points have been explained to him again and again. Unfortunately he keeps deleting his old blog entries, which is why I will no longer post anything substantial on his blogs anymore.

  152. says

    hey MAtheist, i think your cached version doesnt have jemmer admitting to misunderstanding a part of my argument. and the old post was up for a long time and no one jumped on it after jemmer. either way, i hope i had the chance to define some terms with him beforehand, as i am doing now with a few others on my blog. we're actually staying on topic! :D and i dont think you understand the evolutionary argument against atheism at all. it's silly to suggest that the argument argues that atheism essentially has something to say about evolution. a philosophical argument is not a mixing up of apples and orages. it takes premises that when proven true lead to a conclusion. i have replied to lukas' objections on my blog and am waiting for his reply. youre welcome to join in the discussion once you understand the argument. thanks.

  153. says

    Thanks MAtheist. I didn't realize it was an old post on his blog. I do agree mostly with Jemmer's comments in the cached version. I'm curious as to what this misunderstanding was that apparently renders part of his comments irrelevant to the discussion at hand.Anyway, over on his blog Sungyak and I have been trying to settle on definitions before continuing, but I fear we're not getting anywhere fast, since it seems Sungyak is persistent in his need for having absolute proof in order to not call something faith. If we can't get past that, the discussion will die down soon enough and at the same time it points out why the discussion here on the AE blog didn't go anywhere either.

  154. says

    "This is a misapplication of the word faith, as he has done before when equating faith (belief without evidence) to faith (trust in something)." – John Swha? "Sungyak is persistent in his need for having absolute proof in order to not call something faith." – Plaini think any objective reader who reviews our discussion will find you're misrepresenting what i mean by reasonable faith as opposed to blind faith.

  155. says

    Well, that is how I read it. What any reader will notice however, is that you left out the two words "it seems" from the beginning of my quote, which I put there to stress that that is my interpretation of what you wrote.

  156. says

    Sungyak:Just to put into context my charge of misapplication of faith; I was referring to the post on your blog where you use the example of a couple having faith in their marriage vows (trust) as a strawman defence of criticism of faith (irrational belief not based on evidence).The way you use faith in terms of "rational faith" and "blind faith" is also a misapplication. The word you're looking for there is "belief". However, your use of the word faith is consistent with, what I perceive, as your view that all beliefs are faith based. Am I correct?With the usual definition the term "rational faith" makes no sense because faith is, by definition, irrational.And finally, as long as you shackle your definition of faith to absolute certainty then this problem will continue.

  157. says

    Sungyak: "If true beliefs were more adaptive, and humans are the fittest of all species on this planet, surely the majority of humanity would be right as they are – theists. so lukas' objection actually supports the claim that theism is more likely a true belief."We have many examples in history of the majority of a set of people holding an incorrect or even delusional belief. This is not a problem for evolutionary theory. We know that our brains are imperfect 'kluges', evolved in a piecemeal fashion over millions of years. Daniel Dennett argues that evolution DOES suggest that beliefs are quite likely to have had to 'pay their way' by giving some kind of benefit to the people who believe them. A belief that having more children will curry you favour with God in an afterlife may well persist, simply because its proponents will have lots of kids who'll take up the same belief.Sungyak's error (in my opinion) is in taking this a step further and concluding that if this is true, we cannot trust our senses to any extent at all. This puts faith positions like "I believe a man rose from the dead 2000 years ago" on a equal level with observations like "The eclipsing sun caused a deflection of roughly 1.61 seconds of arc, as predicted by Einstein's theories of General Relativity". That people believe things that cannot be proven or disproven does not mean that conclusions we draw from science are as likely as not untrue, or that they are only believed because they benefit us for some other reason. Scientific conclusions are testable. Sungyak appears to question whether we can even trust these testable conclusions.Could Sungyak expand on this idea? Let's use a very simple example: we count the rings of a tree to tell us its age. In what way would Sungyak claim that, given the veracity of evolution, the age we come up with is not reliable?1) When we count five rings, we cannot trust that we have accurately counted up to five correctly?2) The ring method itself cannot be trusted TO ANY DEGREE to give an accurate idea of the tree's age, any more than picking a number at random.3) Some other way that we could be fooled.Any other above three options seem to suggest that Sungyak believes we cannot trust our very senses to any degree at all (if one grants the premise of evolution). As others pointed out earlier, this idea leads to solipsism. So be it if that is the case. The problem for Sungyak is that solipsism is not solved by positing a God. In fact, positing a God, as Jeff Dee and others pointed out, means that one can set no boundaries whatsoever for natural laws. THAT would lead to repeatable experiments not being trustable, not evolution. To conclude, I cannot see anything Sungyak has so far said that is either a problem for evolution or atheism.

  158. says

    *reposted due to spelling failure*Aaaah, the lack of preciseness in colloquial English!@Sungyak, "Faith" in friends, "faith" that the sun will rise tomorrow, and "faith" in (say) a religious text are all subtly different applications of the same word.One of the major issue that I have with arguments of this sort is the conflating of these definitions. Many apologists confuse this issue, often deliberately. I say "deliberately" with certainty because the professionals amongst them, especially those with philosophical pretentions, must be aware of the epistemological differences.Arguing semantics may seem way to pedantic but unless meaningful terms can be agreed further discussion is usually worse then useless. FWIW I'm also a big fan of Tracie's stock "define god" line from the shows..! Pedantry ftw.

  159. says

    Chris, i'd love to have your insights on the 'subtle differences' in the two different kind of faiths that i should not have equated. you said they're different (and kazim seems to agree), but you haven't shown how. please, do tell. Andrew, i hope you will address what i think are your fallacies back on my blog since you posted it there too. Kazim, thanks for posting the link. ironically, the fallacy of equivocation is often committed by atheists who fail to correctly define e.g. greek gods vs the Christian God, or equating physical objects like spaghetti with nonphysical objects like the spirit. if you define faith, however, you will find that there is an common conviction in the absence of evidence (whether dawkins likes it or not).

