Quantcast

«

»

Jun 03 2014

The Refining Reason Debate: Matt Dillahunty VS Sye Ten Bruggencate

Thanks to our viewers for linking this from another post. I thought the debate could use its own open discussion thread.

244 comments

3 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Muz

    He tosses his time to whine about the format and essentially refuse to debate at all…
    Ok, I guess it’s a ..novel strategy from certain angles. I’m sure once upon a time I saw pre-sups at lest try to make their philosophy look like something other than a collection of rhetorical stunts. Sye sees no need for this apparently.

  2. 2
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    That was a super-long nothingburger.

  3. 3
    John Iacoletti

    I’m only 20 minutes in, but man did Sye hit a giant brick wall as soon as he got to his first rebuttal! I was honored to make an appearance in his string of out-of-context clips of Matt from the show…

    1. 3.1
      Pete G

      Yay John, you’re famous, can I have your autograph? ;-)
      Sye had me rolling on the floor after 5 minutes. The pain from the stupid is still smarting!

    2. 3.2
      Data Cable

      That’s right about the point I bailed, when he started his first “rebuttal” and made it clear his entire… argument(?)… is apparently founded on nothing more than a quote-mined strawman ad hominem against Matt. Did I miss anything of actual interest?

      1. unfogged

        What was the first thing yelled out from the audience that got such a laugh? I can’t make out what was said.

        It was amusing that STB’s only response to the audience obviously considering him to be a joke was the thinly veiled threat of “god will not be mocked; you will reap what you sow”. Whether or not god can be mocked, STB certainly was.

        1. adamah

          Unfogged, are you referring to when Sye said he wouldn’t discuss the Bible with non-believers, and someone in the audience shouted, out “JESUS WOULD!”?

          When the topic of mocking came up and Sye mentioned Elijah, for a spilt-second I thought he was going to mention the episode with the mocked prophet Elisha, who sicced a den of bears onto a group of small child for calling him “baldy”.

          Apologetists usually come up with some lame-brained nonsensical defense, such as pointing out how the bears were female (hence weaker, with softer paws), claiming the kids were the Hebrew version of a violent street gang involved in narco-terrorism (smuggling frankincense and myrrh), sword-running, etc.

          :)

          1. unfogged

            are you referring to when Sye said he wouldn’t discuss the Bible with non-believers, and someone in the audience shouted, out “JESUS WOULD!”?

            Yes, I couldn’t make out what the audience member shouted, thanks.

          2. John Kruger

            I think the standard apologetic for that one is that they were saying “Go up thou bald head”, meaning “go up to heaven” because they were threatening to kill him. That softens the story quite a bit, although they were still only kids who got executed brutally, all for simply issuing a threat. I suppose threats are only ok when god issues them himself.

          3. adamah

            Hi John,

            The phrase translated as ‘small children’ is possibly a misrendering, where the diminutive was used more to suggest their insignificance (much like calling someone a tiny maggot), and not to indicate their age or size.)

            It’s a distinction without a difference, though, since most reasonable people don’t care if they were ADULTS: mocking is not a death penalty offense!

            Modern humans enjoy free-speech rights (in most modern countries: Islamic countries need not apply), and in America the Founding Fathers apparently saw wisdom in the saying all modern kids have heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

            That bit of wisdom is clearly NOT found in the Bible! God is sensitive, and so are His prophets!

            The Elisha account is premised on the understanding of the Hebrew belief that as members of the Mosiac covenant, those young Jewish men (possibly teens) were breaking God’s law by mocking one of His servants: that’s tantamount to mocking God (AKA blasphemy), an offense punishable by death. They were guilty of showing disrespect for YHWH.

            The Hebrew words used (qalas, qarah) are rendered as ‘mock’, ‘ridicule’, ‘scorn’; the words used to describe delivering a physical threat of harm are COMPLETELY different (l’ayem, l’saken, l’hagziym).

            The “go up” bit likely was included to imply they fully-well knew it was Elisha, saying he should ascend to heaven just like the prophet Elijah had (more blasphemous talk). Same with the ‘bald head’ bit, since they may have been suggesting his baldness was actually a sign of having been cursed by God (even more blasphemy), rather than acting on his behalf: the implication that he was a false prophet.

            All details are included to convey the message to the ancient reader these delinquent peons fully-well knew who they were insulting, and that’s all ancient readers needed to justify their deaths as well-deserved Divine punishment; they had it coming to them!

            BTW, Elisha’s ‘curse’ is not the modern concept of the word (using profanity), but a request for God to smite them (just as a blessing is a request for God to bestow prosperity and favor upon the recipient).

            Prophets of God were empowered with divine authority to pronounce judgment upon sinners, just like Noah was given authority to enforce God’s “no bloodshed” rule right after the Flood.

            It’s up to God to decide to fulfill the holy man’s request, and just like Noah’s curse spoken to his grandson Canaan (condemning him and his descendents to slavery), God complied with Elisha’s request by sending those she-bears.

            Holy men like Noah and Elisha could deliver blessings and curses (eg Noah blessed Shem, even in the same breath in which he cursed Canaan; Shem was the forefather of the lineage which produced Jesus, who similarly cursed a barren fig tree where God fulfilled the request, making it wither).

            Believers will furiously back-peddle, denying God approved of Noah’s “curse of Ham”, not wanting to admit their own Bible offers MANY scriptures which confirm God approved of and even ordered the and capture of Canaanites to be used as slaves (if they were lucky, and weren’t killed).

            The Elisha account also verifies the policy stated at 2 Chron 36:16, saying not to mock, scoff, or ridicule Gods prophets, since it’s an insult to God (and he’ll allow his people to be defeated by the Babylonians and killed, or to taken into captivity to be slaves, if they’re lucky).

            The faithful servant has the (im)plausible deniability that he didn’t do anything to cause the harm, but God did, since it was requested “in the name of The Lord”.

            See a consistent theme here?

            Blessed by God = owning slaves (Abraham, Job, etc) cursed by God = being a slave or killed.

            Either way, God approves of and uses the practice of slavery; Noah even established it!

            The delusional fools will deny it until they’re blue in the face (or try to hide the incriminating evidence via mistranslation).

            Adam

        2. Matt Gerrans

          The repetition of “god will not be mocked” was kind of funny. Gods, including his, are mocked all the time. Apparently they have no power to prevent it. All they have is the lame threat of some postmortem eternity of “separation” from themselves, but no way to prevent the actual mocking in the here and now. That’s some real omnipotence for you.

          Sye, clearly your god will be mocked and is mocked regularly. Some threats of later punishment, even if they could be realized, do not mean the mocking is not actually occurring in the here and now. So the claim “god will not be mocked” is a very nice example of something we can all know to be absolutely and certainly false.

          The *only* sense in which one could argue that the statement “god will not be mocked” is true is in the sense that the imaginary god does not really exist and therefore “he” cannot technically be mocked. I don’t think this is a defense presups would cherish, though.

          1. ChaosS

            While talking to the Dogma Debate guy, Sye clearly exclaims “God is NOT good!” So I think that explains a lot; Sye is evil and has chosen an evil God to worship. Imagine him with green skin saying :He’ll get you my pretty… and your little dog too!”

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @ ChaosS
            Imagine him with green skin saying :He’ll get you my pretty… and your little dog too!”
            .
            I have been reading Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” and in one chapter about the arguments for existence of God there is a comment about proof for the existence of God which Dawkin’s invokes the Cowardly Lion saying, “I do believe, I do believe, I do I do I do believe!”

    3. 3.3
      Bill Haigh

      As soon as Sye said “She started it” and pointed to someone in the crowd (the debate organizer) we see what he is really like. A childish man who is not getting “his way”.

  4. 4
    Monocle Smile

    Bruggencate has a punchable face, and his horrific arguments and constant smug expressions just make my hackles rise that much more.

    1. 4.1
      Narf

      That’s apparently part of the presup style … not getting punched in the face, but the horrific arguments and the constant smugness. Stephen Feinstein spent the whole debate with Russel prancing around proclaiming how much he was winning, despite the fact that he was making himself look like a blathering idiot who was incapable of addressing a single point that Russel was making, to anyone watching, including the Christians.

      Sye radiates smug superiority during a debate, even in the midst of getting thrown out of a debate for being dishonest and refusing the address any of his debate opponent’s arguments.

      1. Matt Gerrans

        I’ve come across quite a few Christians who use this tactic of being very cloying, insulting and childish in anticipating that you will get frustrated and say something rude or insulting. Then they can leap into persecution mode and whine about how they are being called names or insulted, while they never technically said anything rude. Just another childish emotional tactic to cover for lack of substance.

        1. Narf

          I can think of a few idiots in particular who we’ve had in the comment section of this blog, recently.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Hell, I just went off on someone in the iron chariots forum (yeah – no one goes there) after putting up with this evasive dishonest asshat for 8 pages. He said my answer was wrong. I kept asking him “what is the right answer then?’ for 8 pages, with no meaningful reply. Such a jackass.

    2. 4.2
      aj

      Have you watched Colin Pearson? More annoying than Sye with an even more punchable face. The added bonus is that he has a kind of weird jesus look going on.

  5. 5
    unfogged

    It is painful to watch STB; that much arrogance and ignorance in one place is hard to take. He does not have a clue what anybody means by believe or know or what actually constitutes evidence as opposed to wishful thinking. Matt’s closing by pointing out that it is a waste of time to try to debate such a dishonest opponent was beautiful.

    The out-of-context clips he used were the best part. Matt didn’t even need to be there to still be presenting a better, more coherent argument even given the selective editing.

  6. 6
    Hortan

    Nailed it!

  7. 7
    Pete G

    Have you ever watched a really nasty video you know you really shouldn’t? I felt like that after this one.

    I have seen dozens of religious debates and this is the only one I spent most of it with my jaw on the floor. Surely STB has some kind of mental disorder to actually believe the bollocks he spouts.

    His entire “debate” revolved around lies, out of context clips, strawman and ad hominem attacks, logical fallacies and appeals to authority. Have I missed any?

    Now I know who he is I will make sure never to watch him again.

    Lastly, well done to Matt for your ability to stay calm under extreme pressure. No doubt your military training helped.

    1. 7.1
      Set Kouwenhoven

      I’ve found that atheists and believers alike misuse the names of fallacies most of the time, seeing ad hominems and straw men where there are none.

      This was different. I actually watched the entire 2 hours and I’ve never seen such blatant flouting of the very faculties that allow for personal communication (and I’m a philosopher who has had to deal with many a recalcitrant blockhead).

      To say that Sye did badly is, I think, incorrect—he was nothing short of incoherent half the time. Maybe Matt could have done better, but I’m not so sure: how is one supposed to respond to literal nonsense?

      That being said, this “debate” (I can barely type that; it was nothing of the sort) serves as proof that no one should ever debate Sye again. While Sye would strike even the most uneducated “man on the street” as a grade A wingnut, he does ask the questions he asks for a reason: they virtually demand that the opponent contort his or her answers into such grotesque shapes that the same uneducated “man on the street” who finds Sye infinitely abrasive will also find Matt’s answers indicative of some sort of intellectual weakness. “Oh, you mean this guy doesn’t know anything? Is that what atheism does to people?” etc.

      What I’m saying here is that, for those who have no formal (or informal) training in philosophy, Matt’s answers will land awkwardly on their ears. This is no fault of Matt’s—it’s the fault of our education system and the almost lysergic way in which Sye wrests control of and proceeds to deform the very notion of what a debate is—but the result is undesirable nevertheless: it will turn away the undereducated (who see problems where there are none thanks to Sye’s leading questions), and frustrate the rest of us.

      Can you imagine watching this as a Christian? It has to be every bit as painful for them as it is for us. I’m not talking about the Eric Hovinds of the world—their neurons will fire bliss signals upon watching this, and they will gleefully hallucinate persecution—I’m talking about your everyday lukewarm believer, or even your devoted mainliner.

      1. Robin Lionheart

        And tu quoques. A particularly atheophobic blogger I know constantly cries it whenever anyone points out hypocrisy or projection on his part.

      2. Dave Dorris

        It looked to me that Sye did a ton of research on all of the claims made against him (selective editing, strawmen arguments, ad hominem attacks) and did every thing he could possibly do to prove those claims are absolutely true in the first 10 minutes.

        Wow. I give him credit. His balls are as big as his ego.

  8. 8
    specialffrog

    I didn’t realize Sye Ten was Canadian until I read the video intro. That makes him extra embarrassing. I thought we only imported pre-sups.

    1. 8.1
      Frank G. Turner

      Much like Ken Ham and Ray Comfort, Sye can’t find enough gullible people to buy his crap in his own country so he has to come here to get an audience. I would name Dinesh D’Souza here too but that pretty much goes without saying. Name a European apologist if you like (I am sure that there is one) as it sounds like there is a limited market for Apologists there too. (I doubted those guys even AS a Xtian).
      .
      I once said to myself that if I were God and I had to listen to William Lane Craig’s arguments I would start to doubt my own existence. (When DarkMatter2525 said something similar on Youtube I practically fell over laughing). Ignorant jack asses like Sye Ten should shut his mouth if he is trying to bring people to God and so should other apologists. Lately, it sounds like they are not bringing people too Christianity, they are driving people away from it.
      .
      Then again, I wonder if they are really trying to”bring the truth about Jesus” to the world. I often think that they don’t really believe their own crap but are just trying to make money. Trying to sell books about your belief as a Xtian apologist or a minister seems like a big business and human beings could fake it out of greed. (Joseph Smith certainly seemed to have been doing that). Maybe that’s why Sye Ten looks so pissed, he realizes that he can’t make money off of this debate.
      .
      Religion is big business, you don’t have to believe in it to make money, just convince others that you do. (FYI, if any of the hosts are reading this I have considered sending this in as a Topic for the show but I think that you did it in the past at one point).

      1. Frank G. Turner

        If I may correct myself, Sye looks pissed because he can’t make “as much” money as he would like to off of the debate.
        .
        In response to Set above I thought about the Eric Hovinds of the world (as he put it) and realize that Sye could make money by contorting the debate in whatever way that he wants to. Tell people what they want to hear and you can make money off of it. Maybe that’s why religion is popular, it is about telling peopel what they want to hear.

      2. Matt Feliz

        As intellectually dishonest as I find Sye’s approach- and for all of the ways in which he transparently and proudly operated in bad faith- I’m not sure I would go so far as to accuse him of not sincerely believing the cool-aide that he is peddling (even if this really is the case). In fact I would suggest that it is precisely the obsessively monomaniacal degree of Sye’s belief in the poison pill that he has swallowed that grants him the license to engage in the dishonest, disingenuous tactic that he employs. After all with God all things are possible… even lying, and cheating it would seem.

        I guess all I’m saying is that there is so much low hanging fruit with this particular type of apologist that to allow the really ripe ones to rot while picking at the ones that people like Sye can so easily feed into their persecution complex seems counter productive. I thought Matt did such a good job at keeping his debate (because Sye by his own admission was not debating) as impersonal and focused on the fatal flaws of Sye’s blather that he allowed Sye to do all the work for him of showing exactly how Sye’s words were worthy of little more than a few hearty chuckles.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          @ Matt Feliz
          I can imagine that Sye does buy his own B.S. I make another comment on this board about how I feel sorry for him as he seems to have been the type who was bullied so much that he beagn to bully others as a way out rather than looking for those who would not bully him. Many of his arguments come from the “emotional blackmail” fallacies so I can imagine that he does. What I am getting at is that religion is a business, it needs to make money to maintain itself (like many other things). If you are making money off of the business then you may not need to believe in it in order to make money off of it. There have been apologists who have admitted that they did not believe their own B.S. I have suspected many times that Ray Comfort is like that (particularly given some of his past history).
          .
          However, actually believing your own B.S. AND making money from it certainly does work as motivation to continue. Sye very well might (his attitude and background does suggest it, but that could be an illusion). What I was intending was to indicate that Sye did not have the oppurtunity to manipulate the debate to his advantage as much as he liked. It made sense to have a straw man Matt as that is the only way to get him to respond how you like. Nonetheless I could imagine what passed being edited to make money by Sye and his crowd who have already decided before watching what they want to hear and just selectively filter what transpired to do so.
          .
          I was also reading some of the comments on Youtube by people who sided with Sye and it sounds like they were either listening to a different debate (which this really was not) or completely oblivious to anything that Matt said (which I suspect). That sounds pretty much in line with selective filtering to hear what you want to hear.

          1. adamah

            Frank said-

            onetheless I could imagine what passed being edited to make money by Sye and his crowd who have already decided before watching what they want to hear and just selectively filter what transpired to do so.

            I enjoy philosophy as much as the next Philosophy PhD (!), but it’s easy to assume others have the same background as us, and can follow such egg-headed discussions. It’s times like that when the participants should ask themselves who’s benefit they’re participating for: their own ego, or that of the audience?

            The debate probably lost 90% of the audience when it shifted into subtle semantics over definitions (eg “what do you mean by ‘know?’ type questions, or the brain in a vat solipsist discussion, which assumes everyone knows what the term means, and understands what it has to so with the price of tea in China).

            When the discussion goes over their heads, the audience has no option but to resort to non-content-related cues, eg watching tone, facial expressions, etc.

            Similarly, most Xians (and atheists alike) don’t understand what the term ‘presupp apologist’ even means, or or knows that different schools of apologetics exists, using different methods.

            Presupps like Sye are a GOLDMINE, since the approach is so extreme and hyperbolically-dogmatic, it exposes the hardcore tenets of Xianity; hence no straw-manning is required. Give them enough rope to tie a noose and hang themselves, I say.

            Contrasted to the more-reasonable accommodationists who will compromise to obtain agreement (ignoring large portions of the Bible in the process, which disapproves of such an approach), religion shouldn’t be allowed to update and evolve: it needs to be exposed as the ancient outmoded belief system it truly is.

            Adam

          2. Frank G. Turner

            Adam
            The debate probably lost 90% of the audience when it shifted into subtle semantics over definitions
            .
            Interesting as I pointed out in another post that Sye specifically won’t give solid definitions of some terms (just as he refuses to engage in Bible study with “non-believers”) or specifically leaves the definitions vague as it allows him to change his position. I see that as essentially an advanced form of the “moving the goal posts” fallacy (which is, in this case, refusing to set a rule for discussion by having specific definitions). Essentially it is trying to set the rules of the game in such a fashion as you cannot loose, which means that you never really won either but can delude yourself into believing that you do. I would have been tempted to ask Sye to give his definition of God but I doubt it would be anything meaningful, he knows that he needs to avoid solid answers to certain questions.
            .
            If more people were aware of that tactic then it would not loose the audience.

          3. Frank G. Turner

            @Adam (having read this last part and had a thought on it)
            religion shouldn’t be allowed to update and evolve: it needs to be exposed as the ancient outmoded belief system it truly is.
            .
            Yeah actually updating and being open minded to changes would be a good thing for a lot of religious practices despite the having to compromise. It sucks that you may hsave to eventually compromise yourself into a loss but many a Psychologist is essentially working their way out of business (if the patient gets better). So at least if your started out with that in mind you would not be devastated by the loss and wind up being like a spoiled child who kicks and screams and throws a tantrum (I see much of what Sye did as that, throwing a high tech temper tantrum). Funny that any religion would even START with the idea that you should not be allowed to change and make compromises when it is so clear that deeper learning comes from exactly that.
            .
            As a Catholic (or rather an agnostic who goes to Catholic practices occassionally out of loyalty to the tribe, as has been mentioned on anoher board) I would say that many a scientist in said relgiion (some even funded by it, Jesuits come to mind) are at least attempting to be open minded and willing to change despite the Bible speaking out against it (depending on how one interprets it). I can imagine that some relgions that started as a belief system that was open to change would be ok (Buddhism comes to mind), but if your documents speak out against that, it is just a recipe for disaster. Maybe the Church needs to just come out and say that those parts of the Bible are just wrong and need to be thrown out or viewed as an example of what NOT to do.

          4. adamah

            Hi Frank,

            My concern with accommodation and revisionism is that believers like Sye take the Bible as the literal word of God, and both the OT and NT warn against tampering with or altering the “word of God”.

            As an atheist, I’m more concerned that such updating is done via various “living” translations that actually bury the evidence that otherwise WOULD point to the falsehood of the Bible, based on it’s scientific errors

            The Bible indicates ancient misunderstanding of the role of organs of human anatomy, eg the heart was considered as the organ of cognition (they didn’t know jack about the brain), or the kidneys were considered organs of decision-making, etc. Modern translations often will attempt to bury the evidence, using a more generic term like “mind”.

            Centuries of such “lying for God” is doing a disservice to future humans, who have to dig deeper to uncover the truth.

            I just revised an article on such errors based on misinterpreting the Bible, briefly mentioning how Noah is actually the father of slavery:

            http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-god-seemingly-allow-cain-to-get-away with-murder.html

            No pastor is going to point out how the Bible supports slavery, even with Noah founding the institution.

            Adam
            ,

          5. Frank G. Turner

            @Adam
            The pastors and other priests in the church I went to would have told you that Noah probably did not exist, though individuals who anticipated a flood who got large farms together onto boats in areas subjected to flood may have, but it most certainly did not affect the entire world, if it even happened. I see your point in that there were believers who insisted that the Bible was the literal word of God and they were not spoken against. I told the story on the other board of a priest who pissed off a woman by explaining the Job never existed. The idea that some Xtians actually don’t take every word of the Bible as literally correct sees to frighten some Xtians more than people being atheists.
            .
            And I certainly saw no pastors taking a hard line stance against slavery other than to indicate that they personally felt it was wrong. Nonetheless, there is still plenty of intellectual dishonesty among apologists within the institutions who would try to justify the practice of slavery, indicating that it was “not like the slavery in the USA,” which is Bull, unless they meant that the slavery in the USA was worse.
            .
            I would not be against inclusion of refutations of certain parts as spoken against by said institutions (i.e.: an official declaration that slavery was wrong regardless of any way it was practiced and that which appears in the Bible should be condemned), but the presence of knowledge of said practices would need to be left intact. And while burying it is technically not lying, it is most certainly dishonest.
            .
            George Carlin said it well when he suggested that the commandment be, “Thou shalt not be dishonest” and include information about engaging in full disclosure even if it means that you may loose. I doubt that Sye or many apologists would be up for that though, they have to be completely right or completely wrong and nothing in between, which is a very limited way of thinking but is how some emotional minds work.
            .
            Unfortunately admitting that you or your institution was ever wrong about anything no matter how large or small is seen by too many insecure followers as a sign of weakness (particularly by those who believe in the absolutely correct or absolutely incorrect paradigm). I have met too many people whose hard wiring in their brains for conclusive answers and a sense of self worth seems to prevent them from ever admitting that they or an institution that they followed ever endorsed or did something wrong. Not surprisingly, those minds tend to also be very poorly educated.

  9. 9
    Mornigeshev Visnevskianovski

    Anyone else think that Sye is most likely an incredibly violent person just waiting to explode. You can see the hatred and rage in those eyes.

    1. 9.1
      Compuholic

      Yeah, I got that impression as well.

  10. 10
    Hank_Says

    FIVE SECONDS IN and I’m facepalming. Is this a debate, Sye, or do you think you’re crashing a celebrity roast?

    Sye, I hope you read this.

    You’re an idiot, a liar, completely without class or honour, a feculent narcissist, a malignant troll and an all-round obnoxious asshole.

    Lest you think that’s an ad hominem, this is all apart from you being fractally wrong, ignorant beyond the words of the English language and so far from having an appreciable point that were you a geometric solid you’d be fucking spherical.

    I hold all this to be true because to deny it would be irrational.

    1. 10.1
      Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

      I think that you need to get off the fence, Hank!

