Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Argument From Evil: Toothless and Useless

The modern day atheist movement has only one argument to support atheism – The Argument From Evil.  Anytime an atheist tries to make the case that there is no God, chances are extremely high that some version of the Argument from Evil will be used.  Neil deGrasse Tyson puts it this way:

OK, if that god is described as being all-powerful and all-knowing and all-good, I don’t see evidence for it anywhere in the world. So I remain unconvinced. If that god is all-powerful and all-good, I don’t see that when a tsunami kills a quarter-million or an earthquake kills a quarter-million people. I’d like to think of good as something in the interest of your health or longevity. That’s a pretty simple definition of something that is good for you. That’s not a controversial understanding of the word “good.” So if Earth in two separate events separated by just a couple of years can kill a half-million people, then if the god as you describe exists, that god is either not all-powerful or not all-good. And so therefore I am not convinced.

Essentially what Tyson is saying here is that God cannot co-exist with tsunamis and earthquakes.  That God’s existence is incompatible with tsunamis and earthquakes.  Okay, so let’s imagine God did exist.  According to the atheist’s Argument From Evil, this would mean there would be no tsunamis and earthquakes.  So let’s imagine God magically changes our reality such that there are no tsunamis and earthquakes.  Has the Argument From Evil been neutralized?  Has it been taken off the table?

Not so fast.  Sam Harris tells us “There is No God (And You Know It).”  In fact, it’s “obvious” to him.  What makes it obvious?

Consider: the city of New Orleans was recently destroyed by hurricane Katrina. At least a thousand people died, tens of thousands lost all their earthly possessions, and over a million have been displaced. It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Katrina struck believed in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while a hurricane laid waste to their city?

Hurricane Katrina?  How could I forget?  Look, I thought that was supposed to be President Bush’s fault, but we’ll say Harris has a point.  Let’s say that if God did indeed exist, He would have magically stopped hurricane Katrina because God is all-good.  So, suppose He did.  Are we good now?  Of course not, since Harris could have cited countless other hurricanes.  Well then, let’s say God magically changes our reality such that there are no tsunamis, earthquakes, or hurricanes.  Everything okay?  Please.

A world without tsunamis, earthquakes, or hurricanes could still have still have people being killed by lightening, towns being destroyed by tornadoes, floods, droughts, forest fires, etc.  Put simply, the Argument from Evil tells us that if God exists, there should be no natural disasters.  None.  For as long as there is one person killed by one meteorological or geological process,  the Argument from Evil applies.

At this point, we can begin to see what the Argument from Evil is – a blueprint for what the world is supposed to be like if God exists.  According to atheists, that is.

So we must ask if the Argument from Evil still applies if we removed all those deadly natural disasters?  To answer that, we need only consult all the ways atheists have used the Argument from Evil over the ages.  And in doing so, we would find that a world without natural disasters is not good enough.  What about children dying of cancer?  What about parents dying of cancer? What about brothers, sisters, wives, and husbands dying of cancer?  Okay, let’s get rid of cancer.  Then what about heart disease, endocrine diseases, pulmonary diseases?  Let’s get rid of them.  But what about congenital defects and genetic diseases?  And all those nasty infectious diseases, like malaria or gangrene?  They all gotta go.  Look, we could drag this out for pages, for every disease is an Argument from Evil.  So all diseases must go.  According to atheists, if God exists, we would live in a world without any natural disasters and any diseases.

So let’s say that is the case.

But what about all the animal suffering?  Surely that most go also.  As Charles Darwin argued:

With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.— I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidæ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.

Okay, okay, already.  No wasp larva living in caterpillars and no cats playing with mice.  In fact, no more predation or parasitism.  Period.  All gone.  Everything feeds on plants (I guess it’s not evil to kill plants).  Or maybe everything carries out photosynthesis.

Are we in the clear now?  In a world without natural disasters, disease, parasitism, and predation, can the Argument from Evil still apply?

You bet.  What about all the murders?  The rapes?  The kidnappings?  The war?  What about the abuse of children?  The abuse of animals?  The Holocaust?  The list of human evil is endless, as countless expressions of the Arguments from Evil  have drawn from this list.

Clearly, the Argument from Evil entails that no human-caused evil could exist.  In fact, the scalpel would have to cut pretty deep to get rid of this evil, as lying, cheating, stealing, bullying, greed, sexual harassment, etc. are all human evils that cause other humans to suffer.

So what do we have?  The Argument from Evil insists that if God were to exist, we would be living in a world without any natural disasters, any diseases, any parasitism or predation, any murder, rape, theft, abuse, or any other human evil.

But once you have reached this realization, the Argument from Evil becomes toothless.

For the world that we are supposed to be living sounds like a …….. Teletubbie World.

The Argument from Evil boils down to this: If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world.  Since we are not Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world, there is no God.

And at this point, the Argument from Evil is exposed as nothing more than subjective opinion.  For no atheist has ever shown it to be true that If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world.  That’s just their opinion and I would not agree.  Would you?  From my perspective, this world, with all its evil, is better that a Teletubbie-like world.

So we are left wondering –  Is the Argument from Evil the atheist’s way of expressing his/her desire to be a Teletubbie?

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221 Responses to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Argument From Evil: Toothless and Useless

  1. dognillo says:

    Your perspective, that this world, with all its evil, is better than a Teletubbie-like world, is also nothing more than subjective opinion. And there’s nothing wrong with subjective opinion. As I see it, the whole argument is dependent on what sort of God one is proposing.

  2. Doug says:

    @dognillo,
    Right on target. In fact, one could legitimately state that every argument about the existence (or non-existence) of God depends on what sort of God one is proposing. And it is no surprise that those committed to God’s non-existence can construct “sorts of God” that conform to their arguments (i.e., “strawgods”) which (coincidence?) cannot logically exist. On the other hand, those committed to God’s existence tend to agree that god-construction is a wrong-headed thing in the first place (cf. Exodus 20:3,4)

  3. TFBW says:

    dognillo said:

    As I see it, the whole argument is dependent on what sort of God one is proposing.

    It’s supposed to be an argument against an omnipotent (all-powerful), omnibenevolent (all-good) God. With that clarification, what is your assessment?

  4. dognillo says:

    TFBW, I think that one’s perspective matters here. If, like Michael, you view this world, with all its suffering, as being better than a world with no suffering (a Teletubbie-like world), then an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God would not be disproven by the argument. And if one views an omnibenevolent God as a being that would never allow the kind of suffering that goes on in this world, as atheists making this argument seem to, then the argument would prove that an omnibenevolent God could not exist. For example: God wouldn’t allow earthquakes; there are earthquakes; therefore God doesn’t exist.

  5. Doug says:

    @TFBW,
    As neat and tidy as the terms “omnipotent” and “omnibenevolent” appear (and in spite of the gallons of ink spilled to prop them up), the two terms are largely beyond human understanding.
    And, unfortunately, that reality gives folk the opportunity to handle them in whatever way suits their agenda.

    Consider what it means to be “benevolent” parent. Is it “benevolent” to catch one’s child whenever it falls, or is it “benevolent” to permit one’s child to master her body-in-the-world? Is it “benevolent” to treat every real and imagined ailment with modern medicines, or is it “benevolent” to permit one’s child to develop a robust immune system?

    If we (with our limited “potency”) cannot sort out such questions without controversy, how can we (with any confidence at all) make grand pronouncements about the implications of what it is to be “benevolent” in the context of “omnipotence”?

  6. Doug says:

    @dognillo,
    Considering that adults prefer reading/watching fiction with conflict (perhaps resolved) and ambiguity (perhaps clarified), might it be possible that conflict and ambiguity are actually better than a Teletubby World? (rather than simply a matter of personal preference?)

  7. John says:

    ”Put simply, the Argument from Evil tells us that if God exists, there should be no natural disasters. None. For as long as there is one person killed by one meteorological or geological process, the Argument from Evil applies.”

    I kind of agree and kind of disagree here.

    There are some atheists out there who do not believe the Argument from Evil applies to evil caused by the free choice of man and that the Argument of Evil does not apply to animal suffering as well.

    Now,of course,many atheists may believe that, if God exists, natural disasters shouldn’t exist either.

    But I think that what the argument is saying is basically that if God exists there should be no human loss caused by natural disasters, not that there should be no natural disasters at all.

    After all, the Earth is billions of years old and in that time earthquakes and disasters were necessary to shift minerals and change the position of the continents in order to make it easier for life to exist and for the Earth to be stable in the first place..

    So I think what the argument says is that massive amounts of death and destruction at the hands of natural disasters should not exist, not that natural disasters and the processes that cause them itself should not exist.

    But I still think that our world would be a magical wonderland under that paradigm where natural disasters only happen when no person is killed and/or are stopped before they do so.

    Another type of the argument from Evil is the argument from sudden death and unlucky events.

    Here is how an atheist I have come across puts it:

    ”We’re just saying that, if any person has the ability to alleviate extreme suffering with trivial effort, then they are morally obligated to do so. An omnipotent god would (by definition) be able to any amount of suffering with infinitely trivial effort. Therefore, the existence of extreme suffering is logically incompatible with the existence of a benevolent god.
    If I claimed that an omnipotent god despised Yorkshire terriers, surely you’d argue that the continued existence of Yorkshire terriers proves me wrong? ”

    And here is what looks like a response to the argument that a world with pain and suffering is better than a Teletubbie-like world:

    ”So what if the world would be chaotic and science wouldn’t be possible? Why would we need science if there were no pain and suffering (as is supposedly the case in heaven)?”

    What are all your thoughts on these?

  8. SteveK says:

    “What are all your thoughts on these?”

    My thought is that all these arguments presume the reality of good, but none of them presume the SAME good that the believer is relying on. The atheist is grounding goodness in something other than the nature of God and arguing on that basis. That’s the only way these arguments can have any force. Since I don’t hold that view as a Christian, these arguments don’t connect to what I actually believe. These arguments do have emotional force.

  9. Doug says:

    @John,
    Moral obligation is a tricky thing.
    If my teenager is participating in some self-destructive activity (yah, I know, that never happens), what are my moral obligations to him? We’ve actually had this conversation before. After the fact, he asks, “Why didn’t you stop me?” We recall the circumstances “before”, and he readily admits, “Yeah, I would have hated you if you had.”
    Sure – but what about those events with no moral responsibility? The subtleties do not disappear. My father’s death, though devastating for my mother, was acknowledged to have “good” elements to it. My knee injury destroyed my professional basketball career (yeah, right), but it made me concentrate on my studies.
    Sure – but we can imagine that natural disasters are in an entirely different category! Same deal. It is only in an entirely artificial universe where “unambiguous extreme suffering” is a category at all. We don’t live in that universe.
    Frankly, God has all the resource of eternity to resolve the conflicts and ambiguities of history. It is, after all, His story.

  10. Kevin says:

    “We’re just saying that, if any person has the ability to alleviate extreme suffering with trivial effort, then they are morally obligated to do so.”

    Moral obligation does not exist if there is no god.

    That aside, as was brought up earlier, we as limited humans can think of times when it is better to “allow suffering” when the end result is positive for the one doing the suffering. Kids with limited knowledge and experience sure might object to these lessons, but they can look back with understanding.

    We try to project our limited understanding onto a god for whom, unlike us, death is not a final barrier. God views death much differently than we do since he exists on both sides of the door, as it were. We have no idea what lessons might be gained from not having a perfect existence to dwell in.

    And the argument from evil tends to be rooted in the difference between the world as is, and the world that we conceive of as “perfect” based on fleshly, animal existence and desires. But what would a perfect world look like to a spiritual creature? Might be quite different.

  11. Michael says:

    Your perspective, that this world, with all its evil, is better than a Teletubbie-like world, is also nothing more than subjective opinion. And there’s nothing wrong with subjective opinion.

    Sure. But if the Argument from Evil is nothing more than a subjective opinion, it’s not much of an argument. If the Argument from Evil is supposed to show that theism is false, it fails.

    As I see it, the whole argument is dependent on what sort of God one is proposing.

    No, it depends on one’s opinion about what type of reality is supposed to exist as a function of God’s existence. Atheists who rely on the Argument from Evil think we should all be teletubbies living in a teletubbie world. But that is just their opinion.

  12. Michael says:

    What are all your thoughts on these?

    Looks to me like those points simply reinforce my point about the thoroughly subjective essence of the Argument from Evil. I love this one:

    ”We’re just saying that, if any person has the ability to alleviate extreme suffering with trivial effort, then they are morally obligated to do so. An omnipotent god would (by definition) be able to any amount of suffering with infinitely trivial effort. Therefore, the existence of extreme suffering is logically incompatible with the existence of a benevolent god.

    Let’s take the subjective argument from evil and lard up on the subjectivity by adding the adjective “extreme.” So what’s the point? Everyday old suffering is allowed, but “extreme” suffering is not? Or is it that while suffering means there is no God, extreme suffering means there really really is no God?

    Consider two forms of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The latter one has more extreme symptoms. So does this mean God’s existence is compatible with osteoarthritis, but not rheumatoid arthritis? My guess is lots of atheists with osteoarthritis would not agree. And if God did magically remove rheumatoid arthritis, guess what? Osteoarthritis becomes “extreme.”

    It doesn’t matter what examples the atheist uses – the Argument From Evil will eventually lead to a demand to live in a Teletubbie World. Unless, of course, the atheist is prepared to explain just how much evil is allowed to co-exist with God. And as we all know, that answer will depend on the person. Back to subjectivity.

  13. Dhay says:

    John > … the existence of extreme suffering is logically incompatible with the existence of a benevolent god.

    What is “extreme suffering”? We can all think of obvious examples, but where do you draw the line between unacceptable “extreme suffering” and what might acceptable suffering be? Is any suffering, pain, discomfort or itch whatsoever acceptable?

    What about chronic pain such as arthritis; what about Alzheimer’s sufferers, or the suffering of their desperately worried carers; what about the mental “extreme suffering” of the teenager who suicides through feelings of inadequacy; what about my pain when I trap my finger in a slammed car door; what about my irritation that I am not bright enough to give you the answers you want, or my frustration at not being able to run fast nowadays; what about my headache, my fears and uncertainties?

    It gets pretty trivial pretty fast, because there is no objective level for “extreme suffering”, and the cynic in me tells me that whatever level “extreme suffering” is deemed to start at, the existence of slightly lower level of suffering would then take its place as the unacceptable level “logically incompatible with the existence of a benevolent god.”

    > So what if the world would be chaotic and science wouldn’t be possible? Why would we need science if there were no pain and suffering (as is supposedly the case in heaven)?

    Dead right it would be chaotic and science would be impossible — the Teletubbie God would have to be constantly meddling with one-off adjustments to keep us from harm. I think the answer to this hypothetical question is that it is a hypothetical question: what we actually have, and what I very much like and value, despite its acknowledged problems, is this present world of regularity and science.

    I note that if I were a Teletubby with my present mind I would be bored mindless very, very quickly. The Teletubbies and their lives cease to be interesting once a child leaves pre-school. If this guy wants Teletubbyhood, more fool them.

  14. Shecky R says:

    Michael, sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to write a post and remove all doubt…

  15. Allallt says:

    Take the distinction between moral and natural evils and say that natural evils cannot happen, with a God. I accept that. Natural evils being the natural disasters and diseases.
    Given that death is natural and necessary, creating a human psychology that is prepared for death is also possible. But, having death just be a thing that happens without suffering is also logically possible (and happens to some people).
    Then there’s the psychology tuning of a human being. Certain malfunctions like psychopathy and sociopathy don’t actually make sense under a perfect creator. (I know, I know: the fall. How lucky to have a narrative where we can say good things are by God’s grace and bad things are man’s fault.) They make sense under a naturalistic understanding.
    I bring this up because we seem to know some people have pathological problems with rage and violence. Even if you believe in freewill, these pathological concerns do set an unfair playing field. Given a God, that doesn’t make sense either. (I hope you don’t use the ‘God never gives you anything you can’t handle’ nonsense, because that’s patently untrue.)
    So, I see how free will and human decision making can lead to imperfection, but the actual tuning of our psychology could be different to what it is.

    This is leading somewhere, not just a description of how I think you did a brilliant job of pointing out how so much of reality is the ‘evil’ we can’t understand. See, the argument from evil is not atheists saying they want this Teletubby world. It’s atheists saying that this is what would logically follow from an all-powerful God: this is what God wants. Is that not what the world would have looked like if it weren’t for the Fall? A world with no death and no predation. Isn’t that that idea?

    The pre-Fall world that is alluded to is the problem. (Except, God made it wrong…)

  16. Kevin says:

    “Michael, sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to write a post and remove all doubt…”

    I see you prefer posting ironic statements rather than actual arguments.

  17. Crude says:

    Last I recall Tyson was talking about God probably existing. He just prefers to frame God as the programmer of our simulated universe, and not necessarily a nice guy.

  18. dognillo says:

    Doug, you asked if I thought that it is possible that a world of conflict and ambiguity could be actually better than a Teletubby-like world. It could be, but would it be? I would say that it depends of what one would consider better, and I don’t feel that I’m qualified to answer that for someone else. Is the Amish lifestyle actually better than the lifestyle of one who uses all the new technology? I don’t even know if I could answer that for myself.

  19. Doug says:

    @dognillo,
    Good response. What if God could “answer that for [your]self”? …and what if He’d actually like to help you find that answer?

  20. Michael says:

    Shecky: Michael, sometimes it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to write a post and remove all doubt…

    Shecky, those who plagiarize probably shouldn’t call other people fools. Just sayin’

  21. Michael says:

    Allallt:

    Then there’s the psychology tuning of a human being. Certain malfunctions like psychopathy and sociopathy don’t actually make sense under a perfect creator.

    That was covered under the “no disease” requirement. Nothing new really added.

    See, the argument from evil is not atheists saying they want this Teletubby world.

    Are you sure about that? I laid my cards on the table above: “From my perspective, this world, with all its evil, is better that a Teletubbie-like world.” Agree or disagree?

    It’s atheists saying that this is what would logically follow from an all-powerful God: this is what God wants.

    That’s what I said: “The Argument from Evil boils down to this: If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world.”

    But as I also said: “For no atheist has ever shown it to be true that If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world. That’s just their opinion”

    To knock down your comment, I only had to quote from the OP.

  22. TFBW says:

    dognillo said:

    TFBW, I think that one’s perspective matters here.

    There’s a problem with “perspective mattering” which needs careful clarification. If perspective matters in the sense that, “judgements about what’s better and what’s worse are intrinsically subjective” (which seems to paraphrase what you’ve said elsewhere), then the argument from evil cannot have any ontological force at all. The basis for incompatibility must be objective, not subjective: God’s actions must be strictly incompatible with goodness and rightness, quite independently of whether anyone approves of those actions.

    There’s a subtle but crucial difference between “it’s a matter of opinion” and “it’s a matter of fact, but nobody’s really sure what the facts are, so people have opinions about the facts”. The former position is a relativist position, and the latter is an agnostic realist position. In the former case, the truth can be known, because it’s a matter of opinion, but the truth is subjective: there is no one right answer, because opinions can legitimately differ. In the latter case, the truth is not known (with any assurance), but there is one right answer, whatever it turns out to be.

    So if one takes the view that “X is evil” is a matter of opinion, and that opinions can legitimately differ, then there can be no argument from evil. God’s existence (or not) is a matter of fact, not opinion, and one’s opinions on how He ought to behave if He exists have no possible bearing on that fact. If one holds that “X is evil” is a matter of opinion, then one cannot mount an argument against the existence of God from the existence of evil, because evil has no real existence as such: it’s in the eye of the beholder. At most, one could say, “if God exists, I reject Him, because He permits things to happen in this world which I think He should prevent.” To my ear, this sounds like a fair translation of most Arguments from Evil that I’ve heard, once they’ve been stripped of their rhetoric and unwarranted extravagance. And if that’s all that anyone is claiming, I have no objection, so long as it’s phrased in a manner that doesn’t pass it off as an ontological argument.

    If one takes the converse view that “X is evil” is a matter of fact, then one is faced with a different set of problems (as relates to the Argument from Evil). For example, even if one takes the (entirely questionable) stance that “evil” is synonymous with “suffering”, the materialist world view has no proper explanation for “suffering” as a phenomenon — no way to reduce it to physics. One is either left with eliminativism (i.e. it’s not real, so it needs no explanation) or a worthless promise that we’ll figure it out eventually. If “suffering” is not an objectively real thing in and of itself, then it lacks the necessary substance to create an incompatibility with an objectively real God, just as it would if evil were a matter of opinion, so eliminativism also renders the Argument from Evil toothless. Conversely, if “suffering” is an objectively real thing, then it seems to be prima facie incompatible with materialism (matter can’t suffer), so I’d require anyone presenting such an argument to be equally opposed to materialism as to the existence of God.

    That rarely happens.

  23. FZM says:

    Allallt,

    Certain malfunctions like psychopathy and sociopathy don’t actually make sense under a perfect creator. (I know, I know: the fall. How lucky to have a narrative where we can say good things are by God’s grace and bad things are man’s fault.)

    It strikes me you have to present the idea of the Fall in this particular way because if you don’t it undermines your subsequent argument. However I don’t see any reason why the Fall must be presented like this; as a narrative it would explain the existence of various kinds of evil, amongst other things. It doesn’t seem necessarily inferior to ‘naturalistic’ rationalisations and explanations of the feelings and intuitions people have about these things either.

    See, the argument from evil is not atheists saying they want this Teletubby world. It’s atheists saying that this is what would logically follow from an all-powerful God: this is what God wants. Is that not what the world would have looked like if it weren’t for the Fall? A world with no death and no predation. Isn’t that that idea?

    I suppose it depends on what atheists understand as ‘all perfect’ and ‘all perfection’.

    For example, if ‘all perfect’ is understood as God possessing human moral perfection but at the same time being omnipotent etc.it seems God would have a moral obligation not to create; I think it is possible to say that a perfectly moral human being would act to alleviate any/all suffering if they could do so without any effort, equally a perfectly moral human being would act to maximise goodness to the extent of their abilities. God acting to eliminate all suffering would be part of this. God acting to maximise goodness to the extent of his abilities would involve God ‘creating’ only what is completely, infinitely perfect in every respect (i.e. indistinguishable from himself), this would be the other part. An infinite amount of what is completely perfect is already present in God to begin with. Therefore this scenario leads to God having a ‘moral obligation’ to create nothing.

    Personally I don’t think God’s perfection need involve God having to behave like a perfectly moral human being because God obviously lacks a human nature and attributes and the general idea of it therefore seems pretty strange (i.e. God being bound by the moral norms of beings he pre-exists and then creates in the first place).

    I don’t know if Adam and Eve in the period before the Fall were really like Teletubbies; the Fall seems to involve some kind of loss of communion with and knowledge of God, not just the physical stuff. So it seems atheists would be saying something like: ‘it logically follows from the existence of an all perfect and all powerful God that this God must want and must create a garden of Eden type situation with pre-Fall humans (complete with their special communion with and knowledge of, God), as well as all the hosts of angelic beings I suppose, which nothing like the Fall can ever break or disrupt (on pain of God being shown to be not morally perfect)’. As I’ve been saying I don’t think this does follow logically.

    Sorry, this post is longer than I planned.

  24. TFBW says:

    Allallt said:

    The pre-Fall world that is alluded to is the problem. (Except, God made it wrong…)

    I’m not quite sure that I follow your explanation of the problem. Is the problem that God allowed the Fall to happen, rather than preventing it? Or, similarly, that He made the world in a manner in which the Fall was possible at all? Or that the Fall had the knock-on effects of unleashing many evils on the world — so perhaps it should have been a Fall of Fewer Consequences? Please elaborate.

  25. dognillo says:

    TFBW, I wouldn’t say that I’m equally opposed to materialism or the existence of God, but I’m not, at this point, willing to confirm or deny either one of them. I liked your agnostic realist position definition above (and the rest of the comment as well).

  26. John says:

    Dhay said: ”We can all think of obvious examples, but where do you draw the line between unacceptable “extreme suffering” and what might acceptable suffering be? ”

    I think that some atheists who are moral realists might say that extreme suffering does objectively exist and therefore natural disasters, being an almost self-evident example of extreme/meaningless suffering, should not exist either.

    Now categorising suffering specifically might be a problem considering it could easily end up in subjectivity, but the atheist could claim extreme suffering is obvious.

    Michael said:”And if God did magically remove rheumatoid arthritis, guess what? Osteoarthritis becomes “extreme.””

    I don’t think that is necessarily the case.The atheist could be a moral realist and could claim extreme suffering does really exist and that removing rheumatoid arthritis won’t make osteoarthritis the extreme.

    But I do agree that the standards could easily drop so that even miniscule evil such as osteoarthritis or even paper cuts might be seen as the extreme then.

  27. Ilíon says:

    The Argument from Evil boils down to this: If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world. Since we are not Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world, there is no God. … From my perspective, this world, with all its evil, is better that a Teletubbie-like world.

    1) Moral evil — wickedness — results from wicked choices that moral agents freely make. So, what the childish so-called atheists are childishly insisting is that either:
    1a) no one be *free* to make wicked choices — yet, when they’re not railing against God for allowing other people to make wicked choices, they’re railing against him for forbidding certain acts (especially odd or perverse uses of the sexual organs) as wicked choices;
    1b) or, moral agents be free to make wicked choices, but that the choices must have no evil consequences — in effect, they’re demanding that God make the world be irrational, by severing the link between cause-and-effect;

    2) Natural evil — injurious events that “just happen”, without a moral component — results from the fact of change: it is logically impossible for God to make a world in which change occurs and yet no change has any consequence for any other element in the world. Sure, God could have created a static world — a *dead* world — but *we* couldn’t live in it. So, with regard to natural evil, what the childish so-called atheists are childishly insisting is that either:
    2a) God place us in a world in which nothing ever changes, that is, a *dead* world;
    2b) or, God place us in a world in which change does occur, but that no change ever have unwelcome consequences — in effect, they’re demanding that God make the world be irrational, by severing the link between cause-and-effect.

    So, what it comes down to is that the ‘atheists’ are insisting that God can create only a world in which either —
    a) there are no moral agents — i.e. a non-rational world;
    b) there are no causes — i.e. an irrational world, in which events occur but don’t cause consequences;
    c) there are no events at all — i.e. a static or dead world;

  28. SteveK says:

    “Certain malfunctions like psychopathy and sociopathy don’t actually make sense under a perfect creator.”

    The term “malfunctions” doesn’t make any sense without God. The term implies that the brain isn’t functioning the way it should. The brain has no purpose without God so when it changes all you can say is that it’s now functioning differently than before.

  29. Ilíon says:

    SteveK:The term “malfunctions” doesn’t make any sense without God. …

    Exactly. If God is not, then there cannot be any “way things ought to be” about anything. So, far from being a problem for “theism”, the so-called Problem of Pain/Evil is *actually* one more proof that God is, and that God-denial paints a false-to-the-facts picture of reality.

  30. Ryan says:

    Ilíon:

    I like the way you put that above, I’ve thought that for a long time but couldn’t express it in such clear words. The problem of evil at the end of the day falls upon two groups: us and physics. To throw it upon God has always seemed absurd to me.

    Humans are by far the greatest producers of suffering in this world, even “natural” evils are much worse because of human evil which wastes our potential and resources on war, pornography, and other garbage instead of medical research, helping those in need, etc. Even with natural disasters and diseases and such, this world be incredibly different if only we weren’t so evil.

    The problem of evil is the problem of us, we don’t have the right to blame God for it. The “good news” of Christianity is that instead of completely annihilating the problem, God has chosen to fix us, given we’re willing to let him.

  31. Michael Folkerts says:

    The problem of evil always boils down to an argument from incredulity.

  32. Dhay says:

    Ilíon > If God is not, then there cannot be any “way things ought to be” about anything. So, far from being a problem for “theism”, the so-called Problem of Pain/Evil is *actually* one more proof that God is, and that God-denial paints a false-to-the-facts picture of reality.

    In Ch.4 of River out of Eden Richard Dawkins wrote:

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”
    (, River out of Eden, Ch.4)

    Here’s a snippet from a critique by Luke Barnes of some parts of an article on Fine-Tuning by the philosopher of science, Tim Maudlin:

    Earth is obviously special, since its the only known place in the universe where beings exist that know what special means and can appreciate special things. Purpose, special, relevant, and important are moral terms, and we are moral agents.

    https://letterstonature.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/reply-to-maudlin-the-calibrated-cosmos/#more-2234

    Putting Barnes’ words another way, the universe I observe is special, which I can and do appreciate; I, my friends and acquaintances — and even Dawkins himself — understand, have, and can recognise elsewhere, purposes, specialness, relevancy and importance, we understand moral terms and we are moral agents.

    We design, we purpose, we are interested, we do evil and good, we care, and we usually have anything but blind, pitiless indifference.

