Atheist Pseudoscience

  • Originally posted in 2014

Atheist Zoltan Istvan writes:

‘Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people — atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion — is likely to break through the billion-person mark. Many in this massive group already champion reason, defend science, welcome radical technologies, and implicitly trust and embrace modern medicine. They are, indeed, already transhumanists. Yet many of them don’t know it because they haven’t thought much about it. However, that is about to change. A transformative cultural storm comprised of radical life improving technologies is set to blow in soon.

Whenever atheists start artificially inflating their numbers and start promising revolutionary changes, my skeptic-o-meter starts to go off. Perhaps Zoltan can better explain to the agnostics and unaffiliated what they believe:

Broadly defined, the word transhuman means beyond human.

Oh, oh. I think I know where this is going.

The growing transhumanist social movement encompasses and encourages virtually all ideas that enhance human existence via the application of science and technology. More specifically, transhumanism includes the fields of radical life extension, Singularitarianism, robotics, artificial intelligence, cryonics, genetic engineering, biohacking, cyborgism, and many other lesser known fields of science.

Hmmm. A social movement built around the idea of using applied science to “enhance human existence.” Sounds familiar. We had one of those in the early 1900s called……eugenics. Certainly, Zoltan doesn’t have in mind a reboot of an updated version of eugenics, does he?

The core of transhumanist thought is two-sided. It begins with discontent about the humdrum status quo of human life and our frail, terminal human bodies.

Atheists discontent with “the humdrum status quo of human life and our frail, terminal human bodies?” What could that mean?

It is followed by an awe-inspiring vision of what can be done to improve both — of how dramatically the world and our species can be transformed via science and technology. Transhumanists want more guarantees than just death, consumerism, and offspring. Much more. They want to be better, smarter, stronger — perhaps even perfect and immortal if science can make them that way. Most transhumanists believe it can.

Whoa! Better, smarter, stronger? This is a reboot of eugenics. But it is eugenics on steroids. For this “science” also promises perfection and immortality! I thought atheists embraced death and were not afraid of it.

These atheist voices and their writings have paved the way for us, and now the 21st Century will bring the age of transhumanism to the forefront of society. The transhumanist hero is the person who constantly eyes improving their health, lifestyle, and longevity with science and technology.

Did he just use the word “hero?” So in his atheistic universe, the “hero” is someone obsessed with Self.

They are not okay with the past age of feeling guilty for aspiring to be different or better than they were born — or for wanting the power to become godlike themselves.

So the atheist proudly announces his desire to become “godlike.” In an atheistic universe, Self gets to decides its own purpose, its own meaning, and even what is right and wrong. So why not go all the way to declare your intentions to become “godlike?”

They have no sin to erase; they have no reason to search for something outside of the material universe.

Better, smarter, stronger, guilt-free, sinless, and godlike. All purchased with science and technology. What could go wrong?

So transhumanism is form of pseudoscience that mixes atheism, narcissism, and the quest for power. Of course, from the Christian perspective, this is all quite predictable.

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354 Responses to Atheist Pseudoscience

  1. TFBW says:

    Transhumanists want more guarantees than just death, consumerism, and offspring.

    Then let me introduce you to …. taxes!

  2. Ryan says:

    Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people — atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion — is likely to break through the billion-person mark.

    And the world population is expected to grow by 1 billion people in the same decade. So, their numbers will make up about %12 of the world population. Which means that %88 of humanity will still be a “problem”, a bunch of irrational, unthinking, superstitious, and dangerous people.

  3. This all sounds eerily like the N.I.C.E. in C.S. Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength.

    “What could go wrong?” THAT’S what could go wrong!

  4. Mark Plus says:

    A lot of what we call “transhumanism” now will probably be called something like “health care” in the 22nd Century and beyond.

  5. Mark Plus says:

    BTW, I don’t see what a god is supposed to solve. A logically possible god could have created human life without any meaning, purpose, moral standards, an afterlife or a guarantee of absolute justice. Traditional theists just imagined this wish list for their god for basically selfish reasons.

  6. Kevin says:

    “BTW, I don’t see what a god is supposed to solve.”

    For one, unless they make everyone borg-like drones, cybornetic-empowered immortality will not prevent people from being violent, selfish monsters to each other. That’s one problem God solves that transhumanism does not.

  7. Dhay says:

    > em>Originally posted in 2014

    In the previous thread I responded:

    I see that like a number of other New Atheists, Istvan is a journalist, who earns his living by writing. If I were to be even more cynical than I was earlier, I could assume that what Istvan is doing in both running for President and writing this article is a) publicising his “philosophical novel” The Transhumanist Wager to attract more sales and royalties, and b) advertising himself to newspapers etc as a go-to journalist writing eye-catching controversial articles designed to attract newspaper purchases and online clicks — he seems to have produced a small flood of such articles, for which he is no doubt well paid.

    If I were to be yet more cynical again, I would predict that Istvan would have turned up in that earlier thread to plug his book and earn more publicity and sales.

    Well, well, he did:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/atheist-pseudoscience/#comment-4226

    In particular, Istvan made a point of explicitly (and gratuitously) naming the book, and his (blued) name handle links to an advert for the book.

  8. TFBW says:

    Mark Plus said:

    I don’t see what a god is supposed to solve.

    I suspect that this is one of those, “the topic be damned — I am going to insert my preferred talking point regardless” comments, but I can’t actually make any sense of the statement. It seems to assume that someone was proposing that we create a god to solve a problem. If that’s a more or less accurate description of the context, then when did this happen?

  9. Dhay says:

    The linked book advert tells us, “We didn’t evolve through billions of years to remain animals. …”

    Evidently Zoltan Istvan thinks we evolved through billions of years to become transhuman. That’s a quite startling piece of New Atheist teleology, startling not only because of what the teleological progression is claimed to head towards, but also because last I knew New Atheists just didn’t recognise the validity of teleology in general.

    And evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne would surely have a fit at the idea of evolution having a set direction or purpose.

    I’d say that Istvan is guilty either of very sloppy thinking indeed, or of the over-the-top imagery of the advertiser.

    Don’t buy a used car from this guy.

  10. Dhay says:

    The book reviews on Amazon are revealing; here’s snippets from one:

    The novel documents the life of one Jethro Knights and is set in the not very distant future (possibly even the present). Jethro is a brilliant transhumanist who wants the world to change and will stop at nothing to achieve his transhumanist goals. His life story starts as a rebellious university student who gives up all to sail around the world, paying his way as a journalist and covering world events. He starts to define a philosophy based upon what he sees as transhumanist inevitability … … Zoltan Istvan is an ex National Geographic journalist who himself sailed around the world as did Jethro and he clearly is a strong supporter of transhumanism. There is obviously some autobiographical influence.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R1CT1CB2MYHYH0/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0988616114

    Well, that explains why the self-proclaimed “transhumanist philosopher” doesn’t claim to have a BSc or higher qualification in philosophy; despite the “Who is Zoltan Istvan?” page of his website claiming Istvan is “Ivy League educated, having studied philosophy and religious studies at Columbia University”, which is a strange wording if he completed his course and got a qualification but strictly true (if misleading) if he dropped out — and would be strictly true if he completed but one term of nine of his course.

    Philosopher he ain’t, except self-styled. Nor can he claim theology or philosophy of religion qualifications from his drop out.

    Is the science-fiction novel well written?:

    … I found the story simplistic, the characters one dimensional and parts of it read like a sermon. If you want a fictional story on what Transhumanism is about and its aims then I would recommend this book. If however you want a well written science fiction novel then I would not.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R6UCL0DV5LLM6/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0988616114

    Apparently not.

    Other snippets from the first link:

    On Jethro’s return he sets up an organisation called ‘Transhuman Citizen’ and enlists the support of scientists and other supporters of transhumanist ideas. … Ultimately, with the backing of a billionaire benefactor Jethro is able to set up Transhumania, a floating city where scientists and all others devoted to the technological advancements transhumanism offers are able to pursue their goals without the hindrances of the outside world. And ultimately Transhumnia challenges and overthrows the whole world order.

    There you are, then. Istvan cannot find a Bill Gates to back him financially, so he’s forced to try to co-opt the financial might of Government by running for US President.

    On the face of it, Istvan is a Walter Mitty type character trying to live out the storyline of his badly written science-fiction fantasy; though I do rather favour the obvious alternative, that irrespective of whether what he says he wants is realistic or achievable, and indeed irrespective of whether he actually does want what he claims he does, transhumanist novelist and transhumanist media personality is a lucrative career.

    Istvan looks like a nothing, a writer who has sought media personality self-publicist celebrity status, but is famous primarily for being famous. And dead cats.

  11. One atheists beliefs and quotes do not stand for all atheists. a thousand atheists beliefs and quotes do not stand for all atheists. The ONLY thing atheism says about a person is that they dont have a belief in a god. That is it. DO NOT GROUP ALL ATHEISTS TOGETHER.

    — good-life to you all.

  12. Dhay July 24, 2016 at 7:46 am
    “The linked book advert tells us, “We didn’t evolve through billions of years to remain animals. …”

    Evidently Zoltan Istvan thinks we evolved through billions of years to become transhuman. That’s a quite startling piece of New Atheist teleology, startling not only because of what the teleological progression is claimed to head towards, but also because last I knew New Atheists just didn’t recognise the validity of teleology in general.”
    * How did this crackpot somehow get associated with the so called New Atheists, much less become some sort of representative of the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Ali?

    I have never even heard the term “transhumanist” brought up in all the years I have been following and engaging on religion and the nature of our existence.

    “ZI – Sometime in the next decade, the number of worldwide godless people — atheists, agnostics, and those unaffiliated with religion — is likely to break through the billion-person mark.”
    * That statement is self contradictory on its face. Those unaffiliated with religion yet separate from atheists and agnostics are not godless. For example, Ray Comfort is publicly very much anti-religion.

    Here are this whack job’s 3 “laws” according to wiki. I never even heard of this claptrap but here we go:
    “Istvan’s Three Laws of Transhumanism are:
    1.A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.”
    * By that logic it is ok to kidnap, kill, and harvest organs from strangers if I need some. And this guy is running for president?
    “A transhumanist must strive to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First Law.”
    * Omnipotence? Where did he get this idea from? What a bizarre goal. Please quote any major public figure New Atheist who has said he or she is striving for “omnipotence”

    “A transhumanist must safeguard value in the universe—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First and Second Laws.”
    * What is “value in the universe”? Obviously, a hopelessly vague term.

    The simplest explanation is that this guy is just another crackpot con man like Claude Vorilhon, L Ron Hubbard and on and on. Holding him up as in any way representative of the New Atheists is just a strawman attempt to discredit serious authors.

  13. Kevin says:

    Stardusty,

    The vast majority of Christians – presumably including every Christian on this blog – would consider Westboro Baptist, Christian Identity, etc to be crackpot and not Christian at all. But to the outside world, they are indeed Christian because the minimum definitional requirement to be a Christian would be worshipping Christ, even if that worship is far removed from what we would recognize as proper doctrine.