      :-D

  11. 11
    Hank_Says

    Oh, and good job Matt! :)

  12. 12
    JT Rager

    I’ve seen the comments on here, Facebook, and Youtube, and I’ve posted this on Tumblr. I really don’t think anything more needs to be said.

    Presup strategy:
    1. Make assertions without backing them up.
    2. Claim you don’t need to back them up.
    3. Avoid questions, shift burden of proof.

    At the end of the debate, Matt states not to make any heroes and that he isn’t anyone special. He is my hero though for putting up with this bullshit so eloquently.

    [/gush]

  13. 13
    Hortan

    If any one else were the counterpart, this might have ended in tragedy.

    I can only imagine how Jeff, Russel or Tracy flies from their chairs armed only with a crumpled water bottle, trying to end the smug bullshit in one deft stroke only to find themselves having to slowly stab the man to sleep with it….

    1. 13.1
      adamah

      Huh? Are you posting while intoxicated?

      If you even had a thought you were trying to convey, you failed, eg the hosts you mentioned are not going to need to resort to physical violence (!), since they’re all quite capable of letting their words do the virtual eviscerating of their opponent’s argument.

  14. 14
    James McMullen

    My favorite part about it is how Sye had to make sure that Matt would follow a pre-conceived script by bringing his own Virtual Matt to the debate. Can’t argue with Actual Matt. . .that guy’s just a loose cannon. But you can have the kind of conversation you really want–with no rude surprises–if you bring your laptop along. I listened to the Dogma Debate aftershow episode too, and you could tell that Sye was kinda pissed that he hadn’t remembered to bring his own Virtual David Smalley too, as that guy wouldn’t follow his rote script either.

    If you wanna stack a -really- big house of cards, you bring your own deck, right?

    1. 14.1
      Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

      Yes, but you’ve got to remember to bring real playing cards.

      Sye turned up with half a deck of animal snap, a used train ticket and 3 Psyducks…

  15. 15
    Pablo Paredes

    That was nothing short of a shameful display of narcissistic ego trip on Bruggencate part. Obnoxious, rude, petulant, childish, zero weight in his “arguments” … You name it. And on top of it all, pathetic attempts to preach to the audience¡¡ A complete joke. An embarrassment, trough and trough.

    Matt was almost saint like in his composure. Man, oh, man. Anyway, Matt did his job. Went prepare and kick some mayor ass. sound arguments and witty, fast thinking come backs. The “how do you know that” comeback was hilarious¡¡ Well done.

  16. 16
    Conner Bias

    Matt, Thanks for the preparation and focus you put into this project. I hope you do whatever it takes to get your blood pressure back down after dealing with STB. Keep up the good work, and as much as I enjoyed watching this (twice), you should never debate him again.

  17. 17
    adamah

    James said-

    My favorite part about it is how Sye had to make sure that Matt would follow a pre-conceived script by bringing his own Virtual Matt to the debate.

    Have we witnessed the birth of high-tech straw-manning? :)

    Kind of surprised Sye was pushing the whole, “repentance is a gift from God” scripture at the end; that takes more balls than just pointing out how faith in Jesus is supposedly bestowed by the grace of God, since claiming repentance is God-bestowed to only the chosen few should instantly DQ that person from EVER using the phrase, “God gave us free will” ever again (assuming they are confined to abiding by the rules of logic, which means Sye can special-plead himself from the rules of logic). :)

    It also means the “atheist KNOW God exists” thing is rather irrelevant, since unless they are bestowed faith AND repentance, it doesn’t matter: we’re still going to Hades to swim in the Lake of Fire…. (Oh, that reminds me: I’ve gotta remember to pack a pair of swimming trucks).

    Adam

    1. 17.1
      Frank G. Turner

      Have we witnessed the birth of high-tech straw-manning? :)
      .
      Sye can’t win legitimately so he has to cheat. I heard very little out of Sye’s mouth that was not a fallacy including claiming that non fallacies were fallacies. It sounds like the typical “I have to win,” “I must be right” arrogant crap from numerous condescending apologists who kick and scream and whine like spoiled children being dragged out to be spanked by parents who have lost their patience.
      .
      Sye does not care about anyone’s beliefs and I doubt that he ever did or will, he just wants to make money. Let’s see him sell all of his good and give away all of his money to the poor and the hungry.

  18. 18
    michaelbuchheim

    The whole thing was more a show then a debate. It has it’s place, surly. But I can’t think of any believer that I have ever met who would find Sye’s arguments compelling.
    I think that while the rebuttals set the stage, the real show was in the Q&A. Sye admitting that despite all his semantic philosophy, his whole belief hangs on personal revelation, and that he considers all the people who disagree with him on god, liars (because in truth, they know that he is right).

    Not my kind of debate. But I can appreciate a little one-sided boxing match. Providing they’re both perfectly fit I can see nothing wrong with one healthy man beating the living daylights out of a little schoolgirl. And Matt was my Ken Clean-Air System to Sye’s Petula Wilcox.

  19. 19
    fullyladenswallow

    Seems that Sye’s strategy involved a fair amount of video quote-mining and while not necessarily mocking (but borderline ad hominem jabs) seemed disingenuous at best. He then turns and uses the shared stage as his personal pulpit…very tacky. This wasn’t a debate, it was a test of Matt’s patience.

  20. 20
    Mitch Griggs

    I learned a lot from this debate and researching around it with regard to presuppositional apologetics, I find it amazing that it is still being used. It’s very clear that STB knows just enough about Philosophy and by extension Logic to be dangerous, albeit only to himself and his position.

    Kudos to Matt for largely maintaining composure and putting forward some salient points and sound arguments on the matter, even if he may as well have been debating a brick wall. I won’t be wasting my time with presuppositionalists in future either.

    1. 20.1
      Pete G

      Totally off topic but my surname is Griggs! I’m in the UK.

      I too will never watch another PS “debate”. I feel soiled still after 24 hours. I think I am permanently damaged.

  21. 21
    jimdbassist

    Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would waste their time “debating” with Sye Ten. The main friggin question of the debate THE MAIN FRIGGIN QUESTION was “Is it reasonable to believe that a god exists?” When Sye Ten first asserted that god exists, the initial response should have been “What is your evidence?” and Matt should not have conceded anything until this was answered.

    1. 21.1
      Frank G. Turner

      I have heard other apologists and believers asked that question and the “evidence” is often claimed to be “personal revelation” or “the sun in the sky and the trees and the birds” or some other B.S. like that from other apologists (Sye makes reference to both on various occasions). The “personal revelation” is, of course, not testable, falsifiable, or independently verifiable under controlled conditions outside of the person claiming to have it so how would it be true for anyone else? The second is not evidence of God but evidence of existence of the universe, which some apologists claim is God which is much like a Buddhist claim, but that says nothing about a “personal God” or one with an intelligence.
      .
      My main question I would consider asking of Sye, “How do you define God?”. I have asked that of myself many times and often don’t have a clear answer and logically recognize that no one else does either (though many fool themselves into believing that they do). I would expect him to do the typical apologist “avoid the question” or “tap dance” bit (or just answering something else) in response to said question which is why it seems futile to ask and hence why I don’t think it relevant. It is one of those questions where apologists and believers think saying “I don’t know” and actually exploring that possibilities is the equivalent of saying “I am wrong” which breaks their nice comfortable sense of closure. The human brain is hard wired for a sense of closure and said reasoning gives believers a delusional sense of closure that feels comfortable. I should know, that is how I felt too.

      1. EnlightenmentLiberal

        The “personal revelation” is, of course, not testable, falsifiable, or independently verifiable under controlled conditions outside of the person claiming to have it so how would it be true for anyone else?

        False. Personal revelation is evidence. Very very bad evidence, but it is evidence.

        Russell has several times used the example of demonstrating the existence of sight to a blind person, or colored-sight to a color-blind person. We take as properly basic that we live in a shared reality. However, we know that some people have better or more complete access to that shared reality through better senses, aka comparing a normal person to a color-blind person.

        The example is demonstrating to the color-blind person that the purported color-aware person can differentiate balls based on some unseen quality. Example: have the color-aware person leave the room, the color-blind guy can rearrange the seemingly identical balls as he will, and the color-aware person can come back in, and identify and differentiate the seemingly identical balls.

        Now, imagine what kind of experiment you might want to run to verify telepathy. Maybe only 1 out of a million people are capable of telepathy. Or imagine what kind of experiment you would run to verify that people can talk to the dead. For example, if people could talk to the dead as we can talk with each other, then they could talk to the dead to pass along messages. They would access to a part of our shared reality which most of us do not have access, and do things which the rest of us could not do. Compare it to someone who hypothetically has the magnetic-field sense of sharks, or to the color-aware person from the perspective of the color blind person.

        Personal revelation could be very compelling evidence not only to the individual receivers, but also to the population at large, if the revelation contained information which could not have come about through other known processes. For example, if some people of a particular sect received the same personal revelation, which was a non-trivial prophesy, which was later fulfilled unambiguously, then we’re on to something. That would not just be convincing to the person, but it would also be convincing to me, in exactly the same way that demonstrating colored-sight would be convincing to the color-blind person.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          I do not mean to indicate that personal revelation does not have the potential to be evidence. What I mean is that without some sort of testable fallibility it is not evidence. If personal revelation repeatedly reveals information that could not have been communicated by other means, then it is a testable form of evidence. A non trivial prophesy which is fulfilled unambiguously can be tested, it can be observed to come true. There was some “prophet” in the past year who predicted the exact date and time of his death. News cameras were all over him but, well he didn’t die (crummy prophesy, but at least it was fallible).
          .
          What seems to convince a lot of people that personal revelation is solid testable evidence is the illusion that it is creating predictability when more often it is just demonstration of highly ambiguous claims (astrology) or only seeing the hits and ignoring the misses (or both). No matter how convincing that is to how many people, one should not logically consider that evidence. The situations that you are describing ARE situations that indicate testable situations where the information can be independently verified outside of the person making the revelation. That is fine, but it is the test-ability, fallibility, and independent verification that classify the personal revelation as evidence. Sye here seems to indicate that personal revelation can be considered evidence by definition (as long as it conforms with his views of course). I would LOVE to see him in a courtroom where all sorts of personal revelations were made in direct contradiction to him and ALL of them had to be considered evidence of truth (doing unto him what he did unto others basically).
          .
          FYI, you are talking to a person with limited color vision. I don’t see most shades of green and some shades of red and blue don’t appear to me (for the longest time I thought stoplights were orange yellow and white). I know what you mean though as I have had my vision tested and could get special glasses made that would give me more color distinction ability (I have been experimented on using a couple of systems). Of course that would take away my ability to pick out creatures that can normally camouflage themselves in the forest. So yes i am fully well aware of how color vision is to other people despite never having had a full grasp of color.

  22. 22
    Jebadoa

    Using Sye’s own circular logic, 3 questions that needed to be asked of Sye:

    1. Does the bible state that other books like the quran are false?
    YES (He said several times that it does and specifically noted that the quran is false)

    2. Does the quran say that the bible is another testament of god?
    YES (He also said that this is the case.)

    3. Doesn’t it follow that the bible must therefore NOT be a testament of god, because the quran MUST be false?

    1. 22.1
      Dave Dorris

      Uh, yep. It’s an equally valid argument.

    2. 22.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Sye’s argument is that the Quaran is inconsistent. His inconsistency is:
      1- quaran is the word of word, and thus completely true,
      2- quaran says bible is the word of god, and thus completely true,
      3- bible says X (such as Jesus is god),
      4- quaran says not X (such as Jesus is not god and just a prophet),
      5- contradiction, thus premise is false, aka thus quaran is not the word of god

      It’s not that hard to follow his argument, is it?

      1. unfogged

        That’s not how I understood his argument to go. It wasn’t a contradiction between the bible and the koran, it was a contradiction within the koran and/or Islam (not sure STB is making a distinction between the two). Something like:
        1. the koran says that the koran is the word of god
        2. the koran says that the bible is the word of god but has been corrupted
        3. the koran says that the word of god can not be corrupted
        4. since #3 contradicts #2 it can’t be the word of god which has no contradictions so #1 is out
        5. therefore Jesus QED

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          That’s more or less what I said.

        2. Robert Smart

          I really wish the audience member which brought up trying to distinguish who is correct between a Muslim vs a Christian, instead asked him to compare a Jew vs a Christian instead.

          Sye already had his defense (and had already stated it) for Islam.
          That defense can not be utilized for any other faith but Islam (assuming its not a lie)

  23. 23
    Victor Prime, the Ghost-Who-Waddles

    Bruggencate in one word:
    backpfeifengesicht“.

    1. 23.1
      Scott D

      Backpfeifengesicht -

      This is the most perfect word ever! I never knew it existed. I feel like a better human being for knowing it.

      And for all his arrogance , condescension, slippery, sleazy avoidance tactics, the word fits STB, as well as a few people I have encountered in my personal life.

    2. 23.2
      Pete G

      Befitting of a creationist.

  24. 24
    beammeupscotty

    I liked Sye much better when he was doing the horsey dance with hot Korean chicks.

    1. 24.1
      Lavalance

      I see what you did there ;) bravo

  25. 25
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    So, I checked out Sye’s website, just for funsies. It appears to be a collection of pages, each with a choice, which then branch off, maybe to 7 levels deep, and I suspect many of the branches are pruned early with “you can’t be serious with that answer” pages.

    Example:
    I selected:
    -> absolute truth exists (maybe, but even then it might not be knowable)
    -> I know something to be true (this might be a mistake on my part, but I thought about logic and the value of the scientific method)
    -> logic exists (I hate the word “exists” in this context, but I went for it)
    -> logic does not change (sure)
    -> logic is not made of matter (duh)
    -> logic is universal (sure)
    Which leads me to:

    Everyone knows that god exists. You need an explanation or justification to use the rules of logic. God knows everything, and god tells you that you can use logic, and that’s the only justification for the use of the rules of logic.

    Right… What justification do I have that the god knows everything? What justification do I have that I’m actually talking to a god and not an imposter? (Isn’t the devil supposed to be much craftier and trickier than I?) What justification do I have that I didn’t misunderstand the communication because of my limited ability to understand truth? What justification do I have that the god isn’t trying to trick me? (I mean, the Christian bible recounts how that god character gave bad laws with the expressed intent that his people would fail.) So many bullshit assumptions.

    I’m pretty sure I know how that conversation would go.

    This asshat really needs to read the Münchhausen trilemma.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma
    Saying “god” does absolutely nothing to solve the logical quandry of “how do you justify X?”. I disagree that “god” is the proper axiom. I happen to think that “the rules of logic are properly basic, aka axiomatic” is a much better starting point.

    1. 25.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Oh, and in there on Sye’s page, I missed a bit of Plantinga-style stupidity. Specifically, the argument that evolution could not produce intelligent machines which can arrive reliably – but not perfectly reliably – at truth. Which is still a bullshit argument which utterly fails to grasp evolutionary theory, information theory, and the relevant evidence supporting those theories.

      And more bald naked unjustified assertions.

    2. 25.2
      Usernames are smart

      … logic is not made of matter …
      — EnlightenmentLiberal (#25)

      That “choice” is nonsense. Logic isn’t made of anything as it is not a physical thing, but a “workflow” of thoughts.

      An analogy to his question is to ask which option weighs more:
      1) a 4×1 row of 4 pennies
      2) a 2×2 square of 4 pennies
      3) a 1×4 row of 4 pennies

      1. EnlightenmentLiberal

        Agreed. It seemed like the least nonsense option available.

  26. 26
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    As for the debate itself. Probably multiple posts. Here’s my first point.

    The beginning by Sye was cute. I actually kind of liked his “play snip quote of Matt and reply” opening. For quite a while, he was representing Matt honestly, and I think I liked it. Again, cute.

    Then it got fun when we got to solipsism, and I think an honest person wouldn’t use those quotes of Matt and the interpretations of those quotes as an accurate description of Matt’s position. (I think they would be a good starting point for questions for clarification.)

    To Sye’s argument, I think my pithy reply would be:

    I am not interested in your ultimate truth, as that is unknowable and useless in practice. I care about practical truth, aka scientific truth. I could be in the Matrix, but whether I am or not, I am still going to be hungry tomorrow, and the hunger will be just as real, and I’ll have to take the same actions to get the perhaps-virtual food to satisfy my very real hunger. Your truth does not help me avoid hunger, and it doesn’t help me avoid hell and get into heaven – if such places existed. I have no need for your “truth”.

    1. 26.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      And we come back. This is why I really love my virtual food example. When Matt says that he has no reason to think that he is a brain in a vat, that is not the same thing as assuming he is not. Call “Matt is a brain in a vat” proposition X. When Matt goes to the grocery store to obtain (possibly virtual) food, he doesn’t know if he’s in a world where X is true, and he doesn’t know if he’s in a world where X is false. To sate his hunger, Matt needs to go to the (possibly virtual) virtual grocery store and obtain (possibly virtual) food to sate his very real hunger. That action is “consistent” with X and not X. In other words, X is orthogonal. It’s a non-sequitur. It’s irrelevant. Matt doesn’t assume it’s false because it has absolutely no bearing on what actions he takes to sate his real hunger, nor any other action in his life.

      Which comes back to how I define truth in the above post.

    2. 26.2
      Frank G. Turner

      That sounds vaguely like a response I have made to creationism on multiple occasions. I point out that Darwinian evolution is practical because of the advances in medical science that have been made and the number of diseases and conditions that have been cured or minimized as a result of it. I would not have a problem with teaching creationism if it had some direct practical application like evolution. (I am a pragmatic type of guy).
      .
      Funny how I thought to myself, does Sye have any practical application for his argument and I thought that he would probably answer that it will come in the afterlife (what I was taught as a Xtian). Then I thought of the film “Nuns on the Run” with Eric Idle and I remember something that Idle’s character, Brian, says, “Some con men sell life insurance. The church sells afterlife insurance. It’s brilliant! Everyone thinks you might need it, and no one can prove you don’t.”
      .
      It makes sense given that Sye is as sleazy as an insurance salesman and like many other apologists, they are running out of customers..

    3. 26.3
      Robin Lionheart

      Credit where it’s due, when Sye opened by apparently conceding several bad arguments, offering one bad response after another and then playing a clip of how Matt would’ve torn that bad response to shreds, he seemed reasonable and responsive to counterarguments … up until he charged Matt with solipsism. If that were my first experience of Sye, his initial approach would likely have raised my estimation of him, till that.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        Based on my past knowledge of having viewed him, Sye would likely use the very same arguments he conceded as being fallacious (the argument from popular opinion just to give an example) if he could convince people that they were not fallacious. Matt said something about how apologists step back and wipe off and polish their old arguments when they realize that the arguments are not working (paraphrasing). They come back to the table with other fallacious arguments or the same old arguments presented in a different way. (ON the Atheist Experience show this past week a caller was claiming that prayer did something more than the placebo effect and then his alterante description of what prayer did to help him was essentially another way of describing placebo, just to give an example). I suspect that SYe would really use those arguments if he thought they were convincing but instead, experiencing that they were not effective, he seemed to be using his concession of them to make you think he was open minded, which he is not.

  27. 27
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    From the debate. Replying to Matt, actually. I’m going to start really taking people to task whenever I hear this, because it’s so commonly accepted as true, but it’s simply false.

    Matt says there is no way to show supernatural causation. My reply: “supernatural causation” is a meaningless term, and the common usage of “natural” vs “supernatural” is completely arbitrary and culturally created. As commonly used, “supernatural” is a “get out of justification free card”, which is bullshit. I don’t care if it’s natural or supernatural. If it’s observable, then I’m going to do science on it. Natural vs supernatural is simply an irrelevant distraction which needlessly obfuscates the entire conversation.

    Matt says science lies on methodological naturalism. No it doesn’t! I’m making this my new mission to correct this grave misunderstanding. Science does not at all. Science may commonly use methodological model computational reductionism. Science “dogmatically” requires testability aka falsifiability aka predictions of future observables. But it will work just as well for a prediction of future observable supernaturals as well as for future observable naturals.

    If some god came down in New York Times Square and starting perform miracles, and continued to do so under the most rigorous laboratory conditions we could muster, including under the observation of professional magicians, then I’d be ready to say that this creature has powers which cannot be explained through modern science. we could use evidence and proper statistical analysis and reasoning, science!, to make sound conclusions about the abilities of this creature. Now, if we also say that gods are supernatural and science cannot study supernatural things, then the conclusion is that all gods are unobservable, which is absurd, and reductio ad absurdum we should reject the premise that science cannot work on supernatural things.

    Let me put it another way.

    At the end of the day, why do apples fall? Because gravity. But why does gravity do what it does? We don’t know. We can explain a great many facts about our world by appealing to gravity. I’ll call this methodological computational-model-reductionism. We can formally reduce – in the sense of theory of computation – the problem in one domain into another domain. We can translate the problem of apples and trees and the ground into a problem of fundamental particle physics or quantum field theory – a reduction. This is one kind of explanation, to translate a problem from a domain to another domain which you’re more familiar with.

    However, I might not be familiar with gravity. What do you do then? Is it an explanation if I’m not more familiar with it? (Proverbial questions.)

    Gods are not different than gravity. Science cannot explain how gravity works, but science can show that gravity does work. Science may not be able to show how a god works in the same sense that science cannot show how gravity works. The workings of gods may not be model-computationally reducible to some more familiar model of reality, just like gravity is not model-computationally reducible to some more familiar model of reality. But damnit – science can totally create models of how god works just like Newton created the model of universal attraction, gravity.

    Feynman – How do magnets work
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

    Then Matt trots out “correlation does not prove causation”, not in exactly those words, but he does. Matt is wrong again. The only way that we show causation is by correlation. This is fundamental Bayesian reasoning, which underlies all correct (scientific) reasoning. Hume said that causation is us seeing A, then seeing B, and always seeing B after A, always A then B, A then B, A then B. This is how every scientific experiment in lab (and otherwise) shows causation. To the extent that the pithy phrase “correlation does not prove causation” is true, it is a warning that you should be careful to try and find and account for possible confounding variables, and that you should be careful in your analysis and apply proper statistics to your analysis.

    And yet, Matt understands this: If some sect of some religion had lower cancer rates, we should research that. That might not be enough to make any particular strong conclusions. However, imagine if the cracker of a Catholic mass actually turned into human flesh. That’s strong evidence. We could work with that. And what if a bunch of other Catholic miracles were actually verified, repeatedly, independently, etc.? Then to paraphrase the words of Sagan, what we have “in a preliminary way is consistent with a the Catholic god hypothesis.”

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    Yet, how would he come to that conclusion about the higher than average likelihood of Catholicism getting it right in my hypothetical if not by science? Does he use tarot cards to decide? A dart board? I think that Matt in that hypothetical is looking at the evidence, evaluating competing models in a Bayesian framework, and assigning probabilities to those models, and finds that the Catholic god hypothesis has a rather high probability of being true. Aka science. Matt hugely contradicted himself in the space of 2 minutes.

    “Science is based on methodological naturalism” is simply and utterly false. There is no useful kernel of truth in there. It is simply perniciously false, and we should throw it out with yesterday’s garbage.

    1. 27.1
      Muz

      I think you’ll find that ‘you cannot prove supernatural causes’ is the same as what you’re saying, more or less. The definition and distinction between the natural and the supernatural is practically the entire thing. Some “supernatural” force identified with the clarity and repeatability you describe would, to a lot of people I think, tip it over into the natural side of things. This is regardless of any attendant lack of clear explanation for this force. We believe that the blind men could accurately describe and handle the elephant even if they don’t know what it is or where it came from.