  160. says

    Holy crap Sungyak, I pointed out the fallacy of equivocation in a previous post; the faith in wedding vows (trust) VS faith in something that does not correspond to reality (irrational belief).

  161. says

    Louis wrote: "But, as others have noted, on average, brains and senses which are evolved to accurately report and understand reality will have an evolutionary advantage over those which don't." It's true that brains that can accurately report an environment will provide a survival advantage, but it's important to recognize that a survival advantage can also come about through a brain's incorrect perception of the environment.For example, we're all aware that our senses take in more information than our minds can process. Our brains work by constructing mental maps of our environments that leave out or modify some details. In many cases, we perceive things that aren't there. For instance, when our evolutionary ancestors were walking through the jungle and heard a rustle in the bushes, the ones who perceived it as danger — whether or not it really was danger — ran away and lived to pass on their genes. The ones who remained neutral and investigated the situation carefully would get eaten every time it was something dangerous. Or again, those who saw a vine and falsely perceived it to be a snake would run away, but they would also run away when it was a real snake, too…hence the survival advantage.Religious and supernatural claims themselves are good examples of false beliefs that provide positive survival advantages: people — including those of our ancient ancestors who were witchdoctors — really (and falsely) *felt* like they were contacting gods and spirits, and these feelings and beliefs formed the basis of social lubricant that helped to hold primitive societies together.As a more trivial example, all of us have seen optical illusions that demonstrate that our senses can report flawed information to us.Sungyak's point, on this particular topic, seems to be that evolution doesn't give a fig about producing creatures who perceive accurately, who come to true beliefs, and who are happy — it only cares about survival. And, as far as it goes, that's true. If it aids a creature's survival to (falsely) perceive almost everything as danger and think that it can be protected by supernatural creatures it "feels in its heart," then evolution will produce creatures that have that kind of flawed perception.Of course, Sungyak gets the next step precisely wrong: if it's true that our subjective perceptions can be misleading, then the correct conclusion is to develop tools and methods that strive to eliminate the error of our senses. Instead, Sungyak seems content to wallow in his own private illusions and just throw his hands up and say, "Well, it's all faith anyway, so I'll just believe whatever the heck I like."It's more than a little silly, particularly when you point out that, by his own arguments, he has no reason to prefer Christianity to, say, Scientology.

  162. says

    ironically, the fallacy of equivocation is often committed by atheists who fail to correctly define e.g. greek gods vs the Christian GodThat is not equivocation. That is putting the two in the same category, not treating them as if they were identical. Given your repeated insistence that evidence doesn't matter and believing things on the basis of pure faith is reasonable, I think the categorization is aptly applied to any non-evidence thing.or equating physical objects like spaghetti with nonphysical objects like the spirit.That might be a point if you claimed that the god or the spirit had no influence on the physical world, but it's not the case. You claim direct interaction in the form of creating universes, performing miracles, etc. Either that can be shown to be true or it can't. if you define faith, however, you will find that there is an common conviction in the absence of evidence (whether dawkins likes it or not).What the heck does Richard Dawkins have to do with anything? As far as I know, he is not participating in this conversation and nobody else brought him up. Were you under the impression that he was the only author who ever discussed atheism? Or are you just name dropping again?

  163. says

    "Given your repeated insistence that evidence doesn't matter…" – kazimclearly you've misunderstood the argument as well kazim. it's interesting how an argument can be understood as an assertion. if you have a problem with an argument, you should address the premise you find faulty. ironically it was John S that said rational belief has nothing to do with whether it's true or not. sounds like evidence really doesnt matter for him doesn't it? "That might be a point if you claimed that the god or the spirit had no influence on the physical world, but it's not the case. You claim direct interaction in the form of creating universes, performing miracles, etc. Either that can be shown to be true or it can't." – kazimthe false assumption here is somehow it is impossible for nonphysical entities to interact with the physical world. do you have a basis for thinking so? because it can't be shown to be true? that doesnt allow you in any way to conclude that therefore it is untrue does it? i'm surprised by the way you're reacting to the dawkins quip, since my reading of dawkins showed that his insistence was a black and white separation between faith and reason, which is irrational. but if you didn't an opinion of dawkins either way, i guess it doesn't pertain to you. no biggy.

  164. says

    John S's quote is as follows (it's on my blog): "My point was that a rational belief has nothing to do whether it is true or not, only that is follows logically from the evidence." so, what good is evidence if it has nothing to do with being true?

  165. says

    @SungyakFirst off I am okay with a delineation of rational faith and blind faith with rational faith being something like "I have faith that my car will start when I turn the key because it has every time previously" and blind faith being something like "I am quitting my job because I feel that I am going to win the lotto tonight". The problem as I see it is that you are exactly 180 degrees backwards in what you are assigning those terms to. You are saying that believing in science and it's long, successful track record of prediction and repetition is blind, while philosophizing an ethereal being into theoretical existence is rational. That is problem, not the definitions IMHO.

  166. says

    jeremiah, you should read what i wrote to methodskeptic on my blog: what gives you grounds to trust anything that came as a product of a flawed system (the mind)? [according to methodskpetic the mind is prone to dissonance and confusion] notice i'm not doubting what science finds. i'm questioning why the mind should trust what it found through scientific tools. if the mind is flawed, how do we know we have X right and Y wrong, when it could be Y that is right and X that is wrong? i'm not saying "the entire system [of science] is self-refuting" as you claim i'm arguing. no, i trust science alright. my problem is with the mind, which you said is heir to 'confusion' and 'dissonance'. it's like a great jackhammer in a crippled hand – what good is a great tool in an incompetent hand?

  167. says

    faithYou keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.reasonYou keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.irrationalYou keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

  168. says

    John S. said "Holy crap Sungyak, I pointed out the fallacy of equivocation in a previous post; the faith in wedding vows (trust) VS faith in something that does not correspond to reality (irrational belief)."As did I, at least once in my first comment on your blog, Sungyak, and probably in other places here or there as well.

