The Existence Of God

We spend a lot of time here talking about peripheral issues in religion and atheism. Oftentimes we get sidetracked, sometimes intentionally, on these peripheral issues. They can be intellectually fulfilling at times, but in the end, like theological Chinese food, they don’t satisfy. But there’s one issue, one single question that never seems to get discussed head on: The Existence of God. I’ve contended here many times, if god doesn’t exist, the rest of this stuff is meaningless blather. Without god, theology is just philosophy and someone needs to prove he exists before I waste a lot of my time reading the Bible.

So I’m going to open up this post and comments to anyone and everyone that has evidence for the existence of God.

I’ll state my prejudices, up front,  for those who don’t already know. I’ve never seen anything that comes close to evidence for the existence of god.  But I have an open mind (I think) so I am willing to be convinced. I’ll even say that if you show me good evidence, I’ll bow down and worship your god, whoever he may be. But I want evidence.

By evidence I want to see something, or hear something, or feel something, or have explained to me something that I can’t see, hear or feel, that can be reproduced at any time by anyone without exception, and capable of being experienced or understood by anyone and everyone equally.

What I don’t want, and what I don’t think will suffice, are quotes from any Holy Scripture, though I won’t delete them if you really feel they are evidence. Don’t get pissed, though, if I don’t respond to them, or if do respond, I do so by quoting another book of my own choosing.

Personal anecdotes are welcome, provided you don’t mind them being dismissed or ridiculed, especially if no one else can corroborate them.

Visions of Jesus, Mary or Mohammad on a slice of toast, a window, or the sky probably won’t cut it, but feel free to give it a shot.

Seriously, this is an opportunity for theists, all three of you who read this blog, to tell the world exactly what did it for you. What evidence did you experience that convinced you that you were worshiping the right deity?

And if you want to say you don’t need no stinkin’ evidence, you just know god exists, then I appreciate your honesty.

Have at it.

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121 thoughts on “The Existence Of God

  1. Hey sorry if this comment shows twice, I tried once and didn’t see anything happening.

    ******

    Always at the risk of further accusation, I believe the following misguided logic is exactly why these discussions are destined not to resolve:

    ..someone needs to prove he exists before I waste a lot of my time reading the Bible. (SI)

    Nobody can possibly do what you demand, so really, what’s the point of demands that can’t be met? You’re essentially asking for somebody to flip a switch in your mind. I’ve never understood atheists who think believers can tap God on the shoulder and say, “Excuse me God, but can you please manifest to this doubter?” But for the sake of discussion, let’s say that was possible. SI, let’s say after losing a trial you’re all bummed out and walking the courtroom halls dejected, when Jesus Himself manifests to you, in person. What would that prove? Nothing. Not a damn thing. How would you know it was Jesus? You say he told you things no human could possibly know – must beings in the “non-human” set also be in the “God” set? Like atheism itself, that which you stubbornly demand is inherently unfalsifiable.

    No matter what happens, there is still always a decision involved. I believe that if God were to appear to certain atheists, they’d simply chalk it up as a neurological misfire or post hoc reasoning. Generally speaking, atheists are very fond of evidence – yet they themselves know damn well that evidence doesn’t always change minds no matter how conclusive – if it did, there would be far less young-Earth creationists, right? An ironclad case for God’s existence does nothing without a decision to believe. How would you know that Jesus wasn’t really Satan?

    It is impossible to prove God in the manner most atheists demand, and I’m really confused by most atheists’ dire inability to realize the unfalsifiable nature of the demand. When it comes to science, you’re all about falsifiability. When it comes to God, falsifiability doesn’t seem to matter as much. I’ve asked you to determine what you’d be willing to accept as evidence before, and have still never heard a peep.

    The reasons I’m not an atheist are many, but among the strongest is because I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known.

  2. What a load load of CL certified crap. Once again, he changes the objectives of empirical learning and makes “proving” god’s existence the “unfalsifiable” object when it is, in fact, proving god’s *non* existence which is would prove unfalsifiable.

    We already admit that we can’t “disprove” god, so he takes it to another (incorrect) level and says that evidence of god would be unfalsifiable. Yes, certain “claims” would be unfalsifiable, but if there is any empirical evidence, it most certainly would not be. Further, he makes his usual assertions about those nasty, stupid atheists and what “they do” or “they demand” or “they want”.

    If god existed, there could be evidence but since there is no evidence he simply asserts that evidence is meaningless and/or that we would reject the evidence. He disingenuously uses the example of creationists who simply ignore evidence to back up his point, when the atheists he is addressing here don’t do what creationists do – refuse EVIDENCE.

    The reasons I’m not an atheist are many, but among the strongest is because I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known..

    What an incredibly ludicrous summation. If he were an agnostic, we could at least debate this without spitting our dinner on him in laughter! He “sees no reason to believe in that which cannot be known”…. yet BELIEVES in something that cannot be known!

    Do you accept evolution? “Yes”. Can you give evidence for why? “Certainly”

    Do you accept atomic theory? “Yes” and “Yes”

    Do you accept germ theory? “Same”

    Do you accept “The Big Bang”? “Yes and Yes, damnit”

    Do you accept the “God of the New Testament”?

    “Well, it depends on *exactly* what you mean by that, but I have admitted my general theistic beliefs and I’m not going into any details with you here because it’s irrelevant to this post and we’d go off on a tangent about my beliefs and I want to keep the discussion to where only I can do that anyway.”

    Uh… ok…. can you give the evidence for why you believe it is… uh… whatever exactly you believe?

    “You atheists are all the same. You declare you “know” there is no god! How UN-rational is *that*? If Satan came up and tried to butt-fuck you and Jesus saved your virgin ass, you’d still claim you didn’t have any evidence at all. Always with the demands for *evidence*! Don’t you know how illogical you sound?

    Yeah… uh… any evidence?

    “Yes and if you were treating me better I’d show you – though you’d just deny it anyway. But I’m not going away until you all admit that you’re as irrational as I… err… as the creationist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims are!”

  3. I’ve asked you to determine what you’d be willing to accept as evidence before, and have still never heard a peep.

    – cl

    This, I think, is actually a reasonable question. Whether or not the rest of the post is reasonable is up for discussion, but this simple request is most definitely a reasonable one.

    I can’t speak for the author of this blog article, obviously, but I’ll give an attempt to answer for myself, if it pleases you.

    Firstly, it should be acknowledged that it would take more than one single thing to convince me. A single data point, even if it is very good, is unpersuasive alone. It would require a slow build-up of networked evidence. Each individual item on its own may not be spectacularly convincing, but the combined weight of the evidence, as it grows, would eventually win out.

    It may be argued that a requirement for a volume of evidence, rather than a point, is unfair. Perhaps it is – however, it is no less than I demand for anything else.

    Yet at the same time, I would also accept evidence for things that are not directly related to God. Anything that decreased God’s initial implausibility would do – for example, establishing that any kind of supernatural afterlife exists would instantly make the existence of God a little bit less implausible.

    Now, an exhaustive list of the kind of evidence that would persuade me is, I’m sure you’ll understand, not possible. I’m sure that God, if He exists, could manifest evidence of His existence in ways I cannot even mention. However, I can offer a few suggestions.

    1) Prayer Study

    A high quality scientific study (‘high quality refers to such things as; a large sample group of both praying believers and subjects, strong controls, good blinding procedures, and justifiable statistical conclusions) that shows that surgery patients who are prayed for have a higher rate of recovery than those who are not. An additional nice feature would be if patients prayed for by one particular religious denomination had better recovery than another.

    Note that I acknowledge that absence of such a study, and the existence of such studies that explicitly show that prayer has no such effect do not of themselves disprove God. But if such a study emerged showing prayer had a statistically detectable effect on the recovery of surgery patients, and this test was both explicable and of high quality, then it would count as strong evidence.

    2) Evidence of an afterlife

    Say we find an old man with a terminal disease that is willing to participate in this (arguably) ghoulish little experiment. The old man and a researcher conclude on a specific code. The researcher waits for the old man to die. The researcher consults with the ‘best’ mediums. The researcher and the old man have an agreement that the old man will do everything in his power from the afterlife to visit a medium and communicate that code to the researcher.

    If such experiments could be reliably performed and regularly reproduced, it would go a long way to providing evidence of an afterlife. This would not necessarily show that God exists, exactly. But it would make the existence of such an entity much less implausible.

    3) Demonstrable, reliably recorded miracle.

    In scripture, God frequently manifests miracles to convince people. If He exists, why no longer? A genuine miracle would be something like the spontaneous regeneration of an amputee’s lost limb. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the dead rose and wandered around Jerusalem when Jesus rose from his tomb. Why then would the regeneration of a limb be any more difficult.

    Of course, there would need to be reliable evidence, before and after, that such a regeneration actually took place. This is just an example, however. Any reliably documented miracle along these lines would do.

    Note that crying statues are out (simple and effective to hoax), as well as seeing the face of a saint in a toasted cheese sandwich or block of wood (pareidolia isn’t convincing). Also, consider that ocher was found on the shroud of Turin in 1988, and you may start to understand why such folksy ‘miracles’ aren’t qualified as evidence of anything very much.

    http://www.freeinquiry.com/skeptic/shroud/as/mccrone.html

    4) The existence of a crocoduck (or something like a crocoduck).

    Google the keywords ‘Kirk Cameron Crocoduck’ if you are unfamilar with the term. We don’t currently have the genetic expertise to create a crocoduck. Anything remotely like it would be strong evidence for a divine act of creation.

    By ‘anything remotely like it’ I mean that if we had a violation of the flow of evolutionary processes, such that we wound up with a species that was an obvious cross of two very, very disparate clades. As a more concrete example, a mammal that used haemocyanin as its respiratory pigment instead of haemoglobin would be something of a shock.

    This is just a short list of examples – I’m sure I can think of others. But this response is already long enough. I’m sure you can see that there is plenty of evidence that could be presented if God existed. Surely, we should be able to detect something.

  4. So if there is a God, he created the Earth, right? Why did he mess up when he created the Earth then? No, seriously, he did. Tectonic plates shift around all the time causing earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and so on. Millions of people have died as a result of these imperfections in God’s design. So:

    1. God is omnipotent – right?
    2. God wants what’s best for His creation – right?
    3. God can do whatever he wants; he’s not governed by any rules of nature or morals – right?
    4. God could have made the Earth perfect – right?
    5. Designing the Earth so it wouldn’t keep breaking would have saved many, many millions of lives over the lifetime of our planet and its human inhabitation – right?
    5. So why didn’t God design the earth without faults?

    I can only assume that God is either not omnipotent or he’s wicked. Which do you think?

  5. Cl:

    You wrote: “An ironclad case for God’s existence does nothing without a decision to believe. How would you know that Jesus wasn’t really Satan?”

    I think some people here might agree with that statement, as do I, but it begs a few questions:

    1) Can an ironclad case for God’s existence can be made?

    2) Absent an ironclad case, regardless of why such a case cannot be made, then what is a believer left with besides the naked decision to believe?

    3) If even an IRONCLAD CASE does NOTHING without having ALREADY made the decision to believe, then what does that say about the warrant for belief in the absence of an ironclad case?

    4) Doesn’t this amount to saying that evidence for the existence of God only becomes evident when you’ve already made up your mind to believe? Isn’t that putting the cart in front of the horse?

  6. Lifey, very well said. There was so much wrong with what cl posted that I didn’t even bother with those points, but you made them more concisely than I would have anyway. And mine probably would have gone like this:

    1.
    2.
    4.
    5.
    7.
    8.

  7. You’re essentially asking for somebody to flip a switch in your mind.

    That’s right SI. Don’t you get it? You’re asking for someone to flip a switch in your mind so you’ll become delusional and will start believing a bunch of hearsay (the nicest word I could find) that others you is the truth and want you to believe just because, no reason provided.

    If you allowed yourself to be deluded, like some many religious, you would have in-the-box thinking and would attribute all good things to a god and all bad things to a devil then, VOILA, you would see proof, guaranteed.

    Your problem, as it turns out, is that your switch is off 🙂

  8. It is impossible to prove God in the manner most atheists demand

    Yes, we’re so demanding by asking for anything demonstrable.

    An ironclad case for God’s existence does nothing without a decision to believe.

    An “ironclad case” wouldn’t require a decision, genius.

    How would you know that Jesus wasn’t really Satan?

    Better question: how would you? How would any Christian?

    I’m really confused by most atheists’ dire inability to realize the unfalsifiable nature of the demand

    Actually, we’re waiting for believers to realize it, which is why we keep asking. 😉

    The reasons I’m not an atheist are many, but among the strongest is because I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known.

    Yet you believe in a god which can’t be known.

    Let’s go back a bit. I am curious how a believer figures they’d know their god from the devil or even a highly advanced alien? What makes you so sure there’s only one god? What makes you think he’s yours?

  9. Poor CL. He (or she) really got slaughtered on this one.

    ^_^

    CL: I do hope you come back to address at least some of these. I’ll grant that it’s a bit much to expect you to respond to all of them.

  10. Che – you obviously haven’t had your “cl experiences” yet. Just stay tuned. They may not make sense, they may only superficially address the points, they may cleverly “forget to answer” the most demanding ones, but he’ll have “answers” and declare victory when he’s done.

    Where the fuck is SI tonight? I badly need a fix on my blockquote.

  11. I’ve been down this street plenty of times. Many an atheist demands a miracle, but when you show them something that is undeniably consistent with what we’d expect, many also grasp for the first reason they can to discredit it. SI and Chaplain have done exactly this with one purported miracle I reported on my blog. With absolutely zero investigation or evidence of their own, I’ve heard SI and Chaplain simply dismiss said purported miracle as “spontaneous regression” even when none of the traditional factors accompanying the vast majority of spontaneous regressions were present in the literature. Impulsive denial is not the same thing as a rationally-derived conclusion. That Kayla Knight’s case can be attributed to SR lacks more evidence than the alternative hypothesis. This is what I mean when I say evidence can be useless. No case – no matter how ironclad – guarantees against slothful induction, else there would be literally zero evolution and climate-change deniers on Earth, right?

    Evo,

    I suggest a review of falsifiability (not to mention HTML). Why isn’t Intelligent Design science? At least stay consistent within your own arguments. I know it feels good to “vanquish” me, but come on. Might this be another one of those cases where you’re “not doing any investigating when cl challenged you?”

    It is you who believes in something that cannot be known, by your own admission that it’s impossible to disprove God. If it’s impossible to disprove God, it’s impossible to prove atheism, correct? In theory, that God exists can be known. OTOH, the standard atheist assertions that God does not exist and that cessation of consciousness ensues after death literally cannot be known, only believed while living. Hence, atheists who believe consciousness ends at death believe in claims which cannot be known. I see no sense in believing what cannot be known.

    BTW, thanks for attempting to persuade Che to join team “cl is a douche” before I’ve even had a chance to respond. Way to go, rationalist!

    Ubiquitous Che,

    I don’t believe a successful ontological argument exists, and this does not contradict my subsequent statement to Lifeguard that an ironclad case for God’s existence can be made. I hope that makes sense; if it doesn’t, I’m more than willing to elaborate.

    This, I think, is actually a reasonable question.