    Dawkins’ reductionist drive to the “at bottom” leads him to miss what’s obvious: we are part of the universe which Dawkins so strongly claims to be otherwise; and we are otherwise than that otherwise.

  33. Michael says:

    John: I don’t think that is necessarily the case.The atheist could be a moral realist and could claim extreme suffering does really exist and that removing rheumatoid arthritis won’t make osteoarthritis the extreme.

    Yet we classify things as “extreme” on a relative scale. Something is identified as “extreme” relative to something else. If rheumatoid arthritis did not exist, osteoarthritis would be on the extreme end of the scale.

    Consider the natural disasters that might get classified as extreme. Let’s face it. They could be a lot, lot worse. Imagine an asteroid slamming into the planet and killing billions. Compared to that, Tyson’s examples seem mild. So if God is supposed to prevent extreme suffering, we could argue that He has. Storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes could be a lot worse and a lot more common.

    But I do agree that the standards could easily drop so that even miniscule evil such as osteoarthritis or even paper cuts might be seen as the extreme then.

    It’s hard to see how they wouldn’t. Say we have a suffering scale of 0-10, with 10 being the most extreme. Let’s then say God strips away suffering on the scale of 9-10. Since people would not experience 9-10 suffering, they would think of an 8 as a 10. So God, according to the atheists, would have a strip away 8 and may be 7 because he is feeling generous. Now a 6 becomes the “extreme suffering” and would be perceived as a 10. Repeat again and again until you end up in Teletubbie land.

    According to the atheists, we, as creations of God, are supposed to live a life of total comfort: coddled and soothed. Remember, in their mind, God is supposed to be Santa Claus, which is why they think it so significant that Santa Claus does not exist. 😉

  34. Bilbo says:

    It seems to me that an adequate reply to the Argument from Evil must include the idea of compensation, usually in the form of eternal life. Imagine a human being who, through no fault of their own, is put in unremitting excruciating conscious torment for 80 years and then dies. Replying that at least their life was better than being a Teletubbie would hardly be adequate. For surely, most of us would choose a Teletubbie life instead of a life of unremitting torment.

    However, if for an 80 year life of unremitting torment one is compensated with a life of eternal joy, then the possibility of the former life becomes easier to accept. For after a few million years of a joyful life, the previous 80 years of torment will take on the appearance of the kind of pain we experience when we hit our funny bone – it hurts so briefly as to makes us laugh.

  35. Bilbo says:

    I asked a friend, whose opinion I respect, what he thinks of Michael’s argument. His reply:

    “I find Michael’s argument unconvincing.

    For me, the point of the argument from evil is not a proof that God is a logical impossibility. Rather, the argument from evil attempts to show that there is no evidence of a moral order in the universe and thus there is no reason to posit that, if the universe is created, it was created with a moral purpose by a being who had moral qualities (righteousness, justice, goodness).

    Furthermore, if there is a being who created this cosmos and who intended it to be just the way it is, that would seem to be evidence that said being lacks moral qualities (such as we understand them – justice, righteousness, goodness, mercy, valuing human life). There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes. To the contrary, if the universe is as the creator intended it, then there is reason to believe that the creator is indifferent to human suffering and places little value on individual human lives and has no concern for just or righteous outcomes.

    So you may try to argue from the properties of the universe (structure, organization, teleology) that there must be a creator or rational mind who/that caused the universe. But there seems to be no basis to attribute something like “moral goodness” (righteousness, benevolence, valuing each individual human life) to the creator.

    That doesn’t make you an atheist or even amount to an argument for atheism. But I think it is a good reason to be deeply skeptical about standard issue monotheism – the claim that this particular universe was created by a supremely good God who cares about humans, humanity, and individual human beings.”

  36. Bilbo says:

    My friend added a postscript:

    “On the other hand, I really wish someone would give me a powerful argument and convincing evidence for the existence of a supremely good being who merits worship, adoration and devotion.”

  37. Kevin says:

    “Rather, the argument from evil attempts to show that there is no evidence of a moral order in the universe and thus there is no reason to posit that, if the universe is created, it was created with a moral purpose by a being who had moral qualities (righteousness, justice, goodness).”

    What would it mean for there to be a “moral order to the universe”? Falling boulders would swerve to avoid crushing a puppy? Puppies wouldn’t even exist since babies would mean overpopulation, given no death? Or that beings capable of a relationship with the creator are themselves moral beings?

    “Furthermore, if there is a being who created this cosmos and who intended it to be just the way it is, that would seem to be evidence that said being lacks moral qualities”

    So the only way for God to prove himself as a moral being would be to create Michael’s Teletubby world where nothing can possibly go wrong, ever? Truly, the argument from evil is an entirely subjective argument.

    “There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes.”

    I fail to see why we should look to the universe for evidence of morality, particularly in the case of moral outcomes.

    “To the contrary, if the universe is as the creator intended it, then there is reason to believe that the creator is indifferent to human suffering and places little value on individual human lives and has no concern for just or righteous outcomes.”

    This ignores all the good things in the universe that cause humans pleasure. Also, “just” and “righteous” are concepts that no one should expect to see reflected in a nonsentient universe, unless again we have a Teletubby world in which nothing bad could occur that would make us aware of what “justice” and “righteousness” could possibly even mean, since they require sin and injustice for relative comparison. .

    “But there seems to be no basis to attribute something like “moral goodness” (righteousness, benevolence, valuing each individual human life) to the creator.”

    Agreed somewhat, if one places no stock in Christianity. But looking to the universe for moral qualities of the creator would seem to me like staring at the Facebook login screen to determine the moral qualities of Mark Zuckerberg. Nature points to a creator, but that’s about as far as nature can take it.

    I personally find the argument from evil to be rather weak, given its obvious subjective qualities.

  38. Michael says:

    For me, the point of the argument from evil is not a proof that God is a logical impossibility.

    Thus underscoring the subjective dimension to the argument from evil. It means different things to different people.


    Rather, the argument from evil attempts to show that there is no For me, the point of the argument from evil is not a proof that God is a logical impossibility. Rather, the argument from evil attempts to show that there is no evidence of a moral order in the universe and thus there is no reason to posit that, if the universe is created, it was created with a moral purpose by a being who had moral qualities (righteousness, justice, goodness).

    Furthermore, if there is a being who created this cosmos and who intended it to be just the way it is, that would seem to be evidence that said being lacks moral qualities (such as we understand them – justice, righteousness, goodness, mercy, valuing human life). There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes. To the contrary, if the universe is as the creator intended it, then there is reason to believe that the creator is indifferent to human suffering and places little value on individual human lives and has no concern for just or righteous outcomes. and thus there is no reason to posit that, if the universe is created, it was created with a moral purpose by a being who had moral qualities (righteousness, justice, goodness).

    Furthermore, if there is a being who created this cosmos and who intended it to be just the way it is, that would seem to be evidence that said being lacks moral qualities (such as we understand them – justice, righteousness, goodness, mercy, valuing human life). There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes. To the contrary, if the universe is as the creator intended it, then there is reason to believe that the creator is indifferent to human suffering and places little value on individual human lives and has no concern for just or righteous outcomes.

    This doesn’t make much sense to me. What would count as evidence of moral order in the universe? Someone who commits murder then gets struck by lightening? Someone who kidnaps develops cancer? Etc.

  39. TFBW says:

    Bilbo’s friend said:

    There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes.

    What of mankind’s own preoccupation with the concepts? On the New Atheist view, this is an elaborate but fundamentally meaningless side-effect of evolutionary forces favouring reproductive success (unique to humans, as far as we can tell). On the Judeo-Christian view, on the other hand, we are made in the image of God, who also exhibits these traits.

    I think that if your friend is going to entertain the possibility of a Creator God, then he should at least acknowledge the divine imprint in human nature — imperfect and rebellious though it is. After all, if God hadn’t imbued us with a sense of morality and human worth, he wouldn’t even be raising the objection in the first place. Does he suppose God instilled those values in us but does not hold them Himself? Or is it, as Michael and others have suggested, that he wants to see more lightning bolts from the sky directed at evildoers, or similar?

  40. FZM says:

    Bilbo,

    That doesn’t make you an atheist or even amount to an argument for atheism. But I think it is a good reason to be deeply skeptical about standard issue monotheism – the claim that this particular universe was created by a supremely good God who cares about humans, humanity, and individual human beings.”

    I don’t think ‘standard issue (philosophical?) monotheism’ when it is reduced to what you describe here has much of a following. I’m not sure of the relevance of parts of it to, say, most Christian monotheism and its conception of reality and the universe (Kevin has already mentioned this point). For example:

    Furthermore, if there is a being who created this cosmos and who intended it to be just the way it is, …

    As far as I understand, Christian teaching usually has it that the world as it is at the moment isn’t exactly the way God intended it to be but is in a transitional stage between what God didn’t desire and what God does desire.

    There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes.

    Again, Christian teaching usually includes the idea that eternal life, the second coming and so on are part of reality (if not the material universe), and moral behaviour of humans is relevant to their participation in, and enjoyment of, these things.

    I think in traditional Christian teaching of the kind still upheld by the Catholic and Orthodox churches the universe also includes hosts of angelic beings, which are immortal, non-physical celestial intelligences. These don’t seem to figure in your friend’s consideration of the content of the universe.

    Rather, the argument from evil attempts to show that there is no evidence of a moral order in the universe and thus there is no reason to posit that, if the universe is created, it was created with a moral purpose by a being who had moral qualities (righteousness, justice, goodness).

    More broadly, it seems like your friend’s argument fails and is implausible unless for moral qualities we read ‘perfect moral qualities (perfect righteousness, justice, goodness)’. And again here:

    There is nothing in the order of the cosmos that would suggest that the maker of the cosmos – if there is one – places any particular value on human life, or has any particular concern in moral outcomes.

    Particular value on human life probably has to be understood as ‘ultimate value on realising perfect human lives’ and particular concern in moral outcomes as ‘particular concern to realise perfect moral outcomes’. Otherwise the argument will be implausible because we don’t obviously see a universe in which it is evident that human life has no value, or one in which moral outcomes are obviously irrelevant and have no place. Nor do we see one in which righteousness, justice and especially goodness, have no place.

    So you may try to argue from the properties of the universe (structure, organization, teleology) that there must be a creator or rational mind who/that caused the universe.

    I don’t know, following the set of arguments put forward by Aquinas and other scholastic philosophers does appear to lead from properties and features of the universe to the existence of something all-perfect, which includes rationality and whose nature perfect manifestations of human morality would reflect. However, it is true that this being couldn’t care for human beings in exactly the same way as other human beings do nor could it be ‘moral’ in the sense in which human beings are.

  41. The modern day atheist movement has only one argument to support atheism – The Argument From Evil.

    This blog post gives 25 lines of evidence against theism:

    LINK

    In the comments, the author lists another 5 lines of evidence against theism he forgot to include in the original post. I guess it’s a good thing when your worldview is supported by so many lines of evidence you cannot remember them all.

    Anyway, feel free to keep on refuting new atheists all you like, but don’t think for an instance that they represent the best scholarship that atheism has to offer in its defense, or that “atheism” in the broad sense only has a single argument in support.

    –An “Old” Atheist

  42. Kevin says:

    Ironically, the only arguments in there I found remotely compelling were subsets of the argument from evil.

    At any rate, Michael has stated on this blog that he finds atheism to be a reasonable position and that his only focus is anti-religious bigots who claim to be paragons of reason but clearly are not.

  43. Michael says:

    Anyway, feel free to keep on refuting new atheists all you like, but don’t think for an instance that they represent the best scholarship that atheism has to offer in its defense, or that “atheism” in the broad sense only has a single argument in support.

    I do not think New Atheists represent the best scholarship that atheism has to offer. In fact, I think New Atheists are to atheism as the Westboro Baptist church is to Christianity. When I spoke of “the modern day atheist movement,” I meant New Atheism (and their cousins, the social justice atheists), since this is the only movement I perceive.

    As Kevin noted in his comment, I have said many times that I find atheism to be a reasonable position. So I am not interested in exploring and analyzing it for the purposes of debunking. That’s not what this blog is about. I think each person must reach their own decision regarding this issue. But as I sit here in an vastly secular culture and hear New Atheists try to spin things so that religion becomes the bogeyman, and hear them portray people like me as stupid, delusional, mentally ill, and evil, well then, yeah, I will respond and say things.

    And when the New Atheists posture as the smartest kids in the room, I notice their atheistic arguments that are supposed to be so obvious and damn-convincing: 1) There is no evidence for God(!) and 2) Various forms of the argument from evil. And only #2 supports their atheism. Thus, the wording of this blog entry.

    As for your list of 25 evidences, with an extra 5 added, I would offer one word of gentle criticism. When you see a list of 25 (or 30) lines of evidence, not 23 or 27 or 32, it creates the impression that someone is painting targets around arrows. Of course, there are probably similar lists posted by theist apologists, so perhaps yours is a response to them. So all I can say is that if one of those lines of evidence for atheism become relevant to something I said, feel free to raise it.

  44. John says:

    ”So all I can say is that if one of those lines of evidence for atheism become relevant to something I said, feel free to raise it.”

    There are multiple points that are relevant to some of your blog posts and the arguments you have discussed in them such as:

    ”So much of the universe is highly hostile to life, such as containing vast amounts of empty space, temperatures near absolute zero, cosmic radiation, and so forth. This more probable on N(aturalism) than it is on T(heism) .”

    The above is relevant to this very blog post we are commenting on.

    ”Humans do not enjoy a privileged position in the universe, either spatially or temporally.[2] This fact is just slightly more probable on the assumption that N is true than on the assumption that T is true. Why? Because it is slightly more likely on T than on N, though unlikely on both, that there would be a reason why we would have a spatially or temporally privileged position (e.g., God’s desire to relate to us immediately after His creation of the universe rather than waiting billions of years, God’s desire to emphasize our importance to Him, etc.).”

    I believe this might be relevant to a blog post in which you said that the argument that, since we are just one tiny planet amongst trillions of others in the observable universe, is a bad one because it doesn’t entail that we cannot have any significance and pointed out how there are billions of people on Earth yet we do not believe our family member and other people we relate with are somehow less significant.

    ”To be sure, biological evolution is logically compatible with theism; God could have used evolution to create life. But if T were true, God could have also used many other methods to create life, methods which are impossible if naturalism is true. Here are just two examples. First, God could have created living things according to a literal interpretation of the Genesis chronology. Second, God could have created all things simultaneously, i.e., on the same “day,” in contradiction to a literal interpretation of the Genesis chronology.

    Both of these examples show that God, as an omnipotent being, was not required to use evolution in order to create life.
    In contrast, if N is true, evolution pretty much has to be true.

    Furthermore, since T implies a metaphysical dualism, it is antecedently likely on T that minds are fundamentally nonphysical entities and therefore that conscious life is fundamentally different from nonconscious life. But this in turn makes it likely that conscious life was created independently of nonconscious life–that evolution is false. Thus, the scientific fact of biological evolution is more likely on the assumption that N is true than on the assumption that T is true.[5]”

    This one tries to claim that even though evolution does not contradict the existence of God and theism, it is more likely that N(aturalism) is true rather than T(heism) because of evolution.

    And we all know you have evolution-related articles trying to point out that there isn’t actually a problem of any sort between evolution and theism.

    And then we have the argument that the success of science and non-supernatural explanations rather than supernatural ones makes the history of science some evidence for N rather than T, a standard canard that I’ve also seen New Atheists with a bent towards scientism use as well.

    But that’s pretty much it that I saw that is in any way relevant to any of your blog posts.All the other arguments have no connection whatsoever with what you are doing on your blog and are thus irrelevant.

  45. Ilíon says:

    Meanwhile, JJL will continue to ignore the fact that if atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, than any number of things we all *know* to be true are not, and cannot be, true; including, but not limited to —
    * that we are free agents;
    * that we can know truth;
    * that we can reason to previously unknown truth;
    * that we can recognize and correct our own incorrect beliefs and/or prior acts of reasoning
    * that there are real moral facts;
    * that we, our own individual selves, exist.

  46. Doug says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t need 25 points to refute the entire JJL post. I only need one:

    Most of those “lines of evidence” ends with:

    So {whatever} is more probable on N than on T.

    Now “probable” is a mathy thing. I do math. I understand “probable”. The author of “25 lines of evidence against theism” does not. The entire piece hinges on this remarkable line:

    (1) E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.

    Say what? Under what circumstances do we get to assign probabilities on the basis of outcomes? That’s like rolling a die, having it land on a six, and claiming “the six happened, therefore its probability is close to unity”. This represents a fundamental mishandling of “probable”. The entire thing is the ultimate in begging the question. That is, “I believe that the universe is what we’d expect on N. Now, given that the universe is what we’d expect on N, I will demonstrate that N is more probable that alternatives, which I will manipulate with no concern for intellectual integrity.” Bad form.

  47. Ilíon says:

    In reference to Doug’s post about the amusing “probability” (snicker) argument(s) that JJL imagines to be so impressive —

    John had quoted a few snipets from the “25 lines of evidence”, including this — ”So much of the universe is highly hostile to life, such as containing vast amounts of empty space, temperatures near absolute zero, cosmic radiation, and so forth. This more probable on N(aturalism) than it is on T(heism).

    My first thought was, “Really?” So, what *is* that probability? What’s the number? What was the method or formula used to compute it? Does this alleged method or formula contain or rely upon any unacknowledged (or even hidden) assumptions? If so, what rationale prohibits someone else from rejecting them and thus rejecting the asserted probability?

    But the truth is, this is not the sort of thing for which one can compute probabilities.

    Meanwhile, we *know* that is atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then reality is mechanically deterministic. To put that another way, getting to one of the important implications that humans care about, there is no such thing as ‘free will’, because there is no such thing as ‘freedom’.

    Among other things, what this means is that JJL is not a God-denier for any rational reasons or act of reasoning whatsoever, but rather due to non-rational causes. The universe just happens to be such that JJL is a God-denier … and tomorrow, he may well be a “Bible-thumper” “fundie” after some molecule in his brain moves from here to there. Or, maybe the molecule will move over there and he’ll declare that *he* is the Creator.

    But this is absurd. This is not how the world works, this is not how *we* work, and we all *know* that it is not.

    Now, I don’t for a minute believe that JJL engaged in any ration act of reasoning to arrive at his God-denial, but rather that he is frantically engaging in after-the-fact rationalization of an anti-rational decision. Nevertheless — and in contrast to the inevitable logical implications of his God-denial — I do not de-humanize him; for he *did* decide: however flawed or even non-existant his reasoning that preceeded his decision, he is a God-denier because he chooses to be, not because the universe just happens to be this way rather than that way.

  48. Doug says:

    Let me put it another way: JJL is essentially saying “Insofar as the universe is observed to be deterministic, I can pretend that Pr(anything we observe|N) is probable. Insofar as I can claim contingency in a God-haunted universe, I can pretend that Pr(anything we observe|T) is less probable.” The argument really amounts to “N is big on determinism”. Any talk of “probability” afterward is just blowing smoke.

  49. Kevin says:

    On the subject of probabilities, isn’t it common for non theists to appeal to the alleged multiverse and claim that ours just happens to be one that allows life? In which case the probability for life under N would be infinitely lower, given the infinite universes alleged to exist.

    And if there is no multiverse, then the odds of the only universe just happening to have properties to allow life are incalculably (is that a word?) lower under N than T. And if that’s the case, then any other line of reasoning for features within the universe seeming more probable under N becomes moot.

  50. Michael: I’m aware that you have said (on more than one occasion!) that the purpose of this blog is to critique (1) ‘new’ atheists; and (2) SJW atheists. I posted my reply because some of the comments in this post seem to beyond (1) and (2). Your comments about the problem of evil and a Teletubby world would be a prime example. You wrote:

    “But once you have reached this realization, the Argument from Evil becomes toothless.”

    What I will call your “Teletubby objection” struck me as a way to dismiss the entire problem of evil. But perhaps I misunderstood you.

    I was not aware that you said you find atheism to be a reasonable position. Thank you for the clarification. I would be interested to understand why you think it is a reasonable position. In your opinion, on what basis, arguments or otherwise, could an atheist be justified in being an atheist? I am especially interested in your answer to that question in light of your Teletubby objection, which suggested to me (perhaps incorrectly) you thought all versions of the problem of evil are/were worthless.

    Similar to your position on the reasonableness of atheism, I have a similar perspective on theism. I think theism is a reasonable position; I do not think holding the belief, “God exists,” means a person is stupid or irrational. So that is one of several areas where I part ways with ‘new’ atheists.

    Here’s another way in which I differ from the ‘new’ atheists. I’ve publicly defended arguments for God’s existence. I think a special evidential version of the argument from consciousness, what I call an F-inductive argument, is the strongest evidence for theism. I’ve also defended an evidential argument from moral agency. (Contrary to what one of your reader falsely claims about me, I’m not a determinist.) I’m also starting to think that, in a very narrow and carefully construed sense, there might be a good evidential version of the fine-tuning argument. I also think each of these arguments are offset by other, more specific facts about the topic of each argument, an inconvenient fact most proponents of those arguments ignore. (Contrary to what one reader said, I actually reached all of these conclusions by assessing probabilities.)

    Your gentle suggestion about the number of points is well-taken. When I first wrote it, I actually had 26 but trimmed it to 25 to have a nice round number.

    I scratch my head when I read this:

    So all I can say is that if one of those lines of evidence for atheism become relevant to something I said, feel free to raise it.

    Evidence #8, 11, 12, 13, 14 are specific versions of the argument from evil. Your post talked about the problem of evil, so it seems to me that at least those lines of evidence are directly relevant to what you’ve written.

  51. Meanwhile, Illion will continue to ignore the fact that I have devoted entire blog posts to defending evidential arguments for theism based upon some of the items in his list, and other blog posts, academic papers, and a short e-book to one of the items on his list (“real moral facts”). I am prepared to defend my position on any of these points, but I’m not sure if this is the right place to do it; I don’t want to hijack the combox. So I’ll hold off on saying anything more about this unless Michael gives me the green light. (And I won’t be offended at all if he doesn’t want that debate here.)

  52. Doug:

    You’re right. You don’t need 25 points to refute my entire post if your goal is to be uncharitable by not trying to understand why I would write what I write, and instead end your comment with a smear on my intellectual integrity.

    Or, for those who are at least willing to understand another point of view before jumping to conclusions, they could ask how I arrived at the probability assessments needed to defend the claim that some fact is more probable on N than on T. There are many interpretations of probability: objective chance (like rolling dice), subjective (I think the probability is 37%), logical, etc. The probabilities in my argument aren’t based on chance or subjective opinion. Many of them are based upon the objective fact that one hypothesis (N or T) entails that something is true (or false), while its competitors does not entail.

    It is this objective approach to probability which led me to accept some arguments against naturalism (and so for theism). For example, the reason I think consciousness is evidence for God’s existence is that theism entails that the mental exists, and consciousness is mental. If T is true, then consciousness has to exist (in the sense that God is conscious, and so at least one conscious being exists), whereas if N is true, then consciousness did not have to exist. Since T entails the mental while N does not, the existence of any kind of mental phenomena, like consciousness, favors theism over naturalism.

    But there is a parallel argument for naturalism. Naturalism entails that the physical exists, and the universe is physical. If N is true, then a physical universe has to exist, whereas if God exists, the universe does not have to exist (in the sense that God did need the universe and was not required to create it). Since N entails the physical while T does not, the existence of anything physical, like the universe, favors naturalism over theism.

    But suppose you disagree with everything I’ve just written. I didn’t come up with this approach to evidence and and this approach for testing theism and naturalism. A brilliant Christian philosopher named Richard Swinburne did. If you reject this approach for dealing with the probabilities in my arguments, you also have to reject this approach for dealing with the probabilities in all of his arguments and arguments like his. In other words, you can kiss natural theology goodbye. That means you can’t claim any of the following is evidence for God’s existence:

    * the beginning of the universe;
    * the life-permitting conditions of the universe (aka ‘fine-tuning’);
    * the complexity of the universe;
    * consciousness;
    * free will;
    * arguments from reason;
    * intelligent design, e.g., the origin of biological information, life, complex life, etc.;
    * objective moral values or duties;
    * miracles, including but not limited to the Resurrection;
    * religious experiences

    P.S. If anyone is interested in really going into the details, I’ve written a very short essay which talks about these types of arguments in an abstract / generic way. You can find it here.

  53. Doug:

    Let me put it another way: JJL is essentially saying “Insofar as the universe is observed to be deterministic, I can pretend that Pr(anything we observe|N) is probable. Insofar as I can claim contingency in a God-haunted universe, I can pretend that Pr(anything we observe|T) is less probable.” The argument really amounts to “N is big on determinism”. Any talk of “probability” afterward is just blowing smoke.

    This is a straw man of your own creation. I am not a determinist. None of my arguments presuppose that determinism. In fact, one of them explicitly rejects it.

  54. Doug:

    Now “probable” is a mathy thing. I do math. I understand “probable”. The author of “25 lines of evidence against theism” does not. The entire piece hinges on this remarkable line:

    Let me see.

    On the one hand, I have “Doug,” who does math but I know nothing else about. He says I don’t understand probability.

    On the other hand, I have Richard Swinburne, a Christian, Professor Emeritus at Oxford University, a philosopher of science, author of an academic manuscript on Bayes’ Theorem, and arguably the top philosopher of religion in the world. He likes my “F-inductive argument” approach. I also have Paul Draper, one of the top philosophers of religion in the world and the guy who came up with the F-inductive argument concept (but not the name), based upon a revision to Swinburne’s approach. He likes the approach. In fact, he will cite one of my articles in a forthcoming book to be published by Oxford University Press. Then I also have the fact that I minored in math in college, including a course on statistics and probability theory. Then I have the fact that, almost on a daily basis, I work professionally with Bayesian networks, using Monte Carlo simulations, calibrated estimates, and multiple probability distributions. (No, the last sentence is not a reference to any of my work on evidence about God.)

    If you don’t agree with my arguments, fine. If you don’t agree and think they’re horrible, fine. But don’t spout off and claim I do not understand probability. I do.

  55. SteveK says:

    Speaking of probability arguments, Briggs has a recent podcast on why almost everyone does it wrong. I cannot comment on whether he is correct or not but those who rely on that thing ought to check it out.

    “What are we doing wrong? Probability, statistics, causality, modeling, deciding, communicating, uncertainty. Everything to do with evidence.”

    http://wmbriggs.com/post/19199/

  56. Michael says:

    Michael: I’m aware that you have said (on more than one occasion!) that the purpose of this blog is to critique (1) ‘new’ atheists; and (2) SJW atheists. I posted my reply because some of the comments in this post seem to beyond (1) and (2). Your comments about the problem of evil and a Teletubby world would be a prime example. You wrote:
    “But once you have reached this realization, the Argument from Evil becomes toothless.”
    What I will call your “Teletubby objection” struck me as a way to dismiss the entire problem of evil. But perhaps I misunderstood you.

    As mentioned before, the Argument from Evil happens to be favorite among the Gnus, so I address it. And yes, I personally find the whole argument to be quite unconvincing. It doesn’t do it for me.

    I was not aware that you said you find atheism to be a reasonable position. Thank you for the clarification. I would be interested to understand why you think it is a reasonable position. In your opinion, on what basis, arguments or otherwise, could an atheist be justified in being an atheist?

    I think we exist in a deeply ambiguous reality. Since there is, as far as I can see, no clear-cut, powerful demonstration of God’s existence, I’m in no position to dismiss the atheist position as being unreasonable.

    Similar to your position on the reasonableness of atheism, I have a similar perspective on theism. I think theism is a reasonable position; I do not think holding the belief, “God exists,” means a person is stupid or irrational. So that is one of several areas where I part ways with ‘new’ atheists.

    That’s actually quite refreshing. If I come across as hardened and flippant, just keep in mind that dozens and dozens and dozens of Gnus have come before you to tell me otherwise.

    Your gentle suggestion about the number of points is well-taken. When I first wrote it, I actually had 26 but trimmed it to 25 to have a nice round number.

    Sounds more like you have 20, since, as you note below, “Evidence #8, 11, 12, 13, 14 are specific versions of the argument from evil.” 😉

    I scratch my head when I read this:
    So all I can say is that if one of those lines of evidence for atheism become relevant to something I said, feel free to raise it.

    Evidence #8, 11, 12, 13, 14 are specific versions of the argument from evil. Your post talked about the problem of evil, so it seems to me that at least those lines of evidence are directly relevant to what you’ve written.

    How so? None functioned as a rebuttal to what I wrote and are just other ways to state the argument I am responding to. In your formulations, all humans should only feel pain when it serves the greater good. Everyone’s brain should be wired “to choose do morally good actions” and “respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.” There should be no competition for resources; all our needs should be easily met. All humans should be naturally altruistic. Sounds like you are on the road to Teletubbie Land to me. After all, if God poofed away all that evidence, there are still dozens and dozens of other specific versions of the argument from evil.

