Take THAT, God of the Gaps!

August 18, 2007 at 10:30 pm 33 comments

broken chainWe all know that evolution is a major stumbling block for the God of the Gaps, you know the one that automatically fills all the gaps in our knowledge, miraculously both providing us with an explanation to previously unexplainable phenomena and letting theists defend their existing faith. Still, even if we have no trouble explaining how humans developed from the initial seed of life, we’re still having some more trouble explaining just how that initial seed came about. As far as I know, there’s no universally accepted theory of abiogenesis.

That doesn’t mean it’s God behind the covers, of course. Here’s an article that provides another blow to that elusive gap-god (paper).

Now, an international team has discovered that under the right conditions, particles of inorganic dust can become organised into helical structures. These structures can then interact with each other in ways that are usually associated with organic compounds and life itself (…)

Quite bizarrely, not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like, but they also undergo changes that are normally associated with biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, say the researchers. They can, for instance, divide, or bifurcate, to form two copies of the original structure. These new structures can also interact to induce changes in their neighbours and they can even evolve into yet more structures as less stable ones break down, leaving behind only the fittest structures in the plasma (…)

So, could helical clusters formed from interstellar dust be somehow alive? “These complex, self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter,” says Tsytovich, “they are autonomous, they reproduce and they evolve.”

So, God of the Gaps, we’ve started filling one of your permanent places of residence. I suggest you move to a more uncertain area of knowledge, such as consciousness, or preferrably annihilate altogether.

- Simen

Entry filed under: Simen. Tags: , , , .

The Meaning of Life: Part II of II The Vagueness of “Divine Guidance”

33 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mysterybea  |  August 19, 2007 at 12:44 am

    Yeah, down with God of the Gaps! It is truly telling that ID and creationism proponents have none of their own hard evidence, and rely solely on what science has yet to explore as their way of criticizing evolution. As Richard Dawkins points out, scientists don’t view these gaps as disproof of evolution, they see it as great projects for future grad students! And being a grad student myself, I’m certainly happy that not everything is already known.

  • 2. Mike  |  August 19, 2007 at 2:28 am

    I am a conservative Christian (though please dont think i am now going to smack you with my bible) and i really dont think i have much of a problem with evolution. But that is because i dont see how intelligent design and evolution are incompatible.

    Take for instance a murder trial. The motive and the M.O. are two separate aspects of the case. In other words, why and how something happens both matter. In this case, why cant we say that evolution is how we happened, and God is why?

    Again, i have never understood why we think that because we have discovered how God did something, that unmakes Him or renders belief in Him obsolete. That would be like me figuring out how a toaster works, and then telling people that Toastmaster isnt a real company.

  • 3. Thinking Ape  |  August 19, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Mike, as only a quick aside (I know Simen hates when we get off topic) how do you define a “conservative” as opposed to a “liberal” Christian? I ask only for interest’s sake and I will not pursue a critique of your answer (although we may be able to discuss it at a later time).

  • 4. karen  |  August 19, 2007 at 3:31 am

    Again, i have never understood why we think that because we have discovered how God did something, that unmakes Him or renders belief in Him obsolete. That would be like me figuring out how a toaster works, and then telling people that Toastmaster isnt a real company.

    Mike, I appreciate your open-mindedness and I’m totally in agreement with you.

    However, when I was a conservative evangelical, the reason I objected to evolution was because I felt it disproved a belief in the literal Genesis creation story. And if Genesis is not literal, then we don’t have original sin, temptation, the fall of man, and the need for redemption from Christ’s death.

    I think that’s probably why so many conservatives try to find ways to discount evolution. They can’t handle the truth because it blows so many things they cling to as literal in the bible.

  • 5. Stephen P  |  August 19, 2007 at 5:34 am

    Mike, it is perfectly possible to propose a role for Jehovah in evolution. But it is every bit as plausible to propose that Brahma, Wotan, Loki and Quetzalcoatl are involved as well. Once one adds 1 unobservable entity to a process, one can just as easily add 2,3,4 …

    As William of Ockham (or Occam) pointed out centuries ago, the only sensible number of entities to add in this situation is zero. The right time to propose new entities is either when they become observable (as with e.g. X-rays) or when a detailed, testable theoretical model requires them and assigns specific properties to them (as with e.g. neutrinos).

    Your toaster analogy doesn’t work since we are very familiar with the beings that make toasters and why they do it. A better analogy would be the discussion, very popular among tourists, as to who made the tors on Dartmoor and why. (If you aren’t familiar with that one, I’m sure the usual search engines can help.)