  169. says

    apparently no one here has actually read the entire argument before jumping to its attack. i picked out a portion for those of you who are too busy to read the whole essay before taking a hack at it. word for word. "No one has ever been able to prove that we were not created five minutes ago with our memories intact. No one has been able to prove the reality of the past or that, in the future, the sun will rise. This list goes on and on. There is a limit to the things that human beings can prove. A great deal of what we believe is based on faith, not on evidence or arguments." – Kelly James Clark What Clark means by 'faith' here is irreligious, and philosophical. It is what I wish to mean by it. It is knowledge without evidence. We must simply trust our cognitive faculties on these 'faith' issues. This is to say merely that we can only 'know' something if we 'believe' that our minds are functioning properly without playing any tricks on us. This is something we cannot prove, because we assume it in our attempt to prove it or deny it. It's like trying to prove whether truth exists or not – the inquiry assumes it does.Reasoning starts somewhere, but it cannot start at reasoning. It starts at a deeper level of conviction and unquestioning surrender to the faith belief that rationality functions properly. This is 'faith', and all who reason must possess it. Without it there is no starting point for rationality, hence no knowledge. faith, therefore, is the beginning point of knowledge and rationality.

  170. says

    clearly you've misunderstood the argument as well kazim.Sungyak, would it be too much to ask you to say what you mean? Just one time, rather than deflecting and misdirecting, how about you tell me if you think evidence matters in making the decision that something is true? Instead of clarifying that in your comment, you tried to blame someone else for dismissing evidence.These are your own words from your own blog:"Though evidence may verify a belief, evidence is not an absolute prerequisite for knowledge."This is you quite distinctly saying that you can know stuff about the supernatural with no evidence, and yet you claim this is me misunderstanding you. At this point I'm not even sure that you pay attention to your own verbal masturbation.

  171. says

    Sungyak: "John S's quote is as follows (it's on my blog): "My point was that a rational belief has nothing to do whether it is true or not, only that is follows logically from the evidence." so, what good is evidence if it has nothing to do with being true?"Stop strawmanning the argument. It's really not that hard. A rational belief is one that follows logically from premisses where both the premisses and the logical rules of inference are well evidenced. It might be that the premisses (or rules of inference) are still wrong (meaning, not in correspondence to reality), because we can never have complete information. If this is the case, then the belief might be wrong (it still might be right, but that would be by chance, not because of a rational reason). So, rationality is not contingent on the beliefs being true and neither does the beliefs being true make the belief rational when there is no evidence for it. But here is the crux, since all we have to go by is the evidence we have for premisses, if the evidence is good enough we are justified to think that beliefs that follow from well evidenced premisses are more likely to be true than those that follow from not-evidence premisses.

  172. says

    "As a more trivial example, all of us have seen optical illusions that demonstrate that our senses can report flawed information to us."Actually this is a bit of misunderstanding of optical illusions. For example take this common illusion where people will 'see' squares A and B as different shades of gray when in actuality they are the same. The reason we see them as different isn't because our senses are untrustworthy but precisely because our senses/minds are tuned to the world in which we live. Our brain constructs our images based on its understanding of how objects in the real world work and the understands lighting effects of shadows and works to construct the images based on that understanding. When we are fooling our brains with optical illusions we are taking advantage of the effect where our brain will automatically construct images based on real world physics when the example itself would be considered 'unnatural'. Of course our senses are not infallible in a strict technical sense, they are tuned to our particular world. Those are two very different ideas. Obviously we can confuse them when we create artificial scenarios but that doesn't undermine their utility in regards to understanding the real world in which we inhabit.

  173. says

    What Clark means by 'faith' here is irreligious, and philosophical. It is what I wish to mean by it. It is knowledge without evidence.I agree.We must simply trust our cognitive faculties on these 'faith' issues.No, we don't have to do that, as has been repeatedly pointed out. This is simply your flat out bald assertion. We can test those cognitive faculties, and we do. They prove to be dependable. Thus, it's not knowledge without evidence, and not therefore faith.This is to say merely that we can only 'know' something if we 'believe' that our minds are functioning properly without playing any tricks on us. This is something we cannot prove,We can demonstrate it beyond a reasonable doubt, which is more than sufficient. We can believe with good cause (aka not "faith", and "rational" (with reason)). There you go again with the "if it's not 100% proven, it's 100% faith", unless by "prove" you mean "demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt", as we mean it, in which case, yes, we can.because we assume it in our attempt to prove it or deny it. It's like trying to prove whether truth exists or not – the inquiry assumes it does.That's the scientific modelling method, and it works. One of the tell tale signs of an existing "truth" is a consistent set of information and mechanisms in the universe which we are examining. Since it does perform consistently, evidence is gathered that supports the claim of a "truth", and is thus not faith, and is rational. Reasoning starts somewhere, but it cannot start at reasoning.Yes, it starts with a computer sitting in our skulls, which does data gathering and analysis.It starts at a deeper level of conviction and unquestioning surrender to the faith belief that rationality functions properly.No, it doesn't. See above. It's not faith because it's evidence-based, as per your own definition.This is 'faith', and all who reason must possess it. Without it there is no starting point for rationality, hence no knowledge.Colossally incorrect. It's not faith. It's evidence driven. Evidence gathering and knowledge processing start at a biological computer, are tested against the perceptions to start building knowledge about how the perceived reality operates.Zero faith necessary. faith, therefore, is the beginning point of knowledge and rationality.

  174. says

    I'm pretty much giving up on debating Sungyak on his blog, as he continues to misunderstand pretty much every thing I explain to him. I'll post again how I'm signing off with him:Your position boils down to a false dichotomy between "It's possible for people to believe false things" and "It's possible for us to construct methods to accurate learn stuff about out environment". You claim the two are mutually exclusive in a naturalistic world view, but you've done nothing to show that they are. If you insist the two situations could not come about through evolution, then it seems that you simply don't understand evolution and what it does and does not predict.If you wish to hold that position in order to justify believing in Gods, and one God in particular, then go ahead.

