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Deep thinkers, they aren’t

In case you missed it yesterday, we had a visit from Eric Hovind and his small troop of Junior Woodchucks. They first visited this edition of Thunderdome, babbling incoherently, and then when I opened a new Thunderdome thread, many of them seem to have gotten lost and confused, although I also think they were losing steam already. These kooks never have much stamina, and are unused to confronting people who actually ask them to think (for another example of that kind of foolishness, Ed Brayton links to a creationist trying to answer questions — they’re terrible at it.)

But if you’re still interested, one of them, calling himself Proof of God, is still lingering, like a bloated rotting corpse left after the tide recedes for the crabs to pick over. He’s not answering questions, either, just dumbly reciting “facts” that he’s clearly never thought about it very deeply. For example…

The proof that God exists is that without God you could not know anything for certain. Without God truth would be relative and meaningless.

But why must this “god” who forms the logical foundation of the universe be an anthropomorphic, intelligent agent who cares personally about one thin layer of spontaneously interacting chemicals wrapped around one among the immense numbers of rocks bouncing about in the cosmos? Why couldn’t the fixed truth of the universe be a reflection of the Planck constant, rather than Jesus?

But I don’t think there’s much point to arguing with a fool who thinks he has found a proof of god in a banality. The only informative bit of this interaction is in seeing just how inane Hovind and his merry band are.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    And they never answer the really Big Questions, like:
    Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?

  2. David Marjanović says

    But why must this “god” who forms the logical foundation of the universe be an anthropomorphic, intelligent agent who cares personally about one thin layer of spontaneously interacting chemicals wrapped around one among the immense numbers of rocks bouncing about in the cosmos? Why couldn’t the fixed truth of the universe be a reflection of the Planck constant, rather than Jesus?

    The argument, which Alvin Plantinga also uses, goes like this:

    Premise 1: Our Puny Human senses are fallible, and so is our brain. Therefore, unless God tells us the truth, we can’t ever know anything absolutely for certain.
    Premise 2: But there are things we know absolutely for certain.
    Conclusion: Therefore God exists and is anthropomorphic enough to tell us stuff.

    The fuck can we know anything with metaphysical certainty. Go ahead, disprove solipsism. I’ll wait.

    Note the follow-up argument from consequences:

    Without God truth would be relative and meaningless.

    Well, perhaps it is. Perhaps the world really does suck.

    :-|

    (BTW, I think relativity comes in degrees; but that’s another story. Don’t want to rehash all of evolutionary epistemology here, even though somebody needs to explain it to Plantinga at last.)

  3. doublereed says

    And they never answer the really Big Questions, like:
    Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?

    Or “How did God create the universe?” because it doesn’t say it in that stupid book. It just says that he did it. That ain’t no answer.

  4. Jacob Schmidt says

    Chigau

    C.S. Lewis addressed that question. He said the question is nonsensical, since “A rock so big that God can’t lift it” is a contradiction (God being omnipotent and all). The only thing I learned from that is that, according to Lewis, logic transcends God.

  5. David Marjanović says

    All quotation marks in the above are unintentional; they come automatically with the Comic Sans.

  6. Dick the Damned says

    Here is my proof that “GOD” doesn’t exist. It hasn’t been refuted yet.

    A proof that ‘God’ does not exist. (This is a practical proof: absolute proofs are only possible within a formal system of logic, such as mathematics.)

    First we must define the term ‘God’. It necessarily refers solely to a theistic god, (that is, one that interferes in human affairs). A deistic god doesn’t cut the mustard; it would be, with our present level of scientific understanding, indistinguishable from the unknown process that begat the laws of nature. The same goes for a pantheistic god. So, we are therefore concerned with the likes of Allah, Amun-Ra, Athena, Brahma, Gitche-Manitou, Jehovah, Quetzalcoatl, Wotan, Yahweh, Zeus, and many others.

    The first question to be addressed is whether or not these are all the same guy. (Okay, one of them, at least, is a gal.) From what I have heard, many of the followers of these gods would have it that they are not the same being. This notion is reinforced by the consideration that, if it were the same god, then it wouldn’t reveal itself in different guises, not when that leads to warfare between opposing followers, and the appallingly sadistic treatment of those well-meaning folk accused of heresy. And it surely wouldn’t not reveal itself to all those folks who are, or were, followers of animistic religions, or who are just plain atheists. That just wouldn’t be fair when rewards are held to be available to the true believers, and sometimes, punishment for the unbelievers, whose only ‘crimes’ are being rational, and truthful to themselves.

    The bottom line is that the various gods are deemed to have particular qualities, such as omniscience and omnipotence, if they are monotheistic. If they are, supposedly, members of a pantheon, then they have more human-like attributes, although to a superhuman degree. It is therefore safe to conclude that the list of names quoted above, and thousands more that are un-named, refer to different gods. Now, it is obvious that they can’t all be running human affairs, (although there was a time when it was commonly believed that the known gods were trying to do just that, and were competing against each other). Ba’al and Yahweh and Marduk were supposed to be heavily involved in the human politics of Mesopotamia and other regions of the Middle East. But our modern understanding of sciences such as geology and astronomy, and of history, geography, and psychology, now preclude that sort of scenario. The evidence, as now interpreted, clearly rules out the existence of a host of competing gods, so we are able to conclude that there is either only one god, (or one group of related gods, which is effectively the same thing), or else there are none at all.

    We are now in a position to determine whether or not there is a theistic god. But the believer has either to point to its effects upon the World and the affairs of man, or define it as an ontological necessity. The former course is not tenable since Darwin clearly showed that the complexity and apparent design in living organisms is possible due to the actions of natural selection. Cosmology has shown us a Universe of incomprehensible size and complexity, dwarfing our solar system, and this universe may be part of a Multiverse. And simply claiming that there is a god, according to a believer’s definition, no matter how theologically convoluted that might be, is no proof that such a being exists. Historically, all such attempts have failed. The devotee’s feeling of the immanence of such a being is also no proof, because that is merely a psychological state of theirs. The fact of the universe’s existence, that there is something rather than nothing, does not require a god. After all, a god would be a something too. It is sufficient to say that we do not presently understand why there is something rather than nothing, but we will try to find out.

    Another consideration is that the existence of a god entails an additional type of substance in the universe, namely ‘spirit’, in addition to matter and energy. Otherwise, any gods would simply be part of the natural universe, and wouldn’t be supernatural at all. There is, of course, no evidence of such a substance. Occam’s razor is not an irrefutable principle of logic, but it does suggest that explanations of the universe that specify the existence of a god, when such an entity isn’t necessary to explain what we observe, should be abandoned in favour of a less complex explanation. The godless explanation is actually more reasonable, being more in accord with the Universe as we find it, that is to say, completely indifferent to the aspirations of man, or to anything else.

    It therefore follows that there is no evidence for the specific god that a particular theist might posit. A host of other gods have been proposed too, so clearly, gods, (or actually their images), are created by man, rather than vice versa. From this it follows that there are no theistic gods that accord to anyone’s definition. It’s no good claiming that the deity is a trickster god, because that’s not what the faithful believe in. Admittedly, the polytheists’ gods were capable of trickery: consider, also, the minor god Satan in the Christian religion. But the boss god was supposed to maintain order, by being the most powerful. We can, therefore, safely conclude that there is no “God”. This is just as strong a claim as that made for the non-existence of fairies at the bottom of the garden, which is about as robust a claim as anyone can possibly make.

  7. abelundercity says

    Seen on Twitter: “Can God create a rock so big that he can’t smell what it’s cooking?”

  8. dutchdelight says

    It’s all very sophisticated theology, from people who have never once in their lives ever considered what epistemology is. Until they learned about it through the presup argument, and then figured it supports their position.

    I read their bible though, and everyone who’s anyone in that book is said to get personal revelations and actual evidence for their god. No sophisticated theology debates in there anywhere. If their god can mess with their “free will” he can mess with mine.

  9. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Premise 1: Everything I ever write is true.
    Statement 1: This statement is a Lie.
    Question: Is statement 1 True, or False? ^^\(o_O)/^^
    —————————————————-
    [similar to “immovable object meets irresistible force”, and “omnipotent God creating rock he can’t lift”]
    language is flexible, not mathematics, easy to play with. ;-P

    The recent God-thumpers that invasion, make me reminiscent of Plato’s “Cave Shadows” metaphor. “God” is our concept of the absolute perfect from which we try to imitate with our faulty attempts. And the god-thumpers think that such a concept must really exist or we would be imitating nothing, or that we are egotistically creating stuff ourselves and just *claiming* to be attempting to approach the ideal form.
    Why can’t they just accept that everything we do, we do ourselves, for reasons that come from our own brain. Why does everything have to come from somewhere else?

  10. Al Dente says

    Proof of God is using the Sye Ten Bruggencate method of Christian apologetics. Both of them ask the same inane question over and over again, ignore the answers people give them, and try to stick to a script even when the atheists aren’t playing their parts correctly.

  11. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    If god created knowledge, why is there so much ignorance?

    Because the only knowledge that god created was the knowledge known (by those in the know, of course) in a small geographic area (by universal standards, an incredibly tiny geographic area) during a quite short time period. Basically, the only knowledge god created is what was known up to the point that his bastard son had a bad weekend. So everything we have learned since then is not actual, y’know, knowledge, only knowledge-like, and can therefore be ignored (unless it allows things like ATVs, high-powered hunting rifles with super-dooper sighting scopes and armour piercing coatings on the bullets, monster trucks, and medicine that helps men). Your problem, Marcus, is that your definition of knowledge is not considered knowledge by those who know Jesus.

  12. says

    Ogvorbis:
    Your problem, Marcus, is that your definition of knowledge is not considered knowledge by those who know Jesus.

    I admit, you’ve thoroughly dismantled my argument!

  13. sqlrob says

    @chiagu, #1

    And they never answer the really Big Questions, like:
    Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?

    No. It gets melted by the burrito.

  14. HappyNat says

    @ 12 Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    That’s some beautiful circular reasoning.

    But how do you know it’s really circular reasoning with out god? Response paraphrased from one of the dumderheads on that thread.

    @4 Jacob Schmidt

    Fine C.S. “handled” that one, but how many Angels can dance on the head of a creationist?

  15. Pierce R. Butler says

    Of course they’re deep thinkers™ – they say they are, and who would know more about them than them?

  16. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    sqlrb:

    (by the by, I keep reading your ‘nym as “Squirrel Rob”)

    No. It gets melted by the burrito.

    Heretic. It gets melted by a pork enchilada with a peach/habanero salsa.

  17. sqlrob says

    @HappyNat, #18

    how many Angels can dance on the head of a creationist?

    None. The vacuum sucks them in.

  18. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Dick the Damned @ #8:

    Allow me to pick this out of your wise words:

    The fact of the universe’s existence, that there is something rather than nothing, does not require a god.

    I keep seeing people quoting this as the most profound question of philosophy, but I just don’t get it. Maybe in the 17th Century, but we now know that there is not and could not possibly be any such thing as “nothing”.

    To begin with, if there were “nothing” then you would simultaneously know the value (zero) of all the complementary quantities at once, maximally violating the uncertainty relations.

    That’s good enough for me, but in addition, “nothing” is a totally incoherent notion. Define, describe, or visualize “nothing”. No matter how boring and dull what you come up with may be, I guarantee it’s “something”.

    Pardon the digression, but I missed Kroos Control, (did he get banned or just tired?) and I had it saved up for him with his “most fundamental point” that “something can’t come from nothing”.

    To me the real question is: “If there’s something, why wouldn’t there be everything?” Personally, I think there is “everything”. Julian Barbour’s “Heap” of “Nows” makes better sense than a lot of other theories:

    Barbour’s theory goes further in scepticism than the block universe theory, since it denies not only the passage of time, but the existence of an external dimension of time. Physics orders “Nows” by their inherent similarity to each other. That ordering is what we conventionally call a time ordering, but does not come about from “Nows” occurring at specific times, since they do not occur, nor does it come about from their existing unchangingly along the time axis of a block universe, but it is rather derived from their actual content.

    Actually, I’d be willing to bet we perceive the passage of time because we’re “reading” the “Nows” in order of increasing entropy (which turns the Second Law of thermodynamics into a tautology). That may be the only principled way to assign an order to all the “Nows”, and would also explain the Big Bang and expansion of the universe—the universe had the lowest entropy and maximal simplicity in the “past” because “the past” means “lower in entropy”.

    I’ll be waiting for my Nobel Prize by return mail. /s

  19. says

    armour piercing coatings on the bullets,

    OT<pedant> actually the teflon coating was there to protect the barrel from the bullets, which were made of a considerably harder alloy than standard ones, hence the armour penetrating capacity. Most companies making AP rounds didn’t bother, but the one that did attained great fame, leading to the perception that teflon coated=armour piercing. In the long run, it turned out that it didn’t make enough difference to justify the cost and expense, which is why no-one does it anymore.</pedant> (I may not have in depth knowledge of many subjects, but my ability to accumulate trivia and jargon is peerless)./OT

  20. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    Marcus:|

    Just trying to think like a true believer.

    On a totally unrelated note, I have a headache.

  21. khms says

    #11 twas brillig (stevem)

    Premise 1: Everything I ever write is true.
    Statement 1: This statement is a Lie.
    Question: Is statement 1 True, or False? ^^\(o_O)/^^
    —————————————————-
    [similar to “immovable object meets irresistible force”, and “omnipotent God creating rock he can’t lift”]
    language is flexible, not mathematics, easy to play with. ;-P

    Actually, these could almost be direct quotes from Gödel’s incompleteness theorem, which is about as mathematical as it’s possible to get.

