Mar 21 2011

The embedded assumptions of belief

I recently had an old acquaintance of mine contact me over Facebook for a status update. I had opined that homeopaths deserve to burn in a “non-existent hell” for stoking hysteria over the Japanese nuclear crisis to sell their snake oil. My friend (who I will hereafter refer to as “Janice”) felt that it was of the utmost importance to contact me and assure me that hell is indeed a real place, and that the earthquake was part of a currently-unfolding Biblical prophecy.

Janice and I haven’t spoken in a number of years, and so it’s not surprising to me that she was unaware of my atheism. It was surprising to me that she didn’t just ignore my heathenism, instead preferring to blindly assert to me that she had special insight into the mind of the Creator of the Universe. In the interest of avoiding a completely unnecessary fight, I thanked Janice for her concern, and suggested that she probably didn’t want to have ‘the religion talk’ with me. After all, I spend a good number of hours every week exploring the bankruptcies of religious arguments, whereas she in all likelihood has never really crossed swords with a Gnu Atheist before.

Janice, not willing to pass up an opportunity to educate me about how great her god is, kept pressing me. She told me that she believed in the 100% truth of the Bible, and that if I only believed as she did, I would also be able to foresee the end of the world by volcanic cataclysm and world war. I won’t go through the entire back-and-forth between us – it was overflowing with the usual atheist responses to tired theist clichés – but suffice it to say I was unconvinced.

The way I left it with Janice (and, assuming I have succeeded in dissuading her from bringing this topic up with me again, the way this conversation has completely left off) was to list some of the several reasons why her assertions about the Biblical forecast of impending armageddon would never be even in the least bit convincing to me.

First Assumption: the universe was created by a conscious, intentional force of some kind.

Despite creationist and other theist protestations to the contrary, the universe shows very little sign of intentional creation. Aside from the fact that the physical laws of the universe permit stability and predictability (a fact that is not as complicated to explain as has been repeatedly claimed), there is nothing at all in the universe that suggests intentionality. There are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone, with another 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Only arrogance or ignorance (or some combination thereof) could lead someone to believe that this fact points to Earth as being a unique product of specific creation, or to achieve some specific purpose in which human beings play any part.

This assumption has insufficient evidence to demonstrate its truth, and doesn’t even have the appearance of being likely.

Second Assumption: the conscious, intentional force involves itself in human affairs.

Even if we simply grant the above assumption for the sake of argument, there is a second embedded assumption. Not being content with simply creating the universe and then remaining absent and abstract, this creative force (who I will for the sake of clarity call ‘Phil’) has chosen one specific species on one specific planet in one specific galaxy to reveal itself to. Phil is intimately concerned with the behaviours, actions and thoughts of this one species – so much so that it has created an eternal destination of paradise, and another of unimaginable horror specifically for this species to experience forever.

Looking around at the pattern of belief (and public expressions thereof), there does not appear to be any reason to accept this assumption. Prayers to Phil don’t seem to grant any favours or special treatment – Phil seems almost entirely indifferent to the successes or failures of his special creation. It doesn’t even seem that Phil is particularly interested in convincing us of its existence. There is, once again, no real reason to suspect that this assumption is merited.

Third Assumption: Phil has contacted humans and revealed its plan

Again granting the above assumptions, we have to again assume that Phil has expressed its wishes to humankind. Not only does Phil have a plan for humans, but it has told specific individuals this plan at various points throughout history. Phil has interacted with specific people, rather than the entire species, to convey its wishes. Phil does this communication in ways that are largely indistinguishable from mental illness or some other kind of psychological frailty, common in the species.

It is trivially easy to imagine a method of communication that is far superior to the way in which Phil has supposedly chosen. In fact, humans have developed a multitude of methods for mass communication of ideas. Phil has used none of these. There’s no real reason to suspect that this assumption is worth granting either.

Fourth Assumption: of the multitude of groups that have claimed special communication from Phil, the claim by the Israelites is genuine

There are literally thousands of groups that, throughout history, have claimed to have a special insight from Phil. Each of them claims that their insight is real, whereas those others that conflict are incorrect. There is no real reason to suspect that this one particular group, from this particular time period, in this particular area of the world, has the genuine article while all others are simply worshiping “false gods”. Even if it was genuine, it is highly suspicious that there have been no further communications from Phil (at least any that concur with the Israelites’ initial claim), especially in a time when mass communication of information is trivially simple to achieve.

Fifth Assumption: the Israelites, a non-literate group of nomads, were able to accurately transcribe the original communications of Phil into one book

Once again granting the above assumptions for the sake of argument, the contents of the Bible pre-date a time when Israelite scholars were able to write down the stories that had been spread by word of mouth. Having read a smattering of mythology that comes from oral retelling (the works of Homer, other Greek myths, Roman and Norse mythology, African and Caribbean creation storytelling, First Nations mythology), I immediately recognize the stamp of oral transcription whenever I read the old testament. The new testament has a very well-documented history of human origin, with various councils assembled to decide (by popular vote) which passages and books are the work of Phil and which are apocryphal.