  175. says

    @SungyakNo, I read your post at your blog, I just don't agree with much of it. You claim:A: "notice i'm not doubting what science finds"And…B: "i'm questioning why the mind should trust what it found through scientific tools"Now, what I would like to know is how you can claim A without B or how you would differentiate the two. "A" specifically says that you trust the findings of science while "B" specifically says that you can't. The only thing that keeps the statements from being direct contradictions is the inclusion of the word 'mind' in the second which is rather meaningless since science doesn't exist without our minds and we can't doubt or trust anything without our minds. Our minds are preconditions for everything we do. It is implicit in "A". How do you do science independent of our minds? We overcome individual flaws in our minds via repetition. If something happens the same way, at different times for different people than we can reasonably assume it is true. The only way it couldn't would be if everyone's minds were flawed and not only flawed, but flawed in exactly the same way. However, if everyone interprets something a particular way and none of our other senses contradicts it then how could you say that it was 'wrong' because the very definition of 'right' is what corresponds to our reality. We have no other metric for correctness other than how well things correspond to our sensed reality.

  176. says

    i reposted the explanation you're asking for just above your comment.No, you didn't post an "explanation." You repeatedly posted accusations that people are misunderstanding you (hence the xkcd). You have yet to directly answer the question "Do you or don't you believe you believe that you know things about the supernatural with a complete absence of evidence?"

  177. says

    "Do you or don't you believe you believe that you know things about the supernatural with a complete absence of evidence?" – kazimhere's where you define 'evidence' for me kazim. we've been doing this on my blog for a while. do you include philosophical induction? if so then my answer would be no. now, this is a mere reiteration of your ignorance of the argument. now you're apparently adamant about not wiling to understand it. the problem i've presented to atheists is not the absence or the presence of evidence. the problem is in the basis to trust the mind with which we approach the evidence. my problem is a more fundamental one than your obsession with evidence. i hope you get to the real argument some day. ps – you have a consistent number of folks who do drive-bys on my blog and come here to brag about it, like they're reporting to you their latest conquests. it's quite hilarious.

  178. says

    also, i think you should clarify which of the two arguments (that are interrelated) you are addressing here. one is the evolutionary argument against atheism, and the other is a case for rational belief in God without evidence. both are on my blog and comments for those can be addressed their accordingly. again, i'm fearful that you would take the case for rationality without evidence to mean knowledge without any evidence. this is not the case. rationality is not something that is determined by the amount of evidence you have. for details please read my blog post in its entirety before you decide to attack it.

  179. says

    "science doesn't exist without our minds and we can't doubt or trust anything without our minds. Our minds are preconditions for everything we do. It is implicit in "A". How do you do science independent of our minds?" – jeremiah jeremiah, you're actually closest anyone has been to understanding the evolutionary argument against atheism. that is the precise question at hand – if our mind is that which we use to do science, and our minds are also a product of natural selection through random mutation that produces adaptive behavior suitable for survival, how does that gives us any grounds to think our beliefs are true? at best, our beliefs are adaptive, but that says nothing about its truthfulness in objective reality. we are machines driven for survival and adaptation given the atheist worldview. thus, given atheism, our minds and all that we study with it, are ultimately untrustworthy. "If something happens the same way, at different times for different people than we can reasonably assume it is true." – jeremiahno i'm afraid that doesn't follow. it only follows that it is adaptive, not that it is true. "We have no other metric for correctness other than how well things correspond to our sensed reality." – jeremiah perhaps. but that is why it is so important that we find the right foundation to base our mind's proper function on. atheism is not it.

  180. says

    "perhaps. but that is why it is so important that we find the right foundation to base our mind's proper function on. atheism is not it."Of course it's not. Atheism is the lack of a belief in gods, how can the lack of something be a foundation for something? No one claims it is. At best atheism is a consequence of an underlying positive world view (positive not as in a value judgement, but in a description of its contents; so a worldview that actually claims more then just the lack of a particular belief). People have pointed this out in previous posts. When you keep saying things like this it only looks like you are either not reading or not understanding what people are telling you.

  181. says

    @Los For instance, when our evolutionary ancestors were walking through the jungle and heard a rustle in the bushes, the ones who perceived it as danger — whether or not it really was danger — ran away and lived to pass on their genes.I wouldn't categorize that as an "incorrect" belief, though. It's known correctly that predators are animals, and crawl around in the bushes. When a rustling bush happens, while it could be harmless, over time, the probabilistic assessment of it is that generally it's good to vacate. All it takes is one misstep to die, so it doesn't take too many instances of rustling bush == predator to establish a correct understanding:* It's too dangerous to ignore the possibility that this rustling bush is a real threat… which is a perfectly correct assessment. If the assessment of the correlation was never correct, then the belief would most likely not establish.I don't have a belief that if my phone rings that a dragon is going to pop out and burn me… because, as far as I'm aware, it's never happened.

  182. says

    Los, i appreciate your honest accurate assessment of the premise. i can appreciate your handling the evolutionary argument against atheism by understanding the argument, unlike most people here. "Of course, Sungyak gets the next step precisely wrong: if it's true that our subjective perceptions can be misleading, then the correct conclusion is to develop tools and methods that strive to eliminate the error of our senses." – los now here is where we disagree as you'd probably have guessed. let me try explaining why this doesn't follow. the correct conclusion is not that we develop tools to eliminate errors. because before we do so, we need some reason to believe that we are in fact capable of developing these tools. but on what basis do we base this belief on? didn't we just agree that our minds can lead to false beliefs given purely naturalistic process of evolution? in your suggestion that we should develop proper tools to eliminate errors you have assumed that which you should have proved – that is, the mind is trustworthy for us to take it and go about developing evidence-verifying, error-eliminating methods. that's begging the question. i look forward to your response.