    The Argument from Evil does not resonate for me because it entails a radical redesign of who we are. It assumes we should be beings who are, frankly, Teletubbies. Problem with teletubbies though is that they are boring and one-dimensional. Since your probability calculations depend on the assumption that God’s existence entails we should be Teletubbie-like beings, I just don’t put any real weight into such conclusions. For example, maybe it was not God’s intention to create happy, coddled, goody-two-shoed beings. Maybe God wanted to create beings who were more interesting.

  57. TFBW says:

    @Jeffery Jay Lowder:
    I haven’t read the points related to the argument from evil in detail, but I have a general sort of question that I ask in cases like this. What is the meta-ethical grounds for “evil” in this context? Presumably evil has to be a real thing in order for it to be a real problem, so the meta-ethical basis must entail some kind of moral realism. What ontological commitments follow from this? This always strikes me as a point of tension, because “atheism” in a general sense tends to be remarkably shy of ontological commitments outside of matter and energy, and those don’t seem to be sufficient to support “good” and “evil” in and of themselves, but if you extend your ontological commitments outside that sphere, you’ve departed from common-or-garden atheism.

  58. TFBW says:

    @Jeffery: PS: would you consider popping over to any thread where “Stardusty Psyche” is commenting, and let him know how you feel about his contribution to the image of atheism?

  59. TFBW:

    1. Even if atheism offered no meta-ethical ground for evil, viz., an ontological foundation for moral evil, that would be irrelevant to arguments from evil for atheism. Arguments from evil for atheism are challenges to the coherence of a theistic worldview. As I wrote elsewhere:

    Look. You theists believe that X, Y, and Z are evil. You theists believe that God is good. You theists believe that good persons are opposed to evil. So you theists need to explain why a god who is good (in your sense of ‘good’) would allow so much apparently pointless evil (in your sense of ‘evil’). If you can’t explain it, then that is a problem for the internal coherence of your worldview.[15]
    (LINK

    2. The name, “Argument from Evil,” is misleading, since not all arguments from evil refer to evil; some of the arguments in this family are actually arguments from pain and suffering or arguments from very specific kinds of so-called ‘natural’ evils. Out of the six Items in my list (8, 11, 12,13, and 14) which might be classified as “arguments from evil,” none actually refer to evil per se:

    #8 is about pain and pleasure
    #11 is about the neurological basis of moral handicaps (such as psychopathy)
    #12 is about flourishing and languishing
    #13 is about self-centeredness and limited altruism
    #14 is about triumph and tragedy

    3. I’ve actually spent as much, if not more, time thinking about metaethics than I have about the philosophy of religion. I’ve written extensively on your question. The short answer to your question is this: “There is no one atheist answer to your question because that is not what atheism is about; just as there is no vegetarian answer or soccer answer or electronics answer to your question because that is not what those topics are about. There are many different possible answers consistent with atheism (and consistent with vegetarianism, soccer, and electronics).”

    The longer answer to your question is this. Some atheists believe that the ontological foundation for moral values and duties is what I call “moral anti-reductionism” (aka the horrible label “non-naturalism”). The basic idea is that moral facts and properties are sui generis; they are not reducible to non-moral facts and properties. Other atheists believe that the ontological foundation for moral values and duties is what I call “moral reductionism”: the belief moral facts and properties are reducible to non-moral facts and properties. Moral reduction comes into two versions: reductive moral naturalism and reductive moral supernaturalism. In practice, atheists who are moral reductionists are almost always reductive moral naturalists.(While it’s possible in theory for an atheist to be a supernaturalist, in practice this is extremely rare or nonexistent.)

    Atheist moral anti-reductionists would be people philosophers G.E. Moore and Erik Wielenberg; moral facts and properties are part of the furniture of the universe. They belong to an entirely unique ontological category and are not part of the physical realm. This position has also been called “atheistic moral platonism.” This position is logically inconsistent with materialism; so any atheist who calls herself a materialist could not take this position. So this might be a departure from “common-or-garden [variety?] atheism,” as you say, although I intuitively held precisely this position long before I had any familiarity with the philosophical literature on this topic. (As an aside, I’ve actually had Christians say I cannot be a naturalist because I don’t think the physical is all there is, as if there an official “Catechism of the Naturalist Church” which supported their claim.)

    As for atheists who reductive moral naturalists, an excellent example would be the work of Larry Arnhart in his tour-de-force book, Darwinian Natural Right, which synthesizes Aristotle, Hume, and Darwin. Arnhart’s view is that “the good is the desirable” and the desirable is determined by looking at facts about human biology. Arnhart catalogs 20 natural desires which are nearly universal among human beings.

    Depending on the day of the week, I might tell you I agree more with Wielenberg or Arnhart.

    The long answer to your question is found in:
    * My Primer on Religion and Morality; and
    * My Naturalism, Theism, and Moral Ontology: A Reply to William Lane Craig

  60. @Jeffery: PS: would you consider popping over to any thread where “Stardusty Psyche” is commenting, and let him know how you feel about his contribution to the image of atheism?

    Ha ha. I don’t know him or anything about him, but I’m going to make a bold prediction: he probably doesn’t care what I think about his contribution to atheism. As it is, I’m already arguing with atheists on my own blog who seem to be offended because I called out the stupidity of claiming, pace Lawrence Krauss and Jerry Coyne, that a universe originating from a quantum vacuum is a universe coming from a quantum vacuum, not a universe coming from absolute “nothing,” i.e., not anything.

    In fact, given this stated purpose of this site, Michael and his many readers would probably enjoy my critique of Coyne who, as usual, gets it wrong when he stops talking about biology and starts talking about philosophy of religion.

  61. Crude says:

    So you theists need to explain why a god who is good (in your sense of ‘good’) would allow so much apparently pointless evil (in your sense of ‘evil’). If you can’t explain it, then that is a problem for the internal coherence of your worldview.

    That seems to get things backwards, Jeff. If it’s claimed that the existence of evil is incompatible with God’s existence, that’s the atheist’s argument to make and demonstrate. Nor is it apparent that the evil is pointless; at most, we lack an explanation for it. But lacking an explanation != pointless, which is one reason why the atheist has their work cut out for them.

    As an aside, I’ve actually had Christians say I cannot be a naturalist because I don’t think the physical is all there is, as if there an official “Catechism of the Naturalist Church” which supported their claim.

    So long as you’re willing to agree that naturalism is a meaningless word that means whatever you want it to mean, I doubt the theists would object.

  62. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Jeffrey Jay Lowder:

    “Naturalism entails that the physical exists, and the universe is physical. If N is true, then a physical universe has to exist, whereas if God exists, the universe does not have to exist (in the sense that God did need the universe and was not required to create it). Since N entails the physical while T does not, the existence of anything physical, like the universe, favors naturalism over theism.”

    The empty possible world is not a naturalistic world?

  63. Doug says:

    @JJ,

    I’m off for a week of vacation, but your comments deserve a response.

    Let’s consider “Rogerism” (R) — the proposition that my next-door neighbor created the universe as we know it in his garage (hey, he creates amazing stuff in there…)
    Now, clearly, R entails Roger. (It also entails the universe as we know it.)
    By “logic” no better than yours, Pr(Roger|R)=1;
    But let’s consider Pr(Roger|N)… the odds were vastly against that particular zygote forming. But in order for Roger to exist, his parents must also have existed, and the odds were vastly against those particular zygotes forming. If we go back to the beginning, the odds of Roger|N are essentially nil. Consequently, the probability favors R over N to an extraordinary degree!

    Now, if you understand the problems with this reductio, then you will have a sense of the problems with your own arguments.

    Hints [NB: “E” is often used in statistical literature to mean “expectation” — I hope you don’t mind if I use “U” to represent “the Universe”]:
    1. Don’t hide/mask “conditioning”. When you say “U is known to be true, i.e., Pr(U) is close to 1.” What you are really doing is substituting the “probabilistic tautology” Pr(U|U)=1 for the vastly-more-interesting Pr(U) (or, perhaps, Pr[U|B]). But to be consistent, you need to apply the same conditioning to both things to be compared, giving you (the completely uninformative) Pr(U | U | N, B) = Pr(U | U, N, B) = Pr(U | U) = 1; Pr(U | U | T, B) = Pr(U | U, T, B) = Pr(U | U) = 1.
    (The thing at issue is whether B matches U_T better than U_N — any attempt to build the conclusion into the equations is question-begging).
    2. Don’t confuse ontology with epistemology. One might claim that

    The universe–which may be defined as the sum total of all matter, energy, space, and time–exists. This fact is entailed by the propositions of N

    But it is not entailed by ontological N — as G.R. perceptively asks: “The empty possible world is not a naturalistic world?” (the propositions of R entail Roger, but ontological R cannot possibly gain a probabilistic advantage from the existence of Roger)

    Sorry JJ: your “25 lines of evidence” cannot gain credibility from your invocation of Swinburne. The logic really isn’t much better than… Rogerism.

  64. Bilbo says:

    Doug,

    What does “B” refer to?

  65. Bilbo says:

    Oops. Sorry Doug. I see you were referring to JJL’s first argument.

  66. TFBW says:

    @JJL: thanks for the informative response. It’s curious that the “Argument from Evil” (as you have formulated it) doesn’t actually refer to evil as such. Perhaps it’s more accurately described as the argument from imperfection.

    You say (of anti-reductionism), “this position is logically inconsistent with materialism; so any atheist who calls herself a materialist could not take this position.” It seems that materialism is one of the touchstones of New Atheism (although not all materialist atheists are New Atheists), so that is the default position to which I am accustomed in this context.

  67. That seems to get things backwards, Jeff.

    Tell that to Wes Morriston, a Philosopher at UC Boulder and a Christian when he wrote it. The response is his.

    If it’s claimed that the existence of evil is incompatible with God’s existence, that’s the atheist’s argument to make and demonstrate.

    This might surprise you, but I actually agree with you in part.

    I’ll cut you some slack on the use of the word “incompatible” in this context, since the comment of mine you were referring to had the word “coherence.” Your reply is a reminder to me of the pitfalls of copying-and-pasting one’s own words from a related but different context into a different conversation.

    Think of it this way. There are two kinds of coherence: strict logical consistency (“Bob is obese” is logically incompatible with “Bob is skinny”) and probabilistic incoherence (“Bob seems to buy only plus-sized clothing” is logically consistent with Bob being skinny, but, everything else held equal, is evidence that Bob is overweight”). The word “incoherence” in my previous reply should be understood in this second sense.

    Nor is it apparent that the evil is pointless; at most, we lack an explanation for it. But lacking an explanation != pointless, which is one reason why the atheist has their work cut out for them.

    I actually agree with this. I quoted a blog post of mine, which in turn quoted a Secular Web essay from almost 20 years ago. My views have evolved.

    My new view is this. William Rowe is the late atheist philosopher famous for coining the label, “evidential argument from evil.” Pretty much everyone refers to his argument as such. And yet, in a very literal sense, it is NOT an EAE. Rather, it is an evidential argument from the failure of theodicy. (That’s what the claim of apparently pointless evils means.) I believe that the move from “apparently pointless evil” to “actually pointless evil” isn’t justified: it doesn’t work. So I have come to reject Rowe’s version of the evidential argument from evil. Instead, I favor of a Draper-style, abductive approach.

    So with that out of the way, please indulge me as I revise my previous comment.

    Look. You theists believe that:
    * 8 (gratuitous biological pain);
    * 11 (creating humans without any empathy, such as psychopaths);
    * 12 (rarity of biological flourishing and the abundance of biological languishing);
    * 13 (inherent self-centeredness and limited altruism of human beings); and
    * 14 (rarity of glorious triumph and the abundance of horrific suffering

    are intrinsically bad. You theists believe that God is good. You theists believe that good persons are opposed to evil. So you theists need to explain why a god who is good (in your sense of ‘good’) would allow 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 (in your sense of ‘evil’). If you can’t explain it, then that is a problem for your worldview.

  68. The empty possible world is not a naturalistic world?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “empty possible world.” If you mean “absolute nothing,” i.e., not anything, then no. That world is logically incompatible with naturalism. If you mean something else, you’ll need to spell it out for me.

  69. You didn’t apologize for your insult or even acknowledge without apologizing you were wrong — Lowder “don’t understand probability” — but at least you didn’t repeat it. I guess that is some progress.

    There are two distinct kinds of probabilities at play in Bayes’ Theorem: prior probability and explanatory power (aka likelihood aka Bayes factor). In your example, Rogerism entails the existence of Roger, so its explanatory power is 1, i.e., Pr(Roger | Rogerism) = 1. But, as you correctly point out, Rogerism is an extremely specific and ad hoc hypothesis. Prior to examining any empirical evidence for or against Rogerism, it’s extremely improbable that Rogerism is true. You think that my arguments for naturalism (or at least my argument from the existence of anything physical) suffer from the same flaw.

    What you overlook is the role of intrinsic probability in my (and Draper’s and Swinburne’s) arguments, When applying Bayes’ Theorem to ultimate metaphysical hypotheses, we replace “prior probability” with “intrinsic probability.” Intrinsic probability is determined by the modesty and coherence of a hypothesis. Unlike Rogerism, both naturalism and supernaturalism are equally modest and coherent hypotheses. (They are, in fact, symmetrical hypotheses, the mirror image of each other.) Naturalism says that the physical exists and, if anything mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists. Supernaturalism says that the mental exists and, if anything physical exists, the mental explains why the physical exists. N and S have equal intrinsic probabilities.

    Rogerism might appear to be a very specific version of naturalism, but then again it might not be. In any case, it is a much riskier hypothesis. Because it says more than N or S, there are more ways it could be false. That’s what it means to say that Rogerism has a lesser or smaller intrinsic probability than N or S. I’m somewhat abusing the standard use of these symbols in mathematics, but I use Pr(|x|) to denote not the probability of the absolute value of X, but the intrinsic probability of X. So my claim is that Pr(|S|) = Pr(|N|) >>> Pr(R).

    Now, if you understand the concept of intrinsic probability, then you will have a sense of the problems with your own objections.

    Hints:

    1. In my terminology, Pr(E) is close to 1 really means Pr(E | B & a different set of evidence than E) is close to 1.

    2. You can read a quick introduction to intrinsic probability here.

    3. There is no confusion between ontology but epistemology. William Lane Craig chides (correctly, IMO) atheists like Lawrence Krauss for equivocating on “nothing” and falsely claiming that a quantum vacuum state is “nothing.” As Craig correctly points out, in the context of cosmological arguments, “nothing” means absolute nothing, i.e., not anything. This point would seem to be relevant to GR’s question. Absolute nothing is not a possible world. If abstract objects existed and nothing else, we would have something (abstract objects), not nothing. If God existed and nothing else, we would have something (God), not nothing. If a quantum vacuum state or Big Bang singularity existed, we would have something (QVS or BB singularity) not nothing. If even just time itself existed, we would have something (time) not nothing. This suggests the following argument against the possibility of absolute nothing:

    1. Abstract objects and time exist.
    2. Abstract objects and time necessarily exist.
    3. Abstract objects and time are uncreatable by God.
    4. Therefore, if God exists, God did not create abstract objects or time.
    5. If God did not exist, God did not create abstract objects or time.
    6. Abstract objects and time are things, not nothing.
    7. Therefore, absolute nothing is not a possible world.

  70. It seems that materialism is one of the touchstones of New Atheism (although not all materialist atheists are New Atheists), so that is the default position to which I am accustomed in this context.

    Agreed.

  71. Bilbo says:

    The problem for Plato was how is it that the physical world participates in the world of abstract objects. For him the answer was the Timaeus.

  72. Crude says:

    Jeff,

    Tell that to Wes Morriston, a Philosopher at UC Boulder and a Christian when he wrote it.

    I gladly will. Why would his claiming to be Christian make him an authority I wouldn’t question?

    So with that out of the way, please indulge me as I revise my previous comment.

    But your revision undermines your move altogether. You’re no longer offering an argument that undermines theism, even the stronger forms of the ‘maximally good’ theism. You’re noting that, if theism is true, there are interesting questions on offer. 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 – and even under revision those things are worded wrongly (I’d question your count of abundance versus rarity, etc). But interesting questions are not refutations. They’re not even problems that need to be dealt with.

    Now, they ARE interesting – they really are. Spend ages wondering about such things if you like. But, as I stated, there’s no argument anymore. You may as well be asking ‘If God exists, are there universes other than our own that He made?’ Good question. Great one, in fact. Difficult to answer. But the inability to give an answer causes no problem for the theist.

    And, just for fun, I’m going to lob a stick of TNT at the entire foundation for you list of 25 – indeed, for your arguments in general. Only because you, among almost every other atheist I’ve encountered, are the most likely to realize that I’m not kidding, and that it’s actually a problem for your arguments, as flippant as it’s going to seem:

    On theism, the probability of theism being true is 100%.
    On naturalism, the probability of theism being true is >0%.

  73. SteveK says:

    Jeffery,
    As for atheists who reductive moral naturalists… view is that “the good is the desirable” and the desirable is determined by looking at facts about human biology. Arnhart catalogs 20 natural desires which are nearly universal among human beings.

    Do these atheists also hold the view that nothing restricts/limits the means by which a human being goes about fulfilling these 20 natural desires? If there are restrictions/limits, what is the reductive moral source of it?

  74. Abstract objects, by definition, cannot stand in causal relations to anything (physical or supernatural).

  75. Bilbo says:

    Right, which raises the question of how the physical world participates in abstract objects.

  76. I gladly will. Why would his claiming to be Christian make him an authority I wouldn’t question?

    Of course. The point was not: “Morriston was a Christian; therefore, you need to agree with whatever he said.” The point was, “Morriston was a Christian when he wrote that, so it’s not as if you have to be an atheist or even a proponent of the argument from evil in order to recognize that the ontological foundation of morality is a red herring, from the perspective of evidential arguments from evil.”

    But your revision undermines your move altogether. You’re no longer offering an argument that undermines theism, even the stronger forms of the ‘maximally good’ theism. …

    Got it. By parallel reasoning, then, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Victor Reppert, and other Christian academics don’t offer arguments that undermine atheism or even metaphysical naturalism. I’ll be sure to let everyone know!

    Now, they ARE interesting – they really are. Spend ages wondering about such things if you like. But, as I stated, there’s no argument anymore. You may as well be asking ‘If God exists, are there universes other than our own that He made?’ Good question. Great one, in fact. Difficult to answer. But the inability to give an answer causes no problem for the theist.

    And, again, I could flip this response right back on its head against arguments from natural theology for God’s existence and against atheism/naturalism.

    And, just for fun, I’m going to lob a stick of TNT at the entire foundation for you list of 25 – indeed, for your arguments in general. Only because you, among almost every other atheist I’ve encountered, are the most likely to realize that I’m not kidding, and that it’s actually a problem for your arguments, as flippant as it’s going to seem:

    On theism, the probability of theism being true is 100%.
    On naturalism, the probability of theism being true is >0%.

    I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but your stick of TNT doesn’t even qualify as a lone, wimpy firecracker. It is easy to make claims. Here the parallel claims of my own:

    On naturalism, the probability of naturalism being true is 100%.
    On theism, the probability of naturalism being true is >0%.

    The problem with both sets of claims is that they are just that: claims, mere assertions, propositions with no reasons or arguments given to support them. So, I will take you at your word: you are not being flippant. Fair enough. You are not being flippant. You’re also not defending your claims.

  77. SteveK, great question. Despite all of my thinking and reading about this, I’m not sure I consider myself fully qualified to answer. Larry Arnhart’s view is highly nuanced and I am still learning it; I am far from an expert on the subject. I don’t know the answer off the top of my head; I’d have to go consult his book to see if I could quickly determine the answer without re-reading the entire book. (It’s been a few years.) I’m sorry I can’t remember well enough to give you a better answer.

    If I were a theist, especially of the AT variety, I would read Arnhart’s book because his view is Aristotelian, but obviously not in the same way as someone like Ed Feser. You’d probably find it a nice change of scenery, so to speak, from reading what ‘new’ atheists write about morality.

    Truth be told, I’d love to see a dialogue, debate, or exchange between Arnhart and Feser.

  78. I don’t know of a single person, theist or naturalist, who claims that the “physical world participates in abstract objects.” But perhaps I am misunderstanding you?

  79. Bilbo says:

    Give me an example of an abstract object.

  80. Crude says:

    Jeff,

    The point was, “Morriston was a Christian when he wrote that, so it’s not as if you have to be an atheist or even a proponent of the argument from evil in order to recognize that the ontological foundation of morality is a red herring, from the perspective of evidential arguments from evil.”

    I disagree, and I don’t think Morriston is the best candidate for evidence in that regard either way.

    Got it. By parallel reasoning, then, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Victor Reppert, and other Christian academics don’t offer arguments that undermine atheism or even metaphysical naturalism.

    Sure they do, Jeff, because they do precisely what most atheists avoid: they give arguments for the claim they are making. WLC, Reppert, Feser, etc don’t just point out interesting questions or problems for an atheistic/materialistic worldview. They push through conclusions, they make claims, and they argue for them. If all they did was say ‘Well here’s a funny question, if atheism is true’ they wouldn’t get very far.

    I think I’m being fair here. And I honestly think you’ve recognized a problem with the evidential argument from evil, but you’re trying to save it by reducing the force of it. But if you reduce the force too much, it’s no longer a threat anymore.

    And, again, I could flip this response right back on its head against arguments from natural theology for God’s existence and against atheism/naturalism.

    Flip it, go right ahead. I think you’re going to quickly find yourself in an awkward situation: I can point at theists arguing to God’s existence as a conclusion. Or arguing that such and such a phenomena is flat out incompatible with a given metaphysical view. The number of atheists arguing for the truth of atheism is thin to begin with – they’re typically allergic to the act, and try to settle for poking holes in theistic arguments. The evidential argument from evil is one of the few arguments out there, and as you’ve seen – it actually requires a commitment that atheists don’t recognize, and are unwilling to pursue. Even you seem unwilling to back it up, so you’re trying to scale back what the argument is doing, in the hopes of maximizing the return while minimizing the effort. But you’ve scaled it back to uselessness.

    I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but your stick of TNT doesn’t even qualify as a lone, wimpy firecracker. It is easy to make claims. Here the parallel claims of my own:

    On naturalism, the probability of naturalism being true is 100%.
    On theism, the probability of naturalism being true is >0%.

    That’s not a parallel claim, Jeff – it’s pretty much what I said, rephrased, and it just underscores the advantage the theist has on this topic. Your list tries to argue to naturalism as opposed to theism. I’m noting that naturalism is compatible with theism: you can start with the universe, and still end up with gods. See the greek gods, see the simulation hypothesis, etc.

    Which means your whole list is undercut to begin with. You’re arguing against theism, to a metaphysic on which theism is possible. That’s before even touching the list itself.

  81. I’m noting that naturalism is compatible with theism

    If you can’t see why the kind of naturalism I wrote about, aka Draperian naturalism aka “source physicalism,” is logically incompatible with the kind of theism I wrote about, aka “source idealism,” then I cannot help you and, frankly, debating the rest of your post is a complete waste of time — both mine and yours.

    I’d encourage the rest of the readers here to evaluate these definitions and decide for themselves whether they look compatible or incompatible:

    naturalism (aka “source physicalism”) =df. The physical exists and, if the mental exists, the physical explains why the mental exists

    supernaturalism (aka “source idealism”) =df. The mental exists and, if the physical exists, the mental explains why the physical exists.

    theism (aka “personal supernaturalism”) =df. A specific version of supernaturalism which adds that the mental entities in question are persons and that the explanation of the physical world is teleological or purposive.

    My claim is that naturalism (so defined) is incompatible with both supernaturalism (so defined) and any specific versions of supernaturalism, such as theism (so defined).

  82. Kevin says:

    I would term your definition of naturalism, loosely, as philosophical naturalism, while methodological naturalism is that which is compatible with theism.

    But then I’m not a professional philosopher, so I’m sure those terms are only useful in a base, broad sense.

  83. @Kevin: Your terms work for me!

  84. Kevin says:

    Awesome, I’m now a philosopher on the level of Richard Carrier, which makes me a freaking Aristotle!

  85. @Kevin: Ha ha. That made me LOL!

  86. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Jeffrey Jay Lowder:

    “This point would seem to be relevant to GR’s question. Absolute nothing is not a possible world.”

    Yes it is relevant. I also do not think the empty world is a possible world, but my reasons are entirely different from yours. In your reply, you claimed it was incompatible with naturalism
    but gave no reason why, and in the response containing the quote above you brought “abstract objects and time” into the fray, so is that the reason why you think the empty world is not a possible world, because abstract objects (and perhaps time, but this conception of time existing of itself apart from being the measure of change makes no sense to me, so I would have to understand what one means by it first) would always exist?

  87. TFBW says:

    @JJL: (hope you don’t mind the abbreviation)
    Although I’m a big fan of probability, I don’t have the aptitude with Bayes’ theorem to take up Doug’s argument in his absence. I do, however, have some issues of my own with your response to him.

    Prior to examining any empirical evidence for or against Rogerism, it’s extremely improbable that Rogerism is true. You think that my arguments for naturalism (or at least my argument from the existence of anything physical) suffer from the same flaw.

    This concept of “prior to examining any empirical evidence” seems a little shady. Either we are going to play completely dumb, and pretend that we don’t know in advance about all the contingencies in Rogerism (in which case we can’t deem it to be extremely improbable), or we use our background knowledge to identify and estimate its low intrinsic probability. You’ve opted for the latter alternative, clearly, and it seems like the sensible choice to me. I question whether your further reasoning is consistent with that policy, however.

    Unlike Rogerism, both naturalism and supernaturalism are equally modest and coherent hypotheses. (They are, in fact, symmetrical hypotheses, the mirror image of each other.)

    They certainly would be if we were to play dumb and ignore our background knowledge of how the physical behaves, but we didn’t play dumb with Rogerism, so why should we do so here? Given the first and second laws of thermodynamics as background knowledge, we see that an eternal universe is entirely compatible with the first law, and this weighs in favour of naturalism. On what we know of matter, we are quite justified in supposing that it is eternal and uncreated.

    This comes at the cost of the second law, however: matter has a tendency to change in the direction of increasing entropy. If the universe is eternal, it should be (and have always been, thanks to the weird calculus of infinity) in a state of maximum entropy. This is most obviously not what we see. On that much background knowledge, naturalism in its simplest form (the form in which it is symmetrical with supernaturalism) is demonstrably false: a physical universe exists, but it’s the wrong kind of universe. You need to be defending a more complex (less modest) theory than simple naturalism — one in which you have additional hypotheses to account for the entropy problem. This would break symmetry, and invalidate your conclusion.

    As such, I’m not convinced by your defence against Doug’s “Rogerism” charge. It seems to me that your “symmetrical hypotheses” claim only works if we agree to play dumb, and if we do that, then Rogerism gets an equal seat at the table, and Doug’s point stands. If we allow background knowledge to inform our computations, then we know that “a physical universe exists” is too general an outcome: simple naturalism predicts a universe at maximum entropy (given nothing more than the first and second laws of thermodynamics). In order to have a naturalistic theory which can stand up to this background knowledge (and uncooperative empirical data), you need to reach for entropy-defeating explanations which are less well-established than the second law of thermodynamics itself. By the time you’ve done that, you’ve abandoned symmetry, and you’re no longer comparing apples with apples.

    I can think of additional objections related to the anthropic principle, but that’s a note to self for the time being, since I’d rather focus on one objection at a time.

  88. dognillo says:

    Michael, I just saw this and thought you might be interested in reading it (if you haven’t already). It’s an article on thefederalist.com titled “Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ‘Rationalia’ Would Be A Terrible Country”, by G. Shane Morris dated July 1, 2016.

  89. Dhay says:

    In his blog post dated 12 September 2016 and entitled, “A map of the Universe”, Jerry Coyne says:

    This video is self-explanatory, but when I first watched it a question came immediately to mind: how come the superfluity of stars that serve no obvious purpose if you think this is all God’s creation? Since we can’t see most of these by eye, why did God make them in the first place? Or are they providing light for God-created species living on other planets?

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/a-map-of-the-universe/

    This being Coyne, we can be sure that these are merely rhetorical questions, and that he is insinuating that if there’s such a vast number of stars — he seems to think, purposeless stars — there cannot be a Creator God.

    I don’t think Coyne would hack it as a cosmologist: the universe is very, very, very highly fine-tuned; if any one of a number of the relevant constants in the Standard Model were more than the teensiest amount different from what they are, there would be no life, nor even rocks (using that as shorthand for anything more complicated than hydrogen); and with only a little bigger variation in many of the constants from what they actually are, there would be no stars — they would either not have formed at all, or quickly burned out.

    The executive summary is, it takes a vast, vast, vast universe with “a superfluity of stars” to create rocks, an Earth, the USA, and Jerry Coyne.

    Were it otherwise, it would be otherwise.

