Lately, I’ve Grown Apathetic Towards Atheism

I find it discourteous when someone I was arguing with would leave valid points on the table and never respond.  Yet, lately, I’ve found myself leaving many discussions with atheists just as they were getting started.  I figured it had something to do with the fact that these discussions were taking place over at Unreasonable Faith and when a Christian posts a comment on that site, boy do they get a shellacking!  The reason for this is that is a basic presupposition in the PZ Myers type atheist that Christians are nincompoops who deserve to be insulted, and so those that comment on Daniels site, take any opportunity to do so.  Just take a quick gander over at Ray Comfort’s Atheist Central and you’ll see what I mean.  Ray is a straightforward evangelist who has raised the ire of the most outspoken atheists and he definetly recieves the worst of it. 

Admittedly, sifting through the constant condescending sarcasm and insult to find arguments to respond to grows tiresome.  However, my recent apathy towards argument with atheists, and articles about the atheistic worldview, goes far deeper than just growing tired of the same old atheistic modus operandi.  It’s that every atheist I’ve talked to over the past several months, has the exact same presuppositions.  They assume the same things at the outset of any conversation with a Christian. 

The Atheist Has No Metaphysical and Epistemological Leg to Stand On

About three weeks ago, I was in a conversation with five atheists.  Each conversation was in different stages of development and activity, however, each argument was heading in the same direction.  Specifically, how do we know what we know?  Namely, how does the Christian know that God exists and how does the atheist know that God isn’t needed?  This is known as epistemology. 

That all five of these conversation where heading in the same direction led me to make a post on the subject, Three Ways of Knowing.  Which are; personal experience, revelation/authority, or scientific inquiry.  The most basic presuppositions of the Christian worldview, is that God exists, followed by that the Bible is the Word of God.  The question is, how does the Christian know this?  Though there are certain things the Christian can know through scientific inquiry and textual analysis, the Christian knows the Bible to be the Word of God through the Ultimate Divine Revelation, that is, through a personal experience with God. 

The most basic presuppositions of the atheistic worldview, is that scientific inquiry is the only way to knowledge (empiricism), that all phenomena are natural phenomena (naturalism), that only the material exists (materialism), and that the rates of growth and decay have been the same since the beginning of the universe (uniformitarianism).  How does the atheist know this?  Can scientific inquiry tell them such things?  Of course not.  So then it must be one of the other two.  Their “authoritative knowledge” can only come through man since God doesn’t exist.  So basically, the atheist has decided, personally, that these things are true with no scientific reason to do so. 

Through the consquent discussions from Three Ways of Knowing and the subsequent post on the subject Atheism Stands Alone?  Don’t Fool Yourself, every one of those five atheists went away.  Why?  Because they didn’t have an answer.  The only answer an atheist can have to such an argument is to pretend that epistemological and metaphysical questions don’t matter.  It comes down to this, they literally prefer to think of the world as without a God, they just prefer it.  And no amount of argument or evidence will convince them.  Partly because of this revelation about atheism, I have grown, temporarily at least, apathetic towards further exploration of the atheistic worldview.

Opportunity Knocks

There is another event that has begun to sift time away from the blogosphere.  I have been given the honor and priviledge of leading a  Bible study with some friends.  It has given me the opportunity to study the Word of God like I never have before.  I was ready for a big responsibility and going in detail through the Book of Acts in detail has proved to be just that.  This responsibility has leapt itself above maintaining this blog.  I’ll probably make a page where my study notes are available.

What the Future Brings . . .

I’m not sure in what direction Apologia will take now.  Perhaps I’ll focus more on discerning the history of Christianity and atheism, the presuppositions that guide each and how they affect how we think about current events.  Perhaps I’ll attempt to write through my newly embarked upon theological exploration.  I’m not sure.

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45 Comments on “Lately, I’ve Grown Apathetic Towards Atheism”

  1. Jorg Says:

    “The Atheist Has No Metaphysical and Epistemological Leg to Stand On”

    You are certainly joking. Your description of the three types of knowledge is fallacious, since knowledge must, by definition be a true justified belief, and it is hard to see how the truth of revelation or in many cases, of personal experience (the two are actually rather similar, and I see no reason to make such a sharp distinction between them) are not independently verifiable. They cannot be considered knowledge, only beliefs, which, however justified from the point of view of a believer cannot be considered true or false: they are simply neither.

    And, of course, our commitment to metaphysical naturalism is not simply a groundless belief; so far, everything that we have observed is, in principle, explainable without abandoning naturalism. Theere simply is no need for a belief in God to deal with the whole range of human experience and our observations of the Universe. Now that in itself does not mean that God does not exist; it means, however, that there is no need for one. So why should we believe in one, then?

  2. Jason Says:

    “a basic presupposition in the PZ Myers type atheist that Christians are nincompoops who deserve to be insulted”

    The number of people like that is growing and they will never move beyond that position.

  3. Eric Kemp Says:

    Jason

    It works too well for them to give it up. If they decide, at the outset, that we’re idiots then they don’t have to listen to anything we have to say. They don’t have to even consider what we say as argument. The problem is that they fool themselves into thinking this is rational.

    Thanks for the comment.

  4. Eric Kemp Says:

    Jorg

    “Your description of the three types of knowledge is fallacious, since knowledge must, by definition be a true justified belief, and it is hard to see how the truth of revelation or in many cases, of personal experience (the two are actually rather similar, and I see no reason to make such a sharp distinction between them) are not independently verifiable.”

    Personal experience and authoratative revelation are very different actually. In one, you’ve had a personal experience that has given you a certain knowledge. For instance, I know that if I love my wife. Are you trying to tell me that such personal knowledge isn’t knowledge at all, or that love is “independently verifiable”? In the other, someone who is smarter than me (or an all powerful creator) is telling me knowledge about something. That entities knowledge may have come from science or personal experience (or being omniscient), but I take what they say as knowledge because of their superior status to me.

    I understand your question in regards to the three ways of knowing because I was very brief in describing them, in fact I don’t think I explained them here. The reason for that is that I’ve made the argument already elsewhere. If you would do me the kindness of clicking here, you’ll see a much further explanation of the argument.

    However, I do have another objection to your quote above. Specifically your phrase “independently verifiable”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming you are under the impression that there are such things as brute facts. Things that are just true without any interpretation needed. This is a delusion. Every single human being has a worldview, a set of presuppositions, that they interpret evidence with. These presuppositions aren’t bad persay, you just have to recognize you are doing it instead of deluding yourself into thinking that evidence can be recieved without interpretation.

    “And, of course, our commitment to metaphysical naturalism is not simply a groundless belief; so far, everything that we have observed is, in principle, explainable without abandoning naturalism.”

    Metaphysical naturalism, by definition, is a groundless belief. That is, there is no “independent” empirical evidence that can be given for it. The word “metaphysical” should tip you off to this fact. And that’s the point with the “three ways of knowing”. Science can’t tell you that naturalism (the belief that ALL phenomena are natural phenomena) is true, so how do you know it is?

    “Theere simply is no need for a belief in God to deal with the whole range of human experience and our observations of the Universe.”

    The only way for God not to be needed is if the presuppositions of naturalism, materialism, empiricism, and uniformitarianism (all four I explained in my post) are firmly in hand and are blatantly ignored. The question that I want you to answer is this: since scientific inquiry can’t give you the knowledge of those four presuppositions, how do you know them to be true?

  5. Neil Says:

    I think it is important to use discernment when dealing with atheists. Some are charitable and enjoyable to visit with. But many are just parroting lines from their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites and that gets old quickly. With a couple questions/comments it is pretty easy to figure out if they are the hostile kind who have no interest in the truth. Then it is dust shaking / pearl holding time. I dont want to waste my time or polarize them further.

  6. Eric Kemp Says:

    Neil

    Yea, there are definetely many cordial atheists that I’ve had many a productive and intriguing conversation with. However, just as one would give me hope, five more would come and dash that hope. I probably need to get better at just leaving the discussion be when it becomes clear they are of the PZ Myers brigade.

    Thanks for the input.

  7. Gstudent Says:

    “I find it discourteous when someone I was arguing with would leave valid points on the table and never respond.”

    If you don’t understand why, read this quote of yours again.

    “Meaning, that I use my belief in God’s existence to interpret the evidence which I receive [. . .] it doesn’t matter how much empirical evidence for evolution you give me, I’m just not convinced. Why is that? Because my belief in God is a presupposed belief.”

    Why talk to someone, why spend pages and pages of text trying to help you understand something when you flat out say that you will not be convinced? The atheists you’ve talked to are more open minded than that.

    “I’m a skeptic. But I’m an open-minded skeptic. I don’t assume I know all the arguments that believers have for God, though I do know many of them. Perhaps someone can present them in a way that will convince me it’s more valid than I thought, or present something I’ve never thought of. – Daniel Florian”

    People figured out what you are about and decided to stop talking to the wall. Only the occasional troll to stop by and poke fun at you for their own amusement.

    I’m curious though, did the offer of the leadership of a bible study come after you spoke with someone about your forum postings and questions?

    I have a question about the # of presupposed beliefs but the above will do for now.

  8. Eric Kemp Says:

    Gstudent

    You’ve missed the point. We’re talking about how human beings know things, what sources of knowledge we have. The basic presuppositions of atheists cannot be verified, indeed no evidence can be given for them, by science. And yet science is seen as the ultimate giver of knowledge by the atheist. Ironic, no? So then, how does the atheist know that his presuppositions are true? From what source of knowledge did he make his decision? He personally decided it. He prefers it. Arguing against someone’s personal preference is a waste of time.

    “People figured out what you are about and decided to stop talking to the wall. Only the occasional troll to stop by and poke fun at you for their own amusement.”

    You’re right, everyone over at Daniel’s blog was, at first, attempting to calmly and cordially discern where I was coming from, understand my argument, asked me many thoughtful questions regarding my worldview. Only after I insulted their mothers and threatened their children did they turn on me. Give me a break G, from the second I stepped foot in that place the tone never change from what it is towards any Christian that comments on there. Just admit your own tactics, don’t insult my intelligence by trying to tell there are certain conditions under which a Christian is verbally abused, besides that they are a Christian. Now, I’m not complaining, I expect it from you guys, and your behavior actually helps my argument more than it helps yours. Just don’t try to pretend it is otherwise.

    Oh, and just because someone says their open, doesn’t mean they are.

    “I’m curious though, did the offer of the leadership of a bible study come after you spoke with someone about your forum postings and questions?”

    Nope. There is much more to my life than the blogosphere.

    “I have a question about the # of presupposed beliefs but the above will do for now.”

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question, if that really was a question.

  9. Matt Says:

    Just a quick comment on your “presuppositions of the atheist worldview”.
    The first one (empiricism) I can accept.
    The second and third (naturalism and materialism) are actually consequences of the first one, not additional presuppositions.
    If one chooses to rely only on empiricism, then supernatural explanations are automatically out of the question. This is often pointed out by theists.
    The fourth one, uniformitarianism, seems a little out of place in the list.
    This is more an assumption behind dating of rocks and fossils. Relevant to evolution maybe, but not atheism.

  10. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    Sure, empiricism leads to the other three. But they’re still different.

    Uniformitarianism is used heavily in the evidence for evolution and atheism.

    I’m confused though, what was the purpose of telling me this?

  11. Gstudent Says:

    “You’ve missed the point. We’re talking about how human beings know things, what sources of knowledge we have. ”

    Oh? I thought you were talking about how mean people were leaving the discussion when they realized you weren’t listening to what they said and you were actually going to ignore anything they said if it conflicted with your numerous presupposed beliefs.

    “The basic presuppositions of atheists cannot be verified, indeed no evidence can be given for them, by science. And yet science is seen as the ultimate giver of knowledge by the atheist. Ironic, no?”

    No. A presupposition of matter existing is valid because if it wasn’t true theres no point in getting out of bed. “Unless you are willing to admit the world is real, there is no talking to you. We might as well be voices in your non-existent head. – Sunny Day”
    It’s a presupposition YOU also accept as true because if you didn’t theres no point in your angst about imaginary forum postings.

    “So then, how does the atheist know that his presuppositions are true?”

    By using as few of them as possible to ensure the lowest margin for error.
    Thiests specificaly your brand of YEC, use alot more of them.
    0 The universe exists
    1 The universe required a creator
    2 That creator is god
    3 God didn’t need a creator
    4 That creator is specificaly the christian god
    5 The christian god does not lie
    6 The god used the bible to communicate its desires to you.
    7 The specific version of the bible that you read is inerrant. (this I surmise is where most if not all of your YEC beliefs are spawned)
    ….. I’m sure there are others but those are the ones off the top of my head.

    “Only after I insulted their mothers and threatened their children did they turn on me.”
    When you are dealing with evidence based thinkers saying, “it doesn’t matter how much empirical evidence for evolution you give me, I’m just not convinced.” comes pretty close to doing exactly that.