Reality is not decided by vote, and as a direct result I cannot accept the fifth assumption as having any merit.

Sixth Assumption: Janice’s particular interpretation of the words of Phil is the correct one

Janice has asked me to just grant the first 5 assumptions, each without any convincing evidence, not just for the sake of argument, but to accept them as truth. She then goes on to demand that I also accept this final assumption with the justification that she has the Holy Spirit™. Now far be it from me to question Janice’s sincerity or her honesty – she is a great person who I hold in high personal esteem. However, there have been millions of contradictory interpretations of the bible, all from people who claim the same divine inspiration. Even if I were to grant the several particular assumptions (separate from the above 5) that would be required for me to accept the existence of such a spirit, I could not be less persuaded by Janice’s claim to have exclusive access to it.

While I was content to debate with Janice having granted the truth of the first 5 assumptions, I was not really interested in prolonging the discussion. Janice’s beliefs are strong, and completely irrational. She is not a random denizen of the internet, but a personal friend who I do not wish to alienate. However, it is incumbent upon me to be honest and open with her in my objections to being harangued for not believing in her version of the biblical account. I’d rather preempt a long and potentially fractious argument by laying out the many reasons why a discussion that is based on the truth of the bible is basically a waste of time for both of us.

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  1. 1
    Brian Lynchehaun

    You left out the rest of Phil’s name. Given the general state of chaos s/he could only be Irish, thus her/his full name is: Phil O’Sophy.

  2. 2

    Were you referencing Carl Riener and Mel Brooks’ “The Two Thousand Year Old Man” when you talk about “Phil”?

  3. 3

    Pfft, I WISH I was that pop-culture aware. I just picked a name at (what I thought was) random. Maybe it’s embedded in my subconscious.

  4. 4

    Not only does this Janice love God, but she seems to care about you and your wellbeing. Good friend to have!

  5. 5

    Well I’ll agree with the second part. I don’t really care much about her relationship with her imaginary friend.

    She’s not a YEC though. She believes that evolution is compatible with the Genesis account, and that Adam and Eve are metaphors. Clearly, therefore, her religious views are wrong.

  6. 6

    Is this the thread?

  7. 7

    Much better.

    Now, before we begin, I need you to agree to some basic rules for the discussion. First, please recognize that in order to make a claim from the Bible, you first have to establish that the Bible is a reliable source of scientific or historical information. By ‘reliable’ I mean that the claims made in the Bible are supported by sources of evidence that lie outside the book itself (for example, archeology, written histories of other groups from the same time, scientific findings). I will not accept the Bible as proof of itself. You have rightly identified that as an argument based on circular reasoning.

    Second, I will not accept personal revelation or faith as evidence. Knowing what we know about the flaws of the human brain, it is entirely possible that someone can believe something sincerely but it not be true. My Thor example was a demonstration of that.

    Third, if you use an argument and I demonstrate that it is flawed, I would ask that you acknowledge this fact and do not simply move to a different argument. This is a common tactic for theists who enter debates – they throw out a million bad arguments hoping to drown their opposition in a flood of faulty reasoning.

    If you are willing to agree to these rules, which I think are fair, then I am willing to have this discussion with you. If not, then you are welcome to post whatever you like but I will not take you seriously, and will probably invite others to come and mock you as well.

    Also, would you be willing to tell me your approximate age, level of education, and whether or not English is your first language? I want to make sure that I am not being unfair or hurtful in my responses.

  8. 8

    Ok well first I state that the Bible is truth. And I want to know where you get your statements of truth?

  9. 9

    I’d like you to read what I’ve written and state whether or not you agree to the terms I propose, please.

  10. 10

    I have to run, put up a post and I will get to it later. Thank you very much.

  11. 11

    There is a whole post right above you. I will not do anything more until you respond to my proposed rules and demonstrate that you are a thinking human person as opposed to a meat robot.

  12. 12
    Brian Lynchehaun

    I have to run, put up a post and I will get to it later.


    I don’t have any actually “coherent” thoughts, but (like on the other thread) I will willfully misunderstand everything you say to make it look like you’re an idiot (but only to me and my buddies. People who can read will immediately see what we are doing).

    Please say something so I can try to make fun of you in an entirely juvenile way!

  13. 13

    His “buddy” is a sockpuppet account. I don’t expect him to come back.

  14. 14
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Well, if that’s all it takes for him to get his jollies… more power to him, I guess…

  15. 15

    Ok I agree. I will quote the bible to exsplain what I believe from time to time but I agree I will not use it as evidence.

  16. 16

    And the rest? You will agree to abandon arguments if they are refuted? You will not provide personal revelation or faith as sources of evidence? I will agree to these same rules.