    I agree, and thank you for the obvious and honest effort you put into my “evidence” question. Dwarves anything I’ve heard from these guys, and that on the first ball pitched, so hat tip to you for your spirit of cooperation. I agree with you regarding the insufficiency of a single data point. Further, I don’t think a volume of evidence is an unfair demand by any means; after all, that’s the standard science proceeds by, right?

    As far as prayer studies, I think they’re a load of BS. The best they can do is to falsify a magic Yes Man in the sky, which the God of the Bible is not. Still, let’s say there was a prayer study where only Hindus effected cures. Would that prove Shiva? Vishnu? Brahma? Or just something unexplainable? I say the latter, don’t you?

    As far as evidence of an afterlife, if the God of the Bible exists, we should expect not to find ironclad evidence for an afterlife, because the Bible says there is a chasm between the humans that are living and the humans that have died. I see an analogy in the singularity, and I agree with you that even if this weren’t allegedly the case, the reliable and repeatable experiments wouldn’t prove God. At best, they would merely suggest continuation of consciousness after death, right?

    As far as miracles, feel free to peruse the MiracleQuest series on my blog. It’s literally loaded with reasons why miracle claims fall short. I’m particularly interested in hearing your reaction to my “Recapitated Man” example. In response to the question of how they would parse a Recapitated Man, I’ve had atheists propose with a straight face things like SMERF’s – Sudden Magnetic Entropy Reversal Fields – and guess what? We can’t disprove them. Said atheists might as well argue for Invisible Pink Unicorns if you ask me.

    As far as the existence of a crocoduck, that’s quite interesting. I’ve never heard that idea until now. Allow me to ponder it, if you will.

    I’m sure you can see that there is plenty of evidence that could be presented if God existed. Surely, we should be able to detect something.

    Certainly, and I’ve never argued that we can’t detect anything. That evidence can be presented doesn’t preclude slothful induction. Surely you’re not suggesting atheists – also fallible human beings – are immune from the same weakness that often befalls YEC’ers and climate-change denialists, are you?

    Lifeguard,

    1) A good lawyer can make an ironclad case for anything, so, yes, an ironclad case can be made for God’s existence – or God’s absence. By “ironclad” I mean a rationally sustainable intellectual argument. While I believe both atheism and theism are (currently) logically or scientifically untenable at their roots (because of the singularity), rational, warranted belief in either is possible. Unlike most atheists, I don’t monopolize rationalism; I’m not one of those believers who claims atheists can’t make a rational case for their beliefs. They can, and they often do. Others miss the mark entirely.

    2) I think you presented a false dichotomy. It’s not either ironclad case or naked belief. As an example, someone who believed because they experienced exactly the type of miracle requested would believe in the absence of a rationally sustainable intellectual argument, and they would also retain more than “naked decision” to believe, wouldn’t you say?

    3) See 2. I’m not saying “an IRONCLAD CASE does NOTHING without having ALREADY made the decision to believe” – I’m saying no case no matter how ironclad always precludes slothful induction.

    4) Not at all. Saying no evidence is good enough for some people is not to say that evidence only becomes evident after belief. Surely not every converted atheist is a loon, right? There are believers who have based their belief on evidence, and there are believers who fly by the seat of their pants. Analogously, I once recall Exterminator saying something along the lines of, “I’ve just known there was no God ever since I was six,” or something like that. To me, that’s flying by the seat of one’s pants, and not necessarily a bad thing.

    Mike Fairburn,

    Your entire line of reasoning hinges on your opinion that God messed up. That’s not an opinion I share. For sake of thoroughness: 1) Agree. 2) Agree. 3) Disagree. 4) Agree. 5) Agree. 6) I don’t know, but the Bible says the wages of sin are death and it’s no more reasonable to expect God to make an exception there than anywhere else. Arguments from the human dislike of death are biased and unpersuasive, as the vast majority of species on this planet would be far better off with more human death, wouldn’t you say?

    I can only assume that God is either not omnipotent or he’s wicked. Which do you think?

    I see colors whereas you apparently see black and white.

    PhillyChief,

    An “ironclad case” wouldn’t require a decision, genius.

    So then, is the case for evolution not ironclad? Or is it just that evolution and climate-change deniers haven’t made the decision to believe the evidence yet? May they correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel confident assuming that everyone in their right mind knows the latter is correct. I believe the evidence for a LUCA and climate-change is quite ironclad, don’t you?

    Better question: how would you? How would any Christian?

    You’re the one who scored 75% on that silly Bible quiz; you should know that verse.

    Actually, we’re waiting for believers to realize it, which is why we keep asking.

    Yet one who has realized it stands before you, and you still have nothing positive to say.

    Yet you believe in a god which can’t be known.

    Incorrect. I believe in a God that I can’t “prove to you,” not a God that can’t be known. If the God I believe in exists, that God can be known. OTOH, you quite literally believe in that which cannot be known. Think about it: one cannot know that cessation of consciousness ensues after death.

    What makes you so sure there’s only one god? What makes you think he’s yours?

    I don’t believe there’s only one god, else I wouldn’t be talking about Satan, and God isn’t mine.

  12. @cl. So you think that your god can’t do whatever he wants, is bounded by our morals and by the laws of nature do you? Not very omnipotent is he? I suppose that’s why he can’t stop bad things happening 😉

  13. Kiwiatheist aka Mike Fairburn,

    To clarify: I don’t think God can do the logically impossible; I don’t think God is bounded by our morals; I think God writes the laws of nature and not vice-versa; I believe God can and does stop bad things from happening; and lastly, I believe that such does not entail that no bad things should ever happen. Clear?

  14. Where the fuck is SI tonight? I badly need a fix on my blockquote.

    Done. Sorry. Had a little minor surgery yesterday, and the pain killers they gave me put me to sleep before I could get back here.

  15. It’s a valiant attempt to try and compare atheists to whackaloons like climate change deniers or YECs, cl, in that we all just choose to ignore ironclad evidence. There’s one small problem though with that angle, and that’s the so-called ironclad evidence which we’re supposedly denying. Where’s that then?

    Do I believe in things which can’t be known? Yes. I believe my mail will arrive today, I believe the lights will turn on when I go to turn them on, I believe this comment will appear when I click ‘submit comment’, I believe the toilet doesn’t change into a dragon when I’m not looking, and I believe that when people die that’s it. These are beliefs that are warranted based on what is known. Beliefs such as there’s a good god and a bad god and that there’s a magical place you can go to after you die or a nasty place you’ll go if you were bad are beliefs based on what’s not known, and rather than being timid or embarrassed by believing things not based on knowledge, believers audaciously defend such beliefs by pointing to the lack of knowledge! To turn the lack of reason for believing on its head so that it becomes a lack of ability to disprove it all ain’t true is truly a remarkable achievement by believers in religion and other kinds of woo.

    I believe in a God that I can’t “prove to you,”

    Then your attempts to argue with atheists concerning your god is an irrational exercise in light of your belief since we’ll either deny whatever you offer as evidence or because you have no evidence to offer. Either way, arguing about your god with atheists, in light of your belief, is a completely irrational exercise, unless there are ulterior motives for doing so, like doing it all just to hear a nice word from me (which I think most people would think makes you even more irrational than the mere god belief).

    I think it’s quite silly to argue the properties and supposed behavior of supernatural beings like gods. It’s comparable to arguing about who would win between Superman and Mighty Mouse. Aside from being just frivolous banter, it really distracts from the primary point of why should anyone even consider believing such a being exists. That train simply never leaves the station.

  16. Philly said – arguing about your god with atheists, in light of your belief, is a completely irrational exercise, unless there are ulterior motives for doing so, like doing it all just to hear a nice word from me

    You forgot the main reason for continuing; being a douche.

    But if I were to psychoanalyze him, I don’t think I’d come up with “Philly Envy” as the reason for the douchery. It seems really clear to me that he is desperate to spread his message of “Douche Equivalence”. He knows he is a douche, but he wants you and every other atheist to concede that it’s ok for him to be so because you are a douche also.

    His battle is not for god (he understands the logical problem you just provided). His battle is that while god belief can indeed be seen as irrational by modern standards, atheism must be seen as *equally* irrational.

    He still has zero evidence for god and yet is not embarrassed at his complete and startling lack of evidence for what would be the most incredible piece of information that mankind, in our countless great discoveries, has ever found. Instead, if we say we “know” there are no invisible pink unicorns he will (at least silently) agree, but if we say we “know” that Yahweh didn’t create the universe, he uses the language of science and reason to say our “irrationality” is equivalent to his own!

    He can come to our blogs and repeat this same line over and over because we don’t ban douches.

  17. “It is impossible to prove God in the manner most atheists demand”

    I really don’t understand why that should be the case. Why would an omnipotent deity who supposedly loves me do his absolute best to hide from me, which by extension is trying his absolute best to condemn me to eternal torment?

  18. ThatOtherGuy,

    That it is impossible to prove God in the manner most atheists demand isn’t the same as saying God loves you but does His absolute best to hide from you. Nor is it to say that God is trying his absolute best to condemn you to eternal torment. That’s what you’ve heard from what I’ve said.

    What I’ve said is that it’s silly for atheists to demand from theists that which only God can supply. If any of you are serious about it, stop asking other people to do it for you. I’m just another human being. I don’t have any special powers. Lastly, I’m genuinely confused as to why people would even ask me. Would any of you really take seriously the words of the douche, the sophist, the troll, the mealy-mouthed prick, etc.?

  19. Well, I finally finished reading all the comments, so far, and I see that what I expected has born fruit.

    I expected that no theists would list their favorite evidence for gods, because we all know there is none. I expected cl to show up and dance around the issue with obfuscation. I expected that my usual allies would skewer him for doing so.

    I was not disappointed.

    What I found disappointing is that no other theist showed up and even attempted to provide evidence. I guess the other two theists who read my blog are on vacation. I was kinda hoping for another Highwayman inanity.

    A couple of observations by way of response:

    First, a concession by cl right from the get go

    Nobody can possibly do what you demand [i.e. provide evidence of the existence of god]…You’re essentially asking for somebody to flip a switch in your mind.

    Actually, no, I can flip my own switches. I simply asked for evidence. What do you, cl (or any theist), consider evidence for your belief that god exists?

    Still waiting….

    Ubiquitous Che said:

    This, I think, is actually a reasonable question.

    Normally, I’d agree. But as you’ve probably guessed by now, and having read cl’s “response” to your requested evidence, sadly it’s not. I’m not sure he asked it here, but he keeps asking us what we would consider acceptable evidence tending to prove the existence of gods. We tell him, but he keeps asking, as if we don’t answer. Then, when you show up and give him a very good answer, he still tears it apart, while paying lip service to how reasonable you are. Don’t be fooled.

    Prayer studies will never work, according to him (he had a long blog post on this) even though, I’ll bet, if they showed significant positive results that prayer actually had an effect, (what you suggested, BTW) he’d be the first one crowing about the “evidence” that proves prayer works.

    And we’ll never prove an afterlife, because of what the Bible says. hardeeharhar on that one. Mr. Rationalist won’t accept repeated and confirmable studies of someone communicating with code from the “other side”, because the Bible says so?

    And his Kayla Knight anecdote must be accepted as evidence of a miracle. Because a bunch of holy rollers prayed over her, and her cancer remitted, we are supposed to accept that as a miracle? Actually, I would accept it as evidence of a miracle, but like you pointed out, one data point is not enough. Let’s see it get done consistently, in a controlled setting, and repeatedly. Certainly proclaiming one instance does not impress me, especially when it’s coming from a church. It’s too easy to “fix” the data. Not to mention that lots of cancers go into remission without the intercession of a church, so there’s clearly something else going on there.

    I would love to see a human limb regenerate. Or even a bald man grow a head of hair. Now there’s a miracle.

    Lifeguard said:

    4) Doesn’t this amount to saying that evidence for the existence of God only becomes evident when you’ve already made up your mind to believe? Isn’t that putting the cart in front of the horse?

    I slapped my forehead and exclaimed “d’uh!” It’s like Intelligent Design “Science”. First we decide what the evidence shows, then we go find the evidence that shows it.

    Back to cl

    If it’s impossible to disprove God, it’s impossible to prove atheism, correct?

    Wrong again. God is an affirmative assertion. Atheism is simply a statement of non-belief. How do you prove a statement of non-belief? God could prove himself instantly. How does atheism prove itself? Is this a non-sequitur?

    Then to Mike Fairlane

    Your entire line of reasoning hinges on your opinion that God messed up.

    No. His conclusion was that God messed up. His conclusion was based on his line of reasoning. You have it backward.

    I believe God can and does stop bad things from happening; and lastly, I believe that such does not entail that no bad things should ever happen.

    Then how would you know? If he can stop bad things from happening, but doesn’t have to, when bad things happen anyway, how do you know he can? Where’s the evidence? This is what I was looking for. Evidence.

    What I’ve said is that it’s silly for atheists to demand from theists that which only God can supply.

    Can’t get more evasive, or circular, than that.

    “Sorry, I can come here and pick apart your arguments until your head spins, but don’t ask me to substantiate what I believe. Only god can do that.”

    That’s enough for now, though there’s a lot more I’d like to comment on, but I’ve got to get some work done, though I’ll add this:

    “..we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn… If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions, how are they going to believe in the matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven?”

  20. Cl:

    1) You wrote: “I think you presented a false dichotomy. It’s not either ironclad case or naked belief.”

    That was not the dichotomy I presented. The dichotomy is “ironclad case” and “less than an ironclad case.” If, even when presented with the ironclad case, one must decide to believe, then aren’t you admitting that even under a best case scenario, the evidence is insufficient absent the willingness of the judge to not only entertain the logical possibility of the supernatural, but to accept it as proven? Isn’t that a decision of the will– to accept as proven that which can only be demonstrated to be, at best, logically possible?

    2) You wrote: “I’m saying no case no matter how ironclad always precludes slothful induction.”

    If by “ironclad case” you mean merely “a rationally sustainable argument”– which you’ve already conceded both sides can make– why is it “slothful induction” to deny an ironclad case for theism?

    3) You wrote: “Saying no evidence is good enough for some people is not to say that evidence only becomes evident after belief.”

    Fair enough. But you did say that even an ironclad case for theism accomplishes nothing if one doesn’t make the decision to believe. Doesn’t that mean that the ironclad case itself doesn’t logically compel belief without an act of the will? Doesn’t that mean you have to be willing to believe before you’ve even heard the evidence?

  21. Unless you were around before the Universe was to see how everything began then you HAVE NO PROOF or foundation for truth (it has to be theory….and just because something is tested over and over and has the same outcome every time doesn’t mean it will ALWAYS have the same outcome, it just means that there’s a high probabilty that it will). This is common sense. If you want to argue otherwise then you are not thinking logically.

  22. Just to supplement Number 3 in my last comment: If the ironclad case itself is insufficient to prove anything, what’s the basis for deciding to believe? How is deciding not to believe in any way less warranted than the leap of faith?

  23. and just because something is tested over and over and has the same outcome every time doesn’t mean it will ALWAYS have the same outcome, it just means that there’s a high probabilty that it will).

