New Dawkins Interview (yawn)

New Atheists are excited this morning to see a new interview of their Leader:

What was striking to me is just how utterly predictable Dawkins’ responses are. He has reached the point where comes across as a politician drawing from his over-used grab bag of shallow talking points. Darwin led me to atheism. Check. Religion is evil, on balance. Check. Religion has nothing to do with my moral code. Check. People should not religiously label their children. Check. We atheists only attack religion with reason and evidence. Check. Most of these have been debunked on this blog.

In other words, he fails to intellectually stimulate. He fails to intellectually challenge. He is boring.

Yet the Gnus lap this stuff up.

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124 Responses to New Dawkins Interview (yawn)

  1. Kevin says:

    Well thanks for watching it on our behalf. Way to take one for the team!

  2. Billy Squibs says:

    My first thought on watching that was that RD looks worryingly frail.

    As a critique I don’t think this post is very effective. Sure RD is spouting the same old same old but Craig has been delivering the same talk for years. I suppose it’s inevitable if you regularly debate a particular topic.

    Also, the obvious rejoinder to this point is that repetition doesn’t have a bearing on truth (either way). Let me repeat: repetition doesn’t have a bearing on truth 😛

  3. TFBW says:

    @Billy Squibs: “What I tell you three times is true.” — Lewis Carroll

    It’s probably too much to expect that Dawkins would say anything he hasn’t already said in an interview of this sort. He probably wasn’t asked anything new, either. The Gnus lap it up the same way any fan laps up any public appearance of their particular idol. They’d lap it up if he tweeted what he had for breakfast and managed to include a barb little quip about religion in the process. No news here.

  4. TFBW says:

    What about this?

    (@3:50) I think it’s right to attack religion — I think it’s right to attack any false beliefs — but always to do it on intellectual grounds, always to do it using argument, and evidence, rather than insult.

    Does this count as a change from 2012’s Reason Rally exhortation, “mock them, ridicule them … with contempt?” Or does he imagine that his ridicule, mockery, and contempt count as argument and evidence, not insult?

  5. “What was striking to me is just how utterly predictable Dawkins’ responses are”
    Indeed, that is a distinct advantage of scientific fact and reason based positions, they frequently display a high degree of consistency.

    “Darwin led me to atheism. Check.”
    Yes, naturalistic explanations tend to remove a key motivation to make the god speculation.

    “Religion is evil, on balance. Check.”
    Yes, a very good case can be made for this, although the term “balance” means different things to different people.

    “Religion has nothing to do with my moral code. Check.”
    Not precisely what he said which is “we do not get our morals from our historic religion”. In other words, our historic religion get its morals from us. Historic religious morals are a reflection of our innate sensibilities, not a fundamental source of human morality generally.

    “People should not religiously label their children. Check.”
    Yes, that would be great, although a highly idealistic notion.

    “We atheists only attack religion with reason and evidence. Check”
    I could not find that statement in the video, if you could give me the time it occurs I could listen to the exact words and respond. Irrespective, the term “only” is too strong, but reason and evidence are certainly the primary weapons against the god speculation and the many destructive and irrational aspects of various religions.

    “Most of these have been debunked on this blog.”
    Not validly I am quite sure.

    “In other words, he fails to intellectually stimulate.”…you.

    “He fails to intellectually challenge.”
    In that case you likely have not given his statements their due consideration.

  6. Michael says:

    “What was striking to me is just how utterly predictable Dawkins’ responses are”
    Indeed, that is a distinct advantage of scientific fact and reason based positions, they frequently display a high degree of consistency.

    Not quite. Predictable in the same sense a politician’s words are predictable. All of Dawkins’s talking points are subjective opinions and not “scientific fact and reason based positions.”

    “Darwin led me to atheism. Check.”
    Yes, naturalistic explanations tend to remove a key motivation to make the god speculation.

    If one embraces God of the Gaps logic as a valid mode of reasoning. Dawkins’s atheism is built on God of the Gaps reasoning, so I am not surprised he personally believes evolution leads to atheism.

    “Religion is evil, on balance. Check.”
    Yes, a very good case can be made for this, although the term “balance” means different things to different people.

    The only ones who think a “very good case can be made for this” are New Atheists. It’s not exactly a mainstream scholarly position.

    “We atheists only attack religion with reason and evidence. Check”
    I could not find that statement in the video, if you could give me the time it occurs I could listen to the exact words and respond. Irrespective, the term “only” is too strong, but reason and evidence are certainly the primary weapons against the god speculation and the many destructive and irrational aspects of various religions.

    TFBW provided it above: (@3:50) “I think it’s right to attack religion — I think it’s right to attack any false beliefs — but always to do it on intellectual grounds, always to do it using argument, and evidence, rather than insult.”

    “He fails to intellectually challenge.”
    In that case you likely have not given his statements their due consideration.

    They have been given their due consideration and determined to be, at best, subjective opinions. Dawkins is certainly entitled to his opinions, but it is dishonest to portray them as other than opinion.

  7. Kevin says:

    Indeed, that is a distinct advantage of scientific fact and reason based positions, they frequently display a high degree of consistency.

    Quite right. Unfortunately, this does not describe Dawkins’ positions on religion.

    Yes, naturalistic explanations tend to remove a key motivation to make the god speculation.

    Only if one is a shallow thinker.

    Yes, a very good case can be made for this, although the term “balance” means different things to different people.

    No, a good case cannot be made for this. One has to be an anti-religious ideologue or, again, a very shallow thinker to believe this is the case.

    Irrespective, the term “only” is too strong, but reason and evidence are certainly the primary weapons against the god speculation and the many destructive and irrational aspects of various religions.

    I almost never see New Atheists use reason and evidence to make their arguments. Furthermore, reason and evidence lead to belief in a creator.

    Here you go, take the test!

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/militant-atheist-test/

  8. Isaac says:

    Who exactly does he mean by “we atheists” anyway? The Columbine Killers? Indian Marxist assassins? Johnny Depp? I don’t actually know of a single atheist anywhere who limits his critiques of Christianity to intellectual and respectful arguments, Dawkins included. I suppose it could be true of SOME atheists, somewhere.

  9. Michael – ““Darwin led me to atheism. Check.”
    SP – Yes, naturalistic explanations tend to remove a key motivation to make the god speculation.

    M – If one embraces God of the Gaps logic as a valid mode of reasoning.”
    Which most theists do, particularly children. While you and I are interested in the minutia of apologetics the great majority of theists just go about their daily lives, and the essence of the god of the gaps is very much a part of their thinking.

    “Dawkins’s atheism is built on God of the Gaps reasoning,”
    ??? Sorry, you lost me on that one. Atheism, or at least the brand of that particular atheist, is based on god of the gaps? Don’t know how you arrived at that notion.

    “The only ones who think a “very good case can be made for this” are New Atheists. It’s not exactly a mainstream scholarly position.”
    Argumentum ad populum.

    “We atheists only attack religion with reason and evidence. Check”
    “TFBW provided it above: (@3:50) “I think it’s right to attack religion — I think it’s right to attack any false beliefs — but always to do it on intellectual grounds, always to do it using argument, and evidence, rather than insult.”
    Those are 2 very different statements. Dawkins made a clear statement of what is right to do. The author reworded that statement falsely into the form of an unsupportable claim of universal right action. Once again, the actual words of Dawkins are reasonable, the strawman version of the author are unreasonable, but then, that is the essence of the strawman argument. Pity the author chooses to employ this obvious and false tactic repeatedly.

  10. “SP – Yes, naturalistic explanations tend to remove a key motivation to make the god speculation.
    Kevin – Only if one is a shallow thinker.”
    Hmm…ironic that an accusation of shallow thinking would be made in so few unsupported words.

    “SP – Yes, a very good case can be made for this, although the term “balance” means different things to different people.
    Kevin – No, a good case cannot be made for this. One has to be an anti-religious ideologue or, again, a very shallow thinker to believe this is the case.”
    Well, let’s just start with the usual suspects…modern day Islamic fundamentalism, Sharia law, persecution of homosexuals, wars between religious sects, religiously endorsed subjugation of women, guilt about sex, encouragement of irrational “explanations”, suppression of scientific education, bizarre commandments under penalty of death, prayer as a substitute for life and health action…just for starters..

    Now, it is true that some people are motivated toward charitable acts by their religious beliefs, and some people are afraid of the magic man in the sky who will see them and punish them for their misdeeds, so it isn’t all bad, hence the word “balance”

    ” Furthermore, reason and evidence lead to belief in a creator.”
    Interesting. All attempts I have heard and seen presented along those lines over the last few decades have turned out to be fatally flawed arguments for something patently not in evidence, god.

    “Here you go, take the test!”
    Ok, that was kind of fun, good for a few chuckles. I liked the obvious allusion to PZ Myers, who is a total idiot in my view, but then he banned me for being “a fucking twit” within 4 hours of posting on so called “free”thoughtblogs, so I always enjoy a little jab at his silly self.

    Like most such little tests, I found most of the choices most of the time to be poorly worded and abstained because there was no essay answer available. I choose my own words. People who try to force me to choose one of the other of their words are met with abstention of response from me.

  11. Kevin says:

    “Hmm…ironic that an accusation of shallow thinking would be made in so few unsupported words.”

    Nothing in science impacts belief in God unless one is a YEC, then there are conflicts. The more scientists discover about the universe, the more certain I accept that atheism is not logically tenable, based on lack of evidence for a sufficient naturalistic explanation for existence and the mechanics thereof.

    Thus, something like evolution is only “evidence against God” if someone has severe short-sightedness with blinders on.

    “Now, it is true that some people are motivated toward charitable acts by their religious beliefs, and some people are afraid of the magic man in the sky who will see them and punish them for their misdeeds, so it isn’t all bad, hence the word “balance””

    Not to mention numerous scientific studies that link good mental health with being devout. Atheism is possibly the most depressing worldview that can be imagined, so that certainly is not a surprise. The problem is all the good that religious beliefs inspire are nowhere near as sensational as bad things, so it’s easy to be smitten by the idea of religion being negative “on balance”. There is zero supporting scientific or statistical evidence that it is so, that I’ve ever seen.

    “Interesting. All attempts I have heard and seen presented along those lines over the last few decades have turned out to be fatally flawed arguments for something patently not in evidence, god.”

    And every attempt I’ve seen at either attacking the existence of God based on evidence, or attempting to propose explanations for existence without God, has failed miserably. So I guess you are welcome to prove otherwise if you want to back your position up.

    On a related note, you said to Michael

    “Atheism, or at least the brand of that particular atheist, is based on god of the gaps? Don’t know how you arrived at that notion.”

    What would count as evidence for God?

  12. Kevin – “Nothing in science impacts belief in God unless one is a YEC”
    Scientific thinking, the scientific method, is the antithesis of theistic thinking, the speculation of god.

    In science we form a testable hypothesis, then make observations, attempt to falsify claims based on evidence, and provisionally accept a theory as the best available framework at this time. There are no scientific authorities. No person’s word is accepted on faith. All scientific findings are provisional since we must first make certain provisional postulates to even engage in the scientific method.

    “I accept that atheism is not logically tenable, based on lack of evidence for a sufficient naturalistic explanation for existence and the mechanics thereof.”
    The speculation of god only pushes this fundamental problem back a step to the inevitable question of who or what created god, unless god is eternal, in which case something can be eternal, and the conservation of matter/energy is strong evidence that eternal thing is the physical stuff of existence.

    “Thus, something like evolution is only “evidence against God” if someone has severe short-sightedness with blinders on.”
    Biological evolution is not evidence against a deistic god who set everything in motion and then stood back to watch the clockwork whir and tick. However, biological evolution is strong evidence against the stories in the Bible, Qur’an and many other creation myths.

    “And every attempt I’ve seen at either attacking the existence of God based on evidence, or attempting to propose explanations for existence without God, has failed miserably”
    The ultimate question of why there is something as opposed to absolutely nothing at all remains insoluble, and the speculation of god suffers from that same difficulty. Even if we say god is eternal we still have no answer as to why there is an existing eternal god as opposed to absolutely nothing at all.

    As for evidence for god there simply isn’t any. Where is this god of yours? Why does she play hide and seek with us, only showing herself in dreams and vague feelings and during times of severe injury or other states apart from fully functional waking reason and observation? Why does this most powerful force of nature that interacts with matter so strongly remain undetectable to our eyes and ears and all our most sensitive scientific instruments?

    I cannot disprove teapots in orbit, but if you assert teapots in orbit it is your burden to prove them, not my burden to disprove them. There are an unlimited number of speculations you can make that I cannot disprove, but why should I have to? There is simply no evidence for them so I am convinced they are all false.

    “What would count as evidence for God?”
    I will leave that up to the almighty, I am sure she can think of something. The presuppositionalists will say we all know in our hearts there is a god, and I suppose that an omnipotent being could by definition instill that sense in us all, however she has failed to do so with me.

  13. Kevin says:

    Haha, she.

  14. Michael says:

    Kevin: What would count as evidence for God?
    Stardusty: I will leave that up to the almighty, I am sure she can think of something.

    Looks like classic evasion to me. So why did Stardusty evade Kevin’s question? Because, for Stardusty, nothing is allowed to count as evidence for the existence of God. So, of course, since nothing is allowed to count as evidence for God, Stardusty tells us that there is no evidence for God.
    The glorious implosion of the closed mind does not impress me.

    Of course, Startdusty could falsify my explanation with ease. Just answer Kevin’s question.

  15. TFBW says:

    Let us clarify the question. What empirical data could, in principle, support the hypothesis that God exists? Include reasons for your answer.

  16. SteveK says:

    “… in which case something can be eternal, and the conservation of matter/energy is strong evidence that eternal thing is the physical stuff of existence.”

    This conserving force is eternally acting on the physical stuff to conserve it. It is therefore not identical to the physical stuff. There’s your first problem.

    Then there’s the force eternally acting on the physical stuff to form it in an orderly fashion and sustain that order over time. It too is not identical to the physical stuff. There’s your second problem.

