Skepticism vs. Faith

August 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm 91 comments

Today I was thinking a little bit about the reasoning process I see quite a few Christians use. Quite frankly, every Christian I have ever known – including myself – used this reasoning. It goes like this:

So far, all my experience shows me that Christianity is true. Therefore, I should believe Christianity until it is proven false. But because it is wrong and / or uncomfortable for me to doubt, I should do everything in my power to first eliminate my doubts. Leaving the faith requires a serious increase in my doubt, therefore I will work to defend the faith and leave only if I cannot: I will start with the assumption I am correct and only leave if proven wrong.

The inevitable result of this thinking is this: the person works intentionally to invent an explanation of their faith that is unfalsifiable. Why? Because an unfalsifiable faith is the only faith that can never be doubted because no evidence can ever contradict it. Unfalsifiable propositions are the holy grail of any faith system, because it makes the object of their faith omnipotent.

I see this regularly. A believer, when pressed to provide a reasonable and demonstrable test for their faith will inevitably shy away from a… well… reasonable and demonstrable test. Instead, any test and all surrounding definitions of God must be calculated and invented so that their faith will not collapse even if the test fails. Ultimately, the believer is only seeking their own selfish comfort when – ironically – selfishness and personal comfort is the one thing Christianity so lavishly preaches against.

This is the reasoning of faith: it is reasoning backwards. It is the opposite of skeptical thinking, which is probably why believers are fundamentally opposed to any form of free-thinking or skeptical thought: it would be the bane of their faith. Why? Because skepticism would begin with doubt – and to doubt is to lack faith. Therefore, skepticism is bad when it comes to faith claims. Skepticism, bizarrely, is good when it comes to everything else. Is this a double standard?

For example, William Lane Craig refuses to apply any skeptical thinking to the personal revelation of the Holy Spirit in His life. He starts with the presupposition that the revelation is accurate until proven untrustworthy. But it is impossible to prove a personal revelation false, because it is 100% personally subjective. Therefore, William Lane Craig has defined his faith in such a way that it is completely unfalsifiable and this puts him at complete ease without a single doubt [Please see John Loftus' book Why I Became and Atheist for an example of quotes from William Lane Craig that confirm this - I'm going off memory at this point].

Necessity is the mother of invention. Doubt is uncomfortable. Humans recoil from discomfort. Therefore, humans naturally invent ideas that eliminate doubt. People doubt when they encounter experiences that contradict their current worldview. Therefore, to be in complete intellectual comfort, invent a worldview that cannot be contradicted by any experience or avoid experiences that could contradict your worldview.

There are two ways to do this:

1) Faith: conceive a metaphysical view of reality that explains every possible experience. “With God anything is possible.” Therefore, with a belief in God you have summed up every possible experience that could ever occur. If the faith is defined right it cannot be falsified, and therefore the person holding the faith holds a form of omniscience,where they never once have to genuinely say “I don’t know” and thus suffer discomfort. Why? Because they are able to “describe” everything by invoking God. For example: “I don’t know why this happened, but I know that God has a purpose.” This is saying absolutely nothing, but it gives the person who says it a feeling that they do know what is going on and relieving them of almost all responsibility to put any hard work into actually figuring out the series of cause /effect relationships that lead to the particular experience so that they can avoid it in the future. Faith can be summed up with: “I know because I believe, and I will not stop believing until proven wrong.”

2) Skepticism: constantly refactor your view of reality to match your experience and the cumulative experience of mankind. This assumes human perception – especially your own – is prone to error and that there is no validity to a human hypothesis until proven correct by rigorous tests. We do not accept something until it is proven true time and time again and all potential human bias or error is weeded out. It is the opposite epistemological viewpoint to faith. Skepticism can be summed up with: “I don’t know, now let us find out: and I will accept whatever the test reveals – even if it is to my own harm.” Why? Because discovering the truth – despite any present harm – is the best and most accurate way to invent methods to avoid a greater amount of harm in the future.

This is why people of faith always say “prove that X does not exist”. They start with the presupposition their claims are correct until proven false.

This is why skeptical people always say “prove that X does exist”. They start with the presupposition that claims are false until proven true.

People naturally waver between both skeptical and faith-based positions depending on the perceived threat level of being wrong or being right.

[My God, I am so thankful our justice system is a skeptical one, not a faith based one! Sorry, shameless plug...]

Now, here is where things get really interesting! By definition, both sides of the debate have a genuine moral right to think that the other side is arrogant – if they are correct.

Arrogance is a view of oneself that is higher than it should be. It is perceiving the value of oneself as greater than others perceive your own value. [This is why believers never see God as arrogant, because they perceive Him to be the most valuable thing. Therefore regardless of how highly He thinks of Himself, He is right!]

Therefore, distrust of an omniscient being is arrogant, because it is trusting oneself too much. As such, a person of faith thinks a skeptic is arrogant to think he “knows more than God”.

But!

Unwavering trust of one’s own understanding is also arrogant, because it is trusting oneself too much. As such, the skeptic thinks that a person of faith is arrogant because he claims to know facts about a Being who is supposedly “wholly other”. How arrogant it is for a person to claim on the one hand that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and on the other hand to claim to have any inkling as to what God is thinking!

What an impasse! How can we resolve it? We must demonstrate that one epistemological viewpoint causes the least amount of error and therefore reduces potential for harm – and we must stick with it.

In one sense you cannot falsify a skeptical viewpoint because the skeptic is not making any claims, except that you should not accept something until it has been demonstrated to be true. So in another sense, the only way to “falsify” a skeptical viewpoint is to demonstrate that the skeptic can trust the claim in question. So then, the burden of proof always lies on the part of a person making a claim.

Faith says “prove it is false”. Skepticism says “prove it is true”.

It is in the best interest of the skeptic for a claim to be demonstrable because a skeptic feels most comfortable when he cannot be coerced into accepting that which he perceives could cause him harm.

It is in the best interest of a person of faith for a claim to be unfalsifiable because the person of faith feels most comfortable when they cannot be coerced into rejecting something they perceive could cause them harm.

Faith works by threatening harm to a person if they do not accept a proposition without question right now because time is of the essence.

Keep in mind, both epistemological viewpoints have evolutionary advantage, which is why both have evolved! If we were always skeptical, we would end up destroying ourselves because we would be demanding a higher standard than is possible when time is of the essence to avoid some harms. If we always accepted things by faith, we would be gullible to any claim and would assuredly be taken advantage of all the time and suffer harm as well. A balance between both in our ancestors has been necessary to avoid death.

So then, we can only resolve this impasse if the faith claims are either falsifiable by human test or if the faith claims are demonstrable by human test [edit: I'm not sure this makes any sense any more, and I did not realize it until MS Quixote's comment.]

Oh, I might add, if God is really good and understands man’s epistemological dilemma, He would have no problem with His creatures putting His existence to the test. After all, what does he have to lose? But this means that ones faith has to be genuinely falsifiable, which means a person must open themselves to doubt. A test is, by definition, falsifiable. A test that always come out true is – well – not even a test.

Here is the kicker: the skeptic seems to hold the final responsibility of setting up the test, to eliminate the tendency of the individual making the claim to tweak the test in the favor of their claim. The key here is to not want the test to say anything. Most believers, sadly, whine when a skeptic sets up the test, because it means the skeptic could potentially be right. And believers do not want to be wrong because they perceive time as of the essence and admitting they are wrong presents a whole new set of faith-based threats (like potential of hell). [But then again, think doubting Thomas. Why was he - the skeptic - allowed to set up his own test?]

So now just think about those claims Christian’s make about “putting God to the test”. They will say to pray, and see if God answers. Well, is this falsifiable? Not at all, because if the prayer request does not come true, the Christians can just say God said no. If the prayer comes true, they say God said yes. God answers no matter what! It’s a miracle! But we cannot know what God’s supposed answer is until after the results come in, and then what is to keep someone from accusing the believer of post hoc inserting an answer into God’s mouth [per Joe's comment]. At this point, God’s answer is solely dependent upon the believer’s interpretation.

God always answers prayers because Christians have invented prayer in such a way that it is unfalsifiable.

So to all the Christian readers: do you want a perfect faith – one that will never fail you? I’ll help you. Here is your task: define God and every aspect of your faith in such a way that no evidence could ever contradict it. As long as your mind never perceives a single experience in your life as at odds with what you believe, you will always be at complete ease and have perfect peace that this world can never take away.

Never mind that this is just complete invention and backwards reasoning.

I recently received a comment on YouTube that perfectly captures this type of thinking:

“…He means that we aren’t to read the NT manuscripts with an unbelieving skeptical presupposition/assumption. If Christ thought of the OT as inspiried even though there were textual variants, so should we. We are to START the study of variants with a reverence for Christ and interpret things in light of that, instead of starting with a skeptical non Christ honoring presupposition.” (link)

Begin with trust. Never doubt. Interpret all data so that it confirms what you already believe to be true.

If we are truly not supposed to lean on our own understanding, my thinking would be that we should honestly test everything (like the apostle Paul says) – even our faith claims. And by test it, I mean put it through every conceivable personal hurdle other skeptical people can imagine: and only once it has past other skeptical people’s tests should we consider it wise to claim it is truth. Otherwise we are leaning on our own understanding!