    Yes, but if something is tested over and over and has the same outcome every time, it is perfectly rational to believe, and to act on that belief, as if it will continue to have the same outcome in the future. And it’s irrational to believe, and act on that belief, as if it won’t simply because you don’t have an absolute 100% guarantee that it will.

    If you’re talking about the ignition of my car turning over the engine every time I turn the key, that’s a good example. There’s no guarantee that it will do so the next time, even though it has the last 300 times. But I would be an idiot to not assume it will do so tomorrow, and walk to work or call a cab without trying, because it’s possible it won’t. we all live in the real world, not the supernatural one.

  24. Interesting. You gentlemen ignored the point.


    Unless you were around before the Universe was to see how everything began then you HAVE NO PROOF or foundation for truth

    No matter how many verbal webs you attempt to weave, you will never prove a negative. You can however attempt to weave many arguments to attempt to disprove a positive which defies disproof.


  25. If you’re talking about the ignition of my car turning over the engine every time I turn the key, that’s a good example. There’s no guarantee that it will do so the next time, even though it has the last 300 times. But I would be an idiot to not assume it will do so tomorrow, and walk to work or call a cab without trying, because it’s possible it won’t.

    This analogy isn’t accurate. The accurate anology is that one would be an idiot not to have a backup plan in the event his or her car did not start.

  26. cl:

    Think about it: one cannot know that cessation of consciousness ensues after death.

    There is zero evidence that consciousness survives death. There are necessary and sufficient conditions showing that consciousness requires a functional brain.

  27. CL

    Thanks for the reply.

    Just as a general remark, it strikes me that the overall tone of your response was a bit on the defensive side. Understandable under the circumstances, but in this case unnecessary. I never meant to imply that the absence of any one of my examples of evidence was a singular disproof of God. I was only trying to indicate by concrete examples the general kind of evidence I would find persuasive.

    I feel I should state my position clearly – once again, this is only to make myself clear, and I do not intend this to be an attack on your position. I will use the term ‘Theos’ instead of ‘God’ if that works for you, because I want this to apply to all forms of deism, monotheism and polytheism, and I’ve found that ‘Theos’ is a nice generic bundling-up term that everyone can accept.

    I’ve always considered that Theos is, before interpreted to fit anything else, a proposed solution to Primum Movens. Firstly, I have found Primum Movens to be non sequitur in the first place. However, even if we grant the argument’s logical form as sound, I still find that Theos is a very poor solution to Primum Movens due to the regression problem. Yet although I find it unlikely, I acknowledge that it may be true in spite of this. But for me, overcoming this initial implausibility will require more than mere words (Logos). It will require the combination of words (Logos) with evidence (Kairos). As such evidence is (in my experience) sorely lacking, I therefore believe with high confidence (though not utter certainty) that Theos does not exist. I am an atheist.

    There’s a lot packed in that last paragraph, so I just want to repeat myself: It is not my intent to persuade you of my opinion on these matters, or to even defend my opinion on these matters against you. I only seek to make myself clear. I say this because my purpose (at the moment) is not to argue the point, only fulfill your original request for the kinds of evidence that would be acceptable. This, I suspect, places me in a slightly different category from the other commentators on this post – at least for the moment.

    That those commentators not mistake me, may they rest assured! I am happy to argue the question of Theos, and do so frequently. I don’t mean to desert the cause in general terms! It is only that, just for the moment, my purpose is not to argue – I only wish to make myself clear.

    It should also be noted that of course my complete position on the topic is more wide-ranging and complex than could ever be contained within a single paragraph. The paragraph above is a good summary, nothing more.

    Now, hopefully that little digression should set aside devensiveness and objections on the part of the rest of you; on with the subject!

    … let’s say there was a prayer study where only Hindus effected cures. Would that prove Shiva? Vishnu? Brahma? Or just something unexplainable? I say the latter, don’t you?

    Say there was such a study. On its own, of course this would prove nothing. However, such a study could be put to service to support a premise in an argument that did seek to prove the existence of any of the above entities, or others besides.

    But even if it could not be used to prove any of these entities, it would still remain persuasive to those mindful of evidence-based reasoning.

    As an aside, a word on ‘proving’ things.

    To my understanding, a ‘proof’ is a mathematical construct. The branch of mathematics that deals with argumentation is logic – be it propositional or predicate logic. So the only way evidence can ‘prove’ something is via some kind of logically sound logical argument founded upon materially supported premises.

    As such, a proof is actually a very tricky standard to achieve. Often, such a standard cannot be met, even in probabilistic terms. However, ‘proving’ things is one kind of persuasion. A very strong kind of persuasion, but still only one kind. Even when a logical proof cannot be attained, we may use other, weaker forms of persuasion. Evidence based reasoning is one such trope – and it is a form of persuasion to which I am particularly susceptible whenever a logical argument cannot be found to decide a matter.

    I see an analogy in the singularity, and I agree with you that even if this weren’t allegedly the case, the reliable and repeatable experiments wouldn’t prove God. At best, they would merely suggest continuation of consciousness after death, right?

    Correct – and that is a succinct way of putting it.

    Yes. I disbelieve in the continuation of consciousness after death. To phrase it positively, I accept the neurological evidence that the mind is what the brain does, just as pumping blood is what the heart does. I have found presented evidence to the contrary to be of lower quality than the neurological evidence.

    It follows from this that, when the brain dies, the mind ceases to function just as blood ceases to be pumped through the corpse’s veins.

    Once again: I would prefer not to get bogged down into an argument about the consciousness-after-death issue. I’m explaining, not arguing. ^_^

    If it could be shown that minds could exist without a physical system of some form, this would not be a proof – but it would make Theos that much more plausible.

    As far as miracles, feel free to peruse the MiracleQuest series on my blog. It’s literally loaded with reasons why miracle claims fall short. I’m particularly interested in hearing your reaction to my “Recapitated Man” example. In response to the question of how they would parse a Recapitated Man, I’ve had atheists propose with a straight face things like SMERF’s – Sudden Magnetic Entropy Reversal Fields – and guess what? We can’t disprove them. Said atheists might as well argue for Invisible Pink Unicorns if you ask me.

    I’ll do that – just not yet, if you will forgive me. I’m already wasting enough time at work responding to posts here!

    As far as the existence of a crocoduck, that’s quite interesting. I’ve never heard that idea until now. Allow me to ponder it, if you will.

    I’ve always considered the crocoduck question to be particularly ironic on the part of Kirk Cameron. He suggested it as if such a creature would be required to validate evolution. In actual fact, it would do a great deal to invalidate it as the sole cause of species diversity. Such a creature should not be possible under evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory would still be valid, mind you. Just incomplete. But this way, we would be able to show hard evidence that there is a source of species diversity that must exist outside evolution. This could form the foundation for some form of proof or reasoning for God’s existence.

    And just in case, a platypus doesn’t count as a crocoduck. It’s a nice example of the monotremes. ^_^

  28. “show hard evidence that there is a source of species diversity must exist outside evolution”

    Should be:

    “show hard evidence that there is a source of species diversity that must exist outside evolution”

    Really, really wish WordPress had a preview.

  29. Really, really wish WordPress had a preview.

    Definitely one of it’s deficiencies, but I find in the two years or so I’ve been using it, it gets better every couple of months, via designed improvements. I suspect they’ll have a preview function somewhere down the road. Blogger has a nice preview, but is deficient in HTML support.

  30. Interesting. You gentlemen ignored the point.

    No. I understood it. I simply expanded on it a bit.

    No matter how many verbal webs you attempt to weave, you will never prove a negative.

    True.

    You can … attempt to disprove a positive which defies disproof.

    Yes, but who’s doing that? And , more to the point, why bother? Take the topic of this post:

    “God exists”

    I wouldn’t even begin to try to disprove that. I would simply point out that one can’t assume it, and if you are asserting it, the burden lies on you to show evidence for it. If you cannot, then I have no obligation to believe it, even if it’s true.

    This analogy isn’t accurate. The accurate analogy is that one would be an idiot not to have a backup plan in the event his or her car did not start.

    It’s accurate if you assume my (mis)understanding of your comment. 8)

  31. The accurate anology is that one would be an idiot not to have a backup plan in the event his or her car did not start.

    What if there were a bunch of backup plans, and if you picked the wrong one, you’d be screwed as bad if not worse than if you hadn’t picked one at all?

    There’s your accurate analogy.

  32. Lifeguard, Ubiquitous Che, Senator

    I’ll get back to you guys. SI went off, and I had to be semi-thorough in my rebuttal.

    SI,

    I expected that no theists would list their favorite evidence for gods, because we all know there is none.

    I originally didn’t list any evidence not because I don’t think it exists, but because there’s usually no point if the parties involved can’t pre-agree as to what constitutes evidence. Sans such clarity, these types of things tend to turn into, “That’s not evidence,” followed by “Yes it is,” to be repeated ad nauseum. Such was my “reasonable question” Ubiquitous Che alluded to, which you claimed was not reasonable. I went through this for three months with a group of atheists that are far more rational and educated about science than you. Don’t ask me to show you Waldo if you refuse to describe him. OTOH, I’m impressed by your concession that Kayla’s case consititutes evidence for a miracle, and I’ll get to that in more detail in a moment.

    What do you, cl (or any theist), consider evidence for your belief that god exists?

    A better question is, what will you accept as evidence? Why do you consider Kayla’s case evidence for a miracle? This way, I can weed out the stuff I know you won’t accept. If I tell you something like “answered prayer” or “the truth of the Bible,” such will be a waste of our time, correct?

    We tell him, but he keeps asking, as if we don’t answer.

    SI, speak for yourself, not your party. If you have answered by explaining what you’re willing to accept as evidence, I’ve missed it. Have you? Remember, I said I left that one thread and never looked back, so cut me some slack here. If you have answered my question, a link should be easily forthcoming, and its date should preceed this comment’s. Otherwise, a retraction of the claim that you’ve answered said question followed by an answer to said question would allow this discussion to proceed, possibly towards some sort of resolution.

    Prayer studies will never work, according to him (he had a long blog post on this) even though, I’ll bet, if they showed significant positive results that prayer actually had an effect, (what you suggested, BTW) he’d be the first one crowing about the “evidence” that proves prayer works.

    Yet you omit the fact that one of the studies I evaluated did show results that were touted as effective beyond what could be accounted for by chance. I skewered that one, too, hoping to preclude exactly these types of baseless claims. It’s called consistency.

    And his Kayla Knight anecdote must be accepted as evidence of a miracle.

    Hear what you want, but that’s not what I said in the post. All I did in the post was state the facts of the case as I understood them. I remember that I kept my opinion out of it. Today, I believe that Kayla’s case is more consistent with a supernatural healing than any other explanation proffered thus far. From what Kayla’s mother told me, in response to her unexplained healing, the doctor’s exact words were, “I don’t know what I am anymore, but I’m not an atheist.” Believe me, I’m begging her just as much as you’ll beg me for names. I want to interview that doctor, badly. Kayla’s mother (Amy) said that doctor asked to remain anonymous because he was outspoken about his/her atheism, and wanted time to think this all out. Your initial rebuttal was to suggest spontaneous regression, yet the vast majority of the phenomena that typically accompany SR were not present in Kayla’s case. To that, you now say,

    Actually, I would accept [Kayla’s case] as evidence of a miracle, but like you pointed out, one data point is not enough. Let’s see it get done consistently, in a controlled setting, and repeatedly.

    Damn SI. I’m impressed. I tried to have a beer with my burrito when I read this, but they only sold soda at the spot on 22nd. Getting an atheist to concede evidence of a miracle is certainly no easy task, and might even be proof of miracles! But really, what’s the magic number that will convince you? Does it need to happen 10 times? 20?

    ..lots of cancers go into remission without the intercession of a church, so there’s clearly something else going on there.

    That’s really bad logic, SI. Your premise does not flow from your conclusion, at all. That SR exists doesn’t necessarily entail that “something else” [besides God] was the catalyst behind Kayla’s recovery. If I might be blunt, I’m glad you’re not a criminal attorney, because it would be a travesty of the highest order were some poor sap convicted on logic that weak.

    A few other points:

    Kayla’s evidence isn’t coming from a church. It’s coming from Amy Knight. I’ve also gleaned small pieces here and there from various folks I’ve talked to in hospitals in their area.

    You misread what I said to Lifeguard, and I suggest going back and asking me what I mean if anything is still unclear.

    You’re wrong about me and Mike Fairburn. Mike started out by presupposing God “messed up” when said “mistakes” could very well have had legitimate reason in the plan.

    “Sorry, I can come here and pick apart your arguments until your head spins, but don’t ask me to substantiate what I believe. Only god can do that.”

    You have this peculiar tendency to put my arguments into your words and re-attribute them to me, quotes and all. I have every right to criticize your poorly-formed arguments. If you don’t like it, quit blogging or tighten them up. I never said I couldn’t substantiate what I believe; I said I couldn’t prove it to you. Huge difference.

    nal,

    I agree that conscious human beings require a functional brain.

    There is zero evidence that consciousness survives death.

    That’s the same sort of thing as saying there’s zero evidence for miracles. The fact is, there is no scientifically acceptable proof that consciousness survives death. There is most certainly evidence consistent with what we might reasonably expect if consciousness does survive death. Your next response may be, “Such as?” That’s a reasonable question I’d love to discuss further..

  33. The Ubiquitous one said: And just in case, a platypus doesn’t count as a crocoduck. It’s a nice example of the monotremes. ^_^

    And, a really fun example to look at in terms of evolution! For those who make the tired claims of “micro vs. macro” and “types” (whatever the fuck that is, since there is no such scientific category – but, OK, I get what they are attempting to say…) then a look at the Duckbill Platypus and a few thoughts about where “micro” evolution could potentially lead becomes obvious, doesn’t it?

    No? Well, I’m thinking of an interesting YouTube video I could make about this. I’ll be sure to let our friend the Highwayman know when it’s up. Thanks for being ubiquitous, Che!

  34. Dance, Dance, Dance

    SI went off…

    No. I’ve been here all along. 8)

    A better question is, what will you accept as evidence?

    C’mon on, lets not dance to that tune again. It’s my post, my question, and I want to know what I asked for, not what you want me to ask for. Besides, I set some rather specific criteria in the post itself. I’m not an HMO, I’m not going to pre-approve your evidence. If you don’t want to dance, step off the dance floor.

    Frankly, the fact that you answer without responding tells me that you don’t have any evidence, and you’ll do anything to avoid the question. Am I not being reasonable in coming to that conclusion? What else am I to think?

    I’ve already told you that the Kayla case is evidence of a miracle. Not very good evidence. The boogers in my nose are evidence too, but I’m not getting on my knees just yet. So why can’t you list all the evidence I asked for, let it all hang out, and let the chips fall where they may? If I reject it, I reject it. Your particular faith, if based on your evidence, is personal to you. You’re not going to convince me with your evidence (and I say that not to discourage you, but to be honest – nothing you’ve said so far has convinced me, so I’m going with the odds, tentatively) – but why not try? My rejection of your evidence won’t change your opinion, because you’ve already decided that the evidence is good enough for you.

    But for some reason you’re afraid to say what it is. Don’t forget, there are others reading this shit.

