Reviewing the Stenger Method paper

Let me summarize Demonstrating the Non-existence of God with the Stenger Method.

First, you will note that I begin with two empirical facts:

1. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Victor Stenger, Jerry Coyne, and PZ Myers all misinform the public that science has shown God does not exist.

2. However, not one of these scientists has ever published a single, experimental research study that shows God does not exist.

This, by itself, should cause people to question the assertions of these five men, for they are not truly qualified to make such pronouncements and don’t know what they are talking about. This can be easily shown by asking any of them this simple question: “You say that science has shown there to be no evidence for the existence of God. Well, if God did exist, what type of data would science possibly uncover as evidence for God’s existence?” Their answers will clearly demonstrate that their entire anti-God position is built on God-of-the-Gaps reasoning.* This is their logic:

If there was a God, there must be a Gap. There is no Gap, therefore, there must be no God.

Victor Stenger himself makes this abundantly clear in the quotation I provided.

My little, sarcastic piece is 554 words in length. Those 554 words capture the essence and core of the New Atheist’s “science has shown there is no God” posturing – everything from the flawed methodology, the flawed reasoning, the feigned objectivity, the attempt to appear sciencey, the lazy approach, and the smug conclusions that are supposedly derived from the flawed, lazy methods and reasoning.

So the next time a New Atheist goes on and on about how science has shown there to be no God, it doesn’t really matter if their argument is full of huffing and puffing, or it is presented in some calm, seemingly reasonable manner full of fancy words – unless they have come up with a completely new and novel argument, it will ultimately boil down to the 554 words known as Demonstrating the Non-existence of God with the Stenger Method.


*In some cases it is worse. Both Myers and Dawkins have publicly admitted that nothing could ever count as evidence for God. Thus, their taunts of there being no evidence for God are nothing more than sneaky posturing. And you, dear theist, are supposed to take the bait and allow them to pose as judge and jury in their kangaroo court.

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44 Responses to Reviewing the Stenger Method paper

  1. Squibs says:

    Two things.

    First, could you expand on the latter half of the following: “If there was a God, there must be a Gap”?

    Second, I wonder if you are not over-egging the pudding a fraction with regards to Dawkin’s frank admission. I would imagine that most ardent supporters of RD would point out that in the interview with Boghossian Dawkins said, “I’m starting to think that nothing would [convince me that God exists]”.

    While We both know that his mind is absolutely closed to the possibility that there is a God – not to mention more specific beliefs about the divinity of Jesus – I can imagine that those willing to fight against the closed minded charge would claim that you are misrepresenting his words. Still, it’s a brave (and possible deluded) RD supporter that would attempt to make the case that his mind isn’t sealed shut when it comes God.

  2. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    From the OP:
    “1. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Victor Stenger, Jerry Coyne, and PZ Myers all misinform the public that science has shown God does not exist.”

    —Could you provide some quotes? I would generally characterize their positions as ‘science has shown that a God does not NEED TO exist’… which is quite a different assertion..

    “2. However, not one of these scientists has ever published a single, experimental research study that shows God does not exist.”

    —What if some of their work demonstrates that a god is not necessary (for say, the existence of life or of the mind)?

    “This, by itself, should cause people to question the assertions of these five men, for they are not truly qualified to make such pronouncements and don’t know what they are talking about.”

    —This is a form of ad hom: that they might be wrong about a couple of points does not implicate everything they could ever say.

    “If there was a God, there must be a Gap. There is no Gap, therefore, there must be no God.”

    —Or more accurately, there is no need of one… thus the need for sourcing the position you ascribe to them above (as well as demonstrating its significance) Otherwise, it’s a straw man that wastes our time and your own.

    “My little, sarcastic piece is 554 words in length. Those 554 words capture the essence and core of the New Atheist’s “science has shown there is no God” posturing – everything from the flawed methodology, the flawed reasoning, the feigned objectivity, the attempt to appear sciencey, the lazy approach, and the smug conclusions that are supposedly derived from the flawed, lazy methods and reasoning.”

    —Remember when we were talking about your affection for invective?

    “So the next time a New Atheist goes on and on about how science has shown there to be no God, it doesn’t really matter if their argument is full of huffing and puffing, or it is presented in some calm, seemingly reasonable manner full of fancy words –”

    —So we’re angry atheists… unless we’re not, and then we’re snug a-holes. Gotcha. lol

    “*In some cases it is worse. Both Myers and Dawkins have publicly admitted that nothing could ever count as evidence for God.”

    —Wait… how is this worse, exactly? I happen to hold this position… If you’d like to talk some more about it, I’d be happy to go into more detail.

  3. Kevin says:

    I happen to hold this position… If you’d like to talk some more about it, I’d be happy to go into more detail.

    I will let others respond to the remainder of your post, but I would certainly like to hear your justification for that before I question further.

  4. Crude says:

    Could you provide some quotes? I would generally characterize their positions as ‘science has shown that a God does not NEED TO exist’… which is quite a different assertion..

    For Stenger, you have this right here.

    —What if some of their work demonstrates that a god is not necessary (for say, the existence of life or of the mind)?

    Feel free to say how any scientific work could, in principle, show that God is necessary – while remaining science. You’re going to need that to possibly get to ‘God is not necessary’.

    Science is utterly silence on God’s existence or necessity – it doesn’t have the tools to begin investigating that question. At best, you can have theories that make no explicit reference to God. But that’s not at all ‘demonstrating God is not necessary’.

    —Or more accurately, there is no need of one… thus the need for sourcing the position you ascribe to them above (as well as demonstrating its significance)

    No, not ‘more accurately’. Dawkins and company do not go around arguing that God is merely not necessary in some vague sense – but that God does not exist, or is tremendously unlikely to exist.

    —Remember when we were talking about your affection for invective?

    Goodness gracious. Someone is being critical of the New Atheists? Mercy!

    —So we’re angry atheists… unless we’re not, and then we’re snug a-holes. Gotcha. lol

    If you’re neither angry nor a smug asshole, you are practically by definition not a New Atheist. Those are practically requirements, based on the behavior of their leadership and what they encourage among their followers.

    —Wait… how is this worse, exactly? I happen to hold this position… If you’d like to talk some more about it, I’d be happy to go into more detail.

    How about you try to square ‘nothing can ever count as evidence for God’ with your claims about science. It makes no sense to argue that science has shown ‘God is not necessary’ while believing from the outset that nothing could ever count as evidence for God’s necessity (and therefore existence).

  5. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Kevin says:
    “I will let others respond to the remainder of your post, but I would certainly like to hear your justification for that before I question further.”

    —In short: there is no justifiable one-to-one correspondence between empirical/experiential phenomena/events and metaphysical/absolute agents/forces. Inherently bounded conventions and perspectives do not have any justifiable power to verify extra-conventional, extra-perceptual truths; in order to do so, such external knowledge of the metaphysical would have to already be known… hence the frame-of-reference problem.. Appeals to innate access, ‘basics’, presupposition, circular justifications and the like ultimately produce no verifiable grounding for assessing metaphysical/absolute matters.

    Thoughts?

  6. Crude says:

    Thoughts?

    Plenty.

    Inherently bounded conventions and perspectives do not have any justifiable power to verify extra-conventional, extra-perceptual truths

    “Extra-conventional”? What is it about “conventional” that lets it off the hook?

    Likewise with “extra-perceptual”. We verify extra-perceptual truths all the time, even in science, certainly in math and logic.

    in order to do so, such external knowledge of the metaphysical would have to already be known…

    According to what made-up standard?

    Appeals to innate access, ‘basics’, presupposition, circular justifications and the like ultimately produce no verifiable grounding for assessing metaphysical/absolute matters.

    ‘Basic beliefs’ aren’t intended to provide grounding that’s “verifiable”, though they can still be attacked in principle. Nor are the justifications “circular”, unless you’re going to take position like demanding the principle of sufficient reason be proven beyond all doubt in order to be accepted – in which case, you’re going to need an argument for why that kind of skepticism is at all warranted.

  7. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Crude says:
    ““Extra-conventional”? What is it about “conventional” that lets it off the hook?”

    —The boundedness of conventions (linguistic, methodological, etc) are finite in their scripting… irreducible things-in-themselves are not reducible.

    “Likewise with “extra-perceptual”. We verify extra-perceptual truths all the time, even in science, certainly in math and logic.”

    —Abstracts are conventional… if you wish to claim they are metaphysical, then you bear that burden.

    “According to what made-up standard?”

    —According to what made-up standard is the metaphysical verifiable? Toss the need to use proper justification as you wish (here, a metaphysically-grounded justifier against which verifying metaphysical claims can be made)… but it gets you no closer to Truth, capital T.

    “‘Basic beliefs’ aren’t intended to provide grounding that’s “verifiable”, though they can still be attacked in principle.”

    —Yes… in that you’re just making up stuff. It’s fine if you want to do that… indeed, it’s useful in many cases (take some of the quasi-metaphysical assumptions underlying scientific conventions), but passing them off as !!TRUTH!! would be dishonest.

    “Nor are the justifications “circular”, unless you’re going to take position like demanding the principle of sufficient reason be proven beyond all doubt in order to be accepted”

    —And why wouldn’t we, if we were serious about something being called metaphysical/absolute Truth?

    – in which case, you’re going to need an argument for why that kind of skepticism is at all warranted.”

    —No… if you wish to claim that conventions of causality are metaphysically applicable, then you bear that burden, not I. Skepticism is the default.

  8. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Oops, forgot to respond to this:

    Crude says:
    “For Stenger, you have this right here.”

    —Ummm… ok, I’ll give the whole book a read then?

    “Feel free to say how any scientific work could, in principle, show that God is necessary – while remaining science.”

    —Indeed, all science has to do is provide a useful explanatory matrix for understanding the world; metaphysical claims are not in it’s purview at all… nor have they been shown to be in ANY purview, or be useful in any way anyways. I use ‘necessity’ here in pragmatic terms, not logical ones (a conventionalized notion with no justifiable connection with the metaphysical).