[BTW, because it is smartest to assume a claim is false until proven true, we should prove God exists before believing in Him: not believe in Him until proven false. Unless, of course, you want to buy into all that threat nonsense about hell and damnation, which, of course, are dependent upon God's existence! Only one question: why does God not want us to put His existence to the test? Is He insecure about it? The truth is that our only enemy at this point is time.]

Do not believe, and then wait until proven false (faith). Prove something true, and then believe (skepticism).

Unless, of course, there is no time to create a test. Then… well… I feel I have summed up the entire human condition.

- Josh

Entry filed under: Josh. Tags: , , , .

What would it take to convince you that there is/is not a god? To Christians: What is morality to me, an atheist?

91 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joe  |  August 7, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Josh—-

    Very well wriitten article. I would just mention one thing though—-in life, as children, when we asked our parents for “things”, we REALLY did get a YES or NO answer. And for the most part we had to accept it. We ask for a new bike and get a “yes” or a “no” according to the will of our parents.

    Though I understand how you see the “yes or no” concept in prayer as a “cop out”—Christians do view God as their Father, and when, after much prayer there is no “yes”, one assumes the answer was “no”. So, though I understand your statement about making God “unfalsifiable”, I also see a very real concept in place where “yes” and “no” could truly apply in prayer. Your thoughts?

  • 2. Joe  |  August 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Or am I just coming from the same premise? Just trying to understand where you are coming from?

  • 3. MS Quixote  |  August 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Hey Josh,

    I was referred to this post as an appeal to authority, so congratulations for exciting some good thought. As a fully orthodox Christian, I’m in substantial agreement with much of what you have to say, so I do not wish to snipe the portions I disagree with. Instead, I’d like to offer some related thoughts.

    I encounter the thought pattern you describe frequently within intramural Christian debates; it’s frustrating when it occurs. There are two things that interest me here, though.

    First, it seems to me that you’ve isolated particular strands of Christianity and set them against the whole. If these are the only Christians you’ve encountered, you’ve sheltered yourself against more sophisticated Christian thought, simply not engaged wth many Christians, or are encompassed by certain groups in your daily life. Your mischaracterization of William Lane Craig’s thought suggests the first is at least partly true.

    Secondly, the phenomenon you’re describing is not peculiar to religious folk. In fact, it’s as widespread outside of religion as it is inside, though perhaps numerically less prevalent. I wonder how you’d respond to this observation?

    Lastly, I, as a Christian believer, at least think that I maintain a healthy skepticism. Pursuant to your challenge, what skeptical test do you propose that I employ with regard to my faith?

    Cheers.

  • 4. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    “I was referred to this post as an appeal to authority, so congratulations for exciting some good thought.”

    Haha, I’m not sure what you mean by the appeal to authority bit. You mean someone appealed to me as an authority? Not very intelligent, they are. Maybe they just liked my arguments. Or do you mean that I am appealing to authority? If so, my bad.

    “If these are the only Christians you’ve encountered, you’ve sheltered yourself against more sophisticated Christian thought, simply not engaged wth many Christians, or are encompassed by certain groups in your daily life.”

    I do appreciate your reasoning, but all three possibilities are not true, so your premise about me is not accurate. In my short and probably immature 24 years, I have had interaction with Presbyterians, Orthodox Christian theologies, lived with Pentacostals and cessationists, attended Baptist, Evangelical, and Bible churches, interacted with fundamentalists and moderates and liberals, been involved with Intelligent Design supporters and young earth creationists, and studied the entire gamut of views during my short term at Moody Bible Institute. At Moody Bible I intentionally exposed myself to other views – out of a genuine fear that I was sheltered. This included studying Satanism, atheism, agnosticism, Mormonism, gnosticism, secularism, psychology, neurology, logic, and tons of introspection until I almost imploded. As far as experience goes, I personally think I have plenty. I don’t want any more “experience”. I’m tired of it. I just want to eliminate vast sections of human claims to truth with large sweeps by getting at the core claims and determining whether they are true or not. After that, adherants can nuance and sophisticate their claims all they want and I don’t care because I have comfortably satisfied myself that their premises are wrong.

    All the sophistication in the world means nothing to me if the underlying premises cannot be clearly demonstrated (e.g. God exists, the NT is the Word of God, so and so has the Holy Spirit, etc.)

    This approach carefully “shelters” me from Mormon sophistication, Islamic sophistication, UFOlogist sophistication, superstitious sophistication, New Age sophistication, psychic sophistication, Christian sophistication, atheist sophistication, etc.

    I don’t want sophistication. I want simple, clear, concise arguments that cannot be refuted.

    Seems like this attitude keeps me safe from a lot!

    What would you say if a Mormon told you that you have had interaction with “sophisticated” Mormon arguments and chided you for misrepresenting Mormonism because of your limited interaction with Mormons?

    “Your mischaracterization of William Lane Craig’s thought suggests the first is at least partly true.”

    Yeah, sorry if I have.

    My assertion is this: William Lane Craig will not allow the personal revelation of Holy Spirit in his life to be tested during this lifetime in such a way that it could fail. Therefore, there is no demonstrable or falsifiable way for WLC to know whether he is deluded or not. For all we know, he could actually be under the influence of some demonic or alien force who has so deceived him that WLC does not know the difference. How could WLC know the difference?

    If I am wrong in this assertion, please show me the test that William Lane Craig has provided. It must answer the question: how do we know that William Lane Craig is not just self-deceived?

    “Secondly, the phenomenon you’re describing is not peculiar to religious folk. In fact, it’s as widespread outside of religion as it is inside, though perhaps numerically less prevalent. I wonder how you’d respond to this observation?”

    I would just say, then, that I have probably hit the nail on the epistemological head :) All I am really trying to do is describe the problem accurately. That’s my first goal.

    But now what? How do we determine which is the wiser road: the faith-based one or the one of skepticism?

    If it is a gray area in between, please outline in detail what that gray area is. I would love to hear it.

    “Pursuant to your challenge, what skeptical test do you propose that I employ with regard to my faith?”

    Wow. I didn’t expect this. Hmmm…

    Well, in order to do this, I just need one truth claim dependent upon your faith that is falsifiable.

    Hahaha! Do you see the magic trick of faith yet?

    Do you see it?

    Do you?

    Hint: my request is logically impossible by definition.

  • 5. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Another hint: Doubting Thomas did not have faith. If salvation is by faith alone, then doubting Thomas cannot be saved.

    Do you see it yet?

    Oh, it’s so subtle, but when you do, it is mind-blowing!

  • 6. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Another hint: the apostle Paul could not have had faith because He saw Jesus.

    Hehe.

  • 7. Joshua  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Another one for all the non-orthodox: the disciples could not have had faith in the resurrection because they saw Jesus resurrected.

    How then can they be saved sola fide?
    :)

  • 8. TitforTat  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Not very intelligent, they are. Maybe they just liked my arguments. (Josh)

    Maybe, or stupid is, as stupid does. :)

  • 9. TitforTat  |  August 7, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Josh

    By the way, your good………….Damn good.

  • 10. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 12:18 am

    “By the way, your good………….Damn good.”
    :D

  • 11. Frreal  |  August 8, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Excellent. Thank you.

  • 12. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Joe:

    “Though I understand how you see the “yes or no” concept in prayer as a “cop out”—Christians do view God as their Father, and when, after much prayer there is no “yes”, one assumes the answer was “no”. So, though I understand your statement about making God “unfalsifiable”, I also see a very real concept in place where “yes” and “no” could truly apply in prayer. Your thoughts?”

    With parents, you know the answer before the result. With God, you only know the answer after the result and therefore any determination of God’s “answer” is post hoc and begging the question of whether God ever answered at all.

    Joe, how could we determine with prayer whether a) God answered before the result or b) God just never answered at all and the result is the effect of natural causes?

    Mankind needs a way to either falsify one of these possibilities or to demonstrate that one of them is true without just believing, because if we allow ourselves to just believe, we must allow others to believe anything too. And allowing people to believe anything is dangerous.

    I might speaking out of my ass, but it seems we need some sort of a set of rules to determine what people can be allowed to believe because beliefs can cause harm.

  • 13. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 12:43 am

    “I do appreciate your reasoning, but all three possibilities are not true, so your premise about me is not accurate.”

    Perhaps, since I don’t know you, I was guessing.

    “I just want to eliminate vast sections of human claims to truth with large sweeps by getting at the core claims and determining whether they are true or not.”

    And, as we’ll see, you’ve eliminated your own in the process.

    “I want simple, clear, concise arguments that cannot be refuted.

    Seems like this attitude keeps me safe from a lot!”

    Then you need to stick with 1+1=2. This attitude is a shield against what can be known.

    “For all we know, he could actually be under the influence of some demonic or alien force who has so deceived him that WLC does not know the difference. How could WLC know the difference?”

    IOW, you’re self-refuting with total skepticism. If your contention is true, it can’t be known and collapses under its own weight.

    “If it is a gray area in between, please outline in detail what that gray area is. I would love to hear it.”