    The minimum definition of a New Atheist is an anti-theistic, outspoken critic of religion who advocates reasoning based on science and logic (summary based off of Wikipedia). This guy meets the minimum criteria for a New Atheist, and to those of us who are not New Atheists, we see no reason to differentiate in the level of crackpot. At least I sure don’t.

    Neither of us gets to dismiss the less savory elements of our group.

  14. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    I have never even heard the term “transhumanist” brought up in all the years I have been following and engaging on religion and the nature of our existence.

    Then you’re doing a poor job of keeping up with the field. Transhumanism is relatively obscure, but significant enough that it should be on your radar if you’re following that sort of thing. The “three laws” seem to be strictly Zoltan’s personal pet notion, however (clearly derivative of Asimov’s laws of robotics).

    Kevin said:

    Neither of us gets to dismiss the less savory elements of our group.

    Publicly censuring or even disowning them is fair game, though, wouldn’t you say?

  15. TFBW –
    ” SP I have never even heard the term “transhumanist” brought up in all the years I have been following and engaging on religion and the nature of our existence.”

    “Then you’re doing a poor job of keeping up with the field. Transhumanism is relatively obscure, but significant enough that it should be on your radar if you’re following that sort of thing. ”
    * Right, if I had been following that sort of thing then that sort of thing would be on my radar.

    I have been following the folks generally considered to be prominent among New Atheists, as well as a number of sources for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Transhumanism just is not a topic of debate in that sort of thing.

  16. TFBW says:

    Stardusty:

    Right, if I had been following that sort of thing then that sort of thing would be on my radar.

    “That sort of thing” being “religion and the nature of our existence,” which you profess to “have been following and engaging on.”

    Oh, wait. This is Stardusty, who is always right because he says he’s right. Never mind.

  17. Kevin says:

    “Publicly censuring or even disowning them is fair game, though, wouldn’t you say?”

    Yep.

  18. Michael says:

    Then you’re doing a poor job of keeping up with the field. Transhumanism is relatively obscure, but significant enough that it should be on your radar if you’re following that sort of thing. The “three laws” seem to be strictly Zoltan’s personal pet notion, however (clearly derivative of Asimov’s laws of robotics).

    Don’t forget that Sam Harris promoted a video on transhumanism and even called it “cool”:

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/sam-harris-and-transhumanism/

  19. Kevin July 24, 2016 at 7:34 pm
    “The vast majority of Christians – presumably including every Christian on this blog – would consider Westboro Baptist, Christian Identity, etc to be crackpot and not Christian at all.”
    * Ok, and unlike some people out there I would not accuse you of the No True Scotsman for that if you can demonstrate that some particular sect has clearly deviated from the teachings of Christ.

    I did not mean to be to diversionary, but that subject just happens to be on my mind recently. There are important differences between an irrevocable trait of birth as opposed to a belief system.

    “But to the outside world, they are indeed Christian because the minimum definitional requirement to be a Christian would be worshipping Christ, even if that worship is far removed from what we would recognize as proper doctrine.”
    * That would be a minimum requirement but in my view not a sufficient requirement.

    “The minimum definition of a New Atheist is an anti-theistic, outspoken critic of religion who advocates reasoning based on science and logic (summary based off of Wikipedia). This guy meets the minimum criteria for a New Atheist,”
    * Not from what I have read so far. His use of logic fails immediately, and so glaringly we can fairly question his motives and his honesty.

    ” and to those of us who are not New Atheists, we see no reason to differentiate in the level of crackpot. At least I sure don’t.”
    * Consider if I refused to differentiate between you and the WBC? Would you consider that to be fair and reasonable?

    “Neither of us gets to dismiss the less savory elements of our group.”
    * We can’t dismiss the fact of their existence and views. But it is fair to draw some distinctions and to separate ourselves accordingly.

    That’s more nebulous with atheists because there is no single central reference text. New Atheism has come to be personified by the highly rational, articulate, erudite argumentation of folks like Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Ali. These are people who go to great lengths to form cogent and evidenced rational arguments. Any one of these New Atheists could pick apart this Zoltan guy in five minutes.

    Holding up Zoltan as in any way emblematic of the rational positions commonly associated with prominent New Atheist authors is just a diversion or strawman.

  20. Kevin says:

    “New Atheism has come to be personified by the highly rational, articulate, erudite argumentation of folks like Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Ali. These are people who go to great lengths to form cogent and evidenced rational arguments.”

    I’m not familiar with Ali, and haven’t read a whole lot of Hitchens. As far as the others go, the only agreement of their arguing capabilities I would give is that they indeed would probably tear Zoltan apart.

  21. Ryan says:

    I’m somewhat with Stardusty on this one. I think it’s safe to say that Zoltan is on the “fringe” of New Atheism. I imagine Hitchens would’ve thought he was a nut. But he definitely is an atheist that believes religion is some sort of “disease” upon the human race, which is the hallmark of New Atheism. By the way, I picture his “transhumanist meetings” going something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL2gxb-TcLM

  22. TFBW says:

    TheOutAtheist said:

    DO NOT GROUP ALL ATHEISTS TOGETHER.

    We try to be specific about which subset of atheists we are discussing at any given moment. Most of the discussion on this site is targeted at New Atheism, because its adherents posture as though all of Reason and Evidence support their case to the exclusion of all others, among other traits. Some criticism is targeted at “Social Justice Atheists,” who are harder to define in one sentence. You can be an atheist without belonging to either of these groups.

    Do you devote an equal amount of effort towards shouting “DO NOT GROUP ALL RELIGIONS TOGETHER” at atheists? According to my research, you owe us at least one such shout in an atheist forum to balance the books. That would be great, thanks, because it’s one of the hallmarks of New Atheism that they treat religion as (at best) a more or less homogeneous blob of malign influence.

  23. Michael says:

    I’m somewhat with Stardusty on this one. I think it’s safe to say that Zoltan is on the “fringe” of New Atheism. I imagine Hitchens would’ve thought he was a nut. But he definitely is an atheist that believes religion is some sort of “disease” upon the human race, which is the hallmark of New Atheism.

    I wouldn’t classify him as a leader in the New Atheist movement. But he is clearly someone who has swallowed the Gnu rhetoric and taken it to the next level. In a sense, he is one example of a 2nd Generation Gnu, one example of a someone who has become even more extreme than his leaders. He shares in the common Gnu idea that religion is evil and its adherents are mentally ill. But while Harris and Dawkins blame religion for terrorism, Istvan blames religion for the fact that we all die. And while Harris and Dawkins embrace scientism as the means to truth, Istvan’s scientism casts science as the Savior. New Atheists have long preached about a secular utopia and Istvan is someone who has stepped up to flesh out one particular vision of this utopia.

    Istvan is clearly a Gnu. Remember, New Atheists aren’t people who “follow reason and evidence.” I’ve shown this with many examples over the last 4 years. The common theme of the New Atheist is simply hatred of religion and reliigous people.

  24. Michael says:

    BTW, it looks like Zoltan’s book taps into the common, stereotypical New Atheist Fear. From Wiki:

    Protagonist Jethro Knights studies philosophy and sails around the world to promote indefinite life extension, desiring to live eternally through medicine, science, and technology. Love-interest and physician Zoe Bach, while sharing Knights’ philosophical transhumanism, challenges him with her absolute belief in the afterlife, insisting that death is a part of life. Meanwhile, in America, transhumanists are being targeted and killed by Christian terrorists in cahoots with the popular anti-transhumanist Reverend Belinas.[5]

    After his sailing trip, Knights suffers a devastating personal tragedy at the hands of Christian fundamentalists. At the same time, the United States Government becomes more theocratic and criminalizes transhumanist research, prompting Knights to build an independent floating city and sovereign state, Transhumania, so research can be continued. Governments around the world eventually grow afraid of the radical science being created on Transhumania, and they attack the seasteading city. Transhumania successfully defends itself, and Knights attempts to establish a transhuman-inspired civilization.[6][7]

    The interviewer in the OP link says:

    One more potential criticism I want to address is that your novel, The Transhumanist Wager, follows a protagonist who is often ruthless and dictatorial in enacting a transhumanist agenda.

    Zoltan replies:

    On the other hand, I try to remind readers that Jethro Knight’s actions mostly take place in a war zone environment. Morality does change as circumstances change. Perhaps the most important line in the book is: “Morality is defined and decided by the amount of time we have left to live.” And Jethro’s extreme actions should be seen in light of the circumstances — people always trying to kill him, and religious extremists making transhumanist progress and life extension research impossible in America and around the world.

  25. G. Rodrigues says:

    “New Atheism has come to be personified by the highly rational, articulate, erudite argumentation of folks like Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Ali. These are people who go to great lengths to form cogent and evidenced rational arguments. Any one of these New Atheists could pick apart this Zoltan guy in five minutes.”

    This is just hilarious. Harris and Dawkins as “highly rational”, “articulate” (Hitchens does apply, but then he is, or was, something of an oddball figure, being a journalist and a man of literature) and exhibiting “erudite argumentation”! Just hilarious.

  26. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    New Atheism has come to be personified by the highly rational, articulate, erudite argumentation of folks like Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Ali. … Any one of these New Atheists could pick apart this Zoltan guy in five minutes.

    Well, if you can find a concrete example of that from any of the sources you named, please share the link. If not, then your opinion is duly noted.

    I’m trying to determine what the general sentiment is towards Zoltan is in atheist circles, and the results are mildly ambiguous. On the one hand, he’s getting plenty of positive coverage in atheist-friendly media outlets like Huffpo and Reason.com (among others); on the other hand Mehta doesn’t think much of him. Beyond that, however, this “first openly atheist presidential candidate” is barely generating a murmur among the usual suspects.

    Why the positive press on the one hand and the relative silence from the usual figureheads on the other? It’s hard to say, and I’m open to suggestions. My initial theory is that Zoltan makes all the right noises to get support from the Social Justice faction, particularly with regards to personal rights to define one’s own gender and lifespan (transhumanism wants you to have control over both). I get the feeling that the New Atheist faction would rather pretend he’s not there, though: he makes the right noises regarding religion being a problem, but yeah, some of the other stuff he says is whack. On balance, I think they don’t want to draw attention to him, either by picking him apart or supporting him.

  27. Gottfried says:

    dusty,

    Having witnessed your performance on this blog so far, I’m fairly certain it’s pointless to argue with you. However, being a charitable sort, I would like to at least make an attempt to disabuse you of the ridiculous notion that the arguments of the gnu atheists are in any sense “highly rational, articulate and erudite.” I can only assume that someone who can make a statement like that has fallen victim to some serious confirmation bias.

    So, here are some essays that could serve as starting points, more or less off the top of my head (and I hope Michael won’t object to all the links):

    Stephen M. Barr on Dawkins:
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2004/08/001-the-devils-chaplain

    David Bentley Hart on Dennett… :
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/01/003-daniel-dennett-hunts-the-snark

    …and gnu atheism generally:
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/05/believe-it-or-not

    And Theodore Dalrymple (one of the many intelligent and cultured atheists who are not at all impressed by the gnus):
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/what-new-atheists-don%E2%80%99t-see-13058.html

    I’m sure you’ll find reasons to dismiss all of them, but I would hope that, if you actually read them, they would sow some seeds of doubt in your mind as to whether the writers in question are really worthy of admiration.

