Open thread for AETV #882: Matt and Jen


Looks like this post is a bit late.

On a side note: Blip.tv apparently canceled a whole bunch of accounts including ours, completely without warning, pursuing an unspecified “new business strategy.” The entire archive has been deleted, we have no login, and a complaint we sent was met with a generic message repeating what I just said without further explanation. We’re working to restore our video archives and come up with a strategy for posting new videos. This may or may not involve YouTube. We’ll keep you posted.

Comments

  1. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Post-show call about quantifying happiness (1:02:13):

    Devin: So you don’t think that you can measure the kilograms of dopamine that you receive from doing certain event?
    Matt: I think you can measure that, but I don’t think that that is necessarily “happiness”. It may be the case that we can eventually quantify happiness when we can quantify brain states. But for example… Dopamine levels: they certainly relate to happiness, but is that the only- Do we know that when you’re happy, you have a certain dopamine level, and that higher rates of happiness map directly to certain levels of dopamine?
    […]
    Devin: If it’s possible, do you think it’d be a good idea to administer dopamine to people, or would that take away from the human experience?

    Obligatory
    Comic: SMBC – Calling oxytocin the “love” hormone
     
     
    Article: Nature – Parkinson’s patients sue over gambling and porn addictions
     
    Audio: Radiolab – S06E01 Stocasticity, Seeking Patterns
    (Gambler story is at 6:52-20:25)
     
    In the past few years, the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA has gotten a lot of attention for its unexpected involvement in dopamine chatter.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    Sweet! I was hoping for an open thread for this episode.

    There are many things I could say about Jonathan’s call, but let me just say that I think Matt was in top form during that call. It’s quite something to see an apologist utterly beaten at every turn and yet still think they’re right about everything at the end.

    It only got sad when he started to lie. He claimed there are peer-reviewed papers that support ID. Well, there are papers that ID proponents say support ID, but when you read the papers, the authors don’t reach the same conclusion as the ID folks. It reminds me of the Johanan from Thiensville, WI calls where he claims his “ideal monism” bullshit is ‘backed by science.’ He’s posted several papers at rationalskepticism.com that he claims to support him, but the conclusions of the papers in fact refute his assertions.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    @Sky Captain

    Have you ever read “Brave New World?” The call portion you quoted reminds me of soma.

  4. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    #1 continued:
    Related and probably more on-topic would be electrical/deep brain stimulation…
     
    Article: Damn Interesting – Technology and the Pursuit of Happiness

  5. corwyn says

    Presumably their “new business strategy” doesn’t involve dealing with anyone who is in any contact with customers of their previous business strategy.

    Imagine a bank saying, “we have closed your account, and have deleted all the money in it.”

  6. Max says

    So you can’t call theists stupid, but you can say a whole bunch of stuff that basically means stupid. Got it.

  7. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Monocle Smile #3:

    Have you ever read “Brave New World?”

    *Reads a plot summary*
    o.0  I have not, but components of the dystopia are familiar.
     
     

    The call portion you quoted reminds me of soma.

     
    Article: Wikipedia – Brave New World:

    In the book, soma is [an antidepressant] hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free “holidays”. It was developed by the World State to provide these inner-directed personal experiences within a socially managed context of State-run “religious” organisations; social clubs. The [suggestion-during-sleep] inculcated affinity for the State-produced drug, as a self-medicating comfort mechanism in the face of stress or discomfort, thereby eliminates the need for religion or other personal allegiances outside or beyond the World State; the book describes it as having “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol, none of their defects.”

    Huxley used the setting and characters from his science fiction novel to express widely held opinions [circa 1931], particularly the fear of losing individual identity in the fast-paced world of the future. An early trip to the United States gave Brave New World much of its character. Not only was Huxley outraged by the culture of youth, commercial cheeriness, sexual promiscuity and the inward-looking nature of many Americans, he had also found the book My Life and Work by Henry Ford on the boat to America

    The World State is built upon the principles of Henry Ford’s assembly line: mass production, homogeneity, predictability, and consumption of disposable consumer goods. While the World State lacks any supernatural-based religions, Ford himself is revered as the creator of their society but not as a deity, and characters celebrate Ford Day and swear oaths by his name (e.g., “By Ford!”).

    Aside: In the real world, Ford didn’t have soma, and things didn’t go so well…
     
     
    Article: Damn Interesting – The Ruins of Fordlandia

    Scores of Ford employees were relocated to [an attempted rubber plantation in Brazil], and over the first few months an American-as-apple-pie community sprung up from what was once a jungle wilderness.
    […]
    Local laborers were offered […] double the normal rate for that line of work. But Ford’s effort to transplant America – what he called “the healthy lifestyle” – was not limited to American buildings, but also included mandatory “American” lifestyle and values.
    […]
    In December of 1930, after about a year of working in a harsh environment with a strict and disagreeable “healthy lifestyle”, the laborers’ agitation reached a critical mass in the workers’ cafeteria. […] Members of Fordlandia’s American management fled swiftly to their homes or into the woods, some of them chased by machete-wielding workers.

  8. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @corwyn #5:

    Imagine a bank saying, “we have closed your account, and have deleted all the money in it.”

    That nearly happened to me last month. I had an idle account, and they warned me several weeks beforehand, first in a normal envelope I mistook for a statement, then in a big important-looking cardboard sleeve.
     
    The letter said communicating with them (phone, fax, or branch) would resolve it. Employee on the phone said “No can do. Better walk in.” Employee in the branch couldn’t do it herself, so she said she would send a fax to the-powers-that-be… eventually. The fax machine was already busy that afternoon. Thankfully no Vogon highway was constructed.

  9. Ethan Myerson says

    What’s the deal with Steve (around 52:00 in the show)? He’s called in a few times with what seems to be a strange angle for his questions. It seems he looks at atheism as a religion, with doctrines, rules, commandments and sins. But he has also referred to atheists as “we” or “us”. Taking him at face value (assuming he’s not spoofing), he sounds like someone who wants a good club to join, not someone who has thought about questions and tried to assess how he might find the right answer.

    Maybe I’m off in my read of him. Anyone else feel that way?

  10. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So you can’t call theists stupid, but you can say a whole bunch of stuff that basically means stupid. Got it.

    I don’t remember the exact alternatives given, but I bet it’s something like this. The following words are not synonyms for stupid: ignorant, mistaken, wrong-headed, deluded, brain-washed. “Stupid” means the ability to learn. “Ignorant” means has not learned, or has not learned yet.

    It was not stated that one should not apply negative descriptions to theists. Merely, it was stated that one should not apply a particular moniker, “stupid”, to theists, because theists are not in general stupid. In general, theists are capable of being corrected, learning, and seeing the error of their ways.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    For the nth time…

    The discussion in the show was in large part atrocious. I disagree with both Matt and the caller fundamentally. Science can show supernatural causation. Both Matt and the caller are simply wrong when they assert otherwise.

    This is how you show causation: You gather data, do proper statistical analysis to show statistically significant correlation, and then show that there are no confounding variables. That is beginning and end of a double-blind experiment in a lab with a control and experimental set. There’s nothing more to showing causation. — In other words, correlation does show causation, when you add proper statistical analysis and a compelling demonstration of no confounding variables. See Hume’s “constant conjunction”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_conjunction

    Consider this hypothetical: Imagine I had a Latin incantation, which, when spoken aloud and holding a glass of water, would turn that water into wine. Suppose this was reproducible on demand. Suppose anyone could reproduce this on demand. That would show causation. (Barring solipsistic excuses such as Cartesian Demons, being in The Matrix, etc., which would prevent us from ever showing any causation whatsoever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_demon ) Would this demonstrated causation be supernatural? I imagine most people would say yes. To whatever extent that word has meaning, it probably would be supernatural causation. Is it? I don’t know, and I don’t care, because the word “supernatural” never adds anything useful in conversation. The word is devoid of value.

    As often used by theists, “supernatural” means nothing more than “immune to scientific inquiry”, which is bullshit. There is no such thing. The only things immune to scientific inquiry are the unobservable, which is functionally indistinguishable from the non-existent. “Supernatural” implies “immune to scientific inquiry” only when “supernatural” means “unobservable”, but that’s not what the word means, and that is not how the word is used, so please stop Matt and others on the show. When you do this, when you say that science cannot work on the supernatural, you are abandoning the only sane epistemology.

    When people say that science depends on methodological naturalism, they are simply wrong. Science depends on no such thing. That falsely, and without need, partitions the epistemically possible world into two (natural vs supernatural). Instead, real science depends on observation, model creation, and testing. — Look at your favorite description of the scientific method. At what point does it ask you the question “Is this supernatural or natural?” ?

  12. Monocle Smile says

    @EL

    I’m largely in agreement. But I don’t really begrudge people discussing the supernatural in the way they did on the show because I think most of the same points get made. Matt called Jonathan out on using this “supernatural” BS to avoid direct scientific inquiry, which is pretty much what you did in your last post.

    But perhaps you should call into the show at some point and discuss it with the hosts. You blow up about this on the blog all the time, and while I think you make good points (you did convince me to abandon my old position and take yours, after all), it’s probably more productive to sway folks on the air.

  13. rocketdave says

    I agree that there seems to be something off about Steve. Maybe he really is new to atheism as legitimately wants to learn, but thanks in part to the show’s history with repeat prank callers, I can’t help feeling a growing suspicion about this guy’s motivations. Regardless of whether or not he’s for real, his calls to this and the previous episode were very frustrating to listen to. I lost track of how many different ways the hosts tried to explain to him that the only position atheists have to agree on is the rejection of a god claim.

  14. bigwhale says

    Steve seems like he realized he disagreed with Catholics or left for some reason. Now he is looking for a new group to tell him what to think.

    If there are peer reviewed ID papers then your standard is so low that I could show you peer reviewed papers about Bigfoot and ghosts.

  15. Narf says

    @3 & 7 – MS & SC

    I read Brave New World after playing the role-playing game, Paranoia, when I was younger. A few of the links between social characteristics and the horrifying results are a little hyperbolic, but he was writing almost a century back. We’ve had a lot of social progress since then, and we’ve done a little more practical experimentation.

    Good book, though. It’s one of those that seems like it is stealing from all sorts of sources, reading it decades later, because it was the inspiration of so many other writers.

  16. Narf says

    @15 – rocketdave

    If he’s looking for the actual organization, the “New Atheism Movement” is a thing, and it includes a bit more baggage. Most of the people in the movement are skeptics first, then atheists because of that.

    He’s still coming at it completely ass-backwards, though. He’s looking for the conclusions of most of the New Atheist Movement, without wanting to get the basics and do the work. It’s a problem.
    I guess after hearing years of apologists talk about dogmatic atheism, he’s looking for our dogma, so he can adopt it … and we can’t help him.

  17. Narf says

    @14 – EL

    Hell, go for it. They’re always looking for theistic callers and contentious calls of whatever sort. Your subject falls into that latter category.

    I’ve thought about calling in to voice my objection to the argument about the self-contradictory nature of omnipotence. I’d like to see that argument go the way of Pi = 3. It doesn’t really seem worth dedicating airtime to it, though. I don’t think there are many atheists who present it as a serious argument against the Christian god, so it isn’t exactly a high-priority issue.

  18. chikoppi says

    “Consider this hypothetical: Imagine I had a Latin incantation, which, when spoken aloud and holding a glass of water, would turn that water into wine. Suppose this was reproducible on demand. Suppose anyone could reproduce this on demand. That would show causation.”

    Hm. I think it would suggest causation, but without identifying a causal mechanism some reservation would be required. The parable of the rooster comes to mind (every time the roosters begin to crow the sun rises soon after…consistent, but not indicative of causation).

    Also, once a causal mechanism was identified I think it would be categorized as a “natural” phenomenon.

    Maybe that is a useful distinction, that the “supernatural” is assumed to affect reality without a causal mechanism.

  19. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Hm. I think it would suggest causation, but without identifying a causal mechanism some reservation would be required. The parable of the rooster comes to mind (every time the roosters begin to crow the sun rises soon after…consistent, but not indicative of causation).

    This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of science and epistemology in general. Allow me to try and explain.

    In one sense, you are right that by m criteria, we may occasionally wrongly identify that the rooster crowing causes the sun to rise. However, this general class of problem is an unavoidable and inescapable problem to the scientific method. This is closely related to the idea of Cartesian demons, being inside the Matrix, etc.

    About the rooster. We can test that. Testing something is part of doing proper statistical analysis and looking for confounding variables. Maybe I wasn’t quite clear. My apologies. How can we test it? For a simple hypothetical – kill the rooster. In the real world, after killing the rooster, the sun will still rise on the same schedule. However, imagine that the sun did not rise after killing the rooster. This is an epistemically possible outcome. If that outcome happened after that test, that’s starting to look like good evidence that the rooster making its noise does cause the sun to rise. Enough of this aside.

    You may want to start with this video by Richard Feynman. It’s about 7 minutes long, and (doesn’t) answer the seemingly easy question “Fucking magnets, how do they work?”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM
    Feynman had the foresight to give a good “answer” to the question well before the Insane Clown Posse popularized the question. The short answer is that there is no answer.

    Let me unpack that. We know that certain objects tend to attract each other over large (e.g. visible) distances, and when you reverse the orientation, they repulse. This class of objects we call “magnets”. When we look at an iron magnet for example, we can see that what separates an iron magnet from nonmagnetic objects is that in iron all the electrons are spinning the same way, and spinning electrons produce a magnetic field, which is why you can feel the magnetic force in iron magnets and not in other objects. (Loosely.)

    But why do spinning electrons produce a magnetic field? As Feynman says, if you were trained in physics, we could go a little deeper. We could talk about Maxwell, quantum field theory, maybe string theory. However, even then, you might ask me “why?”, “how does it work?” or “why is it this way instead of some other way?”. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have an answer why spinning electrons produce a magnetic field. No one does. It’s possible no one ever will.

    When I drop a hammer and it falls to the ground, the cause is gravity. But look at that more closely. What does that mean? What does it mean to say that gravity is a cause? All it means is that every time we have looked into it, two pieces of matter always attract each other according to some basic rule. (Equivalently matter bends spacetime, etc. etc.) But how does matter attract other matter / how does matter bend space time? It just does.

    Similarly, I can ask how does the hypothetical Latin incantation transform the water into wine. I might not know. I might not know in exactly the same sense that I might not know how spinning electrons produce a magnetic field, but in exactly the same way I would know that it does have that cause.

    What you have done is that you have privileged explanations in terms of particle physics, and IMO absolutely no sound basis in epistemology for doing so.

    Let me try it like this: You ask “but without identifying a causal mechanism” referring to the Latin incantation. I can ask you: Have we identified the causal mechanism that makes spinning electrons produce a magnetic field? Have we? Are you really sure that spinning electrons actually produce a magnetic field? Maybe there’s a confounding variable just like with the rooster making its noise and the sun rising.

    At this point, hopefully you understand. Now, let me reintroduce the Cartesian Demon (aka being in the Matrix). It’s quite epistemically possible that spinning electrons do not produce a magnetic field. Perhaps there’s some deeper physics involved where sometimes we can have electrons with a certain spin which don’t produce a magnetic field in the usual way, just like sometimes we may have roosters making their noise without the sun rising. Maybe this is because there is a malicious intelligence – a Cartesian Demon – rigging the game to make it appear as though spinning electrons produce a magnetic field. If the Cartesian Demon is competent enough, we might never know.

    All you have done is define “natural” as “conventional particle physics”, and then the implication follows that science can only work on conventional particle physics. Bullshit.

    Imagine your favorite fantasy setting with wizards and old musty tomes. In fiction, those wizards study for lifetimes to learn how to use magic. Imagine there’s an omnipresent “mana field” like there is an omnipresent “electromagnetic field”. Or imagine magic is real, but doesn’t work in a way analogous to conventional particle physics. If it’s observable, then we could know about it, and we could do tests on it. Over enough time, we could make all of those old musty tomes, and it would be a science. And just like the science of conventional particle physics, it’s going to rest on some basic rules which have no explanation of how they work. In conventional particle physics, one of those starting rules is that spinning electrons produce a magnetic field. In magic, a starting rule might be that a certain Latin prayer transforms water into wine.