    Sure. You’re constructing a false dilemma between fideism and skepticism. It’s possible to be skeptical and arrive at faith, just not the kind of faith you’re criticizing; hence, the false dilemma.

    “I just need one truth claim dependent upon your faith that is falsifiable.”

    There’s no such thing as a truth claim dependent upon my faith. Again, the false dilemma. You should employ a bit more skepticism, Josh. Thankfully, though, you arrived at an acceptable version of faith in 5, 6, and 7. And, lo and behold, it makes sense:)

  • 14. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 1:14 am

    MS Quixote:

    Ironically, while you were writing your comment, I was updating my post and “answering” what you were going to say regarding the false dichotomy.

    “There’s no such thing as a truth claim dependent upon my faith.”

    The existence of God, perhaps?

    “Thankfully, though, you arrived at an acceptable version of faith in 5, 6, and 7. And, lo and behold, it makes sense:)”

    Yet I don’t believe. Why not?

  • 15. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Hint: the answer to the second question has to do with perceived levels of threat to harm.

  • 16. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Oh, and the irony of both my questions is that you cannot answer either without making a truth claim based on your faith :)

    Checkmate? Probably more like stalemate, but, eh, anything can be solved with apathy.

    [Said jovially, of course, because I don't see any perceived harm of either of us being wrong. Well, except that if I'm wrong I go to hell. But so do you if you are wrong about Islam. Eh, laughter is the release of energy at finding out a threat did not cause harm (which is why little kids who are told that it's bad to joke about farting always laugh at uninhibited farts, because, haha, nothing really bad happens). Thus the greatest possible laugh would be had by atheists at discovering they enter heaven. And the greatest possible good must exist because it is only good if it does exist, and since the greatest possible laugh (good) would be if atheists enter heaven, therefore atheists will enter heaven. And that, too, was said jovially, because what's the point of making arguments if you can't use whit?]

  • 17. Teleprompter  |  August 8, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    And the kicker is, of course, personal revelation is equally unfalsifiable for all religions.

    Dr. Craig’s counterparts in the Islamic and Hindu communities probably lay claim to equally unfalsifiable revelations.

    If almost all revelations seem to be the same across religious boundaries, then isn’t it far more likely that there is a naturalistic explanation for these similarities than a supernatural one?

    Let the religious experience itself become falsifiable.

  • 18. LeoPardus  |  August 8, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    MS Quixote:

    As a fully orthodox Christian

    I’m curious here as to what you mean. I was a fully Orthodox Christian: as in a chrismated member of the EOC. What does the term “orthodox” mean as you’re using it?

    If these are the only Christians you’ve encountered, you’ve sheltered yourself against more sophisticated Christian thought,

    Hmmm… maybe you are EOC. Certainly they are far and away the most sophisticated of all Christian sects.

  • 19. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    “Hmmm… maybe you are EOC. Certainly they are far and away the most sophisticated of all Christian sects.”

    lol

  • 20. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    “And the kicker is, of course, personal revelation is equally unfalsifiable for all religions.”

    Tele, man, sorry to acknowledge you in front of your atheist friends, but how’s it going? As usual, clear thought and reason from you…

    All religions? No. Some religions? I fully agree with you. But please note while they’re unfalsifiable, they are potentially empirically verifiable. Y’all’s naturalism, conversely, falsifiable, but not empirically verifiable.

    Take care tele, and don’t be a stranger….

  • 21. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    “There’s no such thing as a truth claim dependent upon my faith.”

    The existence of God, perhaps?”

    Not at all. God either exists or not. My faith has nothing to do with it.

    ““Thankfully, though, you arrived at an acceptable version of faith in 5, 6, and 7. And, lo and behold, it makes sense:)”

    Yet I don’t believe. Why not?”

    Hey Josh…it’s your to choice to believe or not any claim. You’ve made your choice based on your best evaluation of the evidence. I’m fine with that.

    “Oh, and the irony of both my questions is that you cannot answer either without making a truth claim based on your faith ”

    Ah…so the ipsedixitism sets in:) This is simply not true, Josh, in my case. But I understand why you are saying it. There does exist a considerable set of Christians who do believe and act as though truth claims are based on their faith. I’m with you in rejecting that line of thought.

    “And that, too, was said jovially, because what’s the point of making arguments if you can’t use whit?]”

    I couldn’t agree more, though I tend to utilize wit. :)

    Hey Josh, I thank you guys for your attitude. I barged in here out of nowhere and y’all have been pretty good about it. Thanks…I’ll go away soon. And why shouldn’t we be able to make arguments, tell jokes, and part friends? We already know we’re not going to agree, so what’s the big deal. No worries…

  • 22. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    “Hint: the answer to the second question has to do with perceived levels of threat to harm.”

    Man…and here I was giving you credt for your skepticism. I should be more skeptical next time.

    File under “jovial,” please…

  • 23. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Hey Josh…it’s your to choice to believe or not any claim.

    I have tried believing. I cannot.

    Do you believe me or do you choose not to?

    “Ah…so the ipsedixitism sets in:) This is simply not true, Josh, in my case. But I understand why you are saying it. There does exist a considerable set of Christians who do believe and act as though truth claims are based on their faith. I’m with you in rejecting that line of thought.”

    Sorry to see despite our banter that you do not get my point at all :)

    Sigh, more joviality…

  • 24. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    “Hmmm… maybe you are EOC. Certainly they are far and away the most sophisticated of all Christian sects.”

    Hey Leo,

    Thanks, man. Much appreciated. I hesistate to use that term for the very reason you’ve mentioned. I use it in its generic sense, however, not as an indicator of the EOC. Good catch though…I use it frequently and always wonder if it’s going to cause the ambiguity you’ve picked up on. As far as I remember, you’re the first skeptic (I assume) to pick up on it. Cheers.

  • 25. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    “I have tried believing. I cannot.

    Do you believe me?”

    Of course I believe you. I’m fine with it…

    “Sorry to see despite our banter that you do not get my point at all

    Sigh, more joviality…”

    Well, I think I do get it. You’re claiming that faith is impossible for those to whom God presents Himself in a non-ambiguous, evidentiary, empirical fashion in the real world because it then requires no faith, in the sense of faith you’re invoking. This purportedly happened, for instance as you mentioned, to Paul, thus his faith was not faith in the sense that it was a Kierkegaardian trust in nothingness for the sake of unempirical faith, and faith alone. Hence, the refernces to “sola fide,” etc., implying that the faith of the past was founded on empiricism, so it was claimed, and not sola fide at all.

    Since we as modern Christians do not have this exeperience of God in the real world today, we set an unwarranted, irrational faith against knowledge, and construct unfalsifiable beliefs to protect our faith against any and all antagonists, skeptics, or challengers.

    That’s you first point, breifly put, as I understood it. Were you referring to a different one?

  • 26. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    You say “Hey Josh…it’s your to choice to believe or not any claim.”

    Then I tell you I cannot choose to believe and ask you if you believe me and you say:

    “Of course I believe you. I’m fine with it…”

    How is that at first you claim that I can choose to believe and then you agree with me when I say I cannot?

    You just contradicted yourself.

    Check…
    ;)

    That’s you first point, breifly put, as I understood it. Were you referring to a different one?

    Good, you understand my argument. Why then do you contradict the definition of faith provided by Hebrews?

    Have you invented a newer sophisticated faith unknown by its founders?

    If so, you hold to a completely different faith.

    What good is a religion that has to be consistently reinvented?

    We already know we’re not going to agree, so what’s the big deal. No worries…

    I disagree :)

  • 27. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    You say “Hey Josh…it’s your to choice to believe or not any claim.”

    Then I tell you I cannot choose to believe and ask you if you believe me and you say:

    “Of course I believe you. I’m fine with it…”

    How is that at first you claim that I can choose to believe and then you agree with me when I say I cannot?

    You just contradicted yourself.

    Check…

    If you’re going to invoke contradiction, you need to play by the rules: what you actually said was “I have tried believing. I cannot.”

    No contradiction.

    Check.
    ;)

    “Good, you understand my argument. Why then do you contradict the definition of faith provided by Hebrews?

    I’m actually using the traditional Christian conception of faith. You’re invoking a modern sub-christian version and setting it against all others. again, there’s no contradiction here, so I’ll assume you;re using that formal term in a non-formal sense.

    “What good is a religion that has to be consistently reinvented?”

    I don’t know…maybe it’s an attempt to be more scientific :)

  • 28. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Hey…I need to get this one on the record before I go:

    I said:

    “I was referred to this post as an appeal to authority, so congratulations for exciting some good thought.”

    You said:

    “Haha, I’m not sure what you mean by the appeal to authority bit. You mean someone appealed to me as an authority? Not very intelligent, they are.”

    Tat said:

    “Maybe, or stupid is, as stupid does. ”

    Tat was the one that referred me over here. Sometimes they just make it too easy :)

  • 29. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    If you’re going to invoke contradiction, you need to play by the rules: what you actually said was “I have tried believing. I cannot.”

    No contradiction.