    We can think of our tininess in a vast universe as demonstrating our insignificance. Or we can think of ourselves as very special indeed — Hey, all this, for us.

  90. lfc_nichoals says:

    Here is some fact and good argumentative logic: a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself. Now here is another fact: you are a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit, and I wish to help you as a fellow human being living this existence which is completely and utterly absurd and devoid of meaning or purpose.

  91. lfc_nicholas says:

    TFBW: So, in short, you cannot even being to understand the most simple concepts in physics, and are just ranting like the fucking morally-bankrupt, moronic piece of trash that you are.

    You could’ve just told us that instead of writing that AIDS-ridden bullshit.

  92. Kevin says:

    Well that’s just interesting.

  93. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Kevin “Nature points to a creator, but that’s about as far as nature can take it.”
    “I personally find the argument from evil to be rather weak, given its obvious subjective qualities.”

    Nature points to a creator? Well, that’s just wrong. I’ve not encountered this level of dumbassery in awhile. Nature, i.e. the Universe, is under no obligation to make sense to you or have a creator. It’s natural. ‘Natur’al. Do you not get that? Also, morals are entirely subjective, good and evil are subjective, because there are no gods, so why are you bothered about whether arguments for the non-existence of you god are subjective? It’s not a moral question. Its a sincere question about whether or not an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, maximally perfect being exists, like the Bible says, and the obvious answer is, no, since evil would not exist if said being existed, since it would want to prevent all evils, and know every which way in which evil could come into existence, and not only that, but the fact that a maximally perfect being would have no desire or need for anything other than itself. Let me know if this isn’t simple enough for you, and I’d be happy to dumb it down a bit.

  94. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Kevin What, is that idea too depressing for you?

  95. SteveK says:

    That’s hilarious. Ranting as a means to express your dislike about ranting.

  96. TFBW says:

    @lfc_nicholas: I assume you refer to my discussion of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Perhaps you would care to explain where I went wrong. If you just hurl profanity-laden abuse instead of addressing the issue, it looks like profanity-laden abuse is all you actually have to offer. It’s all you’ve offered so far.

  97. Kevin says:

    TFBW

    As near as I can tell from his post, advocating that science supports theism is an act of moral depravity, which when reconciled with his post to Michael, is perfectly fine. After all, what is moral depravity in an absurd existence devoid of meaning or purpose?

    I suspect he was actually approving of your position. Makes as much sense as anything else that can be derived from those two posts, anyway.

  98. lfc_nicholas says:

    @TFBW @Kevin @SteveK OK, I’ll lay off the ad-homs. I’ve been refuting pseudoscience for far too long, and constantly receive ad-homs from such people who think its scientifically proven that vaccines cause autism or that the Earth is flat. It’s almost as if the only tool they have is the abuse you speak of. Anyways, so you’re not going to offer any rebuttal? By the way, I did offer something other than ‘abuse’ when I said “a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself.”. I’m arguing the point that there isn’t a maximally perfect being like certain holy texts suggest (Qu’ran, Bible, etc.).

    “After all, what is moral depravity in an absurd existence devoid of meaning or purpose?”
    You’re getting there. Well, one can be morally deprived (i.e. it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence, which theism does), but doing this is not inherently wrong or right. Nothing is inherently wrong or right, good or bad. Morality is a social construct, human-constructed, a complex set of rules and recommendations that may give a psychological, social, or economical advantage to its adherents, but is otherwise without universal or even relative truth in any sense. And about the thermodynamics thing, in the language of physics, the Heat Death of the Universe is when the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium (maximum entropy).

    “In order to have a naturalistic theory which can stand up to this background knowledge (and uncooperative empirical data), you need to reach for entropy-defeating explanations which are less well-established than the second law of thermodynamics itself.”

    What you are referring to aren’t ‘entropy-defeating explanations’. On a sad note, entropy is unavoidable. But by doing nothing you yourself can contribute to putting off the Heat Death of the Universe > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2jkV4BsN6U.

    @Kevin “I suspect he was actually approving of your position. Makes as much sense as anything else that can be derived from those two posts, anyway.”
    You suspect wrong. Just because you cannot derive anything sensical from that doesn’t mean nobody else can do such a thing. It’s quite easy for most people who are intellectual, but maybe you aren’t… those people.

  99. SteveK says:

    The maximally perfect being you’re referring to – God – didn’t need (out of necessity) or want (a desire brought on by a lacking) anything. God’s existence does not depend on any thing and God does not lack any thing. Maybe you meant to say something else.

  100. Kevin says:

    lfc: “Now here is another fact: you are a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit”

    “just ranting like the fucking morally-bankrupt, moronic piece of trash that you are”

    Was I supposed to glean something from that in order to be an intellectual person? Was I supposed to ignore these…sections…of your posts and deal with the substantive parts, such as they were, in order to be an intellectual person, when you yourself complained that “It’s almost as if the only tool they have is the abuse you speak of”? Yeah, I wasn’t about to treat your posts seriously. They flat-out did not deserve it, delivered as they were.

    I’d be happy to address your relevant points, but you say at the end, “It’s quite easy for most people who are intellectual, but maybe you aren’t… those people”. Sounds like you aren’t quite prepared to give up the ad hominems.

  101. TFBW says:

    @lfc_nicholas:

    By the way, I did offer something other than ‘abuse’ when I said “a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself.”

    I noticed that, but I figured that it would be worth checking to see whether you can actually engage (without hurling abuse and profanity) first.

    To respond, I reject your assertion. I see no reason why a maximally perfect being would have no desires. No needs, perhaps, but not everything is need-based. People create because they are creative, and because creativity is good. A maximally perfect being would be very creative, and exercise that creativity in good ways.

    Basically, your idea of “perfect” is very austere: a perfect being would be perfectly inert and inactive for lack of need to be otherwise. Neither your austerity theory nor my creativity theory follows logically from “perfect”, but I think that my option makes more sense than yours. You’ve certainly not given me any reason to prefer your explanation over mine.

    And about the thermodynamics thing, in the language of physics, the Heat Death of the Universe is when the universe reaches thermodynamic equilibrium (maximum entropy).

    Right. The second law of thermodynamics is the law of increasing entropy. Any change in a system will result in the entropy increasing. When entropy reaches a maximum, no more change is possible. If the universe were infinitely old, it would have already reached the state of maximum entropy. It hasn’t done so, therefore it’s either not infinitely old (i.e. it had a beginning some finite amount of time ago), or there’s some way to violate the second law that we don’t know about.

    So which part of my comment were you disagreeing with so vehemently? I’m not seeing any kind of correction in what you’ve said. Maybe you just didn’t give sufficient consideration to the context in which I was making the remarks. This is a long and complicated thread of conversation, after all.

  102. Nicholas Prado says:

    @SteveK A maximally perfect being, which is a quality you attribute to your god, would not have a need or desire for anything other than itself, nor would it have a need or desire to create anything. Us who negate the aforementioned claim (that a god exists) are mostly not biased or holding an agenda, most of the time we are simply skeptical of this claim of which there is no evidence. *That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.* Some atheists simply pose a sincere question (and get attacked for doing so by theists) about whether or not an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, maximally perfect being exists, like the Bible says, and the obvious answer is, _no_, since evil would not exist if said being existed, since it would prevent all evils, and know every which way in which evil could come into existence, and not only that, but the fact that a maximally perfect being would have no need or desire for anything other than itself, nor would it have a need or desire to create anything Let me know if this simple logic needs to be simplified more for you. I doubt it does. 🙂

  103. Doug says:

    The irony is too much for me: lfc_nicholas wanders in with the witless:

    …morally-bankrupt, moronic piece of trash that you are

    …and then expects us to take his opinions on a “maximally perfect being” seriously…

    talk about digging yourself a credibility hole!

  104. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Kevin What, intellectuals can’t use insults?

    “Sounds like you aren’t quite prepared to give up the ad hominems.”
    is an ad-hominem, but we’ll ignore that, and seriously we can stop the ad-homs if you want.

    Was I supposed to glean something from that in order to be an intellectual person? Was I supposed to ignore these…sections…of your posts and deal with the substantive parts, such as they were, in order to be an intellectual person, when you yourself complained that “It’s almost as if the only tool they have is the abuse you speak of”? Yeah, I wasn’t about to treat your posts seriously. They flat-out did not deserve it, delivered as they were.

    First question, no. Second question, I was saying that abuse is the sole tool of people like fundamentalists, the only tool. I can use it too but I have better tools, like actual sound, valid arguments that we can discuss without hostility.

    “I’d be happy to address your relevant points, but you say at the end, “It’s quite easy for most people who are intellectual, but maybe you aren’t… those people”. Sounds like you aren’t quite prepared to give up the ad-hominems”

    Addressed above, please do now address said relevant points.

  105. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Doug You don’t have to take what I say what a “maximally perfect being” is seriously, you can just look up what those words mean and find out yourself what a maximally perfect being is by definition.

  106. Nicholas Prado says:

    @TFBW I was saying that abuse (hurling abuse and profanity) is the sole tool of people like fundamentalists, their only tool. I can use it too but I have far better tools, like actual sound, valid arguments that we can discuss without hostility which seems to be in your interest as well as mine.

  107. Nicholas Prado says:

    @TBFW Also, I will respond to your response at a later time, perhaps tomorrow, as I’m pretty busy with school-related work right now. Thanks.

  108. Michael says:

    Here is some fact and good argumentative logic: a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself.

    The topic of the blog posting was the argument from evil and whether it poses a serious challenge to Christian theism. What I have shown is that is simply a matter of opinion. Why are you trying to change the topic?

    Now here is another fact: you are a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit, and I wish to help you as a fellow human being living this existence which is completely and utterly absurd and devoid of meaning or purpose.

    Whoa. When was I supposedly indoctrinated? How do you know I am deluded? All that you have told me with your attacks is that your mind is enslaved to stereotypes. We see this same dynamic when you try to rationalize your ad hominem attacks:

    @TFBW @Kevin @SteveK OK, I’ll lay off the ad-homs. I’ve been refuting pseudoscience for far too long, and constantly receive ad-homs from such people who think its scientifically proven that vaccines cause autism or that the Earth is flat. It’s almost as if the only tool they have is the abuse you speak of.

    I don’t think its scientifically proven that vaccines cause autism or that the Earth is flat. Nor am I “such people.” Yet you assumed this with your preemptive ad hominems. How? By reliance on stereotypes.

    You come here calling me “a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit” all on the basis of your own stereotypes. So I’m not quite sure how/why think you are in a position to “help” me.

    BTW, I would note there is no evidence you’ve been refuting pseudoscience for far too long. You claim to have constantly been attacked by people who think the Earth is flat. Just where are these people? I’ve been around the net for quite a long time too and have yet to run across someone who thinks the Earth is flat. It does sound like you are making this up. Or, can you be sure you were not arguing with Poes?

  109. SteveK says:

    Nicholas
    Explain why intending to create something, and then doing it, means God is imperfect and not a maximal being

  110. Michael says:

    A maximally perfect being,

    What’s the difference between a maximally perfect being and a minimally perfect being?

    which is a quality you attribute to your god, would not have a need or desire for anything other than itself,

    Why couldn’t it have the desire to give of itself?

    nor would it have a need or desire to create anything.

    I’m having a hard time seeing how giving the gift of existence to other beings is inconsistent with the gift giver being perfect.

    Us who negate the aforementioned claim (that a god exists) are mostly not biased or holding an agenda,

    That depends. If you are part of the atheist movement, or consider yourself an atheist activist, or a New Atheist, then you are indeed biased and come with an agenda.

    most of the time we are simply skeptical of this claim of which there is no evidence.

    So we are told. But then why not further tell us what data you would count as evidence for God?

    *That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.*

    Unless you can tell us what data would count as evidence for God, that claim is just a meaningless meme.

    Some atheists simply pose a sincere question (and get attacked for doing so by theists)

    The only one attacking here is the atheist.

    about whether or not an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent, maximally perfect being exists, like the Bible says, and the obvious answer is, _no_,

    Obvious to you, maybe. How do you know there is no God?

    since evil would not exist if said being existed, since it would prevent all evils, and know every which way in which evil could come into existence,

    If you bothered to read the blog entry, you would notice this position has been de-fanged. The notion that God’s existence is incompatible with evil is a notion rooted in childish thinking.

  111. FZM says:

    Us who negate the aforementioned claim (that a god exists) are mostly not biased or holding an agenda, most of the time we are simply skeptical of this claim of which there is no evidence

    The fact you felt it worthwhile to post abusive comments about people who believe that God makes it look like you do have some kind of agenda. It looks like belief in God conflicts with some strongly held, emotive beliefs of yours, so you feel a need to attack people who hold that belief and try to get them to abandon it.

    You’re getting there. Well, one can be morally deprived (i.e. it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence, which theism does), but doing this is not inherently wrong or right. Nothing is inherently wrong or right, good or bad. Morality is a social construct, human-constructed, a complex set of rules and recommendations that may give a psychological, social, or economical advantage to its adherents, but is otherwise without universal or even relative truth in any sense.

    Can moral judgements be true then? How can you tell whether something is inherently so, or whether people only think that it is because to do so gives economic, social or psychological advantage to them?

    A maximally perfect being, which is a quality you attribute to your god, would not have a need or desire for anything other than itself, nor would it have a need or desire to create anything.

    There are significant traditions in Christian monotheism that understand God’s perfection in terms of God being infinite in being (and hence, all the perfections associated with being). I don’t see that a logical consequence of God being infinite in being is that God must fail to create anything of limited being even though God couldn’t be said to need to (it won’t add anything to or in anyway complete his already infinite being).

    *That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.*

    What’s the evidence for that? Evidentialism where it’s hard to see what exactly the term ‘evidence’ means can be just empty posturing c.f. Michael’s comment:

    Unless you can tell us what data would count as evidence for God, that claim is just a meaningless meme.

  112. Dhay says:

    lfc_nicholas says > … AIDS-ridden …

    Homophobic?

  113. Ilíon says:

    Michael:The topic is the blog posting was the argument from evil and whether it poses a serious challenge to Christian theism. What I have shown is that is simply a matter of opinion.

    Then it’s a matter of incorrect and incoherent opinion.

    Far from damaging “Christian theism”, or “theism” in general, the so-called argument from evil shows atheism to be the (and incoherent) false view of reality, for the “argument from evil” necessarily presupposes the good and evil are real. But, is atheism is the truth about the nature of reality, then there no such things as good and evil.

    No, it’s not the case that Christianity has “problem of evil” to explain; rather, it’s the case that atheism has a “problem of good” it *cannot* explain.

  114. Kevin says:

    Nicholas: “A maximally perfect being, which is a quality you attribute to your god, would not have a need or desire for anything other than itself, nor would it have a need or desire to create anything.”

    Your first thought is true, the second not so much. What if the creation was not to service a need of the creator, but to share creation with other beings of free will? How does that conflict with perfection? I’d think being is superior to not being, so how selfish would it be to not share existence? In fact, to demonstrate perfect grace and love, I’d say creation of other conscious beings of free will is pretty much a requirement.

    “it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”

    Do you have evidence for this?

    “Us who negate the aforementioned claim (that a god exists) are mostly not biased or holding an agenda, most of the time we are simply skeptical of this claim of which there is no evidence.”

    I have seen no evidence that a simple lack of belief is the motivation for most atheists who engage in these discussions. There is just a little bit too much vehemence involved for “lack of belief” to be the whole situation.

    “That which is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

    Here’s another catchphrase: He who is incapable of defining evidence can be safely dismissed as a judge of evidence. Can you define what would make something count as evidence for God?

    “I was saying that abuse is the sole tool of people like fundamentalists, the only tool.”

    Is that why I keep being called names by atheists? Deluded, irrational, unreasonable, brainwashed, indoctrinated, bigoted, shit-kicking monkey, etc. So we can agree that strongly-held beliefs being challenged can lead to vitriolic responses, correct?

  115. Doug says:

    @Nicholas,
    If you really think that:
    1. the definitions of “maximally”, “perfect” and “being” are sufficient to define “maximally perfect being”?
    2. that a “maximally perfect being” can be comfortably comprehended by such as yourself?
    …then you are really quite deluded. It is recommended that you seek help.

  116. Doug says:

    I know that this is months late(!) but I lost this thread after returning from vacation…

    Jeffrey Jay Lowder writes (on July 2):

    we replace “prior probability” with “intrinsic probability.”

    And he helpfully (thanks!) provides a link to Draper’s take on “intrinsic probability”. But in so doing he gives the game away. In the link provided, Draper is clearly doing precisely the thing that I warned against, viz: confusing epistemology with ontology. Draper explicitly calls it “intrinsic epistemic probability”. (incidentally, JJ’s response to this warning — the confusion between epistemology and ontology — was an odd one: as if the warning somehow is related to how one understands “nothing”). And, in fact, the criteria for “intrinsic probability” (viz: “modesty” and “coherence”) indicate that “probability” is no longer grounded in mathematics, but vague hand-waving.

    Here’s how the “25 lines of…” exercise appears: suppose someone were to compare the number “pi” with the number “e”. Suppose they were to construct a “3 lines of evidence that e is greater than pi”:
    1. the number e is greater than pi at the first decimal place.
    2. the number e is greater than pi at the third decimal place.
    3. the number e is greater than pi at the seventh decimal place.
    Anyone with an understanding of “greater” would think that such an exercise was mad. Similarly, anyone with a (mathematical) understanding of “probability” would think “25 lines of evidence against theism” is mad.

  117. Doug says:

    Jeffrey Jay Lowder writes:

    1. Abstract objects and time exist.
    2. Abstract objects and time necessarily exist.
    3….7.

    I’d like to know how anyone can permit #2. Abstract objects are by no means necessarily existent. There can be no abstract object without a mind. Time isn’t necessarily existent either… but I thought that was obvious from modern physics…. As a result, #3-7 all fail.

  118. Ilíon says:

    some God-hating troll:it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence

    Kevin:Do you have evidence for this?

    That’s one good point. Another is: aren’t they so adorable when they start making moral assertions?

  119. stcordova says:

    lfc_nicholas said:

    “I said “a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself.”.

    That’s just an assertion. How do you absolutely know that unless you yourself are a maximally perfect being?

    You’re not a smart as you think you are.

  120. Nicholas Prado says:

    @stcordove

    *as

    Firstly, you can’t absolutely know anything besides the idea that what you consider to be ‘you’ exists. You can’t absolutely know that any other minds around you actually exist other than yours. But anyways, its because of what the fucking definition of ‘perfect’ is. Really simple stuff.

  121. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Ilíon @Kevin
    “Some God-hating troll”
    “Do you have evidence for this?”
    “That’s one good point. Another is: aren’t they so adorable when they start making moral assertions?”

    1. I don’t hate your god. I sincerely wish your god existed. Whatever, peace be with you brother.
    2. Do you have evidence for your god?
    3. Right, because atheists cannot POSSIBLY make moral assertions, right?*

    *Here’s to hoping you have a good sarcasm detector.

  122. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Kevin

    “but to share creation with other beings of free will? ”

    Because in that case, the being acted according to a desire that it holds, which, as you stated, would be: “share creation with other beings of free will”. Do you know what “perfect” means? Do you know what “freedom from desire” means? Why are you assigning such petty human, animalistic, and other earth-life like qualities to your ‘perfect’ god?

  123. SteveK says:

    God acted according to the desire to act. You haven’t explained why this is an imperfection. What is imperfect about desiring to act? Get specific

  124. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Michael

    “If you bothered to read the blog entry, you would notice this position has been de-fanged. The notion that God’s existence is incompatible with evil is a notion rooted in childish thinking.”

    Well, it hasn’t really been de-fanged. But, whatever helps you sleep at night man, honestly. Remember I said, I care for you. Peace be with you.

    I did bother to read your content.

    “I would note there is no evidence you’ve been refuting pseudoscience for far too long. You claim to have constantly been attacked by people who think the Earth is flat. Just where are these people? I’ve been around the net for quite a long time too and have yet to run across someone who thinks the Earth is flat. It does sound like you are making this up. Or, can you be sure you were not arguing with Poes?”

    I am not making this shit up. You’ve never ran across someone who thinks as such? Well, then, you are lucky as shit, once you encounter that level of dumbassery you are subject to developing PTSD.

    “I don’t think its scientifically proven that vaccines cause autism or that the Earth is flat. Nor am I “such people.” Yet you assumed this with your preemptive ad hominems. How? By reliance on stereotypes.”

    False. This is just getting depressing now. I did not assume such. I did not equate you to the aforementioned “such people”.

  125. Nicholas Prado says:

    “Whoa. When was I supposedly indoctrinated? How do you know I am deluded? All that you have told me with your attacks is that your mind is enslaved to stereotypes. We see this same dynamic when you try to rationalize your ad hominem attacks:”

    As if you have not committed the ad-hominem logical fallacy as well?
    All you have told me is that your mind is enslaved to stereotypes.
    See, that’s just another unsubstantiated claim. How do I know that all that I have told you with my ‘attacks’ is that my mind is enslaved to stereotypes? Do I just take your word for it?

    I said: “Now here is another fact: you are a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit, and I wish to help you as a fellow human being living this existence which is completely and utterly absurd and devoid of meaning or purpose.”

    I was obviously not being serious in stating that this (what I said) was a fact, but if that wasn’t obvious to you, well, then, as I said, this is just getting depressing now 😦

  126. Nicholas Prado says:

    @SteveK “God acted according to the desire to act. You haven’t explained why this is an imperfection. What is imperfect about desiring to act? Get specific”

    K, well, can you research what the word ‘perfect’ means? Can you tell me why a ‘PERFECT’ being would want anything?

  127. Doug says:

    @Nicholas,
    Whoever said God wants anything? You seem to be *also* saying that a perfect being isn’t permitted to *do* anything. That doesn’t seem particularly “perfect” to me, but hey!

  128. Kevin says:

    “Do you have evidence for your god?”

    Is that the evidence for your assertion that “it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”?

    “Do you know what “perfect” means? Do you know what “freedom from desire” means? Why are you assigning such petty human, animalistic, and other earth-life like qualities to your ‘perfect’ god?”

    I see you assigning those qualities. I certainly didn’t. Does wood burn at high temperature out of a desire, or out of its nature? Does God create beings out of desire/need, or as a result of perfection? I believe the latter. The Bible flat out says that “the God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything”. So obviously creation was not an act of need.

  129. Nicholas Prado says:

    “Whoever said God wants anything? You seem to be *also* saying that a perfect being isn’t permitted to *do* anything. That doesn’t seem particularly “perfect” to me, but hey!”

    No, I’m not saying this specific being is not permitted to *do* anything.
    And, um, well, do I really have to answer that first question? When the Bible is full of what this God wants us to do?

  130. Doug says:

    @Nicholas,
    equivocation: two word-senses of “want”. nice try, though.

  131. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Doug A perfect being would have no *need* to do anything. And there would be nothing that could decide whether or not such a being would be permitted to do anything. In more detail, a MAXIMALLY PERFECT being would have no *need*, or *desire*, to do anything, it would have no need or desire for anything else to exist other than itself, because it is, by definition, PERFECT.

    “Whoever said God wants anything? You seem to be *also* saying that a perfect being isn’t permitted to *do* anything. That doesn’t seem particularly “perfect” to me, but hey!”

    No, I’m not saying this specific being is not permitted to *do* anything.
    And, um, well, do I really have to answer that first question? When the Bible is full of what this God wants us to do?

  132. Doug says:

    @Nicholas,
    You are confused. You haven’t the faintest clue about perfection, let alone “maximal perfection” (whatever that could possibly mean). But don’t let it keep you from your irrationality, hate, and anti-social behavior!

  133. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Doug

    You attempted to pose a rebuttal, but you failed. You made an effort though, that’s good.
    To want: To wish for or to desire. Also: to require, to crave, to fancy.
    A MAXIMALLY PERFECT being would crave nothing else, would fancy nothing else, and would require nothing else.
    See the post I just made.
    If this doesn’t seem like rational logic to you then…. it’s probably because you’re on a biased WordPress blog.

  134. Nicholas Prado says:

    “Is that the evidence for your assertion that “it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence?”

    Put simply, no.

    “I see you assigning those qualities. I certainly didn’t. Does wood burn at high temperature out of a desire, or out of its nature? Does God create beings out of desire/need, or as a result of perfection? I believe the latter. The Bible flat out says that “the God who made the world and everything in it … is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything”. So obviously creation was not an act of need.”

    Firstly, “Does wood burn at high temperature out of a desire, or out of its nature?” is completely irrelevant in this situation, but apparently that isn’t obvious enough here.

    “As a result of perfection”
    Perfection would mean lacking anything else. Lacking any other requirement, craving, fancy, or need.

    “So obviously creation was not an act of need”

    Assuming this is a given, then it would still be an act of desire. I asked someone else here, “Can you tell me why a ‘PERFECT’ being would want anything?”.

    He only demonstrated that he doesn’t understand what that words means.

  135. Nicholas Prado says:

    @Doug

    “You are confused.”

    Another unsubstantiated claim from a theist.

    “You haven’t the faintest clue about perfection, let alone “maximal perfection” (whatever that could possibly mean).”

    Another demonstration of your own incompetence, and of your apparent desire to make in-evident, unsubstantiated claims. Also a demonstration of your misunderstanding of certain words/concepts.

    “But don’t let it keep you from your irrationality, hate, and anti-social behavior!”

    Irrationality: yet another unsubstantiated claim, further diminishing your credibility.
    Hate: yet another unsubstantiated claim, further diminishing your credibility.
    Anti-social behavior: I wouldn’t fucking be interacting socially with other humans as I am now were I so ‘anti-social’.

  136. Kevin says:

    “Firstly, “Does wood burn at high temperature out of a desire, or out of its nature?” is completely irrelevant in this situation, but apparently that isn’t obvious enough here.”

    Google “analogy”. If you already know what an analogy is but dislike their usage as an illustrative device, then there are much more mature fashions in which to express that dislike.

    “Assuming this is a given, then it would still be an act of desire. I asked someone else here, “Can you tell me why a ‘PERFECT’ being would want anything?”.”

    You don’t seem to understand the link between a thing’s nature and its resultant behavior. Hence my use of an analogy.

  137. FZM says:

    Assuming this is a given, then it would still be an act of desire. I asked someone else here, “Can you tell me why a ‘PERFECT’ being would want anything?”.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about God’s creation in terms of God’s desires. For example, in Genesis God is said to create things because God judges they are in some way ‘good’.

    It seems that if God’s perfection is supposed to preclude God creating anything it would be necessary to show that the only way God could create (when creation costs him nothing and is effortless) was if he first had a desire or need that what he created was required to fulfil.

  138. FZM says:

    Assuming this is a given, then it would still be an act of desire. I asked someone else here, “Can you tell me why a ‘PERFECT’ being would want anything?”.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about God’s creative activity in terms of God’s desires. For example, in Genesis God is said to create things because God judges they are in some way ‘good’.

    It seems that if God’s perfection is supposed to preclude God creating anything it would be necessary to show that the only way God could create (when creation costs him nothing and is effortless anyway) was if he first had a desire or need that what he created was required to fulfil.

  139. Michael says:

    Nicholas: Well, it hasn’t really been de-fanged.

    Looks that way to me. For example, I notice that you have not shown where and how I am wrong. Instead, you have called me a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit while trying to change the topic. This is consistent with someone unable to defend the argument from evil against my criticism.

    But, whatever helps you sleep at night man, honestly. Remember I said, I care for you. Peace be with you.

    I’m not sure why you thinks this has anything to do with sleeping well at night. The argument from evil is supposed to show that God does not exist. If it was correct, I would not lose sleep at night. If atheism is true, my response would be “So what?” I’ve explained this before-
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/sam-harriss-empty-attack-on-pascals-wager/

    I did bother to read your content.

    So you say. But you have clearly not refuted the content. You haven’t even addressed it.

    I am not making this shit up. You’ve never ran across someone who thinks as such? Well, then, you are lucky as shit, once you encounter that level of dumbassery you are subject to developing PTSD.

    Well, there is no evidence you have long been attacked by people who think the Earth is flat. And as I noted, I have never run across a person who thinks the Earth is flat. Even if I did, I would probably suspect a Poe. So this supposedly lengthy history of being attacked by a bunch of Flat Earthers does sound like something you made up. And here’s the problem. You also claim:

    Nothing is inherently wrong or right, good or bad. Morality is a social construct, human-constructed, a complex set of rules and recommendations that may give a psychological, social, or economical advantage to its adherents, but is otherwise without universal or even relative truth in any sense.

    So in your mind, there would be nothing wrong with making up a story about being attacked by Flat Earthers as some type of distraction/excuse for the fact that you came here and led off with some nasty ad hominems. So not only is your story not all that believable, there is nothing in your worldview to stop you from making it up.

    False. This is just getting depressing now. I did not assume such. I did not equate you to the aforementioned “such people”.