    “No, not ‘more accurately’. Dawkins and company do not go around arguing that God is merely not necessary in some vague sense – but that God does not exist, or is tremendously unlikely to exist.”

    —If this god is neither necessary nor shown (the terms for demonstrating each being themselves nebulous), then a default of non-belief is warranted. Or is there a magic teapot in orbit around Pluto that you’d like to show me?

    “Goodness gracious. Someone is being critical of the New Atheists? Mercy!”

    —No… someone is complaining about the nastiness of ‘New Atheists’ while he himself engages in invective-laden screeds; it’s a useless rabbit hole of hypocrisy.

    “If you’re neither angry nor a smug asshole, you are practically by definition not a New Atheist. Those are practically requirements, based on the behavior of their leadership and what they encourage among their followers.”

    —So the term is a pointless pejorative? Got it.

    “… while believing from the outset that nothing could ever count as evidence for God’s necessity (and therefore existence).”

    —Your’e presuming a mere logical necessity indicates absolute metaphysical existence? Interesting.

  9. Crude says:

    —Ummm… ok, I’ll give the whole book a read then?

    Ummm, how about you read the title?

    God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows God Does Not Exist.

    Your question? Asking for quotes for evidence regarding this claim from Mike: 1. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Victor Stenger, Jerry Coyne, and PZ Myers all misinform the public that science has shown God does not exist.

    Will you not concede that Stenger claims science shows God does not exist, despite writing a book with ‘How science shows God does not exist’ right in the title?

    —The boundedness of conventions (linguistic, methodological, etc) are finite in their scripting… irreducible things-in-themselves are not reducible.

    I asked you what it was about something being ‘conventional’ that lets them off the hook. What you just gave me is not a response. Likewise, nothing about ‘conventional’ language hinges on what we discuss being ‘reducible’ in any way.

    —Abstracts are conventional… if you wish to claim they are metaphysical, then you bear that burden.

    I already asked what it was about ‘conventional’ that let such things off the hook – you’ve supplied no answer. And if you wish to claim they are not “metaphysical”, or you wish to take a metaphysical position on them, then you have a burden of your own.

    —According to what made-up standard is the metaphysical verifiable?

    Basic rules of thought with some very prima facie reasonable principles, such as the principle of sufficient reason. Any reason you expect me to answer that question but you avoid answering it yourself?

    Toss the need to use proper justification as you wish (here, a metaphysically-grounded justifier against which verifying metaphysical claims can be made)… but it gets you no closer to Truth, capital T.

    And you know this how? And who determines what the ‘proper justification’ is? Protip: you won’t be using science to do it.

    —Yes… in that you’re just making up stuff. It’s fine if you want to do that… indeed, it’s useful in many cases (take some of the quasi-metaphysical assumptions underlying scientific conventions), but passing them off as !!TRUTH!! would be dishonest.

    Who’s passing them off as !!TRUTH!! as opposed to a ‘a very reasonable position, well-supported, given these axioms’? And you can dismiss any axiom as ‘making stuff up’ or any foundational belief. Go ahead, try to have a belief that won’t involve you, at some point, ‘making stuff up’. You’ll be locked in hyperskepticism faster than you can say solipsist.

    —And why wouldn’t we, if we were serious about something being called metaphysical/absolute Truth?

    Because if you’re looking for something that is true beyond all doubt, you’re off in Cartesian skepticism land – if you even manage that much. What we’re looking for are reasonable beliefs, and reasonable beliefs do not necessarily have to be absolutely certain to be !!TRUTH!! beliefs.

    —No… if you wish to claim that conventions of causality are metaphysically applicable, then you bear that burden, not I. Skepticism is the default.

    He who makes a claim, has a burden. If you’re making no claims here, you have no burdens – and also no arguments.

    —Indeed, all science has to do is provide a useful explanatory matrix for understanding the world; metaphysical claims are not in it’s purview at all… nor have they been shown to be in ANY purview, or be useful in any way anyways. I use ‘necessity’ here in pragmatic terms, not logical ones (a conventionalized notion with no justifiable connection with the metaphysical).

    Blatant and obvious dodge. No, that is not ‘all’ science has to do – if ‘all’ science does is provide a useful explanatory matrix, while leaving the question of God (not to mention metaphysics generally) unanswered, the cash-out is as follows: science is dead silent on the existence or non-existence of God, the truth or falsity of naturalism, and other ways.

    Also, yet more claims re: logic and metaphysics. Do feel free to back that up. And metaphysical views are plenty useful, especially given that metaphysical assumptions underpin science, among other things.

    —If this god is neither necessary nor shown (the terms for demonstrating each being themselves nebulous), then a default of non-belief is warranted. Or is there a magic teapot in orbit around Pluto that you’d like to show me?

    First, neither naturalism nor atheism’s truth are either ‘necessary nor shown’ by your standards, so it looks like we can dispense with that as well as far as science is concerned – which is exactly what I’m arguing. The inability for science to meaningfully comment on or objectively provide evidence for one or the other answer in metaphysical disputes does not get us to ‘therefore it does not exist according to science’ but ‘science has zero input one way or the other’. That may be ‘non-belief’, as far as science and science alone is concerned, but it’s also a position which undercuts every Cultist of Gnu leader of note – since they demonstrably rely on pushing the idea that God is radically unlikely to exist, or does not exist.

    If you tell me there are no teapots around Pluto, you’ve made a claim and now have a burden – meet it. If you say science shows there’s no teapot around Pluto, likewise. Now, if you say ‘I have no idea there are no teapots around Pluto’? Well, now you can walk away without a burden. But you’ve lost the claim in the process.

    —No… someone is complaining about the nastiness of ‘New Atheists’ while he himself engages in invective-laden screeds; it’s a useless rabbit hole of hypocrisy.

    Mike’s writings are highly critical of a specific nasty group of people that he makes sure to qualify his statements regarding – hence his historical differentiating between the New Atheists and everyone else. The New Atheists, by the by, don’t really differentiate – you’re a ‘faith head’ even if you’re Francis Collins or a muslim with a machete.

    There’s no hypocrisy here.

    —So the term is a pointless pejorative? Got it.

    No, it’s one the New Atheists have collectively earned. In fact, given Boghossian’s brand of craziness lately, and the Gnu’s positive reaction to it, they earned worse.

    —Your’e presuming a mere logical necessity indicates absolute metaphysical existence? Interesting.

    No, I am using your logic here. Or are you saying that scientific evidence that would show that God is ‘necessary’ would not be evidence for His existence? Talk about hypocrisy – if science makes no reference to God, this is magically evidence against God’s existence. But if God is necessary to explain something in science (likely another appeal to God of the gaps thinking), then that’s not evidence at all.

    Funny how that works.

  10. Michael says:

    —Could you provide some quotes?

    For starters, there is a book by Victor Stenger entitled “God:The Failed Hypothesis.” Quiz time – what is the subtitle of that popular, atheist book?

    I would generally characterize their positions as ‘science has shown that a God does not NEED TO exist’… which is quite a different assertion..

    Do you have quotes where they clarify that this is indeed all they mean when talking about God and science? Yes, it is a different assertion, for noting that we do not need to invoke God to account for some particular phenomenon is hardly any justification for atheism.

    —What if some of their work demonstrates that a god is not necessary (for say, the existence of life or of the mind)?

    What if??? None of these men have done any scientific work on the origin of life or the origin of mind. So how about dealing with reality? Can you take one of Richard Dawkins’ research papers, for example, and explain to us how his results are supposed to lead us toward atheism?

    —This is a form of ad hom: that they might be wrong about a couple of points does not implicate everything they could ever say.

    You do indeed seem awfully hypersensitive. Noting that none of these men have any hands-on, scientific experience using science to determine whether or not God exists is noting that they are not qualified to speak for science when it comes to the existence of God. I’m not sure why that observation offended you.

    —Or more accurately, there is no need of one… thus the need for sourcing the position you ascribe to them above (as well as demonstrating its significance) Otherwise, it’s a straw man that wastes our time and your own.

    So you are saying the New Atheist position is nothing more than “There is no Gap, therefore there is no need for God.” If so, the position is defeated with two words – so what? You may as well note there is no dancing in science, therefore there is no need for music.

    What’s significant is the tactic of “heads I win; tails you lose”:
    There is no Gap, therefore there is no need for God
    There is a Gap, but there is no need for God.
    All bases covered.

    —Remember when we were talking about your affection for invective?

    Nope. I remember you accusing me of invective, me asking for an example, and you providing this as one of the examples: Leaders in the New Atheist movement insist there is no God because, they claim, there is no evidence for the existence of God.” This indicated to me that you don’t have a good grasp on the nature of “invective.”

    —So we’re angry atheists… unless we’re not, and then we’re snug a-holes. Gotcha. Lol

    More hypersensitivity. Lol. Don’t take it so personally – what I am saying is that the New Atheist arguments about God and Science, no matter how they are presented, ultimately boil down to saying the same thing as that 554-word piece.

    —Wait… how is this worse, exactly? I happen to hold this position… If you’d like to talk some more about it, I’d be happy to go into more detail.

    So do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.”

    Why can’t you convince your fellow atheists to agree with this position?

  11. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Crude says:

    “Ummm, how about you read the title?”

    —It’s catchy… but probably unrelated to the specifics of his (and others) positions.

    “I asked you what it was about something being ‘conventional’ that lets them off the hook.”

    —Conventional truths are framework-specific; they do not justifiably provide metaphysical !!Truth!!… an inherent limitation which applies to everyone. If you wish to say they have such power, then explain how.

    “Basic rules of thought with some very prima facie reasonable principles, such as the principle of sufficient reason. ”

    —So just assumptions, then? They’re certainly epistemically useful… but what do they have to do with metaphysical !!Truth!!? Why should I accept your “basic rules/reasonable principles” rather than another? Why couldn’t you just accept that any truths you concoct from these assumptions are just as metaphysically flimsy as the founding assumptions?

    “And you know this how? And who determines what the ‘proper justification’ is? Protip: you won’t be using science to do it.”