      You’ve got to have that conversation with people somehow though and many think that the supernatural is clearly distinct from that sort of observation or so self evident it need not be done anyway. I’ve heard ACA folks state the position almost exactly as you have numerous times. The difference is only in the rhetorical approach.

      And the last I heard it put, the notion that you can empirically observe and thoroughly describe something, even a “supernatural” thing as put here, is methodological naturalism. The conflict comes from people positing that supernatural forces that are elusive, mercurial and defy such clear description should be included as potential explanations for observed effects. So no, as most people apply the term I don’t think science is likely to show a supernatural cause. It can generally only be voluntarily assumed and has at best the same explanatory power as “We don’t know”. But of course, nobody takes a supernatural cause as a gap in knowledge.

      1. EnlightenmentLiberal

        We are here to be effective communicators. When a theist hears “methodological naturalism”, they hear “physics materialism”. It is not an effective communication strategy. For example, I just spend 10 pages on the iron chariots forum with some guy trying to explain this and unteach “science depends on methodological naturalism”. He just kept saying that science has a materialism presupposition, probably because he keeps hearing people wrongly state that science depends on “methodolgoical naturalism”, whatever the hell that means.

        We should say what we mean. Science depends on methodological test-ism. Science relies on the ability to observe, gather evidence, and create predictive aka falsifiable models of the future.

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          Ugg, sorry. Let me try it like this.

          Matt specifically said that science could never confirm supernatural causation. I think he went on to clarify what that meant with an example religious sect. A theist heard, and I heard, and IMO any reasonable person heard, “I’m sorry, you can never show that you are right with science”. Imagine what that will do to a theist. It’s saying that the rules of the game are science, and the rules are structured that you could never show you’re right. A theist is right to complain loudly about this bullshit. As I gave in my earlier examples, you can show that god is causing stuff if the evidence were different, if the world was different.

          Of course, it would be indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced aliens, or operators of the Matrix, but that’s my entire point: “natural” vs “supernatural” is a meaningless distinction which only serves to 1- add confusion, which is bad, and 2- to make it seem to theists that we are denying that they can ever use the tools of science to show that they are right, which is wrong.

          Science can show that there is a god which does stuff, and we should openly and clearly proclaim this. Science can show supernatural causation. You just need sufficient evidence, evidence sufficient for any other observable phenomena. Of course, here theists may balk, because they’re used to using “supernatural” as a “get out of evidence free card”, and that’s where you have to press them. You have to press them to realize that they should hold knowledge and belief about gods to the same standard of evidence to knowledge and belief about physics, about economics, about biology, and so on. “Supernatural” vs “natural” is a bullshit useless distinction.

          Again, I see the confusion all the time which is caused by this. I just spent 10 pages arguing with a wall because he’s been wrongly taught that science could never show his god is real, and that science cannot use circumstantial evidence, and so on.

    2. 27.2
      adamah

      EL said-

      Then Matt trots out “correlation does not prove causation”, not in exactly those words, but he does. Matt is wrong again.

      Sorry, but you’re wrong, bud.

      You’re forgetting that more than ONE potential causes CAN be correlated with the observed effect, but only one (or two, or more) may be the actual cause of the effect.

      That’s why scientists use the term, ‘false correlation’: while a correlation actually exists, it may only be a phantom effect (as determined by further testing). This is a constant concern in studying the efficacy of meds, since correlation may appear to exist (even if only due to random chance), but it needs to be confirmed via additional testing.

      Matt didn’t invent the phrase (it’s a common principle used in stats, for one), and he’s correct to cite it.

      On the “supernatural” topic during the debate (about an hour in), Sye demanded evidence for what is actually a CONVENTION: by definition, science reserves the label ‘supernatural’ for any phenomena which is beyond our current ability to detect and hence, to describe.

      Note the word, ‘current’: What once was considered ‘supernatural phenomena may eventually be considered ‘natural’, the best example being radio waves.

      For someone living in the 1st cent CE, anyone talking about radio waves was engaging in rampant speculation and hypothesis generation, since this was long before invisible radio waves were able to be detected or any effect be demonstrated: their presence couldn’t be perceived by any of the sense organs, and thus concept of radio waves was considered as supernatural, awaiting the scientific studies that culminated in Marconi’s invention of the radio, some 1.5 millennia later. The concept of radio waves transferred from the SUPERNATURAL into the category of NATURAL phenomena.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        As a scientist I will point out that while correlation is needed to demonstrate causation (a phrase that an Mormon apologist I spoke with some months ago was unfamiliar with as she did not even know the difference), by itself it does not. A more correct phrasing would be that Correlation does not “necessarily” demonstrate causation.

        1. Fernando Barbosa

          Correlation does not “necessarily” demonstrate causation.

          I think “Correlation does not demonstrate causation” is the correct phrase.

          Inferring causation based ONLY in correlation, is a matter of chance.

          Causation is deduced by correlation and something else.

      2. EnlightenmentLiberal

        As I said to the person above, we are here to be effective communicators. I think that the phrase “correlation does not prove causation” without a lot of explanation is wrong. It’s a pithy phrase meant as a rebuttal to specific points, but said in the wild to theists who don’t understand science and statistics, it will confuse them about how the scientific method actually works. Correlation does demonstrate causation when you account for all plausible confounding variables. Actually, that’s just a specific case of Bayesian reasoning, which is how science actually works.

        science reserves the label ‘supernatural’ for any phenomena which is beyond our current ability to detect and hence, to describe.

        Again, we are here to be effective communicators, and that’s not how theists use the word. Theists commonly understand “natural” to be synonymous with “physics materialism”, and “supernatural” to be anything beyond our conventional understanding of physics. If you mean “unobservable” when you use “supernatural”, why not just say “unobservable” to avoid the confusion over definitions of words in order to be an effective communicator? Why stick to a word which is borderline meaningless at best, and downright confusing in practice?

        1. Frank G. Turner

          I get what you mean about how correlation is a specific case of Bayesian reasoning, I am a scientist and I use statistics so I get it. As effective communicators sometimes we have to define things to gain an understanding so there is argument over semantics.
          .
          What I was getting at is that when conducting experimentation one typically has correlative factors for which one forms a hypothesis of causation. Testing and statistical analysis while controlling for confounding variables to establish a link between an independent and dependent variable is done to demonstrate that one is causative of the other. I was responding to adam as it seems he was attempting to state that once an indepdendent variable has been determined to be caused by the depdendent variable, they do not cease to be correlative. Factors determined to be causative are still correlative (hence a “special case” of correlation).
          .
          By saying that correlation does not “necessarily” demonstrate causation I indicate that while causative factors require that they be correlative, correlative factors are not necessarily causative. Two factors may be proportional and appear correlative due to a third related factor. An example being how obesity is correlated with watching television but watching a lot of television does not make one obese. (The case being that watching a lot of television is associated with sedentary activity which contributes to obesity).
          .
          I know what you mean about theists who don’t understand how the scientific method works nor do they understand about how word definitions vary from person to person. I have taught and I have had to go through how words have meaninsg to different people many times so how we may need to define them for discussion and give examples rather than just looking them up in the dictionary. (A lot of people I know would call the guys on this show “agnostic instead of “atheist”).
          .
          What Sye seemed to do on the show (which you may be having a problem with regarding the other blogger) is purposefully leave word definitions and ideas vague so as to be able to change one’s stance on them at will in order to purposefully confuse the argument. It is basically “moving the goial posts” so that you never really have to loose. It is why I say defining God would be futile on here (and why I say that Matt should never bother with Sye ever again, nor should anyone). It is pointless and leads only to less understanding, not more. Learning comes from falsifiability. You never really know if you can acheive a goal legitimately if you set the rules up in advance so that you can’t ever fail to meet that goal.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            /nod
            Agreed.

          2. adamah

            Frank said-

            I was responding to adam as it seems he was attempting to state that once an indepdendent variable has been determined to be caused by the depdendent variable, they do not cease to be correlative. Factors determined to be causative are still correlative (hence a “special case” of correlation).

            No, I didn’t mean to imply that, since it would be incorrect. :).

            You’ll see I referred to ‘false correlations’, ie those factors which may only appear to be the cause (they may arise for a variety of reasons, as I mentioned).

            And of course, factors may even be negatively-correlated with the cause (which strictly-speaking, is still considered a type of correlation). Those are important, since they often lead research in a new direction.

            Adam

          3. Frank G. Turner

            @adam
            Well my apologies for having misunderstood your sentiment, but it seems to have lead to interesting discussion anyway.
            .
            Although I do point out that sometimes factors are correlative even if they are not causative, which can usually be determined under controlled experimental conditions and indicate that both factors are related to another causative factor. This is not necessarily “false correlation.” Such is life.

      3. adamah

        EL said-

        As I said to the person above, we are here to be effective communicators. I think that the phrase “correlation does not prove causation” without a lot of explanation is wrong.

        Sorry, but you’re still wrong.

        It absolutely is a TRUE statement, and it’s safer to say it in that more-conservative form (as above), esp when public speaking, since anyone who’s not willing to do the hard work of learning the important caveats is likely going to get into trouble by accepting your flawed, “correlation DOES prove causation” meme, for reasons I explained above (eg false correlations, cofactors, experimental/methodological errors, etc) since even the most loosely-correlated cause will assume to be THE cause.

        Maybe if Xians spent less time in prayer, studying the Bible believing it’s Divinely-inspired, perpetuating creationism, being misinformed on science topics by their non-scientifically-trained pastor, etc AND INSTEAD spent more time learning the basic definitions of terms used in science, they’d speak the same language.

        Don’t blame me for their ignorance of standards and conventions (and poor Sye doesn’t even know what a convention is, just like Eric couldn’t wrap his brain around the concept of what an “assumption” is). I was once a dumbass believer, until I went to college and learned how the World REALLY operates.

        Anyway, I suspect your concerns are unfounded, since even the most simple-minded person grasps the idea of ’cause and effect’ (which is what your rephrased version is basically restating), but it’s another matter to get people to understand that correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation.

        Adam

        1. Frank G. Turner

          @adam
          Maybe if Xians spent less time in prayer, studying the Bible believing it’s Divinely-inspired, perpetuating creationism, being misinformed on science topics by their non-scientifically-trained pastor, etc AND INSTEAD spent more time learning the basic definitions of terms used in science, they’d speak the same language.
          .
          So what do you think of people who do both? (Albeit these typically are NOT creationists nor are completely misinformed on science). You do get pastors and priests who are trained in science sometimes (not always very well mind you).

          1. adamah

            Frank,

            Unlike many atheists, I have no problems with believers who are able to ‘compartmentalize’ their religious beliefs, being careful to discriminate between their ‘Sunday at Church’ beliefs and their professional knowledge, such that they don’t drag their God beliefs into a clinical setting or lab.

            It’s been my experience that some achieve this goal better than others, but in my mind, there always lingers a question as to WHY they profess belief: are they actually “true believers” who obtain the psych beliefs, or do they profess belief for other factors (societal/familial pressures, prestige of being the ‘science guy’ in the church, or for more pragmatic reasons such as profiting from the advantage of access to a built-in patient base (eg JWs/Mormons only do business with other members)?

            Of course, they could never admit publicly WHY they profess belief (if they know their own motives; not all do), but it’s ultimately irrelevant; just as long as it doesn’t influence their objectivity and performance, I don’t see a problem.

            Same question back to you ?

            Adam

          2. Frank G. Turner

            Adam,
            it is an interesting question and one that I have often debated to myself internally. Acting as though one believes that at least some portions of scripture are truth (the Gospel in particular) does seem to have certain economic and social advantages even if it is not used in practice. There are certainly a number of evolutionary biologists and other scientists who still have relgious beliefs, some of whom are Xtian. (Although at that, they tend not to believe in a literal translation of Genesis as Sye and the undereducated seem to push). The question then being do they believe the Gospels (the next most important part of Xtianity) to be factually correct at least in part due to the natural contradictions found between said Gospels (the 4 are just to start, there are many more). Comprtmentalizing one’s believes and not applying what one descovers that contradicts one’s believes certainly must take place. Even I have done it to some degree, but I always had doubts and I admit that. Anyone who knew me as a child and heard some of the questions that I asked about scripture would have seen the natural skeptic and I often looked for a secular reason behind any moral I engaged in to back up the relgiious reasoning. (Because “God said it” when it came to morals was never good enough for me, there had to be a REASON why God said it and I often would not get good answers to that).
            .
            As I have said elsewhere, religion is a business and as long as it is making money it will continue to be practiced. Having a patient base certainly does make sense (although I thought JWs did not want you to go to a high level of education like college or a University or Medical scool so I have no idea how one could be a Doctor). As we have a “free market” of ideas on the very internet we are comminicating on is becoming more common people may realize that there are others who believe (or NOT believe without hard evidence) as they do and religion becomes less and less of a money making business (albeit many schools established by religious organizations may still continue). I would not be surprised if in the U.S. a number of people who ALREADY don’t believe in what they are taught but attend religious survises out of loyalty to their family (the tribe) not because they actually believe. I think I largely do this myself nowadays. IN a generation non believers may becoming a majority quickly as a large number of strong believers pass away and those who “pretended” to believe or only attended relgious services come out of the woodwork and religious buildings become coffee chops or art galleries as has largely occurred in Europe. My suspition is that the number who doubt is higher than we realize and many claim belief simply do so to fit in with the majority which is not as large as it seems (many believers are just loud and obnoxious about it).

  28. 28
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Quoting Matt, loosely: “As for a demonstration that I can know anything, I wrote this rebuttal ahead of time.”

    Matt. You sir, are brilliant, and my new favorite person for the day.

    Kudos!

    1. 28.1
      Lavalance

      Oh yeah… That was gold!

      My favorite part of the debate was when an audience member asked the question to both Matt and $ye… ” who is your favorite fictional super hero?” Sye said Spider-Man and Matt said ” Yahweh… Yahweh!!” ROFL

  29. 29
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Matt (loosely): It’s not a vicious cycle when I said “I know that my reasoning and senses are reliable because they have been reliable”.

    Come on. That totally is. How do you define “reliable”? How do you determine when something is reliable? A method or process or tool is reliable when scientific analysis shows that it works. What do we mean by “works”? A method or process or tools is reliable when we gather lots of evidence, put it into our Bayesian reasoning machine, and we get out a high probability of truth. So, you’re using the tool of your internal Bayesian reasoning machine in order to verify the tool of your internal Bayesian reasoning machine? That’s totally circular. He has you dead to rights.

    “Science works” is circular.

    Try to rephrase it all you want, but it’s going to be circular no matter how many indirections or obfuscations you add.

    I think Sam Harris is sometimes on the right track here. He sometimes says that people are wrong when they view facts as “primary over” values, or facts as “more objective” than values. Sam Harris is right and people who think those things are wrong. As Sam says, facts only come when you hold certain values. Let me explain.

    There’s no way to say that “science works” which isn’t circular. You’re attempting to say that your standard of justification is a good standard of justification by appealing to that standard. You’re trying to inductively justify induction. You cannot. The only way out is to take inductive reasoning, Bayesian reasoning, science, as a starting value. You don’t start with the circular “science works”. You start with “I am going to use science”, or “I value using science”, or “one should use science to inform their beliefs”. That’s a value. Only with that value (and several others, such as intellectual honesty, curiosity, etc.) can you talk about (scientific) facts. Scientific facts are a kind of value, or at the very least scientific facts cannot exist outside of a value framework, the value framework of science.

    PS: Damnit. Why am I writing much more about the errors that Matt made than Sye? Maybe the mistakes that Sye makes are too juvenile and idiotic to warrant attention.

    1. 29.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Thought of it like this:

      Imagine taking a purported meter-stick, and using that purported meter-stick to verify that it’s actually a meter long. That’s circular. The justification is useless. The stick might be 2 meters long, and that method will not catch it. You wouldn’t know. Attempting to purport that this is a proper justification is fallacious.

      When someone asks you “Why do you think that tomorrow is going to be mostly similar to yesterday?”, and you answer “Because yesterday was mostly similar to three days ago”, that’s circular in exactly the same way. You’re using inductive reasoning to justify inductive reasoning itself. You’re using a tool to validate the same tool itself, which is fallacious.

      As I mentioned else-thread, science is the fiat definition of what works. In some sense, it’s the fiat definition of what is and is not a proper justification. You cannot give a justification for the definition of “justification”. You cannot give a justification for your basic standard of what is and is not a proper justification. Basic Münchhausen trilemma.

      (Ok ok. It would be better to say that science is merely a fiat addition to the list of proper justifications. Deductive reasoning is separate from – but intimately related to – inductive reasoning.)

      1. Darkprophet232

        What if instead of using the same meter stick, I use a different one? And then another different one? And I find someone who thinks my meter stuck is actually yard stick and then I compare it to her meter stick? And at the end of the day all four sticks all agree with each other. Is it still circular?

      2. Monocle Smile

        Inductive reasoning works until it doesn’t. Yes, eventually we have to get down to axioms, but the goal is for those to be properly basic; I have two axioms that I feel we can all agree don’t need to be justified.

        1) Nature exists (in the context of the reality we experience)
        2) It is possible to learn something about nature

        I feel that conversations with people who dispute either of these axioms are a massive waste of time, mostly because people who dispute these are either dishonest or probably dead.

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          To the extent that “we can learn about nature” is “we can learn about nature using evidence and (scientific / inductive) reason”, agreed.

          1. Mattias

            So, science works…

    2. 29.2
      adamah

      Lol! Do you disagree with the statement that science works, ie we enjoy practical and direct beliefs as a result of using the scientific method to investigate and manipulate our World?

      Holy Hell, you’re not going to deny the benefits of, eg meds/treatments in modern healthcare, improvements in transportation (airliners), food safety (refrigeration) and the MYRIAD of inventions which bring benefits (which serve as tangible evidence) to support the statement, “science works”?

      1. EnlightenmentLiberal

        I can verify that science works in the same sense that I can use this meter-stick I found to verify that the same stick is actually a meter long. Of course I’m going to come to the conclusion that the stick is a meter long, and of course I’m going to confirm science with science.

        If you read what I said, I start with the presupposition of using science, so I am not going to deny that science works. I am a scientist, in the general sense of the term. However, I am going to call out any attempt to justify science with science as fallacious.

        1. Monocle Smile

          This made me wince a bit. I get what you’re saying, but adam isn’t suggesting that we can prove science with science. Science can be verified with straight-up empirical observation, and I think there’s enough of a line between the methodology of science and merely observing a sick person get well.

          This just comes all the way back to axioms and the fact that there’s no absolute defeater of hard solipsism. And that’s all that needs to be said. I typically hate these conversations anyway; I prefer pragmatism over anything else.

          1. adamah

            Thanks for clarifying monocle, as that’s what I was attempting to express: we enjoy the benefits of the scientific method daily in products developed with it; scientific method has iproduced copious and diverse results, with a proven track-record such, to paraphrase Paul, the evidence is literally all around us.

            It’s hard for me to even fathom someone NOT seeing that as patently obvious, in an age when we drive in electric/hybrid cars, communicate wirelessly, benefit from nuke/alternative energy, greater crop yields via bioengineering, etc.

            Sure, there’s problems, but one can only wonder how things might be different/better if only we could manage to shake the “fear tax” off our backs, instilled by persistent religious thinking.

        2. Jasper of Maine

          I don’t agree.

          If I rake my lawn, I’m capable of determining that using a rake worked… otherwise I wouldn’t use the rake.

          … but that analogy doesn’t quite fit, because we’re talking about using a methodology to validate itself, right? Maybe something that’s closer would be using the methodologies of programming/debugging to fix a bug in my code. But I don’t start with the presupposition that debugging process works… I use it because it actually works – if it didn’t, I’d stop using it.

          I think what you’re doing is falsely equivocating between rudimentary observation of reality, and science.

          Science is a high level methodology for minimizing human error and procedural converging on the correct answer, through hypothesis testing, model building, peer review, etc. Science is built upon observation, but observation is not science.

          Using your analogy of the meter stick, the meter stick may be used in science, to gather measurements, but the observation that the stick is actually a meter long is not science – thus, there’s nothing cyclic about it.

          1. EnlightenmentLiberal

            I think what you’re doing is falsely equivocating between rudimentary observation of reality, and science.

            For the purpose of my previous post, I was making that conflation, yes.

            If you prefer, you cannot justify basic inductive reasoning on evidence with inductive reasoning on evidence.

  30. 30
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Last bit (probably).

    Man. is Matt’s tactic in the debate actually effective? He had the right answer in there, partially hidden, but didn’t harp on it enough.

    I think our Russell has it right. I would say up front mostly what Matt said when he laid out his presuppositions. He laid out his presupposition that logical absolutes are true, and his presupposition of inductive reasoning on evidence aka science. I’d throw out a third presupposition to avoid the brain in the vat, which is that for some models being equal, I’m going to prefer the models where I’m not the center of the universe, which is what I call actual humbleness.

    The entire debate should be Sye arguing that you need a justification for the laws of logic, and Matt saying “No, I don’t.” When Sye asks “How do you know the laws of logic are true”, one should reply “It’s my presupposition that the laws of logic are true, just like you have a presupposition that your god exists and justifies the laws of logic.” When Sye asks “How do you know your reason is reliable”, one should reply “It’s my presupposition that my reason is reliable, just like you have a presupposition that your god exists and justifies your reasoning.”

    I know it would make the debate rather short, but in my very humble opinion, this is the proper and correct answer. Matt – and others – do you think that this approach is not constructive for the audience? I think the key is to show that the theists and the atheists both start of with some presuppositions, but to show the sheer absurdity of starting with “god justifies logic” instead of just starting with logic. Yes – this is absurd because I’m taking the presuppositional stance that everyone here “should know” that the laws of logic and reason come before knowledge of god.

    For you gamers out there, it’s like a mirror fight.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MirrorMatch

    PS: Sye: “Doubt is a sin.” And conversation is done.

  31. 31
    Jon Hall

    The most incredible thing of this debate is that Matt didn’t have an aneurysm from sheer irritation with Sye. I nearly had one just watching the video in small bits at a time.

  32. 32
    michaelbuchheim

    Personally, I think Sye’s philosophical arguments are just a big red herring.

    Even if we conceded every claim that knowledge is beyond humanity’s grasp- we are still no closer to accept his knowledge of the divine.
    His whole argument is “You are wrong, therefor, I am right”. That’s not a sound argument. Again, even if we accept his proposition that we are wrong, we are not one step closer to prove that he is right.
    And why does he think he is right? Surprise: it has nothing to do with the philosophy of knowledge or the application of reason.
    He is absolutely correct in everything and anything he might say or think, because god told him so. And god’s word supersede logic. So god may tell Sye that black is white and Sye would have no reason or motivation to reject this claim. Because his whole position is unfettered to logic- it doesn’t need to be consistent or even true- god told him- therefor it is Ultimately True (even if it is false under any other definition).

    And he claims that WE ALL are privileged to the same revelation he has. We all have god, whispering in our ear the Absolute Truth. How does he know whether a person speaks the truth of revelation, or his own flawed and warped mind? He compares it to his own Revelation. In other words: Sye recognizes “Truth” only if it is IDENTICAL to what he already knows. Not even whether it is consistent with what he knows- it has to be identical. God has told him the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And you can’t add to that.

    His acceptance of Scripture as the word of god is the only deviation from this narcissistic world view. And even then, I suspect he only defers to scripture to justify his position when confronted with the possibility of another person claiming the same special knowledge of truth in opposition. He then demonstrated that we should turn to scripture (since it is the word of god, god told him so) and see whether the contested claim is consistent with Sye’s own interpretation of the scripture (since his personal god is the only arbiter).
    And so his whole position is one big act of narcissistic hubris. I am correct because I am special. If you accept my words, you must be correct as well. If you reject them- you must be wrong.

