Ethical Question II

Well, the last question from this article sparked some interesting discussion, but that was the easy one. This one’s harder:

Let’s take two examples. A trolley is coming down a track, and it’s going to run over and kill five people if it continues. A person standing next to the track can flip a switch and turn the trolley onto a side track where it will kill one but save the five. Most people think that’s morally permissible—to harm one person when five are saved. Another case is when a nurse comes up to a doctor and says, “Doctor, we’ve got five patients in critical care; each one needs an organ to survive. We do not have time to send out for organs, but a healthy person just walked into the hospital—we can take his organs and save the five. Is that OK?” No one says yes to that one. Now, in both cases your action can save five while harming one, so they’re identical in that sense. So why the flip-flop? People of different ages, people of different religious backgrounds, people even with different educations typically cannot explain why they think those cases differ.

Frankly, I’m having a hard time justifying my intuition that killing one instead of five is preferable when it comes to trolleys, but is not preferable when it comes to emergency rooms. What do you think?

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114 Responses

  1. If you are having a hard time justifying your intution, why not just mine the Scriptures for the “biblical answer”? That’s what you are supposed to do, you know. Isn’t the Bible the handbook for living? After all, intution and conscience are bad things that the devil planted into us to keep us confused and alienated from God. Every situation, from big to little, can be spelled out in the Bible. I know my life got so much easier when I just opened my Bible to figure out how to make salads and statecraft. Why should this scenario be any different?

    Zrim

  2. I just can’t find a translation that mentions “trolley” or “emergency room”…

  3. Don’t let that stop you! Sheesh, you give up easy.

    If Evangelicals (read: Religious Right, progressive Evangelicals or mainline Liberals) can find “western liberal democracy” or “America” or “Constitution” or “Bill of Rights” or “debt relief” or “anything pertaining to Roe v. Wade,” you can certainly find out what to do in the ER.

    Keep reading. You’ll eventually find yourself getting the approval of the Most High. You just gotta want it bad enough. Dig deep! I believe in you, Rube. And, remember, those patients are counting on you!

    Zrim

  4. Your intuition swaps decisions because because of things outside of the information provided in the analogies.

    You know that the survival rate for people in critical condition is very low. Not only that but you see them as already being recipients of “misfortune” in some variety. Whereas the 6 people in the line of the trolley haven’t been fated just yet.

    Because it’s presented as “all things being equal” and yet none of them are equal so you can’t buy it.

    That being said I think using logic in decisions such as these is not always the best approach.

    Ever see “i robot” or read the book? Really cool questions come up in that story.

    The computers rationalize that the best way to protect and prolong human life is going to require some sort of “acceptable losses”. That’s computer logic. It makes sense to a machine but not to people with a moral standard.

    People who understand morality say, “no, it’s not about numbers, it’s about people.” And while no computer (or atheist) will ever be able to grasp the difference we, the morally educated, can.

    That’s why you are perfectly justified and RIGHT when you swap your two answers.

    Thus when the ship is sinking we “save the women and children first.”

    And thus communist (Atheist) China, for the sake of population control, which they claim helps the environment, and economy and society as a whole, forces abortions and specifically targets the female fetuses.

    So we see robot ethics and Judaeo/Christian ethics at odds.

  5. So…atheists are a-moral, maybe even immoral? Why in the world do we let them roam the streets? Why do we waste time arguing with them if they have no moral template? Isn’t that sorta like having a conversation with a dog?

    Just so I am clear…are these the same JC ethics that stole land and life from the Native Americans, institutionalized human slavery, refused property rights to women and rounded up the Japs during WW2? Are they the same ones that tolerate disobedience from little white kids while the slanty-eyed ones seem to be a part of cohesive familial units? Are they the same ones that come up with the genius of Prohibition because other JC ethics seem to result in nationwide drunkeness and substance abuse and figure th eonly way to deal with the dysfunction is to actually outlaw booze…while the Eurotrash watches in wonder?

    I dunno, Rube…I am all for intuition and conscience, but I’d beware when someone tells you you may trust it because it’s been formed by “Judeo/Christian” ethics…whatever those may be. If Christendom is any measure, they don’t seem to have well served the constituiency they mean to claim.

    Zrim

  6. More to the point, I would explain the conundrum by saying that in the trolley scene death is inevitable for all six people; people have less problem choosing one death than five in such an inevitability. In the ER, it is inevitable for the five but not for the one who walked in. That is why people recoil. The two scenes *are* different and seem to demand different takes because of the inevitability factor.

    Zrim

  7. Zrim, I don’t think I actually framed my question such that I am looking for a scriptural answer. I fully expect that the right answer will make sense within natural revelation (including an assumption of absolute moral standards).

    I’m saying I can’t even figure out what that logical explanation is. I’m not sure what you mean “in the trolley scene death is inevitable for all six people”; it’s not inevitable for all six: depending on your choice, it is inevitable for five, or inevitable for one, just like in the E.R.

    My best guess is that the difference is not “the inevitability factor”, but rather an immediacy factor. For the trolley, our decision is: do five die RIGHT NOW, or does one die RIGHT NOW? Whereas in the emergency room, we could decide for one guy to die RIGHT NOW, or we could decide for five people to die soon (over the next day or two?) And if all five patients are really just about to die RIGHT NOW, then they’ll be dead before we can slaughter, harvest, and transplant anyways.

  8. Another thought: with the trolley, the means of death is the same in both cases: the impersonal forces of gravity and momentum. But in the E.R., we’re talking disease vs. intentional, unjustifiable homicide (if it is justifiable homicide, there’s no more puzzle). And the immediacy factor plays in here as well, because disease acts relatively slowly compared to homicide.

  9. Yet another thought: the one guy that will be killed by the trolley has implicitly assumed a certain amount of risk, by standing on a trolley track. (If we hear that somebody died because they got hit by a trolley, we think “that’s sad, but accidents happen!”) However, I think we would agree that somebody entering a hospital does not assume a parallel risk. The risk assumed by entering a hospital is risk of accidental exposure to disease, plus all the regular small risks associated with entering a building (you might accidentally slip on a wet floor and crack your head open, the building might collapse on you…)

    I think this is the real distinction: harvesting the organs of the guy walking into the hospital is not accidental, but intentional.

    On the other hand, one might say that the one trolley guy was killed due to your intentional act of switching the tracks. Yes, the trolley was a priori an accident guaranteed to happen, but it was an intentional act that directed the accident towards one versus five people. But that argument rings hollow somehow.

    So the puzzle becomes, why does the accidental nature of the tragedy persist through the intentional decision of the trolley switcher, but in the E.R., the accident of disease cannot be transferred through the intentional decision to kill a guy for his organs?

  10. I didn’t read all the comments. But I will say this: the examples try to push you to turn into a moral absolute which should really be considered issues of wisdom.

    What is the difference between wisdom and law in the Scriptures?

    Law says: you shall not kill.

    Wisdom says, answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.

    There is not always a simple right answer. Doing the right thing is not a matter of simply plugging your situation into a formula. These ethical dilemmas are seeking a formula that doesn’t exist.

    Everything isn’t a matter of law. What kind of car should you buy? The law of God demands that we be good stewards with our money, but it doesn’t tell us what kind of car means being the best steward we can be.

    What time should we have our worship services on Sunday morning? How many children should we have? Should we use prescription drugs under a doctor’s guidance?

    Because the dilemma involves saving lives or letting people die, it seems like there ought to be moral absolutes involved. It seems easy to suggest an example involving life and death, because surely this ought to erase ambiguity. But this is just an attempt to reduce that which cannot be reduced properly.

    But anyway, the difference between the two examples is that someone has to die with the trolleys, and YOU have to be the one to decide who will die. With the nurse, however, you have to decide to usurp someone’s will and take away their right to live in order to save the other 5. There’s no trolley. In the trolley example, the lone person can’t make the decision for himself. In the hospital, he can and should be allowed to. You can’t force someone to save someone else.

    There’s a certain Robin Hood mentality to this ethical dilemma. And I must say, at first glance, these examples sound incredibly contrived. We should listen to THAT intuition too. It IS contrived. It IS unrealistic.

    This moral dilemma is essentially saying, “Yeah, I know I’m not God, but I really just want to be God. I want to dole out life and death. Shouldn’t I have that power, that right?”

    Remember what Gandalf said to Frodo when Frodo said that it was a pity Bilbo hadn’t killed Gollum. Frodo said that Gollum deserved to die. Gandalf said, indeed he does. Many live who deserve to die, and many die who deserve to live. Can you give it to them? Do not be too quick to deal out death and judgment.

    I am familiar with the sinful desire to deal out death, to have the god-like power to judge and take life. I was a Marine who carried a weapon and live rounds in a war zone. I wielded that power. Trust me, it is not power you would want to wield. These examples are contrived, and meant to stir up all kinds of sinful desires.

  11. Rube,

    “I don’t think I actually framed my question such that I am looking for a scriptural answer.”

    I know; I was just being cheeky and sarcastic.

    “My best guess is that the difference is not “the inevitability factor”, but rather an immediacy factor.”

    Hmmmm, I see what you mean. But I still think it is more an inevitability issue. Well, maybe inevitability is the wrong category. Death for the trolley-1 or 5 will come. Our ER bystander will have to be actively killed. I think that may be the rub here, that we have to actively seek his death for the sake of the others, wheras the 1 trolley guy is a passive sacrifice. I think you are getting to this in your last post.

    Zrim

  12. Echo, thanks for your thoughtful (and concise!) comment. I especially like the LOTR quote — it seems a very biblical principle, but I can’t put my finger on a verse…

    There is not always a simple right answer.

    Yes, but in this case, it seems there is a simple right answer: divert the trolley, and don’t kill the guy walking into the hospital! It doesn’t even take much wisdom. The question then becomes, why is that the right answer?

    these examples sound incredibly contrived. We should listen to THAT intuition too. It IS contrived. It IS unrealistic.

    Well, I don’t know that I think this example is all that unrealistic. With abortion on one end, and euthanasia on the other, we’re a moral judgment away from eugenics in the middle. Why shouldn’t a defective give his worthless (or at least less valuable!) life so that somebody more valuable to society can live, rather than selfishly hoarding his own healthy organs?

    I think this puzzle is also closely related to all kinds of military questions as well. You mention the decisions that a soldier at the tip of the spear has to weigh. It is quite easy to think of military situations where the life of a few (friends? foes? civilians?) have to be weighed against the life of many. “Never leave a man behind” can turn this puzzle on its head, risking 5 lives rather than allowing 1 to die — or even retrieving 1 who may already be dead!

  13. Another thing to note, wrt a “simple right answer”. It is the simple right answer to not kill the ER entrant, the trolley is not so simple. While it is morally justifiable (and debatably preferable) to divert the trolley, it is also morally acceptable to do nothing, or at least I think so. I would understand if somebody just panicked, or (Gandalf-like) resisted the responsibility of dealing out death. But when you contrive the example to put more and more people in front of the speeding trolley, things get fuzzier (would you blame somebody for not diverting a trolley away from 100? 1000? 1000000 people (that’s a big trolley!)? would you blame somebody for taking 1 man’s life to save 100 patients? 1000? 1000000?)

  14. The correct biblical answer is to say; ” I do not know what to do” and ask God.

    Why that is the correct answer goes back to the reason the bible was written in the first place.

    Consider this verse from Genesis Chapter 3 where Satan lies to Eve:

    5For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

    Your question implies that we should be like god’s knowing good from evil. That human beings should always know what the right thing to do is.

    That………………

    is the original sin.

    The most righteous thing to do in this circumstance and every other circumstance is admit that we really are not like gods knowing what to do and that we really should be doing exactly what God wants us to do.

    The decision belongs to God!

  15. Well I guess some of the comments on this article so far go to show that if you want to have a serious logical adult philosophical discussion on morality, don’t involve theists.

    “Ask god”. Seriously? No, seriously?! Some people must love to have answers to all the tough questions spoon-fed to them, or just dodge them altogether by appealing to divine intervention. I don’t find this appealing however. I think it is childish, dull, and the sign of a servile unintelligent mind.

    Now, onto the issue:

    Studies suggest that the reason we give different answers for a seemingly similar scenario is how our evolved conscience is hardwired into us. In one example we take passive action and in the other we pro-active kill.

    The examples are not the same:

    In the first Trolley scenario, either the 5 people will die, or the one person will die. It therefore has the greatest universal good and less universal suffering if you choose the one person to die instead of the five, since all 6 lives are on the line (literally).

    However, in the second example, the reason it would be immoral to kill one innocent healthy person to save the five is because we must violate his rights and choice and commit an act of murder. (Choosing the one person instead of the 5 in the Trolley scenario though shouldn’t be considered murder.)

    One cannot argue that killing one innocent person in the Hospital to save the five would necessarily lead to universal greater good. Because imagine a world in which killing random innocent people to save others was acceptable. This would set a unacceptable precedent and would therefore lead to less universal good and greater universal unhappiness.

    I subscribe to universal utilitarianism as a system of morality:

    http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html

  16. Choosing the one person instead of the 5 in the Trolley scenario though shouldn’t be considered murder

    That assertion is naked, unsubstantiated question-begging.

    One cannot argue that killing one innocent person in the Hospital to save the five would necessarily lead to universal greater good.

    One cannot argue that sacrificing just one person to save the five innocent patients is not a universal greater good.

    Because imagine a world in which killing random innocent people to save others was acceptable.

    Your reasoning hinges on “random, innocent”. What if there was a reason? What if some lives are more valuable than others? Could not “greater universal happiness” be attained by organ-farming the chronically depressed to increase the survivability of the chronically optimistic? I mean, seriously, if “greater universal happiness” is the chief end of man, why not just euthanize sad people? We’re already killing millions of babies with no better justification than that they are potentially going to have sad lives as unwanted children.

  17. That assertion is naked, unsubstantiated question-begging.

    No, it’s most definitely not.

    Murder is the premeditated taking of a human life. Taking a human life in self-defence or to save the lives of others, say, your family is considered manslaughter; there is a difference.

    One cannot argue that sacrificing just one person to save the five innocent patients is not a universal greater good.

    Yes one can, as I just did.

    Your reasoning hinges on “random, innocent”. What if there was a reason? What if some lives are more valuable than others?

    And who decides that? The state? You? General opinion?

    Imagine living in a world where people we chosen by a set of statistics to be “worthless” to society and eligible for sacrifice to save the lives of others. I wouldn’t want to live in a world. It sounds like a deplorable totalitarian inhuman regime.

    In other words, it would set a precedent that would lead to greater human suffering.

    Could not “greater universal happiness” be attained by organ-farming the chronically depressed to increase the survivability of the chronically optimistic? I mean, seriously, if “greater universal happiness” is the chief end of man, why not just euthanize sad people?

    I suggest you read a bit about universal utilitarianism (I did after all provide a link).

    We’re already killing millions of babies with no better justification than that they are potentially going to have sad lives as unwanted children.

    I hardly consider terminating a lump of cells, fetus, or blastocyst killing a human baby. YOUR reasoning is unsubstantiated questioning begging. This is not the place to discuss abortion however. If you want to know my opinions on it, see here:

    http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/09/04/my-take-on-abortion/

  18. This brings up another great sci-fi flick.

    The Island.

    The super rich have clones of themselves created so they can harvest perfect match organs when they need them and thus extend their own lives. Only the clones have souls as well which makes this action immoral to the general populace. And yet when one of those super rich comes face to face with his own clone he chooses his own survival.

    It also has a really cool couple of chase scenes.

    The point is that the immoral conclusion (what I prupose as the logical outcome of athiesm and I call “robot ethics”) will always chose it’s own survival over everything else.

    Individual survival is the ultimate standard.

    Therefore in the above puzzle it is individual survival which motivates. How so?

    Guilt. The person who chooses the one trolley victim feels heroic rather than guilty.

    The person who chooses to sacrifice the healthy feel guilt rather than heroism.

    He feels this because of (again) the outside contributers of what he assumes regarding the persons (victims) involved.

    Had the one trolley victim been the president he would have changed his decision, because to save the president would equal heroism in his conscience. Had one of the sick been the president he would still not sacrifice the innocent because of the aforementioned assumption of fate awareness as well as the factor of judicial understanding (a yet to be mentioned contributer, i.e. knowledge of the law).

    Now we are still working under the assumption of general US citizen. I suppose that in another culture it would be acceptable to kill an innocent for harvest organs to save the President.

    That’s why I deduce that there is a robot ethic and a Christian ethic (and as Echo mentioned the Christian ethic includes wisdom as well as law, which zrim falsely characterized it as).

    A Christian ethic is ultimately more “wise” than a robot ethic which is cold and calculating but not “feeling”. And “feeling” is the invariable, unmeasurable, that alters even our own survival. That’s why we save the women and children first even though a man has a better chance of survival in the open ocean. We’re not robots, unless of course, there is no God.

  19. Imagine living in a world where people we chosen by a set of statistics to be “worthless” to society and eligible for sacrifice to save the lives of others. I wouldn’t want to live in a world. It sounds like a deplorable totalitarian inhuman regime.

    That’s called communism, the root of which is atheism.

    talk to someone who’s come out of it, like a Russian immigrant or a Cambodian survivor and you’d understand why trying to take out “under God” from the pledge of allegiance is unwise.

  20. Daniel,

    Call me pessimistic, but I think we “save women and children first” out of a form of mere chivilry (with which I have no problem), not out of some grand JC ethic chiseled valiantly out of the Bible.

    “The ‘Judeo-Christian ethic’ doctrine is a form of works-righteousness whereby an individual or nation utilizes a certain man-made ethic to justify him- or itself to God. It’s a function of western Christendom that to hold out a national or corporate or public ethic that thinks it may appease God by a certain set cultural ethics. It is a favorite doctrine of Religious Right who inherited it from the American Christian tradition called Liberalism. In this ironic way, both groups are a function of the same impulse to throw up a national ethic to not only justify a certain culture’s temporal history and status and perspective but to also placard it before God and feel safe to move about the temporal cabin under heavenly sanction.”

    When it comes to the true religion, there is no such thing as the JC ethic to cover ourselves; there is only the Gospel, there i sonly justification.

    Zrim

  21. “…you’d understand why trying to take out ‘under God’ from the pledge of allegiance is unwise.”

    I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want my covenant child praying to the “unknown god.”

    I say, as a Christian secularist, take it out! Keep the public square sane and, more importantly, keep the true religion true.

    I find that people who give a nominal thumbs up to “separation of church and state” don’t really mean it. They import the marriage through the back door, usually by cranky calls to insert a neutered Xianity into pledges of alligiance.

    Zrim

  22. daniel said:

    That’s called communism, the root of which is atheism.

    Nonsense. Communism is a leftist political ideology. Atheism is lack of belief in a deity.

    I’m an atheist. But I’m not a communist and reject it as a political system.

    Identifying atheism with communism is like identifying it with plumbing, chess, black socks, or being a sports fan.

    The root of atheism however is rationalism, a worldview that demands evidence and reason for belief.

    (I’m not from America, but I have a lot of respect and admiration for the USA and its constitution, which is why I wrote this: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/07/14/my-tribute-to-america-sat-14th-jul-07/

    It also includes my opinion the separation of church and state.)

  23. I am not supporting the JC ethic as anything meritting salvation or even as a religious standard.

    I am promoting it as a governmental and ethical foundation.

    good law has the understanding of justice (eternal and temporal).

    Atheism can’t have that.

    Monotheism can.

    That’s all I’m getting at. Your beat down of the JC ethic seems like a bunny trail.

    change it from the JC ethic to some other religious standard of eternal judgment, and equality and I’m with you. I just don’t know what else is out there.

  24. Daniel said:

    We’re not robots, unless of course, there is no God.

    Yes, because being the dirty sinful depraved servile minions of a galactic overlord who demands worship and obedience morning, noon, and night, is truly liberating isn’t it?

    I suggest you get to know real atheists and humanists. I am most certainly not a robot, and I love life and think there are countless things to be happy and free about.

    Life would actually be rather depressing if myths like Christianity were true! Fortunately, they’re not.

  25. I’m sorry I should have clarified that I think communism is the LOGICAL outcome of Atheism.

    Again I use the robots goal in “I robot” as my case in point.

    The super intelligent computers rationalized that they (the cold and calculating machine) could determine the best life for the most people. The fact is they are probably right!

    HOWEVER

    To do so requires the taking away of the individuals freedoms. And thus diminishes (unless indeed they voluntarily forfeit their freedoms) the collective individuals happinesses.

    I am using Communism as the gold standard of atheism because it is. An atheism that comes to something other than communism is a weaker version of atheism.

  26. evan,

    Yes, because being the dirty sinful depraved servile minions of a galactic overlord who demands worship and obedience morning, noon, and night, is truly liberating isn’t it?

    yes. it is, and I suggest you get to know some real Christians.

  27. You not being a robot means you’re a bad atheist. You don’t subscribe to the greater good of the collective whole. You’re evil because you place yourself higher than the others. You’ve gotten out of line.

    Voluntarily forfeit your freedoms so that everyone can be happy.

  28. danielb said:

    I’m sorry I should have clarified that I think communism is the LOGICAL outcome of Atheism.

    Well again, you’re wrong.

    Millions of non-communist atheists (probably 99% of them!) around the world completely disprove your assertion.

    Again I use the robots goal in “I robot” as my case in point.

    The super intelligent computers rationalized that they (the cold and calculating machine) could determine the best life for the most people. The fact is they are probably right!

    Maybe, maybe not. But at what cost? Taking away human liberty? What good is a world of no harm but no happiness?

    HOWEVER

    To do so requires the taking away of the individuals freedoms. And thus diminishes (unless indeed they voluntarily forfeit their freedoms) the collective individuals happinesses.

    Agreed.

    I am using Communism as the gold standard of atheism because it is. An atheism that comes to something other than communism is a weaker version of atheism.

    I don’t know where you’re getting this from but it is absolute nonsense.

    To say that communism comes from atheism is the hugest non-sequitor I personally have ever seen. I’ve debated with many theists and never seen that one before.

    I would postulate that atheism in fact leads to humanism. If you really want to understand this, please read what I wrote here: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/09/09/for-the-one-life-we-have/

    yes. it is, and I suggest you get to know some real Christians.

    I can’t believe you actually said yes. If you want to be a slave and worship and follow orders all day then carry on being a Christian, but don’t expect anyone else to be attracted to it. (It is unfortunate for you that your god doesn’t exist.)

    I know many real Christians. I used to be one.

    You not being a robot means you’re a bad atheist. You don’t subscribe to the greater good of the collective whole. You’re evil because you place yourself higher than the others. You’ve gotten out of line.

    Voluntarily forfeit your freedoms so that everyone can be happy.

    I’m sorry daniel, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is philosophical ignorance of the highest order. I suspect you’ve never debated with many non-believers before!

    I humbly suggest some background reading on atheism, humanism, and basic philosophy, because statements like you make here are just plain embarrassing.

  29. Daniel said, “I am not supporting the JC ethic as anything meritting salvation or even as a religious standard.”

    Most who come from even the faintest Protestant background and champion the JC ethic know enough not to. Sort of like how someone disparages “works-righteousness” then tells you pray the sinner’s prayer. They take away with the left hand what they give in the left.

    “Your beat down of the JC ethic seems like a bunny trail.”

    You brought up the JC ethic first.

    “good law has the understanding of justice (eternal and temporal).

    Atheism can’t have that.

    Monotheism can.”

    Something still tells me you have a problem with Islamic law…I bet if you go far enough the only legit form of law comes from the western white man.

    Zrim

  30. Evan said, “I know many real Christians. I used to be one.”

    That is flat impossible, Evan. If you utter such a thing then you never were one.

    Zrim

  31. I humbly suggest you read the declaration of independence and then consider if such a declaration could ever be possible in a world without God or at the very least without a BELIEF in God.

    Then i suggest you toss out humanism as it makes very few people “happy” and embrace communism because if you really thought about it instead of dismissing it on the basis of name only, you would conclude that it is indeed the “best life” for the “most people” in a world absent of God.

    Perhaps your dismissal is because the world has never seen the delightful goal that communism aspires too. Not yet at least. But that’s only because of people like you and me who don’t get in line.

    I’ll use another movie scene, remember the old HG Wells novel the “Time Machine”? Made into a film in 1960. That was probably the best example of what communism aspires too….

    “His journey takes him to the year 802,701 A.D. where he finds an apparently peaceful, pastoral, communist,[1] future filled with happy, simple humans who call themselves the Eloi. The Eloi are about four feet tall (~120cm), pink-skinned and frail-looking, with curly hair, small ears and mouths and large eyes. Males and females seem to be quite similar in build and appearance. They have high-pitched, soft voices and speak an unknown language. They appear to be quite unintelligent and child-like and live without quarrels or conflict.”

    Go read the book, or watch the film even and the start getting in line. It’s really the best thing you, as an atheist can do. And oh yeah, convince us stupid theists to do it as well.

