What is a Religious Belief?

Neocalvinism — By on November 28, 2007 at 1:00 am

Ludwig Wittgenstein, considered by many to be the premier philosopher of the 20th century, believed that the proper task of philosophy was to make the nature of our thought and talk clear. Wittgenstein believed that the problems of philosophy were illusory and arose as a misunderstanding about language. While I think he greatly overstates the case, I agree that many problems not only in philosophy but in other areas result from the imprecise use of language.

I must confess that my own muddled use of language often contributes to this problem. When communicating with those who do not share my basic presuppositions, I often forget that we may not be using language in quite the same way. In order to help make the nature of our thought and talk clear, I want to examine a question that is essential to the analysis and comparison of worldviews: What is a religious belief?

In order to define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow, we must list all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.* While this may appear to be an obvious point, we are often surprised to find what has been pruned when a definition is stripped to its essential components. Imagine, for instance, trying to define the concept of tree in a way that is limited to what is true for all trees but only true of trees. Paring the explanation down in such a manner would not only be difficult but leave us with a curious, and likely unsatisfying, definition.

What is true of trees will be equally so for religious beliefs. After we cut away the foliage and underbrush that are features of specific religious beliefs we are likely to be unimpressed by the bare, slender reed that remains. We should also expect to find that a minimally precise definition will have exposed the fact that some beliefs that we might have considered to be religious really are not, while finding that others are actually more religious than we might have imagined. Nevertheless, while we might be surprised, unsatisfied, or unimpressed, the important point is that we have defined the term correctly.
Let us begin by examining to features that are commonly (though mistakenly) believed to be essential to religious beliefs:


Religious beliefs require a belief in God or gods — One of the most common misconceptions about religious belief is that it requires a belief in God or a supreme being. But such a feature would be too narrow because it would exclude polytheistic religions that do not recognize a supreme being. In fact, we cannot include the concept of god or gods at all since some religions (e.g., Brahmin Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism) are literally atheistic.

Religious beliefs are beliefs that induce worship or worship-related activities — This feature is also defeated by the counterexamples of Brahmin Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism, neither of which practices worship. The same is true for the religious beliefs of some ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and later the Epicureans who thought the gods neither knew about nor cared about humans. They certainly felt no obligation to worship such apathetic beings.

Having excluded gods and worship from our definition, we are left with very few features that all religious beliefs could possibly share in common. As Roy Clouser asks, “What common element can be found in the biblical idea of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, in the Hindu idea of Brahman-Atman, in the idea of Dharmakaya in Mahayana Buddhism, and the idea of the Tao in Taoism?” The answer, he argues, is that every religious tradition considers something or other as divine and that all of them have a common denominator in the status of the divinity itself.

While many religions disagree on what is divine, they all agree on what it means to be divine. The divine is simply whatever is unconditionally, nondependently real; whatever is “just there.” By contrast, everything nondivine ultimately depends for existence (at least in part) on whatever is divine. This idea of nondependence or its equivalent is the shared feature in all religious beliefs.

Clouser uses this common element to formulate a precise definition: A belief is a religious belief provided that it is (1) a belief in something as divine or (2) a belief about how to stand in proper relation to the divine, where (3) something is believed to be divine provided it is held to be unconditionally nondependent.

The conclusion we can draw from this definition is that everyone holds, consciously or unconsciously, a religious belief. For many of us, this will be as obvious as finding that our entire lives we’ve been speaking in prose. Others, though, will have a reaction similar to those who argue that while everyone else may speak with an accent, they themselves do not.

Although it may be true that not everyone has a religion (a system of religious beliefs, practices, and rituals), it would be rather absurd to believe that there is anyone who does not have a religious belief. This can be shown by focusing on a theory or belief that many people mistakenly believe to be the reverse of religion: materialism.

Although the idea of materialism has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, it has only recently been considered to be a non-religious idea. This is rather odd considering that it explicitly claims that matter (or some other physical entity) is unconditionally, nondependently real and draws conclusions about nature and humanity based on that belief.

Materialism, in fact, fits the definition more closely than some related beliefs, such as atheism. Just as monotheism claims that the number of gods is one and polytheism holds the view that the number is more than one, atheism simply claims the number of gods is zero. Because it merely takes a position on a nonessential element of religious belief, it would be erroneous to claim that atheism is necessarily a religious belief. Materialism, on the other hand, fits the definition in a categorical and clear-cut manner.

Clouser’s definition is neither too broad nor too narrow, is applicable to every known religious tradition, and is logically forceful. Still, I don’t suspect materialists to bend to its logic and admit that they too have a religious belief. At the risk of poisoning the well, I predict that many materialists will resort to special pleading or wrangling over the semantics of using the term “religious.” But as Clouser says, “If you insist that whatever you believe to be divine isn’t religious for you, you’ll have to admit that for those of us who hold such a belief and admit its religious character, your belief is going to appear to be religious for reasons that are far from arbitrary.” In other words, call the belief what you want — it certainly looks like a religious belief.

*The definition, ideas, and general explanation of concepts in this post are derived from the work of Roy Clouser. I have, however, filtered it through my own interpretation and sprinkled in some of my own thoughts on the question. Anything coherent, obvious, reasonable, and logical should be attributed to Dr. Clouser. Anything incoherent, absurd, unreasonable, and illogical should be credited solely to me. ‘



  • http://honest2blog.blogspot.com Baus

    See more by Roy Clouser here:
    http://www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk/clouser.htm

  • ex-preacher

    For post trying to use words carefully, you sure have an odd definition of “divine.”
    Here’s how Merriam Webster defines it:
    Etymology: Middle English divin, from Anglo-French, from Latin divinus, from divus god — more at deity
    Date: 14th century
    1 a: of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or a god b: being a deity c: directed to a deity

  • wrf3

    Joe Carter wrote: I predict that many materialists will resort to special pleading or wrangling over the semantics of using the term “religious.”
    Missed it just a bit. Turns out the initial wrangling was over the word “divine”.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    The Myth of Religious Neutrality, Roy Clouser.
    Collin

  • http://bevets.com/grapevine.htm bevets

    Hence, Huxley saw the need to found his own church, and evolution was the ideal cornerstone. It offered a story of origins, one that (thanks to progress) puts humans at the center and top and that could even provide moral messages. The philosopher Herbert Spencer was a great help here. He was ever ready to urge his fellow Victorians that the way to true virtue lies through progress, which comes from promoting a struggle in society as well as in biology–a laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy. Thus, evolution had its commandments no less than did Christianity. And so Huxley preached evolution-as-world-view at working men’s clubs, from the podia during presidential addresses, and in debates with clerics–notably Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. He even aided the founding of new cathedrals of evolution, stuffed with displays of dinosaurs newly discovered in the American West. Except, of course, these halls of worship were better known as natural history museums. ~ Michael Ruse

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    This is rather odd considering that it explicitly claims that matter (or some other physical entity) is unconditionally, nondependently real and draws conclusions about nature and humanity based on that belief.
    Interesting, but what if you believe nothing is nondependent? Certainly a scientifically astute materialist today would admit that the matter we get to play with here on earth depended on being forged in a star that went nova long before our sun formed. Certainly he would admit that matter depended on the accumulation of particles that resulted from the Big Bang. Before that the situation gets very fuzzy but lack of knowledge does not mean lack of existence. Suppose one believes the Big Bang was caused by some other event, evidence of what it was was destroyed by the Bang itself as far as we can tell, which was therefore caused by some other event and so on.
    Would you then say that this type of person is holding ’cause and effect’ to be divine?
    If so it would seem that one would have to jump through many hoops not to have some type of religious belief. You either end up believing in some ‘uncaused cause’ (aka God) or you believe ’cause and effect’ is nondependent.
    Here I suspect lies a problem with your use of language. If its impossible to have a non-religious belief then it’s odd to think its possible to have a religious belief. Everything you believe either reduces to ’cause and effect’ or to ‘uncaused cause’, in essense we could take it a step more and say everything is ‘nondependence’. It’s just that some peole we call ‘non-religious’ just happen to have a different flavor of nondependence than, say, Scientologists, Mormons, or Catholics.
    But what have you done!? Remember your mission was to create a definition that was neither too broad nor too tight!

    In order to define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow, we must list all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.*

    But it seems you’ve stumbled upont a definition that makes not only all beliefs religious but even non-beliefs religious too!

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    bevets,
    Nice try but if we take Joe’s definition of divine/religious beliefs seriously then Huxley’s being enamoured of evolution wouldn’t qualify unless he believed evolution to be ‘nondependent’. Do you have evidence that Huxley believed evolution to be ‘nondependent’ on matter itself or the laws of chemistry/physics? I don’t think so.
    You’ve established that Huxley thought evolution was very important but simply being a big promoter of what was then the ‘next big thing’ isn’t in itself a religious belief.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Wittgenstein believed that the problems of philosophy were illusory and arose as a misunderstanding about language. While I think he greatly overstates the case, I agree that many problems not only in philosophy but in other areas result from the imprecise use of language.
    Here’s another question here, does Joe consider language to be ‘nondependent’? The assumption Joe seems to have here is that this thing called language can describe this other thing called ‘religious beliefs’. Does the language used to define ‘religious beliefs’ exist independently? It would seem so since we know we can use language to describe things that do not exist, cannot exist therefore language would seem to be independent of the ‘material world’.
    I wonder what Joe would say to the charge that he is really an idolter of language. Subconsciously does he really hold language to be divine above all else? I think this is a failing many bloggers and writers hold for obvious reasons. Maybe not a failing but perhaps an assumption they don’t even realize they hold but we should explore the possibility no?

  • Mike Beversluis

    Boonton – you need to distinguish between temporal and phenomenological causes. Particles interacting through forces affect each others motion through time, and we can propagate a system through time forever, but that isn’t the same as saying that the forces exist.
    Non-religious belief is a belief in non-existence, which is something that people worry about. Thinking isn’t a concept, it’s a form of doing that leads to concepts, including paradoxically, concepts about thinking. Thinking isn’t a concept because it is concrete and real. The thoughts we express are already abstracted away from reality because they are always expressed in terms of abstract language. But to hold a concept is to contrast it with it’s alternative, which in this case is non-thinking. It’s a somewhat vertiginous idea, not unlike driving at night and catching yourself wondering what’s to stop you from pulling into oncoming traffic.

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Does “Scientism” qualify as a religious belief according to Clouser’s definition?

  • wrf3

    Instead of trying to define “religious belief” so that it includes atheism, and its handmaid, naturalism; wouldn’t it be better to redefine the discussion to one of worldview? Is it possible for government to operate without a worldview? Is there any worldview which is truly neutral? If the answer to the previous two questions is “no”, then can the government have a preferred worldview? If so, which one?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    First, the minor misstep:
    One of the most common misconceptions about religious belief is that it requires a belief in God or a supreme being. But such a feature would be too narrow because it would exclude polytheistic religions that do not recognize a supreme being.
    Since when did polytheistic religions not believe in supreme beings? Are you completely unable to distinguish polytheism from atheism?
    Now the major misstep:
    Although the idea of materialism has been around since at least the ancient Greeks, it has only recently been considered to be a non-religious idea. This is rather odd considering that it explicitly claims that matter (or some other physical entity) is unconditionally, nondependently real and draws conclusions about nature and humanity based on that belief.
    You have completely failed to explain how this makes “materialism” a “religious belief,” and not just an observation about the Universe we perceive. Or are you going to expand your definition of “religious belief” to include any observation, prediction or opinion about events in the material Universe?
    If you’re trying to flog that old “science is another religion” horse back to life, you’ll have to do a much better job than this.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Mike
    Boonton – you need to distinguish between temporal and phenomenological causes. Particles interacting through forces affect each others motion through time, and we can propagate a system through time forever, but that isn’t the same as saying that the forces exist.
    Could you explain this in a bit more detail, I feel I lost you.
    wrf3
    Instead of trying to define “religious belief” so that it includes atheism, and its handmaid, naturalism; wouldn’t it be better to redefine the discussion to one of worldview? Is it possible for government to operate without a worldview?
    History appears to come down cleanly on the side of secularism as a ‘worldview’ for gov’t. As for defining what a worldview is, doesn’t it seem odd that we again ignore this hidden assumption that language is divine? That if we just come up with the right combination of words that alone alters reality?

  • wrf3

    Boonton writes: History appears to come down cleanly on the side of secularism as a ‘worldview’ for gov’t.
    That may be (assuming that we even agree on what “secularism as a worldview” entails). But the U.S. Declaration of Independence is grounded in theism.
    As for defining what a worldview is, doesn’t it seem odd that we again ignore this hidden assumption that language is divine?
    I wasn’t aware that I was doing that. Furthermore, there are a lot of people who assert that language isn’t divine (AI researchers, for example).
    That if we just come up with the right combination of words that alone alters reality?
    I don’t subscribe to “magical thinking”.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Another problem I have with your/Clouser’s definition of “religious belief” is that different beliefs covered by this definition function very differently from each other, so much so that I question the wisdom of including them all under one label. Taoism, for example, does not postulate any deity or afterlife, nor does it explicitly deny them; nor does it prescribe any concept of absolute moral right or wrong. Perhaps it should be thought of as a philosophy of life, with lots of vague, general observations about how people and the Universe operate; but I, for one, can’t justly categorize it as a “religion” of the same sort as Christianity, Islam or Paganism.
    If a particular “religion” is actually non-theistic or atheistic, perhaps you should take a closer look at what it entails, and not be so hasty to adopt a definition of “religion” that includes it.
    Clouser’s definition of religious belief — or perhaps your summation of it here — omits several features I’ve seen in religions, for example the demand that we believe in certain non-material things that can’t be proven (or disproven) by objective evidence — spirit, deities, afterlife, absolute right and wrong, non-material creatures such as angels, demons, etc. Not all beliefs make such demands of faith, and those that do, do so with differing degrees of urgency.
    It’s not enough to say “If it quacks like a duck…” when different species of duck have distinctly different quacks.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Raging
    Another problem I have with your/Clouser’s definition of “religious belief” is that different beliefs covered by this definition function very differently from each other, so much so that I question the wisdom of including them all under one label. Taoism, for example, does not postulate any deity or afterlife, nor does it explicitly deny them; nor does it prescribe any concept of absolute moral right or wrong.
    True but this would be like saying a pine tree is different from a weeping willow. Both Christianity and Taoism are religious beliefs. They are just different types of religious beliefs.
    Clouser’s definition of religious belief — or perhaps your summation of it here — omits several features I’ve seen in religions, for example the demand that we believe in certain non-material things that can’t be proven (or disproven) by objective evidence — spirit, deities, afterlife, absolute right and wrong, non-material creatures such as angels, demons, etc. Not all beliefs make such demands of faith, and those that do, do so with differing degrees of urgency.
    The problem with making the definition of religion “belief in something that can’t be proven” is that many things we consider religious beliefs can indeed be proven or disproven. For example, if you wake up to something after you die then you’ve proven the afterlife exists. Yes it is too bad you can’t send an email to those who haven’t died yet but the assertion will in face be proven (or disproven). Likewise there’s other things that religions assert that either happened or didn’t (the resurrection, parting of the Red Sea etc.). Granted some religions do have beliefs that may be impossible to prove but since they are mixed with beliefs that are we can’t use that as a definition.
    wtf
    That may be (assuming that we even agree on what “secularism as a worldview” entails). But the U.S. Declaration of Independence is grounded in theism.
    A very secular theism. Leaving aside the dating convention of “in the year of our Lord” the only reference you have is “endowed by their Creator”. The nature of the Creator is left blank so supposedly a materialist could go along with the document just as well as a theist. Regardless, the document says nothing about the Creator, how one should approach him or what he wants.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    For example, if you wake up to something after you die then you’ve proven the afterlife exists.
    At which point the afterlife would be — for those who have this proof — no longer a “religious” question, but a verifiable fact, just like the roundness of the Earth.
    Likewise there’s other things that religions assert that either happened or didn’t (the resurrection, parting of the Red Sea etc.).
    And as long those events remain unprovable, and un-disprovable, we are all free to believe them or not as we choose — which is a characteristic of nearly all of what tend to be labelled “religious beliefs.” If any of those events were objectively and indisputably proven to have happened, or not happened, then those who accept the proof would be “accepting a proven fact,” not holding a “religious belief.”

  • Raging Bee

    True but this would be like saying a pine tree is different from a weeping willow.
    Um…yes, the two are rather noticeably different. Have you ever looked at them?

  • http://thechristiancynic.wordpress.com The Christian Cynic

    Boonton:
    True but this would be like saying a pine tree is different from a weeping willow.
    Raging:
    Um…yes, the two are rather noticeably different. Have you ever looked at them?
    It would appear, RB, that you have missed Boonton’s point, which is rather simple: it is misguided to say that Taoism is not a religion because of its dissimilarity from Christianity (or other obvious religions) just as it would be misguided to say that a pine and a willow are not both trees because of their similarities. It is precisely their commonalities (however small) that bind them in that categorization. (By the way, I don’t necessarily endorse this argument with Taoism, which is a very unique school of thought, in my opinion.)
    For the point, I think it may be true that defining precisely what constitutes a religious belief may be difficult (an analogue might be the demarcation problem for science), but that doesn’t mean that something like materialism falls into it. I sympathize with attempts to do so, but honestly, that just seems like a rather silly way to exploit the fact that “religious” is often a pejorative term these days. My belief X is religious? That’s fine; it doesn’t bother me because its religiosity (or irreligiosity) does not entail its falsity, which is really what I’m concerned with in the long run.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Interesting, but what if you believe nothing is nondependent? Certainly a scientifically astute materialist today would admit that the matter we get to play with here on earth depended on being forged in a star that went nova long before our sun formed. Certainly he would admit that matter depended on the accumulation of particles that resulted from the Big Bang. Before that the situation gets very fuzzy but lack of knowledge does not mean lack of existence. Suppose one believes the Big Bang was caused by some other event, evidence of what it was was destroyed by the Bang itself as far as we can tell, which was therefore caused by some other event and so on.
    Clouser is fairly thorough on this point. Yes, an observation of material my certainly be non-dependent. But if a transcendency is assigned, then it becomes “divine”. To appeal to the components (particular material items) instead of the assigned valuation (assumed transcendency) is to miss the point completely. It is also not a statement of causality. That is a different discussion.
    Would you then say that this type of person is holding ’cause and effect’ to be divine?
    If so it would seem that one would have to jump through many hoops not to have some type of religious belief. You either end up believing in some ‘uncaused cause’ (aka God) or you believe ’cause and effect’ is nondependent.

    Clouser does allow non-dependence.
    Here I suspect lies a problem with your use of language. If its impossible to have a non-religious belief then it’s odd to think its possible to have a religious belief. Everything you believe either reduces to ’cause and effect’ or to ‘uncaused cause’, in essense we could take it a step more and say everything is ‘nondependence’. It’s just that some peole we call ‘non-religious’ just happen to have a different flavor of nondependence than, say, Scientologists, Mormons, or Catholics.
    Your reductionist argument really doesn’t address the issue.
    But what have you done!? Remember your mission was to create a definition that was neither too broad nor too tight!
    In order to define the term in such a way that it is neither too broad nor too narrow, we must list all of the features that are true of all religious beliefs and true only of religious beliefs.*
    But it seems you’ve stumbled upont a definition that makes not only all beliefs religious but even non-beliefs religious too!

    The only thing that is made “religious” is those which have a dependency on a transcendent value. Marx, for instance, states that Matter is all there is. That statement borders between the two deity and non-deity depending on whether positions built beneath this point treat it as such. But Marx also placed his dialectical materialism alongside Matter, and that transcendent priniple reaches the qualifications for “divine”, thus forming a “religious” belief system.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Yes, an observation of material my certainly be non-dependent. But if a transcendency is assigned, then it becomes “divine”.
    Who has assigned transcendency to the material Universe?
    But Marx also placed his dialectical materialism alongside Matter, and that transcendent prin[c]iple reaches the qualifications for “divine”, thus forming a “religious” belief system.
    Please define your terms. In what way, exactly, has Marx “placed his dialectical materialism alongside Matter?” It sounds like your argument here is built entirely on abstractions, and has no connection to the real world.

  • wrf3

    Boonton:
    [wrf3] That may be (assuming that we even agree on what “secularism as a worldview” entails). But the U.S. Declaration of Independence is grounded in theism.
    A very secular theism.
    What does that mean? Is that like “a little bit pregnant”? Does it mean that for government to adopt a theistic worldview is not an establishment of religion? Does it mean that theism is to be preferred over atheism?
    Leaving aside the dating convention of “in the year of our Lord” the only reference you have is “endowed by their Creator”. The nature of the Creator is left blank so supposedly a materialist could go along with the document just as well as a theist.
    Oh, really? Tell us how. How are rights endowed by a materialist creator? And who, or what, is this materialist creator that gives these rights to all men?
    Regardless, the document says nothing about the Creator, how one should approach him or what he wants.
    Of course it does. It says that the Creator wants us to have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And if that’s so, it means that the Creator values those things over death, tyranny, and misery. It implies that the Creator is personal – unless you can explain how these values arise from impersonality. It says that the Creator exists which, IMO, excludes atheism as a basis for our governance. It implies that human acknowledgment of the creator cannot be restricted from the public square. It actually says a lot of things that, IMO, materialism cannot support and atheists tend to ignore.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Oh, really? Tell us how. How are rights endowed by a materialist creator? And who, or what, is this materialist creator that gives these rights to all men?
    The Founders simply claimed that, whoever created us, by whatever means or agency we were created, we have inalienable rights that no human authority can take away. An atheist can support this just as easily as a theist.
    It says that the Creator exists which, IMO, excludes atheism as a basis for our governance.
    That’s a non-sequitur. The mere reference to a generic “Creator” does not change the fact that the “basis for our governance” is not to be found in atheism or any religion; the “basis for our governance” is the just consent of the governed (including the atheists), no more, no less.

  • Barrie

    Boonton writes:
    I wonder what Joe would say to the charge that he is really an idolater of language. Subconsciously does he really hold language to be divine above all else? I think this is a failing many bloggers and writers hold for obvious reasons. Maybe not a failing but perhaps an assumption they don’t even realize they hold but we should explore the possibility no?
    Greetings, again, after a long time away for me. I often have found your comments incisive even if I disagree with them.
    Joe would have his own response, but it might include the concession that language IS, in a true sense, divine, because it is shared by men and God, who made us in His image, who is The Word [John 1:1]. This echoes the ‘creative word’ of Genesis 1.
    So Joe is not ‘an idolater of language’ at all, but one who sees that the mysteries and problems of language are as useful as those of mathematics in expressing our religious and this-world understanding fully. Both express truths about the real world God also ‘inhabits’ [imminence].
    It is significant that some religions, unlike revealed Christianity, are inherently confused about language- such as Zen Buddhism, which denies the value of logic and language, both being part of ‘existence’, but uses language voluminously to express its truths nonetheless.
    Your comment is like the trivial objection to ‘Bible-believers’, that they idolize their Bible, not the God who they believe authored it..

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    RB,
    Joe’s post boils down to a summary of the first 3 chapters of Clouser’s book. All of your (and B’s) questions will be answered there.
    Collin

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] Oh, really? Tell us how. How are rights endowed by a materialist creator? And who, or what, is this materialist creator that gives these rights to all men?
    The Founders simply claimed that, whoever created us, by whatever means or agency we were created, we have inalienable rights that no human authority can take away. An atheist can support this just as easily as a theist.
    That’s moving the goalpost. What Creator that grants rights is compatible with atheism?
    It says that the Creator exists which, IMO, excludes atheism as a basis for our governance.
    That’s a non-sequitur.
    Please provide the reasoning behind this claim.
    The mere reference to a generic “Creator” does not change the fact that the “basis for our governance” is not to be found in atheism or any religion; the “basis for our governance” is the just consent of the governed (including the atheists), no more, no less.
    But there is more. Our rights are not based in contract law (“the just consent of the governed”) between man and government. Hence the 2nd Amendment, which provides a means by which the government may be justly overthrown if it ever strays from its charter to protect our inalienable rights.