    —If neither you nor I or anyone else can determine what the “proper justification” is, then we’re ALL out of luck. Everything seems fine to me!

    “Who’s passing them off as !!TRUTH!! as opposed to a ‘a very reasonable position, well-supported, given these axioms’?”

    —So in other words, hanging on the assumptive air? As long as you admit that’s ALL it is…

    “And you can dismiss any axiom as ‘making stuff up’ or any foundational belief. Go ahead, try to have a belief that won’t involve you, at some point, ‘making stuff up’. You’ll be locked in hyperskepticism faster than you can say solipsist.”

    —I already said I (and others) found such assumptions to be useful… I just see neither justification nor need to call them metaphysical !!TRUTHS!!. But wait… hyperskepticism??? Whatever will I do?!?!? Oh, that’s right… live/think in the phenomenal world as usual.

    “Because if you’re looking for something that is true beyond all doubt, you’re off in Cartesian skepticism land – if you even manage that much. What we’re looking for are reasonable beliefs, and reasonable beliefs do not necessarily have to be absolutely certain to be !!TRUTH!! beliefs.”

    —According to what/whom? On what justification should I accept this lower bar, rather than another?

    “He who makes a claim, has a burden. If you’re making no claims here, you have no burdens – and also no arguments.”

    —I have arguments that show making such claims to be unjustifiable.

    “Obvious dodge. No, that is not ‘all’ science has to do – if ‘all’ science does is provide a useful explanatory matrix, while leaving the question of God (not to mention metaphysics generally) unanswered,”

    —And that’s the point: science is useful, while counting angels on the head of a pin is…what?

    “the cash-out is as follows: science is dead silent on the existence or non-existence of God, the truth or falsity of naturalism, and other ways.”

    —Unfortunately, you’re not off the hook: the same limitations that scientific conventions (and their ‘foundations’) possess are possessed by ALL conventions (including logics, which are linguistic systems). Unfortunately, ya’ll don’t seem to know when to ‘shut up’.

    “And metaphysical views are plenty useful, especially given that metaphysical assumptions underpin science, among other things.”

    —Note that, even if we were to grant these assumptions as metaphysically-oriented, they are still mere assumptions. The utility of the framework is still paramount. So about those angels on that pin…

    “First, neither naturalism nor atheism’s truth are either ‘necessary nor shown’ by your standards,”

    —A default naturalism is plenty useful, even if a metaphysical justification for it is not forthcoming. Or would you rather bandy about with the infinite number of possible metaphysical agents/forces that may underlie empirical phenomena, instead of dealing with worldly things on a worldly basis?

    “That may be ‘non-belief’, as far as science and science alone is concerned, but it’s also a position which undercuts every Cultist of Gnu leader of note – since they demonstrably rely on pushing the idea that God is radically unlikely to exist, or does not exist.”

    —A ‘god is not needed’ position is what I gather from many of their writings, as well as a ‘your god that supposedly created the universe in these certain ways does not exist’ vibe… the radical unlikeliness of your god’s existence (as opposed to any of the infinite number of other possibilities) is thrown into more doubt with our inability to even calculate probabilities of such things. (shrugs)

    “Mike’s writings are highly critical of a specific nasty group of people that he makes sure to qualify his statements regarding – ”

    —They still fall under the header of ‘invective’, and his criticism of said group mirrors what he thinks they engage in… hence the hypocrisy. He’s entitled to do that if he wishes, I just don’t see the point in the long view.

    “…hence his historical differentiating between the New Atheists and everyone else.”

    —Is he endorsing the strange typology he linked to?

    “No, it’s one the New Atheists have collectively earned.”

    —By their detractors, who are authoritative because…?

    “Talk about hypocrisy – if science makes no reference to God, this is magically evidence against God’s existence. But if God is necessary to explain something in science (likely another appeal to God of the gaps thinking), then that’s not evidence at all.”

    —No… the underlying point is that the utility of scientific conventions and their boundedness indicates that appeals to a god are unneeded and unjustifiable to boot. That is not to say OTHER conventions are not themselves useful… but they have no purchase in the metaphysical either, nor should they.

    So why care about such things?

  12. Michael says:

    —It’s catchy… but probably unrelated to the specifics of his (and others) positions.

    So a New Atheist leader entitles his own book “God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows God Does Not Exist” and Philip dismisses it. I guess we are supposed to believe that Stenger misrepresents his own position. LOL.

    Philip, do you have a quote from a New Atheist leader defending the mainstream scientific position that science cannot determine whether or not God exists?

    —They still fall under the header of ‘invective’,

    Yes, I know, anything that does not praise the New Atheists is invective(in your mind). But pray tell, when Richard Dawkins refers to religious people as “faith-heads,” is this invective?

  13. Crude says:

    —It’s catchy… but probably unrelated to the specifics of his (and others) positions.

    Alright. So again, let’s summarize this exchange:

    ‘Various New Atheists say science shows God does not exist.’
    “Ha! Provide a quote of them saying this!”
    ‘Let’s start with Victor Stenger, who wrote a book called God: The Failed Hypothesis. How science shows God does not exist.’
    “I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”

    Thanks, Phil. Next question!

    —Conventional truths are framework-specific; they do not justifiably provide metaphysical !!Truth!!… an inherent limitation which applies to everyone. If you wish to say they have such power, then explain how.

    I nowhere said they provide metaphysical !!Truth!!, whatever nonsense-definition you’re using for your idiosyncratic word. I outlined various lines of argument and evidence upon which could reasonably come to a given conclusion about the question – I ruled out the necessity of having absolute 100% certain truth.

    So just assumptions, then? They’re certainly epistemically useful… but what do they have to do with metaphysical !!Truth!!? Why should I accept your “basic rules/reasonable principles” rather than another? Why couldn’t you just accept that any truths you concoct from these assumptions are just as metaphysically flimsy as the founding assumptions?

    Where’s the evidence I didn’t accept it? And what’s the evidence that they are ‘metaphysically flimsy’? Oops – that looks like a claim you just made, kiddo. I’ll be waiting for you to substantiate it. Oh, by the by? If you use any axioms or assumptions in that reply, I’ll be applying your logic to them.

    By the way – you want to rule out assumptions like ‘Things that begin to exist have a cause’ or ‘Contingent things have causes/explanations for their existence’ or the laws of thought? Please do so. But say it outright, like, ‘I reject the law of non-contradiction’ or ‘I reject causality’ and so on.

    —If neither you nor I or anyone else can determine what the “proper justification” is, then we’re ALL out of luck. Everything seems fine to me!

    Oh, intellectual nihilism – which undercuts any argument you’d make not only against God, but the rationality of believing in God. Excellent. You really are intent to burn down the intellectual house you’re living in rather than even admit God as a possible conclusion, eh?

    We can determine what ‘proper justification’ is. At this point your objection is with the existence of starting assumptions and axioms – which are necessary even to launch a critique. So, you just undercut yourself throughout this entire conversation.

    Admittedly, most Cult of Gnu atheists take a little longer to make that move.

    —So in other words, hanging on the assumptive air? As long as you admit that’s ALL it is…

    You define basic laws of thought and logic as ‘hanging on the assumptive air’. You’re welcome to do that too – but that would mean all of your arguments are ‘hanging on the assumptive air’. Now, I don’t happen to believe that’s the case at all – yet you do. As long as you admit that’s ALL you do… 😉

    —I already said I (and others) found such assumptions to be useful… I just see neither justification nor need to call them metaphysical !!TRUTHS!!. But wait… hyperskepticism??? Whatever will I do?!?!? Oh, that’s right… live/think in the phenomenal world as usual.

    What phenomenal world? Do you even know what cartesian skepticism is? Hell, you even doubt logic, so you’re going further. Oops, but you keep talking about having rational justifications for arguments and stances! So much for consistency.

    —According to what/whom? On what justification should I accept this lower bar, rather than another?

    Who says the bar is lower? What’s the higher bar that’s out there, and what makes it higher as opposed to irrational?

    Oops again – you tossed out every bar around already because you’re on a war against any axiom or starting assumption, and that undercuts your own arguments too!

    —I have arguments that show making such claims to be unjustifiable.

    Just taking your time before getting to them, are you? Let’s just hope you start with no axioms or assumptions in your arguments – because if you did, you’d ‘just be hanging on the assumptive air’.

    But don’t worry. I recognize you’d admit as much in advance, thus saving me the time of even having to respond to your argument. 😉

    —And that’s the point: science is useful, while counting angels on the head of a pin is…what?

    Oh yes, please – tell me the usefulness of theoretical physics and the butterfly collecting the average evolutionary biologist engages in. If you want to play the ‘pragmatic’ game with worthiness of beliefs, you’re going to walk out of this conversation with far less ‘science’ than you walked in with.

    As for having to explain the usefulness of logic? Well, considering science couldn’t get by without it, I’d say it’s self-evident. Oh wait – but what determines utility? Back to subjective assumptions and whims I guess… it looks like science isn’t useful after all to the hyperskeptic.

    —Unfortunately, you’re not off the hook: the same limitations that scientific conventions (and their ‘foundations’) possess are possessed by ALL conventions (including logics, which are linguistic systems). Unfortunately, ya’ll don’t seem to know when to ‘shut up’.

    Nah, because I don’t subscribe to your silly idiosyncratic ‘omg how do I rule out God when I have no evidence waaaaah’ position, which you can’t even coherently state, much less defend consistently. But I do thank you for making the concession that Dawkins, Stenger and company, insofar as they throw out odds about God’s existence and say that His existence can be determined by science (or better yet, that science has shown God does not exist) are completely full of shit. I agree with that. Now, if only you’d advance an inch towards undercutting the reasonableness of believing in God, you may actually get somewhere you want to go, as opposed to getting to places I want you to go. 😉

    —Note that, even if we were to grant these assumptions as metaphysically-oriented, they are still mere assumptions. The utility of the framework is still paramount. So about those angels on that pin…

    Considering ‘utility’ is yet one more thing that’s loaded with subjectivity, you’ve undercut yourself again. But thank you – you’ve just ditched not only atheism, but naturalism, in the course of this discussion. Re: utility, you’re going to ditch a whole lot of science too. In fact, you may well have to ditch all of it. Hyperskepticism is a hell of a thing.