  32. Evan said, “I’m sorry daniel, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    Sure he does. It’s just that, unfortunately for Daniel, his presuppositions are better to make a cultural Xian than a confessional one. Just like D. James Kennedy is a better Republican than Xian, or Jim Wallis is a better Democrat than Xian.

    Daniel is making the case for the Cultural Gospel.

    Zrim

  33. Z,

    I knew Islam would be brought up, but again I disagree with Islamic government on the basis of it’s absence of “equality”. simple as that.

    Equality isn’t a western white man idea, it was clearly violated by millions for thousands of years.

    But it IS a JC ethic idea.

    just because the ethic was ignored or violated doesn’t mean it isn’t actual.

  34. Millions of non-communist atheists (probably 99% of them!) around the world completely disprove your assertion.

    Only if you also assert that all of those atheists are perfectly logical. In other words, I’m sure dbalc will stipulate that millions of atheists around the world are not communists, and his point is that makes them logically inconsistent. Just what is it about communism that you think is inconsistent with atheism?

  35. Z, why do you harp on this.

    “Cultural gospel”

    not at all.

    Culture of “liberty and justice for all”. That’s what I want. And I propose can only be truly realized IF there is a general “belief” in God or at the very least a belief in an after life.

    I’m not arguing for Christianity AT ALL.

  36. Evan said, “I know many real Christians. I used to be one.”

    That is flat impossible, Evan. If you utter such a thing then you never were one.

    Zrim

    I didn’t realise telepathy was a theistic gift?

    What you said makes no sense. But if you don’t believe me, here is my deconversion story: http://ellis14.wordpress.com/2007/06/20/my-fall-from-grace-wed-20th-jun-07/

    I humbly suggest you read the declaration of independence and then consider if such a declaration could ever be possible in a world without God or at the very least without a BELIEF in God.

    Of course it could. If you want to delude yourself about the history of your own country feel free, but don’t expect others to buy this.

    Many of the founding fathers of the USA were deists, agnostics, or even outright atheists.

    Recognise this from Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli:
    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;”

    Then i suggest you toss out humanism as it makes very few people “happy” and embrace communism because if you really thought about it instead of dismissing it on the basis of name only, you would conclude that it is indeed the “best life” for the “most people” in a world absent of God.

    Sorry daniel, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Go read the book, or watch the film even and the start getting in line. It’s really the best thing you, as an atheist can do. And oh yeah, convince us stupid theists to do it as well.

    You’ve said nothing of note, daniel.

    You say atheism leads to communism, without justification. What does The Time Machine have to do with anything? That’s like me saying theism leads people to wearing high-heeled shoes.

    I’ve written many articles for people who have the same misunderstandings that you have over worldviews. I’ve provided the links here and you’re welcome to read them.

    I say this for your own good: if you want to keep believing and talk with other believers then go ahead. But if you’re going to talk with non-believers who are well versed on the issues and expect to have an intelligent debate then you should at least know what the other side actually thinks.

  37. ruberad said:

    Only if you also assert that all of those atheists are perfectly logical. In other words, I’m sure dbalc will stipulate that millions of atheists around the world are not communists, and his point is that makes them logically inconsistent. Just what is it about communism that you think is inconsistent with atheism?

    I didn’t say communism was inconsistent with atheism. I said the two positions are irrelevant. I’m just repeating myself: communism is a political ideology. Atheism is just lack of belief in god.

    All atheists I know, and virtually all the intellectual ones throughout history, have been rationalists, and favoured democracy as a political system.

  38. Of course it could. If you want to delude yourself about the history of your own country feel free, but don’t expect others to buy this.

    You’ve not read the Declaration of independence.

    here…
    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  39. “Ask god”. Seriously? No, seriously?!

    Seriously!

    One cannot argue that sacrificing just one person to save the five innocent patients is not a universal greater good.

    Yes one can, as I just did.

    So if the servile mind agreed with you they would now be serving you.

    What if setting the switch to hit the one with the trolley instead of the five would kill the one person who might have discovered the cure for cancer while allowing 5 reprobates to live.

    You don’t know the answer to that question and neither do I.

    Therefore this servile mind is intelligent enough to know that it will never submit to you.

    I am convinced however, that the bible does say that an end time judgement is approaching where the very large number of reprobates will be removed from the planet allowing a very small remnant of very humble, servile and yet intelligent minds to continue in what will become an extraordinariliy beautiful and peaceful world.

    When I look around the world today does what I see measure the value of what the conclusions are from “serious logical adult philosophical discussions”. People who think they know what to do.

    The answer has to be yes.

    I am not impressed and will not serve them.

  40. I didn’t say communism was inconsistent with atheism. I said the two positions are irrelevant. I’m just repeating myself: communism is a political ideology. Atheism is just lack of belief in god.

    Political ideology is founded on your view of the rights of individuals with respect to society. Exactly what are the rights of individuals is founded on whether one believes that men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, or that human life is an undesigned, unpurposed serendipity, and we might as well figure out for ourselves how best (? Whatever “best” means — who gets to decide?) to scratch out our existence and get along with each other.

    And you must admit that the question of whether man was created or accidental has at least a little to do with belief/disbelief in God.

  41. Noble words. The USA is a wonderful example of a true SECULAR government, where church and state are separate. Now, you tell me, how is the following any less inspirational and humane:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Humanity entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    See? It’s just as noble isn’t it? And the extraneous mythical nonsense is taken out of it. How would you feel if the passage above read like this:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of The Easter Bunny entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Easter Bunny with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Kinda seems silly now doesn’t it? When you understand that there is no difference between your particular version of “god” and the Easter Bunny; when you appreciate why you personally reject Allah and Zeus and Vishnu and choose YOUR god, just as those who follow Allah and Zeus and Vishnu choose THEIRS and reject YOURS; when you grasp why all theists disbelieve in ALL gods except ONE, you will understand why atheists just go one god further and reject them all.

  42. All atheists I know, and virtually all the intellectual ones throughout history, have been rationalists, and favoured democracy as a political system.

    and I’m simply saying that’s illogical. That’s a poor conclusion. As you rightly asserted…

    “I say this for your own good”

    This is your confession that

    YOU know what is best for my own good.

    YOU know what will best make me happy.

    Therefore to be logical you should subscribe to the system that will command me (and the whole populace) to be the happiest. The most moral and ethical thing that you can do is to promote a system of government that will get this stupid belief of God out of my head. That would be communism. Why aren’t you doing that?

    you and your friends are either…

    A) unethical atheists
    B) illogical atheists
    C) unconvinced of your atheism
    D) apathetic atheists (which I guess is A unless apathy is an allowable crime but if so that would make you B).

    Your belief in democracy is harming me. how do you justify yourself?

  43. OK, folks, this is getting out of hand. I hereby declare any further discussion of whether the U.S.A. is a “Christian” country (it’s not) off-limits for this thread! You both have your own blogs to continue that rabbit-trail if you want to!

    (That includes discussion of whether communism logically follows from atheism, too!)

    Keep it on the 5-lives-versus-1 conundrum, people…

    (Discussions of the existence of absolute standards for morality are still on the table…)

  44. Endow:

    to give qualities or abilities to

    that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights

    From whom or what are they “given” these rights?

    Thank you for proving the ILlogic of atheism.

  45. I’m sorry rube, got in there after your command. [RR: ‘Sok]

    I will submit to your commands since you are the god of your blog. I will do so cheerfully and respectfully since this is logcial to my conscience. To do otherwise would only create the sensation of guilt and for my own survivals sake I prefer to not experience the sensation of guilt.

  46. RUBERAD, I am more than happy to get back on topic, but I’d already typed this response so please allow me to post it and then we’ll resume: [RR: Understand things are moving fast right now; this comment stands]

    Isaiah said:

    I am convinced however, that the bible does say that an end time judgement is approaching where the very large number of reprobates will be removed from the planet allowing a very small remnant of very humble, servile and yet intelligent minds to continue in what will become an extraordinariliy beautiful and peaceful world.
    When I look around the world today does what I see measure the value of what the conclusions are from “serious logical adult philosophical discussions”. People who think they know what to do.
    The answer has to be yes.
    I am not impressed and will not serve them.

    The bible also says the penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath is death.

    If you’re speaking from the bible Isaiah, you might as well be reading from the Koran.

    Unfortunately, neither of us will get to see your face when the day of judgement never comes, and those who sat around offering nothing and not benefiting mankind because they waited for their invisible friend to come along and solve their problems for them might just think “what a colossal waste of time!”
    RubeRad sad:

    Political ideology is founded on your view of the rights of individuals with respect to society. Exactly what are the rights of individuals is founded on whether one believes that men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”, or that human life is an undesigned, unpurposed serendipity, and we might as well figure out for ourselves how best (? Whatever “best” means — who gets to decide?) to scratch out our existence and get along with each other.

    No, that’s not true. Our origins are irrelevant in terms of how we govern each other. We have human rights as living sentient beings no matter how we got here! Are you seriously saying the only reason you respect my right to life is because “god” tells you? That is as far removed from humanity as I can think.

    I, on the other side, respect human life. I believe all humans have rights and privileges. I believe because this life is the only one we’ll ever have, that makes it that much more important and valuable. I want to better myself and the human race, and I realise that only by action can any good be done, not by sitting around praying.

    This is true whether we were created or not.

    And you must admit that the question of whether man was created or accidental has at least a little to do with belief/disbelief in God.

    Technically, no. All life on this planet evolved. Perhaps god caused this to happen or perhaps he didn’t. There is no contradiction in believing in evolution and believing in god. You personally might not like that, because it conflicts with your personal interpretation of scripture, but many theists do accept the fact of evolution.

    And despite what you may have been told, there is nothing “accidental” about evolution. It is random and unpurposed, but this doesn’t mean ‘chance’.

    Daniel, I’m not going to reply to your comments because they are vacuous and ignorant. I know I keep saying this but you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Besides, as RubeRad just said it’s irrelevant here.

    As for absolute standards of morality, here is mine:

    Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.

  47. RubeRad, thank you very much for allowing my comment to stand. It would have been a shame to have all that go to waste! ;) Kind regards.

    My last paragraph above shows an objective standard of morality as per your article…

  48. Daniel,

    “I knew Islam would be brought up, but again I disagree with Islamic government on the basis of it’s absence of “equality”. simple as that. ”

    But you said monotheism is what gets us to JC ethics. Now it appears that equality is yet another criterion. It seems obvious that you will only be satisfied by ending up with your own culture’s expression of statecraft…then you’ll put God’s stamp of approval on it, with which no one may argue.

    “Equality isn’t a western white man idea, it was clearly violated by millions for thousands of years.

    just because the ethic was ignored or violated doesn’t mean it isn’t actual.”

    Don’t go too Gnostic on me, Daniel. Somewhere out there it exists, right? Why do you put eternal stakes on a secular notion of what’s right, true and good?

    “I’m not arguing for Christianity AT ALL.”

    Then why do you use the religious term Judeo/Christian?

    Zrim

  49. OK, that’s your last chance too Zrim — no more discussions of political philosophy on this thread!

  50. On point :-D

    Frankly, I’m having a hard time justifying my intuition that killing one instead of five is preferable when it comes to trolleys, but is not preferable when it comes to emergency rooms.

    You would only need to justify your intuition if there is a universal ethic standard. like this…

    “Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.”

    Since there is no such ethical standard (thankfully) your intuition is correct.

  51. Sorry, Rube. I posted after your plea.

    Ok, I vote ‘yes’ on the “existence of absolute standards for morality.” That seems easy for a natural law devotee though.

    Zrim

  52. The two scenarios you present need to be entirely analogous in order for the squirming we do in the case of the second scenario to require justification. But they are not entirely analogous. Hence our squirming is justified.

    To wit: in scenario one, as presented, there are only two options with no possible “out” offered. Yet in scenario two, there is a clear picking out of a victim going on that is not happening in scenario one. That is more than enough of a difference for me to opt out of the conundrum.

    If I am not allowed to punt, however, I vote for packing up the nurse and the 5 sickos in the emergency room to the train track and not pulling the switch.

  53. Hi Bruce, I’m not sure what you mean here, did you just misspell. You basically said:

    ‘The two scenarios need to be analogous in order to justify the squirming.

    But they aren’t analogous.

    Therefore our squirming IS justified.’

    This seems to be a contradiction.

    The two scenarios are indeed not analogous. In the first one, there is no “winning” scenario really, we have to choose the lesser of two undesirable outcomes, and our actions are more passive. We do not feel as if we are violating anyone’s rights since those rights have already been surrendered (by the fact they’re lying strapped to railway lines!) And if we do nothing, people will die. More importantly, what potential harm could this result in?

    In the second scenario, we are actively taking action to violate an innocent person’s rights who otherwise wouldn’t be in danger. Since he is not already at risk, what right do we have to kill him to save others? This is why people often deliberate over the second scenario more than the first.

    As I’ve said previously, a world in which the second scenario is allowed to happen would not be a universally good thing, no matter how many lives it may initially save.

    I said:

    “Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.”

    And Daniel said:

    Since there is no such ethical standard (thankfully) your intuition is correct.

    I would really like you to explain that.

  54. Can you point out what I misspelled, exactly.

    I can’t explain why you capitalized IS and I didn’t.

  55. Hi Bruce,

    No problem. To clarify, this is basically what you said:

    ‘The two scenarios need to be analogous in order to justify the squirming.

    But they aren’t analogous.

    Therefore our squirming IS justified.’

    This is like saying:

    “There needs to be clouds in order for it to rain.

    But there aren’t clouds.

    Therefore it is raining”.

    A contradiction, of course.

    I capitalised IS, because I assume you should have written “is not”.

    If analogous scenarios justify our squirming, and these scenarios aren’t analogous, then by your reasoning our squirming IS NOT justified.

  56. You’re right. I am old. “IS NOT” is what I meant.

  57. Evanescent,

    You seem very impressed with your ability to spot a contradiction, but maybe you should be more modest.

    You think Bruce said: “The two scenarios need to be analogous in order to justify the squirming.”

    But what he actually said was: “The two scenarios you present need to be entirely analogous in order for the squirming we do in the case of the second scenario to require justification.”

    Let me break it down a little bit further, since you have already missed the difference between the two sentences.

    You think he said that “the two need to be analogous in order to justify.” But he said, “the two need to be analogous in order for justification to be required.”

    In other words, he said that since there is an obvious difference between the two scenarios, the fact that we squirm on the second but not on the first requires no justification. They are different.

    In other words, in order for the question, “Why answer the first scenario one way, but the second a different way?” to be a reasonable question, the two scenarios must be analogous to one another, without serious differences. But Bruce is saying that they are sufficiently different so as to render this question unreasonable.

    Thus his statements are not a logical contradiction. You may now revoke your condescending statements toward him.

    Here’s an even simpler way to put Bruce’s argument:

    If scenarios are the same, then the same answer should obtain.
    If the scenarios are different, then different answers should be expected.
    If scenarios are the same, but different answers are given, justification is required.
    If scenarios are different, and different answers are given, justification is not required.
    These scenarios are sufficiently different such that we should expect different answers.
    Therefore, justification for different answers is not required.

  58. Let ss = same scenarios
    Let sa = same answers
    Let ds = different scenarios
    Let da = different answers
    Let j = justification required

    If ss, then sa.
    If ds, then da.
    If (ss and da), then j.
    If (ds and da), then ~j.

    Given ds and da:
    Therefore, ~j by modus ponens.

    This is painfully basic stuff here.

  59. Bruce,

    Retract your “you’re right I’m old” comment. You were right.

    E

  60. First of all Echo, I wasn’t being condescending towards him. (And my comments were addressed to Echo and daniel). If you thought that I was, I don’t care. My comments were addressed to Bruce, not you, so if he thinks I was being condescending, I’ll apologise. But if you do, I don’t care. (At least I gave you a very small window to impress everyone with your blather about quasi-model logic which you just fell right through.)

    I spotted an apparent contradiction based on (what I correctly assumed) to be a spelling mistake. Bruce agrees with me. This is painfully obvious.

    Even if you’re right, so what? All it shows is that I misread a sentence (which of course I didn’t according to Bruce). I can admit I was wrong. Which makes 90% of your comment just hot air.

    Did you have anything worthwhile to contribute on the issue of morality itself?

  61. Upon further review the squirming I was referring to was directed at the killing of a hospital patron who just happened to walking by.

    How I got confused into thinking we squirm for any other reason is beyond me except to say that sometimes I am as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich.

    And Evan, I have to confess I really like your program for ethics:

    “Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.”

    If successfully implemented it should elevate voyeurism to its proper place near the top of national, even universal, pastimes.

  62. Bruce said;

    If successfully implemented it should elevate voyeurism to its proper place near the top of national, even universal, pastimes.

    You’ll have to explain your reasoning there, Bruce! :)

  63. How else are we to monitor our level of success in maximizing happiness/minimizing suffering?

  64. If the current trend towards more “reality” TV continues, we should be there in just a few more years…

  65. That is a false dilemma and a non-sequitor, RubeRad.

    Here:

    Take the course of action that decreases actual and potential suffering, first and foremost.

    Next, take the course of action that will increase actual and potential happiness.

    We “measure” it the way we judge the consequences for all our actions, with experience, wisdom, and foresight. Human beings are not childish thoughtless machines that need to be told right from wrong; we can reason on our actions and the consequences our actions have on other people. Inasmuch as we can do so, that is how we decide the best course of action to take, where BEST is an objective universal goal as defined by the principle above.

    (And the less reality TV on the tele, the better!)

  66. What I understand from your comments Evan is that children aren’t human beings and that there is a universal objective “BEST” that could basically be summarized as “happy land”.

    What I would like to see is how you propose we get there especially while restricting ourselves to your ethic…

    “Always minimize both actual and potential suffering; always maximize both actual and potential happiness.”

    And, to stay on point, how exactly do you justify not killing the one innocent and harvesting his organs?

    Suppose (since this is all hypothetical) there was a guarantee that the 5 people his death saves all live happily ever after for 40 years each. That’s 200 happy years verses 40 happy years if you let him live. Lets further suppose that his life was a miserable. He was suicidal thief and loaded up on anti-depressants (which is why he was at the hospital to begin with). So now its 200 happy years for 40 miserable years.

    If you try and maintain your ethic you’ve got quite a problem, wouldn’t you say? You can both minimize suffering (by putting him out of his misery) and maximize happiness (by saving these others).

    Do you do it?

  67. Daniel said:

    What I understand from your comments Evan is that children aren’t human beings and that there is a universal objective “BEST” that could basically be summarized as “happy land”.

    Well if that’s what you understand, then you obviously didn’t understand my comments.

    How on earth you took “human beings aren’t children” to mean “children aren’t human beings” is beyond me. It is obvious that the human race is not a bunch of children, some of us are intelligent adults who aren’t afraid to think for ourselves.

    And, to stay on point, how exactly do you justify not killing the one innocent and harvesting his organs?

    Because the FIRST statement in the ethic comes first for a reason: always minimise actual and potential suffering, do this first.

    Which means that although we can make others ‘happy’, we must consider at what price of suffering this will cost FIRST. Is the murder of an innocent man minimising or increasing actual suffering?

    Also, if innocent people were allowed to be murdered on the whim of the majority, that would potentially lead to greater actual suffering, and less overall happiness in society.

    Suppose (since this is all hypothetical) there was a guarantee that the 5 people his death saves all live happily ever after for 40 years each. That’s 200 happy years verses 40 happy years if you let him live. Lets further suppose that his life was a miserable. He was suicidal thief and loaded up on anti-depressants (which is why he was at the hospital to begin with). So now its 200 happy years for 40 miserable years.

    Irrelevant. You do not get to make that decision. If you allow it for one person that you personally don’t think deserves to live (whatever that means), where do you draw the line? For all you know, some super-rich celebrity might look at your mediocre working class existence and deem you unworthy, and who knows, might decide that you should give him an organ transplant!

    But the principle works because the lessening of actual suffering comes first, and we must consider the future effects of potential suffering, BEFORE we start to make other people happy.

    This is precisely why it is unfair for a minority to be slaves to a majority. If the majority do not have slaves, they will still be content, fairly happy. But if a minority are made slaves, they will be extremely unhappy, so the extreme suffering of a few outweighs the slight increase in happiness a majority will receive.

    If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If you genuinely want to learn more, which of course we both know you don’t because there isn’t a bible verse involved, you can look here: http://ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html.

    You can both minimize suffering (by putting him out of his misery) and maximize happiness (by saving these others).

    If he wants to kill himself, that’s HIS choice. After he’s dead we could harvest his organs I suppose. But WE don’t get to make that choice; it’s HIS life and he has total possession of it.

  68. Your URL didn’t work Evan.

    was that a test?

    Silly evan, your prioritizing doesn’t help your squirming. You simply dismiss my hypothetical situation as “irrelevant” because you can’t follow your ethic.

    As you said…

    But the principle works because the lessening of actual suffering comes first, and we must consider the future effects of potential suffering, BEFORE we start to make other people happy.

    I considered the future effects of potential suffering and guaranteed you 200 happy years verse 40 miserable ones.

  69. Hi Daniel,

    I don’t know why the link didn’t work, here it is again:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html

    I’m really sorry Daniel that you can’t understand the principle of universal utilitarianism, I am. But calling me silly and pretending that I’m squirming is just plain childish. I know it’s scary to think that maybe other people out there can be moral without your Big Bad Invisible Friend in the sky, but we can.

    If there’s anyone else who’d like to debate UU I’d be happy.

  70. if a minority are made slaves, they will be extremely unhappy, so the extreme suffering of a few outweighs the slight increase in happiness a majority will receive.

    You seem to be putting ‘suffering’ and ‘happiness’ on either end of a single, sliding scale. In situations where one man’s happiness = another man’s suffering, how do you decide who wins? Why not breed & train certain types of suffering out of the human psyche altogether? If we trained all girls from birth to be docile sex-slaves, then we could completely eliminate the horrifying suffering of rape, while simultaneously increasing the happiness of ugly guys who can’t get laid (and diminishing the unhappiness of people who are attractive enough to land in mutually fulfilling relationships — but isn’t their happiness less important than the suffering of rape victims anyways?)

    And since I know you will say that such treatment of women causes them to suffer terribly overall, I ask why? If they are raised (humanely) as animals, never taught to think, read, speak, etc., and completely provided and cared for, they will never suffer at all. Suffering is a very subjective experience, and it has a LOT to do with what one is raised to expect out of life. Why not then eliminate suffering at the “demand” side of the equation, instead of the “supply” side?

  71. There remains also the problem of justifying everyone’s happiness having equal value.

    For utilitarianism to work, you have to say that all people are equal, that their happiness is of equal value to us all. How can that be?

    Furthermore, you have to make people somehow accept that their unhappiness is justified if it makes 2 other people happy. I don’t know very many people who can actually think this way. Maybe mothers can be unhappy for the sake of their children, but most people can’t sacrifice their happiness for the happiness of strangers. The world does NOT work that way.

    Utilitarianism is profoundly naive. It cannot justify what it assumes to be self evident, and it can never be implemented. As such, it is both irrational and impractical.

  72. There remains also the problem of justifying everyone’s happiness having equal value.

    My take on this is that equality is inferred from lack of positive evidence otherwise. Since we’ve all scratched our way out of the same mud, no individual Gently Electrified Bag of Meat (GEBOM) has any justification for claiming any greater right than any other.

    Practically- (utilitarian-)speaking, however, there are plenty of differences that could potentially serve as differentiators of value. Lumped together, these differences are called “fitness”. Why isn’t the strong more valuable than the weak? The presence of the strong enhances humanity in the net, while the presence of the weak detracts. If only we could get to a point where all there is no weakness, then surely there would be no more suffering, and everybody would be happy.

  73. But calling me silly and pretending that I’m squirming is just plain childish.

    Human beings are not childish thoughtless machines that need to be told right from wrong

    Now I’m not a human being.

  74. BTW Evan,

    Since you have provided me with some very interesting reading materials please allow me to return the favor.

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/rm/2001/3792.htm

  75. RubeRad said:

    You seem to be putting ’suffering’ and ‘happiness’ on either end of a single, sliding scale. In situations where one man’s happiness = another man’s suffering, how do you decide who wins?

    Our aim is to reduce suffering first. Can you give me a situation free of force where one man’s suffering will cause another man’s happiness? It would be an unethical person to want to increase their own happiness at the suffering of another being. Unless of course there were extenuating circumstances, in which case we cannot act like free moral agents under duress.

    Why not breed & train certain types of suffering out of the human psyche altogether? If we trained all girls from birth to be docile sex-slaves, then we could completely eliminate the horrifying suffering of rape, while simultaneously increasing the happiness of ugly guys who can’t get laid (and diminishing the unhappiness of people who are attractive enough to land in mutually fulfilling relationships — but isn’t their happiness less important than the suffering of rape victims anyways?)