  • Barrie

    Raging Bee writes: ‘The Founders simply claimed that, whoever created us, by whatever means or agency we were created, we have inalienable rights that no human authority can take away. An atheist can support this just as easily as a theist’.
    I am an Australian and we also have a written constitution – from 1901.
    If we are to do good exegesis contextually -a rational concept, wouldn’t you agree? – whether in 1783 or 1901 our Founders were consciously reflecting their peoples’ views, [they spoke for them, didn’t they?] and the vast majority held to fairly orthodox Christian concepts such as personality of their Deity, as Boonton observes.
    They would have denied that atheists can derive good morals, for instance, from themselves.
    This is the subtext of all their pronouncements. It is only creative revisionists who try to make them mean anything else -such as those who have misinterpreted your ‘separation clause’- to distort its intent badly. Fortunately, when we came to write ours we learnt from you, and have not been saddled with your extreme misinterpretations in our polity.

  • Barrie

    Raging Bee writes: ‘The Founders simply claimed that, whoever created us, by whatever means or agency we were created, we have inalienable rights that no human authority can take away. An atheist can support this just as easily as a theist’.
    I am an Australian and we also have a written constitution – from 1901.
    If we are to do good exegesis contextually -a rational concept, wouldn’t you agree? – whether in 1783 or 1901 our Founders were consciously reflecting their peoples’ views, [they spoke for them, didn’t they?] and the vast majority held to fairly orthodox Christian concepts such as personality of their Deity, as Boonton observes. They would have denied that atheists can derive good morals, for instance, from themselves.
    This is the subtext of all their pronouncements. It is only
    creative revisionists who try to make them mean anything else -such as those who have misinterpreted your ‘separation clause’- to distort its intent badly. Fortunately when we came to write ours, we learnt from you and have not been saddled with your extreme misinterpretations in our polity.

  • Raging Bee

    But there is more. Our rights are not based in contract law (“the just consent of the governed”) between man and government.
    Yes, they most certainly are: after rejecting “divine right” as a legitimate basis for government, the Founders went on to explicitly state that government derives its powers ONLY from the just consent of the governed.
    Hence the 2nd Amendment, which provides a means by which the government may be justly overthrown if it ever strays from its charter to protect our inalienable rights.
    The Second Amendment says absolutely nothing of the sort, and if you actually read the Constitution, you’d know it. The only LAWFUL means of overthrowing the government is by amending the Constitution. There is no legal right to overthrow the government by undemocratic, violent means.
    …our Founders…would have denied that atheists can derive good morals, for instance, from themselves.
    Please provide a specific, non-made-up, quote from any of the Founders, in which they actually make such a denial.
    This is the subtext of all their pronouncements.
    Oh, I see — you can’t provide any explicit quotations or writings to back up your bigoted opinions about atheists, so you try to pretend that the message you can’t prove was actually a “subtext” of “all their pronouncements” that only you can discern. Riiight…

  • ex-preacher

    Actually, Jefferson, the author of the Declaration, wrote in a letter to Peter Carr that atheists could be just as moral as theists:
    “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. . . . Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you.”
    Besides that, the Constitution is our governing document, not the Declaration. The body of the Constitution makes no mention of God or religion except to forbid any religious test for officeholders.
    Besides that, why are we Americans so obsessed with the founders’ personal views? We certainly wouldn’t agree with their views on race, slavery and women, would we?
    Religion is a horrible guide to morality as religions differ tremendously as to what is moral and are willing to kill each other over it. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens: “Is there anything a god could command which is so hideous that you would refuse to do it?” Theism provides the ultimate subjective morality as it is subject to its god’s whims. If that god gives the okay on torture, rape, murder, genocide, baby-killing, then it’s perfectly moral.
    The only sure and objective guide to morality is reason.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: The only sure and objective guide to morality is reason.
    This is one of those incredibly fatuous slogans that atheists use as an opiate for their conscience.
    “Reason” is simply logical operations on data. It’s no different from arithmetic on numbers. What’s important isn’t the data manipulation – which a computer could do – but the data being used. And there the atheist loses the way. The only data that they have is their own personal preference. What they then neglect is the basis for comparing two competing systems of morality.
    If they would actually use the logic and reason that they claim to treasure, the atheist would have to admit that “might makes right.” But this puts them in a catch-22, because as soon as they admit this, they admit the moral basis for their own destruction. (BTW, for the theist, it is the case that “might enforces right” which, not coincidentally, is in the Declaration of Independence).
    The proof of this is trivial.
    1) Good and evil are distance measurements between “is” and “ought”. “Good” denotes less distance between “is” and “ought”, while “evil” indicates a greater distance.
    2) “Ought” exists solely in the realm of the imagination, which means that it is a) personal and b) subjective.
    3) In order to settle a dispute between two competing moral claims, it is necessary to silence the “ought” of one of the parties. For humans, this can certainly be accomplished by force.
    4) Therefore, since all men are mortal, for the atheist it is clear that “might makes right”.
    5) For the theist, God is not right because He is omnipotent — He is right because He is eternal and cannot be silenced.
    Clear, simple, logical.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher wrote: Religion is a horrible guide to morality as religions differ tremendously as to what is moral and are willing to kill each other over it. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens: “Is there anything a god could command which is so hideous that you would refuse to do it?” Theism provides the ultimate subjective morality as it is subject to its god’s whims. If that god gives the okay on torture, rape, murder, genocide, baby-killing, then it’s perfectly moral.
    Why yes, yes it is. Do a little thought experiment. On what basis can you gainsay God? What makes you more moral than Him?
    I would rather deal with a man who is honestly trying to follow his god, even if I think him mistaken, than someone who thinks they know better than God.

  • Raging Bee

    This is one of those incredibly fatuous slogans that atheists use as an opiate for their conscience.
    This is one of those incredibly ignorant talking-points that religious bigots use to justify their blind, ignorant hatred of people not like themselves, and their refusal to question their own preconceptions.
    If you call yourself a Christian, wrf3, then I hasten to remind you that you are in violation of your own Commandment against “false witness.” If you want to pretend that atheists have no morals, the first thing you have to do is behave more morally than the atheists. Your failure to do so disproves your entire case and flushes your credibility down the toilet.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee wrote: Yes, they most certainly are: after rejecting “divine right” as a legitimate basis for government, the Founders went on to explicitly state that government derives its powers ONLY from the just consent of the governed.
    You are confusing the power to enforce with what to enforce. The government has no right to derive someone of an inalienable right.
    [wrf3] Hence the 2nd Amendment, which provides a means by which the government may be justly overthrown if it ever strays from its charter to protect our inalienable rights.
    The Second Amendment says absolutely nothing of the sort, and if you actually read the Constitution, you’d know it. The only LAWFUL means of overthrowing the government is by amending the Constitution. There is no legal right to overthrow the government by undemocratic, violent means.
    The founders were well aware of the tyranny that government could become. After all, they had just overthrown one. And they knew that the people should have the means to do it again, one day, if it ever became necessary.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] This is one of those incredibly fatuous slogans that atheists use as an opiate for their conscience.
    This is one of those incredibly ignorant talking-points that religious bigots use to justify their blind, ignorant hatred of people not like themselves, and their refusal to question their own preconceptions.
    Pot, kettle, black. First, it isn’t ignorant. That’s why I gave a proof of my position. I’d love for you to show what is wrong with it. Second, deal with your own preconceptions. Here’s one: I don’t hate you. I disagree with you, I think you lead what is known as “the unexamined life”, and I think your reading comprehension skills are almost non-existent, but I don’t hate you.
    If you call yourself a Christian, wrf3, then I hasten to remind you that you are in violation of your own Commandment against “false witness.”
    Claiming and proving are two different things. Watch.
    If you want to pretend that atheists have no morals,
    Now just where did I do that? Oh, wait. I didn’t. How is it that you are able to make the illogical leap from my saying that there is no basis for morality, other than personal preference, to “atheists have no morals”? Everyone has morals.
    the first thing you have to do is behave more morally than the atheists.
    And who gets to decide when we disagree? You? What makes your personal preference any better than anyone else’s?

  • ex-preacher

    I disagree with the assertion that ought exists only in the imagination. There are various means to arrive at ought, most of which – whether religious or purely philosophical – end up at some variant of the Golden Rule. Using reason and experience, philosophers and teachers from an amazingly wide spectrum of cultures and before the time of Jsus arrived at the same conclusion that we ought treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated. Ironically, doing good for others is the surest way to insure that others do good to us and those close to us.
    It is true that might must sometimes be used against persons or governments that consistently violate the Golden Rule. This does not mean that might makes right, bu rather that right must sometimes use might.
    It is at least refreshing (though almost sickening) to hear a theist admit that their god could command them to torture or murder babies and they would find it moral.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: I disagree with the assertion that ought exists only in the imagination. There are various means to arrive at ought, most of which – whether religious or purely philosophical – end up at some variant of the Golden Rule.
    There are several responses to this. First, most of those chains of thought sneak in circular reasoning. Typically by claiming something is “better” — which they can’t do without warrant. Second, there are other systems which are arrived at via various means which conclude just the opposite: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women!” Tell us, ex-preacher, should we love our enemies or hate them? Now prove it. Third, think outside the box. Were the aliens in Independence Day less capable philosophers than we are?
    Using reason and experience, philosophers and teachers from an amazingly wide spectrum of cultures and before the time of Jsus arrived at the same conclusion that we ought treat others as we ourselves would wish to be treated. Ironically, doing good for others is the surest way to insure that others do good to us and those close to us.
    See? You did it yourself. You slipped “good” into the discussion without ever defining what “good” is.
    It is true that might must sometimes be used against persons or governments that consistently violate the Golden Rule. This does not mean that might makes right, bu rather that right must sometimes use might.
    What is “right”? Pick any contentious topic: abortion, marriage of homosexuals, waterboarding, you name it. Show that one side is right and the other is wrong.
    It is at least refreshing (though almost sickening) to hear a theist admit that their god could command them to torture or murder babies and they would find it moral.
    Like I said, on what basis do you gainsay God? People who think they can rightly judge God are deluded.

  • ex-preacher

    Good is quite easy to define. Have you ever read Aristotle? Eating a delicious and nutricious meal is good. Eating poop is not good. Lying down to sleep in a soft, warm bed is good. Rubbing sandpaper on your eye is not good. Leukemia is also bad. There are occasions when we endure a short-term bad (a needle in the arm) to achieve a long-term good (immunity from a disease).
    For a good example of how people from all sorts of religions and philosophies can come together using reason to determine what is good, I suggest you read the Universal Declaration of Rights. It is a document of such shining moral integrity that it shows the Bible’s slave-loving god for the primitive, blood-thirsty, selfish creature that it is.

  • Ludwig

    “The proof of this is trivial.
    1) Good and evil are distance measurements between “is” and “ought”. “Good” denotes less distance between “is” and “ought”, while “evil” indicates a greater distance.
    2) “Ought” exists solely in the realm of the imagination, which means that it is a) personal and b) subjective.
    3) In order to settle a dispute between two competing moral claims, it is necessary to silence the “ought” of one of the parties. For humans, this can certainly be accomplished by force.
    4) Therefore, since all men are mortal, for the atheist it is clear that “might makes right”.
    5) For the theist, God is not right because He is omnipotent — He is right because He is eternal and cannot be silenced.”
    great…so now all is left for you to do is number 6…demonstrate that you know what God considers as “ough” without using as reference any means of knowledge constructed by the hand of men.

  • Ludwig

    “What is “right”? Pick any contentious topic: abortion, marriage of homosexuals, waterboarding, you name it. Show that one side is right and the other is wrong.”
    as yourself how you would feel if any of those were done to you…how would you feel if you knew you were to be aborted? how would you feel if someone told you you could not marry the woman you love?…how would you feel if you knew you were going to be waterboarded…the answer to each question should tell you quite convincingly (assuming you answer them honnestly) what is right and what is wrong.

  • Ludwig

    “This is the subtext of all their pronouncements. It is only
    creative revisionists who try to make them mean anything else -such as those who have misinterpreted your ‘separation clause’- to distort its intent badly. Fortunately when we came to write ours, we learnt from you and have not been saddled with your extreme misinterpretations in our polity.”
    so in essense australian constitution defacto persecutes anyone who is not a member of the state approved cult?

  • ucfengr

    Eating a delicious and nutricious meal is good. Eating poop is not good. Lying down to sleep in a soft, warm bed is good. Rubbing sandpaper on your eye is not good. Leukemia is also bad. There are occasions when we endure a short-term bad (a needle in the arm) to achieve a long-term good (immunity from a disease).
    ex, you are confusing healthy and unhealthy with good (moral) and bad (immoral). It may be unhealthy to eat poop, but why is it immoral?
    For a good example of how people from all sorts of religions and philosophies can come together using reason to determine what is good, I suggest you read the Universal Declaration of Rights.
    I’ve read it and I am not all that impressed. The source material is much better and more realistic. It always amuses me that adults with real life experience can look at human history and believe that human reason can be an arbiter of what is good and what is evil.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes:
    [wrf3] “What is “right”? Pick any contentious topic: abortion, marriage of homosexuals, waterboarding, you name it. Show that one side is right and the other is wrong.”
    as[k] yourself how you would feel if any of those were done to you…
    This is the point that atheists just cannot seem to understand. This happens over and over and over again. They are so used to assuming that they, and they alone, are the ultimate arbiters of morality, that they are somehow important, that they are blind to the fact that there is nothing in the universe to compel someone to care at all what another person thinks or feels. They think that “feeling good” is the same as “being good”.
    Your universe doesn’t care about you at all. It imposes no obligation on anyone else to care about you. There is no fundamental reason for your opinion (and therefore your morality) to count for anything.
    how would you feel if you knew you were to be aborted? how would you feel if someone told you you could not marry the woman you love?…how would you feel if you knew you were going to be waterboarded…the answer to each question should tell you quite convincingly (assuming you answer them honnestly) what is right and what is wrong.
    People do answer these honestly — and come to different conclusions than you do. Nevertheless, this avoids the real issue: when deciding between competing moralities, why should anyone care what you think? You’re a cosmic accident with no inherent worth; what rational reason can you possibly give that makes your particular opinion worthwhile?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Therefore, since all men are mortal, for the atheist it is clear that “might makes right”.
    This is observably false: I have never heard an atheist assert that “might makes right.” They calculate right and wrong the same way theists do: by observing the objective and verifiable consequences of actions. Also, I have never heard an atheist base such calculations on which party was in power at a given moment.
    Your “proof” is observably false, on the same level as “The sky is blue, the Earth is round, the Holocaust really happened, and atheists are just as capable of morality as theists.” You can do all the logical back-flips you want, but if your conclusion contradicts observable reality, it’s crap.
    And who gets to decide when we disagree? You? What makes your personal preference any better than anyone else’s?
    First you claim that morality has to come from a God; then, when I point out that your actions are contrary to the written word of your God, you suddenly revert to subjectivism like a grade-school kid who has just lost a factual argument. So now you’re doing exactly what you accuse the atheists of doing: pretending there’s no higher objective law to which you are answerable. Yet another hypocritical phony Christian making Christianity look like the Stoopidest Religion on Earth.
    …Second, there are other systems which are arrived at via various means which conclude just the opposite: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women!”
    I hate to break this to you, but that “example” comes from a fantasy movie. (Besides, even Conan the Barbarian followed and respected the Golden Rule, which makes your “example” even more ridiculous.) It does absolutely nothing to refute ex-preacher’s point, which is nothing but a common-sense observation of human social behavior in the REAL world.
    Third, think outside the box. Were the aliens in Independence Day less capable philosophers than we are?
    Another “example” from another fantasy movie. You really need to get out more.
    Like I said, on what basis do you gainsay God? People who think they can rightly judge God are deluded.
    First, we’re not gainsaying God, we’re gainsaying your idiotic imagining of God. There’s a difference — you’re not God, remember? And second, people judge God all the time, intentionally or not. Even the decision not to judge is a form of judgement.
    ex, you are confusing healthy and unhealthy with good (moral) and bad (immoral). It may be unhealthy to eat poop, but why is it immoral?
    There’s no confusion, except in your mind, ucfengr: actions which have beneficial (including healthy) consequences are “good;” actions that have harmful (including unhealthy) consequences are “bad.” If you choose to eat dung yourself, that’s your problem. Forcing someone else to eat it is indeed immoral precisely because it is unhealthy (and because you’re infringing on someone else’s freedom without good cause). If you can’t understand this simple and obvious means of calculating good and evil, you’re really in no position to lecture anyone else about morality. (Which isn’t at all surprising, given that you had, in a previous thread, used a religious text to justify slavery, then asserted that atheists have no morals.)
    It always amuses me that adults with real life experience can look at human history and believe that human reason can be an arbiter of what is good and what is evil.
    It always amuses me that adults without real life experience can so easily ridicule that which they clearly don’t understand, and ignore what is so painfully obvious to people who actually study history and politics.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: great…so now all is left for you to do is number 6…demonstrate that you know what God considers as “ough[t]” without using as reference any means of knowledge constructed by the hand of men.
    Give me an example of one single piece of knowledge that doesn’t count as “constructed by the hand of men.” I assume that by “hand”, you really mean “mind”, since knowledge is in the mind and not the hands.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    This is the point that atheists just cannot seem to understand. This happens over and over and over again. They are so used to assuming that they, and they alone, are the ultimate arbiters of morality, that they are somehow important, that they are blind to the fact that there is nothing in the universe to compel someone to care at all what another person thinks or feels. They think that “feeling good” is the same as “being good”.
    This is nothing more than the ravings of a bigot who can’t bring himself to think outside his own tiny, humid, stifling box. Anyone who actually knows any real atheists in the real world would instantly know that everything you say about atheists here is observably false.
    (No, atheists do not think they’re the “ultimate arbiters of morality;” like decent and sensible theists, they do their best to learn from others, and from history, and base their judgements on far more than their own preferences. This is how humans tend to function all over the world, theist and atheist alike, and your blind tirades only prove you know nothing of the real world.)
    Furthermore, there are plenty of REAL Christians, who actually make efforts to live a Christ-like life, who are secure enough in their spirituality and accomplishments that they don’t feel any need to tell transparently idiotic lies about atheists, Pagans, gays, Jews, or anyone else. Instead of pretending you know everyone better than we know ourselves, you should try shutting your mouth and opening your mind to the accumulated wisdom of your fellow religionists — all two-thousand-odd years of it.
    Think you can take it, wrf3?

  • Raging Bee

    Give me an example of one single piece of knowledge that doesn’t count as “constructed by the hand of men.”
    Thank you, wrf3, for admitting Ludwig’s (and the atheists’) point. So now we’re all agreed that theists and atheists alike get their knowledge and morality from other humans, right?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Oh, really? Tell us how. How are rights endowed by a materialist creator? And who, or what, is this materialist creator that gives these rights to all men?
    I assume a materialst would respond these rights are a consquence of material forming a human beign.
    It says that the Creator exists which, IMO, excludes atheism as a basis for our governance. It implies that human acknowledgment of the creator cannot be restricted from the public square. It actually says a lot of things that, IMO, materialism cannot support and atheists tend to ignore.
    You’ve basically stumbled upon a secular gov’t that uses a particular flavor of theism as its support. Since liberty is one of the rights given by this Creator to all humans then it follows that no acknowledgement of the creator can be forced on any human in the public square or not. While this behavior might be ungrateful on the part of the humans it goes hand in hand with the liberty granted.
    I noticed the particular use of wording in your post, “cannot be restricted from the public square”. This does not make a gov’t theocratic. A secular gov’t is perfectly capable of refraining from restricting religious freedom. In fact, a secular gov’t has an advantage in that it hasn’t hitched its hoarse to any particular flavor of theism so it need not be pressured to persecute those who are not a member of the favored flavor of theism.
    But there is more. Our rights are not based in contract law (“the just consent of the governed”) between man and government. Hence the 2nd Amendment, which provides a means by which the government may be justly overthrown if it ever strays from its charter to protect our inalienable rights.
    I still fail to see how that makes the gov’t theocratic.
    “Reason” is simply logical operations on data. It’s no different from arithmetic on numbers. What’s important isn’t the data manipulation – which a computer could do – but the data being used. And there the atheist loses the way. The only data that they have is their own personal preference. What they then neglect is the basis for comparing two competing systems of morality.
    On the contrary, personal preference is very difficult to observe and apply ‘reason’ too. Quick, tell me by what % do you enjoy van. ice cream more than strawberry? But actual data you can observe is quite immune to personal preference. We’d all love ice cream to be the cure to diabetes yet even atheists who are diabetic know they must refrain from it.
    If they would actually use the logic and reason that they claim to treasure, the atheist would have to admit that “might makes right.”
    Ironically that’s the conclusion many theists also draw towards, except they assume something else has the most might.
    Barrie
    So Joe is not ‘an idolater of language’ at all, but one who sees that the mysteries and problems of language are as useful as those of mathematics in expressing our religious and this-world understanding fully. Both express truths about the real world God also ‘inhabits’ [imminence].
    Ahh but just because God uses language doesn’t make language itself divine anymore than the fact that humans use toilets makes toilets human. What’s interesting is not that language can express truths about the real world but that language can express untruths just as well. In other words, language can seem to exist somewhat independent of ‘the real world’. That would seem to make it fit the definition of divine presented but I’m wondering if that should be considered important or trivial? After all, the Star Trek ‘history timelines’ exist indpendent of actual history as it is being played out but that hardly merits calling it divine. Most people would say not having any hard connection to the real world is a minus, not a plus!
    It is significant that some religions, unlike revealed Christianity, are inherently confused about language- such as Zen Buddhism, which denies the value of logic and language, both being part of ‘existence’, but uses language voluminously to express its truths nonetheless.
    I won’t deny that there’s pleny of volumns of books on Zen Buddhism but it does express a distrust of lanugage as a perfect conveyor of truth and many of its exercises involve not using language. There’s other traditions in the major religions that also emphasize direct experience, action, etc. over the use of language.
    I admit I’m skeptical of language because we all here have a built in bias towards it. We all are here because even though we are very different in our opinions we all share a common enjoyment of reading articles about obtuse and abstract subjects and then writing about them and at each other. The people who are not as enamored of constantly churning out posts are not here to add their input to this discussion because they are off doing something productive!!!!
    So off the bat this post begins with an implicit assumption that when we use the word ‘religion’ we are using something very powerful and we must derive the right definition of it and then see how that applies to our pet causes (such as trying to annoy the atheists by calling materialism a religion). Perhaps if one of those langugage skeptics were here he would tell us that we are wasting our time just playing word games. Religion can mean whatever you want it to mean just like a marketing company is free to try to reinvent ‘bad’ to mean good or ‘phat’ to mean cool and so on. ‘Discovering’ that materialists are members of their own type of religion accomplishes nothing.
    See wrf3 when he says See? You did it yourself. You slipped “good” into the discussion without ever defining what “good” is.
    Notice the implicit assumption here seems to be you don’t really know good unless you have a good definition of it. What if it its the other way around. What if good exists and the definition of good in language is more like a painting or picture of a person. It may capture a little or a lot of its subject but will never be exactly the same thing?

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] Give me an example of one single piece of knowledge that doesn’t count as “constructed by the hand of men.”
    Thank you, wrf3, for admitting Ludwig’s (and the atheists’) point.
    What, that Ludwig asked a question that even he can’t answer?
    So now we’re all agreed that theists and atheists alike get their knowledge and morality from other humans, right?
    Wrong. There is a God, who exists independently from man, who is not silent.