    There’s nothing philosophical or logical about this position.

    1. 32.1
      Dave Dorris

      I disagree. Sye’s whole argument boils down to “I am right because I assert that I am right, therefore you are wrong.”

      Oh, I agree with everything else though.

  33. 33
    pj

    Sye repeated it twice, but I still don’t get the Koran (Qur’an) rebuttal.

    1. 33.1
      specialffrog

      Basically, he correctly states that the Muslim position is that the Biblical prophets (including Jesus) received genuine revelation but that the actual currently-available text is a corrupted version of that revelation.

      However, he then throws in a bit where he asked some unspecified Muslim if the word of Allah can be corrupted and they said “no”, which allegedly proves that the Quran is self-contradictory and therefore cannot be true.

      He may be quoting a real Muslim rather than a straw one but it hardly makes it compelling. Even if this represents a real contradiction (which I’m pretty sure it doesn’t) I’m sure Muslim apologetics explain it as well (or as poorly, if you prefer) as Christian apologetics explain Biblical contradictions.

      1. michaelbuchheim

        And I might add that a Jew could make the same argument against him. They both agree that the Old Testament is the word of god, the Jew claims that the OT contradicts the new: Kosher laws (or rather Tuma’a, but let’s not get into that) are dismissed in Acts, god is shapeless and formless and definitely not jesus-shaped (although he has a back sometimes, which is weird), and the serpent is a clearly a snake (otherwise his whole punishment doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Not that it makes much sense as it is). So obviously the New Testament is a heathen concoction.
        Naturally, I expect Sye would say the Jew is interpenetrating the text wrong, he knows the right interpretation actually supports his position because god told him so.

        It must be comfortable when you don’t have to think about anything because you already know everything!

      2. ST_Mouse

        I don’t know if it’s an actual Islamic apologetic, but you could counter with the following:

        The Quran States that whenever there is an apparent contradiction in the Quran, whichever passage was written last is to be considered correct. This would imply that the earlier passages were either incorrect at the time (which we all know is impossible), or due to circumstances are no longer correct now, or (using the favourite of Christian apologetics) were being taken out of context.

        Therefore why don’t Muslims accept the bible as true? They do. They accept every part of the Bible *except* where the Quran says something different, and as the Quran was written last it overrules anything in the bible. These differences can then be excused using the latter two reasons I mentioned previously.

    2. 33.2
      John Iacoletti

      Besides, if the Quran is therefore false, then so is its claim that the bible is true.

      1. Matt Gerrans

        Yeah, well this goes to the idiotic idea that all the religious nuts use that a book (Bible, Qur’an, etc.) is “true” or “false.” If a book is “true” does that mean every single thing it says is true? Or some of it is true? More than 50% of it is true? WTF does it mean? Religious books in particular are so full of incoherent claims and contradictions that the idea of them being “true” (or even “false” for that matter) is silly, but it doesn’t even make sense to say a book about reptiles is “true” or a book on child rearing is “true” or “false.”

        By the way, Muslims can easily argue against Sye by saying the Bible is not the uncorrupted word of God precisely because it is corrupted and therefore can’t be the word of God. Of course, the same problem applies to the Qur’an, but Muslims won’t admit that it was also “corrupted” because they clamped down on it earlier and destroyed as much of the evidence as they could.

        1. Simon Firth

          Yeah – Sye dodges this problem by refusing to debate scripture with ‘unbelievers’.

      2. OverlappingMagisteria

        I disagree.

        Saying that a book is false does not necessarily mean that every single claim in it is false, only that some/most are false.

        For example, I think that it would be fair to say that “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” is a historically false book. But its claim that Abraham Lincoln was an American president is not false.

        Similarly, Sye can say that the Quran is a false book. But its claim that the Bible is true is not a false claim.

        1. Matt Gerrans

          No, it doesn’t make any sense to say any book is true or false. A book is not a Boolean value. It isn’t even a fuzzy Boolean value.

          The Bible is demonstrably full of things that are false (people living inside fish for three days, millions of species of animal surviving on a boat for months, talking snakes, talking asses (well, Sye proves this one is actually possible, come to think of it), etc. So, based on the fact that it is full of all these things we know to be false, plus the huge number of internal inconsistencies/contradictions, we know it is full of false things and some true things.

  34. 34
    quizzard

    I couldn’t watch it all, I just couldn’t. I’m right because you know I’m right? Why the hell did he even bother to show up?

    I love watching Matt actually take apart illogical theist arguments, but that was just too hard to watch. You can’t take apart or analyze a vacuum, and that is all he had to offer.

    Sad.

  35. 35
    cynewulf

    I was struck by just how devoid of content Sye’s argument was. It can be summed up with: “I think God exists, therefore God exists. And because God exists, therefore I must be right that God exists.”
    It is utterly inane. Not only does it fall at the first logical hurdle, if somehow the logic *was* sound then the same argument could be used to justify *anything*.
    The rudeness, personal attacks, and implied claims of being both a prophet and a mind-reader, are just window-dressing around this central critical failing. Sye’s arguments were both painful and embarressing in equal measure. If Sye is the best that presuppositional apologetics has then it is a walking corpse, too stubborn to realise it has no place in the world.
    And Matt ironically has the patience of a saint. He somehow sat through all the personal attacks, faulty logic, quote-mining, and slander, without once raising his voice in anger. He’s like some kind of texan buddha, a philosopher in snakeskin boots.
    I am somewhat dissapointed by the quality of questions at the end (either the point or the communication), but I doubt any of the questioners were professional debaters. Oh, and Sye was rude to the audiance as well which justifies them being flustered.

  36. 36
    John Iacoletti

    What is it that Matt says at 11:09 that got a big laugh?

    1. 36.1
      deesse23

      Matt (drinking): “Didnt i just GET 10 minutes?”, referring to the fact that Sye pulled out clips from Matt in AE..

    2. 36.2
      unfogged

      It sounds to me like “Didn’t I just get 10 minutes?”

    3. 36.3
      Frank G. Turner

      As a related side note to the “10 minutes” comment, late in the debate right before doing the 5 minute closings Matt points out that he may not need 5 minutes as he was doing most of the talking through the debate anyway (pointing at Sye’s computer). The fact that straw man Matt was used so often out of context was amusing in and of itself.

  37. 37
    Ben

    Wow, I’d heard of presuppositionalism before, but never really heard it discussed at length. There’s so much grasping at straws with that mindset it’s insane. Their entire argument is based on “You know God exists”. End of story.

  38. 38
    xscd

    Well, Sye did make a logical case prove that you can’t support logic with logic. Perhaps he should have just said that God told him that atheists are not allowed to use logic, and that logic can only be used to prove logic can’t be used.

    I kind of felt sorry for Sye until he put on his uber-serious face and repeated several times, “God will not be mocked!” and warned the audience that they would reap what the sow!

    Of course, Sye was the person claiming to have an invisible friend and trying to convince everyone he isn’t crazy, which was by far the harder side of the “debate.”

    Sye said that Matt might be “a brain in a vat.” Well, someone should have just asked Sye whether his God considered Matt to be just a brain in a vat instead of a real person. Sye’s God could have cleared up the confusion, giving Sye certain knowledge so that they could get past that whole “you’re a brain in a vat but I’m not!” issue–

    1. 38.1
      adamah

      I still can’t figure out how if Matt is actually a brain in a vat, then how did he manage to marry a hooker? He must be a wealthy brain in a vat, since ho’s are on the lookout for sugar daddies. :)

      1. Dave Dorris

        If he’s a brain in a vat, he can marry whoever he wants, and a little tax-free cash never hurts. Maybe get a nicer vat.

        1. adamah

          Or lower the vat, put some 18-inch spinners on it, and cruise around Austin, ridin’ up in style (Matt can’t be seen riding around in some ol’ rust bucket vat)!

    2. 38.2
      adamah

      Oh, on this:

      Xscd said-

      Well, Sye did make a logical case prove that you can’t support logic with logic.

      I know you meant that tongue-in-cheek, but let’s dismantle that one, just in case there’s any lurkers reading.

      As an alternative, what would Sye propose be used, instead of logic to prove logic?

      Illogic, perhaps?

      Sye already tried that, and as we see, the outcome was gruesome (with threats of hell-fire, etc…).

      Maybe the validity of logic can be proven, using emotions and desires?

      Again, see Sye’s effort above (although that’s actually getting closer to the answer).

      (His answer would be divine revelation, of course, which he claims to have and the rest of us are just SOL, since “first come, first served” rules are in play; he called dibs.)

      Fact is, use of logic is a STANDARD, a CONVENTION, an agreement that participants agree to respect certain principles that are consonant to the group, overall, based on consensus opinion.

      We see comments about how painful it was to watch Sye: that’s no figure of speech for many, as there’s often a bodily response elicited by seeing logic being assaulted, violated, and brutally-raped. As a gut reaction, it’s offensive to watch Athena (Greek Goddess of wisdom and logic) being brutalized.

      There’s no evidence to support the idea that thoughts (“logical” or not) exist outside of a host brain, so no objective external benchmark we can use to determine “true logic”.

      So in yet another permutation of the same old Xian shenanigans, Sye’s presenting the classic false dilemma, hawking a patent medicine cure for an imaginary disease which religion invented long ago.

      By saying use of logic to prove logic is a tautology (it’s not), he’s offering a made-up problem that doesn’t have an answer (other than as explained above that use of logic is a CONVENTION, defined as common use that demands no proof, since it’s arbitrary, based on consensus, and like the scientific method is validated by a proven track record of producing novel results).

      However, the truly “good news” is it’s not actually a problem, and it’s a fact of life that all questions cannot be answered to everyone’s satisfaction, or that all questions have or deserve an answer (malformed, invalid questions exist).

      Such distracting roadblocks must be recognized and dismissed as the time-wasters they are, in order to get actual practical productive “stuff” accomplished.

  39. 39
    Slovak Palo

    Listening to Sye’s arguments and logic finally brought to me understanding of hell and heaven. I imagine now hell as listening to Sye in heaven for eternity ….

  40. 40
    Alan

    Examples of Pretzel Logic: (around 1:34 – 1:36)

    1. “If the Koran is true then the bible is true – if the bible is true then the koran is false.”

    2. “People say I’m atheistic toward all those other gods. No I’m not – they don’t exist.”

    Huh??

    1. 40.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      2. “People say I’m atheistic toward all those other gods. No I’m not – they don’t exist.”

      That’s an easy one. Sye must adopt that terminology for the reasons Sye stated. Sye’s position: There’s only one god. The other gods obviously don’t exist. Atheists all know that god exists. Atheism is merely the suppression of that truth. Thus, if I were to call myself an atheist w.r.t. Zeus, that’s saying that I am suppressing the knowledge of Zeus, which is false, because Zeus does not exist, I have no knowledge of Zeus, and I am not an idolator (one who purports belief in other gods, aka false gods).

      1. Dave Dorris

        But, but, even the Bible says there are other…

        Fuck it. Why bother?

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          And he won’t engage with Bible study who aren’t up front willing to weasel out of hard verses like this. Booya!

          1. michaelbuchheim

            I rather suspect he wont engage in bible study with Atheists, because they will not accept that his interpretation are correct because god revealed the Truth to him\everyone. *sigh* how can one have a dialog with a person who convinced himself you know he is right and you just lie when you say you disagree. For all his hostility towards hard solipsism, his attitude towards others sounds pretty similar.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @michaelbucheim
            For all his hostility towards hard solipsism, his attitude towards others sounds pretty similar.
            .
            Yes but if Sye is really the brain in the vat and all of this is a figment of his own imagination, then deep down he is an atheist and Matt is the manifestation of that argument which Sye is actually making against himself. (I was surprised that at no point someone did not ask Sye if he was thr brain in the vat).

  41. 41
    jgairns

    Just wondering, Sye, if your god is real and, as you claim, everyone believes in god … why am I unaware of your god’s power? Why have I not seen or felt it? Why has your god never revealed itself to me? Why is your god’s love funneled through hate and violence and threats?

    You will, of course, claim your god has revealed itself to me and I have failed to recognize your god. I would be fascinated if you could propose one single piece of evidence for your god’s existence that would convince me. If the natural, real world is full of faulty information then my beliefs are based on fault, so your god’s evidence should overwhelm me …

    Sye, you are a dishonest imbecile who’s ONLY weapon is twisting words because you can’t, in fact, back up any of your claims with evidence.

  42. 42
    adamah

    Sye feels empowered to redefine the term ‘atheist’ into something like, “someone who knows God exists, but denies it”. If there’s anyway that Sye could be said to have been ‘consistent’, it was in that regard.

    It’s why Sye felt entitled to call Matt a liar, and he also hinted at the same concept when he referred to the infamous Bible passage which declares atheists to be fools: Sye claims the original Hebrew words would be more-properly translated as someone who says “no god FOR ME” vs “there is no god”.

    (I pointed out in the other thread how this admission exposed a vulnerability, since why has God allowed humans to rely on flawed Bible translations for the past two millennia? What OTHER scriptures have been improperly translated, only for us to later learn of the error?)

    The problem with Sye’s attempted redefinition of the word ‘atheism’ for him is the Bible itself contradicts it, even using the term “false Gods” to describe the early polytheistic roots of Judaism, since the Torah doesn’t DENY the existence of other Gods, it SUGGESTS it. Early Jews believed all these other deities existed, but are impotent and less-powerful compared to the God with the mostest, the “most-high” God, YHWH.

    Jews had MANY other Gods they worshipped (Marsuk, Ishtar, Baal, Asherah, Molek, etc being some of the local deities popular in the region), but as YHWH Himself explains, he is a JEALOUS God!

    Why get jealous over other Gods, if per Sye, these other Gods don’t even exist!?! Sye’s redefinition makes God out to say words that are as absurd as a GF who gets jealous over curveaceous Jessica Rabbit, and refuses to let her BF watch, LOL!

    The 10 commandments says, “thou shalt have no other Gods BEFORE ME”, meaning the other lesser deities shouldn’t hog YHWH’s spotlight.

    The Bible doesn’t DENY the existence of Ba’al and the other Gods, which is why Elijah challenges the prophets of Ba’al to a cage-match to the death atop Mt Carmel. Unlike Sye, the prophet Elijah didn’t refuse to put his God up against Ba’al, refusing to play ball on the grounds Ba’al didn’t even exist!

    (Of course, Elijah also didn’t have the impressive God-given miraculous power of the command of logic possessed by a modern-day Xian presuppositionalist, lol!)

    Amongst other sources, some interesting reading on the polytheistic roots of Judaism is found in Prof Stavrakopoulou’s work, “Religious Diversity in Ancient Israel and Judea” (it’s available on Google book preview).

    Adam

  43. 43
    Monocle Smile

    One of Matt’s strongest points was that certainty (and/or confidence) of something doesn’t affect the actual state of affairs in the least. Yet another easy concept that flies over Sye’s head, along with pragmatism. In fact, it appears that Sye is an avid anti-pragmatist. He rejects any ideology or epistemology that deals with the reality we experience so he can appeal to some reality no one evidently experiences.

    The guy’s just a major douchenozzle. He either has a personality disorder or is really, really good at pretending he does. His “BAH YOU COULD BE A BRAIN IN A VAT” every time Matt tried to talk was childish.

  44. 44
    robertwilson

    The whole idea of presuppositionalism is a joke anyways.

    Matt does not have presuppositions, or at least does not require them for his position (at one point I think he conceded for the sake of discussion that he can presuppose logic is true). The whole philosophical exercise in creating a coherent ultimate worldview is just that – an intellectual exercise. It is not required in order for people to get on with their lives.

    We can agree to step back and think about these things and when we do we can engage in interesting debates that when framed by solid critical thinking and evidence produce interesting ideas and even help express our understanding of things.

    But Sye and other bad philosophers act like you can’t get by until you figure the right one out. People like him (and in bad philosophy I include most, maybe all, theology) don’t realize that their efforts are demonstrably false the second they open their eyes. Life doesn’t start at the beginning, we don’t have the luxury of pausing everything and saying “let’s sort out where things began and come up with the ultimate answer” but we also don’t need to because before we realize we might be interested in these things (or that we might not, that it might be a red herring) we are functioning on induction. And even those who propose solipsism, or any sort of idea that claims this is not an actual reality, that our induction is not reliable somehow, are only engaging in a redefinition of what we actually understand as reality.

    Reality is what it is, induction works. It’s not circular, it is perhaps tautological if poorly expressed, but not circular. Trying to say this isn’t real, there’s an ultimate reality out there is the ultimate exercise in moving the goalposts.

    TLDR: This sort of philosophy is really just the result of imperfect language muddling the meaning of things and bad philosophers latching on to this as if it were a gotcha.

    1. 44.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Matt has presuppositions. His presuppositions are just so blindingly obvious to you that you do not see them as such.

      Matt (and I, and most people) have the presupposition that we should base our beliefs in accordance with the available evidence and proper (scientific) reasoning. To you, that may not seem like a presupposition, but it still is. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

      1. robertwilson

        And you missed the point entirely.

        The point is that when he engages in the philosophical exercise, yes, you can say he has presuppositions.

        My point is that is entirely irrelevant. There is a demonstrable idea of truth that we all accept as a concept that does not require presupposition.

        Now, when you get into the philosophical exercise you can say “in this game, under these rules, we have to consider that a presupposition” and that’s fine, until you get to the point where you turn into a Sye Ten or any number of theologians or bad philosophers who mistake the intellectual exercise for evidence of something.

        In order to get to the Munchhausen trilemna in the first place you must stop and say “what is truth?” and redefine it away from what we actually define it as (and we can know we define it as this because we can point to how we act). So, when we now come away from this thought with an idea of “ultimate truth”, an idea that is not the same as the “truth” as everyday word, we can engage in the philosophical exercise of not only finding the ultimate truth (or determining that that is a nonsense idea) but of questioning whether and how we can ever know what is true.

        You may say that this is a presupposition, but as I said earlier, it is not, it is a collective definition of things.

        And if you want to go back and question how we know that the collective definition is “true” or “right” or “reliable” you have one of two solutions: I don’t know, and that’s ok, but I am not presupposing it, I am only accepting it provisionally because it gives results; or, because this is the definition of said thing and if you want to argue that said thing is not indeed said thing, then you are really introducing a separate concept which we now use the same word to describe but separate by modifiers. Maybe one day we will have two separate words for “truth” and “ultimate truth” or “reality” and “ultimate reality” but when we do we will still have the prior concept, we’ll just have improved our understanding of it.

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          You value demonstrable truth. That is basically definitionally equivalent to valuing inductive reasoning on observable evidence. That’s the definition of “demonstrable”.

          Explain to me why you value demonstrable truth. Explain to me why you think that truth is demonstrable. That’s your presupposition. I missed nothing. You missed everything.

      2. robertwilson

        I realize I need to do a much better job of parsing these thoughts out but I’ll add another TLDR:

        “Matt (and I, and most people) have the presupposition that we should base our beliefs in accordance with the available evidence and proper (scientific) reasoning.”

        When framed this way (should), it may be a presupposition (depending on the meaning of the word should), but if instead of “should” you use the idea of provisionally accepting it until evidence is presented that it shouldn’t be, you’re not relying on a presupposition any longer. Life starts in the middle and no presupposition is necessary to accept that this is so, you simply are in this position and induction worked before you started the philosophical exercise. It is not a presupposition to acknowledge this, only to claim it as an ultimate truth.

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          I don’t know what pedantic game you’re playing.

          Do you have any beliefs or values? For every belief and value you hold, either you hold it with justification, or you don’t. The beliefs and values you hold without justification are called presuppositions, or axioms.

          Take any belief or value you hold. I’ll ask why that’s true, and generally you’ll give me a justification. It’s trivial to play the “and why is that true?” game for every justification you bring out. I can keep going and going. It’s going to “end” in one of three ways. It’s trivial to prove this with math graph theory. Your three options are:
          1- End in something without a justification, aka an axiom, aka a presupposition.
          2- Go in a circle, which is fallacious.
          3- Go on endlessly, which IMHO we can also disregard out of hand. Human knowledge is finite. Any purported endless regress of justifications is not knowledge. It’s bullshit.

          That’s Münchhausen’s. It’s unavoidable as long as you consent to basic logic and math, and as long as you consent to model your beliefs and justifications with graph theory.

          1. robertwilson

            It’s unavoidable if you consent to playing philosophical games in order to describe a framework that existed BEFORE you started engaging in philosophical games.

            It’s adding a layer that we function perfectly well without. And while this layer may provide helpful insight when it is used in certain ways, it is not required in order for anything to be real.

            The point is precisely NOT to play pedantic games in the first place. You listed 3 “ways this could end” and all of them are red herrings. There is nothing wrong with ending something without a justification beyond “it worked before I was asked by the philosopher to provide a reason WHY it works”. That is in fact the default position we are all in and can begin to describe our experiences from, it is the “everything starts in the middle” reality we all experience when we first become able to articulate these larger (but not necessarily more relevant) questions. As a default position, it’s not a presupposition comparable to the philosophical presuppositions these debates tend to rely on or concede.

          2. EnlightenmentLiberal

            As a default position, it’s not a presupposition comparable to the philosophical presuppositions these debates tend to rely on or concede.

            That’s nice.jpg

            I’m interested in an honest conversation where if I ask you “How do you know that?” you will have an answer – or at least think of an answer – and not evade and dodge the question, such as you do here:

            There is nothing wrong with ending something without a justification beyond “it worked before I was asked by the philosopher to provide a reason WHY it works”.

            Apparently asking “How do you know that?” is too much for you.

          3. robertwilson

            It’s not too much by any means, and I recognize that I come back to being a pragmatist of sorts.

            But I have an issue with words like “justify” and with claiming that there’s somehow a problem with accepting things that work because they work.

            There’s a difference between actually relying on a presupposition in order to know something and relying on a presupposition in order to build a model that describes how we can know something.

            I think Matt successfully teases out the difference when he points out absolute knowledge is a red herring and it’s ok to take things on a provisional basis until such evidence is presented that he’s wrong.

            I mean, what actually happens if I can’t describe how I know something? I certainly don’t stop knowing it – unless I get lost in redefining the word “know” perhaps – the concepts I know, the people I know don’t suddenly disappear.

          4. robertwilson

            I don’t believe I can edit the previous post, but to add to it:

            “Apparently asking “How do you know that?” is too much for you.”

            But I explained how I know. it worked before is a sufficient explanation for many things (other things might be explained with because I’ve heard it, because I’ve seen it, because I’ve independently verified it). It becomes insufficient only if you attempt to redefine knowledge as some sort of 100% certainty. But if you want to do that – claim there is an actual thing such as absolute truth (beyond just a concept we can imagine) as opposed to the definition of reliably mapping experience to reality) then tell me why that’s not a red herring, tell me why this is a thing.

            It’s sort of like the concept of nothing, just because people can throw the word around does not mean there is such a thing as the “nothing” that theologians want (since they won’t accept nothing as defined by physics).

  45. 45
    Ishkur

    So Sye spends his whole time attacking Matt and Matt spends his time actually addressing the topic. Then Sye attacks Matt some more, and Matt demonstrates how predictable Sye is by preparing a rebuttal to everything Sye was going to say before he said it.

    Then Sye gets to operate in his backyard with his typical merry-go-round of nonsense questioning which isn’t nearly as clever or impressive as he thinks it is. Matt dodges Sye’s script by not giving him the answers he wants.

    Sye justifies his rhetoric by relying on a body of knowledge that he refuses to discuss with anyone who doesn’t also accept that body of knowledge as true. So it’s quite pointless to argue with him from that point forward. If he’s not prepared to discuss the particulars of his argument, then what is he doing there?