    Because this would deny the universal happiness of females, and the object of universal utilitarianism (UU) is to increase happiness; that is the end result of life after all.
    What you’re talking about is reducing the happiness of billions to satisfy the lust of a very small minority. That is exactly the opposite of UU.

    And since I know you will say that such treatment of women causes them to suffer terribly overall, I ask why? If they are raised (humanely) as animals, never taught to think, read, speak, etc., and completely provided and cared for, they will never suffer at all. Suffering is a very subjective experience, and it has a LOT to do with what one is raised to expect out of life. Why not then eliminate suffering at the “demand” side of the equation, instead of the “supply” side?

    That is rather immoral defeatism though! You’ve got things the wrong way around. UU would dictate the following course of action: DON’T RAPE! It’s as simple as that.
    Echo_ohcE said:

    There remains also the problem of justifying everyone’s happiness having equal value.
    For utilitarianism to work, you have to say that all people are equal, that their happiness is of equal value to us all. How can that be?

    That’s not even a dilemma. All people ARE equal, and the happiness of humans beings is in principle equal. Happiness for human beings is not mutually exclusive. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the entire human race could not be happy unless someone else was suffering. Of course that’s not to say that such a thing will ever happen, because people in the real world don’t act morally, but if they DID, then everyone would be happy.

    Furthermore, you have to make people somehow accept that their unhappiness is justified if it makes 2 other people happy. I don’t know very many people who can actually think this way. Maybe mothers can be unhappy for the sake of their children, but most people can’t sacrifice their happiness for the happiness of strangers. The world does NOT work that way.

    I’m sorry, you must have missed the point of UU. That isn’t implied at all and I don’t really know where you got that from sorry.

    Utilitarianism is profoundly naive. It cannot justify what it assumes to be self evident, and it can never be implemented. As such, it is both irrational and impractical.

    That’s a nice little mini-speech, but it’s totally absurd. It is pure assertion. You haven’t demonstrated one actual or potential flaw with UU. But, before you do, I will give you the same link I gave Daniel: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/carrot&stick.html. It’s a long read but well worth the effort if you wish to understand the matter better, instead of just writing off something you clearly don’t understand.

    RubeRad said:

    My take on this is that equality is inferred from lack of positive evidence otherwise. Since we’ve all scratched our way out of the same mud, no individual Gently Electrified Bag of Meat (GEBOM) has any justification for claiming any greater right than any other.

    Your pejorative description of human beings notwithstanding, human beings are all equal. All life has proven it has what it takes to survive in the world. In theory, no form of life is inherently more “worthy” to survive than any other. Of course, humans put important value on human life, which is to be expected, and I wouldn’t argue with this. All human beings are of course equal.

    Practically- (utilitarian-)speaking, however, there are plenty of differences that could potentially serve as differentiators of value. Lumped together, these differences are called “fitness”. Why isn’t the strong more valuable than the weak? The presence of the strong enhances humanity in the net, while the presence of the weak detracts. If only we could get to a point where all there is no weakness, then surely there would be no more suffering, and everybody would be happy.

    That isn’t what UU means at all. You are mistaking UU for utility in the sense of brute practical social Darwinism. They are nothing alike. Scientific Darwinism is a fact of how life evolves, but it is not a good principle for thinking beings. This is, of course, obvious. Lions rip the throat out of gazelles. That’s a fact. It’s how they’ve evolved, but of course that doesn’t mean that HUMANS should do the same! This is because we are thinking feeling beings, and society only works if we get along and care for each other. That is precisely why natural selection selected for those types of creatures LONG ago.

    The type of “weak die, strong survive” ethic is what Hitler had in mind. But it is NOT a moral position. It is exactly the opposite of UU.

    UU would state: “take care of the weak, help them, learn to cure diseases and make the world a better place for everyone.”

    It is good that (all of) you are taking the time to question and raise objections to UU. Unfortunately, you’re attacking a strawman of it! I think some of you are missing the point and then raising objections that have nothing to do with UU. I know it’s a long read but I seriously suggest reading the link above.

  76. Of course that’s not to say that such a thing will ever happen, because people in the real world don’t act morally, but if they DID, then everyone would be happy.

    what the heck are you fighting for? What do you believe in? A system that will never happen in the “real world”? Why invest in such a belief?

    people in the real world don’t act morally

    You mean they don’t act in accordance with your ethic. But why should they? they don’t live in fantasy land they live in the “real world”. Shouldn’t they decided to live by real world morals and ethics instead of ones that don’t exist?

  77. Can you give me a situation free of force where one man’s suffering will cause another man’s happiness?

    (What does “free of force” mean?) A woman is happy because she suffered her fetus to die, and now she won’t have to consider getting married, quitting her job, committing to parenthood, etc. A man is happy because his retarded son died (by whatever means), because now he won’t have to take care of him for the rest of his life.

    And I can give you the opposite direction as well. Let’s say I am a Christian, and my neighbor is not. As a sincere Christian, the more I get to know and like my neighbor, the more I suffer emotional distress at the thought that he will perish in hell. However, my neighbor takes the position that he is already happy, and the reason he does not want to become a Christian is that he would be less happy. By your rules, wouldn’t my suffering trump his happiness?

    I foresee that you would blame my suffering on myself, or whoever taught me to be Christian, and recommend that the solution is for me to ditch my Christianity. But why is your solution to my suffering “Quit being silly, that’s not suffering! Go retrain yourself to not care about that!”, and I can’t apply the same solution to rape victims?

    Because this would deny the universal happiness of females, and the object of universal utilitarianism (UU) is to increase happiness

    (I’ll ignore your unsubstantiated assumption that female humans such as I describe would be any less happy than California Cows). No, you have made quite clear that the increase of happiness is secondary to the decrease in suffering. So if suffering is replaced with unhappiness, the women (and the world) are better off, no? In your formulation, the reduction of one person’s suffering (and the increase of no-one’s suffering) would be worth the cost of limitless global unhappiness.

    What you’re talking about is reducing the happiness of billions to satisfy the lust of a very small minority

    How do you know that the per-capita-lust-happiness of rapists isn’t so large that it wouldn’t outweigh the total unhappiness of billions? If you are going to break your “suffering first, unhappiness second” rule when there is a large enough majority on the unhappiness side of the equation, then you do not really have two distinct rules “suffering first, unhappiness second”, but only the one rule: “minimize total discomfort”.

    Once again, you do not have crisp, cold, categories of “suffering” and “unhappiness”, but you have a sliding (utility) scale of comfort, with ultimate suffering at one end, and ultimate happiness at the other, and every experience rates somewhere in between. Your objective is to maximize the sum of every person’s every experience, which is why you revert to talking about how the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    In theory, no form of life is inherently more “worthy” to survive than any other.

    Thus also none is less “worthy” than another. Are you a vegetarian, or do you contribute to the suffering of cows to make your taste buds happy?

    All people ARE equal, and the happiness of humans beings is in principle equal. Happiness for human beings is not mutually exclusive. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the entire human race could not be happy unless someone else was suffering.

    “That’s a nice little mini-speech, but it’s totally absurd. It is pure assertion.”

  78. Evan,

    Wow. You don’t really want to have a conversation, but only continue saying the same things you’ve been saying. Amazing.

    Well, for the rest of you, rest assured that I did study Utilitarianism as a philosophy major, and you’ll be pleased to know that in the world of philosophy, utilitarianism is a joke. No one holds it anymore. Everyone is either Kantian or a Virtue Ethicist (a la MacIntyre).

    Kantian ethics says essentially that if what you’re about to do cannot be made a universal law for everyone without disastrous consequences, then don’t do it. So for example, you shouldn’t murder, because if murdering was a universal imperative, then there would be no humans left.

    Of course, Kant has to posit that human beings are objective ends in themselves. This means that our life serves no greater purpose than our life. And again, there is an assumed equality of peoples’ lives, based on an assumed need for the human race to continue. Of course, Kant is not technically an atheist, so at least he is not totally irrational.

    Virtue ethics are far more interesting. I would recommend After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre for anyone who is interested. He has some absolutely fascinating ideas. (And Horton mentions him in Covenant and Eschatology, for those of you watching at home.)

    Anyway, he posits the idea of characters. Characters are sort of like heroes and stereotypes all rolled into one. They are iconic figureheads of a given culture. They also have to do with your perceived role or place in the world.

    So for example, because I know my explanation wasn’t all that clear, consider the stereotypical old English Professor. Very stern disciplinarian, somewhat absent minded, always wiping off his spectacles, long, unkempt white beard, often mutters to himself, isn’t concerned with trivial matters like what time it is, that sort of thing. You can probably conjure up some character in a play or a movie or something that more or less fits this description.

    Well, so this character is normative for you if you are an English Professor. You want to be like the stereotypical English Professor you have been taught to believe in. In so doing, you are conforming to a cultural norm that has been held before you.

    Or perhaps you are a young man and think that Don Juan is a good figure to be like. The characters don’t have to have a name or even a well defined personhood; one only needs a few characteristics. Perhaps the norm you are striving for, the character you have set up in your mind that you want to be like, is a highly complex composition of characters you have pieced together over the years.

    Whether MacIntyre is describing how things are or how they ought to be I can’t remember, but it seems to me that he is describing how things are very well.

    Everything we do, for MacIntyre, can be boiled down to imitating some example.

    “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
    (Ephesians 5:1 ESV)

    Here’s the book I was talking about: http://tinyurl.com/2qm4vc

  79. Daniel said:

    what the heck are you fighting for? What do you believe in? A system that will never happen in the “real world”? Why invest in such a belief?

    You totally missed the point. Not everyone might act morally, but that is the “problem” for any system of morality!

    For example “treat others like you want to be treated” is good advice. Not everyone follows it, but it’s still good advice!

    UU isn’t a belief, is an ethical principle.

    You mean they don’t act in accordance with your ethic. But why should they? they don’t live in fantasy land they live in the “real world”. Shouldn’t they decided to live by real world morals and ethics instead of ones that don’t exist?

    This is meaningless drivel.

    RubeRad:

    (What does “free of force” mean?) A woman is happy because she suffered her fetus to die, and now she won’t have to consider getting married, quitting her job, committing to parenthood, etc. A man is happy because his retarded son died (by whatever means), because now he won’t have to take care of him for the rest of his life.

    Hi RubeRad, ‘free of force’ means in a situation not under duress. For example, where you’re not being forced into doing something otherwise wrong or immoral. A minor example might be: being forced to lie because someone has a gun to your head. You can’t be held accountable for your actions morally if force is present.

    If a woman wants to abort a lump of cells in her body, that’s her choice. There is no suffering and her life is happier, no problem. I seriously doubt any man would be happy if his retarded son were to die! Is that would you think?? Do you have children? Isn’t that rather sick what you’ve just said?

    And I can give you the opposite direction as well. Let’s say I am a Christian, and my neighbor is not. As a sincere Christian, the more I get to know and like my neighbor, the more I suffer emotional distress at the thought that he will perish in hell. However, my neighbor takes the position that he is already happy, and the reason he does not want to become a Christian is that he would be less happy. By your rules, wouldn’t my suffering trump his happiness?

    No. For one, UU is limited to making judgement calls based on our own reasoning. There is absolutely no reason to believe that “hell” exists; it is a myth just like any afterlife belief. Therefore you believing in hell is like you believing that wicked fairies will poke your neighbour’s eyes out. You might believe that, but don’t expect him to. He would have every right to remain happier by not becoming a Christian.

    UU might suggest an alternative belief system for YOU: punishing believing for the temporary “crime” of non-belief by torturing them forever and forever is evil and cruel, and not the action of a loving being. It is the very definition of immoral! I would reject any moral system where “hell” was a punishment. Fortunately, hell is just make-believe.

    I foresee that you would blame my suffering on myself, or whoever taught me to be Christian, and recommend that the solution is for me to ditch my Christianity. But why is your solution to my suffering “Quit being silly, that’s not suffering! Go retrain yourself to not care about that!”, and I can’t apply the same solution to rape victims?

    In a way, you are a victim. And Christianity has caused more harm through the ages than rape has. Oh, and please, before any of you disagree with this, have a REALLY long think about it. You know I’m right.

    If everyone followed UU, no one would get raped. But then, in a perfect world, children wouldn’t be infected with the delusions of their parents.

    (I’ll ignore your unsubstantiated assumption that female humans such as I describe would be any less happy than California Cows). No, you have made quite clear that the increase of happiness is secondary to the decrease in suffering. So if suffering is replaced with unhappiness, the women (and the world) are better off, no? In your formulation, the reduction of one person’s suffering (and the increase of no-one’s suffering) would be worth the cost of limitless global unhappiness.

    No that’s not true at all. You’re attacking a strawman again. I bet you didn’t read the link. We must maximise happiness and minimise suffering. The reason we address suffering first is so that the minority suffering cannot simply be outvoted by a slight increase in the majority’s happiness. Common sense really.

    How do you know that the per-capita-lust-happiness of rapists isn’t so large that it wouldn’t outweigh the total unhappiness of billions? If you are going to break your “suffering first, unhappiness second” rule when there is a large enough majority on the unhappiness side of the equation, then you do not really have two distinct rules “suffering first, unhappiness second”, but only the one rule: “minimize total discomfort”.

    This is really silly. Do you really believe what you’re suggesting here?

    Do you believe that a world in which rape was “moral” would result in greater net human happiness or lesser net happiness? Yes or no.

    Once again, you do not have crisp, cold, categories of “suffering” and “unhappiness”, but you have a sliding (utility) scale of comfort, with ultimate suffering at one end, and ultimate happiness at the other, and every experience rates somewhere in between. Your objective is to maximize the sum of every person’s every experience, which is why you revert to talking about how the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    Strictly speaking, the needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few; I’m glad you raised that point. But, and here’s the kicker: needs can vary!

    For example: 1 million people need a new TV. But 10 people need a new liver. The 10 people’s need is greater even though there are only ten of them!

    UU would dictate: prioritise the suffering of the ten, then we’ll look at making the 1 million people (very slightly in comparison) happier with a new TV.

    Does this explain things better? It’s not just about numbers, it’s about relative NEED.

    Thus also none is less “worthy” than another. Are you a vegetarian, or do you contribute to the suffering of cows to make your taste buds happy?

    I’m afraid you missed the point. All I was saying that no form of life is inherently “better” than another. What I am saying is that because humans have a capacity for suffering and happiness greater than animals, it is reasonable to favour human happiness, in CERTAIN circumstances. I wish it were not necessary to spell this out, but I feel my words are twisted and misunderstood so I will: for example, blood sports and hunting for game are wrong.

    That’s a nice little mini-speech, but it’s totally absurd. It is pure assertion.

    So, you think that someone must be suffering somewhere in order for someone else to be happy?? That’s a pretty sad view of the world isn’t it Rube?

    Echo said:

    Wow. You don’t really want to have a conversation, but only continue saying the same things you’ve been saying. Amazing.

    I know. It’s a shame I have to keep repeating myself.

    Well, for the rest of you, rest assured that I did study Utilitarianism as a philosophy major, and you’ll be pleased to know that in the world of philosophy, utilitarianism is a joke. No one holds it anymore. Everyone is either Kantian or a Virtue Ethicist (a la MacIntyre).

    It’s UNIVERSAL UTILITARIANISM. Read the link. You’re just showing your ignorance. The Kantian Principle is pretty good actually, but it’s not universally applicable.

    I can skip the rest of your comment Echo although thanks for taking the time to make it; you just attacked a strawman. There are flaws with Utilitarianism, you’re right. There are also problems with the Kantian Imperative too. I am referring to UU which you aren’t familiar with it seems. All I can do is ask you again to read the link I provided above.

    ” Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”

    I see, you mean the god who burns people alive forever for finite and even trivial “crimes”. The one who murders people for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. The one who punishes people for the crimes of others. The one who thinks genocide and rape are acceptable for enemies? The one who threatens to murder pregnant women and children? The bible is a awash with primitive disgusting morality. (If you read all the bible and not just the parts you like you would know this.)

    And before you dispute any of the above (which I’m sure you will) read the bible.

    I mean no offence, but resorting to bronze age myths as a sort of morality is ridiculous. You don’t seriously act like god for a second, so why pretend that you do? You pick and choose what parts of the bible you like. How do you pick and choose? By your OWN morality! So it’s already there. You don’t need a belief for it. And in fact judging by some of your comments about hellfire etc, you’d be better off without it.

  80. Rube posited, “A woman is happy because she suffered her fetus to die, and now she won’t have to consider getting married, quitting her job, committing to parenthood, etc. A man is happy because his retarded son died (by whatever means), because now he won’t have to take care of him for the rest of his life.”

    Then Evan responded, “If a woman wants to abort a lump of cells in her body, that’s her choice. There is no suffering and her life is happier, no problem. I seriously doubt any man would be happy if his retarded son were to die! Is that would you think?? Do you have children? Isn’t that rather sick what you’ve just said?”

    I do have to say, dear Rube, yeow. Even as one who has a pretty “conservative” morality and politics (take note, John Kerry!) about the a-word, you do some fairly predictable two-dimension reasoning and caricaturizing (sp?) that does this side of the table more harm than good. Seriously, what is it with this side of the table? If we are not busy thinking our position has eternal stakes attached to it we are busy with just bad presuppostions about what happens in the real world.

    Z

  81. Evan,

    You can’t seriously think you have even a shred of credibility on this thread after that business.

    Yes, I have read the parts of the Bible that depict lots of crazy things going on. Yup.

    I have also read the part that says that you should not cast your pearls before swine. I am going to choose to apply, wisely I think, that command to this situation. You being the swine and my explanation of biblical morality being the pearl. I will not divulge it to you. I will not explain it to you.

    Keep on seeing, keep on hearing. Tomorrow is coming.

  82. Haha ok Echo.

    Choose to respond to an adult philosophical debate about really important issues in the genuine christian way: pack up your brain and run off.

    This is precisely why religion has nothing worthwhile to say on anything, because it can’t accept being wrong, it doesn’t attempt to get into a proper discussion.

    I actually didn’t think for one second that I would lose “credibility” on this thread by pointing out what your own book says?! Am I not allowed to quote the bible?! Your response: “oh there is an explanation for these things, but I’m not allowed to tell you!”

    Brilliant! Tell me, if I’m an atheist because I reject the immorality in the bible, and you hold the answers, by not telling me you’re preventing me understanding and becoming a christian! So, if I die, it’s your fault!

    Keep on seeing, keep on hearing. Tomorrow is coming.

    I’m really not sure what this is supposed to mean. Is this supposed to sound poetic? Mysterious? Cryptic? Am I supposed to be puzzled or impressed?

    Or is this just another hollow threat, something like: “la la la I’m not listening! Keep on disbelieving and god will get you one day!”

    If you just want to talk with your buddies about stuff you ALREADY all believe, fine. But don’t pretend to get involved in a proper discussion with adults as if you’re looking for answers. The fact that you ran off when the debate got too close to home casts you and your christian friends in a bad light. Personally, I think you’ve let your side down.

  83. Evan, The problem is that you have dismissed “religion” on a completely false premise. You call the Bible “immoral” only because you don’t understand the Bible. You don’t understand the doctrine so you call it evil.

    You can point out thousands of stories in the Bible that you don’t like but that doesn’t make it less true. Truth can’t be determined by whether you like it or not.

    You’re right about this though in regards to our religion,

    it can’t accept being wrong

    if it COULD accept being wrong, then it wouldn’t be truth. Would it?

    flip it around, could UU accept being wrong?

  84. OK, this thread is officially way, way, way off-topic. Nobody has had anything substantive to contribute to the original question (trolley vs. ER) for at least 20 questions.

    So I’m shutting off comments on this thread; watch this blog, and hopefully before too long (a week or two? I’m really busy right now), I’ll find time to write a post that interacts directly with evanescent’s UU (Carrot and Stick) article.

  85. Oopx! Sorry about that. As you can see from above, I shut the comments off; I didn’t realize that would actually hide all the comments! I guess I have to just leave them on, but just know that I have given up on this discussion, until I can write a new post…

  86. Daniel,
    I haven’t dismissed religion on any false premise. You say I don’t understand the bible but have you forgotten when I said I used to be a fundamentalist christian?
    Despite reading the bible many times, I was blind to the real horror it couldn’t, and of course my church made sure its members didn’t see the more ugly stories from the OT.

    You’re correct the whether I like something or not doesn’t mike it untrue, but that’s a charge that applies more to you than me. What if YOU’RE wrong? What is YOUR god doesn’t exist? What is christianity is a huge convoluted heap of myth and legend fabricated over centuries? Have you thought of that?

    What you say about truth is completely wrong. Truth can accept being wrong, and welcomes criticism, because it has nothing to hide! Religion hates criticism. Bit suspicious don’t you think?

    So although this is off topic I thought I’d clear things up for you: I used to be a christian and the chances are I know your bible better than you. And the reason I left? Quick simply: there is not a shred of evidence for god or any religion on earth.

  87. this is an argument from analogy.

    as with many so-called ethical dilemmas, the information is purposefully vague.

    as with any argument from analogy, x is analogous to y in a relevant way/s. If there are relevant disanalogies, the argument from analogy is a weak argument.

    here, there are plenty of relevant disanalogies. so, until the author can make the cases analogous, differing only in accidental ways, there’s not much I need to do to answer.

  88. Hi Evenescent,

    You said:

    (*) “The root of atheism however is rationalism, a worldview that demands evidence and reason for belief.”

    My reply:

    And what about *this* belief? Do you have “evidence” or “reason” for it? Call offering evidence or reason, ER. Call a belief, B. Call (*) B1.

    Is B! believed? Is it “rational” to hold? Well, then B1 needs ER. Say B1 gets ER1. Is ER1 believed? If not, then you don’t believe your evidence, that seems odd. So, it is. Call that B2. Does B2 have ER? Because I’m feeling generous, say it does. call it, ER2. Is ER2 believed? Would seem that it must be. So, we have B3. B3 needs ER. call that ER4. Is ER4 belived? Call that B5. ad infinitum

    Well, that was quick work. Evan’s whole system rests on an infinite regress. It can never pay its debts. it keeps writing bad checks to cover previous bad checks.

    So he ultimately doesn;t have a “reason: or “evidence” for his belief, then his belief is *irrational.* But this is a “no-no!” Evan is acting like a fundamentalist religionist! Appalachian Mountain atheism.

    Christianity: 1

    Atheism: 0

  89. Wacky, you certainly chose an appropriate name.

    s B! believed? Is it “rational” to hold? Well, then B1 needs ER. Say B1 gets ER1. Is ER1 believed? If not, then you don’t believe your evidence, that seems odd. So, it is. Call that B2. Does B2 have ER? Because I’m feeling generous, say it does. call it, ER2. Is ER2 believed? Would seem that it must be. So, we have B3. B3 needs ER. call that ER4. Is ER4 belived? Call that B5. ad infinitum

    Wow! I certainly have no idea what this means, and I suspect you don’t either.

    We can all string together a lot of mathematical sounding nonsense, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t even make it impressive. I’m not impressed. You’ve proved nothing. In fact, you wasted an entire comment on trying to show off instead of saying anything of value. If I were you, I’d feel pretty embarrassed.

    Rationalism is the requirement of logic and reason (and of course evidence) to accept beliefs. It is, by definition, rational.

    Trying to reject rationalism is self-annihilating because there is no alternative. If you reject a worldview based on logic and reason, then how do you arrive at YOUR conclusions? Illogic and non-reason?? If you reject the principles of logic and reason to arrive at conclusions, how else do you make conclusions?

    Even if god exists, the world WOULD STILL be based on rationalism! It’s a shame your belief has blinded you to simple common sense.

    If a world where logic is not foundational, A could be A and also ~A at the same time. For that matter, god could exist and also NOT exist at the same time; without logic knowledge is impossible.

    From this, all that needs to be said is that there is no logical argument for god. There is no proof of god’s existence. It’s as simple as that.

    But, if you want to do what NO theologian has ever done in history, and present an successful argument for god: go for it. Don’t waste my time and yours with meaningless quasi-mathematical drivel that you sketched on the back of your school exercise back. It’s embarrassing.

    Either admit you don’t use logic and reason in your worldview (and shoot yourself in the foot), or present a logical rational argument for god.

    To use your patronising childish game:

    Religion: 0

    Atheism: 100

  90. Hi Evan,

    “Wow! I certainly have no idea what this means, and I suspect you don’t either.”

    I do, and that’s why I wrote it. Indeed, would you like some references to epistemological works, even written by atheists, where the same tools of analytic philosophy are employed? Don’t tell me you’re one of those anti-intellectual atheists. Why are there so many these days?

    “We can all string together a lot of mathematical sounding nonsense, but that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t even make it impressive. I’m not impressed. You’ve proved nothing. In fact, you wasted an entire comment on trying to show off instead of saying anything of value. If I were you, I’d feel pretty embarrassed.”