  183. says

    the correct conclusion is not that we develop tools to eliminate errors. because before we do so, we need some reason to believe that we are in fact capable of developing these tools.And we do have that reason. We're still alive. Again, unless you're arguing a solipsist illusionary view of reality, there's plenty of ways to die, and without that capacity to build accurate tools for understanding that reality, we'd most likely be dead.Thus, the fact that those tools work, we have confirmed evidence that we are indeed capable. but on what basis do we base this belief on?didn't we just agree that our minds can lead to false beliefs given purely naturalistic process of evolution?Whether there's an occasional error, or not, is irrelevant. If the success rate was 99/100 in terms of true/false beliefs, that would be fairly "trustworthy".Again, it's not an all-or-nothing scenario. in your suggestion that we should develop proper tools to eliminate errors you have assumed that which you should have proved – that is, the mind is trustworthy for us to take it and go about developing evidence-verifying, error-eliminating methods. that's begging the question.It's not assumed. It's demonstrated.Plugging your ears and screaming "LALALALALA" doesn't make the evidence go away.

  184. says

    Part 1 of 2 (please read both):Sungyak wrote: “the correct conclusion is not that we develop tools to eliminate errors. because before we do so, we need some reason to believe that we are in fact capable of developing these tools. but on what basis do we base this belief on? didn't we just agree that our minds can lead to false beliefs given purely naturalistic process of evolution?”Well, there are only two options: either we are capable of developing tools that will eliminate the errors of our subjective perceptions or we are not capable of doing that.That’s a true dichotomy.If we are not capable of doing that, then this whole argument is a huge waste of time. If that is the world in which we live, then the belief of the hobo on the street corner raving about the secret plan of aliens to take over the earth is equally as justified a belief as Christianity or Hinduism or Hellenic Paganism or any other belief.If that’s the world we live in, then no one has any reason to choose Christianity over Hinduism or Scientology or Paganism or the belief that our belt buckles rule the universe by projecting their essences into a parallel dimension. So if that’s the world we live in, no one is justified in accepting the belief in any god as true, and atheism (i.e. NOT accepting any god claims) is the only honest position we can take (unless, of course, we just want to arbitrarily choose a belief for no reason other than the fact that it strikes our fancy).However, if we *are* capable of developing tools that correct our subjective perceptions – and I’m talking about reason and evidence-based inquiry here (of which science is one form) — then we would expect that our implementation of these tools would reveal errors in our perception and that it would lead to positive results that could be accomplished by better understanding the environment in which we live. And this is, indeed, precisely what we observe when we implement these tools. (Potential objections addressed below in Part 2)

  185. says

    Part 2 of 2:You will probably object that we don’t have any basis to think that our application of reason and evidence-based inquiry reveals “the real truth.” After all, you will say, even if it reveals our subjective perceptions to sometimes be in error, who’s to say that our new conclusions *also* are not in error? And, of course, you’re right. We do not have any basis to think that we have discovered the “real truth,” nor do we need to think this. The “real truth” – in the sense of being perfect, objective 100% certainty – is both unattainable and unnecessary.If there’s some “real truth” out there that we haven’t evolved the capacity to perceive, then this “real truth” is totally irrelevant to us, given that we can’t perceive it. It cannot, by definition, be a subject of human knowledge or discussion.“Truth,” in the context of human knowledge, means a correspondence between our beliefs and reality so far as we are able to discern – and it is always understood to be tentative, dependent upon the discovery of new and better evidence.We cannot absolutely prove – in the sense of “proof” that you have in mind – that we live in a world where we *can* develop tools that correct our subjective perceptions. But if that is the world in which we live, then we can use these tools to evaluate beliefs like your god claim. We can determine that there is no evidence that your god or any other god exists and thus no reason for us to think that any gods are real.So take your pick: either we live in a world where we cannot correct our subjective perception errors – in which there is no reason to think that your god is real – or we live in a world where we *can* correct our subjective perception errors…in which case, there *still* is no reason to think that your god is real.This quaint little philosophical conundrum you’ve stumbled upon – a favorite of naïve first-year university students and stoned Matrix fans around the world – doesn’t change the fact that there is no good reason to think that your god claims are true. As such, the best position is still NOT to accept any god claims. And the word for not accepting god claims is…atheism.

  186. says

    "the false assumption here is somehow it is impossible for nonphysical entities to interact with the physical world."- sungyakDo you have any evidence of non-physical entities existing and/or interacting with a physical world?All I see here is 'you can't prove it didn't happen, therefore we should believe it' which is simply dumb, shifting the burden of proof."ironically it was John S that said rational belief has nothing to do with whether it's true or not. sounds like evidence really doesnt matter for him doesn't it?" – sungyakI think this is more about justification for belief, instead of truth. People are known to have, mainly through personal experience, found rational reasons to justify their beliefs in a God. Which would be rational, in the sense of they have a reason to believe. And whether or not it is actually true is still yet to be determined. Whereas a classic argument from ignorance, for example 'I don't know, therefore God did it' is not rational. No good reason to believe, therefore not rational.

  187. says

    Los,you point out correctly the dichotomy that lies within the atheistic worldview in the argument, which ultimately leaves us no reason to trust that we are and will always be able to land on the good side – always develop proper methods of reasoning and inquiry successfully. thats a big leap of the F-word for the atheist. but the dichotomy which you present right after that is not accurate: "So take your pick: either we live in a world where we cannot correct our subjective perception errors – in which there is no reason to think that your god is real – or we live in a world where we *can* correct our subjective perception errors…in which case, there *still* is no reason to think that your god is real." – losthis dichotomy is true if and only if you assume a naturalistic worldview. that is resorting to a type of begging the question. for a fuller explanation why please see my synthesis of the evolutionary argument and the justification of knowledge by faith in my new post titled 'reasonable faith in the LNC'. thanks.