  17. Doug says:

    The speculation of god only pushes this fundamental problem back a step to the inevitable question of who or what created god

    In a court of law, once it has been determined that the accused committed the crime, nobody talks about “the ‘inevitable’ question of who or what [caused the accused …]”. If your garden has been decimated and you discover rabbit tracks, you don’t discuss “the ‘inevitable’ question of who or what [caused the rabbit …]”. That’s just not how (good) thinking is done. The fact that God is (or “postulated to be”, if you insist) an agent means that the “inevitable” question is, indeed, avoided. In fact, the question is not so much inevitable as incoherent.

  18. SteveK says:

    “Why does this most powerful force of nature that interacts with matter so strongly remain undetectable to our eyes and ears and all our most sensitive scientific instruments?”

    You admitted to already detecting it in the form of a force of conservation so this question has been addressed. You want to assign this powerful force to physical stuff, but we have no evidence of anything physical that can eternally conserve, by force, the stuff of matter/energy. Do you think conservation happens by way of magic?

  19. TFBW – “What empirical data could, in principle, support the hypothesis that God exists?”
    Whadayagot?

    You are the one proposing this unevidenced thing. Presumably you feel you have some empirical data to support this speculation of yours. What is it?

    What would it take for me to believe the unbelievable? I cannot imagine such a thing, I admit. Throw me a bone here, please. What is this evidence you seem to be suggesting might be available?

  20. TFBW says:

    What’s the point of me randomly guessing at things which might convince you? You know your own mind, and if you can’t imagine any such thing which would persuade you, then the safest conclusion is that no possible thing exists. Feel free to prove me wrong by counter-example.

  21. SteveK – “This conserving force is eternally acting on the physical stuff to conserve it. It is therefore not identical to the physical stuff. There’s your first problem.”
    Why must there be a conserving “force”? Sorry, you lost me at hello.

    “Then there’s the force eternally acting on the physical stuff to form it in an orderly fashion and sustain that order over time.”
    Why must there be a “sustaining force”? Are you suggesting stuff will just spontaneously disappear unless continuously “sustained” by a “force”?

  22. TFBW – “if you can’t imagine any such thing which would persuade you, then the safest conclusion is that no possible thing exists”
    Indeed, welcome to the side of atheism, my brother 🙂

  23. TFBW, sorry, my sexism is showing again, my brother or sister or whatever multiplicity of heretofore undefined genders you might identify yourself as and I have no idea as to how to properly form them into sibling references…but really, I can’t imagine what would be convincing.

    To me the very notion of a god is incoherent and meaningless. If you think you have some kind of evidence for this god of yours, please, by all means, share it.

  24. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, you’re missing the point. You are completely blind to your circular logic. You said to TFBW “You are the one proposing this unevidenced thing.” You cannot declare it as “unevidenced” if you admit that you can’t imagine what evidence for it would be. If you are incapable of recognizing what would constitute evidence then it is possible that there is evidence and you just don’t recognize it. That’s pretty easy to understand, right?

    A: “There is no evidence that my client killed the victim!”
    B: “Can you give an example of one thing that would count as evidence supporting that he did kill the victim? That is to say, what is the evidence that is lacking?”
    A: “No. I have no idea what evidence would look like.”

    Mr. A sounds like an idiot, doesn’t he? Perhaps you should just say that you have no idea whether or not there is a God because you don’t know what the evidence would look like if there was one.

  25. TFBW says:

    @Stardusty Psyche: rest assured that my identity has very little to do with my gender.

    To me the very notion of a god is incoherent and meaningless. If you think you have some kind of evidence for this god of yours, please, by all means, share it.

    If the very notion is incoherent and meaningless to you, then there’s no point in trying to share evidence. To someone who has no grasp of quantum physics (and I have very little grasp of it myself), the two slit experiment is similarly meaningless as evidence. You would first require a grasp of the theoretical subject matter before the physical data held any sort of significance as evidence. Evidence does not speak for itself: it is the product of real-world data, a theory explaining that data, and a mind which grasps the significance of the data in light of the theory. You could be immersed in a sea of evidence and be utterly oblivious to it if you failed to comprehend the theory behind it.

    If the term “God” means nothing to you, as you say, you would not be persuaded of His existence even if you were presented with irrefutable proof of his existence. Lacking a grasp of the terms involved, you’d have no way to comprehend the proof. “God” must first become a meaningful term to you before we can even discuss evidence. In fact, the lack of comprehension regarding “God” as a term fully explains your lack of ability to imagine what the evidence for His existence would look like.

  26. Michael says:

    You are the one proposing this unevidenced thing.

    Note that Stardusty proposes God is an “unevidenced thing.”

    What would it take for me to believe the unbelievable? I cannot imagine such a thing, I admit.

    Yet he has no idea what would even count as evidence for God. He just knows God is “unevidenced” and “unbelievable.”
    This is characteristic of a closed-minded approach.

    Throw me a bone here, please. What is this evidence you seem to be suggesting might be available?

    Here Stardusty is trying to change the topic to position himself as one who will pass judgment. But he has made it clear that, for him, nothing could count as evidence for God. Thus, he’s not really asking for someone to throw him a bone. He’s asking that someone throw him a life line. For as long as it remains clear to others that nothing will count as evidence for God, people will recognize that his talk about “unevidenced things” is just posturing.

  27. Kevin says:

    Stardusty’s ignostic approach is the only defense at this point. When asked what would count as evidence, nothing in nature can possibly count because that would more strongly legitimize God-belief. Can’t propose miracles, either, since that would be God of the gaps reasoning or ALIENS!!!. So, such atheists have two options when confronted with this question – tuck tail and run while pretending to feign disinterest in continuing the conversation, or turn to the ignostic cop-out and declare the entire topic incoherent. Yet one more rationalized barrier to allow them to sit back and not have to actually consider the question.

  28. Doug – “In a court of law…”
    We are not in a court of law.

    “The fact that God is (or “postulated to be”, if you insist) an agent means that the “inevitable” question is, indeed, avoided.”
    Non-sequitur. Where did this “agent” come from? What is the evidence for this “agent”? Please point me to this “agent’. What is this “agent” made of? What are the properties of this “agent”? Why does this “agent” exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

    Simply declaring that you want to stop asking questions at some arbitrary point does not invalidate the questions that are indeed inevitable.

  29. SteveK says:

    “Why must there be a “sustaining force”?”

    Because physical effects don’t happen without a causal force.

    “Are you suggesting stuff will just spontaneously disappear unless continuously “sustained” by a “force”?”

    I’m suggesting that no physical effect occurs without a cause.

    I’m suggesting the physical effect of multiple parts maintaining their physical shape/form can only occur if there is active cause doing the maintaining. So, for example…

    I’m suggesting there’s a force acting upon the hydrogen atom to keep it from “falling apart” to it’s more basic parts.

    And I’m suggesting the same is true for those more basic parts down to the level the most basic part of all “stuff”. Nothing happens in this physical world without a cause to make it happen. To believe otherwise is to believe in magic.

  30. SteveK says:

    “To me the very notion of a god is incoherent and meaningless. If you think you have some kind of evidence for this god of yours, please, by all means, share it.”

    I just did. Admittedly, there’s more to this causal force (God) than we are talking about here – but for now your demands have been met.

    Now, I suppose you’ll attempt to argue that this causal force isn’t evidence for God. Okay, go ahead and make your case. That is YOUR burden.

  31. Doug says:

    @Stardusty,

    Where did this “agent” come from? What is the evidence for this “agent”? Please point me to this “agent’. What is this “agent” made of? What are the properties of this “agent”? Why does this “agent” exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

    You seem to know next to nothing about agents. Perhaps you should ask questions about agents in general before getting hung up about an agent in particular. If you knew something about agents, you would appreciate that the important questions (which do not include “what is this ‘agent’ made of?”) are quite disjoint from the original claim that:

    god only pushes this fundamental problem back a step

    And you can pretend all you like that any question once thought is “inevitably” asked. But it doesn’t magically render such a question in the least bit relevant.

  32. Kevin – “Yet one more rationalized barrier to allow them to sit back and not have to actually consider the question.”
    Well, you are partly correct in that I don’t give the question much consideration.

    Theists have made a number of proposals, so I do consider those proposed evidences and have found them all to be without merit.

    Ok, how about god shows up and starts to read my mind? That would be pretty good evidence. I mean, she could just tell me the exact words and the exact images in my mind at length and in great detail. I would be hard pressed to come up with a way aliens could do that even with advanced technology.

    Here’s another one. Howzabout she shows up in a global first person vision, being omnipresent and all, and announces that all human body deformations, diseases, and medical defects will be immediately cured. Poof, all amputated limbs regrow instantaneously, all human cancers are eliminated, bypass surgeries and stints disappear in favor of normal unclogged vessels, globally, simultaneously, instantaneously, and universally…that would be pretty impressive.

    How come we never see “miracles” like that? It is always somebody who got better for a little while in a way that sometimes happens anyhow, never a severed limb that regenerates…almost like there are no miracles at all!

  33. Doug – “You seem to know next to nothing about agents.”
    Indeed, that notion seems entirely fanciful to me as some kind of spiritual entity. You are apparently unable or unwilling to educate me.

  34. TFBW says:

    Stardusty Psyche said:

    I would be hard pressed to come up with a way aliens could do that even with advanced technology.

    So this is an unabashed example of “God of the Gaps” reasoning, then? That is, if you can’t think how it might be done with technology (or natural causes), then it must be an act of God?

    Also, do you suddenly understand the concept of “God” now? I thought it was meaningless to you.

  35. “Nothing happens in this physical world without a cause to make it happen. To believe otherwise is to believe in magic.”
    Isn’t god essentially the same thing as magic? If not, what is the difference?

    Oh, but I suppose you are asserting the first cause argument. What then caused god? Oh yes, god is the uncaused cause, or some such incoherent word salad. I call that special pleading.

    Perhaps you mean that god is not physical. Yet, god affects the physical, and the physical affects god (at least if the bible is to be taken as a description of god). More incoherent jumble.

    Or are you a substance dualist? If so, how is this not just another form of the physical?

    The human brain cannot understand the origins of our apparent reality, therefore god. I call that a non-sequitur.

  36. Michael says:

    Ok, how about god shows up and starts to read my mind? That would be pretty good evidence. I mean, she could just tell me the exact words and the exact images in my mind at length and in great detail. I would be hard pressed to come up with a way aliens could do that even with advanced technology.

    But what if you had a plausible naturalistic explanation for that? Would it still be evidence for God?

    Here’s another one. Howzabout she shows up in a global first person vision, being omnipresent and all, and announces that all human body deformations, diseases, and medical defects will be immediately cured. Poof, all amputated limbs regrow instantaneously, all human cancers are eliminated, bypass surgeries and stints disappear in favor of normal unclogged vessels, globally, simultaneously, instantaneously, and universally…that would be pretty impressive.

    WHY would any of this be evidence for God?

  37. Kevin says:

    “I would be hard pressed to come up with a way aliens could do that even with advanced technology.”

    And a tribesman in the deep Amazon would be hard pressed to explain how we can see the inside of a human body without cutting it open. Does that mean x-rays are evidence for this female deity of yours? Or do you concede that God of the gaps reasoning is bad?

    FYI, human technology has progressed to the point they can attach electrodes, ask you to picture a word or object, and then successfully guess what you were picturing. Thoughts are formed by neurological patterns, and those signals can indeed be read in theory.

  38. SteveK says:

    SP
    Instead of criticizing what I’m NOT saying, how about responding to what I DID say? You’re evading.

  39. FZM says:

    Oh, but I suppose you are asserting the first cause argument. What then caused god? Oh yes, god is the uncaused cause, or some such incoherent word salad. I call that special pleading.

    As far as I know first cause arguments usually state that anything that changes, or anything whose existence is contingent, requires a cause. In this kind of argument God is also usually shown to be something that does not change and whose existence is not contingent, therefore something that does not require a cause.

    This does not appear logically incoherent to me.

    Perhaps you mean that god is not physical. Yet, god affects the physical, and the physical affects god (at least if the bible is to be taken as a description of god). More incoherent jumble.

    Or are you a substance dualist? If so, how is this not just another form of the physical?

    I think you may need to define your understanding of the ‘physical’ more carefully; if the ‘physical’ can include things like Cartesian mental substances it seems too broad and therefore possibly empty. Unless ‘the physical’ being used as something like a synonym for ‘reality’.

    Otherwise people will likely accuse you in return of putting forward views that are an incoherent jumble.

  40. FZM says:

    An edit:

    The first line in my reply above:

    “As far as I know first cause arguments usually state that anything that changes, or anything whose existence is contingent, requires a cause.”

    should read:

    “As far as I know first cause arguments usually state that any change, or anything whose existence is contingent, requires a cause.”

  41. Doug says:

    @Stardusty,

    Indeed, [the] notion [of an “agent”] seems entirely fanciful to me as some kind of spiritual entity. You are apparently unable or unwilling to educate me.

    Perhaps we can begin by considering your agency in the present conversation.

  42. Doug – “Perhaps we can begin by considering your agency in the present conversation.”
    Ok, I don’t consider myself to have agency. Yes, I detect myself making decisions, but machines also make decisions and I do not ascribe agency to them. Sensory data is simply processed. Decisions are made algorithmically by logic elements in the data processing mechanism of a machine, in my case I attribute these functions to my brain.

    Brain function is sufficient to account for my actions in conducting this conversation.

  43. Doug says:

    @Stardusty,
    Sorry: your inability to distinguish between the “decision” made by a computer and the “decision” made by yourself represents your problem. Prescription: spend some time in the company of children. Do the necessary “data processing” to compare them to the behavior of computers. Only nth-degree closed-mindedness will allow you to maintain your pathetically inaccurate opinion after such an exercise.

  44. Doug says:

    @Stardusty,
    Are you aware of Deb Roy’s famous experiment? Look it up. Explain to us how he is unable to replicate his son’s behavior having recorded all of his son’s sensory experience? Explain how that inability is not strong evidence for the fact that human behavior cannot be reduced to data processing?

  45. Ryan says:

    Stardusty,

    Is your position then that if there is something that we cannot explain, there is a God?

