Sex

I knew that would get your attention.

I was sitting in the doctor’s office today, waiting for my friendly medical vampire  to suck out a small sample of my blood, and of course I picked up an old copy of Newsweek. (I’ve always wondered: Do the doctors  take them home to age, before putting them in the waiting room? ) The last page had a column by Anna Quindlen, who’s writing I’ve always admired, with a topic “Let’s Talk About Sex“. Very good column, and not too old.   It was published in March.  It’s a handy little example of rational, critical thinking, and a rejection of faith, even though it only peripherally deals with religion, if at all.

She points out that a faith based attitude towards sex doesn’t work. By “faith based,” I don’t necessarily mean religious, though that’s part of it. I mean the sense that many people believe that if you just avoid the subject, it will go away, a sort of ostrich attitude, if you will. It’s rooted solely in hope, rather that pragmatism.

Sex is a problem, or at least the collateral consequences of sex have become a problem, but only because of the way our society is structured. As a biological mechanism for ensuring the propagation of the species, it works exactly as designed (back off Creationists, you know what I mean). We have no problem creating children, but the side effects of too many children, coupled with the stigma and difficulty attached to single parenthood, not to mention potential diseases, makes unfettered sex, something our ancestors needed when our species was young, somewhat more problematic now that we’ve been around a couple of million years.

We’re kidding ourselves, however, if we think that we can stem that tide by simply telling others to not have sex. There are a billion years of evolved impulses built into the sex drive, that are automatic, and relatively uncontrollable, and certainly not fully understood. However, we have found that humans, or any other animal for that matter, can not just willingly turn them off, any more than we can turn off hunger pangs when we haven’t eaten lately, sneezing when our noses are irritated, or gasping for breath when our oxygen supply is cut off.  (Old joke: Sex is like air. It’s not important unless you’re not getting any.) And, according to Quindlen, the facts bear this out:

1: They don’t work. A study conducted for the Department of Health and Human Services during the last Bush administration showed that teenagers who took abstinence-only classes were just as likely to have sex as those who didn’t.

2: They’re actually counterproductive. Other studies have shown that adolescents in abstinence-only programs were less likely to use contraception, perhaps because those programs emphasize only the failure rates of even the best methods.

3: Everyone understands this. A growing number of states are turning down federal funds for abstinence-only education. Yes, that’s right: states are being offered money and saying no. (I wanted to write that in capital letters but restrained myself.) Texas leads the nation in spending for abstinence-only programs. It also has one of the highest teen birthrates in the country. Those two sentences together sound like the basis for a logic question on the SAT, but a really easy one.

What she said, however, about the relative worth of the issues in this national debate about sex can’t be stated too much.

Because we hear so often that there are two sides to an issue, we’ve become accustomed to thinking there are two equal sides to most of them, especially the ones on which people scream the loudest.

This is so true, and can be extrapolated to almost any issue, but I’m thinking about the one we’ve been discussing recently here, about the existence of god. It’s also relevant to the evolution/creationism debate, in which theists create a false dichotomy on purpose, to make it seem like the two sides are equal, and hence worth debating, when there’s really no controversy to debate. Just because there are two sides to an issue (or three, or four, or….) doesn’t mean they should be given equal weight, as if they are the flip side of the same coin. The amount of weight each side should be given should be in proportion to the amount and quality of evidence that can be advanced in support of the side.

Citations to scripture should have little weight, if any. The reason for this is that a citation to a book is not evidence. A citation in a book, by itself, only points to evidence, it’s not evidence itself. If there is something cited in scripture that points to evidence, then fine, give it whatever weight it deserves, if the evidence is behind it. But there are few books written between 2000 and 4000 years ago that point to any evidence still relevant today, unclouded by the passage of time and uncontradicted by the advancement of human knowledge.

So in the existence-of-god issue, like the sex/abstinence issue, most of the weight comes down hard on one side, with little evidence to support the other. It’s not a 50/50 proposition that god exists, with a flip of the coin giving you equal chances of being right. It’s closer to a 99.9/.1 proposition.

Which side would you bet on?

(Apologies to all you Googlers who thought this was going to be about something a little more salacious. Y’all come back now, hear?)

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68 thoughts on “Sex

  1. I’ll read the post later. But just let me say that when I read “Sex” on my sidebar, I ran as fast as I could to get here. Talk about attracting traffic! 🙂

  2. It’s not a 50/50 proposition that god exists, with a flip of the coin giving you equal chances of being right. It’s closer to a 99.9/.1 proposition.

    That’s a good one: “A is B because I say so!” How do you justify your claim that the probability of God’s existence is less than 25%?

  3. That’s my evaluation of all of the evidence. The evidence comes from all areas of study. Historical, anthropological, biological, sociological, paleontological, geological, etc. etc. etc. Millions of data points all leading to the same conclusion. Contradictions in holy scripture, irreconcilable differences between scripture and theology on the one hand and science and common sense on the other, evolution and the ramifications of that single scientific theory, the multitude of competing religions all claiming truth, the problem of evil, etc. etc. etc. Couple all that with a complete absence of evidence for anything supernatural, just the occasional wishful thinking surrounding currently inexplicable events. Read my blog, and the others in my blogroll. The evidence against the existence of gods is all there. I can’t and won’t repeat it in a single reply to your comment.

    My judgment, my opinion, entirely subjective, but based on all of the objective evidence I’ve seen for the existence or non-existence of god. I opened up an entire post asking people for their evidence. None was given, though I’ll note that you had ample opportunity to do so, and declined.