    —A default naturalism is plenty useful, even if a metaphysical justification for it is not forthcoming.

    Gosh, that’s funny. I can’t see any use for that ‘default naturalism’ whatsoever. Where’s the utility that isn’t matched by the wide varitey of non-naturalisms out there, theistic and otherwise? Hell, you don’t even need materialism – you can just go with idealism and, believe it or not, your models will still work. You shouldn’t mind that, since again, you’re wrapped up in hyperskepticism anyway.

    Or would you rather bandy about with the infinite number of possible metaphysical agents/forces that may underlie empirical phenomena, instead of dealing with worldly things on a worldly basis?

    But that’s the funny thing, phillip. If we’re completely mum about the metaphysical agents or forces that underlie empirical phenomena, we don’t GET to naturalism – because naturalism has something to say about that necessarily. So much for the utility, even by your rapidly disintegrating justifications. There’s utility of something alright, but it ain’t of naturalism.

    Wave bye-bye to it, because it’s one more thing you’re conceding with your approach. Though again, I find it funny how quickly you went from ‘I reject metaphysics’ to ‘oh shit, naturalism is metaphysics – wait, let me have that one!’

    —A ‘god is not needed’ position is what I gather from many of their writings, as well as a ‘your god that supposedly created the universe in these certain ways does not exist’ vibe

    Considering Dawkins is on record as regarding God as a scientific question, that he’s stated his view of God’s likelihood to exist, Stenger’s own damn book and writings and more, I think what’s going on here is a pathological redefining of what your favorite authors say to make believe they agree with you. Alas, alack – you’re on your own.

    —They still fall under the header of ‘invective’, and his criticism of said group mirrors what he thinks they engage in… hence the hypocrisy.

    First, the ‘invective’ heading doesn’t remotely compare. Second, there’s no hypocrisy in flipping off a group of people who, as a matter of course and ideology, flip off pretty well everyone who disagrees with them. Do you think a justice system that imprisons a man who captured and imprisoned women in his basement is being ‘hypocritical’?

    —Is he endorsing the strange typology he linked to?

    I’m sure he’ll answer for himself.

    —By their detractors, who are authoritative because…?

    They gave arguments and illustrated the various problems with… oops, wait. All arguments about observations and reasoning rest on assumptions, which are nothing but air, and thus aren’t really !!TRUTH!!

    But wait again. They have utility here, so I guess that makes it okay.

    —No… the underlying point is that the utility of scientific conventions and their boundedness indicates that appeals to a god are unneeded and unjustifiable to boot. That is not to say OTHER conventions are not themselves useful… but they have no purchase in the metaphysical either, nor should they.

    Likewise, the utility of scientific conventions and their boundedness indicates that appeals to naturalism/atheism are unneeded and unjustifiable to boot. As for those other conventions, at this point you’ve completely annihilated your position by throwing out every axioms and law of thought as unjustified. There’s a reason the Cult of Gnu doesn’t subscribe to your idiosyncratic views – it would get them laughed out of the room even faster than Coyne’s ramblings do nowadays.

    Though, considering laughing at New Atheists is pretty fun, I suppose you can argue the position has some utility. Just not in the way you thought. 😉

  14. Michael says:

    First, the ‘invective’ heading doesn’t remotely compare.

    Indeed. Let’s do a comparison off the top of my head.

    I have never claimed that atheists are mentally ill. New Atheist leaders have claimed religious people are mentally ill.

    I have never called for the eradication of atheism. Jerry Coyne has called for the eradication of Christianity.

    I have never said anything bad about people raising their children as atheists. Richard Dawkins accuses religious parents of committing child abuse for raising their children to be religious.

    I have never said that atheism was evil. New Atheists assert that religion is evil.

    I do not compare atheism to harmful, disease-causing viruses. New atheists compare religion to harmful, disease-causing viruses.

    I have never joked about committing acts of violence against atheists. PZ Myers has joked about committing acts of violence against religious people.

    I have never stood before a crowd of people, urging them to mock and ridicule atheists. Dawkins has stood before a crowd of followers, urging them to mock and ridicule religious people.

  15. cl says:

    Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Victor Stenger, Jerry Coyne, and PZ Myers all misinform the public that science has shown God does not exist.

    And Loftus! Don’t forget The Loftus!!

  16. Crude says:

    Indeed, who can forget Loftus?

    Wait, I know the answer. ‘Everyone can.’ 😀

  17. Two empirical facts:
    1. Creationists all misinform the public that science has shown that the Earth is 6,000 years old, evolution does not occur, and other well-established theories are wrong.
    2. However, not one of these people has ever published a single, experimental research study that shows creationism to be true.
    Same for Noah’s Flood.
    Same for God’s existence.
    Same for origin of humans.

    Huh. Look at that.

  18. Michael says:

    Indeed. I have long noted that the New Atheists were the mirror image of religious fundamentalists. Thank you for highlighting yet another uncanny parallel.

  19. Thank you for accepting that your religion and pseudoscience is illogical, not demonstrable, and unsubstantiated.

  20. Michael says:

    And thank you for showing that your mind is enslaved to stereotypes. Newsflash – I am not a creationist. So we’re left with the fact that the New Atheists think and behave like pseudoscientists. Did you notice that Sam Harris is attacking academia as being irrational because they won’t agree with him?

  21. cl says:

    The Star Splitter,

    Get real! Host was trying to be cool and you had to take it there. Guess you’re actually on the Gnu side of the spectrum, else, you’d be keen enough to know that Host ain’t on the fringe

  22. Michael says:

    Hi squibs,

    First, could you expand on the latter half of the following: “If there was a God, there must be a Gap”?

    Whenever the atheist plays the “science card” as justification for atheism, they build their case on the lack of Gaps (a Gap is defined as any phenomenon which could not ever possibly be explained by natural laws and “explained” is defined as any conjecture or speculation that more than one person considers to be reasonable).

    In other words, the lack of Gaps is supposed to be very significant, as it is supposed to point toward atheism. But how can it? A lack of Gaps can only lead to atheism if we also believe that the existence of Gaps must be entailed by the existence of God. If you take away this requirement, the lack of Gaps becomes meaningless.

    All of this also explains what happens when you ask an atheist to spell out the type of data they would count as evidence for God. They always invoke Gaps. This is because their atheism is built on God of the Gaps logic. If there was a Gap, they would consider that is evidence for God (so they claim). They see no Gap, thus they think God does not exist.

    Second, I wonder if you are not over-egging the pudding a fraction with regards to Dawkin’s frank admission. I would imagine that most ardent supporters of RD would point out that in the interview with Boghossian Dawkins said, “I’m starting to think that nothing would [convince me that God exists]“.

    Perhaps, but I think it the most reasonable interpretation. But here is what I would point out to the most ardent supporters of RD:

    Fact: In that clip, Dawkins admits that if God Himself were to appear to Dawkins, complete with mind-boggling displays of miraculous power, all during the second coming of Christ, he would NOT consider that evidence for God’s existence.

    Fact: Dawkins can’t think of anything that would change his mind.

    Fact: Dawkins lets it slip and admits “I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.” Yes, he has only paid “lip service.”

    Then I would ask the RD supporter to spell out what would change Dawkin’s mind. The RD supporter would be stumped. At that point, it becomes clear the RD supporter is relying on blind faith and wishful thinking when it comes to his/her belief about RD changing his mind. But my views about Dawkins are not a function of faith; they are a function of evidence.

  23. Billy Squibs says:

    Thanks Michael.

  24. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Condensing a bit…

    Crude says:
    “I outlined various lines of argument and evidence upon which could reasonably come to a given conclusion about the question”

    —If it’s according to your own self-serving criteria, then anyone and everyone can play this pointless game.

    “And what’s the evidence that they are ‘metaphysically flimsy’?”

    —Have you shown them to be metaphyscially authoritative? No? Poor wooby! And btw… applying skepticism to my skepticism only makes me stronger. 😉

    “By the way – you want to rule out assumptions like ‘Things that begin to exist have a cause’ or ‘Contingent things have causes/explanations for their existence’ or the laws of thought?”

    —I see no reason to accept that they are metaphysically authoritative.

    “Oh, intellectual nihilism – which undercuts any argument you’d make not only against God, but the rationality of believing in God. Excellent. You really are intent to burn down the intellectual house you’re living in rather than even admit God as a possible conclusion, eh?”

    —Metaphysical nihilism, actually… and what would I be burning down, exactly? The ‘house’ of metaphysics hasn’t been demonstrated as constructable… or needed at all.

    “We can determine what ‘proper justification’ is.”

    —This is a claim…

    “At this point your objection is with the existence of starting assumptions and axioms – which are necessary even to launch a critique.”

    —… which you seem unwilling and/or unable to justify. That these starting points are needed for critique does not lend legitimacy to them or the critique.

    “You define basic laws of thought and logic as ‘hanging on the assumptive air’.”

    —According to what? You really like the smell of your own flatulence, don’t you?

    “What phenomenal world? Do you even know what cartesian skepticism is?”

    —That changes nothing. The phenomenal world exists regardless of what it ‘actually’ is (or frankly, what ‘we’ are). Illusion or not, it’s there to be dealt with.

    “Who says the bar is lower? What’s the higher bar that’s out there, and what makes it higher as opposed to irrational?”

    —That none of us can determine such things only makes me stronger, wooby.

    “you tossed out every bar around already because you’re on a war against any axiom or starting assumption”

    —Tsk tsk… I never said such a thing. I am at war with calling these axioms/assumptions metaphysically authoritative; I have already said they are tres useful.

    “Just taking your time before getting to them, are you?”

    —Hmmm… I guess you can’t read, huh?

    “Oh yes, please – tell me the usefulness of theoretical physics and the butterfly collecting the average evolutionary biologist engages in.”