  28. Dhay says:

    Zoltan Istvan’s ideas sound rather derivative:

    Istvan’s “Will to Omnipotence” surely echoes Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Will to Power”, and Istvan’s machine-intelligence-derived “values” — which are explicitly not Christian values, indeed are literally inhuman values — echo both Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil” (ie beyond Christian values) book title and Nietzsche’s “transvaluation of all values”.

    Even the three laws echo Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics”.

    Looks like tongue-in-cheek parody or pastiche.

    *

    Nobody, I hope, would claim that all atheists or all New Atheists must be transhumanists. But there’s at least one other ticks-all-the-boxes New Atheist who is a transhumanist, namely John G. Messerly; he did at least realise there would be problems with inhuman machine-intelligence-derived “values” …

    John G Messerly thinks that by 2050 or thereabouts we will all be digitally enhanced (http://hplusmagazine.com/2014/04/29/we-must-evolve/) and will require morality chips implanted within our brains. He doesn’t specify precisely what that morality chip should contain, but quite obviously the New Atheist Party will ban any religious morality coding, and will, I predict, want to include that it should be immoral to vote against the New Atheist Party in any future elections; on the other hand, in Saudi Arabia and huge chunks of the world, a Sharia Law morality chip will be mandatory; so if Harris ever did get to be Foreign Secretary, there would probably be an early pre-emptive nuclear strike.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/still-obsessed-with-other-peoples-children/#comment-7622

    … but I don’t think he had a well thought out answer to the problem.

  29. TFBW July 25, 2016 at 5:47 am
    TheOutAtheist said:
    DO NOT GROUP ALL ATHEISTS TOGETHER.

    “Do you devote an equal amount of effort towards shouting “DO NOT GROUP ALL RELIGIONS TOGETHER” at atheists? ”
    * Please excuse me for answering a question not directed at me but…
    Yes!!!

    Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Bill Maher in particular have taken a lot of flak from liberals who for some weird reason are deeply invested in the false equivalency narrative. P.Z. Meyers is a prominent poster boy for this nauseating self flagellating Western white liberal guilt false equivalency narrative. (BTW, PZ banned me in record time for telling him such things, so yes, if you monitor the atheist intramural conversations you will find that the New Atheist verses SJW debate is increasingly heated)

    Just read the actual words in the books, How does “love your enemy and pray for their salvation” translate into “blow yourself up while killing the non-believer to guarantee your place in heaven”?

    How does “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” translate into “throw stones”?

    A questioner once raised an issue of Jewish terrorists in this false equivalency context to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and she shot back “there are no Jewish terrorists flying airplanes into buildings”.

  30. Michael – “New Atheists aren’t people who “follow reason and evidence.” I’ve shown this with many examples over the last 4 years. The common theme of the New Atheist is simply hatred of religion and reliigous people.”

    I could go on at length about your first couple assertions, but you really went over the top on that last bit.

    “Hatred of religious people”

    Do you really suppose I hate you? That I hate people who believe in god passionately?

    Do you really imagine I am so consumed with hatred that I hate the large majority of all humanity, even my own blood relatives?

  31. G. Rodrigues “erudite argumentation”! Just hilarious.

    * Well, G, I am happy indeed to be a source of hilarity in your life, it is always gratifying to find I have cast a bit of sunshine into the view of another…

    But I must apologize for failing to find any specific content in your post. What, specifically, if I may ask, is the particular reason that you find such great humor in my words?

  32. TFBW
    “On balance, I think they don’t want to draw attention to him, either by picking him apart or supporting him.”
    * Indeed, I never even heard of this fruitcake until some Christians started talking about him like he was somehow emblematic of New Atheists.

    I suppose I could go video some mentally challenged guy walking down the street muttering about the apocalypse and Jesus and the end times and those damn FBI conspirators sometimes managing to penetrate his very best foil hats…but what would that demonstrate about Christianity as a potentially rational system of thought?

    Nothing.

  33. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Starmusty Psycho:

    “What, specifically, if I may ask, is the particular reason that you find such great humor in my words?”

    The grandiose, self-conceited drivel of dim-witted ignoramuses, unable to appreciate, or even so much as recognize, irony, is an unfailing occasion of mirth. Does that answer your question?

  34. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    I never even heard of this fruitcake until some Christians started talking about him like he was somehow emblematic of New Atheists.

    Presumably you spend a great deal of your time in New Atheist circles, including counter-New-Atheist sites like this. As I’ve mentioned, the New Atheist usual suspects, with the exception of Hemant Mehta, have been giving Zoltan no press at all. But don’t insinuate that Christians are giving him all the press: the link at the top of this blog is to the Huffington Post, where Zoltan is a regular contributor. Do a Google new search for him, and see how many other secular sites have covered him. He’s mainstream enough, even if you missed him until he was mentioned here.

    As for “emblematic”, he’s clearly not popular in New Atheist circles, but he ticks all the boxes. And despite your protestations to the contrary, he no fringe loon. By all means disown him if you want to, but don’t pretend you can dismiss him like “some mentally challenged guy walking down the street”: he’s a coherent speaker, no matter how wrong his ideas are — which also happens to be about as much as I can say for Sam Harris.

    Actually, he’s got a lot in common with Sam Harris, given that they both seem to be essentially professional atheist authors and speakers who use their ostensible job titles (“Neuroscientist” and “Presidential Candidate”) primarily as publicity tools. It’s not like Sam does any actual neuroscience, or like Zoltan has the slightest hope of becoming president. Sam is by far the bigger name, of course, and is actually emblematic of New Atheism, but give Zoltan a chance — he’s hard at work on raising his public profile.

    Furthermore, we already know that Sam is at least somewhat sympathetic to the whole Transhumanism thing. Who knows: maybe Sam wouldn’t be so critical of Zoltan as you are.

  35. Michael says:

    Do you really suppose I hate you? That I hate people who believe in god passionately?

    Do you really imagine I am so consumed with hatred that I hate the large majority of all humanity, even my own blood relatives?

    Do you think religious people have some form of mental illness?

    Do you think religion is evil?

    Do you think a religious upbringing is some form of child abuse?

    Do you agree with Sam Harris, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”

    Do you approve of Dawkins routinely referring to religious people as faithheads?

  36. Michael says:

    Indeed, I never even heard of this fruitcake until some Christians started talking about him like he was somehow emblematic of New Atheists.

    I know the feeling. I never heard of Westboro Baptist church until atheists started talking about them like they were somehow emblematic of Christianity.

    Balance is a major theme of this blog.

  37. Gottfried July 25, 2016 at 11:02 am
    dusty,

    “Having witnessed your performance on this blog so far, I’m fairly certain it’s pointless to argue with you.”

    * Indeed, my positions are irrefutably sound, but do give it a go, eh?

    JK!!! I know you mean I am hopelessly entrenched in my views…but really that is not so much the case as you might imagine.

    “the ridiculous notion that the arguments of the gnu atheists are in any sense “highly rational, articulate and erudite.” I can only assume that someone who can make a statement like that has fallen victim to some serious confirmation bias.”
    * I naively thought that would be one of my more non-controversial statements!
    I mentioned some specific individuals. These are people collectively with great education, who have done enormous amounts of research, public speakers of world class quality, editors, broadcast personalities, respected authors, public servants, and on and on and on.

    No, Gottfried, this is no mere case of bias.

    “I’m sure you’ll find reasons to dismiss all of them, but I would hope that, if you actually read them, they would sow some seeds of doubt in your mind as to whether the writers in question are really worthy of admiration.”
    * That’s kind of the beauty of being an atheist, I am not personally invested in the perfection of anybody. Dawkins Dennett may well be wrong about a number of things. The very notion of a meme has drawn very sharp criticism.

    I don’t worship human beings and I think if you asked any “gnu” atheist the last thing they would want is to be followed blindly as some sort of god of natural facts.

    The Buddha laid this out for us some 2500 years ago, that we should not that the words of our teachers as fact, not even the word of himself, though many may venerate him as the truly enlightened one he said no, do not take my word, if you find my word in error then discard it, follow your own reason, accept no authority of reason over your own.

  38. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    … follow your own reason, accept no authority of reason over your own.

    I can see you’ve really taken that to heart.

  39. Ryan says:

    Stardusty said: Indeed, my positions are irrefutably sound… which will inevitably follow from this: follow your own reason, accept no authority of reason over your own.

    Please, not more of your tortured logic.

    But Sam Harris is not all that far from Zoltan. Harris is becoming weirder as time goes on. His views are approaching some sort of quasi-spiritual cult. It’s ironic that New Atheists want to remove religion, and then create a new system of morality and salvation in it’s place; effectively a new religion, one of their own making.

  40. Michael July 26, 2016 at 7:15 am
    “SP – Indeed, I never even heard of this fruitcake until some Christians started talking about him like he was somehow emblematic of New Atheists.”

    “I know the feeling. I never heard of Westboro Baptist church until atheists started talking about them like they were somehow emblematic of Christianity.”

    “Balance is a major theme of this blog.”
    * Ok, but balancing a distortion/falsehood with another distortion/falsehood seems to be simply sinking to someone else’s level, unless there is something like a closing of “of course I was not being entirely serious, rather, demonstrating a point by substituting actors”. I did not detect that sort of framing,

  41. Michael July 26, 2016 at 7:13 am
    “SP Do you really suppose I hate you? That I hate people who believe in god passionately?
    Do you really imagine I am so consumed with hatred that I hate the large majority of all humanity, even my own blood relatives?”

    “Do you think religious people have some form of mental illness?”
    * I love the mentally ill !!! Actually, that is not entirely the smartass remark it seems to be. In all seriousness, even if I thought religious people are mentally ill that would be no reason to hate them, at least not for me, I just do not feel that kind of association.

    In some sense I suppose we are all crazy, so if religious people are crazy merely by the irrationality of the god hypothesis then I am somewhere on that same continuum. If god comes to you in a dream or a vision or a voice and you think that really was an external being then my assessment is that you are delusional in a way I am not, and in a way, if god was not the attributed source, might very well get you diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. People who feel they are detecting outside sources such as spirits, god, angels, and this detection is in the form of voices or visions or dreams or sensations attributed to such ethereal entities, are in my view delusional.

    This delusion of contact with the spirit world can often take some very vivid forms such as speaking in tongues, hearing voices of angels, or receiving a command from god to kill innocent lives, that are profoundly delusional states.

    Still not hating them.

    “Do you think religion is evil?”
    * Some religious tenets meet my personal value judgement of evil.. Some religion is like astrology, not so much evil as a silly mythological waste.

    I don’t hate astrology or astrologers, but I do think we would be better off without astrology altogether, as well as religion.

    “Do you think a religious upbringing is some form of child abuse?”
    * It is a miseducation at the very least, a disservice, and potentially a serious form of mental or even physical abuse.

    “Do you agree with Sam Harris, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.””
    * Hmm…well, if the IS detonates a nuclear bomb in the USA then I will answer yes.