    And mocking something, calling it non-sense, doesn’t make it wrong. Didn’t people mock Galileo? I indeed proved what I attempted to. That you couldn’t wrap your pea brain around my comments doesn’t bother me. That you can’t understand such a basic point as the infinite regress argument against evidentialism isn’t impressive. It’s embarrassing.

    “Rationalism is the requirement of logic and reason (and of course evidence) to accept beliefs. It is, by definition, rational.”

    Of course ‘rational’ is subject to a whole host of understandings. Anyway, what is the “logic, reason, and evidence” for accepting this belief?

    “Trying to reject rationalism is self-annihilating because there is no alternative. If you reject a worldview based on logic and reason, then how do you arrive at YOUR conclusions? Illogic and non-reason?? If you reject the principles of logic and reason to arrive at conclusions, how else do you make conclusions?”

    Who said I reject logic and reason? Indeed, I applied it to your situation and caught you in an infinite regress. Furthermore, “logic” and “reason” are contentless. If that is your “base” then you can’t get anywhere. How do you get the information for premises? Furthermore, whose “rationalism?” Yours? Descartes? Hume said we should base our beliefs on sensations. he denied the a priori. He denied Rationalism. Many atheists deny the a priori. Why should I listen to you, a lone madman screaming in the desert?

    “Even if god exists, the world WOULD STILL be based on rationalism! It’s a shame your belief has blinded you to simple common sense.”

    I don’t even know what you mean by “rationalism.” I have no doubt the world would be rational. God is rational. he is the exemplar of rationality. But, take God away. What do you have? Evolution and naturalism? What makes you think your cognitive faculties have developed for the purpose of producing true beliefs? Why think your cognitive faculties aimed at truth? Isn’t survival what matters? False beliefs have survival value. In fact, if you’re confronted with a tiger, and you form the belief that tigers are signals for marathons to start and so you run, this belief would have survival value.

    “If a world where logic is not foundational, A could be A and also ~A at the same time. For that matter, god could exist and also NOT exist at the same time; without logic knowledge is impossible.”

    Who ever said I denied logic? You’re not even attacking the argument I gave. You were to ignorant too, remember?

    “From this, all that needs to be said is that there is no logical argument for god. There is no proof of god’s existence. It’s as simple as that.”

    There is “no logical argument” for God? How about:

    Either nothing exists or God exists,

    Something exists.

    Therefore God exists.

    That is

    N v G

    ~N

    :. G

    There, a “logical argument.”

    What’s that? You don’t believe in God? Oh, you meant that there is no “logical argument that you agree with?” Okay, why didn’t you just say so, you’re very sloppy. Anyway, who ever promised that we could force ignorant atheists to believe premises?

    But, I’m afraid it gets worse for you. Let’s use your criteria and see how much we can destroy. Let’s see some other things we cannot “prove:”

    (*) the existence of other minds

    (*) that the earth is more than 5 minutes old.

    (*) that our senses are reliable.

    (*) logic itself

    (*) induction

    (*) knowledge by testimony

    etc.,

    There, construct a “proof” for those. How about a “proof” for logic. Oh, and try not to beg the question, mkay? If you can beg questions, then how about this “proof” for God:

    1. The Bible says God exists.
    2. The Bible is God’s word.
    3. Therefore God exists,

    You wouldn’t accept that, so I won’t accept a “proof” for logic that uses logic. So, get to stepping.

    “But, if you want to do what NO theologian has ever done in history, and present an successful argument for god: go for it. Don’t waste my time and yours with meaningless quasi-mathematical drivel that you sketched on the back of your school exercise back. It’s embarrassing.”

    I don’t even know what you mean by “successful” argument? I think there have been plenty. So do many theists. Furthermore, why don’t you post a “successful” argument for the above. C’mon, do what no philosopher in history has done. Oh, and what is a “school exercise back?” You think I wrote something on someone’s “back?” That’s embarrassing.

    “Either admit you don’t use logic and reason in your worldview (and shoot yourself in the foot), or present a logical rational argument for god.”

    I do use logic. But, you’ve avoided my question.

    Tell you what, since you couldn’t wrap your noggin around my initial argument, print it off, or write it on your “back,” and take it tou your local college atheistic philosophy professor. Have him help you out with it. So you can “grasp it,” and then come back here. Until then, you’ve wasted our time. Since when do people just get to ignore questions, name call to get out of having to answer the question, and then pretend that they offered something substantive?

    The sad thing is that you now have my original argument to deal with, and some new ones. I tied you up like a pretzel. How embarrassing for you!

  91. And mocking something, calling it non-sense, doesn’t make it wrong. Didn’t people mock Galileo? I indeed proved what I attempted to. That you couldn’t wrap your pea brain around my comments doesn’t bother me. That you can’t understand such a basic point as the infinite regress argument against evidentialism isn’t impressive. It’s embarrassing.

    Yes people did mock Galileo. Actually the church did because they believed that heliocentrism clashed with scripture!

    From Wikipedia: “Evidentialism is a theory of justification according to which whether a belief is justified depends solely on what a person’s evidence is.”

    My worldview is NOT Evidentialism! It actually appears that you misunderstood what I said or twisted it into evidentialism in order to give you a platform to sound off.
    Of course, since my position is not evidentialism I don’t have to deal with the infinite regress problem, which means I can ignore most of your comment.

    What I said above of course is that it is illogical to invest belief without evidence, but the foundation of all knowledge is LOGIC. All worldviews have ultimately metaphysical assumptions. I don’t deny this. And it was actually good of you to attack me on this because it gave me a chance to clarify things.

    WE ALL rely on evidence to form 99% of our beliefs. But the worldview that everything rests on is the perfectly reasonable and NECESSARY assumption that logic exists and is a universal constant. So if this is a problem for me, it’s a problem for you too!

    Who said I reject logic and reason? Indeed, I applied it to your situation and caught you in an infinite regress. Furthermore, “logic” and “reason” are contentless. If that is your “base” then you can’t get anywhere. How do you get the information for premises? Furthermore, whose “rationalism?” Yours? Descartes? Hume said we should base our beliefs on sensations. he denied the a priori. He denied Rationalism. Many atheists deny the a priori. Why should I listen to you, a lone madman screaming in the desert?

    You’re right, Hume was an empiricist and this contrasts with rationalism, however here I can only apologise: I do not mean rationalism by that position. I should have made this clear so your counter-attack is justified.

    I am using the expression colloquially in the sense of “act and think rationally; based on what is logical and what is reasonable.” In other words I reject faith for example, because faith is belief without evidence.

    I will therefore accept that this misunderstanding is my fault because I should have used another word.

    I have no doubt the world would be rational. God is rational. he is the exemplar of rationality. But, take God away. What do you have? Evolution and naturalism? What makes you think your cognitive faculties have developed for the purpose of producing true beliefs?

    Oh that old chestnut. Are theists still using this “argument”? There is very good reason to believe that evolution has developed our faculties for producing true beliefs, because evolution would not be successful without it. A brain that interpreted a huge hungry bear, as say, a rock would not be selected for.

    It’s a shame that for all your philosophical knowledge, you don’t know the first thing about evolution.

    The world is only understandable if the rules of physics etc are uniform, and everything we’ve discovered about it suggests that it is. In fact, if you reject naturalism in favour of supernaturalism, you have a universe where beings outside the natural order of things can interfere at will with the universe, which means the things we base our knowledge on, like sense experience and logic, would not be stable, ergo knowledge is impossible. Well done, you’ve just refuted supernaturalism.

    Why think your cognitive faculties aimed at truth? Isn’t survival what matters? False beliefs have survival value. In fact, if you’re confronted with a tiger, and you form the belief that tigers are signals for marathons to start and so you run, this belief would have survival value.

    That is exactly true. But you’ve still SEEN a tiger. A by-product of our evolution is indeed magical thinking which explains why humans do hold irrational beliefs, like Christianity for example. But more often than not, we’ve learned to rely on our sense experience.

    You see, if this is a problem for me, it’s a problem for you! You cannot escape the strict uncertainty of absolute knowledge by appealing to a being that jews invented thousands of years ago. It solves nothing. It just pretends to avoid the problem. We can make reasonable judgements based on probable likelihoods. We do this every day of our days from crossing the road to making a cup of tea. Your equivocation with foundational knowledge is a red herring.

    If you can read the bible with your sense experience and interpret it with your brain and think “hey I like that!”, then I can read the bible with MY sense experience and interpret it and think “hey I don’t like that!”

    Who ever said I denied logic? You’re not even attacking the argument I gave. You were to ignorant too, remember?

    Of course you don’t deny logic. Logic is the basis for any claim of knowledge you make. It would be, whether god exists or not, which is my point.

    There is “no logical argument” for God? How about:
    Either nothing exists or God exists,
    Something exists.
    Therefore God exists.

    That’s awful. The argument is invalid because the first premise is flawed. It’s flawed because it’s a false dilemma: “Either nothing exists or god exists” is wrong.

    I could just as easily say:

    “Either something exists or god doesn’t.

    Something exists.

    Therefore god doesn’t.”

    Of course that argument is rubbish, just like yours was, because the first premise is a totally fallacious assertion.

    What’s that? You don’t believe in God? Oh, you meant that there is no “logical argument that you agree with?” Okay, why didn’t you just say so, you’re very sloppy. Anyway, who ever promised that we could force ignorant atheists to believe premises?

    Urm, nope, sorry. There is not one successful argument for god in history. But, if you’d like to come up with one, I invite you to present it and become the most famous person in human history! What are you waiting for??

    But, I’m afraid it gets worse for you. Let’s use your criteria and see how much we can destroy. Let’s see some other things we cannot “prove:”
    (*) the existence of other minds
    (*) that the earth is more than 5 minutes old.
    (*) that our senses are reliable.
    (*) logic itself
    (*) induction
    (*) knowledge by testimony

    These are all red herrings. If they are problems for me, they are problems for you! Your philosophical drivel boils down to the Transcendental Argument for God. I could just point you here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_Argument_for_the_Non-existence_of_God

    I have a proposition for you: rob a bank at gun point and when you’re in court, explain to the judge and jury that you cannot be prosecuted because the jury cannot be certain that your mind exists, or that their sense experience of the video footage of you in the bank is reliable. See if you don’t get laughed at before the judge sentences you.

    Pretending that you have an invisible friend in the sky does not give you a get out of jail free card for deep philosophical issues. Fortunately, these issues are red herrings, albeit interesting.

    I don’t even know what you mean by “successful” argument? I think there have been plenty. So do many theists. Furthermore, why don’t you post a “successful” argument for the above. C’mon, do what no philosopher in history has done. Oh, and what is a “school exercise back?” You think I wrote something on someone’s “back?” That’s embarrassing.

    LOL. Wow, you pointed out a spelling mistake. That must make me wrong on everything! Well done you clever clever person you.

    I do use logic. But, you’ve avoided my question.

    Ok, you use logic. Logic states: A cannot be A and also ~A at the same time. Try this:

    2 Kings 8:26:
    “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.”

    2 Chronicles 22:2:
    “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.”

    This to me, looks like a contradiction; a violation of logic.

    Tell you what, since you couldn’t wrap your noggin around my initial argument, print it off, or write it on your “back,” and take it tou your local college atheistic philosophy professor. Have him help you out with it. So you can “grasp it,” and then come back here. Until then, you’ve wasted our time. Since when do people just get to ignore questions, name call to get out of having to answer the question, and then pretend that they offered something substantive?

    “tou”, what is that?? Oh my god you made a spelling mistake, how silly are you? (Now that’s sarcasm!)

    Anyway, I don’t have anything to explain or wrap my head around. We use logic and reason and evidence in our everyday lives to make sense of the world around us. My worldview is based on the same things that yours is: the assumption that logic and the external world exist. It is a reasonable and necessary assumption, and if it’s good enough for Hume it’s good enough for me. It’s as simple as that. Now, if there is a philosophical problem with this (which of course many great philosophers have shown there is), then this a problem for you and me. You cannot escape the “problem” by inventing a Special Person.

    Where is your epistemological equivocation when you’re crossing the road or talking to a friend? Why should we apply a different philosophical criteria to things of everyday experience and science than we do when we want to talk about your favourite invisible sky fairy? You see, if I want to prove to you that the moon exists, I just show you a photo, or video footage, or point to the sky. If you want to prove to me that cars exist, you just take me to the nearest road. Nobody in their right mind would have a problem with “knowledge” here, so why the double standards when it comes to god? Simple: there is actually no evidence for god! So all this philosophical rambling is hypocritical red herrings aimed at distracting people from the Emperor; and yes, he has no clothes!

  92. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for another bonehead response. Oh, by the way, [insert rich, old lady accent] “I just love your appeal to Wikipedia, how scholarly.” Giggle.

    “Yes people did mock Galileo. Actually the church did because they believed that heliocentrism clashed with scripture!”

    Yeah, I know, that’s why I used the illustration. So, you believe that it’s bad form to mock arguments rather than deal with them? Funny that you did that very thing, though. Are you bed buddies with the Catholic Church, or soemthing?

    “From Wikipedia: “Evidentialism is a theory of justification according to which whether a belief is justified depends solely on what a person’s evidence is.”

    Wiki? Good one!

    “My worldview is NOT Evidentialism!”

    I never said your “worldview” was evidentialism. Even the wiki quote doesn’t say anything about “worldviews.” it’s a question of rationality, justification, positive epistemic status conferred to beliefs.

    “It actually appears that you misunderstood what I said or twisted it into evidentialism in order to give you a platform to sound off. Of course, since my position is not evidentialism I don’t have to deal with the infinite regress problem, which means I can ignore most of your comment.”

    You do hold to evidentialism. You say I am “irrational” or “unjustified” in holding to beliefs “not based on evidence.” That, my friend, is called the “evidentialist constraint.” Let’s look at what you said:

    EVAN SAID: ““The root of atheism however is rationalism, a worldview that demands evidence and reason for belief.”

    So, take any belief B, you just said that you “DEMAND” that it have evidence. So, I asked about THAT belief itself. I just want to be “rational,” like you. So, what do I do? I take Evan’s tactic and “DEMAND” evidence for his belief. But now he thinks he doesn’t need to give me evidence. He apparantly doesn’t “DEMAND” evidence for all his beliefs, yet he “DEMANDS” that the theist offer evidence for all of his! Evan is an epistemological hypocrit. A lazy atheist. He can’t follow the implications of his own arguments out to their logical conclusions. So, we’re still waiting for your answer to the infinite regress argument. Or, you can drop your evidentialist constriant. But then what happens to you prescious definition of “atheism,” being so “rational,” then?

    “What I said above of course is that it is illogical to invest belief without evidence, but the foundation of all knowledge is LOGIC. All worldviews have ultimately metaphysical assumptions. I don’t deny this. And it was actually good of you to attack me on this because it gave me a chance to clarify things.”

    “LOGIC” is contenless. It tells you NOTHING. It can’t give KNOWLEDGE. Anyway, if you grant that it is rational to hold some beliefs without propositional evidence in their favor, then we can’t be irrational *just because* we don’t (granting we don’t) have propositional evidence in favor of God. Furthermore, logic itself isn’t enough. You need a way to gain information for premises. You also need a wolrdview in which it makes sense. What is the ontological status of logic? How is it prescriptive given naturalism? Why “should” we reason according to the laws of logic? Is there an ethical obligation to do so?

    “WE ALL rely on evidence to form 99% of our beliefs. But the worldview that everything rests on is the perfectly reasonable and NECESSARY assumption that logic exists and is a universal constant. So if this is a problem for me, it’s a problem for you too!”

    Again, not enough for a “worldview.” Logic tells us no information. What is man? How does he gain access to these laws of logic? Why do we make mistakes? How is it universal? How is it perscriptive? Is man free, or does he opperate according to inviolable laws of logic? Does man have ethical obligations? How do we know what we know so we can give our premises the info required to use logic? So, you need a “worldview” not just “logic.”

    “I am using the expression colloquially in the sense of “act and think rationally; based on what is logical and what is reasonable.” In other words I reject faith for example, because faith is belief without evidence.”

    I don;t see how theist are “irrational?” And, define “rational?” I open my Oxford Companion to Rationality and over 5 different conceptions of rationality are discussed. Do you mean Aristotelian rationality? Means-end rationality? Necessary truths rationality? Baysean rationality?

    Furthermore, what is “reasonable?” Who determines that? I take certain things as reasonable that you do not. Are you the standard of what is “reasoable?” Am I? Ayn Rand? David Hume? Alvin Plantinga? Who?

    Moreover, who says “faith is belief without evidence?” And, even if it is, so what? I’ve already proven that it is not necessary nor sufficient for a belief to be rational that it have porpositinal evidence in its favor. And, what *is* evidence? How does it support beliefs? Have you even studied this subject? Apparently not.

    Lastly, I take beliefs based on faith to be similar to knowledge by the testimony of another. But what if “taking something on faith,” in the Christian worldview, is something like forming a belief upon the testimony of another? Knowledge by testimony is regarded as a valuable way to acquire knowledge. If believing something on faith — not soteriologically speaking — is like this kind of knowledge, then it is false to claim that when a Christian believes something on faith he believes irrationally. Indeed, believing something on faith wouldn’t be to believe in the absence of evidence, but it would be to believe something on the testimony of another person. Perhaps faith is similar to this? Perhaps the oft repeated charge that believeing something on faith is irrational will be seen to be groundless?

    The SEP states that,

    The main epistemological problem of testimony is that an enormous number of our beliefs originate in the assertions or testimony of speakers, but our accepting or believing those assertions merely on the word of the speaker does not seem sufficient for those beliefs to be justified, warranted, or knowledge. The problem is diminished but not eliminated if it is assumed, as is standard, that the speaker is justified or warranted in the beliefs that his assertions express, and even if he knows them.

    And so without confusing the de jure with the de facto, does the Christian theist who holds, say, some basic beliefs of the Christian faith — e.g., God’s existence, God reveals himself to humans via holy Scripture, Christ’s divine-human nature, salvation by grace alone, — on the basis of faith, or, the say-so or God, or, on the testimony of the word of the living God, know (say, WTB) the above Christian dogmas?

    If the speaker, in this case Jehovah, is justified or warranted in His beliefs — and surely on the Christian story God has maximal, supreme, super warrant or justification, or, fill in the appropriate terminology — and if the Christian takes the say-so of God as a source for his/her beliefs, then isn’t the Christian entitled to “know” these things?

    On this theory, if one starts out trusting God, as indeed s/he should, then one never undermines the credibility of the testifier. In debates about knowledge by testimony, one can say that if the testifier has been shown to be unreliable, then that might issue a defeater for a belief you have obtained by his testimony. But, if the honesty was never called in to question in the first place, taking his word, especially about, say, the color of his mother’s hair, would be quite natural. And, if his mother’s hair was blonde, and that’s what he told you, then you knew it. (At this point Plantinga would admit warrant, but he would say that you would have more warrant if you verified what was testified to you. I think that fine as far as it goes, but in our case, surely the word of an omniscient being who cannot lie carries more weight than my “checking up on” the testimony. My own verification would seem to be ranked lower on list of epistemic authorities in a situation like this.) So, why should we even begin the relationship with God by doubting His honesty? Thomas Reid,

    “I believed by instinct whatever my parents and tutors told me, long before I had the idea of a lie, or a thought of the possibility of their deceiving me. Afterwards, upon reflection, I found that they had acted like fair and honest people, who wished me well. I found that, if I had not believed what they told me, before I could give a reason for my belief, I had to this day been little better than a changeling.”

    And, wouldn’t knowledge gained in this kind of way — the testimony of God — constitute a belief that had such warrant that if you remained in the natural state of faith, i.e., trusting the word of God, taking things on His say-so, it would be a defeater-deflector for challenges to the above types of beliefs? That is, a person does not have an automatic defeater for his/her belief that God exists since the warrant of the belief that is the subject of attempted defeat is such that it deflects the defeater.

    Now, if this person began to think autonomously, i.e., begin with the premise that God’s say-so should be doubted unless otherwise verified (remaining unwarranted until then), then the defeaters, if not themselves defeated, would constitute defeaters for the above beliefs for that kind of person.

    But, doesn’t the layman Christian, who takes this roughly Van Tillian/Plantinganian approach to faith, knowledge, and warrant (in an epistemological sense, not a soteriological sense of trusting and resting in Christ alone), know the above dogmas? Furthermore, doesn’t he have an automatic defeater-deflector to challenges to his faith such that if this model is roughly true, then all Christians, not just ivory tower apologists who can think long and deep about challenges to the faith, and come up with defeater-defeaters (which are needed for various situations, like the autonomous man above who may one day start to doubt Christianity because he can’t defeat a defeater) who hold to something like this model can be said to “know” their core dogmas and, furthermore, not be irrational in asserting their truth?

    If something like this model is accurate, and surely it needs to be developed as the above is just rough thoughts and chicken scratching, then if the Christian story is true, and something like the above epistemology of faith is true, then Christians are rational in their beliefs, and are not affected by certain defeaters to certain core Christian beliefs. Wouldn’t the atheologist need to disprove Christianity and a model of this kind before they could call the Christian in the pew, say, Sophie the washwoman, irrational? If a model of faith had close similarities with the respected notion of knowledge by testimony, then wouldn’t the pejorative ‘blind faith’ be seen to be nothing more than that? A pejorative. Isn’t the atheist, in most cases, simply begging the question against a Christian epistemology when he says we are irrational in our beliefs that we say we know by faith? Anyhow, rough thoughts, as I said….

    “Oh that old chestnut. Are theists still using this “argument”? There is very good reason to believe that evolution has developed our faculties for producing true beliefs, because evolution would not be successful without it. A brain that interpreted a huge hungry bear, as say, a rock would not be selected for.”

    Yes, they are. Atheists took a look at it in “Naturalism Defeated,” ed. by Beilby. That was 2005. It was also recently discussed in a debate between Draper and Plantinga on the Infidels site. And, a recent Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Wisconsin was devoted to defending that argument. So, you’re out of the loop. Not only that(!), atheists such as Thomas Nagel have agreed with the argument, see The View from Nowhere. And, so has Darwin,

    “With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” -Charles Darwin

    And other atheists have expressed the problems with man’s cognitive faculties given naturalism and evolution:

    “The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increated prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass–a conscience that swings free of both social history and individual luck.” (Richard Rorty, “Untruth and Consequences,” The New Republic, July 31, 1995, pp. 32-36.)

    “A revised and modernized materialism concludes from all this that human thought and feeling is the product of a series of unthinking and unfeeling processes originated in the big bang.” (Richard C. Vitzthum, “Materialism: An Afiirmative History and Definition,” Prometheus Books, 1995, pp.218-219,)

    “Materialism should no longer wink at such nonsense but insist that the foundations of all human thought and feeling are grossly irrational.” ( Richard C Vitzthum, “Materialism: An Afiirmative History and Definition,” Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 220.)

    “C.Loyed Morgan…labeling his theory emergenist evolution..argued that…[this is]’the outspring of something that has hitherto not been in being.'” (Richard C Vitzthum, “Materialism: An Afiirmative History and Definition,” Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 131) (Brief comment: think about how they laugh at us for creation ex nihilo.)

    “Even after abandoning logical atomism, Russell remained an enthusiastic pluralist; in 1931 he wrote that the proposition that the world is a unity, ‘the most fundamental of my intellectual beliefs is that this is rubbish. I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness or any of the other properties that governess love.'” (“The Scientific Outlook,” New York, 1931, p.98. Cited in, “The Encyclopedia of Philosophy,” edited by Paul Edwards, 1967, volume 5, p.364).

    “Boiled down to its essentials, a nervous system that enables the organism to succeed in…feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle [sic] chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. Improvements in their sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism’s way of life and enhances the organism’s chances for survival. Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.” (Praticia Churchland, “Epistemology in the Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 84 (October 1987): 548. Cited in, “C. S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea,” Victor Reppert, IVP, 2002, pp. 76-77).

    “…we shall be obliged to admit that there are some truths about the world which we can know independently of experience; even though we cannot conceivably observe that all objects have them. And we shall have to accept it as a mysterious inexplicable fact that our thought has this power to reveal to us authoritatively the nature of objects that we have never observed” (A. J. Ayer, “Language, Truth and Logic, 2nd edition, 1936; New Yourk: Dover, n.d., p.73).

    “the process must be slow which commends the hypothesis of natural evolution to the public mind. For what are the core and essence of this hypothesis? Strip it bare, and you stand face to face with the notion, that the human mind itself – emotion, intellect, will, and all their phenomena – were once latent in a fiery cloud. Surely the mere statement of such a notion is more than a refutation…. Surely these notions represent an absurdity too monstrous to be entertained by any sane mind…. These evolution notions are absurd, monstrous….” (John Tyndall, “Althenaeum,” September 24, 1870, p. 409.)