    The reason I keep harping on these points, and will not bother engaging with you if you don’t agree to them, is that creationists and other theists often use these techniques as a method of “debate” which is really just about stating your opinions in a loud voice. I have no interest in being preached to, nor am I interested in hearing arguments that I’ve heard a million times used ad nauseum as a way of escaping the contradictions inherent in theist belief.

    I would also appreciate it if you would tell me your age and level of formal education, so that I don’t talk over your head or come across as patronizing. I have no wish to offend you, so it would help me a lot.

  17. 17

    Every bit of it. Ok you take first shot if you want.

  18. 18

    Well let’s start with point 1 above. The universe does not show any hallmarks of design. The vast majority of things that exist are hostile to human life. The sheer number of things that exist suggests that pockets of ‘order’ will appear from the ‘chaos’ of the universe, but that doesn’t in any way suggest the existence of an intentional creation. In the sense of ‘creation’ that we can observe, the universe looks very much like something that was not ‘created’, but came about through the natural interaction of fundamental physical forces. The more we learn about the universe, the more we are able to explain through natural processes, rather than needing to invoke the existence of gods.

    I should point out, however, that it is not my position that needs to be defended here. I am merely saying “I don’t think there’s any reason to believe in a god”. Your job is to provide me with all of the good reasons I should believe.

  19. 19

    Ok well there is our difference in worldviews we each look at something the same and interpret it differently. But I have one question if God could reveal himself to you would you worship him?? (and you knew that it was him for sure, and prtending that you believed in God)

  20. 20
    Brian Lynchehaun

    Ok well there is our difference in worldviews we each look at something the same and interpret it differently.

    Let’s pretend that this idea of cultural relativism has merit for a few moments.

    Let’s agree that there are two perfectly equal worldviews: the universe looks like it was designed (Worldview A), and the universe doesn’t look like it was designed (Worldview B).

    Yup, they’re different. But if neither of them is ‘right’ and neither is ‘wrong’: why did you choose Worldview A?

    (Please don’t turn this around, because I don’t actually agree that neither of them is correct)

  21. 21

    Threadjacker! :P

  22. 22

    Ok well there is our difference in worldviews we each look at something the same and interpret it differently.

    You’re familiar with the Paley’s Watch argument, I assume. You’re saying that we’re walking down the beach and both seeing a watch on the sand and drawing different conclusions. My conclusion is that someone dropped it there. Your conclusion is that it was dropped by a time traveller from the 29th century during a heated battle with amphibious assassin droids sent by the Xyclon empire. Yes, we see things differently, but the way you see them is completely insane.

    if God could reveal himself to you would you worship him?

    Which god?

  23. 23

    The one and only true God.

  24. 24

    And your right someone dropped it…. God did… but if the one and only true God could reveal himself to you, and you knew it was him, then would you worship him?

  25. 25

    Every religion believes that their god is the only true one, so you haven’t answered the question.

    And, as far as “goddidit”, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Your “interpretation” of the facts is self-contradictory and insane. Mine at least has the benefit of being based on observable reality.

  26. 26

    Ha ok maybe im not understanding this how is yours based on reality?? because my God dropped the watch not a guy from the twentith century and would you worship God the true one if you knew who he was or not?

  27. 27

    You cannot condradict yourself if it is something unknown

  28. 28

    Because we have observed people having watches. We have not observed non-people having watches. We have observed people drop watches. We have not observed watches spontaneously pop into existence. We certainly haven’t seen watches be willed into existence. I may not know to an absolute certainty that a person dropped the watch – it might have been a bird. It might have washed up on the shore from the water. However, time travel is logically impossible, and even if it were somehow demonstrated to be true, there is still no reason to believe in aquatic assassin droids, let alone specific ones from “the Xyclon empire”. My explanation is the one that best fits the reality we have observed, as opposed to one we have just made up because we lack the tools to investigate.

    I still don’t know what you mean by the “true” god. There are lots of gods, and everyone believes theirs is true.

  29. 29

    There are things, even unknown things, that are logically impossible. I can know that there isn’t a fifty foot 4-sided purple triangle on the dark side of the moon, because even though I can’t see that side of the moon, there is no such thing as a 4-sided triangle. It’s logically self-defeating. So is Yahweh (which is, I presume, the god you believe in since you reference the Bible).

  30. 30

    Yes people do drop watches granted. But your relly proveing God when you say a person droped it because your claiming there had to have been some kind of being that droped it.

  31. 31

    No, I’m saying that the best explanation is the one for which there is the most evidence. There is evidence that people have watches and sometimes drop them. There is no evidence of watches spontaneously coming into existence. If there was lots of documented evidence of watches springing out of the sand, then that would be a more likely explanation. If I was on a beach where human beings had never been, then the existence of a watch there would be a mystery, and I would have to investigate. It wouldn’t make the “magic watch” or “goddidit” ideas any more plausible.