    So your reasoning goes as follows: “Event A is unexplained, ergo God exists.” If that’s all you require then I’m sure we can all give examples of many things in this universe that are completely unexplained and even unexplainable (i.e. there is probably no way for us to ever comprehend). As has been pointed out, this is essentially the “God of the gaps” argument, which atheists have said is not evidence for God, but when pressed to tell what would constitute evidence for God it always turns out to be a form of “gap” (something unexplainable). So you think the “gap” argument is valid then?

  46. Ryan – “So your reasoning goes as follows: “Event A is unexplained, ergo God exists.””
    Sorry Ryan, it seems you got out of sync in the conversation or something, dunno. I am a skeptical antitheist. I don’t see why you ascribing these positions (falsely) to me.

  47. Doug – “Sorry: your inability to distinguish between the “decision” made by a computer and the “decision” made by yourself represents your problem”
    Why? Both are decisions made by data processing systems. There are differences of architecture and algorithm, certainly. How is any of this a problem for me?

    “Explain to us how he is unable to replicate his son’s behavior having recorded all of his son’s sensory experience?”
    I didn’t find that attempt specifically. He gathered an enormous data set and has a team of people analyzing and representing that analysis in various forms.

    In general, there is no expectation that merely recording all sensory experience will allow one to replicate the system. For that one would have to replicate the brain, and at this time the brain is too complex and presents technical difficulties blocking reverse engineering it in complete detail. given the present state of our technology.

    “the fact that human behavior cannot be reduced to data processing?”
    You mean in present practice? Complexity of detail is beyond our present technological capabilities.

    You mean in principle? You have established no such fact.

  48. Michael – “WHY would any of this be evidence for God?”
    If god is a being who can make stuff happen with super duper powers that defy all alternative explanations and somebody shows up and does things that require such super duper powers then that is evidence that being is that kind of god.

    That doesn’t mean this super duper powerful being is perfectly moral, or the creator of the universe, or the guarantor of eternal life, or any other thing commonly applied to the speculation of god, just that she provided some interesting evidence kind of taking a step in that direction.

    I just said it would be impressive, not that it would prove the whole spectrum of speculations so often ascribed to this imagined thing people call god.

  49. Kevin – “And a tribesman in the deep Amazon would be hard pressed to explain how we can see the inside of a human body without cutting it open. Does that mean x-rays are evidence for this female deity of yours?”
    If god is defined as a being able to use a technological device to peer into the body of a human being then a radiologist is a god by definition.

    That does not make the radiologist omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, perfectly good, or any other such thing.

  50. FZM – “God is also usually shown to be something that does not change”
    What kind of god is that? In the bible god changes all over the place.

    Maybe you are not arguing from a Christian perspective, well, ok, but first god does one thing, then she does something else, yet god is unchanging? And sure, maybe we should throw in she is outside of time as she acts in this time sequence of events, as long as we are speaking in iincoherencies

    “Otherwise people will likely accuse you in return of putting forward views that are an incoherent jumble.”
    Indeed, every time I recount the assertions of theism I inevitably express incoherencies.

  51. TFBW says:

    Both are decisions made by data processing systems.

    This is known as begging the question.

    I’m kind of over Stardusty’s commentary. Quantity is no substitute for quality.

  52. Michael says:

    If god is a being who can make stuff happen with super duper powers that defy all alternative explanations and somebody shows up and does things that require such super duper powers then that is evidence that being is that kind of god.

    In other words, what makes it evidence for God is that it is something that defies all non-theistic, naturalistic explanations.

    In other words, what you would count as evidence for God is……a gap.

    Your atheism is premised on the validity of god of the gaps reasoning. If that reasoning is not valid, then all of your claims about God being “unevidenced” are meaningless babble. You have painted yourself into the corner of the forever closed-minded – You need a gap as evidence for God, but if anyone supplies you a gap, they will be dismissed as using the irrational, god-of-the-gaps argument.

  53. FZM says:

    Indeed, every time I recount the assertions of theism I inevitably express incoherencies.

    But what is not clear from what you’ve been posting is that it’s the ‘assertions of theism’ that are incoherent and not your own thinking and assertions.

  54. Doug says:

    @Stardusty,

    …at this time the brain is too complex and presents technical difficulties blocking reverse engineering it in complete detail. given the present state of our technology.

    but in spite of that, you claim (i.e., without evidence) that the brain is simply a data-processing factory. Once again, the proper prescription for your error is to spend time with children. Only the most ignorant and the most “educated” could possibly make the mistake you are confidently making! Hint: data-processing factories have no emotion, no morality, no rationality, no aesthetic sense, no sympathy, none of the things that “make us human”! (fair warning: you can’t snow me on this — I’ve spent the last twenty years in industrial AI research)

  55. Ryan says:

    Stardusty,

    A few questions: (1) Is your assertion that the brain is a “data-processing factory” an objective fact or simply one of your “postulates” that is not an objective fact. If the latter, I simply postulate otherwise. (2) Is this assertion “the brain is a data-processing factory” the consensus of the qualified experts, or do you not trust science and postulate your own ideas? (3) Is God-of-the-gaps a compelling evidence for the existence of God?

  56. Doug – “but in spite of that, you claim (i.e., without evidence) that the brain is simply a data-processing factory.”
    Actually, I said brain function is sufficient, and there are mountains of evidence for just that. Brain injuries are one important way we can ethically study the relationship between the human brain and human thought.

    Dissection of the brain provides more evidence, as does study of the signal flow through brain cells. Simulation of neural networks, and brain activity monitoring and scanning techniques also provide great evidence.

    Your term “without evidence” is so grossly mistaken I really must ask if you have seriously considered this question at all.

    “Hint: data-processing factories have no emotion, no morality, no rationality, no aesthetic sense, no sympathy, none of the things that “make us human”! ”
    How do you know any of that? Where else do these things come from but brain function? Do you suppose humans have some kind of ethereal soulstuff floating around in the skull that accounts for all these things? If so, what is this stuff made of? If there is such stuff isn’t that just another kind of material that is doing data processing?

    You have made a strong negative claim. Prove it.

  57. Michael –
    ” SP -If god is a being who can make stuff happen with super duper powers that defy all alternative explanations and somebody shows up and does things that require such super duper powers then that is evidence that being is that kind of god.”
    This is a simple definitional conditional statement. It has nothing to do with a god of the gaps argument.

    If I define a widget as a thing that can do X that no other known thing can do and a thing I observe does X that is evidence that thing is a widget.

    If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, you got a duck.

    Of course, these are not proofs, these are evidences, and the conditions of those evidences must be carefully considered.

    “In other words, what makes it evidence for God is that it is something that defies all non-theistic, naturalistic explanations.”
    No, I counted as evidence the observation of a particular being taking a particular action.

    “In other words, what you would count as evidence for God is……a gap.”
    No, it is based on observation of a being in action. Where is this god of yours for me to observe in action? Please point me to her. Which face in the crowd is she?

  58. Ryan – “A few questions: (1) Is your assertion that the brain is a “data-processing factory” an objective fact or simply one of your “postulates” that is not an objective fact. If the latter, I simply postulate otherwise. (2) Is this assertion “the brain is a data-processing factory” the consensus of the qualified experts, or do you not trust science and postulate your own ideas? (3) Is God-of-the-gaps a compelling evidence for the existence of God?”

    Ah the power of the strawman! I did not say ““data-processing factory””. That term was (falsely) ascribed to me and now you are repeating it. This is one way rumors get started.

    Brain injury study, neurosurgery, brain dissection, animal studies, brain cell experiments, neural network simulations, brain activity sensing… If you do not know about the evidences for the brain as a data processing system you simply have not considered the matter in any significant degree.

    God of the gaps? What gap exactly? I do not see any being filling in any gaps.

    I do not know the 27th digit to the right of the decimal point for pi, that is a gap in my knowledge, therefore god. Non-sequitur.

  59. SteveK says:

    SP
    Where else do these things come from but brain function?

    We do know there’s no *scientific* evidence for your claim that brain function is sufficient. You are projecting beyond what the *scientific* evidence can show. Also known as begging the question.

    We therefore must look to philosophical and metaphysical answers using various evidences. It is there that you will find all kinds of non-question begging answers. Your answer – the physicalistic answer – is one of those answers, but it is considered to be not as sufficient when compared to other answers that go beyond physicalism.

  60. SteveK – “Your answer – the physicalistic answer – is one of those answers, but it is considered to be not as sufficient when compared to other answers that go beyond physicalism.”
    What could exist beyond the physical that would account for how we think?

    How could anything beyond the physical be said to exist at all?

  61. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    You have made a strong negative claim. Prove it.

    You (also) have made a strong negative claim (i.e., “there ain’t nothing but data processing going on”). Prove it.

  62. Doug says:

    How could anything beyond the physical be said to exist at all?

    Does pi exist? How about infinity? These are “concepts”. Do concepts exist? If you say that they are simply a function of (human?) brains, then the next question is: “why cannot we measure the brain function of pi and get something close to 3.14?”/”why cannot we measure the brain function of infinity and get something approaching an infinity?”

  63. SteveK says:

    SP,
    “How could anything beyond the physical be said to exist at all?”

    The “how” has been answered via Plato, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. Which one is the most compelling is arguable. Most would argue that physicalism is one of the least compelling. You aren’t one of these people. But don’t be fooled into thinking YOU that have NO burden here. You are swimming upstream of most people’s arguments and claiming that you are the smart one. If your arguments were convincing there would be more of you.

  64. Kevin says:

    You guys are debating someone who doesn’t know that the Christian god we believe in is universally referred to with male pronouns, or is too immature to use the correct pronouns. Good luck.

  65. Doug -“SP How could anything beyond the physical be said to exist at all?”

    “Does pi exist?”
    As a so-called abstract object? That term is oxymoronic, incoherent, and meaningless.

    “How about infinity? ”
    Sorry, my brain is not big enough for infinity.

    “These are “concepts”. Do concepts exist? If you say that they are simply a function of (human?) brains, then the next question is: “why cannot we measure the brain function of pi and get something close to 3.14?””
    Because it is technically infeasible. A concept is a dynamic process of a distributed network. We lack the technical means to do a brain “wiretap” to “catch” (monitor, record, and decode) those signals as they go by.

  66. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    A concept is a dynamic process of a distributed network.

    Nonsense. You used the word “incoherent”. Does it mean anything? What is “meaning”. You will either believe that meaning exists and discovered that something beyond the physical can be said to exist. Or you will demonstrate the meaning of “incoherent” by claiming that meaning does not exist. Your call.

  67. SteveK – “SP,“How could anything beyond the physical be said to exist at all?””

    “The “how” has been answered via Plato, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.”
    Only with incoherent terms like “abstract object”. Substance dualism is an alternative, but merely a speculation of some undiscovered form of the physical.

    “Most would argue that physicalism is one of the least compelling. You aren’t one of these people. But don’t be fooled into thinking YOU that have NO burden here. You are swimming upstream of most people’s arguments and claiming that you are the smart one. If your arguments were convincing there would be more of you.”
    Argumentum ad populum does not shift the burden logically. “Abstract object” is an incoherent notion and substance dualism is just speculative physicalism.

    The evidence for the physical is visceral, powerful, and vastly abundant. Where is this soulstuff the majority keeps talking about?

    I consider swimming upstream to be a strong sign I am moving in the right direction. Those we admire most as the pioneers of great concepts were often considered oddballs or even subversive in their day. Today we call them ahead of their time. Not that I expect to end up in any history books of the future, I am just a regular guy, but given the wretched state of the world today I would feel I was doing something fundamentally wrong if I were not swimming upstream.

  68. Doug says:

    @Dusty,
    You’re likely someone who appreciates science because it “works”. Are you so ignorant of the history of thought that you don’t appreciate that the birth of science depended on such things as “abstract objects”, which you now dismiss as “oxymoronic, incoherent, and meaningless”? Talk about cutting off the branch you’re sitting on!

  69. Kevin -“You guys are debating someone who doesn’t know that the Christian god we believe in is universally referred to with male pronouns, ”
    Well, there are those who say Yahweh is the biggest dick, but I think Allah takes that title 🙂

    “or is too immature to use the correct pronouns. Good luck.”
    Oh, dear me, it’s just a little grammatical turnabout that breaks up a few all too easy assumptions.

    I think we all know English is famously lacking in a non-gender specific singular pronoun. Many attempts have been made to address this glaring shortcoming of our language, most are rather clumsy, so by tradition scientists and others will often use the word “she” as the default pronoun.

    The notion that god would have a sex seems rather odd to me. That strange out of place feeling you get when I refer to any god as “she” is probably about the same feeling I get when you call god “he”.

  70. Doug says:

    @Dusty,
    Careful there – you might inadvertently reveal that the Great and Powerful Psyche has really just been a troll all along.

  71. Doug – “@Dusty,A concept is a dynamic process of a distributed network.”

    “Nonsense. You used the word “incoherent”. Does it mean anything? What is “meaning”.”
    Meaning describes a relationship between things. When 2 mutually exclusive words are jammed together into 1 term that term is oxymoronic, which means self-contradictory.

    “You will either believe that meaning exists and discovered that something beyond the physical can be said to exist.”
    Meaning is our description of the relationship between physical things.

    “Or you will demonstrate the meaning of “incoherent” by claiming that meaning does not exist.”
    Exist how? As some etherial thing floating around out there? How do we somehow snatch these floating meanings out of the ether and into our thoughts?

  72. Doug “@Dusty,You’re likely someone who appreciates science because it “works”. Are you so ignorant of the history of thought that you don’t appreciate that the birth of science depended on such things as “abstract objects”, which you now dismiss as “oxymoronic, incoherent, and meaningless”? Talk about cutting off the branch you’re sitting on!”
    Where is this “abstract object” I am sitting on? My brain does indeed model the outside world.

    In computer programming we speak of abstraction as a layer of representation.

    We imagine things. That process of imagination is perceived in our internal data processing self monitoring feed back paths as an abstraction.

    Believing that our fantasies exist outside of our thoughts is one indication of insanity.

  73. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    My brain does indeed model the outside world.

    Prove it.

    a layer of representation

    is not an abstraction. Sure, programmers talk about layers of representation and call them abstractions. But using the label doesn’t magically make it anything but what it was before.