    The correct quotes would be more like

    1. It is possible to prove every sentence in this system to be either true or false.
    2. This sentence is not provable.

    For a longer version, including all the reasoning behind this that makes it a working proof, see, for example, Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

    But Gödel’s inspiration for the proof actually was that well-known liar’s paradox.

  22. John A says

    And they never answer the really Big Questions, like:
    Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?

    You assume God is limited by his own creation (rules of logical deduction). How can a creator be limited by his own creation?

    Maybe in the 17th Century, but we now know that there is not and could not possibly be any such thing as “nothing”.

    The fact that a prominent atheist claimed his in a book whose title contradicts this belief means nothing. You claim some philosophical view, call it anti-nihilism, to be an established fact. Not true at all.

    The fact of the universe’s existence, that there is something rather than nothing, does not require a god.

    It does, either that or something very bizarre. This philosophical point (whether anything can exist without God or some “unmoved mover”) tends to be dismissed by many atheists, but it is a valid question. That it has been debated since antiquity testifies to this. Modern scientific theories don’t have any answer for this, which is why they get in the business of coming up with ridiculous, non-provable ideas like dark energy, dark matter, inflation theory, string theory and multiverses. They would rather spout non-provable metaphysical nonsense than allow for God.

  23. ganymede says

    Hovind and his woodchucks have really bad arguments, but they’re also not articulating them very well. So, as an ex-Christian who used to make those same arguments myself, let me see if I can at least explain what their actual argument is, since they’re doing a miserable job of explaining it themselves.

    The argument is that while many atheists may be moral and ethical people, there is no foundational basis for WHY atheists ought to be moral and ethical people. Without a trancendent “ought” morality is essentially a matter of personal opinion, and the war profiteer who has a billion dollars in the bank from killing brown people is just as entitled to his opinions about morality as you are to yours. Says the war profiteer, “You are entitled to your opinion that I shouldn’t make millions of dollars by killing brown people; I disagree, and you can call me whatever nasty names you like, I’ll just cry all the way to the bank.” And the fact that most people have the same opinion does not change that it is a matter of opinion.

    So when atheists make arguments like “you should treat others the way you wish to be treated” or “society is better off if people behave in certain ways” or “ethics leads to happier and more productive people” or “people who are poor shouldn’t be allowed to starve” the profiteer’s response is “So fucking what?” And it’s ultimately that final why — why should I care about the rest of the world — that Christians claim atheists can’t account for.

  24. HappyNat says

    @26 John A

    It does, either that or something very bizarre.

    I’d call a all powerful god who demands his creations worship him, is interested in their sex life, and if they screw up they suffer for the rest of eternity “bizarre”. Actually, bizarre is a nice way to put it.

  25. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    John A:

    Except that there is physically observable data for which dark energy, dark matter, inflation theory, string theory and multiverses are explanatory. Just as evolution by natural selection explains both the fossil record and extant species. Just as gravitational theory explains planetary systems. They may turn out to be incorrect but, at present, they are adequate ways of explaining the universe.

    So where is there physically observable data for which god, and god, is an explanation that explains reality?

  26. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    And I spotted this as I hit ‘Submit’.

    There is no proof in science. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol and logic. Science is about replicable evidence and the hopotheoses and theories that explain that evidence.

  27. John A says

    But why must this “god” who forms the logical foundation of the universe be an anthropomorphic,

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    intelligent agent who cares personally about one thin layer of spontaneously interacting chemicals wrapped around one among the immense numbers of rocks bouncing about in the cosmos?

    Though the evolution/creation dispute is quite complex, and both sides tend to dumb it down, I think this points to one key element of it. There was never really a religious objection to evolutionary theory, from it origin in the 18th century, through the end of the 19th century. The dispute began in the 1920s, when evolutionary theory took on this metaphysical character that claimed everything is random and purposeless. Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God, or as you believe, a random accident in an amoral universe, is not a scientific question. It is a theological and philosophical one. Your belief (it is just that, a belief) is not a product of science but philosophy. And it is easy to see why it antagonizes so many. It logically leads to the conclusion that all purpose, love, and morality is an illusion.

    Why couldn’t the fixed truth of the universe be a reflection of the Planck constant, rather than Jesus?

    A religious belief.

  28. khms says

    #22 The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    To me the real question is: “If there’s something, why wouldn’t there be everything?” Personally, I think there is “everything”. Julian Barbour’s “Heap” of “Nows” makes better sense than a lot of other theories:

    Barbour’s theory goes further in scepticism than the block universe theory, since it denies not only the passage of time, but the existence of an external dimension of time. Physics orders “Nows” by their inherent similarity to each other. That ordering is what we conventionally call a time ordering, but does not come about from “Nows” occurring at specific times, since they do not occur, nor does it come about from their existing unchangingly along the time axis of a block universe, but it is rather derived from their actual content

    Actually, I’d be willing to bet we perceive the passage of time because we’re “reading” the “Nows” in order of increasing entropy (which turns the Second Law of thermodynamics into a tautology). That may be the only principled way to assign an order to all the “Nows”, and would also explain the Big Bang and expansion of the universe—the universe had the lowest entropy and maximal simplicity in the “past” because “the past” means “lower in entropy”.

    Huh. Actually, I find that unconvincing on at least two points.

    First, if time is not real, then how do you explain our ability to consistently measure time, especially without consistent rates of entropy change? What is it that we are measuring there? (For that matter, without time, why is the direction of entropy change globally consistent?)

    And second, without time, how do you explain form? I can’t. Everything I know of that produces form needs time.

    (And if you take away time, what happens to Einstein’s time-space-continuum? It seems to me that the math breaks down irrepairably, unless you also eliminate space … which leads to even more questions.)

  29. sqlrob says

    @John A, #32

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    Really? Genesis 1:27

    And for something that isn’t anthropomorphic, it cares a lot about human’s sex lives.

  30. Randomfactor says

    without God you could not know anything for certain.

    He can’t possibly know that for certain.

  31. says

    ganymede 27

    “people who are poor shouldn’t be allowed to starve” the profiteer’s response is “So fucking what?” And it’s ultimately that final why — why should I care about the rest of the world — that Christians claim atheists can’t account for.

    And the ultimate answer to that why turns out to be: Because eventually your neighbors will band together and decide that you aren’t rich anymore, by one means or another. If you’re very, very lucky it will just be confiscatory tax rates or seizure of assets. The other ways that the neighbors can decide you’re not wealthy anymore get really, really ugly.

  32. John A says

    I’d call a all powerful god who demands his creations worship him, is interested in their sex life, and if they screw up they suffer for the rest of eternity “bizarre”.

    I would to. Fortunately no one claims that such a thing exists.

    Except that there is physically observable data for which dark energy, dark matter, inflation theory, string theory and multiverses are explanatory.

    Actually there is none. Dark energy and dark matter are simply epicycles needed because observation doesn’t correspond to theory. Inflation and multiverses are needed to answer the question of why the universe is so finely-tuned without mentioning God, though they too have no evidence and are too metaphysical ever to have such evidence. String theory is an attempt to reconcile quantum theory with general relativity, and is also non-provable.

    Just as evolution by natural selection explains both the fossil record and extant species. Just as gravitational theory explains planetary systems. They may turn out to be incorrect but, at present, they are adequate ways of explaining the universe.

    Fair enough. There are many ways to explain many different things, be it this or a flying spaghetti monster. Natural selection and gravitational theory do so within a particular field of epistemology. They aren’t “true” in any absolute sense, but they aren’t useless or wrong either.

  33. khms says

    #32 John A

    But why must this “god” who forms the logical foundation of the universe be an anthropomorphic,

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    […]

    Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God,

    No comment.

    There was never really a religious objection to evolutionary theory, from it origin in the 18th century,

    ROFL.

    It logically leads to the conclusion that all purpose, love, and morality is an illusion.

    Actually, it does no such thing.

  34. pacal says

    John A. No. 26:

    “They would rather spout non-provable metaphysical nonsense than allow for God.”

    you do realize that the above is ironic.

  35. Jacob Schmidt says

    Can God make a rock so big that He Himself can’t lift it?

    You assume God is limited by his own creation (rules of logical deduction). How can a creator be limited by his own creation?How can a creator be limited by his own creation?

    So god can’t create a rock he can’t lift? Or he can create a rock he can’t lift? Its a yes or no question with no assumptions attached.

  36. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    John A:

    You keep claiming things are “non-provable”. Science does not prove things. Science seeks evidence and explains that evidence through hypotheoses and theories. Mathematics and liquor are all about proof.

    And this may explain some of your argument.

  37. John A says

    There is no proof in science. Proof is for mathematics and alcohol and logic. Science is about replicable evidence and the hopotheoses and theories that explain that evidence.

    This isn’t quite true. By mathematical and logical proofs, you are referring to pure deduction. Science is both inductive and deductive. There is certainly a lot of induction (conclusion following from observation), but there is a lot of deduction also (conclusion following from First Principals).

    Actually, it does no such thing.

    Of course it does. If God (or some other higher thing) doesn’t exist, if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance, then how can any abstract thing exist? How can love or morality exist? I am not disputing that people feel that love and morality exist, of course they feel this. But without some higher thing beyond human existence and a random universe, no abstract thing can truly exist, and so love and morality must be nothing more than an illusion.

  38. U Frood says

    John A

    I would to. Fortunately no one claims that such a thing exists.

    How does that description not apply to the God of the Bible?

  39. John A says

    So god can’t create a rock he can’t lift? Or he can create a rock he can’t lift? Its a yes or no question with no assumptions attached.

    Of course there are assumptions attached to this. Western rules of logical deduction are not some innate fact of reality. They are rules that humans created out of nothing long ago and many continue to hold to them. All of logic is a human creation, and this question presupposes that all of these rules are true.

    You keep claiming things are “non-provable”. Science does not prove things. Science seeks evidence and explains that evidence through hypotheoses and theories. Mathematics and liquor are all about proof.

    The word “proof” is not this rigid. Proofs of logic and mathematics are philosophic proofs. These are proofs which function by demonstrating logical coherence. In a court, “proof” is not deductive but inductive proof, seeking to establish likelihood rather than certainty. Your reference to proofs of alcohol is yet a third definition of proof. Scientific proofs are of the the 2nd (inductive) kind. These proofs don’t claim to establish certainly, but likelihood. It is still proof, just proof by a different definition.

  40. mikeyb says

    So John A the sophisticated theologian comes to the rescue to clean up the mess made by Proof of God. Unfortunately, his understanding of science doesn’t seem to be much better in his dismissive tone to inflationary cosmology and cavalier attitude that fine tuning must require a god. But he is so sophisticated that this god of his isn’t anthropomorphic, yet we are still created in the image of god according to him. So what exactly is the image of something that is not anthropomorphic. Of course the answer is to evade the subject and find a new obscurantist sophistry to make what you believe not sound like what you believe, or not sound as crude as the version of the vast majority of fundies like Proof of God.

  41. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    John A:

    Please cite a peer-reviewed scientific paper in which the author claims to have proven anything. Every paper I have read (all in palaeontology) set out evidence which is then interpreted and the author concludes that the evidence means something. That something is the conclusion of the paper — for instance, this particular dinosaur had feathers based on evidence x, y, z; or this femur is from a Therizinosaurid theropod not previously described based on evidence a, b, c. No where do they claim that it proves anything.

    Your hangup on proof is interesting. I guess it helps you avoid the lack of evidence for the existence of gods.

  42. Amphiox says

    And it’s ultimately that final why — why should I care about the rest of the world — that Christians claim atheists can’t account for.

    “Because I have to live in it too”

    and

    “I may not have to but I want to”

    are both sufficient for practical purposes, which are the only ones that really matter.

  43. says

    The proof that God exists is that without God you could not know anything for certain. Without God truth would be relative and meaningless.

    oddly enough, from my perspective this looks like a pretty good argument against the existence of God.

  44. robro says

    John A.

    Though the evolution/creation dispute is quite complex, and both sides tend to dumb it down, I think this points to one key element of it. There was never really a religious objection to evolutionary theory, from it origin in the 18th century, through the end of the 19th century. The dispute began in the 1920s, when evolutionary theory took on this metaphysical character that claimed everything is random and purposeless.

    This is not factually correct. The religious dispute over evolution began almost as soon as Darwin published not in the 1920s. The 1860 Oxford evolution debate occurred a mere 7 months after the publication of Origin. The seeds of this debate go back to the late 18th century when emerging geological evidence showed that the earth was much older than the OT genealogies suggested.

    Also, blaming supporters of evolutionary theory for the dispute is a self-serving assumption (and talk about dumbing down evolution…jeez). It could be argued with some reason that the dispute derives from religious fanatics insisting that a 1st millennium creation myth written for overtly theological purposes has merit as a factual description of the origins of life, the universe, and everything…a patently stupid proposition.

  45. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Khms @ #33:

    Huh. Actually, I find that unconvincing on at least two points.

    First, if time is not real, then how do you explain our ability to consistently measure time, especially without consistent rates of entropy change? What is it that we are measuring there? (For that matter, without time, why is the direction of entropy change globally consistent?)

    And second, without time, how do you explain form? I can’t. Everything I know of that produces form needs time.

    (And if you take away time, what happens to Einstein’s time-space-continuum? It seems to me that the math breaks down irrepairably, unless you also eliminate space … which leads to even more questions.)