    I’m not getting into Kayla, other than:

    That SR exists doesn’t necessarily entail that “something else” [besides God] was the catalyst behind Kayla’s recovery.

    That’s not what I said. Here’s what I actually said:

    Not to mention that lots of cancers go into remission without the intercession of a church, so there’s clearly something else going on there.

    Notice that you omitted the “without the intercession of a church” part? I didn’t say that because SR exist, something else than God is going on, I said because SR exists without the intercession of a church something else besides god is going on. See the difference?

    You can talk to doctors, and Amy, and every one of the church members that laid their hands on her, and it won’t convince me. Extraordinary claims demands extraordinary evidence. I need to see extraordinary evidence . This is one data point. That’s it.

    It would really be helpful to my thinking, as Che mentioned, to see something miraculous that has never happened before, like regeneration of limbs. SR of disease happens so often, that it’s hard to classify anything in that category as extraordinary evidence.

    You’re wrong about me and Mike Fairburn. Mike started out by presupposing God “messed up” when said “mistakes” could very well have had legitimate reason in the plan.

    Your presupposition of his presupposition is amusing – for about 3 seconds. So shoot him for putting his conclusion before his premise. You read English. He clearly gave you the basis for his conclusion. And you keep insisting you don’t play semantic games. Be careful, I may have to agree with Philly on your nickname, because that’s a really douchey way of twisting his words.

    And what plan? You assume a plan, but don’t show any evidence for that either. It’s real convenient to say that everything god fucks up about was not really a fuckup because it’s part of some plan. Where the hell is this plan? I want to see where it says “Fuckups are part of my plan”. Can you imagine a corporation or a government formulating a long term plan, and having a provision that essentially says “All screwups are part of the plan”?

    And you actually worship this guy? Do you worship Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff?

    I never said I couldn’t substantiate what I believe

    So? What are you waiting for?

  35. Some joker said: I never said I couldn’t substantiate what I believe; I said I couldn’t prove it to you. Huge difference.

    Then again, we don’t even know what he believes! He knows what each of us thinks – very clearly. I personally asked him the following questions at least 10 times:

    Do you believe in the god of the Christians? Do you think Jesus is the son of god or an actual part of god who took human form or neither? Do you think he died for your sins? Do you think belief in him and repenting for sins is the way to go to heaven?

    He refused to answer every time. And this was at a time when he could not reasonably refuse because I was “being mean” to him – the sorry excuse he uses every time Philly asks him a particularly tough question, even though he will miraculously answer everything else and engage Philly in long, arcane discussions. Why answer Philly at all if he is such a bad guy?

    There are no gods. This is every bit as reasonable a statement to make as “there are no flying, fire-breathing dragons”. The sole difference, which makes it only seem to be on a different level, is the sheer numbers of people who presently believe in gods. Although you can be pretty sure that there was a time when people believed in flying, fire-breathing dragons in similar brute numbers.

    So call it “substantiate” or call it “prove”, he has done neither, nor even made a serious attempt. It’s because he can do neither, despite any protestation. Fuck, you’d have to say what it is you are “substantiating” before you get this discussion off the ground in the first place.

    That is, unless you have absolutely no intention of doing so. Unless, oh I don’t know, you are playing semantic and logic games in a different effort to try to show your silly, but hidden, beliefs are somehow equivalent to not believing. His is an argument of false equivalency.

    These games do nothing to make a non-existent god come in to focus.

  36. No? Well, I’m thinking of an interesting YouTube video I could make about this. I’ll be sure to let our friend the Highwayman know when it’s up. Thanks for being ubiquitous, Che!

    – John Evo

    No worries John. 🙂

    Though if I could make a suggestion – I find that a more telling example, once it is understood, is the distinction between animals that use haemocyanin or haemoglobin as a respiratory pigment.

    Then again, I suppose the platypus has better gawp value. ^_^

    For Darwin day, I went in to Auckland University to attend their public lectures. An Australian woman was speaking over video link about sexual selection chromosomes, and how she and some of her graduate students had done some research showing the evolution of these chromosomes by comparing mammalian, marsupial, monotreme, bird, and reptile genomes. I’m struggling to remember her name, unfortunately. Her research would have made for an excellent educational YouTube video – or possibly a series of them.

    What’s your YouTube channel name?

  37. Yeah, I read that before. The graphs are amazing. It struck me more as an artist then as an atheist because I’ve seen too many examples of artists completely out of touch with their inabilities, while also seeing many very talented artists downplay their abilities. (Note: I find it easier to argue someone is a good or bad artist rather than an artist or non-artist, just as I do for art, arguing good or bad rather than art or not art)

  38. I agree with you on the art/not art thing.

    Above, I defined logic as a sub-group of mathematics, and mathematics as a sub-group of persuasion. I define persuasion as a kind of art.

    ^_^

    In my experience, almost everything boils down to a kind of art – even the critique of art as either good or bad is itself a kind of art.

    Wow. SO off-topic! ^_^

  39. But if everything is art, then we aren’t really off topic. Or at least that’s what I’m gonna tell SI when he gets here!

  40. I would limit art to acts of creation, therefore a sunset isn’t art, but commenting on it is. 😉

    Although this journey off topic may be art Evo, it’s still off topic and so SI has every right to be angry with us sullying the intent of his work. Dunning-Kruger effect, imo, wasn’t off topic, though.

  41. Philly, I think you are being willfully ignorant. We can go back and forth on this forever if you don’t want to deal with the issue. I’m not going anywhere. The fact is that art is everything. You claim only when “created”. Fine. SI created the topic. If art is everything created, that would include topics.

    When you admit you are wrong, we can go on to the other things you have had to say. Otherwise you can expect me to keep reminding you endlessly so everyone else can see what you are doing. Even Evo once told you that you are not good at conceding a point and Lifeguard agrees. This is empirical evidence! You are supposed to be a rationalist, right?

  42. Philly

    Just to back-up and side-step John at the same time, consider this:

    A perception event is something that is created. As such, the perception of a sunset is a work of art.

    And as we don’t know of sunsets outside of our perception of them – or anything else, for that matter – then reality as we know it to be is also a work of art.

    I welcome objections. There’s always objections. ^_^

    I’m still new here. I get the impression from recent posts that SI is due to come and tell us off any minute now. I’m getting anxious. :p

  43. Just dropping by to let folks know I’m still very much in this discussion. I still need to response to Ubiquitous Che and Lifeguard but I can’t really get to anything now. I’d wish you all a happy independence day, but I refuse to celebrate independence day this year because we’re not independent. By the time I wake up tomorrow, my state of California will be millions of more dollars into “dependency.” Still, I did have an awesome day today. I walked into my bank, told them I disagreed with their greed and corruption, and in a very loud voice. Some of the customers looked at me like I was crazy, but it felt good to walk out of there knowing I’ll never look back and that I’m not dependent on them to tell me when and where and how much I can spend. Liberty or death!

    HOWEVER.. this sure did catch my eye:

    Philly, I think you are being willfully ignorant… Even Evo once told you that you are not good at conceding a point and Lifeguard agrees. This is empirical evidence! You are supposed to be a rationalist, right? (Evo, to PhillyChief)

    Damn straight. In full reality – among many other things – Philly doesn’t know whether or not sunsets were created, yet he has no problem jumping the gun and making truth-claims without evidence, all while wearing a Rationalist’s T-Shirt, flapping his jaw like everything’s already known. Nah, no such thing as atheist fundamentalists, right?

  44. I think the word “art” should be saved for fruits of action, including the action itself, by a living thing capable of action. Another word is needed for everything else like sunsets.

    I’d say, Che, that perhaps the perception of a sunset is the art, but the sunset itself isn’t art.

    I’m probably biased though since I’m a professional visual artist. 😉

  45. Philly

    Heh! I’d have thought a visual artist would be more inclined to this line of argument.

    Consider again:

    What understanding do we have of a sunset that is not revealed to us via a perception of some form?

    And also:

    Isn’t the idea of what a sunset is something that had to be created?

  46. Any understanding of the sunset is an action, just like the act of perceiving it.

    Is this going to lead to essences or Socrates’ cave?

    What I meant by bias was as a creator, I want to delineate between what is and works.

  47. Is this going to lead to essences or Socrates’ cave?

    Neither, actually. For all the fondness I have for Plato-as-Socrates, I find Plato-as-Plato somewhat fishy. ^_^

    I’m just putting forward the idea that everything to which we have access is art. That part of existence that can be known is art. That part of existence that cannot be known, cannot be art.

    And if we conclude that that which exists, can be known*, then that which is not art does not exist.

    *Note: This does not imply that that which can be known also exists – that’s a different claim.

    I’m just trying to conflate art with knowledge, and get away from the (admittedly artistic) idea of knowledge as proximity of belief to metaphysical truth.

    To my understanding, this is very much antithetical to Plato’s musings.

    I’m always interested to see people’s objections to this line of thought. As I said earlier, there’s always objections. ^_^

  48. But if everything is art, then we aren’t really off topic. Or at least that’s what I’m gonna tell SI when he gets here!

    and

    I’m still new here. I get the impression from recent posts that SI is due to come and tell us off any minute now. I’m getting anxious. :p

    Fuck off topic. (Fuck, off topic?) Anyway, discuss away. As long as it’s interesting, it stays. This is interesting.

    Remember, on my blog, I’m GOD.

    Even when you artsy people start getting too esoteric. 8)

  49. Che said: that’s a teensy bit anti-climactic.

    Don’t start up on SI. You want to really piss him off? That’s what his wife is always saying.

    Stick around, Che. You’ll figure everyone out before long.

  50. I’m just putting forward the idea that everything to which we have access is art.

    Yes, I’ve gotten that each time you pushed it. I assume you’ve gotten what I’ve put forward each time too, right? That I’m making a distinction between everything and that which was crafted?

    That part of existence that can be known is art. That part of existence that cannot be known, cannot be art.
    And if we conclude that that which exists, can be known*, then that which is not art does not exist.

    Your conclusion “that that which exists, can be known” contradicts your premise that the “part of existence that cannot be known, cannot be art.”. How can you say we know what exists when you’ve also said part of existence cannot be known?

  51. CL

    Just letting you know I haven’t forgotten you. I get that you’re busy. No rush.

    PhillyChief

    Your conclusion “that that which exists, can be known” contradicts your premise that the “part of existence that cannot be known, cannot be art.”. How can you say we know what exists when you’ve also said part of existence cannot be known?

    Ooops. I wasn’t clear. My bad.

    When I premised (is that a word?) that that the part of existence that cannot be known, cannot be art, this was NOT intended to imply that there is a part of existence that cannot be known.

    I am attempting to conflate art with knowledge (as stated above). I am also attempting to conflate knowledge with existence.

    To add a hint of nuance: This is NOT the argument that only that which we know, exists. This is the argument that only that which can be known, exists (Commonly summarized as: That which exists, manifests; that which does not manifest, does not exist.)

    Sorry ’bout that – I should have been clearer.

    Yes, I’ve gotten that each time you pushed it. I assume you’ve gotten what I’ve put forward each time too, right? That I’m making a distinction between everything and that which was crafted?

    I think I’ve understood what you’re saying. Just to check:

    You’ve agreed that ‘That which is crafted’, is the idea of a sunset, and the definition of a sunset, and the act of perceiving a sunset. Is that correct?

    You’ve asserted that there is an uncrafted ‘sunset’ that lurks beneath and distinct from the idea ‘sunset’, the definition ‘sunset’, and the perception ‘sunset’. This uncrafted ‘susnset’ is therefore unimagined/able, undefined/able, and unperceived/able. Is that correct?

  52. Yes.
    No.

    Existence is not dependent upon knowledge, but knowledge is dependent upon existence. In other words my existence is not affected by your knowledge of my existence, but if I didn’t exist, there’d be nothing for you to know, so I’d send the knowledge/existence conflation attempt straight to the bin.

  53. Existence is not dependent upon knowledge, but knowledge is dependent upon existence.

    – PhillyChief

    I specifically pointed out that this is not my argument.

    To add a hint of nuance: This is NOT the argument that only that which we know, exists. This is the argument that only that which can be known, exists (Commonly summarized as: That which exists, manifests; that which does not manifest, does not exist.)

    – Ubiquitous Che

    To repeat myself again: I am NOT arguing that only that which we know, exists.

    I am arguing that only that which can be known, exists.

    Your presence clearly can be known. So my argument does not call your existence into question.

    Your point above does not address my argument at all. I apologize – I have obviously failed to make myself clear.

    … In other words my existence is not affected by your knowledge of my existence…

    – PhillyChief

    Once again – I never said this, and specifically pointed out that this was not my argument.

    To add additional nuance: I am not arguing that your existence is dependent on my capacity to know of your existence.

    I am arguing that your existence is dependent on your capacity to be known, not whether or not a specific group of people know of it.

    … but if I didn’t exist, there’d be nothing for you to know…

    – PhillyChief

    This is actually one of my premises. Check again:

    … And if we conclude that that which exists, can be known…

    – Ubiquitous Che

    I said before that that which exists can be known – this is, of course, a contested statement in need of a supporting argument, so I accept that I have failed to live up to the material task in that sense – hence the phrase ‘if we conclude’. I don’t mean to suggest we have concluded this.

    … so I’d send the knowledge/existence conflation attempt straight to the bin.

    That would be hasty: You are yet to address the knowledge/existence conflation at all.

    It really does seem that I’m not explaining myself clearly. Could you prompt me with some more specific examples? It might help me to understand where I need to address some more attention.

  54. That’s the word!

    I’ve been struggling to remember the term Solipsism! Just hit me now.

    PhillyChief, I suspect you have confused my argument with Solipsism.

    I assure you, the argument I’m trying to make is directly contradictory to Solipsism. I do use similar language – so I suppose it would be a natural point at which I could have unintentionally led you astray.

    Is that the case? Have you been arguing against Solipsism, in the belief that that was my position?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

  55. Lifeguard,

    I’m working on an entire post to better answer your specific questions as well as SI’s original demand. It’s coming along quite well, thanks for being patient.

    Ubiquitious Che,

    Busy indeed. I still owe you a few words if I recall, and the aforementioned post deals with what you and I seemed to agree was a “reasonable question.” I’ll drop a link when it’s ready, and I intend to address your responses to my responses to your original questions.

    John Evo,

    Then again, we don’t even know what [cl] believes! He knows what each of us thinks – very clearly. I personally asked him the following questions at least 10 times:

    Do you believe in the god of the Christians? Do you think Jesus is the son of god or an actual part of god who took human form or neither? Do you think he died for your sins? Do you think belief in him and repenting for sins is the way to go to heaven?

    He refused to answer every time. And this was at a time when he could not reasonably refuse because I was “being mean” to him – the sorry excuse he uses every time Philly asks him a particularly tough question, even though he will miraculously answer everything else and engage Philly in long, arcane discussions. Why answer Philly at all if he is such a bad guy?

    You still whining about that? It’s pretty simple – you believe in no God, no gods, and cessation of consciousness after death. I believe in God, gods, and continuation of consciousness after death. So you do know what I believe. What you don’t know and what you don’t need to know – unless you’re genuinely interested, of course – are the full details of what I believe.