    Furhtermore, you’re assuming that one cannot survive with false beliefs. Maybe the false belief you came up with is problematic, but there are thousands of other belief-desire combinations that could be given. You could think bears are cute things that need to be petted, but to pet them you must run away from them.

    “It’s a shame that for all your philosophical knowledge, you don’t know the first thing about evolution.”

    Oh, but I do. Survival is the most important, as evolutionaist and materialist Pat Churchland said above, “Truth, whatever that is, takes the hindmost.”

    “The world is only understandable if the rules of physics etc are uniform, and everything we’ve discovered about it suggests that it is. In fact, if you reject naturalism in favour of supernaturalism, you have a universe where beings outside the natural order of things can interfere at will with the universe, which means the things we base our knowledge on, like sense experience and logic, would not be stable, ergo knowledge is impossible. Well done, you’ve just refuted supernaturalism.”

    Well this is ripe. First off, plenty of atheistic scientific anti-realists would disagree with you. Furthermore, you could be in a dream world, a matrix world, and understand it even though there are no real physical entities.

    Your next claim is a total non-sequitur. Why would the “world not be stable?” Why would knowledge, logic, etc., not be stable? What is your theory of providence? Different than mine, I can tell. This is Sunday School atheism. Lazy atheism. You’re ignorant of almost everything you try to debate.

    And what is your “evidence” for the reliablity of sense experience? Do you belieev it on “faith?”

    Lastly, what does it mean to say that everything that exists is “in this universe?” Even “logic?” Is it on Mars? Where? Is it like an ether that permeates everything. Is it omnipresent? Can it tell us how to think? So it is authorotative? An omnipresent and authorotative entity?

    Do you even have an argument for any of this?

    “That is exactly true. But you’ve still SEEN a tiger. A by-product of our evolution is indeed magical thinking which explains why humans do hold irrational beliefs, like Christianity for example. But more often than not, we’ve learned to rely on our sense experience.”

    Uh, you missed the point. I showed how a false belief could have survival value. Given that there are literally THOUSANDS of belief-desire combinations, what is the probability, given blind evolutionary processes, that we developed the cognitive faculties that are aimed at truth? What is P (R/NE)? I’d say it is low or inscrutable. Further, why think what you see is what is there? Why are your senses reliable? Beings that evolved to see large and hungry creatures as small, and small creatures as large, would be able to survive. Just rin from the “small” creatures. Eyesight doesn’t need to be reliable.

    “That’s awful. The argument is invalid because the first premise is flawed. It’s flawed because it’s a false dilemma: “Either nothing exists or god exists” is wrong.”

    It’s invalid if you ASSUME that God is not a necessary being. I don;t assume that. So, what you meant wasn;t that there were no logical arguments for God’s existence, you meant that there were no logical arguments that YOU AGREE WITH!! Big whoop, Evan. In that case, there are “no arguments for evolution.” No arguments for “atheism.” I don;t agree with any of them, thus they must not exist. You’re funny, evan. What, are you still in highschool?

    “Urm, nope, sorry. There is not one successful argument for god in history. But, if you’d like to come up with one, I invite you to present it and become the most famous person in human history! What are you waiting for??”

    Still don’t want to define “successful?”

    “These are all red herrings. If they are problems for me, they are problems for you! Your philosophical drivel boils down to the Transcendental Argument for God. I could just point you here: “

    Uh, Evan, time to pay attention, son. I asked you to prove those things I listed with a (*). Can you? If not, are you “irrational” for believing in them/ Get with the program. Pay attention to my arguments.

    “Ok, you use logic. Logic states: A cannot be A and also ~A at the same time. Try this:

    2 Kings 8:26:
    “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.”

    2 Chronicles 22:2:
    “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.”

    This to me, looks like a contradiction; a violation of logic.”

    Well, first off, plenty of atheists deny the law of non-contradiction. They are called Dialetheists. Check out Graham Priest and his works. Check out the SEP entry on Dialetheism. So, let’s not pretend that your own side is currently destroying the LNC.

    As far as the verses, I have no problem saying that we have a copyist error. Infallibility only applies to the autographa. Fortunately, there are other verses with tell us that 22 was his age. Thsi is just the art of textual criticism. All ancient sources have to deal with this. As you say, “If it is my problem, it is your problem.”

    “You see, if I want to prove to you that the moon exists, I just show you a photo, or video footage, or point to the sky. If you want to prove to me that cars exist, you just take me to the nearest road. Nobody in their right mind would have a problem with “knowledge” here, so why the double standards when it comes to god? “

    You really are a backwoods hick, aint you? This is the crackers in the pantry fallacy. How about if you wanted to show me that “logicv exists?” Could you “show me a picture?” How about the existence of “other minds.” Show me a picture? Oh, but you probably think brains are minds. Even so, have you cut open everyone’s head? And, furthermore, the two are not identical. Nothing physical has intentionality. Thoughts do. Thoughts are not physical. Anything physical can be described in third-person terms. Subjective experiences, thoughts, qualia, cannot be. Therefore, the two are not identical.

    Take your Appalachian Mountain, hayseed, ignorant atheism back to whatever hole and siscussion board you got it from.

    Got to go, no time to spell check….

  93. But now he thinks he doesn’t need to give me evidence. He apparantly doesn’t “DEMAND” evidence for all his beliefs, yet he “DEMANDS” that the theist offer evidence for all of his

    No, not all of his. Just for the existence of god.

    LOGIC” is contenless. It tells you NOTHING. It can’t give KNOWLEDGE

    That’s fine, but without it knowledge would be impossible. So all worldviews must presuppose logic, mustn’t they?

    You also need a wolrdview in which it makes sense. What is the ontological status of logic? How is it prescriptive given naturalism?

    Logic makes perfect sense given naturalism.

    Why “should” we reason according to the laws of logic?

    Stupid question. We “should” because it would be impossible to reason without logic.
    You keep harping on about logic, but logic isn’t a worldview and I didn’t say it was. I said all worldviews must be based on logic. A worldview of naturalism explains things well enough thank you.

    I don;t see how theist are “irrational?

    Not all theists are, but many theistic beliefs are irrational. It’s not irrational to believe in the moon for example, because there is verifiable evidence of its existence.
    Now, if you want to dismiss empiricism etc ok, but how do you arrive at your knowledge? How do you know the moon exists? At least we have SOME proof of it, even if nothing is 100% certain, we can still be 99% certain can’t we? Why the double standard when it comes to evidence of god?
    This is what I keep saying: if “knowledge” is a problem for the atheist, it’s a problem for you. But I’m not interested in this deeper absolute certain concept of knowledge. I’m talking about knowledge in the sense we use it every day. I know the sun exists. I know I exist. I know the external world exists. If we’re going to question this kind of real-world knowledge, we may as well just give up using the word altogether. Of course this leads to dire scepticism, which is self-refuting anyway; we should be sceptical of scepticism then!

    Moreover, who says “faith is belief without evidence?” And, even if it is, so what? I’ve already proven that it is not necessary nor sufficient for a belief to be rational that it have porpositinal evidence in its favor.

    You’re being disingenuous; we know quite well this is what faith means. There’s no point pretending otherwise.
    Unfortunately, there is no evidence or argument in favour of Christianity, so you can keep dodging the subject and pretend it doesn’t matter, but the fact remains: if you could prove god you would have done so already.

    Knowledge by testimony is regarded as a valuable way to acquire knowledge.

    In some circumstances this is true, depending on the nature of the claim. You think you’re throwing up road blocks but you’re just showing your question begging hypocrisy: you apply a double standard when it suits you.
    You know quite well if I say “I have a mother” you might accept this, but if I say “I saw a flying elephant”, you would not. Why? Why do you present this rubbish to me as if it were a problem to me when it’s not a problem to anyone at all?
    There is a difference between saying “the earth goes around the sun”, and “a being impregnated a woman with itself to give birth to itself so it could sacrifice itself to itself to appease itself for the crimes of two humans who ate from a tree.” You’re damn right we require stronger evidence than just testimony for some claims. That’s how it works in the real world. So again I ask: why the double standard?

    …then it is false to claim that when a Christian believes something on faith he believes irrationally

    Well, like I’ve just said, Christian beliefs are not those that are confirmable by uniform experience. Christianity denies uniform human experience and the requires suspension of the laws of the universe. If these laws are not uniform and predictable, knowledge is impossible.
    You might be typing at a computer, or satan or god could be deceiving your brain by creating false images of the natural world. For naturalists, this isn’t a problem; the laws of physics and nature are constant and unchangeable by outside interference, therefore knowledge as apprehended by our senses is reliable. Not perfect, but reliable. You take the tiny window of 1% uncertainty and claim knowledge is therefore impossible! Ridiculous. Then, you try and fill that gap with a sky fairy from Jewish myth.

    and if the Christian takes the say-so of God as a source for his/her beliefs, then isn’t the Christian entitled to “know” these things?

    Yes, he might be entitled to believe, but he isn’t being told by god. He is told by reading the bible, and he has to read the bible with his eyes and brain; sense experience again. You cannot apprehend knowledge of the bible without your sense experience, the very same source of knowledge you are attacking. So if it’s a problem for me, it’s a problem for you.

    ”With me, the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

    I’m not what this is supposed to prove. Darwin raises an interesting point, but it proves nothing except that our sense experience is not 100% certain to provide accurate knowledge. I concede this. But it’s your burden too. You cannot escape it by inventing a god written in a book that you yourself have to read with your senses.
    You can quote all the anti-evolutionary anti-knowledge sources you like. And indeed, I applaud your research, but I could point to the majority of evolutionary biologists who would disagree with these statements. I could point to many philosophical atheists who disagree too. So what is the point?

    First off, plenty of atheistic scientific anti-realists would disagree with you. Furthermore, you could be in a dream world, a matrix world, and understand it even though there are no real physical entities.

    There are far more atheistic scientific realists though.
    This dream world, matrix etc is garbage. Yes it MIGHT be the case. But do we have any reason to think it is? How probable is it? Again, this is all red herring equivocation. If it’s a problem for you it’s a problem for me.
    The fact that species evolve implies nothing about right or wrong, or ought. If you have a problem with evolution and think you can disprove it, present your “evidence” to the scientific community. Put your money where your mouth is. If only Dawkins knew people like you existed, I’m sure he couldn’t sleep at night!
    The fact is, humans did evolve, so all your waffle is just bunk. We did evolve, whether god exists or not, so if it’s a problem for me it’s a problem for you. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Just as we can prove the earth goes around the sun, we can prove humans evolved. The word prove here means exactly what it does in the everyday world. Your ultimate knowledge issues are fascinating but irrelevant.

    Why would the “world not be stable?” Why would knowledge, logic, etc., not be stable?

    Because god or any supernatural being could suspend those laws at will. And if you say “oh well he wouldn’t do that” you’re just begging the question by presupposing your particular version of god.

    It’s invalid if you ASSUME that God is not a necessary being

    So you assume god’s necessary? Well, I don’t. That was easy.
    The rest of your comment is just arrogance and conceit of the highest order. I seriously doubt that if a god exists the only way to prove his existence is by getting only those condescending self-righteous theists who’ve learned all the philosophical tricks of the trade to raise issues of epistemology (that most theists in the world wouldn’t understand) to convince atheists like me. Hmm, I just don’t see it.
    You see, all I have to do is accept you’re right. (you’re not on everything, but for the sake of argument let’s say you are), because I don’t have the time to address every single thing you wrote. YOU’RE right: knowledge in the context you mean is not 100% certain. So what? What is it, 99%, 98%, ok I can still live with that. If you get your own way by positing a necessary being called god, I can do it: I posit a necessary external world with uniform logic. There you go. Now, based on that I can use my fairly reliable sense experience to gain knowledge.
    The funny thing is that you do exactly the same thing. You posit an external logical world and the existence of other minds. You then ADD an unnecessary element to that world because of the philosophical deeper issues surrounding the certainty of knowledge. But you’re just trying to invent a problem and fill it with god. But if it’s a problem for the atheist it is for you. You can’t just define god into existence.
    You would know nothing of the bible and your sky daddy without what you’ve been told and heard, so you must assume the validity of your sense experience in the first place! So if I beg the question, so do you. The difference is that once we assume the reasonable validity of our sense experience and the external world, we are left to decide what we know in the everyday world, like other people, the moon, the road, our cars, the computer, our friends etc, based on logic and evidence. It’s as simple as that.
    Your philosophical knowledge, as impressive as it is, is irrelevant, because in everyday life no one cares about that. We do not use the word “know” in the sense you are trying to force here. When I say ‘I know’ I love my family, I don’t care if the source of my sense experience is 100% certain, and neither do you. Like I said, if it was good enough for Hume it good’s enough for me. So, in the common use of the word “proof”, I want you to prove god, without question begging or distracting everyone with philosophical rambling. Everything else is just red herrings.

  94. How to cut an atheist intellectual head off:

    “No, not all of his. Just for the existence of god.”

    Well I don’t have to provide it for God’s existence. You’re a hypocrite. You try to say that ALL BELIEFS SHOULD HAVE EVIDENCE DEMANDED OF THEM, and when I embarrass your claim, you say, “Oh, well, I just mean your god belief does,” You look ridiculous. Thanks for playing, though.

    “That’s fine, but without it knowledge would be impossible. So all worldviews must presuppose logic, mustn’t they?”

    Sure do. And so I want to know how that is possible given other claims in your worldview.

    “Logic makes perfect sense given naturalism.”

    No it doesn’t. What is the ontological status of logic? How is it prescriptive given naturalism?

    “Stupid question. We “should” because it would be impossible to reason without logic.
    You keep harping on about logic, but logic isn’t a worldview and I didn’t say it was. I said all worldviews must be based on logic. A worldview of naturalism explains things well enough thank you.”

    Stupid answer. You commit the naturalistic fallacy. That we *do* reason that way does not imply that we *ought* to reason that way. Furthermore, not everyone reasons logically, Evan. Don’t make empirically false claims.

    “Not all theists are, but many theistic beliefs are irrational. It’s not irrational to believe in the moon for example, because there is verifiable evidence of its existence.”

    Where is the “verified evidence” of:

    (*) reliability of memory

    (*) reliability of sense perception

    (*) laws of logic

    (*) existence of a past

    (*) other minds

    (*) induction

    ???????

    Can you answer my questions, or is name calling all you atheists have? If you don’t have evidence for the above, then are you “irrational” for believing them?

    “Now, if you want to dismiss empiricism etc ok, but how do you arrive at your knowledge? How do you know the moon exists? At least we have SOME proof of it, even if nothing is 100% certain, we can still be 99% certain can’t we? Why the double standard when it comes to evidence of god?”

    I do dismiss empiricism. I do not dismiss the basic reliability of sense perception. I have no problems with that. There are various ways I arrive at knowledge of propositions. it’s not a one-stop-shop. My question, though, is based on your argument against theism – i.e., it bases belief without propositional evidence in its favor – how do you account for the rationality in believing in all the things listed under the (*)’s?

    “This is what I keep saying: if “knowledge” is a problem for the atheist, it’s a problem for you. But I’m not interested in this deeper absolute certain concept of knowledge. “

    Saying so don’t make it so. i actually gave arguments. You have failed to deal with many of them. The ones you have tried to deal with, you’ve failed miserably. You do not know those things exist. You have a defter for the reliability of your cognitive faculties. You have not answered that argument.

    “You’re being disingenuous; we know quite well this is what faith means. There’s no point pretending otherwise.”

    Yet again the atheist can’t back up his claims.

    A simple perusal of, say, Paul Helm’s book “Faith With Reason” would show that there are many conceptions of faith out there, and some are far from Evan’s definition (see Helm, pp. 1-20). Hence I don’t see how his definition, which he needs for his argument to work, is essential to theism? Is Evan correct and every theist wrong? Do we let the unfaithful define faith and set the rules of the game? I mean, I know that Mark Twain defined faith similar to the way Evan has, but since when is Twain the authority on religious definitions? Why would our “’lil atheist” take Twain as his source for a definition of faith rather than, say, interacting with Plantinga in pages 241-289? Or, why hasn’t our “lil’ responder” interacted with one of the mainstays of the Christian definition of faith – the tripartite understanding? The three components: notitia, fiducia, and assensus seem to radically rebut our “responder’s” claims. If further evidence is needed, one can cite such contemporary standard as Moreland and Craig’s “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” pages 5-7, 17-18, etc). Indeed, in a standard college textbook for introductory epistemology classes, Routledge’s “Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge” we find that faith can certainly be “rational” (Robert Audi, pp. 285-286). I therefore looks like scholarship across the board is in disagreement with our “rational responder.” In fact, even the Bible claims that faith is “evidence” (cf. Heb. 11).

    So, go put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    “Unfortunately, there is no evidence or argument in favour of Christianity, so you can keep dodging the subject and pretend it doesn’t matter, but the fact remains: if you could prove god you would have done so already.”

    Unfortunately, there is no evidence or argument in favor of other minds, the past, induction, logic, reliability of sense perception, reliability of cognitive faculties, reliability of memory, &C, so you can keep dodging the subject and pretend it doesn’t matter, but the fact remains: if you could prove those things you would have done so already.

    Furthermore, here’s roughly 24:

    http://www.homestead.com/philofreligion/files/Theisticarguments.html

    Here’s another one:

    http://www.proginosko.com/docs/knowledge_and_theism.html

    Here’s another one:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/02/if-evil-then-god.html

    I could keep going…..

    “In some circumstances this is true, depending on the nature of the claim. You think you’re throwing up road blocks but you’re just showing your question begging hypocrisy: you apply a double standard when it suits you.
    You know quite well if I say “I have a mother” you might accept this, but if I say “I saw a flying elephant”, you would not. Why? Why do you present this rubbish to me as if it were a problem to me when it’s not a problem to anyone at all?”

    But one’s worldview determines what is reasonable. I don’t see how theist are “irrational?” And, define “rational?” I open my Oxford Companion to Rationality and over 5 different conceptions of rationality are discussed. Do you mean Aristotelian rationality? Means-end rationality? Necessary truths rationality? Bayesian rationality?

    Furthermore, what is “reasonable?” Who determines that? I take certain things as reasonable that you do not. Are you the standard of what is “reasonable?” Am I? Ayn Rand? David Hume? Alvin Plantinga? Who?

    Anyway, my point was that “faith” wasn’t irrational. Taking something on faith is taking something on the word of another. That you don’t believe in God isn’t my problem. Just because you don’t believe my testimony doesn’t make it false, Evan. So, I’ve just proven that the theist can be rational in believing something on faith. If we are wrong, then we are not. So, care to prove us wrong? To say my version of faith is wrong is to make a *positive assertion* about the way the word is, Evan. You really aren’t this dumb in real life, are you? C’mon, you’re really a theist who is trying to make atheists look stupid, right? Good one. I almost fell for it.

    “There is a difference between saying “the earth goes around the sun”, and “a being impregnated a woman with itself to give birth to itself so it could sacrifice itself to itself to appease itself for the crimes of two humans who ate from a tree.” You’re damn right we require stronger evidence than just testimony for some claims. That’s how it works in the real world. So again I ask: why the double standard?

    Way to beat up a straw man, you dummy. Try studying basic Christian literature and quit acting like a retard.

    And, it’s not just “testimony.” Furthermore, you can’t get much stronger than the word of someone who cannot lie, knows everything, and is always right, now can you??? Sounds like good evidence to me. That you don’t believe the evidence isn’t my problem, Evan. Just because someone might not think 1 + 1 = 2, that doesn’t make the arguments in favor of it, wrong.

    “Well, like I’ve just said, Christian beliefs are not those that are confirmable by uniform experience.”

    How about your belief that beliefs need evidence for them to be rational? Ooops, you’re acting like a “Christian.” Where is the “confirmable evidence” for the existence of other minds? Do you believe in them? Opps, you’re acting like a Christian again. Where is the “confirmable evidence” for “logic?” Do you believe in logic/? Ooops, you’re acting like a “Christian” again.

    “Yes, he might be entitled to believe, but he isn’t being told by god. He is told by reading the bible, and he has to read the bible with his eyes and brain; sense experience again. You cannot apprehend knowledge of the bible without your sense experience, the very same source of knowledge you are attacking. So if it’s a problem for me, it’s a problem for you.”

    He is being told by God. I never denied sense experience and the rest. You haven’t even followed my argument, have you? You’re good proof of the problems with the America public school system.

    “There are far more atheistic scientific realists though.”

    So, they think you can get along just fine without the “laws” of physics being true. Do you have an answer to the anti-realist challenge, or is an argumentum ad populum the best you got, champ?

    “The fact is, humans did evolve, so all your waffle is just bunk. We did evolve, whether god exists or not, so if it’s a problem for me it’s a problem for you. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. Just as we can prove the earth goes around the sun, we can prove humans evolved. The word prove here means exactly what it does in the everyday world. Your ultimate knowledge issues are fascinating but irrelevant.”

    hey, I like your argument style:

    The fact is, humans were created, so all your waffle is just bunk. We were created. The evidence for creation is overwhelming. Just as we can prove the earth goes around the sun, we can prove special creation. The word prove here means exactly what it does in the everyday world. Your ultimate knowledge issues are fascinating but irrelevant.

    You’re a joke.

    “Because god or any supernatural being could suspend those laws at will. And if you say “oh well he wouldn’t do that” you’re just begging the question by presupposing your particular version of god.”

    That’s right, I presuppose my version of God. Can you beat me, or not? Furthermore, could isn’t interesting for your argument. You need a would. Could doesn’t imply would. That’s a modal fallacy. Hit the books, son. You are an embarrassment to atheists everywhere, aren’t you?

    “So you assume god’s necessary? Well, I don’t. That was easy.
    The rest of your comment is just arrogance and conceit of the highest order. “

    But I disproved your “false dilemma” counter. I showed that there was a “logical” argument. Indeed, it was a valid disjunctive syllogism. That you don’t agree with the premises doesn’t mean that “there are no arguments.” What you meant was, “there are no arguments THAT EVAN AGREES WITH!!” But if this is the standard for the existence of arguments, then: “there are no arguments for evolution of atheism.” Evan, ever typed the phrase PWNED? That applies here.

    Lastly, I am not an infallibilist. I don’t think we have to be 100% certain to know something. You just can’t keep up, can you? But my argument against the reliability of your cognitive faculties was not based on you not being “certain: that they were aimed at truth. Go re-read my arguments. Slowly. Otherwise, why respond? Just to “save face.” That’s sad. I thank God I’m not an irrational atheist like Evan.

    “Like I said, if it was good enough for Hume it good’s enough for me.”

    You can’t prove logic, induction, a self through time, memory, the existence of a past, other minds, etc. hgiven Humean empiricism.

    “So, in the common use of the word “proof”, I want you to prove god, without question begging or distracting everyone with philosophical rambling. Everything else is just red herrings.”

    I asked you to prove logic first. Get to stepping, son.

  95. Whacky ROCKS!

    Evan,

    If you would like to see my evidence for God, please re-read your posts. Your hatred of God clearly demonstrates that you believe in him and hate him. And your hatred also serves as evidence to me that he exists. Not definitive proof, mind you, but evidence.

    And frankly, the fact that you believe in God and hate him so much, but that this leads to an incredibly obvious irrationality and stumbling inconsistencies on your part, is a great encouragement to me, because I see it as evidence of God.

    So you have encouraged me that God really does exist, so I thank you.

    Would you like to see more evidence? How about all things. There is my evidence. Since I believe that God is the Creator, and so do you, we can actually both see quite clearly that the entire universe is made up of evidence for God’s existence, just like this post is evidence of my existence.

    Is the belief in God rational? Yes, because it is based on authority. You have all sorts of beliefs based on your own authority. Why can’t I have beliefs based on other peoples’ authority? Well, actually, your beliefs are also based on other peoples’ authority, probably some burned out hippie atheistic professor who has been teaching in a university since the 60’s and hates God every bit as much as you do. And having submitted to his authority, you believe what he told you to believe because you wanted to.

    However, since he actually has no authority regarding the things of God, your beliefs actually turn out to be based on non-existent authority, and are thus irrational.

    The Christian’s beliefs are based on God’s authority, one who has the authority to speak about him.

  96. Whacky, you’ve said nothing of note and your constant sniping and arrogance is pathetic. Aren’t you christians supposed to be humble? Isn’t it the meek that will inherit the earth? If Jesus ever existed I believe he would speak with far more grace and eloquence than you.

    So thank you, your very attitude is a disgrace to decent christians everywhere.

    Echo, I don’t hate god. I can’t hate something that doesn’t exist.

    Unfortunately for you, the universe wasn’t created. Creation is an assumption; you to have assume design in order to prove it.

    Actually, my atheism is a result of being raised a fundamentalist christian; once I learned critical thinking and saw the arguments for god debunked (which I’d never be shown before) I realised that there was no good reason to believe in god. It was painful. It was very upset at the time and I thought life was pointless. I’m sure if you ever deconvert you’ll feel the same way.