  188. says

    @Los – that was beautiful@Sungyak – Let me say that I harbor no ill will towards you, in fact I would love to join you on your blog and discuss topics such as absolute truth, evidentialism, presuppositionalism, why giving certain attribute to the LNC is non-sensical, and why Richard Dawkins is justified in some criticism of theists. But until you understand that these topic, and many others you post about, have nothing to do with athesim, I don't really see the point.Sungyak, I see that you are now agreeing on definitions of terms on your blog. I, and many others, have been asking for your definition of atheism for some time, but it seems you do not want to reply. The latest request I have seen came from MethodSkeptic in the "lukas' objection" post. He asked you "For the sake of argument, please define "atheism" as you understand it?" You ignored this request as well, and just continued with the conversation.If you won't address the definition of a word, let alone come to any agreement on the other words you have defined, how can you expect anyone to have a discussion with you?Please post a new entry on your blog that gives your definition of atheism. It may very well be wrong, that is not a problem, but I will be glad to take up conversations with you again. If we can get through atheism, I would then be glad to take up discussions on other topics. Even though they have no connection to atheism, they are still worthy of being discussed, and may also become more meaningful.

  189. says

    ps – and los, it seems that you agree with the argument to the extent that it casts serious doubt on atheism. you're only saying that theism isn't any better. so the argument still succeeds in this case. whether theism is likewise a failure will require another argument to demonstrate that it is so. argument.

  190. says

    @SyngyakAre you ever going to define what an atheist is? Every time you say something like "casts serious doubt on atheism", it casts serious doubt that you have any idea what you're talking about.Atheism, at least in the case of 99% of the people who use the label, is definitionally a position of doubt.

  191. says

    hi JT, i feel as if you and a few others are itching to find something you can disagree with. if that is the case, unfortunately, my argument doesn't depend on 'positive atheism' as you might be suspecting, which is why i didnt find the need to define it explicitly. the definition of atheism i need to employ in the argument is simply a worldview called materialistic naturalism, where one denies the existence of anything beyond nature either positively or tentatively. i dont need you to be a positive atheist for the argument to work on you, that is as long as you're still a materialistic naturalist.

  192. says

    I will answer your points in reverse order so as to foreground an important clarification:Sungyak wrote: “los, it seems that you agree with the argument to the extent that it casts serious doubt on atheism. you're only saying that theism isn't any better. so the argument still succeeds in this case. whether theism is likewise a failure will require another argument to demonstrate that it is so. argument.”No, you’ve misread me. I’m saying that your argument fails to establish theism as true in either case (i.e. whether or not it’s true that we cannot trust our senses and/or tools, we still do not have a good reason to accept theism as true in either case). Thus, not believing in theism is the *superior* option. The word for not believing in theism is “atheism.” I am telling you that atheism – not believing in theism – is the superior option because your arguments do not provide any basis at all for believing in theism.Now, I originally wrote, quite eloquently: "So take your pick: either we live in a world where we cannot correct our subjective perception errors – in which there is no reason to think that your god is real – or we live in a world where we *can* correct our subjective perception errors…in which case, there *still* is no reason to think that your god is real."You responded: “this dichotomy is true if and only if you assume a naturalistic worldview.”No, you are incorrect. Here is the true dichotomy again: either we are capable of correcting our subjective perception errors, or we are not capable of correcting them.When it comes to a question of whether humans are capable of doing something (no matter what it is), there are only two options: either we are or we aren’t.There cannot logically be a third option. Even if you are claiming that there is some supernatural method of correcting the errors of our subjective perception, that would put you squarely in camp one (“humans are capable of correcting [in this case, through supernatural tools/methods] our subjective perception errors”).Now, if you go the route of claiming that humans are capable of correcting their subjective perceptions and that your supposed supernatural tools are *superior* to other tools such as reason and evidence-based inquiry, then you are then in a position where you have to demonstrate that your supernatural tools are the superior ones if you want people to take your god claims seriously.I get the impression that you think – mistakenly – that you if you can demonstrate that reason and evidence-based inquiry are not absolute tools, or rather that they can’t be trusted any more than our senses can, then your claims about supernatural methods of knowing somehow win by default.They don’t.If you’re advancing a claim like theism, then you need to provide good reason to accept your claim about a god existing. In the absence of such a reason, the best position to take is *not* to accept the claim. But what you’re doing here is not providing any reason at all – all you’re doing is calling into question certain epistemological assumptions that we all hold for pragmatic reasons, and while it might be entertaining to sit back and stroke our beards and speculate about being brains in a vat, these vague undergraduate ramblings don’t come anywhere NEAR demonstrating that you actually have a *superior* tool for correcting the errors of our subjective perceptions.

  193. says

    Sungyak, your latest post reveals why you’ve had such a problem communicating on here: you keep using the word “atheism” when you actually mean “materialistic naturalism.”The words don’t mean the same things. An atheist is someone who doesn’t accept claims about gods, while a materialistic naturalist is someone who believes that the material world is all that is (or, rather, that all things can ultimately be reduced to material).All materialistic naturalists are atheists, but not all atheists are materialistic naturalists. I, for example, am an atheist, but I would not label myself a “materialistic naturalist.”I accept that the natural world exists – because I have plenty of evidence that it does – and, thus far, no one has presented any evidence to me that any worlds exist besides the natural world. So, in that sense, I’m a “naturalist,” but I don’t hold the belief that “Only the natural world exists,” at least not in any dogmatic way.If I had to label myself at all, I would call myself something like a “Skeptical Naturalist.” I’m a skeptic – meaning that I insist on evidence before I accept a claim as true – and my skepticism leads me to the conclusion that the natural world is the only one I’m justified in believing in.Atheism is something entirely different. Your conflation of atheism and materialistic naturalism is not only leading you to logical errors in your argument – it’s making you look like an uninformed fool on this blog.I think you will find that my thoughts on this matter echo the thoughts of many other atheists reading this blog. You’re not going to find all that many “materialist naturalists” out there hankering for a fight on this subject, so at best, you’re fighting windmills.You would be better served by getting a better grasp on the definitions you’re using before you start attempting to convince other people of your position. Take some time, think through your arguments, and then have a go at putting together an argument again some time in the future.