  32. 32

    Oh so your basicly telling me what I believe and saying its’s a fiction world? ok get it haha sorry buddy, well if you say God is fiction then your not gaining anywhere cause if you believe in the big bang, then your also taking faith in something that you never saw. Or any other scientific theory. It’s a theory because its taken by faith as is my God and religion it is taken by faith.

  33. 33

    I’m not saying anything of the sort. What I am saying is that the existence of the universe, as best we can tell, has naturalistic explanations. All of the observations we’ve made of stars, of background radiation, of red and blue shift in galaxies, of gravitation, of the fundamental forces of physics, fit with the big bang explanation. None of them point to a supernatural cause, so I have no reason to believe in one.

    Your definition of faith is flawed, incidentally. I have never been to Washington, DC, but I have sufficient evidence to believe it exists – all observations of the world converge to suggest that it is real, and that there are people there who do things. If someone were to tell me that Washington was fictional, I’d certainly be incredulous, but if presented with strong enough evidence I could be convinced. Belief apportioned to available evidence is not faith – it is reasonable provisional trust. Faith, in the sense that you believe in your god, is based on a suspension of the evidence – you have made up your mind first, and then cherry-pick the explanations that support your belief while ignoring the stuff that doesn’t.

  34. 34

    Wrong.”confidence or trust in a person or a thing” that is a quote from the dictionary. And if you dont see Washington DC but you believe its there because of pictures… well you see it is faith and that is perfect illistration of you seeing God with creation. To bad you dont believe in God you would make a good sunday school teacher lol

  35. 35

    And you trust that Washinton DC exists because you see the pictures. Well I trust Gid exists because of creation. You dont know if iether are real but you come to the result that they are because of the evidence.

  36. 36

    I used to be a Sunday school teacher, actually.

    That is not the only dictionary definition of faith, and in the context you are using it, it is not the most appropriate one. I recognize this as a common semantic trick that theists like to use, but even if I were to grant it any legitimacy, I do not place equal trust in all things. I apportion the strength of my belief in something to the amount of evidence supporting it. There has been no evidence presented to me that any gods exist, and so the strength of my belief in them is zero.

    It is not simply the existence of pictures – I’ve seen pictures of Atlantis in movies too – doesn’t mean I believe it exists. There are lots of different kinds of evidence – planes fly there, people report news stories from there, I have friends who have been, there are historical records of it, the different accounts of it match up with each other – it’s very strong evidence that Washington isn’t something that someone made up.

    Seeing the universe is not evidence that a god created it, any more than seeing a watch on the sand is evidence that it was dropped by a time-traveller battling assassin droids. All that the existence of the universe tells us is that the universe exists. You have decided to reject the scientific explanation for why the universe exists, but you have not yet given me a reason why.

  37. 37

    Ok well all we have gotten so far is establishing eachothers worldviews. And booth of us think that eachother are wrong… but however. Like I asked you before would you believe in God, the God I believe, Yahweh…. if he would prove to you that he was real. Yes or no?

  38. 38

    No, we have not established that “we think each other are wrong”. What we have established is that you hold a belief for which there is no evidence. That is not a simple difference of opinion on worldviews – it is you being demonstrably incorrect.

  39. 39

    No but there is evidence for it! you need to studdy booth sides my friend the evidence for booth sides… The bible is backed by alot of evidence and I will share one with you… You know that the bible has the great flood in it(since you were a sunday school teacher. There are hundreds of flood legends in cultures all around the world and the Chinese language actually was formed by what happened by the bible. And it irronically is the oldest language that dates back to the tower of Bablon… I assume you know what that is if you dont believe me and you are genuinely open to the truth go to http://students.washington.edu/cbsf/cool/Chinese.swf it exsplains it all. And if you dont look at it I know you dont care about the truth and that you dont want to believe in God cause you want to live the way you want to and you dont want anyone telling you what to do.

  40. 40

    That’s an incredibly dishonest debate tactic – “either you accept my shitty evidence or you are morally contemptible”. And believe me, this is shitty evidence. Also, it’s “Babylon”, not “Bablon”. I will ask you to leave the personal evaluations of my motivation aside, or I will begin speculating about why you came to my blog and tried engaging me in this silly argument.

    You’ve also done exactly what you promised not to do – you’ve completely changed topics without acknowledging that your position has been refuted. Discussions of how the bible was written have nothing to do with whether or not the universe suggests a creator.

  41. 41

    OK obviously you arent open then… So you asked me why you need to believe in God? I can answer but I need to know something that I have asked you so many times, If Jehovah revealed himself to you and you knew it was him, would you worship him?

  42. 42

    It’s not that I’m not open. I watched it. It’s just stupid. But it’s also completely unrelated to the discussion. I’ve also never asked why I need to believe in a god. I asked what evidence you have that the universe was created by a supernatural being.