    Actually my theory (more of a a feeling than a theory)—I shouldn’t have stated as if I were attributing it to Barbour—is that the totality of existence consists of absolutely everything. Imagine an infinite number of “snapshots” of spacetime, with every possible combination of the values of each measurable quantity at each point.

    If you stacked these slices in any random order, you’d perceive chaos. But suppose here there’s a blip in the values of the fields that looks like a particle. Look up through the slices and find another one with a similar blip that “overlaps” with the first one (i.e. hasn’t moved more than a Planck length in a Planck time.) A continuous sequence of these congruent slices of spacetime would produce a “wordline” of a “particle” “moving” through “space” in “time”. There would be a bunch of other particles in these congruent series that looked like they were moving, too. Their interactions (i.e. consistent narratives) would produce form.

    Bear in mind that any number of other consistent histories could be produced out of this same heap of nows—an infinite number of alternate “universes” where absolutely everything that could happen, does. They would be disjoint from each other because only consistent histories could be perceived by the “forms” that are part of that history.

    I’m only undecided whether four-dimensional Minkowski spacetime is all there is, for some logical reason, or whether every conceivable possible geometry, like the “landscape” of string theory is represented. Probably the latter. A multiverse of multiverses!

    Anyway, that’s my 2¢. “If there’s something, why wouldn’t there be everything?” makes more sense than “Why is there something rather than nothing?” since pace John A, “nothing” can’t exist.

    (Hey John A—read any Sumption yet?)

  46. ganymede says

    @37, you are right that there is precedent for the rest of society banding together to take wealth and power away from the profiteers, but there is far more precedent for the profiteers to band together to keep everyone else under their heel. However, that simply sidesteps the issue, because you’ve now made morality “might makes right” — the people with the best ability to use force get to impose their wishes. And that is a dangerous basis for morality indeed.

  47. Snoof says

    John A @ 32

    Of course it does. If God (or some other higher thing) doesn’t exist, if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance, then how can any abstract thing exist?

    “Everything is random” and “there is a God” is a false dichotomy. A purely mechanistic universe as envisaged by Laplace would be neither be random nor have any gods.

    But without some higher thing beyond human existence and a random universe, no abstract thing can truly exist, and so love and morality must be nothing more than an illusion.

    How do you know this?

    What do you mean by “truly” exist, anyway? Are you suggesting that in order for love to be “real” there has to be some sort of Platonic Love floating around in a realm of Platonic Ideals?

  48. says

    John A 43
    This is completely incoherent

    Of course it does. If God (or some other higher thing) doesn’t exist, if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance, then how can any abstract thing exist?

    What the hell does this even mean? What does the existence of a magic man in the sky have to do with abstract concepts?

    How can love or morality exist?

    What do you mean by ‘exist’ in this context? Is this some kind of neo-Platonism? Because if it is, you’re not going to get anywhere with it.

    I am not disputing that people feel that love and morality exist, of course they feel this.

    You’re conflating two different kinds of things here. Love is an emotion, and the fact that people feel it is therefore evidence of its existence; that’s how emotions work. Asking ‘how can love exist’ is equivalent to asking ‘how can anger exist'; people experience certain internal states, and these states are categorized as emotions. The internal experience of feeling love is love; I don’t know what you mean when you say that its existence relies on ‘something higher’. Like all emotions, its existence requires a brain, nothing more.
    Morality, on the other hand, is a collective agreement, like law and nationality. It has no existence outside those agreements, anymore than law or borders do. I can travel a few hundred mile north and I’d be in another country, but that border is a human construct; it exists because enough people on both sides agree that it does, and if that changed the border would move or disappear. Likewise with morality; the prevailing moral codes of 18th century America, for instance, held that slavery was totally ok, while the current prevailing moral codes say it’s totally unacceptable. Both are human constructs. Now, if you take certain things as axiomatic, like ‘human suffering is bad’, then you can objectively say ‘this moral code generates less human suffering than that one, and is therefore better’. Some of these axioms are basically hardwired into the human brain (e.g. ‘human suffering is bad’ is merely and extension of the idea that ‘me suffering is bad’, something with which pretty much everyone would agree, and the best way to limit the likelihood of me suffering is to reduce the likelihood of anyone suffering (also empathy, but more people seem to have difficulties with that one than with the idea that they personally don’t want to suffer).

    But without some higher thing beyond human existence and a random universe, no abstract thing can truly exist, and so love and morality must be nothing more than an illusion.

    You don’t really seem to grasp the concept of ‘abstract’ here, cupcake. Abstractions are called that because they aren’t physical things and don’t exist in the same sense that physical things do. They’re things that exist by consensus, rather than by brute reality. Do you believe, for instance, that your god is required for the abstract concept ‘nation’? Do you believe that ‘nations’ exist? Why or why not?

  49. ganymede says

    @48, that, too, sidesteps the issue. So what if you have to live in it too; why should Mr. Profiteer care about that? That still doesn’t account for the final why of why he should care about you.

    I think that you’re right; that the practicalities are where the answer is ultimately found, and I’m essentially a David Hume utilitarian. The Christian claim, though, is that practicalities don’t yield trancendant oughts, so there is no real basis for morality. Maybe “so fucking what” is the answer to that too.

  50. mikeyb says

    Robro, great points. It is manifestly false that religious leaders haven’t been against evolutionary theory since it’s inception by Darwin. Read the two Janet Brown biographies or a book by Alvar Ellegard titled Darwin and the General Reader, to see the evidence of how this claim is utterly false.

    Another falsity in that quote is the notion that evolution is “random and purposelessness.” Natural selection as proposed by Darwin and everyone since is a “anti-random anti-chance” process (if you want to describe it this way) which explains adaptation in a non teleological way which is precisely why it explains complex adaptations. It is a pure creationist myth to suggest that evolutionist have ever suggested that evolution proceeds by pure blind random chance.

  51. U Frood says

    And just because you can’t come up with a justification for morality without God does nothing to prove the existence of God.

  52. John A says

    How does that description not apply to the God of the Bible?

    You are asking me to show the ways that something is not the case? Why don’t you tell me how it does apply?

    So John A the sophisticated theologian comes to the rescue to clean up the mess made by Proof of God. Unfortunately, his understanding of science doesn’t seem to be much better in his dismissive tone to inflationary cosmology and cavalier attitude that fine tuning must require a god.

    Fine tuning doesn’t require God, but if not God, then it does require something especially bizarre and off the wall, like inflation theory and multiverses. They would rather believe in convoluted metaphysical concepts, so long as it allows them to presume God is not part of it. This the consequence of a philosophical viewpoint, not some intrinsic trait of science. The removal of God from science is a 20th century creation.

    But he is so sophisticated that this god of his isn’t anthropomorphic, yet we are still created in the image of god according to him.

    Exactly. We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    Please cite a peer-reviewed scientific paper in which the author claims to have proven anything. Every paper I have read (all in palaeontology) set out evidence which is then interpreted and the author concludes that the evidence means something.

    You are hung up on the definition of “proof”.

    This is not factually correct. The religious dispute over evolution began almost as soon as Darwin published not in the 1920s. The 1860 Oxford evolution debate occurred a mere 7 months after the publication of Origin.

    I usually take it as a warning sign when someone starts their post with a historically incorrect claim. If by “religious dispute” you mean “religious debate within narrow intellectual circles”, then it goes back to the 18th century. In his day, Darwin was known mainly as a principle polemicist of evolution (not natural selection, as most dismissed it during his lifetime). Natural selection wasn’t accepted until the 1920s, mainly because of usefullness in explaining population genetics. This was the origin of the “modern synthesis” of evolutionary theory, and also when the dispute began to spill over outside of the narrow circles it had been stuck in for over a century.

    The seeds of this debate go back to the late 18th century when emerging geological evidence showed that the earth was much older than the OT genealogies suggested.

    True enough. But the literal vs non-literal dispute goes back at least as far as Augustine in the 5th century, who fought literalness who claimed that the earth was flat due to a biblical reference to the “four corners of the Earth” despite the fact that Earth’s roundness was well known by that point. Biblical interpretation was always able to accommodate changing views on the Earth when it caused literal vs non-literal disputes. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that few were bothered when 18th century geology and evolutionary theory seems to contradict a literal reading of the creation narrative (which was never popular outside certain protestant circles anyway). The popular backlash was almost non-existent until the 1920s, which is also when natural selection began to be accepted.

    Also, blaming supporters of evolutionary theory for the dispute is a self-serving assumption (and talk about dumbing down evolution…jeez).

    Both sides are to blame. They both tend to caricature the other side, while having little understanding and even less appreciation or respect for that side.

    It could be argued with some reason that the dispute derives from religious fanatics insisting that a 1st millennium creation myth written for overtly theological purposes has merit as a factual description of the origins of life, the universe, and everything…a patently stupid proposition.

    I suppose a lot of things could be argued. I used to have your opinion on this, but the view of young earth creationists is not simply a case of wanting to believe a story. Though this is certainly part of it, their reasons are deeper. You have to realize that they are human beings like you, with a rationale for their beliefs, a sense of introspection. They aren’t mere children screaming that they want everyone else stop talking.

  53. Snoof says

    Exactly. We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    So it’d be more accurate to describe humans as “theomorphic”?

  54. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    John A:

    You are hung up on the definition of “proof”.

    You bring it up. I correct you. You, incorrectly, tell me I am wrong. I ask for evidence. So it is my fault. Got it.

    Well, I see no reason of continuing a conversation with someone who so completely mischaracterizes science and, any attempt to correct this, is obsession.

    As long as I am at fault, all is good.

  55. brianpansky says

    We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    this made me giggle.

    you do realize that if you consider the possibility that god is fictional, then yes it is an entirely anthropomorphic fiction, right?

  56. khms says

    #52 ganymede

    @37, you are right that there is precedent for the rest of society banding together to take wealth and power away from the profiteers, but there is far more precedent for the profiteers to band together to keep everyone else under their heel. However, that simply sidesteps the issue, because you’ve now made morality “might makes right” — the people with the best ability to use force get to impose their wishes. And that is a dangerous basis for morality indeed.

    Right.

    I’d explain it a bit differently – along the lines of homo sapiens is a social animal; what rules do we need to follow to have a reasonably attractive life as social animals? combined with you cannot rely on always being at the top of the heap, so make other positions in the heap into something you can live with.

    However, in purely practical terms, Dalillama is right – the way we make whatever rules we decide on, actually stick, always will come down to might is right, whenever there are people involved who, for whatever reason, refuse to be convinced. It’s not a good thing, but I see no way we could ever avoid it.

  57. brianpansky says

    @63

    it isn’t exactly might makes right.

    reason tells us what is right, and sometimes force is what is right.

  58. brianpansky says

    *put another way, the use of force is no more foundational than the use of negotiation and compromise.

    they are each the right course of action in certain circumstances.

  59. Amphiox says

    the way we make whatever rules we decide on, actually stick, always will come down to might is right,

    Might enforces right, which was determined previously by other methods.

    you do realize that if you consider the possibility that god is fictional, then yes it is an entirely anthropomorphic fiction, right?

    And Man made God in his own image….

  60. raven says

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    Actually, most of the xians do exactly that.

    God is a sockpuppet, existing only in their heads. He hates what they hate and wants them to have what they want.

    People create gods in their own image. Of course they end up anthropomorphic.

  61. Rey Fox says

    Praise the almighty deity of nomadic herders in southwestern Asia several thousand years ago for freeing my brain from this jar.

    You assume God is limited by his own creation (rules of logical deduction).

    You assume Santa Claus is limited by chimney dimensions.

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    I would to. Fortunately no one claims that such a thing exists.

    You haven’t talked to many Christians lately, have you?

  62. Amphiox says

    put another way, the use of force is no more foundational than the use of negotiation and compromise.

    Of course, negotiation and compromise also rely on force, be it force of personality, or force of collective social standards that apply to the making and keeping of promises (which ultimately boils down to using shame as a coercive weapon).

  63. says

    We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    Wrong. Gods are as we imagine them, and they are often created in our image. Here’s a short list of gods: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities

    Also, in Genesis, it states “And God said, let us make man in our image.” 1.26 You’re working off the singular when your should be working off the plural.

  64. mikeyb says

    So according to John A, Alan Guth, Alex Vilenkin, Andre Linde, etc etc, as just one example, concocted the inflationary theory just so they could evade god? That is even more preposterous than anything William Lane Craig has ever said, so that is saying something. Read Brian Greene’s The Hidden Reality for example which explains some of the motivations behind these theories to try to educate yourself that trying to understand physics is what motivates physicists, same is true for any science, not some deliberate attempt to evade god. This is totally asinine.

    So we are made in gods image therefore god is not anthropomorphic. But he still is still apparently a male with quasi-ape like features in which we were made copies from. Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck. So I guess in John A’s view we are little minature god copies, if we want to be technical. How precious.

  65. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    John A is a real fount of misinformation—I haven’t seen him say anything yet that could be interpreted as true. (Read any Sumption yet, Mr. “Sun King in 13th century France”?)

    His “abstract notions come from God” is probably the stupidest yet. No, child—abstract notions are abstracted from experience. People have been counting and measuring things for millennia. From this experience of how things work in the real world they abstracted mathematics, replete with abstract notions like “threeness” and “parallel lines”.

    After centuries of experience performing mathematics, the Greeks abstracted from that experience a discipline thy called Logic. (Which was why Russell and Whitehead trying to derive mathematics from logic was such a back-asswards endeavor.)

    We experience internal things as well as the external world. From a lifetime of experience as to how we feel, we abstract notions such as love. They help order our experience of our internal mental states just as the abstract notions of mathematics and logic derived from the external world help order our perceptions of it.