    So let’s turn your question around. How do you justify your claim that the probability of God’s existence is greater than .1%? I assume that’s your claim. Start with that. Is that your claim?

  4. This is comparable to the efficacy of prayer studies.

    You have a claim, that abstinence only sex education will be effective in preventing teens from having sex, thus preventing teen pregnancies, teen abortions, and teens getting STDs. The resulting evidence from testing the claim not only shows the claim is false, but also shows it actually inflames these problems, making them worse than before the abstinence only programs. Just like those who defend the power of prayer, the abstinence only defenders have a laundry list of reasons they say have undermined the tests, resulting in incorrect results. They essentially boil down to two things, that abstinence only sex ed just hasn’t been done “right” yet, and that to be truly effective, you need more of it. Remarkably, that sounds a lot like the prayer defense, doesn’t it?

    The similarity, imo, is because both are faith based. If the impetus is faith, then it figures the defense would be faith based, too.

  5. SI,

    I never left the evidence discussion, SI. Among other things, the onus is on you to 1) address my charge that you conflate evidence and proof; 2) address my charge that your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premise in your evaluation of Kayla’s case; 3) address the fact that significant markers typically accompanying SR were not present in Kayla’s case; and 4) respond to the other things I’ve proffered as evidence for God on my blog post.

    I opened up an entire post asking people for their evidence. None was given, though I’ll note that you had ample opportunity to do so, and declined.

    Yet, in that thread, I gave you something, so when you say “none was given” you are lying. The reality is that no evidence was given that you’re willing to accept – which is exactly why I asked you to clarify what you were and were not willing to accept before we began – but you claimed that was unreasonable. Speaking of unreasonable, your current strategy amounts to pure dismissal without sound logic, and I don’t see any reason therein.

    That’s my evaluation of all of the evidence. The evidence comes from all areas of study. Historical, anthropological, biological, sociological, paleontological, geological, etc. etc. etc. Millions of data points all leading to the same conclusion.

    Really? Now there’s an inflated claim if I’ve ever heard one. You’ve studied all the evidence, and millions of data points? Although I don’t believe that, I do believe you act like a person who believes that, and man – I’d love to see your equations! [/sarcasm] If you take your own appeals to rationalism seriously, you’d be better off admitting that this was yet another just-so statement.

    Read my blog, and the others in my blogroll. The evidence against the existence of gods is all there.

    SI, I’ve been reading the generally weak arguments on your blog and on your blogroll for over two years now. I submit that neither yourself nor any of your Team Scarlet A buddies have provided a single piece of sound evidence against God’s existence. Should any of you disagree, feel free to provide what you think are your strongest pieces of evidence against God’s existence, and we can go from there.

    So let’s turn your question around. How do you justify your claim that the probability of God’s existence is greater than .1%?

    Nice try, but it won’t get you off the hook. In general, I try not to make baseless probability claims that I can’t rationally sustain. I honestly have no idea what the probability of God’s existence is, and I see no reason to pretend otherwise. Don’t make baseless probability claims sans equations and try to pass it off as reasoned evaluation when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Now get to it. You’ve got work to do.

  6. Yet, in that thread, I gave you something, so when you say “none was given” you are lying.

    Really? Exactly what was that? I must have missed it.

    The reality is that no evidence was given that you’re willing to accept…

    What evidence I may or may not accept is irrelevant to the question I asked. What evidence do you rely on? I’m not the only one who gets to evaluate it, and if you won’t give it, no one can evaluate it.

    …your current strategy amounts to pure dismissal without sound logic, and I don’t see any reason therein.

    Then don’t respond. No one is twisting your arm. Say nothing. That would be better than playing these little avoidance games.

    You’ve studied all the evidence, and millions of data points?

    Sorry. I misspoke. I meant billions. Perhaps I have not personally studied each and every piece of evidence (probably physically impossible) I’ve studied enough evidence to come to a reasonable conclusion.

    You’re playing semantic games again. Do you get your rocks off on this?

    I submit that neither yourself nor any of your Team Scarlet A buddies have provided a single piece of sound evidence against God’s existence.

    That’s because any attempt to do so would be an attempt to prove a negative, and you know better than that. The sum total of the evidence against the existence of gods is the total and complete lack of evidence for the existence of gods, and nothing more. Which is why I ask you to refute that, and you refuse.

    Aren’t you getting dizzy yet?

  7. I honestly have no idea what the probability of God’s existence is, and I see no reason to pretend otherwise.

    Yet you have no problem asking

    How do you justify your claim that the probability of God’s existence is less than 25%?

    Where did the 25% figure come from? Not me.

  8. I must say I love this:

    You’ve studied all the evidence, and millions of data points?

    Sorry. I misspoke. I meant billions. Perhaps I have not personally studied each and every piece of evidence (probably physically impossible) I’ve studied enough evidence to come to a reasonable conclusion.

    You’re playing semantic games again. Do you get your rocks off on this?

  9. SI – I have to admit that when I clicked on your blog and saw “Sex”, I immediately sat up and leaned forward. But that was *only* because I recognized it as a new post. Really… I swear to my lord and savior, bloody Jesus on a cross.

    While there is, indeed, no way of arriving empirically at “the” odds against the existence of god(s), there is no rational reason for assuming it to be anything less than *extremely unlikely*. The odds against the Christian god are even more improbable.

    It’s not really a matter of “odds”. It comes down to a simple choice of living a reason-based life or not. For me, the evidence “for” is overwhelming. I’m still willing to hear anyone who thinks they have evidence that might turn me. But if that happens – you can’t call it “faith” anymore. And, really, that would ruin all of their fun, wouldn’t it?