    I have intentionally ignored your attempt to change the subject several times. I am not sure why you keep coming back to this inane question, but I’m not interested in going off on a tangent.

  43. 43

    “You have decided to reject the scientific explanation for why the universe exists, but you have not yet given me a reason why.” your quote read the conversation… and I dont change the subject, all your doinf is saying what i believe isnt true. And I therefore have to change the subject to get somewhere or else nothing will be said worth while. So what’s so hard about my question? Ive let you ask questions thus far, now please answer mine.

  44. 44

    And to answer the question in the quote. Your right i have choosen to reject the so called exsplenation that cant be proven… because I see the exsplanation differently niether can my view be proven though…

  45. 45

    You’ve let me ask them, but you haven’t answered a single one.

    I have said exactly nothing about what you believe. We’ll get to what you believe later. What I have said, repeatedly, is that observations of the universe do not suggest intentional creation. You have countered by saying that certain Chinese characters can be made to resemble biblical passages if you squint and tilt your head.

    The reason I’m not answering your question is because until we have established some basic assumptions, your question is logically meaningless. It’s like asking me what would happen if I drank dry water.

  46. 46

    You must have some special standard for “proof” that nobody else uses. 100% of observations in the universe are compatible with the big bang theory, and predictions made under that theory are supported by subsequent observation. That’s proof in the sense that most of the world understands the term.

    To contrast, there are many observations that do not fit a ‘creation’ model, and predictions made about the world from that standpoint are not matched by observation. Most of the world would call that a false hypothesis. I’m not interested in pretending as though your position has any legitimacy outside the privacy of your own mind.

  47. 47

    You wont be squinting or tilting your head if you visit the site I recommended… And you havent asked me questions all your doing is assuming my beliefs and saying there wrong because you dont believe them. Now if you have a question then please ask me and dont assume you know what I believe in the question.

  48. 48

    I went to the site. I watched the Flash video. It’s stupid. I’ve already said that.

    You can’t say that you let me ask a bunch of questions in one comment, and then complain that I’m not asking you any in the next one. I don’t really care what you believe in the context of this part of the conversation. Any god that you believe in is contingent upon the universe looking like an intentional creation. It doesn’t. Therefore which particular god concept you believe in has no bearing on anything.

  49. 49

    OK ask me one question… if you really want a answer.

  50. 50

    Fine, I will rephrase my argument as a question. What physical evidence is there that the universe was created by a supernatural being? Remember that you agreed that the Bible does not count as evidence, nor does faith. I’m talking about physical, scientifically rigorous evidence based on controlled, reproducible observation.

    I am going to bed now, by the way, so you will have 7 hours or so to look for some.

  51. 51

    Well when you ask a question you usually expect a answer. So you ask me one question at a time and I will give you a answer. If you dont want a answer don’t ask me no questions unless you want me to ask you a question. Then which I will expect an answer.

    [Crommunist's note: My original response was "An answer to what?", which is what kevinsedore is responding to. I edited my comment because it seemed rude, but he had clearly read it before I could change it.]

  52. 52

    Well you cannot have a worldview without some form of faith… please look up the definitions of faith in the dictionary because all of them point toward trusting something you cant see. With that being said nobody can come to some sort of worlview without faith, mine is in God yours is in big bang (I assume, if not correct me please.) we never saw iether therefore we have faith it happened. All my answers are copied and pasted from http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2005/06/01/evidence-for-young-world

    I urge you to truly check it out. Even though there is no proof of supernatural there is all kinds of evidence pointing toward it. Just as people would claim for evolution, and yet it cannot be proven cause we have never seen it. if you earnestly seek the truth I urge you to check it out. And you most likely know this but, if God exists were all going to hell. But he sent Jesus, his son to cover for us when he judges us after our death. If you confess your sins and trust that Christ died for you and your sins then you are able to spend eternity with God in heaven. Anyhow sorry for upsetting you and offending you God bless you and I beg you to visit the website I showed you to get more evidence.

    3. Comets disintegrate too quickly.
    According to evolutionary theory, comets are supposed to be the same age as the solar system, about five billion years. Yet each time a comet orbits close to the sun, it loses so much of its material that it could not survive much longer than about 100,000 years. Many comets have typical ages of less than 10,000 years.4 Evolutionists explain this discrepancy by assuming that (a) comets come from an unobserved spherical “Oort cloud” well beyond the orbit of Pluto, (b) improbable gravitational interactions with infrequently passing stars often knock comets into the solar system, and (c) other improbable interactions with planets slow down the incoming comets often enough to account for the hundreds of comets observed.5 So far, none of these assumptions has been substantiated either by observations or realistic calculations. Lately, there has been much talk of the “Kuiper Belt,” a disc of supposed comet sources lying in the plane of the solar system just outside the orbit of Pluto. Some asteroid-sized bodies of ice exist in that location, but they do not solve the evolutionists’ problem, since according to evolutionary theory, the Kuiper Belt would quickly become exhausted if there were no Oort cloud to supply it.