    This gets to the deeper part. Science is the art and process of using past sensory experience to form predictive models of future sensory experience. Crucial components are inductive reasoning and forever trying to falsify all models.

    Science is in the business of creating predictive models, like the model that “If I say this Latin prayer, then the water will change into wine”, “Spinning electrons produce a magnetic field”, and “The acceleration at Earth’s surface is about 10 m/s^2”. The last one is special. We can ask “Why is it 10.0 m/s^2>”, and we have an answer to that question. We can reduce that question and answer to another question and answer in terms of a more fundamental model. However, the question “Why do spinning electrons produce a magnetic field?” has no such answer at present. Maybe it never will.

    This is an inescapable property of the modern reductive nature of scientific inquiry. The universe submits itself to reductive descriptions, which is great for us, but do not be fooled. It is not turtles all the way down. Eventually the buck stops, and the model “The Latin incantation turns water into wine” has zero explanations of mechanism just like “Spinning electrons produce a magnetic field” has zero explanations of mechanism.

    PS:
    Of course, I think the evidence we have is massive and overwhelming that particle physics is all there is, and that there is no other kind of causation. In other words, the evidence indicates that all accurate models of causation are computationally reducible (in principle) to the model of conventional particle physics. However – we might be wrong about that. However miniscule and infinitesimal the chance, we might be wrong. There might be magic and ghosts and magic Latin incantations which work in a way that cannot be explained by particle physics. IMHO to be an honest skeptic, you have to admit this epistemic possibility, however remote it may be.

    If you think you understand all of this, then read this comic. It identifies exactly the error you make. Girl Genius Webcomics, “Science”.
    First, remember Arthur C Clarke’s third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    (Context is not necessary. Just read the comic on the following link.)
    http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205
    You make the error of the green haired fairy(?) in the comic. You identify science only with Newton, but not Harry Potter too. You falsely conflate science with physicalism and materialism.
    “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!”

  20. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’ve thought about calling in to voice my objection to the argument about the self-contradictory nature of omnipotence.

    Meh. That’s wankery. Philosophical masturbation. I hate arguments over definitions, and that’s all that argument would be.

    If you want to define omnipotence in one way, then it’s trivial to show it’s logically inconsistent. You could also define omnipotence in other ways which are internally consistent, and which IMHO do resemble the consensus usage pretty well.

  21. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @favog:

    How could something affect reality but then not be the causal mechanism?

    *shrug* Scope.
     
    Comment: CA7746, to Sir Real’s irrelevance of intangible gods:

    Supernatural interventions could in principle could be consistently invited/encountered, but physics would model them as extra rules of reality, like magic, without regard for some unknowable external cause. I guess that’s what you’re getting at: there might be ever-vigilant gravity fairies, whose only effect is to make planets move exactly as they do, but why care?

     
    Article: TvTropes – Functional Magic

  22. chikoppi says

    “How could something affect reality but then not be the causal mechanism?”

    Yes, that is my point. If (B) is observed whenever (A) happens we must also identify how energy is exchanged between the two (the causal mechanism) in order to establish a causal and not correlate relationship. Ergo, both (A) and (B) must both exist as must a pathway for the one to influence the other (via the fundamental forces).

    If thing (A) exists and causes thing (B) via the fundamental forces it describes a “natural” process.

    If (A) can be said to cause (B) WITHOUT a causal mechanism (no interaction via the fundamental forces), then I think we would have a description of a “supernatural” phenomenon. I’m not sure how such a causal relationship could be established via the scientific process. Perhaps someone better aquatinted with the philosophy of science will have something to add.

  23. Frank G. Turner says

    @Ethan Myerson # 9, rocketdave #15, and bigwhale # 16
    .
    There was a bit of a chat in another post about a caller who was a recovering Catholic who was looking for the authority on atheism, as if everyone follows Darwin or Hawking like they were the “Pope’s” of atheism. It was thought he was looking for the same type of monolithic authority in atheism that he had in Catholicism.
    .
    This seems to be the issue that people have when learning about science and learning in general. In a nutshell (as Enlightenment Liberal has bee putting together in many posts, # 22 being the most detailed), “learning” by the scientific method means that you use observation to form a testable model. If the tests demonstrate that the model is faulty, you throw out the model and start over in order to learn from a new one that you form. The difficulty I caller like steve seems to have is that he refuses to throw out his model of how a group should work. He wants the new group (atheist) to work my the same model that he had for the old one (Catholicism, or at least Christianity in theory), he just wants the conclusion to change (go from theism to atheism). What he seems to fail to recognize is that among the reasons THAT the new group (atheists) came to a different conclusion is that they found the model used by the old group (Catholicism) to be faulty, so applying the same model does not work.
    .
    I find this quite similar to the issue that AronRa had (on youtube) with the individual OFNF who was looking for proof of evolution but fails to see that his model of how he THINKS evolution works (by blind random chance) is faulty. OFNF seems to believe that if something is not random (which much of evolution is) then it is intentionally designed (which evolution does not appear to be) and seems unwilling or unable to see how this model is faulty. So instead of accepting the new group’s model and starting over one (steve) tries to force fit the new group into the old model.
    .
    I often wonder if some in this world do truly have an obstacle to learning and that if they really want to learn then we will need some type of computerized memory-brain system that copies and stores memories from the brain, erases them from the brain, uploads new information, then copies the memories back into the brain. Steve (and I suspect OFNF as well) might benefit from a combined hypnosis and training session in which this temporary removal of obstructing memories is done (assuming that this can be done).

  24. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    If (B) is observed whenever (A) happens we must also identify how energy is exchanged between the two (the causal mechanism) in order to establish a causal and not correlate relationship.

    Why do you think causation necessarily involves energy?

    Ergo, both (A) and (B) must both exist as must a pathway for the one to influence the other (via the fundamental forces).

    Why do you think that all causation is mediated by “the fundamental forces”? What do you mean by “the fundamental forces”?

    What? Do you think that people before couldn’t create models about causation about 1680 and the publications of Leibnitz concerning the conservation of energy? Do you think that people couldn’t create models about causation before the 1800s and the publications of Faraday about the electromagnetic forces?

    Or are you saying it’s possible to model causation accurately without understanding those things, but regardless the underlying reality necessarily, logically, requires those properties for there to be causation? If so, you have a rather limited imagination sir.

    In my world, the real world, what you wrote is just additional baggage that you’ve added for no good reason on top of the basic idea of causation. I’d suggest you review what Hume wrote on the topic.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constant_conjunction
    Science is the art and practice of predicting the future. We predict the future via rules and models. These rules and models are of the form “If the local universe looks like X, then in the future it will evolve to Y”. That’s all causation is. We want to identify models which accurately describe how the universe will evolve in order to predict how the universe will evolve. The idea that such a model could exist is causation.

    When a rooster makes noise, it does not cause the Sun to rise because there are physically-possible states of the universe where the rooster did not make a noise and the Sun still rises on schedule. Again, it could be different. It is epistemically possible that if we kill the rooster, then the Sun will not rise on schedule, and that would be causation.

    Causation is all about identifying the important variables which, if changed, will result in, or cause, a future to happen which is different than the one we anticipated without the change. Science is all about predicting the future. To borrow Dan Dennett’s phrasing, it’s future generation. We use science to generate epistemically possible futures. Determinism may be true, and thus there may be only one physically possible future. Even then, there’s still many epistemically possible futures. In other words, we do not know which world we are in.

    Without knowing the exact world that we are in, there are still patterns and rules which we can discover which describe the evolution of our reality. One of those rules is gravity. One of those rules is not “the rooster’s noises are sufficient and necessary for the Sun to rise”.

    Again, you are falling prey to philosophical naturalism and materialism. That’s bad. Knock it off. Materialism and physicalism are conclusions of modern science, not premises of science.

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Goddamnit, lol. I reviewed it, but missed this error:

    Do you think that people before couldn’t create models about causation before about 1680 and the publications of Leibnitz concerning the conservation of energy?

    Fixed.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    If (A) can be said to cause (B) WITHOUT a causal mechanism (no interaction via the fundamental forces), then I think we would have a description of a “supernatural” phenomenon. I’m not sure how such a causal relationship could be established via the scientific process. Perhaps someone better aquatinted with the philosophy of science will have something to add.

    How would you establish the law of universal attraction?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_universal_gravitation
    How would you establish that spinning electrons cause a magnetic field?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_%28physics%29#Magnetic_moments

    Your questions are identical to mine. You do not understand science at all.

  27. Chikoppi says

    You’re going a long way to argue a point I’m not making. (However, I will concede that my reference to the fundamental forces unnecessarily omitted the possibility of some as of yet undiscovered means of interaction between things that exist and therefore obstructed my thesis. Thank you for the correction.)

    “But why do spinning electrons produce a magnetic field? As Feynman says, if you were trained in physics, we could go a little deeper. We could talk about Maxwell, quantum field theory, maybe string theory. However, even then, you might ask me “why?”, “how does it work?” or “why is it this way instead of some other way?”. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have an answer why spinning electrons produce a magnetic field. No one does. It’s possible no one ever will.”

    So are magnets natural or supernatural? How do you know? How does the scientific method distinguish “supernatural causation” from “causation?”

    Clearly, the original question implies a distinction between the “natural” and the “supernatural,” which is what I am attempting to define.

    You said, “Science can show supernatural causation.” I’m willing to concede the point entirely, but thus far you haven’t demonstrated what “supernatural causation” is, how it differs from “causation,” or how it can be tested.

  28. pac1261 . says

    The discussion in the show was in large part atrocious.

    EL @ 11,22,27:

    I have absolutely no quarrel with any of the philosophical/scientific points you are making. I think, however, that you have not considered sufficiently what was actually going on in last Sunday’s conversation between Matt and the caller.

    When a theist uses the term “supernatural,” he is speaking as someone who thinks that the universe is ruled by an all-powerful deity who exists outside of time and space. This deity can suspend natural laws whenever he chooses. Compare this with your example,

    Imagine I had a Latin incantation, which, when spoken aloud and holding a glass of water, would turn that water into wine. Suppose this was reproducible on demand. 

    This is no way corresponds to the theist’s idea of “supernatural,” since you are still presuming an orderly and repeatable universe. The theist not only thinks that water can be turned into wine by means of supernatural forces, he believes that once upon a time this actually happened.

    Here is your recipe for showing causation:

    You gather data, do proper statistical analysis to show statistically significant correlation, and then show that there are no confounding variables. 

    But suppose the actions of the supernatural deity are not reproducible or repeatable. From the human point of view they’re capricious and incomprehensible. A statistical (or inductive) method would fail to account for that one occasion when the water miraculously turned into wine. That event would forever remain an anomaly, and could not be explained by any “scientific” model. Theists, if they are intellectually honest, must give credence to this idea – it must be their belief that the laws of nature can be suspended at any moment, and furthermore that this has already occurred numerous times (for example as recounted in the Bible).

    Your definition of supernatural reflects your presupposition of an ordered universe, which is necessarily one without an active supreme being. When you use this definition in support of your assertion that you have “the only sane epistemology,” you are begging the question. And in the context of the conversation between Matt and the caller, it’s a straw man.

    How about this: “Supernatural” refers to the activities of sentient beings that exist outside of physical time and space, who possess the ability to manifest themselves in physical time and space by violating or suspending natural laws. That’s more or less what theists believe. I’m sure you and I both agree that all of science stands in evidence against this. So when you write “[m]aterialism and physicalism are conclusions of modern science, not premises,” I couldn’t agree more. But since I don’t agree that the show was actually about that topic, I can’t join you in describing the discussion there as “atrocious.”

  29. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    This is no way corresponds to the theist’s idea of “supernatural,” since you are still presuming an orderly and repeatable universe. The theist not only thinks that water can be turned into wine by means of supernatural forces, he believes that once upon a time this actually happened.

    To the extent that his purported god is like that of a Cartesian Demon – undetectable – then it is undetectable, unobservable, and thus irrelevant. To the extent that it’s merely a powerful creature, such as the Goa’uld or Ori of Stargate SG-1, then it is detectable, observable, and very relevant. To the extent that there is a consensus of of the meaning to “supernatural”, it does not follow that it must be a Cartesian Demon. It could very well be like the Goa’uld and Ori.

    But suppose the actions of the supernatural deity are not reproducible or repeatable. From the human point of view they’re capricious and incomprehensible. A statistical (or inductive) method would fail to account for that one occasion when the water miraculously turned into wine. That event would forever remain an anomaly, and could not be explained by any “scientific” model. Theists, if they are intellectually honest, must give credence to this idea – it must be their belief that the laws of nature can be suspended at any moment, and furthermore that this has already occurred numerous times (for example as recounted in the Bible).

    You give too much credence to theist boulderdash. Going by their holy books, that’s simply not an accurate description. A more apt comparison is again to villains of fiction, like the Goa’uld and Ori.

    Your definition of supernatural reflects your presupposition of an ordered universe, which is necessarily one without an active supreme being. When you use this definition in support of your assertion that you have “the only sane epistemology,” you are begging the question. And in the context of the conversation between Matt and the caller, it’s a straw man.

    I fail to see what “supreme being” has to do with it. There can be Cartesian Demon supreme beings, and there can be other kinds of creatures.

    This is perhaps your flaw. You may believe that the mind is somehow exempt from the laws of science, from mechanistic laws. That’s simply not true. The human mind is predictable, in principle, just like any other physical machine, because the human mind is a mere physical machine. I see no reason why the mind of a god should be any different.

    The problem is with you. I am a scientist. It is a presupposition that if it is observable, then you can do science on it. It is the fiat rejection of Cartesian Demons. The alternative is basically solipsism. That’s what your depiction of god is – a rejection of science, rationality. If that Christian god comes down, appears, and starts killing people as it is purportedly wont to do – are you going to assume that it’s beyond all comprehension? That’s what the Goa’uld and Ori would like you to think. Or are you going to go try and find a way to blow it up? I am not joking when we should take a page from Stargate SG-1.

    How about this: “Supernatural” refers to the activities of sentient beings that exist outside of physical time and space, who possess the ability to manifest themselves in physical time and space by violating or suspending natural laws. That’s more or less what theists believe. I’m sure you and I both agree that all of science stands in evidence against this. So when you write “[m]aterialism and physicalism are conclusions of modern science, not premises,” I couldn’t agree more.

    What does it mean to suspend material law? That it has powers that we do not? Imagine the classic cliche wizard, or telekineticist. The telekineticist can move objects by pure force of will exactly like I can move my muscles through pure force of will. It does not necessarily follow that the telekineticist can rewrite reality as easy as I can walk across the room, and neither does it follow that your god creature can rewrite reality on a whim either. You conflate “beyond material law” and “beyond all law”. Again, it is a fundamental presupposition of a scientist that there is no such thing as “beyond all law”. Every (observable) thing operates according to some law. The alternative is pure chaos, which is borderline incoherent.

    You are giving up way too much ground without a fight.

    But since I don’t agree that the show was actually about that topic, I can’t join you in describing the discussion there as “atrocious.”

    And politely disagreed. It was fundamental to the discussion on the show. The fundamental problem was the theist trying to avoid the burden of proof, and Matt agreeing with him that science could not demonstrate that his god exists and does stuff. Bullshit. That’s why this is important. It is giving ground to the theist that science is not the right tool to learn about their god. That cannot be more wrong. We need to convince people that science is a good way to learn about their god, and the only way to learn about their god.

  30. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    but thus far you haven’t demonstrated what “supernatural causation” is, how it differs from “causation,”

    I have not argued that “supernatural causation” is different than “natural causation”. I have argued that “supernatural” is a largely meaningless term. “Natural” too. There’s just causation.

    or how it [supernatural causation] can be tested.

    The same way any causation is tested. I don’t understand your question in light of what I have already said. How would you test if A causes B? Gather evidence, try to falsify it, do proper statistical analysis, look for confounding variables etc. – aka follow the scientific method.

  31. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Let me try it like this.

    For a “supreme being” which would rewrite reality as easily as I could walk across the room, or more easily, I see only two logically coherent options. Either it affects my life in some way that makes a difference, or it doesn’t. Either it affects my life in some way that I can take action based on my knowledge about it, or I cannot. For that reason solipsism is uninteresting.