    But, just because it was hard to lose my faith, didn’t make my faith right! Comfort of belief is irrelevant to facts.

    Now, I count myself incredibly lucky, because I don’t believe ancient superstitious myths. I can enjoy my life and that of others. I can enjoy the beauty of the universe and understand it in my limited human way, without postulating an invisible friend to explain anything. Life is precious, and spending it trying to offer servile worship to a Cosmic Overlord is a sheer waste.

    I don’t hate theists. I feel sorry for you. But it’s a huge irony that you accuse me of hatred, because in all your comments to me here the hate is flowing one way: you to me. You hate me. You hate atheists. I can see it with the constant sarcasm, the arrogance, the sniping, the bitterness, the constant insults.

    Is this true christianity? Is this how god chooses to win atheists over?? It’s funny, I don’t remember Jesus stringing together sarcastic bitter venom interspersed with philosophical equivocation about knowledge, ontology, and metaphysics. He didn’t have to. He went around talking to people, curing them, demonstrating his power, and proving his words with actions.

    Now, it is too much to ask to give the atheist of today the same standard of evidence?? Or is it god’s purpose that the only way to prove him is to try and blind people with epistemological double standards that they would never apply to any other field?

    If god exists then he has given us reliable sense experience Of course even if doesn’t exist we can assume the reliability of our sense experience. (You just go one assumption more than me). So the onus is on you to explain why the leading experts in the field such as evolution examine the empirical evidence with their sense experience and conclude that life evolved, and was not specially created.

    You see, I can admit that god might exist. I have no vested interest. My only concern is where the truth lies. But I cannot kid myself. My sense experience denies the authenticity of the bible; it denies the possibility of a loving god in this world; it denies special creation because the evidence doesn’t point to it. Now, if I’m wrong, fine: but why didn’t god do a far better job making his existence EMPIRICALLY DEMONSTRABLE to all people, because, after all, he gave us empirical senses for a reason didn’t he?? Why pretend he’s empirically discoverable, say, through the argument from design, when a study of the world DOESN’T demonstrate intelligent design? It makes no sense.

    So if he exists and I have to face him one day, fine. If he asks me why I didn’t believe, I’ll just say “sorry G, it’s this lousy sense experience you gave me and this lousy brain; there was just no reason to believe in you.” At least my answer will be honest, and if he’s loving and understanding that should be good enough for him.

  97. Evan,

    I came to this combox, read the threads, and saw you bullying people, mocking people, and making stupid claims. So I figured I’d beat you at your own game. What, you don’t like people who act like that? So you don’t like yourself? How sad.

    And, have you read your Bible? Jesus called people names. Paul did too. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal. Ridicule is sometimes a divinely sanctioned action. Especially when used against arrogant opponants, and also thhsoe who have apostatized from the faith – which you said you have.

    Furthermore, what about those arguments against Jesus being a big meany by whipping people and not condemning slvery? What about those arguments against Jehovah for how much of a meany he was in the OT. It looks like when I act like biblical figures I get told I am not acting like a Christian, and when we act like how you think Christians are supposed to act, we get told that we are nice by the biblical characters didn’t act like that; they were big meanies.

    I’d also add that the Bible doesn’t say that Christians will be perfect. It says that we will sin. So, say you’re right. Say you have noted sin in my life. You’ve only noted something consistent with Christian theology! When Christians act badly it is not a disconfirmation of Christianity, but a confirmation of biblical anthropology!

    Lastly, the flip side is this, by what standard do you judge my actions? Is it “immoral” to be cocky, rude, and arrogant, according to your worldview? Who lays down the laws? Why should we follow them? By what standard?

    Now, I must conclude by pointing out that you have failed to address over 50% of my arguments. You have been shown to be an intellectual hypocrite. And, you have had your precious “no evidence for God” argument sliced and diced. it is lying on the floor all bloody, and you can do nothing to save its life. Time to go back home, you’ve been out later than your mom allows, kid.

  98. What about those arguments against Jehovah for how much of a meany he was in the OT. It looks like when I act like biblical figures I get told I am not acting like a Christian, and when we act like how you think Christians are supposed to act, we get told that we are nice by the biblical characters didn’t act like that; they were big meanies.

    All that shows is the bible is a contradictory mess. Of course I can point out the “good” things Jesus did. I can also point out the “bad” things he did. Unlike you, I don’t believe in the infallibility of the bible so the bronze age mess in its pages is your problem not mine.

    Having said that, maybe I’m wrong, perhaps the bible does have some real world wisdom. Like, in the OT where the method for giving birth to stripy sheep is to have sheep mate in the presence of stripy sticks! Wow, if only biologists were aware of this eh?

    I came to this combox, read the threads, and saw you bullying people, mocking people, and making stupid claims.

    Actually, I think that’s a bit harsh, not that you’ll care of course. I originally came here to talk about the moral thought experiment that RubeRad posed, and I was greeted by obnoxious theistic sarcasm and anti-atheist hate. So, if I gave anyone the impression that I was bullying or mocking people, I deeply sincerely apologise.

    According to you however, two wrongs make a right. That doesn’t quite sound like “turning the other cheek” does it? How christian of you.

    When Christians act badly it is not a disconfirmation of Christianity, but a confirmation of biblical anthropology!

    There’s a better explanation: sin is a myth. Humans generally act good, but some occasionally act wrong. We don’t need “god” or whatever you want to call it to explain anything.

    Lastly, the flip side is this, by what standard do you judge my actions? Is it “immoral” to be cocky, rude, and arrogant, according to your worldview? Who lays down the laws? Why should we follow them? By what standard?

    Because human beings are thinking beings that interact with people. When someone acts in a certain way we give that a label, that’s what words are for. If you want to deny the real meaning of words relating to real actions in the real world, then the route of dire skepticism and impossibility of knowledge lies before you, not me.

    Time to go back home, you’ve been out later than your mom allows, kid.

    I’m sure your theist friends will high-five you for comments like this, after they called you in to smack me about the place with as many red herrings as you could find; those of whom actually understand half of what you’re saying, which, based on my interactions with them, is probably none of them, but that’s besides the point.

    Francois Tremblay:

    Posit X as a feature of human understanding.

    1. X is necessary or has a necessary part.

    2. If theism is true, then divine creation obtains.

    3. If divine creation is true, then all in the universe is contingent to God’s act of creation, and nothing in the universe is necessary.

    4. If theism is true, then no X can be necessary or have a necessary part. (from 2 and 3)

    5. Theism is false. (from 1 and 4)

    This is basically what I was saying above: if logic is a result of god’s will, logic is subjective and contingent. The laws of logic and the universe are therefore capricious and changeable; ergo knowledge is impossible. Theism fails.

    To say that logic is part of god’s nature dodges the issue; it is still not a part of objective reality and is therefore subjective. Also, this contradicts the theistic claim that god created logic. God can presumably also control it and change uniform laws at will. You cannot pretend he wouldn’t as you must assume your own version of god, and there is no reason to allow this. For one, your version of god you must apprehend by appealing to sense experience and reason (i.e.: the bible and your interpretation of it), but you cannot do this in a universe where knowledge is impossible; i.e.: a theistic universe. “god” could be toying with you and making you see things that aren’t there. This isn’t a problem for the atheist worldview.

    Even if your presuppositionalism is correct, it would only necessitate postulation of a Being. You can might call it “god” but there is no connection between this being and that of any religion on earth. You would have to presuppose the authenticity of the bible to connect it to the Being, which is circular reasoning.

    You have to add the following assumptions, Tremblay again:

    * believe that God exists.
    * I believe that God can, and does, intervene in the universe.
    * I believe that God can speak to human beings.
    * I believe that humans can understand God and write his words in a book.

    But if we need to believe that God exists to accept the standard by which we say that God exists, we have a circular argument.

    Only in a materialistic closed system can logic and nature be immutable and therefore can knowledge be gained.

  99. What a joke. Fransuave Tremblay???? You have got to be kidding me. Watch me slice and dice Tremblay:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/03/tremblay-vs-plantingas-eaan-and-winner_07.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/03/round-2-tremblay-vs-plantingas-reformed.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/03/round-3-come-back-kid-or-rope-dope.html

    Then, let’s look at his argument. Premise 3 is false. First off, there are at least 5 different kinds of necessity philosophers talk about. Which one did you have in mind? Further, things can be contingent in one sense, necessary in another. The speed of light is an example. In one sense, it is a physical necessity, in another, it isn’t since there is a possible world where there is (a) no light, (b) light travels faster or slower, (b) there is no matter, etc.

    Then “what” feature? Break this down. Explain it.

    Now, how stupid are you guys??? Did humans *have to* exist? Given evolution, they did not “have to.” So, “human understanding” didn’t “have to” exist since humans din;’ “have to” exist. So, how is X “necessary?” What are you even talking about? Surely you can’t be this dense in real life.

    “This is basically what I was saying above: if logic is a result of god’s will, logic is subjective and contingent. The laws of logic and the universe are therefore capricious and changeable; ergo knowledge is impossible. Theism fails.”

    I don’t care what you were saying. I don’t accept your premise, you dolt. You don’t just get to assert premises no one agrees with. What a champ you are! You beat a theism no one holds to. Where in theistic literature do you find the above? Where in the Bible?

    The laws of logic we formulate have the goal of representing the unchaining, universal, immaterial, mind of God. How he thinks. And, *what* laws of logic are you talking about? Aristotelian? Fregian? Deontic? Modal? Quantification? I mean, are *all* those *necessary?* How so, Modern propositional logic contradicts Aristotelian logic! So, what are you even talking about? You’re acting like your ape-like ancestors again.

    “To say that logic is part of god’s nature dodges the issue; it is still not a part of objective reality and is therefore subjective. Also, this contradicts the theistic claim that god created logic.”

    How so? If theism is correct, God is objective reality. he exists, after all. Talk about question begging assertions.

    Next, which theists maintain that God “created” logic. And, why should I care if any do. I don’t. The Bible does say that. So, you can’t pin anything on me. Are you that stupid and childish that you think if one theist says something, that binds all theists everywhere? Would you like to stand by every claim an atheist has ever made?

    “God can presumably also control it and change uniform laws at will. “

    What laws? Any? Even Michael Martin, atheist superstar, says the laws of nature are not absolute:

    Michael Martin: “Frame has argued correctly that science does not presuppose the absolute uniformity of nature, but I do not suppose that it does.”

    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/martin-frame/tang2.html

    The laws of physics are logically contingent: they hold in some but not all logically possible worlds. The laws of logic, however, obviously hold in every logically possible world — for the simple reason that they define what it is to be logically possible.

    Note that to say that a proposition is logically necessary is to say that it is true just in virtue of its logical form. But does anyone really want to assert that laws of nature are true in virtue of their logical form? Perhaps one will say that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary — where metaphysical necessity is distinguished from logical necessity — but then argument is needed since most philosophers will hold that nomologically possible worlds are a proper subset of both logically possible and metaphysically possible worlds.

    Laws of nature or physics are descriptive, not prescriptive. Laws of logic are prescriptive.

    So, the two are not the same. That God could suspend r change a law of physics does not imply that he could do so with logic.

    Lastly, how do you know laws of nature cannot be violated? How would one know such a thing? Past experience? How can you extrapolate that into the future, though? In other words, you must assume induction, do you have a “proof” for that? You said I have to “prove” God for me belief to be rational, well then, “prove induction.”

    “For one, your version of god you must apprehend by appealing to sense experience and reason (i.e.: the bible and your interpretation of it), but you cannot do this in a universe where knowledge is impossible; i.e.: a theistic universe. “god” could be toying with you and making you see things that aren’t there. This isn’t a problem for the atheist worldview.”

    Oh, the old “God could be tricking you” canard. First, we don’t have to be *certain* to know things. You’ve admitted that. So, the mere *logical possibility* that God could be tricking you doesn’t mean that knowledge is impossible. After all, an alien super scientist could be sending gamma rays into your brain and causing you to believe falsehoods, thus you don’t know anything. You deny this for you, but you hold us accountable to that standard? What an epistemic hypocrite.

    That God *could* deceive us, doesn’t mean that he *would* deceive us. “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

    Herein lies the ancient roots of many atheological arguments, especially pop arguments by amateur internet atheologians. Just because a woodchuck could chuck would, doesn’t mean he would. Perhaps it would be different for each woodchuck. Maybe Bob the woodchuck would chuck 1 pound of wood because Bob doesn’t happen to like chucking wood. But, Jim the woodchuck likes the idea of chucking wood and so he would chuck 100 pounds of wood. Maybe, though, the question just means, if a woodchuck could indeed chuck wood, how much could he chuck. But, then, “would” is used as a synonym for “could.” Thus the twister would read: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.” “Would” usually connotes a disposition or willingness to do something, i.e, “Would you pick up eggs for me while you’re at the store?” So, just because Bob could chuck wood doesn’t mean he would chuck as much as Jim. That a woodchuck could chuck wood doesn’t entail that he would. This is a modal fallacy. Now, before you go getting all upset and say that I’m taking this children’s game too far, remember that I’m just saying that the roots of many amateur atheological arguments have their roots in children’s games. The difference is that the game doesn’t pretend to be making any serious point, and so we can go easy on any in depth analysis.

    How could an all-wise Evan offer such bad Evanescent arguments? Since Evan could reason better, he would. He doesn’t, therefore Evan doesn’t exist.

    Evan, for some reason, puts a lot of stock into the: “God could do X, therefore you have no reason to believe He wouldn’t do X” argument. I’ve already discussed this type of atheist strategy elsewhere.

    One of Evan’s’ favorites is this one: “God could deceive you, therefore you have no reason to believe He wouldn’t, therefore you can’t trust your reasoning.”

    It’s an obvious non sequitur. That Evan could beat his doggie doesn’t entitle me to believe that he would beat his doggie. Similarly, that Evan could offer a somewhat logical argument does not entitle me to believe that he ever would do so.

    Evan offered his above favorite “God could do X” argument in this combox . I already answered this in this combox. Evan ignores me and just re-asserts his stupid arguments. Evan thinks that saying something a multitude of times will change the outcome of his arguments. Evan is like a man who believes that 0 + 0 = 0 but 0 + 0 + 0 does not = 0. For some reason, he thinks his arguments, which equal zero, can add up to more than zero if he just adds some more zeros to the equation.

    How can the “God is controlling everything, so he could deceive you” argment be addressed?

    1. The first thing to note is that (a) if theism is true, and Evan’s claims are true, then Evan has no reason to believe what he’s written. And, (b), via tu quoque, if Evans’ physicalism is true, he has no reason to believe his charges here. So, if either (a) or (b) are the case, and what Evan says is the case, Evan has, by believing the conjunction of the two, a defeater for his beliefs, esp. his beliefs in his argument here. On top of that, if Evan holds to Naturalism and Evolution, he has no reason to believe his cognitive faculties are reliable. Why would evolution select for truth *content?* It would seem that content would be invisible to evolutionary processes. Unless, of course, Evan wants to identify content with syntax? But then why think that the *truth* of a proposition has any bearing on neural structures. Presumably a “false” neuron is the same, physically, as a “true” neuron – this is supposing we can make sense of “false and true” *neurons.*

    2. Evan’ mere say-so that we has no basis for our beliefs does not, no matter how much Evan wishes, mean that what he says has any basis in reality. Indeed, it does not make the argument stronger because Eavn writes “theists are silly.”.

    3. Say that something roughly similar to Plantinga’s model is correct. That is, say that God designed us with cognitive faculties that were successfully aimed at being reliable in belief production. Surely this isn’t a logical impossibility. Hence, Evan cannot say that there are *no* reasons to think our beliefs are successfully aimed at the production of true beliefs.

    Notice an instantiation of the type of arguments I discuss in this post. It baffles me how Evan can think that his mentioning of “could” has any argumentative force, at all. If the fact that God “could” deceive us is meant to conclude, “therefore we have no reason to believe that God *is* not deceiving us,” then it appears that we can prove that God *is* not deceiving us. Counter:

    (*) “God *could* not be deceiving us, therefore, God is (or most probably is) not deceiving us.”

    So, it appears that (*) counters Evan’s argument. If not, how does Evan suppose his argument to work?

    Furthermore, why suppose that God *would* do something like this? Because of the broadly logical possibility that God *could* be deceiving us are we supposed to conclude that God *would* deceive us? That’s the relevant question. If God *wouldn’t* do X, the fact that he *could* doesn’t really matter. Evan has given us no reason to think that God would do anything like what Evan suggests.

    Further, given this model, and a model of warrant similar to Plantinga’s: A person S has warrant W for his belief that P only if the testifier T has W for P. If T is warranted in believing P, then S, the testifiee, has warrant for believing in P. Surely God, as conceived in the Christian tradition, has supreme, or maximal, or super warrant for his beliefs (in an analogous way). And, taking his testimony, which I have no reason to doubt (indeed, a case can be made that it is irrational to doubt his testimony since he is the supreme testifier. If His word should be approached with doubt, then we should never take anything on the testimony of others), I am warranted in believing in those doctrines.

    Moreover, taken detailed defenses and explanations of defeaters by those like Bergman, Plantinga, Otte, et al., you can’t defeat this by the mere mentioning that God could be lying. Trust in the word of God, especially if it has the epistemic role of ultimate authority, can trump some defeaters. Just like if all the circumstantial evidence pointed to me as being the dognapper of Evan’s dog, my belief, based on clear and impressive memories that I was walking in the park 50 miles away at the time of the crime, serves to defeat those defeaters. If I have not called in to question the testimony of the word of God, then it remains undefeated for me, and I am warranted in believing in those doctrines because they have warrant (in an analogous way, maximal warrant) for God. Now, *you* may doubt his word, but that doesn’t mean that *I* have to. If I should, why shouldn’t I doubt every thing I know from testimony? The only thing Evan can say here would, I think, confuse the *de jure* with the *de facto* questions.

    “Even if your presuppositionalism is correct, it would only necessitate postulation of a Being. “

    You don’t know anything about me or my version of presuppositionalism. Don’t stick your foot in your mouth because Fransuave Tremblay tells you what presuppositionalists believe. First off, he’s an idiot. Second, there are many strains and versions of presuppositionalism. You’re debating *me,* so deal with *me.*

    “But if we need to believe that God exists to accept the standard by which we say that God exists, we have a circular argument.”

    But if we have to use logic to prove logic and give a logical argument, we are arguing in a circle.

    it is no fallacious circle to have ultimate standards. You even agreed above.

    Anyway, not all circular arguments are bad. Here is what atheist and logician Douglas Walton says in the Oxford Companion to Philosophy:

    “Circularity is not always fallacious…” – Douglas Walton, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p. 135.

  100. Btw, Evan, don’t flatter yourself. No one “called me here.” I have been coming here for a while now. I stopped by and say 80 something comments. I saw yours, and decided to comment. I have known Ruberad for about 20 years. So, I know you might like to fancy yourself a theist smasher, but really you’re standing on top the mountain, waving your sword, screaming in victory. The problem: the sword is paper, and the real battle is going on in the valley below.

  101. Wacky, believe it or not, I actually came back today ready to thank you. You’ll given me a lot to think about and it’s been a while since I’ve had to debate with any presuppositionalists. Unfortunately once again I see that you simply cannot go 5 sentences without an arrogant condescending vitriolic remark. Truly, you exemplify christianity perfectly!

    I think you totally missed the point though.

    All a Transcendental argument for God can do is say that it is necessary to presuppose a Being in order to make knowledge possible.

    Now, let’s just say I accept this for a second (which of course I don’t). It is necessary to postulate an objective Something that is the standard for logic and reason and morality, and that has created a world such that human sense experience is possible based on the uniformity of nature.

    But, why would this Something be “god”? Why would it have to even be personal, let alone have a name? And how do you connect it to a god of a religion on earth?

    If you’re going to assume that Something created a uniform universe to allow humans to have sense experience, why not just assume that the universe is uniform anyway? Why not just assume that human sense experience is fairly reliable, not perfect, but good enough? Why not cut out the extraneous assumption?

    How is your presupposition any better than mine: the material world is a closed system.

    We both posit the existence of the material world, you just posit an extra world. Why?

    But even if there was Something, that created the universe with physical constant laws. That Something would have the power to alter those laws at will. You might say I have no reason to suppose this will happen, but you have no reason to suppose that it won’t! (And the god of all monotheistic religions on earth apparently DOES interfere with the universe at will through miracles etc, but we haven’t even got that far yet.) Or do you want to add ANOTHER presumption to your basket?

    All you have done is presuppose a necessary Something. If the laws of the universe are contingent on this Something, they are not uniform and are subject to whim. I see no reason to grant you the additional assumption that this Something has the qualities that YOU want to attribute to it. (Why your attribution and not something else’s? What is it about your extra assumptions that are necessary?)

    But if you were going to, how would you do so? Which character of all the millions of “gods” on earth do you ascribe to this Something?

    First of all, I assume you read a holy book or get informed about one of these characters. Presumably also this depends on where you are born. If you were born in the Middle East, you would presuppose the muslim god. If you were born in another part of the world, you might presuppose the necessary existence of the aboriginal god Wallaballabingbang (I made that up). As if happens, lucky for you, you were born in the great US of A, and you believe in the god of your parents. How convenient. So you project the character of the christian god onto the Something.

    But how do you know about the christian god? Sense experience. How can you trust your sense experience? After all, sense experience would have led you to believe in Allah or Vishnu in another part of the world? What different sense experience did you have to believe in christ that a Muslim or Hindu DIDN’T have? This is an argument you must take up with Islam Presuppositionalists. You see, you think the Presup argument is clever, but once you get a free pass to presuppose your own personal interpretation of god, so does any other religion!

    So back to sense experience which you use to acquire knowledge of “god” from the bible. You trust your sense experience to read the bible accurately. Of course this leads to a huge problem of why so many christians disagree with the interpretation of the bible. Are you right, Wacky and they’re all wrong?? Perhaps when you’re finished destroying the Islam Presups you can turn your razor sharp mind on your fellow christians and explain why YOUR interpretation of scripture is correct and THEIRS is wrong?

    So, are you saying that you have to presuppose the christian god in the first place before you can assume the validity of your senses; before you can actually read a holy book and come to know that being?? Hmm, that’s a damn shame for all those Presup theists who read ANOTHER holy book first. True, that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong, but it does mean there is NO reason to accept it.

    (What a pity for you that no one presupposes their particular version of god without first reading a holy book.)

    But how can you understand scripture without assuming a universe that has uniformity and the reliability of your sense experience? You might say “Oh well Something makes it possible”, but you no reason to believe that Something isn’t trying to deceive you. I know you tried to answer this above, but you failed, because your reasoning was circular. We haven’t even gotten around to choosing a god yet, all we have is Something, and we’re not sure if Something is even a personal creator being. Why not just call if the Universe?

    You might say, that’s bollocks Evan: only the Christian god can be the Something in question. My obvious answer is: why? What is it about the Christian god that makes knowledge possible? What particular qualities make a Something one that necessitates a uniform universe (assuming one that NEVER interfered with it).

    Whether YOU think Something would never interfere with the universe is irrelevant. That’s an assumption. The point is, IT CAN. And IF it can, the laws of nature are not uniform. Of course is the universe is a closed system, only internal actions can affect it, which means the universe is understandable in natural terms only, which makes science and empirical knowledge possible.

    So what is it about the Christian god, instead of Allah, that makes it necessary to presuppose one over the other?

    Where are all the Muslim Presups who (for example have never heard of christianity) popping up saying: “Knowledge is impossible unless I posit a god. This Allah guy won’t do, I’ll have to search the world for another holy book to find the right god to make knowledge possible! A-ha, christianity!”

    You would have NO knowledge of any god (in this case, your chosen god is jesus) without sense experience. FACT. You only came to learn about jesus through the bible or other people. FACT. Therefore, before you get started, you must assume your sense experience is reliable. FACT. Ok, so once you do this you’re in the same boat as me.

    For all you know, Allah really exists and is evil and is tricking your senses into believing in the bible to that you go to hell and die. There’s epistemological nihilism for you! And you cannot escape it.

    And if we both get to assume our sense experience in the first place, why does so much sense experience contradict religion? If special creation is false, why evidence for evolution? If god is all-loving, why so much evil? If god wants people to believe, why do so many not? If his word his perfect, why historical and factual contradictions in the bible? If he is loving, why the evil and wicked acts in the bible?

    My sense experience tells me the above (whether I’m right or wrong). Why would any god make sense experience possible for me, and then act in a way totally inconsistent with what I can apprehend from my senses?? And of course, it’s not just me. If you read the koran and saw the horror and contradictions in that, you would, I assume, write it off a work of primitive human fiction and evil. How? Your sense experience and reason. But when the VERY SAME events occur in the bible, you contradict your sense experience and reason by accepting them as ok!