    Your excuse for your ad hominem attacks was to claim you have been the victim of such attacks by other pseudoscientists. It only functions as an excuse if you assumed we would do likewise and was simply trying to get in the first strike. If you did not assume this about me and others here, there is no explanation for you lashing out at us with ad hominem attacks.

    As if you have not committed the ad-hominem logical fallacy as well?

    I have not. You are the one who committed the textbook example of ad hominem: you ignored my argument in the blog posting and simply insulted me instead.

    I’m merely observing what your insults mean. You do not know that I have been indoctrinated and am deluded. You assume that to be true because you buy into the negative stereotypes that are commonly perpetuated among atheists. You think I am a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit because that’s the very stereotype you have about religious people. That you came here and actually led with that attack tells me that stereotypes guide your thinking – your mind is enslaved to stereotypes.

    I was obviously not being serious in stating that this (what I said) was a fact, but if that wasn’t obvious to you, well, then, as I said, this is just getting depressing now

    It’s not obvious you were not being serious. It looks more like you were serious, but are now trying to backpedal because you’ve realized your credibility is so low.

  140. pennywit says:

    No, the argument from evil has nothing to do with Teletubbies. Rather, the argument from evil is the result of a person who cannot reconcile the evil in the world with the conception of a benevolent god.

  141. Nicholas Prado says:

    Hello guys

  142. Nicholas Prado says:

    “The fact you felt it worthwhile to post abusive comments about people who believe that God makes it look like you do have some kind of agenda. It looks like belief in God conflicts with some strongly held, emotive beliefs of yours, so you feel a need to attack people who hold that belief and try to get them to abandon it.”

    No. Nope. Lol. I know that most Christians believe that God is a good and loving god, and wants people to do good things. I’m not actually here to convert you or anything just as I have no interest in converting the 90+ family members I have who are Catholic, nor the 30+ who are Baptist, some of which are pastors. I believe that most people want to do good things and behave morally. I also believe that many Christians haven’t really read the Bible, or just read certain passages in church. This is understandable, as the Bible is hard to read due to its archaic language and obscure references. Also many priests and preachers don’t like to read certain passages in the Bible because they present a message of hate not love. Anyways, can you give a reason I should believe in your god? In my opinion he’s not real. But seriously, ‘saved’ to ‘unsaved’, what reason have I to think the Bible is actually divine? There’s no evidence to support that claim. Even if there isn’t a god, why should I even lie to myself that there is a god? What reason do I have to think your god really exists when there’s no evidence? Is the weak Pascal’s wager the only thing they have?

    @TFBW: The only thing I see on here are poor responses to the problem of evil (I don’t know who wrote the teletubbies things but it’s not really coherent or a reasonable objection the problem of evil, in my opinion), and someone assuming that in order to have a natrualistic theory you have to reach for entropy-defeating explanations. I disagree, however.

    @Michael: Read above about my family, understand I have seen how you regard atheism as a reasonable position and only go after anti-theist hateful people. I am not those people. See above.
    “looks that way to me. For example, I notice that you have not shown where and how I am wrong. Instead, you have called me a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit while trying to change the topic. This is consistent with someone unable to defend the argument from evil against my criticism.” “Whoa. When was I supposedly indoctrinated? How do you know I am deluded? All that you have told me with your attacks is that your mind is enslaved to stereotypes. We see this same dynamic when you try to rationalize your ad hominem attacks:
    “I don’t think its scientifically proven that vaccines cause autism or that the Earth is flat. Nor am I “such people.” Yet you assumed this with your preemptive ad hominems. How? By reliance on stereotypes. You come here calling me “a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit” all on the basis of your own stereotypes. So I’m not quite sure how/why think you are in a position to “help” me. BTW, I would note there is no evidence you’ve been refuting pseudoscience for far too long. You claim to have constantly been attacked by people who think the Earth is flat. Just where are these people? I’ve been around the net for quite a long time too and have yet to run across someone who thinks the Earth is flat. It does sound like you are making this up. Or, can you be sure you were not arguing with Poes?”
    “I have not. You are the one who committed the textbook example of ad hominem: you ignored my argument in the blog posting and simply insulted me instead. I’m merely observing what your insults mean. You do not know that I have been indoctrinated and am deluded. You assume that to be true because you buy into the negative stereotypes that are commonly perpetuated among atheists. You think I am a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit because that’s the very stereotype you have about religious people. That you came here and actually led with that attack tells me that stereotypes guide your thinking – your mind is enslaved to stereotypes.”
    ————Apologies then, mate. Really. I was probably having one of those nights where I get drunk and refute pseudoscience and theodicy. However, I don’t think I really tried to change the topic. My mind is not ‘enslaved to stereotypes’ but you are free to hold that opinion. Now I think you’re wrong here in claiming that I equated you to those people. When did I say you believed the Earth is flat? Or that you think vaccines cause autism? I never claimed I was ‘attacked’ by those people either. Where are these people? Seach ‘flat earth’ videos, see the rapper B.o.B. and his feud with Neil deGrasse Tyson (whoa! what a coincidence). There’s also Flat Earth News, a quarterly, four-page tabloid which had some headlines during the 70s and 80s such as:
    “Whole World Deceived… Except the Very Elect” (Dec. 1977)
    “Australia Not Down Under” (May 1978)
    “Sun Is a Light 32 Miles Across” (Dec. 1978)
    “The Earth Has No Motion” (Jun. 1979)
    “Nikita Krushchev Father of NASA” (Mar. 1980)
    “Galileo Was a Liar” (Dec. 1980)
    “Science Insults Your Intelligence” (Sep. 1980)
    “World IS Flat, and That’s That” (Sep. 1980)
    “The Earth Is Not a Ball; Gravity Does Not Exist” (Mar. 1981)
    There are also many flat-Earth societies today, and yes, the level of ignorance is so high that it may just prove Poe’s law true. But since I’ve seen it so much, I usually look at the person’s profile and it turns out they are not trolling at all. It’s sad. There are people who won’t vaccinate in favor of prayer and because a debunked fraudulent study said they cause autism. Look it up.
    Since you ask: the reason I think you’re wrong is because you said “the modern day atheist movement has only one argument to support atheism”. Issa wrong mate. And yes, you have no way of knowing that I’m active in these debates and in refuting pseudoscience. It’s just anecdotal. You’ll just have to take it on faith like Christians do with the Bible ;). I could provide countless links of me arguing with people who espouse creation science and that type of thing.

    “Looks that way to me. For example, I notice that you have not shown where and how I am wrong. Instead, you have called me a fucking indoctrinated, deluded piece of shit while trying to change the topic. This is consistent with someone unable to defend the argument from evil against my criticism.”
    ——————–the reason I think you’re wrong is because you said “the modern day atheist movement has only one argument to support atheism”. Issa wrong mate.

    “I’m not sure why you thinks this has anything to do with sleeping well at night. The argument from evil is supposed to show that God does not exist. If it was correct, I would not lose sleep at night. If atheism is true, my response would be “So what?” I’ve explained this before-”
    ——–If atheism were true? Atheism is neither true nor false. It’s a word describing one’s lack of belief in any gods. It’s a noun. Saying atheism is true would be like saying ‘baldness is true’ or ‘headphones are true’ or mailbox is true’ or ‘blue is true’ or ‘abstinence is true’. As far as the link: I think Pascal’s Wager is the equivalent of believing in and searching for kryptonite, on the off-chance that Superman exists and wants to kill you. I don’t base my disbelief on emotion or fear. I base it on what I feel is a rational position that they’re probably aren’t any gods. Also, when I was a Christian before I believed Hell was real, then later I saw how it’s based on a small valley in Jerusalem and the Jewish and how that place is the Christian analogue of hell, and how the Bible actually says that the dead rest peacefully when they die until Judgement Day when they are resurrected and judged, sending them either to Heaven, to the New Earth, or to be *destroyed*. The second death. And that’s what the word ‘death’ means. Ceasing to exist. God destroys all evil. Also Jesus said he is the only way to have eternal life. So if you don’t believe in him you aren’t getting eternal life, so if you don’t believe in him you aren’t going to live in hell forever, you’re going to be destroyed and cease to exist. The argument (call it “PW”) may be formulated as follows:
    (a) If God exists, then whoever doesn’t believe in him will end up being eternally tormented or at least annihilated.
    (b) If God exists, then whoever believes in him will gain eternal life.
    (c) If God doesn’t exist, then whether or not people believe in him can’t matter very much.
    (d) Hence [from (a)-(c)], nontheists are running a grave risk. At the very least, the expected utility of their belief situation is infinitely worse than that of theists.
    (e) But such people are able to self-induce theistic belief.
    (f) Therefore [from (d) & (e)], all nontheists ought to change their beliefs and become theists.
    There is no good reason to believe PW’s premise (a), and there are many theists who would deny it. Furthermore, if that premise were true, then that would provide a basis for the Argument from Nonbelief, which is a strong argument for God’s nonexistence. Thus, the given premise is weak and conceptually problematic. According to the Bible, more is required for salvation than mere belief in God. One also needs to believe in God’s son (Mark 16:16; John 3:18,36, 8:21-25, 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; I John 5:12), repent (Luke 13:3,5), be born again (John 3:3), be born of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:5), believe everything in the gospel (Mark 16:16), eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood (John 6:53), be like a child (Mark 10:15), and do good deeds, esp. for needy people (Matt. 25:41-46; Rom. 2:5-10; John 5:28-29; James 2:14-26). Therefore, premise (b) of PW is not generally true, so far as the Bible is concerned. And, furthermore, apart from the Bible, there is no reason whatever to believe that premise. Thus, PW’s premise (b) can reasonably be doubted. Most people who believe in God devote significant time to prayer and church activities. Such people presumably also contribute money, perhaps a tithe (10% of their income). Without that belief, most of them would not do such things. In addition, many such people go through life with inhibitions on both thought and behavior. (Consider, for example, inhibitions regarding sexual practices, marriage & divorce, birth control, abortion, reading material, and association with other people.) In many cases, those inhibitions are quite extreme and may have great effects on one’s life and the lives of others. In some communities, women are oppressed on the basis of theistic belief. Also, some theists have persecuted and even killed others (as in inquisitions, religious wars, attacks on homosexuals, abortionists, etc.) because of their belief that that is what God wants them to do. Furthermore, some people (e.g., clergymen) devote their entire lives to God. For these various reasons, even if God does not exist, it would indeed matter a great deal whether or not one believes in God, at least for most such believers. It follows that premise (c) of PW is false. It may be that God does not exist and, instead, some other being rules the universe. That being may dislike intensely and may inflict infinite punishment on anyone who believes in God or who believes anything out of self-interest (as recommended in PW). But a person who comes to believe in God on the basis of PW would in that case be in “a heap of trouble,” even though God does not exist. The expected utility of the theist’s belief situation would be infinitely worse than that of the nontheist. It follows that premise (c) of PW is false. To believe in God, one must believe propositions that are, from the standpoint of most nontheists, impossible (or at least very hard) to believe. For that reason, PW’s premise (e) can be rejected.Belief is not directly subject to the will. So, it is impossible (or at least very difficult) for nontheists to self-induce theistic belief. This also renders PW’s premise (e) false. PW also brings with it the ‘avoiding the wrong hell’ problem.

    “So you say. But you have clearly not refuted the content. You haven’t even addressed it.” “So this supposedly lengthy history of being attacked by a bunch of Flat Earthers does sound like something you made up. And here’s the problem.” “So in your mind, there would be nothing wrong with making up a story about being attacked by Flat Earthers as some type of distraction/excuse for the fact that you came here and led off with some nasty ad hominems. So not only is your story not all that believable, there is nothing in your worldview to stop you from making it up.”
    ——-I addressed it here. I forgot about this thread. Lol, Michael, I never said I’ve been attacked by them. Didn’t make up story about being attacked. Yeah, there is, in my worldview, there’s a guideline “don’t be a cunt” which stops me from doing things like making up stories. The only thing made up is your claim that I said I was attacked.

    “Your excuse for your ad hominem attacks was to claim you have been the victim of such attacks by other pseudoscientists. It only functions as an excuse if you assumed we would do likewise and was simply trying to get in the first strike. If you did not assume this about me and others here, there is no explanation for you lashing out at us with ad hominem attacks.”
    ——-No. I did not claim attacks. Yes, every theist I’ve ever debated resort to ad-homing. Statistically everyone here was going to as well. So you’re telling me you don’t use ad-hominems? Because that’d be a nice change for once, a theist not appealing only to some claimed ‘ignorance’ and constantly using ad-hominems. We can have civil discussions. If you paint me as intolerant, well, fine. I’m not. But you’re free to hold that opinion. In my opinion most theists are intolerant as hell towards atheists, you do not appear to be this way. I can defend my atheistic positions. I’m not just randomly holding these beliefs.

    “It’s not obvious you were not being serious. It looks more like you were serious, but are now trying to backpedal because you’ve realized your credibility is so low.”
    ————Well, when you look at it, it is obviously humorous in nature as evident by the “fellow human being living this existence which is completely and utterly absurd and devoid of meaning or purpose.” Now I do find existence to be absurd (along Camus’ line of thought https://pics.onsizzle.com/who-would-win-the-absurd-hero-the-hideous-lonely-emptiness-1414465.png) however I do not find it devoid of meaning as I think the meaning of life is to give life a meaning.

    “Obvious to you, maybe. How do you know there is no God?”
    ————-I don’t. You do not know there is a God. No one does. Everyone is technically an agnostic. No one really no for sure that God exists or doesn’t exist. Why I *think* there is no God comes down to how you define *God*, and if God is defined as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent like Christianity defines God, then I think omniscience and free will create a paradox. Both cannot coexist. If God is omniscient free will wouldn’t exist, you would be *strictly* limited to doing whatever it is God already knew you would do. As if an omniscient being wouldn’t be able to figure out which houses held his followers. So why would God ask that of them? Symbolism, you say? It wasn’t symbolizing spilled blood or anything like that. The God of the Abrahamic religions is considered to be omniscient. Oddly, the Abrahamic God does not often display his omniscience. Examples would include; God asking Cain where his brother, Abel, is and the Hebrews needing to mark their doors with lamb’s blood to keep their firstborn male children from being killed. In my opinion these are there just because they are poorly written fables from primitive peoples. There’s no such thing as an omniscient being. If there were, free will wouldn’t exist. Everyone would be strictly limited to doing whatever it is God already knew they would do. And if someone somehow accessed God’s knowledge and found out about what their future holds and what actions that person would make, and then did something differently, guess what, God already knew about that too. There would be no way for you to act in a way that wasn’t written in stone already, i.e. in God’s mind, he knows the outcome of all events and knows about every event that will ever happen. Also why does people object to law in the Old Testament being irrelevant today? As Rachel Slick, the atheist daughter of my favorite lunatic Christian apologist Matt Slick, says “And If God was absolutely moral, if morality was absolute, and if the nature of “right” and “wrong” surpassed space, time, and existence, and if it was as much a fundamental property of reality as math, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?”. Before you spout ‘cultural context’ keep in mind if God made wearing mixed fabrics a sin then it is still a sin. If God is bound by logic and morality, logic and morality aren’t arbitrary. God can’t change it. He acts logically because he must, just like the rest of us. This creates a Euthyphro-like dilemma: either God is bound by an external logic (and God answers to a fixed logic that he can’t change) or he’s not (and logic becomes arbitrary—it is what it is simply because God said so, and he could change it if he wanted to). The apologist will try to propose a third option (again, as with Euthyphro): logic is simply a consequence of God’s nature. It’s neither external nor arbitrary. But this simply rephrases the problem. Is this nature changeable? Then logic is arbitrary. Is it fixed? Then God is again bound by logic. Can God be the origin of logic if he’s bound by it?

    Back to @TFBW, apologies to you and anyone else who feels I’ve insulted them on this thread.
    @TFBW “To respond, I reject your assertion. I see no reason why a maximally perfect being would have no desires. No needs, perhaps, but not everything is need-based. People create because they are creative, and because creativity is good. A maximally perfect being would be very creative, and exercise that creativity in good ways.”
    ———————–Yes, it would be creative. But doing this would require that the being would want to exercise its creativity, thereby wanting something.

    “Basically, your idea of “perfect” is very austere: a perfect being would be perfectly inert and inactive for lack of need to be otherwise. Neither your austerity theory nor my creativity theory follows logically from “perfect”, but I think that my option makes more sense than yours. You’ve certainly not given me any reason to prefer your explanation over mine.
    ———–Why would it want or need anything? “In the beginning” or “when God began to create”…..So commonly theists argue that God always existed, so did he get bored or start feeling lonely? These things are petty human states and a maximally perfect being would not experience them. So there has to be another reason God did so. But can you explain how Almighty God Himself, a purported maximally perfect being, would desire *anything at all*. Why would it not have a need for anything other than itself?

    “The second law of thermodynamics is the law of increasing entropy. Any change in a system will result in the entropy increasing. When entropy reaches a maximum, no more change is possible. If the universe were infinitely old, it would have already reached the state of maximum entropy. It hasn’t done so, therefore it’s either not infinitely old (i.e. it had a beginning some finite amount of time ago), or there’s some way to violate the second law that we don’t know about. So which part of my comment were you disagreeing with so vehemently? I’m not seeing any kind of correction in what you’ve said. Maybe you just didn’t give sufficient consideration to the context in which I was making the remarks. This is a long and complicated thread of conversation, after all.”
    ——–Yes. My presence here is one soon to end, one because I have no interest in bothering you any further if that’s what you feel I was doing, and two as I have joined this long convo far too late hehe. Well, if the Universe were eternal, it would be referring to the deeper nothingness from which it arose, but that wasn’t really the Universe. Yes, the Universe began some finite amount of time ago, as did time itself, so when someone asks what was before the Big Bang it is quite like asking what is North of the North pole.

    Someone earlier said something valuable:
    “But suppose you disagree with everything I’ve just written. I didn’t come up with this approach to evidence and and this approach for testing theism and naturalism. A brilliant Christian philosopher named Richard Swinburne did. If you reject this approach for dealing with the probabilities in my arguments, you also have to reject this approach for dealing with the probabilities in all of his arguments and arguments like his. In other words, you can kiss natural theology goodbye. That means you can’t claim any of the following is evidence for God’s existence:
    * the beginning of the universe; * the life-permitting conditions of the universe (aka ‘fine-tuning’); * the complexity of the universe; * consciousness; * free will; * arguments from reason; * intelligent design, e.g., the origin of biological information, life, complex life, etc.; * objective moral values or duties; * miracles, including but not limited to the Resurrection; * religious experiences”

    @stcordova: “That’s just an assertion. How do you absolutely know that unless you yourself are a maximally perfect being?”
    Why would a MPB desire anything or to do anything?

    @FZM: “Can moral judgements be true then? How can you tell whether something is inherently so, or whether people only think that it is because to do so gives economic, social or psychological advantage to them?”
    ———-I disagree with moral objectivists’ claim that moral judgments are objectively true. No, if we make a moral judgement against slavery it comes from our distaste in enslaving fellow human beings, and is subjective. Against killing: subjective. Some people might deem it neccesary someone be killed = subjective moral judgement. Not objective. But we can still make moral judgments as a society without God as we have done, and live by them. Speaking of ‘moral judgements’, try and make an accurate moral judgement against slavery using only the Bible. It can’t be done. One standpoint of mine is that there is no such thing as objective and universal moral truths, as they would not be pre-existing moral codes with its roots somewhere absolute (as would be the case if it were a religious view). Instead, the so-called objective moral truths are made by people from given factual and non-moral judgments. One cannot make an objective overall moral conclusion when he himself has been influenced by his culture, community, family and their moral values. Even if it were possible to do so, it would still be his own opinion and “objective” judgment, not an objective fact or truth. Therefore, moral objectivism and relativism are, in fact, not so different in that they both base their moral judgments on personal or cultural preferences and attitudes. However, the difference lies in thatobjectivists only accept one moral judgment to be the “right” one, the one that is consistent with their own beliefs.

    @Ilion @Kevin: I’m a god-hater? How do you know this? I wish God existed. It would make things much simpler. Reality would be much clearer and so much less ambiguous. I spent 75% of my life so far fervently dedicated to Him. It is just my position now that it is unlikely that any gods exist, at one point in the past I realized I was only religious because of fear. Fear is the easiest way to control people. So I decided I would only continue to be religious if it wasn’t fear holding me in place I spent years even telling myself I wasn’t an atheist, occasionally seeking God, and even ‘finding’ Him, as there were even a few times from 2011–2015 that I actually started praying again, and believing. Some atheists may only be the way they are because of anger or rebellion or some shit like that, but to assume this goes for all non-believers is… well… “retarded”. There is no Bible verse or unfortunate experience I’ve had that made me disbelieve out of anger or spite. Think of us like the Jains, we don’t hate your god, we just don’t think he’s there, that he exists. Do you think Buddhists hate Jesus or God or something? They don’t. Maybe 1% of them do for reasons that have nothing to do with their religion or ethics system or beliefs.. I don’t fault your god for anything. That would be like someone blaming Jon Snow or Superman for not saving your friend from death. Those things are quite hard to do if you don’t fucking exist. And in the past when I was a Christian, I never blamed God for anything as I used the common ‘it’s part of God’s plan’ mode of thought.

    @Kevin:”Is that the evidence for your assertion that “it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence”?
    ————Moral judgments like this aren’t solid fact. They’re moral judgments. Nobody makes a moral judgement that is objectively true.

    “You don’t seem to understand the link between a thing’s nature and its resultant behavior. Hence my use of an analogy.”
    ———–It would have no need or desire to behave anyway at all. It’s a maximally perfect being. It’s perfect. Without flaws. So nothing else would be needed or desired, just my opinion. Why, you ask? Because, maximum perfection equates to a transcendence of all. I’m pretty sure a MPB would be above needs and desires, but rather live peacefully for eternity with no need or want of urge to create or urge to share with anything at all. And whoever said not sharing would make God selfish: it wouldn’t a maximally perfect being couldn’t be selfish. Also there’s no-one for it to share anything with.

    @FZM “I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about God’s creative activity in terms of God’s desires. For example, in Genesis God is said to create things because God judges they are in some way ‘good’.” “It seems that if God’s perfection is supposed to preclude God creating anything it would be necessary to show that the only way God could create (when creation costs him nothing and is effortless anyway) was if he first had a desire or need that what he created was required to fulfil.”

    To all of you: I appreciate your abstinence from insulting behavior, everything you did say which was insulting is because I provoked you. It is increasingly uncommon to meet non-insulting, tolerant theists that won’t insult you so statistically commenting here would get some insults.
    When theists say evil exists so that God can test people, well, if God is omniscient, then God already knows what humans will do in any test, rendering the exercise (and the pain caused by evil) pointless and unnecessary. The necessity of the test itself has not been established. God is just inflicting evil, in the form of a test, for no apparent reason. For more on the MPB thing: the argument states that a perfect god would have no desire to create the universe since the very state of perfection carries with it the implication that one has everything one needs or wants. Thus, the Christian god is the “perfect” victim of this argument.” Theodore M. Drange gives ten disproofs for the existence of God, based on “playing off one another” the different attributes typically given of God (i.e., perfect, immutable, transcendent, nonphysical, omniscient, omnipresent, personal,
    free, all-loving, all-just, all-merciful, and the creator of the universe, etc.), as follows:
    1. If God exists, then he is perfect.
    2. If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.
    3. A perfect being can have no needs or wants.
    4. If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.
    5. Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 and 4).
    6. Hence, it is impossible for God to exist.

    This argument may have some flaws, but guess what, so do all theodicies. I could’ve gone with one of the many better arguments against the existence of God but I posted the MPB one here because I haven’t heard anyone be able to refute it yet and still haven’t, and I wanted to test. Still haven’t heard why God would create when a perfect being would mean lacking anything else. Lacking any other requirement, craving, fancy, or need, no? It would be perfectly content with its maximal perfection for eternity, no? Everyone acts according to either a want or need. Perfection would be free of want or need. So it’s just my opinion that this whole, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, all-good, perfect being doesn’t seem the case when you look at stories in the Bible and when you look at how people paint this God (by the way, how are we to speak for God when God has yet to speak for itself?) as having these qualities but also as having so many human qualities. Why would some almighty all-powerful all-knowing being that transcends space and time and is completely non-understandable to humans and unlike anything we’ve ever seen, have such similarities to us animals (yes, we are animals), to us ephemeral sacks of particles that think themselves eternal?

    There is a great stigma in my country (at least in some communities) towards atheists. Many people, though they may not say it aloud (some still do), have the picture of “the evil atheist” in their head and see them as selfish rotten human beings who rejected the true god Yahweh. This is patently false and if they bothered to do a cursory Google search they’d see that some of the countries with the highest quality of living and lowest crime are almost entirely non-religious (Scandinavia being one such example). Also, that idea of “atheists” is part of a false narrative fed to you by leaders who want you scared and angry so you can be manipulated.. No one is trying to get rid of any religion in America, but right wing preachers are trying to trick their flocks into thinking they need to circle the wagons and fight off attacks from marauding non-believers. What a lie. All the attacks on civil liberties are coming from aggressive Religious Rightists.

    P.S. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-critical-thinkers-lose-faith-god/

    “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”
    -Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow 🙂

    Peace be with you…

  143. TFBW says:

    I read the parts of that comment which were addressed to me, but I don’t feel that the text added anything new to to conversation, so I have no response.

  144. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW: Well, thanks for reading, I feel that I responded to your questions there. If read the rest of the text there’s related stuff tied-in. K.

  145. stcordova says:

    nicolasspradolfc asks:

    @stcordova: “That’s just an assertion. How do you absolutely know that unless you yourself are a maximally perfect being?”
    Why would a MPB desire anything or to do anything?

    No one can answer that question to the affirmative or negative unless one is God, so you have no place to say either way do you? We have comparable issues in Gödel’s incompleteness to formally undecidable questions. You just made a bare assertion without proof.

    Look at conditionally convergent infinite series that Riemann proved could add up to any number you wanted. You assume infinite perfection implies a deterministic outcome, a yes or no answer about it’s qualities. But something infinite like a conditionally convergent infinite series has a malleable property depending on how you wish to perceive it. Not that I’m saying that applies necessarily to God, but you’re awfully presumptuous to assume your finitistic reasoning is extrapolatable to question of the infinite.

    So you made an assertion without proof. I didn’t say you were right or wrong, but you can’t justify your inference, hence you haven’t used reason or evidence to back up your claim, just a bald-faced faith assertion.

  146. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @stcordova: Every time someone says God exists, they are also making an assertion without proof. They cannot justify their inference, don’t use reason or evidence to back up their claims, and is just a bald-faced assertion. I am just going off what those words mean, that’s the reason and evidence. It’s not solid proof but solid proof doesn’t exist for or against the existence of a god either. Just reason. I’m sorry if you can’t understand the actual concrete meanings of those words or their etymologies. I never assumed that of the question of the infinite either. And on that topic, why does anyone attempt to speak for God itself when God itself has yet to speak for itself?

  147. Kevin says:

    “They cannot justify their inference, don’t use reason or evidence to back up their claims, and is just a bald-faced assertion.”

    We must run in different circles, because the vast majority of apologists I’ve encountered would be surprised to learn that they cannot explain their inference, do not use reason or evidence, and simply make bald-faced assertions. They would be amused to hear it, too.

    A question for you. Given two possibilities:

    1. The thousands of Christian apologists throughout history – from scientists to theologians to historians to archaeologists to philosophers – could not justify their beliefs, did not use reason or evidence, and simply made bald-faced assertions, or

    2. The thousands of Christian apologists throughout history – from scientists to theologians to historians to archaeologists to philosophers – did offer justifications for their beliefs, did use reason and evidence, and did not simply make bald-faced assertions…however, Nicholas claims otherwise, assuming for himself a mantle of superior insight into the proper use of of justified beliefs, reason, and evidence than these thousands upon thousands of knowledgeable, educated men and women, and asserts that none of them knew how to do these things.

    Given 1 or 2, which seems more likely?

    Now granted, this is not a claim that the apologists are right and you are wrong in your conclusions. That could indeed be the case. But to say that none of them could offer justification for why they believed what they did? That none of them understood reason and evidence? That seems…well, let’s just say unlikely.

  148. TFBW says:

    Every time someone says God exists, they are also making an assertion without proof. They cannot justify their inference, don’t use reason or evidence to back up their claims, and is just a bald-faced assertion.

    Coincidentally, that’s exactly what someone would say if they had a completely closed mind about the possible existence of God.

  149. stcordova says:

    Nicolaspradolfc:”Every time someone says God exists, they are also making an assertion without proof. They cannot justify their inference, don’t use reason or evidence to back up their claims,”

    How do you know that? Maybe that happened a few times and you just weren’t there to see it for yourself. Would a miracle count as evidence? I met an astronaut who walked on the moon. He wrote a book and said when he prayed in the name of Jesus over a blind girl, she recovered her sight. Would that count as evidence for you? Maybe, maybe not, but it might count as evidence for the girl and that astronaut.