    The problem of Cartesian Demons is not limited to stuff outside of conventional particle physics. Stuff within the realm of conventional particle physics has the exact same problems. Sufficiently advanced aliens could in principle use mere physical technology to rewrite our memories and stick us in The Matrix. They would be utterly indistinguishable from your conception of a “supreme being”. “Supernatural” and “gods” add nothing to the discussion. It’s the same old shit. Denying the applicability and primacy of science is just another way to be a solipsist.

  32. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    PPPPS: Consider this. Do you know the common solipsist hypothesis that reality is someone’s dream? What’s the difference between that and your idea of a supreme being who can rewrite reality on a whim in a complete and undetectable way? It’s all solipsism.

  33. Narf says

    @20 – chikoppi

    (every time the roosters begin to crow the sun rises soon after…consistent, but not indicative of causation)

    I cringe a little, whenever I hear this particular example used, since it is a demonstration of causation. Sun comes up … rooster crows. That isn’t just a correlative link.

  34. Narf says

    @24 – EnlightenmentLiberal

    Meh. That’s wankery. Philosophical masturbation. I hate arguments over definitions, and that’s all that argument would be.
    If you want to define omnipotence in one way, then it’s trivial to show it’s logically inconsistent. You could also define omnipotence in other ways which are internally consistent, and which IMHO do resemble the consensus usage pretty well.

    Which is why I don’t actually call in about it, yes.

    My objection to people using that sort of thing is that it won’t be the slightest bit convincing to the theists. Hell, I don’t even find it particularly convincing.

    Can God create a rock so big that he can’t move it?
    Don’t care. God can create a rock of any size. Then, God can move a rock of any size. I find the relativistic usage of the concept to be useless, since theists think of it in absolute terms.

    There’s also the issue of gross omnipotence versus net omnipotence. The net results of God’s actions are unlimited. This idea eliminates any construction that you try to create about self-opposed actions.

    And I’ve heard atheists say that, well, it’s omni-, so any possible interpretation of the word has to be included. That isn’t the way that terminology works.

    If you want to construct a definitional conflict, you have to work a little harder at it. Go with Euthyphro or something. You need to introduce multiple elements, rather than engaging in definitional wankery, as you put it.

  35. Narf says

    Errrrrr, @23 – EnlightenmentLiberal

    This is what happens when I start commenting on stuff right after waking up, before having coffee.

  36. Narf says

    @26 – Frank G. Turner

    I find this quite similar to the issue that AronRa had (on youtube) with the individual OFNF who was looking for proof of evolution but fails to see that his model of how he THINKS evolution works (by blind random chance) is faulty. OFNF seems to believe that if something is not random (which much of evolution is) then it is intentionally designed (which evolution does not appear to be) and seems unwilling or unable to see how this model is faulty. So instead of accepting the new group’s model and starting over one (steve) tries to force fit the new group into the old model.

    This reminds me of several other things I’ve seen from apologists. The specific case I’m thinking of is from William Lane Craig, if I remember correctly.

    WLC rejects (because he’s totally qualified to do so) Lawrence Krauss’s objections to Kalam, because Krauss’s explanations don’t explain creation ex nihilo. I’ve seen 4 or 5 other similar scenarios, in which apologists latch onto a misconceptualization of a scientific concept, which anyone with a high school level grasp of the subject should realize is bunk, and they just freaking to refuse to let go, no matter how many times an expert explains that the apologist doesn’t understand it.

  37. Narf says

    @34 – EnlightenmentLiberal

    For a “supreme being” which would rewrite reality as easily as I could walk across the room, or more easily, I see only two logically coherent options.

    You’ve been drinking a lot, lately?

  38. ironchew says

    @ Narf

    I cringe a little, whenever I hear this particular example used, since it is a demonstration of causation. Sun comes up … rooster crows. That isn’t just a correlative link.

    I think the intention of this analogy was that the rooster doesn’t cause the sun to appear.

  39. Narf says

    Yup, it’s still a confusion of causality, so it isn’t entirely useless as an example. But I’d prefer an example in which there isn’t such a proximate causality, in either direction.

    And we’ll ignore the detail that it’s a bit of a myth, and roosters don’t necessarily crow much more, at sunrise. They’re mostly just obnoxious, noisy animals, and they make a lot of racket all day long.

  40. adamah says

    Russell said-

    On a side note: Blip.tv apparently canceled a whole bunch of accounts including ours, completely without warning, pursuing an unspecified “new business strategy.”

    And with a name like “blip”, it’s not like anyone couldn’t see THAT one coming: the name “blip.tv” is screaming being a minor player, a blip on the radar in the video-on-demand biz.

    🙂

  41. adamah says

    Max (#6) said-

    So you can’t call theists stupid, but you can say a whole bunch of stuff that basically means stupid. Got it.

    Yeah, Jen kinda gets it, but their explanation of logical fallacies remains an incomprehensible and contradictory logical mess, esp. since Matt doubled down at the end by repeating his “Dillahunty Fallacy” (i.e. “Its OK for me to “appeal to ridicule” by mocking an opponent and/or their ideas if and when I deem them to be personally worthy of ridicule”).

    Dude’s gotta quit confusing the rules of Mortal Kombat with the principles of logical fallacies.

  42. Monocle Smile says

    @adam

    And you need to quit being a fucking dumbass about logical fallacies, but that’s not bound to happen anytime soon. You’ve been corrected on this ad nauseum, and it’s raw narcissism that’s preventing you from fixing your fucked-up head.

  43. adamah says

    MS said-

    And you need to quit being a fucking dumbass about logical fallacies, but that’s not bound to happen anytime soon. You’ve been corrected on this ad nauseum, and it’s raw narcissism that’s preventing you from fixing your fucked-up head.

    “Been corrected”? Lol!

    I’m still waiting for proof from you or anyone else, saying the “appeal to ridicule” fallacy has been redacted, and is no longer in effect.

    http://changingminds.org/disciplines/argument/fallacies/appeal_ridicule.htm

    Until you put up, then just STFU, MS. You’re actually much worse than an idiot, since you seemingly think you can simply declare which logical fallacies don’t apply. That’s hubris with a capital H.

    Btw, I see you’re still working on that major depression, MS? FWIW, I’m leaning more towards histrionic personality disorder, which contains an element of rampant narcissism and a wearisome flair for the dramatic and has an element of depression to it…. Get help.

  44. Monocle Smile says

    You didn’t even read your own fucking link.

    X is amusing, absurd. Therefore it is false.

    Matt typically goes “X is amusing, absurd. AND it is false and here’s why.” You can’t see the difference because your brain is broken and you’re desperate for attention. Just fuck off.

  45. adamah says

    Lol! I see you haven’t yet figured out what an implied argument is, or what the fallacy of irrelevancy is all about, either.

    Not to mention, you clearly still haven’t figured out what an ’emotional appeal’ is (vs a logical appeal), and why it has no place in a discussion.

    U didn’t ride the short bus to school, did you?

  46. Robert Delaney says

    Steve is a prank caller. He’s just trying to milk the call for all the time he can.
    He does the same thing every time he calls (and he’s called MULTIPLE times now) – he strings the call out as long as possible, always adding “one more thing” he wants to ask. Each question is more ridiculous than the last.

    I know it’s hard to distinguish the cranks sometimes in the studio, but I would hope the call screeners would catch on to Steve’s schtick by now.

    Hopefully they won’t let him through again in the future.
    He brings down the value of the show every time.

  47. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Narf # 39

    WLC rejects (because he’s totally qualified to do so) Lawrence Krauss’s objections to Kalam, because Krauss’s explanations don’t explain creation ex nihilo. I’ve seen 4 or 5 other similar scenarios, in which apologists latch onto a misconceptualization of a scientific concept, which anyone with a high school level grasp of the subject should realize is bunk, and they just freaking to refuse to let go, no matter how many times an expert explains that the apologist doesn’t understand it.
    .
    If WLC accepts it he looses the argument, and he has determined that he cannot loose so he will do anything and everything to win, including lying and repeating the same lie over and over again to try to get people to believe it. There was another post on here about how it becomes similar to arguing with a child who refuses to clean their room and just keeps repeating the same complaint over and over.
    .
    WLC is intellectually dishonest anyway given that he claims that if he were shown proof of Jesus having died and remaining dead (like bones in a tomb) or taken back in time to chow that Jesus never existed that he would still have “the divine observance of the holy spirit” to back up his claim. I sometimes think that should be enough to refute everything he says afterwards and that no one should ever pay attention.
    .
    If one cannot claim to be open to the possibility of being wrong about anything and everything no matter how sacred it is to you then why should we trust that anything you say is true? Frankly I would not believe WLC if he said that “2 + 2 = 4” even though I know that is correct given that he admits to intellectual dishonesty. Even if he is correct, he is correct for the wrong reason. If you acknowledge not being able or willing to play the game fairly then why should we even let you play? The only fair game is one in which you can potentially loose and if you refuse to play by those rules then don’t play because you can’t win honestly. As I have said before in person, if you can’t be wrong about anything and everything then you are automatically wrong about anything and everything because even if you are correct, you are correct for the wrong reason.

  48. says

    @ Robert Delaney # 49
    Steve is a prank caller. He’s just trying to milk the call for all the time he can.
    .
    I kind of had my suspicions that he was a prank caller even without the reference to earlier calls but he does at least open the door up to some interesting discussions and learning even if inadvertently.
    .
    @Narf # 39
    .
    Continuing on about steve and OFNF and WLC, the most interesting thing is that a person claims to be open to learning but unwilling to have a base assumption broken down because it is an obstacle to the learning process, which makes we wonder if the person is really open to learning like they say they are. You can’t learn about a topic if you put up obstacles. Although as I tried to explain to my mother who did not (and still often does not) seem to get this, that does not mean that you defer completely and totally to the authority of the person who is teaching you and don’t challenge them to explain their position. Part of the learning process is understanding “why” base assumptions are being made and “why” others may need to be debunked.
    .
    I had a friend many years ago whom I would ask a question and he would respond with “Mu,” which is a Japanese phrase meaning that he can’t answer the question because it makes a base assumption that he does not accept. And I would ask him why he did not accept and he would subsequently explain and I would get the answer that I was looking for in the first place and wind up asking him why he just did not say that. He said something about not wanting to disrespect me because of base assumptions that I was making and not wanting to challenge them. I kept telling him over and over that I was not necessarily making those base assumptions and that my phrasing was often for lack of better words at the moment. He was free to attempt to re-phrase it as long as he told me why. I have seen something to this effect mentioned on the show many times with regard to “if God did not create the universe then who did?” and Matt (or whoever was on the show at the time) responding with, “why does it have to be a ‘who’?”
    .
    I said something once about being at a convenience store and asking for sugar cubes for tea and being told that they did not have them. I subsequently found sugar and when I mentioned this I was told that because I had asked for “cubes” which they did not have I was told no. I pointed out that I had stated my purpose was for tea and that sugar solves that problem without it having to be in cube form.

  49. Mike Bethany says

    I have to say I was highly disappointed in Jen’s reaction to the “Eat More Christians” joke. Don’t be one of “those people” that are offended by obvious humor. No one is promoting feeding Christians to lions. To say that they are shows a lack of critical thinking skills.

  50. says

    @ adam
    .
    I am not going to bother quoting where I am coming from, but I disagree with the link.
    .
    The person associated with an idea is not necessarily moved to a lower social position by the idea being ridiculed. Yes that can be implied, but that’s the point, it is “implied” and not explicitly stated. An overwhelming number of implications can lead to a strong potential conclusion, but that’s part of the point, it is potential as compared to definitive.
    .
    A person is NOT their ideas. That’s one of the big issues here that we are having with creationists, evangelicals, extremists, etc. They put so much emotional investment in their ideas that their ideas being debunked is detrimental to them. They take a debunking of their ideas as a personal attack. In an online debate I was listening to I actually heard a Koran literalist say something close to this, that any demonstration of evolution was an attack on him and his religion. It is not a personal attack and ridicule of it is not personal.
    .
    I ridicule Ken Hamm’s creation museum all of the time as I think it is a ridiculous idea and I often look at it and think that it is not about religion and beliefs but about money (hence why it was placed in Kentucky, more suckers nearby). The ridicule of his idea is different from the ridicule of him or his followers even though it can be implied. Yes I do think that his followers are fools (I did call them “suckers”) and Hamm a con-artist, but that is still different from calling the museum a money making scheme. I could call the place a scheme and know nothing about Ken Hamm.
    .
    Hey though, if that is your belief / angle that ridiculing the idea is ridiculing the person then ok man. I am not saying that the implied argument does not hold any merit.

  51. says

    @54 Mike

    No one is promoting feeding Christians to lions. To say that they are shows a lack of critical thinking skills.

    She didn’t say that they are. She said, “IF you are…” Since she said it was obviously a parody, I wasn’t getting the impression that she honestly thinks that these atheists are actually calling for Christians to be killed. The concern is more about making bad jokes that make us look like asses, like making holocaust jokes.

  52. Narf says

    You’ve been drinking a lot, lately?

    Meh? I don’t drink alcohol. Ever. Nor coffee.

    So, why do you have so much trouble walking across a room? 😀

    I was trying to play off of the “… as easily as I could walk across the room, or more easily …”

  53. Narf says

    @44, 46, 48
    *sigh*
    Adam, we’ve already been over this so many times. It’s not our fault that you’re too dense to comprehend the applications of the logical fallacies. Your misapplication of the fallacy involving ridicule is the same as someone throwing out an accusation of the Naturalistic Fallacy, just because someone made reference to something in nature. I can explain things to you, but I can’t understand them for you; so, I give up.

    We don’t like you. You’re too much of an insufferable asshole to be worth the effort.

    I can have a long, drawn-out argument with any of the other regulars on here, and we’ll both whittle down the differences and try to figure out where the other person is coming from. You immediately misunderstand what the other person is saying, usually deliberately, then try to rub the other person’s nose in it. We immediately see what a dishonest bully you are, and it makes us dismiss you as the worthless piece of shit that you are.

    Just go away.

  54. Narf says

    @51 – Frank G. Turner

    WLC is intellectually dishonest anyway given that he claims that if he were shown proof of Jesus having died and remaining dead (like bones in a tomb) or taken back in time to chow that Jesus never existed that he would still have “the divine observance of the holy spirit” to back up his claim. I sometimes think that should be enough to refute everything he says afterwards and that no one should ever pay attention.

    Oh yeah. There are at least three or four things you can point to, in any of his books — usually in the first chapter or two — which are essentially him admitting that he isn’t going to look at the evidence and arguments honestly.

    Then, as you progress further into the text, you have to start hacking through the appeals to consequence with a machete. “We’re going to disregard this possibility, because it makes us feel icky.” When you’re arbitrarily deciding a false dilemma by disregarding any parts of the dilemma that you find icky, you might as well just pack it in.

  55. Narf says

    @52 – Frank G. Turner

    Continuing on about steve and OFNF and WLC, the most interesting thing is that a person claims to be open to learning but unwilling to have a base assumption broken down because it is an obstacle to the learning process, which makes we wonder if the person is really open to learning like they say they are.

    It doesn’t make me wonder. No, he isn’t open to learning. 😀

    Hell, I’ll even contemplate Matrix solipsistic philosophy. You just run into a wall there, when you try to figure out what use it is. Ah, it’s useful in that it allows you to justify to yourself that you’re rational in cramming your arguments from ignorance into an argument and claim you’re being just as rational as we are. No, that doesn’t work.

    Although as I tried to explain to my mother who did not (and still often does not) seem to get this, that does not mean that you defer completely and totally to the authority of the person who is teaching you and don’t challenge them to explain their position.

    Yeah, sounds like your mother is the perfect target of the presup argument. Plenty of others are as well, of course.

    I had a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses, yesterday morning. I was left feeling vaguely unsatisfied. There was just … nothing there. Everything wrapped back around to “The Bible says …”

    When I asked them why I should grant the Bible any authority at all, they literally had nothing. They didn’t even have a fallacy-riddled argument to present. I just got a blank stare and a topic change.

    The bit with your friend sounds frustrating as hell, too. At least you were able to drag it out of him, but I would find the refusal to answer to be puzzling. Okay, so you can’t answer what turns out to be step-2, because of step-1. Great, let’s discuss step-1.