  • wrf3

    Boonton wrote:
    See wrf3 [post 37] when he says “See? You did it yourself. You slipped ‘good’ into the discussion without ever defining what ‘good’ is.”
    Notice the implicit assumption here seems to be you don’t really know good unless you have a good definition of it.
    You can’t reason about it unless you have a definition of it. You can’t communicate with any meaning unless both parties agree on the definition; otherwise, they end up talking right past each other.
    What if it its the other way around. What if good exists and the definition of good in language is more like a painting or picture of a person. It may capture a little or a lot of its subject but will never be exactly the same thing?
    If good exists, how do you know what it is? We know what people are, which is why we can say that a painting or a picture may (or may not) be an accurate representation.
    Squishy definitions lead to squishy philosophy. You may think that good. I don’t.
    More later tonight…

  • ucfengr

    There’s no confusion, except in your mind, ucfengr: actions which have beneficial (including healthy) consequences are “good;” actions that have harmful (including unhealthy) consequences are “bad.”
    If my reasoning was as weak as your’s, I guess I’d have to go right for the personal attack as well. All actions have both beneficial and harmful consequences, so this is a silly basis for determining good and bad or moral and immoral. Just because something is a bad idea, it doesn’t mean it is “bad”.
    Forcing someone else to eat it is indeed immoral precisely because it is unhealthy (and because you’re infringing on someone else’s freedom without good cause).
    This is what’s called “moving the goalpost”. In your initial post, you didn’t say anything about forcing anybody to do anything, you merely stated that eating a healthy meal is “good” and eating poop is “bad”, but you really have no basis for determining why one is good or one is bad other than one is considered unhealthy.
    Which isn’t at all surprising, given that you had, in a previous thread, used a religious text to justify slavery, then asserted that atheists have no morals.
    And, not surprisingly, my arguments were stronger than yours then, as well.
    It always amuses me that adults without real life experience can so easily ridicule that which they clearly don’t understand, and ignore what is so painfully obvious to people who actually study history and politics.
    You make it sound like the UDHR is quantum physics or Calculus, it ain’t. It’s a pretty simple document, but it’s rather like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, one of those things that sounds really good on paper, but ignores human nature and history.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    All actions have both beneficial and harmful consequences, so this is a silly basis for determining good and bad or moral and immoral.
    Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: we weigh the beneficial consequences against the harmful ones, and determine which are greater. Yes, it’s complex; yes, it requires us to take responsibility and do actual work. Grow up and deal with it, like the rest of us do in the real world every day.

  • RAging Bee

    There is a God, who exists independently from man, who is not silent.
    Okay, which man-made document(s) represent the true nature and intent of this God? And by what objective means can you prove the superior validity of said document(s) over all the others?

  • http://sansfaith.blogspot.com godma

    I don’t think there’s a perfectly crisp line between religious and non-religious beliefs. The boundary is a bit fuzzy, but I do think that the issue of faith is critical to making this distinction.
    I would say that all religious beliefs are “faith-friendly” and all non-religious beliefs are “faith-unfriendly”. We all ultimately rely on faith, at least in a trivial sense, but for religious beliefs that faith is encouraged and central, while for non-religious beliefs, that faith is actively minimized and only grudgingly accepted when there seems to be no other option (as in a scientist’s faith that reality can be tested by experiments).
    Any so-called religion that is not faith-friendly, I would argue, is not actually a religion but a philosophy (some lineages of Buddhism, for example). The problem is that our word “religion” is a Western concept that predates our knowledge of the Eastern schools of thought. The term is hopelessly muddled when we try to stretch it to include Eastern philosophies. It’s a fuzzy boundary, though. I’m not saying that no Eastern religion deserves this designation, though.
    Of course, not all faith-friendly belief systems are overtly religious. In my view, many new-age beliefs, for example, are based on faith (or intuition). This, I think, is the fuzzy boundary between religious and non-religious beliefs.
    In addition to the faith-friendliness, the subject matter is important as well. Religious beliefs (and no other kind of belief) are essentially:
    1. Faith-friendly
    2. Concerning a transcendent reality

  • ucfengr

    Excuse me while I belabor the obvious: we weigh the beneficial consequences against the harmful ones, and determine which are greater.
    The problem is that you and I weigh things differently. For example, a smoker puts more weight on the pleasure he derives from smoking than he does on the health risks smoking entails; or pro-lifers put more weight on the life of the unborn child, while pro-choicers put more weight on the right of the mother to not have to carry a child to term. Also, I think humans do a pretty poor job of weighing the long-term consequences of actions. If we did, teen pregnancy would not be much of a problem.
    Now, in a perfectly free society, this would not be much of a problem, but here, in the real world, their are groups of people from all sides of the political and religious (and non-religious) spectrum that want to force their “backward” (or “enlightened”) weights on the backs of the unwilling.

  • Ludwig

    “There is a God, who exists independently from man, who is not silent.”
    I actually do believe that there is…but it seems quite obvious that IT does not say the same things to me that IT says to you.

  • Ludwig

    “[wrf3] Give me an example of one single piece of knowledge that doesn’t count as “constructed by the hand of men.”
    Well you seem to imply that you have a special insight into what God’s opinion is on various issues…i was just curious as to which repository of knowledge you used to learn what those opinions are and how you can determine and demonstrate that they are not in fact the mere result of man’s imaginings.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: I actually do believe that there is [a God which exists independently of man]…but it seems quite obvious that IT does not say the same things to me that IT says to you.
    Like what?
    Well you seem to imply that you have a special insight into what God’s opinion is on various issues…
    So? You claimed the same for yourself in post 56.
    i was just curious as to which repository of knowledge you used to learn what those opinions are and how you can determine and demonstrate that they are not in fact the mere result of man’s imaginings.
    That’s either a very deep question (philosophers aren’t sure that anything is not the mere result of man’s imaginings) or a very detailed one. I could write a book on why I think Christianity true. I don’t think this forum is the place for a book length analysis. But delving into things like comparing what I think God says vs. what you think God says might be interesting.
    Anyway, break’s over, back tonight.

  • Ludwig

    “Like what?”
    well for instance, that the only “judging” that occurs is ours judgement about ourselves…God allready judged everything that IT considered “good” at the instant of creation…everything that IT considerd “not good” remains uncreated and therefore non existant to this day. Also,God is not good or evil or loving or hating or scared or blue of cold or rich or injured…God is beyond all that and does not pick and choose which parts of reality IT prefers.
    “So? You claimed the same for yourself in post 56.”
    I did indeed…but all the while i entertain the very distinct possibility that i may be wrong…do you?
    “That’s either a very deep question (philosophers aren’t sure that anything is not the mere result of man’s imaginings) or a very detailed one. I could write a book on why I think Christianity true. I don’t think this forum is the place for a book length analysis. But delving into things like comparing what I think God says vs. what you think God says might be interesting.”
    Well i gave you my exemple of it above…

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    wrf3
    You can’t reason about it unless you have a definition of it. You can’t communicate with any meaning unless both parties agree on the definition; otherwise, they end up talking right past each other.
    We can rewrite this to say “you can’t use it in a crossword puzzle or scrabble game unless you can spell it”. True true but that doesn’t mean the inability to spell it means it doesn’t exist. Again your assumption is everything that is real MUST be reducable to language. Is that a reasonable assumption to make or one that comes easily for people who like to read/write a lot?

  • wrf3

    Boonton:
    [wrf3] You can’t reason about it unless you have a definition of it. You can’t communicate with any meaning unless both parties agree on the definition; otherwise, they end up talking right past each other.
    We can rewrite this to say “you can’t use it in a crossword puzzle or scrabble game unless you can spell it”.
    No, you can’t. One can spell a word without knowing what it means.
    True true but that doesn’t mean the inability to spell it means it doesn’t exist.
    Non-sequitur. I never said anything remotely like this.
    Again your assumption is everything that is real MUST be reducable to language.
    That’s not one of my assumptions at all. What I am saying is that if we can’t agree on a definition then we can’t talk meaningful about it. Is it your position that we can’t define good and evil? We can’t say what properties good and evil may, or may not, have? If so, then there’s little talking about it.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: well for instance, that the only “judging” that occurs is ours judgement about ourselves…
    I don’t follow you, here. Are you referring to good and evil being subjective personal judgments? If so, you have to ask yourself the question, “On what basis does God judge things to be good and evil?”
    God allready judged everything that IT considered “good” at the instant of creation…everything that IT considerd “not good” remains uncreated and therefore non existant to this day.
    Is there any difference between what God considers “good” and what we consider “good”?
    Also,God is not good or evil or loving or hating or scared or blue of cold or rich or injured…God is beyond all that and does not pick and choose which parts of reality IT prefers.
    Here I have to partially disagree. God is good, He is self-existent, He is love…
    Where does your statement about what you think God is like come from? That is, what is your warrant for saying that “God is not good or evil or loving…”?
    [wrf3] “So? You claimed the same for yourself in post 56.”
    I did indeed…but all the while i entertain the very distinct possibility that i may be wrong…do you?
    Of course. As St. Paul wrote, “the just shall live by faith.” To which he adds, faith in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust Him; I don’t trust myself.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee, in post 44, wrote:
    [wrf3] Therefore, since all men are mortal, for the atheist it is clear that “might makes right”.
    This is observably false: I have never heard an atheist assert that “might makes right.”
    First, it doesn’t matter. What you claim is “observably false” is demonstrably true. If all morality is subjective (and all atheist philosophers claim that it is), then morality exists within individuals. Given two atheists who are utterly opposed to each other on a moral issue, it is easy to show that ending the personal preference of one ends the argument.
    Second, most people, atheists included, are sufficiently confused on this issue to not have thought it through.
    Third, it’s clear that you haven’t observed enough. There are a number of atheists who have claimed that “might makes right.” Nietzsche for one. Mao for another.
    Fourth, one way to easily refute my claim is to show what does make right. Pretend that you and I are locked in a room and that a moral issue absolutely must be decided. How will you accomplish this?
    They calculate right and wrong the same way theists do: by observing the objective and verifiable consequences of actions. Also, I have never heard an atheist base such calculations on which party was in power at a given moment.
    On what basis do they choose between competing moral assessments?
    [wrf3] And who gets to decide when we disagree? You? What makes your personal preference any better than anyone else’s?
    First you claim that morality has to come from a God;
    I’ve never made that claim.
    then, when I point out that your actions are contrary to the written word of your God,
    I’m not the one who bore false witness. You confuse what you imagine to be with what actually happened.
    you suddenly revert to subjectivism like a grade-school kid who has just lost a factual argument.
    Suddenly? Since the first time I wrote about morality (post 31), I’ve said that all morality is subjective.
    So now you’re doing exactly what you accuse the atheists of doing: pretending there’s no higher objective law to which you are answerable.
    I know what my higher law is and Who it comes from. Furthermore, I gave a reasoned argument as to why God’s moral judgement has a privileged position: it is not from His omnipotence, but from His self-existence. He is right because He cannot be silenced.
    What I’m asking you is to demonstrate what objective basis exists for deciding between competing moral systems. Instead of doing this, you resort to strawman arguments and ad hominem.
    [wrf3] …Second, there are other systems which are arrived at via various means which conclude just the opposite: “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women!”
    I hate to break this to you, but that “example” comes from a fantasy movie.
    I’m aware of where it came from. It’s called a “thought experiment” — useful for breaking out of preconceived notions and all that. You know, what you recommend we poor theists do. You ought to try it, yourself.
    It does absolutely nothing to refute ex-preacher’s point, which is nothing but a common-sense observation of human social behavior in the REAL world.
    Most humans do what is convenient instead of right.
    [wrf3] Third, think outside the box. Were the aliens in Independence Day less capable philosophers than we are?
    Another “example” from another fantasy movie. You really need to get out more.
    You need to actually answer the question. Were they morally right or morally wrong? When the humans defeated the aliens, did might make right, or did might enforce right? Why? C’mon — these should be simple questions for you to answer.
    [wrf3] Like I said, on what basis do you gainsay God? People who think they can rightly judge God are deluded.
    First, we’re not gainsaying God, we’re gainsaying your idiotic imagining of God. There’s a difference — you’re not God, remember? And second, people judge God all the time, intentionally or not. Even the decision not to judge is a form of judgement.
    So answer the question: on what basis can anyone reasonably hope to judge God?

  • Raging Bee

    If all morality is subjective (and all atheist philosophers claim that it is)…
    I have never met an atheist who made this claim. Once again, you are repeating a claim that has been repeatedly shown to be false. In other words, you’re a liar.
    There are a number of atheists who have claimed that “might makes right.” Nietzsche for one. Mao for another.
    That’s two atheists out of…how many? Not exactly a representative sample, is it? I could show you PLENTY of examples of so-called Christians claiming that might makes right (after they gained control of the might, of course). Ever hear what some guy named Martin Luther had to say about Jews?
    Pretend that you and I are locked in a room and that a moral issue absolutely must be decided. How will you accomplish this?
    That depends on how receptive you are to ideas from someone not like yourself. You could choose to ignore everything I say, or you could choose to listen and reason with me. As a self-proclaimed Christian, which choice would you make?
    What I’m asking you is to demonstrate what objective basis exists for deciding between competing moral systems.
    I just answered that question: the basis is in an objective assessment of the verifiable consequences of the actions in question. You have consistently refused to acknowledge this concept, after reasonable persons of all faiths (and no faith) have shown their comprehension of it for thousands of years. Do try to keep up, won’t you?
    When the humans defeated the aliens, did might make right, or did might enforce right?
    Might happened to end up enforcing right: we humans had a right to exist, and to be free, which the aliens had tried to deny. The other possible result would have been wrong — something even the aliens would have admitted had they been on the receiving end of it.
    I gave a reasoned argument as to why God’s moral judgement has a privileged position: it is not from His omnipotence, but from His self-existence. He is right because He cannot be silenced.
    In other words, you claim God’s judgement is “privileged” because he’s God and “cannot be silenced,” then you claim that atheists assert that “might makes right.” Then you make up a clearly ad-hoc distinction between “omnipotence” and “self-existence” to cover up your obvious hypocricy. Sorry, but it is clearly the theists, not the atheists, who base their “morality” on an all-powerful authority-figure who is expected to silence all dissenting voices.
    You’re a bigot, a false witness, and a hypocrite, and every post of yours proves it all the more clearly. Just give it up and stop trying to cover up what’s been obvious from your first post. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone?

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] If all morality is subjective (and all atheist philosophers claim that it is)…
    I have never met an atheist who made this claim. Once again, you are repeating a claim that has been repeatedly shown to be false. In other words, you’re a liar.
    “We shall find beauty in the final laws of nature, [but] we will find no special status for life or intelligence. A fortiori, we will find no standards of value or morality”. — Steven Weinberg
    In his essay entitled Nonmoral Nature, Stephen Gould uses naturalistic observation to argue against the universality of human morality. He examines the debate from all sides and concludes that such concepts cannot realistically apply to nature as it does to man. However, if one examines the works of Charles Darwin, the discrepancies between man and nature begin to disappear. This view suggests that morality is a purely social construct. Proof of such a hypothesis is prevalent in many sources, such as literature or recent history. Following this logic, one must conclude that concepts of good and evil are altogether arbitrary, subjective, and unnatural. http://projectparadox.f2o.org/thoughts/papers/good-versus-evil-the-great-debate.php
    The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that “the good” exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote did God did not exist, everything would be permitted”; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. — Jean Paul Sarte
    [wrf3] There are a number of atheists who have claimed that “might makes right.” Nietzsche for one. Mao for another.
    That’s two atheists out of…how many? Not exactly a representative sample, is it?
    All I needed was one counter-example to disprove your claim that what I said was “observably false”.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee wrote: In other words, you claim God’s judgement is “privileged” because he’s God and “cannot be silenced,” then you claim that atheists assert that “might makes right.”
    That’s correct. Different worldviews require the world to be seen differently.
    Then you make up a clearly ad-hoc distinction between “omnipotence” and “self-existence” to cover up your obvious hypocricy.
    Where’s the hypocrisy? If a moral agent cannot be silenced, then that moral agent has a privileged position. In atheism, there is no God and humans can be silenced. Therefore, the privileged basis for morality in atheism is logically different than that for theism.
    Sorry, but it is clearly the theists, not the atheists, who base their “morality” on an all-powerful authority-figure who is expected to silence all dissenting voices.
    Just for a moment, suppose the theists are right. There is no moral basis for disagreeing with God. Therefore, dissenters are in the wrong. What do you expect God to do with them?

  • Ludwig

    “I don’t follow you, here. Are you referring to good and evil being subjective personal judgments? If so, you have to ask yourself the question, “On what basis does God judge things to be good and evil?”
    Thats my point…i dont believe God “judges” ANYTHING…at least not in the sense the the bible implies IT does. God created everything….every thing that is or that can ever be…every single possible outcome of every single possible action of every single atoms or groups of atoms has been methodically thought out. It is therefore absurd to be lieve that God would have bothered to created something IT was meant to eventually dislike. And yes, good and evil are subjective personal judgement. Its just that some “personal” judgements are more popular than others but its silly to believe that God has a preference here either way since IT obviously intended for both to exist in the same universe.
    “Is there any difference between what God considers “good” and what we consider “good”?”
    Well,since we are not equipped with the ability to restructure reality at the sub atomic level to satisfy any whims that may traverse our minds on a given moment,then i d say the answer to that is a resounding YES.
    “Here I have to partially disagree. God is good, He is self-existent, He is love…”
    that sentiment,while admirable and very popular, sounds more like what you want God to be as opposed to what God actually is. Is God blue? Is IT hermaphrodite? Is God rock music? It just seems silly to me to saddle PHYSICAL attributes that only have any meaning in the PHYSICAL universe to a being that created the PHYSICAL universe from nothing at all. Before God created the universe,was IT good? and if so,good to who or to what and compared to who or to what? and who did it love when nothing existed to be loved ?
    “Where does your statement about what you think God is like come from? That is, what is your warrant for saying that “God is not good or evil or loving…”?”
    As stated above,every one of these concepts (love hate good evil) have meaning only in our physical reality…i dont see what possible meaning that could have outside of it.
    “Of course. As St. Paul wrote, “the just shall live by faith.” To which he adds, faith in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust Him; I don’t trust myself.”
    But since you can only know anything through yourself (eyes,ears,mind),how can you trust anything you think you know about God to be accurate?

  • Barrie

    Thank you for reading me, Ludwig, but you misunderstand me when you claim Australia forces anyone to accept religion.
    We are at least as secular as you in law.
    But we do not have stupid rulings that prevent Christians using public rooms privately for meetings. We also allow our citizens to have a choice of schools, so that they can include religion in their kids’ education if they choose [with only a small money penalty, compared to the state school monopolies you enforce.]
    Why should Christians pay their education taxes twice, as de facto in the USA?
    My point is that your Founders would never have conceived of such nonsense -it took SCOTUS judges to do that!
    As to the view that ‘we don’t accept their views about gays slavery and women’, no one claims that they were perfect Christians – and Christian countries were, and are, vastly superior to Moslem ones on these scores.
    Get real, Americans!

  • Barrie

    From Boonton: “Notice the implicit assumption here seems to be you don’t really know good unless you have a good definition of it.
    What if its the other way around. What if good exists and the definition of good in language is more like a painting or picture of a person.”
    From Ludwig: Quote: “There is a God, who exists independently from man, who is not silent.”
    I actually do believe that there is…but it seems quite obvious that IT does not say the same things to me that IT says to you.”
    Boonton [I think] refuses to accept that God created all languages as part of all things. To B. it might be, [like maths?], ‘just there’ and not intrinsic to reality. He’s no real Platonist at this point. So ‘Good’ becomes just each person’s gut, UNspoken response to a painting or, say, ‘Jesus’? ‘Language’ changes meaning here and communication stops.
    Circular argument to a Christian because ‘In God we all live and move and have our being.’ So God talks, Jesus spoke, We speak.
    Christians don’t accept that language is unable to express revealed truths about ethics too.
    B. shifts the game so he can define ‘good’ non-linguistically, which leads to mysticism, and I would say away from any coherent religious discussion.
    You can’t have it both ways, B!
    A Zen would just smile and ask ‘why is coherence a good thing anyway’? [using language to express himself] – or JUST smile!
    God does not ‘just smile’.
    Ludwig plays to win his own game too: ‘OK, have a ‘God’, but you can’t say anything communicable about IT that I accept!’
    OK Boys [or Girls?], are you happy to be Buddhists, or Cynics? I’m not…

  • ucfengr

    Might happened to end up enforcing right: we humans had a right to exist, and to be free, which the aliens had tried to deny.
    On what basis do we have a right to exist and what does it mean “to exist”? On existence, since matter can neither be created nor destroyed, we will always exist in some form, so, for you, existence must mean something more than simply to exist. On the right to exist, why do we have a right to exist? Because we are alive? Plants are alive, do they have a right to exist too? Am I committing genocide by destroying the crab grass on my lawn? What about typhus, does it have a right to exist? If not, on what basis do human beings enjoy a privileged right to exist? The fact that we can defend our right (in other words our might gives us a right to exist)? And what about a right to be free? Why do we have that right? No other creature on Earth enjoys it, what makes us so special?

  • Ludwig

    Barrie
    I dont think you get it mate…christianity is centered on a God who is said to be all knowing,all seeing and all powerfull…yet acts like a human male…and an insecure one at that…and you dont find that just a trifle suspect? cuz i do…

  • oclarki

    wrf3,
    I want to give you a little encouragement. You are really doing yoemans work in this comment section. I appreciate your calm rational approach. Especially in the face of people like raging bee, who appears to be another in a long line of people who come here to belittle and mock our beliefs. It’s interesting to see how the spittle and invective fly in the face of your reasonable questioning and straighforward logic. I salute you for engaging people that have no interest in conceding a point, or examining what you have to say honestly.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig:
    Thats my point…i dont believe God “judges” ANYTHING…at least not in the sense the the bible implies IT does. God created everything….every thing that is or that can ever be…every single possible outcome of every single possible action of every single atoms or groups of atoms has been methodically thought out. It is therefore absurd to be lieve that God would have bothered to created something IT was meant to eventually dislike.
    Absurd to whom? Just because you or I might find something absurd doesn’t mean that God does. Furthermore, St. Paul disagrees with you: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction;
    and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…” [Rom 9:21-23].
    Now, granted, this is a “what if” scenario in these 3 verses, but the entire chapter gives good warrant for holding that this does happen.
    So I have to ask you: why should I believe your view of God above Paul’s? It seems to me you base your view of God on what you think appropriate. If that’s the case, that’s very dangerous ground on which to stand.
    And yes, good and evil are subjective personal judgement. Its just that some “personal” judgements are more popular than others but its silly to believe that God has a preference here either way since IT obviously intended for both to exist in the same universe.
    Sure. But why? What was/is God’s purpose? Could it be the case that one way to measure a relationship with God is by how much we agree/disagree with His revealed morality? That is, the person who says, “God! You’re wrong” has some serious problems with themselves?
    [wrf3] “Is there any difference between what God considers “good” and what we consider “good”?”
    Well,since we are not equipped with the ability to restructure reality at the sub atomic level to satisfy any whims that may traverse our minds on a given moment,then i d say the answer to that is a resounding YES.
    I agree with your conclusion, although I need to think more about how you got there. In any case, this ties in with my previous remark. Does the fact that we disagree with God show that there’s a problem with God, or with us?
    [wrf3] “Here I have to partially disagree. God is good, He is self-existent, He is love…”
    that sentiment,while admirable and very popular, sounds more like what you want God to be as opposed to what God actually is.
    Well, I only gave you a partial list. God, as He has appeared to reveal Himself, is actually quite terrifying. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “our God is a consuming fire.” He transforms everything He “touches”. Furthermore, Christianity teaches that the only way to true life involves our death. That’s not a pleasant prospect.
    Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a god like the God of Christianity. That may be simply a lack of my own imagination; but everywhere the opportunity to exalt man is presented, it doesn’t happen. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, worthwhile in man. We are fit only for destruction.
    Is God blue? Is IT hermaphrodite? Is God rock music? It just seems silly to me to saddle PHYSICAL attributes that only have any meaning in the PHYSICAL universe to a being that created the PHYSICAL universe from nothing at all.
    I set forth personal attributes; you come back with physical attributes. God has no physical attributes. Is your God personal?
    Before God created the universe,was IT good?
    Deep question. Did the universe exist in God’s mind before He made it? If so, there is a sense in which one could say that it was good.
    and if so,good to who or to what and compared to who or to what? and who did it love when nothing existed to be loved ?
    He loved Himself (which is one of several reasons why orthodox Christianity teaches the doctrine of the Trinity).
    [wrf3] “Where does your statement about what you think God is like come from? That is, what is your warrant for saying that “God is not good or evil or loving…”?”
    As stated above,every one of these concepts (love hate good evil) have meaning only in our physical reality…
    Only if there isn’t a transcendent God. So I can’t agree with this statement. And, I’m not sure Plato would agree with this, either. Some things exist in the realm of ideals which are independent of physical existence.
    [wrf3] “Of course. As St. Paul wrote, “the just shall live by faith.” To which he adds, faith in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I trust Him; I don’t trust myself.”
    But since you can only know anything through yourself (eyes,ears,mind),how can you trust anything you think you know about God to be accurate?
    On the practical level, by education I’m a mathematician, by vocation I’m a software engineer. I trust things that appear to be consistent.
    On the theoretical level, I have little warrant for trusting my ability to show that complex systems are consistent. If I’m wrong, the only hope I have is that God will correct me. (Which, again, happens to be one of those things that ends up being congruent with Christianity: we are saved by God’s grace, not by any merit on our part. As I said earlier, we have no merit).