    As for abiogenesis, there does seem to be a widespread misunderstanding that the reason scientists haven’t explained it yet is that they can’t think of any possible way it could have happened. I spent quite a while reading up on it a few years ago. The biggest problem is not that there are no ideas, but rather that there are so many interesting ideas floating around that it’s difficult to pick out the most promising ones for further research.

  • 6. Simen  |  August 19, 2007 at 6:03 am

    Mike, I am sure you agree that God, in the Bible, is described as both how and why — i.e., in the Bible, God is both the direct cause of and the reason why we along with our world exists. Would you throw out that? You’re right that it’s not a disproof of a god. But if evolution is true, it certainly blows literal Genesis.

    And I didn’t say that it necessarily disproves God; I only said that the particular reasoning that we call God of the Gaps, where one tries to place God into gaps in one’s knowledge, gets trouble with evolution, because evolution suddenly filled one of those gaps.

    But hey, if you want to call God the why, go ahead. But this becomes increasingly suspect as the number of proposed residences of God (places where God is said to be active, such as the origin of humans or consciousness) becomes smaller.

    Thinking Ape, I wouldn’t say I hate it. That is, after all, how most of the long discussions here get going. Let’s just say that I prefer there to be an inkling of relevance, but I am overbearing when the discussion is interesting. It’s when the discussion turns to crap and is off-topic that I hate.

  • 7. Jim  |  August 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Wow. Great post!

    I am not a scientist, so folks more gifted than I will have to weigh on the merits of that article. It certainly deserves serious consideration.

    I’m not a fan of “God of the gaps,” it doesn’t try hard enough at all. I’ve been a Christian for a long time. I know a whole lot of Christians, and while I’ve abstractly heard that some Christians hold onto this idea, I personally have never met any. I wonder how much of that is actually true, versus how much is an unfortunate stereotype. Probably worse than I think.

    But when one does carefully considers the language in the creation account in Genesis, (I think) one at least sees that it is NOT at all a scientific account of how God created the world. So when we (and I have before, and now wish I hadn’t) go to Genesis and try to see science in there, the results can be disastrous.

    It just wasn’t written from a scientific point of view. It would be like trying to use Of Mice And Men as a how-to guide for fixing a pontoon boat.

    I do believe the creation account in Genesis is truthful, and that Adam and Eve were historical characters. But I don’t believe it is a scientific account, that’s easy to see from the language.

    It is a story, and when we tell stories, we are not interested in the science behind it. We’re interested in getting across the ideas we think are most important.

    When you get into a car accident, you probably don’t start talking about theories of velocity and intertia when you retell the story to friends or family. You just describe it as it happened. Does that mean you’re not truthful? No, it just means you didn’t retell the story from the point of view of science. You had more important parts of the story to get across. So did the creation account in Genesis.

  • 8. Mike  |  August 19, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Okay, I am gonna try to briefly respond to all of you here.

    Thinking Ape, great question and certainly something i should define! When i use the term “conservative” Christian, I mean that i maintain the integrity of scripture and declare it to be the revelation of the living God to the world. My hope is to show that one can hold those beliefs without surrendering their intellect or be a jerk to others (as some of my fellow conservatives have no doubt already done, for which I apologize on their behalf).

    Karen, as far as the literal read on Genesis, I would probably share something along what Jim has already said. All I might add is that the primary purpose of the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts is to show the exodus generation that their personal God Yahweh is not only their redeemer but also THE creator. This comes in Genesis 2:4, and the Hebrew indicates that this is the focal point for the whole account. In other words, Moses really wanted to let the Jews know that Yahweh is a one-stop God shop.

    Stephen, this point also partially addresses your observation. I really appreciated your thoughts here, and you raise the very important question “Why add someone into the equation if there is no reason to do so?” My response would be that since none of us were there to witness or perform any experiments possibly demonstrating the presence of some grand orchestrator, we have to rely on our current experience. We have been given a record of interaction with a living God from an entire body of people who were formed as a nation by this God. Some people call into question the historicity of the exodus, but then never offer an explanation for how anyone could get several hundred thousand people to agree to a mass deception at the same time. No-one in this country can agree about things that are actually happening, let alone agree on something we made up and told people to go along with (insert various opinions on the current administration here:). I for one, believe their testimony of the living God.