    Maybe God’s not that eager to provide the evidence that would convince you. But you not finding evidence for yourself isn’t justification for you saying there is no evidence. Your personal experience is your own, and it an is unwarranted extrapolation on your part to declare because you’ve not seen God yourself, that God doesn’t exist nor that others have not experienced God’s miraculous power. Maybe God was more generous to the blind girl than to you, but that doesn’t justify you saying “there is no evidence”. I accept you haven’t found evidence that would persuade you that God exists. I leave it to God if He wants to change your mind in this life, and even if you never see a miracle, you are still making a hasty generalization by saying “there is no evidence”. There may well be no evidence available to you, but it doesn’t mean it has never been available to others.

  150. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW Close-minded? 😦 See other comments below. I remain open to the possibility, as I will explain below, I cannot see how any of the arguments I’ve seen so far supporting the existence of a god (most of them actually being deist arguments, in no way pointing to the existence of Yahweh.) hold up for throughout history, various arguments have been proposed that supposedly prove God’s existence. Sadly for their proponents, not one of these arguments has yet been successful. Do you realize, maybe… I… wished God existed? Because I do. It would make things much simpler. Reality would be much clearer and so much less ambiguous. I have spent 75% of my life so far fervently dedicated to Him. However, I value truth over anything else, including my own happiness, and it seems to me the truth may be that God is a man-made concept. We shouldn’t let what we want to be true cloud our judgement of what really is true (I am not implying you are doing this).

    @Kevin/@stcordova/@AnyoneElse: “Now granted, this is not a claim that the apologists are right and you are wrong in your conclusions. That could indeed be the case. But to say that none of them could offer justification for why they believed what they did? That none of them understood reason and evidence? That seems…well, let’s just say unlikely.”
    ——–Yes, they did offer a form of justification and reason. It is just that I disagree fundamentally with their purported use of sound reason, I think the arguments provided aren’t however, and I will get into this below. But so have people from the secular side:
    A question for you. Given two possibilities:
    1. The thousands of atheist intellectuals throughout history – from scientists to historians to archaeologists to philosophers – could not justify their beliefs, did not use reason or evidence, and simply made bald-faced assertions, or
    2. The thousands of atheist philosophers throughout history – from scientists to theologians to historians to archaeologists to philosophers – did offer justifications for their beliefs, did use reason and evidence, and did not simply make bald-faced assertions…however, some believers theists claim otherwise (not implying you do this, I don’t know), assuming for himself themselves a mantle of superior insight into the proper use of of justified beliefs, reason, and evidence than these thousands upon thousands of knowledgeable, educated men and women, and asserts that none of them knew how to do these things.
    There is a lot of good arguments against the existence of a god, from empirical ones, to deductive ones, to subjective ones, to inductive ones. To name a few we have, in no specific order; the analogy of Russell’s teapot, the argument from parsimony, the argument concerning the destiny of the unevangelized, the argument from inconsistent revelations, the argument from free will, the counter-argument to the cosmological argument, theological noncognitivism, the anthropic argument, the atheist-existence argument for the non-existence of a perfect sentient being, the historical induction argument, anecdotal arguments against the existence of a god (these are actually not good ones but very weak), the argument from the problem of evil, the argument from nonbelief, and the argument from poor design just to name a few.
    Among the whole personally fascination sphere of debate, the theistic conclusion is that there is sufficient reason to believe that God or gods exists, or that arguments do not matter as much as the “personal witness of the Holy Spirit”, as argued by apologist William Lane Craig. Positive atheism is a form of atheism that asserts that no deities exist. The strong atheist explicitly asserts the non-existence of gods. Some strong atheists further assert that the existence of gods is logically impossible, stating that the combination of attributes which God may be asserted to have (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, omnibenevolence) are logically contradictory, incomprehensible, or absurd, and therefore the existence of such a god is a priori false. The general atheistic conclusion, however, and my own, is that the arguments and evidence both indicate there is insufficient reason to believe that any gods exist, and that personal subjective religious experiences say something about the human experience rather than the nature of reality itself; therefore, one has no reason to believe that a god exists. Strong atheism is coherent too after reading the arguments I’ve listed and a few more. I think along these same lines. It is indeed my opinion that the combination of attributes which God may be asserted to have (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, omnibenevolence) are logically contradictory, incomprehensible, or absurd, and therefore the existence of such a god is a priori false.

    @stcordova/@AnyoneElse
    @stcordova says: “How do you know that? Maybe that happened a few times and you just weren’t there to see it for yourself. Would a miracle count as evidence? I met an astronaut who walked on the moon. He wrote a book and said when he prayed in the name of Jesus over a blind girl, she recovered her sight. Would that count as evidence for you? Maybe, maybe not, but it might count as evidence for the girl and that astronaut.”
    —————Yes, this is regarded as anecdotal evidence. However, we have to delve into the question: what is credible evidence? This gets to the heart of the disagreement. Ultimately, any debate between believers and non-believers, and among believers in different gods, comes down to epistemology: how do we know what we know? If you get too far into that swamp, you end up trying to disprove solipsism, or trying to prove that reality isn’t a Matrix-like simulation. But over the last few thousand years, philosophers, logicians, rationalists, skeptics, empiricists, scientists, judicial theorists, and so on, have devised some pretty good pragmatic guidelines for evidence, good in the sense that following them over the long run leads to increased fairness, safety, health, wealth, technological capabilities, and human understanding.Most of these standards are uncontroversial, like:
    -Physical evidence has higher credibility than mere assertions.
    -Hearsay and subjective impressions have little or no credibility.
    -Eyewitness accounts should be treated with skepticism, particularly if the witness is not available to testify and answer questions.
    -Neutral testimony beats testimony from people who have preconceptions or a stake in the outcome.
    -Corroboration from multiple independent sources increases confidence.
    -Chain of custody is important to prevent fraud.
    -Repeatability is more convincing than a one-time irreproducible event.
    -Correlation is not causality.
    -However, if you can demonstrate that every single time someone does A, it is followed by event B, and you can demonstrate this at will, on command, under a variety of conditions, you can make a pretty good case that doing A causes B; if you can’t, causality is much harder to establish.
    And so on. These are heuristics that have stood the test of time. Even most theists accept reasonable standards of evidence outside of discussions of religion. There can be debates over whether particular kinds of evidence are credible or not, and how much weight should be given to them. Science and logic do allow us to rule many kinds of evidence out with some confidence, but no one has a magic standard or set of evidentiary rules that can be proven to be the right solution, one that can always determine good evidence from bad.

    @stcordova/@AnyoneElse
    @stcordova: You said: “Maybe God’s not that eager to provide the evidence that would convince you. But you not finding evidence for yourself isn’t justification for you saying there is no evidence. Your personal experience is your own, and it an is unwarranted extrapolation on your part to declare because you’ve not seen God yourself, that God doesn’t exist nor that others have not experienced God’s miraculous power. Maybe God was more generous to the blind girl than to you, but that doesn’t justify you saying “there is no evidence”. I accept you haven’t found evidence that would persuade you that God exists. I leave it to God if He wants to change your mind in this life, and even if you never see a miracle, you are still making a hasty generalization by saying “there is no evidence”. There may well be no evidence available to you, but it doesn’t mean it has never been available to others.”
    ————-Thank you, and yes, I have not seen any convincing evidence, and I don’t believe there is any real, concrete, empirical evidence for a god either. You, however, may believe otherwise and this is fine. Every time I have seen a creationist or theist try and demonstrate that there is evidence for God, it’s usually the fine-tuning argument which I find is reliant upon scientific illiteracy or fallacies. We make the mistake of assuming that the Universe is under any obligation to make sense to us. Also, the mistake of thinking that if there is some kind of higher creative power that that same power is a personal god or that it is under any obligation to make sense to us. When you look at things like quantum superposition it defies conventional logic, and shows us how nature and the Universe are under no obligation to make sense to us. What can be asserted without evidence (a theist claiming that God definitely does exist), can be dismissed without evidence. Expounding on what I said to you earlier, far too many people approach the burden of proof as a question of absolute logic or a search for abstract “truth,” and push the question so far into the realm of theory and philosophy that it becomes meaningless. It’s really not that complicated. It’s worth thinking about why the concept of a “burden of proof” exists at all. And the reason is that individuals and societies cannot afford to put up with incessant demands to disprove an endless progression of unsupported assertions. If everyone who makes an empty claim can insist that it be treated seriously unless and until someone disproves it, you set the stage for what amounts to a grand denial of services attack on society itself.

    In sheer self-defense, any rational person, any institution, and any society has to draw the line somewhere and say no, we will not consider your claim unless you provide credible evidence that it is true. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “proof,” in the absolute sense, but it has to be pretty decent evidence. If you bring a case into court without credible supporting evidence, the judge will dismiss your case without trial, because the universe of possible unsupported claims is infinite, and any judge and court has finite – and in fact very limited – time and resources, which need to reserved for evaluating serious claims. This is the point of the Easter Bunny analogy. If anyone can assert that Momgassa the Magnificient is the true lord of creation, and demand that we believe it if we cannot positively prove that the claim is false, we would end up being forced to believe an endless series of claims, or wasting endless time trying to refute them. And that’s just silly. This is no longer a question of “truth,” it becomes a purely practical question of time management and self-defense for any individual. Which is why, incidentally, most people think that it is rude to evangelize. The same is true of a rational society. Allowing people to demand that society waste time and effort trying to disprove an endless number of unsupported, unprovable, and undisprovable claims is impossible as a simple matter of survival. If you demand that society hear your theories, but you don’t present any credible evidence, your demands should be rejected and your claims should be dismissed. That’s what we mean by the “burden of proof.” Furthermore, if you keep coming back with the same bogus claims, irrational arguments, and flimsy evidence, it is rational for any person, group, or society to say what a judge would say: Your claim is dismissed with prejudice. You’ve had your shot. You cannot keep coming back and demanding new hearings unless you have new evidence, and that evidence had better be of a pretty high caliber. So as I asked earlier: What is credible evidence? I’m going to repeat the block from earlier—————-This gets to the heart of the disagreement. Ultimately, any debate between believers and non-believers, and among believers in different gods, comes down to epistemology: how do we know what we know? If you get too far into that swamp, you end up trying to disprove solipsism, or trying to prove that reality isn’t a Matrix-like simulation. But over the last few thousand years, philosophers, logicians, rationalists, skeptics, empiricists, scientists, judicial theorists, and so on, have devised some pretty good pragmatic guidelines for evidence, good in the sense that following them over the long run leads to increased fairness, safety, health, wealth, technological capabilities, and human understanding. Most of these standards are uncontroversial, like: physical evidence has higher credibility than mere assertions, hearsay and subjective impressions have little or no credibility, eyewitness accounts should be treated with skepticism, particularly if the witness is not available to testify and answer questions, neutral testimony beats testimony from people who have preconceptions or a stake in the outcome, corroboration from multiple independent sources increases confidence, chain of custody is important to prevent fraud, repeatability is more convincing than a one-time irreproducible event, correlation is not causality.———————————————-

    However, when it comes to competing claims, simple logic requires that the same rules of evidence be applied equally to all claims. For example, if one party insists that ancient folk tales are admissible as evidence, with at least some weight, then ALL such folk tales must be accepted and given the same weight. If that results in “proving” two or more contradictory claims, we can say with confidence that that standard of evidence was too low. As a minimum point of practicality, societies need to ignore frivolous claims, and diverse societies have to hold all competing claims to the same standard of evidence. So it comes down to one simple rule: Claims made without credible evidence can and should be dismissed. There is no obligation to disprove an unsupported claim. Such claims may not be false. They may become credible at some point in the future if evidence becomes available. But no one has any obligation to disprove them or, indeed, to pay any attention to them until credible evidence is presented. Purely as a practical matter, sensible societies cannot have any other rule.In Rationality, the burden of proof does not depend on which philosophical position one side holds or who asserts the existence or nonexistence of something. It is, univocally and always, on the side of the person first making an assertion. Now, normally it is theists that make the assertion that God exists (atheists usually only respond to said assertion). Therefore, the burden of proof normally falls on theists. Atheists, by definition, are not making a claim. They simply lack a belief. They are without theism. Theists are generally making the claim in this case (not only that a/ny god exists, but usually also their god). Some theists are agnostic, fully admitting that their belief is a matter of faith alone, and they do not claim to know the will or character of god. Deist is one word that comes to mind to describe such a position. If the atheist says all gods are impossible, then s/he has the burden of proof for that claim/position. I never made such a claim. Theists, clearly. They are the ones making the positive claim. The burden of proof lies on those making the claim that X exists- particularly if claim X is extraordinary in nature. The burden does not lie on the skeptic of claim X to disprove the unproven assertion that X is real. Picture Sagan’s dragon: Imagine your neighbor has told you that he has an invisible dragon in his garage. You, rightfully, would be skeptical of this claim and ask for evidence. Can the neighbor simply say to you “Prove I DON’T or else admit my dragon is real!”? Not unless he wants to be seen as unreasonable and frankly a little crazy. So you go to his garage and feel around. No dragon. Perhaps you can throw a substance like flour in the air to coat the dragon? Your neighbor says that won’t work- “Because it’s intangible!” your neighbor protests. “Then let’s see if breathe fire, so it proves the dragon is there,” you reply. “It’s SPIRITUAL fire, so of course you won’t see it.” At this point do you honestly need to keep going on, trying to disprove a claim that has no evidentiary support? No- your neighbor has, and always had, the burden of proof.

  151. TFBW says:

    Close-minded? See other comments below. I remain open to the possibility, as I will explain below …

    I didn’t see anywhere in that Great Wall of Text where you admitted a possible avenue of evidence which would persuade you.

  152. Vy says:

    Great Wall of Text indeed.@nic, can’t you format your text blobs any better?

    And as for “speaking for God”, what are you doing when you claim an “MPB” wouldn’t want anything?

  153. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW/@Vy: Lol, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.
    Did you actually read it? I said “and I don’t believe there is any real, concrete, empirical evidence for a god either. You, however, may believe otherwise and this is fine.”, implying that if I am indeed open to the contrary and if I come across persuasive, empirical evidence for the Abrahamic god, then I would go back to being devoted to that god, either in Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Probably Christianity as I know it best. The same goes for Krishna.
    Here’s a TL;DR: don’t read it if it’s too many words.
    As for ‘speaking for God’ I am considering the words and their etymologies. I said in my seemingly horrifying long text that it’s my opinion that the combination of attributes which God may be asserted to have (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, omnibenevolence) are logically contradictory, incomprehensible, or absurd, and therefore the existence of such a god is a priori false. No response to anything else I said?

  154. Vy says:

    Lol, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

    Thus the reason I didn’t do anything beyond skim it, and focusing on words that caught my attention.

    I said “and I don’t believe there is any real, concrete, empirical evidence for a god either. You, however, may believe otherwise and this is fine.”

    “I do believe there is a [lot of] real, concrete, empirical evidence for [G]od. You, however, may believe otherwise and this is fine”

    Yeah, we can do that all day. Do you have anything to substantiate your belief that there’s no “real, concrete, empirical evidence for a god”? What would count as evidence for God?

    implying that if I am indeed open to the contrary and if I come across persuasive, empirical evidence for the Abrahamic god, then I would go back to being devoted to that god, either in Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Probably Christianity as I know it best. The same goes for Krishna.

    It implies no such thing. That is a classic non-sequitur.

    As for ‘speaking for God’ I am considering the words and their etymologies. I said in my seemingly horrifying long text that it’s my opinion that the combination of attributes which God may be asserted to have (omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, transcendence, omnibenevolence) are logically contradictory, incomprehensible, or absurd, and therefore the existence of such a god is a priori false.

    Do you have anything to elevate that opinion from, well, mere opinion to something useful?

    No response to anything else I said?

    Which of your assertions have you substantiated and deem in need of a response?

  155. Vy says:

    Here’s a TL;DR: don’t read it if it’s too many words.

    Riiiight. Surely even you are capable of understanding that “too many words” is not the only, or even major, problem with your post.

  156. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Vy: “Thus the reason I didn’t do anything beyond skim it, and focusing on words that caught my attention.”
    —————Lmfao. That one really made me crack up. Thanks for that.

    “Do you have anything to substantiate your belief that there’s no “real, concrete, empirical evidence for a god”? What would count as evidence for God?”
    —————-I already went over this.

    ————–Should clarify I meant ” implying that I am indeed open to the contrary”
    Because I am. That’s why I said I’d be willing to look at something could anyone provide it. No one here has so far, that’s for sure.

    “What would count as evidence for God?”
    —————I already went over this in my detailed response. I went into what credible evidence could possibly be there. But, by all means, avoid all of what I wrote, I won’t lose any sleep over it 🙂

    “”Thus the reason I didn’t do anything beyond skim it, and focusing on words that caught my attention.””
    —————Just needed to chuckle at this again.

    “Which of your assertions have you substantiated and deem in need of a response?”
    —————-XD……… Well, for one, I explained how the burden of proof falls on the theist. Then substantiated that viewpoint and explained it. I don’t deem it to be in need of response because it holds up on its own according to how that epistemological concept is defined by a plethora of different but respond if you so wish.

    “Riiiight. Surely even you are capable of understanding that “too many words” is not the only, or even major, problem with your post.”
    —————-The only problem with it is that it could use a few extra spacings here and there.

  157. TFBW says:

    Did you actually read it?

    Yes. I skimmed a bit, because life is short, and you are unnecessarily verbose, but my point stands. Nowhere in the text do you admit to a possible avenue of evidence which would persuade you. You claim that you would change your mind if you encountered persuasive evidence, but you never admit to a possible set of circumstances which would actually count as persuasive evidence.

    Furthermore, you express admiration for all of the anti-theistic arguments which you can list, disdain for all the theistic arguments you can list, and emphasise that the onus is on the theist to make his case. This is indistinguishable from the position that an obstinate sceptic would take — one who insists that it’s everyone else’s problem to make him change his mind, and whose reaction to an argument can be predicted entirely by the conclusion the argument reaches.

    I think it’s safe to conclude that you have a closed mind, even if you like to pretend to yourself that you don’t. If someone like Antony Flew can make the journey from atheism to deism based on evidence and rational argument, and yet you dismiss everything about everything, then the facts are most parsimoniously explained by the theory that you are rationalising (badly) from the position of a closed mind.

  158. nicholaspradolfc says:

    Second to lost block corrected:

    XD……… Well, for one, I explained how the burden of proof falls on the theist. Then substantiated that viewpoint and explained it. I don’t deem it to be in need of response because it holds up on its own according to how that epistemological concept is defined by a plethora of different sources (look it up in any legal or philosophical encyclopedia, see: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00048400500191974, _Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments. Cengage Learning_, https://www.pdcnet.org//pdc/bvdb.nsf/purchase?openform&fp=jphil&id=jphil_1994_0091_0001_0027_0049&onlyautologin=true, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00048400500191974) but respond if you so wish.

  159. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW: What are the possible avenues of evidence that persuaded you?

    “Furthermore, you express admiration for all of the anti-theistic arguments which you can list, disdain for all the theistic arguments you can list, and emphasise that the onus is on the theist to make his case. This is indistinguishable from the position that an obstinate sceptic would take — one who insists that it’s everyone else’s problem to make him change his mind, and whose reaction to an argument can be predicted entirely by the conclusion the argument reaches.”
    ——————There are logical arguments for God, but for every logical argument, there’s counter-arguments on both sides; and they end up being subjective. Why? Because every argument is based on premises, and the premises are the things that are subjective. For example, the problem of evil (theodicy) counter-argument to the existence of God seems to be predicated on very subjective concept (evil). So the strongest argument for the existence of God would be if God communicated in some way with humanity that was verifiable. This wouldn’t be a logical argument about the necessity of God existing, but it would simply be that God must exist since we heard from Him in some way. The verifiability could take a number of forms: that the text was well preserved, that it is consistent with the observable universe (including both science and history after the book was revealed if you believe omniscience is a key characteristic of God). Muslims believe that there is communication from God to humanity that is both verifiable and well-preserved: the Qur’an. The discussion of that is the subject of a different question, but its very opening sentence states that at least it sees itself as a verification of the existence of God (Surat Al-Baqarah 2-3): “This is the book there is no doubt in it, guidance for those who are aware; those who believe in the Unseen.” If the Qur’an is what it claims to be (which is something that must also be examined and considered — I’m not shying away from that), then that would be incontrovertible evidence of the existence of God. It would shortcut the logical arguments and the whole question of the subjective premises, and it would be by far the strongest argument. As a matter of fact though, there can not be a strong argument for or against a claim without proof.
    It is simple he said/she said. Negation. Zero sum. So there can be no strong arguments for the claim “Yahweh exists” or the claim “Yahweh does not exist”. There are only secondary arguments that avoid addressing the claim itself in favor of circumstantial factors and implied correlation. An example would be the oft quoted, “no matter what you think about religion, studies show believers are less likely to become depressed than nonbelievers.” Such a statement indicates that belief itself exists but says nothing about what is believed or the worthiness of the target of belief. Meanwhile, we never doubted that one could believe, only if one should believe an unlikely, unsupported claim.

    “and you are unnecessarily”
    “admit to a possible avenue of evidence which would persuade you”
    “disdain for all the theistic arguments you can list” (all? I literally mentioned only one.)
    “you have a closed mind”
    “even if you like to pretend to yourself that you don’t”
    “dismiss everything about everything”
    “most parsimoniously explained by the theory that you”
    “position of a closed mind”
    ———–This is nothing but evidence of a blatant bias from a close-minded, myopic pseudointellectual.
    b u t w h a t e v e r h e l p s y o u s l e e p a t n i g h t i g u e s s

    “I think it’s safe to conclude that you have a closed mind, even if you like to pretend to yourself that you don’t.”
    Says the one who’s too much of a close-minded coward to actually read my responses? Yeah, no, you silly old pseudoskeptic, you. You’re obviously in fervent denial of the possibility of there being no deities. Take care.

  160. TFBW says:

    Can’t argue with that.

  161. stcordova says:

    @NicolasPradolfc:

    “You, however, may believe otherwise and this is fine.”

    I appreciate that, but then why are you visiting here if my belief (and that of others here) is fine.

    “Every time I have seen a creationist or theist try and demonstrate that there is evidence for God, it’s usually the fine-tuning argument which I find is reliant upon scientific illiteracy or fallacies.”

    I can only articulate what persuaded me, it may not work for you, but it works for me. I’m a creationist, I used to be an evolutionist, but then I began to consider the credibility of origin of life claims. I studied quantum mechanics from a well known professor, James Trefil, who is a cosmologist and an occasional origin of life researcher. Though I respect him greatly, I don’t believe his idea that life emerges naturally is correct. The emergence of life looks like a miracle to me. If there is a miracle, then there is a miracle maker.

    My friend Caroline Crocker was a professor of biology. She had accepted evolution as true until after she began re-examining the evidence. She changed her mind. She was dismissed and blacklisted after she came out of the closet with her rejection of evolutionary theory. 3 PhD’s in biology were awarded at her school before she was dismissed — Gordon Wilson, Timothy Standish, Tim Brophy. They are creationists.

    Dean Kenyon was a world class OOL researcher, but then became a creationist. My coworker knew Richard Lumsden, a distinguished parasitologist who eventually became a creationist. I was invited to be the PhD student of John Gideon Hartnett, a physicist who is a Young Earth Creationist. Finally I’m good friends with John Sanford at Cornelll who invented the Gene Gun which was honored at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History for it’s influence on the world of genetic engineering. At one time, a significant fraction of the genetically engineered organisms were created using Sanford’s gene gun

    I simply don’t find naturalistic origin of life theories nor evolutionary theory at all believable. Seems to me life is a miracle, if so, there must be a Miracle Maker. The creationists you met may have indeed be ignorant, but that doesn’t mean all of them are.

  162. Vy says:

    Well, for one, I explained how the burden of proof falls on the theist.

    If I had a dollar for every time an Atheist made that vacuous claim, that #MAGA wall would’ve been well on its way.

    The only problem with it is that it could use a few extra spacings here and there.

    That’s not the only problem but it sure is a major one. Doing that might make your posts look less like an aggregation of ramblings of every other Atheist on Reddit (or is that Y!Answers?).

    But here’s something you can believe, and not project too often: “[Your ~1000+ word text blobs are] nothing but evidence of a blatant bias from a close-minded, myopic pseudointellectual [, and highly motivated Atheist who thinks regurgitated comments like “but the Qu’ran!” equates to a useful argument”.

  163. FZM says:

    Still haven’t heard why God would create when a perfect being would mean lacking anything else. Lacking any other requirement, craving, fancy, or need, no? It would be perfectly content with its maximal perfection for eternity, no? Everyone acts according to either a want or need. Perfection would be free of want or need.

    I think some people on the thread have already pointed out that it is possible to argue that a being that lacked anything in such a way that it was incapable of creating anything or acting wouldn’t be worth calling ‘maximally perfect’. One aspect of this argument is the definition of the nature and attributes of a maximally perfect being and I don’t think it is obvious what the correct definition of these things is.

    Then there are other ways of describing God’s perfection, God could be described as being infinite in being and the perfections ascribable to being for example. Then, taking the example you gave, maybe we can know from our experience that every human actor acts as a result of a want or need. By the same token we would be able to know that for every human actor acting costs effort or energy and acting causes change in the actor. But God, if he was infinite in being, would act without the acting costing him effort or energy and without acting causing any change in him (whatever he did). ‘Acting’ would just be one particular variant/manifestation of part of his infinite being, whether he would require an aim/need/desire to fulfil in order to act and manifest part of his nature in the same way as a human agent might, I think it’s questionable.

    This is indistinguishable from the position that an obstinate sceptic would take — one who insists that it’s everyone else’s problem to make him change his mind, and whose reaction to an argument can be predicted entirely by the conclusion the argument reaches.

    However TFBW may be right here…

  164. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @stcordova
    “I appreciate that, but then why are you visiting here if my belief (and that of others here) is fine.”
    ——————-Initially, I was going to write a rebuttal of sorts to the article. I will always fight for your right to believe whatever you want, and I’m tolerant of your beliefs, I was just surveying responses to a certain few arguments so as to expand my knowledge pertaining to the arguments and the counterarguments that might exist for said arguments.

    The rest of what you said is interesting by all means, I think it’s great that you’ve actually gone deep into these questions, and I myself am studying quantum mechanics and cosmology.