    I suppose a lot of things could be argued. I used to have your opinion on this, but the view of young earth creationists is not simply a case of wanting to believe a story. Though this is certainly part of it, their reasons are deeper. You have to realize that they are human beings like you, with a rationale for their beliefs, a sense of introspection. They aren’t mere children screaming that they want everyone else stop talking.

    Wrong on all counts—that is exactly what they are.

  66. Snoof says

    Inaji @ 70

    Also, in Genesis, it states “And God said, let us make man in our image.” 1.26 You’re working off the singular when your should be working off the plural.

    Maybe it’s the Royal We! Or maybe God’s just really pretentious.

  67. Anri says

    John A:

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    More than a thousand years of Christian art.

    But hey – maybe all those guys Weren’t Really Christians ™

    Also, correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t ‘anthropomorphic’ just mean ‘shaped like a human’ without assigning priority? If my understanding is correct (and it might not be) if god is human-shaped, he’s anthropomorphic, even if the reason he is is that he created the ‘anthro’ to be ‘morphic’ like him.

  68. Rey Fox says

    I usually take it as a warning sign when someone starts their post with a historically incorrect claim. If by “religious dispute” you mean “religious debate within narrow intellectual circles”, then it goes back to the 18th century.

    I usually take it as a warning sign when someone changes definitions on the fly.

    Biblical interpretation was always able to accommodate changing views on the Earth when it caused literal vs non-literal disputes.

    True. The Bible-interpreters have long been taking other people’s observations of the actual world and claiming that the Bible said that all along, even when there are contradictions. Funny that.

    We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    Methinks it is like a weasel.

    the question of why the universe is so finely-tuned

    Objection: Assumes facts not in evidence.

  69. says

    Snoof:

    Maybe it’s the Royal We! Or maybe God’s just really pretentious.

    I expect xians would like to believe that! If a person actually reads Genesis, it’s made clear that El Shaddai (the xian god) is the youngest and least powerful of a family of gods. He also has himself a wife, who is a goddess.

    There are also two distinctly different creation stories in Genesis. Editors left a lot to be desired back in the day. Heh.

  70. John A says

    And just because you can’t come up with a justification for morality without God does nothing to prove the existence of God.

    I am not talking about a “justification for morality without God”, I am asking the question, how can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than human existence can be real?

    “Everything is random” and “there is a God” is a false dichotomy. A purely mechanistic universe as envisaged by Laplace would be neither be random nor have any gods.

    Tell me how this purely mechanistic universe operates with purpose (the lack of randomness).

    How do you know this?

    If you can tell me how I am wrong about this, please do.

    What do you mean by “truly” exist, anyway? Are you suggesting that in order for love to be “real” there has to be some sort of Platonic Love floating around in a realm of Platonic Ideals?

    By “truly” exist, I mean it exists outside mere human experience. If it only exists within human experience, then it is no different from an illusion. If someone commits a violent crime, for example, then this crime can’t be evil, because evil is only an illusion. It is a useful illusion, since thinking good and evil exist cause people to behave in socially constructive ways, but it is still an illusion. We feel it as evil, but since this feeling only exists in our minds, it is no different from anything else that exists in our minds (be it a dream or an opinion).

    What the hell does this even mean? What does the existence of a magic man in the sky have to do with abstract concepts?

    It doesn’t have to be the Christian God. It can be the Hindu concept of karma or something else that is outside the purely mechanistic world of human experience. By definition, if this mechanistic world is all there is, then abstract (be they morality or mathematics) concepts only exist in our heads.

    You’re conflating two different kinds of things here. Love is an emotion, and the fact that people feel it is therefore evidence of its existence; that’s how emotions work.

    I absolutely agree. Love does exist in our heads. Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads. They then have as much intrinsic existence as a dream, hallucination, or opinion. To claim that love or morality are no more real than a dream would be contradict how most see the world. A violent crime, then, is only evil in as much as a dream is real.

    Asking ‘how can love exist’ is equivalent to asking ‘how can anger exist’; people experience certain internal states, and these states are categorized as emotions. The internal experience of feeling love is love; I don’t know what you mean when you say that its existence relies on ‘something higher’. Like all emotions, its existence requires a brain, nothing more.

    So your opinion is that love is nothing more than a consequence of random, purposeless synaptic firings? Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    Morality, on the other hand, is a collective agreement, like law and nationality. It has no existence outside those agreements, anymore than law or borders do. I can travel a few hundred mile north and I’d be in another country, but that border is a human construct; it exists because enough people on both sides agree that it does, and if that changed the border would move or disappear.

    Not quite. Morality is universal. It has cultural colorings, but there various ethical characteristics that are nearly universal in nearly all societies. These make up what is known as “natural morality” or even “natural law”. It is these universal moral laws that can only be outside human experience. Why would so many cultures that developed independently (such as the ancient cultures around the Yellow River, Indus River, Tigris River, Nile River, and throughout the Americas) have so many common ethical and moral customs?

    Another point on this is that frequently morality contradicts law and what is on the best interest of a society or individual. Again, the only way to square this circle is through the existence of a universal code or morality, which isn’t really disputed by anyone. How this can exist in so many independent cultures without a higher thing that they all must share in common is what you have to answer.

  71. raven says

    Maybe it’s the Royal We! Or maybe God’s just really pretentious.

    Naw.

    God was part of a pantheon originally. The earliest parts of the bible are polytheistic. It says in the Ten Commandments not to worship other gods. Implying that there were other gods.

    God is so anthropomorphic that he was married. To Asherah, Queen of Heaven. Then the humans tried to hide her. The OT god isn’t very powerful, He can’t even prevent humans from taking his wife away. Poor guy, maybe we can give him a few cats or a dog or something instead.

  72. tsig says

    John A

    Of course it does. If God (or some other higher thing) doesn’t exist, if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance, then how can any abstract thing exist? How can love or morality exist? I am not disputing that people feel that love and morality exist, of course they feel this. But without some higher thing beyond human existence and a random universe, no abstract thing can truly exist, and so love and morality must be nothing more than an illusion.

    Abstract thought comes from human minds there is no need for higher powers.

  73. Sastra says

    Oh, I missed the whole brouhaha with Proof of God.

    The proof that God exists is that without God you could not know anything for certain. Without God truth would be relative and meaningless.

    There are so many ways this fails. It conflates analytic truths with empirical facts; it confuses objective fact with subjective knowledge; it engages in the Fallacy of the Perfect. But perhaps most frustrating is that it fails to address how such inherently unreliable humans could know God for certain, given that it attempts to establish that our ability to know anything at all is hopelessly relative and ultimately meaningless.

    In other words, if the argument works, it doesn’t. There’s your internal contradiction. It’s not in atheism.

    John A #32 wrote:

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    Yes they do. “Anthropomorphism” doesn’t just refer to the flesh or body, it can also refer to the mind. It’s defined as “ascribing human form or attributes to a being or thing not human, especially to a deity.” God has mental attributes.

    If you disagree, then per your understanding of God it does not think, it is not conscious, it does not value, it is not moral, it is not aware, it has no intentions, it has no goals, it has no preferences, it has no virtues, it is not intelligent, it is not creative, it is not loving, it is not fair, and it does not relate to people or care about their concerns.

    Do you think this series of negations properly describes the Christian God?

    Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God, or as you believe, a random accident in an amoral universe, is not a scientific question. It is a theological and philosophical one.

    Actually, it’s both scientific and philosophical. The existence of God is proposed as an explanation for observations and experiences.

    Is it your contention that if God wanted to demonstrate its existence objectively, giving the sort of regular evidence which would establish that God is real under the most stringent criteria (so that only the perverse could or would deny it) then it would be logically impossible for God to do so?

  74. Anri says

    John A @ 59:

    Fine tuning doesn’t require God, but if not God, then it does require something especially bizarre and off the wall, like inflation theory and multiverses. They would rather believe in convoluted metaphysical concepts, so long as it allows them to presume God is not part of it. This the consequence of a philosophical viewpoint, not some intrinsic trait of science. The removal of God from science is a 20th century creation.

    So, if we were ever to come up with some evidence for – let’s say – inflation theory, thus demonstrating it’s not actually a metaphysical concept but rather a purely physical one, you’d give this argument up, right?
    For honesty’s sake, I mean.

    …right?
    Now, what happened here recently in the world of physics?

    True enough. But the literal vs non-literal dispute goes back at least as far as Augustine in the 5th century, who fought literalness who claimed that the earth was flat due to a biblical reference to the “four corners of the Earth” despite the fact that Earth’s roundness was well known by that point. Biblical interpretation was always able to accommodate changing views on the Earth when it caused literal vs non-literal disputes. It shouldn’t then be a surprise that few were bothered when 18th century geology and evolutionary theory seems to contradict a literal reading of the creation narrative (which was never popular outside certain protestant circles anyway). The popular backlash was almost non-existent until the 1920s, which is also when natural selection began to be accepted.

    Right, but the question always ends up as this:
    Once you start admitting that some parts of the bible aren’t to be taken literally, why should you assume that any part of the bible is to be taken literally?
    Once you have admitted the bible lacks authority, from where does biblical authority spring?
    Or, to put it another way – why is it that only the bits of the bible you happen to like and support happen to be the bits that are true?
    What parts of the bible that you disagree with are true?
    If the answer is ‘none’, consider what that says about your opinion of your own judgement.

  75. Sastra says

    John A wrote:

    We were created in God’s image, not he in ours. So no, he is not “anthropomorphic”.

    No, that’s irrelevant. The definition doesn’t say anything about direction or cause. If you resemble your father then your father also resembles you.

  76. monad says

    @ ganymede:

    So when atheists make arguments like “you should treat others the way you wish to be treated” or “society is better off if people behave in certain ways” or “ethics leads to happier and more productive people” or “people who are poor shouldn’t be allowed to starve” the profiteer’s response is “So fucking what?”

    Sure, but that’s an unbelievably weak argument, because someone can say the same thing to “god wants it this way”. In cases where a god wants something like inflecting suffering or pain, I think defining morality by what they want would be incorrect in the first place; the only reason why not is if god will punish them, which brings it back to might making right. So that’s at least as cyclical as anything else, and transparently so, just like the “what created the universe – no, you don’t need to ask what created god” argument.

  77. raven says

    Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God, or as you believe, a random accident in an amoral universe, is not a scientific question. It is a theological and philosophical one.

    What nonsense.

    We already know the answer. We evolved over nearly 4 billion years.

    Religion gets everything wrong because they are just guesses by ancient humans who didn’t know anything and lacked the ability to find things out. They didn’t have telescopes, microscopes, mass spectrometers, or particle accelerators.

  78. John A says

    Another falsity in that quote is the notion that evolution is “random and purposelessness.” Natural selection as proposed by Darwin and everyone since is a “anti-random anti-chance” process (if you want to describe it this way) which explains adaptation in a non teleological way which is precisely why it explains complex adaptations. It is a pure creationist myth to suggest that evolutionist have ever suggested that evolution proceeds by pure blind random chance.

    Actually its usefulness comes largely from its ability to explain apparent order as a result of apparent purposelessness and randomness.

    you do realize that if you consider the possibility that god is fictional, then yes it is an entirely anthropomorphic fiction, right?

    True, but assuming that God is fictional creates more problems than it solves.

    Also, in Genesis, it states “And God said, let us make man in our image.” 1.26 You’re working off the singular when your should be working off the plural.

    Is it news to you that the Trinity is apparent from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament?

    So according to John A, Alan Guth, Alex Vilenkin, Andre Linde, etc etc, as just one example, concocted the inflationary theory just so they could evade god?

    When did I say that?

    But he still is still apparently a male with quasi-ape like features in which we were made copies from.

    In what way?

    His “abstract notions come from God” is probably the stupidest yet. No, child—abstract notions are abstracted from experience. People have been counting and measuring things for millennia.

    And it has also been a perennial question since time immemorial if abstract concepts, like mathematics, have any true existence, or if they are just creations we made up to make life easier. I’m glad you think you have it all figured out, but outside of your feeling of certainly, the question remains.

    After centuries of experience performing mathematics, the Greeks abstracted from that experience a discipline thy called Logic. (Which was why Russell and Whitehead trying to derive mathematics from logic was such a back-asswards endeavor.)

    And atomistic philosophers, especially Pythagoras, thought mathematics had real existence. Others thought it was made up in order to accomplish useful things.

    We experience internal things as well as the external world. From a lifetime of experience as to how we feel, we abstract notions such as love. They help order our experience of our internal mental states just as the abstract notions of mathematics and logic derived from the external world help order our perceptions of it.

    So then, in your opinion, love only exists in the mind, and so it only as real as anything else that exists only in the mind, such as dreams?

  79. Rey Fox says

    Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads.

    So?

    Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    What purpose would you have it serve?

  80. mikeyb says

    Oh my god, with out a god my life is meaningless and purposeless, the universe operates by blind physical processes which seem indifferent to my existence. So let me rape, pillage, own slaves, commit genocidal wars against my enemies since I can do whatever the hell I want to do. But wait, at the end of the day there would be no point to this. Also some people might object and do funny things like put me in jail or a mental institution.

    But wait, the OT Bible god sanctions all these things under certain proscribed circumstances, so I can do all these things and get rewarded in the afterlife as a bonus, plus be moral since god commands these things are true and moral. Therefore god exists, thank god.

  81. tsig says

    65

    *put another way, the use of force is no more foundational than the use of negotiation and compromise.

    they are each the right course of action in certain circumstances.