    Finally, Simen, I certainly agree that God is the how and the why, but my understanding of the literal how is probably different than you assume. For the reasons that Jim discussed, I am comfortable allowing the scientific approach to give feet to the spiritual description of the accounts listed in Genesis.

    These are all great frickin questions and solid discourse, and I apologize for being a little long-winded. Please hit me up with any more questions or let me know if I can clarify anything further.

  • 9. Simen  |  August 19, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Who are these hundreds of thousans that were suddenly deceived at the same time?

  • 10. Jim  |  August 19, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Simen!

    I think Mike was referring to the Israelites led out of Egypt in the Exodus account, and wondering that if it is hypothetically false, how impossible it would be to get an entire nation to go along with the deception and testify to a living God.

    But suffice to say, the point remains is that the Genesis account of creation does not communicate scientifically, so it is foolhardy to attempt to extract from it something that is obviously not within its communicative intent. Some Christians have tried, some non-Christians have tried. Both probably shouldn’t.

    I think my earlier post says it better, so I will let that stand.

  • 11. Simen  |  August 19, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    How do you think all those other, mutually incompatible religions came about?

    This all “How would all these people be deceived?” argument isn’t very good, because Christianity isn’t unique. Other religions, too, have presented ideas that are outrageous if they’re false. Since you cannot coherently believe in all religions, you must grant that such beliefs can and do evolve. And when that’s said and done all that’s left is special pleading for one religion.

  • 12. Badger3k  |  August 19, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Did anyone else have trouble with the paper link? My browser does nothing when it tries to go there.

  • 13. HeIsSailing  |  August 19, 2007 at 10:47 pm

    Mike:

    Some people call into question the historicity of the exodus, but then never offer an explanation for how anyone could get several hundred thousand people to agree to a mass deception at the same time.

    I don’t understand this statement. Are you saying that because several thousand people believe in the same deity, then their belief must be correct and we cannot question their credibility? I’m not sure what your point is here – can you please clarify?

  • 14. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Mike,

    Is the Book of Mormon credible? If your answer is No. How large is the Mormon church? How long ago was this book written?

    BTW, here’s our thread on the Exodus issue:

    http://de-conversion.com/2007/06/18/bible-miracles-2000000-jews-spent-40-years-taking-an-11-day-trip-and-left-no-evidence/

    Paul

  • 15. Mike  |  August 20, 2007 at 12:07 am

    Well, first i must apologize for just shooting off a number of contentionable points without really going into much depth. I was simply trying to respond to the several different questions regarding my initial post, so i am sorry for the ambiguity.

    The general question i am receiving is regarding the nature of deception and multitudes of people being deceived. I should comment right here that this topic could receive its own post and garner quite a bit of its own discussion, as evidenced by the link provided by The de-Convert.

    My point is this: one guy can deceive a multitude, but a multitude cannot deceive one guy. Slightly gnomic, I know, so let me explain. The Book of Mormon, the Quran, and a number of other books were “inspired” by one guy, from which a number of people have subsequently bought into.

    The Jews however, numbered in the hundreds of thousands when the events of the exodus occurred. That means just as many people would have to have agreed on the fabricated details so that when even one person asked about it, they would get the same account from all of them. I dont buy that possibility for a second.

    Now, in response to this, i anticipate a number of very solid questions that should be addressed. If this continues to be such a pressing matter, i would love to actually write a post that we can all comment on, since i didnt really have a chance to weigh in on the discussion that The de-Convert posted. I would be more than willing to let you hold the discussion on your site on your terms, or if you preferred I could host this one. I really enjoy the format of these discussions and would love to continue in whatever fashion you see fit. Let me know.

  • 16. The de-Convert  |  August 20, 2007 at 12:40 am

    Mike,

    Feel free to hosts discussions on d-C posts on the Seminarian blog. Just post the link on the pertinent post here. I plan on making a few posts here responding to a few of your posts :)

    Paul

  • 17. Simen  |  August 20, 2007 at 3:21 am

    Mike, what do you mean “when the events in Exodus occurred?” Earlier, you wrote:

    Some people call into question the historicity of the exodus, but then never offer an explanation for how anyone could get several hundred thousand people to agree to a mass deception at the same time.

    Now, if these events did not occur, it would seem that these myths could have developed over time until some sort of canon was established. You, on the other hand, talk as if the only options are that (1) the events did occur, or (2) they didn’t, but everyone became suddenly deceived in a mass-event and started believing it.

    That, I believe, is a false dilemma.