    “If faith were reasonable, you wouldn’t need faith”.

  10. SI,

    What evidence I may or may not accept is irrelevant to the question I asked.

    Correct. It’s not irrelevant to the statement you made, however, which was that no evidence was presented. That statement is a lie. Evidence has been presented here and on my own blog, in my response to your post.

    Then don’t respond. No one is twisting your arm. Say nothing. That would be better than playing these little avoidance games.

    SI, I’m not playing your avoidance game, I’m challenging you to stop playing it. Apparently you’re okay with leaving all these loose ends and unanswered questions around. Just let me know if I need to repeat any of the questions.

    Do you get your rocks off on this?

    As even Evo notes, you’re the one making baseless probability claims while ironically espousing a rationalist worldview. It’s arguably you who enjoys semantic games, because you use persuasive words instead of cogent, rationally-sustained arguments.

    That’s because any attempt to do so would be an attempt to prove a negative, and you know better than that.

    Then don’t go around saying you have evidence against gods if you don’t. Was the absence of evidence for asteroids in 1700 evidence of their absence? Of course not, and I believe you know better than that.

    Where did the 25% figure come from? Not me.

    Man, if you can’t figure out that your own previous statements supplied this figure, you’re even less of a “rationalist” or “thinker” than I previously thought. Just do simple math from the figures supplied in your own statements. Raise your hand if you need help, I’ll be glad to explain.

    Lorena,

    I was also amused by SI’s charge, ironically juxtaposed against his own semantic, baseless probability argument.

    Evo,

    While there is, indeed, no way of arriving empirically at “the” odds against the existence of god(s),

    Bravo, Evo, but too bad you dropped the ball before you finished the sentence.

  11. Then I’m guessing he loved the following sentence!

    Of course I did. It betrayed the sentence before it, and hearing you contradict yourself within a single paragraph is always amusing.

  12. As a reader, I give the point to Evo. It’s just another example of cl playing with words. It’s form over substance.

    Evo says you can’t come up with [exact] odds, but it’s clearly extremely low, approaching total insignificance (which is what I said also).

    cl juxtaposes the phrases no way of arriving empirically at “the” odds against no rational reason for assuming it to be anything less than *extremely unlikely and says there’s a contradiction.

    Evo 257 – cl 0.

    This game was over a long time ago.

  13. I’ve been reading the generally weak arguments on your blog and on your blogroll for over two years now. I submit that neither yourself nor any of your Team Scarlet A buddies have provided a single piece of sound evidence against God’s existence.

    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 theists who think atheists can show there’s no god. But for the sake of discussion, let’s say that was possible. Let’s say after a bad day you’re all bummed out and walking the halls dejected, when what looks like 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 theism itself, that which you stubbornly demand is inherently unfalsifiable.

    No matter what happens, there is still always a decision involved. I believe that if something were to appear to certain theists, they’d simply chalk it up as a sign from their god and nothing else via ad hoc reasoning. Generally speaking, theists claim they’re very fond of evidence – yet they themselves know damn well that evidence doesn’t always change minds no matter how conclusive. An ironclad case for a god’s nonexistence does nothing without a decision to accept. How would you know that Jesus wasn’t really a hallucination?

    It is impossible to disprove a god in the manner most theists demand, and I’m really confused by most theists’ dire inability to realize the unfalsifiable nature of the demand. When it comes to science, it’s all about falsifiability. When it comes to god belief, 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 a theist are many, but among the strongest is because I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known.

  14. And, of course, cl will squeal that you and I are both on “team scarlet A” and that’s the *only* reason for your finding. So I welcome anyone else to weigh in. Perhaps we can hear from Che or Tommykey since cl has a higher respect for them.

    Whatever, though. When I said, “I’ll leave it to the reader”, I wasn’t expecting answers. I just meant people will read what I say, make a judgment, move on – and I’m fine with what I said.

  15. Good post, SI. It doesn’t matter whether your “odds” were precise, your overall point was correct.

    As a member of Team Scarlet A, I’ll just reiterate what others have said repeatedly: I don’t have to provide evidence against a god because I’m simply withholding belief in the claim that one exists. I don’t believe a god exists because I haven’t seen or heard anything close to persuasive evidence of that claim. I’m not claiming to know that a god doesn’t exist; I’m simply withholding belief in the incredible, undemonstrated, weakly supported claim that such a being does exist.

  16. Evo:
    I’m reasonably certain you’re right; not 100% certain, but close enough to satisfy me that the question is really rather silly. As Philly said, “The reasons I’m not a theist are many, but among the strongest is because I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known.”

  17. I don’t know why you guys started an adultery team. It’s nothing to be proud of…unless you’re really good at it, in which case you should go Pro.

  18. PhillyChief,

    It’s cute that you would just steal my argument and replace atheism with theism, but do you understand falsifiability? I’m not sure, because your entire comment here suggests otherwise, and if you really understood falsifiability, I don’t think you would have made some of the mistakes you did. For example,

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

    If by theism we mean the existence of deities and the continuation of consciousness at some point after death, theism can be known, and could be experienced. OTOH, if by atheism we mean that there are no gods and that consciousness ends upon death, this cannot be known and cannot be experienced.

    Chaplain,

    It doesn’t matter whether your “odds” were precise, your overall point was correct.

    Imprecision is not my chief concern – inflated claims being passed off as rational discourse is – and I suggest you rethink Philly’s parroting. I would love to see anyone explain how atheism as described can be known.

  19. If true, both the existence of deities and the afterlife can be known. To contrast, how could one ever know that deities don’t exist, or that consciousness ceases upon death?