    “Give me a break G, from the second I stepped foot in that place the tone never change from what it is towards any Christian that comments on there. ”
    [it doesn’t matter how much empirical evidence for evolution you give me, I’m just not convinced. ]

    Are logical thinkers supposed to treat that statment and the person who makes it with the utmost of respect? Just because you didn’t lead with that statement don’t think they weren’t able to divine your intentions from your other retoric.

    “Oh, and just because someone says their open, doesn’t mean they are. ”
    [it doesn’t matter how much empirical evidence for evolution you give me, I’m just not convinced.]

    You are not the best judge of being open.

    “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question, if that really was a question.”
    The above # of presuppositions should explain.

  12. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    On second thought, I don’t agree with you or my previous comment that empiricism absolutely leads to naturalism and materialism. I can believe that only scientific inquiry leads to true knowledge, yet am still open to the existence of a spiritual realm and supernatural phenomena. I wouldn’t think that supernatural phenomena or the spiritual realm are viable ways of knowledge, but I could believe they might exist.

  13. Matt Says:

    I’m open to the existence of a spiritual realm and spiritual phenomena too.
    It’s just that there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that such things exist.
    If they do exist, then they are completely beyond our senses and therefore not worth worrying about.
    Either way, there’s definitely no justification for worshipping anything that might be out there.

  14. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    But see, the problem is that you don’t know that. You make statements of knowledge without being willing to delve into how you know such a thing. You make statements like “there’s absolutely nothing to indicate that such things exist”, did science tell you that the spiritual realm doesn’t exist? That’s impossible. So then how do you know it? No really, how? Have you really personally explored every inch of the universe and found there to be no “spirit”? Only with the biases of empiricism and materialism firmly in hand, and then firmly ignored, can you make such a statement and still consider yourself rational.

    The only way you can say that the spiritual realm is beyond our senses is if you first assume humans aren’t made of anything spiritual. It’s circular. If humans are at least partly spiritual (the soul), then surely the soul could detect spiritual phenomena.

    Furthermore, you have so far ignored the main thrust of my argument. You presuppose empiricism, which elevates scientific inquiry as the only way to knowledge. Yet, scientific inquiry cannot tell you that only scientific inquiry is valid (circular reasoning and begging the question). So then how do you know that your empirical presupposition is true? No really, I want you to answer that if you can.

  15. Eric Kemp Says:

    GStudent

    Yup, that’s right, when you can’t answer the questions at hand so you go back to your old standby; purposeful misunderstanding of my arguments and then insulting those misunderstandings. Well done sir.

  16. Gstudent Says:

    I’m sorry if your presuppositions prevent you from understanding the answers Kemp.

    “So then how do you know that your empirical presupposition is true?”

    Because 1 presupposition beats 8 any day of the week.

  17. Eric Kemp Says:

    Gstudent

    A few things.

    Firstly, the definition of a presupposition is of a basic underlying metaphysical belief that is used by an individual to interpret evidence through. Presuppositions are what a person’s worldview is made up of.

    Secondly, I never said that “matter exists” is a presupposition of the atheistic worldview. Not once did I say this. I was asked to “Prove God”. I showed that since no one can prove that matter exists why should I have to prove that God does? That was the point. Sorry to destroy your strawman. “Matter exists”, is a presupposition of EVERYONE’s worldview, as you pointed out.

    Thirdly, the “I’m not convinced of evolution” statement was in a certain context. You’re quite good at pulling quotes out of context and then using them for whatever purpose you have in mind. Too bad it’s irrational. The point was that was to say that there are no such things as “brute” or “independent facts”. Every piece of evidence is filtered through an individuals worldview which is guided by our presuppositions. Now, when I said “evolution” I was not to talking about the observable and testable very small scale changes that Natural Selection brings about. I was talking about the unobservable, untestable inferred macroevolution. Atheists have deluded themselves into thinking they have “absolute fact” in evolution. And it’s an age old atheistic/evolutionary canard that creationists believe in the “fixity of the species”, that we believe God made an animal kingdom that can’t change. That was true before Darwin, but it’s not true after Darwin. So, sorry you can’t use that one anymore.

    Fourthly, the point of my entire argument is that macroevolution, and the atheistic “non-God” belief, does not stand alone as “brute fact”, they must be supported by the big four atheistic presuppositions. Without the big four, and several others, macroevolution falls apart. Let’s take one presupposition as an example of an argument. One of the big four is “naturalism”, which is the belief that all phenomena are natural phenomena. Science can’t tell you that ONLY nature exists. So then how do you know “naturalism” is true? No really, I want you to answer that question. If science can’t tell you that naturalism is true, then how do you know it is?

    Fifthly, I only have two main presuppositions. That God exists and that the Bible is the Word of God. Are you really trying to say that the number of presuppositions makes a difference? The power of presuppositions is their ability to explain the world around us and to explain human experience. Can yours do so?

  18. Matt Says:

    I guess my point was that you don’t seem to understand the atheist worldview, which is going to put you at a disadvantage when debating with them.

  19. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    Yea, ignoring my reply about how naturalism and materialism can easily be separated from empiricism and then telling me I don’t understand atheism makes a whole lot of sense.

    But I’m confused, how can you say that the statements of “only natural phenomena exist” and “only the material exists” are the same statement as “only science can give us true knowledge”? They’re completely different statements with completely different implications, two of them are about the nature of reality, the other is about epistemology.

  20. James Says:

    “a basic presupposition in the PZ Myers type atheist that Christians are nincompoops who deserve to be insulted”

    They are horribly annoying and I say this as a non-theist. You will find folks who think those who are different from themselves are nincompoops in pretty much all groups.

    Sadly the atheist you are trying to push atheism down everyone’s throat are the vocal ones because there aren’t atheist churches. The non-theists are generally happy when others are at peace. If you are at peace from praying to God or other means, then it is good.

    PS: I do use sciences as a search for truth, but I certainly know it does not answer ALL questions. Science is still the Philosophy (study of, not personal belief system) of the natural world.

  21. Eric Kemp Says:

    James

    Your outlook is refreshing.

    I certainly agree with you that many atheists are just as dogmatic and vocal as any preacher, and yet ironically fool themselves into thinking their belief system takes zero faith or isn’t religious. I certainly don’t mean to lump “all” atheists into this category, but the ones who act this way are the ones that force me to apathy. I have a feeling that you would admit that you would prefer to be a non-theist, although you may not admit how influential that preference is on what you believe to be true.

    However, let me ask you, is “peace” the ultimate good, or is “truth” a greater good?

    Also, my point about science is that it can’t tell us anything about the nature of reality. That is, it can’t tell you that only the natural exists, and therefore God is not needed. So then, if science can’t tell you about it, how do you know it’s true?

  22. Matt Says:

    Sorry Eric, I missed your second reply. I wasn’t deliberately ignoring it!
    Empiricism isn’t an absolute presupposition about the nature of the universe, it’s just a framework which defines the coundaries of scientific enquiry.
    Any scientist will happily tell you that questions about God, the soul, etc, cannot be answered via scientific enquiry.
    So in answer to your question . . . how do I know it’s true? I don’t. But I do know that the conclusions it brings me to are trustowrthy, which is the point.
    Of course God might exist. Of course there might be a spiritual realm. Of course humans might have a soul. Any of these these things might be true.
    But as there’s no reliable objective way to know these things, because the only reliable objective method we have, the scientific approach, cannot be applied.
    As a post-script, please understand that I don’t reject the idea of God because of some pre-determined notion of universal materiality. I reject the idea of God because it’s all so obviously man-made.

  23. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    “Sorry Eric, I missed your second reply. I wasn’t deliberately ignoring it!”

    That explains it! Thank you for clearing that up.

    “Empiricism isn’t an absolute presupposition about the nature of the universe, it’s just a framework which defines the coundaries of scientific enquiry.”

    You’re right, naturalism and materialism are absolute presuppositions about the nature of the universe. Empiricism is an absolute presupposition about the nature of knowledge, or epistemology. The point I’m trying to make about empiricism isn’t just that it is a framework by which the atheist knows things about the natural world in a positive sense, it also a framework by which the atheist judges what they don’t or can’t know about in a negative sense.

    Let me give you an example. Every Christian you’ve ever talked to is, in some sense and in some way, trying to tell you that they’ve had a personal experience with God, and that you can have this experience too. But how do you know if this is true or not? The atheistic answer, using empiricism, is either that such an experience is impossible, or that such an experience is unreliable. Why is the experience unreliable? Because it can’t be verified. Why can’t it be verified? Because the experience is not empirical. The empiricist assumes that the only reliable path to knowledge is through scientific inquiry, and anything else may be true, but it certainly can’t be relied up.

    Again my question to you is this, if scientific inquiry can’t give you the knowledge that only scientific inquiry is reliable, then how do you know it is? How do you know that my experience with God isn’t just as reliable as anything else?

    “So in answer to your question . . . how do I know it’s true? I don’t. But I do know that the conclusions it brings me to are trustowrthy, which is the point.”

    You are begging the question and moving goalposts. We’re talking about belief systems that are, by definition, untrustworthy by empirical means, both yours and mine. I’m not rejecting the usefulness of scientific inquiry under the empirical framework, that has proven itself time and time again, I’m rejecting the scope of scientific inquiry that you atheists have fooled yourselves into thinking exists. In a neutral world, scientific inquiry itself tells you nothing about the nature of reality. Only under the presuppositions of human beings do we allow science to give us “meaning”.

    I’m truly curious to what “trustworthy conclusions” science by itself gives you that allows you to rationally believe that God doesn’t exist.

    “But as there’s no reliable objective way to know these things, because the only reliable objective method we have, the scientific approach, cannot be applied.”

    But see, you are fully under the empirical presupposition, unable to break out of it. How do you know that empiricism is the only reliable method we have? And how can you call science “objective” when evidence must be interpreted?

    “As a post-script, please understand that I don’t reject the idea of God because of some pre-determined notion of universal materiality. I reject the idea of God because it’s all so obviously man-made.”

    So you reject God because you don’t like religion? Well, I understand that, believe me. But what does the actions of God’s followers have to do with the existence of God Himself?

  24. Matt Says:

    “Again my question to you is this, if scientific inquiry can’t give you the knowledge that only scientific inquiry is reliable, then how do you know it is?”

    You answered this yourself two paragraphs later: “I’m not rejecting the usefulness of scientific inquiry under the empirical framework, that has proven itself time and time again.” I couldn’t agree more.

    “I’m truly curious to what “trustworthy conclusions” science by itself gives you that allows you to rationally believe that God doesn’t exist.”

    That’s the thing, you see. Science doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist. As you’ve pointed out, it can’t. The question is outside the scope of scientific enquiry. No-one’s claming scienitific proof of the non-existence of God.

    “So you reject God because you don’t like religion?”

    I reject the religious idea of God, because religion is clearly the invention of men. Let me ask you this: is there a non-religious idea of God?

  25. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    You answered this yourself two paragraphs later: “I’m not rejecting the usefulness of scientific inquiry under the empirical framework, that has proven itself time and time again.” I couldn’t agree more.”

    Please don’t ignore the context of that quote. The point is that scientific inquiry doesn’t give you the meaning most atheists attribute to it. For instance, you state that scientific inquiry is the only reliable way to know things. Not only is that statement circular since scientific inquiry can’t tell you about it, the next statement I say is “so what”? As you’ve admitted, science doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist, so then why do you think your belief in His non-existence is reliable? Notice that I’m not asking why you don’t believe, I think we’re getting into that on our own, I’m asking how you know this belief is reliable.

    No-one’s claming scienitific proof of the non-existence of God.”

    But that’s the point, they are. Perhaps you are more self-reflective than the average athiest, but the regular atheist definitely considers science to have put God out of a job, these are what the presuppositions of naturalism and materialism are used for.

    I reject the religious idea of God, because religion is clearly the invention of men.”

    I agree the religion is the invention of men, let me get back to this after I answer your question.

    Let me ask you this: is there a non-religious idea of God?”

    I gather by the way you’re asking the question, you don’t think there is. First of all, I don’t think there needs to be a “non-religious” idea of God for the idea of God to be viable. However, let’s say for right now, that’s true. There are many people out there who reject religion for the same reason you do, because of the religious. However, they find the metaphysical and epistemelogical explanation of God to be more viable than non-God. In fact, this is the basis of the entire Intelligent Design movement. No matter how much atheists want to slander the ID movement, it’s a non-religious one, sorry, it just isn’t. Don’t believe me, ask the scientists, they’ll tell you themselves.

    Let me ask you: Since science can’t give you knowledge of non-God, then why do you believe that beginning of the universe and of life didn’t need a creator? That is, if you admit that the naturalistic proposition of a naturally created universe is just as metaphysical as the proposition of a created universe, why isn’t the God position just as viable? Especially if it is able to explain the apparent design and fine-tuning of the universe, which is where naturalism fails.

    Now let’s get to why you prefer naturalism: What exactly is your problem with religion? More specifically since I’m defending the Christian worldview, is it the Bible itself you have a problem with or the men who interpret the Bible?

  26. Mike Says:

    Matt wrote:
    “is there a non-religious idea of God?”

    Yes!! There is only this: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

  27. Eric Kemp Says:

    Mike!