    Oh, don’t be silly. If a person tries to do something, they are making a choice [edit: or they believe they are making a choice]. If a person tries to believe something and they cannot, then they have no choice but not to believe. You said I could choose to believe. I cannot. Do you believe me?

    You’re invoking a modern sub-christian version [of faith] and setting it against all others.

    I’m really confused now. What’s my definition of faith? I think we are talking past each other at this point.

    Or am I just not trying hard enough?

  • 30. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Silliness has nothing to do with it. The law of non-contradiction is clear with repsect to what contradiction entails.

    “If a person tries to believe something and they cannot, then they have no choice but not to believe. You said I could choose to believe. I cannot. Do you believe me?”

    I thought what you meant by cannot was that you were not able to make the evidence line up with a choice available to you. If this is not what you mean, what do you mean by cannot?

    Moreover, your contention only seems reasonable if a compatabilistic view of the will is false. That should prove a bit too much of a burden, I’d suppose…

    “I’m really confused now. What’s my definition of faith? I think we are talking past each other at this point.”

    I agree. Your definintion of faith appears to be that truth claims become dependent upon faith, rather than faith being dependent on the truth claim, much in the sense a modern word of faith theologian would claim that reality can be molded and even created by faith.

  • 31. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    If this is not what you mean, what do you mean by cannot?

    I wanted desperately to believe but I could not overcome what seemed clear evidence to me that it was not true. It would be as hard for me to believe that Jesus rose from the dead as it would to believe in Santa Claus at this point.

    Your definintion of faith appears to be that truth claims become dependent upon faith, rather than faith being dependent on the truth claim,

    No, that’s not what I mean by faith. Here is my definition of faith:

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

    That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing nuanced.

  • 32. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    “I wanted desperately to believe but I could not overcome what seemed clear evidence to me that it was not true. It would be as hard for me to believe that Jesus rose from the dead as it would to believe in Santa Claus at this point.”

    That’s what I thought you meant. I respect you for this, Josh, and anything I would say would not be meant to trivialize it.

    So, to me, cannot, here does not entail ability as you suggest; rather, it means that you cannot force yourself to believe against what seems rational to you. Again, I respect this, and consider it intellectually honest, but do not think we have any disagreement here.

    “That’s all. Nothing more. Nothing nuanced.”

    You’re certainly aware that this is not the only reference in the Bible to faith, and that on its own, this one verse is insufficient to construct a doctrine of faith.

    Hey…all in all, a pretty good exchange, Josh. Much appreciated. I’ve got to get ready for my morning compartmentalized irrationality, if you know what I mean :)

  • 33. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    So, to me, cannot, here does not entail ability as you suggest; rather, it means that you cannot force yourself to believe against what seems rational to you.

    I don’t think I understand the difference between inability and “cannot force yourself”. Anyway, it’s okay.

    I feel like what you are trying to do is create a nuanced epistemological middle ground wherein you can justify certain forms of unprovable beliefs but still allow yourself to respect those who might, to be terse, be going to hell.

    If you do not believe in hell, I … I … really don’t know what to say. If you do, I want good strong evidence that this threat is real. It seems unjust for God to create the greatest threat of all and to hide it and then blame men for not avoiding it.

    How can God accuse man of being “blind” if He intentionally hides the thing they are supposed to see?

    You’re certainly aware that this is not the only reference in the Bible to faith, and that on its own, this one verse is insufficient to construct a doctrine of faith.

    Why do we have to “construct” a doctrine at all, unless there appear to be contradictions? If it has to be nuanced, then it is only for the elite. I do not want part with an elitist religion that teaches you should start by being like a little child.

    If I want that, I can play World of Warcraft :)

    I’ve got to get ready for my morning compartmentalized irrationality, if you know what I mean

    Ah, see I told you we would end up agreeing!

    Yes, a very good exchange, and just FTR, I respect you. All men are irrational to some extent and as such we cannot fully judge each other for being such.

    *cough cough*

    Ah, the subtlety… I’m glad my Creator made me so good at it!

    I’d better back out on the subtle insults, although quite honestly, I wish others would do it to me more because it is so fun… so I guess I am following the Golden Rule.

    Do enjoy your morning. I will probably be unconscious for most of mine, if you know what I mean :)

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  August 8, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    As far as I remember, you’re the first skeptic (I assume) to pick up on it.

    Not surprising. In all my looking (around the internet for a couple years), I have only found one other Protestant to Orthodox to atheist person.

  • 35. Joshua  |  August 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Not surprising. In all my looking (around the internet for a couple years), I have only found one other Protestant to Orthodox to atheist person.

    Okay, dropping all sarcasm, why do you both think this is? I’m really curious.

    I have known a little about Eastern Orthodoxy, and have since felt like the Eastern Orthodox were generally smart enough to see all the problems in the faith, but not courageous enough to admit the entire thing might be a problem. So the faith becomes like an ethereal guide through life, taken light, like a sprinkling of salt that is necessary, never to be fully doubted, but always to be introspectively refactored into perfection. Much like building a beautiful building never meant to be occupied. Like turning faith in Christ into an artform, where things are so like Plato’s forms and conceptually deep that only symbols and icons get close to their true nature. The Christian’s duty, then is to pursue the deeper things because no matter how much the Christian thinks he understands, He has only understood the representation of the truth, not the real thing.

    Is that accurate?

  • 36. MS Quixote  |  August 8, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I prepared a bit more quickly than I thought, so I’ll go one more round with you.

    “I don’t think I understand the difference between inability and “cannot force yourself”.”

    The choice is clearly there, and if the evidence seemed better to you, you could make the choice. As it is, the choice is not in accordance with your strongest desire, thus, you don’t make it. The “cannot” in your view, it seems to me, is not based on an impossibility. If God appeared to you right now, I suspect your view on what you thought reasonable about “cannot” would change.

    “I feel like what you are trying to do is create a nuanced epistemological middle ground wherein you can justify certain forms of unprovable beliefs but still allow yourself to respect those who might, to be terse, be going to hell.”

    That’s exaclty what I’m doing, and why I rather enjoy this exchange, Josh, because you seem to get it. Except, that I’m not creating it, it’s already there (unless you’re a master of the petitio principi). And, except, that the belief is unprovable in your estimation. To me, the belief is not unprovable, else I wouldn’t believe it. I understand this represents the converse of your model. Your model holds in many if not most cases, it just doesn’t here.

    The hell part has nothing to do with it. I respect people I think are wrong on a whole range of issues…politics, for instance. I don’t see why spiritual matters have to be segregated into a separate category simply because we disagree. If I meet someone who’s never wrong, I’ll quit respecting those who are. Hopefully you won’t consider this condescending, but I would never hold being wrong against someone currently at the very tender age of 24, which is not the same as saying all 24 year-olds are necessarily wrong.

    “How can God accuse man of being “blind” if He intentionally hides the thing they are supposed to see?”

    You can save the hiddeness of God objection for your non-molinistic free will Christian friends. I’m a Calvinist…

    “Why do we have to “construct” a doctrine at all, unless there appear to be contradictions? If it has to be nuanced, then it is only for the elite. I do not want part with an elitist religion that teaches you should start by being like a little child.”

    Because there’s always a Pelagius around, perhaps? Why do we need to formulate a gradualistic doctrine of Darwinism to set it apart from punctuated equilibrium? Man, talk about elitists…”you’re not near smart enough to understand science. Just believe what we say.”

    “I’d better back out on the subtle insults, although quite honestly, I wish others would do it to me more because it is so fun… so I guess I am following the Golden Rule.”

    We’re cut out of the same cloth here, Josh. As long as they’re in fun, it’s cool. If we speak in the future, I’ll be sure to insult you in a very oblique and subtle fashion.

    The ever-jovial MS Quixote

  • 37. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:08 am

    “The choice is clearly there,”

    “I’m a Calvinist…”

    Hmmm, probably a nuanced, sophisticated Calvinist, I presume – with subtle touches of compatibilist leanings in order to explain how God can be just for choosing saints before the foundation of the world and yet still be just in judging Adam and Eve who it would appear did not have a genuine choice not to sin because God chose the saints before they sinned.

    I can refactor my code all day, but if the program is one big infinite loop and I never see it…

    “Why do we need to formulate a gradualistic doctrine of Darwinism to set it apart from punctuated equilibrium?”

    You seem to find a similarity between scientific refactoring and religious refactoring.

    The difference is that the one claims divine inspiration and declared that believers had all they need before the New Testament was ever finished (2 Peter, unless, of course, you hold that 2 Peter was not written by Peter). If they had all they needed, why did they need Revelation? Why do they need any form of subtlety and sophistication today?

    Perhaps people noticed the bad code and did not want to delete the program because it was already installed and running, so they just patched it into oblivion and declared it “sophisticated”.

    Maybe modern Christianity should be called “Christianity Vista”. Better yet, “Christian Vistas” to account for all the usability groups and so as not to alienate any users.

    If we speak in the future, I’ll be sure to insult you in a very oblique and subtle fashion.

    As long as you make the mistake of being so oblique no one else notices :) A mistake which I make often!

    Bring it on!