  • 18. Heather  |  August 20, 2007 at 5:02 am

    Now, if these events did not occur, it would seem that these myths could have developed over time until some sort of canon was established.

    This is entirely feasible, because it’s pretty much how legends developed. It’s also assuming that the events in Exodus were written around the time they supposedly occured, rather than pulling from tradition later.

    The thing is, though, other cultures have myths as to how events occured. They don’t hold those myths as a deception.

  • 19. Brad  |  August 20, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Heather,

    “This is entirely feasible, because it’s pretty much how legends developed. It’s also assuming that the events in Exodus were written around the time they supposedly occured, rather than pulling from tradition later.”

    True, however, the Hebraic oral tradition was so accurate, and so intense, that passing it down the generations would have not been a problem. Also, Moses is the ascribed author for the first 5 books of the OT, thus there is great literary evidence (at least) that they were written soon after the events while most of those involved were still living.

    “The thing is, though, other cultures have myths as to how events occured. They don’t hold those myths as a deception.”

    Very true also, yet most of them do not claim their stories as history, far more often as illustrative stories that “could explain” how things are today. A great example of this are the stories concerning duty as member of the warrior class in the Mahabharata. They are not claimed to have actually happened, only that they “could” have happened because of their anecdotal value.

  • 20. Simen  |  August 20, 2007 at 10:46 am

    You give ancient peoples by far too much credit if you assume most of them believed their myths to be parables or stories or what have you. A myth is a myth, and it’s easy to verify that many, many cultures did and continue to believe their myths are truthful, historical accounts of what happened. To think that Jews were the only ones that had a mythology that was claimed to be historically accurate is to willfully close your eyes.

  • 21. Heather  |  August 20, 2007 at 10:58 am

    Brad,

    . Also, Moses is the ascribed author for the first 5 books of the OT, thus there is great literary evidence (at least) that they were written soon after the events while most of those involved were still living.

    He’s the author according to the OT itself, as well as conservative historical studies. But not on the other side, with the JEPD doctumentary hypothesis, which holds that the books were written much later.

  • 22. Simen  |  August 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

    As an example of what I was talking about in comment #20, from closer to where I’m from (as opposed to ancient Israel), the Heimskringla (the Chronicle of the Norwegian Kings, written by Snorri Sturlason in the 13th century) begins with an account of Asaheim, clearly based on Norse mythology; in it, the king, Odin, is described as having superhuman abilities. From an English translation:

    6. OF ODIN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

    When Odin of Asaland came to the north, and the Diar with him,
    they introduced and taught to others the arts which the people
    long afterwards have practised. Odin was the cleverest of all,
    and from him all the others learned their arts and
    accomplishments; and he knew them first, and knew many more than
    other people. But now, to tell why he is held in such high
    respect, we must mention various causes that contributed to it.
    When sitting among his friends his countenance was so beautiful
    and dignified, that the spirits of all were exhilarated by it,
    but when he was in war he appeared dreadful to his foes. This
    arose from his being able to change his skin and form in any way
    he liked. Another cause was, that he conversed so cleverly and
    smoothly, that all who heard believed him. He spoke everything
    in rhyme, such as now composed, which we call scald-craft. He
    and his temple priests were called song-smiths, for from them
    came that art of song into the northern countries. Odin could
    make his enemies in battle blind, or deaf, or terror-struck, and
    their weapons so blunt that they could no more but than a willow
    wand; on the other hand, his men rushed forwards without armour,
    were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong
    as bears or wild bulls, and killed people at a blow, but neither
    fire nor iron told upon themselves. These were called Berserker.