    Welcome back, it’s been awhile! How goes the music?

  28. Matt Says:

    “As you’ve admitted, science doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist, so then why do you think your belief in His non-existence is reliable?”

    For exactly the same reason that you think your belief in the non-existence of the ancient Gods Zeus and Odin is reliable. Nothing in your experience has led you to think that they are anything other than myth and legend.

    I should add at this point that I’m very familiar with the Christian faith. I was raised in a devoutly Christian household. My father is a pastor. I was part of the inner sanctum of the church until I was 18. I’ve been up close and personal with all the claims of this religion, and I’ve still found them wanting.

    . . . the regular atheist definitely considers science to have put God out of a job . . .

    That’s not the same as using science to disprove the existence of God. Science is used to show that things previously attributed to God, like storms, diseases, meteor impacts etc etc have natural explanations. This then forces theists to redefine their notion of God and what He’s responsible for, but it doesn’t disprove His existence. I’ve never heard anyone claim that.

    Since science can’t give you knowledge of non-God, then why do you believe that beginning of the universe and of life didn’t need a creator?

    We don’t know what the Universe was immediately before the Big Bang. But saying ‘God created it’ is not an explanation. I know it sort of sounds like one if you have an image of God in your mind, but it isn’t anything on its own. That statement doesn’t carry any informational content at all, unless you start to bring in ideas about the nature of this ‘God’. But once you’re doing that, you’re immediately off into the realms of religion.

    And I disagree that naturalism fails to account for the apparent fine-tuning and design of the Universe. The key word there is “apparent”. There’s apparent design in the recent image of Jesus in a piece of bread, too. I trust you’re not claiming that naturalism would fail to account for that.

    “What exactly is your problem with religion? More specifically since I’m defending the Christian worldview, is it the Bible itself you have a problem with or the men who interpret the Bible?”

    Excellent question. Both.

    First, I believe the bible was written by men. It’s too full of contradictions to be divine. And it’s missing any “WOW” factor that might indicate that it’s underpinned by any knowledge beyond that of its bronze age authors.
    There’s no indication whatsoever that it’s divinely inspired. It can therefore be taken only on the relative merits of its contents. There are some nice moral lessons (particularly the teachings of Jesus before they get all screwed up by Paul) but even these are nothing that Secular Humanism doesn’t also teach. You don’t need a concept of God to see the value of being nice to each other.

    Second, on the people who interpret the bible:

    As a side note, the fact that the bible needs so much interpretation is pretty telling in itself, don’t you think? Surely if this is were God-given instruction manual on how to act (as opposed to ancient accounts of tribal wars and basic moral philosophy – which is what it really looks like) then it would be a little clearer?

    But back to the people: based on what I’ve said above, I have a problem with anyone claiming authority based on this book. There’s a certain amount of cognitive dissonance required to claim that the bible is a whole and perfect communication from God. so any who pushes that line immediately raises suspicion in my eyes.

  29. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt, you say you recognize your biases, yet they are in full force when you are arguing. I will attempt to show you your inconsistencies in the statements you make, and how your bias/presuppositions are shaping everything you say.

    I asked: “As you’ve admitted, science doesn’t say that God doesn’t exist, so then why do you think your belief in His non-existence is reliable?”

    You replied: “For exactly the same reason that you think your belief in the non-existence of the ancient Gods Zeus and Odin is reliable. Nothing in your experience has led you to think that they are anything other than myth and legend.”

    This doesn’t work on a few levels, in fact you have flat out ignored my question. Let me show you:

    1. You believe that empiricism is the only reliable source of knowledge and yet you ignore the circular reasoning associated with this belief (science can’t tell you that only science is reliable) and you continue to use it.
    2. You’ve admitted that God is outside the perview of science, science doesn’t have anything to say about God, and yet you state that your unscientific beliefs about God are reliable. Within you’re own framework this is inconsistent and irrational.
    3. Along the same lines as #2, you state science has nothing to do with God, yet believe that science shows that God, Zeus and Odin are unreliable beliefs. You find this consistent?
    4. Based on the fact that science has nothing to say about any metaphysical entity such as God, Zeus or Odin, and science is YOUR only reliable source of knowledge, you CANNOT KNOW that your non-belief in ANY metaphysical entity is a reliable belief.
    5. You claim to know what my experience is. The reason I find my non-belief in Odin and Zeus to be reliable is because I literally had a personal experience with God. On the other hand, you have NO reason or explanation for why your belief is reliable.

    Matt, it seems that you’re able to realize that empiricism is a presupposition yet unable to break yourself free of it while reasoning through a question. So let me ask you again, since empiricism is unable to give you knowledge about God, why do you think your non-belief in Him is a reliable belief?

    “I was raised in a devoutly Christian household. My father is a pastor. I was part of the inner sanctum of the church until I was 18. I’ve been up close and personal with all the claims of this religion, and I’ve still found them wanting.”

    For my own curiosity, can you tell me exactly what “claims” of Christianity you find wanting?

    “Science is used to show that things previously attributed to God, like storms, diseases, meteor impacts etc etc have natural explanations. This then forces theists to redefine their notion of God and what He’s responsible for, but it doesn’t disprove His existence.”

    So your belief is that one day science will have the ability to explain the beginning of the universe and of life? Also, I reject the idea that storms, diseases, meteor impacts etc. are no longer “God phenomena”. Why do they happen? How did the physical laws and systems get put in place for them to take place? Just because we have the natural explanation doesn’t mean they’re also isn’t a God explanation. As you said, science says nothing about God. You’re trying to set up a false dichotomy.

    “We don’t know what the Universe was immediately before the Big Bang. But saying ‘God created it’ is not an explanation.”

    This is your empirical, naturalistic, materialistic biases in full force. Unfortunately, this is also forcing you to be inconsistent. What you really mean by “this is not an explanation” is that God is not an empirical explanation. You’re right, He’s not. But what defines an empirical explanation? Empiricism is based on what we can scientifically observe and test. Based on the criteria of empirical explanation, ANY natural or material explanation is ALSO not an empirical explanation. Will we ever be able to observe and test the beginning of the universe? Either God cause, natural cause or no cause? Of course not.

    So in order to pretend that “God is not an empirical explanation” is a valid position, you must ignore that NOTHING is an empirical explanation for the beginning of the universe. So what are we left with? Metaphysical explanations. Is naturalism a metaphysical explanation? Maybe, maybe not. Is God a metaphysical explanation? Of course He is, that much is obvious. So again, the question is, why do you find your metaphysical explanation valid while finding mine invalid? Can you give me a reason besides that you prefer it?

    “That statement doesn’t carry any informational content at all, unless you start to bring in ideas about the nature of this ‘God’. But once you’re doing that, you’re immediately off into the realms of religion.”

    Firstly, what is your definition of “religion”?

    Secondly, give me a break. God absolutely allows us to explain the apparent uniformity, fine tuning and design of the universe. The naturalistic explanation to this observed phenomena is that “it just LOOKS designed, nature is fooling us” while the theist explanation is “it IS designed, God wouldn’t fool us”. How do you decide which is correct? With empiricism? Impossible. You use your personal presuppositions to decide which is correct, this is what you and I have both done.

    “The key word there is “apparent”. There’s apparent design in the recent image of Jesus in a piece of bread, too.”

    Let me ask you a question. How do you decide, with empiricism, if the universe “appears” designed or “is” designed? Can you give me a scientific model in which this would be accomplished? This is, of course, an unanswerable question, because it would require you to prove that God didn’t do it. Yet, this is your position and I leaves me wondering why you consider your “appears designed” position rational but mostly why you consider it empirical.

    “First, I believe the bible was written by men.”

    Firstly, so is every single book in the entire world, so on the basis by which you discount the truth of the Bible, you must discount the truth of every book ever written.

    Secondly, the Bible never claims any different.

    “It’s too full of contradictions to be divine.”

    If you could please give me a single contradiction. Not a passage that “sounds weird” or you wonder why he wrote it like that, but a full blown contradiction. That is your claim after all.

    “And it’s missing any “WOW” factor that might indicate that it’s underpinned by any knowledge beyond that of its bronze age authors.”

    The New Testament was written during the time of the Greek philosopher, these guys were stupid? Give me a break. The Jewish leaders would memorize the entire Old Testament, so because they existed 2k years ago they’re dumb? The Old Testament was written during the time the Egyptians were building Pyramids that we STILL have no idea how they did it. C’mon, you gotta come up with a better reason than “I’ve been told by all my atheistic friends that the writers of the Bible were dumb”. Please, do your research into the time in which the NT was written before you go making claims about the intelligence of the authors. In fact, you may have grown up in a Christian in home but this claim right here shows you’ve never really understood what the Bible has to say.

    “There’s no indication whatsoever that it’s divinely inspired.”

    Can you give me an example of what would qualify as an “indication of divine inspiration” for you?

    “It can therefore be taken only on the relative merits of its contents.”

    We can start there too if you want. The authors, in the contents of the NT, claimed to have witnessed a man heal people, perform other miracles, and then watched him rise from the dead. This man claimed to be God, and the rose from the earth into heaven before their very eyes. To this fact, the writers told all who would listen (and none could dispute their facts evidenced by the fact that they didn’t produce Jesus’ body since they knew where he was buried), and even wouldn’t recant their story under violent death, which all but one of them experienced. Again, can you give me a reason why YOU shouldn’t believe their eyewitness testimony?

    “You don’t need a concept of God to see the value of being nice to each other.”

    Without God, could you define “value” for me?

    “As a side note, the fact that the bible needs so much interpretation is pretty telling in itself, don’t you think?”

    C’mon, you never did literary interpretation in school? Just because there can be a few ways to read something, doesn’t mean that the book isn’t trying to tell you something solid at the same time. Can you give me an example of a “different” interpretation of the Resurrection of Christ?

    “Surely if this is were God-given instruction manual on how to act (as opposed to ancient accounts of tribal wars and basic moral philosophy – which is what it really looks like) then it would be a little clearer?”

    What you basically said was, “because I don’t think my idea of God wouldn’t do this way, therefore God doesn’t exist”. Nice.

    “There’s a certain amount of cognitive dissonance required to claim that the bible is a whole and perfect communication from God. so any who pushes that line immediately raises suspicion in my eyes.”

    Could you give me an example of this “cognitive dissonance” and why it must be so?

  30. Matt Says:

    “Based on the fact that science has nothing to say about any metaphysical entity such as God, Zeus or Odin, and science is YOUR only reliable source of knowledge, you CANNOT KNOW that your non-belief in ANY metaphysical entity is a reliable belief.”

    I agree 100% with this statement. But that’s no reason to believe in an arbitrary God, let alone worship one.
    To turn that around, you cannot know that your belief in any metaphysical entity is a reliable belief. You’ve said that you believe in your God because of your personal experience. I’m sorry, but that’s not reliable. Every advocate of every religion boasts personal experiences with their particular God, so to accept your own argument you would also have to accept the truth of every other religion that’s ever existed. Unless you have some other evidence?

    “For my own curiosity, can you tell me exactly what ‘claims’ of Christianity you find wanting?”

    There are so many. Divinity/infallibility of the bible (this is covered more below). The selectivity of Christian doctrine, for example: hanging on to the idea that homosexuality is an “abomination” (a purely OT concept) while claiming that all the other OT stuff (kosher food etc) was done away with when Jesus showed up. The whole idea of the healing power of prayer, which has no basis in reality.
    Even the very existence of Jesus (or at least, Jesus as he is described in the bible) is highly questionable. There are no contemporaneous accounts whatsoever, yet his life is spoken about as if it’s historical fact. I could go on.

    “So your belief is that one day science will have the ability to explain the beginning of the universe and of life?”

    Yes.

    “What you really mean by ‘this is not an explanation’ is that God is not an empirical explanation.”

    No, I mean it’s no kind of explanation whatsoever. It’s equivalent to throwing up your hands and saying “I don’t know”.

    “So in order to pretend that ‘God is not an empirical explanation’ is a valid position, you must ignore that NOTHING is an empirical explanation for the beginning of the universe.”

    Not at all. You just have a very narrow view of the scope of empiricism. You don’t need to be able to recreate an event to explain it empirically. All that’s required is a logical argument based on known phenomena where the observations match up with the consequences of the argument. Something like that gets you a decent working hypothesis. If you can then produce other consequences that arise as a result of the argument, and then show that they are observed as well, then you’re on the way to a decent scientific theory.
    That’s empiricism too, and I can easily see the beginnings of life and the universe being explained in such a manner.

    “The naturalistic explanation to this observed phenomena is that ‘it just LOOKS designed, nature is fooling us’.”

    No it isn’t. The naturalistic explanation is that it all looks exactly like it would if it weren’t designed at all.
    Besides, someone espousing the naturalistic explanation would never use anthropomorphic language like “nature is fooling us”.

    “How do you decide, with empiricism, if the universe ‘appears’ designed or ‘is’ designed?”

    Simple. I assume it isn’t designed until I see some proof that it is. The value of that position is that it’s falsifiable. Your position isn’t. If I see God’s name written in the stars (to take but one possible example) then I’ll change my mind. Nothing would change yours.