  • 38. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Christianity claims you have to be a little child to enter, therefore being elitist makes it self-contradictory. Christianity has fundamental problems with being restricted to the intelligent or to only those who have access to particular information. Only those who have the divine blessing of a locale to join and proximity to the gospel can reap the benefits, though, and everyone else burns.

    Science makes no claims, other than that a person should demonstrate all that they do follows repeatable, consistent rules. Is it elitist? Perhaps, but no man chooses his intelligence. Science, by its nature, is restricted to the intelligent and those who have access to certain intellectual or physical resources. Every man, regardless of intelligence, however, reaps the benefits – thus validating its usefulness to all of mankind.

    So I have a problem if Christianity is elitist. I do not have a problem if science is “elitist” (i.e. restrictive in its ability for all to understand). At least with science everyone can see and experience the beneficial (and sometimes harmful) results.

    With Christianity, the results are elusive, at best.

    On the other hand, in all honesty, MS Quixote, my conversation with you so far has been one of the most enjoyable conversations I have yet had on this site. I hope it continues and a part of me does not care how it turns out :) Perhaps I wake up tomorrow Eastern Orthodox, no?

  • 39. MS Quixote  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:34 am

    “Perhaps people noticed the bad code and did not want to delete the program because it was already installed and running, so they just patched it into oblivion and declared it “sophisticated”.”

    Maybe, or maybe the code is fine but it’s the users who are the problem. Wait…that’s exactly what the code says. Imagine that.

    “I can refactor my code all day, but if the program is one big infinite loop and I never see it…”

    Speaking of loops (did you get it? Huh? Did you get it?), See above:)

    MSQ

  • 40. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Maybe, or maybe the code is fine but it’s the users who are the problem. Wait…that’s exactly what the code says. Imagine that.

    Okay, this is clever enough I refuse to respond because I think it deserves notoriety :)

    Speaking of loops

    I thought we were being subtle and oblique?
    :)

  • 41. MS Quixote  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:42 am

    “Speaking of loops

    I thought we were being subtle and oblique?”

    Nicely done, my friend :) I’ll keep that in mind.

    Good evening.

    MS

  • 42. MS Quixote  |  August 9, 2009 at 12:47 am

    “On the other hand, in all honesty, MS Quixote, my conversation with you so far has been one of the most enjoyable conversations I have yet had on this site. I hope it continues and a part of me does not care how it turns out Perhaps I wake up tomorrow Eastern Orthodox, no?”

    Hey this one slipped past me in between comments. I wholeheartedly return the sentiment, and appreciate rationality, and especially a good sense of humor, wherever it may be found…and they’re found here. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll drop by from time to time just to obliquely insult you…

    MS Quixote

  • 43. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 1:05 am

    “I’ll drop by from time to time just to obliquely insult you…”

    As long as you drop by :)

    Have a good evening.

  • 44. Anders Branderud  |  August 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    You write about the existence of a Creator.

    If you read the top of the “Christians”-page in http://www.netzarim.co.il you will find proofs using logic and science for the existence of an intelligent Creator and that Torah is His instructions.

    Anders Branderud

  • 45. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 9, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Maybe, or maybe the code is fine but it’s the users who are the problem. Wait…that’s exactly what the code says. Imagine that.

    Sounds like the programmer needs to take some courses in software usability, instead of blaming his users for not understanding his cruddy software design.

  • 46. LeoPardus  |  August 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    Josh:

    On your question about why I’m such a rarity, I think numbers are all you need for your answer. There are only about 5-6 million EOC in the US. More to the point, there are probably not more than a few hundred thousand converts to the EOC, if even that many. Those converts are almost all very serious about their faith and it’s a big part of their lives. You can figure how small a percentage of such people would ever be likely to leave the faith. [Heck look how few leave any faith. I mean how rare all we decons?] So by simple math you ain’t gonna find many deconverted EOC converts.

  • 47. Teleprompter  |  August 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Ha, I don’t mind your acknowledgment at all, MS Quixote. It’s good to hear from you again.

    You know, I was prepared to go another round or two with your Euthyphro ideas, but I never got around to it.

    Anyway, I agree with you most of the way on this:

    “All religions? No. Some religions? I fully agree with you. But please note while they’re unfalsifiable, they are potentially empirically verifiable. Y’all’s naturalism, conversely, falsifiable, but not empirically verifiable.”

    That’s the funny thing about religion and naturalism, MS Quixote. One successful supernatural claim demolishes naturalism, yet in the absence of any supernatural claim, people will still wait for the potential of empirical verification.

    When you talk about choices fitting your greatest desires, I find it ironic that for many people, their choices to support a supernatural hypothesis ARE in line with their desires, and for many naturalists, our choices are NOT in line with our desires — so please be careful how you wield that next time.

    Also, I think the inductive case for naturalism grows with each new discovery of the scientific method — each replacement of a supernatural hypothesis strengthens the cumulative case. Meanwhile, the case for any one form of supernaturalism deteriorates when its doctrines, tied to primitive understandings of the world, lose their foundations.

    I think you are a better thinker than I am, and if there is a case for religion, I think you’ll find it, but I think the evidence is increasingly against it.

  • 48. MS Quixote  |  August 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    “so please be careful how you wield that next time.”

    Hear you loud and clear, Tele. See comment 32…not meant to trivialize your choice in the least…more of a compatibilist idea smuggled in under the radar.

    “Also, I think the inductive case for naturalism grows with each new discovery of the scientific method — each replacement of a supernatural hypothesis strengthens the cumulative case. Meanwhile, the case for any one form of supernaturalism deteriorates when its doctrines, tied to primitive understandings of the world, lose their foundations.”

    You’re consistently reasonable like this and this is why I like you, Tele, so don’t sell yourself short as a thinker. You’re exactly right here, and it reminds me of John Shook, a very clear thinking naturalist. I think he puts it as “theology is increasingly pushed to the outer boundaries of the universe with the increasing success of experience, science, and reason.” It’s a powerful observation…

    Cheers, Tele…I’m now averting my eye.

  • 49. TitforTat  |  August 9, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I think he puts it as “theology is increasingly pushed to the outer boundaries of the universe with the increasing success of experience, science, and reason.” It’s a powerful observation(MSQ)

    Obviously not powerful enough for someone who averts their eyes.

  • 50. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    “Obviously not powerful enough for someone who averts their eyes.”

    Now, now, lets not get in an argument over “who killed who”…
    :)

    On the other hand…

    How can a logical argument be “powerful” or “weak”? It’s either sound or unsound, valid or invalid.

    How does pushing a logical argument into a gray category wherein one feels justified in believing whatever they want solve anything or help anybody?

    If logical arguments and reason don’t solve anything, why use them at all? What good are they for?

    Are they tools to be used in addition to something else? What other tools do we have to determine truth?

    Faith?

    Well then, why not just believe whatever the heck you want to believe and just admit it?

    I did not realize there was a gray area in matters of eternal destiny.

    I don’t get it. I probably never will.

    Sigh. Logic is broken again. Damn, wish God would show up and fix it because it does not appear to change minds.

    I guess people are not logical. If we are made in God’s image, then God is not logical either. But if He is not logical, then theology seems pretty silly because the object of our study conforms to noknowable patterns and is therefore completely unknowable. And a God who is unknowable is something we cannot comment on at all.

  • 51. MS Quixote  |  August 9, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    “How can a logical argument be “powerful” or “weak”? It’s either sound or unsound, valid or invalid.”

    You’re thinking of deductive arguments, Josh, whereby if the premisses are both sound and valid, the conclusion necessarily follows. With inductive arguments, this is not the case. The premisses may all be sound, and the argument valid, but the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

  • 52. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    With inductive arguments, this is not the case. The premisses may all be sound, and the argument valid, but the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

    Yes you are correct and I stand corrected :) It is probably true that the origin of the universe cannot be anthropomorphized…

    MS Quixote, you seem quite intelligent, how about this?

    P1) God (if He exists) is by nature independent of time (if He were dependent upon time, He would be dependent upon the universe and the Theory of Relativity, making God relative to matter)
    P2) Without time, one cannot have intentions.
    P3) Without ability to intend, one cannot choose.
    C2) ‘External” to time, no choices can be made.
    C3) God, if He is the origin of the universe, cannot choose.

    How is Calvinism possible if God cannot choose anything?

    Would it not just be easier to say people are anthropomorphizing the origin of the universe, in lieu of our historical record to anthropomorphize everything?

    And have I not shown that ascribing any intent to the origin of the universe is deductively impossible?

  • 53. Joshua  |  August 9, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    Or even better:

    Outside of time, one cannot perform any action.

    God, if He is outside of time, cannot do anything.

    Why not just say our brains are tuned specifically to only understand things internal to space-time and if it is possible that there is something that transcends space-time our minds cannot even think in such a way as to comprehend it and so we tend to anthropomorphize it, thus shooting ourselves in the foot?

    A mind only capable of understanding things internal to space-time cannot think about anything external to space-time without subjecting it to space-time and therefore every comment we make about God is wrong.

    What’s more, a personal God is an impossible concept unless God exists inside space-time. And then God might as well be the universe.

  • 54. Teleprompter  |  August 10, 2009 at 12:32 am

    Guys, please don’t be too hard on MS Quixote for his “avert your eye” comment.