    In order to negotiate you have to have the threat of force*.

    *this is not always physical

  82. brianpansky says

    @77
    John A

    Tell me how this purely mechanistic universe operates with purpose (the lack of randomness).

    putting aside the loaded word “purpose”, and going straight for the lack of randomenss:

    what are you asking for? “why are there laws of physics instead of none of them?”. such a line of questioning does nothing to support your use of a false dichotomy. it seems like a dodge.

  83. Snoof says

    Tell me how this purely mechanistic universe operates with purpose (the lack of randomness).

    “Purposefulness” is not the opposite of “randomness”. “Purpose” describes intentionality from thinking beings. If you’re going to deliberately muddy definitions, it’s no wonder you’re confused. I can have random, purposeful behaviour and non-random, purposeless behaviour.

    Example: I encrypt my data using numbers randomly generated by listening to atmospheric noise. This is purposeful – I’m setting out to encrypt my data. It’s also random – the precise ciphertext I get depends on random molecular motion.

    Example: Orbital motion is deterministic. It depends entirely on a few very simple rules of gravitation and conservation of momentum. It’s also non-purposeful, unless you want to claim there is in fact a purpose for a given fleck of dust orbiting the sun out at 3000 AU, which is a claim I’d want supporting.

    Laplace’s model was to suggest that everything was ultimately deterministic. Each effect followed from a cause with no possibility of variation – if you “ran” the universe again a second time, you’d get exactly the same sequence of events.

    By “truly” exist, I mean it exists outside mere human experience. If it only exists within human experience, then it is no different from an illusion. If someone commits a violent crime, for example, then this crime can’t be evil, because evil is only an illusion. It is a useful illusion, since thinking good and evil exist cause people to behave in socially constructive ways, but it is still an illusion. We feel it as evil, but since this feeling only exists in our minds, it is no different from anything else that exists in our minds (be it a dream or an opinion).

    What makes you think that abstractions like crime and evil aren’t “illusions” as you describe them? (“Because the thought of such a thing frightens me” is not a good enough reason. Neither is, “Because the Bible says so.”)

    Why would so many cultures that developed independently (such as the ancient cultures around the Yellow River, Indus River, Tigris River, Nile River, and throughout the Americas) have so many common ethical and moral customs?

    Because we’re all human beings living in communities with similar needs and experiences.

    Another point on this is that frequently morality contradicts law and what is on the best interest of a society or individual. Again, the only way to square this circle is through the existence of a universal code or morality, which isn’t really disputed by anyone.

    Can you describe any single part of this “universal code”? Do you merely assume it must exist because of the aforementioned fear?

  84. Rey Fox says

    True, but assuming that God is fictional creates more problems than it solves.

    For you, maybe. For me, it has been liberation.

    Does assuming that all the other gods that humans have come up with are fictional create even more problems? Good luck with that.

  85. brianpansky says

    @85
    John A

    True, but assuming that God is fictional creates more problems than it solves.

    oh! do tell!

  86. U Frood says

    John A@59

    You are asking me to show the ways that something is not the case? Why don’t you tell me how it does apply?

    Ok

    I’d call a all powerful god who demands his creations worship him, is interested in their sex life, and if they screw up they suffer for the rest of eternity “bizarre”.

    Christians believe their God to be all powerful. If we don’t believe in and worship him he will punish us for all eternity. And he has made all sorts of proclamations about what sort of sexual relations are acceptable.

    All of it seems to fit to me.

  87. raven says

    Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God, or as you believe, a random accident in an amoral universe, is not a scientific question. It is a theological and philosophical one.

    As scientists and/or educated people the conflict isn’t whether we evolved or not. We did. That was settled a century ago.

    Our conflict today is with religious superstition and the Dark Side of our society. People like John A. aren’t solutions, they are problems, baggage being dragged along behind us and holding us back.

  88. twas brillig (stevem) says

    Actually there is none. Dark energy and dark matter are simply epicycles needed because observation doesn’t correspond to theory.

    WRONG. “epicycles” doesn’t mean what you think it means. YES, current theory doesn’t cover everything we observe, and so we have postulated the existence of “Dark Energy” and “Dark Matter” to explain the observations not predicted by the previous theory. Unless you were using “epicycles” as anything added to a wrong theory to “fix it””, like epicycles in the geocentrism theory. But unlike “epicycles”, there is a lot of evidence for “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, they are not just “guesses” to explain “weird stuff”. Unlike a “God Postulate” that is just an attempt to wave away questions with the single answer of “God did it”.
    “God works in mysterious ways”, is just a verbose way of saying, “I don’t know”.

    You keep asking “how can anything abstract be real?” Read your own question, “abstract” means “not real”. Concepts are created by the mind, concepts do not exist as physical objects that we can just “discover” in the ether.

    “Anthropomorphic” means “having a similar shape to humans”. It does NOT mean one is the result of the other and asserts a specific direction to the comparison. If A is anthropomorphic means A and Men have the same shape. It does not mean Men created A, nor A created Men. So you did NOT refute the validity of using anthropomorphic to describe the common visualization of God.

    …if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance…

    wrong question… The world IS a “machine”, but it is not “governed” by random chance. Chance is a fact, there is variation in the result of any interaction. The result of interactions is what “governs” reality. But 100% accuracy does not happen, ever. When scientists say “Life just sprang up randomly with no purpose”, don’t take it so simplistically. It is a sloppy way of saying the much longer sentence of, “Life is a natural result of natural processes. Processes that include some random variation from result to result.” To interpret their “shortform” as “simply a random event” is not even trying to understand what they are trying to say, and refusing to ask them to clarify.

  89. says

    Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads.

    And? As a dead Dumbledore said to a possibly dead Harry Potter:

    “Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Dumbledore beamed at him, and his voice sounded loud and strong in Harry’s ears even though the bright mist was descending again, obscuring his figure. “Of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”

    You are so fucking frightened of everything – our planet, the universe, ourselves, that you proscribe this itsy bitsy circle about yourself, to limit your thinking. It’s a pity.

    Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    Love can be a wondrous and great thing. Love can also be a terrible thing. In the case of that god of yours, it’s definitely on the very terrible side.

  90. Sastra says

    John A #77 wrote:

    By “truly” exist, I mean it exists outside mere human experience. If it only exists within human experience, then it is no different from an illusion.

    You seem to be having a problem understanding abstractions: you’re reifying them, treating ideas as if they were concrete — or need to be concrete. Remember, if something is an “illusion” that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It means it’s not what it appears to be on the surface. If you’ve been assuming that emotions, morals, values and concepts can’t be “real” if they only exist in the mind or only exist in human experience, then you’ve fallen for an illusion. You’re trying to invent a concrete halfway house labeled “Essence.” Or “Spirit.”

    What is an abstraction? As Wells put it, “Abstract ideas designate qualities which we recognize in things, but which do not exist independently.” We pull out or abstract common attributes of our experiences in order to form a concept, “a highly organized system of memories derived from impressions.” These mental constructs are grounded in reality, and to the extent that the reality is shared then they are not hopelessly relative or meaningless. And truths about a shared, inter-subjective human nature aren’t automatically not real or true any more than truths about anything else.

    Love does exist in our heads. Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads. They then have as much intrinsic existence as a dream, hallucination, or opinion.

    What makes love more real if it exists in God? God isn’t a concrete thing.

    I don’t think this has been thought through very well. You’re making a lot of category errors.

  91. mikeyb says

    John A refuses to answer this simple question. We were made in gods image. God is not anthropomorphic – contrary to the entire history of Christian art. What the hell does god look like for us to be made in his image? If hes says hes a disembodied mind or a spirit, that is like saying he is equivalent to nothing, which is what we’ve been saying all along, since we are not disembodied minds or spirits. God must look like something if we are made in his image. The dilemma is that there is no way of answering this question without delving into pure sophistry or believing in an anthropomorphic god, no other options.

  92. says

    I’m getting curious about this El Shaddai thing. To the wikimobile/googles!

    Short and simple: The fine-tuning argument is a case of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, which is essentially painting a bullseye around a preexisting bullet hole.

  93. brianpansky says

    If it only exists within human experience, then it is no different from an illusion.

    false.

    pain is not an illusion, but it is only within our experience. you seem to be really mixed up about things. also note that our neurons are real, and their activity is real. then note that the word “illusion” does not refer to EVERY single activity of neurons, only those which cause false conclusions based on various special circumstances.

  94. says

    John A:

    Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads. They then have as much intrinsic existence as a dream, hallucination, or opinion.

    As someone who has been very happily partnered with the same person for 35 years, I beg to differ. Perhaps you can figure out why.

  95. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    I am not talking about a “justification for morality without God”, I am asking the question, how can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than human existence can be real?

    I see that John A desires to be dominated from on high. And that he thinks that our existence and the ethic we come up with is meaningless (an illusion) .

    Such a tiresome bore.

  96. Amphiox says

    Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    And if it is, so what?

    Some of the best things in this universe are random and purposeless.

    It is curious how you seem to think that “having a purpose” is automatically a positive trait.

    They then have as much intrinsic existence as a dream, hallucination, or opinion.

    Dreams, hallucinations, and opinions have moved mountains. Built civilizations. Slaughtered millions.

    What does it matter then, whether or not they have “intrinsic” existence or not?

    Why this desperate clinging to the concept that having “intrinsic” existence somehow has to be a positive trait?

  97. Amphiox says

    how can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than human existence can be real?

    How can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than god’s existence can be real?

  98. brianpansky says

    @77
    John A

    how can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than human existence can be real?

    what do you mean “nothing higher”? do you mean in the case of metaphysical idealism, where nothing exists except minds?

    i don’t think anyone here holds to metaphysical idealism.

  99. zenlike says

    Anyone thinking John A is an honest debater just go re-read the Giordano Bruno thread. He is a waste of time.

  100. mikeyb says

    At the end of the day, John A is really no different than Proof of God. He believes in a divine Gandalf in the sky who rolls his eyes, extends his hand and waves his magic wand, creates worlds, gives orders and damns people for not taking him seriously (particularly pesky atheists).

  101. John A says

    Once you start admitting that some parts of the bible aren’t to be taken literally, why should you assume that any part of the bible is to be taken literally?

    You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.

    We already know the answer. We evolved over nearly 4 billion years.

    We don’t “know” that, it is the current scientific view.

    “Purposefulness” is not the opposite of “randomness”.

    It pretty much is the opposite.

    “Purpose” describes intentionality from thinking beings.

    Sometimes, but often not. The word “teleology” first appears in the writings of Aristotle, who listed it as one of the four causes. He said that everything had a teleological purpose. A chair, for example, exists to be sat in. The sun, he said, exists to provide light and seasons. There is no intelligent intent necessary.

    What makes you think that abstractions like crime and evil aren’t “illusions” as you describe them?

    That is the only possible conclusion if you rule out the existence of God or any other higher thing.

    As scientists and/or educated people the conflict isn’t whether we evolved or not. We did. That was settled a century ago.

    So no creationists are educated?

    WRONG. “epicycles” doesn’t mean what you think it means. YES, current theory doesn’t cover everything we observe, and so we have postulated the existence of “Dark Energy” and “Dark Matter” to explain the observations not predicted by the previous theory. Unless you were using “epicycles” as anything added to a wrong theory to “fix it””, like epicycles in the geocentrism theory. But unlike “epicycles”, there is a lot of evidence for “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy”, they are not just “guesses” to explain “weird stuff”.

    Actually there is no evidence for either Dark Matter or Dark Energy. There are attempts to find Dark Matter (all unsuccessful), but no one is even trying to find Dark Energy. An epicycle is a plug used to reconcile theory with observation, and as such Dark Matter and Dark Energy are epicycles.

    You keep asking “how can anything abstract be real?” Read your own question, “abstract” means “not real”. Concepts are created by the mind, concepts do not exist as physical objects that we can just “discover” in the ether.

    So no violent crime is truly evil? That we feel they are evil is just an illusion?

    “Anthropomorphic” means “having a similar shape to humans”. It does NOT mean one is the result of the other and asserts a specific direction to the comparison. If A is anthropomorphic means A and Men have the same shape. It does not mean Men created A, nor A created Men. So you did NOT refute the validity of using anthropomorphic to describe the common visualization of God.

    If that is your definition, then the Christian conception of God is certainly not anthropomorphic. Although the Mormon conception is.

    wrong question… The world IS a “machine”,

    This is a philosophic belief.

    Chance is a fact,

    Another philosophic belief.

    What makes love more real if it exists in God? God isn’t a concrete thing.

    If love comes from God, then love is real in all senses, is infinite and permeates the entire universe. In other words, the universe is a wonderful, beautiful, loving place. If love only exists in our minds, it is a shallow illusion and only exists as much as any dream or hallucination. Which version corresponds more to the love we feel every day?

  102. says

    Mikeyb:

    He believes in a divine Gandalf

    A divine Gandalf wouldn’t be so bad, however, as we all know, Gandalf eschewed such power. We could always discuss whether or not El Shaddai has the one ring…

  103. Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human. says

    zenlike:

    Oh, I already decided John A is not being honest. Look at his attempts to change what science does in order to avoid the unpleasant (for John A) fact that there is no evidence for the existence of any god. By claiming that scientists prove things, xe takes it out of the realm of science and makes it into what-if logical problems.

  104. robro says

    John A.