  • smmtheory

    (Ludwig)Before God created the universe,was IT good?
    (wrf3)Deep question. Did the universe exist in God’s mind before He made it? If so, there is a sense in which one could say that it was good.

    Wrf3, I believe you misunderstood Ludwig’s question. I think his capitalized IT was meant to represent his imagined god. In that case it is not such a deep question. ‘Was God good before creating the universe?’ might have been a better way to phrase the question, but Ludwig can’t resist making another swipe at the personal quality of God as a father figure.

  • Raging Bee

    This view suggests that morality is a purely social construct.
    A fact which religious belief (another “purely social construct” BTW) does absolutely nothing to change.
    …Following this logic, one must conclude that concepts of good and evil are altogether arbitrary, subjective, and unnatural.
    Not to the extent that such concepts are explicitly based on objective factors such as observable consequences. Besides, the presence of a religious belief does absolutely nothing to change the facts here: a subjective opinion is still a subjective opinion, even if I try to back it up with unverifiable claims of “God told me so.” (Such an opinion can, however, be made a little less subjective if it’s backed up with facts and logic instead.)
    All I needed was one counter-example to disprove your claim that what I said was “observably false”.
    No, you needed a representative sample to prove that atheists as a rule believe that “might makes right.” And you still haven’t provided it — even the quotes you provide don’t support that claim without a visible bit of stretching.
    If a moral agent cannot be silenced, then that moral agent has a privileged position.
    There you go, basing your morality on “might makes right” again. (If a Colombian drug-lord cannot be silenced, would you give him a “privileged position” as a “moral agent?” Or would you join with the atheists in making a rational calculation of whose morality was more valid?)
    Just for a moment, suppose the theists are right. There is no moral basis for disagreeing with God. Therefore, dissenters are in the wrong. What do you expect God to do with them?
    Another “might makes right” argument — from a theist, not an atheist. And it’s a pretty lame one, too: if “There is no moral basis for disagreeing with God,” then why did God give us the brainpower to question him? Why has (your) God not struck me down for using my God-given brain in a manner of my choosing? Did it ever occur to you that God WANTS us to question him/her/it/them and use the mental powers he/she/it/they chose to give us?
    You know a Christian has no clue about his own God when he falls back on vague threats of eternal damnation, instead of offering positive spiritual fruit.

  • smmtheory

    yet acts like a human male…and an insecure one at that…

    Your interpretation of God’s actions (presumably based upon what is in the Bible, eh?), or to be more precise, your misinterpretation of the writings of a group of imperfect men trying (and sometimes failing) to understand a perfect creator that you are trying to shoehorn into your own version of what you think a perfect being would be… no wonder you are in a bad mood all the time.

  • Raging Bee

    But we do not have stupid rulings that prevent Christians using public rooms privately for meetings.
    Neither do we. We have plenty of rulings saying exactly the opposite, in fact.
    We also allow our citizens to have a choice of schools, so that they can include religion in their kids’ education if they choose [with only a small money penalty, compared to the state school monopolies you enforce.]
    So do we. Our “state schools” are not “monopolies;” non-state schools are allowed to exist.
    Why should Christians pay their education taxes twice, as de facto in the USA?
    What “education taxes” are you talking about?
    My point is that your Founders would never have conceived of such nonsense -it took SCOTUS judges to do that!
    If you actually read what our Founders wrote — as opposed to what our faux-Christian radical right make up about them — you would know that they did indeed conceive of what you so ignorantly call “nonsense.”
    However your schools may be structured, they clearly have failed to give you a decent education, at least about America.

  • ex-preacher

    Among the many points that wrf has avoided is one I raised back in post #30:
    “Religion is a horrible guide to morality as religions differ tremendously as to what is moral and are willing to kill each other over it.”
    The theists here act as if morality would be clear if everyone would just listen to and obey God. Sounds nice in theory, but let’s look at reality.
    In the first place, there are hundreds of different ideas of the nature and will of the various gods. Wrf says he feels better about dealing with someone who is honestly trying to obey their god (like, say, Osama bin Laden), rather than someone who’s not sure about god at all (like, say, Thomas Jefferson). I don’t. There is nothing quite so frightening as a person who is utterly convinced of what their god wants them to do. As Bertrand Russell put it: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
    So whose version of god should we believe? Wrf’s?
    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Christian God is the one and true god and we must all seek to obey his will as expressed in the Bible as codified by the Council of Nicea. How do we determine that will when it comes to practical matters? Wrf mentioned waterboarding. Tell us, wrf, what is God’s official pronouncement on waterboarding? If you witnessed the recent comments here, it seems that most Christians think waterboarding is fine. I know sincere and intelligent Christians who think God wants all his followers to be pacifists. Are they wrong? Tell us, wrf, how do you determine God’s exact will on who to vote for as president and what do you say to everyone who comes to a different conclusion?

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: Among the many points that wrf has avoided is one I raised back in post #30:
    “Religion is a horrible guide to morality as religions differ tremendously as to what is moral and are willing to kill each other over it.”
    I didn’t avoid it, ex-p. For me to answer your question, you have to tell me what a good guide to morality is and why it is good. So far, all I have to go on is what you personally happen to think is good. But that imposes no constraint on me, since you then have to show why you get to be an arbiter of right and wrong. It’s something you’ve been avoiding this entire discussion.
    The theists here act as if morality would be clear if everyone would just listen to and obey God. Sounds nice in theory, but let’s look at reality.
    So correct theory is less important to you than, say, pragmatism? Since when did pragmatism become the objective means of deciding between good and evil?
    … As Bertrand Russell put it: “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
    Of course, Russell plays with the paradox he’s so famous for, by being certain about this. He was a brilliant mathematician, but lousy theologian. Had he employed the logic for which he was justly famous to his musings, he might not have made such a blunder as this. Is Russell wise? Then he can’t believe what he just said. Is Russell certain about this? Then he has to be a fool or a fanatic, and therefore not worth listening to.
    He can’t have it both ways.
    For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Christian God is the one and true god and we must all seek to obey his will as expressed in the Bible as codified by the Council of Nicea. How do we determine that will when it comes to practical matters?
    You first enter into a right relationship with Him and then you ask Him.
    Wrf mentioned waterboarding. Tell us, wrf, what is God’s official pronouncement on waterboarding? If you witnessed the recent comments here, it seems that most Christians think waterboarding is fine. I know sincere and intelligent Christians who think God wants all his followers to be pacifists. Are they wrong? Tell us, wrf, how do you determine God’s exact will on who to vote for as president and what do you say to everyone who comes to a different conclusion?
    Why do you think this is important? I’ll answer your individual questions, but those answers are (IMO), far less interesting than why you asked this question in the first place. The reason being, you have no less uncertainty. Is abortion wrong? How about homosexuality? Who will be a good president and who not? There’s a deeper issue, here.

  • smmtheory

    It doesn’t really matter who becomes President of the U.S. after the next election anyway, waterboarding will still be an option for interrogation. The only difference will be who gets interrogated that way, how much it will or won’t get covered up, and who will care at that point.

  • Raging Bee

    So far, all I have to go on is what you personally happen to think is good.
    This is a transparent lie: an objective and useful means of determining right and wrong has been repeatedly pointed out to you, right here on this blog, and you have repeatedly pretended not to understand or trust it. So in addition to being a might-makes-right hypocrite who doesn’t understand the doctrine and spirituality of his own faith, you’re a denialist as well.
    Since when did pragmatism become the objective means of deciding between good and evil?
    Morality (with or without God(s)) is a tool for improving the quality of our lives in the real world, by agreeing to adhere to a set of rules in order to do each other the most good and the least harm. So morality is, by definition, pragmatic. Your failure to grasp this obvious point speaks volumes about your grasp of reality.
    You first enter into a right relationship with Him and then you ask Him.
    Some of us have already been doing that, and we’ve tried to explain the answers we got by this means. And all you did was ignore, deny, and misrepresent what you were told, and continue to repeat assertions that are ignorant and demostrably false.

  • ex-preacher

    I look forward to your answers, wrf.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: I look forward to your answers, wrf.
    And I yours. From my viewpoint, it doesn’t really matter which way I answer you, so I’m wondering why you care.

  • oclarki

    The objective and useful means of determining right and wrong that you think has been repeatedly pointed out to wrf3, is demonstrably NOT objective. Simply repeating over and over that a subjective measure of what brings the best result (for whom?), is objective is simply not true. Additionally, attempting to say that the observed consequences of an action or set of morals makes it right or wrong, again, relies on a subjective interpretation.
    The athiest is left trying to convince the other person his morals are correct by demanding that person bend to his subjective interpretation of the consequences.

  • Raging Bee

    Simply repeating over and over that a subjective measure of what brings the best result (for whom?), is objective is simply not true.
    When the “subjective measure” is shared by an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of all humans, all over the world, then we can safely say that that measure is more than just a “subjective” preference.
    For example, the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of all humans, all over the world, have no desire to be robbed, raped, lied to or murdered; therefore we can safely say, in all of our real-world dealings, that robbery, rape, lies, and murder are OBJECTIVELY wrong. Hell, even the practitioners of such wrongs agree with this assessment, to the extent that they would do their best to avoid being on the receiving end of them.
    The athiest is left trying to convince the other person his morals are correct by demanding that person bend to his subjective interpretation of the consequences.
    Actually, the atheists I’ve met base their morals on COMMON INTEREST: as in “We both wouldn’t want [X] to happen to us, and we both OBSERVE that [X] has consequences we don’t want; therefore we can both agree that [X] should be considered wrong.” See? No “demanding” or “bending” necessary.
    Have you ever actually met even ONE real atheist in your life? [channel_Shatner]Have you ever even KISSED a girl?[/channel_Shatner]

  • oclarki

    Raging Bee,
    The name seems apt. No need to stomp your feet and let the Christians get your goat.
    So all you are basing your morality on is the feelings of the overwhelming majority? Well if that isn’t the very essence of “might makes right”, I don’t know what is. The overwhelming majority for most of human history thought raping, robbing and killing you enemies and competitors was not only desirable, but imperative. Or look to India for another example, until the middle of the 19th century still-living wives were set upon their dead husbands funeral pyres. The overwhelming majority of Indians believed this was the moral thing to do. It seems that your value of other people’s worth is subjective based on the time frame you are living on this planet.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    [wrf3] So far, all I have to go on is what you personally happen to think is good.
    This is a transparent lie:
    Maybe. Or it may be the case that you are engaging in the fallacy in thinking that if enough examples of subjective behavior are observed that it becomes an objective basis for morality. Of course we know that this isn’t true. Didn’t your mother ever tell you, “it doesn’t matter if everyone else does it, that doesn’t make it right?”
    an objective and useful means of determining right and wrong has been repeatedly pointed out to you, right here on this blog, and you have repeatedly pretended not to understand or trust it.
    Of course, I’m so stupid that it can’t possibly be the case that I really do understand what you’re saying and can show why you’re wrong.
    So in addition to being a might-makes-right hypocrite who doesn’t understand the doctrine and spirituality of his own faith, you’re a denialist as well.
    Again, it would help if you didn’t distort what I’ve said. What I have said is that if there is no god, then might logically makes right. If there is a god, then whether or not might makes right depends on the nature of the god (or gods). It’s possible that a self-existent, but not omnipotent, god would have the privileged moral position based on the inability to silence god. In that case, might would enforce right. Therefore, omnipotence in the theistic universe isn’t the causal factor for moral superiority.
    [wrf3] Since when did pragmatism become the objective means of deciding between good and evil?
    Morality (with or without God(s)) is a tool for improving the quality of our lives in the real world, by agreeing to adhere to a set of rules in order to do each other the most good and the least harm. So morality is, by definition, pragmatic. Your failure to grasp this obvious point speaks volumes about your grasp of reality.
    First, you’re engaging in circular reasoning when you say “Morality is a tool … in order to do each other the most good”.
    What you are saying is that “good is a tool … in order to do each other the most good”. This reduces to “good is good”, which is a meaningless tautology.
    Second, you assume that the fact that others exist somehow necessitates that their existence is, in some way, important. You have been inculcated into this view; so much so that you take it as an absolute truth when anyone who has travelled the world knows that this is a Westernism. In India, for example, people simply aren’t important. The beggars spend a lot less time with the natives and congregate around Westerners when they can. Stalin had 20 million Soviet citizens killed because they didn’t fit into his plans. And so on.
    Third, pragmatism is relative. What is pragmatic for you (or your group) may not be pragmatic for me (or my group). Since you used a Shatner reference in a later post, let me remind you that Kodos made a pragmatic decision. Turns out it wasn’t morally right.
    I grant you that you do not wish to be harmed. Furthermore, I grant you that you prefer to associate with like-minded people. That does not make your subjective personal and group preference an objective basis for morality. As the philosophers say, “is does not imply ought.” Your preference incurs no obligation upon me.
    [wrf3] You first enter into a right relationship with Him and then you ask Him.
    Some of us have already been doing that, and we’ve tried to explain the answers we got by this means.
    Just curious, but how have you entered into this right relationship with God? Have you done this on your terms or God’s terms? If the latter, what do you claim those terms to be?

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher asked: Tell us, wrf, what is God’s official pronouncement on waterboarding? If you witnessed the recent comments here, it seems that most Christians think waterboarding is fine.
    I think you’ve combined two questions into one, namely:
    1) is waterboarding torture? and
    2) is torture ever justified?
    First, using the definition that torture “the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something…” then, yes, waterboarding is torture. However, not everyone agrees on this definition when they engage this issue. Some people, for example, think that a component of torture is lasting damage. From what I’ve gathered, waterboarding does not cause lasting physical damage (corrections welcome). Whether or not it causes lasting psychological damage depends on the recipient.
    Second, is torture ever justified? Depends. Is torture always evil? You tell me.
    I know sincere and intelligent Christians who think God wants all his followers to be pacifists. Are they wrong?
    I think so. When I’ve been in arguments on this, it’s usually the case that the pacifists are either arguing from feelings, or from an incomplete understanding of Scripture. It is a fundamental fact of the universe that, from the eternal viewpoint, there are only two things that one can do with an enemy. Either isolate them or make them your friend. There aren’t any other options. The first option implies violence (even if it’s just a futile struggle on their part). Second, the strong are to protect the weak. This means that those who can control their strength must protect the weak from those who cannot control their strength.
    Tell us, wrf, how do you determine God’s exact will on who to vote for as president
    Is His will on this matter that everyone vote the same?
    and what do you say to everyone who comes to a different conclusion?
    “I think you’re making a mistake, for these reasons, but I still love you.” Why? What would you say?

  • Ludwig

    “Absurd to whom? Just because you or I might find something absurd doesn’t mean that God does. Furthermore, St. Paul disagrees with you: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction;
    and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…” [Rom 9:21-23].
    Now, granted, this is a “what if” scenario in these 3 verses, but the entire chapter gives good warrant for holding that this does happen.
    Absurd to me obviously because everything stated about God in your exemple implies that God has a human mind and what i keep telling you is that a being who is omnipotent and omniscient and timeless DOES NOT think like a human or share any attributes with a human.
    “So I have to ask you: why should I believe your view of God above Paul’s? It seems to me you base your view of God on what you think appropriate. If that’s the case, that’s very dangerous ground on which to stand.”
    Thats probably a more interesting question that you even realised it…why should you believe my view over Paul’s?…or Paul’s over mine? Has Paul for instance demonstrated any ability to understand the supernatural or any special insight into God that you can point to and say “Ah! thats why he’s right and you re wrong”. What do you know of Paul? of his personality,of his quircks, of his flaws his likes or dislikes? Seems to me like you re extending a whole lot of faith on the alledged staements of someone you’ve never met…like me.
    “Sure. But why? What was/is God’s purpose? Could it be the case that one way to measure a relationship with God is by how much we agree/disagree with His revealed morality? That is, the person who says, “God! You’re wrong” has some serious problems with themselves?”
    Which brings us back to my original question? How do you know…how CAN you know that A: God even has a morality to be revealed and B: what that morality even is and where did you that that information from or C: if the source of information you use can be trusted?
    “I agree with your conclusion, although I need to think more about how you got there. In any case, this ties in with my previous remark. Does the fact that we disagree with God show that there’s a problem with God, or with us?”
    I dont accept the premise of your point here. I dont believe i disagree with God in anything…i do however disagree with what OTHERS are saying about God and with good reasons.
    “Well, I only gave you a partial list. God, as He has appeared to reveal Himself, is actually quite terrifying. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “our God is a consuming fire.” He transforms everything He “touches”. Furthermore, Christianity teaches that the only way to true life involves our death. That’s not a pleasant prospect.”
    Well as i said earlier,thats not at all how God “reveals” Itself to me. Once again,thats not disagreeing with God…simply with what other HUMANS are saying about God…Humans i have no reason to believe and every reason to doubt.
    “Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a god like the God of Christianity. That may be simply a lack of my own imagination; but everywhere the opportunity to exalt man is presented, it doesn’t happen. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, worthwhile in man. We are fit only for destruction.”
    This sort of nihilistic “mentality” (to be polite,as it is much more akin to a mental deffect) which is present throughout appocalyptic christianity is one of the main reason i consider your religion to be ultimately a dangerous cult. I certainly dont consider myself “fit for destruction”, nor have i ever been any reason by God to believe that.
    “I set forth personal attributes; you come back with physical attributes. God has no physical attributes. Is your God personal?”
    Attributes are attributes…weather physical,psychological or spiritual,they are an integral part of the universe we inhabit and lose all meaning outside of it.
    “Deep question. Did the universe exist in God’s mind before He made it? If so, there is a sense in which one could say that it was good.”
    If God is omnipotent,there is no difference between IT’s “imagination” and reality…whatever God thinks occurs.
    “He loved Himself (which is one of several reasons why orthodox Christianity teaches the doctrine of the Trinity).”
    what purpose would “loving ITself” serve God?
    “Only if there isn’t a transcendent God. So I can’t agree with this statement. And, I’m not sure Plato would agree with this, either. Some things exist in the realm of ideals which are independent of physical existence.”
    OH? well i ve certainly never met a disembodied ideal…all the ones i know of require a physical conduit in order to exist,weather it be a book,a DVD or a human brain. And even if God is trancendant,it does not necessarely mean any of our ideals are.
    “On the practical level, by education I’m a mathematician, by vocation I’m a software engineer. I trust things that appear to be consistent.
    On the theoretical level, I have little warrant for trusting my ability to show that complex systems are consistent. If I’m wrong, the only hope I have is that God will correct me. (Which, again, happens to be one of those things that ends up being congruent with Christianity: we are saved by God’s grace, not by any merit on our part. As I said earlier, we have no merit).”
    But theories are merely extentions of the practical level and like all human endavours they are regulated by recognisable paterns so saying that you have no reason to trust your ability to reason theoratically without having God correcting your thought process is completely irrational…not to mention false. We have the ability to theorise on our own…in fact,i seriously doubt that God would ever intervene…in our thoughts or in the physical. Our sanity depends on the predictability of our environement…remove that and our minds are throw into utter chaos. miracle,either physical or mental would remove the predictability of the environement,leading you to the inability to trust anything you know or think you know about anything and would eventually lead to insanity.