    I know there’s a thing with the Japanese culture about not wanting to say “No,” directly. You just kind of dance around the subject and hint at it, and the other person will get the point. This could be somehow related.

  56. adamah says

    Still just getting over laughing at MS for this rip-snorting absurdity excusing Matt’s fallacious use of ‘appeal to ridicule’:

    Matt typically goes “X is amusing, absurd. AND it is false and here’s why.”

    The use of a simple conjunction (i.e. the word ‘AND’ for the mentally-challenged in the crowd) doesn’t transform an ‘appeal to ridicule’ into something that’s NOT an ‘appeal to ridicule’.

    A rose by any other name….

    MS, start by learning basic grammar:

    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conjunctions.htm

    That’s right: the word ‘AND’ is a conjunction, and it ADDS to the idea which preceded it.

    Once you wrap your brain around that apparently hard-to-grasp concept, then realize adding an explanation after ridiculing is no defense: it’s still an ‘appeal to ridicule’, except with an attempt to refute tagged on at the end.

    It’s still verboten to rules of rationalism.

    You can stack that sucker a mile high, and it doesn’t change the fact an ‘appeal to ridicule’ is buried under there…. Logical fallacies don’t ‘dilute’.

    You can’t see the difference because your brain is broken and you’re desperate for attention. Just fuck off.

    MS, thanks for the continuous offers of sexual favors from you, but I have a strict rule NOT to engage in sex with depressed women with broken brains (histrionic personality disorder, cough).

    http://psychcentral.com/disorders/histrionic-personality-disorder-symptoms/

  57. adamah says

    Nard said-

    Adam, we’ve already been over this so many times. It’s not our fault that you’re too dense to comprehend the applications of the logical fallacies. Your misapplication of the fallacy involving ridicule is the same as someone throwing out an accusation of the Naturalistic Fallacy, just because someone made reference to something in nature. I can explain things to you, but I can’t understand them for you; so, I give up.

    LOL! Says the guy who’s admitted to suffering from BP, a thought disorder associated with delusional thinking and breaks from reality.

    Coming from you, it’s no wonder I dismiss your critical-thinking skills and understanding of fallacies as instantly-suspect.

    Your comparison to ‘naturalistic fallacy’ is a fallacy: it’s a ‘flawed analogy’ (something which your BP likely prevents you from comprehending).

    As I just explained to MS above, the use of a conjunction (‘AND’) doesn’t change anything: it’s still an ‘appeal to ridicule’, except with an attempt to extricate oneself added on at the end.

    The simplest (and best) approach is to NOT appeal to ridicule, in the first place, but simply refute the person’s argument directly. Cut out the ridicule, and refute.

    It’s the same reason an ad hom (abusive) is ALWAYS verboten: logical fallacies doesn’t dilute out of existence with added verbiage.

    Such attempts to pull fast ones don’t pass the notice of members of the audience who actually understand the logical fallacies: they know it’s still a foul.

    Now, I see you kick in with your typical ‘appeal to group-think’:

    We don’t like you. You’re too much of an insufferable asshole to be worth the effort.

    I’ve got news for you: I personally don’t like mentally-ill individuals who dogmatically demand they have the truth, when they’re flat-out demonstrably wrong AND they ignore counter-evidence.

    Worse, you two perpetuate your personal ignorance to others, also mistakenly thinking that ‘appeals to popularity’ are not fallacious, as if you can be right only if you convert enough believers to your ideas. Sounds like a dip-shit move, no?

    There’s no difference between you and WLC: you’re both full of shit, just a different flavor of bullshit. You think the rules of fallacies are open to small-group consensus, and WLC thinks things will be different if he converts all living souls for X.

    There’s no difference in my book between smug self-righteous assholes, being only slightly-different shades of the same erroneous thinking.

    I can have a long, drawn-out argument with any of the other regulars on here, and we’ll both whittle down the differences and try to figure out where the other person is coming from. You immediately misunderstand what the other person is saying, usually deliberately, then try to rub the other person’s nose in it. We immediately see what a dishonest bully you are, and it makes us dismiss you as the worthless piece of shit that you are.

    Just go away.

    You have been unable and/or unwilling to refute my arguments, even despite my repeated requests to engage on the TOPIC and present supportive evidence of your claims.

    Instead, crickets chirping, after you only resort to ad homs and attempts to poison wells, etc.

    That’s ALL on you, Jack, and all the more shameful, since you should know better…. You claim to be rational.

    I’m generous: I’ll give you a chance to bail yourself out (hope springs eternal):

    If you can explain WTF your ‘naturalistic fallacy’ analogy has to do with the ‘appeal to ridicule’ fallacy, then lay it on us all….

    (I suspect I know where your confusion lies, but I’m not digging you out of the hole you dug for yourself. I suspect you’re simply straw-manning, or making hasty assumptions, both tricks you’ve mastered.)

  58. Narf says

    LOL! Says the guy who’s admitted to suffering from BP, a thought disorder associated with delusional thinking and breaks from reality.

    Dude, we went over this the last time. Your stupid link from Wikipedia describes a tiny, single-digit representation of people with Bipolar Disorder. It’s a small subcategory. You’re misrepresenting what the article means, and your persistence in your misrepresentation is even more dishonest than it was the first time.

    Your understanding of psychology is shit, and your attempt to use this against me just exposes what an asshole you are. I’m not reading the rest of your comment. You’re worthless. Go the fuck away.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I don’t even bother reading anything by Adam anymore. Let me know if he says something relevant.

  60. Narf says

    I’ll keep you posted, although I’m not hopeful. After he says the first grotesquely distorted thing that willfully misrepresents what he’s responding to, I skip the rest. That means that I almost never make it more than a sentence or two in.

  61. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Narf # 61
    There was just … nothing there. Everything wrapped back around to “The Bible says …”
    When I asked them why I should grant the Bible any authority at all, they literally had nothing. They didn’t even have a fallacy-riddled argument to present. I just got a blank stare and a topic change.

    .
    I sometimes wonder if the evangelicals like them are starting to really loose it when they are just refraining from presenting an argument at all. Like on some level they know it is a loosing battle so they have to just keep repeating the same argument over and over and hoping that enough people buy the bullshit. It is like if you can’t win, just pretend that you have not really lost.
    .
    What you are talking about sounds similar to my experience with an evangelical a few months ago, a preacher no less. He gave me a lot of blank stares and changes of subject as though he had nothing in response to some of what I said. I mean don’t get me wrong, I have had times when I did not have much of an argument in response to certain things but I at least tried to acknowledge the point that the other individual made rather than just a blank stare. The preacher did not even give me that. Not even an “oh shit that makes sense.”
    .
    The bit with your friend sounds frustrating as hell, too. At least you were able to drag it out of him, but I would find the refusal to answer to be puzzling. Okay, so you can’t answer what turns out to be step-2, because of step-1. Great, let’s discuss step-1.
    I know there’s a thing with the Japanese culture about not wanting to say “No,” directly. You just kind of dance around the subject and hint at it, and the other person will get the point. This could be somehow related.

    .
    I think it came more down to the “I don;t want to disrespect you” attitude and he thought that challenging me on step 1 would be akin to disrespect. It was not so much of a “dragging it out of him” as it was an allowing him to dance around it in such a way as he did not fear disrespecting me, which he would not have even if he had been more direct but HE did not feel that being direct would be appropriate. Even people in American culture do that. I think that was where my mother came from as far as an argument from authority and pre-suppositionalism. She thought it disrespectful to say anything that could be seen as a direct challenge to an authority. Questions on how the individual knew what they knew (including herself) were seen as such and to her learning meant making complete deference to that authority. To me an authority that cannot and must not be challenged is an insecure authority. The person got that authority by knowing the answers to challenging questions and being able to state them directly (one would think, maybe not in the case of WLC).
    .
    I saw the challenging of the authorities in my life as respectful, it meant that I was listening to what they had to say and I wanted to understand “why” they came to certain conclusions because I wanted to have that knowledge too. It was as though my mother thought (and my friend thought I think) that challenging an authority (even if it is mine) is to automatically assume that the person is wrong and that if they are right they will have to invent their reference material. The way I saw it, I EXPECTED the authorities in my life to have the back up material and I WANTED to learn what the back up argument was as I found it critical to understanding what they were teaching me. Sometimes I did not have the back up material to form a rational question so I asked given what information that I had even if it was faulty and if it was I was more than happy to be let known that it was (my friend’s name is “Steve” which sounds personal but there are so many steve’s that it won’t give it away so I will refer to him as “Steve M” in the future).
    .
    That is kind of what I respect about adam on here. I don’t agree with a lot of his interpretation of his referral material but at least he has something to back up his arguments, even if I find them to be unconvincing arguments.
    .
    I was the kind of student in many of my undergrad courses who would see the logic of the situation and would ask a question and be told by the teacher, “that IS critical and we will be discussing that at a later time in the semester (or the next semester) so hold on to that question.” Sometimes the question was perfectly timed as it was exactly what we were going into. So the fact that I challenged their authority on how they knew what they knew meant that I was actually listening to them and wanted to learn. Given their position and experience I thought that they were probably correct, but I wanted to know “why.”
    .
    What I think is problematic is that a lot of people get into positions of authority without having decent reference for how to answer questions. (Politics I think suffers from that A LOT). Authorities of this nature are often unwilling to say “I don’t know” as they are insecure and see it as a sign of weakness. They don’t want to be challenged on any information that led them to their position of authority as they fear loosing that authority if they don’t really have good answers to questions that are likely to be asked of them. So any question asked of them is automatically a challenge and a threat to their authority.
    .
    I would think that a strong secure leader should not fear such a loss and should be able to answer a challenge to their knowledge WITHOUT seeing this as a challenge to their authority. I would think that a strong secure leader should be more interested in the correctness of the facts, the complete usage of facts, and arriving at a sensible conclusion as taking precedence over whether people find the conclusion comfortable or not. I would think that a strong secure leader should be willing to give complete answers which acknowledge any good points and recite any factually correct information used in the counter argument. A strong secure leader should not be afraid of being proven wrong.

  62. adamah says

    @Frank (55), I’ll make this simple, as I’m not sure how much formal study of logic you took in undergrad as a chem major?

    In a nutshell, ALL ridicule is out of bounds, whether it’s targeted against the person OR against their ideas.

    Why?

    Simply put, it should suffice to simply refute their arguments and points, alone, without resorting to ridicule. Ridicule is an emotionally-driven plea, and not a logical response. It’s an appeal to emotion.

    Just pass on the urge to ridicule, as it only makes you look like the weak-minded irrational fool who can’t control his emotions, and tries to “win” arguments by appealing to emotional pleas.

    If the opponents arguments are refuted successfully, the audience is left to come to their own conclusions of how to respond. They don’t need to be told how to respond: it’s condescending.

    Appealing to ridicule is the last-ditch effort of fools, and hence why it’s always fallacious (at least to anyone who calls themselves a rationalist).

    This is basic logic 101 stuff, and no amount of “appeal to groupthink” here is going to change it.

  63. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Can God create a rock so big that he can’t move it?

    For the moment, I’d settle for a demonstration that this purported god can make any rock at all.
    /snark

  64. favog says

    I’m watching this on ustream right now (thanks a lot for making me lag behind, bliptv) and I’m hearing that Matt’s next Atheist Debates video will be on the subject of design. I’m not going to be arrogant enough to assume that it’s because I asked for it next on the comment section for the first one, so “thank you” may not be appropriate. It’s entirely probable that Matt picked it as the next subject for the same reasons that I would have, completely independently. But a “yes!” with a fist-pump? Totally.

  65. Frank G. Turner says

    @ adamah # 68
    not sure how much formal study of logic you took in undergrad as a chem major?
    .
    I have had a fair amount of logic study as Chemists need a good background in statistics, which has a basis in logic. As you may have noted I have asked corwynn a few things as he seems the most advanced on statistics here. Which leads into your second comment.
    .
    In a nutshell, ALL ridicule is out of bounds, whether it’s targeted against the person OR against their ideas.
    .
    In a formal debate, I would definitely agree with you there. Matt’s debate with Sye did tend to make Sye look a bit foolish as StB was resorting to ridicule on several occasions.
    .
    However, this is a radio show, NOT a formal debate. There is no rule that says that you MUST never ridicule the person or the idea. Politics are involved, and politics is emotionally driven because real people not following a set of rules like those presented in a formal debate (and even those who ARE following a set of rules like in a formalized debate) HAVE emotions. You can’t just ignore their emotions.
    .
    Believe me, I as an Aspie more than anyone else WANT to reach into people’s brains and turn off their emotions so that information can be uploaded without barriers. I would like to turn emotion on and off (hence why Data was my favorite Star Trek Character). We can’t though. And I don’t think that it is Matt’s intent to try to “win” the argument by appealing to emotion. It might be, but you appear to be making an assertion of that point that was only implied by what was going on. That implication could very well be incorrect.
    .
    I am not saying that Matt is not trying to appeal to emotion, he very well may be. Some people’s beliefs are driven by their emotions and feelings. Since I’ve been reading “Why People Believe Weird Things,” that seems to be a running idea through most of the book. Many people seem to want the world to be simple and easy to understand as it makes them feel good. Appealing to their emotions to let them know that things CAN feel good without their beliefs seems to be part of what is going on.
    .
    You seem to be making a rule that I once made, I took any and all ridicule as personal (a LOT was aimed at me). Not all of it was. I wanted all ridicule to be out of bounds, permanently in ALL situations, regardless of whether they were formalized debate or not. Not everyone was using ridicule to win arguments though. And it was not exactly a “last ditch effort of fools” trying to win an argument. What I went through that made me take all ridicule personally and take all ridicule in a singular context was the context of an effort by bullies trying to make themselves feel superior.
    .
    In context, it seems like Matt already made a pretty good appeal to logic against the Intelligent Design guy, who seems oblivious to the idea of how certain events that have occurred at random but remain in place because they seem to serve some function can influence later events. Hence why subsequent events are not as thoroughly random, but not intentional either. Many a creationist seems to have this false dichotomy of “not random” being the equivalent of “intentionally designed.”
    .
    Based on what I watched, the ID guy won’t let it go because he “has to be correct” and reason is irrelevant. Feelings were already driving the argument of the ID guy. From the standpoint of logic and reason, the argument is basically already over and it is just more of the ID guy just shouting the same BS over and over again. (This is what I hear a LOT of creationists and evangelicals doing even at formalized debates, repeating the same old tired arguments with different words).
    .
    I agree that Matt could hang up at that point and not bother (sometimes I wish that he would) but sometimes in the BS the creationist / evangelical actually makes a good point or brings up something in a new way that has probably been refuted, but not as clearly. If there is a bit of ridicule of the idea, it is not like one is ridiculing it with intent to “win.” I can understand you taking it that way and it may not be a bad idea to refrain from doing so given that people could. That’s the thing though, they COULD take it that way. You do not have hard proof that this is the intent, just that it is implied.
    .
    I live for a day in which we can have proof of intent as simple as measuring brainwaves. It would make “murder” vs. “self defense” cases a LOT easier in courtrooms. We don’t, so you can’t know via objective reasoning if this was Matt’s intent, it is just hypothesis, opinion basically. Not to make an appeal to popular belief, but when something is not provable and just a matter of opinion, then isn’t popular opinion, i.e.: how the majority of people understand something, have some sort of importance? I didn’t take Matt the way that you are suggesting and it seems like several people on here are not either.
    .
    Now yes the people on here may not have given you this explanation in the way that I did. I don’t think too highly of Narf or Monocle Smile for resorting to name calling and ridicule either, but I don’t think they are doing it to “win” against you adam. It is more like they are frustrated with you as you are making assertions that you don’t have hard proof of. And in response, you are name calling and apparently resorting to ridicule as well (at least that is what it looks like from my perspective). Why sink to that?
    .
    SO instead of responding to the name calling with subsequent name calling, which means that you seem to be sinking to the very level that you are criticizing, maybe try a different angle. Matt is on here Z(and may be reading this). You could point out that IF he resorts to ridicule on the show that it could APPEAR that he is doing so to appeal to emotions. He could simply point out that the point is just be repeated over and over and instead of getting frustrated with this (what I think is probably going on, but sometimes it is funny), that he could just refuse to argue the point (much as was done with Pascal’s Wager) for some time.
    .
    Doesn’t THAT make more rational sense then trying to force the idea on here that all ridicule should be out of bounds by resorting to ridicule and name calling? (That actually goes for anyone, not just adam, none of us should be the pot calling the kettle black here or vice versa).