    “Do you approve of Dawkins routinely referring to religious people as faithheads?”
    * If “faithhead” is supposed to be a play on words for “fathead” then that would be a crude and vacuous pejorative I would strongly object to. I have occasionally lowered myself to simply hurling an insult and those are not moments I remember with pride.

  42. Michael says:

    * Ok, but balancing a distortion/falsehood with another distortion/falsehood seems to be simply sinking to someone else’s level,

    Huh? So you think that when atheists invoke Westboro Baptist Church as being somehow emblematic of Christianity, that is a distortion/falsehood?

  43. Michael says:

    I wrote: The common theme of the New Atheist is simply hatred of religion and reliigous people.

    Dusty replied: Do you really suppose I hate you? That I hate people who believe in god passionately?
    Do you really imagine I am so consumed with hatred that I hate the large majority of all humanity, even my own blood relatives?

    Based on his answers, I would say yes, you hate us. I don’t know how “passionately” you hate, nor do I know how “consumed” you are by the hate, but those are seperate issues.

  44. Michael says:

    How did this crackpot somehow get associated with the so called New Atheists, much less become some sort of representative of the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Ali?

    He embraces the writings of the New Atheists. Like them, he is an atheist who thinks religious people are mentally ill, thinks religion is the root of evil, thinks a religious upbringing is a form of child abuse, even wanting to make it illegal, and embraces scientism.

    When it comes to the topic of religion, how is Istvan so different from someone like Sam Harris?

  45. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche > In some sense I suppose we are all crazy, …

    I am pleased to be able to agree with you: anyone who might be tempted to call Christians delusional should apply rationality and consult published scientific research; I’ve written a number of posts over the months highlighting research which shows that delusions are a lot more common than most people think, and have pointed out in them that people who think they themselves are delusion-less are, according to the research results, almost certainly deluding themselves.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/another-day-in-the-bubble-of-gnu/#comment-8757

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/sam-harris-finally-makes-sense-to-me/#comment-9131

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/sam-harris-finally-makes-sense-to-me/#comment-9215

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/dawkins-displays-his-authoritarian-nature/#comment-11447

    *

    Then there’s what has been said by that expert on delusion, Sam Harris, namely that all who don’t meditate, or haven’t practiced long enough — that’s many years, I gather from reading his blog, so just about everybody fails his sanity criterion — all suffer from pathological illusion (which, when pathological, I’m pretty sure is the same as delusion):
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/new-atheisms-guru/#comment-5154

    And again, for all of these very same people — ie very nearly everybody — who don’t meditate, or haven’t practiced long enough, Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/sam-harriss-religion/#comment-5370

  46. Gottfried says:

    dusty,

    I wasn’t going to bother replying, but I find your self-satisfaction grating enough that I’ll say a few more things.

    First, I find your response to me baffling. I said nothing to suggest that you worshipped or idolized Dawkins and company. I merely took your words “highly rational, articulate, erudite” to be expressions of admiration, as I think any normal person would. And I noted that, at least on the subject of religion, they had done nothing to merit any admiration, which is true.
    So that raises the question of why you imagined I had said something I didn’t say. Perhaps you assumed you were talking to a faithhead? Someone for whom the very concept of critical thinking is alien, and so imagines that everyone just blindly follows their chosen leaders, as they themselves follow the Pope or Pastor Dan? If that’s the case, it would be evidence in support of my hypothesis that you’ve uncritically accepted the claims of the new atheists.

    Of course, there are many religious people who are blind followers. But that’s because being a blind follower is a common human trait. The idea that it’s a particularly religious trait is a specimen of new atheist bigotry. Observe the pathetic echo chambers that surround nearly all the new atheist leaders* (well documented on this blog) to determine whether atheists are immune to this trait.

    You say you’re not troubled that Dawkins or Dennett might be wrong about a few things. But the point is that they’re wrong about the most important things. That they may be highly accomplished in other areas is irrelevant. The writers I directed you to are highly accomplished as well. They say that on the subject in question, namely religious belief, the new atheists are shallow, ignorant, confused, and bigoted. More importantly, they give good reasons for thinking that this is so.

    And of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you care to make the effort to look, you’ll find that the writings of the new atheists have been so thoroughly demolished, by both believers and unbelievers, that it’s impossible for an intelligent person to cling to them without resorting to intellectual dishonesty.

    *Yes, yes, I know, atheists don’t have leaders!

  47. Gottfried says:

    dusty,

    But perhaps you will say that you don’t depend on their arguments. You recognize no authority but your own, after all. If that’s the case, I can only say that you would do well to find a better authority. In the many, many comments you’ve deposited here, I honestly can’t recall you making an actual argument. I admit I may have overlooked something, but nothing in the world could make me read through them again. So let’s have a look at some of your assertions (again, if my recollections are inaccurate, I’ll happily be corrected).

    I believe you started with the common assertion that there is no evidence for God (or “god,” as you put it, a trick that might be deemed clever coming from an unruly five year old, but merely looks petty and foolish coming from a grown man) and when challenged as to what that evidence would look like, you gave some vague notion of wonderworking that might, possibly, maybe, point in the general direction of godly evidence (in other words, a big impressive Gap, as Michael noted). For the record, I would not consider that evidence for God, and I doubt very much that you would either. In fact, a “God” coming to earth to perform supernatural parlor tricks to impress assholes would be strong evidence against the existence of the Christian God, but that’s beside the point. The point is that until you have stated what sort of evidence would convince you of God’s existence beyond a reasonable doubt, you have not answered the question, and your demand for evidence is revealed as nothing more than a rhetorical ploy.

    The same thing is happening in your much repeated demand to be shown an “absolute morality,” or whatever you called it. “Where is it, what is it made of?” As though any philosopher had ever claimed that moral truths were objects in the physical universe. Can you give us a description of an objective moral precept that you would accept? No? Then once again, we see that you’re making demands which, on your own terms, cannot possibly be met. You will not believe in moral truths until you see physical evidence, but moral truths, by definition, are not something for which there could ever be physical evidence. Do you not see the problem here?

    Ah, but look at me, arguing with you! I feel I could say much more about your selective skepticism, your tendency to appeal to authority when it suits you, etc. You’re claim that the first law of thermodynamics leads to the “utterly inescapable” conclusion that the universe is eternal (an odd statement from someone who at other times plays the radical skeptic), followed by the accusation that TFBW was “anthropomorphizing and generalizing limited principles” when he countered with the second law, was especially memorable. Indeed, I think the amorphous and shifting nature of your position is probably its greatest asset. That is, it’s the only thing keeping you from getting skewered.

    But I already regret the time I’ve wasted on this. I have some days off this week and don’t intend to spend them banging my head against the wall of your intransigence. Feel free to have as many last words as you want. Just remember, your majesty, that there are people out there who can see you have no clothes.

  48. Gottfried says:

    One more thing. Some of what I said may sound harsh, and I stand by all of it. But you’re undoubtedly a step up from the idiot trolls who provide most of the atheist commentary on this blog. You’ve been relatively polite, if condescending. You’re clearly a smart guy. If you’re ever cured of your case of borderline solipsism, you might even be worth talking to.

  49. Dhay says:

    Zoltan Istvan’s machine-intelligence-derived “values” are explicitly not Christian values, indeed are literally inhuman values. He make this explicit in a passage in an article he wrote in 2014, entitled “The Three Laws of Transhumanism and Artificial Intelligence” and sub-titled “Artificial intelligence morality will be different from our human morality”:

    I’m all for development of superior machine intelligence that can help the world out with its brilliant analytical skills. I suggest we dedicate far more resources to it than we’re currently doing. But programming AI with mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit is dangerous and will possibly lead to total chaos.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-transhumanist-philosopher/201409/the-three-laws-transhumanism-and-artificial-intelligence

    Got that, “mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit” are out, Out, OUT, DANGEROUS!!!

    But these “mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit” surely include not just Christian values but also Humanist values, family-oriented values, Liberal values, SJW values, social conscience … [add any other values etc you can think of, especially those you hold dear, then add in any other values you can think of, especially those which other people hold dear, whether Christian, other religious, agnostic, irreligious, atheist, even New Atheist, all “mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit” are destined for the Transhumanist’s scrap heap.]

    I bet all of these human values and philosophies and whatever “the fallibilities of the human spirit” might be will fail to be included in the “new, improved” impersonal and literally inhuman machine-intelligence-derived “values”.

    Your very own values, all of them, are DANGEROUS, folks — all of you, Christians and critics alike.

    Of course, I could be wrong about fearing Istvan’s inhuman machine-intelligence-derived “values”, perhaps they will turn out to be ones which nobody but a fool would reject; but have you noticed the absence of any actual machine-intelligence-derived “values” so far in Istvan’s articles.

    We have the non-machine-intelligence-derived “will to omnipotence”, we have the similarly non-machine-intelligence-derived three laws, two which seem to summarise as “Get out of my way, OR ELSE!” and the third of which waffles vaguely about (machine-intelligence-derived) “values”.

    These machine-intelligence-derived “values” are so far conspicuous by their absence. Time he produced some for examination and assessment, surely. Some “philosopher”, eh.

  50. Ryan says:

    But programming AI with mammalian ideas, modern-day philosophies, and the fallibilities of the human spirit is dangerous and will possibly lead to total chaos.

    So, let me see if I understand. Man designs machine. Man builds machine. Man programs machine to have some sort of quasi-intelligence. Machine then makes moral values for man to live by. And this is how we escape having mammalian ideas? There is no escape. The ultimate source of this moral system will be mankind, just filtered through a machine that will spit back exactly what we programmed it to say. If he’s so disgusted with the human race, perhaps he should focus his great intellect on devising a plan to exterminate the human race and all life on earth. Seems like a simpler solution to the “problem” as he sees it.

  51. MichaelJuly 27, 2016 at 7:15 am
    * SP Ok, but balancing a distortion/falsehood with another distortion/falsehood seems to be simply sinking to someone else’s level,

    “Huh? So you think that when atheists invoke Westboro Baptist Church as being somehow emblematic of Christianity, that is a distortion/falsehood?”
    * As a generalization, yes.

    Christianity means many things to many different people. The WBC is not emblematic of the actual practice of Christianity for the vast majority of self identifying Christians.

    The Bible does say that god hates fags, albeit in more subdued language. Mosaic law was pretty brutal, and the portrayal of god at that time is pretty monstrous. But I think it would be dishonest reading to just stop there. Christianity is, after all, Christ centered. What is Jesus purported to have said?

    Don’t throw stones.
    Love your neighbor as yourself.
    Don’t get divorced.
    Pay your taxes.
    Serve your master.
    Give a thief even more than he stole.
    Turn the other cheek.
    Love your enemies and pray for their salvation.

    It’s pretty hard to get the WBC position from all that. True, Jesus muddied the waters with the affirmation of the prophets and the bit about every jot and tiddle, which gives the harsher elements an apologetic path to bring the OT horror show into modern Christianity, but most Christians either cherry pick their way around that or develop some kind of apologetic means to take the peace and love bulk of the words attributed to Jesus as the “true” message.

    Nor is the WBC out there alone. They are not the first Christians to condemn homosexuality as an abomination before god. or the ills and diseases of humans as justified divine punishment for human wickedness and disobedience to god.