  • Raging Bee

    What I have said is that if there is no god, then might logically makes right.
    That is a non-sequitur. The latter does not logically follow from the former. (For one thing, it depends on how one defines “right.”)
    What you are saying is that “good is a tool … in order to do each other the most good”.
    That is most certainly NOT what I said. Again, you are lying. By “morality,” I meant a code of conduct and a means of distinguishing good from evil; and you know it.
    Second, you assume that the fact that others exist somehow necessitates that their existence is, in some way, important.
    It’s important to those who exist, and those who exist make the rules according to their mutually-understood common interest, whether or not they claim (unverifiably) the existence of any deities to back up their opinions.
    Third, pragmatism is relative.
    More “relative” than arbitrary claims about supernatural beings that can’t be proven or disproven, based on one book, by multiple authors, assembled by a committee, that doesn’t even have a bibliography? I think not.
    Your preference incurs no obligation upon me.
    Thanks for admitting that you can’t be trusted to act like a decent human being. So much for “atheists have no morals.”
    Just curious, but how have you entered into this right relationship with God?
    That’s a story that covers decades of experiences and barely makes sense even to me. Of course, it might make more sense after it’s finished…
    Have you done this on your terms or God’s terms?
    On the terms of whichever God(ess) was speaking to me at the time.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: Absurd to me obviously because everything stated about God in your exemple implies that God has a human mind and what i keep telling you is that a being who is omnipotent and omniscient and timeless DOES NOT think like a human or share any attributes with a human.
    I agree with you that God does not think like we do, although perhaps for different reasons. But your statement that God does not “share any attributes with a human” is countered by Genesis, in which man was made in the “image” of God (whatever that happens to be). In any case, even if God does not think like a human, how does this preclude communication between God and man? What prevents the higher from “reaching down”, as it were, to the lower?
    [wrf3] “So I have to ask you: why should I believe your view of God above Paul’s? It seems to me you base your view of God on what you think appropriate. If that’s the case, that’s very dangerous ground on which to stand.”
    Thats probably a more interesting question that you even realised it…why should you believe my view over Paul’s?…or Paul’s over mine? Has Paul for instance demonstrated any ability to understand the supernatural or any special insight into God that you can point to and say “Ah! thats why he’s right and you re wrong”.
    Why yes, I think Paul has. Paul is far, far, far more radical than most Christians give him credit for. The agreement between Paul and Jesus helps, too.
    What do you know of Paul? of his personality,of his quircks, of his flaws his likes or dislikes? Seems to me like you re extending a whole lot of faith on the alledged staements of someone you’ve never met…like me.
    I’ve met Paul through his writings which, so far, exceed yours. But I also have Jesus, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, John, …
    Which brings us back to my original question? How do you know…how CAN you know that A: God even has a morality to be revealed
    Because God has revealed it.
    and B: what that morality even is
    Does it matter? Is it not enough that He holds it?
    and where did you that that information from or C: if the source of information you use can be trusted?
    It’s consistent and consistently different from all other religions with which I am familiar.
    [wrf3] “I agree with your conclusion, although I need to think more about how you got there. In any case, this ties in with my previous remark. Does the fact that we disagree with God show that there’s a problem with God, or with us?”
    I dont accept the premise of your point here. I dont believe i disagree with God in anything…
    But haven’t you painted yourself in a corner, since your notion of God doesn’t communicate with man?
    i do however disagree with what OTHERS are saying about God and with good reasons.
    And some of these are…?
    [wrf3] “Well, I only gave you a partial list. God, as He has appeared to reveal Himself, is actually quite terrifying. As the writer of the book of Hebrews said, “our God is a consuming fire.” He transforms everything He “touches”. Furthermore, Christianity teaches that the only way to true life involves our death. That’s not a pleasant prospect.”
    Well as i said earlier,thats not at all how God “reveals” Itself to me.
    Unless I’ve completely misunderstood you, God doesn’t reveal himself to anyone. By its nature, it can’t. Have I got this wrong?
    Once again,thats not disagreeing with God…simply with what other HUMANS are saying about God…Humans i have no reason to believe and every reason to doubt.
    With so much doubt, how can you make any positive statements about God?
    [wrf3] “Frankly, I couldn’t imagine a god like the God of Christianity. That may be simply a lack of my own imagination; but everywhere the opportunity to exalt man is presented, it doesn’t happen. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, worthwhile in man. We are fit only for destruction.”
    This sort of nihilistic “mentality” (to be polite,as it is much more akin to a mental deffect)
    Don’t pull any punches. You won’t offend me. BTW, would it surprise you that Paul said something similar to this?
    In any case, this “nihilistic ‘mentality'” is only half of the story. What man is unable to do, God is able to do. What this means is that my hope is in Him and not in me. That’s not nihilism — it’s the opposite.
    which is present throughout appocalyptic christianity is one of the main reason i consider your religion to be ultimately a dangerous cult. I certainly dont consider myself “fit for destruction”, nor have i ever been any reason by God to believe that.
    But you should be full of doubts about your own abilities, should you not? After all, if you are so uncertain about God, what gives you any reason to be certain about yourself?
    [wrf3] “I set forth personal attributes; you come back with physical attributes. God has no physical attributes. Is your God personal?”
    Attributes are attributes…weather physical,psychological or spiritual,they are an integral part of the universe we inhabit and lose all meaning outside of it.
    Why do you think there are no transcendent attributes?
    […]
    [wrf3] “He loved Himself (which is one of several reasons why orthodox Christianity teaches the doctrine of the Trinity).”
    what purpose would “loving ITself” serve God?
    What purpose does loving yourself serve?
    [wrf3] “Only if there isn’t a transcendent God. So I can’t agree with this statement. And, I’m not sure Plato would agree with this, either. Some things exist in the realm of ideals which are independent of physical existence.”
    OH? well i ve certainly never met a disembodied ideal…all the ones i know of require a physical conduit in order to exist,weather it be a book,a DVD or a human brain.
    What about your God? Are you saying that IT is a product of your imagination?
    […]

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    [wrf3] What I have said is that if there is no god, then might logically makes right.
    That is a non-sequitur. The latter does not logically follow from the former. (For one thing, it depends on how one defines “right.”)
    Which definition and supporting chain of reasoning I presented in post #31.
    [wrf3] What you are saying is that “good is a tool … in order to do each other the most good”.
    That is most certainly NOT what I said. Again, you are lying. By “morality,” I meant a code of conduct and a means of distinguishing good from evil; and you know it.
    But you say that “pragmatism” is that means for distinguishing between good and evil, but “pragmatism” has the circular reference to good built in. How do you break this circular reference? What makes pragmatism “more good” than “survival of the fittest”, or “enlightened self-interest”, or altruism, or love? The tyrant thinks of themselves as being pragmatic, do they not?
    [wrf3] Second, you assume that the fact that others exist somehow necessitates that their existence is, in some way, important.
    It’s important to those who exist,
    Of course. It’s important to you that you exist. So what? What obligation does that place on anyone else? Some people would think that you’re a waste of oxygen, part of the horde of humans who are ravaging the planet, and who ought to be exterminated for the greater good in order to reduce the earth’s population to under a billion. How will you convince these people that they are wrong?
    and those who exist make the rules according to their mutually-understood common interest, whether or not they claim (unverifiably) the existence of any deities to back up their opinions.
    And when others unalterably disagree with those rules? Who decides and how?
    [wrf3] Third, pragmatism is relative.
    More “relative” than arbitrary claims about supernatural beings that can’t be proven or disproven, based on one book, by multiple authors, assembled by a committee, that doesn’t even have a bibliography? I think not.
    “A little bit relative” is like “a little big pregnant”. If it’s relative, it isn’t objective, which is what I’ve been saying all along.
    [wrf3] Your preference incurs no obligation upon me.
    Thanks for admitting that you can’t be trusted to act like a decent human being.
    Just because your preference incurs no obligation upon me doesn’t mean that I don’t have an obligation from another source. Just because you can’t imagine something else doesn’t mean that no other alternatives exist.
    So much for “atheists have no morals.”
    Sigh. I write the same thing over and over and over, and you still don’t get it. I have never said “atheists have no morals”. What I have said, repeatedly, is that the only basis for atheistic morality is their personal preference. Furthermore, atheists ignore the issue of how to resolve the problem of competing moralities that are unalterably opposed to one another.
    [wrf3] Just curious, but how have you entered into this right relationship with God?
    That’s a story that covers decades of experiences and barely makes sense even to me. Of course, it might make more sense after it’s finished…
    It would still be interesting to hear.
    [wrf3] Have you done this on your terms or God’s terms?
    On the terms of whichever God(ess) was speaking to me at the time.
    We’re all ears. Why not share?

  • ex-preacher

    Can you not see what you are doing, wrf3? You claim that your special relationship with God provides you with objective morality, yet you arrive at your answers by using reason, not any special message from God. There are plenty of Christians, including Joe Carter, who argue quite convincingly that waterboarding is torture and torture is wrong. So which of you has the authentic and objective truth? I’m starting to wonder if you know what “objective” means. If you do, then can you see the dilemma that arises when various people who claim to have the objectve truth disagree with each other? At last count, there are 33,800 Christian denominations, each of which claims to be the closest to the objective truth. Please tell me why I should be convinced that you are any closer to the truth than they are. Please use a method that can be objectively shown to be accurate.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: Can you not see what you are doing, wrf3?
    Well, yes, I can. And, once again, I’m going to have to point out that you are claiming that I’ve said things that I haven’t said.
    You claim that your special relationship with God provides you with objective morality,
    No, I have not. What I have said is:
    1) All morality is based on personal preference. For the theist, this even includes God.
    2) In geometry, the axioms that are chosen shape the development of the geometry. The fifth axiom of Euclidean geometry results in triangles where the sum of the measure of the angles equals 180 degrees. A different fifth axiom results in a non-Euclidean geometry where the angles of triangles sum to less than 180 degrees. Yet another version of the axiom results in triangles that sum to more than 180 degrees. Different axioms give different results. (Which geometry does our universe have? Last I looked, we still weren’t sure…)
    3) The same is true of philosophical systems. The axiom “there is a God” leads to one set of results. The axiom “there is no God” leads to another.
    4) That all morality is subjective is true for both atheists and theists.
    5) Both systems have the problem of deciding which morality has the “privileged” position; that is, which one controls when there is disagreement.
    6) From post 31, the atheist must logically (if not emotionally) say that “might makes right.” Raging Bee is almost to the point where he’ll have to admit this. The theist, depending on the nature and number of God/gods, can say that “might enforces right.” In Christianity, God is right, not because He is omnipotent, but because He is self-existent.
    Since your post is predicated on something I have not said, I’m going to cut to the last part:
    Please tell me why I should be convinced that you are any closer to the truth than they are. Please use a method that can be objectively shown to be accurate.
    Cold, hard logic. The atheist, if they really admit to logic and reason, must admit that might makes right. If you’re comfortable with that, go forth and live it. But don’t complain if others use it against you.
    I have to get up in less than 7 hours and may be away from the internet for a while. I’ll check back on the discussion as soon as I can.

  • Raging Bee

    So all you are basing your morality on is the feelings of the overwhelming majority? Well if that isn’t the very essence of “might makes right”, I don’t know what is.
    Do you really not understand the difference between “might” and “reasoned concensus?” Sometimes the two go together, sometimes they don’t. The German people, for example, shared (and still share) a reasoned concensus that mass-murder was wrong; and the fact that that concensus was temporarily breached and eroded by Nazi might did not change the fact that the concensus — not the might — determined what was right.
    The overwhelming majority for most of human history thought raping, robbing and killing you enemies and competitors was not only desirable, but imperative.
    Actually, no, they didn’t think it desirable; they sought to avoid having such things happen to their own peoples, either by winning wars, and deterring aggression, or by avoiding them and resolving disputes peacefully.
    Just because your preference incurs no obligation upon me doesn’t mean that I don’t have an obligation from another source.
    You CLAIM, as a Christian, that you have an obligation from another source; but it is perfectly obvious from your behavior that you have chosen not to fulfull that obligation. Furthermore, you refuse to acknowledge the reality of other people’s morality, which is a way of dehumanizing them and giving yourself an excuse to treat tham as less than human — which, in fact, you do when you spread falsehoods about them, in direct vioation of your own Savior’s teachings. Therefore, you can’t be trusted.
    What I have said, repeatedly, is that the only basis for atheistic morality is their personal preference. Furthermore, atheists ignore the issue of how to resolve the problem of competing moralities that are unalterably opposed to one another.
    And I have repeatedly explained that this is not true, and you nonetheless keep on repeating the same lie, knowing you have absolutely no evidence to support your assertions.

  • Ludwig

    “I agree with you that God does not think like we do, although perhaps for different reasons. But your statement that God does not “share any attributes with a human” is countered by Genesis, in which man was made in the “image” of God (whatever that happens to be). In any case, even if God does not think like a human, how does this preclude communication between God and man? What prevents the higher from “reaching down”, as it were, to the lower?”
    First off,the book of Genesis is contradicted by the best science in the world. Now the book of genesis is a man made thing,just like science is…but since the later has been shown to work while the former has no supporting evidence whatsoever,its easy for me to know what i ll trust…so as far as i m concerned,you do your argument no favor by basing in in whole or in part on any books contained in the bible…i do not believe they contain any more divine inspirations than the words i m typing to you know and i ve never been shown cause to believe otherwise. Second,i do believe God communicates with us…but by us i dont mean just people…God communicates with every living things but does so through means that are as unique and as personal as each individual lifeform in the universe…in essense,God speaks to us through creation itself.
    “Why yes, I think Paul has. Paul is far, far, far more radical than most Christians give him credit for. The agreement between Paul and Jesus helps, too.”
    So you think that radicalism implies having a special conduit to God?
    “I’ve met Paul through his writings which, so far, exceed yours. But I also have Jesus, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, John, …”
    I ve met Omer through the Iliad and Tolkien through the Lord of the Ring…so of course it means that there used to be Cyclops and sireens roaming the sea as well as Hobbits and ringwraith roaming the middle earth…wherever that may be…
    “Because God has revealed it.”
    How was it revealed…when…and to whom?
    “Does it matter? Is it not enough that He holds it?”
    It matter if you make claims about God i dont believe to be accurate.
    “It’s consistent and consistently different from all other religions with which I am familiar.”
    Virtually every religious doctrine in existance has attributes that are unique and not found in other religious beliefs,just as they all (yes christianity as well) have several traits in common with one another…exactly what you would expect to find if all religions originates from the same source…now weather that source is God or human imagination remains an open question to this day.
    “But haven’t you painted yourself in a corner, since your notion of God doesn’t communicate with man?”
    I never said God doesnt communicate. but i dont believe its communication contain instructions and command for us to follow.
    “And some of these are…?”
    probably for the same reasons you dont believe that Mohamed is “the real prophet” of “the real God”. Humans have agenda…i take that as a given…religious humans are no different…i also take that as a given.
    “Unless I’ve completely misunderstood you, God doesn’t reveal himself to anyone. By its nature, it can’t. Have I got this wrong?”
    Yes you did as i indicated above.
    “With so much doubt, how can you make any positive statements about God?”
    I doubt the claims made by others about God…i have a bit more trust in what i have discovered by myself…i still believe i may be wrong…but i ve yet to shown i am.
    “In any case, this “nihilistic ‘mentality'” is only half of the story. What man is unable to do, God is able to do. What this means is that my hope is in Him and not in me. That’s not nihilism — it’s the opposite.”
    Saying that man is fit for destruction implies that man has no Intrinsic worth in and of itself…i dont believe that to be the case. Nor do i believe God created a free willed creature that can have no worth unless its through God.
    “But you should be full of doubts about your own abilities, should you not? After all, if you are so uncertain about God, what gives you any reason to be certain about yourself?”
    I am reasonably certain of my abilities because they have proven themselves adequate to my satisfaction. and once again,my uncerntainties are not about God but about how IT is depicted by others. No one has ever made the case that God is the god of the bible…not to me anyway.
    “Why do you think there are no transcendent attributes?”
    I know of no attributes that would have any worth in a context outside the reality we inhabit.
    “What purpose does loving yourself serve?”
    Because if i dont love myself,at least a little,i will probably let myself die…or at least i wont take any steps to sustain my well being. I m mortal… NEED to take care of myself if i dont want to die prematurely…God has no such problem.
    “What about your God? Are you saying that IT is a product of your imagination?”
    Possibly…i dont believe its just that but there really no way for my to know for certain.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    (My daughter is at a middle school in Georgia for a robotics competition. The school has wireless; it will let me get to evangelicaloutpost.com and cnn.com, but not slashdot.org! Anyway, to while away the time between competitions… It’s sad how we Christians hate science and technology, isn’t it?)
    [oclarki] So all you are basing your morality on is the feelings of the overwhelming majority? Well if that isn’t the very essence of “might makes right”, I don’t know what is.
    Do you really not understand the difference between “might” and “reasoned concensus?”
    Of course we do. But reason doesn’t always reach consensus. I can name any number of topics where the differences between two sides is unimaginably vast. So, what happens then? How is right decided when two sides, who are unalterably opposed to each other, clash? When reason fails, then what?
    [wrf3] Just because your preference incurs no obligation upon me doesn’t mean that I don’t have an obligation from another source.
    You CLAIM, as a Christian, that you have an obligation from another source; but it is perfectly obvious from your behavior that you have chosen not to fulfull that obligation.
    Fortunately, you aren’t my judge. And it seems to me that I’m not the one who has been flinging accusations of lying & etc… I’ve disagreed with you, stated my reasons, shown where you’ve distorted and misunderstood what I’ve said, but that’s expected behavior for a debate.
    Furthermore, you refuse to acknowledge the reality of other people’s morality,
    I have? Where? I have denied the objectivity you claim for your morality, but I haven’t denied the reality.
    which is a way of dehumanizing them and giving yourself an excuse to treat tham as less than human
    I’m not an atheist, remember? Please stop projecting what you might do in this situation with what I do. I disagree with you. But I don’t think you’re less than human. You are still made in the image of God, as marred as it might be – but that makes you no different from me.
    – which, in fact, you do when you spread falsehoods about them, in direct vioation of your own Savior’s teachings. Therefore, you can’t be trusted.
    Alleged falsehoods, remember? When you echo back what you think I’ve said, it’s clear that there’s a lot of distortion in the loop. The bit about me denying the reality of your morality, for example. Completely untrue, yet you accuse me of being an untrustworthy liar.
    [wrf3] What I have said, repeatedly, is that the only basis for atheistic morality is their personal preference. Furthermore, atheists ignore the issue of how to resolve the problem of competing moralities that are unalterably opposed to one another.
    And I have repeatedly explained that this is not true,
    I know you have. I (and others) have found your explanations to be incomplete and we’ve provided reasons why.
    and you nonetheless keep on repeating the same lie, knowing you have absolutely no evidence to support your assertions.
    That’s really sad. You claim that atheistic morality is objective; I’ve shown you that famous atheistic philosophers disagree with you, I’ve countered your claim to objectivity through consensus (via two lines of argument: is does not imply ought, and “didn’t your mother tell you that even if everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t make it right”) yet you say I have no evidence?
    Did your mother ever say something like that to you? Was she right, or wrong? Do you really think that the crowd is always morally right (for that’s what your “morality by consensus” position really is)?
    Of course you don’t. The majority of the world is not atheistic and they think that atheism is morally wrong. If you were going to be consistent with your position, you’d have to agree with them. But you don’t. So either you are logically inconsistent or your claim to morality through consensus is wrong. Which is it?

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: First off,the book of Genesis is contradicted by the best science in the world.
    Really? I have an engineering degree. I’ve had classes in physics (including relativity and quantum mechanics), chemistry, biology, astronomy, thermodynamics, artificial intelligence, and others. For the life of me I don’t see where Genesis conflicts with science.
    Now, there is a conflict between the philosophy of naturalism and Genesis and where science depends on naturalism, instead of observation and measurement, there can be a conflict. Science (today) claims that matter gave rise to intelligence, Genesis claims that intelligence gave rise to matter. But the “scientific” position is unproven and untestable — so it really isn’t science.
    … i ve never been shown cause to believe otherwise.
    One of the things I’ve been trying to scope out in our discussions is just what, exactly, would cause you to believe otherwise? There was a comment to this effect over on Vox Popoli, that said:
    I’ve heard a few say that they wouldn’t believe in God until He personally showed up and commanded them.
    My response was always to ask whether they wouldn’t immediately seek professional help for a psychotic hallucination.
    I got blank stares, and one grudging “Yes, I probably would”.
    Along with this, the last part of your comment says, that there is no way for you to know for certain that your god isn’t simply a product of your imagination. With that kind of worldview, what could possibly change your mind?

  • ex-preacher

    Yes, wrf3, I did misunderstand your position. Thanks for educating me. In my defense, it is hard to keep up with all the varied and often mutually exclusive Christian arguments.
    So, a few new questions:
    1. You say that everything begins with the axioms that one holds. How do you choose your axioms? Are they arbitrary? To use the example of Euclid, though I am no mathmetician, were his axioms just chosen randomly? Did he try to verify them and see if they matched up with reality?
    2. How do you explain the fact that so many people who share your starting axiom (a god exists) end up at such different places on issues of morality? Specifically, how do you explain the difference between you and Joe on God’s position on waterboarding?
    3. What could possibly change your worldview?
    Thanks!

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher writes: So, a few new questions: …
    It’s your turn to answer.

  • ex-preacher

    Please specify and/or repeat your questions.
    Thanks!

  • Ludwig

    “Really? I have an engineering degree. I’ve had classes in physics (including relativity and quantum mechanics), chemistry, biology, astronomy, thermodynamics, artificial intelligence, and others. For the life of me I don’t see where Genesis conflicts with science.”
    Really? the book of Genesis claims that humans used to live past 900…modern science in biology and genetics clearly demonstrate that it is impossible for a human being to live for such long periods of time. medical science has advanced to a point where many diseases that were fatal up to 80 years have been eliminated and yet,the most you can hope for is a few decades past 100 years of life and even those are the rare exceptions. The book of Genesis claims that a flood destroyed virtually all life on earth some 4500 years ago…yet we have clear evidence of cultures that have existed before during and after this global event completely unaffected. The oldest city in existance,Jericho is over 10 000 years old and shows no evidence of ever having been destroyed by a flood or submerged at any time during its history. We have evidence of continual native american presence on this continent going back up 22 thousands ago. Standard zoology demonstrate the impossibility of all animals of the world radiating from mount ararat to cover all the continents of the world. I can go on and on and on…
    “Now, there is a conflict between the philosophy of naturalism and Genesis and where science depends on naturalism, instead of observation and measurement, there can be a conflict. Science (today) claims that matter gave rise to intelligence, Genesis claims that intelligence gave rise to matter. But the “scientific” position is unproven and untestable — so it really isn’t science.”
    Naturalism is observation and mesurement and and formulating theories about these observation and mesurement. And by the way,science is not in the business of PROVING anything but rather of finding coherent and rational explanations for any given phenomenons and your suggesting otherwise casts some serious doubt on the veracity of your claims about your so called scientific education. the book of Genesis merely makes one unsupported statement after another without ever providing any explanation,coherent or otherwise.
    “One of the things I’ve been trying to scope out in our discussions is just what, exactly, would cause you to believe otherwise? There was a comment to this effect over on Vox Popoli, that said:
    I’ve heard a few say that they wouldn’t believe in God until He personally showed up and commanded them.
    My response was always to ask whether they wouldn’t immediately seek professional help for a psychotic hallucination.
    I got blank stares, and one grudging “Yes, I probably would”.”
    I do confess that i dont really know what would change my mind…i can only tell you i ll know when it happens…IF it happens.
    As for the bible,which is for all intents and purposes the source of christian beliefs,i can tell you of a few things that could make me believe some of its claims…meeting a 900 year old human or at least finding the remains of one with the bones showing centuries of growth. Encountering a talking snake. Finding evidence that all animals of the world were at one point in time on mount ararat and spread out from there to return to their continents of origin. Seeing a man being healed of his amputations of both arms,with the limbs regrowibng instantly at the beckoning of a christian preacher. Witnessing someone whom i had verified was clearly dead come back to life 3 days later. Seems odd to me that its only the highly superstitious people who lived thousands of years ago and who essentially needed no goading to believe in the supernatural that got the benefit of having clearly observable miracles being performed in their midts. Why cant we get some of those today?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    This view suggests that morality is a purely social construct. Proof of such a hypothesis is prevalent in many sources, such as literature or recent history. Following this logic, one must conclude that concepts of good and evil are altogether arbitrary, subjective, and unnatural.
    I’m still thinking ‘so what’? Humans are largely constructed by society. A human beign cannot exist without also a network of other humans who have raised him and guided him. The notion of human raised alone ‘by nature’ either by wolves (like the legend of Rome’s founding twins) or animals (think Tarazan) is a myth, in real life the few sad cases of ‘ferral children’ raised with minimal human connection look more like cases of severe brain damage. YOu don’t get human without human society.
    It doesn’t follow that because something is a ‘social construct’ it is either unreal or so plastic that it can be changed into whatever you want. On the contrary, it seems ‘social constructs’ are as essential to you being a human as air is to you being a living creature.
    Barrie
    Boonton [I think] refuses to accept that God created all languages as part of all things. To B. it might be, [like maths?], ‘just there’ and not intrinsic to reality. He’s no real Platonist at this point. So ‘Good’ becomes just each person’s gut, UNspoken response to a painting or, say, ‘Jesus’? ‘Language’ changes meaning here and communication stops.
    It is not my understanding of Christianity that God created ‘all languages’ directly. Yes, yes we can say he created everything therefore that indirectly includes all languages but unlike Muslims who hold that Arabic is a ‘sacred language’ because God choose to speak it, languages are not held to be divine. They are tools for communication. Like any other tools I would imagine some are better for certain types of jobs than others (Italian for opera perhaps?) but if someone were telling you one language was absolutely perfect you’d be quite skeptical of such a salesman.
    Language imo doesn’t just change meaning willy nilly. If you work with the analogy of the tool, the hammer stricks the nail into the wood. You are stuck with that ‘meaning’ of what it does. But if try to make the hammer divine you’re going to start worshipping the crooked nail because it’s a product of a hammer instead of seeing that the nail is crooked because the hammer is only so good.
    B. shifts the game so he can define ‘good’ non-linguistically, which leads to mysticism, and I would say away from any coherent religious discussion.
    You can’t have it both ways, B!

    I wouldn’t say that Good is entirely non-linguistic anymore than I would say you couldn’t use a painting to show what a person looks like. I would say that perhaps you are going to loose ‘resolution’ talking about good linguistically just as any painting or picture contains some information loss. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be many times when this loss isn’t outweighed by the gains but it’s not quite correct to start believing the loss doesn’t exist. It’s like the photographer who starts believing the picture is the real subject rather than what his camera is taking a picture of.
    A Zen would just smile and ask ‘why is coherence a good thing anyway’? [using language to express himself] – or JUST smile!
    God does not ‘just smile’.