  165. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Vy:
    “If I had a dollar for every time an Atheist made that vacuous claim, that #MAGA wall would’ve been well on its way.”
    —————Well, no, not really. But please, tell me how the burden of proof doesn’t fall on the people first making the claim that a god exists. Are you sure you know how the burden of proof actually works, and that it most definitely, without a doubt, 100%, for sure, totally DOES NOT fall on the theist? Or perhaps you didn’t read what I wrote about why it falls on the theist.
    Quoted “What can be asserted without evidence (a theist claiming that God definitely does exist), can be dismissed without evidence. Expounding on what I said to you earlier, far too many people approach the burden of proof as a question of absolute logic or a search for abstract “truth,” and push the question so far into the realm of theory and philosophy that it becomes meaningless. It’s really not that complicated. It’s worth thinking about why the concept of a “burden of proof” exists at all. And the reason is that individuals and societies cannot afford to put up with incessant demands to disprove an endless progression of unsupported assertions. If everyone who makes an empty claim can insist that it be treated seriously unless and until someone disproves it, you set the stage for what amounts to a grand denial of services attack on society itself. In sheer self-defense, any rational person, any institution, and any society has to draw the line somewhere and say no, we will not consider your claim unless you provide credible evidence that it is true. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “proof,” in the absolute sense, but it has to be pretty decent evidence. If you bring a case into court without credible supporting evidence, the judge will dismiss your case without trial, because the universe of possible unsupported claims is infinite, and any judge and court has finite – and in fact very limited – time and resources, which need to reserved for evaluating serious claims. This is the point of the Easter Bunny analogy. If anyone can assert that Momgassa the Magnificient is the true lord of creation, and demand that we believe it if we cannot positively prove that the claim is false, we would end up being forced to believe an endless series of claims, or wasting endless time trying to refute them. And that’s just silly. This is no longer a question of “truth,” it becomes a purely practical question of time management and self-defense for any individual. Which is why, incidentally, most people think that it is rude to evangelize. The same is true of a rational society. Allowing people to demand that society waste time and effort trying to disprove an endless number of unsupported, unprovable, and undisprovable claims is impossible as a simple matter of survival. If you demand that society hear your theories, but you don’t present any credible evidence, your demands should be rejected and your claims should be dismissed. That’s what we mean by the “burden of proof.” Furthermore, if you keep coming back with the same bogus claims, irrational arguments, and flimsy evidence, it is rational for any person, group, or society to say what a judge would say: Your claim is dismissed with prejudice. You’ve had your shot. You cannot keep coming back and demanding new hearings unless you have new evidence, and that evidence had better be of a pretty high caliber. So as I asked earlier: What is credible evidence? I’m going to repeat the block from earlier—————-This gets to the heart of the disagreement. Ultimately, any debate between believers and non-believers, and among believers in different gods, comes down to epistemology: how do we know what we know? If you get too far into that swamp, you end up trying to disprove solipsism, or trying to prove that reality isn’t a Matrix-like simulation. But over the last few thousand years, philosophers, logicians, rationalists, skeptics, empiricists, scientists, judicial theorists, and so on, have devised some pretty good pragmatic guidelines for evidence, good in the sense that following them over the long run leads to increased fairness, safety, health, wealth, technological capabilities, and human understanding. Most of these standards are uncontroversial, like: physical evidence has higher credibility than mere assertions, hearsay and subjective impressions have little or no credibility, eyewitness accounts should be treated with skepticism, particularly if the witness is not available to testify and answer questions, neutral testimony beats testimony from people who have preconceptions or a stake in the outcome, corroboration from multiple independent sources increases confidence, chain of custody is important to prevent fraud, repeatability is more convincing than a one-time irreproducible event, correlation is not causality.———————————————- However, when it comes to competing claims, simple logic requires that the same rules of evidence be applied equally to all claims. For example, if one party insists that ancient folk tales are admissible as evidence, with at least some weight, then ALL such folk tales must be accepted and given the same weight. If that results in “proving” two or more contradictory claims, we can say with confidence that that standard of evidence was too low. As a minimum point of practicality, societies need to ignore frivolous claims, and diverse societies have to hold all competing claims to the same standard of evidence. So it comes down to one simple rule: Claims made without credible evidence can and should be dismissed. There is no obligation to disprove an unsupported claim. Such claims may not be false. They may become credible at some point in the future if evidence becomes available. But no one has any obligation to disprove them or, indeed, to pay any attention to them until credible evidence is presented. Purely as a practical matter, sensible societies cannot have any other rule.In Rationality, the burden of proof does not depend on which philosophical position one side holds or who asserts the existence or nonexistence of something. It is, univocally and always, on the side of the person first making an assertion. Now, normally it is theists that make the assertion that God exists (atheists usually only respond to said assertion). Therefore, the burden of proof normally falls on theists. Atheists, by definition, are not making a claim. They simply lack a belief. They are without theism. Theists are generally making the claim in this case (not only that a/ny god exists, but usually also their god). Some theists are agnostic, fully admitting that their belief is a matter of faith alone, and they do not claim to know the will or character of god. Deist is one word that comes to mind to describe such a position. If the atheist says all gods are impossible, then s/he has the burden of proof for that claim/position. I never made such a claim. Theists, clearly. They are the ones making the positive claim. The burden of proof lies on those making the claim that X exists- particularly if claim X is extraordinary in nature. The burden does not lie on the skeptic of claim X to disprove the unproven assertion that X is real. Picture Sagan’s dragon: Imagine your neighbor has told you that he has an invisible dragon in his garage. You, rightfully, would be skeptical of this claim and ask for evidence. Can the neighbor simply say to you “Prove I DON’T or else admit my dragon is real!”? Not unless he wants to be seen as unreasonable and frankly a little crazy. So you go to his garage and feel around. No dragon. Perhaps you can throw a substance like flour in the air to coat the dragon? Your neighbor says that won’t work- “Because it’s intangible!” your neighbor protests. “Then let’s see if breathe fire, so it proves the dragon is there,” you reply. “It’s SPIRITUAL fire, so of course you won’t see it.” At this point do you honestly need to keep going on, trying to disprove a claim that has no evidentiary support? No- your neighbor has, and always had, the burden of proof.”

    “That’s not the only problem but it sure is a major one. Doing that might make your posts look less like an aggregation of ramblings of every other Atheist on Reddit (or is that Y!Answers?).”
    —————-The only other ‘problems’ you’re perceiving are likely the result of your bias. Oh, and, I’ve evolved past r/atheism. and Reddit. 😉

    “But here’s something you can believe, and not project too often: “[Your ~1000+ word text blobs are] nothing but evidence of a blatant bias from a close-minded, myopic pseudointellectual [, and highly motivated Atheist who thinks regurgitated comments like “but the Qu’ran!” equates to a useful argument”.”
    ——————Motivated? Lol. I wish. I don’t care too much at all about refuting your irrationality, but it is ridiculously easy to do. The only time I mentioned the Qu’ran was when I told you what qualities it prescribes to God. But, also that the God of Abraham is the one in the Bible, the Qu’ran, Torah… but you probably already knew that. 😉

  166. Kevin says:

    “But, also that the God of Abraham is the one in the Bible, the Qu’ran, Torah…”

    Of course the Bible says Jesus is the god of the Old Testament and that no one as ever seen or heard the voice of the Father, whereas the Qu’ran rejects the divinity of Christ. Compatibility issues there.

    I think a bigger problem than accepting the burden of proof is the impossible standards of evidence Christians have to meet to satisfy New Atheists, whose standards do indeed equate to absolute proof.

  167. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “I think some people on the thread have already pointed out that it is possible to argue that a being that lacked anything in such a way that it was incapable of creating anything or acting wouldn’t be worth calling ‘maximally perfect’. One aspect of this argument is the definition of the nature and attributes of a maximally perfect being and I don’t think it is obvious what the correct definition of these things is.”
    ———–Agree with what you’ve said there, about the definitions. Language is a fundamentally flawed and limited vehicle for meaning. 😉

    Then there are other ways of describing God’s perfection, God could be described as being infinite in being and the perfections ascribable to being for example. Then, taking the example you gave, maybe we can know from our experience that every human actor acts as a result of a want or need. By the same token we would be able to know that for every human actor acting costs effort or energy and acting causes change in the actor. But God, if he was infinite in being, would act without the acting costing him effort or energy and without acting causing any change in him (whatever he did). ‘Acting’ would just be one particular variant/manifestation of part of his infinite being, whether he would require an aim/need/desire to fulfil in order to act and manifest part of his nature in the same way as a human agent might, I think it’s questionable.

    “This is indistinguishable from the position that an obstinate sceptic would take — one who insists that it’s everyone else’s problem to make him change his mind, and whose reaction to an argument can be predicted entirely by the conclusion the argument reaches. However TFBW may be right here…”
    ————Well, I don’t feel theists have any obligation to change my mind. You say I’m an obstinate skeptic, I’m skeptical of that. So far no one has provided any rational argument or counterargument besides “life seems like a miracle to me” and something along the lines “you’re a dumbass *atheist” (fair play mate), and your occasional “you’re close-minded” along with something that boils down to “hey, this guy is smart, look how much of an education he has, he converted from atheism to at least deism, so I’m right”, and not only has anyone not done this, but no one has offered any source or foundation for the claims that have been made on this thread (except some guy called Jeff Lowder, who happens to be an atheist, which will probably provoke you to fumble out that I’m biased towards Jeff), there are only attempts at logic that isn’t truly sound. It’s not completely necessary for you to support an argument you’ve constructed with sources, but you do need to make sure the premises and conclusion of the argument are coherent, orderly, logical and consistent.
    But anyways, the question arises: if two groups are so deeply divided that even the most earnest efforts at rational debate end with each side feeling that the other is just being pigheaded, what should we conclude?
    Well, four conclusions seem possible:
    1) Atheists are being pigheaded.
    2) Religious people are being pigheaded.
    3) Both atheists and religious people are being pigheaded.
    4) Neither is being pigheaded. The issue is one that cannot be resolved by rational argument.
    Increasingly, I lean towards (4). The reason is that arguments between theists and atheists are generally either in the form of inferences to the best explanation or they take a Bayesian structure. With inferences to the best explanation, theists and atheists have such fundamentally different intuitions about what constitutes a good or an acceptable explanation that these go nowhere. In a Bayesian context, the arguments are just too weak to overcome radically divergent priors as well as very divergent estimates of likelihoods. Put simply, there just is no sufficient common ground for arguments to ever really go anywhere. Sure, we each accept basic logic, mathematics, and maybe the laws of physics, but–when push comes to shove–damn little else. What we share is just too exiguous to make up for our vast differences. The upshot is that attempts at rational discussion almost always end in questions being begged. However, there’s really no theistic argument that one should find persuasive, unless you’re wanting to delude yourself. I’ve read philosopher Graham Oppy’s Arguing about Gods, and he seems to be in agreement with that sentiment. But I had to find out. I have concluded that theistic philosophy is little more than a way to rationalize theistic belief. It is window dressing for superstition, that gives it an air of intellectual respectability. It often employs very clever parlor tricks to conceal the logical flaws – something that James A. Lindsay has called “hiding the turd”. What I was disappointed to learn is just how impervious to reason religious believers can be. Try to tell Victor Reppert that the Argument from Reason is based on an unjustified assertion that rational thought can’t emerge from purely material sources. (He’ll give you rationalization, but he won’t give you justification.) Try to tell Bob Prokop that the stories about the resurrection of Jesus could possibly have some natural explanation. (He’ll cite more biblical stories as his proof.) Try to tell Ben Yakov that Thomistic reasoning rests on medieval metaphysical foundations that modern thinking people have no reason to accept as axiomatic. You will be met by stubborn obstinacy in the face of logic and reason. In each of these cases, the common thread is religious belief that trumps reason. And there’s absolutely nothing that can beat that. Ignorance is bliss.

  168. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “Of course the Bible says Jesus is the god of the Old Testament and that no one as ever seen or heard the voice of the Father”
    ———-The Bible doesn’t say no one has heard the voice of God. See Exodus 2:11-4:31. Also, http://thetorah.com/does-god-speak/.

    “, whereas the Qu’ran rejects the divinity of Christ. Compatibility issues there.”
    ———Correct, I didn’t say the three religions were completely alike, the Qu’ran only sees Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet, but not the last and most important, that would be the guy that marries and has sex with a 9-year-old, I think they call him Mohammed.

    “I think a bigger problem than accepting the burden of proof is the impossible standards of evidence Christians have to meet to satisfy New Atheists, whose standards do indeed equate to absolute proof.”
    ———It’s not that they want you to give them something ‘satisfying’, it is that they’re asking for empirical evidence because otherwise there can be only be faith that a god exists and it cannot be proven either way, in which case it’s a waste of time to even discuss whether or not a god exists. There is no empirical evidence showing that any gods exists. Many of Yahweh’s supposed attributes should create evidence. For example, the Bible says that its God answers prayers. But we know that the belief in prayer is a superstition. The lack of evidence seen in the prayer realm acts as evidence that gods are imaginary. So absence of evidence can be evidence of absence, because it shows that God is not doing things he has promised to do. If you think about it as a rational person, this lack of evidence is startling. There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s “God”, nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists. In addition we know that: If we had scientific proof of God’s existence, we would talk about the “science of God” rather than “faith in God”. If we had scientific proof of a god’s existence, the study of God would be a scientific endeavor rather than a theological one. If we had scientific proof of God’s existence, all religious people would be aligning on the God that had been scientifically proven to exist. Instead there are thousands of gods and religions. The reason for this lack of evidence is easy for any unbiased observer to see. The reason why there is no empirical evidence for gods is because gods are imaginary. You’ll probably label me as ‘misguided’ or perhaps a ‘fool’ now. But no amount of ad-hominems will validate anyone’s position.

  169. Dhay says:

    Large portions of this response by nicholaspradolfc seem to have been copy-pasted from a The Skeptic Zone post:

    “The Obstinacy of Religious Thinking”
    Sunday, April 26, 2015
    Posted by im-skeptical at 12:22 PM

    http://theskepticzone.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-obstinacy-of-religious-thinking-i.html

  170. Dhay says:

    My last reply referred to the nicholaspradolfc response two above; there was a cross-posting; but as regards the one just one above my last reply, just Google “There is not one bit of empirical evidence indicating that today’s “God”, nor any other contemporary god, nor any god of the past, exists” and see how many hits it gets.

  171. Dhay says:

    Going back a response further, “As a minimum point of practicality, societies need to ignore frivolous claims, and diverse societies have to hold all competing claims to the same standard of evidence” gets two hits.

    I expect there’s a lot more, but I can’t be arsed: this guy’s an unoriginal copyist trying to bluff intelligence.

  172. nicholaspradolfc says:

    Yep, make sure you use quotations to look it up. The difference between me and the people that wrote the Bible, I’m willing to admit to my plagiarism 😉 By the way me doing some copypasta doesn’t invalidate any of the content within the words. Good luck with that part.

  173. Vy says:

    Well, no, not really.

    O’ Great Clairvoyant, or is that you assuming your text blobs are unique?

    But please, tell me how the burden of proof doesn’t fall on the people first making the claim that a god exists. Are you sure you know how the burden of proof actually works, and that it most definitely, without a doubt, 100%, for sure, totally DOES NOT fall on the theist?

    You’re familiar with the fact that “you can’t prove a negative” is both fallacious and debunked, right?

    Or perhaps you didn’t read what I wrote about why it falls on the theist.

    I don’t read past the first, at best, 10 lines of your text blobs. Whenever you’re willing to properly format them then maybe I can assume you have a cogent argument to present.

    Quoted “What can be asserted without evidence (a theist claiming that God definitely does exist), can be dismissed without evidence.

    It’s easy to use words:

    “What can be asserted without evidence (a[n A]theist claiming that God definitely does [not] exist), can be dismissed without evidence”.

    Your sister in Godlessness also did it here.

    That aside, where is the evidence for“a maximally perfect being would have no need or want for anything other than itself”? That is what you ran in here with and you’ve already demonstrated you’re interested in making clairvoyant declarations so do present evidence.

  174. nicholaspradolfc says:

    Yes, I’m aware, because of https://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf, which seems to explain why you can ‘prove a negative’.

    And here’s the thing with you trying to change that quote so as to support the supposed incredibility of atheism. You have people who grow up not ever knowing about any gods (see: Scandinavia), so then when someone tells them a god exists, they’re old enough to be reasonable and understand that if the claimant cannot justify their claim or provide any evidence for it, then the listener is justified in dismissing such assertions, without any justification or evidence. I’ll ” properly format [just a small portion of that content]” so that maybe you could “assume [I] have a cogent argument to present”. It comes from Carl Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World. Good read:

    Imagine that your neighbor has told you that he has an invisible dragon in his garage. You, rightfully, would be skeptical of this claim and ask for evidence. Can the neighbor simply say “Prove I do not or else admit my dragon is real!”? Not unless he wants to be seen as unreasonable and frankly, a little crazy. So you go to his garage and feel around. No dragon. Perhaps you can throw a substance like flour in the air to coat the dragon? Your neighbor says that won’t work – “…because it’s intangible!” your neighbor protests. “Then let’s see if it breathes fire, so that it proves the dragon is there,” you reply. “It’s spiritual fire, so of course you won’t see it.” At this point do you honestly need to keep going on, trying to disprove a claim that has no evidentiary support? No, your neighbor has – and always had – the burden of proof.

  175. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “The Argument from Evil boils down to this: If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world.”

    Does anybody here take this seriously? That was a nagging question that I had that led me to comment anything.

  176. nicholaspradolfc says:

    ?

  177. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “this guy’s an unoriginal copyist trying to bluff intelligence.”

    No amount of ad-hominems will invalidate the content within the posts nor will they validate any of your irrational beliefs. No offense.

  178. Kevin says:

    “The reason why there is no empirical evidence for gods is because gods are imaginary.”

    If there is a creator deity, then it exists independently of the universe by obvious necessity.

    Empirical evidence is that which can be directly observed in, or experimental data derived from, the universe. Anything that does not comprise part of the universe is by definition not open to direct observation or experimentation.

    So, precisely what empirical evidence should we expect from something that is not part of the universe?

    I’m not an empiricist, as you may have figured out by now, so the alleged “lack of empirical evidence” does not impress me on this subject, even if that was true. Of course, as a proponent of empiricism, the burden of proof is on you to show that it is the only valid way of knowing. 🙂

  179. nicholaspradolfc says:

    K.

  180. nicholaspradolfc says:

    BTW, when I use the word ‘universe’ I’m using the definition of it which is ‘the totality of everything in existence’. Unfortunately these days the term universe doesn’t always mean “totality of everything that exists”. Silly. So, if something isn’t part of the universe it doesn’t exist. So if God does exists, it should considered part of the Universe by necessity.

  181. Vy says:

    Yes, I’m aware, because of https://departments.bloomu.edu/philosophy/pages/content/hales/articlepdf/proveanegative.pdf, which seems to explain why you can ‘prove a negative’.

    Oh no, not just that. Richard Carrier did it more than a decade ago, [Ir]rationalwiki also has an article on it. Yet, Atheists, like Michael Shermer very recently, just can’t seem to stop deluding themselves.

    You have people who grow up not ever knowing about any gods (see: Scandinavia)

    Check the stats dude, check the stats (gosh, I gotta write an article about this myth).

    so then when someone tells them a god exists

    Or the other way around.

    they’re old enough to be reasonable and understand that if the claimant cannot justify their claim or provide any evidence for it, then the listener is justified in dismissing such assertions, without any justification or evidence.

    It works both ways. There’s also the question of what will count as good evidence. Like I said:

    Also, the problem isn’t presenting “demonstrable, repeatable evidence”, it’s a matter of what would constitute good enough evidence for you to accept. After all, if evidence was the problem, the Flat Earth Society headed by a global warmist and evolutionist wouldn’t exist.

    I’ll ” properly format [just a small portion of that content]” so that maybe you could “assume [I] have a cogent argument to present”. It comes from Carl Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World. Good read

    I’ve had this argument dumped on me by the most deluded, mindbogglingly daft Atheist I’ve ever met in the last 3 years. His response, or lack thereof, when I answered it was funny to say the least.

    Imagine that your neighbor has told you that he has an invisible dragon in his garage. You, rightfully, would be skeptical of this claim and ask for evidence. Can the neighbor simply say “Prove I do not or else admit my dragon is real!”? Not unless he wants to be seen as unreasonable and frankly, a little crazy. So you go to his garage and feel around. No dragon. Perhaps you can throw a substance like flour in the air to coat the dragon? Your neighbor says that won’t work – “…because it’s intangible!” your neighbor protests. “Then let’s see if it breathes fire, so that it proves the dragon is there,” you reply. “It’s spiritual fire, so of course you won’t see it.” At this point do you honestly need to keep going on, trying to disprove a claim that has no evidentiary support?

    It makes as much sense as trying to conflate David Blaine with God and declaring God doesn’t exist based on that – none. That aside, what is an invisible, non-bleating, non-pooping, non-smelling, non-[all the characteristics a goat has] goat? Not. A. Goat.

    No, your neighbor has – and always had – the burden of proof.

    If you dived into their congregation declaring their non-dragon dragon didn’t exist, YOU have the burden of proof.

  182. Vy says:

    So if God does exists, it should considered part of the Universe by necessity.

    Physical existence.

    The reason why there is no empirical evidence for gods is because gods are imaginary

    Every search for “empirical evidence” of dark matter and its dark fudge factor siblings, including the most recent one, consistently comes up empty yet you don’t see the theorists declaring the theory dead despite the fact that the BB, literally named after it, is dead without it.

  183. Kevin says:

    “So if God does exists, it should considered part of the Universe by necessity.”

    So Beethoven was part of his music? Picasso was part of his painting? I was part of the sandwich I made?

    You see why I don’t accept “universe” as “the totality of everything in existence”, for clarity’s sake.

  184. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Vy: “Check the stats dude, check the stats (gosh, I gotta write an article about this myth).”
    ——————-The stats are, many people grow up not ever knowing about any gods in places like Scandinavia.

    “Or the other way around.”
    —————–That would be a biased intelligent design site there, but that’s okay, I gave it a look anyway. Yes, one can be brought up fully believing in a god and have someone come along and tell them their god doesn’t exist, and for all intents and purposes that person would have the burden of proof. However I never said your god doesn’t exist.

    “Also, the problem isn’t presenting “demonstrable, repeatable evidence”, it’s a matter of what would constitute good enough evidence for you to accept. After all, if evidence was the problem, the Flat Earth Society headed by a global warmist and evolutionist wouldn’t exist.
    ——————-Just because some guy who’s most likely a troll is aware of facts like evolution and that the planet is unequivocally warming, and that it is extremely likely (meaning 95% probability or higher) that this warming is predominantly caused by humans, doesn’t mean he can’t also have dumbass beliefs like the Earth being flat. Tin foil hat.

    “I’ve had this argument dumped on me by the most deluded, mindbogglingly daft Atheist I’ve ever met in the last 3 years. His response, or lack thereof, when I answered it was funny to say the least. Imagine that your neighbor has told you that he has an invisible dragon in his garage. You, rightfully, would be skeptical of this claim and ask for evidence. Can the neighbor simply say “Prove I do not or else admit my dragon is real!”? Not unless he wants to be seen as unreasonable and frankly, a little crazy. So you go to his garage and feel around. No dragon. Perhaps you can throw a substance like flour in the air to coat the dragon? Your neighbor says that won’t work – “…because it’s intangible!” your neighbor protests. “Then let’s see if it breathes fire, so that it proves the dragon is there,” you reply. “It’s spiritual fire, so of course you won’t see it.” At this point do you honestly need to keep going on, trying to disprove a claim that has no evidentiary support? It makes as much sense as trying to conflate David Blaine with God and declaring God doesn’t exist based on that – none. That aside, what is an invisible, non-bleating, non-pooping, non-smelling, non-[all the characteristics a goat has] goat? Not. A. Goat. If you dived into their congregation declaring their non-dragon dragon didn’t exist, YOU have the burden of proof.”
    ———————-NEVER did I say that the non-existence of the dragon shall be declared. The main takeaway that you didn’t pick up here is that there is no necessity for one to disprove unproven claims. Sure, we can have them, but they shall not be forced upon others which the Islamic State would oppose, and you should be free to label me in all your fervent bias “the most deluded, mindbogglingly daft atheist [you’ve] ever met in the last 3 years”, but it still remains true that the only sensible approach is tentatively to not accept the dragon’s existence with 100% certainly, whilst remaining open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
    And of course you would use more ad-hominems, you’re a double-crossed, mental, illogical theist. No amount of ad-hominems will validate any of your irrational beliefs. No offense.

    “Physical existence.”
    Yes, but again, one of the definitions would be ‘the totality of everything in existence’, which is more definitive than ‘the totality of everything in physical existence’. The reason anything that we would call ‘something’ exists is because at one point there was a chance for the cosmos to arise from quantum fluctations allowing a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the meta-stable false vacuum.

    “Every search for “empirical evidence” of dark matter and its dark fudge factor siblings, including the most recent one, consistently comes up empty yet you don’t see the theorists declaring the theory dead despite the fact that the BB, literally named after it, is dead without it.”
    ——————–So you don’t think we will find dark matter? I give it 100 years, but who cares about that? Ah yes, hence me saying the non-existence of a god shall not be declared yet, what goes along with this is that the non-existence of dark matter shall not be declared yet. I’ll say again, it still remains true that the only sensible approach is tentatively to not accept the dragon’s (or a god’s) existence with 100% certainly, whilst remaining open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

  185. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “So Beethoven was part of his music? Picasso was part of his painting? I was part of the sandwich I made? You see why I don’t accept “universe” as “the totality of everything in existence”, for clarity’s sake.”
    ——————-Oh, you and your false equivalences. Firstly, I was only informing you on what specific definition of ‘universe’ that I’m using, which is the one defining ‘universe’ as ‘the totality of everything in existence’, essentially having ‘universe’ be shorthand for ‘the totality of everything in existence’. The term for ‘universe’ that ancient Greek philosophers used was “τὸ πᾶν tò pân”, which translates as ‘the all’.
    Those questions, I see what you’re trying to do there, it was nice and you put a good shift in, however, if one were to say that Beethoven was a part of his music, or that a creator was a part of its creation, it would not be the equivalent of saying that everything that exists is part of everything that exists, nor would it be the equivalent of saying that God is part of the totality of everything in existence (in whatever realm you please). No Beethoven was not ‘part’ ‘of’ his music. He was not of his music, but his music was of him. Picasso was not part of his painting, but his painting was of him. Now before you say “God is not of ‘the everything in existence in all realms’, but ‘the everything in existence in all realms’ is of God”, I should pointing out that stating that would equate to you stating that God does not fall within any realm of existence, not our cosmos nor some spiritual realm, neither some spiritual realm or some unseen, higher, inconcievable by the human brain type of realm, and once you’ve said that you’ve said that God does not exist. I think that would be a bit of an egodystonic thing for you to say. I’m not saying Beethoven was part of his creation or Picasso was part of his painting or that God would be a part of its creation OR that a creator is part of its creation, I am saying that if God exists, in whatever form, however untouched and unseen and unheard and hidden and loving and powerful it may be, then God exists, ergo God is part of the totality of everything in existence.

  186. Vy says:

    The stats are, many people grow up not ever knowing about any gods in places like Scandinavia.

    Innate sense, and how can you be an Atheist without knowing of a god whose nonexistence you affirm?

    That would be a biased intelligent design site there, but that’s okay, I gave it a look anyway.

    If you wanna play the genetic fallacy game, I’m definitely ready.

    Yes, one can be brought up fully believing in a god and have someone come along and tell them their god doesn’t exist, and for all intents and purposes that person would have the burden of proof. However I never said your god doesn’t exist.

    You missed the point of the article. The “feeling” of a higher being is innate. As for saying “my god” doesn’t exist, you’re an Atheist, you don’t need to say it. You did however, say it: “The reason why there is no empirical evidence for gods is because gods are imaginary”.

    -Just because some guy who’s most likely a troll is aware of facts like evolution and that the planet is unequivocally warming, and that it is extremely likely (meaning 95% probability or higher) that this warming is predominantly caused by humans, doesn’t mean he can’t also have dumbass beliefs like the Earth being flat. Tin foil hat.

    He’s the president of the society so he’s no more a troll than the leader of American Atheists who thinks he’s a woman. And the reason I pointed that out is because many Atheists think calling associating non-evolutionists with flat-earthery is an insult.

    NEVER did I say that the non-existence of the dragon shall be declared.

    You seem to have lost track of the fact that you posted an analogy and what purpose it was supposed to serve.

    The main takeaway that you didn’t pick up here is that there is no necessity for one to disprove unproven claims. Sure, we can have them, but they shall not be forced upon others which the Islamic State would oppose

    Like I said, it works both ways. These guys put ISIS to shame.

    and you should be free to label me in all your fervent bias “the most deluded, mindbogglingly daft atheist [you’ve] ever met in the last 3 years”

    Stop reaching, I wasn’t referring to you. Try reading what I post not what you think I posted.

    but it still remains true that the only sensible approach is tentatively to not accept the dragon’s existence with 100% certainly, whilst remaining open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

    Not. A. Dragon.

    And of course you would use more ad-hominems, you’re a double-crossed, mental, illogical theist. No amount of ad-hominems will validate any of your irrational beliefs. No offense

    Enough of these pathetic projections. You’re just embarrassing yourself.

  187. Ilíon says:

    If there is a creator deity, then it exists independently of the universe by obvious necessity.

    Empirical evidence is that which can be directly observed in, or experimental data derived from, the universe. Anything that does not comprise part of the universe is by definition not open to direct observation or experimentation.

    So, precisely what empirical evidence should we expect from something that is not part of the universe?

    Meanwhile, IF Creator-God-denial were the truth about the nature of reality, THEN there cannot exist embodied rational beings (*), such as ourselves, BUT, there do exist embodied rational beings, such as ourselves (namely: ourselves); ERGO, Creator-God-denial is *not* the truth about the nature of reality; which is to say, *we* are the proof that the Creator exists.

    (*) this is why, sooner or later, all God-deniers will also deny that we are rational beings, for it is the atheism that denies it; this is why, in the sort-term, *all* God-deniers will retreat into irrationality so as to protect their God-denial from rational critical evaluation.

  188. Vy says:

    Yes, but again, one of the definitions would be ‘the totality of everything in existence’

    Well, if you want to create a strawman god to beat down, feel free.

    which is more definitive than ‘the totality of everything in physical existence’.

    Or they assume people are reasonable enough to know what it means. Something the scientismists forget to do with science.

    The reason anything that we would call ‘something’ exists is because at one point there was a chance for the cosmos to arise from quantum fluctations allowing a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the meta-stable false vacuum.

    Nonsensical babble that sounds even worse than Stephen Hawkings’ babble. A quantum vacuum is some thing. If you have a quantum vacuum, then you have some thing. Nothing is not any thing. Pseudophysics claims motivated by hypernaturalistic a priori assumptions are just that, claims, desperate claims.

    So you don’t think we will find dark matter?

    Red-herring.

    I give it 100 years

    Appeals to the future are wonderful things. Gotta keep the faith in the ad-hoc theory rescue devices eh? I give it 100 years and we’ll find Vulcan somewhere around Mercu… oh wait, that never happened.

    but who cares about that?

    Aren’t you the empiricist?