    “. . . on the basis by which you discount the truth of the Bible, you must discount the truth of every book ever written.”

    Not true. Books that I would consider non-fiction are independently verifiable. The bible isn’t. I have seen no evidence at all that it’s non-fiction.

    “If you could please give me a single contradiction.”

    There are so many, but this is my favourite: Matthew, Luke and and John all have different phrases as Jesus’ last words:
    Matthew: “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?”
    Luke: “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit”
    John: “It is finished”

    And here’s a whole bunch more:
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    By the by, this is what I meant by my comment that a certain amount of cognitive dissonance is required to consider this book whole and perfect.

    “Can you give me an example of what would qualify as an ‘indication of divine inspiration’ for you?”

    Sure. Anything objective, independently verifiable and clearly beyond the knowledge of the authors. I’ll give you a few examples: a detailed description of quantum mechanics, a detailed description of the structure of the atom, a precise measurement from our Sun to the next nearest star, descriptions of the atmospheric contents of the planets in our solar system . . . the possibilities are endless.

    “Again, can you give me a reason why YOU shouldn’t believe their eyewitness testimony?

    For exactly the same reason that I don’t believe the eyewitness testimony of Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard. None of it’s independently verifiable and quite frankly, it’s all a bit far-fetched.
    On that point, why don’t YOU believe the eyewitness testimony of Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard? What’s the difference?

    “What you basically said was, ‘because I don’t think my idea of God wouldn’t do this way, therefore God doesn’t exist’.”

    No. I’m only saying that because your idea of God hasn’t done it the way you claim, your God doesn’t exist.

  31. krissmith777 Says:

    Matt Says:

    There are so many, but this is my favourite: Matthew, Luke and and John all have different phrases as Jesus’ last words:
    Matthew: “Eli, eli, lama sabachthani?”
    Luke: “Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit”
    John: “It is finished”

    And here’s a whole bunch more:
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    By the by, this is what I meant by my comment that a certain amount of cognitive dissonance is required to consider this book whole and perfect.”

    Those apparent contradictions of Jesus’ last words on the cross can be easily reconciled. None of the Gospels actually say that Jesus said only one certain thing and nothing else while he was about to die. So it can be easily assumed that he said all of it.

    As for your link, the “contradictions” it gives are something as simple as “who was Jposeph’s father?” — One man is Heli and the other is Jacob.

    One is the father of Joseph and the other is Mary’s biological father. — Under Jewish law, if a man had no son then the man his daughter married would legally become his son. If Mary had no brother, then her father wouldhave adopted Joseph. So legally Joseph would have had TWO fathers.

    Also another apparent “contradition” is how Judas died. Apparently the writter of the post you link to never took into consideration that one event is Judas’ actual suicide and that the other (in Acts) is the result.

    Also, it tries to show that the gospels contradict eachother as to who was at Jesus’ empty tomb. It should be mentioned that this is not a contradiction because it is apparent that some of them only have more details than the others.

    Also when it tries to make the claim that there is a contradiction because in one place Jesus claims to be lower than the father and in another place Jesus claims equality. — The writter of your link therefore shows he has no understanding of the doctrine of Jesus’ divinity. The doctrine is that Jesus is God the Son, but was lower than the Father when he came to earth because of his choice to lower himself.

    Other “contradictions” in your link can be explained as “slips of the pen” made by copiests, like how old someone was. The irrelevant stuff.

    Basically, the contradictions listed, for the most part, are easily answerable. Most of them are long outdated and only someone a million years behinf in Secular objections and Christian apologetics would ever repete them.

  32. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt (Hey, bolding what I’m quoting IS a good idea, I like the way it looks!)

    You are so steeped in your empirical presupposition that you can’t even recognize it. In your latest comment, you have made statement after statement that are ONLY viable if we first assume empiricism, and in fact only if we never question it’s absolute truth. Also, in order to keep holding to your empirical belief, you must redefine the word “empiricism”. You have also AGAIN ignored the circular reasoning you must subscribe to in order to believe empiricism in the first place.

    “To turn that around, you cannot know that your belief in any metaphysical entity is a reliable belief.”

    Don’t you see that the only reason this statement is viable is because you consider empiricism to be the only reliable source of knowledge? Let’s say for a second that you put away your empirical presupposition, if you’re able to do so, wouldn’t you have to admit that a supernatural entity at least could be a reliable source of knowledge? Can you at least be honest enough to admit that?

    “Every advocate of every religion boasts personal experiences with their particular God, so to accept your own argument you would also have to accept the truth of every other religion that’s ever existed. Unless you have some other evidence?”

    AND

    “For exactly the same reason that I don’t believe the eyewitness testimony of Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard. None of it’s independently verifiable and quite frankly, it’s all a bit far-fetched.
    On that point, why don’t YOU believe the eyewitness testimony of Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard? What’s the difference?”

    Let’s back up the train here a bit. Two points:
    1. I never said there wasn’t any other evidence for Christianity. I was talking specifically about sources of knowledge/how we know things. Since you can’t know if empiricism is reliable (the circular reasoning that has been explained twice now) and therefore can’t know if naturalism and materialism are true, then it’s possible that the supernatural exists. If it’s possible that the supernatural exists, then it’s possible that knowledge can come from that supernatural entity. Wouldn’t knowledge from the all-powerful all-knowing Creator God be the most reliable source of information?
    2. At least you’re asking the right questions now. What IS the difference between the truth claims of Christianity and those of Mormonism and L. Ron Hubbard? This is a lengthy topic in itself, and perhaps I’ll dedicate a post or two to the matter. However, it will suffice to say here that the truth claims are immensely different. And not just because I believe Christianity and not the other two, but textually, literarily, prophetically, archaeologically, historically, eyewitnesses, refutations; the list goes on about how everything falls short of Christianity’s truth claims. A quick example, Joseph Smith was the only one who could intepret the Golden Plates (convenient no?) while we know for a fact that the Gospels were written in the lifetime of the eyewitnesses, of which there were thousands.

    “The selectivity of Christian doctrine, for example: hanging on to the idea that homosexuality is an “abomination” (a purely OT concept) while claiming that all the other OT stuff (kosher food etc) was done away with when Jesus showed up.”

    It’s obvious to anyone who reads the Gospels that Jesus considered homosexuality to be a sin. Sorry you were misinformed. Also, can you please explain to me how the rejection of homosexuality is a purely OT concept when it is expressed explicitly in the NT as well?

    “The whole idea of the healing power of prayer, which has no basis in reality.”

    This statement is only viable if we first assume an empirical, naturalistic, purely material universe. You are again unable to see past your presuppositional nose.

    “Even the very existence of Jesus (or at least, Jesus as he is described in the bible) is highly questionable. There are no contemporaneous accounts whatsoever, yet his life is spoken about as if it’s historical fact. I could go on.”

    The Bible speaks about Jesus’ life as historical fact because it’s attempting to describe historical events, it’s claiming historical fact. By “contemporary accounts” what you are doing is throwing out the Bible as an account. Why do you feel you can do this? Also, a quick wiki-education on the subject will show that Jesus, as historical figure who preached, had followers and was killed, is impossible to deny without being irrational. Check here and here for me if you want to research the topic. Please note the empirical methods of textual and historical analysis used to arrive at the conclusions they do. For example, why would the writers say Jesus was from Nazareth unless He was because being from Nazareth is a source of ridicule, mockery and embarrassment. If they wanted to make Him up, why make Him from such a lowly place?

    “No, I mean it’s no kind of explanation whatsoever. It’s equivalent to throwing up your hands and saying “I don’t know”.”

    I explained to you what a Creator explains about the universe and you didn’t respond to it. So then to turn and equating it with “I don’t know” is just plain ignoring my argument. Again, what you really mean is that God doens’t give us a quantatative explanation therefore it isn’t an explanation. This is AGAIN assuming empiricism and ignoring qualatative and logical information.

    “You just have a very narrow view of the scope of empiricism. You don’t need to be able to recreate an event to explain it empirically. All that’s required is a logical argument based on known phenomena where the observations match up with the consequences of the argument.”

    Ok, now you just redefined a word. The definition of empirical is “relying on observation and experiment”, look it up if you don’t believe me. It’s impossible to observe and test the origin of the universe because we weren’t there and we’ll never get back there. How do you recreate the beginning of the universe? The conditions would be impossible to recreate. What you described as a “logical argument” is NOT empiricism, no matter what you believe or have been told, it’s just not. Definitions of words and concepts don’t change because you want them to, or because they fit your worldview. I knew that you believed this, as most atheists do/must, and I was just waiting for you to say it. What you described as “logical argument” is something known as “logical inference”. It’s a valid way of “inferring” what “could have” taken place. But what an individual considers “logical” is informed by their presuppositions and you obviously can’t see past yours and must redefine words in order to stick by them.

    Previously, you said “yes” to my question that if one day science will be able to explain the beginning of life and the universe. So you have faith that one day we’ll invent a time machine in which to go back and observe those events?

    But your situation is much more dire than that. For a second, I’m going to give you that natural phenomena accounts for the beginning of the universe, and that ONLY the material exists. Since unguided natural phenomena began the universe, how do you explain the uniformity of nature? That is, as far as we can tell, nature acts the same way everywhere. How do you explain this phenomena? Also, since only the material exists, how do you explain the existence of immaterial, abstract laws? That is, the Laws of Logic absolutely exist and cannot be violated, but they’re not material. How do you explain their existence?

    “No it isn’t. The naturalistic explanation is that it all looks exactly like it would if it weren’t designed at all.”

    Sorry, this is just straight ignorance. You don’t want to look into the evidence for design because it doesn’t fit your worldview. I made the argument more fully here. Could you please give me a specific example of how the universe doesn’t look designed?

    “Simple. I assume it isn’t designed until I see some proof that it is.”

    This is exactly the crux of the issue. You’re not coming from a neutral position, you’re coming from an empirical, naturalistic, materialistic bias that informs you that the universe isn’t designed right at the outset, a priori, it has nothing to do with the evidence.

    “Not true. Books that I would consider non-fiction are independently verifiable. The bible isn’t. I have seen no evidence at all that it’s non-fiction.”

    Could you please back up your statement that the Bible isn’t independently verifiable? Or is this just what you’ve been told?

    “There are so many, but this is my favourite: Matthew, Luke and and John all have different phrases as Jesus’ last words”

    You’re “favorite” contradiction was destroyed by Kris, which is exactly what I was going to tell you, so could you please give me another, more compelling, contradiction? And if you can’t find any more, will you believe that the Bible is infallible? If not, why not?

    “By the by, this is what I meant by my comment that a certain amount of cognitive dissonance is required to consider this book whole and perfect.”

    You’ve shown no cognitive dissonance, you’ve only stated that it exists. In fact, I’ve shown you three times now the cognitive dissonance that you must subscribe to in order to keep holding on to empiricism as your only reliable source of knowledge.

    “Sure. Anything objective, independently verifiable and clearly beyond the knowledge of the authors.”

    Absolutely, let’s go with this. Let me quote some Bible for you here:

    12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
    13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
    14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
    My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted away within me.
    15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
    16 Dogs have surrounded me;
    a band of evil men has encircled me,
    they have pierced my hands and my feet.
    17 I can count all my bones;
    people stare and gloat over me.
    18 They divide my garments among them
    and cast lots for my clothing.

    What is this a description of? No, really, read it again and think about what this is describing. If you grew up in a Christian home, you should know. It’s the crucifixion, no? Down to the last detail of the Roman soldiers casting lost for Jesus’ clothing, that water poured out of him when He was dead (what we now know would be plasma), that his hands and feet would be pierced, and that not a bone would be broken. Yet, this was written 1000 years before Christ died! This is objective and independently verifiable because we know from the Dead Sea Scrolls the dates that this was written. And it was CLEARLY beyond the knowledge of the writer because crucifixion hadn’t been invented yet!

    What say you?

    (That was Psalm 22:12-18 btw)

  33. Zhatt Says:

    Eric,

    I apologize if one of those five you mention is me. I haven’t forgotten our debate and I do plan on replying. These concepts and questions you’ve brought up are interesting ones and I’ve been pondering them on and off since we’ve talked. I may have written a reply already if it weren’t for the holidays, but, truth is, I am as well growing apathetic for arguing against a worldview I doubt I can alter. It seems the more we debate the more we affirm our own positions.

    In any case, I plan on bucking down and writing a response. I do have answers.

    Take care.

  34. Eric Kemp Says:

    Zhatt

    Yea, you were one of the ones I was thinking about. The point wasn’t to call anyone out, the point was just to say that no one had any answers on hand. That isn’t to say that my argument is flawless, but only it’s questioning the atheistic worldview farther than most atheists have questioned it themselves. I honestly can’t think of an answer any atheist would have, and I’ve thought about it long and often, but I’m looking forward to hearing your answers and reasoning through them with you.

    My apathy doesn’t really come from not being able to change people’s minds, I never thought I could do that. It’s a combination of two things; I feel like I’ve intellectually “figured out”, if you will, what this battle is really about and it literally comes down to that atheists PREFER to see the world the way they do. And secondly, it’s time for me, for now, to move on from my focus on the atheistic worldview, and to begin to focus on what God wants to teach me through His Word.