    Believing that your fantasies exist outside of your thoughts is one indications of insanity.

  74. Doug – “@Dusty, My brain does indeed model the outside world.”
    “Prove it.”
    You may want to study the effects of brain injuries, drug effects, brain scanning technologies and on and on and on.
    There is an enormous literature on this subject. You can start with this on Cognitive Neuroscience and go from there:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_neuroscience

  75. Doug says:

    @Dusty,
    My daughter’s degrees are in cognitive neuroscience. My career was in industrial AI. I know something about that. I might even know more than you on the topic. Do you really think that literature on cognitive neuroscience is “proof” that your brain “does indeed model the outside world”? Or were you just trying to change the topic?

    The (plenty of existing) evidence that there is correlation between the brain and the mind isn’t evidence that the mind is “nothing but” the brain. There simply is no logic to get you there from there.

    For your reading list, you might like to pick up (and digest):
    Menuge, Popper & Eccles , or Beauregarde & O’Leary — better than Wikipedia, any day 😉

    But as I’ve already said twice: the best remedy for the error you confidently assert is to spend time with children. Treat it like an opportunity for scientific observation. While you are at it, make their lives better. You won’t regret it. And you won’t walk away as confused as you are now. Off for a week’s vacation – ciao.

  76. SteveK says:

    “Only with incoherent terms like “abstract object”.

    And with this statement you’re telling me that YOU don’t understand what the teachers (as a group) are talking. You do this while at the same time lecturing them on how wrong they probably are. Genius!

    “I consider swimming upstream to be a strong sign I am moving in the right direction”.

    You are that freshman student who thinks the professors don’t know what they are talking about and takes pride in swimming upstream. When they get together as a group to explain why they swim in the opposite direction than you do (why physicalism is less convincing), you blame them for YOUR inability to understand the subject. Ha!

  77. SteveK says:

    are talking about*

  78. Kevin says:

    “The notion that god would have a sex seems rather odd to me. That strange out of place feeling you get when I refer to any god as “she” is probably about the same feeling I get when you call god “he”.”

    Whether or not it is a literal sex, God in the Bible – the only deity Michael would provide evidence for per your request, as you well know – is referred to as the Father. He. “She” would be unrecognizable in any referral to the Christian god in any context.

    You: Do you believe in God?
    Any Random Christian: Yes.
    You: Have you met her?
    ARC: Who?

    As you well know.

    Now if you want to refer to some generic deity as “she” for whatever reason, instead of “it” – as I would think you’d do if you found the concept of “god” having a sex to be strange – well then have at it. But “she” is not who any of us would be postulating, now is it?

    As you well know.

  79. Michael says:

    This is a simple definitional conditional statement. It has nothing to do with a god of the gaps argument.

    Wrong. It’s just a way to repackage the god of the gaps argument. You need God to do something that cannot possibly be explained by natural causes – a Gap.

    No, I counted as evidence the observation of a particular being taking a particular action.

    The “particular action” is something that cannot be explained by natural causes – a Gap. Yet you would not count it as evidence because it is a…….Gap.

    “In other words, what you would count as evidence for God is……a gap.”
    No, it is based on observation of a being in action.

    Yet if the “observation” is not a gap, it does not count.

    Where is this god of yours for me to observe in action? Please point me to her. Which face in the crowd is she?

    Are you trying to pretend you are open-minded about the existence of God? Point me to the evidence of your open mind, Dusty. What’s that? Can’t do it, can ya?

  80. Doug – “Do you really think that literature on cognitive neuroscience is “proof” that your brain “does indeed model the outside world”?
    Science doesn’t do proof. Science does evidence. I make assertions, not with the idea I can absolutely prove them, rather, because I have good reasons to make those assertions and it becomes tedious and cumbersome and linguistically clumsy to continually add all the implicit qualifiers of the limits of science to each assertion.

    The sun operates by nuclear fusion.

    See, there I go again. You may now say “prove it”, then I will point you to the vast literature on the subject, after which you will come back and tell me “that is not proof” and I will again yawn.

    “The (plenty of existing) evidence that there is correlation between the brain and the mind isn’t evidence that the mind is “nothing but” the brain.”
    Of course it is evidence of just that. Evidence is not proof, again, science does not do proof.

    And what is up with you and the children thing? People with children have all manner of opinions and conclusions about just about everything. How is that supposed to be some kind of argument for your position? Somehow, if I spend some more time with children I will come to agree with you?

  81. SteveK – “genius” “Ha”

    Where is this “abstract object”? What is it made of? How do these “objects” float around out there somehow? How do we snatch them out of the ether and put them to use in just the right sequence as we think?

    I generally have a high degree of respect for professors. Typically, they are vast storehouses of knowledge and possess high levels of intelligence, analytical skills, and powers of articulation.

    But not always. Sometimes whole departments or even whole faculties can be locked in a groupthink of some very bad ideas.

    The notion that there is a realization of an “abstract object”, that an “abstract object” somehow exists outside our thoughts is incoherent, and all the professors in the world cannot make that nonsense term have meaning.

    When we say an object “exists in the abstract” that means it exists nowhere at all and is only a model of an imagined object with that model existing as dynamic brain states.

    If I imagine an “abstract building” to exist where you are standing does it actually exist where you are standing? And if the next person imagines an “abstract elephant”, and the next person an “abstract giraffe” and the next person and “abstract zombie” and on and on and on do all these “abstract objects” actually exist where you are standing?

    The inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality is one indication of insanity.

  82. Kevin – “But “she” is not who any of us would be postulating, now is it?
    As you well know.”

    Atheists sometimes get mad at me if they are off the SJW sort because I make no promise to call others by their preferred pronoun. I make no promise to participate in the imaginations of others.

    I sent a message to the Reason Rally telling them I am feeling emperorally fluid and today I feel I am Napoleon Bonaparte so I expect to be addressed as “your Majesty” and all those who fail to do so should be ejected from the event per their published code of conduct.

    I did not get any response. I wonder why.

    Actually, I do not know what the viewpoints are for the folks here, and yes I do know the historical use of the male pronoun and I have some problems with that historical use.

  83. Kevin says:

    Well I can sympathize with the preferred pronoun nonsense.

  84. Michael – “Are you trying to pretend you are open-minded about the existence of God? Point me to the evidence of your open mind, Dusty. What’s that? Can’t do it, can ya?”
    Oh yes, definitely, cause when I die and Muhammad introduces me to Allah I am going to be like “oh snaps, that stuff was real!!!”.

    And why do I have to figure this out again? Isn’t god the omniscient omnipotent one? Can’t she just figure out a way to instill this knowledge in me?

    I say that a direct observation of a being taking action X while being defined as the only being who can take action X is evidence that being is the being in the definition. Seems like trivial logic to me. Doesn’t do anybody any good really, but logically self consistent anyhow.

  85. SteveK says:

    “Sometimes whole departments or even whole faculties can be locked in a groupthink of some very bad ideas.”

    These groups have spent centuries testing their ideas and subjecting them to scrutiny from outsiders and peers. Yours is a nice theory but there’s no evidence for it.

  86. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Stardusty Psyche:

    “Science doesn’t do proof.”

    Of course it does. Just because you are completely ignorant of actual science like physics, does not mean there are no proofs. There are plenty of theorems (Noether’s theorem, the various no-go theorems, Bell inequalities, etc.) and no theory testing or actual knowledge would even be possible without deductive reasoning, that is, proofs.

  87. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    Somehow, if I spend some more time with children I will come to agree with you?

    If you knew something about computation and your mind were open (I can dream), and if you were to actually observe children carefully, you would eventually come to laugh at the notion that humans are just data-processors. I’ve been doing AI for more than twenty years. Young colleagues often come into the lab with your stance. They always shed it before their second child comes along. The only ones to maintain your position are the childless ones. Coincidence? I think not.

  88. Michael says:

    Dusty: Oh yes, definitely, cause when I die and Muhammad introduces me to Allah I am going to be like “oh snaps, that stuff was real!!!”.

    That doesn’t exactly count as evidence of your open mind. Why don’t you just be honest and admit you think theism is bullshit and its perfectly okay to be closed-minded about bullshit?

    And why do I have to figure this out again? Isn’t god the omniscient omnipotent one? Can’t she just figure out a way to instill this knowledge in me?

    It’s not knowledge; it’s choices. You have chosen atheism and are in the process of rationalizing that choice.

    I say that a direct observation of a being taking action X while being defined as the only being who can take action X is evidence that being is the being in the definition. Seems like trivial logic to me. Doesn’t do anybody any good really, but logically self consistent anyhow.

    “Action x” is supposed to be a miracle or sign, which is deemed evidence of God because it is a gap. Yet if someone were to propose a gap as evidence (the thing you claim that you need), you would dismiss it because it was a gap. You speak out both sides of your mouth; you demand something you will not accept. This is the predictable outcome of the closed-minded mental state.

  89. G. Rodrigues July 2, 2016 at 4:51 am
    “@Stardusty Psyche:“Science doesn’t do proof.””

    “Of course it does. Just because you are completely ignorant of actual science like physics,”
    * Ho hum, now I am ignorant, yawn.

    “does not mean there are no proofs. There are plenty of theorems (Noether’s theorem, the various no-go theorems, Bell inequalities, etc.)”
    * All of which rest upon mathematical postulates or axioms that are themselves not proved, therefore a theorem is not a true or objective or absolute or real proof, only a proof within a closed set of reasoning that rests upon unproved postulates of fact and process.

    “and no theory testing or actual knowledge would even be possible”
    * The only absolute knowledge shown to be possible is cogito ergo sum and its closely related corollaries.

    “without deductive reasoning, that is, proofs.”
    * The validity of deductive reasoning is itself not proved, rather, postulated.

    But then, I am just a little internet ignoramus, what do I know?

  90. Doug July 2, 2016 at 7:33 am
    “@Dusty, Somehow, if I spend some more time with children I will come to agree with you?”

    “If you knew something about computation and your mind were open (I can dream), and if you were to actually observe children carefully, you would eventually come to laugh at the notion that humans are just data-processors. I’ve been doing AI for more than twenty years. Young colleagues often come into the lab with your stance. They always shed it before their second child comes along.”
    * I have raised and nurtured children for decades from birth to adulthood. I was a child at one time. I also have decades of experience in computer programming and hardware design.

    I see nothing about any animal including ourselves that precludes the observation that we process data in our brains. How is that even controversial?

    ” The only ones to maintain your position are the childless ones. Coincidence? I think not.”
    * AI has not come to fruition with a comprehensive modeling of human thought and behavior, yet. Such starry eyed hopes were greatly premature. That project is going to take generations, perhaps centuries, to accomplish.

    Just because you can’t do it and have little hope of ever accomplishing this task in your lifetime does not mean in principle it cannot be done, just that it is a vastly complex and large technical problem with a great many unknowns yet to be solved.

    Have you considered that unrealistically high hopes for near term AI advancements may be coloring your apparently mystical view of our brains?

  91. Michael July 2, 2016 at 7:43 am
    “Why don’t you just be honest and admit you think theism is bullshit and its perfectly okay to be closed-minded about bullshit?”
    * I do think theism is bullshit but I don’t think it is okay to be closed minded in communicating with theists. I am not a fan of closed mindedness.

    “It’s not knowledge; it’s choices. You have chosen atheism and are in the process of rationalizing that choice.”
    * Choices are based on knowledge. So again, can’t she, being omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent and all omniomni and stuff, just inject the knowledge of her reality into my soulstuff floating around commingled with my brain such that my brain picks it up and I can make the choice to be a theist and praise her all day and night for all eternity like she wants?

    ““Action x” is supposed to be a miracle or sign, which is deemed evidence of God because it is a gap. Yet if someone were to propose a gap as evidence (the thing you claim that you need), you would dismiss it because it was a gap. You speak out both sides of your mouth; you demand something you will not accept.”
    * All gaps are not the same.
    A popular bit floating around out there is “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Well, yes, actually it is, the key word being “evidence” as opposed to “proof”.

    If I go to look for my keys on the kitchen table, and there is noting I see on the kitchen table, then the absence of evidence for my keys on the kitchen table is evidence for the absence of my keys on the kitchen table. Now, we can speculate the keys are actually there but they are hidden by a Klingon cloaking device, so the mere fact that I don’t see my keys on the kitchen table does not absolutely prove my keys are not on the kitchen table but there is no positive evidence for that speculation so I make the provisional assertion my senses are basically reliable and the keys are not there.

    Now, this all kind of started, or at least one demarcation point in this conversation is that I gave some examples of some things that would be “pretty good evidence” or “pretty impressive”. Note I did not say these things qualify as proofs, nor did I promise to end my skepticism even in the face of these “pretty impressive” events.

    Key the the hypothetical was the direct observation of a being in action. I said I wanted her to “show up”. When I see a person perform an action that is good evidence that person is capable of performing that action. If no other person is known to be able to perform that action then that is good evidence that person has a unique talent or power or capability.

    If somebody merely claims to have done something after the fact that can be rather unconvincing. “See that 120 story building? I built that all by myself” Really? Can you do that again while I am watching? “I could if I wanted to but I just don’t feel like it right now” Uhm, sorry, not good evidence you did it.

    Pointing out into the night sky and saying “you can’t explain it all in complete detail therefore goddunnit” is not a convincing argument.

    The value of negative evidence is an interesting subject. Your mashup of the word “gap” is a hopelessly trivialized view of this subject.

  92. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Stardusty Psyche:

    “But then, I am just a little internet ignoramus, what do I know?”

    Indeed you are.

  93. G. Rodrigues July 3, 2016 at 6:58 am
    “@Stardusty Psyche:“But then, I am just a little internet ignoramus, what do I know?””

    “Indeed you are.”
    * Ha Ha. Very witty retort, right up there with “sez you”!

    I do have a practical suggestion for you, search on the term “science is provisional”

    If you do some reading you will quickly find out a few things.
    1. Science is always provisional.
    2. Science never does absolute proofs.
    3. Mathematical proofs are only said to be true within a closed system of logic, which rests upon premises or axioms or postulates that are themselves not proved.