    I usually take it as a warning sign when someone starts their post with a historically incorrect claim. If by “religious dispute” you mean “religious debate within narrow intellectual circles”, then it goes back to the 18th century. In his day, Darwin was known mainly as a principle polemicist of evolution (not natural selection, as most dismissed it during his lifetime). Natural selection wasn’t accepted until the 1920s, mainly because of usefullness in explaining population genetics. This was the origin of the “modern synthesis” of evolutionary theory, and also when the dispute began to spill over outside of the narrow circles it had been stuck in for over a century.

    The seeds of this debate go back to the late 18th century when emerging geological evidence showed that the earth was much older than the OT genealogies suggested.

    True enough. But the literal vs non-literal dispute goes back at least as far as Augustine in the 5th century…

    You know, I usually take it as a warning when someone starts by splitting hairs. I’m old and Gallo-Irish, so mine are very fine. Despite the paucity of follicles on my head, perhaps I should share some with you so you can have a real challenge.

    Fussing over the words I chose is not disputing or debating the fact that the debate or dispute or whatever you want to call it did not start in the 1920’s as you claimed, which is clearly historically inaccurate. Retrenching that 1920’s debate to be about “natural selection” is, first off, moving the goal posts, but more importantly it was still a debate about evolution. I would wager that most people at that time saw it as a debate over evolution and not specifically about natural selection, nor would most people have had much sense of the difference. You then go on to acknowledge that the debate/dispute goes back to the 18th century, which is what I said! So, what was my “historically incorrect claim?” (And please note, that last thing is irony…like the tile of Krauss’s book…I don’t expect nor want you to answer the question.)

    Then you veer off into apologetics about literalism. There’s no question that not all Christians are literalists nor that all Christians have had a problem with evolution, heliocentrism, the shape of the earth, the ancient age of the universe, or even current models of the Big Bang. There’s no question that even in the way back machine that some Christian and Jewish apologists sought interpretations of the writings that were not ridiculously unsupportable (flat earth indeed).

    However, the Hovinds, Ken Ham, and a host of other religious fanatics in our world are literalists and they are the subject of this thread.

  105. brianpansky says

    @john a

    What makes you think that abstractions like crime and evil aren’t “illusions” as you describe them?

    That is the only possible conclusion if you rule out the existence of God or any other higher thing.

    try backing up your assertions john a!

    also what do you mean by “higher” thing?

  106. zenlike says

    Chomp away, Inaji!

    But I’m out: in that other thread John A’s illiteracy on any subject he dared to bring up was painful to watch. Also, I fucking can’t stand moral relativists like him.

  107. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    John A. : “You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.”

    You know, to someone who doesn’t have a literal mind, this brings to mind an old guy with a beard dryhumping the globe.

  108. Snoof says

    The word “teleology” first appears in the writings of Aristotle, who listed it as one of the four causes. He said that everything had a teleological purpose. A chair, for example, exists to be sat in. The sun, he said, exists to provide light and seasons. There is no intelligent intent necessary.

    Aristotle was full of shit.

  109. Amphiox says

    “You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.”

    That’s just another way of saying “I can’t say this is true, but I really, really, really want to, so I’ll make something up.”

  110. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend, Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @ a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    John A. : You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.

    You know, to someone who doesn’t have a literal mind, this brings to mind an old guy with a beard dryhumping the globe.

    God really fucked the earth – not literal, but true!

  111. Sastra says

    John A #109 wrote:

    If love comes from God, then love is real in all senses, is infinite and permeates the entire universe. In other words, the universe is a wonderful, beautiful, loving place. If love only exists in our minds, it is a shallow illusion and only exists as much as any dream or hallucination. Which version corresponds more to the love we feel every day?

    Are you conceiving of “love” as a kind of force or essence which somehow acts on physical matter? Maybe a sort of “energy?” It seems to me that you can then just eliminate God — or simply say that “God is Love.”

    In #98 I tried to explain how we ground abstractions (such as love) as a very real interaction between an agent and its environment. That doesn’t make it an “illusion.” The illusion goes the other way — seeing love as the kind of thing which could permeate the entire universe. This is a child’s way of viewing reality. Time to put such things away.

  112. says

    A_Ray:

    You know, to someone who doesn’t have a literal mind, this brings to mind an old guy with a beard dryhumping the globe.

    Great, tea up the nose again. Pure win.

  113. Sastra says

    The sun, he said, exists to provide light and seasons. There is no intelligent intent necessary.

    And tigers are to go in zoos. Rainbows are for pretty. And the moon is to look at, and say good night to.

    I really don’t know what mosquitoes are for???

    This is the Playpen Theory of Reality. And yeah, I think there’s some “intelligent intent” inherent in the concept. You keep wanting to say ‘thank you’ or ‘I’ll try’ — but to whom? To Whom???

    By degrees of reasoned contemplation we are naturally lead to God, which we slyly front-loaded before we began.

  114. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    John A @ #109:

    Actually there is no evidence for either Dark Matter or Dark Energy. There are attempts to find Dark Matter (all unsuccessful), but no one is even trying to find Dark Energy. An epicycle is a plug used to reconcile theory with observation, and as such Dark Matter and Dark Energy are epicycles.

    You are really superlatively ignorant. But then, we knew that already from the previous thread. (Read any Sumption yet?)

    “No evidence for dark matter.” LMAO! We can map its distribution in galaxy clusters by its lensing effect on the images of more distant galaxies behind them! What we don’t know is what it consists of—but it’s there all right.

    If the expansion of the universe is accelerating—as we know it is because we’ve measured it—then dark energy is a fact. We can measure the proportion of baryonic matter to dark matter to dark energy by the power-law distribution of inhomogeneities in the CMB. Roughly 4% ordinary matter, 24% dark matter, 72% dark energy. These observations may be refined with higher resolution maps of the CMB—they will be—but they’re not going to change a whole hell of a lot.

    Your picking this particular point in time to dismiss inflationary theory, when it predicted a spectacular observation that has just now been made, and which naysayers can’t even cobble together a post hoc explanation for…well, your ignorance is boundless, I guess.

  115. Anri says

    John A @ 109:

    Since you didn’t bother answering my question earlier, I’ll ask it again, in a slightly different manner:

    You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.

    What do you use to tell what parts of the bible are literal and which are not?
    What parts of the bible that you think are literal aren’t?
    Or are you automatically assuming you’ve gotten it right every time?

    BTW, if you don’t want to answer the question, just say so, I’ll quit asking.

  116. barnestormer says

    He believes in a divine Gandalf in the sky who rolls his eyes, extends his hand and waves his magic wand, creates worlds, gives orders and damns people for not taking him seriously (particularly pesky atheists).

    Oh, but Gandalf isn’t like that at all! Sauruman, maybe. Gandalf likes to hang out with people, befriend them and learn their ways, and smoke copious quantities of pipe-weed. Gandalf refused the Ring because he knew that no one could be trusted with power over others, even his own super-laid-back and friendly self. And he would be terribly annoyed and embarassed if anyone tried to worship him — whereas Sauruman seems like he wouldn’t mind it, and Sauron actively encourages it.

    /nerd

  117. mikeyb says

    @125 – Right, Gandalf was just the first bearded old man that happened to come to mind. Gandalf would definitely make a more benign divine dictator, so perhaps theists should replace YHWH with Gandalf in the next Bible version to make it more appealing to atheists. The trick won’t work but it would be more interesting.

  118. John A says

    “No evidence for dark matter.” LMAO! We can map its distribution in galaxy clusters by its lensing effect on the images of more distant galaxies behind them! What we don’t know is what it consists of—but it’s there all right.

    How is that evidence of Dark Matter? The larger problem is that gravity is not behaving the way that theory says it should. Therefore, Dark Matter becomes the epicycle that plugs this problem by adding in enough gravity to reconcile theory with observation.

    If the expansion of the universe is accelerating—as we know it is because we’ve measured it—then dark energy is a fact.

    A century ago, it was commonly thought that the earth was a few million years old. This calculation was done based off of the current characteristics of the sun, assuming that the sun is works like any other large fire. Since these decline in size and heat over time, the age of the sun was extrapolated back using the same principles. They didn’t know about nuclear fusion, which is what led them to a conclusion that we now regard as nonsense. Since observation of distant phenomena is the only option possible, much of cosmology works the same way: assumption layered upon assumption. If any assumption is wrong, either in its entirety or in detail, the entire change of reasoning changes drastically. The currently theory that states that the universe is accelerating, and that it is accelerating at an increasing rate, is one such example of assumption layered upon assumption.

    Which is to say that it is correct to say that current theory says that the universe is accelerating at an increasing rate, but not that it actually is accelerating at an increasing rate.

    We can measure the proportion of baryonic matter to dark matter to dark energy by the power-law distribution of inhomogeneities in the CMB. Roughly 4% ordinary matter, 24% dark matter, 72% dark energy.

    Again, assumption layered upon assumption. Inference layered upon inference. What you say is not correct, and the reasons why are important. You say that we can measure the proportion of baryonic “normal” matter, which is not quite true. We can put together a model of the universe that includes certain assumptions about normal matter, dark matter, dark energy (their existence, properties, etc), and assumptions about the way gravity works (through general relativity), and this model requires a certain proportion of regular matter, dark matter, and dark energy. If all of the assumptions and infererences are right, and nothing is missing, then the conclusion is right. If anything is wrong or missing to any degree, the entire conclusion changes. This is nothing more than a model of assumptions.

    These observations may be refined with higher resolution maps of the CMB—they will be—but they’re not going to change a whole hell of a lot.

    Of course they won’t change much at all, because the underlying inferences and assumptions aren’t going to change. The observations are higher resolution observations using the same inferences that resulted in prior theories and models.

    Your picking this particular point in time to dismiss inflationary theory, when it predicted a spectacular observation that has just now been made, and which naysayers can’t even cobble together a post hoc explanation for…well, your ignorance is boundless, I guess.

    Oh I know about about that. Actually it isn’t correct to say that the observations predicted something about inflation theory that is now observed. The spiral character embedded in the early universe was already known to exist, and past measurements yielded other values that corresponded with different versions of inflation cosmology. What was unique about these observations is that they corresponded with the version of inflation cosmology that requires the existence of gravitons, which are on possible theoretical solution to the irreconcilability of relativity and quantum theory.

    Assumptions upon assumptions. Inferences upon inferences.

  119. mikeyb says

    John A refuses to answer the question of how a non-anthropomorphic god can create man in his image. I take this as prima facie evidence that he is either an obscurantist or a liar who actually does FAPP believe in an anthropomorphic god, but doesn’t want to admit it publicly because it is too embarrassing.

  120. Rey Fox says

    Assumptions upon assumptions. Inferences upon inferences.

    Therefore, goddidit.

    Sorry, never found that remotely convincing. I’ll just keep paying attention to the people who are actually trying to figure all this out, rather than the charlatans who hang around and wait to take credit later.

  121. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    John A, you are the most pompously ignorant fuckwad I’ve ever encountered. Everything you said in your last post is the purest twaddle.

    The larger problem is that gravity is not behaving the way that theory says it should. Therefore, Dark Matter becomes the epicycle that plugs this problem by adding in enough gravity to reconcile theory with observation.

    Dark matter is the non-luminous material in galaxy clusters whose lumpy and inhomogeneous distribution has been mapped by the lensing effects of its gravity. This distribution correlates very poorly with the distribution of the luminous matter in those clusters, thus indicating that they interact only gravitationally.

    “Gravity is not behaving the way theory says it should.” Fine. So General Relativity is wrong. gravity behaves in such a way that the images of different distant galaxies passing through this cluster are deflected in different ways—because gravity fluctuates unpredictably over this small portion of the sky? Is that really what you think? Well, there goes your “absolute” laws!

    The rest of your crap isn’t worth discussing. “assumptions on assumptions”. Chronologically, yes. One “assumption is made, and tested, and found to be consistent with observations. Then that is used as a springboard for further assumptions which are also tested and found to agree with further observations. It’s like a ratchet. You can’t jack up a car because it’s just “tooth upon tooth”, I guess.

    Really, you seem to be puffed with an illusion that you know a lot of shit, but whether in history or science, you are really spectacularly, abysmally ignorant. (Read any Sumption yet?)

  122. vaiyt says

    How is that evidence of Dark Matter? The larger problem is that gravity is not behaving the way that theory says it should. Therefore, Dark Matter becomes the epicycle that plugs this problem by adding in enough gravity to reconcile theory with observation.

    It’s still an explanation. Unlike, say, plugging God in the gap, which doesn’t give us any new insight or prediction.

    Epicycles were rendered unnecessary by observations that showed that the new model could explain things the old model could not. It would make no sense to return to a geocentric model today, because it would require distant stars to be moving at multiple times the speed of light, which would not fit with our observations regarding redshift and gravitational attraction.

  123. Menyambal says

    John A, as best I can tell, is trying to demonstrate PZ’s title and point. He has a lot of deepities, and some frakking wierd asumptions, but little thought.

    He wants a universe permeated with love, but thinks God isn’t anthropomorphic.

  124. alexmcdonald says

    John A #127

    A century ago, it was commonly thought that the earth was a few million years old. This calculation was done based off of the current characteristics of the sun, assuming that the sun is works like any other large fire. Since these decline in size and heat over time, the age of the sun was extrapolated back using the same principles. They didn’t know about nuclear fusion, which is what led them to a conclusion that we now regard as nonsense. Since observation of distant phenomena is the only option possible, much of cosmology works the same way: assumption layered upon assumption. If any assumption is wrong, either in its entirety or in detail, the entire change of reasoning changes drastically.

    Assumptions are made in models, but observations provide the verification (or otherwise) or the model’s assumptions. That’s how science works. You seem also imply that a that revision of the model (sun as coal furnace becomes sun as nuclear furnace) is an issue.