    Ah yes, hence me saying the non-existence of a god shall not be declared yet, what goes along with this is that the non-existence of dark matter shall not be declared yet.

    You seem to have reading comprehension issues or short term memory.

    I’ll say again, it still remains true that the only sensible approach is tentatively to not accept the dragon’s (or a god’s) existence with 100% certainly, whilst remaining open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

    Again: Not. A. Dragon. You’re quite invested in this false analogy you have presented.

  189. Kevin says:

    “ergo God is part of the totality of everything in existence.”

    This is true, but when speaking about God in these contexts, I have never seen anyone refer to “universe” in such a broad scope that it also would include our universe’s creator. I’ve had too many instances of people talking past each other because of word definitions.

    I don’t even care to use your definition, so long as you can differentiate between “God as the creator of the universe” and “God as part of the Universe, the sum total of existence”. I don’t want to have to write that phrase every time.

    Typically I’ve always used the word “existence” to diffentiate between the sum total and our local universe, but if you have a better set of words, I can use them.

  190. Vy says:

    This is true, but when speaking about God in these contexts, I have never seen anyone refer to “universe” in such a broad scope that it also would include our universe’s creator.

    Yup. It’s kinda like the NPCs in a game like GTA or Overwatch claiming their programmers, thus creators, are included in the existence of said game’s universe.

  191. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Vy: “Innate sense, and how can you be an Atheist without knowing of a god whose nonexistence you affirm?”
    ————-When did I call them atheists? Dogs aren’t atheists. Babies aren’t atheists, like some atheists will say. I never labeled those people I’m talking about as atheists. They could be defined as atheists considering their lack of belief in deities and their lack of theistic beliefs, however. A dog is not able to hold beliefs as to whether or not a god exists, as dogs can not conceive of such man-made concepts.

    “If you wanna play the genetic fallacy game, I’m definitely ready.” “You missed the point of the article. The “feeling” of a higher being is innate. As for saying “my god” doesn’t exist, you’re an Atheist, you don’t need to say it.”
    ——————–Well, note that I actually offered reasons as to why the site is biased, and didn’t actually commit the genetic fallacy, as I engaged your provided source with full skepticism towards my own position, and discovered that it did not apply to what I was saying, I didn’t need to bother labeling as biased at all. That articles didn’t apply to what I was saying at all (and I’ll go off on a tangent here and say that atheists do exist, contrary to the articles ‘atheists do not exist’, I guess I can’t prove it to you but I can testify and say that I really do not believe any of the thousands of gods we’ve whipped up over the years, and you might call me a liar and say that deep down I really do believe in a god and then – oh wait – I don’t really give a fuck what misinformed theists think of what I believe buddy. Humans are predisposed to finding patterns, even where they don’t exist, because a false positive is more likely to preserve your life than a false negative in a predator prey or emergency situation. In other words, it’s better to jump out of the way and find that a tiger wasn’t trying to eat you than not jump out of the way when a tiger is trying to eat you. We are also social animals, expecting to function in a hierarchy. The propensity for finding patterns and relying on authority translates into imputing supernatural explanations for things that are naturally occurring.

    “You did however, say it: “The reason why there is no empirical evidence for gods is because gods are imaginary”
    ——————Typo: *gods are probably imaginary. This more accurately describes my position.

    “He’s the president of the society so he’s no more a troll than the leader of American Atheists who thinks he’s a woman. And the reason I pointed that out is because many Atheists think calling associating non-evolutionists with flat-earthery is an insult.”
    ——————Remember, I said most likely. I’m aware that people can achieve incredible states of delusion like FES have. 😉 I didn’t know David Silverman thinks he’s a woman. Oh that’s right because he fucking doesn’t. You got a source?

    “You seem to have lost track of the fact that you posted an analogy and what purpose it was supposed to serve.”
    ——————Fuck you’re dumb. *sigh of disappointment* I guess I’ll have to correct your misinterpretations again. The analogy’s purpose was to be inviting of skepticism. Not go out and make claims without evidence, i.e. Vishnu does not exist, Vishnu exists, Yahweh does not exist…Yahweh exists and He is unseen etc.

    “Like I said, it works both ways. These guys put ISIS to shame.”
    ————–Actually no I don’t recall them crucifying people for not having the same beliefs. This site (http://www.christianpost.com/news/isis-burns-6-men-alive-in-bakery-uses-dough-mixer-to-kill-250-children-171071/) also says ISIS burned 6 men alive and killed 250 children by kneading them with a dough kneader, but I’m skeptical that that happened, or that such a thing is even possible (http://www.snopes.com/isis-murder-250-children-dough-kneader/).

    “His response, or lack thereof, when I answered it was funny to say the least.” “Stop reaching, I wasn’t referring to you. Try reading what I post not what you think I posted.”
    ————-You put the exact summary of the dragon analogy that I used right underneath that ^, so…..

    “Not. A. Dragon.
    “Enough of these pathetic projections. You’re just embarrassing yourself.”
    ————-So don’t insult you? That’s fair, but you were being rather ad-homy towards the other person you were talking about, SO………

    “Nonsensical babble that sounds even worse than Stephen Hawkings’ babble. A quantum vacuum is some thing. If you have a quantum vacuum, then you have some thing. Nothing is not any thing. Pseudophysics claims motivated by hypernaturalistic a priori assumptions are just that, claims, desperate claims.”
    —————Put me in suicide watch. When did I say that a quantum vacuum is nothing? Also, can you read? U okay, like mentally? By the way, when physicists like Krauss and Hawking use the word ‘nothing’ in reference to the universe’s origins, ‘nothing’ really refers to the lowest energy state of a theory. We wouldn’t normally use the word “nothing” but instead describe the lowest energy state as the “vacuum”. Nothing has come to mean in physics the base state. Don’t confuse physics terminology with everyday logic. “if you have a quantum vacuum you have some thing” spot on. When did I say that a quantum vacuum is nothing? I didn’t, I just said that the reason anything that [a human would recognize as ‘something’] exists is [insert my explanation here] I never said that there was at one point nothing in existence. How many times do you want to keep embarrassing yourself?

    “Red-herring.”
    —————No. That was a side question. Not meant to distract you from the central topic at hand. An ex. of a red-herring would be someone saying “I personally dislike the idea that consciousness ends with death and I personally find life meaningless without God and I personally would rather live forever and I personally would rather have God give meaning to my life. Therefore God exists.” <<<<What that person personally dislikes or likes is irrelevant to whether or not God exists and is a red herring. You can't change the truth because you don't like where it leads. Despite this when seductive preachers tug at the heartstrings of gullible people preachers sometimes make converts. A red herring is an attempt to divert attention from the original issue, I never attempted to divert attention from the original issue.

    "Appeals to the future are wonderful things. Gotta keep the faith in the ad-hoc theory rescue devices eh? I give it 100 years and we’ll find Vulcan somewhere around Mercu… oh wait, that never happened."
    —————-Jesus.

    Wow.

    Was I meant to take that comment seriously? Brother, an escape to the future occurs when someone claims their worldview will soon prevail because the evidence is in the making or that their victory is just around the corner. Pseudosciences do this all the time. I never made any claims stating such. Oh dark matter is an ad-hoc theory? Damn. Wait, no, it isn't! Yay science! Alternatives have been tried and none of them explain all of the evidence, there are clusters of stars with nearly no dark matter, and galaxies that are nearly all dark matter, and the dark mater hypothesis predicts this, when modifications of gravitational forces do not (there's your ad-hoc :)). So, this makes dark matter a testable hypothesis, one that has been tested and has passed the tests so far.

    "Aren’t you the empiricist?"
    ————-Yeah, my […who cares about that?] was a rhetorical question.

    "You seem to have reading comprehension issues or short term memory."
    ———–Whatever helps you sleep at night.

    "It makes as much sense as trying to conflate David Blaine with God and declaring God doesn’t exist based on that – none. That aside, what is an invisible, non-bleating, non-pooping, non-smelling, non-[all the characteristics a goat has] goat? Not. A. Goat." "Again: Not. A. Dragon. You’re quite invested in this false analogy you have presented."
    ———-No, it makes more sense than that. I didn't conflate David Blaine or a dragon with " the ultimate, summum bonum, Absolute Infinite, Transcendent, Existence or Being themselves", And well, actually a goat has many characteristics one of which is that it's a fucking goat so it has 'goatness' so you can take away the visibility, the bleating, the pooping, the smelling, and any other characteristics it has, but you still say its a non-[all the characteristics a goat has] goat, then it's still a fucking goat. See how your bs isn't helping anyone?

    "Well, if you want to create a strawman god to beat down, feel free." "Or they assume people are reasonable enough to know what it means. Something the scientismists forget to do with science."
    —————This is just getting depressing. Obviously I was attributing that characteristic to a god, but rather the universe. Since 'universe' can refer to – by definition – the totality of everything in existence.

  192. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “Meanwhile, IF Creator-God-denial were the truth about the nature of reality, THEN there cannot exist embodied rational beings (*), such as ourselves, BUT, there do exist embodied rational beings, such as ourselves (namely: ourselves); ERGO, Creator-God-denial is *not* the truth about the nature of reality; which is to say, *we* are the proof that the Creator exists. (*) this is why, sooner or later, all God-deniers will also deny that we are rational beings, for it is the atheism that denies it; this is why, in the sort-term, *all* God-deniers will retreat into irrationality so as to protect their God-denial from rational critical evaluation.”
    —————-If that creator happens to be the universe, then sure, I can see that. But of course Creator-God denialism isn’t the truth about reality. Creator-God denialism is neither true nor false. Denialism is a fucking noun. Is baldness true? Is yellow true?

    “…sooner or later, all God-deniers will also deny that we are rational beings”
    ——————–K.

    “*we* are the proof that the Creator exists….”
    —————–Damn, didn’t know that.

  193. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Ilíon ^

  194. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Kevin/@Vy

    “This is true, but when speaking about God in these contexts, I have never seen anyone refer to “universe” in such a broad scope that it also would include our universe’s creator. I’ve had too many instances of people talking past each other because of word definitions.
    I don’t even care to use your definition, so long as you can differentiate between “God as the creator of the universe” and “God as part of the Universe, the sum total of existence”. I don’t want to have to write that phrase every time.”
    ——————————–Agreed. Yes I’m aware of these differences hence me noting that I’m using only one definition.

    “Typically I’ve always used the word “existence” to diffentiate between the sum total and our local universe, but if you have a better set of words, I can use them.”
    ——————————–I have to admit that is correct and honest and I respect you for that. It’s just that you can use ‘universe’ to mean the sum total of existence including the inevitable progression into the future with the passing of present events into the past itself, time. So if you don’t like the possible ambiguity of the word ‘universe’, feel free to replace it with ‘the sum total of existence’.

    This is true, but when speaking about God in these contexts, I have never seen anyone refer to “universe” in such a broad scope that it also would include our universe’s creator.”
    —————–What I’m getting at is; how can you go outside of all of the space that exists? How can you go to the point before time existed. How can you go North of the North Pole? You can’t and the questions are malformed. How can you exist outside of the sum total of existence? You can’t and the questions is malformed. Now, this does absolutely nothing to prove or disprove any gods, it’s just clarification of terms.

    “Yup. It’s kinda like the NPCs in a game like GTA or Overwatch claiming their programmers, thus creators, are included in the existence of said game’s universe.”
    —————–No, I invoked ‘the totality of everything in existence’ or ‘the sum total of existence’, so any creators and creations that exist would be a part of the sum total existence.

  195. TFBW says:

    Please stop feeding the troll. I’m worried that I might miss something worth reading in between the Great Walls of Text.

    @nicholaspradolfc: you (a) insist that the burden of proof falls on everyone else, and (b) accept no possible thing as evidence. Interaction with you is thus futile. The burden of proof lies on you to show otherwise. Do so in 100 words or less (slightly larger than this comment), or I will take it as a non-answer smokescreen.

  196. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW: <100 words: Straw-man. I said it falls on theists, the ones first making a claim (wasn't some person the the first to say a god exists?). You say I accept no possible thing as evidence. This is false. I would accept a god's existence if the absence of evidence became a non-absence. Fine-tuning argument = false dichotomy. Kalam/cosmological argument = special pleading that the universe is not necessarily existent. "I've felt God" = appeal to emotions. You have a burden of proof to show that interaction here is futile. You only gave premises (a)/(b) which I've shown were false.

  197. nicholaspradolfc says:

    My ‘walls’ weren’t non-answers but rather lengthy answers as they contained ideas not so easily expressed and explained in so few words.

  198. TFBW says:

    @nicholaspradolfc:
    Strike #1. I said you “accept no possible thing as evidence”. Asserting, ” I would accept a god’s existence if the absence of evidence became a non-absence” does nothing to address this. A relevant response will actually specify some set of conditions which would count as evidence, not merely re-assert that the evidence is absent.

  199. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @TFBW:
    You do realize that if absolute proof was available, substantial enough for atheists to accept the existence of whatever god you might be referring to (not necessarily to worship it or to refrain from asking who made it), that would destroy the need for religious faith? It may turn out to be a case that you would be sorry for what you wished.
    What would be required in order for me to accept the existence of whatever god you might be referring to would be an *interlocking body* of evidence on the superlative level. Evidence that defends the ability of the god hypothesis to be a potent explanatory and predicting tool.

  200. nicholaspradolfc says:

    “Asserting…does nothing to address this.”
    ————-What, you don’t think I would accept anything as evidence? 😐

  201. Michael says:

    “The Argument from Evil boils down to this: If there is a God, we should all be Teletubbie-like creatures living in a Teletubbie-like world.”

    Does anybody here take this seriously? That was a nagging question that I had that led me to comment anything.

    I do. Back on Jan 21, I replied to you: “I notice that you have not shown where and how I am wrong.”

    Since then, you have posted a Blizzard of Words. Yet Nothing. Has. Changed.

    Show where and how I am wrong.

  202. TFBW says:

    @nicholaspradolfc:
    Strike #2. You exceeded your word count, but I’ll let it slide this time. The relevant part of your answer was, the demand for “an *interlocking body* of evidence on the superlative level.” This is not specific enough. It does not enable me to determine whether your demands can actually be met. In fact, it looks like hedging to ensure that your demands can’t be met. My premise (b) is supported by this response.

    You have one more try before I deem you to be engaging in invisible-dragon level time-wasting and request that you be banned for the benefit of the community. Choose your words carefully.

  203. nicholaspradolfc says:

    @Michael:

  204. Nicholas. Bye and peace be with you. says:

    From Nicholas to @TFBW:
    I see what you’re doing there. Quite sad, lazy, and amusing. “This is not specific enough”. Nothing is specific enough for you. You accept no possible thing as specific enough. Make sure you know what evidence actually is though. Differing from intuition, anecdote or opinion, evidence is an objective finding that can be confirmed by repeated observations of independent observers that can help to make a decision or support a conclusion. By evidence atheists mean information, facts or data supporting/contradicting a claim, assumption or hypothesis. Also, do you realize I could just post from a guest account stating who I was to avoid confusion, or use a VPN in case my IP was blocked from posting on this blog? Not that I give the amount of fucks required to do that, but still, I’m guessing you don’t realize that since you’ve clearly misunderstood how plenty of other things actually work. I’ll go ahead and “ban” myself from this bastion of pseudointellectualism not to say I’m out of my depth here or that I’m wrong (although I can’t wait to read the sad, amusing responses attempting and failing to explain why it’s *really me who’s deluded*) but for two reasons: (1) out of respect for human intellect, and (2) so as to not have to read any more blatantly fallacious reasoning and unintellectual misinterpretations of what I’ve said, in which misinterpreting is quite hard to do, given the very lengthy explanations of what I was saying within the content I posted, or as @TFBW would whine, ‘walls’.

  205. Kevin says:

    “Evidence that defends the ability of the god hypothesis to be a potent explanatory and predicting tool.”

    I’m going to explain what I believe is the futility of such an approach.

    Even scientists realize the problems of predictability when comparing sociology and psychology, and to a lesser extent certain aspects of biology, to the “hard” sciences like chemistry and physics. Even as humans, it is nearly impossible to reduce human agents to data in order to make predictions. And if it’s that hard for sciences that study humanity to make useful predictions in the manner of the “hard” sciences, how in the world would we try and force something like God into a predictable model? So I would dismiss “predictability” as scientism encroaching into the discussion, and again, burden of proof is one the one advocating scientism as a standard to be met.

    Far as explanatory power, I can agree to an extent that this is reasonable. The reason I say “to an extent” is the subjective nature of explanatory power in a field lacking experimental access. Richard Dawkins says this universe is exactly what “we” would expect if there was no creator. Francis Collins takes the exact opposite view. Clearly one of them is wrong – it’s either created or it’s not – and we both know which of the two each of us is inclined to agree with. The reason I bring this up is if people can look at the same data and reach opposite conclusions about a given question whose answer can’t be experimentally derived, then perhaps that type of data is not itself sufficient to reach a definitive conclusion either way, and can be used to support both.

    So, we would have to identify the extent to which it is reasonable to expect certain types of evidence, given the parameters of the question “Is there a god”. I don’t believe that treating it as a purely scientific hypothesis, to be tested under typical scientific methods, is at all appropriate to use as a determination. However, if it is agreed by both parties that standard scientific evidence is admissible in the discussion, then there is lots of data that supports the idea that there is a god. Proves? Nope. Excludes any other explanation? Nope. Supports the idea? Yep. Numerous books have been written on the subject, numerous websites exist explaining the notion. Science isn’t owned by any one ideology.

    Of course, that would then bring us into the inevitable subjective question of which “hypothesis” better explains the data – a god, or no god? And again, the conclusion for both of us is foregone. I’ve been doing this for a long time and have decided atheists really have no compelling arguments, and if you hang out at the Skeptic Zone, your mind is pretty well made up, too.

    Hence, why I believe the scientific approach to be futile.

  206. LFC Nicholas says:

    @TFBW/@Kevin:

    @Kevin: “…then there is lots of data that supports the idea that there is a god.”
    ——————————————-There really isn’t Kev, only confirmation bias.

    From Nicholas to @TFBW:
    I see what you’re doing there. Quite sad, lazy, and amusing. Strikes one, two, and three if you will. “This is not specific enough”. Nothing is specific enough for you. You accept no possible thing as specific enough. Make sure you know what evidence actually is though. Differing from intuition, anecdote or opinion, evidence is an objective finding that can be confirmed by repeated observations of independent observers that can help to make a decision or support a conclusion. By evidence atheists mean information, facts or data supporting/contradicting a claim, assumption or hypothesis. Also, do you realize I could just post from a guest account stating who I was to avoid confusion, or use a VPN in case my IP was blocked from posting on this blog? Not that I give the amount of fucks required to do that, but still, I’m guessing you don’t realize that since you’ve clearly misunderstood how plenty of other things actually work. I’ll go ahead and “ban” myself from this bastion of pseudointellectualism not to say I’m out of my depth here or that I’m wrong (although I can’t wait to read the sad, amusing responses attempting and failing to explain why it’s *really me who’s deluded*) but for two reasons: (1) out of respect for human intellect, and (2) so as to not have to read any more blatantly fallacious reasoning and unintellectual misinterpretations of what I’ve said, in which misinterpreting is quite hard to do, given the very lengthy explanations of what I was saying within the content I posted, or as @TFBW would whine, ‘walls’.

  207. uytopia says:

    Mistakenly posted the same response more than once. If moderator is going to allow the comment the latest one is best.

  208. LFCNicholas says:

    uytopia is my other account (LFCNicholas). it’s leaving this cancerous thread as well 🙂

    @Michael (from LFCNicholas):
    ————-http://cs6.pikabu.ru/images/big_size_comm/2015-08_2/1438949374175964199.jpg

  209. TFBW says:

    @nicholaspradolfc and whatever other accounts he uses:
    Strike #3 — you’re out. You say, “you accept no possible thing as specific enough,” in an attempt to turn my criteria back on me, rather than meet them. Not so. I would accept a description of an acceptable set of circumstances, even a hypothetical one. Jerry Coyne, for example, wants a big show of miracles (including some healing of amputees) from someone who claims to be Jesus. That is a satisfactory response, given the challenge at hand. You have given no satisfactory response: you offer hand-waving generalities which serve only to obscure the fact that you, personally, have no idea what it would take to convince you, and you posture as though it’s our fault for not offering something convincing.

    You are a time-waster of the kind that you yourself describe when you talk about the burden of proof. You goad and gloat and preen and strut and rant and blather and copy/paste tons of recycled New Atheist clichés, and it’s all a waste of time, because there’s absolutely nothing that anyone can say or do which will satisfy you.

  210. Dhay says:

    nicholaspradolfc says: February 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm > … I’m willing to admit to my plagiarism.

    Representing other peoples’ work as your own is intellectually dishonest; it’s also legally dishonest, and I know there’s fora out there that are very strict on those who do not abide by ‘fair use’ and attribution of quoted material to its authors and sources – strict because both the plagiarist and site owner are vulnerable to legal action.

    > By the way me doing some copypasta doesn’t invalidate any of the content within the words. Good luck with that part.

    Life is too short to spend time analysing and replying to whatever bright snippets took your magpie eyes somewhere on the internet, and which quite probably you yourself do not understand — if you cannot say it in your own words you probably do not understand it. And analysis and reply always takes much more time and effort than the original copy/pasting, so it’s a very unequal expenditure on our parts compared to yours.

    A cynic would say that having trolled the regulars here with verbal abuse, you are now trolling by attempting to engage us in an enormous waste of our time and effort — for minimal time and effort on your part.

    Walls of text, especially of other people’s texts, copied, are in practice ‘Gish Gallops’ and will get you ignored — by me at any rate.

  211. FZM says:

    “Evidence that defends the ability of the god hypothesis to be a potent explanatory and predicting tool.”

    If the idea is here is something like: ‘Unless a proposition is supported by evidence that proves that it is a potent explanatory and predicting tool it can’t be true’ there must be evidence that proves that this principle itself is a potent explanatory and predicting tool, otherwise it fails to meet its own truth criteria and can be discarded.

  212. Kevin says:

    Everything I wrote, and the response was “no there isn’t”.

    New Atheism is a mind-closing ideology.

  213. Vy says:

    When did I call them atheists?

    Never said you did. It’s what they polls and flawed MSM misrepresentation of them say, so-called “8 countries with most convinced Atheists”.

    They could be defined as atheists considering their lack of belief in deities and their lack of theistic beliefs, however

    An Atheist believes God(s) do not exist; they donot merely lack belief in said god. I believe umpteen gods exist, I don’t believe IN them.

    Well, note that I actually offered reasons as to why the site is biased, and didn’t actually commit the genetic fallacy

    “IF”, literally the first word there. Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, is it?

    as I engaged your provided source with full skepticism towards my own position, and discovered that it did not apply to what I was saying, I didn’t need to bother labeling as biased at all. That articles didn’t apply to what I was saying at all (and I’ll go off on a tangent here and say that atheists do exist…

    Yet again proving my point that your reading comprehension is abysmal. The idea in a higher being is innate, it has everything to do with your babble about imaginary widespread Atheism in Scandinavia.

    Your subsequent babble is just that, babble.

    Typo: *gods are probably imaginary. This more accurately describes my position.

    No it doesn’t if you want to stand by all the nonsense you’ve posted here and your Atheism.

    Remember, I said most likely.

    And?

    I’m aware that people can achieve incredible states of delusion like FES have. 😉

    True, just look at yourself.

    I didn’t know David Silverman thinks he’s a woman. Oh that’s right because he fucking doesn’t. You got a source?

    Make that AA’s mouthpiece.

    Fuck you’re dumb. *sigh of disappointment*

    Those string of characters carry as much weight as a drunk punching the air and declaring they’ve won.

    I guess I’ll have to correct your misinterpretations again. The analogy’s purpose was to be inviting of skepticism. Not go out and make claims without evidence, i.e. Vishnu does not exist, Vishnu exists, Yahweh does not exist…Yahweh exists and He is unseen etc.

    Er, no. It was a flawed conflation that tries to pin the burden of proof on the Atheist. It says so right there: “No, your neighbor has – and always had – the burden of proof”. Do you have STM?

  214. Vy says:

    It was a flawed conflation that tries to pin the burden of proof on the *theist*

  215. Vy says:

    Actually no I don’t recall them crucifying people for not having the same beliefs. This site

    “Actually no” is an argument to substantiate the suggestion that choosing to not read/understand the article helps you and that 250 murdered people is comparable to millions of murdered people?

    You put the exact summary of the dragon analogy that I used right underneath that ^, so…..

    Desperate, really desperate.

    So don’t insult you?

    Google isn’t a paid service. And what insult? Are those profanity laden kneejerk posts supposed to be insults? Where did you get the idea that you could post anything remotely resembling an insult to me when you’ve demonstrated you’re incapable of posting anything reasonable.

    That’s fair, but you were being rather ad-homy towards the other person you were talking about, SO

    Oh, so no blunt yet proper descriptions of your bros in the faith? Got it. I wish I cared.

    Put me in suicide watch. When did I say that a quantum vacuum is nothing? Also, can you read? U okay, like mentally? By the way, when physicists like Krauss and Hawking use the word ‘nothing’ in reference to the universe’s origins, ‘nothing’ really refers to the lowest energy state of a theory.

    The moment you realize you’ve posted nothing original and thus can’t go far feigning ignorance is the moment you enter the path to being reasonable.

    No. That was a side question.

    Thank you for proving my point.

    Not meant to distract you from the central topic at hand.

    Attempting to move the discussion into stuff about DM is not meant to move to the discussion into that. Got it.

    An ex. of a red-herring…

    … is all the text blobs you copypasta left and right while failing to deal with the main argument.

    Wow.

    Was I meant to take that comment seriously? Brother, an escape to the future occurs when someone claims their worldview will soon prevail because the evidence is in the making or that their victory is just around the corner.

    Atheists like you are pathetic. Why didn’t you just link directly to the [Ir]rationalwiki article where you copypasta’d that from?

    Here’s the part you ignored:

    Form
    P1: Currently, there is no evidence that X is true.
    P2: In the future, there will be evidence that X is true.
    C1: X is true.

    Oh dark matter is an ad-hoc theory? Damn. Wait, no, it isn’t!

    Regurgitating it doesn’t make it true. It really doesn’t:

    The observational data from thousands of galaxies together with the negative outcome of all the experiments searching for Dark Matter particles indicate that either something is wrong with the physics we use or that the expected dark matter is much more elusive than supposed, or, indeed, does not, in fact, exist—which gets us back to something being wrong with the physics.

    [a]n alternative possibility … can explain the observations as a fluke of cosmological geometry. It avoids invoking dark energy as an ad hoc cause but at the price of throwing out the Copernican principle: roughly speaking, it puts the Earth, or at least our galaxy, back at the centre of the observable universe.11

    So, this makes dark matter a testable hypothesis, one that has been tested and has passed the tests so far.

    Demonstrably false.

  216. Vy says:

    Yeah, my […who cares about that?] was a rhetorical question.

    “Whatever helps you sleep at night”.

    No, it makes more sense than that. I didn’t conflate David Blaine or a dragon with ” the ultimate, summum bonum, Absolute Infinite, Transcendent, Existence or Being themselves”, And well, actually a goat has many characteristics one of which is that it’s a fucking goat so it has ‘goatness’

    It makes no sense; it is nonsense. Claiming something that has none of the characteristics of a goat is a goat is equivalent to claiming a plate is cup because it is labeled so and the drunkard down the street says it has “cupness”. The only way your nonsensical analogy even gets off the starting line is if the person is able to identify it as an actual dragon based on what is normally considered a “dragon”. You don’t see a raccoon and claim it is a dragon because it meets none of the criteria of being a dragon. Simply put, the analogy is DOA.

    This is just getting depressing. Obviously I was attributing that characteristic to a god, but rather the universe.

    Again with the reading comprehension. The biblical God is outside of what we consider existence, trying to invent a definition that puts him within it is strawmanning.

    Since ‘universe’ can refer to – by definition – the totality of everything in existence.

    universe
    ˈjuːnɪvəːs/Submit
    noun
    1.
    all existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos.

    Good luck.

    No, I invoked ‘the totality of everything in existence’ or ‘the sum total of existence’, so any creators and creations that exist would be a part of the sum total existence.

    And God is outside of and not subject to the universe or whatever definition you’ve imagined up, got it?

  217. Doug says:

    Another look at the problem of evil and its implication of a preference for a Teletubbie World (as illustrated by the second figure).

  218. Michael says:

    Nice. Added that blog to blogroll.

  219. Greg says:

    Atheists (and humans in general): *are driven by greed and ignorance to do terrible things, and those terrible things lead to death, destruction, poverty, starvation, disease, wars, and disasters*

    Atheists: “Okay, but like… if God is good, then why did he cause all these terrible things? This proves once and for all that there is no God. I’m right, and you’re wrong. Also, I’m better than you.”

    This is your brain on atheism.

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