    Ahhh but the Zen would say he both smiles and talks you would seem to say God just talks!
    wrf3
    Really? I have an engineering degree. I’ve had classes in physics (including relativity and quantum mechanics), chemistry, biology, astronomy, thermodynamics, artificial intelligence, and others. For the life of me I don’t see where Genesis conflicts with science.
    Now, there is a conflict between the philosophy of naturalism and Genesis and where science depends on naturalism, instead of observation and measurement, there can be a conflict. Science (today) claims that matter gave rise to intelligence, Genesis claims that intelligence gave rise to matter. But the “scientific” position is unproven and untestable — so it really isn’t science.
    If you have an engineering degree why do you seem to oblivious to what is practical? Science does indeed gave rise to human intelligence but science also says any statements about nonhuman intelligence are speculation. BUT seriously, you know the conflicts between Genesis and modern science are not philosophical issues like ‘matter or intelligence first?’ but very practical ones like is the earth young or old? Was it created in 7 days or much more? You’re either being coy when you make statements like this or are being dishonest.
    Ex
    Thinking about my feelings on language:
    1. You say that everything begins with the axioms that one holds. How do you choose your axioms? Are they arbitrary? To use the example of Euclid, though I am no mathmetician, were his axioms just chosen randomly? Did he try to verify them and see if they matched up with reality?
    We know today that one of his axioms does not clearly match reality perfectly. Likewise his other axioms sound good but we don’t know if they perfectly match reality. Like a picture, they seem to do a good job of lining up with reality but when pushed I wouldn’t assume they don’t ‘lose some resolution’.

  • wrf3

    ex-preacher: Please specify and/or repeat your questions.
    Why are you asking these particular questions? I don’t find them very interesting or difficult to answer; I’m hoping that you have an ulterior motive that might make this more interesting.
    Yes, wrf3, I did misunderstand your position. Thanks for educating me. In my defense, it is hard to keep up with all the varied and often mutually exclusive Christian arguments.
    See? There’s something going on in your mind that gives rise to your questions and this statement. It’s hard to keep up with the varied and often mutually exclusive atheist arguments. Raging Bee claims that morality is objective; famous atheists say that it’s subjective. One atheist web site says that might doesn’t make right, other atheists say it does. Some scientists say that string theory is the future of physics; other PhD’s say that string theory has set physics back for years.
    You appear to be equating differences within a group with something…
    1. You say that everything begins with the axioms that one holds.
    Do you disagree?
    How do you choose your axioms?
    You try them out and see if what develops is consistent and interesting. There are, for examples, a lot more geometries than the famous Euclidean and two non-Euclidean forms; but most geometers find them uninteresting.
    Are they arbitrary?
    Euclid’s 5th postulate certainly is.
    To use the example of Euclid, though I am no mathmetician, were his axioms just chosen randomly?
    In his case, no. Remember, an axiom is something that is held to be true, without proof. Euclid tried to come up with the fewest number of “self-evident” statements in order to describe what he thought to be the essential elements of a system that would allow him to deal with problems of measurement.
    Did he try to verify them and see if they matched up with reality?
    This is a very deep question, since we don’t know what reality really is. Euclid wanted to match what he could measure. But Euclid’s reality wasn’t ours. Einstein changed that. As of right now, we don’t know which geometry our universe has.
    2. How do you explain the fact that so many people who share your starting axiom (a god exists) end up at such different places on issues of morality? Specifically, how do you explain the difference between you and Joe on God’s position on waterboarding?
    The same way you explain atheists who can’t agree, scientists who can’t agree, and politicians who can’t agree: ignorance, incompetence, individual agendas.
    3. What could possibly change your worldview?
    There are a couple. One would be to find the body. Another would be to destroy the Church. Another would be to silence that voice that tells me things that I don’t know.

  • wrf3

    Boonton
    If you have an engineering degree why do you seem to oblivious to what is practical?
    Could you elaborate? It may be that you did, below, but I think something was lost in transmission.
    Science does indeed gave rise to human intelligence
    Did you mean to say, “Science does indeed say particles gave rise to human intelligence”?
    If so, you know that this is a statement based on philosophy, and not experiment, right?
    but science also says any statements about nonhuman intelligence are speculation.
    At the moment, most statements about intelligence, period, are speculation. First, we don’t know what intelligence is and, second, we don’t know how it comes about.
    BUT seriously, you know the conflicts between Genesis and modern science are not philosophical issues like ‘matter or intelligence first?’
    Of course they are. The fundamental issue is “what is the worldview that describes reality”?
    but very practical ones like is the earth young or old? Was it created in 7 days or much more?
    a) old, b) much more. That’s assuming that “Tuesday-ism” isn’t true (that the Universe was created in it’s present form last Tuesday. There is no way for us to say that it wasn’t. It is an article of faith that it wasn’t. Funny that our lives are rooted in faith, but must of us don’t admit it. Wonder if that’s because that’s something that Christianity has something to say about?)
    You’re either being coy when you make statements like this or are being dishonest.
    It’s really sad watching atheists project like this. They look for reasons why they might act this way and then assume everyone else is like them. It couldn’t possibly be the case that I simply might be mistaken? Or that I might see things differently than you? Oh, no. I have to be an evil scoundrel who wants to lie or misdirect. Raging Bee does it, too. Thinks that I want to dehumanize him, or that I hate him, because I disagree with him.
    Why do you assume the worst?

  • wrf3

    Ludwig
    [… concerning the “conflict” between Genesis and science …]
    For there to be a conflict, there has to be a valid juxtaposition of two competing spheres. To say that Genesis conflicts with science is akin to saying that Star Trek conflicts with science. Sure, the Enterprise shouldn’t “swooosh” as it moves across the screen. But people who complain about sound in space surely miss the point: Star Trek is about people, not about science. To complain about a talking snake in Genesis is to complain about the difficulty of silicon life forms and the improbability of a creature that looks like a badly cooked pizza. “Devil in the Dark” was about fear and prejudice (who, after all, was really the “devil”?). It is a timeless story that won’t become less true based on future scientific discoveries.
    The entire Bible is one story – that of the redemption of man. Genesis begins with why man needs redeeming and continues with the long story of how God works in history. It’s why Jesus repeatedly echoed this theme: “I have come to seek and to save the lost.” “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
    Earlier, you wrote: I certainly dont consider myself “fit for destruction”, nor have i ever been any reason by God to believe that.
    Could it be that your real problem with Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) is that it’s message is in direct opposition to this?

  • Ludwig

    “For there to be a conflict, there has to be a valid juxtaposition of two competing spheres. To say that Genesis conflicts with science is akin to saying that Star Trek conflicts with science. Sure, the Enterprise shouldn’t “swooosh” as it moves across the screen. But people who complain about sound in space surely miss the point: Star Trek is about people, not about science. To complain about a talking snake in Genesis is to complain about the difficulty of silicon life forms and the improbability of a creature that looks like a badly cooked pizza. “Devil in the Dark” was about fear and prejudice (who, after all, was really the “devil”?). It is a timeless story that won’t become less true based on future scientific discoveries.”
    So you are saying that the book of Genesis is fiction written to make a point? Well i think we finally found something to agree upon…oh glee……oh but wait…
    “The entire Bible is one story – that of the redemption of man. Genesis begins with why man needs redeeming and continues with the long story of how God works in history. It’s why Jesus repeatedly echoed this theme: “I have come to seek and to save the lost.” “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
    i knew it was too good to be true….i dont agree in the least that we “fall short” of what God meant for us and i m convinced that poeple who believe that are plagued with serious self loathing issues and should never be left in a position where they have to make decisions about other people whom they equally loath.
    “Could it be that your real problem with Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) is that it’s message is in direct opposition to this?”
    Among other things but yes thats basically it. The God that created the universe i live in tells me through this universe that i am one creature among many placed here for an undetermined amount of time to do what i feel i must do with the time i have. It also tell me that its not answerable to me as to whatever happens while i m here but nor i to IT as to what i do or dont do about whatever happens while i m here. And placed against that you have the Bible,a book of dubious and unterermined (but undoubtadly HUMAN) authorship that tells me that I am “responsible” for the actions taken by some guy who lived 6000 years ago even though i was not consulted about said action or even alive to prevent it and that this respoisibility condemns me to the status of wretched degenerate scum unless i agree to spend eternity crawling on my belly and giving thanks to the bible God for not destroying me utterly like i deserve for the unspeakable crime of not being there to knock the apple out of Adam’s hand before he could take a bite. Yeah the choice of who to believe here (Bible/man or Universe
    /God) is pretty much a no brainer here.

  • Raging Bee

    …But the “scientific” position is unproven and untestable — so it really isn’t science.
    Yet another bald assertion from wrf3 that flatly conflicts with a planetful of observable reality — no better than “the Earth is flat” (another proposition supposedly proved by the Bible, BTW). How much more ridiculous can a person get in Jesus’ name? Some “Christians” just never learn.
    I’ve heard a few say that they wouldn’t believe in God until He personally showed up and commanded them.
    And I’ve heard lots of people say they believe in their respective God(s) because he/she/it/they actually DID show up and command them. I’d be inclined to say they’d been hallucinating — except those people have proven themselves more intelligent, wise, compassionate, honest, mature, spiritual, and in touch with reality (material and spiritual) than people like wrf3 show themselves to be here.

  • smmtheory

    no better than “the Earth is flat” (another proposition supposedly proved by the Bible, BTW).

    Now there’s a myth if I ever saw one. You’ll have to provide backup for your assertion that the Bible supposedly proves the Earth is flat, otherwise your assertion is detrimental to your argument. And while you are at it… please provide an example of observable reality that bears out the supposition that nature gave rise to intelligence.

  • oclarki

    Why so angry Raging Bee? The reactions of some of the visitors to Joe’s blog never cease to amaze me. This is an ostensibly Christian site, yet you specifically came here to sneer at our beliefs. Yet, in the face of people making an intellectually vigorous defense of something you disagree with, your reaction is anger?
    Do you think your ability to argue in the comments section of a blog is going to change anyone’s beliefs? Why are you compelled to come here and engage people you think are either liars or simpletons.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    That’s assuming that “Tuesday-ism” isn’t true (that the Universe was created in it’s present form last Tuesday. There is no way for us to say that it wasn’t. It is an article of faith that it wasn’t. Funny that our lives are rooted in faith, but must of us don’t admit it.
    Are they really? Suppose I believe tuesdayism is true? What difference does it make? the best model to use to figure out the world is the one that does not have Tuesday-ism. If you assume the world is a perfect simulation of a 6 billion year old planet then that’s what you would use even if the truth was that it was just 6 days old!
    To see how that really doesn’t make a difference suppose when giving a speech advocating Tuesdayism I meeet a person whose ‘faith’ is wednesdayism. Do we disagree about anything real? To contradictory ‘faiths’ that seem to have no real impact. I suspect this implies your assertion here is somewhat spurious.
    It’s really sad watching atheists project like this. They look for reasons why they might act this way and then assume everyone else is like them. It couldn’t possibly be the case that I simply might be mistaken? Or that I might see things differently than you?
    I was replying your statement that “for the life of me I don’t see where Genesis conflicts with science.” I don’t think it’s overboard to question that assertion by you. Perhaps you have reconciled science and Genesis in your mind which is fine but to reconcile something means that there had to at least be the appearence of difference. A plain reading of Genesis does not agree with science and not in speculative questions like “did intelligence exist before existence” but in simple statements of fact that are scientifically untenable (not only 6 days creation but the flood, the ark and other questions).
    This does not mean one has to necessarily reject Genesis or ignore science but it is coy to suggest that there is no issue a reasonable person wishing to do honor both sources would have to struggle with.
    smmtheory
    please provide an example of observable reality that bears out the supposition that nature gave rise to intelligence.
    To date every observed conception and birth and maturing of a human mind has taken place in nature. Intelligence appears to be directly tied to the structure of matter in the brain which to every observation made obeys laws no different than the matter in the rest of the universe….in fact is made of the matter in the rest of the universe.
    So we see every observable human beign who has intelligence rose out of nature. Does that alone prove that the first human didn’t arise out of nature? No but it is a potent observation that he probably did.

  • smmtheory

    To date every observed conception and birth and maturing of a human mind has taken place in nature.

    Not in the absence of other intelligence… and to me, that is a potent observation that nature did NOT give rise to intelligence. How about citing proof that intelligence is directly tied to matter. That might be a more potent observation, if it could be observed.

  • Raging Bee

    oclarki: I’m not sneering at your beliefs, I’m sneering at the ignorance and dishonesty I see here. If you don’t like that, either stop reading the responses, or get yourself a more honest and sensible set of beliefs.
    In the meantime, I feel absolutely no obligation to allow such obvious and destructive lies as I’ve read here about atheists to go unchallenged. Before you question why I respond to the lies, why don’t you question why others post them on a public forum in the first place?

  • Raging Bee

    smmtheory: what specific mechanism do you propose to explain the creation of “intelligence?” How, exactly, would you prove that that process, and not the one proposed by evolutionists, took place? What evidence would you accept as the final DISproof of your specific hypothesis?
    Until you answer those questions, in detail, you have no alternative scientific explanation to replace evolution; all you have is a personal religious faith, which is perfectly okay as long as you don’t misrepresent it as science.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Not in the absence of other intelligence… and to me, that is a potent observation that nature did NOT give rise to intelligence.
    Certainly you are not going to tell us that intercourse only produces offspring if the partners use intelligence ;)?
    How about citing proof that intelligence is directly tied to matter. That might be a more potent observation, if it could be observed.
    With human intelligence there seems to be a huge mass of evidence that points in that direction. Damage to the brain appears to impede or destroy intelligence, various types of matter can alter it. Even experiences seem to alter the structure of matter in the brain thereby altering thought.
    Of course we also have ample evidence that other organisms appear to have different degrees of intelligence and originated from matter so that is a pretty good observation in support of the contention that with humans at least matter came before intelligence and intelligence is a property that matter has when it is arranged in a particular way.
    That doesn’t prove that intelligence couldn’t also be a property of something that is a different type of matter or isn’t even matter at all.

  • oclarki

    Raging Bee,
    You keep using the word lies. That word “lies” I do not think it means what you think it means. Disagreement is not dishonesty. If you really thought people like wrf3 were ignorant, you wouldn’t waste your time on them. So really there is something compelling you to engage the Christian worldview. What is it, and why do you find it so compelling that you cannot ignore it and go on with your life.
    Additionally you admit that you are sneering at us ignorant fools. Do you think that sort of attitude is more or less likely to result in people listening to you?

  • smmtheory

    smmtheory: what specific mechanism do you propose to explain the creation of “intelligence?” How, exactly, would you prove that that process, and not the one proposed by evolutionists, took place? What evidence would you accept as the final DISproof of your specific hypothesis?

    Intelligence is metaphysical, it is not dependent upon matter, so explaining the mechanics of creation of intelligence in terms of matter physics is impossible. No amount of science can explain it, and inversely to hold that evolution brought about intelligence is a religious belief that misrepresents itself as science.

    Certainly you are not going to tell us that intercourse only produces offspring if the partners use intelligence ;)?

    You are operating under a misinterpretation of my statement. To clarify what I was saying, the maturing of a human mind has never taken place in nature in the absence of other intelligence.

    Damage to the brain appears to impede or destroy intelligence, various types of matter can alter it.

    This is an imperfect analogy, but damage to the cockpit of a plane impedes the operation of the plane, but doesn’t damage the intelligence of the pilot. The brain is the interface between intelligence and the material world. Changes in brain matter may alter the interface, but not the intelligence.

  • wrf3

    Boonton:
    [wrf3] That’s assuming that “Tuesday-ism” isn’t true (that the Universe was created in it’s present form last Tuesday. There is no way for us to say that it wasn’t. It is an article of faith that it wasn’t. Funny that our lives are rooted in faith, but must of us don’t admit it.
    Are they really?
    Absolutely. One axiom of faith is that what our senses tell us about the world external to our mind is as it appears to be. Another is Occam’s razor. Nowhere in nature is it written that Occam’s razor is really true. Another is “there is a god”, while another is “there is no god.” Another is “I’m capable of accurately evaluating the evidence around me.” I’m sure there are a lot more.
    Suppose I believe tuesdayism is true? What difference does it make?
    It changes the way you perceive the world. If tuesdayism is true, then I think it follows that “naturalism” is false. If tuesdayism is true, it means that what you see isn’t a real representation of the external world. And so on.
    the best model to use to figure out the world is the one that does not have Tuesday-ism.
    Bzzzt. Foul. You are injecting another article of faith — that the best explanation is the simplest. Since when does “best” equal “true”?
    If you assume the world is a perfect simulation of a 6 billion year old planet then that’s what you would use even if the truth was that it was just 6 days old!
    Yep. The question is, how do you actually prove which one actually corresponds to reality? I don’t think you can (but I could be wrong), hence we’re back to having to rely on unproven assertions about what reality really is.
    To see how that really doesn’t make a difference suppose when giving a speech advocating Tuesdayism I meeet a person whose ‘faith’ is wednesdayism. Do we disagree about anything real? To contradictory ‘faiths’ that seem to have no real impact. I suspect this implies your assertion here is somewhat spurious.
    Except you’re doing it again: you’re relying on your particular unproven notions about what is really true. Furthermore, you haven’t fully examined the various axiom systems to see how far the ripples spread. Change one axiom of Euclid and you have a completely different view of reality.
    [wrf3] It’s really sad watching atheists project like this. They look for reasons why they might act this way and then assume everyone else is like them. It couldn’t possibly be the case that I simply might be mistaken? Or that I might see things differently than you?
    I was replying your statement that “for the life of me I don’t see where Genesis conflicts with science.” I don’t think it’s overboard to question that assertion by you.
    Of course not. I like questions. But what really happened was ad hominem attacks.
    Perhaps you have reconciled science and Genesis in your mind which is fine but to reconcile something means that there had to at least be the appearence of difference. A plain reading of Genesis
    There you go again, assuming that the “plain” reading is the right reading. How do you even know what the “plain” reading is?
    does not agree with science and not in speculative questions like “did intelligence exist before existence” but in simple statements of fact that are scientifically untenable (not only 6 days creation but the flood, the ark and other questions).
    While I don’t subscribe to 6 day creation, it can’t be proven wrong. It may run afoul of someone’s particular set of unproven assertions, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Maybe tuesdayism really is an accurate description of reality.
    This does not mean one has to necessarily reject Genesis or ignore science but it is coy to suggest that there is no issue a reasonable person wishing to do honor both sources would have to struggle with.
    Do you think you “honor” Genesis with a “plain” reading of it, as if it were a Western-style newspaper account?

  • Ludwig

    “Intelligence is metaphysical, it is not dependent upon matter, so explaining the mechanics of creation of intelligence in terms of matter physics is impossible. No amount of science can explain it, and inversely to hold that evolution brought about intelligence is a religious belief that misrepresents itself as science.”
    Now thats an advertisement on one’s ignorance if ever there was one. Can you give us a few exemple of metaphysical intelligences? that is intelligences that are not attached to a fuctional brain? Intelligence is ones ability to reason…its main (99.9%) use is problem solving. Can you give us a few exemple of metaphysical problems to be solved that would require intelligence outside the confines of the physical universe? But of course since “no one” can explain intelligence,as you suggest,isent it just the sweetest spot to occupy for you…you get to make declarations that you dont have to defend because no on can defend them anyway. Unfortunately,that requires the rest of us to give you a pas…ans we wont…nice try bub…
    “You are operating under a misinterpretation of my statement. To clarify what I was saying, the maturing of a human mind has never taken place in nature in the absence of other intelligence.”
    So? I suppose that you point is,since man is intelligent,he had to be created by something intelligent…is that it? And that the intelligence in question is all powerfull God,right? Oh but wait…omni powerfull being dont really need to be intelligent do they….after all,a being that has the inborn ability to rearrange matter and energy and thought at will cannot have any problems…ever. whatever he thinks,occurs. So God,if IT exists,would have to be a being of INSTINCT. strike two!!!!
    “This is an imperfect analogy, but damage to the cockpit of a plane impedes the operation of the plane, but doesn’t damage the intelligence of the pilot. The brain is the interface between intelligence and the material world. Changes in brain matter may alter the interface, but not the intelligence.”
    actually damage to the cockpit would usually kill the pilot so its a bad analogy indeed. you would think that a post that is meant to discuss intelligence would at least contain SOME…

  • Ludwig

    “Absolutely. One axiom of faith is that what our senses tell us about the world external to our mind is as it appears to be. Another is Occam’s razor. Nowhere in nature is it written that Occam’s razor is really true. Another is “there is a god”, while another is “there is no god.” Another is “I’m capable of accurately evaluating the evidence around me.” I’m sure there are a lot more.”
    The difference is that the information provided by our senses yields predictable and repeatable results that can reasonably be depended upon…articles of faith exist in the absence of any evidence that are external to the believer and therefore cannot be distinguished from the figments of his imagination.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: The difference is that the information provided by our senses yields predictable and repeatable results that can reasonably be depended upon…
    That doesn’t mean that it’s true. This should be covered in most elementary philosophy texts.
    …articles of faith exist in the absence of any evidence that are external to the believer and therefore cannot be distinguished from the figments of his imagination.
    You can’t evaluate evidence without articles of faith. It simply isn’t possible.

  • wrf3

    Boonton wrote: With human intelligence there seems to be a huge mass of evidence that points in that direction (that intelligence is tied to matter). Damage to the brain appears to impede or destroy intelligence, various types of matter can alter it. Even experiences seem to alter the structure of matter in the brain thereby altering thought.
    So what? The everyday counterexample is software. Destroy my laptop and I’ll just plug the backup disk into another machine. Software requires hardware in order to interface with the physical world, but software isn’t physical.
    Nor do we have any examples whatsoever of software arising apart from a pre-existing intelligence.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Disagreement is not dishonesty.
    No, but lying is. So is pretending to be knowledgeable when you know you’re not — that too is a form of lying.
    If you really thought people like wrf3 were ignorant, you wouldn’t waste your time on them.
    If wrf3’s teachers had had the same attitude, that would explain a lot about his current ignorance. SOMEONE’S gotta knock some sense into this sorry lot.
    And if you had good reason to disagree with my assessment, you’d be defending his arguments point by point, not making idiotic attempts to hint that my attention to his falsehoods proves him right.
    So really there is something compelling you to engage the Christian worldview.
    Bigotry and false witness are not part of a “Christian worldview;” they’re just con-games using the Cross of Christ as a flag-of-convenience.
    Additionally you admit that you are sneering at us ignorant fools. Do you think that sort of attitude is more or less likely to result in people listening to you?
    If it lets you lot know that your nonsensical preaching-points and apologetics won’t go unchallenged, then that would make it worth my time. Now for the same question back to you…?
    Oh, and speaking of ignorant fools…
    Intelligence is metaphysical, it is not dependent upon matter…
    Anyone who has had any dealings with persons with any type of brain damage, would know you have no clue what you’re talking about. Again.
    No amount of science can explain it…
    Plenty of science has ALREADY explained huge chunks of it, and they’re still making progress. Do try to keep up, won’t you?

  • smmtheory

    Can you give us a few exemple of metaphysical intelligences? that is intelligences that are not attached to a fuctional brain? Intelligence is ones ability to reason…its main (99.9%) use is problem solving. Can you give us a few exemple of metaphysical problems to be solved that would require intelligence outside the confines of the physical universe? But of course since “no one” can explain intelligence,as you suggest,isent it just the sweetest spot to occupy for you…you get to make declarations that you dont have to defend because no on can defend them anyway.

    I and others have given you examples, God, seraphim, and cherubim to name but 3, yet none of them you accept as examples, because there is nothing physical about them that you can get your hands on. Since I have very little real time experience with the metaphysical world, I’m not even sure there are problems to solve in the metaphysical world.
    Still though, you over generalized my statement. I did not say no one could explain intelligence or where it came from, I said that no amount of science can explain it. Thought cannot be measured scientifically, its elements cannot be quantified on paper. And also, I do have to defend my declarations, all the time to materialists so mired in the physicality of the mortal realm they cannot grasp the simplest of notions regarding the metaphysical world.

    actually damage to the cockpit would usually kill the pilot so its a bad analogy indeed. you would think that a post that is meant to discuss intelligence would at least contain SOME…

    Now why do you assume that the plane would necessarily be in the state of flying. Your refutation does not hold true if the plane is sitting unmoving on the ground. It also does not hold true if the damage is only to components that do not affect flight controls. The analogy was only intended to analogize the interface between the pilot and the plane, not the plane and the rest of the physical world.