    —Heh… and the anti-scientific soul comes gushing forth! Do I really need to explain the usefulness of how matter and life works? Of course, you COULD be a dear and answer me this question: How would batter-dipped deep-fried angels taste like?

    “As for having to explain the usefulness of logic? Well, considering science couldn’t get by without it, I’d say it’s self-evident.”

    —(pssst… this still says nothing about the metaphysical)

    “Oh wait – but what determines utility? Back to subjective assumptions and whims I guess…”

    —Which are far batter than empty objective authorities, I agree!

    “But I do thank you for making the concession that Dawkins, Stenger and company, insofar as they throw out odds about God’s existence and say that His existence can be determined by science (or better yet, that science has shown God does not exist) are completely full of shit.”

    —Unfortunately, from a pragmatic point of view they are still correct: If science shows that claims about a particular god are unfounded, and that any god is itself unnecessary, then a provisional ‘non-existence’ lable may be applied.

    “Now, if only you’d advance an inch towards undercutting the reasonableness of believing in God,”

    —Is ‘reasonableness’ like ‘truthiness’, or any other feel-good goalpost? I’m not sure why anyone should care about such metaphyscially vacuous things.

    “Considering ‘utility’ is yet one more thing that’s loaded with subjectivity,”

    —As is “reasonableness”…

    “But thank you – you’ve just ditched not only atheism, but naturalism, in the course of this discussion.”

    —I never said I was a metaphysical naturalist, did I? Sheesh, you’re bad at this:

    “Where’s the utility that isn’t matched by the wide varitey of non-naturalisms out there, theistic and otherwise?”

    —Strange… I don’t recall Ravi Zacarias winning all those nobel prizes for science, or faith healing doing one whit of good anywhere. But hey… aren’t you supposed to believe it works BEFORE you figure out whether or not it works? Sweet! :/

    “But that’s the funny thing, phillip. If we’re completely mum about the metaphysical agents or forces that underlie empirical phenomena, we don’t GET to naturalism – because naturalism has something to say about that necessarily.”

    —Nope… not even remotely true. Remember when I mentioned that science’s key assumptions/axioms were quasi-metaphysical? They may serve as the theoretical/methodological underpinning, but they need not… nor cannot… serve or speak to metaphysical !!Truth!!.

    “Though again, I find it funny how quickly you went from ‘I reject metaphysics’ to ‘oh shit, naturalism is metaphysics – wait, let me have that one!’”

    —Pffft… does your god teach his followers to misrepresent others too?

    “Considering Dawkins is on record as regarding God as a scientific question,”

    —(As a pragmatic issue)

    “First, the ‘invective’ heading doesn’t remotely compare.”

    —Oh come on… the term just means ‘insult’; just own it already!

    “Second, there’s no hypocrisy in flipping off a group of people who, as a matter of course and ideology, flip off pretty well everyone who disagrees with them.”

    —(sniff sniff…)

    “Do you think a justice system that imprisons a man who captured and imprisoned women in his basement is being ‘hypocritical’?”

    —Did you actually just compare Dawkins to a serial rapist?

    “Likewise, the utility of scientific conventions and their boundedness indicates that appeals to naturalism/atheism are unneeded and unjustifiable to boot.”

    —So we’re both agnostics then? GREAT! I’m looking forward to you chucking your faith into the trash where it has always belonged.

  25. The original Mr. X says:

    Crude’s been doing a nice take-down of PLG’s arguments, but I’d just like to add that, since religious belief is positively correlated with long life, good mental health, higher life satisfaction, and so on, somebody who accepts theories on pragmatic grounds surely ought to believe in God.

  26. stcordova says:

    The irony about saying only evil comes from religion is that science comes from religion:

    See:
    Occult Origins of Science

  27. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Michael says:
    “Fact: In that clip, Dawkins admits that if God Himself were to appear to Dawkins, complete with mind-boggling displays of miraculous power, all during the second coming of Christ, he would NOT consider that evidence for God’s existence.”

    —And neither should anyone. Even if we were to exhaust the countless naturalistic explanations that could underlie such experiences, what exactly is the logical connection between such ‘supernatural/miraculous/divine’ events and the source/identity/motives that caused them?

    Thus far, no one has justifiably answered this question… can you?

  28. Michael says:

    I noted: “Fact: In that clip, Dawkins admits that if God Himself were to appear to Dawkins, complete with mind-boggling displays of miraculous power, all during the second coming of Christ, he would NOT consider that evidence for God’s existence.”

    Philip replies: —And neither should anyone.

    Thar she blows! Closed-minded atheism for all to see. Thank you. I think it important that more and more theists recognize that when atheists demand evidence, if God Himself were to appear before some of them, complete with mind-boggling displays of miraculous power, all during the second coming of Christ, they would NOT consider that evidence for God’s existence. This helps to put those demands for evidence in their proper context.


    Even if we were to exhaust the countless naturalistic explanations that could underlie such experiences, what exactly is the logical connection between such ‘supernatural/miraculous/divine’ events and the source/identity/motives that caused them?

    Did you ask Jerry Coyne? He thinks seeing a 900-foot tall Jesus with his own eyes would be evidence of God. Most of your fellow atheists demand similar signs as evidence for God. Why have you not addressed them first? Why don’t you use the power of reason to get your fellow atheists to reach a public consensus on this issue?

    Thus far, no one has justifiably answered this question… can you?

    LOL. Note the squishy qualifier – “justifiably.” Well, just who gets to decide if the question has been “justifiably” answered [wink, wink]? You? The same person who demands a quote of a New Atheist leader arguing that science shows God does not exist, is given a quote, and then responds with the Ostrich defense?

    Look, you failed to answer a couple of questions:

    So do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us?”

    When Richard Dawkins refers to religious people as “faith-heads,” is this invective?

  29. Crude says:

    Philly,

    —If it’s according to your own self-serving criteria, then anyone and everyone can play this pointless game.

    It’s only ‘self-serving’ to the hyperskeptical like yourself who’s prepared to deny basic laws of thought like the law of non-contradiction, the law of causation, and more as but mere puffery. And once you’re denying that much just to keep God at bay, you’ve self-immolated. The price of ‘all axioms and assumptions, and anything that flow from there, are mere puffery’ is ‘everything is mere puffery, including your arguments to the contrary’.

    Like I said, your arguments aren’t just terrible – you’ve literally eviscerated yourself before anyone else’s opinions come to bear.

    By the by, ‘condensing a bit’ seems to mean ‘Ugh, let me ignore some of those points, like the Stenger question I completely blew’.

    —Have you shown them to be metaphyscially authoritative? No? Poor wooby! And btw… applying skepticism to my skepticism only makes me stronger.

    Sure have. Aww, widdle baby no like conclusion? Better get more skeptical. And, no, applying skepticism to your skepticism shows you’ve eviscerated yourself. That you refuse to admit it doesn’t concern me – or anyone else. 😉

    —I see no reason to accept that they are metaphysically authoritative.

    Of course you don’t. You see no reason to accept that anything is metaphysically authoritative except what you personally, subjectively like. Any axiom, any law of thought, any assumption – matter how self-evident or obvious – you discard in advance as mere puffery, then forget that you can’t so much as make an argument without relying on an axiom or an assumption. Oops, there goes all your skepticism and your criticisms.

    I can see why you’re okay with losing them – the ones you had were terrible.

    —Metaphysical nihilism, actually… and what would I be burning down, exactly? The ‘house’ of metaphysics hasn’t been demonstrated as constructable… or needed at all.

    No, little boy – it’s intellectual nihilism. Do you think it’s only metaphysics that relies on things like ‘axioms’ and ‘assumptions’? And those are precisely what you’ve been taking aim at.

    Hell, you’re saying it’s metaphysical nihilism, but it was news to you that naturalism was a metaphysical view. Bravo.

    —This is a claim…

    Sure is! But here’s the thing – your claim is also a claim.

    —… which you seem unwilling and/or unable to justify. That these starting points are needed for critique does not lend legitimacy to them or the critique.

    I’ve justified them just fine. You’re stuck with ‘But I don’t accept that!’ But… who cares what you accept?

    Oh, wait. You’re going to argue that claim X was unjustified? Please, do so. I look forward to seeing you either A) do this without making any assumptions, or relying on any axioms, or B) using assumptions and axioms, and having your skepticism eat itself in the process.

    —According to what? You really like the smell of your own flatulence, don’t you?

    You tell me, Phil. It’s been blasting into your face throughout this conversation, and all you can do is pretend you’re not smelling it. 😉

    —That changes nothing. The phenomenal world exists regardless of what it ‘actually’ is (or frankly, what ‘we’ are). Illusion or not, it’s there to be dealt with.

    What’s this ‘we’? Oh my. Other minds, Phil? How do you know those exist again? Why, that’s yet more metaphysical puffery. But I’m sure you’re going to dole out the argument that makes use of no assumption or axiom to argue that.

    And, ‘dealt with’? By whom? Or what? You, the creature with free will? Oops – yet more metaphysical puffery. Do you act at all? Is there even a ‘you’? Is it the same ‘you’ that existed five minutes ago? Remember: axioms and assumptions are all unjustified fluff, and building upon them certainly doesn’t get you knowledge or !!TRUTH!!

    Also – ‘That changes nothing’? Yet another claim. You don’t get any free assumptions or axioms – according to you, they’re all nonsense.

    —That none of us can determine such things only makes me stronger, wooby.

    Sounds like a claim, widdle boy. Gonna justify it? 😉

    —Tsk tsk… I never said such a thing. I am at war with calling these axioms/assumptions metaphysically authoritative; I have already said they are tres useful.

    Tsk tsk – it’s a factor the moment you say ‘useful’.Useful to whom? What? Ah, but wait – ‘who’s’ and ‘what’s’ are going to ultimately cash out in metaphysical terms if they’re to have any meaning. In fact, who is this ‘I’ you speak of? And what is this ‘useful’?

    Keep it coming, Philly.

    —Hmmm… I guess you can’t read, huh?