    Avert Your Eye happens to be the name of my blog, so it was a little inside joke. ;)

  • 55. MS Quixote  |  August 10, 2009 at 1:23 am

    “Would it not just be easier to say people are anthropomorphizing the origin of the universe, in lieu of our historical record to anthropomorphize everything?”

    Yes, it would be much easier, but since when did skeptics opt for the easy way out?. I agree, also, that in all conceptions of God, that I’m aware of anyway, there’s anthropomorphizing.

    With regard to your argument, it’s a good one, and I think perhaps successful in relation to some medieval formulations of God as completely atemporal and immutable. Yes, here we go again reformulating…

    You’ve raised a monolithic subject: here’s some quick thoughts in response.

    “P1) God (if He exists) is by nature independent of time”

    Not necessarily, as you’re laboring to prove. It’s not at all clear to me that God can be atemporal and immutable in relation to creation. For instance, certainly his external properties, such as his relation to me and you as creatures, would seem to be subject to a relation change, as would his relation to time as a created phenomenon, if that’s the case.

    It’s altogether conceivable that God becomes temporal with respect to creation at the moment of creation. Thus, he existed timelessly prior, but not after creation. If God creates a t1 and brings a flood at t+n, it seems to suggest that He may not in fact be atemporal, at least in His external properties.

    But then what does it mean to even state that God existed prior to time or does the phrase “prior to the big bang” even have any meaningful content? I think we have good reasons, both logically and scientifically, to think that time itself is not eternal and “began” at the big bang.

    If this is the case, we are both faced with this vexing problem of time. The naturalist, given that the universe has a beginning, will be enticed by multiverse and many worlds theory, which seems to imply some other-worldly version of “metaphysical before the big bang time” just as the theist will posit that God in eternity past may have existed in some amorphous time, if not timelessly.

    “Theory of Relativity, making God relative to matter)”

    It’s a bit early to make this claim, I think. I’m no physicist, but it seems to me that there exists an ongoing debate as to the nature of relativity and as to the nature of time itself. Both of these open questions need to be settled before we can weigh in on this. It may just be the God is the universal observer that makes relativity work.

    “P2) Without time, one cannot have intentions.”

    Perhaps, but it is unclear how you could defend this premiss successfully. As your side is so good at pointing out, we just don’t have the background knowledge to determine what things are like outside of our spatiotemporal experience; however, given the background knowledge of the Trinity, if true, there appears to be some kind of intentional relationship built within God’s nature. Regardless, there are existing formulations of intentionality without time, as well as personhood, relationship, consciousness, etc., so it’s not a demonstrated premiss. The question then becomes “Is the acceptance of the premiss more plausible than its denial?” That will ultimately answer the question for you, and, of course, for me.

    As you say here:

    “A mind only capable of understanding things internal to space-time cannot think about anything external to space-time without subjecting it to space-time and therefore every comment we make about God is wrong.”

    in a very Kantian manner, you’ve come very close to undercutting your deductive argument, which is chock full of comments about God.

    “And have I not shown that ascribing any intent to the origin of the universe is deductively impossible?”

    Not yet, although it seems to me this is one of your most promising avenues to establish an incoherence within theism. This is a open question that both sides are currently formulating in ongoing philosophy of religion literature. We’ll have to see how it develops. I already owe a response on this to another online skeptic. I’ll cue you in when I get around to it.

    MS

  • 56. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Not necessarily, as you’re laboring to prove.

    We have two options. Either God is dependent on time or independent of time.

    If He is dependent on time, then God is subject to time which means that there is something greater than God and God ceases to be omnipotent.

    If He is independent of time, then, well…

    Why does it have to be any more complicated than this?

    It’s altogether conceivable that God becomes temporal with respect to creation at the moment of creation. Thus, he existed timelessly prior, but not after creation.

    Ummmm…. it sounds like you are just trying to invent a new God so you don’t have to admit the old God doesn’t exist.

    however, given the background knowledge of the Trinity, if true, there appears to be some kind of intentional relationship built within God’s nature.

    Who built God’s nature? Where did He get His complex nature from?

    If one is allowed to just propose that God – outside of any ability for us to understand – is like X, then why not just be – in my opinion – more humble, and just say the universe is like X and we don’t know anything about what lies transcendent to it.

    It’s a bit early to make this claim, I think.

    Quite frankly, I think the 1st century was a bit early to make any claim – especially about a deity.

    Don’t you think?

    Bizarrely, you accept the claims of 1st century men who claimed to be speaking for God, but then argue it’s too early in the 21st century to make a claim against what the 1st century men proposed?

    I’m confused.

    It sounds like you want to be able to say “I don’t know that anything we can claim today counts, but I know we can trust what men claimed in the 1st century…”

    in a very Kantian manner, you’ve come very close to undercutting your deductive argument, which is chock full of comments about God.

    I’m only saying what God cannot be. That’s all we’ve got: proposals on what God could be like, and ability to show that it is internally contradictory. No?

    I already owe a response on this to another online skeptic.

    Ahhh, upholding the truth, I see :)

    I’m really curious why you believe at all.

  • 57. Tit for Tat  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

    I’m really curious why you believe at all.(Josh)

    Me thinks, like many a Christian, somebody scared the holy sheit out of him at one point in his life. ;)

  • 58. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Me thinks, like many a Christian, somebody scared the holy sheit out of him at one point in his life.

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    Sometimes I just think people grow up believing something to be true, invest quite a bit in it, and want to do everything they can to get all that investment back with interest – any interest. They are just trying to defend the value of that which they have invested so much time in.

    I was really bothered by this at first, until I realized that since probably damn near 100% of mankind has invested their life in ideologies that ended up being false, it was a little arrogant – and highly improbable – for me to think I had found (or been given) any form of ultimate truth. Seems sortof silly to me now.

    “Hey everyone! There are 6 billion people in the world, most of whom have thought at some point to have ‘discovered’ something related to ultimate reality, but you know what? I KNOW. I am one of the few, one of the elites, who is holding onto the truth and correcting others because it is my divine calling.”

    It’s just human nature, but it looks sillier and sillier the farther away I get from assuming anyone has any divine revelation, especially since the fail rate is, by mutual exclusion of their claims, damn near 100%.

    So by inductive reasoning and a very “powerful” argument (thanks MS Quixote :) ), I practically feel it is only wise to dismiss every person who claims to understand any thing about God or divine revelation. It’s just safe that way.

    “Wait, so everyone I’ve known claims to be speaking for God, but you are the one I am supposed to believe because you ARE speaking for God? Ahh, what luck I should run into you, right when I was having a epistemological crisis – just like everyone else!”

    Sadly, the only people who should be having an epistemological crisis – believers – do not. Why? Because they have an omniscient source.

    And He will answer everything in the end.

    Sadly, this omniscient source never gives a clear set of rules on how to interpret the information He gives us… instead we have to discover those rules just like everything else in life. God’s communication seems no better than the trial and error by which native tribes determine the deadliness of the plants in their village.

    Ahh! Bobby die. No more take communion in unworthy manner. That why we be solemn and not party!

    [Too bad no one mentioned how to properly take communion before the fellow hit the eternal sack...]

  • 59. MS Quixote  |  August 10, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    “Why does it have to be any more complicated than this?”

    Because I’m a bit more skeptical than you with respect to this question, or because skepticism is inherently easy to do. I’ll let you decide:) Either way, your use of dependent and independent creates a false dilemma. Even if God enters time at the moment of creation, He’s not dependent on time as we are.

    “Ummmm…. it sounds like you are just trying to invent a new God so you don’t have to admit the old God doesn’t exist.”

    Or, just considering Scripture in light of a seemingly solid deliverance of science that was unknown a century ago.

    “Who built God’s nature? Where did He get His complex nature from?”

    Ah, yes…Dawkin’s folly. A disembodied mind is far less complex than the universe.

    “If one is allowed to just propose that God – outside of any ability for us to understand – is like X, then why not just be – in my opinion – more humble, and just say the universe is like X and we don’t know anything about what lies transcendent to it.”

    I’m in agreement that these are your two logical options: something must be eternal, and it’s either the natural or the supenatural. It’s your choice, ultimately, but science and logic appear to point to the former.

    “It sounds like you want to be able to say “I don’t know that anything we can claim today counts, but I know we can trust what men claimed in the 1st century…”

    When you divorce this from its context of time, it seems to make sense…but, then again, we were discussing time, and time by nature is confusing.

    “I’m only saying what God cannot be. That’s all we’ve got: proposals on what God could be like, and ability to show that it is internally contradictory. No?”

    Exactly, and you’ve got quite a bit to say about this being that supposedly we cannot know anything about.

    “I’m really curious why you believe at all.”

    Playing on your high ground, my friend…always makes it seems that way, not to mention that I’ll break camp and agree with you where I think you’re correct or even where I think you could be. Reaching the point of diminishing returns, now, but my compliments, Josh…

  • 60. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Even if God enters time at the moment of creation, He’s not dependent on time as we are.

    This does not make any sense at all. It sounds like you just made this up.

    Can you back it up?