    Oh but wait…omni powerfull being dont really need to be intelligent do they….after all,a being that has the inborn ability to rearrange matter and energy and thought at will cannot have any problems…ever. whatever he thinks,occurs. So God,if IT exists,would have to be a being of INSTINCT.

    Before you count it as a strike, reconcile will in the absence of intelligence. I don’t think you can do it without a hefty amount of circular reasoning.

  • Ludwig

    “That doesn’t mean that it’s true. This should be covered in most elementary philosophy texts”
    on the contrary…repeatability and reliability to not just one but several witnesses who all see teh same thing occur over and over again makes it true…at least,true in this reality…weather or not it isent true in some other ethereal universe that may or may not be a figment of your imagination in immaterial and of no interest.
    “You can’t evaluate evidence without articles of faith. It simply isn’t possible.”
    oh but you most certainly can. Faith is about hope…when you say i have Faith in God,you are essentially saying “Ill trust God and hope you IT let me down even though i have been given no reason to believe that IT wont let me down.”.
    Evidence is evaluated according to its reliability and predictability and it is trusted only when it has been tested sufficiently to assuade any reasonable doubt as to its veracity. Faith is for those things that have never been put to the test either because they cant be tested or because we jusr dont want to test them for fear of the result.

  • Ludwig

    “I and others have given you examples, God, seraphim, and cherubim to name but 3, yet none of them you accept as examples, because there is nothing physical about them that you can get your hands on. Since I have very little real time experience with the metaphysical world, I’m not even sure there are problems to solve in the metaphysical world.”
    Well i cannot accept something i have have no knowledge of,no way of having knowledge of and no reason to believe that you or anyone else has any knowledge of or any means to have knowledge of. That goes for leprechauns,the invisible pink unicorn,the greek gods,baron samedi,quetzecoualt,ect…I mean if you accept one,you have to accept them all dont you? unles you can demonstrate for us a means by which you can differenciate real gods from imagined ones. And for the record,i have been given no reason to believe that YOU have ANY experience in the metaphysical.
    “Still though, you over generalized my statement. I did not say no one could explain intelligence or where it came from, I said that no amount of science can explain it. Thought cannot be measured scientifically, its elements cannot be quantified on paper. And also, I do have to defend my declarations, all the time to materialists so mired in the physicality of the mortal realm they cannot grasp the simplest of notions regarding the metaphysical world.”
    I m sorry to keep repeating myself here but you have given no reason to believe that YOU have any grasp of the metaphysical,other than you claims that you do. Science is limited to the material that is true but then again,so is every aspect of our ability to perceive or analyse anything…essentially,we are incapable of knowing anything about the metaphysical all the way up to and including knowing weather or not it even exists. And by we,i mean YOU as well as everyone else.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig
    Ludwig writes: 125
    [wrf3] “That doesn’t mean that it’s true. This should be covered in most elementary philosophy texts”
    on the contrary…repeatability and reliability to not just one but several witnesses who all see teh same thing occur over and over again makes it true…
    Russell disagrees with you: “The inductive principle, however, is equally incapable of being proved by an appeal to experience. Experience might conceivably confirm the inductive principle as regards the cases that have already been examined; but as regards unexamined cases, it is the inductive principle alone that can justify any inference from what has been examined to what has not been examined. All arguments which, on the basis of experience, argue as to the future or the unexperienced parts of the past or present, assume the inductive principle; hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question. Thus we must either accept the inductive principle on the ground of its intrinsic evidence, or forego all justification of our expectations about the future. [The Problems of Philosophy, Bertrand Russell, pg. 68]
    […]
    [wrf3] “You can’t evaluate evidence without articles of faith. It simply isn’t possible.”
    oh but you most certainly can.
    Russell disagrees with you: “All knowledge, we find, must be built up upon our instinctive beliefs, and if these are rejected, nothing is left.” [op. cit., pg. 25]
    Faith is about hope…
    No, faith is about trust. An axiom is something that we trust to be true, without proof. As Russell clearly states, all of our knowledge is built upon faith: things that we believe to be true.
    when you say i have Faith in God,you are essentially saying “Ill trust God and hope you IT let me down even though i have been given no reason to believe that IT wont let me down.”.
    If you can’t trust God, who (or what) can you trust?
    Evidence is evaluated according to its reliability and predictability and it is trusted only when it has been tested sufficiently to assuade any reasonable doubt as to its veracity. Faith is for those things that have never been put to the test either because they cant be tested or because we jusr dont want to test them for fear of the result.
    Like I said, you can’t evaluate evidence without faith. Russell agree with me, and disagrees with you.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig writes: Well i cannot accept something i have have no knowledge of,no way of having knowledge of and no reason to believe that you or anyone else has any knowledge of or any means to have knowledge of.
    So let’s stay in the realm you’re familiar with. As I showed in post 122, the example you’re looking for is software. Software is not physical, although it requires a particular physical substrate for instantiation. Destroy my laptop and I’ll simply plug my backup disk into another machine. Furthermore, there are no examples of software arising without prior intelligence. So the fact that I can damage my computer, either with a hammer, or a voltage spike, and it causes the computer’s “mind” to malfunction, doesn’t mean that the software is physical in nature. It isn’t.

  • Raging Bee

    So the fact that I can damage my computer, either with a hammer, or a voltage spike, and it causes the computer’s “mind” to malfunction, doesn’t mean that the software is physical in nature. It isn’t.
    Um, yes, that’s exactly what it means: once the physical medium on which the “software” is stored is destroyed, the software ceases to exist, just as a book ceases to exist when its pages are burned. (Unless, of course, you wish to assert that your copy of Microsoft Windows has a soul that will go someplece else and be judged by your God (or Bill Gates?) after your disk is fried…)

  • smmtheory

    Oh, and speaking of ignorant fools…

    Awwww, whatsamatter, the noises in my head starting to bother you again?

  • Rob Ryan

    “So the fact that I can damage my computer, either with a hammer, or a voltage spike, and it causes the computer’s “mind” to malfunction, doesn’t mean that the software is physical in nature. It isn’t.”
    This is stunning in its utter, yet confident, falseness. You might want to look for another analogy. If software is not physical, how does it work?

  • wrf3

    Rob Ryan & Raging Bee
    [wrf3] “So the fact that I can damage my computer, either with a hammer, or a voltage spike, and it causes the computer’s “mind” to malfunction, doesn’t mean that the software is physical in nature. It isn’t.”
    RR: This is stunning in its utter, yet confident, falseness. You might want to look for another analogy. If software is not physical, how does it work?
    Read what I wrote: “Software requires hardware in order to interface with the physical world, but software isn’t physical.”
    RB: Um, yes, that’s exactly what it means: once the physical medium on which the “software” is stored is destroyed, the software ceases to exist, just as a book ceases to exist when its pages are burned.
    That particular physical expression of the software ceases to exist. But what is the software? Is it the expression in a particular programming language? Is the same code, expressed in C and Lisp, really different software? Is the code, when compiled for the Intel 386 and IBM PowerPC cpus essentially different? Where does the essence of the software really reside?
    (Unless, of course, you wish to assert that your copy of Microsoft Windows has a soul that will go someplece else and be judged by your God (or Bill Gates?) after your disk is fried…)
    Windows? Are you kidding? The only product Microsoft could make that wouldn’t suck would be a vacuum cleaner. Real software engineers use Unix.

  • smmtheory

    Well i cannot accept something i have have no knowledge of,no way of having knowledge of and no reason to believe that you or anyone else has any knowledge of or any means to have knowledge of. That goes for leprechauns,the invisible pink unicorn,the greek gods,baron samedi,quetzecoualt,ect…I mean if you accept one,you have to accept them all dont you?

    Nope, I don’t have to accept them all as real metaphysical beings.

    And for the record,i have been given no reason to believe that YOU have ANY experience in the metaphysical.

    and

    I m sorry to keep repeating myself here but you have given no reason to believe that YOU have any grasp of the metaphysical,other than you claims that you do. Science is limited to the material that is true but then again,so is every aspect of our ability to perceive or analyse anything…essentially,we are incapable of knowing anything about the metaphysical all the way up to and including knowing weather or not it even exists. And by we,i mean YOU as well as everyone else.

    While my real time experience with the metaphysical world is limited, it is not as insignificant as you believe. I wake up with it every day. I experience contact with my mind and soul daily. Outside of that, my scope of interpreting and making sense of the metaphysical realm externally to my immediate surroundings is prone to interference. Sometimes I rely on the wisdom of others, sometimes I find insight through inspiration. For instance, you say you won’t believe that any person could live to be 900 or more years old, but I doubt you would give a second thought to the existence of a clan, tribe, or family that stretched out to 900 or more years.

  • Raging Bee

    Where does the essence of the software really reside?
    Only where it is physically stored: paper printouts, hard drives, tape backups, RAM, handwritten notes, the memory of a programmer, etc. If there’s no physical object/system on which it can be stored, then there is no “essence” to speak of. Furthermore, it is only by means of such physical manifestations that the software can have any effect in the physical world. No manifestation, no essence, no effect, no software.

  • jf

    I’ve read a lot of the comments posted concerning morality, and all I have to say is in response to this:
    [Raging Bee post 81 (and probably all following)]
    Morality (with or without God(s)) is a tool for improving the quality of our lives in the real world, by agreeing to adhere to a set of rules in order to do each other the most good and the least harm. So morality is, by definition, pragmatic. Your failure to grasp this obvious point speaks volumes about your grasp of reality.
    [end quote]
    [begin translation]
    Moral actions are those that are moral.
    [end translation]
    I think that says everything.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    [wrf3] Where does the essence of the software really reside?
    Only where it is physically stored: paper printouts, hard drives, tape backups, RAM, handwritten notes, the memory of a programmer, etc. If there’s no physical object/system on which it can be stored, then there is no “essence” to speak of.
    So numbers are only physical things? Software is nothing more than numbers in motion. As such, software belongs to the class of things that Bertrand calls “universals” [op. cit., pg. 91]
    Furthermore, it is only by means of such physical manifestations that the software can have any effect in the physical world.
    I already said this in post 128: “Software is not physical, although it requires a particular physical substrate for instantiation.”
    No manifestation, no essence, no effect, no software.
    This is plainly false; it’s like saying “unless written on paper, numbers don’t exist.”

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    smmtheory
    Intelligence is metaphysical, it is not dependent upon matter, so explaining the mechanics of creation of intelligence in terms of matter physics is impossible. No amount of science can explain it, and inversely to hold that evolution brought about intelligence is a religious belief that misrepresents itself as science.
    Why is intelligence metaphysical?
    This is an imperfect analogy, but damage to the cockpit of a plane impedes the operation of the plane, but doesn’t damage the intelligence of the pilot. The brain is the interface between intelligence and the material world. Changes in brain matter may alter the interface, but not the intelligence.
    Evidence of this assertion?
    wrf3
    Absolutely. One axiom of faith is that what our senses tell us about the world external to our mind is as it appears to be. Another is Occam’s razor. Nowhere in nature is it written that Occam’s razor is really true. Another is “there is a god”, while another is “there is no god.” Another is “I’m capable of accurately evaluating the evidence around me.” I’m sure there are a lot more.
    Occam’s Razor is not taken by faith to be true. It is simply a preference, there is no guarantee the simplest explanation will be the correct one irl. The first assumption likewise does not appear to be taken on faith but on experience. There are situations where our senses cannot be trusted to tell us about the real world and we train ourselves to ignore them (such as how pilots are trained to ignore their senses and fly by instruments).
    It changes the way you perceive the world. If tuesdayism is true, then I think it follows that “naturalism” is false. If tuesdayism is true, it means that what you see isn’t a real representation of the external world. And so on.
    In what sense would it be false? To get anything done you’re going to have to act as if tuesdayism isn’t true. The problem with tuesdayism isn’t that it doesn’t work or that you need faith not to believe in it, it is that believing in it adds NOTHING. Take an economically orientated POV here. To hold a belief requires some expenditure of energy. You have to learn about the belief, understand it, maybe even adapt your behavior to it. Some beliefs are adopted because they work, they pay off more than they cost. Believing in gravity, for example, saves you quite a bit in medical bills and keeps your life insurance premiums low. Other beliefs earn their way by at least giving you some comfortable thoughts even if they aren’t exactly true (think Santa Clause or a child’s imaginary friend).
    Tuesdayism, though, doesn’t seem to add much to justify its cost. Yes its kind of quirky but once you get over that it isn’t all that entertaining to hold. Since it doesn’t provide much in that respect what practical benefit does it hold? Again none because even if it is true you have to use the more traditional model of reality to get anything useful done. Even if I started believing in Tuesdayism tomorrow I’m not going to hand my drivers license back to the state because I think I’m only 6 days old rather than the state required 18 years old!
    Bzzzt. Foul. You are injecting another article of faith — that the best explanation is the simplest. Since when does “best” equal “true”?
    No, best in the sense of what works.
    Yep. The question is, how do you actually prove which one actually corresponds to reality? I don’t think you can (but I could be wrong), hence we’re back to having to rely on unproven assertions about what reality really is.
    You don’t. The difference between Tuesdayism and “The Matrix” was that the matrix was an imperfect simulation so the characters in the movie were able to prove the theory by exploiting the simulation’s imperfections….something they couldn’t do if either the simulation was perfect or if their theory was incorrect. Tuesdayism, though, assumes the simulation is perfect so it cannot be proven. That’s a pretty trivial theory. You’re essentially saying “Theory B is unprovable.” Well there’s plenty of ideas you can substitute in that statement for B but all of them are trivial. If the universe is a perfect simulation of a 12 billion year old universe the only strategy available is to act like you’re in a 12 billion year old universe.
    Except you’re doing it again: you’re relying on your particular unproven notions about what is really true. Furthermore, you haven’t fully examined the various axiom systems to see how far the ripples spread. Change one axiom of Euclid and you have a completely different view of reality.
    Except you’re starting with an assumption of a perfect simulation so all the ripples will be exactly the same. If the simulation is imperfect then you are in “The Matrix” world and then it would really matter.
    While I don’t subscribe to 6 day creation, it can’t be proven wrong. It may run afoul of someone’s particular set of unproven assertions, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Maybe tuesdayism really is an accurate description of reality.
    Then it’s trivial. You’re saying essentially we should believe in Tuesdayism but why? Even if Tuesdayism is true why is it worth believing in it? For the sake of argument, if an infinite entity went to all the trouble to create an infintely perfect illusion of a 12B year old universe it would seem quite pragmatic to believe in a 12B year old universe. Wouldn’t it?
    On Intelligence
    So what? The everyday counterexample is software. Destroy my laptop and I’ll just plug the backup disk into another machine. Software requires hardware in order to interface with the physical world, but software isn’t physical.
    But software is physical, software is a sequence of codes that exist somewhere physical. In this case they exist on your backup disk. If they exist on paper that you have to manually rekey it still exists somewhere physical. If you memorized every 0 and 1 on your harddrive it still exists physically in your brain. As would be easily demonstrated by knocking you on the head with a hammer thereby quickly ending the ‘backup software’.
    A ‘metaphysical’ backup would be restoring your laptop where no backup was ever made of its data!
    That particular physical expression of the software ceases to exist. But what is the software? Is it the expression in a particular programming language? Is the same code, expressed in C and Lisp, really different software? Is the code, when compiled for the Intel 386 and IBM PowerPC cpus essentially different? Where does the essence of the software really reside?
    Remember we were talking about whether or not language has limites. Does this ‘essence’ you are talking about have any real meaning or are you just describing similiar elements. Microsoft Excel compliled for a Mac and for a PC appears to be the same software because we see many macro similarities but it is nonetheless different. To the programmers who had to labor over millions of lines of code they are two very different animals. Even Excel running on two like PC’s is really different as the zeros and ones will exist on different portions of the hard drive, different electrons will be zipping thru the two systems etc. They are the ‘same’ only because we don’t happen to care about the differences so we call them the same….just like to the drunken lout at the bar all blondes may be the same. Likewise to the person who just wants to add up a few dozen figures Excel and Open Office are the same!
    The ‘essence’ appears to be little more than what we happen to care about at the moment. To the criminologist examining DNA, the ‘blondes’ in the bar are all very different and unique. To the drunk they are all the same. Is this essence really some metaphysical reality the blondes are carrying around inside of them or is this really a state that exists inside the brain of the person investigating the blondes in the bar?

  • Ludwig

    “For instance, you say you won’t believe that any person could live to be 900 or more years old, but I doubt you would give a second thought to the existence of a clan, tribe, or family that stretched out to 900 or more years.”
    I have no problem believing that a clan or tribe or even an extended family can grow to number 900 for the same reason i dont believe a human being can life to be 900 years old…because i understand the mechanics involved in both instances. In the former,there is no barrier preventing a group to reach that size…or at least no impassable barrier but in the case of the later there is…the mechanism for cell reproduction in the human body,which essentially maintain the body alive, wears down over time…for most people it cannot even be sustained over 100 and even for those people who do live over 100,all they can hope for is a few more decades AT MOST and much of it spent in a highly weakened state, almost to the point of being crippled in some instances…so how could anyone spend 800 more years of life is a worn out shell of a body even assuming that you could maintain the cell regerenation up to that point,which you cant anyway. And as for your “experience” with the metaphysical,i didnt say it was insignificant…i said it was NON EXISTANT…at least outside of the confines of your over active imagination….the invisible pink unicorn told me so.

  • Ludwig

    “No, faith is about trust. An axiom is something that we trust to be true, without proof. As Russell clearly states, all of our knowledge is built upon faith: things that we believe to be true.”
    But that would mean that anything and everything is true so long as someone believes it to be true. it means that a man accused of a crime who has people who believe in his guilt and other people who believe in his inocence is both guilty and inocent at the same time. Thats a nonsense position. Like i was saying to smmtheory earlier, my non belief in a 900 year old human has nothing to do with faith…it is the result of an understanding of the mechanics involved in human biology…no amount of believing in Adam will cause any human being to have ever lived to the age of 930…Russell can say whatever he wants,he s just some guy like you or me.
    “If you can’t trust God, who (or what) can you trust?”
    Oh but i do…i trust God completely…thats why i dont believe most of what the bible says about God or the world or life or morality. I think it may contain a FEW pearls of human wisdom here and there but thats about it. And yes,that is an exemple of an article of Faith on my part…i trust God not to be the psychotic incompetant klutz described in the bible. I think ITs a lot better than that.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Software is nothing more than numbers in motion.
    No, it’s numbers of electrons, or quantities of some other energy, in motion.
    This is plainly false; it’s like saying “unless written on paper, numbers don’t exist.”
    Which would, in fact, be true, insofar as numbers exist because they are written in the physical Universe: I own 1 car, 1 house, 2 cats; the car has 4 wheels…all matter, energy, space and time are quantifiable by numbers, which is why numbers exist. If there were no matter, energy, space, or time, would you be able to prove that numbers existed?
    While I don’t subscribe to 6 day creation, it can’t be proven wrong. It may run afoul of someone’s particular set of unproven assertions, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
    They’re not “unproven assertions,” they’re predictions based on long-running observations of a consistent pattern of events. And these predictions are indeed “proven” every time we see them come true. Every evening, for example, I predict that the Sun will rise in the east on schedule; then I look out the window the next morning (i.e., I question the last night’s prediction), and find an answer: right again!
    We do not “assume” the Universe is real. We treat it as real because we observe that it ACTS real. We also observe that those who treat it as real tend to be a LOT better off than those who don’t. When you label this an “assumption,” implying that we arbitrarily pulled it out of our asses with no rational basis or supporting evidence, you are stating a falsehood. And I strongly suspect that you know it.
    (Are you acting on a contrary set of “assumptions” in your daily life? If so, then please tell us exactly what those “asumptions” are, and on what superior rational basis you adopt them. If you don’t have an alternative set of “assumptions,” and act on them in your daily life, then you can’t pretend our “assumptions” are “unproven,” “arbitrary,” or “irrational.”

  • smmtheory

    I have no problem believing that a clan or tribe or even an extended family can grow to number 900 for the same reason i dont believe a human being can life to be 900 years old…

    It is interesting then that you seem to believe in an interpretation of the scripture that is no less rigid (and maybe more so) than the interpretation you believe to be held by those you ridicule. Is that what the invisible pink unicorn told you to believe? If Adam were a representation of a clan as opposed to a singular man, the validity of the conceptual story would not change, only the incidentals would be different. Yet you persist in treating the story as if it were intended to be a recording of factual narrative. Is that what the invisible pink unicorn told you to do?

  • smmtheory

    Why is intelligence metaphysical?

    Our Creator would answer that question much better than I ever could. I’d guess there are many reasons. One of the first that comes to mind is to allow choice in the physical realm.

    Evidence of this assertion?

    Do you discount all of the out-of-body experiences related by many people as mere imagination? If so, then the only evidence exists in the metaphysical realm. Do you discount the notion that we each have a soul? If so, then the only evidence exists in the metaphysical realm.

  • ucfengr

    No, it’s numbers of electrons, or quantities of some other energy, in motion.
    No, software is an idea, like a song. What are the physical properties of a song? Can you identify the place in Paul McCartney’s brain where “She Love’s You” resides? Does it have mass? Is a song only a song if it is translated into notes and put on paper or recorded by an artist and burned onto a CD or other media?
    Which would, in fact, be true, insofar as numbers exist because they are written in the physical Universe:
    No, numbers too, are ideas. The can represent concepts in the physical world, but are not dependent on it. Much of advanced math is base on the concept of imaginary numbers (like negative square roots or even zero), which cannot exist in the physical universe.
    If there were no matter, energy, space, or time, would you be able to prove that numbers existed?
    Well, if matter, energy, space, and time didn’t exist, neither would human beings; so their would be no ideas, but are ideas physical? What are their properties? Do they have mass? What part of the brain contains them?
    This whole discussion is really a good indication of why societies based on atheism are such dull, dreary places, no ability to think outside the physical world. Anybody who does it immediately stomped on.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    [wrf3] Software is nothing more than numbers in motion.
    No, it’s numbers of electrons, or quantities of some other energy, in motion.
    “Having now seen that there must be such entities as universals, the next point to be proved is that their being is not merely mental. … Thus universals are not thoughts, though when known they are the objects of thoughts.” [“The Problems of Philosophy”, Bertrand Russell, pg. 97, 99]
    [wrf3] This is plainly false; it’s like saying “unless written on paper, numbers don’t exist.”
    Which would, in fact, be true, insofar as numbers exist because they are written in the physical Universe: I own 1 car, 1 house, 2 cats; the car has 4 wheels…all matter, energy, space and time are quantifiable by numbers, which is why numbers exist. If there were no matter, energy, space, or time, would you be able to prove that numbers existed?
    Since I think that I have an existence apart from mest (that is, first and foremost I exist in the mind of God), I might be able to.
    But let’s see what a prominent atheist philosopher has to say about this:
    “Hence we must admit that the relation, like the term it relates, is not dependent upon thought, but belongs to the independent world which thought apprehends but does not create.” [op. cit., pg. 98]
    [wrf3] While I don’t subscribe to 6 day creation, it can’t be proven wrong. It may run afoul of someone’s particular set of unproven assertions, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.
    They’re not “unproven assertions,” they’re predictions based on long-running observations of a consistent pattern of events. And these predictions are indeed “proven” every time we see them come true.
    It’s telling that you put “proven” inside quotes. Go back and read what I wrote in post 127 about the inductive principle.
    We do not “assume” the Universe is real.
    Where did I say that you did?
    We treat it as real because we observe that it ACTS real.
    But you have the hidden assumption that it exists in the form as perceived by sense data.
    We also observe that those who treat it as real tend to be a LOT better off than those who don’t.
    More snark. Go learn basic philosophy.
    When you label this an “assumption,” implying that we arbitrarily pulled it out of our asses with no rational basis or supporting evidence, you are stating a falsehood. And I strongly suspect that you know it.
    Learn to read. Here is what Russell said:
    “All knowledge, we find, must be built up upon our instinctive beliefs, and if these are rejected, nothing is left.” [op. cit., pg. 25]
    And this agrees with what I said, earlier: “Funny that our lives are rooted in faith, but must of us don’t admit it.”
    (Are you acting on a contrary set of “assumptions” in your daily life? If so, then please tell us exactly what those “asumptions” are,
    There is a God.
    and on what superior rational basis you adopt them.
    In this thread, I don’t have deny what even atheist philosophers admit is true.
    If you don’t have an alternative set of “assumptions,” and act on them in your daily life, then you can’t pretend our “assumptions” are “unproven,” “arbitrary,” or “irrational.”
    Assumptions are unproven: that’s why they’re assumptions. They are arbitrary because your set of assumptions are not another’s. They are irrational because humans are irrational (we are not bound by Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem).