    However, I will hold any discussion with any cordial atheist and I do look forward to your reply.

    I hope your holiday was spent with good family, friends and food.

  35. Matt Says:

    Hey, Eric.

    I am enjoying this discussion!

    “You are so steeped in your empirical presupposition that you can’t even recognize it.”

    Not at all. I recognise it and admit it freely.

    “In your latest comment, you have made statement after statement that are ONLY viable if we first assume empiricism, and in fact only if we never question it’s absolute truth.”

    I don’t claim empiricism to be “truth”. That’s a word too steeped in metaphysics for me. But I do claim it to be reliable within its particular sphere of reference. If you want to get into the realms of the supernatural then of course empiricism goes out the window. But so does objective reliability.

    “Don’t you see that the only reason this statement is viable is because you consider empiricism to be the only reliable source of knowledge?”

    Absolutely. And so it is. Without empiricism you’re left with anecdote and subjective “feelings” and leaving yourself wide open to charlatans of every stripe. I’m not denying that empiricism may be limited in scope, limited as it is to natural phenomena, but I will stand by its reliability within that scope.

    “Let’s say for a second that you put away your empirical presupposition, if you’re able to do so, wouldn’t you have to admit that a supernatural entity at least could be a reliable source of knowledge? Can you at least be honest enough to admit that?”

    Sure, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere. It’s just as likely that the supernatural entity is NOT a reliable source of knowledge. It may be capricious and devious. How would you know?

    “Since you can’t know if empiricism is reliable (the circular reasoning that has been explained twice now) and therefore can’t know if naturalism and materialism are true, then it’s possible that the supernatural exists.”

    I agree with that. But your assumption that the supernatural exists is no better or worse than my assumption that empiricism is reliable. As a side note, your assumption that the supernatural entity you believe in is reliable is definitely worse.

    “If it’s possible that the supernatural exists, then it’s possible that knowledge can come from that supernatural entity. Wouldn’t knowledge from the all-powerful all-knowing Creator God be the most reliable source of information?”

    Yes it’s possible. It’s also possible that the opposite situation is true: that having the most opportunity for deviousness, the Creator God is the LEAST reliable source of information. Also possible is every single point on the spectrum in between those two extremes.
    To assume reliability, as you have done, is your own circular argument. You believe that God is the only reliable source of knowledge, and you rely on that belief because you also believe that your knowledge and ability to reason come from this reliable God.

    “What IS the difference between the truth claims of Christianity and those of Mormonism and L. Ron Hubbard? This is a lengthy topic in itself, and perhaps I’ll dedicate a post or two to the matter.”

    Cool. I’ll be interested in reading those.

    “. . . textually, literarily, prophetically, archaeologically, historically, eyewitnesses, refutations; the list goes on about how everything falls short of Christianity’s truth claims.”

    Textually and literarily I’ll give it to Christianity. The quality of the writing there is much better than in the Book of Mormon or Dianetics (all those biblical contradictions notwithstanding). Prophetically? That’s questionable: I’d say they’re all about the same on that score. Archaeologically? Oh please. Hopefully you’re not going to start quoting that nonsense from ‘Answers in Genesis’. It’s all made up, you know. Historically? Mormonism has the advantage there. We have contemporary accounts validating Joseph Smith was real. Thousands of eyewitnesses you say? Even the Gospels aren’t eyewitness accounts. And refutations? Every religion that survives has found some way to answer its critics.

    “It’s obvious to anyone who reads the Gospels that Jesus considered homosexuality to be a sin.”

    That’s a pretty big claim. It’s definitely not obvious to me, and I’ve read them. I’ll need to see a chapter and verse for that one.

    “Also, can you please explain to me how the rejection of homosexuality is a purely OT concept when it is expressed explicitly in the NT as well?”

    Again: chapter and verse?

    “The whole idea of the healing power of prayer, which has no basis in reality.”
    “This statement is only viable if we first assume an empirical, naturalistic, purely material universe.”

    No, that’s incorrect. The claim is that prayer heals the sick, and as such it is a claim about events happening in our reality and in our material universe and therefore absolutely subject to empirical examination. If prayer really heals the sick there would be measurable and observable consequences of prayer. And there just aren’t.
    Claims about the supernatural realm are one thing: I’ll accept that they’re not subject to empirical analysis. But once you start making claims about impacts on our observable reality, even if those impacts supposedly have a supernatural source, then you’re on empirical turf and you have to play by empirical rules. You can’t claim an exemption from rational inquiry just because the Cause is supernatural. We’re talking here about the supposedly observable Effect.

    “The Bible speaks about Jesus’ life as historical fact because it’s attempting to describe historical events, it’s claiming historical fact. By ‘contemporary accounts’ what you are doing is throwing out the Bible as an account.”

    The bible is only one account. Where are the other contemporary accounts? The bible is not a even a true contemporary account. The Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses, or anyone who had met Jesus. They were all based on word-of-mouth accounts that had been passed down for one or two generations. Even Paul, upon whose writings so much of modern Christianity is based, never met Jesus.
    The links you provided only show that at best, this is a controversial point.

    “I explained to you what a Creator explains about the universe and you didn’t respond to it.”

    That’s because it doesn’t explain anything. If I say “I don’t know how the Universe began”, and you say “I do: God did it”, then all you’re really saying is “I don’t know either”, and tacking on a statement about your belief in a deity. It doesn’t tell me anything about how the universe began. I have no more information after you make your statement than I did before you made it. Its informational content is zero. It doesn’t explain anything.

    “What you really mean is that God doesn’t give us a quantitative explanation therefore it isn’t an explanation. This is AGAIN assuming empiricism and ignoring qualitative and logical information.”

    No, I mean the statement doesn’t carry any information at all; quantitative, qualitative nor logical. It is nothing more than a statement of your belief in a deity.

    “Ok, now you just redefined a word. The definition of empirical is ‘relying on observation and experiment’.”

    And that’s exactly what I said. You apparently also have a very narrow view of the scope of “observation and experiment”. We know how the natural laws of the universe work because we see them in action, consistently, again and again and again. That’s observation. We can examine the consequences of our theories and see if they are represented in reality. That’s experiment. I don’t need to recreate the birth of the universe to understand it, any more than I need to generate an artificial gravity field to understand how gravity works. We can still see, examine and measure its effects.

    “What you described as ‘logical argument’ is something known as ‘logical inference’. It’s a valid way of ‘inferring’ what ‘could have’ taken place.”

    That’s exactly right. Don’t dismiss this as not worthwhile, though. Your “quotes” indicate that you think such arguments could not possibly have any value.
    Every scientific theory takes this form. It’s the basis of the car you drive, the medicine you take, the engineering holding up the building you’re in and the electronics running the computer you’re using. Why reject it as a useful way of describing the universe, when it’s so useful in all these other ways?

    “For a second, I’m going to give you that natural phenomena accounts for the beginning of the universe, and that ONLY the material exists. Since unguided natural phenomena began the universe, how do you explain the uniformity of nature? That is, as far as we can tell, nature acts the same way everywhere. How do you explain this phenomena?”

    Why do you think nature necessarily acts in the same way everywhere? Maybe it seems to all act the same way in our local environment, but we can only see a very small part of the universe. But even if we did assume that nature acted the same way everywhere, why would that necessarily be supernatural?

    “Also, since only the material exists, how do you explain the existence of immaterial, abstract laws? That is, the Laws of Logic absolutely exist and cannot be violated, but they’re not material. How do you explain their existence?”

    This is an issue with your own interpretation of the words “material” and “immaterial”. I claim only empiricism. It’s your claim that I cling to some particular definition of “materiality”. I obviously believe in the Laws of Logic. But to me their existence doesn’t count as evidence towards an omnipotent God. So obviously I don’t define materiality the same way you do.

    “No it isn’t. The naturalistic explanation is that it all looks exactly like it would if it weren’t designed at all.”
    “Sorry, this is just straight ignorance. You don’t want to look into the evidence for design because it doesn’t fit your worldview.”

    I’ve looked into the evidence of design. It’s just not convincing. It’s either an overlay of assumed intent on natural events or it’s simple pareidolia, finding patterns in the chaos where none exist. And it’s all done with the clear assumption that there is design in the first place.
    Here’s a typical Argument from Design: a person sees a pattern in nature, equates it with the kind of pattern a human might create (wilfully ignoring the fact that a human is part of the pattern, not a creator of it), tacks the word “design” onto it because that’s what we call pattern-making, and then concludes that there must be a “designer”, which automatically brings in undertones of intent and purpose. It’s a sneaky and illogical argument.

    “Could you please give me a specific example of how the universe doesn’t look designed?”

    That’s an odd question, but I’ll give it a go. My knee-jerk response is “everything” (and I suspect if I asked you the opposite question, your knee-jerk response would be the same).
    But one example that springs to mind, although I’m sure you’ve heard this one. The human eye is very poorly “designed”. All the blood vessels are in front of the retina, meaning that our brains have to work extra hard to fill in the gaps in our vision. Squid eyes, on the other hand, don’t have this problem and as a result have much better vision. Why the difference? Does God like squids more than humans? Any genuine scientific theory of design would need to address things like this, and none of them do. Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, explains such differences with ease.

    “You’re not coming from a neutral position, you’re coming from an empirical, naturalistic, materialistic bias that informs you that the universe isn’t designed right at the outset, a priori, it has nothing to do with the evidence.”

    It has everything to do with the evidence. If one is to know anything, one has to take some sort of starting position and then examine the evidence to see if it’s right or not. The best starting position is obviously one that’s falsifiable, because if it isn’t falsifiable then there’s no chance of moving and you might as well not bother and go have a drink.
    So I take the falsifiable position of assuming there’s no design, but I am ready and willing to be proven wrong. It shouldn’t be too hard.
    You’re showing bias here too: your starting position is that it is designed. The difference is that you will never move from your position based on evidence, because your position is not falsifiable.

    “Could you please back up your statement that the Bible isn’t independently verifiable? Or is this just what you’ve been told?”

    There’s nothing outside biblical scholarship that confirms anything that’s described in the bible. Where are the non-biblical historical accounts of the Jews’ escape from Egypt? Or Noah’s flood? Or Herod’s massacre of infants? Or Jesus’ miracles? They just don’t exist. If you can furnish me with examples, I would be very interested.

    “You’re ‘favorite’ contradiction was destroyed by Kris, which is exactly what I was going to tell you, so could you please give me another, more compelling, contradiction?”

    It was hardly “destroyed”. I’d say it was shakily justified with a few questionable assumptions. This is exactly what I mean by cognitive dissonance. This is an obvious contradiction which clearly brings into question the veracity of the Gospel accounts. And you just ignore it with a wave of the hand! I’ll accept that the different authors probably have different versions of what happened (remember, none of the authors of the Gospels were actually there) but if nothing else, this puts paid to any notion that the book is perfect and infallible, which was the point I was making.

    “What is this a description of? It’s the crucifixion, no?”

    Oh, come on now. Is that really the best you can do? I ask for a technological marvel, and you give me a piece of poetry that might, with a bit of imagination, describe a crucifixion?
    It’s not “down to the last detail”. For a start, it doesn’t mention a cross. It doesn’t even use the word “crucifixion”. It reads like a generic description of someone getting beaten up and left for dead.
    There’s nothing that specifically points it to Jesus. It could be anyone. It doesn’t name him. Or say how old he would be. Or where it would happen. Or when it would occur. That’s the kind of thing that would genuinely verify it. Even if I granted you the things that could be taken as confirmation (water, casting lots) it’s entirely plausible that the NT writers just incorporated these elements of this well-known prophecy into their story, to make a link that they wanted to make.

  36. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    “I am enjoying this discussion!”

    Me too!

    “Not at all. I recognise it and admit it freely.”

    That’s not the point. The point is that you no reason for subscribing to it. Responding to your next point will explain.

    “But I do claim it to be reliable within its particular sphere of reference.”

    This statement requires circular reasoning. Calling empiricism “reliable” begs the question of how you know it’s reliable. Empiricism can’t tell you that empiricism is reliable. Since empiricism, your only source of reliable information, can’t inform you that it is itself reliable, you have no reason for believing it is actually reliable, and you especially have no reason to believe it is alone reliable. In other words, you have no way of explaining to me why you consider only empiricism to be reliable.

    “If you want to get into the realms of the supernatural then of course empiricism goes out the window. But so does objective reliability.”

    Firstly, this again begs the question of how you know empiricism is reliable. Also, I never want to force empirical evidence “out the window”. That’s not what I’m trying to do. My attack on empiricism as an absolute presupposition of the non-theist worldview, as you hold to it, is only to point out that since empiricism is unreasonable, the only truly reasonable source of knowledge, even if the argument is taken hypothetically, is God.