    This debate pretty much went as I expected. And Matt was on his game which was good because I don’t think he did too well against Israel Rodriguez or Mark Allison — he let them both off the hook too many times. So that was encouraging.

    1. 45.1
      Dave Dorris

      I think Matt was “on his game” because he seriously despises this twat. You have to admit it’s a little harder to beat up on somebody who’s basically a decent person. Not the case here.

    2. 45.2
      Frank G. Turner

      @ Ishkur
      Sye justifies his rhetoric by relying on a body of knowledge that he refuses to discuss with anyone who doesn’t also accept that body of knowledge as true. So it’s quite pointless to argue with him from that point forward. If he’s not prepared to discuss the particulars of his argument, then what is he doing there?
      .
      As I say in another post, Sye is basically there to make money. He wanted the whole debate because t gives him air time with Matt Dillahunty’s audience and maybe convinces a few of them who are “on the fence” to come over to Sye’s side. If it came down to hard evidence, physical demonstrable proof, Sye has nothing. His “revelations” are pure opinion which are not testable or falsifiable, so he has to rely on emotion to convince people and this whole thing expands his audience. He obviously uses every fallacy in the book to even have a point. From straw man Matt, claiming that something is a fallacy because it is not relevant when it clearly is, heck he even LISTS the fallacies at the beginning to make it LOOK LIKE he is capable of being intellectually honest (which I don’t think he is).
      .
      I honestly feel sorry for the man. He was obviously bullied by people at some point in his life and as a result he tries to emotionally bully others into his way of thinking to feel safer (“Laugh if you want, God will not be mocked” etc.). And he can’t get enough gullible people i his country so he has to travel here. I wondered if he has an honest understanding of what he is even talking about half of the time.

      1. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

        And it’s amusing that since Seth put the whole debate online for free it seems to kick StB’s revenue stream in the nuts.

        Prior to the event I was worried that StB would use Matt to make money, and that Matt should get contracted up (for commercial and editorial honesty reasons), but having the whole thing available to anyone covers it nicely.

  46. 46
    Scott Wolford

    So, wow, I feel bad for Sye, which is not something I expected, no, if fact, I did expect what happened to happen – got his ass handed to him but Sye really shocked me unexpectedly in at least one other key area.

    I felt bad for him because we all watched him become almost what, outraged(?) at Matt on more then one occasion. It was then I realized that this is the language of someone simply caught outside of a very limited loop of thinking, very much like the severe drug addict or alcoholic whom will state that “Everyone I know snorts xxxxxxx and/or drink copious amounts, ain’t nuttin’ wrong with that” and do not care to see, as they are unable, to view things any other way, when they are, in fact, very damaging.

    I really feel that he views atheist as literal demons in the flesh as he had that scared look in his eyes and at one point, I swear he was trying to exorcise Matt and even the audience to elicit his desired response) In the end, Sye is very closed-minded and severely debilitated mentally because of it – watching someone who is borderline mentally-ill is a sad thing to bear witness.

    1. 46.1
      adamah

      Scott said-

      Sye is very closed-minded and severely debilitated mentally because of it – watching someone who is borderline mentally-ill is a sad thing to bear witness.

      Yeah, good point.

      It bears remembering that Sye is as much a victim of religiosity as any, since people like him likely have been indoctrinated from birth and cannot even fathom the thought of no god: it’s a black hole he’s afraid to peek down, since having been told his entire life that life has no meaning if there no God, Sye’s scared to death to consider that possibility (and he’s also afraid of going to hell for doubting if there IS a God). He’s caught between two options, neither of which are advantageous, so he remains immobile. He perceives no possible benefit to honestly asking himself the question, so parrots the message he thinks is required to gain “salvation”.

      He thus completely eliminates the question out of his mind, and does so for you and I, too, saying it’s not even a question! We all KNOW God exists!

      Xianity is truly an insidious self-replicating thought-pattern, using a mechanism designed to propagate and infect others.

      Believers like Sye seem to be suffering from a form of ‘religious PTSD’, the result of long-term exposure to horrific mental imagery generated by their own imaginations after reading a book filled with tales of mayhem and mass murder (starting with the Flood).

      He’s trapped in a private Hell, deathly-afraid of daring to even entertain doubt, much less daring to methodically and calmly investigate the roots of his religious beliefs. Completely paralyzed by his own fears, he’s afraid of an omniscient boogeyman who’s constantly watching his every move.

      Worse part is, he’s likely not even aware of the process occurring, thanks to the brain’s use of cog-diss suppression loops that keeps him unaware. He warrants pity, not anger, but like addicts of all flavors, the individual needs to perceive they have a problem for themselves.

  47. 47
    Ishkur

    I just thought of a cheeky/trolly way to counter Sye’s script using the same methodology, and it’d be funny to see someone do this to him at his next public debate:

    Ask him, as a fallible human, if he has ever told a lie before in his entire life. He would certainly admit this, because I don’t think any of us can claim that we have never lied before. Then follow up with “If you have lied about something, then you could lie about anything, therefore you could be a liar. How do I know you’re not lying right now?”

    And for every answer he gives, especially if he pre-supposes God or points to scripture or revelation, interject with “but you could be lying” or “how do I know you’re not lying about that?”

    And if he wants to smirk and say that he has never told a lie in his entire life, reply with “I’m pretty sure you just did.”

    1. 47.1
      adamah

      Interesting point.

      I may be remembering incorrectly, but I thought the question came up asking if Sye’s even been wrong on his understanding of the Bible, and he said not on the basic tenets, the main themes, IIRC.

      Of course, the ‘fly in the ointment’ is who defines what a ‘basic tenet’ is, except the person themselves, hence if you ask 3 pastors you’ll get 4 opinions.

      Adam

  48. 48
    loyalroyal51

    I can’t say i’ve watched many of these debates but is it common practice for the theist to seem so arrogant?

    It occurs to me that the argument boils down to ‘I know i’m right, it doesn’t matter what you think because you are not as strong in your belief as I am’

    It’s disappointing :(

    As usual a fine performance from Mr Dillahunty :D

    1. 48.1
      CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

      is it common practice for the theist to seem so arrogant?

      Not at all. They can also be smarmy or evasive. :P
       
      I recall one debate with liberal Jews, in which they spent the whole event genially agreeing with the atheists until the clock ran out.

    2. 48.2
      Monocle Smile

      The “best” apologists tend to be extremely arrogant. By that, I mean they present their position with absolute certainty and spout total bullshit as if it’s more conclusively proven than anything else in existence.

      Anyone listen to Matt’s debate with David Robertson? Or any William Lane Craig debate? That’s what I’m talking about. It’s not Bruggencate-level assholery, but it’s a wonder their heads can fit through the door.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        Many people mistakenly that the confidence with which you believe something is what makes it more likely to be true. On Youtube I saw someone try that with Thuderf00t even though what that person was saying was total B.S. I often say that is people paying too much attention to how something is being said and not enough attention to what is being said. If anyone actually believes that I say to them, believe with all of your heart that you can fly and jump off a building at least 4 stories high with nothing to slow the descent or protect you from a hard street beneath. Maybe your absolute certainty will keep you from being injured but I highly doubt it. Of course, maybe the injury is because you were not sincere enough in your belief.

        1. adamah

          Frank said-

          Many people mistakenly that the confidence with which you believe something is what makes it more likely to be true.

          Yup, magical thinking is persistent and pervasive, covered by J.M. Barrie in Peter Pan:

          “For otherwise he would have lost faith in his power to fly, and the moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

          1. Frank G. Turner

            Too bad J.M. Barrie never put anything in Peter Pan about handling poisonous snakes, that might have saved a few people in the US! (I doubt it though). :-)
            .
            Still it is funny that Sye himself said “Doubt is sin.” Someone should have asked him, “Do you doubt that you can fly?”

  49. 49
    Stewart Mcghee

    First time poster from the UK here but long time watcher of the AE.

    I have always been doubtful of the existence of god as defined by the church of england from a very early age. over time my atheism became stronger and stronger over time. But it was firmly cemented when I saw “Jesus Camp” for the first time. Then I saw TAE for the first time and I would like to thank everyone involved in the show.

    You may have been preaching to the converted atheist, but what I get out of it was a way to articulate my thoughts much better and become less of an angry atheist. Thanks to the show my critical thinking skills are improving all the time.

    Anyway back to the topic,

    I thought the debate was totally one-sided in favour of Matt. As soon as Sye said his opening comments he had closed the debate before it got started by asserting that god exists and those who disagree was denying this truth – not an exact quote but that’s the gist of what I got from that.

    The rest of the “debate” was just a tedious and pedantic exercise in Sye trying to define what words mean.

    Kudos to Matt for putting up with the drivel Sye was spouting.

  50. 50
    Phil Bailey

    I have watched the full Matt v Sye debate. My comments are to do with Sye’s final statement, too late for any real audience questions as a result and that was the fire and brimstone threats of hell. These threats sicken me because like many I am sure heaven, hell and Gods do not exist. I assert this not as an absolute fact, but from every experience and intellectual faculty I have that leads me to believe, in so far as anything can be believed, that none of these things exist. It is the cynical appeal to the credulous, the emotionally vulnerable, the weak willed to scare them into following this Christian version of an imaginary friend that I find most disgustingly immoral. This tactic used extensively by Christianity, is for me one of the most loathsome aspects of this sect. It sickens me that without a shred of evidence to support their claims, that they are so indoctrinated that they should seek to scare and intimidate others. Is it any wonder that more and more people are not just becoming atheist but anti-theist.

  51. 51
    xscd

    Sye ten Bruggencate’s big claim is that God exists (only his god, of course) and that he knows this with certainty. But there seem to be several problems with that claim–

    1. The source of Sye’s “knowledge” and “certainty” is the imaginary being whose existence Sye is positing. I might as well say that my Fairy Godmother exists because she told me so.

    2. Sye doesn’t know his God exists, he merely imagines that God exists.

    3. Sye is not really “certain” of the “knowledge” he claims, he merely has conviction (strength of belief), and no amount or depth of conviction can create truth, especially where none exists in the first place.

    So Sye’s assertions are all belief, not knowledge, and his “certainty” is merely strength of belief, not certainty.

    Sye is all style and no substance. If Sye were an atheists, I’m sure he would be just as effective at providing show-stopping arguments and comments for the atheist side of the debate against Christians.

    1. 51.1
      Frank G. Turner

      I lot of people have such strong emotional responses to things that they have a tendency to belief that the strength of their convictions is what makes those convictions true. Emotion can be very powerful, and very deceptive too. The example I give above of the dangers of such thinking is to believe with all of your heart that you can jump from a building at least 4 stories high onto hard concrete with nothing to slow your fall or protect you from injury and see if the strength of your convictions protects you. If it doesn’t, does that mean that the strength of your convictions was not strong enough?
      .
      If you think this is absurd, just talk to those snake handlers who felt that the strength of their belief in God would protect them from the poison so that they did not need medical treatment. Of course, a number of them can’t be asked because they are dead.

  52. 52
    scorpy1

    Right around the 48 minute mark—

    I’d say it’s strange how someone who believes that “Evidence > Truth > God” could:
    1) reflexively deny the experience of missionaries (and reversing course to claim they “need” missionaries…what, no one in the tribe they spoke to was willing to speak on their innate belief in God?)
    2) deny the experience of atheists
    or 3) believe that God’s will is so insufficient/blasé as to not surmount either without needing a rod, knob or some other tool.

    That is, it’s strange except for someone who is as deeply paranoid, vengeful and unjustifiably cock-sure as Sye.

    1. 52.1
      adamah

      I may be wrong, but I believe Sye denied the reports of the sociologists who studied the tribe; they weren’t missionaries.

      1. Monocle Smile

        Yes. He basically said all of those sociologists were lying. He’s probably also calling the Piraha folk liars implicitly. He’s forced to call most people constant liars (as well as EVERYONE ON THE FUCKING PLANET who existed before Judaism), which should say something to anyone with two neurons to rub together.

        Sometimes I bring up the fact that deity concepts around the world are vastly different and that if we wiped out all trace of Christianity, it would never resurface in remotely the same form. Sye’s basically claiming that even if that were true, it’s only because literally everyone on the planet is lying to themselves and each other.

      2. scorpy1

        Yeah, he directly denied the sociologists who came later, but also implicitly denied the missionaries who reported that they had no God concept in the first place, unless the groups were the same.

        The question I would have liked answered is whether he would consider the denial of ANY evidence a denial of his god?
        Are there false evidences that should be denied?
        How does he connect to a presup of Truth with competing Evidence, let alone a presup of Guhd?

      3. adamah

        Ah, I see the missionary was the anthropological linguist, as Matt was referring to Daniel Everett:

        http://ffrf.org/publications/freethought-today/item/13492-the-pirahae-people-who-define-happiness-without-god

        Interesting read….

        1. scorpy1

          Thanks for that!
          I was curious, but hadn’t heard the story before (and didn’t know how to spell the tribe’s name when searching last night).

  53. 53
    Leeloo Dallas Multipass1

    “You all know god exists!” Huh? No, I don’t. He’s pretty much lost the debate right here; even if I had no response to anything else he says, making something so patently false the linchpin of his argument means I can just dismiss it out of hand. Even if he was otherwise correct and it WAS reasonable to believe that god exists, it would still just be flatly wrong to say that I knew that. How the hell is this supposed to convince ANYone?

  54. 54
    Michael

    When asked about the bible, and Sye responds “I don’t do bible study with non-believers”, I think an obvious response would be: “Did I say I was a non-believer? Its very presumptuous of you to infer that just because I am asking you a question.” Of course he would just weasel out of it.

    1. 54.1
      John Iacoletti

      Yeah, I thought the same thing. He assumed that anyone asking him a question was against him. Even Mr. Fist Bump

  55. 55
    MichaelT

    Well in the reality I perceive, every mind is a brain in a vat. One we carry our whole lives and grows with us. It wears down over time. It is in room with white walls and produces it’s own container fluid.

    That vat is called the human body. The white walled room is the human skull.

    1. 55.1
      Frank G. Turner

      I know what you said is short but it made me think of something weird but which makes the point. Sye and many others don’t think that they are a brain in a vat without a body, they (metaphorically speaking) think of their whole body as being in a vat (called reality) while there is another reality outside of us with the body we perceive in this reality sitting in a vat with the brain hooked up to a machine to alter our perceptions, the machine being controlled by a computer and a Charlton Hestonish “God” with a white lab coat feeding our brain and body perceptions while keeping it alive and a red skinned, red horned Satan secretly goes around tweaking knobs and hacking programs in order to alter our perceptions to his will. So the whole world is basically on God’s computer and he can make the computer do things that are outside of physical possibility because his will controls the computer. And their idea seems to be that after our life is finished (God got sick of working on a particular brain’s perceptions) that the machine will be turned off, the body and brain pulled out of the vat, and based on the readings regarding “belief” and “faith,” the Charlton Hestonish “God” will either take our bodies and put us in another large room with nice food and lots of angels playing harps and soft music or give us to the thievish Satan to take into the basement to whip and torture us. That is why hard evidence won’t work, it is not really evidence in their mind but information being fed to them via tweaking of the machinery. I actually heard an evangelical claim that fossils are not really evidence that they were just put there by Satan to confuse us and drive us away from God’s word. (Sounds sort of like the conspiracy theorists doesn’t it?).
      .
      It sounds simple but I think that is a big part of the problem. The brains of the evangelicals are so simple and insecure that they think they need to believe something without doubt or proof and that anything fed to the brain that might cause it to deny that something is just a test to make them insecure. Many human brains are hard wired (naturally) for certainty and people will accept something as proof which is not really proof and once it makes them feel nice and comfortable they will fight to the death to preserve that comfort, maybe even try to convince others of their belief to feel more comfortable (influence the other brains with bodies in the metaphorical vat they think that they are in). Its funny because in a way, evangelicals are practicing solipsism (if you think about the metaphor I gave above).
      .
      I was listening to the Podcast of “The Thinking Atheist” last night with Dr. Donald Prothero who talked about Xtian groups in the US who isolate themselves and who will raise children in these very limited societies, preventing them from reading ANYTHING that might lead to a conclusion that scripture is incorrect. They isolate their children from the real world trying to create intellectual clones of themselves and never let the children learn anything about science, math, or even literature. I have met children who were home schooled like this and would not even know what some very simple things were, like the robes work by a judge in a courtroom or a gavel or even the concept of the Bible being written in another language than English (yes they were surprised that it was originally in Hebrew and Aramaic and Greek, AMONG other languages). They would often even fail state tests for basic High School Equivalency.
      .
      I relate that to an old story that was told by Plato called “The Allegory of the Cave.” If you read it and think about it, those children, like evangelicals, are chained to the wall only seeing the shadows and come to think that those shadows are reality. The difference being that some may have grown up chained to the wall (indoctrinated) and others rushed to it later in life because it is a more comfortable reality for them.

      1. adamah

        Frank, yeah, homeschooling is tantamount to intellectual incest, since it attempts to isolate the children from the diverse range of opinions offered by teachers (who might even be (gasp….) atheists!). However, the courts have repeatedly ruled homeschooling is a protected right under doctrine of Freedom of worship, so parents thus have a Constitutionally-protected right to engage in intellectual inbreeding.

        Adam

        1. Frank G. Turner

          Adam,
          don’t get me completely wrong, I have met adults who were originally home schooled too who were knowledgable about many different areas including science and would not be as radical as you might think, just not many. More often than not though, I do meet children whose parents were attempting to make intellectual clones of themselves (I like your term “intellectual inbreeding,” and “intellectual incest” I may use those). Did they do a show on that once or is that a topic to be done later?
          .
          @Russell
          I know that I don’t know you and I have not called into the show, but since you put this board together I am assuming that you read it, have you done that topic on the show? Can it be done (some research into home schooling and how it correlates with religious beliefs in the USA and other countries…?).

    2. 55.2
      adamah

      MichaelT said-

      Well in the reality I perceive, every mind is a brain in a vat.

      You’re overlooking the most important element of the solopsist’s claim: they believe EVERYTHING exists only as a figment of THEIR imagination, including you and I. In their Universe, there are no other brains in vats.

      Solipsism goes into the same ‘junk bin’ along with all the other unproven/unprovable claims, right next to God, fairies, UFOs, or even the more updated form, “We exist inside some alien computer simulation”, blah blah blah. It’s all just pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook and mental wanking off, the very operative definition of ‘self-stimulation’.

      Again, here’s where the utility of the skeptical approach shows itself to avoid needlessly-wasting brain cycles, since the person making the claim bears the ‘burden of proof’, and must to demonstrate their assertion to the rest of us that we only as a product of their imagination (a position which, by it’s very definition, is highly-narcissistic and self-centered, a trait it shares in common with, “all-powerful God wants to be BFFies with lil’ ol’ me!”).

      (Not sure why they’re even bothering to convince anyone, or why they’d imagine any need exists TO convince the figments of their imaginations, since aren’t they in control of the rules of logic in their World?)

      So until someone is able to prove solipsism (and good luck with THAT!), I suggest providing circumstantial disconfirmatory evidence to anyone who makes the solopsist’s claim by striking them repeatedly about the head, face, and neck, then asking them why they’re imagining me hitting them?

      Hit them once again, just to drive the point home, telling them they really should stop imagining me hitting them, since it looks like it hurts!

      (Of course, that’s the same bullying tactics kids use, when the bigger brother pins the youngest to the ground, grabs his arm and forces it to make the runt hit himself in the face, asking, “Why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself!”)

      A dramatic way to make the point, yes, and hopefully only done as a thought experiment or threat, since in MY World, you’re likely to go to jail for assault (a very-real jail, with non-imagined iron bars, concrete walls/floors, barbed wires, etc).

      Sometimes K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) is the best approach, esp when people get too clever and esoteric for their own good and over-think things, thus making them more complicated than they need be….

      Adam

      1. MichaelT

        Adam,
        It’s a joke played on Sye’s horribly simplistic description of solipsism + his pathetic attempts to make Matt say he could be (which Sye would twist to become “is”) wrong about absolutely everything. I didn’t forget anything, I’m showing that words contain too many meanings to have “meaning” in the sense Stye was trying to illustrate, and that what he was saying Matt could be is actually true when you know how to manipulate words and definitions.

  56. 56
    Jeff H

    This is roughly 2 hours of Matt’s life that he will never get back. I don’t think I have ever seen a more pathetic “debater” than Sye Ten among all of the Christian apologists that I’ve had the misfortune to sit through, ever. This was an utter waste of time for Matt, though the rest of us got to see another apologist exposed. Thank you for taking it again for the team, Matt.

  57. 57
    Safoz

    “And as to whether or not we can know anything, the only demonstration I can give is that I wrote this rebuttal ahead of time.”

    BOOM! Make sure you have a tight grip on those ankles Sye….Matt’s goin’ in dry.

    1. 57.1
      Martin Wagner

      The visual that provides made a million kittens cry. You should be ashamed.

  58. 58
    Sir Real

    Is it me, or does Sye Ten sound like Satan? Talk about a prime example as to why I’m glad I’m not a X-tian anymore, this Sye guy would be one. I lost count of all the times he contradicted himself and to be so self centered and self righteous about it as well makes me what to vomit. One contradiction that sticks in my mind would be when he said even Satan believes in God (1:27:45) which made me think about John 3:16 which clearly states “…who so ever believes in him shall not perish, but have ever lasting life.” Is this joker implying that Satan is not going to perish or what because he believes in God? Matt was without any doubt the winner in this debate.

    1. 58.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Sye explained that IMHO. He said that it’s not mere belief, but embracing of the belief which leads to everlasting life. Again, he’ll weasel on many verses in order to fit his preconceived conclusions.

  59. 59
    Grunge

    I think there’s a problem with Syes argument that was almost hit on at the Q&A session.

    Imagine a debate between a muslim and Sye, where the muslim Sye clone is using the same presuppositional framework as Sye (except focused on allah, of course).

    They would both claim that only using a starting foundation of their own god could anyone know anything.

    Sye made it clear that he would then use his own interpretation of a verse from the koran to discredit the validity of the koran.

    Sye has also made it clear that he doesn’t engage in bible studies with non-christians, that he rejects any non-christian interpretations of the “truth” the bible provides.

    However I don’t think Sye has taken into account that the hypotehitical muslim Sye-clone could reject Syes interpretation of the koran (he doesn’t engage in “koran” studies with non-muslims) and could use his interpretation of a verse from the bible to discredit the bible.

    And in this regard the muslim would be doing so on the same basis that Sye was relying on – his “knowledge” that his god was the only basis for truth.

    That would leave any third parties with a situation where two people were claiming that someone could only know truth from the starting point of their respective gods and rejecting the others “truth”.

    How would the third parties determine which theist position reflected an actual truth?

    Surely if one of the gods was the actual basis for “truth” it would be obvious if knowledge of that god was truly inherently within everybody as Sye claims.

    At that point, unless some actual evidence was presented, the only reasonable stance would be to not accept either proposition (good old, both cannot be right but both could be wrong).

    There is no claim Sye could make that couldn’t be matched by the hypothetical muslim and vice versa.

    I don’t see how Sye could resolve this with his existing repertoire.

    Thoughts?

    1. 59.1
      Russell Glasser

      I had a similar reaction to this argument when I streamed my commentary on the debate earlier. I think I’m going to write a new post about it.

    2. 59.2
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Agreed.

      However, I think there’s a stronger argument to be made. I would have asked something like:

      Sye. When someone makes an assertion, they have the burden of proof. They can respond with justifications, or they can say it’s one of their starting presuppositions.