  • ucfengr

    wrf3–Damn, I wish I had the time and patience to be as well-read as you apparently are.

  • wrf3

    ucfengr: wrf3–Damn, I wish I had the time and patience to be as well-read as you apparently are.
    This just happens to be where my two of my favorite interests intersect: math/computer science and theology/philosophy. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I finished Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” about six months ago, and took Russell’s “Problems of Philosophy” with me to the beach about two months ago to re-read. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m slightly past the half-century mark. ;-)
    Thanks for the kind remarks.

  • Ludwig

    Raging Bee
    If i were you i d let it go. These people have constructed for themselves an impregnable little fortress of circular reasoning and consider the reality that surounds them and the figments of their imaginations to be one and the same. There is no reasoning with people like that…we dont even speak the same language and we have no common frame of reference. Just let them wallow in their dellusion that they are the favored pet of some recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age…they re mostly harmless anyway.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    smmtheory
    Why is intelligence metaphysical
    Our Creator would answer that question much better than I ever could. I’d guess there are many reasons. One of the first that comes to mind is to allow choice in the physical realm.
    Choice, depending on how you define it, may or may not exist whether or not inteligence is metaphysical. But you don’t ‘allow choice’, it either is or isn’t but intelligence doesn’t become metaphysical instead of physical just because you want choice to exist in a certain type of way that requires metaphysical intelligence.
    Do you discount all of the out-of-body experiences related by many people as mere imagination?
    No but I do not find most of them sufficient, just as I do not find claims of reincarnation evidence sufficient to believe in it.
    If so, then the only evidence exists in the metaphysical realm.
    It seems in your world metaphysical means the place that holds all the arguments, reasons and answeres you want to exist but just can’t put your finger on at the moment.
    ucfengr
    No, software is an idea, like a song. What are the physical properties of a song? Can you identify the place in Paul McCartney’s brain where “She Love’s You” resides? Does it have mass? Is a song only a song if it is translated into notes and put on paper or recorded by an artist and burned onto a CD or other media?
    What you’re picking up on are similiar elements. “She Loves You” as written by Paul McCartney is similiar to the actual song you hear on the radio because the words and music line up enough for you to catch it. If a punk rock band did a cover of it, though, you may not even notice its the same song. The ‘idea’ of “She Loves You” doesn’t reside in McCartney’s head but inside of yours and yes it does have mass just as the electrons of this post on the hard drive holding Joe’s blog have mass. Your brain is triggered by the text of “She Loves You” and by the traditional recording of it. Your brain may miss the punk rock cover because your tastes are not that diverse. On the other hand, a person who is illiterate but has a diverse taste in music may instantly recognize the cover and original recording but not see anything when looking at the sheet music.
    Well, if matter, energy, space, and time didn’t exist, neither would human beings; so their would be no ideas, but are ideas physical? What are their properties? Do they have mass? What part of the brain contains them?
    It sounds like you’re saying ideas are indeed physical.
    This whole discussion is really a good indication of why societies based on atheism are such dull, dreary places, no ability to think outside the physical world. Anybody who does it immediately stomped on.
    I wouldn’t call what smm is doing up there with ‘metaphysical’ as ‘thinking outside the physical world’….it seems more like thinking up excuses not to think inside the physical world.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I finished Hofstadter’s “Godel, Escher, Bach” about six months ago,
    I haven’t read that book but I did read his newer one, “I am a Strange Loop” and found it rather interesting. From some reviews I read, it sounds like a recap of the same arguments he made in that earlier book. Any thoughts on it?

  • wrf3

    Boonton writes: I haven’t read that book [Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach] but I did read his newer one, “I am a Strange Loop” and found it rather interesting. From some reviews I read, it sounds like a recap of the same arguments he made in that earlier book. Any thoughts on it?
    I haven’t read IAASL, but the “strange loop” concept is central to GEB.

  • ucfengr

    What you’re picking up on are similiar elements. “She Loves You” as written by Paul McCartney is similiar to the actual song you hear on the radio because the words and music line up enough for you to catch it…
    No idea what you are trying to say here but it doesn’t answer my question about the physical properties of an idea or for that matter, the physical properties of software as opposed to the properties of the medium it is recorded on.
    It sounds like you’re saying ideas are indeed physical.
    No, but if they are you should have no problem listing their physical properties. So, what is the mass of an idea? Do big ideas have more than little ones? Where are they located?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    No idea what you are trying to say here but it doesn’t answer my question about the physical properties of an idea or for that matter, the physical properties of software as opposed to the properties of the medium it is recorded on.
    Let me try to rephrase it. “She Loves You” sets off a bunch of patterns in your brain as they do mine. Some of these patterns overlap. For example, since we both speak English if nothing else seeing the text sets off the patterns that we share as common English speakers.
    This is not a physical property of “She Loves You” but of our brains. To see how this is consider a punk rock cover of the song that is so different one of us doesn’t recognize it. How can the song have a ‘metaphysical’ property? It doesn’t. It just happens that the pattern triggered by the song activates in one of our brains.
    Likewise the pattern set off in our brains may have some common elements but it will also have different elements. In your brain the song may set off special memories while in my brain it may remind me of a crossword puzzle answer I couldn’t get last week.
    If we decide that we don’t care about our differences we say “She Loves You” has a common essence that we share. But this essence doesn’t exist in the song but in our brains. To our pet dogs and cats its just more inscutible noise the human masters like to listen too.
    Previously I used the example of the lout at the bar to whom all blondes are the same. It isn’t that all the blondes are sharing some mysterious property, it’s that his brain has a single pattern that activates when he sees the blondes. To the criminologist looking at DNA samples to find a murderer, each blonde is as different as night and day.

  • ucfengr

    Let me try to rephrase it. “She Loves You” sets off a bunch of patterns in your brain as they do mine. Some of these patterns overlap.
    OK, instead of ideas, let’s call them patterns; you still have given me any indication that you know the physical properties of these “patterns”.
    Likewise the pattern set off in our brains may have some common elements but it will also have different elements.
    OK, what are the elements? Is “She Loves You” made up of more copper in my brain, but more silicon in yours? See, if ideas or patterns are physical, then they have to be made up of something; what are they made up of? Is a big idea made up of more of what ever it is ideas are made of than a small one?
    To our pet dogs and cats its just more inscutible noise the human masters like to listen too.
    You are confusing media with medium.

  • ucfengr

    The question is if I think of a song (or some other piece of software), but never write it down or never sing it, is it a song? I think it is obvious that it is. If that is the case and if everything that exists is made of matter, what are the physical properties of a song?

  • smmtheory

    Choice, depending on how you define it, may or may not exist whether or not inteligence is metaphysical.

    Free Will exists, and that is precisely because it is metaphysical. Whatever definition you give choosing right from left, up from down, good from bad, by whatever synonym is used for the soul, whether intelligence, free will, impetus… without that metaphysical essence, that meat jacket you call a body would cease to exist. Chemical/mechanical conglomerations have no drive to survive in and of themselves alone. Automobiles don’t drive themselves up to the Exxon to get refueled.

    It seems in your world metaphysical means the place that holds all the arguments, reasons and answeres you want to exist but just can’t put your finger on at the moment.

    Just MY world? It sounds a lot like your world too. Try measuring an unrecorded idea with a ruler, or a scale in the physical realm.

  • Raging Bee

    But you have the hidden assumption that it exists in the form as perceived by sense data.
    Wrong again: we make the overt, explicit observation that what we perceive affects us, won’t go away, and forces us to respond to it, whether we “believe” in it or not. We notice, time and time again, that what we perceive doesn’t change when we change our beliefs. That’s what “real” means. It’s not an unproven assumption; it’s a prediction that’s proven correct, the hard way, every day. Have you ever questioned this “hidden assumption” while standing still in front of an oncoming truck or train? I don’t think so.
    Assumptions are unproven: that’s why they’re assumptions.
    And your use of that word here is ignorant, if not dishonest.
    Just let them wallow in their dellusion that they are the favored pet of some recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age…they re mostly harmless anyway.
    Actually, they’re trying to impose their “recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age” on the rest of Humanity, undermine our basic rights under the Constitution, and undermine our very ability to reason for ourselves and see through their faith-based lies and scams. Notice how all this “arbitrary assumptions about what is real” stuff is coming out after they lost their bid to have their religion passed off as “science” in our high-schools? That’s not a coincidence: they want their beliefs to trump reality itself, and they’re now disguising their denialism in obscurantist philosophical discourse.

  • Raging Bee

    But you have the hidden assumption that it exists in the form as perceived by sense data.
    Wrong again: we make the overt, explicit observation that what we perceive affects us, won’t go away, and forces us to respond to it, whether we “believe” in it or not. We notice, time and time again, that what we perceive doesn’t change when we change our beliefs. That’s what “real” means. It’s not an unproven assumption; it’s a prediction that’s proven correct, the hard way, every day. Have you ever questioned this “hidden assumption” while standing still in front of an oncoming truck or train? I don’t think so.
    Assumptions are unproven: that’s why they’re assumptions.
    And your use of that word here is ignorant, if not dishonest.
    Just let them wallow in their dellusion that they are the favored pet of some recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age…they re mostly harmless anyway.
    Actually, they’re trying to impose their “recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age” on the rest of Humanity, undermine our basic rights under the Constitution, and undermine our very ability to reason for ourselves and see through their faith-based lies and scams. Notice how all this “arbitrary assumptions about what is real” stuff is coming out after they lost their bid to have their religion passed off as “science” in our high-schools? That’s not a coincidence: they want their beliefs to trump reality itself, and they’re now disguising their denialism in obscurantist philosophical discourse.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    ucfengr
    OK, instead of ideas, let’s call them patterns; you still have given me any indication that you know the physical properties of these “patterns”.
    The physical properties would simply be the various locations of the matter and energy in your brain at that moment.
    Is “She Loves You” made up of more copper in my brain, but more silicon in yours? See, if ideas or patterns are physical, then they have to be made up of something; what are they made up of? Is a big idea made up of more of what ever it is ideas are made of than a small one?
    They are two different things just like a sculpture of a tree made out of copper is different from a sculpture of a tree made out of wood. In fact, two wood scuptures are different from each other. They are different even if they were mass produced and their dimensions appear to all be exactly the same.
    You say “those are all tree sculptures” not because they share a common essence but because you ignore their differences. If the differences become too great you’re going to start to rebel against letting all those elements share the label ‘tree sculpture’. This ability to ignore differences and apply a label of ‘wood tree sculpture” to them does not bring into existence a real thing.
    This ability to ignore differences gives us an advantage in that we can see useful properties more clearly and exploit them but it does lead to the danger of us getting too caught up in our own intelligence.

  • smmtheory

    The physical properties would simply be the various locations of the matter and energy in your brain at that moment.

    And when that person dies and the soul goes to the afterlife, what happens to their memories if the thoughts and ideas were only physical in nature?

  • ucfengr

    The physical properties would simply be the various locations of the matter and energy in your brain at that moment.
    Now we are veering into the realm of unproven and presently unprovable assumptions.
    They are two different things just like a sculpture of a tree made out of copper is different from a sculpture of a tree made out of wood.
    Again, this confuses the medium with the media. To accept this you must accept a song isn’t a song until it is recorded on paper or some other medium. I don’t and you can’t test it either way.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    And when that person dies and the soul goes to the afterlife, what happens to their memories if the thoughts and ideas were only physical in nature?
    Good question, do want me to answer it? It would really be the easiest thing in the world to give you an answer….the correct answer, though, would be much more difficult.
    ucfengr
    Now we are veering into the realm of unproven and presently unprovable assumptions.
    That thinking happens with the brain?
    Again, this confuses the medium with the media. To accept this you must accept a song isn’t a song until it is recorded on paper or some other medium. I don’t and you can’t test it either way.
    No, you’re confusing something out there with something inside. The song is the song because it is a song inside your brain. The marks on the paper do not make it a song and neither does the noise coming out of the radio. You call these two very different things a song because both trigger the physical pattern in your brain that corresponds to ‘song’.
    If you happened to have first heard a song while sipping really good coffee the marks and noise might trigger ‘coffee’ as well as ‘song’ in your brain. Does that mean the marks and noise, in addition to carrying some ‘song essence’ are also carrying around a ‘coffee essence’ that only you can pick up on?

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] But you have the hidden assumption that it {reality} exists in the form as perceived by sense data.
    Wrong again:
    Yes, you are. I said, “x”; you heard “y”.
    we make the overt, explicit observation that what we perceive affects us,
    I didn’t say anything otherwise, did I? Go back and read what I wrote. I said, “you make the hidden assumption that [reality] exists in the form as perceived by sense data.” I said nothing about whether or not it affects us.
    won’t go away,
    Another article of faith. Go back and read about “the inductive principle” in post 127.
    and forces us to respond to it, whether we “believe” in it or not. We notice, time and time again, that what we perceive doesn’t change when we change our beliefs.
    Another demonstrably false statement. Change Euclid’s fifth axiom and what you once thought were parallel lines now actually intersect. What your statement actually means is that you either haven’t changed the right belief, or haven’t noticed what’s changed.
    That’s what “real” means. It’s not an unproven assumption;
    We don’t even know what reality really is.
    it’s a prediction that’s proven correct, the hard way, every day.
    Inductive principle. Post 127.
    Have you ever questioned this “hidden assumption” while standing still in front of an oncoming truck or train? I don’t think so.
    Go read up on Renee Descartes and his contributions to philosophy.
    [wrf3] Assumptions are unproven: that’s why they’re assumptions.
    And your use of that word here is ignorant, if not dishonest.
    Really? How so? The OED defines assumption as: “a thing that is accepted as true, or as certain to happen, without proof.” All you’ve done is uncritically cast your assumptions about reality into concrete and then claim them as proof.
    Just let them wallow in their dellusion that they are the favored pet of some recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age…they re mostly harmless anyway.
    This from someone who dismisses what Russell writes about philosophy with Russell can say whatever he wants,he s just some guy like you or me? Do you say the same thing about Dirac or Pauli when someone cites them when discussing physics?
    Actually, they’re trying to impose their “recycled sumerian god from the late bronze age” on the rest of Humanity, undermine our basic rights under the Constitution, and undermine our very ability to reason for ourselves and see through their faith-based lies and scams.
    This is the typical atheist slander; as this exchange has shown, the reason that you so worship is the same reason that completely escapes you. It would be funny, if it weren’t so sad. “We use reason!”, cries the atheist. Then, when confronted with it, “you’re a liar” or “Russell is just some guy” is the reply.
    Notice how all this “arbitrary assumptions about what is real” stuff is coming out after they lost their bid to have their religion passed off as “science” in our high-schools?
    This “stuff” is coming from an atheist philosopher, Russell, as well as philosophy 101. Did I mention Renee Descartes?
    That’s not a coincidence: they want their beliefs to trump reality itself, and they’re now disguising their denialism in obscurantist philosophical discourse.
    Wow. Just wow. What I’ve been saying is no different from what you’d get in a textbook on elementary philosophy; agreed to by theist and atheist alike. And it’s dismissed by a self-imposed mechanism of invincible ignorance buttressed by an undeserved sense of intellectual superiority.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    From Post #127, as you cited:
    All arguments which, on the basis of experience, argue as to the future or the unexperienced parts of the past or present, assume the inductive principle; hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question.
    Russell is begging the question himself when he uses the word “assume” and thus implies that the belief is arbitrary and without rational foundation. The inductive principle is not an “assumption,” it’s a conclusion/prediction based on currently-available information and experience. And the mere possibility that contrary evidence may emerge sometime in the future, does not make today’s conclusions any less rational or evidence-grounded.
    Call it a “belief” if you want — that’s a much less precise term; but not all “beliefs” are “assumptions.”
    Then, when confronted with it, “you’re a liar” or “Russell is just some guy” is the reply.
    No, that has not been the entirety of our replies.
    This is the typical atheist slander…
    It’s not just atheists who are saying this, it’s Christians, Muslims, and other believers as well. And we can prove it based on the actions of the Republican Party and the Christofascists who dictate its agenda.

  • Ludwig

    wrf3
    Ok …theres something i need clarified here. You and this Russell fellow, who i understand is athiest, are making the argument that your “faith” in God as a the ruling universal autority with Jesus as his son who is supposed to come back at some point in the future to establish some sort of kingdom on earth is the same “faith” i hold that my computer will fire up the next time i press the button on…..is that correct?

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee
    [ wrf3, citing Russell, in post 127] All arguments which, on the basis of experience, argue as to the future or the unexperienced parts of the past or present, assume the inductive principle; hence we can never use experience to prove the inductive principle without begging the question.
    Russell is begging the question himself when he uses the word “assume”
    No, he isn’t. The inductive principle cannot be proven; it must be assumed to be true.
    and thus implies that the belief is arbitrary and without rational foundation.
    Here’s where you’ve been steered wrong by your atheism. You have been brainwashed to think, contrary to fact, that belief is arbitrary and without rational foundation. (Heaven forbid, after all, that theists might actually be rational). In fact, philosophers and theologians talk about warrant for belief, that is, the reasons why we believe what we do.
    Let’s take a neutral example. Euclid believed, based on his everyday experience, that given a line L and a point P not on that line, that there is one and only one line that goes through P and is parallel to L. This is a rational belief, since it describes a geometry where space is flat and, with respect to everyday things, space is so close to flat that it makes little practical difference. It took almost 2,000 years for mathematicians to discover that the 5th postulate need not be in that form, and this led to non-Euclidean geometries.
    The inductive principle is not an “assumption,” it’s a conclusion/prediction based on currently-available information and experience.
    I understand that. The point is that it cannot be rigorously proven. As Russell said, experience is not enough to prove experience. As dog owners, investors, and philosophers know, “past performance is not a guarantee of future behavior.”
    And the mere possibility that contrary evidence may emerge sometime in the future, does not make today’s conclusions any less rational or evidence-grounded.
    I never, ever, said otherwise. The atheist lenses that you have in your reading glasses tend to distort a lot of what I say.
    Call it a “belief” if you want — that’s a much less precise term; but not all “beliefs” are “assumptions.”
    On the contrary — all beliefs are assumptions. If they could be proven, then they wouldn’t be beliefs. Whether or not there is good warrant for each belief is another matter. “Belief” does not automatically mean “without foundation”.
    [wrf3] Then, when confronted with it, “you’re a liar” or “Russell is just some guy” is the reply.
    No, that has not been the entirety of our replies.
    It shouldn’t have been a part of any reply.
    [wrf3] This is the typical atheist slander…
    It’s not just atheists who are saying this, it’s Christians, Muslims, and other believers as well. And we can prove it based on the actions of the Republican Party and the Christofascists who dictate its agenda.
    Do you want to discuss philosophy, or do you want to deal with politics? I’ll be happy to do either. I think it would be interesting to know how you think I’m dictating the actions of the Republican party, what you think “Christofascists” are trying to accomplish, and whether I happen to agree with said goals and/or actions.

  • wrf3

    Ludwig asks: Ok …theres something i need clarified here. You and this Russell fellow, who i understand is athiest,
    Perhaps you’re not aware of his book, “Why I am not a Christian”? It was actually something that kept me away from Christianity for far too long.
    are making the argument that your “faith” in God as a the ruling universal autority with Jesus as his son who is supposed to come back at some point in the future to establish some sort of kingdom on earth is the same “faith” i hold that my computer will fire up the next time i press the button on…..is that correct?
    Not really. The argument so far is that the statement “there is no God”, and the statement “there is a God”, are both axioms in their respective worldviews, i.e., both are statements of faith. The point being that all of us live by faith; we may just have different worldview axioms.
    To get from there to what you’re asking about requires more work than has been presented. After all, in post 58, I did write “I could write a book on why I think Christianity true. I don’t think this forum is the place for a book length analysis.”
    Nevertheless, the statement “my computer will turn on when I press the power button” is a belief based upon the inductive principle. It also might be based upon authority if the designer of said computer told you that was how it intended to work. That the inductive principle isn’t proof was shown a few weeks ago when my daughter hit the power button to her laptop. It didn’t power on, even though it had previously worked flawlessly for 6 years.
    The statements, “Jesus is God’s Son”, “Jesus will return and set up His kingdom” are beliefs based upon authority; the former from those who knew Him; the latter from Him himself (assuming the reliability of the written and oral records, which in itself requires another chain of justification). In that sense they are equivalent to the designer of your computer telling you how it’s supposed to work.

  • smmtheory

    Good question, do want me to answer it? It would really be the easiest thing in the world to give you an answer….the correct answer, though, would be much more difficult.

    Sure, answer it based on what you believe. That is… unless you choose to be coy about what you believe.

  • Raging Bee

    Here’s where you’ve been steered wrong by your atheism.
    Here’s where you’ve been steered wrong by your bigotry: I’m not an atheist. In fact, I’m willing to bet I believe in more Gods than you do.

  • wrf3

    Raging Bee:
    [wrf3] Here’s where you’ve been steered wrong by your atheism.
    Here’s where you’ve been steered wrong by your bigotry: I’m not an atheist. In fact, I’m willing to bet I believe in more Gods than you do.
    I apologize if I’m wrong, as I apparently am; looking back I see that you didn’t self-identify as an atheist. I really do want to understand the people I engage, so if you want to tell me more about yourself, I’d like to hear it.

  • smmtheory

    In fact, I’m willing to bet I believe in more Gods than you do.

    As there is only one, believing in more than one could become problematic for you.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Sure, answer it based on what you believe. That is… unless you choose to be coy about what you believe.
    What I believe should be irrelevant here but I’ll say this.
    A long time ago I had an old cateridge based video game system….maybe it was an Atari or Nintendo. Since the thing had no RAM or hard drive there was no way to ‘save’ a game. However a creative programmer had found a way to do it. If you wanted to save, the game would give you a sequence of numbers and letters. When you wanted to ‘load’ your game you inputted that sequence. The trick was that the sequence encoded all the vital stats so you could pick up the game where you left off. Naturally if you discovered the code you could start out at any point you wanted in the game.
    If you want to know what happens when we die, well if our personality, thoughts, memories etc exist in our brain the obvious answer is that they dissolve away…just like a hard drive that crashes. The more subtle answer is that if you are dealing with an infinite entity then just about anything is possible including simply ‘restoring’ the mind thad was erased. In that old video game, even if your copy of the game was destroyed, even if your whole system was destroyed you could still ‘restore’ your game if you entered your code on a friend’s system. In fact, even if that old system was long gone you could still recreate your ‘saved game’ if you happen to have the game ‘ported’ to a modern system that is able to run the software in a emulation mode.
    So whether materialism is true or not doesn’t tell us much about religion IMO although ranters here will prattle on all day about it.

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