    You know, G, one way to avoid looking publicly foolish is to read up a little on a subject before you go calling people ignorant. Just a bit of free advice, take it for what it is worth to you, perhaps nothing at all.

    http://hermital.org/book/holoprt2-2.htm
    http://forums.philosophyforums.com/threads/popper-all-scientific-theories-are-provisional-conjectural-hypothetical-44668.html
    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_fact-and-theory.html
    …and on and on and on…

  94. Michael says:

    dusty: * I do think theism is bullshit but I don’t think it is okay to be closed minded in communicating with theists. I am not a fan of closed mindedness.

    Once you have reached the point where you think theism is bullshit, you have become closed minded. In fact, its even worse. You think theism is dangerous bullshit. That means not only are you closed minded, you are motivated to stay closed minded. That’s just how people work. So why don’t you just be honest with yourself and others and admit you are closed minded?

    * Choices are based on knowledge. So again, can’t she, being omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent and all omniomni and stuff, just inject the knowledge of her reality into my soulstuff floating around commingled with my brain such that my brain picks it up and I can make the choice to be a theist and praise her all day and night for all eternity like she wants?

    See? There’s that closed mind. Closed-mindedness begets intellectual laziness, and demanding that God poof God belief into your head is a nice example of intellectual laziness.

    Look, you assert, with the utmost confidence, that there is no evidence for God. But until you explain what you will count as evidence for God, you are just babbling. So here is the question you need to address. If some phenomenon/state X is offered up as evidence for God, yet someone is able to come up with a possible naturalistic explanation for X, is X still evidence for the existence of God?

  95. Michaei – “Once you have reached the point where you think theism is bullshit, you have become closed minded. ”
    * Interesting, you seem to be reading my mind, I didn’t know that was possible at all, much less over the internet. Yet you have not accurately gauged me, no surprise, internet psychics are not really all that good at readings minds, they just use cold reading techniques.

    “In fact, its even worse. You think theism is dangerous bullshit”
    * It can be, just look at all the horrible acts being done in the name of god every day

    On the other hand, people are sometimes motivated to do good or avoid doing harm in connection with their religious beliefs. On balance I think we would be far better off without religion, but the mere presence of thoughts in your head doesn’t bother me and I judge the harmfulness of acts on the merits case by case.

    “That means not only are you closed minded, you are motivated to stay closed minded. ”
    * Gosh, you sure seem to think you know a lot about me! I would never make such a sweeping set of generalizations against you personally.

    “That’s just how people work.”
    * That’s not how this person works, thus your argument disproved by counter example.

    “So why don’t you just be honest with yourself and others and admit you are closed minded?”
    * I have various opinions I think are correct. I would not intentionally hold an opinion if I thought it was incorrect, rather, if one of my opinions comes to light as being incorrect I will change my opinion to that new thing I now think is correct.

    That’s how this people works.

  96. Michael says:

    Interesting, you seem to be reading my mind, I didn’t know that was possible at all, much less over the internet. Yet you have not accurately gauged me, no surprise, internet psychics are not really all that good at readings minds, they just use cold reading techniques.

    It wasn’t trying to read your mind. I read your words: “I do think theism is bullshit”

    When people reach the point that they declare a belief to be bullshit, they have reached the point where they are no longer open minded about that belief. For example, I think holocaust denial is bullshit. And I have no problem admitting that I am closed minded about some bullshit notion that the holocaust never occurred and is instead some conspiracy of Jewish lies. Are you open minded about the notion that the holocaust never occurred? So again, why not be honest with yourself and others and admit you are closed minded about theism? After all, it makes sense of how you struggle so much in trying to come up with something that you might count as evidence for God.

    It can be, just look at all the horrible acts being done in the name of god every day

    Far more horrible acts are done for secular motivations and secular values. We just saw five police officers murdered in a calculated fashion in the name of “social justice,” for example. But that’s another topic.

    Gosh, you sure seem to think you know a lot about me! I would never make such a sweeping set of generalizations against you personally.

    Aren’t you the special snowflake. Look, you like to chest-thump about the need for evidence, so walk the walk. If you disagree with my assessment, instead of whining, provide the evidence of your open mind.

    I have various opinions I think are correct. I would not intentionally hold an opinion if I thought it was incorrect, rather, if one of my opinions comes to light as being incorrect I will change my opinion to that new thing I now think is correct. That’s how this people works.

    Those are nice words, but that’s all they are. You have made it clear you think theism is bullshit. You can’t tell us what it would take for you to change your opinion apart from demanding a Gap. Do you now expect us to accept your claims on faith?

  97. Michael – “It wasn’t trying to read your mind. I read your words: “I do think theism is bullshit””
    * That’s not the mind reading part. It is all your inferences about my mind made thereafter that lack truth value.

    “Far more horrible acts are done for secular motivations and secular values. We just saw five police officers murdered in a calculated fashion in the name of “social justice,” for example. But that’s another topic.”
    * I think it is on topic, at least your fundamental point that people do harm even without a religious motivation, which is true, but in no way negates my assertion that people do harm specifically because they are motivated by the doctrines of their religion. Absent those doctrinal beliefs they would not have that same motivation to do harm.

    Atheism does not have a particular doctrine. There are some famous books written by atheists but no central book analogous to the the Bible or Qur’an.

    The SJW movement is strongly opposed by a great many atheists in particular the so-called new atheists. There is nothing inherent about atheism that leads one to go shoot some law enforcement officers. So I will just go on record here as state emphatically that police lives matter.

    “Do you now expect us to accept your claims on faith?”
    * No, I am merely stating my points of view. You may take them for what they are worth to you, perhaps nothing at all.

    I have been reading and thinking and conversing on these subjects for decades, so it is unlikely I will change fundamentally in real time. Few people do. In a podcast Harris was complaining some guy he was debating would not change his mind on the spot. I posted that was unrealistic and almost never happens. Most people change over time and multiple conversations and only around the margins at any given step.

    I can give you one example, you can believe it or not, I have no means to demonstrate it to you. I have changed my mind about concealed carry. I used to think it would be too dangerous to have that many people with a gun at the ready during any kind of highly emotional moment when a person might act impulsively, and in my view that risk out weighed the potential benefit of immediate self defense.

    But there seems to be an upswing in religiously or politically motivated stranger shooting attacks. I still see there are risks to widespread concealed carry, but I think the risk benefit trade off is now with the majority on the other side as I previously saw it.

    Further, my worries about our nation turning into a wild west shootup have simply not materialized in those states acting as laboratories of democracy on concealed carry.

    Even if only 10% of citizens decide to deal with the hassle of carrying a gun the next crowd shooter would have to deal with a crossfire of multiple citizens returning fire, which is a pretty dreadful state of affairs, but seems to be an escalating reality we will have to deal with.

  98. Kevin says:

    This is a guy who doesn’t know that God is universally referred to with masculine pronouns, doesn’t know that names are capitalized according to English grammar – including titles like Mom, Grandpa, God, etc. – and doesn’t know that according to the OT, God directly spoke with Abraham rather than Abraham hearing a voice in his head.

    These things are undeniable according to basically 100 percent of all available evidence and are easily demonstrated. A couple clicks on Google would do the trick. Yet he continues to resist these basic facts.

    If he can’t even figure out that God is capitalized in proper grammar and that the god of the Bible is universally referred to in masculine pronouns, how in the world do you expect him to be able to consider evidence that might support the existence of God?

    The more likely alternative is that he isn’t nearly so abysmally incapable of rational thought as the bulk of his writing would indicate, but is instead nothing but a troll. He’ll continue to dodge everything you ask by denying without addressing.

    Good luck with that.

  99. Michael says:

    That’s not the mind reading part. It is all your inferences about my mind made thereafter that lack truth value.

    So you say. What you fail to appreciate is that your words constitute evidence, evidence that you are closed minded about theism. It’s one thing to say, “I’m not convinced God exists” or “I don’t believe God exists.” Such positions can be open-minded. But once you stray into the “theism is bullshit” territory, you have displayed your closed mindedness on this issue. To further support my position, I would note how you engaged in two significant acts of evasion:

    1. I noted that I thought holocaust denial was bullshit and admit I am closed minded about the bullshit notion that the holocaust never occurred. I asked if you agreed with me. You side-stepped the question and pretend it was never asked.

    2. I noted that if you want to dispute my hypothesis, you should provide evidence of your open mind. As a proud New Atheist, I assumed you understand the crucial importance of evidence and would gladly supply the evidence of your open-mindedness. You did not do thus, so it’s probably safe to assume you could not do this.

    So we are left with a choice. Accept the evidence and provisionally conclude Dusty is closed minded about the existence of God or accept Dusty’s words on faith. It’s rather amusing to watch a New Atheist expecting us to deny the evidence while at the same time expecting us to accept his words on faith. But New Atheism and intellectual inconsistency seem to go hand in hand.

    I think it is on topic, at least your fundamental point that people do harm even without a religious motivation, which is true, but in no way negates my assertion that people do harm specifically because they are motivated by the doctrines of their religion. Absent those doctrinal beliefs they would not have that same motivation to do harm.

    Which doesn’t negate my point that far more horrible acts are done for secular motivations and secular values.

    The SJW movement is strongly opposed by a great many atheists in particular the so-called new atheists. There is nothing inherent about atheism that leads one to go shoot some law enforcement officers.

    You are arguing against a straw man. I am simply noting that the murders were secular acts that revolved around secular values. Atheism itself does not motivate anyone to do good or bad (unless it mutates into anti-theistic bigotry). But that’s hardly relevant.

    No, I am merely stating my points of view. You may take them for what they are worth to you, perhaps nothing at all.

    Stating your point of view is not evidence you are open minded about the existence of God.

    I have been reading and thinking and conversing on these subjects for decades, so it is unlikely I will change fundamentally in real time. Few people do. In a podcast Harris was complaining some guy he was debating would not change his mind on the spot. I posted that was unrealistic and almost never happens. Most people change over time and multiple conversations and only around the margins at any given step.

    More straw men. No one asked you to change your mind on the spot. We just asked what it was that was supposed to count as evidence for the existence of God, since you seem so certain there is none. For you, it would have to be a Gap. This is very common, given that so much of modern day atheism is built on god of the gaps reasoning. It ties into the closed mind.

    I can give you one example, you can believe it or not, I have no means to demonstrate it to you. I have changed my mind about concealed carry. I used to think it would be too dangerous to have that many people with a gun at the ready during any kind of highly emotional moment when a person might act impulsively, and in my view that risk out weighed the potential benefit of immediate self defense.

    First, that you changed your mind about concealed gun laws is not relevant, as I did not say you were closed minded about everything.

    Second, let’s draw from New Atheist rhetoric and logic and analyze your claim. You offer something which you admit cannot be demonstrated. According to Gnu logic, I am obligated to dismiss your claim. Since you can’t back up your belief with evidence, you must be delusional or lying.

    Which raises the question: Given that you champion moral relativism, do you think it is okay to lie to religious people if it serves your new atheist goals?

  100. Kevin July 8, 2016 at 7:10 pm
    “This is a guy who doesn’t know that God is universally referred to with masculine pronouns,”
    * I am a part of this universe, your assertion thus falsified.

    “doesn’t know that names are capitalized according to English grammar ”
    * There is no god of grammar, no absolute rules of grammar, and no authority of the English language. I am free to use letters and words and forms of script in any manner whatsoever.

    “and doesn’t know that according to the OT, God directly spoke with Abraham rather than Abraham hearing a voice in his head.”
    * Elvis spoke to me according to my story so you may not suggest I only heard voices in my head and not the voice of Elvis. I have a book where it is written that Elvis told me to kill my children, How dare you suggest I was hearing voices in my head, you blasphemer of the Ghost of Elvis, How dare you misrepresent the contents of the holy book of the Ghost of Elvis.

    “These things are undeniable according to basically 100 percent of all available evidence and are easily demonstrated”
    * Ha Ha Ha

    “God is capitalized in proper grammar”
    * There is no authority for “proper” grammar.

    “the god of the Bible is universally referred to in masculine pronouns,”
    * I am a part of the universe so your assertion is again falsified.

  101. Michael says:

    The SJW movement is strongly opposed by a great many atheists in particular the so-called new atheists.

    So why can’t the New Atheist and the Social Justice Atheists use reason and evidence to resolve their differences? Both sides claim to be champions of reason and evidence. Both sides claim they are led by reason and evidence, which is why they are atheists (so they say). Could it be true that at least some atheists claim to be led by reason and evidence when they are not? Or maybe it’s that reason and evidence are mostly used to justify beliefs already held?

  102. TFBW says:

    Kevin said:

    The more likely alternative is that he isn’t nearly so abysmally incapable of rational thought as the bulk of his writing would indicate, but is instead nothing but a troll.

    “Troll” and “incapable of rational thought” aren’t mutually exclusive. Indeed, an inconsistent but sincerely held belief system makes for a great foundation if you’re a troll, doubly so if you are utterly convinced of your own superior rationality, and have the hubris to dismiss the entire rest of the world as irrational idiots when they accuse you of incoherence. Or, to put it another way, what you see from Stardusty may look like trolling, but it’s also the kind of deeply-ingrained idiocy that would be necessary in order to be a thoroughgoing advocate of New Atheism, given all it entails over plain old atheism.

    So let’s step back and let Michael bury Stardusty, since Michael has a way above average ability to ignore red herrings and maintain focus where it matters.

  103. Michael – “1. I noted that I thought holocaust denial was bullshit and admit I am closed minded about the bullshit notion that the holocaust never occurred. I asked if you agreed with me. You side-stepped the question and pretend it was never asked.”
    * Well, I must confess I do not recall that exchange and you did not provide a link or a date/time stamp, but now worries, I will give it a go now.

    We have photographs of the holocaust. Please show me the photographs of god.

    We have bricks and mortar artifacts, whole camps and ovens preserved and remaining on display lest we never forget the holocaust. Please direct me to a place where I can see and touch and smell god.

    We have extensive written records of transportation and extermination of of the victims of the holocaust. Please show me the tablets god wrote his commandments on.

    To compare holocaust denial with god denial is preposterous in the extreme.