    So, it is fair to say that the WBC is in the mainstream of a long line of fire and brimstone preachers, but that represents a very small segment of Christian practice in this present time.

    Did you happen to see the movie Religulous? Bill Maher was somewhat surprised at the pro-science views of the Vatican astronomer. But the bishop of Rome has the advantage of feeling no compulsion for sola scriptura, since he was given the sole right to biblical interpretation by Jesus in an unbroken chain of apostolic succession, and is free to declare any passage he wishes to be metaphorical or no longer applicable in the greater scheme of Christian doctrine.

    The leader of the largest Christian sect has taken a less and less harsh tone toward homosexuals, and certainly does not go around extolling the virtues of dead soldiers as the wages of our nation’s sin.

    There are 1.2 billion Catholics and a handful of cranks in the WBC. I challenge any atheist to just do the math.

  52. Michael July 27, 2016 at 7:26 am
    “Based on his answers, I would say yes, you hate us. I don’t know how “passionately” you hate, nor do I know how “consumed” you are by the hate, but those are separate issues.”
    * I am much too at peace to hate you, Michael, or any of the folks here.

    Hate can be a very powerful emotion, like fear, or moments of intense love. I sense it, and it seems as though others sense it, as somehow rising up from some mysterious place deep in my gut or my heart or my subconscious.

    My only experiences of personal hatred I can recall are associated with some terrible perceived harmful wrong against my children.

    Do you suppose I am in some sense akin to a rabid racist, or a Jew hater, or woman hater, or man hater, or some kind of person who is continually embroiled in a sense disgust and anger and blame and hateful disrespect for whole classes of people?

    That kind of hatred for others is corrosive to one’s self, aside from being rationally unsupportable. On determinism and the absence of free will shall we hate the lion for mauling the gazelle, or even our own child? If it is my own child, then yes, against all rationality my visceral emotional response is to hate and kill the lion, but since you have not mauled my child my better angles yet prevail🙂

  53. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche> What is Jesus purported to have said? Don’t throw stones.

    You keep coming out with this one, time and again; in its earliest appearance — likewise a number of times since — you claimed it had the status of certain truth, being allegedly a “textual fact”.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/the-rambow-effect-how-moderate-views-fuel-extremism/#comment-12743

    It’s a passage, with a number of interesting facets, and also with a number of incongruities. What is certain, however, is that nowhere there does Jesus tell us (or tell anybody), “Don’t throw stones.”

    If you are going to claim that something is a “textual fact“, please do ensure it is a textual fact.

  54. Dhay July 28, 2016 at 4:32 am
    Stardusty Psyche> What is Jesus purported to have said? Don’t throw stones.

    “https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/the-rambow-effect-how-moderate-views-fuel-extremism/#comment-12743

    It’s a passage, with a number of interesting facets, and also with a number of incongruities. What is certain, however, is that nowhere there does Jesus tell us (or tell anybody), “Don’t throw stones.””
    * You have now taken on a rather pedantic approach to the words “tell” and “said”. When people discuss what a figure told or said an exact quote is not required unless quotation marks are used or there is some indication that an attempt is being made to relay the exact words in a particular text, which would then be the textual facts of that particular translation.

    “If you are going to claim that something is a “textual fact“, please do ensure it is a textual fact.”
    * I don’t see in the link you provided where I did other than paraphrase the plain text meaning of a variety of texts including John 8:7

    Suppose I tell you that if you are incapable of doing X then don’t do Y, with X being something no human being is capable of then clearly I am telling you don’t do Y, albeit in a somewhat backhanded and thought provoking manner. A more straight forward way would be for me to say don’t do Y because you can’t do X. Either way, plainly I am telling you don’t do Y.

  55. G. Rodrigues July 26, 2016 at 5:55 am
    @Starmusty Psycho:“What, specifically, if I may ask, is the particular reason that you find such great humor in my words?”

    “The grandiose, self-conceited drivel of dim-witted ignoramuses, unable to appreciate, or even so much as recognize, irony, is an unfailing occasion of mirth. Does that answer your question?”
    * In terms of any specific substantial content, no.

  56. Ryan July 26, 2016 at 2:35 pm
    Stardusty said: Indeed, my positions are irrefutably sound… which will inevitably follow from this: follow your own reason, accept no authority of reason over your own.

    “Please, not more of your tortured logic.”
    * Okay, the “irrefutable” bit was supposed to be a bit of humor by over the top self confidence, but I think my delivery lacked enough scene setting to be effective.

    I don’t see where anybody here has fundamentally refuted my positions but I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility that might happen in the future.

    “But Sam Harris is not all that far from Zoltan. Harris is becoming weirder as time goes on. His views are approaching some sort of quasi-spiritual cult.”
    * Hmm…I don’t see where you get “quasi-spiritual cult” out of seeking the scientific explanations for our manifest numinous experiences.

    “It’s ironic that New Atheists want to remove religion, and then create a new system of morality and salvation in it’s place; ”
    * Salvation? In what sense do you suppose I am seeking to be saved? Saved from death? That is one motivation to believe in eternal life, or to seek some technological means to halt the aging process, or to somehow transfer our intelligence into some other system capable of surviving.

    At this point such things are wishful thinking or science fiction. I expect to die when I die.

  57. Michael July 27, 2016 at 7:36 am
    “SP How did this crackpot somehow get associated with the so called New Atheists, much less become some sort of representative of the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Ali?”

    “He embraces the writings of the New Atheists. Like them, he is an atheist who thinks religious people are mentally ill, thinks religion is the root of evil, thinks a religious upbringing is a form of child abuse, even wanting to make it illegal, and embraces scientism.

    When it comes to the topic of religion, how is Istvan so different from someone like Sam Harris?”
    * We can find people on death row for heinous crimes that would fit this association too. Does that make Sam Harris not so different than death row inmates? If you say yes then I say that is little more than an attempt at guilt by association.

  58. Dhay
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/sam-harris-finally-makes-sense-to-me/#comment-9215
    “The question occurs to me: what do self-designated “Brights” have in common?”
    * According to Christopher Hitchens, “conceit”.

    “Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:”
    * That’s just a quote mining hack.

  59. Gottfried July 27, 2016 at 1:26 pm
    dusty,
    “I wasn’t going to bother replying, but I find your self-satisfaction grating enough that I’ll say a few more things.”
    * And how is it that you have this special insight into my personal sense of satisfaction with myself? It is true that each opinion I hold and express is, in my view, correct. Do you intentionally hold an opinion you know to be incorrect?

    However, I am not certain all my opinions are in fact correct. I remain open to correction, but sometimes other people mistake their own inability to form a cogent counter argument for intransigence on my part.

    “So that raises the question of why you imagined I had said something I didn’t say. Perhaps you assumed you were talking to a faithhead?”
    * Sorry, you lost me. I don’t see any references to any specific words here, just some diffuse assertion I somehow imagined something.

    “Someone for whom the very concept of critical thinking is alien, and so imagines that everyone just blindly follows their chosen leaders, as they themselves follow the Pope or Pastor Dan?”
    * No.

    “But that’s because being a blind follower is a common human trait. The idea that it’s a particularly religious trait is a specimen of new atheist bigotry.”
    * Leaders attract followers. God is purported to be the biggest leader of all. Religion isn’t the only attractive nuisance out there.

    “They say that on the subject in question, namely religious belief, the new atheists are shallow, ignorant, confused, and bigoted. More importantly, they give good reasons for thinking that this is so.”
    * I have never read or heard any such supposedly good reasons.

    “If you care to make the effort to look, you’ll find that the writings of the new atheists have been so thoroughly demolished, by both believers and unbelievers, that it’s impossible for an intelligent person to cling to them without resorting to intellectual dishonesty.”
    * Thoroughly demolished? I suppose some religious bloggers out there think they have accomplished that task. Every such attempt I have read or heard quickly dissembles into a jumble of unsupported assertions and misunderstandings.

  60. Gottfried July 27, 2016 at 1:28 pm
    dusty,
    “But perhaps you will say that you don’t depend on their arguments. You recognize no authority but your own, after all. If that’s the case, I can only say that you would do well to find a better authority.”
    * Indeed!!!

    ““god,” as you put it, a trick that might be deemed clever coming from an unruly five year old, but merely looks petty and foolish coming from a grown man”
    * I see no reason to personify the alleged creative force of existence ad hoc.

    “when challenged as to what that evidence would look like, you gave some vague notion of wonderworking that might, possibly, maybe, point in the general direction of godly evidence”
    * Agreed and intentional. I am quite vague on what evidence for god would even look like. I suppose an omnipotent omniscient being could figure out this problem but lacking those qualities I am kind of stumped and can only offer some vague hypotheticals that might be fairly personally convincing.

    “In fact, a “God” coming to earth to perform supernatural parlor tricks to impress assholes would be strong evidence against the existence of the Christian God
    * Water to wine, feeding the multitude, walking on water, wandering around sayin hey to the folks 3 days after death…

    Parlor tricks indeed.

    “The point is that until you have stated what sort of evidence would convince you of God’s existence beyond a reasonable doubt, you have not answered the question, and your demand for evidence is revealed as nothing more than a rhetorical ploy.”
    * I have answered very clearly, you just don’t understand the answer.
    I can’t think of any absolute proof of god.

    A demonstration of power is good evidence of that particular power. If a being says to me “I will now cause this missing limb to spontaneously regenerate, and then it does, that is good evidence that being possesses a power or a creative capability beyond anything presently known in nature. That still offers no evidence of omniscience, or omnipotence, or perfect moral good.

    I would be thoroughly convinced by whatever this omniscient omnipotent being figures out to convince me.

    On the other hand, all supposed evidences for god yet proposed by theists don’t even come close to even beginning this process of convincing me.

    “As though any philosopher had ever claimed that moral truths were objects in the physical universe”
    * Then in what sense can they be said to “exist”?

    “Can you give us a description of an objective moral precept that you would accept? No? Then once again, we see that you’re making demands which, on your own terms, cannot possibly be met”
    * Hence my conclusion there is no such thing. I can’t think of any such thing. All proposed objective moral truths fail to be demonstrably objective. Don’t blame me for failing to describe something I can’t even imagine the existence of and nobody can specifically enumerate.

    “You will not believe in moral truths until you see physical evidence, but moral truths, by definition, are not something for which there could ever be physical evidence. Do you not see the problem here?”
    * Yes, those who claim a thing exists which by definition cannot exist are engaging in fallacious reasoning.

    “You’re claim that the first law of thermodynamics leads to the “utterly inescapable” ”
    * I didn’t say precisely that and the distinction between my exact words and the words you have chosen to replace them is critical.

    Stuff cannot be created
    Stuff exists
    Therefore stuff has always existed

    Stuff cannot be destroyed
    Stuff exists
    Therefore stuff will always exist

    Stuff has always existed
    Stuff will always exist
    Therefore stuff is eternal

    You may disagree with the premises, you may disagree with the underlying implicit postulates, but on the truth of the premises, and on the foundational postulates of rational argumentation, the conclusions are inescapable

  61. Ryan says:

    “Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:”
    * That’s just a quote mining hack.