  66. corwyn says

    @ Frank 71:

    Many a creationist seems to have this false dichotomy of “not random” being the equivalent of “intentionally designed.”

    And they have apparently never played Yahtzee.

  67. says

    Until Intelligent Design comes up with the exact parameters of the methods of Design, the definition of Design, the manner or construction of Design and ANYTHING about the Designer (up to and including adequate and intimate knowledge of how the Designer designs things), it is functionally useless as a scientific theory.

    To detect design, we must have an understanding of what non-design is. If a designer created everything, then what are we comparing his designs to? If we are not capable of tracking him down or studying his methods, how are we supposed to distinguish Mount Rushmore from an eroded crop of granite, pegmatite and metamorphic rock?

    “Design”, to put it simply, is a human derivation. If design is divorced from the human condition, it becomes impossible to adequately recognize it. Mount Rushmore only looks designed to humans. To every other living thing, it is just another eroded rock outcrop.

  68. Narf says

    @67 – Frank G. Turner

    Even people in American culture do that. I think that was where my mother came from as far as an argument from authority and pre-suppositionalism. She thought it disrespectful to say anything that could be seen as a direct challenge to an authority. Questions on how the individual knew what they knew (including herself) were seen as such and to her learning meant making complete deference to that authority. To me an authority that cannot and must not be challenged is an insecure authority. The person got that authority by knowing the answers to challenging questions and being able to state them directly (one would think, maybe not in the case of WLC).

    Hmm, interesting thought. I wouldn’t have made that link. I can see how it would relate to some of the stuff I’ve heard from the more emotion-based apologists, like Ray Comfort. The very act of questioning God’s existence is an insult to God, and they (the apologists) would never be so disrespectful.

    I saw the challenging of the authorities in my life as respectful, it meant that I was listening to what they had to say and I wanted to understand “why” they came to certain conclusions because I wanted to have that knowledge too. It was as though my mother thought (and my friend thought I think) that challenging an authority (even if it is mine) is to automatically assume that the person is wrong and that if they are right they will have to invent their reference material. The way I saw it, I EXPECTED the authorities in my life to have the back up material and I WANTED to learn what the back up argument was as I found it critical to understanding what they were teaching me.

    Likewise. When you attend a scientific lecture, whether in a university setting or when you have a scientist as a guest lecturer, they always love the opportunity to expand upon a particular subject of the lecture, during the question-and-answer period. Hell, there’s a reason that most of them became lecturers.

    I think I may have an association of my own, with this particular one. What do the fundies do, when they go to scientific lectures and challenge the authorities?

    “Were you there?”

    When that’s what their peers challenge authority with, I can see how your mother and friend might have that negative association. When most people challenge an authority on a point, they’re looking for further information and justification by the scientist. When fundies do it … yeah, not so much.

  69. Narf says

    @69 – EnlightenmentLiberal

    For the moment, I’d settle for a demonstration that this purported god can make any rock at all.
    /snark

    Heh, well yeah. If you wanted evidence, you’re going to the wrong people. Philosophical masturbation is the best you’re going to get.

  70. Narf says

    @72 – corwyn

    Many a creationist seems to have this false dichotomy of “not random” being the equivalent of “intentionally designed.”

    And they have apparently never played Yahtzee.

    Hmm, not a bad metaphor. You have both the random element as well as the sifting mechanism of the player deciding what to re-roll. I’m a little leery of it, since the sifting mechanism is an intelligent agent, but with appropriate framing, it could work.

  71. Narf says

    @73 – Ishkur

    Until Intelligent Design comes up with the exact parameters of the methods of Design, the definition of Design, the manner or construction of Design and ANYTHING about the Designer (up to and including adequate and intimate knowledge of how the Designer designs things), it is functionally useless as a scientific theory.

    Yeah, and that’s just the beginning of the issues, when trying to explain scientific concepts to them. The scientific incomprehension is pretty staggering, when talking to creationists.

    I’ve been absorbing a bit of Ray Comfort, lately. Apparently, his “buildings need builders; creation needs a creator,” bullshit is scientific proof, if you listen to the way he tells it. Also, an unfalsifiable god is far more scientifically viable, because … well, why would you want to prove that God doesn’t exist, when it can be absolutely demonstrated that he does exist?

    Where do you even begin, with someone like him?

  72. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Where do you even begin, with someone like him?

    You don’t. You call him dishonest, and you move along. Until one admits the epistemic possibility that one might be wrong about one’s god beliefs, then one is not being intellectually honest, and it’s a waste of time to talk about it.

  73. Narf says

    Yeah, but it’s still important to address the issues, for his acolytes, who might not be quite as far gone as he is. Always for the lurkers.

    … although, anyone who thinks that Ray Comfort makes good arguments might also be unreachable.

  74. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    For the acolytes, I wouldn’t spend too much time on it. I would point out the relevant “statement of faith” that asserts up front that any and all evidence that might seem to the contrary is blindly and preemptively dismissed. Then, throw out a few basic questions like “How do you know it’s not Satan fooling you? How do you know the god is not Thor or Zeus?”. If they still continue to assert that they cannot possibly be wrong, then fuck ’em. I have better things to do with my time, they’re not worth the effort, and there’s nothing more I can possibly say.

    PS: Yes, I know that most of us were religious at one point, and we were worth it. (This is a talking point of Matt, and he’s right.) However, I might be willing to bet most of us were never at the point where “I cannot possibly be wrong and no hypothetical evidence could ever persuade me otherwise”. To that kind person, they just openly did away with rationality itself. There’s nothing left to say IMHO. As crude as it might be – just point and laugh.

  75. adamah says

    PS Frank, on this:

    The person associated with an idea is not necessarily moved to a lower social position by the idea being ridiculed. Yes that can be implied, but that’s the point, it is “implied” and not explicitly stated. An overwhelming number of implications can lead to a strong potential conclusion, but that’s part of the point, it is potential as compared to definitive.

    Frank, have you heard of the “appeal to motives” fallacy? If not, it’s a ‘thing’.

    Motives generally don’t enter into the discussion (as long as conflicts of interest are divulged, etc.), and that’s why “appeals to motives” fishing expeditions are considered as fallacious approaches.

    And whether the attempt to ridicule was successful or not is quite irrelevant, since outcome doesn’t matter: it’s still a foul to ATTEMPT to ridicule, no ifs, ands, or buts.

    No special pleading allowed.

    These are the kinds of things that anyone who took a college-level course in logic and rhetoric would know, and it’s why I asked if you took a formal course taught by a philosophy professor. Your evasive answer would indicate you didn’t.

    You’re likely appealing to your personal ignorance now: the rules apply to YOU and me and Matt, or anyone who claims to be a rationalist.

    Also, it doesn’t matter whether a conclusion is explicitly stated or implied, since spend any time looking at logic textbooks used in college-level coursework and you’ll see MANY examples of logical fallacies as encountered in the real world (eg excerpts taken from politicians speeches, etc) where the premises or conclusion aren’t explicitly stated, but only implied.

    Nevertheless, they are considered examples of their respective fallacies (the classic example being the NRA slogan, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws would have guns.” It’s used as an example of equivocation, even though the conclusion (“therefore, don’t outlaw gun ownership”) is merely implied).

    There’s many more similar examples which are considered as fallacies of a certain category, i.e. an ‘appeal to authority’ isn’t always as blatant as when a cop says, “Do what I say or I’ll shoot.”

    In fact, that’s the primary GOAL of studying contemporary rhetoric and logical fallacies: to teach students to identify the various hidden forms and permutations, since the clear-majority encountered in the real world ARE subtle, relying on innuendo.

    Such manifestations are far-more prevalent, and hence more insidious, since they often get accepted by listeners without question after they fail to even recognize a fallacy has been played.

    Hey though, if that is your belief / angle that ridiculing the idea is ridiculing the person then ok man. I am not saying that the implied argument does not hold any merit.

    “My idea”, Frank?

    Google “appeal to ridicule” if you think it’s just MY idea: I assure you, it’s not. The logical fallacies have been a guiding principle of rationalism from the time of Socrates, who first identified many.

    I don’t make the rules of rationalism: I try to respect and follow them, as the principles have withstood the test of time. It rings a bit hollow to say rationalism is a pragmatic alternative to leading a faith-based life, only to not ‘walk the talk’ whenever we feel like throwing a hissy fit, then using weak-minded post-hoc rationalizations as an excuse.

    The REAL question you should be asking is, why is this such breaking news to you?

    Did you NOT take a formal college-level course in logic, taught by a philosophy professor? The rationalist approach is hardly ‘new’ or ‘novel’.

    I’ve repeatedly requested proof that such fallacies as ‘appeal to ridicule’ and ‘ad homs (abusive)’ have been redacted and/or modified (as if some ‘special pleading’ has been given to make the ‘Dillahunty Fallacy’ not fallacious). However, no one has borne the burden of proof to verify (and for obvious reasons: there’s been no such modification, and my request was only rhetorical).

    Matt claims to be a rationalist, and he should ‘walk the talk’ rather then engaging in weak-minded post-hoc rationalizations. After all, doesn’t he repeat the mantra of not wanting to be wrong any longer than necessary? He’s flat-out wrong….

    Respecting the principles of rationalism isn’t mandatory, but voluntary: no one can force anyone else to be rational.

    I suspect the cowardly ass who beheads hostages on behalf of ISIS also claims to be a rational person, too, motivated to carry out his jihad using post-hoc rationalization of serving Allah and devotion to his personal cause.

    The power of self-delusion is great…

  76. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Adam # 82
    Frank, have you heard of the “appeal to motives” fallacy? If not, it’s a ‘thing’.
    .
    Yes I have and I disagree with many aspects of it. Motives are particularly important when considering certain things in law. Motives are often the difference between self defense and murder and have a lot to do with the principle of mans rea. It is an interesting point though.
    .
    “My idea”, Frank?
    .
    You are reading into what I am saying, I didn’t say it was your idea, I said it was your belief. What I was getting at is that you agree with it. You believe that ridiculing the idea is ridiculing the person. I don’t. I don’t care if this is some rule of formal logic that it is, I still disagree with it. Even if that is done as part of a rule of formal logic, the point was that the rules of formal logic are not always followed in every context. That is what I am getting at, context.
    .
    You can’t just go marching in lock step down a path demanding that everyone follow some set of rules in all contexts that are used in another context. People won’t do it, they won’t be forced to obey some set of rules that they don’t agree with the interpretation of. Yes I took some coursework in logic, in has been a while. I went to a liberal arts school and I was required to take some philosophy courses and logic went well with a chemistry background given that I had to take coursework in statistics. I don’t remember every detail, but even if I did it is not like I was being taught that every fallacy that I learned was a rules that was metaphorically written in stone. I personally disagree with the “appeal to motives” fallacy on certain levels in certain contexts and aspects and I don’t believe that said rule has withstood the test of time.
    .
    I actually do agree with you on certain levels about the appeal to ridicule. It is being pointed out on here that the “point and laugh concept” would not be approved by you and I don’t appreciate that attitude either. I was going to comment on in from Enlightenment liberal in # 80 before Narf commented in # 81. I also think that pointing and laughing is inappropriate and does bring people down to the level of those they speak against. I would also point out that this presents a separatist perception, and “us vs. them” concept that is portrayed by many a fundie that I don’t like and don’t think atheists and agnostics should engage in.
    .
    The point I was making is that we’re human though and we HAVE emotions that are not always rational. Some people just are not going to agree with an appeal to pure rational logic. Some individuals have to FEEL GOOD 1st and think rationally 2nd. So showing them that they can feel good by thinking rationally and that no matter how rational they are that they are not a robot and we can’t just turn off their emotions is a principle that I address. You can’t just make it a rule that we have to think purely rationally and completely ignore emotion just because it is inconvenient or because some rule tells us that we have to. And even AFTER you get people thinking about logic and rational thought they are STILL going to have emotions afterwards.
    .
    Regarding obeying the rules of logic, you don’t even do that adam. You call names and make fun of people too. You are telling individuals not to appeal to emotion and then you do it. I am not trying to call names by calling you a hypocrite, I am just pointing out that you are not following your own rules. That is not to say that the idea is not a good one (we can get into “ad hominem” as I am getting at your credibility here), but if you are such a good follower of logic and these rules, why aren’t you obeying them? And why don’t you acknowledge that someone else is correct when they point that out?
    .
    Pardon the whole “tu quoque” issue but your failure to acknowledge that others make good points and only focusing on what you think they have wrong then reading into what they say to rationalize your point indicates that you are just as much of a hypocrite. I am at least listening to what you have to say as I think it important and I recognize that intelligent ideas come out of hypocrites too, ideas stand on their own merit. Doesn’t that at least bother you though?
    .
    Your attitude doesn’t seem that different from William Lane Craig. You put up a wall that says “I can;t be wrong or falsified I must be right and any evidence to the contrary must be ignored.” You use logic and formal debate as your defense, but you still take up an unfalsifiable position, you still change the topic rather than acknowledge that someone else might be correct, you still change the topic or ignore people when backed into a corner. You still can’t seem to say “I am sorry I was WRONG” about anything. Every one of the formal rules of logic have NOT stood the test of time. They are NOT the metaphorical “Ten Commandments” of atheism, agnosticism, logic, etc.

  77. Frank G. Turner says

    P.S.. To adam
    Matt claims to be a rationalist, and he should ‘walk the talk’ rather then engaging in weak-minded post-hoc rationalizations. After all, doesn’t he repeat the mantra of not wanting to be wrong any longer than necessary? He’s flat-out wrong….

    .
    I am not arguing that Matt is right in doing so. What I am pointing out is that Matt is Not necessarily using ridicule as the reason why the argument is correct or why one should follow it. The ridicule seems more like the result of frustration with the caller AFTER the argument has been presented. Yes it would be nice if we did not get frustrated, but we do, we’re human. You do that as well. And if you want people to be forgiving of you engaging in ridicule when you have gotten frustrated then maybe you should extend that same forgiveness.
    .
    If you are going to argue that the very moment that Matt resorts to ridicule that the purpose of that ridicule is to strengthen his argument by appealing to emotion, you don’t know that. If you want to argue that he should not resort to ridicule regardless, generally speaking I agree with you. I do think that light hearted good natured ridicule can be used when an individual will not engage in rational thought UNLESS they are emotionally appeased, well that’s life and that is dealing with human beings. It would be nice if we could follow rules of logic verbatim, we can’t.
    .
    The impression that I am getting from you adam is that you want to command people to behave by a set of rules and to never stray from them, ever. Instead of those rules being the ten commandments, they are rules of logic, and furthermore they are YOUR interpretation of the rules of logic. How is that any different from the inflexible evangelists who want you to obey the ten commandments the way some arbitrary authority interprets them?
    .
    You could try asking people politely to refrain from engaging in ridicule and mention fallacies that it is related to. Do JW’s ever do that , ASK people politely to consider their views as a possibility WITHOUT any threats or demands? (Of course not, then they could loose and be wrong, i.e.: their view could be falsifiable and they can’t have that).
    .
    I don’t disagree with some of your conclusions adam, not in principle (mind you I do disagree with your interpretation of the “fallacy of motives”). I DO disagree with your methods. People HAVE feelings and emotions and if you want their respect you have to treat them with respect. Demanding that people obey rules of logic without question is pretty condescending.
    .
    Matt claims to be a rational person and for the most part I believe him. I don’t see him as a purely rational individual who is completely immune to all influence of emotion and bias who thinks in a purely logical manner. He is human, so are you. He gets frustrated, frustration is part of being human and sometimes we do irrational things when we are frustrated or angry no matter how rational we are. You have done this too. If you need to be declared as absolutely right about this because winning the argument is more important than anything else in the world, fine you win. Now let it go.

  78. pac1261 . says

    Apologies for the long delay in writing this.

    @ EL #32

    To the extent that his purported god is like that of a Cartesian Demon – undetectable – then it is undetectable, unobservable, and thus irrelevant.