    Secondly, there is no such thing as “objectivity”. Sure, in a given situation we can try to be as objective as possible, but any attempted objectivity will not reach deep enough to absolve us of our presuppositions. That objective reliability exists, and empiricism is the only source of such reliability, is your presupposition. To state that objective reliability goes out the window with the supernatural is to pretend that 1. objective reliability exists in the first place, is to 2. restate your presupposition of empiricism, and is to 3. again beg the question that you can’t answer.

    Let me ask you a question though. Hypothetically, let’s say I give you that empiricism is the only reliable source of information. My question to you is . . . and? This is a question about the scope of empiricism. To whit: what empirical evidence, what knowledge based on empiricism, tells you that God is not needed for this world to exist and to function? And, when that answer is “nothing”, then why do you believe it? (Remember that you can’t include logical inference into this since it’s not “empirical”, more on that later)

    “Absolutely. And so it is. Without empiricism you’re left with anecdote and subjective “feelings” and leaving yourself wide open to charlatans of every stripe.”

    You have set up a false dichotomy. Not only are you pretending that empiricism is not subjected to “feelings” and empirical charlatans don’t exist, you are manufacturing a scenario in which there is no middle ground. Surely, those who open themselves up to any spiritual “truth” or experience will get tossed about by the whims of each “next big thing” and any fellow who claims to have found “it” (kind of reminds me of science actually, with it’s constant fluctuations). However, someone who is seeking a rational experience from a rational God has several options.

    1. There are many fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. It isn’t a circular thing where, “The Bible says that the Bible fulfills prophecy”. The Bible, the OT and NT, was written over the course of thousands of years. Prophecies that were written of a thousand years before they occured (and we know about when they were written due to manuscript evidence) were then fulfilled and written down by eyewitnesses.

    2. Eyewitness accounts of supernatural events as recorded by the NT, namely the works and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And not just one dude who saw one thing, try five hundred people who saw the risen Christ and those who knew where He was buried could not refute them.

    3. Logical deduction of the truth of such events and of the Christian worldview in general. For our purposes, your inability to explain to me why you find empiricism reliable, while only the Christian doesn’t have to subscribe to circular reasoning and begging the question in regards to empiricism. We can actually explain why empiricism works and why nature appears uniform.

    4. Personal interaction with this God and supernatural phenomena either regarding an outside manifestation or the evidence of a changed inner person.

    The combination of all these things make a personal experience with God reliable. In fact, since God is the source of all knowledge, only God’s knowledge is reliable knowledge (this can include empirical knowledge of course, but thinking of empiricism as “God knowledge” actually gives us a reason to find such knowledge reliable instead of just blindly believing it is without a reason to do so as you are).

    “Sure, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere.”

    (You said this in relation to a God explanation) The only reason you are able to say this with a straight face is because you consider empiricism to be the only source of reliable information, which, you cannot explain why that is so. Since you can’t explain why empiricism is the only source of reliable explanation, this statement is void of logic. God absolutely allows us to explain things in a metaphysical, and logical, way that empiricism can only shrug at.

    “It’s just as likely that the supernatural entity is NOT a reliable source of knowledge. It may be capricious and devious. How would you know?”

    That’s certainly possible. But since nature seems to be uniform, understandable, and we can discover things about it, God doesn’t seem to be tricking us.

    “But your assumption that the supernatural exists is no better or worse than my assumption that empiricism is reliable.”

    Ah, but see, that’s the problem, it IS better. As I’ve already said, God allows me to explain why I believe empiricism to be reliable. He also allows me to explain why nature appears uniform, why the universe seems to follow certain abstract, immaterial laws, why the Laws of Logic exist (also immaterial and abstract), why humans have a sense of dignity, why humans have a universal sense of morality, why humans feel they should act morally, how life came about: and those are only the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

    The empirical answer to these questions is not existent. In fact, empiricism can’t have anything to say about metaphysics because metaphysics are simply outside of it’s scope.

    “You believe that God is the only reliable source of knowledge, and you rely on that belief because you also believe that your knowledge and ability to reason come from this reliable God.”

    More like God allows me to explain why I find my reason reasonable. Without an absolute reason-giver/reason-maker, what do I have to compare my reason to, in order to call it reasonable?

    You then go on to critique the Bible and Christianity based on the criteria I gave you of the prophetic, historical, archeaological. I don’t mean to ignore your points, I don’t want to, but those answers are just too lengthy here. I will dedicated posts to them and then we can discuss accordingly. I can’t promise anything on the time frame of those posts, but I do want to address them.

    “No, that’s incorrect. The claim is that prayer heals the sick . . .”

    The Bible never claims that prayer DOES HAVE power. The Bible claims that God can, if He so wills, act through prayer to heal those He wants to. It’s a God, supernatural, thing, not a “prayer does X” thing.

    “The bible is only one account. Where are the other contemporary accounts? The bible is not a even a true contemporary account. The Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses, or anyone who had met Jesus.”

    That’s just straight up false. But again, the answer is too lengthy to put here.

    “We know how the natural laws of the universe work because we see them in action, consistently, again and again and again. That’s observation.”

    I know that you’re not saying that we observe the entire universe acting with the same natural laws that we observe around us, because that’s not possible. We can’t observe the entire universe, we can only observe the world around us, which amounts to a tiny, insignificant fraction of the entire universe. We then take those observations and extrapolate and conclude that the whole universe acts that same way. This is the assumption of the uniformity of nature. It’s an assumption because empiricism can’t give us evidence regarding it.

    Also, look up the assumptions of “induction”, this will also help you with the scope of empiricism.

    “We can examine the consequences of our theories and see if they are represented in reality. That’s experiment.”

    So, in reality, do you see one kind of animal turning into another kind? Of course not. So you can’t say that qualifies as experiement. Macro-evolution, the large scale changes, are inferential conclusions made by scientists, there is no way to observe and test it directly and any honest evolutionary scientist will tell you the same. Therefore, you can’t call the macroevolutionary conclusion “empirical”.

    But here is the important part: When I challenged empiricism, and you defended it, you literally called logical inference “empirical”. You have now, smartly, backtracked. Logical inference is not observable and testable.

    “I don’t need to recreate the birth of the universe to understand it, any more than I need to generate an artificial gravity field to understand how gravity works. We can still see, examine and measure its effects.”

    I never said anything about “understanding” it. We’re talking about “empiricism” not, “understanding”. You can understand the logical inference that is made about a theory, that doesn’t make the logical inference “empirical”. You don’t need to generate an artificial gravity field because GRAVITY IS ALL AROUND US! Observable! Testable! Is the beginning of the universe all around us? Are you saying you can observe the beginning of the unvierse? Examine the beginning of the universe?

    Please, get a hold of your credulity regarding anything that is labeled “empirical”. Just because someone tells you it is, doesn’t make it so. Please, think for yourself, and examine the scope of what is “observable and testable”, and what is inferential conclusion masquerading as science.

    “That’s exactly right. Don’t dismiss this as not worthwhile, though. Your “quotes” indicate that you think such arguments could not possibly have any value.”

    I’m not dismissing the worthwile value of logical inference. We must do it on a daily basis to survive. I’m merely pointing out that logical inference is NOT empirical. It’s just not. I’m also pointing out that logical inference is informed by our presuppositions, which makes logical inference not “objective”.

    So, I really want to respond to the rest of what you have to say. However, this comment is just getting too long. I’d like to stick with our argument about the scope and circular reasoning of empiricism. The first post I will dedicate some time to is one about Biblical prophecy so we’ll get there first.

  37. Matt Says:

    Hi Eric,

    You’re right, we have been getting a bit off-track, particularly given your point in the original post! I’ll attempt to bring it back.

    I would like to further pursue the homosexuality-in-the-New-Testament issue, but I’ve put a post on that over at my own blog so feel free to jump in there if you want to.

    I think we agree that empiricism is acceptable in a purely material universe, because it involves only logical inference and conclusions based on our material senses. Experience has shown this to be reliable. As you put it: “God doesn’t seem to be tricking us.”

    We also agree that once in a hypothetical supernatural universe, empiricism breaks down because material senses are no longer a reliable source of information. We can’t make empirical conclusions about supernatural entities.

    Here’s my problem: religious claims involve an intersection of our material world and the supernatural realm. This is where we disagree, when it’s claimed that the supernatural world can influence the material world through such things as, for example “divine revelation”.

    If this were the case, then we would see violations of empirical observation as evidence of this intersection. And we don’t. Prayer doesn’t heal. Miracles don’t happen. Prophecies are not fulfilled.

    In fact, some violation of empirical observation is the only thing that would genuinely indicate the presence of the supernatural.

    The absence of any such evidence is obviously not evidence for the absence of a supernatural realm, but it is certainly evidence for the absence of any intersection between that realm and ours.

  38. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    “I think we agree that empiricism is acceptable in a purely material universe, because it involves only logical inference and conclusions based on our material senses. Experience has shown this to be reliable. As you put it: “God doesn’t seem to be tricking us.”

    Sure. If only the material existed, then empiricism would be the only reliable source of knowledge about the world around us.

    “We also agree that once in a hypothetical supernatural universe, empiricism breaks down because material senses are no longer a reliable source of information. We can’t make empirical conclusions about supernatural entities.”

    If by “supernatural universe” you mean “in a universe where the supernatural exists”, then sure.

    “Here’s my problem: religious claims involve an intersection of our material world and the supernatural realm.”

    You are assuming that the two are mutually exclusive and can’t co-exist together. It is your assumption that God, if He existed, would be content to create the natural laws of the universe and sit back and watch, intervening when He willed, but staying out of the way most of the time. This is not the Christian worldview, this is not what the Bible teaches. You are assuming that the natural world is completely self-sufficient and doesn’t “need” God to function on a day to day basis. “Of course a hypothetical God has the power to influence the natural world, but He isn’t necessary for the natural world to maintain”. This is your contruction of the hypothetical God we are arguing about, not the Christian one. If we were to argue, even hypothetically, about the Christian God, it would be a God that is necessary, is in and through all things, and in Him we all move and have our being. That isn’t to say that the natural and the supernatural aren’t made of different substances, they are, but that is to say that the natural wouldn’t exist without the supernatural. Not just in origin, but in function.

    “If this were the case, then we would see violations of empirical observation as evidence of this intersection. And we don’t. Prayer doesn’t heal. Miracles don’t happen. Prophecies are not fulfilled.”

    But see, this is where your position becomes ironic, circular and hypocritical. You may be able to argue hypothetically about an existence in which the supernatural exists, but you actually live in a world where only the material exists. That is, your presuppositions inform you about what you consider “reasonable”. For instance, your presuppositions tell you that the supernatural doesn’t exist, therefore the Bible, and all it’s accounts of supernatural events, are rejected on the basis of this presupposition alone, it has nothing to do with evidence. Any evidence you see, you filter through this presupposition. You walk into any church in this nation, and ask for examples of supernatural events, and you’ll have a hundred people in line to tell you their encounter with God’s supernatural power before you can blink. And yet, all their stories are rejected based on your presupposition, without any empirical evidence for doing so.

    Ironic: You hold Christianity up to the light of empirical inquiry, but not your own beliefs about Christianity. You say, “Prayer doesn’t heal”. Really? In order for that claim to be held up to the rigors of empirical inquiry, and be deemed “rational”, you’d have to observe every single instance of prayer and every single instance of every sort of healing, neurological, orthopedic, psychological etc and find that there is no causal relationship. Is such an empirical study possible? No? Since your claim “Prayer doesn’t heal” can’t be empirically valid, why do you believe it? Isn’t your belief that “prayer doesn’t heal” just as metaphysical as my belief “God can heal through prayer”? Neither can be tested empirically.

    Hypocritical: This has two parts. 1. “Miracles don’t happen” I can paraphrase with, “The supernatural doesn’t happen”, can’t I? Ok, so this is a hypocritical statement because you again can’t empirically verify that “The supernatural doesn’t happen”. In order to hold this claim up to the rigors of empirical inquiry, you’d have to view every single instance of natural phenomena and then determine that only the natural is involved in every instance. Can such a thing be empirically accomplished? Of course not. 2. The definition of supernatural is something that “is outside all known natural laws or forces”. You are fooling yourself into thinking that you also don’t believe in supernatural events. Abiogenesis violates all known natural law, namely the law of biogenesis, and was, theoretically, accomplished by forces we have no empirical knowledge of. We have speculations and words, but all empirical evidence points to abiogenesis being “outside of all known natural laws or forces”. You believe in the supernatural too, you just disguise it by calling it something else.

    Circular: You have still not been able to answer the big question. And with every post your situation becomes more dire. You must ignore that your only source of reliable knowledge can’t tell you that your knowledge is reliable. Empiricism cannot prove empiricism, so then how do you know it’s reliable? The longer you can’t answer this question, or refrain from admitting your inability to do so, the more dogmatic you become.

    That’s what my supernatural presupposition has over yours. I can explain why and how I know empirical inquiry is reliable. You must take it on blind faith.

  39. Zhatt Says:

    That’s what my supernatural presupposition has over yours. I can explain why and how I know empirical inquiry is reliable. You must take it on blind faith.