    Hmmm, I guess you can’t argue. So far the only thing you’ve said is ‘dey r usefull!’, but I pointed out the problems with that. Oh, that plus completely running away from the Stenger quote. Let me guess: dishonesty is useful? 😉

    —Heh… and the anti-scientific soul comes gushing forth! Do I really need to explain the usefulness of how matter and life works?

    Anti-scientific soul? You, wooby, have said the gold standard of science is usefulness. There’s a reason Coyne regarded his own field as ‘far closer to phrenology than physics’ – because it’s just not terribly useful.

    But by all means, do let me know the use of speculations about whether or not one particular beetle spawned another, slightly different kind of beetle some 50 million years ago. Take your time. Don’t worry, I won’t be waiting, since we both know you can’t do it. 😉

    —(pssst… this still says nothing about the metaphysical)

    Pssst. Science rests on metaphysical foundations. Pass it on.

    But you’re not a fan of any thinking – scientific or otherwise – that scares you. G-g-g-GOD? N-no! Better reject any and all thinking and assumptions that can possibly lead to that – including causality, metaphysics, law of non-contradiction…

    Still, this kind of anti-scientific thinking is typical of the wilder atheists. Just not the most prominent ones, for obvious reasons.

    —Which are far batter than empty objective authorities, I agree!

    Oh, so the subjective has authority over the objective? That’s nice to know! Eviscerating your own arguments once again.

    —Unfortunately, from a pragmatic point of view they are still correct: If science shows that claims about a particular god are unfounded, and that any god is itself unnecessary, then a provisional ‘non-existence’ lable may be applied.

    “Label”, wooby. The word you are looking for is “label”.

    And, ‘may be applied’? According to who? Also, science can’t show that a particular claim is unfounded without riding in with metaphysical assumptions of its own – much less that God is unnecessary, since it doesn’t know how to determine whether or not God is necessary. At absolute best, it remains dead silent on issues of God without metaphysical assumption (in the former case) and absolutely silent in the latter case.

    Sowwy, wooby. With your metaphysical meltdown, you’ve lost science as well as naturalism. But that’s okay, we’ll take good care of it for you. 😉

    —Is ‘reasonableness’ like ‘truthiness’, or any other feel-good goalpost? I’m not sure why anyone should care about such metaphyscially vacuous things.

    Nah, it’s more like accepting basic laws of thought – I know, I know. Scary stuff, since it may well lead to thoughts that scare you, Philly. But more than that, you already said that subjective whim works just fine for determining what you do and don’t accept as a goalpost – gotta be more careful, wooby. You keep hitting yourself.

    —As is “reasonableness”…

    You realize that’s a capitulation on your point, right?

    No, of course you don’t.

    —I never said I was a metaphysical naturalist, did I?

    You said a default naturalism was “plenty useful”. But by all means, ditch naturalism too. Then tell us again how you’re sure the other cultists of gnu are all on your side. 😉

    —Strange… I don’t recall Ravi Zacarias winning all those nobel prizes for science, or faith healing doing one whit of good anywhere. But hey… aren’t you supposed to believe it works BEFORE you figure out whether or not it works? Sweet!

    Poor Phil. He thinks ‘non-naturalism’ means ‘faith healing’. Of course, to argue the effectiveness of prayer, he’d need to rely on a system that ultimately relies on metaphysical views, axioms and assumptions, so uh-oh.

    Nope… not even remotely true. Remember when I mentioned that science’s key assumptions/axioms were quasi-metaphysical? They may serve as the theoretical/methodological underpinning, but they need not… nor cannot… serve or speak to metaphysical !!Truth!!.

    Sounds like a claim, Phil. But you never seem to actually follow through with providing the justification for that other than to say ‘b-b-but I can reject those axioms when I dislike them!’ and ‘I don’t believe in !!Truth!!’

    Also, they’re not “quasi-metaphysical”. They’re just metaphysical. Oh, but feel free to show me the scientist who argues that accepting science doesn’t rely on metaphysical claims like “there is an external world” and so on. Not even the naturalists would accept your craziness, for obvious reasons.

    Perhaps you can go tell every atheist you admire how wrong they are, since a great number of them are on record as accepting metaphysical !!Truth!! 😉

    —Pffft… does your god teach his followers to misrepresent others too?

    I’m misrepresenting you quite accurately, Phil. You’re the one who brought in naturalism’s ‘usefulness’.

    —(As a pragmatic issue)

    And you wrongly accuse me of misrepresenting people. Please, supply Dawkins’ words where he supplies the ‘pragmatic’ qualifier. He says that God’s existence is a scientific question, decidable in principle by science.

    —Oh come on… the term just means ‘insult’; just own it already!

    No, wooby – in context, it means far more. No one is complaining that the Cutlists of Gnu – *gasp* – sometime, somewhere, insulted someone. I know, it’s hard for you to understand, since you demonstrably reject the validity of ideas that you find disturbing.

    —(sniff sniff…)

    Stop putting your face there, wooby, and you won’t have this problem. 😉

    —Did you actually just compare Dawkins to a serial rapist?

    There’s that brilliance we’ve come to expect from the *snrrk* “Brights” again.

    I think it’s pretty clear that my example in no way suggests Dawkins is a serial rapist. It’s a question about hypocrisy. But, it would harm one of your idols, so quick – better lie and hide s’more!

    —So we’re both agnostics then? GREAT! I’m looking forward to you chucking your faith into the trash where it has always belonged.

    Nah, I’m a theist – I just know that my theism is a rational examination of evidence with entirely reasonable axioms, the very ones that science requires to get off the ground as a matter of fact. But thank you, kindly, for being a great example of the lengths people will go through in their weird ‘My daddy was a Christian and I HATE my daddy!’-styled atheism phases. Please, I beg you – preach your thoughts to every atheist that will hear them. That will do more to damage modern atheism than even a hundred inane “child molestation isn’t SO bad!” quips from Dawkins. 😉

  30. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Michael says:
    “Thar she blows! Closed-minded atheism for all to see. Thank you.”

    —And this is supposed to be a bad thing? You need to unpack this charge some more, particularly when one’s attitude has not been shown to have any effect whatsoever on whether or not we have justifiable access to metaphysical Truths.

    “I think it important that more and more theists recognize that when atheists demand evidence,”

    —Many don’t, as per the aforementioned problems that even YOU are sympathetic towards… though not enough.

    “if God Himself were to appear before some of them, complete with mind-boggling displays of miraculous power, all during the second coming of Christ, they would NOT consider that evidence for God’s existence.”

    —And why would it? Explain.

    “Did you ask Jerry Coyne? He thinks seeing a 900-foot tall Jesus with his own eyes would be evidence of God.”

    —And he’s wrong. A more reasonable explanation (here on a naturalistic basis) would be that he’s nuts, someone’s playing tricks on his mind, aliens masquerading as the 2nd-coming-christ… weird, but as compared to the endless supernatural/metaphysical alternatives? Trickster gods, demonic spirits, Old Ones from the Beyond…

    “Why have you not addressed them first?”

    —(shrugs) I talk with atheists all the time… but they’re not demanding the world join in on the god-party, are they?

    “LOL. Note the squishy qualifier – “justifiably.” Well, just who gets to decide if the question has been “justifiably” answered [wink, wink]? You?”

    —And that thars the rub… NONE of us can justifiably decide such things. Make up whatever you wish, but in the end it hangs on the air of wishes.

    And no… they ain’t fishes.

    “So do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us?””

    —Why do you obsess on this point? Why not concentrate on your larger justification problems?

    “When Richard Dawkins refers to religious people as “faith-heads,” is this invective?”

    —Sure! Did I ever say otherwise?

    (You seem a touch too thin skinned for blogging)

  31. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Crude says:
    “It’s only ‘self-serving’ to the hyperskeptical like yourself who’s prepared to deny basic laws of thought like the law of non-contradiction, the law of causation…”

    —Nothing you posted serves as any sort of justification… but go ahead and pat yourself on the back some more.

    “And, no, applying skepticism to your skepticism shows you’ve eviscerated yourself.”

    —Not in the slightest: Being uncertain about uncertainty only leads to greater uncertainty.

    “Of course you don’t. You see no reason to accept that anything is metaphysically authoritative except what you personally, subjectively like. Any axiom, any law of thought, any assumption – matter how self-evident or obvious…”

    —… to what you personally, subjectively like?

    “…then forget that you can’t so much as make an argument without relying on an axiom or an assumption.”

    —I at least remember that they ARE axioms and assumptions… unlike you, who presume they are “self-evident”, “obvious”…

    “No, little boy – it’s intellectual nihilism. Do you think it’s only metaphysics that relies on things like ‘axioms’ and ‘assumptions’?”

    —… apparently, without even the slightest hint of self-consciousness. No, dear… we don’t need metaphysics to survive.

    “Sure is! But here’s the thing – your claim is also a claim.”

    —And you’re in the same boat as I am regarding their metaphysical … except I admit that I’m in a boat, and not standing on the far shore with Astlan. lol

    —… which you seem unwilling and/or unable to justify. That these starting points are needed for critique does not lend legitimacy to them or the critique.

    “I’ve justified them just fine.”

    —Sure… and if I squint real hard at the sky, I can almost see them circling up there in a holding pattern!

    “Please, do so. I look forward to seeing you either A) do this without making any assumptions, or relying on any axioms, or B) using assumptions and axioms,”

    —Do you have reading comprehension issues? I have no issues with foundational assumptions and axioms… I take issue with PRETENDING they are more than that. Git it now?

    “What’s this ‘we’? Oh my. Other minds, Phil? How do you know those exist again?”

    —I don’t. However…

    “Why, that’s yet more metaphysical puffery.”

    —… what makes you think that’s a metaphysical matter? Are you one of those sad sacks who thinks he is some immutable self/soul?

    “Do you act at all? Is there even a ‘you’? Is it the same ‘you’ that existed five minutes ago? ”

    —How would any of us know such things on a metaphysical level? Some of these are useful assumptions… some of the time. But anything more?

    Come on, kid.