    What observation would you ascribe to a god btw? And would you be prepared to abandon one assumption for another if the evidence led you there?

  125. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Rey Fox @ 129:

    I know, right? “I don’t want to believe the observations so gravity must be misbehaving.”

    IOW: “Instead of the obvious interpretation, General Relativity could be wrong—therefore Jeebus.”

  126. vaiyt says

    If all of the assumptions and infererences are right, and nothing is missing, then the conclusion is right. If anything is wrong or missing to any degree, the entire conclusion changes. This is nothing more than a model of assumptions.

    This is just bullshit. First, because you’re proposing a trivial affirmation. “If you’re right, then you’re right, if you’re wrong then your conclusion is going to be different”. No shit, sherlock.
    Second because you’re trying to present changing conclusions as if it was something wrong. Geez, we were wrong about reality, let’s change our theory to fit the facts! How dishonest! Much better to assume God and then shove Him in whatever you don’t understand.

    You ignore as well HOW does one find out that such assumptions and inferences are right or wrong. Oh yeah, by checking the limits of those inferences with the real world until they are shown to be complete or incomplete. The inferences are based on real world data, and if they work, they’re kept until more real world data comes up. It’s not perfect, but it’s effective. Try coming up with something more effective, just try.

  127. mikeyb says

    John A also refuses to understand that in the unlikely event that we were to utterly disprove every major scientific theory from physics to biology, it wouldn’t provide a scintilla of evidence for his non-anthropomorphic anthropomorphic god. That evidence would have to stand on its own.

  128. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Mikeyb

    John A also refuses to understand that in the unlikely event that we were to utterly disprove every major scientific theory from physics to biology, it wouldn’t provide a scintilla of evidence for his non-anthropomorphic anthropomorphic god. That evidence would have to stand on its own.

    QFT

  129. Amphiox says

    How is that evidence of Dark Matter? The larger problem is that gravity is not behaving the way that theory says it should. Therefore, Dark Matter becomes the epicycle that plugs this problem by adding in enough gravity to reconcile theory with observation.

    Dark Matter is a prediction of Relativity theory. The same way planet Neptune was a prediction (Uranus was moving in a way that required an additional large planet’s gravity acting in it) of Newtonian gravity, which turned out to be correct, and Vulcan (Mercury was moving in a way that appeared to require an additional planet’s gravity), which turned out to be incorrect (Relativity superseded Newtonian gravity and could explain Mercury’s orbit without requiring an additional planet acting on it.)

    We observe objects in the universe moving in a way that the equations of Relativity indicate would require X mass acting on them. We observe Y mass. Thus Relativity predicts X-Y=D mass that we have not yet observed. We will either one day observe this mass, confirming the prediction, or we will find a new formulation of gravity that accounts for this motion without the additional mass.

    But just as Neptune, predicted by Newton’s theory and confirmed by observation, did not disappear when relativity superseded Newtonism, everything already predicted by Relativity and confirmed by observation will not cease to be true, and just as Newton’s equations can be derived out of the math of Relativity, whatever new conception of gravity that replaces Relativity will have to include the equations of Relativity within it, because those equations have already been demonstrated to accurately describe how the universe actually works.

  130. Menyambal says

    A key there is when John A says that if any assumption is wrong in the slightest degree, the entire conclusion changes. He is trying to make it sound like everything will be overthrown utterly by uncovering the most trivial incorrectness.

    As was said above, Einstein didn’t overthrow Newton. When the Apollo astronauts headed for the moon, they said that Newton was in the driver’s seat. Einstein may have been running the radios, but Newton’s laws still held.

  131. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Amphiox @ #138:

    You’re arguing against what John A apparently thinks. The observation that there’s too much matter in galaxy clusters goes back to Fritz Zwicky in 1936, so it’s really solid. In fact there’s about 100X as much mass in large galaxy clusters than can be accounted for by stars and gas and dust.

    Then Vera Rubin and Kent Ford observed that the rotation of spiral galaxies implies that there’s about 10X the observable amount of matter in them, and it’s spherically distributed, so they rotate like phonograph records instead of the Kepler’s Law falloff with radius that had been expected. This observation is also completely solid.

    Some naysayers like John A said: “Well, what if gravity just ‘peters out’ after a certain distance. That would explain all these faster-than-expected motions.”

    Fine. But now I tried to convey the new (to him apparently) information that we can observe distant galaxies through large galaxy clusters, and by the gravitational lensing of their images, map large, lumpy distributions of mass that doesn’t correlate with the visible mass in those clusters. So all of a sudden now, not only does gravity have to behave differently than we think it does, the law of gravity has to fluctuate across the small patch of sky covered by this foreground cluster. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll just accept the observations, thank you.

    Besides: General Relativity Wrong ≠ God.

  132. Ewout says

    John A has a habit of only answering questions if he can use the answer to support his own cause. I’ve seen this so many times before, from godbots to climate change deniers and so on. Any time people make claims they can’t support with evidence all that remains is to ignore the evidence and go on long rants hoping that people will lose interest or be fooled by the pretty words. There’s really no point in engaging with them.

    Show me an apologist that won’t dodge a question, that would be something.

  133. Anri says

    I wonder what happens to John A’s universe if we question the assumption that the bible is correct?

    What inferences are lost then?

    Will John A own up to the fact that his universe model and our universe model are both based on assumption upon assumption and inference upon inference… but that observation keeps confirming our assumptions and inferences and keeps opposing his?
    Shorter version: is John A honest?
    Time will tell.

  134. says

    As a fan of the Duck comics of Carl Barks, I resent you associating a dimwit like Hovind with the noble Huey, Dewey, and Louie.

    But yeah, the dude’s a shmuck.

  135. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Here’s a purty pitcher of the dark matter in the Bullet Cluster, for John A’s edification. (LOL).

  136. says

    The closest thing I’ve seen to an actual proof against the existence of God (at least, any God that interacts at with the universe, especially human beings) came from Sean Carroll (here, starting around the 9 minute mark). Would love to see theologians and apologists actually engage with this argument, as well as more atheists promoting it, then yet another rehashing of philosophical arguments that haven’t changed in hundreds of years.

  137. rq says

    I’ve realized I need to brush up on my cosmology.
    Or should I just go with god?
    Tough choice, here.

  138. mothra says

    Late to the party (in time for the clean-up?) Whenever a theist uses the phrase ‘random chance’ I immediately know they either flunked a statistics course or never had one (assumming honesty). Just for John A’s education:

    Chance event- one of a large sample space of possible outcomes with unequal probabilities of occurrance. The Asteroid striking earth at the end of the Cretaceous was a chance event.

    Random event- One of a number of (usually ennumerated) events all of which have equal probabilities of occurrance. Flipping an ‘honest’ coin or rolling an ‘honest’ dice..

  139. says

    “What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.”

    The very idea of a god, ANY form of god, is by definition anthropomorphic.

    We imbue the universe with a capacity for thought, reason, intent, judgement, with ideals, etc.
    Look around the universe. Where do these ideas come from? The movement of planets? Examining stellar spectra?

    No. They are human concepts, human traits painted onto a universe to give it a human-like face.

  140. says

    (we imagine the universe human-like, proclaim that God, and elevate ourselves to godlike status by doing so. Immortality, etc.)

    Delusion and fantasy are easily recognizable if you’re driving PAST the con and looking at the attendees instead of standing in line dressed funny waiting to get in.

  141. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    Delusion and fantasy are easily recognizable if you’re driving PAST the con and looking at the attendees instead of standing in line dressed funny waiting to get in.

    That is a truly wonderful metaphor—speaking as someone who used to live a couple of blocks from a repertory theater which would run The Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday night.

  142. sqlrob says

    @Mothra #48

    Random event- One of a number of (usually ennumerated) events all of which have equal probabilities of occurrance. Flipping an ‘honest’ coin or rolling an ‘honest’ dice..

    I don’t think that definition is right. I’d still call a weighted die or coin random, just not fair.

    By your definitions, the sum of a pair of dice is not random. There’s a small, enumerated set, not equally distributed. Or reaching into a bag of a small number of balls where 1 is red, 2 are blue and 3 are green. The one that you reach in and grab is not random by your definition.

  143. dutchdelight says

    There’s a certain carnavalesque quality to people like John A, yet I wouldn’t pay a dime to see him perform.

    Maybe if he dodges some more questions in funny and original ways.

  144. unclefrogy says

    if love comes from god and exists in all of the universe for all time what of hate does it not also exist outside of man on its own like love and come from god and exist in the same way? what about all the rest of those types things both the positive ones we like and the negative ones we do not like are they also not eternal truths that exist outside of man?
    How are we to tell the good ones from the bad ones?
    How am I to know that what you say about the existence of god is not a lie or that the authorities you may quote were not simply mistake?. When what they say does not seem to match what I can verify for myself as to the nature of reality outside of my personal interior perception what am I to do?
    uncle frogy

  145. woozy says

    So John A’s argument seems to be:

    A) Abstract things aren’t real.
    B) Only real things are important.
    C) Abstract things are important.
    Ergo
    D) Abstract things aren’t abstract.
    and thus
    E) Something must exist to make abstract things real
    and that thing must be God.

    Okay… so seriously, does anyone really need to point at whats wrong with this argument? That B is simply wrong? And the E is simply made out of whole cloth and is just bizarre?

  146. says

    for something that isn’t anthropomorphic, it cares a lot about human’s sex lives.

    XI – Thou shalt not put thy squeebnotz in a franter’s plugh

  147. opposablethumbs says

    Delusion and fantasy are easily recognizable if you’re driving PAST the con and looking at the attendees instead of standing in line dressed funny waiting to get in.

    I agree it’s a good metaphor, but I think it does something of a disservice to con-goers. Many (though perhaps not all) of them are perfectly well aware that they’re indulging in a bit of fantasy for fun – unlike the skydaddy cultists, who choose to let their skydaddy cult rule every aspect of their lives and subject their rationality to it. Disclaimer: I’ve never been to a con and will almost certainly never go to one, but I do know quite a few con-goers – who are all waaaaaay less delusional about their cons than religionists are about their religions.

  148. mikeyb says

    Woozy, if you could make sense of anything John A had to say, that is an accomplishment. All I could make out of it was pure incoherent obscurantist BS.

  149. says

    The larger problem is that gravity is not behaving the way that theory says it should. Therefore, Dark Matter becomes the epicycle

    Actually, gravity is behaving exactly the way it always does – like theory says it should. Light is bending around something massive, therefore we know something massive is there. The question is: what.

    Gravity’s effect on light in accordance with relativity is used for all kinds of other things and the theory keeps working correctly. Einstein himself predicted gravitational lensing (which we now see all the time thanks to the Hubble) and guessed wrongly that we’d never have instruments good enough to see it. We know dark matter is there by how it bends light, the same way we know a galaxy is there by how it bends light. We can compute the mass, in fact, by how much it bends light.

  150. mothra says

    @152 If I am understanding the first part of your objection correctly, then you are not differentiating between a chance event and a random event or quibbling? As to the colored balls, exactly! If we are talking about an individual ball, the event is random (for practical purposes). If we are talking about a COLORED ball, the the event is chance but not random because each color of ball does not have equal probability of being picked.

    What I am trying to accomplish by my post is differentiate for John A, that the whole idea of randomness as he colloquially seems to be using the term, i.e. evolution then being just ‘random chanc’ is a misnomer. Chance plays a large part in the evolutionary history of life, randomness, not so much. If you can improve on this so as to make it clearer to John A, , please do.

  151. Muz says

    I’m a little late, but back on the presup-droids for a sec…
    Holy crap are they annoying! It seems clearly like the old days when you’d get a flock of street evangelists who’d all been given the same script and sent out to bother people with the “good word” about how they don’t have to go to hell. That was annoying too, but dammit at least their stabs at pop-psych and jumping to conclusions about people was entertaining.

    This new trend is like being trapped in a hall of broken Disneyland automatons, twitching and sparking: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*: Are you absolutely sure? *click* But how do you know? *click*:

  152. Al Dente says

    The fine tuning argument is nonsense. The Earth wasn’t made for humanity, humanity was made for the Earth. Homo sapiens is the result of billions of years of evolution, both stellar and biological. Our species evolved to survive in sub-Saharan Africa some 800,000 or so years ago. Since then we’ve moved around the world, modifying our living conditions and the environment in various ways to survive in non-African climates. No gods are required to explain fine tuning because it’s not an argument, it’s a non sequitur.

  153. anteprepro says

    So John A rode his fail rail right back into town, huh? Forgiveness, I request. SIWOTI compels me. Hopefully this won’t be too hard to scroll past.

    John A 26

    How can a creator be limited by his own creation?

    Literally every single time in existence because creators aren’t inherently magic?

    You claim some philosophical view, call it anti-nihilism, to be an established fact. Not true at all.

    John A, still able to claim things as fact or not fact by fiat. He must have been granted a dose of papal infallibility for turning a blind eye on the issue of Catholic child abuse coverups.

    This philosophical point (whether anything can exist without God or some “unmoved mover”) tends to be dismissed by many atheists, but it is a valid question. That it has been debated since antiquity testifies to this.

    Argument from “it’s a really really old argument, you guys, so you know its gotta be good”. The mind boggles.

    They would rather spout non-provable metaphysical nonsense than allow for God.

    John A’s upcoming book, “Non-Provable Metaphysical Nonsense for Me, But Not For Thee: How Gaps Prove God”.