      In general, attacking position X is not a good justification for position Y. For example, attacking evolution doesn’t show that creationism is true. Do you agree?

      For the sake of argument, I grant your argument that there is a god, exactly one god. Why do you think or how do you know that the Christian bible is an accurate description of the god? Keep in mind that attacking another religion, like Islam, is not support for Christianity. You need actual argument in favor of Christianity. Do you have any?

      1. Russell Glasser

        The problem is that this doesn’t work or matter in the context of this debate. The main topic was whether it is reasonable to believe in God. By supposing that you grant that a god exists, even conditionally, you are saying “Let us suppose for now that you won this debate.”

        1. EnlightenmentLiberal

          Indeed. That’s why I would try to never debate under that ill-defined topic.

        2. Frank G. Turner

          @ Russell
          The problem is that this doesn’t work or matter in the context of this debate. The main topic was whether it is reasonable to believe in God. By supposing that you grant that a god exists, even conditionally, you are saying “Let us suppose for now that you won this debate.”
          .
          OK well why not, “Before we assume the possibility of a God existing or not existing, can you give a clear. unambiguous definition for God?.” I am fairly certain that he would reject the question or try to give an ambiguous answer (as part of the whole, “let’s not make any solid rules because that prevents me from moving the goal posts” strategy), but that would open up the flaw early on. That occurs to me because I have often asked this question of myself, saying that there may be a overridding first cause or force that began the universe, but why is it being anthropomorphized? Buddishist don’t seem to have a problem with a non personified “first cause.”
          .
          I suggest it though as it might get STB more “off script.” Which probably does not matter, it seems that STB was staying on script regardless, hence the fire and brimstone BS at the end even though it was a completely out of context closing and Matt had a pretty well prepared comeback just like he had a pre-written rebuttal. People that try argumentum ad nauseum fail to see that it allows other people to prepare for you but if you have nothing then the S.S.D.D. is what happens (G.I.G.O. I guess). Still sometimes getting someone off script can expose an even greater weakness than the weak argument that is already being presented.

          1. Russell Glasser

            I endorse this approach enthusiastically. Fight to make a presup get specific about what they are talking about, because being vague is very central to the strategy.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            @ Russell
            I endorse this approach enthusiastically. Fight to make a presup get specific about what they are talking about, because being vague is very central to the strategy.
            .
            I don’t know if you do debates but this is something to mention to Matt and other debaters. You may not get anywhere but if you really push the issue you might see some progress, Heck Matt seemed to refuse to debate StB for a while maybe he could demand that this be laid out ahead of time. Mention it to anyone debating William Lane Craig, he does this a lot it seems.
            .
            BTW Russell, you totally rock on the show.

          3. EnlightenmentLiberal

            Speaking of Craig, that’s my main problem with him too. My big problem with him is that 90% of his debate time is arguing for some mere deist god, and then he pulls a bait and switch and spends a modicum of time making insufficient arguments for the Christian god.

            Because there are a nigh infinite number of equally plausible god hypotheses, all mutually inconsistent, any demonstration of a deist god gets you no closer to demonstrating the truth of the Christian bible. It’s simple Bayesian reasoning.

            PS: To construct those nigh infinite mutually inconsistent god hypothesis: Take the Christian religion (as much as there is just one Christian religion), and replace Earth with some planet around some star, and humans with aliens on that planet. Specify that the god made aliens on that planet in its image, and humans are just part of some minor plan to be invoked millions of years from now. Voila, one hypothesis for every star in the observable universe.

          4. Frank G. Turner

            @ Enlightenment Liberal
            Take the Christian religion (as much as there is just one Christian religion), and replace Earth with some planet around some star, and humans with aliens on that planet. Specify that the god made aliens on that planet in its image, and humans are just part of some minor plan to be invoked millions of years from now.
            .
            A Doctor whom I used to work with who was a recovering Jewish man said that he would be so happy one day for the aliens to come to our planet, having weird googly eyes and looking nothing like us, forming solid proof that God did not make man in his “image.” We wound up having a long conversation about a blind friend of mine who was the star witness in a crime where he reported everything that he “heard” (when I say that he is blind, I on’t mean poorly sighted, he lost his eyes in a car accident). The police kept asking him about what he “saw” (despite being aware that he was blind) because of a county law that required documentation of what witnesses “saw” (which the police were taking literally). After the testimony and having looked at the police interviews the county judge in the case had a long talk with a state legislator after the case (seeing the apparent problem in the wording of the law) and got the law (from the early 1800s) amended to indicate what witnesses “experienced.” It is one of those, even if the words are interpreted correctly they STILL might not be meant in the sense they were said.
            .
            Speaking of Craig, that’s my main problem with him too. My big problem with him is that 90% of his debate time is arguing for some mere deist god, and then he pulls a bait and switch and spends a modicum of time making insufficient arguments for the Christian god.
            .
            I tend to think that Craig comes from the school of if i say it with enough confidence and invoke people’s feelings they will think I am right by virtue of the strength of my character. (One of the callers into ATE this evening sounded like that too). Sort of like a preacher which is what I am starting to think apologists are, preachers with a smattering of philosophy to make them sound important. StB certainly seemed that way, especially at the end. I almost want to smack Craig and say, “even if your case for God were decent (which it isn’t) you have made no claim in favor of the Xtian God outside of your own assertions.” And where does he get off on being an apologist if he is only proposing the deist God anyway? Doesn’t his flock want him to defend a “personal” God rather than the watchmaker?

          5. adamah

            heh, the typical meme is space aliens visiting Earth who possess technology advanced far beyond ours, such that we will benefit from their vastly-superior knowledge.

            On the other hand, everyone should consider the great possibility they’re more likely to be the interstellar equivalent of Southeast Asian “boat people”, highly-adapted for surviving in the cold interstellar environment, but arriving in the proximity of Earth on a dinghy powered by solar sails?

            Aside from studying their unique physiology and biological adaptations, they’d have no technology to offer us and would be blown away by electricity, our old-fashioned old rotary phones, automobiles, etc…. :)

            Adam

  60. 60
    James Anderson

    STB=Stupidly Transmitted Bullshit

  61. 61
    dutchdelight

    This is a useless uphill battle it seems, but shortening Sye’s full name to Sye Ten is confusing. I get the impression the native English speakers are interpreting “Ten” as the number 10 or something.

    Ten Bruggencate is a Dutch last name, “ten” is what preceeds a location reference like a region or town. In this case Bruggencate. If you remove the last part, you’re leaving his name dangling basically, and especially Dutch speakers will be wondering why you aren’t finishing his name, yet still using the useless “ten” predicate that doesn’t go anywhere.

    Either go with Sye, StB or use his full name, stopping at Sye Ten is akin to saying Sye From or Sye At.

    Anyway, that’s your Dutch class for today. Dismissed.

    1. 61.1
      Monocle Smile

      I prefer Sye ten Brutalface, but this is similar to Osama bin Laden. I really, really wish I had a better example off the top of my head.

    2. 61.2
      Frank G. Turner

      While I appreciate the lesson in dutch, in the context of providing identifications, does correct grammar in the original language really matter? (You don’t see us insisting that Mackalay Culkin, who according to articles in Entertainment Magazine, on set was often called “Mack,” be called by his full first name because of the Scots Gaelic translation do you?).

      1. dutchdelight

        You’re free to shorten a first or last name any way you want. However, to use the example of Monocle Smile, I don’t remember US media ever referring to Osama Bin, which is a pretty much identical issue.

        It’s not like you are chopping up something like “Bob John Carpenter” to “Bob John”, you’re chopping up “Bob from Albany” to “Bob from”.

        “ten” is grammar filling to get to “Bruggencate”, it’s not an actual name or thing or identifier. Keeping “ten” but dropping “Bruggencate” is nonsensical because without “Bruggencate”, “ten” has no raison d’être.

        1. Frank G. Turner

          OK, but what I am getting at is this names are identifiers and they don’t necessarily pay homage to the language from which they were derived and need to maintain proper grammar rules when used in another tongue. Hypothetically we could all be numbers (like a Social Security number), or have Native American name which derive from phrases (“Ten Bears,” “Dances with Wolves,” etc). In the film “Dances with wolves” there is a character, Tatanka Lotanka, which is “Bull that sits” or “Sitting Bull.” However, “That sits” = Lotanka, would work as an identifier even if it is grammatically incorrect as long as no one else had it as part of their name. It might sound weird in the grammar of the original language but as an identifier technically there is nothing wrong with it (thought it may sound weird). And I now wonder if there are children out there with names that translate into things like “of,” “with,” “because,” “it,” etc. but technically it can work.
          .
          I know what you mean about “Osama Bin, vs. the full “Osama bin laden, but part of that is the tendency to use terms that reduce to bi-syllabic or tri-syllabic (or if you can, monosyllabic) abbreviations. I have heard people just say “Osama” (tri-syllabic) or just list the initials OBL (like we are doing with StB). I would also hear people refer to him as “Bin Laden” (“With” Something I think??) which reduces it to tri-syllabic terms.

          1. dutchdelight

            There’s nothing wrong with what you’re saying i think. There already is a simple monosyllabic way to identify who you’re talking about in this case though, it’s Sye.

            I’m not sure if your example from dances with wolves really works, “that sits” can exist on it’s own even if it makes you wonder what or who sits. While “Bob from” is clearly missing the ending. Now, if Bobfrom was one word, i might get that, but it isn’t. The word “from” indicates that the identifying part is about to follow. Another difference is that “ten”, “te”, “ter”, “van”, “van de” and “van der” are all very common starting points in Dutch last names, so any attempt to use those words as identifiers wouldn’t work very well even if you combined them with the first name (at least in the Netherlands it wouldn’t).

            What might be tripping people up as well, is that Bruggencate is quite a hard word to remember and spell of the top of your head when you’re not a Dutch speaker (naked assumption, but i don’t think it’s farfetched). So there’s quite an incentive to drop it when writing, on top of the excess syllables.

            I would point out that referring to someone by their last name is perfectly normal though, regardless of what it is. If I’d run into him in the Netherlands, I could yell at him “ten Bruggencate, ga terug naar school” (go back to school) and there would be nothing wrong with that (grammatically or otherwise :P ). I’d just say it sounds a bit more pompous/formal/detached/commanding when you leave out someone’s first name like that, same as it would be perceived if you did that in English.

        2. adamah

          Sounds like God should’ve thought of that before scrambling the languages at the Tower of Babel. ;)

          I have a Xian DIL who works as a teacher of a foreign language, and I kid her about how she could work in that profession with a clean conscience, since God scrambled the languages to reduce humans ability to work together. By working as a translator and teaching, she’s directly working against God’s will by allowing humans to communicate and cooperate.

          She just stares at me…. :)

          It’s funny how believers will argue against the theory of evolution (which they don’t understand), but don’t even try to defend the Tower of Babel story against the challenge from the PIE theory of languages.

          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language

          Adam

          1. Frank G. Turner

            Adam,
            many a psychology book that I have read and various scholars of learning have indicate wthat what happens at the beginning and end of various types of communication (documents, lectures, etc.) gets more attention than what is in the middle. The Biblical creation story is at the beginning, that’s what the word “Genesis” means if I am not mistaken (“the first”). Evolution stands in direct opposition to a literal interpretation of Genesis and many probably feel that if the opening part is wrong the whole thing must be wrong (a common human misconception).
            .
            Maybe if the books or stories were arranged in a different order (which the Adam and Eve story occurring in the middle (as a flashback maybe?), evolution would not get so much attention.

  62. 62
    Nelson StEwPiD MoNkEy

    2:20 and straight into a circle. Woooow. I couldn’t do it. I’dve laughed my ass off on walked off stage. Lmao

  63. 63
    Ron

    I played a drinking game while watching this debate. Every time Sye said “brain in a vat” I had to do a shot. I am JUST now recovering from the alcohol poisoning.

  64. 64
    Ron

    Can you spot Sye Ten & Eric Hovind in this picture?
    http://www.happyjar.com/comic/confirmation-bias/

    1. 64.1
      adamah

      That pretty much says it all…

      I enjoyed listening to the Dogma Debate podcast that was taped right after the debate, esp the question posed by Teiler from Memphis, asking Sye and Eric to point out any apparent logical flaws or inconsistencies with the ‘Presuppositional Approach to Atheism’, which makes the following assertions (paraphrased from memory):

      1) An unconscious powerful force exists that,

      2) validates the use of logic and reasoning, and,

      3) gives no indication to believe other such forces exist (including Xian God).

      How is this knowledge transferred to humans?

      ‘Revelation’.

      (And when asked how revelations are given to humanity, Teiler somewhat dropped the ball IMO, saying, “I don’t know”. We do know how….)

      ‘Revelations’ (AKA “Eureka moments”, inspired insights) are bestowed upon those disciples who faithfully engage in dedicated service to (via study of) this force, achieved through the application of a ritualized approach, known as ‘the scientific method’.

      This methodology requires recording of the one’s endeavors, to leave an accurate history of one’s efforts to aid others who follow, recorded by inspired scribes who contribute to the never-ending work via lab notes, published studies, journals, etc.

      The use of ‘continual process improvement’ insures new findings are allowed to challenge dogma and status quo, as they arise.

      The funny bit was Sye didn’t recognize the description as being science, and rejected it out of hand with few words: “I wouldn’t want to hitch my wagon to THAT star”.

      I swear, he reminds me of an infant who’s a finicky eater, and who’s internal dialogue only consists of asking, “Is this food familiar to what I know (ie Xianity) or something I don’t recognize (everything else)?” If not familiar, Sye spits it out.

      What a classic putz, since everything he knows about the stars (much less wagons) results from knowledge obtained via scientific endeavors, NOT Divine Revelation, knowledge derived from invention of the telescope, to the deep-space probes that study distant stars.

      The Bible reveals those ancient “inspired” writers actually conceived of stars as hanging lights suspended from a solid blue dome (firmament) covering the Earth (and which Heaven is just above); that’s why hanging a few tiny stars was a task God could complete in half-a-day (aka DERP).

      DarkMatter posted a cartoon on the topic on YouTube, called, “the Most Wrong Anyone Ever Was”:

      http://youtu.be/JcQTCoY3wYQ

      Adam

  65. 65
    Sir Real

    If I were Matt I would have simply told Sye that he’s a fucking liar and if he can’t prove that everyone knows god then the debate is over because I myself would not have any kind of a discussion with someone who flat out lies and refuses to be honest.

  66. 66
    Frank G. Turner

    I don’t know if anyone will read this as this blog seems to be getting pretty dead, but I may bring this up again on other blogs as I had a weird but interesting thought. And please pardon me for a bit of armchair psychology as it is not what I do for a living, but I have my thoughts. What if the fact that StB and the Hovind’s of the world are arguing for the existence of a God is, in itself, demonstrative of evolution? Here is why I came up with this (also a possible topic for the show Russell).
    .
    We evolved from primates and one of our cousins who also evolved from the same primate, namely Gorillas (other primates like orangutans and monkeys fit into this too, but they make it a broader concept), live in a number of different social structures, patriarchal (some of which being “pride like”), matriarchal, various types of herds and cohabitations, etc. Focusing on the Gorillas who live in a patriarchal system in which an alpha male is often the leading member of the group (a large, muscular, tough male). Imagine that a psychological need for a large dominant male figure could very well have evolved into the minds of primates that came before us as it protected them and kept them safe. (It kept the social group together and not in chaos, capable of surviving).
    .
    What if, hypothetically speaking, the psychological need for a dominant male overseer figure that keeps some human beings functioning is a vestige from an earlier part of human evolution and the “God” that these individuals believe in is essentially the tool that fills that need? (I am reminded of the George Carlin piece about a “big scary mean father figure that does not really give a shit”). It certainly makes sense that as long as the vestige were not directly harmful to the survival of the species (though maybe indirectly harmful and could wear down slowly) that it would take many generations for the vestige to disappear (we still have tail bones and an appendix) if as the vestige wears down it sometimes it would pop up (a recessive gene?) as some of us are still carrying the genetics for it even if we are not expressing it. Of course that is not to say that social structure and indoctrination would not play a role (many individuals “sit on the fence” through various broad degrees of the vestige, but lean in one direction or the other).
    .
    I say this as I look at descriptions of evolution online and comments about things like the bombardier beetle and see some of the best explanations I have ever heard coming from individuals debunking BS creationist claims. I started thinking, that explanation would not be that good unless someone made a strong effort to challenge it, so many a creationist is actually their own worst enemy and driving people to learn more about why they are wrong rather than accept that they are right. Then it got me to thinking that StB is probably demonstrating evolution (something he speaks against despite having no understanding of it) by making the very arguments in favor of God that he does.
    .
    Any thoughts?

    1. 66.1
      xxxxxx

      Frank,

      I think you are asking one of those $64,000 questions. Did religion arrise because:

      a) it was a direct evolutionary advantage to human survival in our recent past, and thus still remains intact because it may have only recently (in evolutionary time) became a non-survival advantage (or perhaps might even still remain an advantage today) or

      b) everything above (a) is true but today the religion is merely a vestigial remnant (explaining why some sitll have it and others like us don’t) of something that once was an evolutionary advantage (your hypothesis, I believe), or

      c) it was and still is entirely an unintended “side effect” of other human systems, thus not directly under any selection pressure at all, but merely manifesting inconsistently out of a complex interaction of other human factors that are under direct selection pressure

      As far as I understand things (as an ameteur with great interest, like you and many others here) regarding these hypotheses, (a) is largely discounted because religion, overall, doesn’t appear to have ever had a strong survival benefit (I,e. we often seem to survive “in spite of”, rather than “beacause of” our religious impulses). Thus I believe the argument reduces to (b) competing against (c).

      I have read that Dawkins strongly supports (c) as the more likely explanation because religion, itself, is so wildly unpredictable throughout human history, its hard to see how it could have had a long, sustained “benefit” upon which selection pressure could select against/for any specific behavior. Beyond, say, the most primitive and vague animist belief that assigns agency to the inanimate — which all humans exhibit whether they are religious or not (hence why we yell at our computers and TVs and cars when the “misbehave”), no other religious ideas seems to last more than a few thousand years. More sophisticated religious developments — such as monotheism, or an idea of a patriarchal/protector god (as you suggest) — ever seem to span more than a few thousand years of human history.

      A:sp. the religious impulse over the past two-hundred-thousand years (rather than merely the past few thousand) shows far more variability than what your patriarchal-protector-gorillla-primate model would suggest. It is true (as you say) that the ancient Hebrew Yahweh cult really does follow this archetypical vision of God as patricarchical Gorillla-like protector of man. Also Vishnu, as the leader of the Hindu pantheon, is undeniably a protector god too (He is always protrayed in all of his avatars as a male figure who rescues or otherwise aides/protects a female goddess emination of some sort who largely represents the natural world, or “kingdom” that the male-King need to protect, recue or assist in some way). But these religions, relatively speaking, are “new” in mankinds history of religious impulses. in the tens (or hundreds?)-of-thousands of years of human prehistory, fertility idols (which are all female) are perhaps the most common religious archaeological find from around the world. And, as prehistoric artifacts, this places the fertility goddess impulse far closer to our earlier common primate ancestor to which you think may be the source of our protector-god-remnant model. Also, many eastern religions do not focus on the protector theme for its male gods, but many instead follow a man-as-the-source-of-knowledge-and-wisdom model (which is very un-primate). Moreover, woman-as-the-source-of-life-food-abundance-nurture in often given a strong role in many religions too. Even in modern Catholicism, the Virgin Marry is idolized more strongly than Jesus/God in some communities. Also common is the many non-gendered or hermaphroditic gods found in Greek (the word hermaphrodite comes from the Greek god Hermaphroditus), Roman, Hindu, Eqyptian, Norse, Chinese, etc. pantheons. Even today, dispite what most people think, Allah is considered to be neither (or perhaps both) male of female in the Qur’an (although he/she/it is clearly fits your gorilla-protector model of religion despite not technically being male).

      So, I hope that gives you a bit more to chew on in your ponderings…but I think the jury is still out on the issue you raised about of how evolution and religion truly interact, and whether the efforts of the Syes/Hovinds are in fact a result of evolutionary selection.

      1. Frank G. Turner

        @xxxxxx
        Thank you for such a detailed explanation, that is a bit to think about. I am more of a scientist and not as well versed in comparative religion as you are but I was aware of Vishnu (I took a course on Hinduism once so I have actually read The Ramayana, among other works) and of the early female fertility idols (I hae a lot of Wicca-Pagan friends).
        .
        Albeit I was always a scientist and among the more liberal and skeptical of Catholics (from winch I am shying away now and am more agnostic) so I knew even at a young age that numerous Biblical stories were not factual, Genesis particularly (then again I was not encouraged to take much of the OT as fact without proof, other parts like to NT I was). Though as more of a Chemist than a Biologist (even though I am a bit of a mix) I did take a lot of coursework in zoology and Evolution and Genetics to be more than familiar with Hermaphroditism (I have worked with enough plants, flatworms, lizards, fish, etc that have both sets of parts, either at the same time or sequentially). Thanks for the fill in though, that is nice for those who don’t have the background (did I mention that I was a teacher too?).
        .
        You comments about c) seem to make sense given that the human psyche fluctuates greatly and there are numerous side effects. Oddly enough I read somewhere that Gorillas and other primates taught sign language do ask questions about what created them that goes beyond their parental figures. My comment was meant to be somewhat flexible though and apply in a way as it could indicate a protector God model which was not necessarily male (not all primates live in patriarchal societies) nor to suggest that societal influence did not play a part, probably a very major part. My hypothesis was more of a blend of all of what you suggest but having greater emphasis on c) with minor influences from a) and b) (my description sort of highlighted the b)-like hypothesis the heaviest even though that was not intended). Nonetheless, this is not testable under controlled conditions so it is more of a thought exercise.
        .
        Now if we could find a way to travel back in time and grab some proto-humans then build an earth like planet upon which we can conduct controlled experimentation for a few thousand years then maybe we could test all that, what do you think? :-) Sounds like the premise for an Arthur C Clarke novel doesn’t it?. Or maybe its a Robert Sawyer novel and this is the experimental planet for religious data analysis and we are the result of that experiment (and handicapped people have secret surveillance equipment in their devices to observe us). :-) Ok, enough of that, hope that it made you laugh.
        .
        As a note on the Syes and Hovinds of the world, it was suggested that they are just doing the mental form of mental masturbation publicly because they enjoy it and they get paid by gullible people for it, so they are religion’s form of pornographers.

  67. 67
    adamah

    Hi Frank,

    I dunno, that’s a rather-tangential approach to ‘proving’ human evolution, where the fossil record and evidence from molecular biology (eg comparative DNA studies) is doing all the heavy-lifting (which creationists simply ignore, anyway, since it shoots down their desired belief).

    The question believers like Sye should be asking themselves is why they feel personally-rejected when others reject their God, a subject covered by Darkmatter in this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU

    That certainly explains why God is seemingly so thin-skinned, making blasphemy a death-penalty offense: it allows the Walter Mitty types of the World to carry out acts in the name of another being that they couldn’t begin to summon the courage to do on their own behalf (analogous to an alcoholic’s need for “liquid courage”).