    5. Not enough sodium in the sea.
    Every year, rivers8 and other sources9 dump over 450 million tons of sodium into the ocean. Only 27% of this sodium manages to get back out of the sea each year.9,10 As far as anyone knows, the remainder simply accumulates in the ocean. If the sea had no sodium to start with, it would have accumulated its present amount in less than 42 million years at today’s input and output rates.10 This is much less than the evolutionary age of the ocean, three billion years. The usual reply to this discrepancy is that past sodium inputs must have been less and outputs greater. However, calculations that are as generous as possible to evolutionary scenarios still give a maximum age of only 62 million years.10 Calculations11 for many other seawater elements give much younger ages for the ocean.

    13. Agriculture is too recent.
    The usual evolutionary picture has men existing as hunters and gatherers for 185,000 years during the Stone Age before discovering agriculture less than 10,000 years ago.<Deevey, E. S., The human population, Scientific American 203:194–204 (September 1960). Yet the archaeological evidence shows that Stone Age men were as intelligent as we are. It is very improbable that none of the eight billion people mentioned in item 12 should discover that plants grow from seeds. It is more likely that men were without agriculture for a very short time after the Flood, if at all.30

  53. 53

    Believe me, I’m aware of Answers in Genesis. It’s a really bad place to get information about science, since it is an entire website devoted to denying science. Each and every claim on that website is shown to be incorrect. If you are interested in learning about why those pieces of “evidence” are false, you should check out Talk Origins. It is a very useful resource. All of the ‘evidence’ you supply there isn’t evidence for creation, only that there are questions we haven’t answered yet. To go back to the watch – the fact that I can’t demonstrate that a human dropped it doesn’t mean that your time-travelling assassin fighter is a more plausible theory – it just means I have to find a better explanation.

    I am aware of the definition of faith. However, words are used in context, and the difference between having ‘faith’ in observed science and having ‘faith’ in religion is quite significant. I have written a longer explanation that I think you should check out, because your statement that all worldviews require ‘faith’ equally is quite false.

    Even though there is no proof of supernatural

    Well there you have it. You admit that there is no reason to look at the world and say “a god did this”, and yet you believe in one anyway. Your threatening me with hell (which is silly – it’s like threatening to shoot my unicorn) suggests that your belief in Yahweh is based in fear. How sad. I am not going to try and ‘convert’ you to atheism, because that’s a process that takes time and introspection, rather than something you can be evangelized into. I will, however, say that belief without evidence is dangerous. The big bang has lots of physical evidence to support it. Creation has none.

  54. 54

    Your wrong big bang goes against the rules of physics unless there was a creator to create the physics because physics are a absolute. Absolutes have patturn showing evidence of a creator. And you arent looking at the same page I’am if you say its bad science. Cause its coming from men with PHD’s, and atheists can’t deny it. And they are useing truths from today to prove the bible… if you ask me the right questions then I can prove supernatual, or if I ask questions.

  55. 55

    I don’t know where you are getting this statement that physics requires a creator for the universe, but that is a patently false claim. In the body of the text above, I link specifically to a discussion by a physicist that shows models for a physical universe that does not require any intelligent entity to ‘create’ it. The statement that the big bang theory goes against physics is similarly nonsense – it was investigated and validated through the use of physics, as opposed to the creation myth which was invented out of thin air by people who had no knowledge of physics. The fact that centuries later people have scrambled to find trivia that shows a handful of similarities between the creation account and what we know about physics says nothing except that the story is vague enough, and people are creative enough, that it can be twisted to fit any story.

    Just because something comes from someone with a PhD doesn’t mean that it’s immediately valid. Many people with PhDs believe ridiculous things – what is important is whether or not the data support the conclusions. The data offered by AiG does not support their conclusions at all, and has been thoroughly refuted several times over. Atheists are also free to deny whatever they like – you’re not having a conversation with “atheists” though; you’re having one with me. Yes, I am an atheist, but that doesn’t mean that I must adhere to some standard of belief.

    Without wanting to sound too condescending, your writing suggests to me that you don’t have the relevant education to determine good science from pseudoscience. Like learning to repair a car, or how to build a bridge, or how to be a nurse, understanding how to critique science is a skill that you have to learn – not one that you can just figure out for yourself. AiG is not a reputable, peer-reviewed source. Their claims are widely derided by people who actually understand what they’re talking about.

    Unless you can provide evidence of the supernatural, which you’ve already admitted that you can’t, then you can’t prove it. That is the standard of proof that the reasonable part of the world uses – not feelings, not old books, not revealed truth, but observable evidence. Unless they lead toward observable phenomena, it doesn’t matter what questions are asked.