    It sounds like you are an eternal skeptic who just does not want to be skeptical about what you believe and then actually come to a conclusion. You are doing the very thing you are accusing me of doing.

  • 61. MS Quixote  |  August 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    “This does not make any sense at all. It sounds like you just made this up.

    Can you back it up?”

    Sure…if He created time, as is commonly thought, He could annihilate it. Thus, he’s not dependent upon it.

    “It sounds like you are an eternal skeptic who just does not want to be skeptical about what you believe and then actually come to a conclusion. You are doing the very thing you are accusing me of doing.”

    Very close to the truth, Josh, in many ways, except bear in mind that I’ve not accused you of dishonest skepticism–not that you’re accusing me of dishonest belief. However, It may also be the case that I have at my disposal more information of a personal nature you’re not aware of that influences my reaction to arguments for God’s existence and influences my belief. We’ve all got to call it like we see it. And, you never know what lies ahead on your own path, my friend.

    Nevertheless, here’s some things that would weigh heavily on me were they demonstrated. 4 is an actual gamechanger:

    1. Abiogenesis

    2. Advanced neuroscience that refuted dualism or perhaps a conscious AI, if we could ever know such a thing.

    3. If through science, technology, education, and economics alone the world became a place of peace, with no starvation, disease, crime, and war. Likewise, if the world ever became so evil there were no discernable good in it.

    4. A demonstration that Christ was not raised from the dead.

    In passing, it’s presumably more difficult for a theist to produce such a list that it is for atheists, for the nothing is not commonly thought of as possessing the capability to present itself.

  • 62. MS Quixote  |  August 10, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    The pipe is awesome, btw. It’s a codeword in my family for intellectuals…so pipe away:)

  • 63. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Ah, yes…Dawkin’s folly. A disembodied mind is far less complex than the universe.

    I believe this is the old “Ah, yes” fallacy.

    something must be eternal

    I don’t believe this is necessarily true.

    either the natural or the supenatural

    According to my beliefs, this is a false dilemma.

    Exactly, and you’ve got quite a bit to say about this being that supposedly we cannot know anything about.

    I don’t believe that is what I meant, even if it was what I said. Atheism is far more subtle and sophisticated than you make it out to be, and so far everything you have said demonstrates that you are not keeping up with the latest atheist research and arguments. We are simply trying to interpret reality through the lens of an ancient and infallible universe, and creating straw man arguments about our position is not accurately reflecting our present interpretation of our own beliefs. I have a hard time understanding how you can claim to know anything about the origins of a universe we know so little about? You should be more skeptical about your knowledge regarding the universe.

    I believe atheism is true because I don’t experience any gods, and that settles it.
    :)

    Witty, my friend – I know what you are doing. It won’t work…

    Playing on your high ground, my friend…always makes it seems that way, not to mention that I’ll break camp and agree with you where I think you’re correct or even where I think you could be. Reaching the point of diminishing returns, now, but my compliments, Josh…

    You are smart, for sure, but is the most intelligent thing you keep doing to leave the debate when you actually have to reveal your hand? :) A touch of the Golden Rule would be nice and refreshing at this point… especially from the party that has the faith hand.

    Although, I’m beginning to think the faith cards are a myth because the person who claims to hold them never lays them on the table…

  • 64. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Damn it, you were writing a further response right when I was writing mine…

  • 65. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Sure…if He created time, as is commonly thought, He could annihilate it.

    Nothing can create time. Think about it :) In order for something to be created, there has to be a moment at which it was not created and a moment at which it was. But this would require the existence of time prior to the creation of time – which is self-defeating.

    Perhaps you can find some wording that describes the verb “create” without an assumption there was time in which to do the act?

    However, It may also be the case that I have at my disposal more information of a personal nature you’re not aware of that influences my reaction to arguments for God’s existence and influences my belief.

    Perhaps we should share our personal information in a private setting, because a large portion of my antagonism against belief in any gods is personal as well. Very personal.

    4. A demonstration that Christ was not raised from the dead.

    Can you please provide a test that is not doctored in such a way as to be be infallible?

    You are the one making the affirmative claim that an unusual event has occurred. The *better* question is to demonstrate that He is alive, not that he is dead!

    Just because a person cannot find a needle in a haystack does not mean their neighbor is rational to continue to believe in the fairies who supposedly put it there.

    Produce the fairies, do not ask someone else to prove they do not exist anywhere in the whole world so that you can keep believing in them.

    for the nothing is not commonly thought of as possessing the capability to present itself.

    Clever wording :) I too, agree that something cannot come from nothing – at least, I cannot imagine it.

    But it only makes rational sense to me to posit that nothingness is only a concept in our minds… just like gods.

  • 66. MS Quixote  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    “I believe atheism is true because I don’t experience any gods, and that settles it.”

    Nicely done, here and above…

    “the debate”

    Debate? Review comment 3.

    “Although, I’m beginning to think the faith cards are a myth because the person who claims to hold them never lays them on the table…”

    Perhaps I’ve given you too much credit for assuming you already knew what was in my hand, less some of my personal experience?

  • 67. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    And thanks for the comment about the pipe. Sadly, I do not think mine has improved my intelligence :)

  • 68. Joshua  |  August 10, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    Debate? Review comment 3.

    Sorry, I’m a natural born intellectual fighter, and as probably is true with most people, this is of a very personally touchy nature – even for me, what with my rational and all. It was the only way I could learn to stand up for myself when no Christian – or prayer – I knew could help me.

    Perhaps I’ve given you too much credit for assuming you already knew what was in my hand, less some of my personal experience?

    Likewise.

  • 69. Joshua  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Sounds to me like argument is the basis for my current position, wishing – as I do – I had some personal experience to validate what I once believed.

    Sounds like your experience is the basis for your current position, but you are open to argument, but slightly timid at the thought that you could be wrong – because what does that say about your experience?

    No person wants to have to admit that they were duped in any way (especially by their own mind), and ones experience – whether real or not – is just a real to them. And no one wants to have to admit they missed a glaring error in their finely tuned logical argument.

    Now I know you must want to tell your story, as it is close to your heart, but are probably afraid because it is worth so much to you. No one wants that taken away from them.

    I’m sorry that what gives me peace brings you potential pain. This is somewhat ironic / divine given the entire theme of my other post.

  • 70. MS Quixote  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Oh, okay. I didn’t see this as personal at all.

    I think I know you well enough by now to interpret your likewise, but on the offchance I don’t, my last comment was a compliment.

  • 71. MS Quixote  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:15 am

    “I’m sorry that what gives me peace brings you potential pain.”

    If it makes you feel better to believe that and above, you have my blessing. Not my first rodeo, Josh…

  • 72. Joshua  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Oh, okay. I didn’t see this as personal at all.

    Everything is :) Only the hearts of men are hidden beneath that which they find protects them. Some men hide behind arguments, others behind faith. Men threatened with reason will hide behind faith. Men threatened with faith will hide behind reason, for both are an effective shield against their only known enemy.

    I think I know you well enough by now to interpret your likewise, but on the offchance I don’t, my last comment was a compliment.

    I understood. And thanks.

    I imagine you slyly smiling at the banter, perhaps slightly aloof, but just interested enough to see which of us will crack first by falling for the others move… except now that it is personal, I imagine the tone will change slightly.

  • 73. Joshua  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Not my first rodeo, Josh…

    You were once an atheist, I presume?

    If it makes you feel better to believe that and above, you have my blessing.

    I don’t mind witty banter, but condescension does bother me.

  • 74. MS Quixote  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:31 am

    “for both are an effective shield against their only known enemy.”

    Excellent writing, Josh. Top-notch. I’m impressed. It’s just that I view them as allies, not enemies.

    I figured you understood, but I wanted to make sure.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Josh…it’s not personal.

  • 75. Joshua  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

    It’s just that I view them as allies, not enemies.

    If I could draw a ying-yang symbol in ASCII, I would. For now, the latter sentence will suffice.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Josh…it’s not personal.

    God’s existence isn’t personal?

    How… weird.

    And regardless of whether it is personal for you (I thought you said it was), it is personal for me. I try to separate myself from the personal aspects by rigorously exercising my mind. But, my guess is that you already figured that part out.

  • 76. Joshua  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:39 am

    And thanks for the compliment. Kudos to you as well.

    I love to write: I would love to write – for money.

  • 77. Charon  |  August 13, 2009 at 2:15 am

    “1. Abiogenesis”

    What do you mean by this? If you mean scientifically plausible theories of abiogenesis, we have those. That is, there are naturalistic explanations for the origin of life. Which, if any, of the current theories explains how life arose on Earth is a very difficult question. It’s not clear to me that this is answerable. In any case, it does of course seem to me that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is more parsimonious than assuming the existence of an arbitrarily complex deity.

    “2. Advanced neuroscience that refuted dualism or perhaps a conscious AI, if we could ever know such a thing.”

    Have you read anything by Patricia Churchland? I would recommend in particular Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy, which is accessible to the non-neurologist/philosopher, but also fairly rigorous. I would also recommend the first section of Penelope Maddy’s Second Philosophy for a clear discussion of why dualism makes no sense. Dualism as conceived by Descartes has been disproved. More sophisticated variants become unfalsifiable and end with assuming the existence of a realm that can have no interaction with matter – or humans – and thus seems pretty useless.