    7. OF ODIN’S FEATS.

    Odin could transform his shape: his body would lie as if dead, or
    asleep; but then he would be in shape of a fish, or worm, or
    bird, or beast, and be off in a twinkling to distant lands upon
    his own or other people’s business. With words alone he could
    quench fire, still the ocean in tempest, and turn the wind to any
    quarter he pleased. Odin had a ship which was called
    Skidbladnir, in which he sailed over wide seas, and which he
    could roll up like a cloth. Odin carried with him Mime’s head,
    which told him all the news of other countries. Sometimes even
    he called the dead out of the earth, or set himself beside the
    burial-mounds; whence he was called the ghost-sovereign, and lord
    of the mounds. He had two ravens, to whom he had taught the
    speech of man; and they flew far and wide through the land, and
    brought him the news. In all such things he was pre-eminently
    wise. He taught all these arts in Runes, and songs which are
    called incantations, and therefore the Asaland people are called
    incantation-smiths. Odin understood also the art in which the
    greatest power is lodged, and which he himself practised; namely,
    what is called magic. By means of this he could know beforehand
    the predestined fate of men, or their not yet completed lot; and
    also bring on the death, ill-luck, or bad health of people, and
    take the strength or wit from one person and give it to another.
    But after such witchcraft followed such weakness and anxiety,
    that it was not thought respectable for men to practise it; and
    therefore the priestesses were brought up in this art. Odin knew
    finely where all missing cattle were concealed under the earth,
    and understood the songs by which the earth, the hills, the
    stones, and mounds were opened to him; and he bound those who
    dwell in them by the power of his word, and went in and took what
    he pleased. From these arts he became very celebrated. His
    enemies dreaded him; his friends put their trust in him, and
    relied on his power and on himself. He taught the most of his
    arts to his priests of the sacrifices, and they came nearest to
    himself in all wisdom and witch-knowledge. Many others, however,
    occupied themselves much with it; and from that time witchcraft
    spread far and wide, and continued long. People sacrificed to
    Odin and the twelve chiefs from Asaland, and called them their
    gods, and believed in them long after. From Odin’s name came the
    name Audun, which people gave to his sons; and from Thor’s name
    comes Thore, also Thorarinn; and also it is sometimes compounded
    with other names, as Steenthor, or Havthor, or even altered in
    other ways.

    Clearly based on Norse mythology.

    Norse sagas and the Old Testament have something in common, I think: they’re epics, sometimes romanticized, sometimes accurate. There was a time when people would believe these stories mostly uncritically.

  • 23. Thinking Ape  |  August 20, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Also, Moses is the ascribed author for the first 5 books of the OT, thus there is great literary evidence (at least) that they were written soon after the events while most of those involved were still living.

    And this unquestioning faith in tradition is why I didn’t go to seminary school.

  • 24. Brad  |  August 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Simen,

    “To think that Jews were the only ones that had a mythology that was claimed to be historically accurate is to willfully close your eyes.”

    I said “most of them.” (Comment #19) I was using the example to illustrate a common reality, not make absolute claims about it. I am aware that claiming as you say would be ludicrous.

    Also, you are making quite the judgment of ancient peoples yourself in assuming that they did not see some of their myths as symbolic and anecdotal. Can we please come to the middle of the road in agreement (as I truly think we are), and not make it an “either/or” argument, rather than a “both/and” argument?

    Heather,

    “with the JEPD doctumentary hypothesis,”
    I know nothing of that hypothesis, so I don’t want to comment on it out of ignorance. Mike would really be a better one to expand on this point, as he is far more knowledgeable in this area than I.

    TA,
    “And this unquestioning faith in tradition is why I didn’t go to seminary school.”

    Why must we make assumptions here? Have I not proven that I do question and critique what I read? I am not making an unquestioning assumption in stating this, but basing it on tradition, as well as other sources. I will have to get back to you on specifics, but I thought I earned my way outside of that “box” by now.

    Come on guys, I am working to engage in this discussion critically and fairly. At the minimum, please afford me the benefit of the doubt.

  • 25. Simen  |  August 20, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    Do you have any sources from that time that could suggest people didn’t believe it was historically accurate or literally true? Because that’s the simplest explanation.

  • 26. Brad  |  August 20, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Simen,

    I’m sorry, I’m getting mixed up. Are you asking for sources on this question concerning the Hebrew tradition or other traditions (such as the example I gave in Hinduism)?

    Sorry, I’m honestly getting confused in trying to follow the various threads of conversation here.

  • 27. Brad  |  August 20, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Oh, and if you are asking in Re: to the Hebrew tradition, the best book I’ve found would be “The Mission of God” by Christopher Wright. He is an OT scholar, and really most of his work could testify to this. Primary and secondary sources are cited in this text from all areas of the spectrum, so it would be a great starting point.

  • 28. Simen  |  August 20, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I’m asking if you know of any writing that’s actually from that time period, that suggest they didn’t take it literally. Any hint at all that they recognized metaphor or analogy or parable or whatever you want to call it, from that time period.

  • 29. Thinking Ape  |  August 20, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    I’m sorry but this assumption is valid. The idea that Moses wrote the Torah is laughable and it is just one of those things that through all of my studies of critical scholarship that I can not take seriously. If you want to say things like Moses wrote the Torah, then you are not starting from any critical or questioning standpoint. I dropped out of Bible college because my instructors refused either explicitly or through negligence to equip students with actual scholarship on subjects such as these.