    Now, if somebody like Lifeguard asked me to get more specific, perhaps I’d answer him in an email. Why? Well, because Lifeguard is a respectful person even to those who think differently than he, and I don’t have a single iota of suspicion that Lifeguard would ever insult me or my religious beliefs. As far as SI, yourself and PhillyChief are concerned, hell, you want my mother’s name too? Seriously. I haven’t even discussed religion with you people and look how rude and disrespectful you are already. I refuse to answer those questions for you guys because I’m not going to discuss religion in an atmosphere that’s already nothing but hateful. Besides, I’m not hear to preach to you. I’m hear to challenge your arguments – and just as an atheist need not present an argument for atheism to critique theism, a theist need not present an argument for theism to critique atheism. Now, in this particular post, I gave a couple counter arguments of my own, not because I thought they’d convince, but only to prove my point that they would not, and that SI conflates proof and evidence.

    “Why are you such a douche, cl” does not constitute a particularly tough question, and I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief that you allege to be “particularly tough.” As you can see from his discussion with Che, PhillyChief apparently has a particularly tough time discerning the nuanced questions Che asked him. Further, PhillyChief has not once asked me a particularly tough question. At least when I’m around, PhillyChief can’t even control himself from saying “douche” long enough to articulate a particularly tough question.

    Fuck, you’d have to say what it is you are “substantiating” before you get this discussion off the ground in the first place.

    Well, accept my answer then: I’m substantiating and have been substantiating the fact that belief in God, gods and continuation of consciousness after death can be every bit as rational as the absence of said belief. You forget that your consistent denial of all my points doesn’t mean I’m not making them.

    SI,

    First things first:

    Notice that you omitted the “without the intercession of a church” part? I didn’t say that because SR exist, something else than God is going on, I said because SR exists without the intercession of a church something else besides god is going on. See the difference?

    SI, the omission doesn’t change anything. Think about it before you dig into the keyboard next time. It’s the piss-poor logic I’m alluding to, not the unnecessary distinction: You can’t simply say that since SR exists without the intercession of a church that something else besides God is going on.

    Second things second:

    Your presupposition of his presupposition is amusing – for about 3 seconds. So shoot him for putting his conclusion before his premise. You read English. He clearly gave you the basis for his conclusion. And you keep insisting you don’t play semantic games. Be careful, I may have to agree with Philly on your nickname, because that’s a really douchey way of twisting his words.

    You always get more forceful when your contradictions are pointed out, but remember, other people are reading. I’m not quibbling over the grammatical structure of the argument. Mike Fairburn doesn’t get to just offer us the free lunch that “God messed up” on account of things like plate tectonics. It could very well be that plate tectonics is a necessary and beneficial part of God’s plan. That’s why I called Mike Fairburn on his presupposition. It’s not twisting his words. I didn’t once say that he said something he didn’t; I disagreed with something he actually said. I don’t know about you, but I prefer a vast ocean between myself and the middle East turmoil. Get the drift? So follow after your boy PhillyChief in the “blog like you’re at the dive bar” strategy and call me whatever names you want. There’s always room for more haters on the internet.

    I’ll be back for the “meat” of your post later.

  56. SI, the omission doesn’t change anything. Think about it before you dig into the keyboard next time. It’s the piss-poor logic I’m alluding to, not the unnecessary distinction: You can’t simply say that since SR exists without the intercession of a church that something else besides God is going on.

    I wouldn’t try claiming logic here, cl.

    It could very well be that plate tectonics is a necessary and beneficial part of God’s plan.

    I think it’s far more logical to say that if there is Spontaneous Remission in most, or even numerous cases, where there is no religious overtones whatsoever, then Spontaneous Remission can reasonably be attributed to something other than gods, than it is to say that the collateral damage of plate tectonics are part of some supernatural plan, a plan most Christians will readily admit they have no knowledge or evidence of.

    If you want to appeal to the unknown, unknowable, and probably non-existent, don’t call it logic. That’s an insult to logic.

  57. I wouldn’t try claiming logic here, cl

    Irony noted, as you deliver another red herring: "Let's not defend our own logic, instead let's attack cl's, and that without supporting evidence."

    I think it’s far more logical to say that if there is Spontaneous Remission in most, or even numerous cases, where there is no religious overtones whatsoever, then Spontaneous Remission can reasonably be attributed to something other than gods, than it is to say that the collateral damage of plate tectonics are part of some supernatural plan, a plan most Christians will readily admit they have no knowledge or evidence of.

    What you think is more logical when comparing apples and oranges doesn’t mean anything to me. Justify your claim that since SR exists without intercession of a church, something more is going on in Kayla’s case. Oh wait – you can’t.

    Perhaps maybe then you can deal with the fact that you conflate evidence and proof?

  58. Hmm…. looks like the first attempt got eaten. Sorry if this posts twice

    **************

    I wouldn’t try claiming logic here, cl.

    Irony noted. My claim that your logic is piss-poor is not affected by your tu quoque. But hey, why defend our own piss-poor logic when we can always hope to deflect attention back towards our favorite theist scapegoat, right? Remember, other people are reading, or so you say.

    I think it’s far more logical to say that if there is Spontaneous Remission in most, or even numerous cases, where there is no religious overtones whatsoever….. (blah blah blah about Fairfield)

    What you think is more logical when comparing two separate arguments has no bearing on my claim that your logic in one of them is piss-poor. Now, can you please justify your claim that “since SR exists without intercession of a church, there must be something more going on” in Kayla’s case. Oh wait – you can’t.

    In that case, and returning to OP, maybe you can explain why you conflate evidence and proof

  59. Cl. Your logic.

    P1=Spontaneous Remission of cancer is a common occurrence.
    P2=In one instance, a spontaneous remission of cancer occurred after a church congregation prayed over the patient.
    P3=In most cases spontaneous remissions of cancer occur without any prayer or religious intervention
    C= Spontaneous remission of cancer is a divine occurrence.

    (You could omit P3 and your conclusion would be the same.)

    My logic

    P1=Spontaneous Remission of cancer is a common occurrence.
    P2=In one instance, a spontaneous remission of cancer occurred after a church congregation prayed over the patient.
    P3=In most cases spontaneous remissions of cancer occur without any prayer or religious intervention
    C=There is a paucity of evidence to conclude that prayer had anything to do with spontaneous remissions of cancer.

    Personally, I’ll go with my logic, because I do know the difference between evidence and proof, else why concede that KK was evidence, not proof? When I say there’s something more going on, clearly I mean that SR’s happen for reasons unrelated to the prayer. Most likely for perfectly natural, as opposed to supernatural, reasons. That certainly follows from what I said and is not illogical.

    As for my tu quoque, all I did was point out the irony (as you noted) in your claim that there is some vague divine plan out there and that plate tectonics is evidence of that, while claiming to be logical with regard to SR. You’re nothing if not consistently inconsistent.

  60. cl:

    You really think it’s all that logical to be so bothered by being called a douche or any other unflattering name? 😉

    I don’t think tu quoque applies when the issue is competency, as in claims about logic coming from a person who exhibits faulty logic, incorrectly or falsely claims logical fallacies, and regularly attempts to submarine logical arguments. A proper example of tu quoque would be dismissing serious questions because the questioner doesn’t appear to you to be serious, which reminds me…

    “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” – cl

    “I’m not going to answer your question, because you’ve already made up your mind that “everything I say is crap.” – cl

    “I explained why I wasn’t going to answer your question – no matter what I say, in your mind, I’m a (fill in the blank with preferred irrational insult of the week).” – cl

    “You’ve never once agreed or testified to seeing anything of any value in anything I’ve said in almost two years now, and you have never once said anything that indicates any respect for me whatsoever. I don’t believe I can convince you of anything, nor do I believe that anything I can ever say as “cl” will get your respect… that’s why I’m not answering you.” – cl

    Welcome them perhaps, but answering them is something different. LOL!

    Che:

    I am arguing that your existence is dependent on your capacity to be known

    Dependent? This sounds to me like putting the cart before the horse. Capacity to be known is dependent upon an existence; furthermore that capacity could be further dependent upon the existing thing’s ability to diminish that capacity, to mask itself. This is why I would object to “I am arguing that only that which can be known, exists.” This is, of course, the theist’s defense and it’s sound; however, you could reword your argument to ‘only that which can be known warrants accepting its existence’, which, I’m sure you’re aware, is the rational atheist response. No warrant, no acceptance.

    Have you been arguing against Solipsism, in the belief that that was my position?

    Part of what you’re saying sounds like it, but then this part, “[t]his uncrafted ’susnset’ [sic] is therefore unimagined/able, undefined/able, and unperceived/able” made no sense to me at all. How does making a distinction between a thing and one’s perception of it necessitate that thing being “unperceived/able”?

  61. How does making a distinction between a thing and one’s perception of it necessitate that thing being “unperceived/able”?

    Err… Because that’s how the word ‘distinction’ works. Maybe this all boils down to semantics. I hate it when that happen.

    If the perception is distinct from the thing, then when we perceive a thing we have only become aware of the perception itself. We have not gained any knowledge of the thing. In that sense, the thing is still hidden from us – it is unperceived.

    The same for imaginings and definitions. We had an idea of an atom that was a nucleus with electrons orbiting it. This was wrong. The electrons would have to be accelerating through a moving electric field at significant fraction of light speed in order to maintain that orbit (remember, an orbiting body is orbiting because it is falling, and falling is acceleration due to gravity). Electrons that accelerate through an electromagnetic field at high speed radiate energy. Atoms do not radiate any such energy, and even if they did, this energy would have to come from somewhere.

    So either the orbital atomic model is wrong, or thermodynamics is wrong. Or both are wrong.

    We now have an updated model of the atom that deals in vibrations and ‘quantum’ to which I won’t claim any kind of understanding. But that word, ‘model’, is interesting. It seems that most people have come to acknowledge that we cannot truly comprehend what an atom actually is. We can only come up with the best model, both for explanation and prediction.

    However, we should remember that the atomic model of reality is itself a model – a wildly successful model, to be sure. It is due to its very success that we regard it as true. It is success that determines the truth-value of our modelling of physics. But what of metaphysics?

    In most of your conversation with me, the language you’ve used has implicitly assumed a metaphysical ‘reality’ behind our perceptions – a ‘reality’ that I’m trying to show that cannot be directly experienced.

    My problem is that this assumption about the world values that which we can never be perceived – that which can never be known – as the ‘real’. Meanwhile, the perceptions, ideas, and definitions we use, upon which our lives are actually based… these perceptions, ideas, and definitions are somehow ‘not real’.

    This is, to me, a… peculiar inversion of values. The things that actually fill our lives – good food, good coffee, the warmth of my girlfriend sleeping next to me at night, drinking with my friends, challenging books, entertaining movies, and lovingly indulging my intellectual vanity by composing rather twisted semi-intellectual mini-essays and posting them to blogs online – everything such as this that actually composes a life seems, to me, as if it is what we should be valuing as the real.

    However, we need to manage the real. We need to come up with some system by which we can set goals, plan how to meet them, and then act on those plans. In short, we need some reliable method of prediction.

    There are may such systems we have attempted to employ over the centuries. The Delphic Oracles were a good example. However, in the end it is the success of our models that determines their truth, not the other way around. To date, the most successful method has been to invent the idea of a metaphysical reality, and add to this invention things like science and critical reasoning in order to evaluate which version of metaphysics will, if we call them true and thus act on them, will give us the most reliable predictions and therefore better help us to manage the ‘real’.

    My problem lies in the ‘if we call them true and thus act on them’ part. The union of metaphysics and critical reasoning does provide wonderful results. So wonderful that we use metaphysics all the time. We’ve become so accustomed to thinking in terms of metaphysics that wind up forgetting that even the existence of a metaphysical ‘reality’ is an idea we had to invent in the first place. In this sense, all metaphysical claims – such as the atomic model of matter, or the matter-model of reality – are useful lies. The term ‘truth’ only indicates the most useful of these lies.

    This is a good thing. I’m not trying to suggest we should abandon metaphysics altogether; that is the urging of the Solipsist and the Nihilist, and it would be disastrous. No. I’m just trying to point out that we should stop pretending that the truth-value of an idea, perception, or definition has anything to do with the proximity of that idea, perception, or definition to ‘the metaphysical reality’. Because there isn’t a metaphysical reality, there is only the exceedingly useful lie that there is a metaphysical reality. In that sense, and in that sense alone, can the idea that there is a metaphysical reality be considered true.

    In this sense then, the idea that there is such a thing as ‘existence’ and ‘non-existence’ are works of art. Our belief in these ideas is a work of art. When we determine which category of ‘existence’ or ‘non-existence’ into which we will assign a myth, that too is a work of art.

    In that sense, everything that exists really is a work of art. Existence itself is a work of art. Art comes first, and existence follows.

  62. Oops. Buggered up my formatting.

    This is a good thing. I’m not trying to suggest we should abandon metaphysics altogether; that is the urging of the Solipsist and the Nihilist, and it would be disastrous. No. I’m just trying to point out that we should stop pretending that the truth-value of an idea, perception, or definition has anything to do with the proximity of that idea, perception, or definition to ‘the metaphysical reality’. Because there isn’t a metaphysical reality, there is only the exceedingly useful lie that there is a metaphysical reality. In that sense, and in that sense alone, can the idea that there is a metaphysical reality be considered true.

  63. Err… Because that’s how the word ‘distinction’ works.

    How does robbing a man make him king of England?
    – Err… that’s how the word ‘robbing’ works.

    Did that make sense? No? Neither did your response.

    If the perception is distinct from the thing, then when we perceive a thing we have only become aware of the perception itself.

    No, I thought I made it clear before that perception is the act of perceiving the thing, in other words, verb, not noun. I’m not saying perception is a thing. Remember way back when I said, “Any understanding of the sunset is an action, just like the act of perceiving it?” I know, there’s a lot of crap to scroll through between here and there.

    As for the rest of your comment, I’m not buying the “there isn’t a metaphysical reality, there is only the exceedingly useful lie that there is a metaphysical reality”, but if I were to buy it and not go all solipsism, then that would mean there is a reality out there that we can’t perceive for what it is (like the atom), and therefore that actual reality is not art; therefore everything which exists really is not a work of art. 😉

  64. Heh. I suppose now we’re just at the point of useless repetition now, so we’ll have to drop the core of the argument. You will probably assume I’ve given up in the face of your logic. I’ll assume that your belief in metaphysics is too necessary to your management of reality for you to question it seriously.

    On that rather charming note, I’ll leave off with a question:

    Given your understanding of metaphysical truth, how would you go about proving the statement: “There is such a thing as metaphysical reality.”?

    I’m not saying I’ve won the argument if you can’t – that would be silly. I’m just curious to see a) if you can see the problem in this task, and b) how you’ll justify it if you do.

    Final word:

    Err… Because that’s how the word ‘distinction’ works.

    How does robbing a man make him king of England?
    – Err… that’s how the word ‘robbing’ works.

    Did that make sense? No? Neither did your response.

    If two things are distinct, then they are not the same.

    If a perception of a thing is distinct from the thing, then the perception and the thing are not the same.