    “2. I noted that if you want to dispute my hypothesis, you should provide evidence of your open mind. As a proud New Atheist, I assumed you understand the crucial importance of evidence and would gladly supply the evidence of your open-mindedness. You did not do thus, so it’s probably safe to assume you could not do this.”
    * What would you like me to do, jump through the internet and show you the scars on my wrists?

    I told you I have no way of demonstrating it. I gave you one example and told you that you could believe it or not. To ask me to somehow give you evidence of my changed mind is just silly.

    ” It’s rather amusing to watch a New Atheist expecting us to deny the evidence while at the same time expecting us to accept his words on faith”
    * I already told you I have no such expectation. You can believe it or not, up to you. As I have already told you, you can take my words for what they are worth to you, perhaps nothing at all.

    “But New Atheism and intellectual inconsistency seem to go hand in hand.”
    * How amusing. Oh please do bless me with an exposition of the myriad intellectual inconsistencies of my sort of atheism.

    “do you think it is okay to lie to religious people if it serves your new atheist goals?”
    * I don’t have new atheist goals, but I do have personal goals. In my view there is no good in telling a lie to people as I converse with them on line. A personal goal is to examine truth as well as I can reckon what is true. So telling a lie in the pursuit of truth would seem self contradictory.

  104. Michael says:

    Well, I must confess I do not recall that exchange and you did not provide a link or a date/time stamp, but now worries, I will give it a go now.

    Er, that exchange occurred above. About 4 hours ago. You have unwittingly told me that while you may skim my replies, you don’t make any serious effort to read them. You are now on thin ice.

    We have photographs of the holocaust. Please show me the photographs of god.
    We have bricks and mortar artifacts, whole camps and ovens preserved and remaining on display lest we never forget the holocaust. Please direct me to a place where I can see and touch and smell god.
    We have extensive written records of transportation and extermination of of the victims of the holocaust. Please show me the tablets god wrote his commandments on.
    To compare holocaust denial with god denial is preposterous in the extreme.

    Now it’s become clear you are unable to follow the argument. I did not claim that denying God was akin to denying the holocaust. Pay attention. Would you agree with me that Holocaust denial is bullshit? And if so, would you agree with me that its okay to be closed minded when people come around peddling that bullshit?

    What would you like me to do, jump through the internet and show you the scars on my wrists?

    You want me to deny the evidence and believe you are open minded about the existence of God. You claim that beliefs need to be supported by evidence. What do I want? For you to practice what you preach and either supply the evidence of your open-mindedness or be honest with yourself and others and admit you are closed minded about the existence of God.

    I told you I have no way of demonstrating it.

    That’s because there is no evidence of your open mind and that’s because you are closed minded about the existence of God. Or do you have a better explanation?

    I gave you one example and told you that you could believe it or not.

    And I told you that your example was not relevant because I did not say you were closed minded about everything. We’re talking about your belief that theism is bullshit.

    To ask me to somehow give you evidence of my changed mind is just silly.

    LOL. Aren’t you the special little snowflake. Big bad atheist wants to make truth claims but doesn’t want to supply the evidence for them. It’s just silly to ask an atheist for evidence of their truth claims.

    I already told you I have no such expectation. You can believe it or not, up to you. As I have already told you, you can take my words for what they are worth to you, perhaps nothing at all.

    What you say is not relevant. I’m focused on applying New Atheist logic to your own words. According to New Atheist logic, I am obligated to deny your claims since you have no evidence to support them. In fact, it would be irrational for anyone to believe you. Are you willing to acknowledge that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story? Or are you going to posture as a special snowflake again?

    How amusing. Oh please do bless me with an exposition of the myriad intellectual inconsistencies of my sort of atheism.

    Let’s see. We’ve established that your atheism is rooted in god of the gaps logic. Does that mean you acknowledge god of the gaps reasoning is a valid approach to reality?

    And then there’s the unwillingness to supply evidence for your own truth claims.

    I don’t have new atheist goals, but I do have personal goals. In my view there is no good in telling a lie to people as I converse with them on line. A personal goal is to examine truth as well as I can reckon what is true.

    Really? So your idea of “examining the truth” is to quickly skim over my words such that you miss my points? Look, do you have any evidence you adhere to such personal goals? Or is this another place when Gnu logic forces us to conclude you are delusional or lying?

    So telling a lie in the pursuit of truth would seem self contradictory.

    Why would you have a problem with that? After all, your atheism is built around the notion that there are no Gaps, yet you decry god of the gaps reasoning as flawed.

  105. Michael July 8, 2016 at 10:23 pm
    “SP The SJW movement is strongly opposed by a great many atheists in particular the so-called new atheists.”

    “So why can’t the New Atheist and the Social Justice Atheists use reason and evidence to resolve their differences? Both sides claim to be champions of reason and evidence. Both sides claim they are led by reason and evidence, which is why they are atheists (so they say). Could it be true that at least some atheists claim to be led by reason and evidence when they are not? Or maybe it’s that reason and evidence are mostly used to justify beliefs already held?”
    * Confirmation bias is indeed a human flaw we can reasonably consider even with respect to those claiming to be arguing from a position of reason and evidence..

    It would be kinda nice if god would just come down here and settle this stuff once and for all, but she chooses not to do that right now, so we mere mortals are left to our fates and must do our highly flawed best to somehow winnow and sift our way through this vast matrix of information and reasoning.

    Yes, If person A and person B both have the same information available and both use flawless logic one would hope they would arrive at the same conclusion. The divergence of opinions does indicate somebody or everybody is not doing so well, but then, I am not an omniscient god so I suppose that is no big surprise.

    But in terms of new atheists versus SJW atheists, don’t you find things like safe spaces, trigger warnings, and complaints about a phony wage gap just rather annoying? I hope we can agree on at least that much.

  106. TFBW – “and have the hubris to dismiss the entire rest of the world as irrational idiots when they accuse you of incoherence. Or, to put it another way, what you see from Stardusty may look like trolling””
    * Interesting, so there is me and then there is the “entire rest of the world”, of which you are by definition a member of.

    Hubris? Pot, meet kettle.

    “deeply-ingrained idiocy that would be necessary in order to be a thoroughgoing advocate of New Atheism, ”
    * Even more interesting. Indeed, please do share your vast intellectual reasoning as to the “idiocy” of Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, Harris, Ali and the rest of our sort.

    “So let’s step back and let Michael bury Stardusty”
    * Do you have any mob connections? Just wondering, similar language, that’s all.

  107. Michael says:

    Confirmation bias is indeed a human flaw we can reasonably consider even with respect to those claiming to be arguing from a position of reason and evidence..

    Exactly. And there’s no reason to think atheist’s avoided this flaw when it came to their atheism, then suddenly lost the ability to steer clear of the flaw when it came to every other topic other than atheism.

    It would be kinda nice if god would just come down here and settle this stuff once and for all,

    Christans would call that the Second Coming. Be careful what you wish for.

    But in terms of new atheists versus SJW atheists, don’t you find things like safe spaces, trigger warnings, and complaints about a phony wage gap just rather annoying? I hope we can agree on at least that much.

    As I have mentioned, I am shifting my focus from New Atheists to Social Justice Atheists. At this point, I would agree that the latter are worse than the former. I would have probably posted a new blog entry about a SCA tonight, but you distracted me.

    Let me offer a serious note of advice. I’m ready to toss your future comments into the moderation queue. Why? Because its sure looking like you are not interested in any serious conversation, but instead come across as someone trying to monopolize/spam the comments section. You started posting on 6/19. Since then, you have posted 123 comments. That’s an average of 6 comments/day.

    So here’s my sincere advice. Scale it back. Significantly. You don’t need to reply to every comment and you don’t need to have the last word every time. You’ve staked out your position and made it known. If I start focusing on SCA, look for points of agreement. Use it to build up some semblance of rapport with me and others. Having established that, you might find that people will take you and your points more seriously.

  108. Michael –
    “Er, that exchange occurred above. About 4 hours ago. You have unwittingly told me that while you may skim my replies, you don’t make any serious effort to read them. You are now on thin ice.”
    * I have a lot on my mind, so if I don’t recall every word you say that is because I do not consider your words to be some kind of holy writ I should study with rapt attention. If that bothers you I suggest you check your ego. If you don’t see that I am responding in detail to your assertions all I can do is suggest you think again.

    “And if so, would you agree with me that its okay to be closed minded when people come around peddling that bullshit?”
    * No. Why would I ever need to close my mind? I can recognize bullshit with an open mind. Occasionally even the worst bullshitter says something true. Even if every word is false I can recognize it as false without a closed mind. Why are you so hung up on this closed mind thing?

    ” SP I told you I have no way of demonstrating it.”

    “That’s because there is no evidence of your open mind and that’s because you are closed minded about the existence of God. Or do you have a better explanation?”
    * Yes, the better explanation is that you are asking for something that is not humanly available.

    “Big bad atheist wants to make truth claims ”
    * What truth claims? My absolute truth ends at cogito ergo sum. The rest is postulates and personal probability estimates. Where are you getting this truth claim bit?

    “According to New Atheist logic, I am obligated to deny your claims since you have no evidence to support them.”
    * Sorry, that obligation does not show up in my New Atheist Manifesto, but I will bring it up on the floor of our next New Atheist Politburo session.

    “Are you willing to acknowledge that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story? Or are you going to posture as a special snowflake again?”
    * You can believe whatever you want. I am not really interested very much in personal stories or personal claims about individual attributes. You asked, so I told you. If you don’t accept my assertions about myself then I suggest you stop asking for them. I really do not care if you think I am a snowflake or a horse’s ass, I mean, whatever.

    “We’ve established that your atheism is rooted in god of the gaps logic”
    * Nope. You made that assertion and I refuted it.

    “And then there’s the unwillingness to supply evidence for your own truth claims.”
    * Huh? What truth claims? You asked some questions and I answered them. If you do not believe them fine, I have no expectation that you should. Believe it or not, up to you.

    “Really? So your idea of “examining the truth” is to quickly skim over my words such that you miss my points?”
    * Your points are not manna from heaven. If you do not see the detail I have gone into here, well, look again.

    Your arguments simply are not all that well constructed. If you think they are and you are getting all grumpy because I do not swoon at your great rationality and wisdom, well, whatever.

    “Look, do you have any evidence you adhere to such personal goals? ”
    * No, they are just personal goals and if you think I am making it all up that is up to you, think whatever you want, I have no expectation you ought to take me at my word for what I say I am thinking.

    “SP So telling a lie in the pursuit of truth would seem self contradictory.”

    “Why would you have a problem with that? After all, your atheism is built around the notion that there are no Gaps, yet you decry god of the gaps reasoning as flawed.”
    * In my view it is good to be self consistent and bad to be self contradictory. The value of negative evidence is a very interesting subject but your view of it above is hopelessly simplistic and mischaracterized, as I went into great detail about previously, but you apparently only skim over my sage words instead of giving them the great deference and rapt attention they are due.

    Or perhaps you simply read them, found them unconvincing, and moved on. Dunno, I cannot read your mind.

  109. Michael says:

    I have a lot on my mind, so if I don’t recall every word you say that is because I do not consider your words to be some kind of holy writ I should study with rapt attention. If that bothers you I suggest you check your ego. If you don’t see that I am responding in detail to your assertions all I can do is suggest you think again.

    You just went and broke through the ice. So when I point out that you are merely skimming through my words, you attack me as someone who expects you to consider my words as some kind of holy writ you should study with rapt attention. That you merely skim through my words is further evidence of your closed mind, as you can’t be bothered to read the words of someone who peddles bullshit, right? You know better. You are just here to preach. Are you trying to convert someone to atheism?

    No. Why would I ever need to close my mind?

    I see. So you think that when it comes to denying the Holocaust, we should keep an open mind about that. Is this position related to your anti-Israel views?

    I can recognize bullshit with an open mind. Occasionally even the worst bullshitter says something true.

    We’re not talking about a “bullshitter.” We’re talking about the notion that the Holocaust is actually a conspiracy of Jewish lies and Holocaust never happened. Why do you insist on keeping an open mind about that?

    Even if every word is false I can recognize it as false without a closed mind. Why are you so hung up on this closed mind thing?

    I’m merely following the evidence. The evidence indicates you are closed mind about theism.

    Yes, the better explanation is that you are asking for something that is not humanly available.

    So you are saying you are open minded about the existence of God, it’s just not possible for you to provide any evidence that you are open minded. Interesting how truth can’t be supported with evidence, eh?

    What truth claims? My absolute truth ends at cogito ergo sum. The rest is postulates and personal probability estimates. Where are you getting this truth claim bit?

    Is it true that you are open minded about theism?

    Sorry, that obligation does not show up in my New Atheist Manifesto, but I will bring it up on the floor of our next New Atheist Politburo session.

    It’s the position of New Atheism:

    The New Atheists also affirm evidentialism, the claim that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. The conjunction of scientism and evidentialism entails that a belief can be justified only if it is based on adequate scientific evidence.
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/n-atheis/

    “A belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence.” I have been being charitable, as I could be asking for scientific evidence. Now, since you admit there is no evidence of your open mind, it would not be epistemically justified for anyone, including you, to believe you are open minded about theism.

    You can believe whatever you want. I am not really interested very much in personal stories or personal claims about individual attributes. You asked, so I told you. If you don’t accept my assertions about myself then I suggest you stop asking for them. I really do not care if you think I am a snowflake or a horse’s ass, I mean, whatever.

    You are side-stepping the question: Are you willing to acknowledge that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story?

    “We’ve established that your atheism is rooted in god of the gaps logic”
    * Nope. You made that assertion and I refuted it.

    You did? So tell again – what would you count as evidence for the existence of God?

    “And then there’s the unwillingness to supply evidence for your own truth claims.”
    * Huh? What truth claims?

    That you are open minded about theism.
    That you once changed you mind about conceal carry laws.

    “Really? So your idea of “examining the truth” is to quickly skim over my words such that you miss my points?”
    * Your points are not manna from heaven. If you do not see the detail I have gone into here, well, look again.

    I’m not interested in the details of your smokescreens. I am focused on the details you evade as part of your examination of truth.