    Adam

    1. 67.1
      Frank G. Turner

      @ Adam
      I watch Darkmatter from time to time (I mention that in another post) and will take a look, but I think you missed the point I was making. I am not trying to find tangential support for evolution, that is the side effect that comes from hypothesizing on the cause certain mental viewpoints such as that of religious fundamentalism (hence the idea that the need for a superior male figure in certain psyche was a result of evolution). I am endeavoring into why creationists like Bruggencate and Hovind feel the way they do about God on a deeper psychological level (hence the armchair psychology remark).
      .
      Look at it this way (I know this comes from “The God Delusion,” which I am currently reading). On a molecular and larger biological level there have been instances of a type of organic “scaffolding” that arose in life forms, which itself performed another function, which led to the development of other more complex cellular and multicellular structures, i.e.: organelles, organs, etc. that assisted the organism to survive. Once the scaffolding was not necessary as a larger, more complex structure became better at performing the function of the scaffolding, the scaffolding started to dissappear in a number of individuals in the population (though it may not). It leaves behind remnants of itself though in many individuals of that population even though it performs no working function (vestiges), which itself is an indication of evolution. The appendix, which has a tendency to get infected in many, is thought to be a vestige of herbivory in ancient human ancestors, and we intervene in our own development by learnign to remove it when it gets infected. (I have heard of smaller appendices in some individuals of the population much like the absence of the vestigal plantaris muscle).
      .
      As humans many people look for comfort and security, certainty even if it is false certainty, in order ot function. The idea of “God” seems to have been a tool of providing comfort and security and most certainly pre-date Judeo Xtian writings. (Albeit, much like nature can warp the function of a part into something else, that very same need for comforrt and security may have been used to control people by taking advantage of human emotion when it came to Xtian religion, even if some of the purpose of said religion may have been well intentioned).
      .
      We can surgically remove the infected vestigal appendix (which is actually doing more harm to the host than good), but maybe the (metaphorically) infected vestigal need for a patriarchal authority figure can only be (metaphorically) surgically removed by the person themself, through an understanding that one CAN function effectively, fruitfully, and morally WITHOUT this vestige. Does that make sense?
      .
      I also say this because I have noticed that religious fundamentalists bear many of the same behaviors as an addict hopelessly dependent on their substance (hence why I am not surprised you would bring up alcoholism). A big part of overcoming addiction is seeing that one does not need said substance to be happy/function/survive, but one has to understand what drove the person to a dependence on said substance and sometimes a behavior has an evolutionary basis.

      1. adamah

        Hi Frank,

        You ARE aware that a discipline called “evolutionary psychology” exists, attempting to explain human behaviors as beneficial adaptations? Interesting stuff to anyone who already understands the basics of evolution and principles of psychology, and is able to see the Bible as the work of humans, not Gods inspired word.

        My point is if the believer doesn’t find evolution to be persuasive, they’re likely not going to be convinced by the findings from evolutionary psychology.

        If you’re interested in such topics, I’d highly recommend reading Jayne’s work from 40 yrs ago, “Origin of Consciousness: Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”, an intriguing theory that the emergence of crafting tools and as development of written language (using symbolic or abstract thinking) led to postulating existence of Gods. Much of his ideas have been validated and confirmed by researchers.

        Interesting reading, esp in light of A&Es “eyes being opened”, prohibitions against making idols, Abram’s removal of his father’s idols, etc. All those old adapted myths came from SOMEWHERE, with some naturalistic explanation of their roots.

        Adam

        1. adamah

          Hi Frank,

          I’m posting here to tie up loose ends, since I cannot find the original threads.

          To add on to my last post, a sub-discipline called ‘neuro-theology’ exists, as well, examining the neurological roots of belief using tools of neurology (eg MRI/CT scans) to observe what is happening in the brains of believers at the biochem level. Interesting stuff…

          One application is examining the brain activity of those who claim auditory hallucinations; MRI studies confirm their reported perceptions, being a fairly common phenomena (up to 10% of population), such that “voice hearers” are not always associated with mental illness (the typical stigma).

          It’s fascinating to consider the Bible was written by those experiencing symptoms of anomalous brain wiring (experiencing “crosstalk”), and the stories inside thus have a special significance and meaning to those similarly experiencing such misperceptions. It resonates with some, who intuitively understand such phenomena as their experience.

          To answer a prior question, JWs only convert individuals with advanced degrees or professional training, since you’re right: JWs discourage secular education “this close to Armageddon” (the same drum they were banging back when I was a kid, in 1969).

          As a result, there’s few professionals amongst their ranks, but conversely that can make it a more-attractive option to be a ‘big dish in a little pond’, with a built-in clientele of uneducated window washers.

          Btw, the link I posted to the article was bad; here’s a good one:

          http://awgue.weebly.com/why-did-god-seemingly-allow-cain-to-get-away-with-murder.html

          As I explain in the article, the story of the Flood concludes with Noah establishing the institution of slavery, being the first time the word appears in the Bible, recorded coming out of Noah’s mouth as he blesses two sons in the first half of the sentence, and condemns all descendants of Canaan to serve as slaves in the last half!

          (Of course, this is the introduction of vitriolic polemics directed against the Canaanites, the inhabitants of ‘the promised land’, ‘the land flowing with milk and honey’ that God had given to His ‘Chosen People’ after they emerged from captivity in Egypt.)

          Here’s a fun trivia fact from history:

          What religion was the first in the World to prohibit slavery, and who were amongst the benefactors of being freed from its abolitionist policy?

          Answer: Zoroaster, the official state religion of the Persian Empire, where the first benefactors were the Jews being held captive in Babylon and liberated after the Babylonians were defeated.

          Of course, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and quickly restarted slavery, just as soon as the Persians were defeated by the Greeks.

          The pastors and other priests in the church I went to would have told you that Noah probably did not exist, though individuals who anticipated a flood who got large farms together onto boats in areas subjected to flood may have, but it most certainly did not affect the entire world, if it even happened.

          No offense, but glacial age back-peddling is just not going to cut it for me: the flood narrative is classic mythology (poss. an echo of a real event, likely inspired by a local flood occurring at the end of the last Ice Age).

          Beyond being an interesting echo from the ancient past that left a high-water mark in legends, those who think it’s real literal history are simpletons who simply haven’t done any digging (99% of population).

          I see your point in that there were believers who insisted that the Bible was the literal word of God and they were not spoken against. I told the story on the other board of a priest who pissed off a woman by explaining the Job never existed. The idea that some Xtians actually don’t take every word of the Bible as literally correct sees to frighten some Xtians more than people being atheists.

          True dat.

          And I certainly saw no pastors taking a hard line stance against slavery other than to indicate that they personally felt it was wrong.

          Well, that’s quite a bold stance for him to take, some 150 yrs after 600k deaths during the Civil War brought abolition!

          I’ve been doing a bit of research into the Biblical-based arguments made by 19th century pastors to defend slavery, since the the Bible DOES in fact institute, regulate and encourage it (Jesus even used slavery as a theme in the ‘parable of the faithful and wise servant’, essentially saying the slave owner was justified in dashing the slave to death for not following his strict instructions to the letter).

          Unfortuntely, those who died during the US Civil War also paid the price for the Bible’s slavery policy, with both sides cherry-picking passages to defend slavery or support abolition (and abolitionists were wrong, as NT passages are hardly anti-slavery, but have been twisted to force them to be).

          Nonetheless, there is still plenty of intellectual dishonesty among apologists within the institutions who would try to justify the practice of slavery, indicating that it was “not like the slavery in the USA,” which is Bull, unless they meant that the slavery in the USA was worse.

          The topic of dishonesty came up on the Dogma Debate podcast, and most atheists don’t know how the Bible can be used to support lying in the name of God.

          JWs call it “theocratic warfare”, justifying such deception by citing the examples of Rahab, Jacob, and David.

          (They don’t mention Abraham, who twice lied to foreigners, telling them his wife was his sister; he let other men marry and sleep with her, and even profited from the deception!). They don’t mention Levi, who promised the Shechemites they could enter into a marriage alliance with family by marrying his sister, Dinah, but only if they get circumcised first. They comply, but when incapacitated by the pain afterwards, Simeon and Levi sneak into their town and steal their swords, slaughtering all the males, plundering livestock, and taking their wives and children to be their slaves. Levi the mass murderer later becomes the father of the Levites, the tribe which served as YHWH’s Temple priests.)

          Good ol’ Bible morality and family values, I tell you.

          Most people don’t realize the 10 commandments only applied to dealing with fellow Hebrews, NOT Gentiles, for whom all bets are off.

          I would not be against inclusion of refutations of certain parts as spoken against by said institutions (i.e.: an official declaration that slavery was wrong regardless of any way it was practiced and that which appears in the Bible should be condemned), but the presence of knowledge of said practices would need to be left intact. And while burying it is technically not lying, it is most certainly dishonest.

          Fortunately, secular law doesn’t sit around waiting for religions to catch up and get a clue…

          George Carlin said it well when he suggested that the commandment be, “Thou shalt not be dishonest” and include information about engaging in full disclosure even if it means that you may loose. I doubt that Sye or many apologists would be up for that though, they have to be completely right or completely wrong and nothing in between, which is a very limited way of thinking but is how some emotional minds work.

          Unfortunately admitting that you or your institution was ever wrong about anything no matter how large or small is seen by too many insecure followers as a sign of weakness (particularly by those who believe in the absolutely correct or absolutely incorrect paradigm). I have met too many people whose hard wiring in their brains for conclusive answers and a sense of self worth seems to prevent them from ever admitting that they or an institution that they followed ever endorsed or did something wrong. Not surprisingly, those minds tend to also be very poorly educated.

          All I know is, I value TRUTH over all else; that’s always been my ‘curse’, valuing cold sober truths/reality over warm-fuzzy comfortable lies.

          1. Frank G. Turner

            Hey Adam
            I am aware of evolutionary psychology, been getting deeper into some of “The God Delusion” just to see some things that I am actually coming up with being addressed as logical steps in the process.
            .
            I would say that I value “Truth” but that is such a potentially loaded word, I think what I value most is “fact”, in a hard empirical sense. I would love to be able to travel through time and set up surveillance equipment everywhere so that we could get documented proof of everything and nothing would need to be a matter of faith and everything a matter of fact (I have said that before in my thoughts). Strange given the mental paradise that faith gives so many people when I would find it paradise to be unnecessary.
            .
            No offense, but glacial age back-peddling is just not going to cut it for me: the flood narrative is classic mythology (poss. an echo of a real event, likely inspired by a local flood occurring at the end of the last Ice Age).
            .
            No offense taken. I don’t think that they were doing back peddling, but that does strike me as a definitive possibility. IT did not seem like back peddling to me as they seemed to start off taking a stance of Noah, like Adam and Eve, being most likely fictional. Then again I was a kid at a later time than you were so I don’t know what happened before me and Matt many times discusses the Catholic church being “dragged kicking and screaming” into the 20th century. In retrospect (FYI, the priest who discussed Job being fiction died this past week, heard it from my folks), I think it is more of a situation where they know it is fiction but they don’t seem to come out and take an official stance upon it. I would guess because they knew some of the people are just naturally gullible and need to be comforted (I don’t see how insistence that the Noah story was literal is comforting, but they seem to). It is sort of a “we know it is contrived but if we just come right out and say it we loose followers” issue. And of course when individuals go to seminary school like Matt, and others that I have know, find out that it is contrived and ask the ministers and priests and pastors why they are perpetuating a lie will get all sorts of dodging of the question and B.S. answers, like they know it is wrong but can’t admit it to themselves. I wonder if it is really that type of self delusional dishonesty or just trying to be respectful of different beliefs or both.

          2. Frank G. Turner

            Adam,
            I was doing some thinking and I wanted to respond to your comment about back peddling with glacial age ideas. I was listening to an episode of TAE from 2013 where Jeff Dee talks about while some areas of the OT are dropped by modern churches (Catholic particularly) as fiction as they are no longer compatible with our knowledge of reality, they were hard line rules for a long time. That helped me to understand the whole “back pedaling” concept as although I came in at a time when the back pedaling had already been done (hence my failure to see it as back pedaling), I can definitely start to get an idea of what was going on before I came along. And it is not like many religions (like science) made the wise choice of NOT insisting that something was true beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt but only accepted what was the best explanation given and opened to proof that may eventually reject the current explanation.
            .
            My question to you and others on this board who seem to be more familiar with comparative religion than I am is this, are there religions that like science were opened minded and flexible enough at the beginning to set up their religion in a flexible and opened minded way from the start? (xxxxx this one is for you as you seem to be aware of eastern religion and I have always found Buddhism to be appealing and open minded).

          3. adamah

            Hi Frank,
            .
            I would say that I value “Truth” but that is such a potentially loaded word, I think what I value most is “fact”, in a hard empirical sense.

            Of course, few non-scientists understand that “facts” are constantly changing, a point conveyed quite succinctly in the book title, “The half-life of facts”.

            Of course, that’s a bitter pill to swallow for anyone seeking certainty, since chasing absolutes in a fundamentally-uncertain World is a fool’s errand.

            Many people prefer a promise of certainty stated with brash false confidence, over a sober and honest assessment of risks vs benefits stated with the same level of confidence.

            Another flaw of the human mind is revealed when many people will be more likely to believe a claim the more outlandish it becomes, since they rationalize no one could possibly make up such a tall tale: therefore, it HAS to be true!

            They’re falling victim to demonstrating “a preference for the fantastically impossible over the merely improbable”, esp when their egos become involved by being offered some benefit for believing (eg reward of Heaven/threat of Hell).

            Xianity is just another form of self-centered, “looking out for #1″ thinking, acting in ones own self-interest since they HAVE to share the “good news of the Kingdom” to enter it.

            Strange given the mental paradise that faith gives so many people when I would find it paradise to be unnecessary.

            Ahhh, ‘faith’, the hallmark of scammers everywhere: “trust me, what I’m offering you is a ‘can’t-miss’ ‘sure-fire’ opportunity…”
            .
            IT did not seem like back peddling to me as they seemed to start off taking a stance of Noah, like Adam and Eve, being most likely fictional.

            Well, if A&E are only figurative, then why the need for Jesus’ redemptive blood sacrifice for Adamic ‘original sin’?

            Similarly, Jesus believed in the literal worldwide Flood and Noah, but if it didn’t happen and Noah was only a character in a story, is it possible Jesus was simply another in a long-line of Jewish young men raised steeped in Judaism who knew of the many prophecies in the Tanakh that foretold of a coming Jewish Messiah, and he fell victim to the “Messiah complex”?

            Many modern Xians don’t know the long history of Jewish messianic claimants, both before and after J.C. (Eg Bar Kochba was the most famous circa 130 CE).

            The turbulent violent times and brutal oppression of Roman hegemony circa 1st cent CE meant the climate was ripe to generate such extremist religious beliefs, Jews desperately looking for a messiah to liberate, esp after Rome destroyed the 2nd Temple in 70CE.

            I think it is more of a situation where they know it is fiction but they don’t seem to come out and take an official stance upon it. I would guess because they knew some of the people are just naturally gullible and need to be comforted (I don’t see how insistence that the Noah story was literal is comforting, but they seem to). It is sort of a “we know it is contrived but if we just come right out and say it we loose followers” issue. And of course when individuals go to seminary school like Matt, and others that I have know, find out that it is contrived and ask the ministers and priests and pastors why they are perpetuating a lie will get all sorts of dodging of the question and B.S. answers, like they know it is wrong but can’t admit it to themselves. I wonder if it is really that type of self delusional dishonesty or just trying to be respectful of different beliefs or both.

            The reasons religion persist are many, and vary for each individual, primarily benefiting from having historical momentum on their side, and most humans having a fundamental fear of change that leads to stagnation.

            Religions like JWs/Mormons/Amish hugely up the ante by shunning anyone who leaves; hence it truly doesn’t matter if someone figures it out on their own, since they have a make a painful decision to make to sacrifice everything for their convictions (by voting with their feet). Their pastors often ‘spoil the well’, telling them how life is absolutely meaningless without God, etc. Heck, Sye did that, telling an audience full of atheists how tier lives are devoid of meaning!

            For many, it’s not even a choice, so they go along to get along, thus handing their children over to intellectual slavery to God, sacrificing their child’s rationality on the altar to their God.

            It’s such madness….

            Adam

          4. Frank G. Turner

            @ Adam
            Well, if A&E are only figurative, then why the need for Jesus’ redemptive blood sacrifice for Adamic ‘original sin’?
            .
            The line you would be fed from a Catholic apologist (perhaps I have been one in a way) is that the sinfullness of man is still apparent regardless of whether the source is figurative (though that leads one open to the possibility that man is designed to be sinful so it is a moot point). Like I have mentioned before you do get Xtian evolutionary biologists (Ken Miller being the perfect one whom I have read some of his stuff and Dawkins does recommend him). They will not tell you that Adam and Eve are literal despite Jesus being literal. I have honestly had my own doubts about Jesus’s historicity even before coming on here. (I think he existed in that Paul had an inspiration for what he wrote down, but is likely not the person Paul described as the stories were likely embellished to align themselves with Jewish and other ancient prophecies from what I am reading).
            .
            As a Catholic I did ask that and did get the response, “you think man is not sinful?” To which I replied, “well of course we are.” I am not sure I would call it “sin” nowadays as it seems loaded, I would say that we have a propensity for immoral acts given our willfulness.
            .
            Of course, few non-scientists understand that “facts” are constantly changing, a point conveyed quite succinctly in the book title, “The half-life of facts”.
            .
            As a scientist I know that but I still put some trust in repeatable, verifiable evidence, hard proof. While I know that I cannot be absolutely certain I can at least be confident beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt of some things, of course given my training I am fully aware that theories are never really “known” but “ accepted for all intents and purposes given their propensity for solid explanation and predictability.
            .
            .
            Of course, that’s a bitter pill to swallow for anyone seeking certainty, since chasing absolutes in a fundamentally-uncertain World is a fool’s errand.
            .
            Many people prefer a promise of certainty stated with brash false confidence, over a sober and honest assessment of risks vs benefits stated with the same level of confidence.

            .
            Which is probably why religion is so appealing but in my mind I would have simply preferred surveillance of everything that has ever happened through all time leading to now. Perhaps on some level I knew that Xtianity gave me a false sense of certainty. Honesty seems a lot more soothing to my psyche nowadays anyway.
            .
            Jesus believed in the literal worldwide Flood and Noah, but if it didn’t happen and Noah was only a character in a story,
            .
            A priest who was a Greek scholar explained to me that there was all of the indication in that passage from Luke that Jesus was speaking figuratively (he had a translation that referenced the original ancient Greek words). That seemed to make sense as Jesus had spoken in parables (which is speaking figuratively) but it is a moot point as I have come to think that even if Jesus was real he was not the person Paul describes (I attribute the Gospels to him) which are based on oral traditions that he came across many years later anyway. Plenty of other Xtians (Protestant and Catholic, though a lot less of the latter proportionately speaking since I knew more of the latter) would ignore evidence that I showed that that indicated that the language was figurative so why even bother? With all of the inconsistencies that frankly look designed to get the stories to align with ancient prophesies even if that resulted in contradictions the historicity becomes less important anyway.
            .
            Another flaw of the human mind is revealed when many people will be more likely to believe a claim the more outlandish it becomes, since they rationalize no one could possibly make up such a tall tale: therefore, it HAS to be true!
            .
            Sounds like a good explanation for why Scientology took off. Funny how in many instances people would ask me if I would “rather be happy or right” when I asked curious skeptical questions because I really wanted to know the answers. And he who says that “curiosity kills” get’s me strong response quite often, “so does ignorance.” In retrospect it is so revealing that people would ask me that. Isn’t that basically telling me that they are happier with a comfortable lie? And what does one mean by “right”? “Factually correct”? “Philosophically agreeable”? “Normal”? “Well documented”?

          5. adamah

            Hi Frank,

            The line you would be fed from a Catholic apologist (perhaps I have been one in a way) is that the sinfullness of man is still apparent regardless of whether the source is figurative (though that leads one open to the possibility that man is designed to be sinful so it is a moot point).

            Moot, indeed, as the question I asked as a 11 yo kid still stands:

            1) If God made everything (including the being who later became Satan), and,
            2) God is “perfect”,

            Then where did the concept of evil come from?

            How could God even make beings (spirits or mortals alike) with the capacity to do things of which He disapproves?

            It’s as if God is unfamiliar with the concept of placing boundary limits on performance parameters during the design stage, as if God is not able to design His creations to block against the possibility of not performing to his high standards?

            That doesn’t sound anywhere close to “perfect”, esp considering the supposedly “perfect” existence is spending a blissful eternity spent in Heaven being protected from evil.

            The Germans have a wise saying:

            “It’s a poor craftsmen indeed who blames his tools or crafts for his own shortcomings”.

            BTW, I wrote an article a few years ago on the “Paradox of Adam and Eve”, pointing out a MAJOR logical continuity error so large, you could drive a truck through it:

            How could A&E know it was foolish to disobey God BEFORE they ate the fruit which bestowed wisdom?

            http://awgue.weebly.com/the-paradox-of-adam-and-eve-and-how-the-new-world-translation-fruitlessly-attempts-to-keep-it-hidden.html

            The story has many similar errors that become downright glaring, once “one’s eyes have been opened”.

            We had a saying in the military, “The fish stinks from the head down”, meaning superiors should take responsibility for whatever occurs in their ‘Chain of Command’; they shouldn’t try to ‘pass the buck’ to others below to serve as “fall guys”.

            It’s why whenever a major scandal happens in an organization, the chief voluntarily steps down (as VA Sec. Shinseki recently did).

            If the incompetent Fed Gov’t understands that concept, why don’t believers expect the same from their God, who expects humans to serve as the perpetual fall guys (believers even refer to the “Fall of Adam”)?

            Like I have mentioned before you do get Xtian evolutionary biologists (Ken Miller being the perfect one whom I have read some of his stuff and Dawkins does recommend him). They will not tell you that Adam and Eve are literal despite Jesus being literal. I have honestly had my own doubts about Jesus’s historicity even before coming on here. (I think he existed in that Paul had an inspiration for what he wrote down, but is likely not the person Paul described as the stories were likely embellished to align themselves with Jewish and other ancient prophecies from what I am reading).

            It’s hard to tell if you’re aware Paul never claimed to have met Jesus in the flesh? You probably know Paul converted to Xianity after claiming Jesus appeared to him in a vision on the road to Damascus, sometime after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.

            As a Catholic I did ask that and did get the response, “you think man is not sinful?” To which I replied, “well of course we are.” I am not sure I would call it “sin” nowadays as it seems loaded, I would say that we have a propensity for immoral acts given our willfulness.

            Uh, speak for yourself, lol!

            YOU may have a propensity for immoral acts, but don’t drag the rest of us into the same would-be hedonistic mud-bath, lol!

            Really, that whole “man is borne into sin” nonsense is such toxic thinking, is it a reflection of some deeply-suppressed desires as a cause or as an effect? ;)

            I’ve found no need to go much beyond, “Humans tend to operate in what they perceive as being primarily in their own best interests”.

            Not much need to get more complicated than that….

            Which is probably why religion is so appealing but in my mind I would have simply preferred surveillance of everything that has ever happened through all time leading to now.

            Sounds like you’ve just expressed a desire to be an omnipresent being that exists outside of space and time and is “all-seeing”? You don’t ask for much, huh? :)

            Perhaps on some level I knew that Xtianity gave me a false sense of certainty. Honesty seems a lot more soothing to my psyche nowadays anyway.

            To thine own self be true (but reserve the right to lie thru your teeth to others as the need arises). Some Xians do the latter, justifying it by calling it “theocratic warfare”. :)

            Jesus believed in the literal worldwide Flood and Noah….

            A priest who was a Greek scholar explained to me that there was all of the indication in that passage from Luke that Jesus was speaking figuratively (he had a translation that referenced the original ancient Greek words). That seemed to make sense as Jesus had spoken in parables (which is speaking figuratively) but it is a moot point….

            What a nonsensical excuse, lol!

            Whenever Xians use the ol’, “that’s only meant to be taken figuratively” excuse, I ask them to explain what the intended symbolic meaning is.