    Actually, it seems to be a textual fact. Or perhaps it’s permissible to dismiss textual facts that don’t align with one’s established view? Now I understand.

    Stardusty: I don’t see where anybody here has fundamentally refuted my positions but I can’t absolutely rule out the possibility that might happen in the future.

    Your positions don’t need to be refuted, because they are self-described as merely opinions, not assertions of fact. You have said repeatedly that you can’t prove anything at all. You have no evidence against the existence of God or absolute morality. And you have a giant hole in your entire chain of reasoning where you simply accept the reliability of your senses without any reason to. A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, same with your positions. Your arguments never move past the first few steps, the links there are nonexistence, so the rest of the chain falls apart instantly.

    So, that said, who needs to refute Stardusty’s personal opinions? Perhaps you prefer Pepsi to Coke; well I prefer Coke to Pepsi. What’s there to refute? Your positions have not been shown to be anything more than matters of taste. You prefer to think one way and not the other, but you have absolutely no way of determining whether your way is objectively true, so it’s simply a matter of taste.

    Stardusty: On the other hand, all supposed evidences for god yet proposed by theists don’t even come close to even beginning this process of convincing me.

    And yet, you have said that you can’t imagine anything that would convince you. So the fact that nothing convinces you is absolutely meaningless. It’s not surprising at all. You have determined that there is no God before you explore any evidence. You really don’t understand the gravity of the fact that you have no idea what evidence for or against God would be. The significance is that you really don’t understand the concept of God. You can perhaps imagine a giant spaghetti monster or something similar, but these are nothing like the Christian concept of God. Since you can’t understand the concept of God, you should really refrain from commenting on it, it makes you sound like a fool.

    But Stardusty, please tell us why the universe is the age that it is. Why did the Big Bang happen when it did? Why didn’t it happen earlier? Why didn’t it happen later? If all matter was in a state of perfect rest, then why didn’t it remain in that state? We must conclude there is a force powerful enough to bring the universe into existence, and that force must be able to create motion from rest without anything external acting upon it; this is called an agent. You yourself asked the big question Why is there anything at all? or we could ask it this way Why did the Big Bang happen? And why did it happen when it did, not earlier or later? These questions can only be answered by positing an all-powerful agent, we call this all-powerful mind: God. God is a necessary conclusion from the fact that something exists. Atheism is a philosophical impossibility.

  62. Ryan says:
    July 29, 2016 at 3:17 pm
    “Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:”
    * That’s just a quote mining hack.

    “Actually, it seems to be a textual fact.”
    * Indeed, and a quote mining hack is a technique that takes actual text, text that factually appeared, extracts a small piece of it, and then attaches a meaning to it other than the meaning in context.

    In other words, an out of context quote.

    Ryan said “it’s permissible to dismiss textual facts”.

    “You have said repeatedly that you can’t prove anything at all.”
    * No, I cannot absolutely prove anything not derived from my self awareness. I can prove things within a closed system of logic, and what we ordinarily think of as common or formal logic is a closed system that rests on postulates that are not themselves proved.

    If you and I agree to provisionally accept the foundation postulates of logic then I can prove things to you contingent upon those postulates.

    I agree to do so and I take the engagement in conversation to be an implicit agreement on the the part of others.

    “You have no evidence against the existence of God or absolute morality.”
    * I have no evidence against orange unicorns romping around on Pluto, and no evidence against invisible munchkins living under bridges, so what? There are an unending number of such idle speculations that can be made,

    Your assertion, your burden.

    “And you have a giant hole in your entire chain of reasoning where you simply accept the reliability of your senses without any reason to.”
    * My reason is that I really experience hunger and when I experience eating I experience the hunger satisfied. That seems real to me and I am not paralyzed into starvation while contemplating the potential unreality of my food.

    “And yet, you have said that you can’t imagine anything that would convince you. ”
    * No, I can’t imagine anything that would absolutely prove it to me. I said I can imagine certain demonstrations of certain unique powers, but that would not demonstrate other asserted attributes of god.

    “So the fact that nothing convinces you is absolutely meaningless. ”
    * I means you are incapable of being that great teacher who can communicate a great truth to someone who previously was ignorant of it. Don’t feel bad, nobody else is that great teacher either, including your supposedly omnipotent omniscient god.

    “The significance is that you really don’t understand the concept of God.”
    * That’s because the god of the bible is logically incoherent. Other concepts of god are mere superstitions or vague attributions of some kind of pervasive force.

    “Since you can’t understand the concept of God, you should really refrain from commenting on it, it makes you sound like a fool.”
    * I understand that the explanations for these concepts offered by others are either incoherent, meaningless, or wrong.

    “But Stardusty, please tell us why the universe is the age that it is.”
    * Physics is incomplete. We have a good start at it though.

    ” Why did the Big Bang happen when it did? Why didn’t it happen earlier? Why didn’t it happen later?”
    * Nobody knows.

    “If all matter was in a state of perfect rest, then why didn’t it remain in that state? ”
    * I don’t see any reason to suppose matter was in a state of “perfect rest” prior to the big bang.

    “We must conclude there is a force powerful enough to bring the universe into existence, ”
    * Now you have committed a logical discontinuity. You are making a number of assumptions about the origin and nature of material stuff. There have been a number of speculative ideas floated about the origins of our big bang but we simply lack that knowlege.

    The term “universe” was once applied to the Milky Way galaxy. It seems astronomers are not immune to considering their little corner to be all there is.

    “and that force must be able to create motion from rest without anything external acting upon it; ”
    * There is no reason to assume ad hoc the stuff of existence was motionless prior to our big bang.

    “this is called an agent. ”
    * Apparently in your view things were perfectly still and then some “agent” gave this still stuff a great big smack. That sounds like a made up simplistic story to me.

    Y”ou yourself asked the big question Why is there anything at all? or we could ask it this way Why did the Big Bang happen?
    * No, those are two very different questions. To equate them assumes ad hoc the big bang is all the exists, and would mean your god does not exist either.

    ” And why did it happen when it did, not earlier or later? ”
    * Nobody knows.

    “These questions can only be answered by positing an all-powerful agent,”
    * Which answers nothing because we now must ask these sorts of questions about your god agent. Why does she exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all? What is her first cause? What is she made of? Why did she act to create the big bang when she did? From where does she get her magical powers? How can she act in a time sequence of events yet somehow exist outside of time? Why does she not show herself, rather play hide and go seek with me? How could she have both perfect foreknowledge and free will?

    “we call this all-powerful mind: God. God is a necessary conclusion from the fact that something exists. ”
    * Your premises are deeply flawed and therefore your conclusion is invalid.

    “Atheism is a philosophical impossibility.”
    * You are a non-believer about innumerable things for which there is no credible evidence. Unfortunately on this subject your otherwise admirable skepticism fails to guide your opinions.

  63. Ryan says:

    Stardusty said: Your premises are deeply flawed and therefore your conclusion is invalid.

    Only within your personal closed system of logic thought, correct? Your closed system has no authority over me, and has no authority over reality, or does it? You keep suggesting that we all agree with your “closed system”. But we don’t. None of us agree with it. According to yourself you have arbitrarily created a closed system and work within it to reach conclusions. Those conclusions are only valid within the tiny box (closed system) of your mind. I’m speaking about reality, not the box that you have boxed yourself into.

  64. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, you have stated that matter has always existed. It causes no logical problem for you. You see no reason to ask why it exists or what caused it. Therefore, there is no logical reason for you to ask those questions about God. God’s eternal existence poses no logical problems for you, if it does you better start seriously questioning your views on the eternal existence of matter or you lose all credibility. So, these questions have been dealt with: Why does she exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all? What is her first cause?

    You don’t ask where matter gets its magical powers of energy or mass from, you simply assume those powers have always existed. Therefore, there is no reason for you to ask where God’s powers come from. So, this is a stupid question and one that you don’t ask about matter: From where does she get her magical powers? I’m playing by your rules here. There is no need to answer questions that you don’t ask about matter.

    What is she made of? If you have any respect for anyone outside yourself, then please stop referring to God as “she”. You don’t believe in God, and the theists around here refer to God by “he”, so I’m asking you to show respect for others and communicate with the language that they use. If you are convinced that God exists and is a “she”, then that’s a different story. To answer the question, God is made of God, just like matter is made of matter. That’s really the best we can do. Saying that matter is made of atoms, or protons and electrons, or photons, etc., really doesn’t explain what matter is made of, it just pushes the question further back. Photons are matter, right? So saying that matter is made of photons is just saying that matter is made of matter. So, matter is made of matter and God is made of God.

    How can she act in a time sequence of events yet somehow exist outside of time?

    This is a difficult question. I believe there are questions the human mind will never be able to answer or understand. I think this is one of them. However, I do believe the analogy of an author to a book is helpful. God relates to time like an author relates to a story he has written. He can write himself into the story at any time, and can know what is going to happen even though the characters in the story don’t. The sequence of events exists within the story, and yet the author can hold the entire story in the palm of his hand: beginning, middle, and end. We are characters in a story, and God is the author.

    Why does she not show herself, rather play hide and go seek with me?

    You have said that you can’t imagine anything that would convince you of God’s existence, so there is no way for you to know that God is hidden. Perhaps God is right in front of your eyes, and has been your entire life, but you’ve missed it. Unless you know what God would look like, how can you say he’s hiding? Answer me that.

    How could she have both perfect foreknowledge and free will?

    I assume you mean how could people have free will. This is not a question that relates to the existence of God, but whether there is free will or not. Perhaps there isn’t free will in the way many think. Perhaps there is. But this question is not directly relevant to the existence of God. It’s a question to ask after one has accepted the existence of God. Therefore, I’m ignoring it.

    Your questions have been dealt with. Now, realize that science will never, ever, ever be able to answer why the Big Bang didn’t happen earlier or later than it did.

  65. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: I don’t see any reason to suppose matter was in a state of “perfect rest” prior to the big bang.

    So, we have two possibilities it seems:

    (1) Matter was interacting with itself by the laws of physics, and eventually this interaction caused the Big Bang

    (2) Matter was perfectly stable and then with no force outside acting upon it suddenly caused the Big Bang

    Both of these have serious, serious, serious problems. You seem to feel the weight of the problems generated by scenario (2), since you’re avoiding it. But (1) is no better. Follow me: We can say that the conditions necessary for the Big Bang were not present moments before the Big Bang (since it didn’t happen at that moment), and they were present the moment the Big Bang occurred. So, something changed in the physical matter. Of course, we can say that the matter was always in a process of change that eventually led to the conditions that produced the Big Bang.

    OK. But wait. Pause for a moment. How long was this process of change (guided by the laws of physics) going on? If it was going on for an infinite amount of time before the Big Bang happened, then how is it possible the conditions for the Big Bang weren’t reached?? An infinite amount of time with matter interacting is enough time to produce the conditions for the Big Bang, is it not?! This leads to an absurdity wherein the conditions necessary for the Big Bang had to have occurred before the Big Bang happened.