    The sheer fact of so many non-christians in the world whose sense experience leads them to NOT believe in the christian god demonstrates:

    1. The consensus of human sense experience simply does NOT lead us to the christian god (perhaps because he doesn’t exist, but either way this brute fact cannot be denied), or

    2. If the christian god does exist our sense experience is obviously NOT reliable, otherwise there would be no doubt that he exists!

    3. Unbelievers are lying. (There is no reason to accept this unless we appeal to circular reasoning. And if the christian can deny that non-believers exist, so can the muslim etc).

    The only way to escape 2 is to answer that he isn’t bothered whether we apprehend knowledge of him by sense experience, OR that knowledge through sense experience of him is impossible. But if knowledge of god is irrelevant or impossible via sense experience then there is no point reading the bible! But if you didn’t read the bible how would you have apprehended knowledge of him in the first place??

    Ergo: Presups read a holy book FIRST thereby assuming their sense experience, they then project whatever character THEY PERSONALLY interpret from that book onto a Presupposed Something.

    Therefore, Presup apologetics can “work” for any theist in the world, all for mutually-exclusive gods, which makes them ultimately pointless.

  102. Hi Evan,

    Let’s see how deluded Evan is. He writes,

    “Wacky, believe it or not, I actually came back today ready to thank you. You’ll given me a lot to think about and it’s been a while since I’ve had to debate with any presuppositionalists. Unfortunately once again I see that you simply cannot go 5 sentences without an arrogant condescending vitriolic remark. Truly, you exemplify christianity perfectly!”

    =====Begin Evan Quotes=====

    Let’s see some phrases Evan has made, even way before I came here, starting with the first comment he made, before anyone even responded to him:

    (*) “Well I guess some of the comments on this article so far go to show that if you want to have a serious logical adult philosophical discussion on morality, don’t involve theists.”

    (*) “Some people must love to have answers to all the tough questions spoon-fed to them”

    (*) Yes, because being the dirty sinful depraved servile minions of a galactic overlord who demands worship and obedience morning, noon, and night, is truly liberating isn’t it?

    (*) “Life would actually be rather depressing if myths like Christianity were true!”

    (*) ” If you want to be a slave and worship and follow orders all day then carry on being a Christian, but don’t expect anyone else to be attracted to it. (It is unfortunate for you that your god doesn’t exist.)”

    (*) “I’m sorry daniel, but you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is philosophical ignorance of the highest order.”

    (*) “I humbly suggest some background reading on atheism, humanism, and basic philosophy, because statements like you make here are just plain embarrassing.”

    =====End Evan Quotes=====

    And that was just a sampling!

    As I said, Evan, you came here and acted arrogant, rude, cocky, and stupid from the start. You bullied people, and told them to go and study more, and they were embarrassing themselves.

    I saw this, applied Evanescent tactics to Evan, and found he didn’t like them. Like all bullies, if you sock ’em in the face, they run away and cry to mommy. Evan is a twerp. A kid. A punk. All talk, no action. A philosophical neophyte who bullies people, yet shows how ignorant a nullifidian he is.

    Furthermore, I goad Evan into responding. he has to protect his “image.” I name call, get him to come back, and then he continues to decimate atheism for us. Evan falls into my plan, like a pawn.

    Moving on….

    All a Transcendental argument for God can do is say that it is necessary to presuppose a Being in order to make knowledge possible.

    Where did I offer “the transcendental argument for God?” And, your claim is false. There are modal TAs as well.

    Continuing….

    But, why would this Something be “god”? Why would it have to even be personal, let alone have a name? And how do you connect it to a god of a religion on earth?

    i) Only persons can obligate, only absolute persons can absolutely obligate.

    ii) It is not “connected to” a God on earth, that God is presupposed. That’s the argument they give. One must presuppose precisely that kind of God. One example is the universal, unchanging, authoritative and tri-personal status of said God to account for the universal, unchanging, authoritative, normative and immaterial laws of logic.

    iii) Other attempts, like a Platonism, are impersonal and have other problems, one being the third-man argument. Another being the Euthyphro dilemma.

    iv) You know how you told other people to study up? Well, you should take your own advice.

    v) I do not hold of promulgate the strong modal version of TAG – the impossibility of the contrary. You’re attacking positions I don’t hold to; and you’re doing a poor job at that.

    Moving along….

    If you’re going to assume that Something created a uniform universe to allow humans to have sense experience, why not just assume that the universe is uniform anyway? Why not just assume that human sense experience is fairly reliable, not perfect, but good enough? Why not cut out the extraneous assumption?

    i) One reason would be the EAAN I gave you. You have not responded to that argument as of yet.

    ii) Another reason, YOU, not me, YOU, said one must “have evidence demanded” of their beliefs. What, are you shifting the goal posts now?

    iii) So, you can assume those things, but your atheism gives you a defeater for those assumptions.

    iv) Just assuming something doesn’t mean it exists. Where would the argument be? The theist doesn’t just say “assume God.” He offers fairly detailed arguments for this.

    v) If you can be rational in assuming all this, why can’t the theist be rational in assuming that God exists. Your queries above undercut your defeaters for theism given in this combox.

    vi) Given that the universe is uniform, what position makes the best sense of this? Why atheism over against theism? Indeed, it seems that the universe is finely tuned to laws of mathematics, detailed and seemingly improbable configurations needed for life to exist, etc. Why assume that that “just happened?” And, where did the “universe” come from? It just “popped into existence,” poof! And, why think it will be uniform tomorrow? You just “assume” that? is it rational to assume that? Why? Give me a theory like I have given you above about the epistemology of taking something on faith.

    Continuing….

    How is your presupposition any better than mine: the material world is a closed system.

    i) Above you said evidence should be “DEMANDED” for beliefs. Why the backpedaling? Is this a tacit admission of defeat?

    ii) A causally closed material universe seems to undermine the existence of persons, rational inference, etc.

    iii) Beliefs do not seem to be mental entities, if not, how do beliefs cause any mental state? That is, it seems that if P is true then Q is true, P is true, the conjunction of the two cause a third belief to form, Q is true. How is that spelled out on physicalist assumptions?

    iv) A basic feature of thought is intentionality. Physical states cannot be “about” another physical state. What sense does it make to say that one physical thing is “about” or “hopes for” or “trusts that” some other physical state is the case?

    v) A causally closed physical universe would seem to do away with subjective, first-person states. All states are objective, and subject to third-person observation. Many beliefs, like “I am feeling a pain” do not seem to be able to be put into third-person terms.

    vi) How would prescriptions be possible?

    vii) Objective moral truths would seem to be disallowed.

    viii) What about necessary truths? They existed before humans did. Where did they exist? On Mars? Alpha Centauri?

    ix) There is nothing logically contradictory about positing a possible world called matterless word. But, the laws of logic would still hold on matterless world. Therefore, logic cannot be identical to any material entity. Thus materialism is false.

    x) Set-theory is essential to modern mathematics. But it is difficult to see how sets could be identified with piles of physical things. For there are many more sets than there are piles. I’ve got a pile of two bricks, A and B. Corresponding to that pile is the set, {A, B}. That set has four subsets: {A, B}, {A}, {B}, { }. But they form a set, which is called the power set of the original set, namely: { {A, B}, {A}, {B}, { }}. But there is also the power set of that power set, and so on ad infinitum.

    xi) Realism about universals seems the best theory. Physicalism cannot account for the existence of universals. Universals are required for predication, materialism cannot account for predication.

    xii) Propositions are not material entities. propositions can be instantiated in more than one spatio-temporal location at the same time. No physical object can be so instantiated. hence physicalism is false.

    xiii) I could keep going.

    Moving on…

    “But even if there was Something, that created the universe with physical constant laws. That Something would have the power to alter those laws at will. You might say I have no reason to suppose this will happen, but you have no reason to suppose that it won’t! (And the god of all monotheistic religions on earth apparently DOES interfere with the universe at will through miracles etc, but we haven’t even got that far yet.) Or do you want to add ANOTHER presumption to your basket?

    i) I addressed this *at length* above.

    ii) Why don’t I have reason to assume that god won’t? Where’s the argument? God has told us that he will keep nature uniform – which does not require absolute uniformity – and that Jesus is upholding all things as they are until he returns.

    iii) I cited Martin et al arguing that laws of nature are not absolute, so the rare occurrence of miracles does not bother the argument.

    iv) In my strand of Christian theology, miracles are revelatory in nature, revelation has ceased until Jesus returns, hence miracles have.

    v) What’s the problem with presumptions now??? You were just making them above. Are you really this dumb?

    vi) Check out your reasoning: We have no reason to suppose Evan will kill his girlfriend. But, replies the a-Evanist, “we have no reason to suppose he will not!” Are you serious with this junk?

    vii) Regularities of nature need not be exceptionless laws, if there is a person behind them. A person might have a habit of taking a walk before breakfast every day, but can make exceptions. God can cause nature to work in regular patterns, without restricting himself from making exceptions to the pattern from time to time.

    viii) This is God’s world, it’s no ‘violation’ for him to do has he pleases.

    ix) What is a “law of nature?”

    a) The ultimate principle that governs the world? That’s the decrees of God. In this sense natural laws are never broken.

    b) The regular processes by which God usually governs creation? These are those regularities in the natural world we see. God’s normal SOP. In this sense, natural laws would be, in some cases, made exception to. but not always since God dried up the sea by a “strong east wind.” That’s a “natural” event. And, ‘usual’ is a matter of degree.

    c) Human expectations concerning the workings of nature? Well, on this sense since one’s “expectations” is somewhat subjective, an exception to natural law is something essentially subjective. And, I think Hume (and those like him) are trying to make a metaphysical point.

    d) The basic created structure of the universe? This is probably closest to Hume’s. It’s not the first, and the second and third can be too subjective. This seems to assume that ‘natural law’ is some kind of mechanism, and God suspends this mechanism. I reject this view for a few reasons:

    1) Scripture doesn’t define miracle this way.

    2) I don’t know if there are any natural laws in this sense. It’s more deistic. On my view, God governs all events, even the number of hairs on our head. God brings the wind, rain, snow, and the fog, says Scripture.

    3) Even if there are these laws, no one knows for sure what they are. How would the Biblical writers, less knowledgeable than people of today, known when to call something a miracle? And, since we don’t know enough, they might be ‘violations’ of natural law in the same sense that an airplane ‘violates’ the law of gravity. I don’t take this view, but I’m just saying that a lot would have to be known to even claim a ‘violation’ has occurred.

    4) Scripture even says that “natural phenomena” are used to bring about miracles. The parting of the red sea was by a “strong east wind.” Surely a very strong wind could do things like this.

    x) So, I call a miracle an event caused by God’s power for the purpose of attesting his word of prophets, or making his name known, so extraordinary that we would usually consider them impossible, or extremely unlikely.

    Continuing….

    “First of all, I assume you read a holy book or get informed about one of these characters. Presumably also this depends on where you are born. If you were born in the Middle East, you would presuppose the muslim god. If you were born in another part of the world, you might presuppose the necessary existence of the aboriginal god Wallaballabingbang (I made that up). As if happens, lucky for you, you were born in the great US of A, and you believe in the god of your parents. How convenient. So you project the character of the christian god onto the Something.”

    i) This is stupid. it is John Loftus’ “Outsider Argument.”

    ii) “That we are formed and malformed by our environments from birth on is bad enough. It is made worse by those who want to see us as nothing but products of environment. These reductionists of course make an exception in their own cases. It is as if they say to us: “We are able to discern truth, but you are not. What we say expresses our insight, but what you say only expresses your conditioning.” That is the injustice of the psychologizer.” – Bill Vallicella

    http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1169254167.shtml

    iii) “- When once asked if Darwinism was a meme, Richard Dawkins denied that it was. Memes, of course, were an attempt to explain away that pesky intentionality and free will in human affairs, by casting us as deterministically controlled hosts being passively invaded and taken over by parasites, rather than agents that deliberate over the information we receive to form ideas. But he couldn’t stomach applying the idea to himself. He, of course, was an autonomous, shining beacon of reason, who arrived at his ideas through powers of rational deliberation that nobody else has. Unlike all the unenlightened, his beliefs are most certainly not memes!

    – I’m reminded also of those people who’s first and only inclination is look for ways to blame the plights of everyone in the world on Western Civilization in general, and America in particular. I once had a conversation with such a person, who was stretching to explain to me how all the lousy choices made by those in the Arab world over the years traced back to, and were caused by, something Americans did, and were therefore our fault. I asked him, why, then, was it our fault? Isn’t the implication of what he said that Americans are themselves victims of circumstance, and that our blame can be shifted to something else as well? Why should the buck stop with us?

    The false empathy displayed by such people towards the plights of others is really a form of snobbery. As they see it, their own people with whom they are familiar (which includes themselves) are intelligent, deliberating moral agents like themselves, capable of making choices that have an effect on the world, while everyone else is just a poor, pale shadow cast and determined by their own egos.” – “The Deuce” a commenter on Vallicella’s blog

    http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1169254167.shtml#8127

    iv) This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard!

    It amounts to this:

    1. If a belief is affected by your location it should be judged with skepticism
    2. Belief X is affected by your location
    3. Therefore Belief x should be judged with skepticism

    How about this:
    2. Belief in the equality is women is affected by your location
    3. Therefore the equality of women should be viewed with skepticism

    2. Belief that Jews deserve to live is affected by your location
    3. Therefore the right to life of Jews should be viewed with skepticism

    2. Belief that Jews don’t deserve to live is affected by your location
    3. Therefore the right to life of Jews should be given the benefit of the doubt

    2. Belief that Christianity is false is affected by your location
    3. Therefore we should be skeptical of all claims against Christianity

    Moving along…

    So back to sense experience which you use to acquire knowledge of “god” from the bible. You trust your sense experience to read the bible accurately. “

    I’ve never argued that sense experience can’t be trusted. I’ve argued that YOU have a defeater for those beliefs GIVEN OTHER BELIEFS YOU HOLD. Get that? Stop your stupid counter argument. It’s bad, it misses the point.

    Moving along…

    Of course this leads to a huge problem of why so many christians disagree with the interpretation of the bible. Are you right, Wacky and they’re all wrong?? Perhaps when you’re finished destroying the Islam Presups you can turn your razor sharp mind on your fellow christians and explain why YOUR interpretation of scripture is correct and THEIRS is wrong?

    i) Of course this is a stupid and ignorant objection. Who is right, the Aristotelian logicians or the Fregean ones? How about the atheists who are scientific realists, or the anti-realists? How about the direct realists vs. the indirect realists, with regards to sense perception? How about Gould vs. Dawkins. Is punkeek right, or is Dawkins right? How about physicalism? Is Kim’s supervenience theory the best, or is Churchland’s eliminativism? WOW!! Look at all those atheists disagree, guess that somehow means atheism is false. Look at all those scientists disagree, guess that means science is false. Look at those physicalists disagree. Guess that makes physicalism false. C’mon, Evan! You’re no sharper than a rock.

    ii) Of course I have argued against Islam

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/09/islam-muslim-message-menace-and.html

    iii) Of course I have argued other Christian heresies:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/04/two-dozen-or-so-orthodox-arguments.html

    iv) Of course I have argued against fellow Christians. Right here on this blog, and here, for example:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/09/what-love-is-this.html

    moving along….

    “So, are you saying that you have to presuppose the christian god in the first place before you can assume the validity of your senses; before you can actually read a holy book and come to know that being?? Hmm, that’s a damn shame for all those Presup theists who read ANOTHER holy book first. True, that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong, but it does mean there is NO reason to accept it.”

    i) I use presuppose in an epistemic priority sense, you’re using “before” in a temporal sense. You’re beating down straw men. Study other people’s positions before you go around “refuting” them. It makes you look so hayseed.

    ii) People “know” God before they read the Bible. There’s a distinction between a general knowledge, and a saving knowledge. Go study our theology before you “refute” it.

    iii) I don’t see why there is “no reason to accept it.” care to actually present a logical argument? Go ahead, number the premises and everything.

    Moving along….

    (What a pity for you that no one presupposes their particular version of god without first reading a holy book.)”

    i) What a pity for you that you’re mentally handicapped. Welcome to McDonalds, may I help you? You’re using “presuppose first” in a temporal sense.

    ii) I don’t even get this argument, anyway. Is code-speak standard fair for atheists these days?

    Continuing….

    But how can you understand scripture without assuming a universe that has uniformity and the reliability of your sense experience?

    I can’t, and I never said you could. You’re not even attacking my argument. You’re beating down some straw man. You are not quoting me, or my arguments. You’re offering some pat, tired, and ignorant responses addressed to no one in particular, hoping one of your blanks pulls a Brandon Lee and kills me.

    So what is it about the Christian god, instead of Allah, that makes it necessary to presuppose one over the other? “

    Answered in my link above.

    You would have NO knowledge of any god (in this case, your chosen god is jesus) without sense experience. FACT.

    Not fact. But, more problematic is the idea that we wouldn’t have knowledge of anything without sense experience. How about *that* claim? Did you see it? Furthermore, it is possible that we are dreaming right now, so it is not the case that one must have accurate sense experience to know anything. We have no knowledge of the self by sensation. No knowledge of other minds. No knowledge of logic. No knowledge of induction.

    For all you know, Allah really exists and is evil and is tricking your senses into believing in the bible to that you go to hell and die. There’s epistemological nihilism for you! And you cannot escape it.”

    Notice above Evan denied that we had to be “certain” to know a proposition P. Now he tries to argues that it could be *possible* that ~P, therefore we cannot know that P. Above he denied this type of move, now he employs it. You can tell things are getting desperate for poor Evan (btw, I refute Islam above)

    Moving along….

    And if we both get to assume our sense experience in the first place, why does so much sense experience contradict religion? If special creation is false, why evidence for evolution?”

    You have senses macro-evolution? I thought you were 10 years old, not 10 million! Whatta dork!

    If god is all-loving, why so much evil?

    I address that here:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/10/emotional-problem-of-evil_28.html

    If god wants people to believe, why do so many not?

    Who said he does?

    If his word his perfect, why historical and factual contradictions in the bible?

    Such as? And, the Christian claim always was, and is, that the *autographa* is inerrant.

    If he is loving, why the evil and wicked acts in the bible?

    You just asked that. Do you forget what you ask within two sentences on a regular basis, or is it because you’re posting while on shrooms right now?

    Answered above.

    Moving forward….

    And of course, it’s not just me. If you read the koran and saw the horror and contradictions in that, you would, I assume, write it off a work of primitive human fiction and evil. How? Your sense experience and reason. But when the VERY SAME events occur in the bible, you contradict your sense experience and reason by accepting them as ok!

    Argument by ignorant conjecture?

    The sheer fact of so many non-christians in the world whose sense experience leads them to NOT believe in the christian god demonstrates:

    1. The consensus of human sense experience simply does NOT lead us to the Christian god (perhaps because he doesn’t exist, but either way this brute fact cannot be denied), or

    2. If the Christian god does exist our sense experience is obviously NOT reliable, otherwise there would be no doubt that he exists!

    3. Unbelievers are lying. (There is no reason to accept this unless we appeal to circular reasoning. And if the Christian can deny that non-believers exist, so can the Muslim etc).

    i) So. God has not predestined all men to believe. And, saving faith is not by sense experience, it’s by the regenerating work of the Spirit on the heart of stone. Something you are in sore need of, Evan. Evan, God not only saves you from your moral situation, he can save you from your intellectual folly too. Come to the Savior and have your mind renewed. We are both escaping something. Evan escapes reason, Christians escape wrath.

    ii) No there wouldn’t be.

    iii) I never said that.

    Moving along….

    The only way to escape 2 is to answer that he isn’t bothered whether we apprehend knowledge of him by sense experience, OR that knowledge through sense experience of him is impossible. But if knowledge of god is irrelevant or impossible via sense experience then there is no point reading the bible! But if you didn’t read the bible how would you have apprehended knowledge of him in the first place??

    People can read the Bible, that doesn’t mean that they have to *believe* what they read, Evan. Are you this stupid, Evan???? People have seen video of us landing on the moon, yet some people refuse to believe that we did so!

    Some people have “seen” Elvis, and they chose to believe that he exists, no matter if they read, with their reliable eyes, his death certificate!

    Some people read the works of Galileo, they chose not to believe it.

    Likewise, people do not have to believe what they read in the Bible. In fact, sense experience can never tell you what to believe! This is pretty standard philosophical stuff here, Evan.

    Your claim assumes that “evidence” speaks for itself. People can have the “same” sense experience, yet come to different conclusions. Take the old story about Apollo, for example. If S and S* believes that (a) Apollo is a god, and that (b)all gods are immortal, but then S and S* are presented with the empirical fact that (c) Apollo died in battle, which belief does S and S* give up? It could be either. Their more basic beliefs determine how the evidence will affect their noetic structure. (c) could cause S to drop belief (b), thus believing that some gods are mortal. Or, (c) could cause S* to reject (a), thus disbelieving that Apollo is a god. And so (b) was more basic for S* than (a) was, and (a) was more fundamental to S’s noetic structure than was (b). Therefore we can see that access to the “same evidence” and a basing of your belief “on the evidence” does not necessarily rule out disagreement. Indeed, look at the debates between Dawkins and Gould. They both agree in scientific procedures for forming rational beliefs, they both were familiar with the same evidence, yet they disagreed with each other of crucial issues. Is “scientific belief” therefore, “irrational?” Or, look at those who debate the Kennedy assassination.

    Ergo: Presups read a holy book FIRST thereby assuming their sense experience, they then project whatever character THEY PERSONALLY interpret from that book onto a Presupposed Something.

    Ergo you’re a monkey-brained buffoon. I never denied that things come “FIRST” in a temporal sense. No presuppositionalist has!

    Now this very critique was discussed by John Frame in Van Til and the Ligonier Apologetic Westminster Theological Journal [47, 2 (Fall 1985), 279-99]. This was discussed 22 years before Evan’s post! Evan shows absolutely no familiarity with the debate. He just serves re-heated criticisms. Maybe Evan missed that article. Well in 1987 Frame’s Doctrine of The Knowledge of God addressed this topic as well. Maybe Evan didn’t read pgs. 125-26? If so, then we have Frame’s 1994 book, Apologetics to The Glory of God (p.13) in which he discusses this critique. Since that was a footnote Evan might have missed it. If so, then we have Bahnsen’s tome, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis, where he defines “start with” in non-temporal terms (p.2). What is the basic gist of the above answer to the critique? Frame writes,

    “They stress the pre in presupposition and thus take it that a presupposition is something someone believes before (temporally) one believes anything else. This is wrong. The pre should be understood mainly as an indicator of eminence (e.g., preeminence), not temporal priority” (AGG. p.12, emphasis original).

    Therefore, one of Evan’s number one critiques (indeed, the one he uses in almost all his critiques in this last post!) is based off a major misunderstanding of the idea of “start with” (or, “first.” or, “begin”). This would not have been so bad if this was 1985, but this has been answered time and time again! Where does Evan get his info from. This is a hack job of all hack jobs. If he says he’s reading presuppositionalists, they seem like presuppositionalists who have never read any presuppositionalist literature!

    Therefore, Presup apologetics can “work” for any theist in the world, all for mutually-exclusive gods, which makes them ultimately pointless.

    i) Well, at the very least, then, atheism is out. Go sit on the bench and let us theists debate, loser.

    ii) I’ve refuted this claim. Ball is in your court, champ.

    iii) Note well that Evan flat out refuses to answer the arguments I leveled at him above. Hint: continuing to flap your gums doesn’t mean you’re offering anything cogent.

    Buh-bye now, son. Who’s yo daddy? ;-)

  103. Total, systematic refutation. Also note how Wacky answers all of Evanescent’s questions and arguments, yet Evanescent ignores all of Wacky’s arguments. Theism is definitely the rationally superior position, and Wacky demonstrates that with style, here.

  104. Unfortunately for Whacky, grace is missing in more ways than one, as he manages to reduce the faith to a matter of mere rationalism and does so with the sort of “style” not to be enviable.

    Sheesh, and I get called a meanie-head by a few around here. Does anyone know how to take their ideas seriously instead of themselves?

    Zrim

  105. Ok Wacky, you “win”. The truth is, a lot of what you say is very clever. You are certainly very well researched and your brute knowledge is very impressive. A lot of what you say I don’t have the philosophical knowledge to combat. What I do know also means a lot of what you say you doesn’t make sense. That is, it’s pure unadulterated bullshit, but that’s beside the point.

    I’m not going to debate any further, and if you want to take that as a concession or surrender, please go right ahead. I will simply not debate with someone of your obnoxious kind where every other word has to be insulting or offensive. Yes I was aggressive against theism above, no doubt about it, (I could compare my remarks against your flood of personal insults but there’d be no point). And if your unchristian remarks were confined to atheism I could take that easily.