  20. The fact that something can be known isn’t in any way evidence that such a thing is true. For example, it would be theoretically possible to “know” that leprachauns existed – you could catch one in a jar and squeeze it until it begged to be allowed to hand over its pot o’ gold. If I beg the question by assuming that the little green Irish fellas exist, then obviously there’s a way I could “know” of their existence.

    However, since the existence of leprachauns can be known but isn’t surely that’s an extra point in favour of the theory that there aren’t any leprachauns?

    By the same token, some things can not be known yet do exist – check out Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal for proof that the velocity and position of a particle – both of which are “things” which “exist” – can never be known at the same time. Ability to know or experience something has no bearing on that thing’s reality.

  21. It seems to me that none of you are thinking this through entirely (Senator excluded). I wish I would have trusted my intuition, which was to preface my last comment by predicting that somebody would appeal to ULFSM arguments.

    SI,

    Pugilistic metaphors notwithstanding, cl, as usual, hasn’t got a clue. Yunshui has him down for a 10 count.

    Appeal to rhetorical devices noted. The only person Yunshui has down for a 10 count is the person who offers the fact that something can be known as evidence of that thing’s existence. That is not what I’m doing in this thread. All I said is that I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known. I then demonstrated that neither atheism nor the termination of consciousness at death can be known. Should you disagree, the burden falls on you to show how either proposition can be known, or to present a reasonable case explaining why we should believe in that which cannot theoretically be known.

    Yunshui,

    You’re correct to note that ability to know or experience something has no bearing on that thing’s reality. That’s not the argument I made.

    However, since the existence of leprachauns can be known but isn’t surely that’s an extra point in favour of the theory that there aren’t any leprachauns?

    In 1700, was the fact that asteroids could be known but weren’t an extra point in favor of the theory that there weren’t any asteroids?

    By the same token, some things can not be known yet do exist – check out Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal for proof that the velocity and position of a particle – both of which are “things” which “exist” – can never be known at the same time.

    I think you need to rework that one, or at least reword it. The velocity and position of a particle are not things that exist. They are abstract categorizations humans have assigned to things that exist. They are mere measurements, the former of the speed at which a particle moves, the latter of its relative position at any given time.

    PhillyChief,

    Again, theism is one thing. An afterlife is another. One fantasy at a time. Nice try, though.

    Think it through: if atheism is correct – it is impossible to know that consciousness ends at death, and it is impossible to know that no deities exist.

    On the other hand, if theism is correct – it is possible to know consciousness survives death, and it is possible to know that deities exist.

    Focusing on the fact that theism and the afterlife are separate but related concepts is an improper response to the argument offered.

  22. cl “All I said is that I see no reason to believe in that which cannot be known. I then demonstrated that neither atheism nor the termination of consciousness at death can be known. Should you disagree, the burden falls on you to show how either proposition can be known, or to present a reasonable case explaining why we should believe in that which cannot theoretically be known.”
    I believe that a combination of Occam and the nul hypothesis fit here. Disbelief in something due to a lack of evidence for it is rational. Disbelief in the disbelief, in exchange for something more complicated that also lacks evidence, not so much.

    “In 1700, was the fact that asteroids could be known but weren’t an extra point in favor of the theory that there weren’t any asteroids?”
    The theory of not-something? Theories, as far as I’m aware, don’t model what the universe is not. That said, that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it is is generally a pretty good reason for disbelief. It’s also a terrible reason to believe.

    “On the other hand, if theism is correct – it is possible to know consciousness survives death, and it is possible to know that deities exist.”
    Be sure to come back and let us know, okay? In the very least, it’ll be an excuse to check your email.

  23. Modus,

    Disbelief in something due to a lack of evidence for it is rational.

    Well, to respond properly, I’d need to know exactly what you mean by rational, but for the moment let’s say I agreed – I would still disagree that no evidence for theism exists, and I’ve presented a few examples both here and on my own blog that have been either perfunctorily addressed at best, or completely ignored. My whole point is that the “no evidence for God” claim is a just-so statement, and so far, nobody’s refuted that claim by showing why my examples are unacceptable as evidence we’d expect were theism correct.

    The theory of not-something? Theories, as far as I’m aware, don’t model what the universe is not.

    Hey, talk to Yunshui about the grammar concerns. I was merely sticking to the words Yunshui used, for maximum clarity.

    That said, that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,

    I agree.

    ..[absence of evidence] is generally a pretty good reason for disbelief.

    Although not one we share, I appreciate your opinion.

    [absence of evidence is] also a terrible reason to believe.

    I agree, and I don’t believe in the absence of evidence.

  24. cl “I would still disagree that no evidence for theism exists, and I’ve presented a few examples both here and on my own blog that have been either perfunctorily addressed at best, or completely ignored.”
    The spontaneous remission case? An uncorroborated anecdote (one person, one doctor) is, at best, a single point (and one that should lead you away from an omni-benevolent God, since He spontaneously gives people cancer…unless He’s the kind that uses suffering to bring people closer or test them, in which case He’s an asshole. But that’s probably tangental to the subject at hand). And in what direction does a dot point, anyway?
    Efficacy of prayer studies? The failure to exceed placebo makes it scientifically null, but that only cancels the “God answers my prayers” crowd (and not really even then, ’cause He says “yes”, “no” or “wait”, which statistically works just as well as nothing, since something will always happen, eventually, unless nothing happens, whether or not God exists. The Theology of Counting the Hits and Counting the Misses as Hits). If the best God does to prove His existence is anecdotal statistical irrelevance…
    Anecdotes are not evidence. This is because, if they were, everything would be true. Also, false. That would be silly.