    OK. Let’s try to save this theory: The matter was in a process of change for a limited amount of time before the Big Bang, in fact just long enough to produce the conditions necessary for the Big Bang. Whew… we saved the theory. Oh no, now we have another problem: If the matter is eternal, and it was in a process of change for a limited amount of time, that means that it was at rest before the process of change began and we have no way to explain what started the process of change.

    These are very serious problems. It seems that the only way out of this philosophical dilemma is to have some sort of “arbitrary” act that puts things in motion. An act that is not guided by the purely mechanical processes that are the laws of physics. An act of free will. A choice. A decision. A decision made by a mind that put things in motion. An infinite mind solves the dilemma, and is the only solution. Something must be infinite. If it is matter, then either everything was always in motion (Big Bang happened an eternity ago), or it was always at rest (which it isn’t now). An infinite mind, however, can decide to introduce motion in a sea of rest whenever He wants.

  66. Ryan July 29, 2016 at 6:21 pm
    Stardusty said: Your premises are deeply flawed and therefore your conclusion is invalid.

    “Only within your personal closed system of logic thought, correct?”
    * No, not only my personal closed system of logical thought but also that of nearly all other human beings who have mutually agreed to accept the foundational postulates of logic.

    For example, do you accept the principle of non-contradiction? If you reject it, well, we just do not have a common basis for communication any longer. In all my life I have never met such a person, perhaps you are the first.

    Do you accept that a syllogism is a valid form of logical argumentation? I do. If you do not, well, again, we lose a common ground of communication thereby.

    On that basis I say that if your premises are flawed then your conclusion is invalid. If you do not accept this form of rational discourse then we will not be able to converse meaningfully, nor will you be able to converse meaningfully with virtually the whole of humanity. I do accept this basis so I remain in contact with my fellow human beings.

    “your closed system has no authority over me”
    * Indeed, I assert no authority over you. If you and I can agree on common principles we can communicate meaningfully by consensus, else, not.

    “None of us agree with it.”
    * Virtually the whole of humanity agrees with the fundamental “laws” of logic, either explicitly by education or implicitly by common conversation. I call “laws” provisional postulates, which is redundant because a postulate is by definition provisional but I like to add that descriptor for emphasis.

    “According to yourself you have arbitrarily created a closed system and work within it to reach conclusions.”
    * If by “arbitrary” you mean “ad hoc” or “unevidenced” no. Logic applied to observation seems to work very well.

    “I’m speaking about reality, not the box that you have boxed yourself into.”
    * And how can you prove what reality really is?

  67. Ryan July 29, 2016 at 7:07 pm
    “Stardusty, you have stated that matter has always existed.”
    * I have stated that is the inescapable conclusion based on evidence and logic.

    However, there remain fundamental existential puzzles no human being has solved and communicated generally.

    “It causes no logical problem for you.”
    * I did not say that.

    “God’s eternal existence poses no logical problems for you, if it does you better start seriously questioning your views on the eternal existence of matter or you lose all credibility. ”
    * I never said that the riddle of eternity has been solved by me or anybody else.

    “You don’t ask where matter gets its magical powers of energy or mass from, you simply assume those powers have always existed”
    * No, I do ask, and no I do not assume. I have evidence, not an assumption, not an assertion of some unseen and undefined sort of existence. I have evidence, mountains of evidence, for the existence of matter/energy and its conservation.

    That does indeed lead to the question of first cause. The god hypothesis adds nothing and only makes that problem worse by introducing an unevidenced unknown variable that solves nothing.

    Bertrand Russel claimed to be able to conceive of an infinite series with no first term. I am skeptical of that claim..

    “I’m playing by your rules here.”
    * Sorry, Ryan, you really do not yet understand a number of the key elements in the materialist worldview.

    “If you have any respect for anyone outside yourself, then please stop referring to God as “she””
    * The fact that it grates on you is precisely the point I wish to make. The use of god or God or He or She or he or she says a great deal about how one conceives of this hypothetical being.

    In Christianity this being is a male person.. Not just any male person, but the greatest male person of all. Deference is given to this great male person with the use of He and God. To merely call this being god is a slight of improper deference to this being’s greatness and personhood. To call this being she is an insult.

    Yet, a man is a biological animal, as is a woman. If this great being is a sexualized creature why must its sex be male? Isn’t it equally valid to assume the sex of the almighty is female?

    I have a further purpose in the apparently provocative use of the feminine pronoun.

    It is a tradition in science. When a physicist describes a person as part of a thought experiment it is traditional to use the feminine pronoun. I don’t know the origins of this tradition but I suspect it is in the spirit of questioning our fundamental assumptions.

    “I’m asking you to show respect for others and communicate with the language that they use.”
    * How about you show some respect for me and stop making it sound like god has a big dick? Have you ever considered how preposterous it sounds to others to say your god is male? What is a man? Does god have a penis and testicles? Perhaps it is a magic penis that injected magic sperm into the vagina of Mary without breaking her hymen.

    You disrespect me by sexualizing existential philosophy.

    “God is made of God, just like matter is made of matter”
    * Matter is not simply made of matter. The true nature of the underlying reality has yet to be discovered, and likely never will be, but we get deeper and deeper ever closer to the physical truth with the passing years of science.

    Unlike matter, godstuff is nowhere in evidence and is a mere idle speculation of no explanatory value.

    “You have said that you can’t imagine anything that would convince you of God’s existence, so there is no way for you to know that God is hidden”
    * I know god is hidden from me because I have no experience of god. There is much a child cannot imagine, yet a wise parent can show the way. If god is so great I challenge her to make herself apparent to me in a way I cannot even imagine. That has not happened to me.

    “I assume you mean how could people have free will”
    * No. On the omniscience of god both god and people lack free will.

    “But this question is not directly relevant to the existence of God.”
    * I never said it was. I said “perfect foreknowledge” Omniscience entails perfect foreknowledge, which negates free will in humans and your hypothesized god.

  68. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, you seem to have some serious “issues” with the idea of God being referred to by “he”. So, if it brings up childhood “issues”, then go ahead, shake your fist in defiance if it helps you psychologically, I just thought I’d ask a favor from you out of respect for those of us who actually believe in God. I thought that perhaps the time I’ve spent engaging with you was good for something, apparently not.

    To recap, questions about why God exists are irrelevant. You don’t ask why matter exists, it doesn’t lead you to doubt its existence, so I will ignore that question indefinitely. Questions about what caused God are irrelevant. For the sake of argument, God is eternal and uncaused, the way you describe matter. You don’t ask what caused matter, you simply assert it’s eternal, so I will ignore that question indefinitely.

    The god hypothesis adds nothing
    At that point I wasn’t claiming that God is a better explanation than eternal matter, I was simply saying that criticizing the concept of God for being eternal and uncaused is empty rhetoric, because you accept matter as being eternal and uncaused. It’s in the next post where I explain that only an eternal mind can solve the philosophical dilemma posed by the Big Bang. The Big Bang creates serious philosophical problems that are only solved by positing a free choice made by an all-powerful and eternal mind.

    The use of god or God or He or She or he or she says a great deal about how one conceives of this hypothetical being.
    Funny, I seem to remember you constantly barking at others for “reading your mind”. Now you can read every Christian’s mind. You have no idea how the concept of sex fits into my theology. I believe that women represent the image of God every bit as much as men do. Women are like God just as much as men are. I didn’t take you for the SJW-type. That’s all I’ll say on that.

  69. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: No, not only my personal closed system of logical thought but also that of nearly all other human beings who have mutually agreed to accept the foundational postulates of logic.
    Argumentum ad populum. Fun, isn’t it? You didn’t refute my point. Your statement that my premises are deeply flawed is merely your opinion, and (as you claim) the opinion of most people. Well, that’s argumentum ad populum. But, it’s not even the opinion of most people. Most people now and throughout history have been theists, not atheists, so if you want to use argumentum ad populum it would argue in favor of my premises. Demonstrate how my premises are deeply flawed according to most people’s opinions, please. Show me how your argumentum ad populum (even though a fallacy) proves my premises are flawed. Go on, wield that fallacy and destroy my arguments with it.

  70. Ryan July 30, 2016 at 2:58 am
    “Stardusty, you seem to have some serious “issues” with the idea of God being referred to by “he”. So, if it brings up childhood “issues”, then go ahead, shake your fist in defiance if it helps you psychologically, I just thought I’d ask a favor from you out of respect for those of us who actually believe in God.”
    * How did my childhood enter into this?

    Why is reference to god as male a sign of respect for theism? Must a god be male? Given the binary choice isn’t female equally likely? If you suppose god has a sex at all isn’t a godly vagina equally likely as a godly penis?

    “To recap, questions about why God exists are irrelevant. You don’t ask why matter exists,”
    * Yes I do. The answer is that nobody knows.

    “For the sake of argument, God is eternal and uncaused”
    * That isn’t an argument, rather, an idle speculation and meaningless assertion. It is word salad.

    “You don’t ask what caused matter, you simply assert it’s eternal,”
    * Wrong, the evidence says matter/energy is eternal. The riddle of eternity remains.

    A riddle is unexplained evidence.

    “criticizing the concept of God for being eternal and uncaused is empty rhetoric, because you accept matter as being eternal and uncaused.”
    * Indeed, the god hypothesis adds nothing, by your own implicit admission here.

    ” The Big Bang creates serious philosophical problems that are only solved by positing a free choice made by an all-powerful and eternal mind.”
    * Nonsense. This only exposes your limited notions of material existence.

    “Women are like God just as much as men are”
    * So stop complaining that I call god she!

  71. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, I note that you completely avoided my post about the philosophical dilemma that the Big Bang creates. I also note that you acknowledge that something can be eternal and uncaused. Therefore, as I said earlier, I will indefinitely ignore questions about what caused God as a Red Herring (fallacy of irrelevance).

  72. FZM says:

    Ryan,

    Your positions don’t need to be refuted, because they are self-described as merely opinions, not assertions of fact. You have said repeatedly that you can’t prove anything at all. You have no evidence against the existence of God or absolute morality.

    When I was discussing things with Stardusty on the other thread I couldn’t get a clear idea of whether he intended what he was saying to be factual, in some way describing a reality shared with other people, or whether it was all purely about subjective, personal experience and wasn’t intended to tell anyone about anything other than the contents of his own subjective experience.

    And I think what you write here in respect of personal opinion, and personal subjective experiences, is true:

    So, that said, who needs to refute Stardusty’s personal opinions? Perhaps you prefer Pepsi to Coke; well I prefer Coke to Pepsi. What’s there to refute? Your positions have not been shown to be anything more than matters of taste.

    I think problems are likely to arise when personal opinion and accounts of subjective experience are not labelled clearly enough as such and others get the impression that they are intended as reliable accounts of aspects of some kind of shared reality.

  73. FZM says:

    Stardusty,

    In Christianity this being is a male person.. Not just any male person, but the greatest male person of all. Deference is given to this great male person with the use of He and God.

    This is false. In Christianity this being is three persons (Father, Son, Spirit) of one being. At least in Catholic and Orthodox belief God can be considered a person in respect of not lacking intelligence and will, otherwise God is considered radically unlike any human person. God is referred to as He in the Christian tradition because that is how He talked about himself in Christian revelation.