    Irrelevant to science and to you perhaps, but not to him. Your original point was that the 9/7/14 show was “atrocious,” in part because Matt accepted the caller’s idea that supernatural agents can’t be studied scientifically. Now you yourself have identified one such agent, a Cartesian Demon. The caller claimed that same property for his god.
     
    Similar discussions have occurred hundreds of times on TAE, and the hosts typically ask the caller to provide some justification for his belief. I have yet to hear one of them succeed in doing that. Instead of that, your recommendation is try to teach the caller a thing or two about science, in order to challenge his claim that his god is unobservable. Given a choice between these two methods, I much prefer the first. It’s simpler, more easily understandable, and does not rely on abstract arguments. And it works, as the show has demonstrated time and again.
     
    An important aspect of science is discovering the repeatable, natural laws that consistently govern the universe and allow us to predict future events. That the known universe obeys laws is an empirical result of science, not an a priori certainty. Since no one has ever observed a “supernatural” event, no one has any idea what properties it would have. It could be argued that the existing scientific methods might not yield meaningful results when applied to completely unknown phenomena. How can we possibly know that these phenomena obey any laws at all? What we can say is that the likelihood of their existence is rapidly receding, as our tools and methods become more sophisticated. Going beyond that claim would seem to be problematic.
     

    You are giving up way too much ground without a fight…The fundamental problem was the theist trying to avoid the burden of proof.

    Of course they always try to avoid the burden of proof, and no one can stop them from trying. But the TAE hosts never give up any ground. They never let that gambit succeed. They don’t even need to use the word “science” at this point – they simply ask the caller to explain why they believe as they do, and the results speak louder than would any lecture on epistemology.
     

    You give too much credence to theist boulderdash

    I never gave it any credence at all. I only described it.
     

    This is perhaps your flaw. You may believe that the mind is somehow exempt from the laws of science.

    Are you like Sye Ten Bruggencaite, able to know what’s in other people’s minds? You’re wrong. And I have no clue why you even brought up the subject. I said nothing about minds.
     

    If that Christian god comes down, appears, and starts killing people as it is purportedly wont to do – are you going to assume that it’s beyond all comprehension? … Or are you going to go try and find a way to blow it up?

    Nope. If that Christian god appears and starts killing, I would work like hell to understand why he’s doing that. I would not, however, assume that I would succeed. I would also do several other things: (1) stop being an atheist, (2) stop watching The Atheist Experience, (3) stop reading this blog, (4) start spelling “god” with a capital G.
     
    As for trying to blow “it” up, I think you are confusing god with godzilla. An understandable mistake, perhaps, since both are heavily into wanton destruction.

  79. Mike Bethany says

    @Jasper of Maine
    Saying Jen said, “IF you are saying…” is exactly my point. It’s exactly like asking, “I’m not saying you strangle kittens… but IF you do…” It’s a straw man since no one ever said that.

    I’m also disappointed that Matt didn’t stop her and explain this simple fallacy. Let’s hope they are big enough people to admit their mistake. Hopefully you will too.

  80. Mike Bethany says

    @Jasper of Main
    Sorry, I forgot to add this:
    “The concern is more about making bad jokes that make us look like asses, like making holocaust jokes.”

    Some of the best jokes are horribly offensive. Not because they are making fun of a horrible thing but because they are making fun of someone who would perpetrate a horrible thing. If you are offended by some humor then good, sometimes you should be, that’s the point of it.

    Of course you’re free to not find it funny, just don’t try to dictate humor to others. It’s a form of narcissism to do so: like someone telling everyone else they have to believe in the same magical sky fairy they believe in.

  81. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Given a choice between these two methods, I much prefer the first. It’s simpler, more easily understandable, and does not rely on abstract arguments. And it works, as the show has demonstrated time and again.

    What about truth? Only one of those two methods is accurate. (Also, the two methods are not all-encompassing. There’s other options too.) It is false to say that science cannot show supernatural causation. Simply false.

    Since no one has ever observed a “supernatural” event, no one has any idea what properties it would have.

    How do you know that no one has observed a supernatural event? Science? Are you suggesting that science can be used against supernatural causation but not for it!?

    It could be argued that the existing scientific methods might not yield meaningful results when applied to completely unknown phenomena.

    Wait just a second. What the flying fuck!? Then why do science at all!? Science is always about trying to get meaningful results when applied to unknown phenomena. A few hundred years ago, quantum mechanics and relativity involved completely unknown phenomena. A few hundred years ago, you would have given credence to arguments that maybe science woulnd’t help us learn about this new-fangled photoelectric effect (start of quantum theory)!?

    Again, it seems that at a presuppositional level, you have partitioned the world into two – into “natural” and “supernatural”, for absolutely no explicable reason, along entirely arbitrary divides derived from arbitrary culture and tradition. I don’t know why.

    How can we possibly know that these phenomena obey any laws at all?

    Because we can observe them? I don’t think it’s coherent to say something is observable but also does not fit into any possible predictive model. That includes predictive models “the Christian god has a 50% chance to appear every day and kill an average of 500 people”. (That’s all quantum mechanics is, and we’re doing pretty well on that front.)

    For some phenomena to be completely immune to any predictive model, it’s like bad scifi about a “plane of chaos”. When examined in some detail, it cannot hold up IMHO.

    I could make the predictive model that “the Christian god will not change the rules so that hammers fall upwards when released”. Now, if the Christian god is going to upset all of my expectations like that, then I no longer live in a shared reality with other people. The world becomes incoherent, unrecognizable, unlearnable. Imagine what that kind of “pure chaos” would look like. Only at that point does it make any sense to say that some observable phenomenon is completely inscrutable to science.

    Maybe it’s partly inscrutable to science. That sounds like quantum theory to me. Maybe quantum theory does involve dice, aka true random events. Maybe there’s some deterministic system underneath it which we haven’t discovered yet. That’s the point of my discussion. We still learned something about it, and we can still predict it to some degree. We cannot predict any individual event, but we can still predict individual events statistically, and we can predict aggregate events to high degrees of statistical confidence.

    What we can say is that the likelihood of their existence is rapidly receding, as our tools and methods become more sophisticated.

    Yes. Of course. But again, that means you think that science definitely can work to show it’s not supernatural, but you are seriously putting forth an argument that science cannot do the reverse. That’s ridiculous. Science is based on falsification. If science can show X (something is not supernatural causation) then science can show not X (something is supernatural causation). That’s an inescapable conclusion.

    Frankly though, as I said before, I think “supernatural” and “natural” are meaningless words which only add to confusion. I know that one of your next questions is “ok, how would you show supernatural causation”? And I would say I don’t know because I do not think your question is meaningful. I would give the same answer to “how would you show natural causation?”.

    As for trying to blow “it” up, I think you are confusing god with godzilla. An understandable mistake, perhaps, since both are heavily into wanton destruction.

    No, the mistake is with you. If something that resembled and claimed to be the Christian god showed up and randomly starting blowing up people like from a bad movie, you damn well better bet I would work on blowing it up.

    Why do you think I cannot blow up the Christian god if it existed? Because the Christian god purports that I cannot? What a miserable reason. Again, if anything, Stargate SG-1 has taught us that creatures can lie about the extend of their powers or otherwise be mistaken. And even for non-material creatures like the Ori, there may be non-material “explosives” which are effective at blowing them up. Why go down without a fight?

    I’m serious when I want to say that I want to change the conversation in the atheist culture. I don’t want the default assumption to be: “What happens if you’re wrong?”, “Well, I’ll burn in hell, but at least I have the satisfaction that I was more moral than the god”. I want the default assumption to be: “What if you’re wrong?”, “Then we should start an advanced government funded research team into exploring methods to destroy your god.”

    PS:

    Nope. If that Christian god appears and starts killing, I would work like hell to understand why he’s doing that. I would not, however, assume that I would succeed.

    When physicists do work on cosmology – they do not assume that they will succeed. Perhaps all of the evidence about the precursor (if any) to the big bang is lost. They still try. And they use science, and they will use nothing but science. That’s all I demand with regard to gods, ghosts, demons, and anything else which falls under the completely arbitrary cultural umbrella of “supernatural”.

  82. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Sorry – I see one important part coming. To continue:

    Next you’ll say the goa’uld of Stargate SG-1 were not really gods, and thus my argument does not apply. How could you tell the difference?

    In many important ways, I’m a positivist: If you cannot tell the difference, even in principle, and no other hypothetical human-like observer could either, then there is no meaningful difference.

    How could you tell the difference between “a real god” and the goa’uld from Stargate SG-1? In many important ways, the goa’uld are gods. To quote Teal’c describing the goa’uld:

    Teal’c: Did they raise the dead? Heal the sick and wounded? Destroy their enemy with but a wave of their hand?

    In this case, it seems like we’re defining “real gods” as those things we cannot blow up, so we wouldn’t know until we tried. Thus your point is functionally useless.

    Further, I can bring up examples of gods that are not just aliens with sufficiently advanced material technology. Again, we have to look no farther than Stargate SG-1. The Ori are powerful creatures, outside of material time-space (but still seemingly within time). How do you blow up something like that? Research. Maybe you’ll find an answer. Maybe you won’t. Maybe there is no answer. But you won’t know until you try to blow them up, and I know that I would be there supporting the research to blow them up.

    If the Christian god came back, I see absolutely no reason to treat it differently than how our heroes of Stargate SG-1 treated the goa’uld and the Ori.

  83. says

    #86

    @Jasper of Maine
    Saying Jen said, “IF you are saying…” is exactly my point. It’s exactly like asking, “I’m not saying you strangle kittens… but IF you do…” It’s a straw man since no one ever said that.

    You do not know what a straw man argument is. The disconnect is right there in the structure. “If you are saying” is not an assertion that someone is saying something – thus, it cannot be a straw man.

    I’m also disappointed that Matt didn’t stop her and explain this simple fallacy. Let’s hope they are big enough people to admit their mistake. Hopefully you will too.,.

    It’d help if there was an actual fallacy present.

    Some of the best jokes are horribly offensive. Not because they are making fun of a horrible thing but because they are making fun of someone who would perpetrate a horrible thing. If you are offended by some humor then good, sometimes you should be, that’s the point of it.

    This isn’t relevant to anything. If her point was that such jokes make us look like asses, reinforcing the negative stereotypes atheists, whether you think people need to get a thicker skin has zilch to do with whether us making asses of ourselves is beneficial or not.

    Whether you personally think racist jokes are funny or not, is not relevant to whether atheists making racist jokes will give us a bad name, or not… just like every time a prominent Christian pops up saying something stupid/profane.

  84. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Jasper of maine # 90
    You do not know what a straw man argument is. The disconnect is right there in the structure. “If you are saying” is not an assertion that someone is saying something – thus, it cannot be a straw man.
    .
    Though I agree with you that it technically is not a straw man, it utilizes a similar idea. Call it a “hypothetical” straw man as compared to an actual one. (I would mention the Holographic “straw man”, but this is not Star Trek 🙂 ).
    .
    This isn’t relevant to anything. If her point was that such jokes make us look like asses, reinforcing the negative stereotypes atheists, whether you think people need to get a thicker skin has zilch to do with whether us making asses of ourselves is beneficial or not.
    .
    Now if Adam had presented THIS as his argument as to why Matt should not ALSO engage in ridicule I would have been less prone to argue with him. I don’t think this is what was going on in the show but I do see how it can be taken that way. Although I do think that there is such a thing as light hearted ridicule that is not grossly offensive and can be forgiven. A rule of no jokes whatsoever is just impossible to follow, One must be careful with humor though.
    .
    Whether you personally think racist jokes are funny or not, is not relevant to whether atheists making racist jokes will give us a bad name, or not… just like every time a prominent Christian pops up saying something stupid/profane.
    .
    Many an extreme Xtian is going to go out of their way to look up any and all reasons why to give atheists and agnostics a bad name no matter what you do. Many are even willing to put up straw man arguments, spread rumors, tell flat out lies, anything in the name of Jesus! (The commandment should read, “Thou shalt not bear false witness…unless in the name of Jesus”). Giving them ammunition is not exactly a great idea though. Being forgiving of when they do it back can really work in one’s favor though. (Showing more compassion to Xtians then they do to you when THEY are the one’s supposed to be engaging in it can really make you look great, and definitely show that there are secular reasons to be moral).
    .
    @ Mike bethany # 87
    Some of the best jokes are horribly offensive. Not because they are making fun of a horrible thing but because they are making fun of someone who would perpetrate a horrible thing. If you are offended by some humor then good, sometimes you should be, that’s the point of it.

    Of course you’re free to not find it funny, just don’t try to dictate humor to others. It’s a form of narcissism to do so: like someone telling everyone else they have to believe in the same magical sky fairy they believe in.
    .
    I see your point and in principle I agree with it, but one would have to be careful of how broadly one applies such reasoning. Just flagrantly going around telling all sorts of potentially offensive jokes willie nillie and expecting others to have tougher skin will most certain not make one popular. If you would not make that joke in front fo the person it pokes fun of for fear of offending them, why do it when NOT in their presence or at all? Carlos Mencia said something once (when doing a comedy piece about mental retardation in front of a group of people with Down’s Syndrome I think) that if you are not willing to make a joke about black people in the Middle of Compton, you should not be telling it.
    .
    Then again if one gets frustrated and begins engaging in ridicule as a result I am pretty willing to forgive even if I am the butt of the ridicule. We are all human and we get frustrated and it can be difficult to think rationally when one is frustrated.