    The when you ‘make a distinction’ between two things, you’re drawing a conceptual knife down the middle of a mingled concept, and carving it out into two (or more) unequal chunks. To make a distinction is to highlight the difference within a category. So when you asked:

    How does making a distinction between a thing and one’s perception of it necessitate that thing being “unperceived/able”?

    If perceptions are distinct from things, then things and perceptions are unequal. The ‘metaphysical reality’ of the underlying thing is therefore unperceived and unperceivable.

    To flesh this out with an example: If I close my left eye, I perceive the laptop I am typing on as a two-dimensional object. In ‘truth’, the laptop is not a two-dimensional object. Hence, the perception of the thing, and the ‘true’ nature of the thing, are different. So long as perceptions are distinct from things, they will always remain unequal. The underlying nature of the thing is therefore unperceivable.

    To me, my perceptions form the foundations for me to invent a physical and metaphysical model with which I can explain and predict those perceptions. My perceptions are what is real to me – I have to update my physical and metaphysical models to explain and predict my perceptions. Once they can do this reliably, I can pretend to myself that they are ‘true’. The measure of ‘truth’ is the reliability of the model in matching future perceptions. At no point am I trying to match up my beliefs to some underlying reality.

    To you, my perceptions can only be rough approximations of the physical and metaphysical truth about what my laptop really is. For example, I cannot perceive the empty space between the atoms – my perception is necessarily an ‘untrue’ representation of the reality. The ‘truth’ of my physical and metaphysical models of the laptop will be measured in terms of how closely they represent the ‘real’, underlying laptop – their proximity to the Truth, if you’ll forgive my derisive capitalization.

    Okay, I lied. I haven’t dropped the point so nobly as I had planned to do when I set out. ^_^

  65. Given your understanding of metaphysical truth, how would you go about proving the statement: “There is such a thing as metaphysical reality.”?

    I’d pick up a rock and brain you with it.

    If perceptions are distinct from things, then things and perceptions are unequal. The ‘metaphysical reality’ of the underlying thing is therefore unperceived and unperceivable.

    That the perception of a thing is not the thing means…. the perception of a thing is not the thing. That’s it. Asserting that the thing is actually unknowable is not only a naked assertion, but it’s contradicted by the acknowledgment that it is perceived. You can have a field day with the inadequacies of our perceptive abilities all you want, arguing that we perhaps don’t get the full range of available perceptive values and/or that our faculties for understanding what we perceive are flawed, but the whole ‘our reality is an invention for reality unknowable’? Where’s the warrant for this?

  66. I’ll pick up a rock and brain you with it.

    That’s the correct response to solipsism and nihilism.

    I am not arguing for either. I’m aruging against solipsism, nihilism and metaphysics at the same time.

    Yes, I adhere to a metaphysical model that getting hit in the head with rocks will hurt. I accept this model not because I believe it to be metaphysically true, but because it is a reliable means to meet my goals – in this case, my goal of not being hurt.

    If you still think that ‘I’ll pick up a rock and brain you with it’ is a valid objection to this argument, then I’ve failed to explain my argument to you clearly.

    That the perception of a thing is not the thing means…. the perception of a thing is not the thing. That’s it.

    Precisely.

    You can know a perception of a thing. You cannot know a thing.

    All knowledge is perception.

    Asserting that the thing is actually unknowable is not only a naked assertion, but it’s contradicted by the acknowledgment that it is perceived.

    Hmm… I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess you’ve never experienced a lucid dream before.

    The perception comes first. Then we invent the idea of a thing to explain the perception. Our explanations have become so reliable that we’ve forgotten they’re inventions. We can remember they are inventions and rely on them at the same time.

    It is true that we can fly so long as we are in a dream. But when we wake up, it no longer leads to reliable predictions. Has become untrue – and we laugh to ourselves about the alleged ‘silliness’ of dream-logic.

    You can have a field day with the inadequacies of our perceptive abilities all you want, arguing that we perhaps don’t get the full range of available perceptive values and/or that our faculties for understanding what we perceive are flawed, but the whole ‘our reality is an invention for reality unknowable’? Where’s the warrant for this?

    Nono. Reality is the knowable, the perceptions. The knowable is reality.

    The metaphysical lies we create to explain and predict reality are the inventions. And if they lead to reliable predictions, then they are useful inventions. If they are useful, we can act on them. If we are confident acting on them, we recognize this fact by labeling them as true. The terms ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ distinguish only between useful and un-useful lies.

    We don’t inch towards Truth – we gradually hone our lies about metaphysics with the whetstones of science and critical reasoning to make the blade cut deeper (more reliable predictions). In saying this, I am telling a lie about metaphysics. But it is a lie that correlates well with reality (perceptions) and also leads to reliable prediction of reality (perceptions). Thus, despite the fact that this lie is not True, it is nonetheless a lie that is true. If a new perception comes to pass that invalidates this model, I shall sharpen it again until it becomes true once more.

    The invention of a blade (a useful metaphysical lie) and the whetstones (science and critical reasoning respectively) are works of art. Each stroke of the whetstones is also a work of art.

    Where is this thing that is not art? Can you show it to me?

  67. SI,

    A formal logician, I’m not.

    Tell me about it. You attribute P1 and C to me that I don’t recall stating; you twist my P2 as I’ve not claimed Kayla’s was a case of SR; but you manage to get my P3 correct, so not all is lost. OTOH, your own P1 and P2 are unsupported free lunches, as the vast majority of cancers do not spontaneously remiss; your C is different than originally stated in your previous comments; your C suffers from the same weakness as your P2 in that you simply presuppose Kayla’s was a case of SR; but your P3 is correct and in agreement with mine, so again not all is lost.

    You start out saying “SR is a common experience” but who the hell agreed to that? If I said that, I apologize, but I don’t think SR can be called “common” as the vast majority of cancer cases do not spontaneously remiss. Your P1 is unsupported. Your P2 is also unsupported because the same “paucity of evidence” you allude to must also preclude yourself from substantiating your own claim that Kayla’s was a case of SR, especially given the absence of common markers. Since my original post on Kayla, you have smugly dismissed Kayla’s case as SR with nil-to-scant counter investigation of your own despite the fact that significant, telltale markers which precede the vast majority of SR cases (one study I’ve read suggested as much as 85%) were not present in Kayla’s case.

    Here’s my actual logic:

    P1: certain telltale markers typically precede known cases of SR;

    P2: many of these markers were absent in Kayla’s case;

    P3: Kayla’s case is atypical and anomalous compared to most SR cases in the literature;

    P4: there is a paucity of evidence to support the claim that Kayla’s case is a case of SR;

    P5: the evidence we do have is 100% consistent with the real-world results we would expect if a genuine miracle had occurred;

    C: it is certainly reasonable that Kayla may have experienced a genuine miracle.

    Now, here’s your logic, along with its conveniently-ignored premises in parentheses:

    P1: SR is a common occurrence (yet the vast majority of cancers do not spontaneously remiss);

    P2: In one instance, a spontaneous remission of cancer occurred after a church congregation prayed over the patient (given the “paucity of evidence” your claim that Kayla’s is a case of SR is unsupported);

    P3: In most cases spontaneous remissions of cancer occur without any prayer or religious intervention;

    C: There is a paucity of evidence to conclude that prayer had anything to do with spontaneous remissions of cancer (yet the evidence we do have is 100% consistent with the real-world results we would expect if a genuine miracle had occurred and significant, telltale markers that precede the vast majority of SR cases were absent in Kayla’s).

    Point is, whether we state it in a single paragraph or bulleted list, you’ve gotten it all wrong: We can’t just say that “lots of cancers go into remission without the intercession of a church, so there’s clearly something else going on there.” That SR is known to occur sans intercession does not entail that something else besides a genuine miracle is going on. You have not substantiated that argument, nor have you dealt with my claim that you conflate evidence and proof.

    I expect all those Ps up there will give you a lot to chew on.

    Well, more like a quick bite, but exposing atheist illogic is always a flavorful affair in my book, SI. Thanks again.

    PhillyChief,

    I’ll take these for now:

    You really think it’s all that logical to be so bothered by being called a douche or any other unflattering name?

    About as logical as your assumption that it bothers me – so no – not very logical or rational at all. That you’re a hater doesn’t bother me, it’s just that I don’t see what productive result can obtain from arguing with a grown adult who can’t admit when they’re wrong and claims to be “almost always right” all while arguing like a high-school sophomore reading Dawkins and watching South Park.

    I don’t think tu quoque applies when the issue is competency, as in claims about logic coming from a person who exhibits faulty logic, incorrectly or falsely claims logical fallacies, and regularly attempts to submarine logical arguments.

    More evidence that all you do is run your mouth like a paper bag flapping in the wind. You say I exhibit faulty logic, yet offer nothing when I can easily support my claims of your own illogic with evidence. You say I incorrectly or falsely claim fallacies, but half the time you don’t even realize that you do misunderstand your opponent’s arguments. I just watched you go through it with Che. You say I attempt to submarine arguments, but to make that claim you’d need to be able to read minds but hey thanks for having such a low opinion and automatically assuming the worst about me. Then you tell me I’ve used tu quoque inappropriately when I haven’t.

    SI, pay attention here, because here’s an example where what Philly’s omitted from my original words actually does change their meaning:

    “Why are you such a douche, cl” does not constitute a particularly tough question, and I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief that you allege to be “particularly tough.”

    I was clearly asking John Evo what “particularly tough questions” he alleges I’ve ignored from the Hater From The City Of Brotherly Love. The question I’ve refused to answer for you is one in particular, and deals with the “adequately prepared” part of a previous comment. Thanks for the quotemine, now fully deny any error on your part as usual.

    Toodles, I’ll be back.

  68. Che:

    No, I don’t see my response as solipsistic or nihilistic. Your position, rather, is merely a leap of faith away from solipsism. You share the solipsistic position that true knowledge of what’s outside our mind is impossible, only you make the leap of faith that there actually is an outside world. This is pure solipsism when paired with your lucid dream allusion:
    “The perception comes first. Then we invent the idea of a thing to explain the perception.”

    I don’t see the failure of not being able to see all 6 sides of a brick simultaneously or it’s individual atoms as indicative of not being able to know the brick. I also don’t see the gathering of external input and the mind’s organization of that into a comprehensible form as the construction of a metaphysical lie. I don’t view the mind’s ability to create believable perceptions when there really is nothing, as with dreams, as supporting your assertions and finally within your ‘metaphysical lie’, the only thing separating you from the solipsist is belief in actual somethings which are the basis for these lies we construct and so those somethings would be your ‘not art’.

    cl:

    I’ll take these for now

    What part of “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” implies picking and choosing which to answer and which to ignore? You’ve got a backlog of questions, douche, but I’m more than happy to wait until after you answer the backlog of questions put to you by others, like Evo for instance, or even Che who seems to be languishing while waiting on a response from you.

    You make assertions saying I’m wrong and then point to my words and say again I’m wrong without ever arguing how, and that’s evidence? Well, I can see why you could feel there’s evidence for your god then, and why you’d consider atheists’ evidential demands as unfair if this is what you consider evidence.

    I think calling you a douche may be kind, because it implies you know better but choose to do otherwise. Now I’m not so sure you actually do know better.

    Btw, when I see “…” in a quote with a link, I go read the link to put things in context. I didn’t realize that I might be the only one who ever goes to such lengths, and therefore truncating a verbose quote is tantamount to misrepresentation. The things learned online. Amazing!

  69. I’m striving to be as generous as I can in my reading of your poss, Philly… But I’m starting to get the feeling that you’re not reading what I’m writing.

    Consider the following exchange:

    Che: Given your understanding of metaphysical truth, how would you go about proving the statement: “There is such a thing as metaphysical reality.”?

    <strongPhilly: I’ll pick up a rock and brain you with it.

    Che: That’s the correct response to solipsism and nihilism. I am not arguing for either. I’m aruging against solipsism, nihilism and metaphysics at the same time.

    Philly: No, I don’t see my response as solipsistic or nihilistic.

    I said that the ‘I’ll pick up a rock and brain you with it’ was the correct response to solipsism and nihilism. This is the opposite of suggesting that your response was solipsistic or nihilistic.

    I don’t mean to jump up and down – I’ve striven to be generous in my assumption that when you consistently misinterpret what I’m saying, the fault resides with a lack of clarity on my part. I do maintain that is the case for the rest of our discussion – but in this particular instance, I have to point out that you’ve completely misread what I actually wrote.

    Your position, rather, is merely a leap of faith away from solipsism.

    Every element of my position is founded upon perception. I’m genuinely confused how this constitutes a ‘leap of faith’. The belief that there is a metaphysical reality seems, to me, to be the leap of faith, as this is not something that could ever be perceived – instead, it must be invented as a lie and reinforced through perception.

    Perhaps if I rephrased that, you would see what I’m actually on about.

    *ahem*: The belief that there is a metaphysical reality seems, to me, to be the leap of faith, as this is not something that could ever be perceived – instead, it must be invented as a hypothesis and reinforced through measurements and predictions of measurements.

    You share the solipsistic position that true knowledge of what’s outside our mind is impossible, only you make the leap of faith that there actually is an outside world.

    Err… No. That’s not it either. The mind is not the foundation of my argument – perception is. Even the lie that my mind exists is something that had to be invented to explain perception – and it is a lie that is both explanatory and predictive, and so it is a lie that is true.

    Same with the lie that there actually is an outside world. It is a lie invented to explain and predict perception. As it is powerful both as an explanatory model and as a predictive tool, it is a lie that is true.

    Once again – where does the ‘leap of faith’ come in?

    If any part of our discussion has involved the use of faith, it is your belief in metaphysical truth. It is as unfalsifiable as the belief in God’s existence.

    This is pure solipsism when paired with your lucid dream allusion:
    “The perception comes first. Then we invent the idea of a thing to explain the perception.”

    This is only the result of perceptions of how the mind functions. We receive input, and then invent an idea. We seek out further input, and then update and refine the idea. Eventually the idea is consistent with most input. So we label it ‘truth’. But we don’t really know a damn thing about it all – any new and unexpected perception could undo everything we thought was true.

    Sapere Aude! Omnia quaere!

    Dare to be wise! Question everything!

    I don’t see the failure of not being able to see all 6 sides of a brick simultaneously or it’s individual atoms as indicative of not being able to know the brick.

    Consider this: Tomorrow, something weird comes out of the Large Hadron Collider. The physicists and chemists get together, and after a few years of testing they realize that the atomic model is flawed. They develop, mathematically describe, and present a new model for matter.

    This is entirely within the realm of possibility. We have no reason to think this will happen, of course. So by our current set of perceptions, the atomic model for matter is a true lie – so of course we should act as if it were True. It’s the best lie we currently have.

    But a scientific paper could be released tomorrow that invalidates it all. You don’t know that the brick is composed of atoms. It certainly seems to be, and your confidence that it does has caused you to seem to know that all matter is composed of atoms. But you don’t know. Not really. You are only persuaded by the predictive power of the metaphysical lie. This makes it a true lie. It does not make it True.

    Or to put it in an example that is less hypothetical:

    Fifteen hundred years ago everyone knew the world was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everyone knew the earth was flat… Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow…

    Agent K, Men In Black (1997)

    This is my contention, PhillyChief: That you do not actually know that which you only seem to know.