    Your arguments simply are not all that well constructed. If you think they are and you are getting all grumpy because I do not swoon at your great rationality and wisdom, well, whatever.

    Ah, another attack. Expecting an answer to a question is not expecting you to view my words as manna from heaven.

    “Look, do you have any evidence you adhere to such personal goals? ”
    * No, they are just personal goals and if you think I am making it all up that is up to you, think whatever you want, I have no expectation you ought to take me at my word for what I say I am thinking.

    It’s not just “up to me.” It’s whether or not we shall apply the logic of New Atheism. Do you have evidence to support your beliefs? Do you expect anyone to believe you since you have no evidence?

    “SP So telling a lie in the pursuit of truth would seem self contradictory.”
    “Why would you have a problem with that? After all, your atheism is built around the notion that there are no Gaps, yet you decry god of the gaps reasoning as flawed.”
    * In my view it is good to be self consistent and bad to be self contradictory. The value of negative evidence is a very interesting subject but your view of it above is hopelessly simplistic and mischaracterized, as I went into great detail about previously, but you apparently only skim over my sage words instead of giving them the great deference and rapt attention they are due.

    Your bit about negative evidence was hopelessly simplistic and mischaracterized. Negative evidence is simply the lack of positive evidence. To determine if negative existence exists, you must have some notion about what positive evidence would look like. That’s why a good scientific experiment has both negative and positive controls. Now, we’ve seen that the only thing you will count as positive evidence for God is a Gap. You thus consider a lack of gaps to be the negative evidence that leads to atheism. The “no gaps, thus no God” argument assumes the god of the gaps argument is a valid means of reasoning.

    So from one side of your mouth, you build on god of the gaps reasoning. Yet from the other side of your mouth, you insist such reasoning is flawed. Like I said, New Atheism and intellectual inconsistency go hand in hand.

  110. Kevin says:

    “I am a part of this universe, your assertion thus falsified.”

    If you don’t know it, then you’re willfully ignorant – and that’s nothing more than stupidity.

    “There is no god of grammar, no absolute rules of grammar, and no authority of the English language. I am free to use letters and words and forms of script in any manner whatsoever.”

    Yes, and we are free to point out how ridiculous you look violating grammar just to avoid capitalizing God. Your childishness would be astounding, except most New Atheists share this particular fault. They would rather look uneducated than dare to give God even the grammatical respect of a capital letter. But feel free to look however foolish you desire.

    “Elvis spoke to me according to my story so you may not suggest I only heard voices in my head and not the voice of Elvis. I have a book where it is written that Elvis told me to kill my children, How dare you suggest I was hearing voices in my head, you blasphemer of the Ghost of Elvis, How dare you misrepresent the contents of the holy book of the Ghost of Elvis.”

    This…is supposed to be a refutation? Wow. Tell you what, you write a story where you or your character is spoken to by Elvis, and I will agree that in the story, you or your character were spoken to by Elvis. For me to say “No, the character in the story you wrote was not spoken to by Elvis” would make me look like a colossal idiot.

    “Ha Ha Ha”

    Google is indeed a funny place.

    “There is no authority for “proper” grammar.”

    Yes, there is. Otherwise, grammar wouldn’t be taught in elementary school, which you evidently skipped.

    “I am a part of the universe so your assertion is again falsified.”

    The immature and the trolls don’t set the standards. I meant people who know what they are talking about and are worth taking seriously.

  111. Michael – “So when I point out that you are merely skimming through my words”
    * Are you sitting behind me right now or something? What is with this skimming thing?

    I see below this thing has expanded again. Well, all I can suggest is you look at the fact of the many responses I have provided on point and in line and just stop worrying about skimming or whatever.

    “You know better. You are just here to preach. Are you trying to convert someone to atheism?”
    * Why should I tell you my personal motivations? All you are going to do is say they are unsupported truth claims and start insisting I somehow provide you with evidence of my personal thoughts. Well, I can’t do that and I don’t feel bad about that either.

    I have shared my motivations from time to time in various comments. You can believe my statements or not, up to you, they are just personal comments and not intended to be taken on faith or any of the rest you have gone on about.

    “I see. So you think that when it comes to denying the Holocaust, we should keep an open mind about that. Is this position related to your anti-Israel views?”
    * A holocaust denier might uncover some historical inaccuracy or do some valid research. In general I think such people are kooks and I do not bother wasting my time listening to or engaging with somebody like that. But who knows, they might say something true somewhere along the line.

    I oppose the aggressive land theft actions of the Likud government of Israel, and the Biblical basis for claims to land that was stolen by ancient Jews some 3400 years ago in acts of genocidal invasion land theft conquest, supposedly ordained by god. Pretty ugly stuff.

    But just to be fair, I have even worse things to say about Hamas and Islam.

    “The evidence indicates you are closed mind about theism.”
    * You have misinterpreted the evidence and jumped to conclusions about my internal state of mind. I have no means to demonstrate the objective truth of what I am thinking. You can believe it or not, up to you.

    “It’s the position of New Atheism:
    The New Atheists also affirm evidentialism, the claim that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. The conjunction of scientism and evidentialism entails that a belief can be justified only if it is based on adequate scientific evidence.
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/n-atheis/
    * There is no god of atheism. There are no scientific authorities. Science does not do absolute truth claims. Science is always provisional.

    “New Atheism” is not a party that issues cards to its members to carry. I do not recite the New Atheist creed every week on Sunday morning.

    “I have been being charitable, as I could be asking for scientific evidence”
    * No you have not, and no you could reasonably not. You ask me to describe myself. I described myself. Then you try to say I am making truth claims without evidence. I have no human means to provide such evidence and I really do not care if you believe me about me or not. Believe it or not, I make no claims of asserting provable facts about myself and I have no intention of attempting to do so because I see that is not within my power, and it is entirely uncharitable for you to pursue this line of muddled questions and evidential demands.

    “it would not be epistemically justified for anyone, including you, to believe you are open minded about theism.”
    * Believe whatever you want about my mind, I really do not care.

    “Are you willing to acknowledge that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story?”
    * That is a personal judgement call. I generally take people fairly much at their word about simple material things they seem to have little motivation to lie about. But if you or anybody else has some other personal credulity outlook then go ahead and think whatever you wish.

    “You did? So tell again – what would you count as evidence for the existence of God?”
    * Nope, sorry, been there, done that.

    “That you are open minded about theism.
    That you once changed you mind about conceal carry laws.”
    * Those are not truth claims. They are personal statements. You can believe them or not.

    “Do you expect anyone to believe you since you have no evidence?”
    * No, but you can if you find it personally believable.

    “you must have some notion about what positive evidence would look like”
    * Right, god would look like something different than the material world we observe. I am looking for god in my room right now. I just called out, “hey god, are you out there?” but I heard no reply. No microscope, no chemical experiment, no energy detection instruments, nothing I have indicates god is here.

    Now, according to all the stories about god, such indications on my instruments are possible. God is said to have profound effects on the material world, poofing stuff into existence, moving things around, sending down vast stores of rain, causing fire from the sky and all kinds of stuff.

    Yet no disturbances of any such sort ever occur for me to observe. So that is a very strong preponderance of negative evidence for god right here and right now.

    The god of the gaps argument for god has been used by humans for millennia and is an ever receding pocket of human ignorance. The sun makes us warm because of the sun god, dontchyaknow? The rain god makes the rain, the ocean god rules the waves, the wind is the breath of the wind god. The planets move in their orbits because of celestial gods, and the stars are gods too. Every aspect of human ignorance in the explanation of natural phenomena has at one time been attributed to a god.

    Modern science has displaced those gods each in their turn. The god of the gaps has been pushed back to poofing the universe into existence by his magic powers. But when we look back we still don’t see god. The farthest back we can look directly is about 300,000 years after the big bang by mapping the slight differences in the cosmic microwave background. People sometimes see Jesus on their toast, but no face of Jesus shows up on our microwave maps.

    In my room right now there is an absence of evidence for god. All the stuff in my room is in evidence, according to the god stories I could potentially detect god if she were here, but I make no such detection, so that is very strong evidence against the presence of god.

    We look out into the universe and we do not see god there either, just stars and dust and radiation. Still, no evidence for god. There are a few things about the universe nobody understands, yet the universe is here, still no evidence for your god or any particular god, or any god at all, just evidence that we humans have not been able to explain the origins of every object we observe.

    The idea that “I don’t know where this came from therefore god created it” is a complete non-sequitur and entirely speculative. Somehow you have created in your mind a false dichotomy between knowing how something came to be and goddunnit.

    Your thinking is no more advanced than that of a sun, wind, rain god worshiper.

  112. Kevin July 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    ““SP There is no authority for “proper” grammar.””
    “Yes, there is. Otherwise, grammar wouldn’t be taught in elementary school, which you evidently skipped.”
    * Ok, so everything taught in elementary school must have an ultimate authority?

    Science is taught in elementary school. Please name the authority for science, and for grammar while you are at it.

    ““SP – I am a part of the universe so your assertion is again falsified.”
    “The immature and the trolls don’t set the standards. I meant people who know what they are talking about and are worth taking seriously.”
    * Among people who agree with you there is universal agreement on the point you all agree on.

    That’s nice, now please cite the ultimate authority for grammar and science taught in elementary school.

  113. Michael says:

    Michael – “So when I point out that you are merely skimming through my words”
    * Are you sitting behind me right now or something? What is with this skimming thing?

    I asked you a question. You ignored it. I asked why you ignored it. You stuttered and stammered: “Well, I must confess I do not recall that exchange and you did not provide a link or a date/time stamp.” It was an exchange that occurred a whole four hours before your confession. What you confessed to was that you merely skim my words, probably interested only in launching points for you to preach your atheism.

    I see below this thing has expanded again. Well, all I can suggest is you look at the fact of the many responses I have provided on point and in line and just stop worrying about skimming or whatever.

    More skimming, eh? I already addressed that point: “I’m not interested in the details of your smokescreens. I am focused on the details you evade as part of your examination of truth.”

    “You know better. You are just here to preach. Are you trying to convert someone to atheism?”
    * Why should I tell you my personal motivations? All you are going to do is say they are unsupported truth claims and start insisting I somehow provide you with evidence of my personal thoughts. Well, I can’t do that and I don’t feel bad about that either.

    It’s about evidence, remember. The evidence indicated you are a closed minded atheist and there is no evidence to the contrary. As for your motivation, it’s pretty clear – assuming you are not a troll, you are trying to convert others to atheism. And given that you have posted over 123 comments in less than a month, you seem quite obsessed with get others to agree with you.

    I have shared my motivations from time to time in various comments. You can believe my statements or not, up to you, they are just personal comments and not intended to be taken on faith or any of the rest you have gone on about.

    If they are not intended to be taken on faith, and they can’t be accepted if one also insists beliefs must be supported by evidence, then such sharing can only be mental masturbation and/or trolling.

    “I see. So you think that when it comes to denying the Holocaust, we should keep an open mind about that. Is this position related to your anti-Israel views?”
    * A holocaust denier might uncover some historical inaccuracy or do some valid research. In general I think such people are kooks and I do not bother wasting my time listening to or engaging with somebody like that. But who knows, they might say something true somewhere along the line.

    Interesting that you keep an open mind about Holocaust denial because you think a neo-nazi could come up with “some historical inaccuracy.” Sounds like you are not quite sure the Holocaust actually happened, eh?

    I oppose the aggressive land theft actions of the Likud government of Israel, and the Biblical basis for claims to land that was stolen by ancient Jews some 3400 years ago in acts of genocidal invasion land theft conquest, supposedly ordained by god. Pretty ugly stuff.

    You are entitled to you subjective opinions. But you are only giving us information about yourself. Are you next going to tell us what movie stars you think are ugly?

    “The evidence indicates you are closed mind about theism.”
    * You have misinterpreted the evidence and jumped to conclusions about my internal state of mind. I have no means to demonstrate the objective truth of what I am thinking. You can believe it or not, up to you.

    I have not misinterpreted the evidence. Life experience has taught me there is a very strong correlation between those who are closed minded about X and those who think X is bullshit. What’s more, the hypothesis of your closed mind explains much of your postings and your need to always have the last word with everyone.

    “It’s the position of New Atheism:
    The New Atheists also affirm evidentialism, the claim that a belief can be epistemically justified only if it is based on adequate evidence. The conjunction of scientism and evidentialism entails that a belief can be justified only if it is based on adequate scientific evidence.
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/n-atheis/”
    * There is no god of atheism. There are no scientific authorities. Science does not do absolute truth claims. Science is always provisional.

    Yes, but New Atheism has its positions. Are you trying to imply the IEP has the New Atheist position wrong? I think not, as I have heard/read countless New Atheists speak about the crucial need to support beliefs with evidence.

    “New Atheism” is not a party that issues cards to its members to carry. I do not recite the New Atheist creed every week on Sunday morning.

    Understood. But the issue is the positions of New Atheism and you make truth claims without being willing to support them with evidence. You need to either a) support the claim with evidence or b) acknowledge the New Atheist position is not always true.

    “I have been being charitable, as I could be asking for scientific evidence”
    * No you have not, and no you could reasonably not.

    Yes I have. I could be asking for scientific evidence that you are open minded about theism (something you call “bullshit”), but I’m willing to lower the bar and ask for any form of evidence.

    You ask me to describe myself. I described myself. Then you try to say I am making truth claims without evidence. I have no human means to provide such evidence and I really do not care if you believe me about me or not. Believe it or not, I make no claims of asserting provable facts about myself and I have no intention of attempting to do so because I see that is not within my power, and it is entirely uncharitable for you to pursue this line of muddled questions and evidential demands.

    Calm down. I’m just noting a) the evidence indicates you are closed minded about theism and b) you cannot provide any evidence that indicates otherwise. You claim that you don’t care if I believe you, yet seem upset about my noticing your closed mind. You come across as someone who expects me to believe you are open minded about theism. If only I could provide the evidence, right?

    “it would not be epistemically justified for anyone, including you, to believe you are open minded about theism.”
    * Believe whatever you want about my mind, I really do not care.