    “Hey, talk to Yunshui about the grammar concerns.”
    I thought about what I posted a little while after I hit “submit comment”, and Theories, semantically, are also what they’re not (if that makes any sense). Helioentricism is also the Theory of Not-Geocentricism. Germ Theory is also the Not-Woo Theory.

    “I was merely sticking to the words Yunshui used, for maximum clarity.”
    Excuse my ignorance, but who?
    Also, have you seen Maximum Clarity? Awesome film, especially that part where the thing crashes into the other thing and then blows up. I did find the love triangle sub-plot to be a bit superfluous, unfortunately.

    “I agree, and I don’t believe in the absence of evidence.”
    Have you considered simply admitting ignorance instead? I do that all the time. My coworkers find it quite annoying. In addition to constant admissions of ignorance, that may be due in part to my gross incompetence, however. My cavalier attidude towards nudity should, but for some reason doesn’t, help.

  25. Modus,

    Slow down there cowboy. See, we agree that prayer studies and anecdotes don’t count.

    ..if that makes any sense..

    Of course it does. That’s because every claim entails an inverse claim. For example, your claim that you thought about what you posted after submitting entails the inverse claim that you didn’t think about what you posted before submitting. My only point was that your jab at the grammar was misplaced, belonging rightfully to someone else.

    Excuse my ignorance, but who?

    Yunshui. Yunshui made a claim using the grammar you criticized me for. Incidentally, I haven’t seen the movie in question.

    Have you considered simply admitting ignorance instead?

    Regarding?

  26. cl “For example, your claim that you thought about what you posted after submitting entails the inverse claim that you didn’t think about what you posted before submitting.”
    Incorrect. It’s not a black & white thing. It’s not that I didn’t think, it’s that I didn’t think enough.

    “Yunshui. Yunshui made a claim using the grammar you criticized me for.”
    Again, who?

    “Regarding?”
    What’s the Cole’s Notes version of your evidence for God? Take that and, instead of concluding that it’s evidence for Him, shrug. Maybe raise your eyebrows.

    Spanish Inquisitor “Now it says it twice. Looks like you got lucky.”
    Naw. I just keep screwing it up. Coitus Incompetensus (also, incidentally, a spell from Harry Potter).

  27. It’s not a black & white thing. It’s not that I didn’t think, it’s that I didn’t think enough.

    Correct. I meant to preface the comment with sufficiently, but I’m glad you got the point.

    Again, who?

    Yunshui is who I was responding to. That’s who came up with the grammar you.

    What’s the Cole’s Notes version of your evidence for God?

    Although by no means would I call it “Cole’s Notes,” start here. I don’t necessarily conclude the things I mention are evidence for God. I look at various claims, see what they predict, and I make observations. What I see and hear in the real world supports nearly all of these claims.

    ..instead of concluding that it’s evidence for Him, shrug. Maybe raise your eyebrows.

    Look, I like you, I enjoy reading your comments. They’re funny and sarcastic and witty, for sure. I notice that tonight’s comments are a bit more, shall I say, genuine or serious? That being the case, spend some time on my blog (if you don’t or haven’t). You seem to think I’ve come to firm conclusions, when I’ve stated several times the best we can say is that we believe.

    My position is that things I see in the real world are consistent with what I believe we would reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists. Although I’m sure I’ve typed the string before, saying “evidence for God” or “evidence for atheism” is really a dangerous way to have an ostensibly scientific discussion. “Evidence” isn’t “for” anything – evidence is a body of data.

  28. Yet again, theism is one thing. An afterlife is another. One warrantless belief at a time, please. Offering one to support the other is dirty pool.

    MO: Having cl like you is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. He’ll stalk you with delusions of there being a relationship and then when his affections aren’t requited, he’ll go all Glen Close boil the pet bunny on you. Run now, before it’s too late.

  29. Although by no means would I call it “Cole’s Notes,” start here.

    and

    spend some time on my blog (if you don’t or haven’t).

    Shouldn’t this be prefaced with “This way be dragons!“? 8)

  30. “This way be dragons!”

    SI, you said of me recently “you crack me up” (or some such). The compliment is returned!

    Mo said: Again, who?

    Cl responded: Yunshui is who I was responding to. That’s who came up with the grammar you.

    And: I notice that tonight’s comments are a bit more, shall I say, genuine or serious

    What a rube.

  31. Although by no means would I call it “Cole’s Notes,” start [at this link, titled “On Evidence and Proof”]. I don’t necessarily conclude the things I mention are evidence for God.

    Very enlightening…

    By the way folks, I don’t know if I mentioned the fact that I read Jerry Coyne’s book recently – “Why Evolution Is True”. It’s a great read. He concludes that the hundreds of things he mentions are evidence for evolution.

    Even if you accept evolution, it’s a notable book.

    Just sayin’….

  32. SI,

    It’s a new day, but I’ll note you’re still appealing to rhetorical devices.

    Evo,

    Very enlightening…

    Let’s shy away from hasty scientific writing, which we’re all guilty of to one degree or another. When we constantly say things like “Evidence for God” or “Evidence for dark matter,” we’re off to a bad start. So, what I meant by that was, I do believe the things I cite are consistent with the real-world conditions we’d expect if the God of the Bible were real.

    Yet, I would no longer like to use the phrase “Evidence for God.” If I continue to use that phrase, I’d be making the same exact mistake as you guys.