    “3. If through science, technology, education, and economics alone the world became a place of peace, with no starvation, disease, crime, and war. Likewise, if the world ever became so evil there were no discernable good in it.”

    Neither of these are outcomes one would expect if naturalistic science were true. So I guess this would just disprove everyone’s ideas, right?

    “4. A demonstration that Christ was not raised from the dead.”

    Now, this just violates the whole falsifiability thing. Explain how this could possibly be demonstrated. And you’re doing exactly what makes skeptics so bewildered, by falling into the negative proof fallacy. This question of unique historical events and the nature of proof has been discussed ably by Sean Carroll.

  • 78. MS Quixote  |  August 15, 2009 at 12:34 am

    “I love to write: I would love to write – for money.”

    You’re remarkably good at it, Josh, based on the small sample I’ve seen. If you love to write you will, and the money may follow.

    “What do you mean by this?”

    Charon: one thing I enjoy about conversations with atheists/skeptics/agnostics is that two are rarely the same. Abiogenesis was suggested to me as a potentially observable criterion by some of the first atheists–very able ones at that– to review this list. I concurred, and here it is. It seems to me that the ubiquitous occurence of abiogenesis naturally would be evidence for your side, no? I fail to see why you would contend with this…

    Your suggestions for further reading are noted. The most rigorous text I’ve read in earnest is Dennett’s “Consciousness Explained,” which I am following with two more of his.

    In my view, perhaps you should apply your skepticism consistently with regard to this statement: Dualism as conceived by Descartes has been disproved. If all you intend is that we no longer consider the pineal gland the locus of the soul, then all is well; however, dualism seems alive and well philosophically.

    “Neither of these are outcomes one would expect if naturalistic science were true.”

    This is both false and quite beside the point. Humanism generally predicts the first, or at least, is actively working toward this goal in many of its creedal manifestations. Regardless, both criteria from #3 would serve to falsify my particular brand of Christianity; hence, its inclusion on the list. Moreover, #3 is inherently objective and active within our current social consciousness. It’s not much more than Lennon’s “Imagine.”

    “Now, this just violates the whole falsifiability thing. Explain how this could possibly be demonstrated.”

    Very odd statement, given that your side was claiming to have falsified it with the discovery of an ossuary just years ago. Regardless, even in the event that this is not physically falsifiable, which I deny, even a naturalistic inference to the best explanation from the generally accepted historical facts surrounding the resurrection accounts that was more plausible than the Christian inference would serve to demonstrate #4.

    ” And you’re doing exactly what makes skeptics so bewildered, by falling into the negative proof fallacy. ”

    I’m a bit discouraged that no skeptic here has crossed party lines to express their bewilderment with this cliched response. First, the *negative proof fallacy* is just that. It’s trivially easy to prove some negatives wrong: for instance, “there exist no Pakistani born US Presidents.”(in this world, of course) Secondly, there’s generally accepted criteria to determine when we may conclude that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  • 79. Anders Branderud  |  August 22, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Hello,

    Still no one succeeding in disproving the proof on my blog for the existence of a Creator:
    http://bloganders.blogspot.com/2009/08/proof-of-existence-of-intelligent-and.html

    Anders Branderud

  • 80. Joshua  |  August 22, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    It seems to me that the ubiquitous occurence of abiogenesis naturally would be evidence for your side, no?

    Personally I don’t think abiogenesis would be evidence that God does not exist. Honestly, a God who could invent a system that had the potential to produce life from non-living matter would be hella awesome and worthy of my praise, anyway. I mean, how damn cool would that be? To produce consciousness and life from non-living material? Wow! That would be absolutely amazing.

    Secondly, there’s generally accepted criteria to determine when we may conclude that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

    Mmmm hmmm? And this would be?

    The problem is not that one can define God in such a way that he could exist even when it looks like there is no evidence, the problem is that this itself could be nothing more than invention. How could we tell the difference?

    I’ve started to wonder if humans inventing deities is not so natural that it could be compared to the bird urge to build a nest.

    Anders,

    Do you allow comments on your blog? I didn’t see a place to post a response.

  • 81. Quester  |  August 23, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Anders,

    “Follow this process to its ultimate and the rate of shrinkage reduces to converge with timespace where both are zero. That is, both shrinkage and timespace stop at timespace=0. Thus, timespace has a beginning.”

    “It is a fundamental law of physics that every physical occurrence in the universe has a cause.”

    Could you tell me the difference between “timespace” and “the universe”, or tell me why a fundamental law within the universe should be expected to hold true without it?

    Being logically consistent (orderly), the universe must mirror its Prime Cause / Singularity-Creator—Who must be Perfectly Orderly; i.e. Perfect.

    What about this universe strikes you as orderly, perfect, or mirroring a perfect creator? Could you explain to me how a puncture in a car tire mirrors the nail that caused it? How about the person who put the nail on the road, is he factored into this logical mirroring?

    Therefore, no intelligent person can ignore that our purpose and challenge in life is learning how we, as imperfect humans, may successfully relate to a Perfect Singularity-Creator without our co-mingling, which transcends the timespace of this dimensional physical universe, becoming an imperfection to the Perfect Singularity-Creator

    How exactly did you make that leap?

    I’m afraid, Anders, that the main reason no one’s “disproved [your] proof” on your blog is that you forgot to include any. You just have baseless statements derived from the unnecessary argument of the First Cause. I have a lot of respect for Thomas Aquinas, but we’ve learned a fair amount about the world since he wrote his proofs for God’s existence (you should read them sometime- unlike your attempt, his actually has some content and logical structure).

  • 82. paleale  |  August 23, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    @Anders

    Wow. I’m surprised you didn’t fall to your death during one of the many leaps of illogic you made.

  • 83. LeoPardus  |  August 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    All scientists and logicians reading Anders blog facepalm. Then they seek treatment for their migraines.

  • 84. Joshua  |  August 23, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    At least he is trying… the effort is commendable. I do think he tends to be a bit premature myself :)

  • 85. Quester  |  August 24, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Joshua,

    What exactly do you think he is trying, and why do you commend it?

  • 86. Joshua  |  August 24, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I commend anyone who tries to use reason to defend what they believe, because at least they realize the usefulness of reason and are opening themselves up to the standard that lead me – at least – to leaving faith altogether.

    As soon as a person submits to the notion that reason should lead anyone back to their God – that reason gives glory to God – they are starting on the right track. No?

    Sure, his logic is bad or non-existent, but at least he is starting on that path. But that is how I started, and look where I ended up! It’s better than those who just believe and are afraid to use logic. I’ve known plenty of people like that and they are walking contradictions – using reason whenever it is convenient and throwing it out whenever it comes to anything in their faith because “God is above reason”.

    The trick is when someone finally realizes they cannot use reason to get the results they want, and instead they should accept the results of reason – where it leads.

    Place reason above God and you will leave faith. Place God above reason and render theology meaningless. Since both lead to a contradiction, either reason does not exist or God does not. I can’t see how anything else is possible.

    Hopefully people like Anders reach that point.

  • 87. Joshua  |  August 24, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Since both lead to a contradiction, either reason does not exist or God does not.

    I should not have said “reason does not exist”, I should have said “reason is useless with the things of God”.

  • 88. Quester  |  August 25, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I commend anyone who tries to use reason to defend what they believe,

    Ok, I can go with that. Good job in seeing the positive!

  • 89. anti-supernaturalist  |  September 16, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Those not with us are against us. – Luke 11:23 NIV

    The Big Lie of the Big-3 Monster-theisms:
    Skeptics cannot undermine beliefs which require spiritual insight to believe!

    The Big Lie exemplifies a classic logical failure called an “immunizing strategy.” Only a believer can understand another believer’s beliefs. It is a form of begging the question — presupposing without proof the very point at issue.

    An immunizing strategy amounts to deflecting away every request for reasoning outside the charmed circle of language which only a believer could use.

    But, one pays dearly when immunizing a belief from criticism. It cuts off rational communication. The immunizer gives up the right to be classed as a “reasonable person” — in the common sense way just by the courts.

    You cannot respond rationally to critics by saying that only those who are with me can understand what I have to say. There must be some starting point in a discourse common to believer and to critic. Otherwise, there’s nothing that can be talked about.

    Now you know why a xian “conversion” sales job has always begun with purportedly “absurd” or “paradoxical” claims to induce belief. And to a rational ancient Greek nothing was more conceptually contradictory than a “god on a cross.”

    Ultimately, xianity cannot be refuted; it can only be dismantled. The de-deification of culture (including the sciences) is our task for the next 100 years.

    anti-supernaturalist

  • 90. Fatimah  |  November 18, 2012 at 1:26 am

    I needed this today..we found out last week 7 days ago that my young, hehlaty, in shape, non-smoking, not overweight husband has lymphoma. To say we are devastated and terrified does not even begin to discribe our feelings. We have 2 children..did I mention I am 6 months pregnant. Please pray for my husband..our children, our family.

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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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