    “Sounds like a claim, widdle boy. Gonna justify it? ;)”

    —Nope, can’t… and you cannot show the converse. I win! lol

    “Tsk tsk – it’s a factor the moment you say ‘useful’.Useful to whom? What? Ah, but wait – ‘who’s’ and ‘what’s’ are going to ultimately cash out in metaphysical terms if they’re to have any meaning.”

    —Whoa… what??? This is some sad William Lane Craig malarkey: the unsupported presumption that only metaphysical grounding legitimates meaning.

    “Oh, that plus completely running away from the Stenger quote.”

    —Wait, was that the book title thing? Sorry, I moved on.

    “There’s a reason Coyne regarded his own field as ‘far closer to phrenology than physics’”

    —Because he possesses a humility that no christian has? (which isn’t saying much, btw)

    “But by all means, do let me know the use of speculations about whether or not one particular beetle spawned another, slightly different kind of beetle some 50 million years ago.”

    —It informs our models for how life changes over time… but if you don’t like such things, whatevs.

    “Pssst. Science rests on metaphysical foundations.”

    —Nope. Next…

    “G-g-g-GOD? N-no!”

    —Wait, which one would that be? Why would that matter exactly?

    “Better reject any and all thinking and assumptions that can possibly lead to that – including causality, metaphysics, law of non-contradiction…”

    —Oh, in various cognitive contexts they do prove useful… they just aren’t metaphysically authoritative. Again, you REALLY need to understand my position here.

    “Oh, so the subjective has authority over the objective?”

    —Well, the objective isn’t justifiable (an external matter)… unlike (internal, subjective/intersubjective) conventional systems.

    But even if we were to access the ‘objective’… why would it have authority over the subjective, exactly? And don’t give me an argument from definition.

    “Also, science can’t show that a particular claim is unfounded without riding in with metaphysical assumptions of its own –”

    —Foundation assumptions are not metaphysical by default.

    “Nah, it’s more like accepting basic laws of thought ”

    —There you go again trying to pass off mere presumptions as magic wands of !!Truth!!… Is this your one trick, pony?

    “Scary stuff, since it may well lead to thoughts that scare you, Philly.

    —And what would those be? That your particular god might exist?

    So what?

    “But more than that, you already said that subjective whim works just fine for determining what you do and don’t accept as a goalpost”

    —No, that would be what YOU believe… though you’re not honest enough to own it.

    “You realize that’s a capitulation on your point, right?”

    —Not at all… your inability to process this is getting old.

    “You said a default naturalism was “plenty useful”.”

    —That is not synonymous with “I am a metaphysical naturalist”… what in the heck have you been smoking?

    “Sounds like a claim, Phil. But you never seem to actually follow through with providing the justification for that…”

    —Their (and any such claim’s) undeciability is my point…

    “Also, they’re not “quasi-metaphysical”. They’re just metaphysical.”

    —… and you’re still not getting it.

    “Oh, but feel free to show me the scientist who argues that accepting science doesn’t rely on metaphysical claims like “there is an external world” and so on.”

    —Oh, I’m sure there are naive realists galore in the sciences… they’re not my problem. (shrugs)

    “You’re the one who brought in naturalism’s ‘usefulness’.”

    —It is useful… it’s just not absolute truth. Theism just happens to be neither.

    “Please, supply Dawkins’ words where he supplies the ‘pragmatic’ qualifier. He says that God’s existence is a scientific question, decidable in principle by science.”

    —He places himself around the ‘6’ on his Dawkins’s scale… which precludes certainty. I happen to disagree with how the scale is constructed, but meh.

    After all… it’s a god-question: why would it be important, anyways?

    “No one is complaining that the Cutlists of Gnu – *gasp* – sometime, somewhere, insulted someone.”

    —As this blog shows, PLENTY of people are such complainers.

    “I think it’s pretty clear that my example in no way suggests…”

    —No, your association was pretty clear. But again, meh.

    “Nah, I’m a theist – I just know that my theism is a rational examination of evidence with entirely reasonable axioms, the very ones that science requires to get off the ground as a matter of fact.”

    —You haven’t shown that ‘evidence’ can be shown to serve as such (or that rationality can be applied to extra-rational matters), nor have you provided metaphysical legitimacy for the ‘reasonableness’ of these axioms… which science does not require to be such.

    But, against these impossible odds…

    “But thank you, kindly, for being a great example of the lengths people will go through in their weird ‘My daddy was a Christian and I HATE my daddy!’-styled atheism phases.”

    … you remain committed to belief because you apparently WANT to believe above all else.

    How did you come to such a sad place?

  32. Dhay says:

    > —Oh come on… the term just means ‘insult’; just own it already!

    Try Googling “define invective”: “insulting, abusive, or highly critical language.”

  33. Michael says:

    Michael says: “Thar she blows! Closed-minded atheism for all to see. Thank you.”

    —And this is supposed to be a bad thing?

    Well, when atheists present themselves as being open-minded, yet are truly closed-minded, that is dishonest. Then again, I can understand your question, given so many New Atheists don’t think there is anything wrong with dishonesty, as long as it advances the Cause, right?

    – You need to unpack this charge some more, particularly when one’s attitude has not been shown to have any effect whatsoever on whether or not we have justifiable access to metaphysical Truths.

    No I don’t. First things first. Peter Boghossian is something of a celebrity among the atheists. And here is how he defines atheist (in the book that is popular among atheists):

    A person who does not think there’s sufficient evidence to warrant belief in God(s), but who would believe if shown sufficient evidence.

    Is this definition wrong and misleading?

    —And he’s wrong. A more reasonable explanation (here on a naturalistic basis) would be that he’s nuts, someone’s playing tricks on his mind, aliens masquerading as the 2nd-coming-christ… weird, but as compared to the endless supernatural/metaphysical alternatives? Trickster gods, demonic spirits, Old Ones from the Beyond…

    Yes, I know. I made similar criticisms years ago. Hyperskepticism devours the “demand for evidence” posture and renders it dishonest. Yet the atheist community embraces both hyperskepticism and the “show me the evidence” posture, kicking up one huge smokescreen in the process. We need some clarity here. Your interests can wait.

    —(shrugs) I talk with atheists all the time… but they’re not demanding the world join in on the god-party, are they?

    But why does reason fail you, Philip? If you can’t get other atheists to agree with your views about evidence, why think your reason can guide us when it comes to larger issues. Does it magically become more powerful?

    Until you convince Coyne, and Boghossian, and Harris, and Stenger, you’ll need to deal with a simple fact of life – you, Philip, and your atheism, are simply not….important. If you would like suggestions on how might go about challenging them, let me know. But then again, you are not that interested in challenging them, now are ya? 😉

    —Why do you obsess on this point? Why not concentrate on your larger justification problems?

    Looks like my question makes you uncomfortable. Let’s try again: “So do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us?””

    “When Richard Dawkins refers to religious people as “faith-heads,” is this invective?”
    —Sure! Did I ever say otherwise?

    Excellent. It’s nice to see we can agree on something (many atheists before you deny that Dawkins uses invective). Now let’s think about this. Do you think Dawkins knows he is using invective?

  34. Crude says:

    Mike,

    But why does reason fail you, Philip? If you can’t get other atheists to agree with your views about evidence, why think your reason can guide us when it comes to larger issues. Does it magically become more powerful?

    Hell, he can’t even get them to agree about metaphysics. Philly here disdains metaphysical naturalism even – which puts him even further afield from guys like PZ Myers. Myers states that no evidence could ever make him think God exists, but naturalism? He’s an explicit naturalist. Which Philly has jettisoned as being yet more nonsense, certainly not !!TRUTH!! But !!TRUTH!! is what the New Atheists are dealing in – they advocate for metaphysical naturalism left and right.

    I suppose Phil can supply us with links to his conversations where he lambasts the Cultists of Gnu on their various blogs for being so silly and believing they have the !!TRUTH!! re: metaphysics, etc. I have the suspicion that’s going to be entirely lacking – for some strange reason it’s only when theists do metaphysics that his panties get in a bunch.

    Or, perhaps, a case of selective blindness, as we saw with Stenger.

  35. Michael says:

    Crude: Hell, he can’t even get them to agree about metaphysics. Philly here disdains metaphysical naturalism even – which puts him even further afield from guys like PZ Myers.

    Or he might not even be sincere and is just making things up as he goes along for the fun of it.

    I suppose Phil can supply us with links to his conversations where he lambasts the Cultists of Gnu on their various blogs for being so silly and believing they have the !!TRUTH!! re: metaphysics, etc. I have the suspicion that’s going to be entirely lacking – for some strange reason it’s only when theists do metaphysics that his panties get in a bunch.

    Yes, Phil, that would help. I have never met an agnostic who was so hypersenstive when it came to defending extremist Gnu atheists. And the fact that you were unable to agree with anything I wrote in the OP and instead relied on stereotypes to deflect my criticisms doesn’t look good for you either.

  36. Dhay says:

    Michael > “Whenever the atheist plays the “science card” as justification for atheism, they build their case on the lack of Gaps (a Gap is defined as any phenomenon which could not ever possibly be explained by natural laws and “explained” is defined as any conjecture or speculation that more than one person considers to be reasonable).”

    By this definition of a Gap, inflation, dark matter and dark energy, however hypothetical at present – yes, inflation also, because when I looked at New Scientist a few months ago, it said there was no known reason why inflation, once started, should ever have stopped, so it’s not fully explained – by this definition of a Gap, these are not official Gaps.

    But last I knew, there was indeed a Gap: the Cosmological Constant as calculated from quantum mechanics is a massively high 10^120 times bigger than the universe’s being as it is allows it to be. This is actually one absolutely massive Gap

    Lawrence Krauss started off the discussions with one of the most engaging presentations on the state of cosmology that I have had the privilege to witness. He sped through the list of key cosmological observations, from Edwin Hubble’s discovery of an expanding universe in 1929 to the 1998 supernova studies that led to the discovery that the expansion is accelerating – a finding that showed that a mysterious entity called dark energy infuses space-time. The real trouble, of course, is that quantum theory predicts this energy is some 120 orders of magnitude greater than that calculated by cosmological observations. “The energy of empty space should be roughly a gazillion times the energy of everything we see,” said Krauss. “That is the worst prediction in physics.”