  33. cl “Yunshui is who I was responding to. That’s who came up with the grammar you.”
    Oh, Yunshui here. I was hunting for a philosopher of science or a science popularizer or something. I’m so dopey.

    “Although by no means would I call it “Cole’s Notes,” start here.”

    Incidentally, why can’t life and the various life processes be considered evidence of God?

    Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor. Occam’s Razor. It’s more majikal if you say it thrice. Thor does not throw lightning bolts anymore. This is because Thor was superfluous (although we didn’t know it at the time. Neither did poor Thor. He’s a hopeless drunk now. True story). “The Fall” answered the question “Why do things sometimes suck?”, but the natural history of the natural world amply exceeds the earlier answer (you suck sometimes because you are based on everything that came before you and you’re “built” with many conflicting “programs”). “The Fall” (and early Genesis) was a pre-scientific model of the universe. An obsolete model.

    Life on Earth with no life elsewhere shows that we’re so amazing special, and God made the other 99.999% of the universe to show us His majesty to us, His most special Creation. If life is eventually found elsewhere, well then that’ll just show us how special we are; so special that He gave us the Great Commision, the opportunity to spread the Gospel to those godless aliens! If the universe had no life, then that non-life would surely use its own lack of existence to prove God’s amazingness (“And God said, ‘Let there be no light…'”).

    “They’re funny and sarcastic and witty, for sure.”
    Substitute “irreverent” for “sarcastic”. If I was being sarcastic you’d know it, because you’re so smart. Sarcasm’s cheap. I’m too classy for such nonsense, and if you bring up examples of me using it, I’ll deny it.

    “I notice that tonight’s comments are a bit more, shall I say, genuine or serious?”
    I’m always serious. Deadly serious. Don’t let the clown costume fool you. I’m one of those “serious on the inside” clowns.

    “My position is that things I see in the real world are consistent with what I believe we would reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists.”
    And mine is the opposite (though I should again mention that I’m an occasional deist). If the best He can do is be a statistical anomaly, then He’s not there at all. Call Him “Placebo” and move on.

    PhillyChief “He’ll stalk you with delusions of there being a relationship and then when his affections aren’t requited, he’ll go all Glen Close boil the pet bunny on you. Run now, before it’s too late.”
    Hey, that’s my gig!

    John Evo “Even if you accept evolution, (Why Evolution Is True is) a notable book.”
    Got it. I’m on page nine. I’d be farther in, but I so rarely poop. On a side note, one thing that I’ve noticed about evolution is how well we can trace common descent based only on evo’s mistakes. Life is just so cobbled together and ersatz. Intelligent Design, my ass.

  34. Modus,

    I don’t really know how to respond. You’re just sort of rambling all-over-the-place and haven’t really addressed any specific arguments. To simply click one’s heels and say “Occam’s Razor!” three times doesn’t do the trick sans a cogent explanation.

    If the best He can do is be a statistical anomaly, then He’s not there at all.

    Your conclusion doesn’t flow from your premise.

  35. cl “I don’t really know how to respond.”
    The only rational response would be posed in interpretive dance.
    In other words: *Sigh*, try again…
    “Incidentally, why can’t life and the various life processes be considered evidence of God?”
    Because it works just fine without Him. The same goes for gravity (no “intelligent falling” required). Adding unnecessary things to an model does not make the model more accurate.

    “Your conclusion doesn’t flow from your premise.”
    Miracle (including all the ones that you don’t accept) = statistical anomaly. Anomalies are evidence for incomplete models, not gods (unless you worship “I don’t know” or “*Shrug?*”). If you want to plug God in the Gaps, go ahead, just keep in mind its long and storied career of failure compared to Naturalism of the Gaps (which isn’t right, but “close enough for now, based on the data” is closer than wrong).

  36. All BS aside –

    Because it works just fine without Him.

    Do you really not see the problem with that (from a logical standpoint)? It’s pure presupposition. I agree that when we’re seeking to explain something in a natural framework, there is no need to invoke the supernatural. I don’t need to invoke God to explain how gravity works. OTOH, explaining how gravity works does not preclude the need for an explanation of why or how something like gravity exists in the first place.

    Adding unnecessary things to an model does not make the model more accurate.

    But precluding things one arbitrarily deems unnecessary does?

    If you want to plug God in the Gaps [–SNIP–]

    Get to know me better. I don’t make GOTG arguments. I do believe certain phenomena are consistent with what we’d reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists. That’s how science (or a scientific approach to a religious question, in this case) works; not by bastardizing evidence towards a pre-favored conclusion, but by establishing hypotheses that make predictions, then comparing them against the real-world evidence.

  37. I don’t make GOTG arguments. I do believe certain phenomena are consistent with what we’d reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists.

    Which miracle are you up to now? “Q131”? Is this one a phenomenon consistent with what you would reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists? Well, unless science can show how it’s a completely natural phenomenon, cl is going to say “yes”! Oh, that one has a reasonable explanation? That’s fine. Let’s take a look at Q132.

    Even using this (eh-hem) “methodology”, can you even tell the reader how you would compare any given type of phenomena to what one might expect from “the God of the Bible”? Is it going to be your interpretation of what to expect? Gideon’s? John Hagee’s? Joseph Smith’s? David Koresh’s?

    Do we have do exclude the type of phenomena that could be due to Vishnu? Or due to a god that has never been described? Do you really not see how Occam’s Razor, Occam’s Razor, Occam’s Razor fits in to all of this, and that saying it “doesn’t work without cogent explanation” is just ludicrous in comparison to where you are going? You feel perfectly comfortable criticizing for bias and presuppositionalism in a strong atheist, as you look for bits of possible meaning in a sea of randomness while capitalizing “God” and “Bible”.