    John A. 32

    What makes you think Christians think God is anthropomorphic? They don’t.

    Christians believe at least three contradictory things before breakfast. They claim that their God is not anthropomorphic because of how magically delicious “he” is, and then go right back to anthropomorphizing “him”.

    Though the evolution/creation dispute is quite complex, and both sides tend to dumb it down… There was never really a religious objection to evolutionary theory, from it origin in the 18th century, through the end of the 19th century.

    John A continues to fail at history. Are you going to move on to math at some point? Keep the entertainment varied?

    Whether humans are, as Christians believe, made in the image of God, or as you believe, a random accident in an amoral universe, is not a scientific question. It is a theological and philosophical one. Your belief (it is just that, a belief) is not a product of science but philosophy. And it is easy to see why it antagonizes so many. It logically leads to the conclusion that all purpose, love, and morality is an illusion.

    1. Science is a subset philosophy.
    2. Philosophy doesn’t support the premise that there is a God.
    3. Science does support the idea that we are accident in an amoral universe.
    4. Your argument from consequences is just an ineffectual whine that proves nothing.

    38

    I would to. Fortunately no one claims that such a thing exists.

    I find it hilarious how “liberal” Christians basically throw every other flavor of believer under the fucking bus. Every fucking time, too. So you’re just gonna pretend that every Christian out there is a theologian who believes in a rarified nothingness with no connection to the Bible then? Well I guess if you are going to just be playing Pretend anyway, you might as add that to the game too!

    43

    Of course it does. If God (or some other higher thing) doesn’t exist, if the world is simply this machine governed by random chance, then how can any abstract thing exist? How can love or morality exist?

    “If unicorns don’t exist, how can there be rainbows!!!?”

    There are alternatives besides everything being pseudomagic results of a top-down process filtered directly from your Sky Sorceror of choice, Johnny, Master of History.

    45

    Western rules of logical deduction are not some innate fact of reality. They are rules that humans created out of nothing long ago and many continue to hold to them.

    Logic was created to understand reality. It is a human creation. It is a tool. It is a tool that we have tested. It is a tool that works. But glad to see you reject it, because Jeebus is better! Why are we bothering to reason you again?

    All of logic is a human creation, and this question presupposes that all of these rules are true.

    This dodges the question, it doesn’t answer it.

    59

    Fine tuning doesn’t require God, but if not God, then it does require something especially bizarre and off the wall, like inflation theory and multiverses.

    Or just, ya know, understanding that the reasoning behind “Fine tuning” is assbackwards.

    They would rather believe in convoluted metaphysical concepts, so long as it allows them to presume God is not part of it.

    How is God not a convoluted metaphysical concept!!? You disingenuous fucks are all the same.

    The removal of God from science is a 20th century creation.

    The removal of God from science happened when theologians and laymen finally agreed that science was peeking into all of the good gaps, so they needed to find better hidey-holes to stick their holy homunculus into.

    It shouldn’t then be a surprise that few were bothered when 18th century geology and evolutionary theory seems to contradict a literal reading of the creation narrative (which was never popular outside certain protestant circles anyway).

    And yet today, 46% of Americans think that humans were created by God in their present form . When did that certain protestant circle get so broad? When did America start getting more literal than people who didn’t know that this shit was wrong in the first place? I guess creationists are even more regressive than we thought!

    Both sides are to blame. They both tend to caricature the other side, while having little understanding and even less appreciation or respect for that side.

    You are an idiot if you think both sides are equally to blame. You are lazy and dismissive and are not paying fucking attention at all if you are willing to blame both sides for this mess. “Tend to caricature the other side”, have you seen the stuff they say here !? We don’t cut and paste shit into their posts or anything. They make their inane arguments all on their lonesome. And they always the same stupid, misinformed bullshit.

    Both sides? Go fuck yourself.

    Though this is certainly part of it, their reasons are deeper…. with a rationale for their beliefs, a sense of introspection. They aren’t mere children screaming that they want everyone else stop talking.

    Assertion that remains to see evidence.

    77.

    I am asking the question, how can morality be anything but an illusion if nothing higher than human existence can be real?

    How does something higher than human existence actually make morality more justified? It really doesn’t.

    I absolutely agree. Love does exist in our heads. Without God (or some other higher thing), love (and all other abstract concepts) can only exist in our heads. They then have as much intrinsic existence as a dream, hallucination, or opinion.

    And? Love has grounding in reality because it is actually directed towards another person in the real world. Dreams and hallucinations are one step removed from that attachment. Happiness and anger, and opinions, are comparable to love in this regard. Does it really make sense to think of these things as metaphysical objects independent from the humans experiencing them?

    So your opinion is that love is nothing more than a consequence of random, purposeless synaptic firings? Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    Welcome to reality. I’ll go get your tear bucket and Linkin Park CD.

    Not quite. Morality is universal. It has cultural colorings, but there various ethical characteristics that are nearly universal in nearly all societies.

    Near universal =/= Universal.

    How this can exist in so many independent cultures without a higher thing that they all must share in common is what you have to answer.

    Hmmm. Could it be because cultures without these moral standards might be less likely to stick around? Could it be that morality is it just a description of humanity’s natural empathy? Nah. THEREFORE MAGIC.

    85

    Is it news to you that the Trinity is apparent from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament?

    The Trinity is a bad, incoherent post-hoc rationalization with minimal Biblical basis that was determined to be Christian doctrine by committee basically so that they could continue to claim to be monotheists. Yes, it would be news to me that the “Trinity is apparent” anywhere .

    ” But he still is still apparently a male with quasi-ape like features in which we were made copies from.”

    In what way?

    The point: In order for humans to have been made in God’s image, God must look like us

    And it has also been a perennial question since time immemorial if abstract concepts, like mathematics, have any true existence, or if they are just creations we made up to make life easier.

    Seriously, that is something that keeps philosophers awake at night?
    (Again, the age of the argument proves jackshit.)

    You confuse “literal” with “true”. In the Psalms, David says that God “laid the four corners of the Earth”. This is a true statement, but not literal.

    And yet you claimed earlier that it was Old (and therefore, per your other arguments, Serious And Respectable) debate over that same passage being literally true. Go figure that it is only figurative once we absolutely know it is false. Funny how that works.

    We don’t “know” that, it is the current scientific view.

    Denialist alarm activated.

    If that is your definition, then the Christian conception of God is certainly not anthropomorphic.

    Then the Bible is wrong. Congratulations.

    This is a philosophic belief.

    That is a dodge.
    And an ironic one, coming from the person using their own assumptions and incredulity to prove that love and evil are only real if there are Space Ghosts.

    If love comes from God, then love is real in all senses, is infinite and permeates the entire universe.

    Does. Not. Follow.

    Which version corresponds more to the love we feel every day?

    You seriously think the one where Love permeates are entire gigantic, mostly empty fucking universe is the one that corresponds to reality? You seriously think that Love radiated infinitely throughout all existence is consistent with a universe where children are neglected and abused, women are raped while everyone turns a blind eye, where foreigners are bombed, innocents die in car accidents, where cancer is a thing, and random acts of violence are epidemic? You think that is a world full of Super Powered Infinite Love? Go fuck yourself, you Just World Bias Blinded fuckwit.

  154. Azuma Hazuki says

    @various/John A:

    If you want to make an argument for a Deist God, that’s fine; I am also Deist (well, that’s the closest word…), so there we have no quarrel.

    But if you are seriously going to tell me Yahweh possesses the perfections called for in the ontological arguments, you are smoking something strong and possibly illegal. I am always amazed by how few people call you slimy apologists out on the massive sleight-of-hand trick you all pull, waving an ontological argument in the audience’s face and then switcharooney-ing the Deist God out for Yahweh.

    And if you dare tell me that the genocidal, vengeful, tyrannical, scatalogical floating sky demon Yahweh is “merciful,” “loving,” or “omni-benevolent,” I will spit right in your eye. If you tell me any being that would torture its creations for all eternity is any of those, well…let’s hope you have an accident with a lighter and a propane tank. Just to give you some perspective.

  155. anteprepro says

    Azuma Hazuki

    I am always amazed by how few people call you slimy apologists out on the massive sleight-of-hand trick you all pull, waving an ontological argument in the audience’s face and then switcharooney-ing the Deist God out for Yahweh.

    In my opinion, it’s the dirtiest trick they play. They don’t get called out for it nearly enough and it is a ploy they use at the end of virtually every single one of their arguments for God. It is galling. And these arguments and the people forwarding them were respected in philosophy and logic! If that doesn’t make you weep for mankind, I don’t know what will.

  156. Anri says

    Interesting.
    Unless I am mistaken, John A believes suffering exists because he believes in god.
    After all, unless god exists, suffering is only in the mind. It is therefore equal to an illusion. Which is therefore equal to nonexistent. Therefore, if there is no god, no-one could suffer.

    …right?

  157. Azuma Hazuki says

    @169/Anri

    The death cultists love them some suffering. We really ought to call them torture cultists since that is what they are. I wish I knew what it would take to metaphorically unscrew these peoples’ skullcaps and pour in that to anyone outside the sacrificial alter-grounds, everything they say sounds like Ia ia Yahweh f’thagn.

  158. yubal says

    The proof that God exists is that without God you could not know anything for certain. Without God truth would be relative and meaningless.

    You do know for certain that you will die. Every living being dies. It is a truth.

    There is nothing relative about it. And it is not meaningless either. It means you will be gone one day and life of others will still go on. Nothing more, nothing less. It has a strong meaning, to you.

  159. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Way late, but…

    John A #77

    So your opinion is that love is nothing more than a consequence of random, purposeless synaptic firings? Love, then, is random and purposeless.

    Oh for fuck’s sake. Your assertion that synaptic firings are random is blatant nonsense. If our synapses fired randomly we wouldn’t be capable of thinking. This pathetic attempt at a rebuttal is just another demonstration of your ignorance of reality coupled with an almost heroic willingness to distort the arguments made against you.

  160. heliobates says

    @Marcus

    Actually, gravity is behaving exactly the way it always does – like theory says it should. Light is bending around something massive, therefore we know something massive is there.

    Thank you! Exactly.

    Dark matter isn’t an “epicycle” for gravity. We couldn’t even posit, look for or inevitably observe dark matter if there was something wrong with our understanding of gravity (anyone else think that it’s hilarious that we knew need gravity to explain why epicycles were wrong?)

    John A., like all of these pseudo-Plantingists, knows enough terminology to fake science-y but is as shallow as Star Trek technobabble.

    Tell us again how reversing the OSCILLATING NADION CONDUIT proves the existence of God, John.

  161. observer says

    Is love “real”?. That’s a much more interesting question than John A allows it to be. Sastra is right, John A is reifying the abstract concept “love,” and in so doing, severely trivializing it.

    The word “love” describes a complex and shifting mix of emotional experience, interpersonal relationships, and social committments. The emotional experiences need not exist outside ourselves in order to be real any more than our thoughts need exist outside ourselves in order to be our thoughts. Nevertheless, they are our subjective experiences, and the notion that they must have independent reality in some Platonic sense in order to be real is silly. The social interactions described by the term love do, in fact, exist outside ourselves. Again, however, the idea that these interactions permeate the entire universe is also silly.

    In practice we call all these things by one name and imagine we experience them as a whole. That is an illusion in the same sense that the concept of a unitary self is an illusion. But it’s a useful one, and probably a necessary result of how our minds function.

    The funny thing is that the reified concept of love is far less interesting and ultimately less “real” to me than the non-reified version. The latter contains all the mysteries and quirks of the human experience, while the former is simplistic and banal.

  162. says

    In my opinion, it’s the dirtiest trick they play. They don’t get called out for it nearly enough and it is a ploy they use at the end of virtually every single one of their arguments for God. It is galling. And these arguments and the people forwarding them were respected in philosophy and logic! If that doesn’t make you weep for mankind, I don’t know what will.

    Reminds me of how some of the ancient astronaut theorists will take the bible as a more or less accurate historical account…but interpret it as it was clearly alien interaction and the people witnessing it didn’t know what they were seeing.

    A whole religion has actually been made on that concept and it actually is a good point to bring up especially when they start talking about how God couldn’t outlaw slavery or explain germ theory because of primitive minds or whatever

  163. says

    Regarding love as a concrete thing, I’m reminded of a point that essentially the people who reify abstract concepts are kind of hyper-reductionists who believe the world is already reduced and that abstractions and emergent properties are impossible. They commonly use it to claim life only comes from life, as if you could examine a living organism and find life particles. Reality tells us that life runs on the laws of chemistry. The individual chemical reactions are pretty mundane and aren’t individually “alive.” It’s how all those chemical reactions are organized that makes something alive.

    I don’t need love particles in my brain to experience love. My love is a consequence of my brain’s chemistry and my interactions with friends and family. Frankly, I’d think if we were dependent on love particles, that would make love less meaningful and “real” because it would probably make it much easier to manipulate. Love potions that actually work would be at corner drug stores, assuming they weren’t banned as a form of unethical mind control (in which case, it’d be in the back alley). Love would be a commodity to be bought and sold, not a complex, individualized topic to explore.

  164. Thumper: Token Breeder says

    @John A #26

    You assume God is limited by his own creation (rules of logical deduction). How can a creator be limited by his own creation?

    I’m late to the party, but this strikes me a self-evidently stupid question. I build a house. Ergo I am the creator of the house. Can I walk through the walls? No. Therefore my movement is limited by the house. Therefore I am limited by my own creation.

    This seems so trivially obvious to me that there can be only two possible explanations: either John A is being a complete idiot, or I am.