    But you spoil everything good you’ve said above with pathetic personal snipes. I’m sorry I just can’t take you seriously. I think you’ve really let yourself down, and it’s clear from the tone of my last few posts that I’ve been trying to raise serious questions and question you, and have you question me (all the time ignoring your insults, and I’ve never claimed to be an expert). This is a really interesting subject and a challenging one, and I have much learning to do. But I say again, I think you’re a disgrace to your kind, and you’ve let your side down. If being a christian means being like you, no thank you. What a shame your attitude has pushed away a potential believer. I hope “god” doesn’t hold it against you.

  106. Evan,

    You said: “Echo, I don’t hate god. I can’t hate something that doesn’t exist.”

    Echo: Well, I can certainly see why you would see it that way. But consider that if God DOES in fact exist, your denial of his existence and hatred for the very idea would simply prove you to hate him and thus to be a rebel against him. Since he actually DOES exist, despite your opinion to the contrary – which I don’t think you actually really believe – thus your hatred of him is proven.

    So it works like this, a simple modus ponens:
    If God, then you hate him.
    God
    Therefore you hate him.

    You said: “Unfortunately for you, the universe wasn’t created. Creation is an assumption; you to have assume design in order to prove it.”

    Echo: And unfortunately for YOU, your CLAIM that God didn’t create the universe actually is nothing other than that dirty thing you are accusing me of: an assumption. You don’t know for a FACT that God doesn’t exist, rather you assume it “a priori”. (If you don’t know what a priori means, feel free to ask. It’s Latin.)

    But let’s consider whether or not my claim that God did create all things actually is an assumption. It seems to me that for something to be an assumption – and I think this is at least how you are using it – it has to be an assertion with no warrant or justification whatsoever. In other words, it must be arbitrary and therefore meaningless.

    Now, while your claim that God did NOT create the universe actually does fit into this category, because you have no evidence of any kind, nor any reason to offer for it, the Christian belief that God created all things actually does not fit this category.

    Here’s where things get interesting. In our legal system, in our law courts, testimony of witnesses can send you to jail. Why? Because it is rational and logical to believe what someone says when they say it under oath. Sure, they COULD be lying, but if there’s no evidence to support the notion that what they said is a lie, you can do no other than take their testimony to be true. There are certain ways to test peoples’ testimony, like trying to see if they contradict themselves for example. So these kinds of things can test peoples’ testimony, but ultimately, you cannot be 100% certain that what they have said is the truth, because you were not there. Nonetheless, you have to make a judgment one way or the other. We, in our society, think it is rational to accept peoples’ testimony if it can be shown to be consistent and rational, fits the evidence, etc.

    The Bible is our testimony that God exists, along with a whole lot of other things about God. The Bible is full of testimony of all sorts. This is what it is.

    So the question is first whether or not testimony is a viable way of proving anything. Well, not only our society, but every society of people that has ever existed on earth agrees that testimony that has been tested constitutes sufficient evidence for believing something. I would venture to say that all of us hear peoples’ testimony all the time and judge it to be truthful, even assuming it to be truthful.

    For example, if I said that this morning, I went to seminary class and heard a lecture on Turretin, what would you say? Wouldn’t you assume I was telling the truth? It just so happens that I am telling the truth, because it is from this class that I have just arrived home. And look, right there, I have testified again, and you probably believed it. And rightfully so, because what I said is true. Don’t you believe me?

    Testimony is a valid thing, and we prove it constantly in our everyday lives. “The other day, I went to the store and…” and you believe it.

    So why shouldn’t we believe that Moses is telling the truth when he says that God gave him words to put to paper?

    Did the Israelites exist? Clearly they did (though they don’t today, I have no affection for today’s state of Israel). Clearly. No historian denies this. Not one I have ever heard of. I would say that anyone who denies it would be foolish and would immediately lose all credibility. Clearly there was a civilization of people known as the Israelites.

    Did Moses exist? Sure, and here are 5 books he wrote to prove it: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Scholarship has proven that these 5 had one author. The books themselves tell us that his name is Moses. Seems pretty simple to me. No one doubts that a guy named Plato wrote the Republic, or that Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey.

    Yes, I know that many “scholars” have tried over the years to suggest that one author could not have written all 5 books of the Pentateuch, but this has proven to be incoherent, and not consistent. It has been proven again and again by able scholars. The issue of the divine nature of the Scriptures are laid aside for these debates – it is in some ways a non-religious, but literary debate. From a literary-critical point of view, every argument in favor of multiple authors of the books have been shown to be incoherent. And oh, by the way, all of these arguments, every single one of them, begin with the ASSUMPTION that the books had multiple authors, contrary to what the books themselves actually say. They have absolutely no reason for the assertion, except perhaps that that’s just simply what they want to believe, because they DON’T want to believe what is written in the books.

    Suffice it to say that it has been proven WELL beyond satisfaction, FAR beyond that of any other ancient book, that there was one author for the Pentateuch, and the books tell us that his name is Moses.

    Furthermore, we can see clearly from lots of historical sources that the Jews for centuries have believed in his existence. Why should we doubt that?

    This is not like the Greeks believing in the existence of Zeus. The Jews saw Moses with their own eyes. Whether or not you think he did all the things he says is another matter – it cannot be doubted that the man himself existed.

    So if he tells us that he spoke to God face to face, why should we disbelieve his testimony? The only POSSIBLE reason for disbelieving what he says is that you FIRST say that there is no God, and then conclude that therefore, Moses must be lying.

    So it works like this.

    If ~God, then Moses = liar
    ~God
    Therefore, Moses = liar

    I agree that this is a logically valid argument. However, it remains to be seen as to whether or not it is sound.

    For example, can you give me even one reason why God cannot exist?

    You cannot. You have never died to find out and then returned to tell us. And even if you did, I’m sure people would question whether or not you actually ever existed. You have never flown up to heaven to see if God is up there on his throne, so to speak.

    Where were you when the earth was being formed? Hmmm? Where you there? No. Neither was I.

    Moses claims to have spoken with someone who was, with someone who actually did the forming himself, namely God. Since we don’t KNOW that God does NOT exist, how can we say with any confidence at ALL that Moses is lying?

    And again, every single society that has ever existed on earth has judged it to be rational and logical to accept testimony that cannot be proven wrong. Ask any lawyer.

    So what’s the problem? I have testimony from countless witnesses, I have the evidence of historical phenomena such as the existence of Israel and all kinds of archaeological evidence corroborating what the Bible says. What’s the problem here?

    Is it that you don’t think testimony is valid? That makes you in a very tiny minority, and there’s really no coherent reason for such a belief.

    You cannot claim that Moses is a liar simply because you think that what he says cannot be true.

    If I testified that an elephant was walking across the ceiling of my house, you would have a reason for saying that what I said cannot be true, because, after all, elephants don’t walk on ceilings, thanks to gravity.

    But if I testify to what God has done, whether parting the sea, slaughtering the firstborns of Egypt, or raising Christ from the dead, what possible reason COULD you have for disbelief? How do you know what God can and cannot do? How? You have no testimony. I have testimony, not to mention historical evidence. You have nothing. Nothing.

    It’s all based on YOUR assumption that God does not exist. And again, you have no reason for it.

    I was a philosophy major as an undergrad, and I have yet to see any coherent argument that proves that God CANNOT exist. I’ve seen lots of arguments that seem to prove that you can go on living and functioning without believing in his existence, but this hardly proves that God cannot exist.

    So you have no rational argument that proves that God DOES not exist, because there is no rational argument that proves that God CANNOT exist.

    But maybe you have evidence? Maybe you have died and have seen with your own eyes what happens. Maybe you have climbed a ladder to heaven to see if you find God there.

    Of course you haven’t. You have not one shred of evidence to support your conclusion that God does not exist. Not one shred, either by reason or experience.

    Your belief is arbitrary.

    My belief is based on testimony. Heaps and heaps of testimony. The Bible has been tested again and again and again, and will continue to be tested.

    Countless “scholars” are working around the clock to try to prove your case, and in however many thousands of years they have been utterly unable to do it.

    Your belief that God does not exist is irrational and vain. God DOES exist, and he has provided countless testimony and evidence to that end, and it has stood for thousands of years. The Word of God has literally shaped the world we now live in, just as Moses says that the Word of God first created it out of nothing.

    This is coherent, rational, logical, based on evidence, and cannot be denied.

    Any further claim on your part that God does not or cannot exist, or that the Bible is not true or cannot be true, is simply irrational, and constitutes proof that you do, in fact, hate him, just like I said.

    Now Evan, if you have discovered that you do in fact know that he exists, but your denial of him stems from your hatred of him, understand that this is what it means to be a fallen, sinful human being. We ALL hate him in our hearts, every single one of us. We hate him because we don’t want him to rule over us. We don’t want to be his slave. At the same time, we don’t want to believe that we’re heading for hell, because the idea scares us. It is far easier to believe that God doesn’t exist, because then we can just go on sinning all we want, and no one and no God will tell us we can’t.

    You say you grew up a fundamentalist? I know what you mean by it. The fundamentalists have gotten it wrong. So have the liberals. Go back to the Reformation.

    Do you want to know what you never heard in your fundamentalist upbringing? I will tell you.

    You cannot earn God’s approval. No amount of being good on your part can EVER accomplish that. If you don’t smoke and don’t drink and don’t swear and don’t play cards and don’t go to movies and don’t vote for a pro-abortion politician and don’t vote for a Democrat and don’t, don’t, don’t – guess what? No matter how much of these things you abstain from, you aren’t any more righteous in God’s sight. The Puritan living the “clean” life is every bit as much a sinner as the porn addict and the serial killer.

    You can never ever be good enough to merit, to earn God’s approval.

    Christ offers, in the gospel, to earn that approval for you.

    You may have heard that Jesus had to be without sin in order to be the blameless, spotless Lamb slain for our sins. You may have heard that even though he takes away our sin, we still have to do good to earn God’s favor.

    This is a lie and not what the Bible says. I am certain that this is the kind of thing you heard in church from the pulpit growing up, and it is therefore no mystery to me that you rejected God altogether. You have been the victim of false prophets and liars. They did not proclaim the truth to you, but only wicked lies mixed with a little truth. I grew up the same way.

    But here is the truth: There is therefore RIGHT NOW and forever NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus by faith alone.

    It is by faith alone – itself a gracious gift from God – that we lay hold of the merits, the righteousness, the good works of Christ. In payment he takes only our sin.

    We give him our sin, he gives us his righteousness, all by faith alone, which is itself the gracious gift of God.

    Do you want to know why Jesus never sinned? So that his righteousness could be given to all those who believe, that they might stand before him blameless on judgment day.

    When we are justified, judged righteous by God himself by faith alone IN THIS LIFE, the Last Day verdict is pronounced in advance.

    Faith is a gift from God. Do you want to know why you do not believe? I will tell you that too. You do not believe because you have never heard the Word of God properly proclaimed to you without compromise. You have never heard the good news of the gospel for what it really is, good news.

    You want to know what the good news is? Christ has conquered death. We are the damsel in distress locked away in a tower by a vicious dragon, our sin, Death itself, held captive apart from our true husband Christ.

    “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.”
    (Revelation 19:11-13 ESV)

    Jesus Christ is our conquering hero, our knight in shining armor, the warrior that slays the dragon, Death, and saves us from our captivity, raising us to new life in Christ.

    And you don’t believe it because you have never heard it before. You have never been told before that your righteousness cannot get you to heaven, but that you can have the righteousness of Christ given to you as a free gift.

    “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
    (2Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

    When Jesus was baptized, and the heavens parted and the Spirit descended like a dove, and God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” that word becomes true of us by faith alone.

    By faith alone, God says of US who believe, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”

    I’ll tell you what you have rejected. You have not rejected the gospel, because you have never heard that before. You have rejected the constant refrain that you are GUILTY! That is all you have ever heard, and that is the message that has robbed you of joy, and you got sick of it, and so you said, “Forget it! God couldn’t possibly exist! This message is ridiculous!”

    You were right! The message you heard WAS ridiculous, precisely because it was not the message of Scripture.

    But you have made a grave error in judgment. You thought that the preacher you heard spoke truly according to the Scriptures. You thought wrong. I myself can’t condemn you for this mistake. I made it myself. But in rejecting the false prophets you heard growing up, you rejected God. There was your mistake. Perhaps you couldn’t have known, but there it is.

    Let me be very clear. You are right to reject the drivel you have been served on a silver platter. You are right to say that those men preached a God that you cannot believe in. After all, if we have to earn our own salvation, who can be saved? We keep failing! We keep sinning! We can never be good enough!

    That is the POINT of Israel. To teach THIS message, that we can NEVER be good enough is the main reason why God brought Israel’s existence about. The Scriptures record their failure over and over and over again, and eventually they were judged.

    But that’s not the end of the story! They were redeemed, they were brought back to the promised land and the temple was rebuilt! Why? How? Because Christ would come and earn that for them.

    You asked earlier why the Old Testament is so bloody. You perceive it correctly. It’s chalk full of blood and gore. There is a reason for that. It’s part of God’s sermon illustration in raising up Israel. Do you want to know what the Last Day will be like for all those who have rejected God and the gospel of Jesus Christ? Look at the book of Joshua. The Israelites represent Christ, who comes in righteous judgment and slaughters literally everyone. Everyone will die on the Last Day, except those who believe. Everyone will go to hell forever and burn except those who have been united to Christ by faith alone. Or if you want another illustration, read the book of Lamentations and see what happened to the Israelites when they were judged. That is how it will be for everyone who rejects him on the Last Day.

    So I say to you, Tomorrow, the Last Day, is coming. I hereby offer you salvation in Christ through faith alone.

    Repent and believe the gospel, that you cannot earn salvation, but only Christ can earn it for you, and find peace with God, who is your enemy because of your sin. No faith, no peace, only Death and eternal damnation.

    But if you believe, then you will find peace with God, and you will begin to take joy in doing good.

    You have two choices: continue in unbelief and misery and bitterness and sin, or relent, admit that what I have said is true, and go and find a reformed church in your area, giving God the worship that all people owe him.

    Worship God! Turn from your sin and unbelief and find rest from your warfare! He will not turn you away.

    Make no mistake: God himself has called you this day to himself. Hear him! Heed his Word! Listen to him! Harden not your heart! Today will not last forever, Tomorrow is coming.

    Judgment is coming, and coming Tomorrow. As long as it is called Today, you have time. Tomorrow will surely come. Do not be found apart from Christ, for God himself will tear you to pieces in righteous indignation and rage, because this is what you deserve.

    But by faith in Christ it can be true of YOU, that Christ’s self sacrifice on the cross can serve as your substitute on that Day, and you will be declared before all to be accepted by your Maker.

    Do you want to know that the Day of Judgment is coming? You need look no further than the cross. There, Christ took the punishment of his people, of we who hope in him and have faith in him. That is what should have happened to us.

    And to prove that there is a vindication of the people of God, to prove that he will do as he has promised, he raised Christ from the dead in power, showing that we who are united to him in faith will also one day rise to glory by his power. Don’t you want to be there with us in glory?

    But perhaps you say that Christ did not raise from the dead. How do you know? Were you there? Nope.

    We have testimony from those who WERE there. Believe it.

    The history of philosophy can be clearly seen to be the history of man trying to find a way NOT to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. All the giants of philosophy formed their systems because they were trying to find a coherent way to disbelieve the Bible. But one after another, someone comes along and knocks it down, simultaneously asserting their own pack of lies, until someone defeats that, asserting their own lies, etc. This is the history of philosophy. This is what drove the Enlightenment.

    No philosopher has EVER gotten it right. Not EVER. NEVER. They are always proved wrong eventually. It has happened a thousand times.

    Wouldn’t you like to believe that Jesus really DID raise from the dead, and that you too will be raised?

    Wouldn’t you like God to say of you, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”? Wouldn’t you?

    In the name of God I, a sinner, say to you: “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

    “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.”
    (Revelation 1:7 ESV)

  107. So Evanescent doesn’t like when I pull an evanescent on him. Good, from now on I hpe you’ll be kinder to the theists you talk to. I took a look at your blog, and you seem to treat every theist in a rude, obnoxius, condescending, and bullying attitude. Now perhaps you’ll be a bit kinder to my brothers and sisters. I am currently critiquing your “case” against pro-life, and I’ll post it on my blog. I’ll give you a link after I’m done.

    Zrim,

    Obviously you didn’t read my posts. I don’t think anyone could say that I reduced the faith to mere rationalism. I’m not a fideist, if that’s what you mean, but I also pointed out that God, not reason, was my ultimate authority. I pointed out that I took many of my beliefs on faith, I then defended this notion as not being irrational. But, not wanting to be irrational, doesn’t mean I’m a rationalist.

    Furthermore, I suggest you look at how the prophets, apostles, and even our Lord himself addressed pagans false prophets, apostates, and heretics. Many would say that “grace was missing from their talk.” Look at the imprecatory Psalms, for instance. Look at all the argumentum ad ridiculums Ridicule is an accepted and even divinely sanctioned activity in some instances.

    I also wasn’t being mean just to be mean. I had a reason for what I did – and I explained that above.

    Now, I understand some people aren’t cut out to get down into the dirst and fight people who want to get in the dirt and fight. They don’t like to dirty and wrinkle their clothes. That’s fine. I don’t tell you that you should give a better defense of the faith rather than your fideistic assertions. Someone has to do the tough jobs. Ifm you think you can do better, take the ball and run with it. Otherwise, stay out of my way. People condemned the prophets because they were “big meanies” too. It’s something I have to live with.

    Now, had Evan been sincere, a “seeker” if you will, the conversation would have went differently. People asking honest questions, not trying to push an agenda, should get spoken to differently.

    Apologetics takes a certain kind of animal, just like pastoring requires a certain kind of animal. Sometimes, though, the pastor or the apologist can sem “harsh” and “mean.” but, there are situations that call for a harsh rebuke. Sometimes, especially in apologetics, opponants need to be ridiculed. Indeed, the Apostle Paul does so himself. He rhetorically askes:

    1 Cor. 1:20 20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

    Paul says, “no one is wise, no one can debate, there are no lovers of wisdom, God has made them all follish.”

    I’m sure atheists, like Evan here, take offense at that: “How dare that superstitious man with his sky-daddy god-belief call me foolish!”

    Lastly, Zrim, say what you will, but at least I never lied about anyone. You came in with your post and slandered me, attributing to me positions I do not hold to. You basically mocked me, saying that I undermiend Christianity, butn then you chjastized me for mocking others. I’d check the self-refuting comments (and make sure I read those who I “critique”) before I commented. Take it for what its worth.

  108. Oppos, looks like I was signed in under my wife’s name!

  109. Evan,

    You said:
    Posit X as a feature of human understanding.
    1. X is necessary or has a necessary part.
    2. If theism is true, then divine creation obtains.
    3. If divine creation is true, then all in the universe is contingent to God’s act of creation, and nothing in the universe is necessary.
    4. If theism is true, then no X can be necessary or have a necessary part. (from 2 and 3)
    5. Theism is false. (from 1 and 4)

    Echo: Now this I can sink my teeth into!

    Your argument falls apart based on premise 1. If God exists and is the Creator, then anything that is necessary remains contingent upon him. You assert that some X is necessary, but since creation makes everything contingent upon God, creation cannot be true, because of course, X is necessary. But I say that creation makes everything contingent upon God, therefore X is not necessary, but contingent.

    I consider that argument invalid because based on an assertion of necessity, which is not supported.

    But let’s talk about Intelligent Design. While I have some sympathy with Intelligent Design, I don’t myself hold the arguments. I actually wrote a philosophy paper against it.

    I recognize that one of the problems of ID is that they say that at a certain level, X, something is irreducibly complex. However, then some scientist comes along and posits an explanation of how X could have come about. The ID response? Fine, then the irreducible complexity lies at level Y, not level X.

    I wish this were never written! It is foolish. It essentially says that because science can’t explain everything, therefore God must exist. I can’t stand this. This is totally irrational and frankly childish.

    But I will add this. Whatever evidence science has for evolution does not disprove God. I don’t have to say that scientists are morons in order to believe in God.

    Did you know that in order to believe in God, I don’t have to say that the earth is 6,000 years old? I don’t have to believe that creation took place in 6 24 hour days either. In fact, I believe that if you hold that view, you also have to believe that the earth is flat, and that there is a dome of heaven holding up water, and that the land on earth is a big floating island, with water underneath. I don’t believe that, so it causes me to return to the text and see if maybe I’ve missed something.

    Turns out I had. There is actually a very cool way to understand Genesis 1, that brings out how beautiful and artistic a passage it actually is. But I will withhold that information for now.

    Did you know that the genealogies in Genesis are also not complete? The people mentioned are highlights, not exhaustive. If it was exhaustive, if you do the math, then Noah lived for the first 38 years of Abraham’s life, and that’s not consistent with the text.

    So you say that the earth is 4 billion years old? Ok. Genesis 1 does NOT disagree with you, because Gen 1 never says how old the earth is.

    Gen 1 does not say how old mankind is, it does not say that no animal ever died before the fall, it does not say that all the mountains of evidence for an old earth must be cast aside as if it’s irrelevant.

    God speaks to his people in language that they can understand. The Genesis narrative is given to people who DID believe in a flat earth, so it was spoken to them in that way. The point of the text is not to teach geology, but theology. As it turns out, there is room for all sorts of science in the text.

    The days are not to be taken as literal 24 hour days.

    “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
    (Genesis 2:4 ESV)

    “IN THE DAY”.

    What is described in chapter 1 as 6 days and a 7th is described here as ONE day.

    Is the Bible contradicting itself?

    Honestly, don’t you think any halfway intelligent person would have noticed this? Do you think Moses was a complete imbecile? He wasn’t. He was not contradicting himself, but making sure we understood not to take the narrative literally, or to use a more precise term, univocally.

    Univocal means that there is a perfect one to one correspondence between what is said and what is.

    If I say that the sky is blue, what I have said is univocally true.

    If I say that the sky is a sapphire, what I have said is not univocally true. I have drawn an analogy. What I meant was that the sky is blue, like a sapphire. What I have said is literally true, because I did not mean it univocally, I meant it analogically.

    The creation narrative is an analogy.

    No, I haven’t disclosed what I said above I wouldn’t. I have only stated a few simple things.

    Suffice it to say that Moses, contrary to popular assumptions, was not a complete idiot. He was actually a literary genius.

  110. Evan,

    You said: “So what is it about the Christian god, instead of Allah, that makes it necessary to presuppose one over the other?”

    Echo: this is a fair question, and even a good one.

    There is one thing that all religions have in common with the lone exception of Christianity. All religions teach that you have to EARN salvation by doing good.

    Christianity alone, building on ancient Judaism, teaches that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone.

    It is impossible for anyone on this planet to perfectly obey any set of rules that any religion may assert. Impossible. Thus, for every single religion on earth, salvation is not possible.

    The only exception is Christianity, thus its uniqueness. This is why Christianity is correct, because it correctly names the condition of man: enslaved to sin. Christianity alone not only reveals this great problem, but also gives us the solution, namely Jesus Christ.

    Every religion says that their god has some standard which must be met in order to receive…whatever blessing they offer.

    Only Christianity says correctly that only God can adhere to his standard. Thus, the God-man Jesus Christ, God in the flesh who earns our salvation for us who believe.

    And even the faith to believe it comes from him, upon hearing this unique truth, because his Word is effectual to bring about faith, because he and his Word are One, which is why Jesus is called the Word become flesh.

  111. Evan,

    I wanted to reply to some of the quotes that Whacky put together:

    Evan: (*) Yes, because being the dirty sinful depraved servile minions of a galactic overlord who demands worship and obedience morning, noon, and night, is truly liberating isn’t it?

    Echo: No, you’re right. It’s far better to think of yourself as a galatic overlord and worship yourself morning noon and night. Everyone has a master.

    Evan: (*) “Life would actually be rather depressing if myths like Christianity were true!”

    Echo: I believe them to be true, and I don’t find life to be depressing. In fact, I find it quite interesting and exciting. I like living. Your statement is false.

    Evan: (*) ” If you want to be a slave and worship and follow orders all day then carry on being a Christian, but don’t expect anyone else to be attracted to it. (It is unfortunate for you that your god doesn’t exist.)”

    Echo: I am not ashamed of my chains. I am a slave of Christ and not ashamed of it. My slavery is my liberation. I am bound to Christ and he is my Master, he is my Lord. I am not ashamed of it. I am not surprised at your offense to it. But know this: I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ which has bound me in chains. My only longing is to be thoroughly enslaved to him in the age to come, because my submission to him is not yet complete, seen in my continued sin. I still sin, so my slavery, my compulsion, is not yet ultimate. I long for the day when I will be ABLE to sin no longer.

    I am not ashamed of the gospel, and the law of God is my delight.

  112. […] Posted on October 17, 2007 by RubeRad While y’all wait for me to complete a new post on evanescent’s carrot & stick article, here’s a link to […]

  113. […] Posted on October 27, 2007 by RubeRad After the comment thread on Ethical Question II spiraled out of control, I said I would post separately a consideration of evanescent’s […]

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