  56. 56

    I can provide proof and AIG is realiable, and you dont think they are. I know that wont change for iether of us LOL. Ok so you want proof for supernatural? if you do I can give it. And you need to realease evolution is a theory and not fact, because we have not observed it. Send me some links you want me to read and I will read them. However before I prove supernatual to you I need you to go tohttp://students.washington.edu/cbsf/cool/Chinese.swf
    which I sudgested before and read all of it. Chinese people have come to faith from there own language and it’s formation, this cannot be completely denied for evidence. But please send me some links and please read mine.

  57. 57

    As I already said, I did look at that Chinese language example. It is a neat thought experiment, but it is insufficient evidence to establish that Chinese is the original Babylonian language. We would have to have archaeological evidence showing such a migration, cultural evidence showing similarity of practices, genetic evidence showing recent migration. If we had those things, as opposed to coincidental similarity in written characters, that would be pretty powerful evidence that the two cultures were united. Even if that were the case, it would not mean the Bible was accurate about everything, just that the Tower of Babylon story is at least based on an actual historical event.

    I have already referred you to the TalkOrigins Index of Creationist Claims. Everything that AiG publishes is shown to be incorrect there. Even still, AiG’s hypotheses are not supported by their evidence. They have a “god of the gaps” approach which is to say “we can’t explain this finding or that finding yet, therefore Yahweh did it.” The conclusion is not supported by the premise. It’s not just that I don’t think they are reliable – they are demonstrably incorrect. They make claims that are not supported by evidence. The fact that you don’t accept it doesn’t mean that both of our opinions are equal, it’s that you’re wrong and would like to apply a different standard of evidence to your beliefs than everyone else does for theirs.

    It is clear that you don’t understand evolution, nor do you understand what the definition of the word ‘theory’ is in a scientific sense. There is abundant evidence for evolution – DNA, other biochemical markers, observed patterns of speciation, distribution of species, homology… the list goes on. We have observed the effects of evolution. To say that we haven’t observed evolution (even though we have, in species like bacteria and flies which have short generation times) and therefore it can be discounted is like saying “I have never met Abraham Lincoln, and therefore American history is fake”. However, my argument has absolutely nothing to do with evolution, so I’m not sure why you’re dragging that in there. My atheism is only partially related to my acceptance of the fact of evolution. I am not interested in teaching you basic biology – TalkOrigins will help you with that.

    I would be very interested in proof of the supernatural. Please remember – faith is not evidence, nor is the Bible. We have already dealt with the idea that “you can’t explain that” is not evidence for supernatural forces, it just means we haven’t explained it yet.

  58. 58

    Ok ill give you proof. I have a question though? now I know that you wouldnt worship the only God(no matter who he is) if he revealed himself to you. So I know you mind is already set against God. However I’am also set against evolution cause I have proof that I will share with you now. So i have a question do you think youi know 1% of everything?

  59. 59

    now I know that you wouldnt worship the only God(no matter who he is) if he revealed himself to you

    Actually I haven’t said that. What I said was that the question is meaningless. It is like asking me what would happen if you drank dry water. It is illogical and self-refuting. Until you define what god you are talking about, the characteristics thereof, and how I would distinguish between a god revealing itself to me vs. the onset of severe mental illness, I will continue to ignore this question. It is an impossibly hypothetical, and it does not deserve a response.

    Same with your second question: the number of things that can be known is potentially infinite. Mathematically that means I know a proportion of zero things, but that’s idiotic. I know many things. Your attempts to bait me into answering these childish loaded questions is going to fail.

    I’d be interested to see your proof, which you keep promising but never seem to deliver.

  60. 60

    So your basicly saying that there is so much to know that you know nothing? well I agree with you I dont think iether of us know anything cause I think everything else that we dont know most likely contradicts what we do know.

  61. 61

    You seem hell-bent on twisting my words.

    What I said is that the question is meaningless and childish, and that I won’t answer it.

  62. 62

    Why wont you answer it if its a question of two year old it should be easily answered. So do you agree that since we know hardly know anything at all that we really know nothing because there is so much to know we really dont know if the tiny bit we know is true.So ill ask the question again. We know nothing because there is infinite information so that we cant draw conclusions to be sure of anything correct?

  63. 63

    Just because a string of words has a question mark on the end doesn’t make it a good question, or one that has an answer:

    - What is the square root of a tomato?
    - How many water fits in the 18th century?
    - When does a clam learn jambalaya?

    All of these are questions that are meaningless. Your questions so far have been similarly meaningless. If you’re asking whether or not it is possible for us to know things, I will say yes. If you’re asking whether it’s possible for new information to amend or even completely change our former understanding of things, I will also say yes. But you’re not asking those things – you’re asking me for the square root of a tomato.

  64. 64

    Ya but since knowleage is infinite like you said and that we know a tiny little we most likely know nothing at all that is very accurate conclusion. The question and what i’m saying makes plenty of sense but it’s irritating you… come on we booth know that we can very well know nothing.