    Are you familiar with Plato’s ‘Apology’?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apology_(Plato)
    http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/1656

    Omnia quaere, Philly. ^_^

    I also don’t see the gathering of external input and the mind’s organization of that into a comprehensible form as the construction of a metaphysical lie.

    Of course. How would we ever hope to comprehend the incomprehensible? Well… First, we lie about it in a way that is comprehensible, then we refine the lie – perhaps discarding it for another – in order to match predicted perceptions.

    The result is still a lie. It is a useful lie. We should still act on that lie as though it were True. We can do this even whilst remembering to ourselves that it is a lie. We need only be vigilant in the application of science and reason to ensure that the lie is as true as we can make it.

    I don’t view the mind’s ability to create believable perceptions when there really is nothing, as with dreams, as supporting your assertions…

    You’ve missed the point.

    When I dream that I am flying, I seem to myself to know that I am flying. I seem to know it, because this correlates to and predicts the perceptions I am having while I dream.

    Then I wake up, and remember that I was dreaming, and at the time I seemed to really know that I could fly. It seems so ludicrous on waking… But why does it seem so ludicrous?

    The dream seems ludicrous upon waking only because that which we seem to know when we’re dreaming no longer predicts our perceptions with accuracy. So we bring to the forth a new thing that we seem to know, that does agree with our perceptions. So long as it agrees with our perceptions, it is a true lie. But it’s only as True as our knowledge in the dream, when we knew we were able to fly.

    … and finally within your ‘metaphysical lie’, the only thing separating you from the solipsist is belief in actual somethings which are the basis for these lies we construct …

    Off the mark again. The solipsist believes that their own mind is all that exists – they feel that they are Brahma, in a sense.

    My position is not different to the solipsist’s because I believe in ‘actual somethings that are the basis for these lies we construct’. That’s… weird. It doesn’t seem to me that this claim of yours shares a link with either my expressed views here, or with the views of a solipsist. It doesn’t attach to anything.

    The foundation of my expressed views here comes down to perception, and what to do about it. If you consider perception to be the ‘actual something’ of which you speak… Well, that is just odd. I cannot be certain that my perceptions are True – but I can at least be certain of what they are.

    The existence of my own mind – as well as the minds of others – is a true lie to me, because it matches with and predicts perceptions. That there is a ‘me’ is a true lie, because it matches with and predicts perceptions.

    That is the contrast between my views here, and the views of the solipsist. The solipsist takes on too much Truth, and too little truth.

    Yet I should probably clarify that: The solipsist makes two key errors. Firstly, he believes that true lie of their existence of their own mind is actually a Truth. Secondly, he fails to act appropriately on the true lies – the true lie that other minds exist is an example.

    And before you get into it: The key error of the nihilist is to fail to act appropriately on true lies in general.

    … and so those somethings would be your ‘not art’.

    The only means I have to interpret this is that perceptions are ‘not art’. This is an interesting thought… This would be contrary to our earlier agreement that perception is a work of art… But I can definitely mull this one over.

  70. Pingback: Six Aguments for the Existence of God « (((Billy))) The Atheist

  71. Hater From The City Of Brotherly Love, (PhillyChief)

    What part of “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” implies picking and choosing which to answer and which to ignore?

    Man, you don’t listen very well, do you? Your experience with Che is actually encouraging, as it’s good to know you have difficulty understanding plain English from atheists, too.

    I asked Evo what he thought were the “particularly tough questions” you’ve asked that I’ve ignored. You made it sound like I gave you an open concession that I’d answer any questions to you when I’ve already stated that we’re beyond that point now.

    You whine about this “backlog of questions” yet you produce zero. I submit that none exist, as the only question you’ve asked me that I’ve consciously ignored was the “adequately prepared” remark, and the only questions Evo’s asked me that I’ve continually ignored were the religious questions. What else besides those questions do you have? If none, then run along.

    You make assertions saying I’m wrong and then point to my words and say again I’m wrong without ever arguing how, and that’s evidence?

    No. The evidence is in the many posts where I’ve challenged your logic and you’ve not been able to successfully rebut it. Should you wish, I’ll provide three solid examples upon request, but I don’t have the time right this second to dig around and write hyperlinks.

    ..when I see “…” in a quote with a link, I go read the link to put things in context.

    Hey, good for you, too bad that’s irrelevant here as the quotes with links were my comments to you and not my comments to Evo which you mined for your blockquote making it look like I made an open concession to you, and you conveniently failed to include ellipsis’ when you did. See my citation to Che below for the proper way to do this.

    Now, go listen to more Brother Sam, visit AIG or whatever. Leave me be. I’d really like to forget about you unless of course you’re willing to change your tune. South Park was funny for five minutes when it first came out, but it’s time to move on.

    Che,

    Don’t languish. You and Lifeguard asked quality questions. I want to give you quality answers. I could just dig in to the keyboard like these guys, but I see little sense in hasty debate. I’ve got a lot of other things going on besides blogging, and the weather’s been nice which is more conducive to outdoor activities.

    I’m striving to be as generous as I can in my reading of your poss, Philly… But I’m starting to get the feeling that you’re not reading what I’m writing… I’ve striven to be generous in my assumption that when you consistently misinterpret what I’m saying, the fault resides with a lack of clarity on my part. I do maintain that is the case for the rest of our discussion – but in this particular instance, I have to point out that you’ve completely misread what I actually wrote.

    I empathize with you, and while I realize the experience is always frustrating, I’m glad to see it’s not just me who has this experience with Philly.

  72. Che: Not agreeing with you doesn’t equal not understanding you (although I did misread your rock response).

    cl: Lengthy ‘yeah, but…” excuses after saying “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” is simply douchey.

    That’s as generous as I feel like being tonight.

  73. Not agreeing with you doesn’t equal not understanding you (although I did misread your rock response).

    Correct.

    However, not agreeing with a position I don’t hold when I have patiently attempted to explain that position does equal not understanding me. Mostly due to my own failure to communicate.

  74. SI,

    This could go on forever, but I don’t mind: I’m enjoying watching you hypocritically approve “derailment” from your atheist guests but use it as petard against me when half the time I’m at least in the ballpark if not loosely on topic considering the META nature of our debate. I’ll also note that you’ve not successfully rebutted the current charges that you conflate evidence and proof. If you’re interested, my full response is here.

    Lifeguard,

    I got around to your questions finally, but we get to them in Pt. II and which I’ve still gotta proofread. Hang tight.

    Ubiquitous Che,

    You may find something of relevance to our discussion in my aforementioned responses to SI and Lifeguard. If not, I’ve already re-acquainted myself with your comments. In short, you’ve made yourself perfectly clear, and I understanding you perfectly clear thus far. Pt. III is for you, and provided nothing else unforeseeable comes up, I’m aiming to have it up by Monday night at the latest. Thanks for being patient.

    Senator,

    While I certainly have my own opinions, what are the “subtle differences” you allude to?

    PhillyChief,

    Lengthy ‘yeah, but…” excuses after saying “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” is simply douchey.

    That’s just it honeybuns — I didn’t say “I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief” — oh no, you cute little cupcake. Rather, I made a specific statement in response to a specific claim from a specific person – John Evo. Here it is again, in full context: “‘Why are you such a douche, cl’ does not constitute a particularly tough question, and I freely welcome any questions from PhillyChief that you allege to be ‘particularly tough.’” Clearly, I was asking John Evo which questions of yours he alleged A) were particularly tough, and B) I missed. Alas, you came galloping in and re-quoted that statement as though I’d issued a promise to freely answer any question you asked, then re-neged on it. Whether of malice or ignorance I cannot tell, but that it was a textbook quote-mine is undeniable, sweetiepie.

    In fact, you admitting you’re in the wrong here might be the best evidence of miracles I’ve come across yet!

  75. I’ll also note that you’ve not successfully rebutted the current charges that you conflate evidence and proof.

    That’s the third time you’ve said that. I went back and skimmed the post and comments (though they amount to, so far, approximately 22,000 words, so admittedly, I can’t be sure) and while you’ve said that three times, I cannot find exactly what you are referring to. As far as I can tell, it’s a bald assertion, and I can’t read your mind. I tried to answer you the first time, and ignored it the second time for that reason. Until you are a little more specific, I’m at a loss as to what the hell you’re talking about.

    I must say, though, that I admire your tenacity to continue quibbling about irrelevancies, peripheral issues and patent nonsense. Long after I’ve tired of the issue, having talked myself out, you continue to ramble on and on.

    Are you a motor mouth in person? Do you find people asking you to be quiet? Do people make excuses and leave the room when you enter? I’m just curious.

    One more comment, then I’m done.

    So I’m going to open up this post and comments to anyone and everyone that has evidence for the existence of God.

    10 days, 90 some comments later, and you still haven’t even tried.

  76. “We atheists and scientists have ideas that we are expected to explain and support with evidence, and we are accustomed to being jumped on with sadistic vigor if we fail to provide it. We merely apply the same methodological standards to religion. We do not insist a priori that gods cannot exist, we instead turn to all those people who insist that they do, and ask, “how do you know that?”

    Would you believe that for all the fervor of their certainty, none of them have ever adequately answered the question?” Source

    10 days, 90 some comments later, and you still haven’t even tried.

    I don’t think time is the issue.

  77. SI,

    ..while you’ve said that three times, I cannot find exactly what you are referring to.

    Not surprising, but it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out, especially for someone who so loudly appeals to the scientific method: In your own criteria as expressed in the OP, you claim you’re willing to accept evidence, yet your criteria suggests you’re only willing to accept scientific proof. You repeated this criteria to Che: “Let’s see it get done consistently, in a controlled setting, and repeatedly.” I go into the claim in even more depth on my own blog, in case you actually are concerned about the veracity of your own arguments.

    Are you a motor mouth in person? Do you find people asking you to be quiet? Do people make excuses and leave the room when you enter?

    No, no and no. Often, people make excuses just to come by and say hi, and I find myself making excuses to sneak off for alone time.

    10 days, 90 some comments later, and you still haven’t even tried.

    SI, are you being dishonest? Getting senile, perhaps? I first tried by asking you to clarify your criteria. You refused. Then, I offered a data point, which you also refused. Now, I’ve written an entire blog post introducing more data points, which you haven’t even addressed. So who’s not trying?

    No skin off my back, though. The other people reading should be able to connect the dots just fine.

  78. In your own criteria as expressed in the OP, you claim you’re willing to accept evidence, yet your criteria suggests you’re only willing to accept scientific proof.

    Nope. But feel free to try again.

    I first tried by asking you to clarify your criteria. You refused.

    You really need to learn to read English. I never had “criteria”. I stated my prejudices, but invited you to offer any and all proof, regardless. I asked for all your evidence. You want me to somehow pre-approve your evidence. Ain’t going to happen.

    We’re going round and round again, cl, and I can only conclude you don’t want to answer.

    Frankly, this post has run its course. I probably won’t be back to it.

  79. SI said I must say, though, that I admire your tenacity to continue quibbling about irrelevancies, peripheral issues and patent nonsense.

    LOL! yeah, I suppose you have to give it to him on that. Still not a shred of empirical evidence for his side, but he doesn’t care about that.

  80. SI,

    Irrelevancy entails most of the statements you’ve made thus far. For example, “cl derails threads!” Irrelevant. “I say without evidence that God’s probability is less than 25%! Irrelevant. “cl quibbles.” Irrelevant. You get the picture.

    Nope. But feel free to try again.

    Yet,

    By evidence I want to see something, or hear something, or feel something, or have explained to me something that I can’t see, hear or feel, that can be reproduced at any time by anyone without exception, and capable of being experienced or understood by anyone and everyone equally.

    The ability to be “reproduced at any time by anyone without exception” is not an evidential requirement, so you’re clearly asking for something greater than evidence, correct?

    Evo,

    Still not a shred of empirical evidence for his side, but he doesn’t care about that.

    Ignoring evidence presented does not entail that no evidence has been presented. I’ve offered a single data point in this thread, and I’ve offered a few more data points on my own blog.

  81. I’ve offered a single data point in this thread

    Really! And you were able to whip that up on a topic that was specifically begging you for just that, in just two weeks and in under 100 total comments! I’m quite impressed.

    Not so much with the incredible solidity of everything I previously thought on the topic – that has been evident to me for many years. More with your the level of your knowledge of unscientific anecdotal data points. Before I go to your blog to see your additional “evidence” would you mind assuring me that it is some type of science.

    I hope that doesn’t sound harsh… I mean, you really weren’t offering that “evidence” as either scientific or non-anecdotal… or were you? Well, you see why I ask for your assurance – surely?

  82. And you were able to whip that up on a topic that was specifically begging you for just that, in just two weeks and in under 100 total comments! I’m quite impressed.

    No, silly. It was among the first things we discussed.

    Before I go to your blog to see your additional “evidence” would you mind assuring me that it is some type of science.

    Do you consider evolution, homology and natural selection science?

    More with your the level of your knowledge of unscientific anecdotal data points.

    I’m not even going to pretend that was an intelligible sentence.

  83. No, silly. It was among the first things we discussed.

    And you think this response addresses my point? Only, one supposes, in the mind of someone playing games rather than offering evidence.

    Do you consider evolution, homology and natural selection science?

    Absolutely. Care to answer the question.

    I’m not even going to pretend that was an intelligible sentence.

    No, it was pretty bad. I wrote the sentence one way, tried to correct it and made it worse. Nevertheless, you got the point, and the fact that you would rather mock my paltry writing abilities than address the point that you got is more pleasing than you can imagine! So again, care to answer the question?

  84. The ability to be “reproduced at any time by anyone without exception” is not an evidential requirement, so you’re clearly asking for something greater than evidence, correct?

    As much as I hate to do this, as I’m sure you’ll be trumpeting it on your blog within minutes, I must concede a point to you here.

    Yes, technically, I referred to what will ultimately be deemed proof. But if you insist on parsing my writing, rather than dealing with the substance of the post, we’ll spend another hundred comments going nowhere.

    I asked you, and everyone else, for your evidence. I clearly indicated in advance my prejudices against what I expected would be offered as evidence, so that we didn’t do exactly what you spent 100 comments doing – chastising me for not “accepting” your evidence.

    I very clearly, at least a couple of times, said I wanted your evidence, and that I would keep an open mind. What I was trying to head off was someone quoting scriptures as if that was evidence, or relating a dream they had, or a paranormal experience. I wanted to see evidence with substance. Not beliefs.

    Evidence, by necessity, must be scientific to a certain extent, or else it’s not evidence.

    If you couldn’t figure that out from the post, then I suspect English is not your first language (something I’m beginning to suspect anyway). You, however, continue to argue over the form of my post, repeatedly, ad nauseum.

    If you now start to parse this comment, I will not respond. The only thing I will respond to from you, in this thread, is offers of evidence.

    I’m not even going to pretend that was an intelligible sentence.

    Speaking of evidence, this is more evidence of my contention that you play semantic and avoidance games. I understood Evo’s statement, and I even intuited exactly the mistake he made, because, being human, I’ve made the exact same mistake in hasty typing as he did. I would never think to call him on a slip of the finger, in order to avoid the issue he raised.