  38. “Do you really not see the problem with that (from a logical standpoint)? It’s pure presupposition.”
    The presupposition that the natural explains the natural and adding the supernatural to the explanation hinders more than it helps? That’s only presuppositional if you actually want to find the answer. This is because the only correct supernatural explanation is all of them.

    “OTOH, explaining how gravity works does not preclude the need for an explanation of why or how something like gravity exists in the first place.”
    Again, just shrug and say “I don’t know”. It fits just as well and doesn’t pretend to be an answer. It also leaves you a place to look for the actual answer.

    “But precluding things one arbitrarily deems unnecessary does?”
    Arbitrary? You’ve got to be kidding.

    “I do believe certain phenomena are consistent with what we’d reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists.”
    And other theologians from other religions all say the same thing (and other ones from the same religion, too, with their wildly varying versions of the same God). Come back when you come to consensus. Good luck with that. Competing scientific theories get closer (with some being dropped entirely), religions multiply, schism and get farther apart. Revelation (and the theology that tries to make sense of it) is a poor way to get the answers. Heck, look at how many answers there are to the Problem of Evil…all to apologize away an interventionalist God that doesn’t.

    “That’s how science (or a scientific approach to a religious question, in this case) works;”
    What’s a scientific approach to Gen1 conclude? Gen2? The Deluge? Babel? Exodus?

    “…not by bastardizing evidence towards a pre-favored conclusion, but by establishing hypotheses that make predictions, then comparing them against the real-world evidence.”
    Science on its own works. Science + Special Revelation (including the non-OT/NT ones) proves anything up to and including that that one Revelation is right (and that one interpretation of that translation of that Revelation) and that all the others are all wrong.

  39. I do believe certain phenomena are consistent with what we’d reasonably expect if the God of the Bible exists.

    Absolutely, and the phenomena of gifts appearing under the tree when you wake up on Dec. 25th is consistent with what one would reasonably expect if Santa Claus exists. I agree that when we’re seeking to explain something in a natural framework, there is no need to invoke the supernatural. I don’t need to invoke Santa to explain how the appearance of presents works. OTOH, explaining how the appearance of presents works does not preclude the need for an explanation of why or how something like presents under the tree on Dec. 25th exists in the first place.

  40. I don’t really know how to respond. You’re just sort of rambling all-over-the-place and haven’t really addressed any specific arguments. To simply click one’s heels and say “Occam’s Razor!” three times doesn’t do the trick sans a cogent explanation.

    Only if you don’t understand Occam’s Razor.

    Philly

    Touche’

  41. Hmm…. Sorry if this posts more than once. The software is acting quirky…

    [I deleted the other two. For future reference, anything with more than two links embedded it it gets trapped in my moderation/spam filter. I release it later, but it takes time for me to check it. SI]

    1) Do you guys really think Santa Claus comparisons mean anything? Honestly.

    2) Clearly you folks don’t understand Occam’s Razor, because you’re using it out-of-scope. Occam’s Razor only befalls the superfluous when seeking to explain how natural phenomena work, not how natural phenomena came to be. I realize you believe it’s you guys who know all about science, and I’m just the dummy, and I’m expecting this distinction to fall on deaf ears accordingly.

    Incidentally, William of Ockham was a Franciscan friar who agreed with me that “God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone.” This is because acceptance or denial of an idea is always volitional, which is what I’ve been saying around here for oh, three weeks now.

    Evo,

    ..unless science can show how it’s a completely natural phenomenon, cl is going to say “yes”!

    No. Until science can explain cases like Kayla’s, cl says a girl whose cancer disappeared a few days after direct prayer is interesting. Does it mean I say “Yes, this is a miracle?” No. For all I know, it could come out later that this was a fraud. Like SI said, Kayla’s case on its own – although evidence for a miracle – is certainly weak evidence, at least from a scientific standpoint. Anyways, my whole point is that making the across-the-board claim “there is no evidence for God” is an rhetorical strategy, not a cogent argument.

    ..can you even tell the reader how you would compare any given type of phenomena to what one might expect from “the God of the Bible”?

    Yes. This is exactly what I’m doing with something called the MGH, elaborated on here. If you spent more time on my blog actually investigating my arguments as opposed to lobbing paper airplanes from the back of class where Philly and the rest of the jokers sit, you would have already known this. See what you want to see.

    You feel perfectly comfortable criticizing for bias and presuppositionalism in a strong atheist, as you look for bits of possible meaning in a sea of randomness while capitalizing “God” and “Bible”.

    That right there is the best sentence I’ve heard you compose to date, John, and I’m glad to at least bring better writing out of you. I note your opinion, now please see the notes above about Occam’s Razor and stop folding your homework assignments into paper airplanes to lob at me.

    Modus,

    Again, just shrug and say “I don’t know”.

    Again, spend some time getting to know me: I don’t know, I believe, and my belief is as rationally justified as any other person who’s given careful consideration to the issues. I don’t pretend my beliefs are absolute truth, nor do I present them as such. To contrast, how many times do Philly and SI present their beliefs as absolute truth? Ask and you shall receive! Sure, when you call them on it, their official position is that they’re not strong atheists, they simply disbelieve, blah blah blah. Then they go on to pen copious amounts of irreligious vitriol that unabashedly suggest otherwise.

    Arbitrary? You’ve got to be kidding.