  85. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal # 89
    Next you’ll say the goa’uld of Stargate SG-1 were not really gods, and thus my argument does not apply. How could you tell the difference?
    .
    How one could tell the difference really does depend on how one defines a god, something I think many a Xtian (steele particularly on here) has never really considered. They seem to think that everyone will think of a god exactly the way they do.
    .
    On one of the other boards I comment on a hypothetical, going back in time to see Jesus in person to not only see if he existed, but also see if miracles were performed, he rose from the dead, etc. However, even witnessing all of those things would not really prove that he was God or the son of God, it would just prove that he was capable of powers that are otherwise known to be beyond natural from our perspective (one might say “super” natural). Having apparently “super” natural powers does not prove that one is the creator of the universe, that the universe has a sentience that exists without a physical mind, or that said being is omniscient and omnipresent, presuming that this is the way one defines god (going with the Xtian idea here). If we were to take this a step further this would also not demonstrate that said being created the universe some 6000 years ago in its present form, that the complexity we observe is not capable of existing without intentional design, and that despite all of this the designing being left clues behind that this was not the case as our observations indicate (as if to play some sort of weird trick upon us, a “test of our faith” as some claim). Every last one of these is a separate claim requiring separate evidence to verify them as separate conclusions all of which is extremely complex.
    .
    It could simply be that what I hypothetically witnessed was in no way a violation of the laws of our particular universe, just beyond my current understanding at the time. (Perhaps in the future we could begin to understand).
    .
    Let us say, for argument’s sake, that this witnessing of the life of Jesus as described in the Gospels (excluding the obvious contradictions, maybe some miracles happened and others didn’t and he and his family really were not in three places at the same time but it was just inaccuracies created by alternative witness’ accounts) was a direct violation of the laws of our universe even IF we understood all of them. Then by viewing that demonstration I would immediately become aware that there was a nature outside of our nature in which the laws of our particular universe could be violated, call it a “super” universe. AND it would also demonstrate that one could hypothetically have additional laws by which this “super” universe and our universem a combination of universes (a “multi” verse so to speak) behaved that could include what I just experienced. So what I really witnessed is not really “super” natural when viewed from an understanding of the higher multi-verse, which could extend out into an infinite number such that nothing is really “super” natural, just above the level of perspective of what we might call natural at the time.
    .
    Now we get into something that i discussed with Narf, So let us say that the being that creates these realities is in touch with the maximum universe and has a sentience that exists without a physical mind in our particular universe that is naturally present in the larger multiverse. If it truly is omniscient and omnipresent (presuming that this is not contradictory), then it knows what I am going to do and say in this second, and the next second, and a second from now, and so on into eternity. So to prove its existence to me it appears then immediately performs an act that is in direct violation of my understanding of the laws of my reality at this moment (reading my mind and telling me exactly what I am going to say, which I subsequently do). How do I know that it can;t do all of these things right up until that moment in time, making it just slightly less than the omnipresent being throughout the whole universe but powerful enough to demonstrate this to me right up until that moment but still just a little bit less then the next higher being? So it reads my mind and performs another miracle. Of course then I know it knew that I would think that and that this is what it needed to do, but it would have to do it again to continue demonstrating its power to demonstrate that it was not one infinitely small degree less powerful, and again, and again, and again performing miracles and violations of reality right before me for every second of every day just to demonstrate its ongoing power. Unless it is willing to do this on into eternity, then in a way the only way to be sure that this being was omniscient and omnipresent would be to have everything revealed to me. (A good counter to Hovind’s argument, how would you know for certain that you were having truth revealed to you by a being that knew everything actually unless it revealed everything to you?).
    .
    You almost HAVE to accept the possibility that the ga’uld are gods because if you were to assume that there was only a god like the Xtian god, there seems to be no way to demonstrate that what you are communicating with is the Xtian god. The only way to be certain that you are actually communicating with the omniscient omnipresent Xtian god is to BE the Xtian god!.(So only god knows god’s self). At least you could know that a lesser being has powers that are beyond yours (which you define to be the powers of a god) because you could observe the powers, they are reasonable, a lot more so than omnisciences and omnipresence, which are infinitely unprovable without having said abilities.
    .
    However, IF this Xtian god, as a being came to a TV studio in from of Matt and say, AronRa (I originally thought of this watching them together) and performed a large series of miracles in violation of our reality’s laws, and I witnessed it, I could tentatively accept that for all intents and purposes this was a being more powerful than myself. If it said that it created the universe given the power of what I had witnessed, I could accept that as a definitive possibility given what I had witnessed. It could even give me additional supporting evidence by willing things into existence right at that moment, over and over again. This would help to meet scientific criteria of predictable repeatability (much like the hypothetical Latin incantation that turns water into wine discussed earlier) and demonstrate a certain degree of falsificiation (at least to some degree). (If steele were reading, I would point out that this would essentially be a falsifiable argument in favor of the existence of a god).
    .
    Subsequently, what I would do in this hypothetical situation being intellectually honest with myself would be to accept that this was God, for all intents and purposes . So yes even this is tentative. That may seem weak to some who don’t apply these basic principles of science and learning to all things INCLUDING the idea of a god, but an omniscient being would know my mind and know that I think scientifically and would NOT consider itself exempt from this given that it is essential for learning, particularly about THAT being. This god might even appreciate the fact that I was thinking scientifically and was continuously opened to new evidence, that I can learn BECAUSE I accept this tentatively instead of absolutely.
    .
    If all of THAT sentiment had appeared in the Bible, something to the effect of,
    .
    “My children, I know that you will have a hard time understanding that I am the most powerful being you shall know, omniscient and omnipresent. If you have truly opened minds you will not fully accept this, but only accept this as a strong possibility. I know that you will have doubts, this is expected and acceptable. And you shall learn from these doubts, they will guide you and help you. I know that those who are not for me are not necessarily against me, this is part of the learning process. This curiosity that I have given you shall guide you and bring you closer to understanding me.”
    .
    THAT might have attracted me more to religion, but religion suffers from being static and unable to update. Furthermore, THAT would be a religion that was not political and power seeking, one that tries to indoctrinate people and brainwash them, where morals, education, and learning took priority over absolute beliefs that impair learning instead of serving it. (The Mormons at least try to keep updating their works, trying to add new works to keep up with the times, but then try to claim that they are divinely inspired when the evidence just does not point that way).
    .
    The only thing one could really do to be intellectually honest is to “tentatively” accept the ga’uld as gods.

  86. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal # 93
    @Frank. I think completely agreed.
    Thank you, but which part do you agree with? That was a long argument based on a lot of different ideas. Or are you saying that the while thing basically makes sense to you?

  87. Mike Bethany says

    You do not know what a straw man argument is. The disconnect is right there in the structure. “If you are saying” is not an assertion that someone is saying something – thus, it cannot be a straw man.

    .
    A straw man is arguing against a point that wasn’t made and ascribing that point to someone who didn’t make it.
    .
    You don’t know how language works. Our language has implication and inference. For instance, “When did you stop beating your wife?” does not say you beat your wife, but it implies it. Saying, “I know you didn’t say this, but if you did…” ascribes to them a point they didn’t make so you can argue against it, therefore it is a straw man. It is irrelevant that the ascription is hypothetical, it’s still putting words in someone else’s mouth so you can say how wrong they are.
    .

    This isn’t relevant to anything. If her point was that such jokes make us look like asses, reinforcing the negative stereotypes atheists, whether you think people need to get a thicker skin has zilch to do with whether us making asses of ourselves is beneficial or not.

    .
    It’s relevant to the discussion. It’s saying, “Don’t be offensive.” Except atheism is offensive to some people. Should I stop being an atheist because someone thinks that position is offensive? If someone lacks the intellectual capacity or emotional maturity to understand humor that’s not on me, that’s on them.
    .
    Does that mean it’s OK to make racist jokes? Depends on the joke. If it’s making fun of the racist, sure. I have one big rule for humor, I don’t make fun of people for the things they can’t help. For instance: race, ethnicity, their name, a handicap, etc. I also don’t make fun of the oppressed. I only make fun of people for the choices they make, like religion in an adult.
    .

    Whether you personally think racist jokes are funny or not, is not relevant to whether atheists making racist jokes will give us a bad name, or not… just like every time a prominent Christian pops up saying something stupid/profane.

    .
    Well, since the joke in question wasn’t a racist joke whether you personally rape babies or not is irrelevant to the discussion. Whether you killed a hobo with a tire iron or not is irrelevant. There are lots of horrible things I can mention that you might or might not have done that are irrelevant. Gee, I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned them should I have? Since they’re irrelevant, but if you DO rape babies with a dead hobo’s sawed off foot…
    .
    The real question is do we let someone else dictate our actions because they find them offensive? Sometimes. Like it’s offensive to spit on the floor in your office, but where do we draw the line? I draw the line at physical action, I’m OK with offensive ideas as long as they are not put into action, and I certainly don’t think making fun off offensive ideas is offensive.
    .
    Do you draw the line at simply being offended? Because if you do then you should just crawl into your baby raping, dead hobo filled (or not) hole and hide since someone is always going to find something you do offensive.
    .
    If being offended give someone the right to dictate another’s actions then me being offended by people being offended gives me even more rights. Everyone must do what I say! I’m King Offended!
    .
    Jan made a straw man argument and the joke was funny.

  88. Monocle Smile says

    @Mike Bethany

    I only make fun of people for the choices they make, like religion in an adult

    Except that for an awful lot of believers, they didn’t really have a choice. Not in the sense that you imply. That’s how indoctrination works, and making stupid, unfunny (no, the meme wasn’t even remotely funny) jokes doesn’t help.

    I don’t think Jen is creating a straw man when her point is “stop being douchey for the sake of being a douche.”

    I get what you’re saying, and I’m a bit of a firebrand myself, but there’s a difference between being a firebrand and being Patrick Greene.

  89. adamah says

    Adam said-

    Frank, have you heard of the “appeal to motives” fallacy? If not, it’s a ‘thing’.

    Frank said-

    Yes I have and I disagree with many aspects of it. Motives are particularly important when considering certain things in law. Motives are often the difference between self defense and murder and have a lot to do with the principle of mans rea. It is an interesting point though.

    Don’t be so wishy-washy and indecisive: commit to one position, Frank.

    Do you think “appealing to motives” is a potential fallacy or not?

    If not, then you’re “cherry-picking” which fallacies you’re willing to accept, and we jump all over theists who ‘cherry-pick’ scriptures. Yet you do the same here, based on your ignorance of how logical fallacies operate as a system, even before you’ve grasped the ‘big picture’?

    Not very rational, Frank.

    Your law analogy is flawed for so many reasons, but primarily because we’re NOT talking about criminal law (where there’s a need for the punishment to fit the crime to distinguish premeditated killing (murder) vs accidental killing (manslaughter)). In cases of life and death, a consideration of motives matter.

    In contrast, the goal of discussions is to try and persuade others via appealing to their sense of reason, and the stakes aren’t as high; the principle of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” applies.

    That’s a HUGE difference which explains why the processes of law and those used in discussions are different, and why intent matters in the former, but not for the latter.

    As most logic textbooks on fallacies indicate, nefarious motives and intentional deception are NOT required for a fallacy to be committed, so it doesn’t matter whether the person INTENDED to pull a fast one, or if it was merely an ‘innocent’ violation: they’ve still committed the SAME fallacy, whether the person can recognize it or admit it. Intent doesn’t even enter into the equation.

    And why should it be that way?

    Remember, the primary purpose of a debate or discussion is to find truths through oppositional methods, and NOT to determine if one debater intended to insult another, or if it was accidental.

    Moderators are not judges, insulting others is covered under free speech, and such a suggestion that the moderator should serve as the Police or judge is childishly naive: talk about allowing a discussion to become derailed with irrelevancies of veering into a consideration of debaters motives!

    And whether you or anyone else wants to admit it, the logical fallacies DO prohibit certain emotionally-laden styles of rhetoric, where compliance demands a certain level of decorum and manners.

    Everyone violates the fallacies at their own risk, and it’s no skin off my nose if they want to blow their own credibility by acting like an ass. To some, their ignorance truly is bliss…

    (BTW, if you want to hear an angry insulting “new atheist” in action who loses a debate by losing his cool and engaging in ad homs (abusive) despite repeated warnings by the mod, just Google for “Unbelievable!” podcast debate between believer Peter Hitchens and atheist Alex Gabriel, dated 12/15/12.

    Alex offers a truly a cringeworthy performance, and a GREAT example of how to quickly alienate an audience with emotionally-driven hate-filled words devoid of logic….)

    As to this:

    Adam said-

    “My idea”, Frank?

    Frank said-

    You are reading into what I am saying, I didn’t say it was your idea, I said it was your belief.

    No shit, Frank, I’m not Aristotle, who is credited with first elucidating fallacies. Straw-man much?

    Regardless, your basic point is correct: YES, I do believe examining arguments for the presence of possible logical fallacies is a valid approach to finding truths.

    That begs the obvious question:

    don’t you?

    (Although your willingness to cherry-pick fallacies above would suggest you aren’t fully on-board with the use of logic?)

    What I was getting at is that you agree with it. You believe that ridiculing the idea is ridiculing the person. I don’t.

    That’s (yet another) straw-man.

    Frank, lemme break it down for you, making it very simple:

    1) Ridiculing a person is ridiculing a person.

    2) Ridiculing the ideas they present is ridiculing the ideas they present.

    Totes different species.

    However, in ALL cases, ridiculing EITHER (or BOTH) constitutes committing the fallacy of ‘appealing to ridicule’, since using ridicule is out of bounds, REGARDLESS if it’s the person (if so, it potentially becomes an ad hom (abusive), as well) OR ridiculing their ideas.

    Let me repeat that:

    ALL use of ridicule in a discussion where you’re attempting to persuade others is appealing to ridicule.

    Got it? There’s no need to complicate things anymore than necessary, and this is one of those times.

    And yes, Frank, I’m the one who posted the Darkmatter 2525 video where he pretty much nails how many believers will strongly identify with God, such that the line between their identify and their God is blurred.

    HOWEVER, ALL such use of ridicule is fallacious, since it constitutes an appeal to EMOTION, and not REASON.

    Aristotle and others realized ridicule is an emotionally-driven process, and is NOT conducive to calm rational discourse. THAT’S why it’s verboten and is potentially toxic to a rational discussion.

    I don’t care if this is some rule of formal logicthat it is, I still disagree with it. Even if that is done as part of a rule of formal logic, the point was that the rules of formal logic are not always followed in every context. That is what I am getting at, context.

    Frank, you’re displaying your ignorance, since the logical fallacies are considered elements of INFORMAL logic, NOT formal logic (and if you didn’t take a basic logic course, I wouldn’t expect you to have been exposed to the difference between ‘formal’ vs ‘informal’ logic).

    Your paragraph above strongly indicates you’re ‘appealing to personal ignorance’ at this point, discarding what you’ve never even bothered to learned the basics of.

    That’s much like a theist who rejects evolution without understanding it.

    Not very rational, Frank.

    That kind of flawed thinking leads to this kind of thing:

    You can’t just go marching in lock step down a path demanding that everyone follow some set of rules in all contexts that are used in another context. People won’t do it, they won’t be forced to obey some set of rules that they don’t agree with the interpretation of.

    There is no “other context”, Frank.

    If you believe there ARE “different contexts” to the rules of logic, then you need to present evidence that supports your claim.

    Please provide a link suggesting the logical fallacies apply ONLY to debates and discussions, and NOT to daily life.

    Check out Howard Kahane and Catherine Cavendish’s classic text, “Contemporary Logic and Rhetoric”, where they make the case for how logic is applicable to everyday life, from analyzing the claims made by others, from TV ads, to politicians, to relationships, etc.

    And whether you explicitly use the name of fallacies is up to you (if you want to risk being considered an anorak with Aspergers, then go around labeling the fallacies played by others!), but the wheels should always be turning in your head so you don’t become a victim of someone else’s fallacious reasoning.

    I actually do agree with you on certain levels about the appeal to ridicule. It is being pointed out on here that the “point and laugh concept” would not be approved by you and I don’t appreciate that attitude either. I was going to comment on in from Enlightenment liberal in # 80 before Narf commented in # 81. I also think that pointing and laughing is inappropriate and does bring people down to the level of those they speak against. I would also point out that this presents a separatist perception, and “us vs. them” concept that is portrayed by many a fundie that I don’t like and don’t think atheists and agnostics should engage in.

    Even more importantly, though, it’s a ‘foul’, a violation of the rules of fair discussion. It’s arguably more excusable when theists commit fallacies (it’s not in the Bible, although the Bible contains similar restrictions on engaging in verbal altercations), since theology deprecates human reasoning as flawed and inferior to God’s reasoning.

    But for a self-identified rationalist to intentionally violate principles if rationalism? That’s inexcusable, and my disdain for them is much greater than for a theist who’s being consistent with their declared values.

    The point I was making is that we’re human though and we HAVE emotions that are not always rational. Some people just are not going to agree with an appeal to pure rational logic. Some individuals have to FEEL GOOD 1st and think rationally 2nd. So showing them that they can feel good by thinking rationally and that no matter how rational they are that they are not a robot and we can’t just turn off their emotions is a principle that I address.

    You sure love that “emotionless robot” strawman you’ve created there, huh, Frank?

    Just realize, that’s YOUR creation, not mine. You seem trapped in a rut, insisting it’s MY position, when it’s all yours….

    From the looks of it, you don’t seemingly give humans much credit, as that strikes me as a pretty condescending approach to take with others.

    I prefer to reserve judgment to see how individuals respond, since there’s a diverse range of individuals, realizing Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    Remodeling synapses and changing attitudes often occurs at glacial-like speeds, being a multi-decade task in some cases: I’ve known many ex-believers who took half a century (!) to arrive at the point where they are now (my brother being a prime example, whom I deconverted). In contrast, I was an atheist as by my early teens.

    BTW, you continue with your straw-man here:

    You can’t just make it a rule that we have to think purely rationally and completely ignore emotion just because it is inconvenient or because some rule tells us that we have to. And even AFTER you get people thinking about logic and rational thought they are STILL going to have emotions afterwards.

    For the last time, cease and desist with the false dichotomies: I’m telling YOU it’s a sliding scale, not an ‘either/or’ situation. Just accept it.

    You’re oversimplifying a complex issue at your own risk.

    Regarding obeying the rules of logic, you don’t even do that adam. You call names and make fun of people too. You are telling individuals not to appeal to emotion and then you do it. I am not trying to call names by calling you a hypocrite, I am just pointing out that you are not following your own rules.

    Passive-aggressive much, Frank?

    Grow a pair, commit to a position, and don’t pussy-foot around with weasel words: just call me a hypocrite, if that’s what you really want to do.

    That is not to say that the idea is not a good one (we can get into “ad hominem” as I am getting at your credibility here), but if you are such a good follower of logic and these rules, why aren’t you obeying them?

    So what is it? Did you not read and/or did you not understand my explanation of the ‘argumentum ad hominem’ argument? Or something else?

    I presuppose readers have taken a basic logic course and understand commonly-used terms: am I to be held responsible for YOUR ignorance of the topic, or YOUR inability to Google terms you don’t know so as to educate yourself?