            Usually, I hear crickets chirping….

            It’s an easy (but illogical) defense for believers to grasp at, but pointless, claiming to somehow know what the speaker (in this case, Jesus) actually believed.

            Many believers will tend to do that, inserting their opinion to over-ride the plain-text meaning (which often is impossible to discern, due to difficulty of translating ancient documents written in a foreign language and culture, with completely alien concepts).

            With all of the inconsistencies that frankly look designed to get the stories to align with ancient prophesies even if that resulted in contradictions the historicity becomes less important anyway.

            I’m listening to Elaine Pagel’s book, “Beyond Belief” where she really brings the history of the early Xian church alive. Highly-recommended, if you want to get an objective look at the roots of Xianity.

            Sounds like a good explanation for why Scientology took off.

            I read Dianetics as a young teen, since I respected the musicianship and intellect of jazz musician Chick Corea. I still do, but it was a lesson that someone who’s gifted in one area doesn’t automatically possess knowledge about others (LR Hubbard’s hypothesis of “imprinting” is whacky pseudo-science, at best; Planet Theta is pure sci-fi, at its worst).

            Frank Gambale is an atheist/anti-theist guitarist who’s written of his run-in with his ex-boss, Scientologist Chick: it’s pretty funny stuff worth Googling.

            Funny how in many instances people would ask me if I would “rather be happy or right” when I asked curious skeptical questions because I really wanted to know the answers.

            Don’t you just love the ‘either/or’ scenarios, mutually-exclusive thinking that is so prevalent in religious thought?

            And he who says that “curiosity kills” get’s me strong response…

            I strongly suspect that deep-down, many believers KNOW it’s all a load of hogwash, but are too afraid to publicly say the King is wearing no clothes. It’s not about intelligence: I’m no genius, and I (and you) had doubts as a kid. It’s more a question of courage than anything.

            To borrow from another children’s story, there’s alot of Chicken Littles running around who may actually be more afraid the sky ISN’T falling, since they can’t run around trying to get others to buy into their Apoplectic Apocalyptic panic mode (AKA participating in a “feel good” spiritual Ponzi scheme).

          6. Frank G. Turner

            @ Adam
            That doesn’t sound anywhere close to “perfect”, esp considering the supposedly “perfect” existence is spending a blissful eternity spent in Heaven being protected from evil.
            .
            Believe me I had a hard time with the “God is perfect” principle too, I just use other examples. I.e.: if God is so perfect then why create a world in which injustice occurs (us) just so that we can be tested to do wrong and potentially be unforgiving, just to be rewarded or punished int he afterlife based on a measure of failures and successes? Why not just create it right the 1st time through? It might be boring but no one could say that it and you were not perfect. I get it that it is soothing for some people to think of a being that will give us justice for the injustices we suffer, but what if it is soothing to NOT think that way?
            .
            I would say that we have a propensity for immoral acts given our willfulness.

            Uh, speak for yourself, lol!

            YOU may have a propensity for immoral acts, but don’t drag the rest of us into the same would-be hedonistic mud-bath, lol!
            .
            What I mean is that we all are trying to balance our lives finding a way to be caring for others as part of beings that have to live and work together in society in order to obtain a mutual benefit. Feelings are irrational sometimes (emotions often get in the way) but we have them and we have to deal with them. Sometimes we feel that we are not getting our fair share and it will test our morality, pulling us to be self serving at the expense of others when it is not necessary. We are human, we make mistakes, sometimes those mistakes are in testing the balance of necessary selfish behavior that only steps on other people to the extent that amends can be made reasonably vs unnecessarily selfish behavior which impedes on the rights and needs of others to an extent that cannot be amended. There is no true justice for the taking of a life or multiple lives but there are human beings who do it. How would that pan out? We kill you and bring you back to life over and over again until it equals the number of people you killed? And there is no morality in revenge either, but people do it and often feel justified in doing so for the reasons I stated above, emotionally letting unnecessarily selfish behavior get the better of us and doing something immoral.
            .
            Many believers will tend to do that, inserting their opinion to over-ride the plain-text meaning (which often is impossible to discern, due to difficulty of translating ancient documents written in a foreign language and culture, with completely alien concepts).
            .
            He may have been being figurative, maybe not, if it was even a real occurrence, we will most likely never know. Unfortunately I did not hear a whole lot of that and almost never get it from believers (even some of the more liberal ones who will acknowledge the strong likelihood that A&E and Noah are fiction). We might get along better if there were more people around who said, “Well I am a believer but I am willing to acknowledge that I don’t know if he was speaking figuratively or not, I think he was based on the evidence,” (I was reading an online article where the believer basically gave this sentiment saying that all we had to go by were a few short phrases so we cannot really know). Instead I get believers who are absolutely certain that Jesus was being figurative (most of the Catholics I grew up around, with a few exceptions, mainly evangelistic types) or absolutely certain that he wasn’t (evangelist literalists typically).
            .
            Sounds like you’ve just expressed a desire to be an omnipresent being that exists outside of space and time and is “all-seeing”? You don’t ask for much, huh? :)
            .
            OH no I don’t want to be God, I just don’t want faith to be necessary. I would talk with believers and ask them what would they think if we did have a time machine and we went back and documented the events of the Bible in their entirety and saw that Jesus and many of the events never really existed. I get a variety of responses. Many are opened to the possibility of it actually happening, one said they despite that she would have to believe that the universe was put together by some spiritual force, some consciousness (just maybe not the Xtian one). When I pointed out that there was doubt in her mind by stating that she refused to acknowledge it saying that she did not believe it was possible and knew for sure, to which I pointed out that if she was so sure how is it that she was able to entertain the idea and think about what her resultant beliefs would be? I never got an answer to that but I already knew the kind of mental jumping jacks and contradictions she had to believe in order to maintain views of the world that are in direct conflict with one another.. She is a kind and sweet person though (unlike the StBs and Hovinds of the world) who does many good deeds and who does not impose her views on others so I backed off from her.
            .
            Still though it does not stop me from desiring to have hard proof of things, everything if I could. I could imagine being a lesser being that was not a creator but had access to all knowledge of fact.
            .
            Though what you said goes in line with what I ascertained from her.
            I strongly suspect that deep-down, many believers KNOW it’s all a load of hogwash, but are too afraid to publicly say the King is wearing no clothes. It’s not about intelligence: I’m no genius, and I (and you) had doubts as a kid. It’s more a question of courage than anything.
            .
            For her it is more like an addiction. She admitted to being a recovered alcoholic and when it came down to bare knuckles (metaphor), her only “proof” was her own feelings which given how strong they are she sees as reasonable evidence of them being correct. Essentially it is addiction to a feeling (which I admit, is a very good feeling for her, it just isn’t for me). As Dawkin’s puts it in “The God Delusion,” it is “being in love with Yahweh” and the responses of a person “in love” are very much like an alcoholic who clings to their bottle, her bottle is just a mental one instead of a physical one.
            .
            I’m listening to Elaine Pagel’s book, “Beyond Belief” where she really brings the history of the early Xian church alive. Highly-recommended, if you want to get an objective look at the roots of Xianity.
            .
            I have heard of it and considered it many times.
            .
            It’s hard to tell if you’re aware Paul never claimed to have met Jesus in the flesh? You probably know Paul converted to Xianity after claiming Jesus appeared to him in a vision on the road to Damascus, sometime after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
            .
            Yes I am aware of that (he was born long after Jesus, he could not have met him in the flesh) but good to point it out. Many people (including Xtians) don’t know that so it is nice to get a reminder. That’s how I realized (recently) that even though their were four Apostles who supposedly wrote the Gospels, someone like Paul being the one to compile the books of the Gospels together and believing him when he obviously did a terrible job editing is still, “putting of your eggs in one basket” (Paul) even if the stories came from multiple sources. Paul claims that there were dozens of eye witnesses, well of course someone coming many years after would say that to try to convince you! That’s how a “feel good” spiritual Ponzi scheme (as you put it) works!
            .
            FYI, I may use that line and I think Russell and the show’s host should too. Even though it is not mine that line is an excellent description of Xtianity and other religions too.
            .
            Don’t you just love the ‘either/or’ scenarios, mutually-exclusive thinking that is so prevalent in religious thought?
            .
            It demonstrates the binary thinking prevalent in a lot of short sighted people. Like I say in my line, if one of them tells me that “curiosity kills” I point out, “so does ignorance.”

  68. 68
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    Some comments to the after-debate show with Eric Hovind and Sye.

    About meanings of words. Sye found it absurd that Matt said words don’t have (inherent) meaning. I don’t know if Sye is too stupid to understand the difference between “inherent meaning” and “meaning derived from consensus”, or if he’s a lying asshat. Of course words don’t have inherent meaning. The meaning of words is only by consensus. For example, google tells me that there is a word in Italian pronounced like the English word “die”, but which means “come on” in Italian. The word “die” has no meaning. Only by consensus of a particular group does it gain meaning, and it has meaning only within the context of that group. God, Sye’s an idiot or a liar.

    Next, knowledge.

    I care about the observable aspects of our shared reality. To the extent that “ultimate reality” differs, I do not care one iota. I care about stuff that will aid me in sating my hunger, in sating the hunger of other people, and similar things, and those actions are the same regardless of whatever “ultimate reality” there may happen to be.

    Talking about reality which we can never observe is useless. Worse than that, it’s meaningless in the sense of positivism. Common everyday concepts like chairs and cars are defined by consensus and rooted in common experience. A chair is a chair because we see it as a chair. We see an object with 4 legs, a back, and a flat place to sit. That’s the deeper truth. All of our knowledge about reality is filtered through our senses. All of our knowledge about reality is defined in terms of sensory input and the presupposition that we live in a shared reality.

    Oftentimes, we adopt nomenclature of a material reality, but that’s just a convenient short-hand. No one should care if we really live in a “real material reality”, or if we live as brains in a vat in The Matrix. Furthermore, because we cannot describe the difference between these two at all in terms of sensory input, there is no difference, and anyone talking about a difference is confused. I adopt a strict stance ala the logical positivists on this point (but not all tenants of logical positivism). Not only do I not care about any ultimate reality, I think the very idea of an “ultimate reality” is ill-defined nonsense.

    So, Sye and Eric think it’s absurd for me to say I don’t know if I’m in The Matrix. I say it’s absurd that they think it matters, that they think I could possibly know that anyway, and that they think that their words even have meaning. The question they ask is defined only in terms of other words. These words form a small partition in our language, whose only definition or usage is understood in terms of other words in that partition. It’s completely circular. These ideas lack a grounding in sensory experience, and that is why these ideas are meaningless. Again, compare to the idea of a chair, whose definition is inherently grounded in common sensory experience, and that’s why it’s meaningful.

    To be clear, concepts not grounded in common sense experience are meaningless only if they purport to talk about observable things in our shared reality with material causal power. I have no problem talking about beauty, or math, or pure logic.

    Finally, the position of Sye and Eric is even worse than that. They want to have their cake and eat it too. On one hand, the hypothesis of The Matrix is utterly untestable, and in that sense I do not care at all. In another sense, it’s possible that we can escape to the “ultimate reality”, and in that sense it is meaningful because the hypothesis offers testable predictions of future sensory experience. People like Sye and Eric rely explicitly on the first sense while implicitly relying on the second sense in order to set up a sort of cognitive dissonance in listeners. A listener will intuitively understand that it’s ridiculous to not be able to determine if you’re in The Matrix when people can escape from The Matrix, but at the same time will also lean towards science never being able to tell the difference because that’s the premise of using The Matrix as an untestable hypothesis.

    I see this kind of thinking from people who cannot stand ambiguity, who cannot stand talking about degrees of confidence instead of “knowledge”. Maybe these people are scared – I don’t know. This kind of philosophical realism is a pernicious belief that we should be rid of.

    PS: It’s also this stupidity which makes people think that even words have inherent meaning, like where Sye makes an idiot of himself about 5 seconds prior when he says that words do have inherent meaning. Ugg. Such an idiot (or a liar).

    1. 68.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      > Again, compare to the idea of a chair, whose definition is inherently grounded in common sensory experience, and that’s why it’s meaningful.

      Think about it. Consider the cliche scenario where two people meet who don’t have a common language. What do they do? They teach the other their language. The cliche is one points to an object, like a chair, and says “chair”. They are grounding the meaning of the word “chair” in terms of their common sensory experience.

      For example, how else could we define a word like “pain”? I’m getting mighty close to discussing qualia, so I’ll stop when I’m ahead.

      PS: Quinne’s radical translation is stupid and wrong. The response to radical translation is the exact same response to Plantinga’s “argument” that evolution is just as likely to produce a creature with mostly false beliefs as a creature with mostly true beliefs. The same problem exists in both, and both are solved with some basic knowledge of evolutionary theory and computation theory – especially computation theory.

    2. 68.2
      Frank G. Turner

      Enlightenment Liberal,
      About meanings of words. Sye found it absurd that Matt said words don’t have (inherent) meaning. I don’t know if Sye is too stupid to understand the difference between “inherent meaning” and “meaning derived from consensus”, or if he’s a lying asshat. Of course words don’t have inherent meaning. The meaning of words is only by consensus. For example, google tells me that there is a word in Italian pronounced like the English word “die”, but which means “come on” in Italian. The word “die” has no meaning. Only by consensus of a particular group does it gain meaning, and it has meaning only within the context of that group. God, Sye’s an idiot or a liar.
      .
      What I have observed in a lot of people is a tendency to forget the earlier stages of their life, i.e.: childhood amnesia which is discussed in many psychology and psychiatry textbooks. One cannot remember every moment of one’s life (the brain would get overloaded if we did and for some of us that do remember more it can be quite painful and tough to deal with) and one forgets numerous events such as when one was developing language skills from one’s environment and words were being learned. This applies ot other things too though like forgetting how we came to change our minds about things. Matt is lucky to remember having been an evangelist Xtian as it sounds like it helps him, many cannot remember their conversion.
      .
      I was reading recently (I wish I could remember the reference and anyone reading feel free to help me out if this sounds familiar) where a psychologist who directed group therapy had his patients (most dealing with issues of narcissism and neuroticism) write down their emotional thoughts extensively and sign the documents which he kept under wraps (common doctor patient privilege stuff) then had them continue on and a couple of years later had them open up the old documents. Many of his patients (obviously confidentially as he cannot legally share the information) discussed being shocked and many even had claimed that it was a conspiracy as it could not be them who wrote that document. Many would not accept that they themselves had written that as it seemed so “un-like” them, they seemed to think that their current emotional state was what they had “always” felt.
      .
      One of the things the therapist discussed in the study was how his patients seemed to re-create their own past as if to agree with their present emotional attitude rather than acknowledge the changes that led them to their current state. Hence why many of them were so shocked to learn that their present emotional memory did not agree with documentation of their past emotional state.
      .
      Now apply that to language, where in StB’s mind he ALWAYS could speak English and words ALWAYS had the meanings that he was taught rather than learning by consensus (which is what he was doing just like all of us did even if he does not remember it that way). It is essentially what indoctrination is, learning by consensus, and that human tendency to learn by consensus seems to lead many human beings to think that consensus is what makes things factually correct and “true” rather than things being “true” by virtue of demonstrable evidence. Essentially it is a misapplication of our method of learning, both in our learning by consensus and amnesia regarding our emotional past to think that the way we feel now is how we always felt and will always feel.

    3. 68.3
      adamah

      EL said-

      So, Sye and Eric think it’s absurd for me to say I don’t know if I’m in The Matrix.

      Unfortunately, theists will exploit such pointless philosophical ponderings to create a strawman, attempting to portray all atheists as egg-headed doubters paralyzed by FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubts) who can’t even discern their ass from a hole in the ground.

      That’s the weakness exposed in allowing them to exploit interest in such philosophical topics: the “brain in a vat” cliche’ is poison, the atheists’ equivalent of the theists’ “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” question, since both are unverifiable, highly-speculative, and (in the case of the vat example) only useful as a thought-exercise to demonstrate the limits of logic.

      To willingly step into that trap is foolish, as it then becomes a race to see which side points out the absurdity of the solopsist’s position (and the audience, atheist and theist alike, mostly knows it’s not true as a practical matter).

      Obviously we need to make ASSUMPTIONS to move beyond it, setting aside such time-wasting questions, since it’s irresolvable, but more importantly, it’s ultimately irrelevant to the discussion since it changes nothing.

      It’s hard to believe Sye and Eric don’t understand that language is an agreed-upon CONVENTION, where the sounds of words don’t have any intrinsic or inherent meaning?

      There’s GOT to be a YouTube video where it was explained to them during a prior debate, and now they’re intentionally playing dumb since it doesn’t fit their agenda?

      1. EnlightenmentLiberal

        Obviously we need to make ASSUMPTIONS to move beyond it [brain in a vat]

        No we don’t. We don’t need to move beyond it. It’s irrelevant. I fail to understand how I could be more clear in my point. You seemingly did not address anything I said on this point at all. How can I be more clear?

      2. Frank G. Turner

        @Adam
        There’s GOT to be a YouTube video where it was explained to them during a prior debate, and now they’re intentionally playing dumb since it doesn’t fit their agenda?
        .
        On some level it is possible that they do understand, but maybe not. I have heard it said that by now for all the arguing he does against it, Ray Comfort must at least understand evolution given how well it has been described to him and may play dumb because it does not fit his agenda. That is where I get into the whole “they don’t buy their owl kool-aid but continue their BS to make money” concept.
        .
        Then again emotional reasoning can filter out that which you don’t want to hear, sometimes ot ridiculous levels. If you have ever seen “A Clockwork Orange” where he is straight jacketed with his eyes pinned open forced to watch violence for hours and hours (while taking a nausea inducting injection) when Alex has his epiphany and realizes that doing violence against people is wrong, btu it is not good enough. They want him to be INCAPABLE of violence against others. Well I can imagine that their would be other violent people like Alex whose brains are so set on feeling that they arte justified in the actions that they do that removing their ability to do violence is the only way to stop it. They will never have that epiphany because they bury their head in the sand. On some unconcious level they might (I stress the word “might”) realize the issue but refuse to acknowledge it on a concious level. Well some may not have even that.
        .
        Now imagine that Alex is StB and is being taught in the straight jacket about language and logical reasoning, agianst his will, for weeks on end, with his eyes pinned open and his lips sealed shut during the sessions. Would he have an apiphany like Alex, or are his ideas buried so deeply in that you would have to whipe out his personality to open his mind even a tiny shred, if at all? (I don’t know about Hovind and StB but based on Comfort’s past I think he does know better but needs the milk from his cash cow).

  69. 69
    Matzo Ball Soup

    I’m late to the party here, but I watched the video just now and *of course* Sye’s first premise is wrong. For the sake of clarity, I’ll paraphrase his archaism and change a definite description into a universal quantifier: “if something is true, then it’s reasonable to believe it”. But surely there are true propositions that it wouldn’t be reasonable to form positive beliefs about. For instance, I’m currently sitting in Massachusetts wearing a black shirt. My brother is in Russia and I haven’t communicated with him for several days, so there’s no way for him to know what colour shirt I’m wearing right now. It would be silly for him to form the belief that I’m wearing a black shirt, even though he’d be right. This would be a belief based on a guess, which would be insufficient.

    Or, to take a less frivolous example, let’s imagine that we’re in some previous period in history where we know some stuff about cosmology, but not whether the universe is expanding or not. (This isn’t an area of science I personally know a lot about, so I might be constructing the example poorly.) We can look back from 2014 and say, from our vantage point of having more information, that if we’d believed back in the day that the universe was expanding, we’d have been right. But at the time, there wouldn’t have been any evidence for this. In fact, absent any evidence one way or the other, we might have thought that a static universe was the more parsimonious theory. If that’s the case, we might even have been justified in thinking that a static universe was more likely. It’s not until we get more evidence and realise that a model with an expanding universe is a better explanation for what we’re observing that it becomes reasonable to form the positive belief. And if, in the year 1500, you had faith that there were planets in the solar system beyond Saturn, you’d have been right, but for a crappy reason.

    1. 69.1
      EnlightenmentLiberal

      Agreed wholeheartedly. I called that out with my friend while watching it.

      1. Matzo Ball Soup

        I’m kind of surprised that Matt didn’t make the same point, since it seemed so obvious. But the more I listened to Sye talking about knowledge, the more I was reminded of the joke about the mathematician and the engineer: a psychologist has them stand at one end of a long hallway and says: “That buffet table at the end of the hallway is 100 feet away from you. Now, walk halfway across the hallway.…Then half of the remaining distance…” and so on. The mathematician gets upset and says: “We’ll be stuck here forever! We’ll never get to the food!” The engineer says, “Well, we’ll get close enough for practical purposes.” The conceptions Sye seems to care about aren’t ones that have any relevance to real life.

        1. Narf

          Hell, six halvings and you can eat. That’s about a foot and a half remaining. We have arms, you know.

          1. Matzo Ball Soup

            No, I don’t know! Hell, I don’t even know whether I’m a brain in a vat or not! *panic*

    2. 69.2
      Matzo Ball Soup

      So I guess this is what the guy who asked the question with the blind man and the Van Gogh painting was trying to say as well – I missed it the first time. But he kind of failed at being clear, so I’m not surprised…

  70. 70
    Todd Alexander

    Sye is way in over his head, haha

  71. 71
    HappyLuke

    Sye was very confident in the truth of the first premise of his initial syllogism, “It is reasonable to believe what is true”. This is actually false in the deductive sense.
    Something being true isn’t necessary or sufficient to make it reasonable to believe it.
    *Understanding good reasons to think something is true*, is what actually makes it reasonable to believe it. There are situations where it’s not reasonable to believe something that is true, (like ‘that you have won the lottery’ when you have but before they’ve told you), so truth is not sufficient for reasonable belief, and there are situations where it’s reasonable to believe something that isn’t true (like ‘person x is dead’ if person x faked their death extremely convincingly), so truth is not necessary for reasonable belief.

  72. 72
    EnlightenmentLiberal

    I used Sye’s “proof that god exists . org” or whatever feedback to email a simple question. I had hoped to see what contortions he would make when faced with the Münchhausen trilemma by name. Specifically, I took a paragraph to explain it. Then, I asked if he thinks if circular reasoning is bad, and whether endless regresses of justifications are bad. Then, I asked “If you accept that circular reasoning is bad, and endlesses regresses of justifications are bad, then how can you know anything for certain when the Münchhausen trilemma proves that all of your knowledge is based on some unsubstantiated claims?” I followed up with a couple claims which I said appear to be nakedly asserted, unjustified, and therefore maybe false, including:
    - we can know anything for certain
    - some mind which knows everything exists
    - a mind can tell the difference between being fooled and knowing everything with absolute certainty
    - a mind which knows everything with absolute certainty can impart some knowledge to you such that you can know it with absolute certainty
    - you can tell the difference between (your) god imparting truth to you and Satan imparting lies to you

    He hasn’t reply yet, and it’s been over a week I think. Sad panda face.

  1. 73
    Open thread on episode #868 » The Atheist Experience

    […] Update: To discuss the debate between Matt Dillahunty and Sye Ten Bruggencate, please go here. […]

  2. 74
    No cure for insomnia here » Pharyngula

    […] at 3am, and figured the thing to do is watch some boring debate…and you may have heard that Sye Ten Bruggencate debated Matt Dillahunty last weekend. Just the thing! Bruggencate is a tedious kook, and it’s just the thing to put me to […]

  3. 75
    On Sye Ten Bruggencate’s response to Islam and the Outsider Test » The Atheist Experience

    […] during the debate between Matt and Sye, audience members asked Sye a good question that is reminiscent of John Loftus’s […]

Leave a Reply

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

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