    It’s you who’s kidding if you think saying “God isn’t necessary” isn’t arbitrary. You claim God isn’t necessary, implying that somehow all this “stuff” that just showed up one day sustains, drives and supports itself. How do you know God isn’t necessary? Why not shrug and say “I don’t know?” It fits just as well and doesn’t pretend to be an answer. It also leaves you a place to look for the actual answer, and why not stop doing that which you criticize others for while you’re at it.

    Come back when you come to consensus.

    Come back when you come to consensus on a unified Theory of Everything (TOE), and stop exempting yourself from that which you demand of others.

  42. 1) Yes

    2) That’s just incorrect.
    The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible…wikipedia
    Ironic that Occam would make a special exemption for perhaps the biggest assumption of all, a god, but his failure to use his own maxim correctly doesn’t effect the maxim, especially when it might not even be his.

    “Volitional”, despite cl’s best efforts, does not mean purely subjective, ignore the evidence decisions.

    If you spent more time on my blog…

    Yeah, that’s not going to happen, so get over it.

    To contrast, how many times do Philly and SI present their beliefs as absolute truth?

    HERE is the biggest point of contention, the thing which prompts an idiot like cl to comment and comment and comment, the failure to distinguish between a provisional opinion and a closed-minded, absolute decision. Why must we be continually plagued by this clown’s ignorance and/or mental deficiencies?

  43. I may be duplicating Philly a bit, but no harm, no foul.

    1) Do you guys really think Santa Claus comparisons mean anything? Honestly.

    Honestly? It is so much on point it’s laughable when Christians say it’s not. It confirms the fact that Christians , hell all theists, (but SC is a Western, Christian creation) believe only what they want to believe, and do so with absolutely no consistency in logic.

    Let me be more blunt. Santa Claus is god for children. God is god for adults. Same thing.

    Occam’s Razor only befalls the superfluous when seeking to explain how natural phenomena work, not how natural phenomena came to be.

    You make this up as you go along, right? Most theology works that way too. Pronounce on a topic, make up a theological explanations for it, sit back smugly, figuring that you just nailed it, then when someone points out that it makes no sense, and is inconsistent with another area of theology, scramble to rationalize the new problem. I.E. Make it up as you go along.

    Incidentally, William of Ockham was a Franciscan friar who agreed with me that “God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone.

    I always love this argument. It doesn’t matter what the idea is, if the guy that first came up with happened to be religious, then the idea must support religion. Talk about fallacies.

    And I know, I know, that’s not what you said. But, otherwise, why bring it up in this discussion?

    Come back when you come to consensus.

    Come back when you come to consensus on a unified Theory of Everything (TOE), and stop exempting yourself from that which you demand of others.

    WTF? Nice one, pulled right out of your ass, having nothing to do with the discussion, totally off topic. Good avoidance tactic.

    Of course, you haven’t responded, but maybe no one will notice while they go off and look up TOE.

  44. cl “You claim God isn’t necessary, implying that somehow all this “stuff” that just showed up one day sustains, drives and supports itself. How do you know God isn’t necessary?”
    What happened “before” the Big Bang? I don’t know.
    Why are thing the way they are and not something else? I don’t know.
    There. I do that all the time.

    Why not shrug and say “I don’t know?” It fits just as well and doesn’t pretend to be an answer. It also leaves you a place to look for the actual answer, and why not stop doing that which you criticize others for while you’re at it.”
    Paragraph in bold to lend weight, for some reason. Rawr! Where we do know, we know, and where we don’t, we are looking. There will always be gaps in knowledge (abiogenesis, which at best will find plausible pathways rather than the way, and pre-to-just after Big Bang, for two). Are gods there? I don’t know. Do they talk via burning bush? Call me a skeptic, but I doubt it.

  45. PhillyChief,

    What do you think Santa Claus claims mean?

    Funny, too. I ask you to spend more time on my blog. One would think if one really wanted to understand another’s position, they would do this. Lifeguard did, and for the most part we get along pretty damn well and reach common ground quite a bit. OTOH, PhillyChief, your mind is so closed off to me that you won’t even read my blog. I read your guys’ blogs all the time. I’m not afraid of dissenting opinions. Are you?

  46. SI,

    I think your SC defense misses the mark. You just spout your opinion that God is SC for adults with no real defense of how or why the SC argument is successful. To contrast, I’ve now written three full posts on why it is not, and as usual, crickets.

    Demonstrating that you misunderstand science doesn’t mean I’m making anything up as I go along. Think about the nature of the claims you attempt to slice with Occam’s.

    And yes, let’s talk about fallacies SI: The fact that Ockham agreed with me that “God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone” does not mean I’m saying Occam’s Razor supports religion. Your conclusion doesn’t flow from your premise. Why did I bring it up? To show that you’re not thinking this through.

    WTF? Nice one, pulled right out of your ass, having nothing to do with the discussion, totally off topic. Good avoidance tactic. Of course, you haven’t responded, but maybe no one will notice while they go off and look up TOE.

    Don’t be so immature and hasty. That you failed to grasp the relevance does not mean no relevance exists, but hey, that’s pretty much how you roll: whatever you disagree with or can’t understand is (fill in the blank with SI’s expression of disagreement du jour). Your “religious dissonance” argument was easily flipped. That’s the relevance.

  47. Modusoperandi,

    Ask me what happened before the Big Bang, and I’ll tell you I don’t know, either. Ask me why things are the way they are and not something else, and I’ll tell you I don’t know, either.

    I love you too, but that’s what I meant when I said, “Get to know me.”

  48. SI,

    All BS aside, what you did to their ass cheeks is hilarious! Please, leave me on there. Laughing uproariously over here…

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