    Gah! I’m sorry for butting in, but you just blew my mind Eric.
    Your saying that our understanding that empirical inquiry is based on blind faith, but don’t you do the same? You might be able to work a way to explain empirical inquiry from your supernatural presupposition, but you belief in your presupposition is based on faith as well! You have faith that empirical inquiry is validated though the super natural.

    Something else I’m wondering is if your beliefs are based in faith and, as you say, ours are as well, how can you really say one is better than the other? Just because one explains the other, doesn’t mean it’s better.

    For example, lets say I believe in the “Uberealm” where “Mr. Uber” exists. Let’s say that I believe that Mr. Uber created an existence with the Natural and the Supernatural. Then Mr. Uber made God within the supernatural so God could create the substance in this existence and the natural existance (for example: Earth). God may have said that he has always been, and in his level of existence, it’s true, but Mr. Uber created that existence. Mr. Uber gave god unlimited power and choice withing both the natural and super natural, but since Mr. Uber made God, he knew God would make the Earth as it is. Ie: Mr. Uber made the Earth.

    While the Uberealm is beyond the comprehension of any Man or God since it is outside the realm of science or faith, I have evidence that it exists: The natural and super natural combined universe exists. Without the support framework of the Uberealm, the universe, both natural and supernatural, would cease to function.

    This belief explains the Uberealm, the supernatural and, finally, the natural. Since you can’t tell me where god came from, and since the Uberealm explains it, the Uberealm must be a better and higher ideal than yours. And if you just think about it, both in mind and spirit, you will understand and truly know why and how our universe works.

    Now I’ve either converted you to start believing in the Uberealm (or something like it) or you think this is a load of bull. But this is basically what you’re trying to tell us (that there’s a higher existence that we can’t see or understand) and we, as well, see it as a load of bull.

    —-

    And yes, I’m still working on a formal reply to the “why believe in an empirical world when you can’t empirically test it” question.

  40. Eric Kemp Says:

    Zhatt

    “Gah! I’m sorry for butting in, but you just blew my mind Eric.”

    Gah! I’m GLAD you butted in. Feel free to do so anytime.

    “Your saying that our understanding that empirical inquiry is based on blind faith, but don’t you do the same?”

    My faith in God isn’t “blind”, it allows me to explain many things that empiricism can’t (empiricism being one of them). This is called the transcendental evidence/argument for God’s existence.

    “You might be able to work a way to explain empirical inquiry from your supernatural presupposition, but you belief in your presupposition is based on faith as well!”

    Correct.

    “Something else I’m wondering is if your beliefs are based in faith and, as you say, ours are as well, how can you really say one is better than the other?”

    You answer that for me by saying . . .

    “Just because one explains the other, doesn’t mean it’s better.”

    Actually, that is exactly what it means. But let me put it a different way.

    You and I are living in two completely different universes. In your universe, only the material exists, empiricism is the only way to knowledge, and everything you see was brought about by matter and chance (the beginning of the universe and life was unguided). As we’ve already discussed, you cannot explain how you know empiricism is valid, and you also can’t explain how nature seems to be behaving uniformly every where we go. A chance universe cannot explain the uniformity we see all around us. Not only this, but you are unable to explain many other things.

    Let me give you one: it also seems that every human being has an innate sense of the dignity of human life. Specifically, we bury our dead. If humanity actually existed in a universe where we have no immortal soul, no after-life and death is all around us in nature all the time, death is literally necessary in such a universe, where would we even get the idea of dignity? Why do we have this idea and the animals don’t? Why do we consider the dead something to be respected if the person truly has literally ceased to exist?

    In my universe, on the other hand, everything is guided by an all-powerful Creator who is the source of all knowledge and also created our immortal souls. So not only can I explain the apparent uniformity in the universe, but our obvious dignity and respect for life and the bodies of the dead makes sense. We respect the bodies of the dead because they are representative of the souls who have left them, not merely the shell of a biological creature who has ceased to exist. Our idea of respect for the dead would have a rational origin.

    The true point isn’t that my worldview is better, but that your worldview is standing upon mine. You have respect for the dead do you not? This idea originates from, and is explainable, in my universe, not yours. You believe the universe to be uniform do you not? and you depend on this uniformity to do your science right? This idea originates and is explained by my universe, not yours. You are standing in my universe, with ideas, philosophies and metaphysics that only make sense in my worldview.

    “Now I’ve either converted you to start believing in the Uberealm (or something like it) or you think this is a load of bull. But this is basically what you’re trying to tell us (that there’s a higher existence that we can’t see or understand) and we, as well, see it as a load of bull.”

    Your Uberealm explains the universe you live in better than your atheistic worldview does. So thank you for proving my point.

    I don’t expect you to convert to Christianity, I would love it if you did, to have another brother in Christ added to the Kingdom, and I will pray for you. But my goal isn’t to convert you. My goal is merely to show you that your empirical beliefs stand upon the Christian metaphysics, and that your metaphysics are only explanable by the Christian worldview, and not your own. What you do with this information is up to you. You can think it’s bull all you want, but you’re still standing in my universe with all your respect for the dead and empiricism that depends on nature’s uniformity.

  41. Zhatt Says:

    My browser just crashed and I lost some of my post, so I might be a bit more brief than I was going to be. Oh, and I’m going to steal your bloding technique because the blockquoets are gaudy.

    My faith in God isn’t “blind”

    No? Isn’t all faith blind? Do you support your faith with evidence? If so, is it truly faith? If, somehow, all your evidence for God was thrown out the window (maybe all your friends and family admit they have played a very cruel joke on you and have completely made up the Bible, God and the entire religion) would you still have faith in the Christian God? If so, your faith is blind. If not, then you were simply believing based on hearsay and misunderstanding.

    Your Uberealm explains the universe you live in better than your atheistic worldview does.

    The Uberealm also explains the Christian worldview quite elegantly as well, so shouldn’t we both start praying to Mr. Uber? What’s a good reason not to? I mean, the supernatural realm must come from somewhere, right? God was very well designed indeed to be able to grasp everything within His and the natural realm as well as all that He creates within it.

    “Why do we consider the dead something to be respected if the person truly has literally ceased to exist?”

    Part of the answer is in what you said: “We respect the bodies of the dead because they are representative of the souls who have left them…” The body is representative of the person who was. There’s a lot of emotional attachment to that form and image for those who knew the person. Personally, I don’t really care what people do with my body after I’m dead. And I’m really not going to care what you do with it after I’m dead. I’ve considered donating my body for science, but throw it in a dumpster if you like. But that would be a great disrespect to my family and friends. Unless they secretly hate me; then whatever.

    Why do we have this idea and the animals don’t?

    Many animals are different because they don’t have the same understanding of time as we do. An animal may not connect a body with the live creature it remembers. Thing is, it seems some animals do recognize the connection. Elephants often go to a specific spot to die and other elephants will visit the “grave site” on roughly a yearly basis.

    My goal is merely to show you that your empirical beliefs stand upon the Christian metaphysics…

    So far I’ve only seen you argue that empirical beliefs stand upon metaphysics. I haven’t seen you argue that they must be Christian metaphysics. Even if you do happen to argue me out of my purely empirical understanding (and you are giving me a lot to think about), why would I go straight to Christianity? What does the Christian God have over Allah or Zeus?

    …and why isn’t there a preview button?

  42. Matt Says:

    “You are assuming that the two are mutually exclusive and can’t co-exist together.”

    I’m not assuming any such thing. I’m examining the claim that they do.

    “Isn’t your belief that ‘prayer doesn’t heal’ just as metaphysical as my belief ‘God can heal through prayer’? “

    No, because my belief is a falisfiable hypothesis which is yet to be falsified. It’s perfectly rational for me to hold my belief.

    “Neither can be tested empirically.”

    Wrong. Your belief can be tested empirically. You could examine the recovery rates for people who have been prayed for versus people who haven’t. In fact, such studies have been done, and what’s more, have been inconclusive.

    “You walk into any church in this nation, and ask for examples of supernatural events, and you’ll have a hundred people in line to tell you their encounter with God’s supernatural power before you can blink. And yet, all their stories are rejected based on your presupposition, without any empirical evidence for doing so.”

    The thing about people in a church is that they’re self-selected as a group who are very willing to accept a supernatural explanation for mundane events. I’d get the same result if I went to a New Age convention or a meeting of UFO enthusiasts. It doesn’t prove anything.

    And it’s actually very easy to get me to accept their stories. I only have to see one genuine violation of natural laws. In all my years as a devout Christian, I never once saw anything or heard any story that must have had a supernatural explanation. Not once. Don’t you think that’s a little strange? I’m curious: do you have such an example? And it needs to be from your own personal experience, not hearsay or something from a friend-of-a-friend or something from the bible.

    “Abiogenesis violates all known natural law, namely the law of biogenesis, and was, theoretically, accomplished by forces we have no empirical knowledge of.”

    Abiogenesis does not violate any natural laws. Just because something is not well understood doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a natural explanation. This is the classic “God of the gaps” argument. You go right up to the edge of our knowledge, point to what is unknown and say “God did it” as if that explains anything.
    Two things to remember: first, knowledge is advancing all the time, so this boundary too will be pushed back. And second: “God did it” is not an explanation (as previously pointed out).

    “Empiricism cannot prove empiricism, so then how do you know it’s reliable?”

    I addressed this with my previous comment. You agreed that empiricism is acceptable in a purely material universe. So I assume that the universe is purely material. This both gives me a justification for empiricism and it gives me a tool for identifying the supernatural: it’s where empirical methodology breaks down.

    “The true point isn’t that my worldview is better, but that your worldview is standing upon mine.”

    It’s false logic for you to claim superiority for your particular supernatural belief just because it supposedly “explains” empiricism. The point (very well made by Zhatt) is that any supernatural deity will fulfill this very basic requirement.

    To Zhatt you said “Your Uberealm explains the universe you live in better than your atheistic worldview does.”

    Zhatt’s point was that it also explains the universe better than your Christian worldview does. And we know the Uberealm is completely fictitious! Therefore, using your “self-explanation” criteria as an argument for the reality of a particular belief is clearly a fallacy.

  43. Eric Kemp Says:

    Zhatt

    “Oh, and I’m going to steal your bloding technique because the blockquoets are gaudy.”

    Yea, I think Matt did that first and I liked it so much I stole it as well.

    “No? Isn’t all faith blind? Do you support your faith with evidence? If so, is it truly faith?”

    I was under the impression that faith had something to do with being unable to observe or prove something. I can have evidence for God, but I still can’t see Him, so I must have faith. Not all faith is absolutely based on nothing.

    “If, somehow, all your evidence for God was thrown out the window (maybe all your friends and family admit they have played a very cruel joke on you and have completely made up the Bible, God and the entire religion) would you still have faith in the Christian God?”

    Let me put it this way. I know that my wife loves me. Can I actually observe and prove this love? Of course not, but I know it. Now, if she cheats on me and then kills my parents, I might be begin to doubt this love, to say the least. Likewise, if I had had faith in God and/or Christ, and yet when push came to shove there was no merit, evidence or truth in that faith, I wouldn’t have held on to it.

    “The Uberealm also explains the Christian worldview quite elegantly as well, so shouldn’t we both start praying to Mr. Uber?”

    Firstly, in the Christian worldview, God claims to be the only more times then I can count, so you’re actually wrong.

    Secondly, and more importantly, you’re just grasping for straws here. I understand you’re dilemma, I really do. You’ve just been shown, by a YEC Christian (who you’ve been taught in all your atheistic reading are country bumpkin nincompoops), that you have no reason to trust empiricism, and you can’t explain why you find it reliable. In place of this, the YEC puts “God”, and the frustrating part is that God really does explain the universe you live in, and empiricism, better than atheism can. So, in rebuttal, you attempt to draw a correlation to a fictional “Mr. Uber” and your argument basically boils down to, “Well, just cause you can explain empiricism and I can’t, doesn’t make Christianity ‘true’ “. Zhatt, I agree with you. I haven’t convinced you that the Christian worldview is true. But that isn’t because of any fault of the arguments, or of the Christian worldview. It’s because convincing anyone that something is true is impossible. That’s completely up to the individual.

    You are either seeking God or you’re not. You’re either honestly considering a different worldview, or you’re not. There are a thousand ways that you can explain away the Christian worldview, and so my goal is not to convince you. My goal is to show you that the Christian worldview explains the universe you live in better than the atheistic worldview can. But not only that, but atheistic metaphysics must stand upon Christian metaphysics to make any sense. That’s my point, I showed that clearly. And that’s where my point ends.

    “Part of the answer is in what you said: “We respect the bodies of the dead because they are representative of the souls who have left them…” “

    But see, Zhatt, that’s the point. In the atheistic universe, souls don’t exist. We are nothing more than biological and chemical bells and whistles. So, if you constructed a worldview in which God doesn’t exist but souls do, that’s not atheism and then you’ve got a whole ‘nother set of problems.

    “The body is representative of the person who was. There’s a lot of emotional attachment to that form and image for those who knew the person.”