  194. says

    @Los;What you say about the survival advantage of being over-sensitive to various stimuli can be true. It depends on the actual danger of the real threat.For example, running away when you see something which looks like a snake is entirely logical in an environment with dangerous snakes. It is not logical, and would therefore potentially lead to an evolutionary disadvantage, in an environment absent snakes, absent dangerous snakes, and perhaps in environments with only few dangerous snakes.The *best* course of action (running away or not running away) can be taken only be correctly perceiving whether it truly is a snake or not. Or course, there may be a cost associated with that – perhaps in terms of escape time, or perhaps in terms of evolutionary design work. This cost may lead the correct decision becoming to be overly cautious, since as you note, a lack of caution can lead to death. Too much caution may also lead to death. However, this is a difference in decision making (i.e. benefit of correct knowledge vs. cost of lost escape time), not in perception. Improvements in perception mechanisms will shift the balance.Ultimately, whether one runs away or not probably depends on more on the chemistry of the brain of the individual (for example, I hate snakes with a passion, and would certainly run away at the slightest hint of one, while others would be less bothered, and may be more susceptible to being eaten), with evolution performing a meta-analysis of which strategy was optimal.

  195. says

    Sungyak revealing his straw man of atheism 230 posts in; surely some kind of trolling award is deserved? Misquoting and misunderstanding me on a different blog is also dishonest behaviour.The argument is basically: "I know there is no such thing as absolute certainty. But until you show me how empiricism/science gives us absolute certainty I am going to believe whatever I want and pretend that it is knowledge."The irony is that sungyak has basically said that we can't trust anything based on axioms and yet employs an attempt at logical argument; logic itself being axiomatic.

  196. says

    Sungyak, could you clarify something. Would you say that the statement is a falsifiable proposition or an unfalsifiable one:"I might be just brain in a vat and none of the stimulus I receive is reliable".I get the feeling that your reply might clarify matters a bit.If it's falsifiable, can you expand on how?If it's unfalsifiable, to what extent in our philosophies should we factor in the possibility that it's true?

  197. says

    Simple enough; if faith in the Christian God endows us with "a rational mind and a basis for Christians to believe that all they percieve are trustworthy", while absence of faith leaves us with a "blind faith", I say let Sungyak pick any statistically satisfying number of worthy Christians while we send an equal number of atheists. Then show both groups an item, play a sound, etc. In short, provide an identical stimulus to both groups. Then ask both groups what did they perceive. If the Christians perceived differently… they either have absolutely accurate God-endowed senses(WOW!), or they're delusional. If they perceived exactly as the atheists did, then.. LOL.

  198. says

    Koh: "If the Christians perceived differently… they either have absolutely accurate God-endowed senses(WOW!), or they're delusional."That's not what Sungyak was saying. He was positing as a possibility that God gave EVERYONE the ability to perceive correctly vs a naturalistic world where none of us can trust our senses.Problem is that I don't see how he suggests one can determine which situation is the one we are in. He can assert that being in a naturalist only world would mean one couldn't trust one's senses, but I don't see how he can know whether or not that is truly the situation he is or is not in. It seems to be an unfalsifiable situation. He could THINK he was in the 'God' situation, but could equally be in the 'natural' situation without realising it.Unless he can explain otherwise.

  199. says

    @Los: "There cannot logically be a third option."That entirely depends on which axioms and rules of inference you allow into your logic. Since over on his blog Sungyak claims that it is even unreasonable to include the principle of non-contradiction into your logic unless your world view contains a god (at least, I think that's what he claims in his LNC post), I highly doubt that he would accept the law of the excluded middle since that is a more debatable law anyway.From the point of view of logic you can include any axiom or rule you want, but not everything is equally useful or even consistent. I would argue that when we want to use that logic to discuss reality we should try to include those axioms and rules that, to the best of our abilities to discern such thing, are in correspondence with reality. As far as I know our observations and measurements of reality do suggest that reality is non-contradictory and for most correctly stated propositions middles are excluded as well.But, if I have to extrapolate Sungyak's reply from his previous answers, it would go something like this: we cannot have absolute certainty without god planting it in our brains, therefore your observational justification for non-contradiction cannot be trusted, therefore if there is no god your world view is irrational and finally that leads to the conclusion that believing in something *for which there is absolutely no evidence at all, trustworthy or otherwise* (the part in *…* is usually disguised as a bible quote or something alike), is the most rational thing to do.Now, I would normally not do this, i.e. assign words to other people, but after going round and round and round on this same argument for way too many posts on his blog I feel I got a pretty good understanding of what his position seems to be and it was going nowhere except in circles. If my interpretation of his position is correct, it is useless to have a discussion with him, since he doesn't accept anything as a basis for logic, which is a necessary tool to even have a discussion, except belief in a god. That's I why I stopped the discussion at some point. And if my interpretation is not correct, I'm sure he'll let me know.

  200. says

    @Andrew Ryan: "Problem is that I don't see how he suggests one can determine which situation is the one we are in."I don't think he does suggest that. His point *seems* to be that a world view without god is not rational since you would have no basis to assume logic and/or your senses would be trustworthy enough to know that something is true. So he's not saying he can determine there is a god or not, he says it is irrational not to belief in one and once you belief in one then you can trust your own conclusion that there is one. Where all this goes wrong is that he hinges everything on the "knowing something is true" part. On the one hand he accepts that we cannot have absolute certainty, but then on the other he demands that we do, in his implicit definition of the words "true" and "trustworthy".