    The problem with any instructor or institution, religionist or not, is that they develop their “pet scholars” – people that the instruction or institution use time and time again. The problem with this, whether it is a good or bad scholar, is that students become very narrow-minded and unable to make their own judgments. They like these scholars because they get to the conclusions that they want to prove (i.e. Jesus is myth or Jesus is God).

    But again, what assumption am I making? You professed a belief that Moses wrote the Torah, did you not? This hypothesis would not be taken seriously by the vast majority of critical scholars. I do very much believe that you have as open of a mind as you can, but my comment is suggesting that within the educational framework, it is nearly impossible – the resources for critical and questioning scholarship appears nil in this case.

  • 30. Mike  |  August 20, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Wow…well i didnt think my initial comments would spark this much discussion. I probably should have, but I am still new at this.

    I think the issues of the exodus and the resurrection receive such criticism these days because they are the primary events that have given Jews and Christians their identity for thousands of years.

    That means that anyone seeking to invalidate the faith is going to have to deal with these two key events. So, given the importance of the issue, i do not want to do it a disservice. Needless to say, I have heard these issues raised before, and I still believe wholeheartedly in Christianity. I would wager that you all have heard the responses I might give and maintain your position as well.

    So I wonder if I might do what I can to provide a dialogue with one of the experts themselves. The de-Convert has been gracious indeed by offering that I could start my own discussion on this topic, but i really doubt that I would bring anything of value to the table. Would you all enjoy a dialogue with one of my professors? We have been thinking about adding to our blog a guest contributor section, and I cant think of a better place to start then here, but if you guys wouldnt find it valuable I might consider something else. I also dont want to seem like I am passing the buck, I just want to offer the best we can on the subject. Let me know your thoughts.

  • 31. Jacqueline  |  August 21, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Why is the only view of God spoken about a literal Christian one? I work with Jews, Christians, Muslims, agnostics, etc. and rarely see in people’s day-to-day lives this viewpoint in belief or practice. I read the article about the dust on Wired and thought “COOL!” we really are the stuff of stars, but I did not think that my imagination that there might be an energy beyond our human description existence could not be because of this discovery.

    Why do I have to believe in the literal Bible in order to be a person who ponders God? Why do I have to rest that “faith” on the Exodus or the Resurrection? Why can’t I have a brain and a spirit, and seek to nurture both?

  • 32. Simen  |  August 21, 2007 at 8:58 am

    This blog’s tagline is “resources for skeptical, de-converting or former Christians” — obviously it’s going to focus on Christianity. Christianity is still the most prevalent religion in the western world, and the world at large. If I were surrounded by Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus or Pastafarians, I would be more inclined to discuss the shortcomings of those religions.

    Since you wrote this in a response to my post, and your comment doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the thread, so I’ll assume it’s directed at me. (If you’re commenting on a general tendency, regard this as an attempt to show that this post doesn’t show this tendency.)

    You’re making the common mistake of seeing an attack on an argument as an attack on the conclusion. See, an argument is an attempt to show that a set of premises reach a certain conclusion. However, to deny the soundness of an argument isn’t to deny its conclusion! Have a look at this:

    If it’s raining, the street will be wet.
    It’s raining.
    Therefore, the street is wet.

    I could deny the second premise and say, “No, it’s not raining”. The street could still be wet: perhaps someone spilled some water on it. I could deny the first and say, “No, because I just put a giant roof on top of the street”. The street, still, could be wet. So, as you see, to deny one of the premises is not to deny the conclusion.

    Further, to deny the validity of an argument is not to deny its conclusion. Say, for instance, that we have this argument:

    If it’s raining, the street will be wet.
    It’s raining.
    Therefore, France is in Europe.

    The jump from the two premises to the conclusion isn’t right. The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. This argument is not valid.

    But it is still true that France is in Europe.

    So we can deny either the argument’s validity or its soundness without denying its conclusion.

    In this case, I can attack the “God of the Gaps” argument. If I manage to show that one of the premises of the argument is wrong, or that one of the steps doesn’t follow from the others, I have shown that this argument doesn’t prove its conclusion. But I haven’t showed, or even attempted to show that there is no God, i.e., that the conclusion is false.

    I could be “Jew, Christian, Muslim, agnostic, etc.” and still make this blog post without being inconsistent.

    The same way, I can deny one myth and believe another.

  • 33. site  |  November 5, 2007 at 1:19 am

    hi

    will read it later

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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