    Okay, you are a closed minded atheist who thinks theism is bullshit. For theists to believe in bullshit, it must mean they are either stupid, delusional, or dishonest. So you are here, posting 6 or more comments a day, trying to rescue the dumb godbots from their faith disease. Or just to have some trollish fun. With that perspective, can you blame me for putting your comments in the moderation queue?

    “Are you willing to acknowledge that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story?”
    * That is a personal judgement call. I generally take people fairly much at their word about simple material things they seem to have little motivation to lie about. But if you or anybody else has some other personal credulity outlook then go ahead and think whatever you wish.

    I see. So you have some subjective spidey sense about whether or not to apply the demands of evidentialism.

    “You did? So tell again – what would you count as evidence for the existence of God?”
    * Nope, sorry, been there, done that.

    Yes, it blew up in your face and made it clear to all your atheism is premised on God of the Gaps reasoning. Don’t blame you for steering clear of that mistake.

    “That you are open minded about theism.
    That you once changed you mind about conceal carry laws.”
    * Those are not truth claims. They are personal statements. You can believe them or not.

    Er, those are truth claims. Or are you trying to say that your personal statements are not meant to be true?

    “Do you expect anyone to believe you since you have no evidence?”
    * No, but you can if you find it personally believable.

    But its not personally believable that you are open minded about theism, especially when you demand gaps as your evidence.

    “you must have some notion about what positive evidence would look like”
    * Right, god would look like something different than the material world we observe.

    Yes, we know. You need a gap. Something that cannot possibly be explained by natural laws. In your mind, the god of the gaps reasoning is valid, but only if it supports atheism. No gaps means no god. The rest of your talking points (which we have heard before many times from others like you) merely underscore this point.

    The idea that “I don’t know where this came from therefore god created it” is a complete non-sequitur and entirely speculative. Somehow you have created in your mind a false dichotomy between knowing how something came to be and goddunnit.

    You are projecting. It is you, not me, who builds on the logic of gaps. You are the one demanding a gap and assigning great significance to a lack of gaps.

    Your thinking is no more advanced than that of a sun, wind, rain god worshiper.

    LOL. So says the god of the gaps atheist.

    Dusty, I politely advised yesterday that you scale it back. Six posts a day, for three weeks in a row, was too much, as you are monopolizing the comments section. You responded by doubling down, so far posting 9 comments today. You are now in the moderation queue.

  114. Michael – “It’s about evidence, remember.”
    * No, it’s not about evidence for all things. Some statements are simply personal expressions with no intent to be truth claims, or supported by any provision of evidence.

    I can make a statement about myself and you can either accept it or not. I can present a set of reasons and you can either accept the logic or not.

    Evidence is presented for things that can be externally referenced, say with a link, or a book title, or by a common observation of the sky. There are no books or links available to demonstrate the voracity of my personal assertions. Believe them or not, up to you.

    “And given that you have posted over 123 comments in less than a month, you seem quite obsessed with get others to agree with you.”
    Actually I am bored to tears at my work these days due to shifts to greater responsibilities with little creativity. Most people consider that to be a promotion but I find it to be an unbearable lack of intellectual and creative stimulation.

    This is one of the few blogs I have ever found where some theists are actually willing and able to engage in some thoughtful conversations so I seem to have become somewhat hooked here. You will note that I am really only answering posts directly addressed to me or about me.

    And no I am not here to vandalize anybody’s worldview. I wouldn’t want to end up creating a vacuum in somebody’s mind but I really do not think I have that power anyhow. Most people are mature and are not going to melt down just because I post a few words.

    Now I suppose you will ask me for evidence of these supposed truth claims so I will just preemptively repeat I have no means to provide you with independent evidence of any of it and I don’t really care. You can believe it or not, up to you.

    “Or just to have some trollish fun. With that perspective, can you blame me for putting your comments in the moderation queue?”
    * Is that why my browser started doing weird things? I hadn’t considered that. I post and it just sort of disappears. Well, I am not the one who introduced the word “bullshit”, you did that so I just followed your terminology. I prefer characterizations like “poorly reasoned”.

    Don’t tell me you are going to go all safespace trigger warning feminist SJW on me now!!! I had you pegged for a cut above that.

    “I see. So you have some subjective spidey sense about whether or not to apply the demands of evidentialism.”
    * Yes, it is called judgement. We need that to function because the world often forces us to make decisions on incomplete information.

    “Er, those are truth claims. Or are you trying to say that your personal statements are not meant to be true?”
    * They are not meant to be demonstrably true. They are simply personal statements. You can believe them or not. I have no means to support any personal representations I make. I am well aware they do not form any kind of valid formal argument.

    “Dusty, I politely advised yesterday that you scale it back. Six posts a day, for three weeks in a row, was too much, as you are monopolizing the comments section”
    * I think you will find that I am only responding to posts directed to me, as opposed to going all over the place looking for things to disagree with.

    I generally feel impolite when I just ignore what people have said to me. If a person takes the time to address me I make some attempt to provide a relevant comment. About 6 people have been kind enough to engage me intellectually and I really appreciate it because, like I said, right now my work has lost all its former intellectual challenges and I tend to go a bit stir crazy if I do not have some intricate reasoning challenges.

    I seem to be the only atheist in town at the moment, so if I have 123 posts I think you will find there were 123 other posts directed at me that I was simply responding too.

  115. SteveK says:

    SP: “I really don’t care”

    I see the exact opposite

  116. Michael says:

    No, it’s not about evidence for all things. Some statements are simply personal expressions with no intent to be truth claims, or supported by any provision of evidence.

    Then there is no reason to think you are open minded about theism. And no reason to think I am wrong in thinking you are closed minded about theism.

    I can make a statement about myself and you can either accept it or not. I can present a set of reasons and you can either accept the logic or not.

    Yet on what basis does one make that decision?

    Look, you are missing the point. What I am doing is busting your balls with New Atheist rhetoric concerning evidentialism.

    Evidence is presented for things that can be externally referenced, say with a link, or a book title, or by a common observation of the sky. There are no books or links available to demonstrate the voracity of my personal assertions.

    You are talking about one form of evidence – empirical evidence.

    * Yes, it is called judgement. We need that to function because the world often forces us to make decisions on incomplete information.

    Exactly. Thus, this hardcore New Atheist evidentialism is rather naive and simplistic, especially given its inability to bring any form of consensus among the warring factions of modern day atheism. I would suggest that along the same lines, it’s rather naive and simplisitic to conclude God does not exist because God cannot be seen with a telescope and refuses to perform personal miracle demonstrations.

    * I think you will find that I am only responding to posts directed to me, as opposed to going all over the place looking for things to disagree with.
    I generally feel impolite when I just ignore what people have said to me. If a person takes the time to address me I make some attempt to provide a relevant comment. About 6 people have been kind enough to engage me intellectually and I really appreciate it because, like I said, right now my work has lost all its former intellectual challenges and I tend to go a bit stir crazy if I do not have some intricate reasoning challenges.
    I seem to be the only atheist in town at the moment, so if I have 123 posts I think you will find there were 123 other posts directed at me that I was simply responding too.

    Fair point. I’ll take you out of the queue.

  117. Kevin says:

    “Ok, so everything taught in elementary school must have an ultimate authority?

    Science is taught in elementary school. Please name the authority for science, and for grammar while you are at it.”

    Right is you, authority. for grammar not there is, want do we we what

    Also, young earth creationism is science. Because there is no authority on science, I can say science is whatever I want.

    If you find fault with either of the above statements as written, I rest my case.

    Have you written your Elvis story yet?

  118. Kevin,
    You might possibly have heard of the recent little tiff that lead to this statement by the dictionary publisher:
    Merriam-WebsterVerified account
    ‏@MerriamWebster
    @smarick then you’re talking to the wrong dictionary—we’re descriptivists. We follow language, language doesn’t follow us

    Who is this English language authority then? There is none. Language is a consensus of expression. Books are written to capture that current consensus and are given a degree of provisional authority for certain purposes while recognizing that the reference book must change as the language changes, not the other way around.

    “Right is you, authority. for grammar not there is, want do we we what”
    * Actually, I thought you were quoting Yoda as a source of wisdom! Then I realized you were intentionally garbling your words to make a point. Yet, you have not cited what that supposed authority is.

    I have noticed this as a general pattern here on the site. Posters will go on and on claiming some general principle but will never cite a specific example even when asked to do so repeatedly, kind of like they can’t really think of one and the general principle they are exposing is illusory.

    So again, what organization or individual is the authority of English?

    “Also, young earth creationism is science. Because there is no authority on science, I can say science is whatever I want.”
    * Indeed you can, and many agree with you. That is why a judge must hear evidence of the consensus view of science in general and as defined by government agencies for the purpose of public school science education. Rules are made and judges issue rulings that include the definition of “science” for the limited purpose under consideration. Again and again judges have found the consensus view of the meaning of science to be starkly opposed to the contents of so-called creation science such that so-called creation science is ruled to not be science as defined for the purpose of public school education.

    I would be opposed to banning the use of the term “creation science”, as absurd as I find it, because you as an individual can indeed call science whatever you want, since there is no scientific authority.

    “If you find fault with either of the above statements as written, I rest my case.”
    * I nullified your argument on redirect 🙂

  119. Kevin says:

    Sigh.

    I am unaware of any context in the English language in which it is grammatically acceptable to not capitalize a proper noun. Yes, technically you can help your uncle jack off a horse if you please. However, for the rest of us, we will help our Uncle Jack off a horse. That’s how English works, except when divas insist otherwise. Proper names are capitalized, punctuation is at the end of a sentence, first letter of a sentence is capitalized…you know. Grammar that we learned in elementary school.

    Interesting that God is the only one you choose to violate that rule on. I suspect I know why, so…

    Direct questions: Why do you not capitalize God like you do every other proper noun? (“Because I want to” is synonymous with “So I can disrespect god!” in this context, as far as I’m concerned, so please don’t use that as your answer.)

    Have you written your Elvis story in which you or your character are spoken to by Elvis?

  120. Kevin July 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm
    “Sigh.I am unaware of any context in the English language in which it is grammatically acceptable to not capitalize a proper noun. Yes, technically you can help your uncle jack off a horse if you please. However, for the rest of us, we will help our Uncle Jack off a horse. That’s how English works, except when divas insist otherwise. Proper names are capitalized, punctuation is at the end of a sentence, first letter of a sentence is capitalized…you know. Grammar that we learned in elementary school.”
    * Which is such a broadly agreed upon consensus that almost everybody is very willing to abide by those conventions, not by authority, but by mutual agreement for the sake of commonality of purpose.

    Perhaps the most common intentional breaking of those conventions that is not simple ignorance is artistic or political expression. Sometimes these conventions are broken with intent because they have an impact on the reader. Poets sometimes omit punctuation or even capitalization. Songwriters regularly turn the order of words around for effect. Political commentators will sometimes intentionally misspell words to make a critical point. These people know what they are doing and are intelligent and educated even if we don’t agree with their methods or message.

    “Interesting that God is the only one you choose to violate that rule on. I suspect I know why, so…
    Direct questions: Why do you not capitalize God like you do every other proper noun? (“Because I want to” is synonymous with “So I can disrespect god!” in this context, as far as I’m concerned, so please don’t use that as your answer.)”
    * This sounds a bit like the classic question so often posed to an atheist by a theist, “why do you hate god?”. It would be like asking a bachelor “why do you beat your wife?”.

    That is just my point, I cannot disrespect a thing I am thoroughly personally convinced does not exist. Indeed, I do not have the reverence for this notion of god you have such that I think it worthy of recognition. Besides, what if god turns out to not be a person at all? What if this thing you call god is actually just some undiscovered force of nature? Why would I capitalize gravity?

    “Have you written your Elvis story in which you or your character are spoken to by Elvis?”
    * Yes, they are on golden plates and written in a script I do not understand. Elvis commanded me to write, so I obeyed His orders. He also told me it was forbidden to show these golden plates to anybody but he did give me some stones with which to see the meaning of this unknown script. I place the stones in my hat, place my face into the hat, and in the stones I see the English translation of the golden plates I miraculously wrote. I am forbidden by Elvis to share any of this translation with anybody until the entire translation is complete and at this rate I will require about 20 years to complete this arduous task. But it will be worth it because Elvis told me to found a new religion called the Latter Day Saints of Elvis, also to be known simply as the Musicians. I am looking forward to that because he said one of the rules is I can marry as many young girls as I want so I am going to be a very busy man then if you know what I mean.

  121. Kevin says:

    Personally I’ve never found women to be a sufficient motivation to do anything that is actually in my self interest. Hormones and rationality tend to conflict.

    That said, assuming I find your Elvis story to be as fictional as you find the OT, I will certainly agree that in the story, Elvis spoke to you. To do otherwise would be fairly ridiculous.

    I’m well aware that intentionally violating grammatical rules in the case of God is intentional. It’s the intent that I find to be absurd. I despise Hillary Clinton, but I don’t go around saying hillary clinton.

    Interesting point about the god being a force, but it doesn’t really work when referring to the Christian deity. Once you postulate that “god” is an impersonal force, it no longer describes the god described in the Bible.

  122. Kevin says:

    Forgot a paragraph.

    If your intentional violation of standard grammatical rules solely in the case of God is not out of disrespect, then out of curiosity, what is the purpose?

  123. Kevin
    “I despise Hillary Clinton, but I don’t go around saying hillary clinton.”
    * Why not, no authority is stopping you!

    “Once you postulate that “god” is an impersonal force, it no longer describes the god described in the Bible.”
    * I do not feel compelled to participate in the fantasies of others. That is why I told the Reason Rally I would not accept their requirement that I refer to people by the pronoun of their choice, nor will I call you “your Majesty” if you tell me you are a royal. You can think some ancient myth is real, and I will adamantly remind my atheist “comrades” of the free exercise clause, but I do not have to play along.

    But thanks for noticing the thing about the force. I mean “god” could be anything, or nothing, who really knows? I see no compelling or even significant reason to personify the unknown.

  124. Dhay says:

    Michael > Christans would call that the Second Coming. Be careful what you wish for.

    Presumably leading to the Moral Landscape’s ultimate-maximum peak of well-being. (cf. Sam Harris.) Now there’s a sideways thought.

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