  201. says

    @Plain"I don't think he does suggest that. His point *seems* to be that a world view without god is not rational since you would have no basis to assume logic and/or your senses would be trustworthy enough to know that something is true."What he doesn't realise is that even if god exists he would still need to assume that god created him in an objective reality with a mind capable of obtaining reality of it. He would therefore need the same "faith" in reality as if there was no god.In other words, he says to us: "you've no way of knowing you're in the matrix." My reply is: "you have no way of knowing that your not being deceived by an evil demon."

  202. says

    @John S: "He would therefore need the same "faith" in reality as if there was no god."Yes, that seems to be his point. You always need faith, so better have it in god, because then at least you have a rational basis for all those other instances when you need to have faith in other things. At least, I think that's his point, since he likes to make a difference between "rational faith" and "blind faith".

  203. says

    "You always need faith, so better have it in god, because then at least you have a rational basis for all those other instances when you need to have faith in other things."Even if you agree that everything is "faith" based, Sungyak's jump from god therefore rationalism is a non sequitur. He sounds like he's retracing Descartes' footsteps in to solipsism, only to repeat his mistakes and invoke god as the "get out of epistemological angst free" card.Amateur…

  204. says

    I see undertones of Pascal's wager, too. If you have to have "faith" either way, you might as well put your faith in god.@Sungyak – You said that you feel people are itching to find something you can disagree with. That is not the case here, what I take issue with is someone misrepresenting what atheism is. When I make mistakes, I would expect people to correct me as well. So when someone claims atheism as a worldview, and then makes numerous statements based on that, I ask for clarifications.

  205. says

    @Andrew: Well, I did quote him directly from one of his earliest comments. He clearly stated that his faith in the Christian God gives him and Christians a rational basis to perceive the world accurately, while we atheists have naught but "blind faith" in science to stumble along. He certainly did not state "EVERYONE". His God ain't that "generous".I say let him try out the experiment I postulated. Since he *supposedly* has the Christian God as a rational basis and hence *supposedly* has a rational mind while we atheists don't. IF he really perceives differently than the atheists, then he could move on to compare his perception with the Pope, and in the process most likely antagonizing the entire Catholic church (good luck with that). On the other hand, IF he actually perceives the just same as us, then we atheists are just as sane and capable of perceiving accurately as he is with his Christian God! Come, Sungyak, prove your point!

  206. Mamba24 says

    Turns out Mark called back today and just got owned by Matt and Jeff. Mark ended up listening to Matt go off on one of his intellectual tirades and after Matt was done talking he just gave a big sigh and hung up….I hope the kids of the Austin Stone Church were listening to that so they could see how intellectually deprived one of their leaders is and how bad he is at defending their beliefs.

  207. says

    Koh: "He clearly stated that his faith in the Christian God gives him and Christians a rational basis to perceive the world accurately, while we atheists have naught but "blind faith" in science to stumble along. He certainly did not state "EVERYONE"."Koh, sorry but I still think you're missing what Sungyak is saying. As you quote, he's saying they're the only ones with 'a rational basis', he's not saying they're the only ones who CAN perceive it accurately, only that they're the only ones who can rationally EXPLAIN why they can.He is not saying that only Christians can HAVE reason, he's saying that only Christians can justify and explain where it comes from. It's the same as William Lane Craig's argument that only theists/Christians can explain and justify morality, in that he's not claiming that atheists cannot BE moral, only that they can't 'ground' or 'justify' what morality is.Obviously I don't agree with either, but I believe that properly understanding their argument is important when refuting it. That's why atheists fail when they try to point out to WLC moral atheists, or immoral Christians.

  208. says

    By the way, Sungyak is a bit of a hypocrite. He says above:"You have a consistent number of folks who do drive-bys on my blog and come here to brag about it, like they're reporting to you their latest conquests. it's quite hilarious."And yet he's describing pretty well what he says on his own blog:"My brief visits to the Atheist Experience website has been a learning experience. firstly, i learned that there are a wholly different type of atheists than the ones i have encountered throughout my life. these people (on the internet) don't carry their dialogue through argumentation/counter-argumentation, but by emotional rhetoric and repetition of digressions." etc etc Hilarious indeed.

  209. says

    don't carry their dialogue through argumentation/counter-argumentationAnd of course, he's lying yet again.His powers of willfull ignorance are so honed as to be able to perform selective amnesia on cue. It's impressive, really.

  210. says

    I'd like to know how he translates "pointing out the flaws in an argument" into "emotional rhetoric". By "repetition of digressions" he seems to mean "Continually point out where you're going wrong, because you ignored it the first, second and third time". If he makes the same mistake each time, then yes, it may sound repetitive when we point out that mistake.

  211. says

    Holy crap!I'm out of circulation for a week and you all go and blow the thread to pieces. I thought this conversation had died and now it's more bloated than ever.

  212. Mamba24 says

    Sungyak is just so convinced that his position is justified and correct, he just kept it up despite numerous people pointing out the logical fallacies and irrational points in his argument…I think he is finally done though.

  213. says

    The nub of his argument seems to be that an atheist who accepts evolution cannot rule trust any evidence at all. I asked him how HE can rule out the possibility that he isn't just a brain in a jar (in either a Godless or God-goverened universe). His response:"by faith in the revelation of the Judeo-Christian God."His defence at adopting a faith position is that atheists must do the same:"i have argued that my position rests on faith repeatedly. the evolutionary argument does not suggest otherwise. atheists, like Christians, have faith in their rationality leading to true belief. the argument argues that this atheistic faith is irrational."As I see it then, his position is that one must adopt a faith position before one can accept any evidence at all. Therefore one must adopt one's faith position WITHOUT reference to evidence (as any evidence is suspect until one HAS the faith).This means that all faith positions would be equally valid. Even if one rules out self-contradiction faith positions, one is still left with an infinity of possible positions, to which one must grant equivalency. The Judeo-Christian God is no more rational than a God who created us all ten minutes ago with false memories.

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