    … because the QM prediction is that certainly no galaxies should have formed, no human life exist – instead, fortunately, the universe is how we actually find it:

    Perhaps there isn’t a Gap at all: in all such calculations the results depend upon the assumptions made, so my bet is that the problem lies in wrong assumptions, and that sooner or later some bright physicist will spot which one(s). Trouble is, the problem has been known about for several years; is well known; it’s a major problem; whichever physicist solved the problem would make or enhance their reputation overnight; there’s lots of physicists out there; there’s lots of incentive for everyone in the field to have a crack at the problem and try to solve it – but despite the incentive nobody has spotted any error in the calculation or assumptions.

    Or perhaps we can plug the Gap with something that is very nearly (but not quite) exactly equal in strength but opposite in action to dark energy: ah, I have it, “bright energy”; now if someone will just join me in espousing this idea of a mysterious bright energy, the properties of which are still to be discovered – but we know it exists, because ‘obviously’ it must, to fill the Gap – the two of us will have plugged the Gap nicely.

    Or we can go the other way and postulate that if the universe is not, as reliably calculated from QM, expanding at a massively accelerating rate, this is due to the restraining hand of a God who loves us too much to allow that to happen. If someone will join me in espousing this idea, the two of us will have plugged the Gap with God.

    I don’t like God-of-the-Gaps arguments; though I have been having fun, my purpose in this response is to point out that, so far as I can tell, there actually is at least one Gap at the present time.

  37. Kevin says:

    Phillip, at best all of your attacks on the theist position rest on “useful assumptions” or are themselves useful assumptions. Considering that this is all they are – at best – you will have to justify why your useful assumptions are sufficiently useful assumptions to warrant us discarding a highly logical and reasonable worldview. All over a useful assumption that you have identified and explained, but not justified.

    Because quite frankly, if we take your views to their logical conclusion – if logic is even allowed, considering it rests on starting premises – then neither you nor I can possibly know anything, ever, let alone criticize others for having different opinions. On what grounds do you criticize others’ views? Do you somehow find your useful assumptions to be superior to theirs? If so, what starting (and useful) assumption do you use as a legitimate standard to compare the two? And if you have such a standard, why does it get to violate the rule of useful assumptiveness, which is the only way it could function as such a standard?

  38. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Michael says:

    “Well, when atheists present themselves as being open-minded, yet are truly closed-minded, that is dishonest.”

    —Setting aside the problems with the term ‘open minded’, this might be a problem… unless this is a part of a rhetorical strategy: of being ‘open’ to evidence as a segue to showing how evidence cannot suffice.

    “No I don’t. First things first. Peter Boghossian is something of a celebrity among the atheists.”

    —This psychological projection is getting a mite tiring.

    “Is this definition wrong and misleading?”

    —If that is how he characterizes ALL atheists, yes… but without context, I have no idea that’s his intention.

    “Yes, I know. I made similar criticisms years ago.”

    —And they’re still valid, however you like to deny it now.

    “We need some clarity here. Your interests can wait.”

    —Why should we honor your interest in “clarity”?

    “If you can’t get other atheists to agree with your views about evidence…”

    —Still not my problem… we’re not congregants in a small church.

    “Until you convince Coyne, and Boghossian, and Harris, and Stenger, you’ll need to deal with a simple fact of life – you, Philip, and your atheism, are simply not….important.”

    —Relevance?

    “Do you think Dawkins knows he is using invective?”

    —Why does this matter, again? Over the years I have debated theists, I’ve seen this shift of focus towards your feelings being hurt… seriously, can we get back to the aformentioned issues with your epistemology?

  39. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Kevin says:

    “… you will have to justify why your useful assumptions are sufficiently useful assumptions to warrant us discarding a highly logical and reasonable worldview.”

    —According to what? Apparently I’m just supposed to grant this posturing as authoritative because I like you?

    “Because quite frankly, if we take your views to their logical conclusion – if logic is even allowed, considering it rests on starting premises – then neither you nor I can possibly know anything, ever, let alone criticize others for having different opinions.”

    —Again: I am not against starting premises… I am against calling them anything more than starting premises, much less magic keys that unlock a metaphysical kingdom that has not been shown to be needed in the first place. This…

    “On what grounds do you criticize others’ views? Do you somehow find your useful assumptions to be superior to theirs? If so, what starting (and useful) assumption do you use as a legitimate standard to compare the two? And if you have such a standard, why does it get to violate the rule of useful assumptiveness, which is the only way it could function as such a standard?”

    —… is evidence that you are running ahead of yourself. What justification or need is there to have such ‘objective standards’? (which I assume is what you are pining for) Yes, without such we cannot lord our conventions over others… but why would that be important? Instead, I focus on what particular conventions epistemically DO… and science remains useful in framing the phenomenal world. Feel free to latch onto irritating esoteria, but don’t expect everyone to honor your (our) fundamentally arbitrary choice.

  40. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Crude says:
    “I suppose Phil can supply us with links to his conversations where he lambasts the Cultists of Gnu on their various blogs for being so silly and believing they have the !!TRUTH!! re: metaphysics,”

    —Why bother? An MN and I differ on one important matter… an unfounded, unneeded material realism. Past that, we’re rather golden. Contrast that with theists (well, most), which combine this naive material realism with pretensions to extra-dimensional knowledge and veneration of… wait, which god do you worship, again?

  41. Michael says:

    —Setting aside the problems with the term ‘open minded’, this might be a problem… unless this is a part of a rhetorical strategy: of being ‘open’ to evidence as a segue to showing how evidence cannot suffice.

    LOL. So dishonesty among the New Atheists leaders “might be a problem.”

    —If that is how he characterizes ALL atheists, yes… but without context, I have no idea that’s his intention.

    It’s just the definition he provides in his glossary.

    —And they’re still valid, however you like to deny it now.

    Where did I deny it? Like I mentioned, hyperskepticism devours the “demand for evidence” posture and renders it dishonest. What’s more, it means that if God exists, reason could not uncover this. If God exists, there would still be atheists. Gee, imagine that. Reason is limited. Quite limited, actually.

    —Why should we honor your interest in “clarity”?

    Because it’s my blog.

    —Still not my problem… we’re not congregants in a small church.

    Oh, but it is your problem. From where I sit, I see someone who cannot convince his like-minded friends. If your argument was so strong, I would think a community of people committed to reason and evidence would embrace it.

    —Relevance?

    Exactly. Your arguments/position are not relevant. I’m sure they are important to you, but you are not a player. This blog focuses on the players.

    —Why does this matter, again? Over the years I have debated theists, I’ve seen this shift of focus towards your feelings being hurt… seriously, can we get back to the aformentioned issues with your epistemology?

    No feelings are hurt. We’re trying to get a handle on the world’s most famous atheist and leader of the New Atheist movement. We’ve already agreed that he resorts to propagandistic techniques, so let’s brainstorm some more. Do you think he knows he is using invective?

    BTW, it looks like my question makes you really uncomfortable. So let’s try a third time:

    Do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us?””

  42. Crude says:

    Why bother? An MN and I differ on one important matter… an unfounded, unneeded material realism. Past that, we’re rather golden.

    Yeah – aside from their embrace of a materialist realistic metaphysics, their positions on the likelihood of God’s existence, their many and varied arguments for naturalism and against non-naturalism, etc, you’re golden.

    Let me guess: you don’t actually have any links to these conversations where you tsk-tsk-tsk’d your fellow atheists about their !!TRUTH!! claims… because they don’t exist. You’re completely insincere about what you believe – you’re a hyperskeptical with theists. With atheists, you’re a naturalist and a materialist. 😉

  43. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Kevin Says:
    “LOL. So dishonesty among the New Atheists leaders “might be a problem.””

    —In this case, no more or less than theists who wish to pass off their ‘first principles’ as metaphysical magic wands.

    “It’s just the definition he provides in his glossary.”

    —Heh… that’s his problem, then.

    “Where did I deny it? Like I mentioned, hyperskepticism devours the “demand for evidence” posture and renders it dishonest. What’s more, it means that if God exists, reason could not uncover this. If God exists, there would still be atheists. Gee, imagine that. Reason is limited. Quite limited, actually.”

    —I hope you don’t think this is a problem… after all, I’m not sure why we need be concerned with this ‘hyperskepticism’, when no one has shown we need metaphysically-authoritative foundations in the first place.

    “Because it’s my blog.”

    —So it’s all a matter of your personal preference?

    “From where I sit, I see someone who cannot convince his like-minded friends. If your argument was so strong, I would think a community of people committed to reason and evidence would embrace it.”

    —That would not be MY personal preference.

    “Exactly. Your arguments/position are not relevant. I’m sure they are important to you, but you are not a player. This blog focuses on the players.”

    —Wait… isn’t this a wordpress page? lol

    “We’re trying to get a handle on the world’s most famous atheist and leader of the New Atheist movement. We’ve already agreed that he resorts to propagandistic techniques…”

    —That’s pretty rich, coming from one who primarily focuses on…

    “Do you agree with PZ Myers when he wrote, “ There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us?”””

    —… these matters. You should be able to infer my response from my aforementioned positions. Rather than “uncomfortable”, I’m simply irritated at your focus on our relative openness to ‘persuasion’.

  44. phillip lightweis-goff says:

    Crude says:
    “Yeah – aside from their embrace of a materialist realistic metaphysics, their positions on the likelihood of God’s existence, their many and varied arguments for naturalism and against non-naturalism, etc, you’re golden.”

    —They focus principally on the phenomenal world, as I do; though it could be considered posturing, their lamentable metaphysical commitment thankfully seems to be more of an afterthought… rather than an open door to otherworldly bedlam.

    “Let me guess: you don’t actually have any links to these conversations where you tsk-tsk-tsk’d your fellow atheists about their !!TRUTH!! claims…”

    —Again, we are not congregants of a small church; I am not responsible for their shortcomings.

    As for your own…

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