    Unless, of course, that was the sole purpose of my being here.

  85. John Evo,

    It’s been a few days. I hope you’ll slow down and consider just for a moment the possibility that even 10% of what I’m about to say makes sense.

    And you think this response addresses my point?

    John, besides repetition of “you have no evidence,” what point have you made? I’ve responded to your “no evidence” claims. Your absence in my thread is duly noted, as is SI’s.

    Earlier, when I alluded to other data points on my own blog, you said,

    Before I go to your blog to see your additional “evidence” would you mind assuring me that it is some type of science. (Evo)

    To which I replied,

    Do you consider evolution, homology and natural selection science? (cl)

    To which you replied,

    Absolutely. Care to answer the question. (Evo)

    You asked me the question, John. You asked me to assure you that the additional data points I alluded to on my blog were considered science. You agreed the things I listed can are legitimately considered as science. Now, isn’t it your responsibility to respond to the data points?

    Nevertheless, you got the point, and the fact that you would rather mock my paltry writing abilities than address the point that you got is more pleasing than you can imagine! So again, care to answer the question?

    That’s just the thing, John – I didn’t get the point. I still have no idea what question you were trying to ask there. If you want me to answer the question, can you at least take the effort to articulate it better?

    SI,

    As much as I hate to do this, as I’m sure you’ll be trumpeting it on your blog within minutes, I must concede a point to you here. Yes, technically, I referred to what will ultimately be deemed proof.

    First, the assumption that I’d “trumpet” this on my own blog within minutes was incorrect, wasn’t it? Second, why should one hate the uncovering of truth? Third, I’m glad we can agree that you technically asked for proof. Now that we can agree there, if you would you like to re-articulate your criteria, I can do my best to see if I’ve got anything else worth sharing. There’s always the unaddressed data points on my own blog, too.

    But if you insist on parsing my writing, rather than dealing with the substance of the post, we’ll spend another hundred comments going nowhere.

    How can I process your arguments without parsing your writing? How can I successfully address the substance of your post if you and I are talking past each other regarding what the substance of your post is?

    I clearly indicated in advance my prejudices against what I expected would be offered as evidence, so that we didn’t do exactly what you spent 100 comments doing – chastising me for not “accepting” your evidence.

    Did I not clearly indicate in advance that I believed you wouldn’t accept my evidence, then ask you to better clarify yourself so we could cement our goalposts? Did you not reply by claiming my request was not reasonable?

    I very clearly, at least a couple of times, said I wanted your evidence, and that I would keep an open mind. What I was trying to head off was someone quoting scriptures as if that was evidence, or relating a dream they had, or a paranormal experience. I wanted to see evidence with substance. Not beliefs.

    Did I quote scripture? Did I cite a dream? Did I cite a paranormal experience?

    Evidence, by necessity, must be scientific to a certain extent, or else it’s not evidence.

    Problem is, what exactly do you mean by “to a certain extent?” We need something better than “scientific to a certain extent” as a criteria. In my opinion, the evidence in Kayla’s case is scientific “to a certain extent.” Do you agree? Disagree? Further, as I told Evo above, the additional data points on my own blog are scientific to the fullest extent, yet neither of you have addressed any of them. You say you have an open mind? Well, they’re there, if you want ’em.

    If you couldn’t figure that out from the post, then I suspect English is not your first language (something I’m beginning to suspect anyway).

    I had “that” figured out from the post the whole time – I knew you wouldn’t accept scriptures, dreams or paranormal experiences. Did I offer any? Did you state that you were unwilling to accept miracle claims? 100 comments later, can you finally agree with Ubiquitous Che and myself that requesting further elaboration might have actually been reasonable?

    You, however, continue to argue over the form of my post, repeatedly, ad nauseum.

    That’s not true. I initially stumbled over your post because you did things like ask for proof in a post about evidence. If you don’t think that’s likely to be a legitimate roadblock to a reasonable resolution to this discussion, I disagree.

    The only thing I will respond to from you, in this thread, is offers of evidence.

    Perfect. Can you please answer my remaining questions regarding the evidence offered here, then address the new data points introduced on my own blog?

    Speaking of evidence, this is more evidence of my contention that you play semantic and avoidance games. I understood Evo’s statement, and I even intuited exactly the mistake he made, because, being human, I’ve made the exact same mistake in hasty typing as he did. I would never think to call him on a slip of the finger, in order to avoid the issue he raised.

    That’s fine. I see it as evidence that people see what they want to see. You can project your own opinion of me by claiming I’m here to “play semantic and avoidance games” all you want, but remember that others are reading, and the reality is that we need to understand each other if we’re going to have any hope of success in this discussion. You say you understood Evo? Good for you. You’ve known him much longer I assume, and the dynamics of our relationships certainly differ. I honestly had no idea what Evo was trying to say in that paragraph, and I didn’t want to assume. The best and most pertinent thing to do would be for both of you to stop making assumptions concerning my motives, and apply that energy towards clearer articulation of your own ideas.

  86. I realize it is not possible to prove the existence of a Creator(G-d) at this point in time. But taking away the theological description of one, do you think that it is unreasonable and illogical to suppose that there is an intelligent and creative force behind the universe that we see? I believe in a creator but do not feel the need to quantify what it may be. I feel that science will eventually find that out on its own. The proof that I use to suppose that is the world and universe in which I live.

  87. Yes.

    Any attempt to quantify it, including but not limited to assigning it creative abilities, assuming it’ll get grumpy if you use a vowel to label it, or tying it to an afterlife are just extra scoops of imagineering on an idea that has but imagination to support it.

  88. Philly

    Ok then, I guess Im unreasonable and illogical according to your concepts. Thanks for your input. Though Im not grumpy today. 😉

  89. …do you think that it is unreasonable and illogical to suppose that there is an intelligent and creative force behind the universe that we see?

    Finally, a real response. Hallelujah!

    May I call you Tit? Or do you prefer the more formal, Mr. Tat? 8)

    I personally don’t think it’s unreasonable, nor illogical, to “suppose” what you suppose. Given man’s limited understanding and knowledge, things appear as you say, and to suppose a creative force behind it might be understandable. The mere fact than mankind has supposed just that ever since recorded history, bears you out.

    But we are at an advanced state of human knowledge (though I won’t nor can’t say we are so advanced that we can rest on our laurels) where simply supposing this is insufficient. We’ve taken that supposition, looked for evidence of it, and so far have found none. To simply sit back and say, since we haven’t found the evidence to contradict it, we should make a big step in logic and assume our supposition is right, just doesn’t sit well with me. One would think that if there was some massive intelligence capable of creating something as sizable as the universe, which by definition means that it would have to interact with the natural world, that there would be some evidence of its existence, and there is none, other than the normal wishful thinking of theists who “feel” or “suppose” that a god had something to do with it, merely because it’s big, beautiful and incomprehensible.

    But in the context of my query, the fact of the universe’s existence, to me, is not evidence for the existence of god. It’s a nice place to start, but if that’s all theist have, it doesn’t work. Because if you assume that a supernatural force created the universe, then you have to ask yourself, what or who created that force? And if you say it was always there, then why can’t you say the same thing about the universe?

  90. Is it OK to suppose there must be a G_d or a D_ity?

    Not if you have to go through that!

    I have no real problems with people who assume there is “something greater” and that “it” had some hand in all of this. As long as they have absolutely no claims to knowledge about what the fuck “it” is or “it” wants or “it” likes or “it” can do or not do. I would still disagree with them, but we could have a very mild discussion about our views of the universe.

    You see, while cl claims that he isn’t going to tell me his specific beliefs because I would make fun of him or derail the conversation or whatever he is afraid will happen – the fact is that this knowledge claim is *very* pertinent to what we are arguing here. And by *here* I mean most such conversations about one’s personal view of life (and most of our discussions touch on this to varying degrees).

    While he refuses to answer me (still) I have been able to glean more than his statement of not being an atheist and believing there is a god. He has some sort of “knowledge” claims about this deity of his, whether he shares them or not. This is what I would love him to defend, but he won’t. And why should he, when he knows that his claims would be indefensible?

  91. SI,

    Are you willing to address the previous questions and take a look at the additional evidence offered on my own blog? Are you going to defend your claim that Kayla’s case was SR despite the absence of critical markers? Are you going to defend your logic that said, “Since SR occurs without prayer, something else besides gods is going on” in Kayla’s case? Are you going to redefine your criteria since I established that you conflated evidence and proof?

    If not, no skin off my back, but it would certainly contradict with your appeals to open-mindedness, wouldn’t it?

    Evo,

    ..cl claims that he isn’t going to tell me his specific beliefs because I would make fun of him or derail the conversation or whatever he is afraid will happen – the fact is that this knowledge claim is *very* pertinent to what we are arguing here. And by *here* I mean most such conversations about one’s personal view of life (and most of our discussions touch on this to varying degrees).

    You got some of it right. My official reasons for not answering your question is because my personal religious beliefs really don’t have any bearing on this discussion, and also because religion and politics tend to impede intellectual common ground, not facilitate it. Besides, you allow yourself the liberty to define yourself by an idea which you reject, right? Well, allow your fellow man the same liberty – I am not an atheist. You disbelieve in God, I disbelieve in metaphysical naturalism. When have I ever pestered you for additional personal beliefs that have no bearing on the discussion? SI’s post asked for evidence for God, not evidence for cl’s particular flavor of belief. You can keep throwing red herrings, but the fact remains neither you or SI are defending your positions in the slightest. Your latest comment completely ignores all the difficulties with your logic I just raised.

    While he refuses to answer me (still) I have been able to glean more than his statement of not being an atheist and believing there is a god. He has some sort of “knowledge” claims about this deity of his, whether he shares them or not. This is what I would love him to defend, but he won’t.

    John, what knowledge claims do you think I’m hiding? How does any of that relate to this argument? The fact that you even think I offer “knowledge claims” of “this deity of [mine]” shows just how little you actually know about me.

    To SI’s rational readers,

    For whatever reason, SI stacked the discussion from the start by conflating evidence and proof, and he himself later admitted to the error. Then, SI claimed my request for him to clarify his criteria was unreasonable, when Che agreed it was. Then, SI admitted I had presented weak evidence for a miracle, followed by a refusal to answer whether he thought such was indirect evidence for “the Christian God.” Lastly, I’ve now written two entire responses on my own blog that summarize and address the thread here, and also introduce new lines of evidence and relevant questions.

    To contrast, Evo, Philly and SI whine and taunt me. They ignore my responses, or handle them just enough to present the illusion that they’ve been addressed. They claim I’m dancing and trying to avoid them, and that I know I don’t really have anything good to say. Indeed, it appears their minds are made up, and that they’ll just continue to see what they want to see, and that’s on them. But I know that some people out there really do want to make progress in these types of discussions, and so I continue, as I myself do.

    So, while the accusations and taunting remain, my detractors leave unanswered questions and refuse to address what they’ve asked for. Any one of you can just click on over to my blog and see it for yourselves.

    TIMESTAMP: 6:38 pm Pacific Standard Time July 14th 2009. Only 2 comments in my responses have been made so far, and neither of them by my detractors here.

  92. SI,

    Sorry, cl. Not interested.

    Thanks for being honest and confirming my suspicion that your appeals to open-mindedness came with a price tag. If I ever hear you repeat the bogus “no evidence for God” argument, I have the perfect thread to point people to.

    Now I can focus on finally getting back to Che. In the meantime, does anyone else have any objections?

  93. To SI’s rational readers,

    In the original post, SI wrote:

    ..I have an open mind (I think) so I am willing to be convinced. I’ll even say that if you show me good evidence, I’ll bow down and worship your god, whoever he may be. But I want evidence.

    I’ve now presented four examples of evidence. The latter three have been ignored entirely, the first has been perfunctorily addressed at best. Presuming SI’s claim from the OP was genuine, why wouldn’t SI address the evidence? Why wouldn’t SI answer the questions? One would think if SI had a sound argument, he’d present it. I’ve now presented four things I consider evidence for theism, and the best SI has done is to dismiss the first without an explanation, and ignore the other three entirely. Would somebody that was really willing to be convinced about what is potentially life’s most important question act thusly?

    SI,

    If you won’t even look at my evidence, can you honestly say that you’re willing to be convinced? Because that’s exactly what I was getting at when I said that whether we have an ironclad case or not, acceptance and denial remain volitional. Lose your pride if that’s the problem, and let’s discuss.

  94. SI,

    Just checking back. Your continued absence is noted, and alongside your unanswered questions here, there are more data points waiting for you on my blog – that is – if you really are open-minded like you claim.

  95. Why contradict yourself by responding to that which was not an offer of evidence?

    I’ve now offered you four points of evidence. You’ve dismissed one without a cogent argument, then refused to justify your dismissal. You’ve ignored the other three entirely, when you could easily put your money where your mouth is by responding to them.

  96. I’ve now offered you four points of evidence. You’ve dismissed one without a cogent argument, then refused to justify your dismissal. You’ve ignored the other three entirely, when you could easily put your money where your mouth is by responding to them.

    Kayla Knight has already been discussed, hashed over, thoroughly masticated, and is now awaiting confirmation (which I doubt will ever come). If that’s one of the four, I responded to it, multiple times. As have many others.

    As for the other three, unsurprisingly, I have no idea what you’re referring to. You have a way of turning a simple request into an IRS audit, so you’ll have to excuse me for not knowing what the fuck you’re talking about.

  97. SI,

    You addressed enough of Kayla’s case to get yourself off the hook: I got you to admit it was evidence (albeit weak) of a miracle. You then refused to answer when I asked you if thought evidence for miracles was evidence for God or at least the supernatural, and asked you to explain why or why not. I also asked you to explain the illogic that says, “because SR happens without prayer, something besides gods is going on here.” Lastly, I asked you to explain why you simply got to dismiss Kayla’s case as SR when significant markers that accompany the vast majority of SR cases covered in the literature were not present. And I told you where the other three pieces of evidence were – on my blog. I’ve now written two full-on responses to your threads.

    To all that, you’ve remained silent, so don’t act like you don’t “know what the fuck I’m talking about.”

  98. As I said, we discussed Kayla, and all the ramifications, ’till it was clear we were going in circles. No further discussion is needed. At least not for me. I’m awaiting confirmation of the actual miracle.

    As for your blog, I didn’t go there. I asked everyone to put their evidence here. Here is where I’ll discuss it.

  99. So SI,

    Why would anyone want to talk to you if you just draw a line in the sand and say, “Nope, no more questions?”

    You admitted Kayla’s case was evidence of a miracle, albeit weak. I asked you – it evidence for God, albeit weak? Why or why not?

    You admitted I was correct that you conflated evidence with proof. I ask you – have you refined your criteria of evidence such that it can actually be met?

    With no investigation of your own, you claim that “because SR happens without prayer, something else besides gods is going on” in Kayla’s case. Can you support this claim with evidence? Or are you making claims without evidence while only pretending to be a rationalist?

    As for your blog, I didn’t go there.

    I wrote an entire post in an honest attempt to address yours, and you can’t even pay me the courtesy of reading it? How is that being open-minded?

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