  65. 65

    Actually it is not an accurate conclusion at all. It would be like saying that since the universe has infinite size, therefore an ant is the same size as Europe. Is an ant the same size as Europe? No! It’s a stupid question, because it starts from a premise that doesn’t make any sense. We do not measure size on a relative scale, and certainly not a scale relative to the entire universe. It is the same with knowledge. We do not quantify it in comparison to all the things that could possibly be known – such a scale would be meaningless.

  66. 66

    Perhaps you dont understand the question or your avoiding it on purpose. Now let me give you a different one since that was a tough question… How do you know what you know considering humans know nothing?

  67. 67

    I have explained in great detail, many times, why the question is meaningless. It’s not “tough”, it’s not that I don’t understand it. I understand it perfectly – it is just meaningless. The reason I am “avoiding” it is because the only answer you can get to a meaningless question is a meaningless answer.

    I don’t accept the premise of your second question. Humans know a great many things. For example, humans that know things designed the computer that you’re using to try and lay feeble semantic traps for me on the internet (another thing that humans were able to invent because we know things).

  68. 68

    Since knowledge is never ending… we know nothing for sure of what we know.

  69. 69

    I’ve already explained why that is a false statement.

  70. 70

    Or rather, it is true only in the sense that it is true that an ant is the size of Europe.

  71. 71

    If you claim the answer is meaningless then tell me the answer anyway… Now I will tell you right now it is impossible to know anything for sure. As far as morral, science, absolutes go. Because there is wayyyyy to much unknown that none of that is known for sure… now the answer is we know nothing cause there is way to much but yet all humans know that it is wrong to murder…. this cannot be exsplained the only reason it is possible is because there is someone who knows everything and he gave you a conscience that tells you it’s wrong! you cannot surely tell me that we dont know if murder is ok. Cause if there is no God then there is no reason to not kill people. Especially with accepting evolution cause its history shows things getting better with death(according to the theory). Which I do not believe!

  72. 72

    None of the things you’ve just said are anything close to true. I’m sure you believe them, but they’re nonsense.

    You agreed that you would acknowledge the flaws in your arguments instead of just moving on and throwing a bunch of new bullshit at me. You have broken that promise twice now. I have no interest in talking to someone who breaks agreements, nor do I consider it worthwhile to attempt conversation with someone who doesn’t listen and then distorts my words.

  73. 73

    Also, you should be aware that I know way more about Christian theology than you do. Telling me what you believe might be fun for you, but I’m already quite familiar with your apologetics.

  74. 74
    Brian Lynchehaun

    I’ll briefly take a shot.

    Cause if there is no God then there is no reason to not kill people

    Kevinsedore, could you explain this a little for me?

    And, for the record, I’ve read the AiG page on this. I’m familiar with William Lane Craig, Ken Ham, Hugh Ross, and all the rest. I know *their* arguments for this point.

    I would like to hear your words and your thoughts on this.

  75. 75

    what I said has no flaws… what have I said that you have disproved? nothing…. and you just ignored what I all said cause you dont want to answer for it cause you know the idea of God and morality go hand and hand, cause with no god killing is ok… look at Hitler he thought there was no God and that the jews we inferrior. Therefore he began to kill them. And if evolution is true that brought us to a higher level because death makes us better.But I dont believe in evolution… I believe God God made us all equal and there is no need to kill also He says not to because he created all things and your taking a life that isnt yours… what I believe brings everyone equality and exsplains what I know and why I know it… because God revealed it to us at creation and he reaveled himself in a book for us… and I know you dont believe that. I think I have said all that i need to get you to think. And you have made me think! thank you so much for doing that, I hope from what we both said that we will dwell on it and find and seek the truth… one closeing statement if I’am right I have nothing to lose because I will be heaven after death…. so I got nothing to lose but if you are wrong well you know what I’m implying… anyways thank you for talking to me, God bless and you will be in my prayers, because I care (even if it might mean nothing to you)

  76. 76

    Lawl. I am going to start using your method of conversation.

    1 – say a bunch of inane shit
    2 – wait for other person to explain why what you’ve just said is inane
    3 – repeat it anyway, add more bullshit
    4 – other person says that you still haven’t addressed #2
    5 – pour on huge pile of steamy bullshit, then claim the win.

  77. 77

    Oh, I almost forgot.

    1a – agree not to do #3

  78. 78

    I probably should have asked you to watch this movie first

  79. 79
    Nightvid Cole

    “According to evolutionary theory, comets are supposed to be…”
    My policy is, don’t try to talk to someone (who doesn’t know that evolution is concerned with biology and not planetary dynamics or cosmology) as though they will understand you like someone who is educated or even scientifically literate. It is a pointless waste of time. What they need is science lessons. And it sounds to me like whoever came up with that heard what little they can say about evolution from a deluded YEC (Who may nonetheless mean well…).

  80. 80
    Nightvid Cole

    May I also add, our education system is a big, sad failure …

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