    Look up “argumentum ad hom”, or even “reductio ad absurdum”, if they seem novel to you.

    In a nutshell, this is when someone temporarily adopts the other person’s position; in this case, I adopted the position that ‘appeals to mockery’ are OK, just to demonstrate the undesirable consequences of such a policy.

    It’s a non-fallacious form of reasoning, since some people lacking empathy can’t get it through their thick skulls unless they’re the targets of ridicule and mockery (and sadly, some don’t even figure it out after that, only incessantly whining about how they’ve been wronged and abused after being given a taste or their own medicine).

    It’s like the old saying, “When the Gods want to punish humans, they grant them their wishes.”

    Granted, it IS risky, since it creates the impression of appearing hypocritical to the unsophisticated reader for whom the explanation flies right over their head.

    Oh, well…. Again, I can’t be held responsible for the failure of others to attain certain levels of literacy. Do we “dummy down” discussions to allow everyone to follow?

    And why don’t you acknowledge that someone else is correct when they point that out?

    Frank, you’re lapsing into unrestricted tone-trolling again. Knock it off.

    In case you haven’t noticed, my posts are long enough without adding bloat of useless statements of, “I agree!” and ‘couching’.

    If I agree, I generally won’t post (unless I want to amplify on what someone else said).

    Now if YOU find value in adding, “I agree!” to YOUR posts, as if this were Facebook or YouTube (where people can vote “thumbs up” on others comments), then don’t let me stop you. Be my guest.

    But for you to insist others use YOUR style is patently offensive, since style is a PERSONAL CHOICE, a matter of ‘different strokes’.

    I highly suspect you’re atoning for the past sins you’ve committed as an Aspie, so now you’re overcompensating and trying to be Julie (the cruise ship social director on the Love Boat TV show from the 1970’s), attempting to get everyone to hold hands and sing Kumbaya together. The great unifier….

    Fine, if that’s your delusion, but I ALWAYS value TRUTH over achieving group consensus and harmony: I had plenty of exposure to the call for unity in the JWs, where truth was sacrificed as the first victim in the name of group unity. I know first-hand from an early age how groups can be utterly and horribly wrong, if allowed to stew in their festering dysfunctionality.

    If I hadn’t known it already, it was taught in officer training as a dynamic to be avoided to avoid organization group-think. If the military is aware of the dangers of group-think and tries to avoid it, it’s a real problem.

    Pardon the whole “tu quoque” issue…..

    Special plead much?

    Let me rephrase that: you DO special plead, since you cannot acknowledge that you’ve just committed a fallacy, and then point it out as if that exonerates you, lol! That’s just foggy-brained thinking, a sign of needing to continue studying and mastering your understanding of logical fallacies.

    Your attitude doesn’t seem that different from William Lane Craig. You put up a wall that says “I can;t be wrong or falsified I must be right and any evidence to the contrary must be ignored.” You use logic and formal debate as your defense, but you still take up an unfalsifiable position, you still change the topic rather than acknowledge that someone else might be correct, you still change the topic or ignore people when backed into a corner. You still can’t seem to say “I am sorry I was WRONG” about anything. Every one of the formal rules of logic have NOT stood the test of time. They are NOT the metaphorical “Ten Commandments” of atheism, agnosticism, logic, etc.

    Frank, even putting aside your WLC flattering comparison, put your money where your mouth is, and please point out where I’ve been factually wrong about ANYTHING.

    AFTER you do that, then we can proceed.

    Until you DO, you’re just putting carts before horses and pulling wild speculative accusations out of your ass, assuming something which I have no idea what you’re even talking about.

    I’m begging you: give me ONE concrete example of where I was wrong.

    (You’ll have to dig, since this thread contains proof that you’re talking out your ass on logical fallacies, relying on your personal misunderstanding of the rules. Oh, btw, I was recently incorrect when I mistakenly said ‘Socrates’ was the father of logic, when I should have said ‘Aristotle’. To anyone I confused with that egregious error, I apologize; however, no one caught it, and even if they had, I don’t react negatively to it.)

    Frank, I don’t apologize for being correct, and I don’t apologize for NOT talking out of my ass like many here do: I KNOW of what I speak, and unlike many, I take the precaution of fact-checking before I post just so I don’t mislead others.

    To fail to do basic research is inexcusable, esp. in this day and age of readily-available information on the internet.

    I don’t apologize for knowing shit that many others apparently don’t, for having earned a biology degree in undergrad, and going on to earn a doctorate, an for being interested in the implications of free speech law, etc.

    If you want me to apologize for continuing to be correct, then sorry, Frank, but we obviously don’t share values. You value harmony and agreement, whereas I value truths.

    So don’t hold your breath waiting for me to apologize for noses being bent out of shape for correcting others who say wrong shit. As Tracie said, most people don’t react well to being corrected when they’re wrong, regardless of how much you try to ‘sugar-coat’ it. Hence I don’t bother, since unlike these types who’s egos are bruised, I actually MEAN IT when I say I don’t want to be wrong any longer than necessary and hence I welcome and encourage factual correctness. I actually THANK those who correct me when I’m wrong.

    Do you, Frank?

  90. Frank G. Turner says

    @ adam # 97
    I knew you would not be able to let it go. ::sigh:: I can forgive that and at some point I may read through all of it and engage, not so sure anymore.
    .
    Can you humor me on something and answer a particular question? Now I am well aware that any proof of this would be based on soft science and not hard evidence as the factors are many and impossible to isolate for indepenedent analysis. So when I say that I am speaking hypothetically I think it is pretty obvious. (You touched on this as I realized something that you made a claim about was testable, to an extent at least).
    .
    The hypothetical situation is given that the purpose of TAE is to open people’s minds to different ideas, rational thought, separation of church and state, actually reading the Bible for oneself rather than just believing what leaders say it says. What if a study was done in psychology that showed that ridicule conducted upon the show was a sigfnificant factor, possibly even THE most significant factor, in performing to above goals? What if ridicule, an emotional activity, was an extremely significant factor in getting people to think rationally? What would you say in response to this hypothetical evidence presented from this hypothetical study?
    .
    Please be completely honest.

  91. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Frank
    You asked in particular what I agree with.

    I agree a demonstration of extraordinary power is not a demonstration that the creature created the observable universe and kicked off the big bang.

    I agree that if Jesus exists outside our observable reality, that would just mean our shared reality is bigger than what we thought it was, and then we can go learn about that with science.

    I’m not quite sure I agree with the nuance about having to assume goa’uld are gods, but that’s probably because of the lack of clarity on the meaning of the word “god”. I agree that in practice that it would be hard to differentiate between the Ori and a hypothetical all-powerful big-bang-creating god.

    I agree that the most sensible conclusion for some hypothetical evidence is that this creature is all-powerful and created the big bang, and I also agree that this conclusion would be tentative, just like every other conclusion of science.

    You offer a description of a god you would like to exist. Your description would be a good start. At least that god was not actively being an asshat like the purported Christian god. However, it would still be letting evil happen when it had the power to change it, and that’s huge points off in my book. Was it Matt(?) who once said that the only kind of god he would want to exist is this kind: When I die, and I get up to heaven, I see god who looks like a surfer smoking some weed, and he says “Oh.. hey! It’s you guys. Shit. I forgot all about you guys. But don’t worry, the party is still going. Come on in!”

    The only thing one could really do to be intellectually honest is to “tentatively” accept the ga’uld as gods.

    Agreed. Of course, however, you would adopt a different tentative conclusion if you discover that the goa’uld accomplish it all with advanced but mundane material technology which you could build and use yourself, and you discover that without that technology the goa’uld are squishy biologicals just like you.

  92. Frank G. Turner says

    @ Enlightenment Liberal # 99
    You offer a description of a god you would like to exist. Your description would be a good start. At least that god was not actively being an asshat like the purported Christian god.
    .
    I was using a generalized definition based on how many Xtians seem to see their god. The main idea is to present what evidence would be necessary for one to believe and that is not easy to without some sort of definition, so I gave what I could (omniscient and omnipresent basically, despite the contradiction within, with examples of how to demonstrate this omniscient and omnipresent capacity).
    .
    I think that the idea of tentative uncertainty and the inability to apply it to things that they want to be certain is what holds a lot of people back. That is where the irrationality of people comes into play. I try to apply tentative conclusions and falsifiability to everything, including that very concept. Maybe there is something un-falsifiable that we can know for certain in this universe, like a deity that can continuously be in a state of creating an infinitely large rock and lifting each stage of it just to create another larger rock. Hence it is creating a rock so big that it cannot move it yet is continuously in the process of moving it as it gets larger and hence can create a rock so big that he cannot lift it without being limited).
    .
    I even apply that to fallacies and logic, maybe there is a viable appeal to authority (though I seriously doubt it to the point that it is almost meaningless to consider that a possibility). It is sort of a “nothing is absolute, including this statement” type of mentality.

  93. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Frank G. Turner #100:

    a deity that can continuously be in a state of creating an infinitely large rock and lifting each stage of it just to create another larger rock. Hence it is creating a rock so big that it cannot move it yet is continuously in the process of moving it as it gets larger and hence can create a rock so big that he cannot lift it without being limited

    Weight-training god creates a rock so large he cannot lift it… yet.
    He’s infinitely powerful… given infinite time to bulk up.
     
    Sounds like you slipped into talk of a mathematical set in aggregate. At any moment, he’s merely impressive, and any given rock is not infinitely large. This would not sit well with the notion of an unchanging omnipotent god.
     
    With that framing of the rock vs strength problem, it’d be a matter of matching the set of {god strengths} to the set of {rock sizes} at every moment of geo-spawning, to see which is the bigger value – at every level.

  94. Narf says

    Sounds like you slipped into talk of a mathematical set in aggregate. At any moment, he’s merely impressive, and any given rock is not infinitely large. This would not sit well with the notion of an unchanging omnipotent god.

    Hmmmmm. Perhaps you could say that since space-time itself is not infinite, and the amount of matter in the universe is not infinite, God is having to make the universe larger. God isn’t actually increasing himself. He’s increasing the space in which and the matter with which he can be infinite.

    Part of the problem here is the phrasing of the scenario. Due to the nature of physics, no matter how large the rock, a gnat can move it. The gnat just won’t move it very far, each time it lands on the rock.
    That might break down at singularity-level masses, though. I’m not sure.

    Of course a certain sort of pedant will just say that an omnipotent god can suspend the laws of physics and keep the rock from moving. In that case, though, I don’t know that the size of the rock is even a point of consideration.

  95. Frank G. Turner says

    @ SkyCaptain # 101

    Sounds like you slipped into talk of a mathematical set in aggregate. At any moment, he’s merely impressive, and any given rock is not infinitely large. This would not sit well with the notion of an unchanging omnipotent god.

    .
    I did not say “unchanging.” I know that many a religious conservative (who may just be looking for a sense of comfort) will mention god being unchanging will say that. If subzerobob were still reading (maybe he is) I would point out that if the universe is god then the universe is in a continuous state of change, so god must be in a continuous state of change by logical deduction. What you say as a follow up,

    With that framing of the rock vs strength problem, it’d be a matter of matching the set of {god strengths} to the set of {rock sizes} at every moment of geo-spawning, to see which is the bigger value – at every level

    ties in to my idea about how in order to believe that something is omniscient and omnipresent it would have to be continuously suspecnding the laws of physics at all times and telling me the next thing I was thinking or about to say for all eternity for me to have definitive proof that it was omniscient and omnipresent, assuming that this is itself not contradictory. It could fall short of that and get me to accept tentatively that it was god. You might consider that in other discussions though, that an unchanging god would itself be imperfect as the ability to change is required to reach a state of perfection….just a thought.

    @ Narf # 102

    Due to the nature of physics, no matter how large the rock, a gnat can move it. The gnat just won’t move it very far, each time it lands on the rock.
    That might break down at singularity-level masses, though. I’m not sure.

    .
    I just use the rock example as it is a common one. The idea is that only an infinite level of proof can prove an infinite being (extraordinary claims extraordinary proof right?).
    .
    To both of you regarding change. I find it interesting as part of science is about change, constant improvement and re-analysis of ideas, yet even rational people who won’t apply that type of thinking to certain ideas. I guess that gets into the idea that we have not observed humans that are completely rational.

  96. Narf says

    I just use the rock example as it is a common one.

    Yeah, most other examples I’ve heard run into similar problems, though.

    The idea is that only an infinite level of proof can prove an infinite being (extraordinary claims extraordinary proof right?).

    Heh heh heh. Nice turn of phrase.

  97. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Narf #102:

    God isn’t actually increasing himself. He’s increasing the space in which and the matter with which he can be infinite.

    *twitch* Well played.
    Not a growing circle, it’s an infinity-radius sphere descending through flatland, where its cross-sections appear to expand over time.
     
    I realllly wanna say “Countable infinity is an abstraction, not a number…” but there are other different sorts of infinity, like the point on a horizon where parallel lines intersect in certain non-euclidean spaces… Potential equivocation, but I’m not confident saying so.
     
    *Warily eyes Flatterland sitting on a bookshelf*
     
    Video: Vi Hart – How many kinds of infinity are there? (14:55)

  98. Narf says

    *twitch* Well played.
    Not a growing circle, it’s an infinity-radius sphere descending through flatland, where its cross-sections appear to expand over time.

    I realllly wanna say “Countable infinity is an abstraction, not a number…”

    Heh heh heh. Well yeah, as far as we know, actual infinities aren’t a thing, and the whole god-concept becomes ridiculous because of that, along with many other things. That’s where the Catholics whip out the word mystery and start waving it around.

    My very loose understanding of the physics implies that ‘infinitesimal’ isn’t a real thing, either. I’d have to go ask a real physics Ph.D. (of which we have one or two, in my local skeptics group), if you want an explanation of that. I never took physics much beyond a 200 level, and I haven’t really used it in a decade and-a-half.

    The only real way that any of the omnis make any sense is to treat them as unbounded, rather than infinite … which is the way that theists usually seem to think of them. Of course, if you read the Bible, Yahweh doesn’t posses any of the omnis anyway, so fuck it.

  99. Conversion Tube says

    106 comments, a lot to read. It may have already been said in the comments but this Jonathan guy was a special guest on Dogma Debate just a few days before. I like Dogma Debate too but I often find I’m yelling while listening because they aren’t calling these Christians out enough on their bullshit. Maybe go listen to the Dog Deb broadcast and compare. Matt destroyed him while they did not.

  100. Narf says

    I haven’t said so in this thread, no. We had a lively bitching-and-moaning session going a few posts back, though.

    I just can’t listen to the episodes of Dogma Debate which have Christians on them. David freaking lets them run on and on, without any real challenge, for 5 or 10 minutes straight, sometimes. The episode on which he had that asshole apologist, Eric, was particularly painful.

  101. Mike Bethany says

    @Monocle Smile #96
    .

    Except that for an awful lot of believers, they didn’t really have a choice. Not in the sense that you imply. That’s how indoctrination works…

    .
    I would agree. That would be covered under the oppressed. Like being forced to worship the leader of North Korea as a god. You also don’t have any choice.
    .
    However, people that are willfully ignorant, like the Kent Hovinds of the world, absolutely deserve ridicule in the form of humor.
    .

    …making stupid, unfunny (no, the meme wasn’t even remotely funny) jokes doesn’t help.

    .
    You can’t say a joke isn’t funny, you can only say it isn’t funny to you. It’s a bit egotistical to try to dictate humor to others and that’s part of my point as well. I should have been clear as well and said, “The joke is funny [to me].”
    .
    The number one rule of joke club is you don’t explain joke club but I just have to make sure you understand why it’s so funny to me. The leadership of Chick-fil-a are openly anti-gay rights and use the money they make with the company to block equal rights. Making fun of their religions hatred via their own intellectual property is hilarious to me.

  102. corwyn says

    Well yeah, as far as we know, actual infinities aren’t a thing…

    Well, *numbers* aren’t a thing either. It is just that the infinities aren’t the same kind of not-a-thing as numbers.

  103. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Well yeah, as far as we know, actual infinities aren’t a thing,

    Last I checked, it’s an unsolved question whether the observable universe is part of a bigger universe that is unbounded in spatial extent and mass, e.g. “infinite”.