    Firstly, that’s not even true. If I see a random dead guy on the street I don’t know that guy, but I still call the cops, or cover his body. I still have respect for the dead wether or not I knew the person, absent of emotional attachment. Secondly, did see what you did there? You just begged the question. I call it “respect for the dead” and you called it an “emotional attachment”. The question still stands, why would we have such respect in a universe where souls don’t exist, and the person is literally annihilated at death? Where would we even get such an idea?

    The point isn’t that you, as a thinking person, can’t explain away this respect for the dead. The point is that atheism can’t explain it, and the Christian worldview can. So, when you have respect for the dead, you are literally standing upon the Christian worldview.

    “So far I’ve only seen you argue that empirical beliefs stand upon metaphysics. I haven’t seen you argue that they must be Christian metaphysics.”

    OK, I’ll be more clear this time. Atheistic metaphysics consist of a purely material world, since the world is only material, therefore the beginning of the universe was random (unguided). Atheistic metaphysics cannot explain the absolute laws that nature seems to follow. That is, a random beginning does not lead to the apparent order that allows the universe, this earth, and us on it, to exist. Atheistic metaphysics also cannot explain the existence of immaterial, abstract absolute laws. One example of these laws, are the Laws of Logic. For instance, the Law of Non-Contradiction is an absolute, unbreakable law that is also immaterial, and yet it exists just as much as any material thing does.

    Christian metaphysics not only explains these phenomena that the atheistic worldview cannot, but every single time an atheist depends upon, believes in, and uses the uniformity of nature and the Laws of Logic, they are using the Christian worldview wether they like it or not, wether they realize it or not, or wether they’ll admit it or not.

    “Even if you do happen to argue me out of my purely empirical understanding (and you are giving me a lot to think about), why would I go straight to Christianity? What does the Christian God have over Allah or Zeus?”

    That’s a great question Zhatt. Before I can answer it accurately for you, let me ask you a question. What would it take for you to be convinced of God’s existence, or of the Christian God’s existence?

    There should be a preview button!

  44. Zhatt Says:

    I was under the impression that faith had something to do with being unable to observe or prove something.

    When I use the term faith, I define it as “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence”. If any evidence is supporting the belief, then it’s not faith, but just more empirical inductive logic. Do you believe in God because you feel it’s the most reasonable explanation based on the evidence or do you believe in God no matter what?

    I know that my wife loves me. Can I actually observe and prove this love? Of course not, but I know it. Now, if she cheats on me and then kills my parents, I might be begin to doubt this love, to say the least.

    Your wife most likely loves you based on your history together. You’ve gathered evidence that she cares about you, such as maybe the backrubs she gives you or how she bought you that book you’ve always wanted. If she goes on to kill your parents, then you have evidence that she no longer loves you, or maybe never had. Maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t, you can’t know for certain, but it’s unlikely that she’s been tricking you all the time you’ve been together. If you had faith that she loves you, than you’d believe that she loved you no matter what she did.

    Firstly, in the Christian worldview, God claims to be the only more times then I can count, so you’re actually wrong.

    But what if God just doesn’t understand the higher existence above him and dismisses the idea? God is a-uberistic in the same way I’m a-theistic.

    …you’re just grasping for straws here. I understand you’re dilemma, I really do. You’ve just been shown, by a YEC Christian (who you’ve been taught in all your atheistic reading are country bumpkin nincompoops), that you have no reason to trust empiricism, and you can’t explain why you find it reliable.

    Uh, I don’t really appreciate the high-and-mighty tone here. I don’t really want to debate if you’re just going to say “I just showed you how right I am and you’re just having trouble dealing with it! Na-na bo-bo.”
    I’m not grasping at straws as I’m not trying to make a direct argument for empiricism right now; I’m just trying to show you how your explanation sounds to me.

    I have my reasons for understanding a natural, ordered, empiric, monist universe and they serve me quite well. You may see them as circular, but so far every belief system I’ve seen looks circular. You have faith because of god and you have god because of faith. You believe you have evidence that God exists, but you’re presupposing god in the first place. Hopefully I’ll have some time this weekend to start writing up my reasons.

    And no, I don’t think all Christians are country bumpkin nincompoops. You seem quite intelligent and you’re starting to grow on me (at least you were until you got all high-and-mighty). I wouldn’t still be talking to you if I didn’t think you were capable of reasonable thought. I generally ignore the nincompoops. And I admit, that I actually haven’t done any “atheistic reading” (though I’ve been meaning to (but I’ve also been meaning to read the bible)). Most of my beliefs have come about though talking with my friends, and lately though browsing a few blogs and even talking with some Christians in person.

    Are you being the one who thinks that all atheists are hard-assed book worms disconnected from the world?

    But, seriously, if you reply to only one thing give me one good reason why Mr. Uber cannot and must not exist.

    …your argument basically boils down to, “Well, just cause you can explain empiricism and I can’t, doesn’t make Christianity ‘true’.

    Part of my argument in this thread is that just because you can conceive a way to explain empiricism by means of the supernatural, doesn’t make the supernatural true. I’m not really concerned about God being a Christian god, but the idea of there being any sort of god or gods at all.

    It’s because convincing anyone that something is true is impossible. That’s completely up to the individual.

    Maybe, but you can convince a rational person that something is the most reasonable explanation. As for faith, I don’t know how you convince someone of that other than by indoctrination or brainwashing.

    You are either seeking God or you’re not. You’re either honestly considering a different worldview, or you’re not.

    I’m seeking answers. Either you are wrong or I am and I’m hope that one of us might be enlightened or, at least, we gain a better understanding of other’s worldviews.

    In the atheistic universe, souls don’t exist….So, if you constructed a worldview in which God doesn’t exist but souls do, that’s not atheism and then you’ve got a whole ‘nother set of problems.

    Huh? Sorry if I’ve misrepresented myself, but I don’t believe in souls.

    If I see a random dead guy on the street I don’t know that guy, but I still call the cops, or cover his body. I still have respect for the dead wether or not I knew the person, absent of emotional attachment.

    I’m sure there would be a lot of people who would just walk on by. I can’t say for certain that I’d do, but I’d probably do something. That’s not because I have an innate respect for this guy, but because there’s probably a family out there who’s missing. I don’t like the idea of a family worried to dead about this guy when I could have helped quell that anguish. These things often come back around to you in a practical karma sort of way.

    Even if there is no practical reason to do something about the dead guy, it was the way I was raised and I’d feel like crap if I didn’t. But not all people are raised that way.

    I call it “respect for the dead” and you called it an “emotional attachment”. The question still stands, why would we have such respect in a universe where souls don’t exist…..atheism can’t explain it, and the Christian worldview can. So, when you have respect for the dead, you are literally standing upon the Christian worldview.

    I have my reasons for why I might have respect for some random guy, why I want to make people happy and why I do selfless things, but I doubt you’d listen to those explanations seriously as they include things like evolution, theory, induction logic, and maybe even a few “I’m not too sure about this part”s.

    By the way “atheism” doesn’t explain anything. It’s not a theory; it’s just the state of not believing in theism. If someone just never happened to think about a god, this person would technically be an atheist. Just not a self proclaimed one in the same way I’m not a self proclaimed azaburbist (The zaburb is a magical animal I just made up that lives in-between layers of earth).

    …a random beginning does not lead to the apparent order that allows the universe…

    No? Why not? A drop of water may land haphazardly into a lake, but the ripples it makes propagate in quite an orderly fashion. The beginning of the universe may be a “random” event, but that doesn’t mean that the event itself must be totally chaotic.

    Atheistic metaphysics also cannot explain the existence of immaterial, abstract absolute laws.

    These abstract absolute laws are our explanations of the natural world. These laws only live in are head and are, as you said, abstract. Our understanding of the natural world is imperfect.

    …let me ask you a question. What would it take for you to be convinced of God’s existence, or of the Christian God’s existence?

    Hum. Well, since I don’t believe that you can have natural evidence for something that is supernatural (because then the supernatural is understood by us and becomes the natural) than I would necessarily need supernatural evidence. I don’t know what supernatural evidence would be, but then I shouldn’t, as the supernatural is incomprehensible by empirical means. I guess I would have do just start believing via faith; ignore all the evidence and make the leap. But if I ask myself why I would do that, I have no answer and there is no reason to start believing. But asking “why” is empirical rational, so I’d just have to have faith in faith. You see that I have an unattainable starting point unless I was born into it.

  45. Eric Kemp Says:

    Matt

    “I’m not assuming any such thing. I’m examining the claim that they do.”

    You said that the question was wether or not the supernatural world interferes with the natural world. That question presupposes the two are separate to begin with. That is, that the supernatural already isn’t needed to keep the natural going.

    “No, because my belief is a falisfiable hypothesis which is yet to be falsified. It’s perfectly rational for me to hold my belief.”

    You’re deluding yourself about the scope of science, and ignoring the point of prayer. Specifically, you’re attempting to say that science can test the spiritual. It’s a ridiculous position. I already gave you the scenario in which you could test “prayer can’t heal” and so I won’t repeat myself. Also, you’re treating God like He’s your own personal trick monkey. That when a human being prays then God MUST act, like a monkey called on to do a flip. God works how He wills, to think of God as a formula is a presupposition you hold to, not anything science informed you about.

    Oh, and just because studies have been done, doesn’t mean the experiments or the conclusions were scientific.

    ” The thing about people in a church is that they’re self-selected as a group who are very willing to accept a supernatural explanation for mundane events. I’d get the same result if I went to a New Age convention or a meeting of UFO enthusiasts. It doesn’t prove anything.”

    You are exactly right. Also, going to a group of atheistic scientists and showing evidence of a supernatural event is equally pointless, because they’ll just find a hypothetical, speculative naturalistic explanation and call it a day. Abiogenesis anyone?

    “Don’t you think that’s a little strange? I’m curious: do you have such an example? And it needs to be from your own personal experience, not hearsay or something from a friend-of-a-friend or something from the bible.”

    I’ll just tell you right now Matt, the reason you didn’t see God working around you, is because you had already defined was qualified as “God working” in your mind. Just don’t be surprised when God doesn’t fit your definition of Him. Secondly, you’re absolutely right, you’ll always have a naturalistic, speculative answer for everything if you want there to be one.

    “Abiogenesis does not violate any natural laws. Just because something is not well understood doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a natural explanation. This is the classic “God of the gaps” argument. You go right up to the edge of our knowledge, point to what is unknown and say “God did it” as if that explains anything.”

    Just because you say something, doesn’t make it true Matt. I gave you a natural law that abiogenesis DOES violate, the law of biogenesis, if you actually have a counter argument, or some evidence for this law being observed and tested to be violated, then please present it. But since I know you don’t . . .

    But that is exactly what you’re doing. “Just because something isn’t fully understood . . .” is a science-of-the-gaps argument! But your situation is much worse than that. The “God-of-the Gaps” canard that atheists like to use, is based on a particular view of God. Just because we can explain how something happens with empiricism doesn’t mean that God is absent of that phenomena. Your idea of God, even hypothetically, is an entity that created the natural laws and then “left them alone”. This is not the Biblical view of God. If God never left the natural laws alone, and is fully involved in them even now, then there are no “gaps” for God to fill, because He’s already in everything!

    “Two things to remember: first, knowledge is advancing all the time, so this boundary too will be pushed back. And second: “God did it” is not an explanation (as previously pointed out).”

    Are you really going to ignore that God did it is a metaphysical explanation, pretend that “everything is material” is NOT a metaphysical explanation and keep pretending that the only explanations that exist are empirical explanations?

    ” You agreed that empiricism is acceptable in a purely material universe. So I assume that the universe is purely material. This both gives me a justification for empiricism and it gives me a tool for identifying the supernatural: it’s where empirical methodology breaks down.”

    Whoa, whoa. When did I ever agree with that? I agreed that empiricism would be you’re only source of knowledge in a material universe, not that it is “acceptable” or “reliable” in such a universe. In either universe, since empiricism can’t prove empiricism, you have no way of knowing it is reliable. The question still stands, and you haven’t even tried to answer it. ESPECIALLY in a material universe, you have no explanation for empiricism and reason for considering it reliable. You are just blatantly ignoring the implications of the question. But that’s ok, it’s a question you can’t answer if you stick with your empirical presupposition, which you’ve done this whole time without fail.

    “It’s false logic for you to claim superiority for your particular supernatural belief just because it supposedly “explains” empiricism. The point (very well made by Zhatt) is that any supernatural deity will fulfill this very basic requirement.”

    Well done. You completely ignored the point. In fact, you admitted the point and yet, you’re not disturbed by it. It seems that you have no problem not being able to explain why you consider empiricism reliable, and how you know it works. You don’t have answers to this question, and yet you don’t mind that. Well, I guess there is just nothing left to talk about. You’re going to blindly follow your empirical presuppositionalism without question, even when the question is brought to your doorstep. I guess that’s it.

    And you’re right, ANY orderly, rational and all-powerful supernatural deity will explain empiricism better than empiricism. That’s the point. You can say, “Well it’s not necessarily the Christian God”, but that’s tantamount to sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the problem this presents to your knowledge of the reliability of empiricism and WHY you consider empiricism reliable. But, you’re being a good atheist, never waiver in your faith Matt. Never waiver.


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