    I find that the problem with using terms like she and god when the intention is to talk about the Christian concept of God is that it can generate confusion. When a person does this, are they referring to God as understood in Christian belief, or God/god/gods as understood and worshipped in some other different religion; Hinduism, Greek Paganism or Chinese folk religion say?

  74. Ryan says:

    FZM: I think problems are likely to arise when personal opinion and accounts of subjective experience are not labelled clearly enough as such and others get the impression that they are intended as reliable accounts of aspects of some kind of shared reality.

    Exactly. Stardusty does this routinely. Actually, he presents his positions as if they are subjective and objective at the same time. His view seems to be that humans can’t differentiate between objective reality and a subjective perception of it, so our views can be both at the same time. When he’s on the offensive he argues as if it’s possible to know objective truth, then when he’s on the defensive he hides behind an extreme skepticism that prevents any criticism of his assertions (or so he thinks). And so he does things like asserting that God is hiding from him while at the same time admitting that he wouldn’t know it if God were right in front of his face. He doesn’t know what evidence for God would look like, but yet he’s confident that he’s never seen the evidence. One who doesn’t know what Beethoven’s music sounds like cannot say with confidence that they’ve never heard Beethoven’s music. The most they can say is that they don’t know, like a true skeptic.

  75. Dhay says:

    @ Stardusty Psyche July 29, 2016 at 9:14 am >

    Those who have seen many of my posts will have seen them liberally sprinkled with links to sources. I deliberately didn’t include a link or reference to John 8:2-11. I wasn’t sure from what you wrote that you had the elementary knowledge that would get you to the relevant passage, even though you had “quote-mined” – a term you use of me elsewhere, so I’ll return it to you so you can see how silly it looks – one sentence (John 8:7) from that passage. A little test, if you like.

    So that we have a common text, here’s a link to the ESV translation (UK spelling), which like the NASB version sticks closely to the original text rather than paraphrasing – though if you have a preference for another version, we can work from that: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+8%3A2-11&version=ESVUK. You can use that same Bible study tool you can find the passages I quote later.

    On the subject of quote-mining, I note that your own reference (John 8:7) is not to the complete passage – have you indeed actually read it and tried to understand it – but to just that one famous sentence, one which everybody knows by heart from probably the age of five upwards, namely “Let who he is without sin …”; as this could have been Googled, and if so would have returned just verse 7 as the result, not the complete passage, I have to ask you again, have you done your set homework and actually read and tried to understand the passage, in preparation for discussion? Or did you just Google the verse.

    You say I have taken a rather pedantic approach to the words “tell” and “said”, and that when people discuss what a figure told or said an exact quote is not required. That would be valid criticism if I had intended to criticise you for not using Jesus’ exact words when you had provided an adequate paraphrase; but you have not provided an adequate paraphrase, you have missed Jesus’ meaning entirely and missed what’s going on in the passage entirely. In short, your “textual fact” is not a textual fact.

    I really didn’t want to get involved in a detailed exegesis of the passage, so missing out eg the effect on the storyline of the time of year and day of week when it happened, and of the Roman soldiers, here’s the potted version.

    Deuteronomy 22:22 specifies unambiguously that “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman.” (Here’s one of the incongruities; the two shall both die; where’s the man?) Note: both of them shall die; there’s no room for ambiguity or interpretation there.

    … they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

    Jesus was a teacher, a Rabbi, and this was a test. To answer correctly, Jesus had to either quote Deuteronomy 22:22 as is, or provide a paraphrase essentially no different from that of his testers. Jesus had no choice but to agree that she should be stoned, it IS what the Law demands for “such women”: if he evades the direct challenge by writing an evasive answer (such as, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”) or no answer, he loses his authority as a teacher, loses status, is publicly shamed, his mission fails then and there – he’s shamed as obviously either ignorant of the Mosaic Law or as wanting, but not daring, to teach contrary to the Mosaic Law; if Jesus writes an answer contrary to the Mosaic Law, he’s not only shamed as a false prophet but (“that they might have some charge to bring against him”) is under arrest, caught bang to rights before many witnesses publicly teaching contrary to the Mosaic Law, prescribed sentence death.

    OK, got that? So did Jesus write “Don’t throw stones” or did he write (paraphrasing to your standards) “Throw stones”.

    The passage itself doesn’t tell us what Jesus wrote in the dust (dust implied), but from the absence of any jeering or arrest, Jesus evidently answered directly and correctly (“Throw stones”, as you would paraphrase it.)

    *

    Really, I’ve already given you a sufficient and complete answer. But I bet your likely response will be to double-down on John 8:7 and insist that that one sentence on its own justifies your claim that Jesus said, paraphrased, “Don’t throw stones”; so I’ll go a little into those inconsistencies I mentioned.

    Deuteronomy 17:6-7 examples how a stoning should be carried out:

    On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

    Note the need for two or even three witnesses, and note that in John 8 there are either no witnesses, or they are absent. Jesus saw nothing, he cannot present evidence, he cannot be a witness. Also note that shall: the person to throw the first stone must be the chief accuser; it’s not a matter of choice; whoever accuses must throw the first stone, whoever throws the first stone must be an accuser. In this situation, “first stone thrower” and “accuser” and “witness” are synonyms.

    (Note you cannot accuse without giving evidence, because the accusation itself is evidence (or false evidence) that the named crime has been committed; if you accuse, you give evidence, and the court must then investigate whether you have given true evidence or not.)

    Jesus cannot throw the first stone, he’s seen nothing, he cannot witness against her.

    Then there’s Deuteronomy 19:15-21, which emphasises the need for multiple witnesses (in any trial) and which insists that if a person is found to be falsely accused in any trial the false accuser must suffer the penalty the accused would have suffered if found guilty:

    The judges shall enquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    An example of this passage being put into action would be that in a case of adultery, a stoning offence, anyone giving false witness or making a false accusation would be stoned to death.

    With this is in mind, hopefully you can see that the situation was very tense, very dangerous, very deadly. I’m sure that Jesus will have written the correct Mosaic Law answer, but the scribes and Pharisees don’t wait until the answer is fully written out. Jesus challenges them with “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”.

    Don’t get hung up on the idea that Jesus is here talking about stone-throwing, he’s talking about who will make the accusation of adultery. If an accusation has already been made, Jesus’ challenge is redundant, unnecessary, moreover he’s a fool and shamed in the eyes of the people he is teaching if he asks who will accuse when an accusation has already been made; in that situation they just sneer at Jesus then take her away and put her on trial – but they don’t, so evidently they can’t, so she has not yet been accused. Who can accuse her? Not the scribes and Pharisees, not unless they were witnesses, otherwise their testimony is false witness, punishable by death. As the story ends, she hasn’t been accused:

    “Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.”

    With his “Let he who is without sin [accuse her]”, heard by the crowd, Jesus turned the tables on the scribes and Pharisees who had come intending to put his life in jeopardy or to shame him; they couldn’t do the latter, leaving only the option of accepting the public shame of appearing to accept they were each not “without sin” (whether they actually were or not) and having to publicly walk away from an honour challenge.

    So in the words of the famous internet meme, “I do not think John 8:7 means what you think it means.”

  76. Ryan July 30, 2016 at 3:10 am
    “Stardusty: No, not only my personal closed system of logical thought but also that of nearly all other human beings who have mutually agreed to accept the foundational postulates of logic.”
    “Argumentum ad populum. Fun, isn’t it?”
    * It would be if I asserted ad populum as a proof, but I didn’t, so it isn’t.

    The fact nearly all people accept common and formal logic does not prove it is true, as I have said many times. It simply means we have formed a consensus upon which we can communicate and do a very great deal of highly effective work.

    Do you accept the principle of non-contradiction? If not, then we have no consensus basis for conversation, because I do.

    “Demonstrate how my premises are deeply flawed according to most people’s opinions, please.”
    * Ryan, you quite apparently have difficulty following a rational argument, so perhaps you do not accept the “laws” of logic. That’s fine, but if you reject the “laws” of logic we have no consensus foundation for communication.

    It is a “law” of logic that if your premises are flawed then your conclusion is not demonstrated to be valid. Do you accept this principle? The vast majority of human beings do. I do. If you do not wish to that is your choice but it will make meaningful conversation with you impossible.

  77. Ryan July 30, 2016 at 4:25 am
    “Stardusty, I note that you completely avoided my post about the philosophical dilemma that the Big Bang creates. ”
    * The big bang raises no philosophical dilemmas. You are starting with premises so unjustly assumed that the rest of your discussion is badly misdirected.

    We simply do not know what caused the big bang, as I have mentioned many times before. I have addressed this, not ignored it.

    There is no reason to assume ad-hoc that all material stuff came into existence at the big bang, or that all matter was in a state of “perfect rest”, as I have addressed previously.

    “I also note that you acknowledge that something can be eternal and uncaused.”
    * No, I am saying that is what our evidence tells us, yet we are faced with opposing philosophical dilemmas. The notion of something popping into existence out of absolutely nothing at all seems irrational. On the other hand an infinite regression of cause and effect events without a first cause is also irrational. This is a puzzle or a riddle or an enigma or a mystery human beings have considered for millennia and no person has solved and communicated effectively.

    Bertrand Russel claimed to be able to conceive of an infinite series with no first term (which would solve the first cause problem and support eternal existence of material stuff). I am skeptical of that claim and I am not aware the he found a means to communicate this concept to the rest of us.

    ” Therefore, as I said earlier, I will indefinitely ignore questions about what caused God as a Red Herring (fallacy of irrelevance).”
    * Cop out.

  78. FZM “I find that the problem with using terms like she and god when the intention is to talk about the Christian concept of God is that it can generate confusion.”
    * Right, the Christian concept of god is male, most likely because Jewish culture was strongly male dominated at the time the books were written. The hypothesis of god generally need not be sexualized at all, and seems to me to rather silly to do so, but the glaring lack of a non-gender specific singular pronoun in English is often addressed in science by the default use of the feminine form.

  79. TFBW says:

    Stardusty:

    Do you accept the principle of non-contradiction? If not, then we have no consensus basis for conversation, because I do.

    It does us no good that we all profess to agree upon logic when we’re evidently talking about two completely different things: namely, Stardusty Logic and Everyone Else Logic. These use the same terminology, but bear no other resemblance. That which is a valid argument under Stardusty Logic does not even reach the level of “statement with a truth value” under Everyone Else Logic. That which is a contradiction under Everyone Else Logic can be perfectly coherent under Stardusty Logic.

    You can stop pretending that we have any common ground. Nobody else here uses Stardusty Logic, or even knows how it works. I don’t think anyone else here wants to know how it works.

  80. Dhay July 30, 2016 at 12:17 pm
    @ Stardusty Psyche July 29, 2016 at 9:14 am >

    ” (John 8:7) have you indeed actually read it and tried to understand it ?”
    * Yes, although I confess it has been many years ago. I believe “don’t throw stones” is fair and in keeping with the message in context, and therefore not a quote mine in the negative sense.

    Jesus faced a crowd who sought to stone a woman for illicit sex, in keeping with the traditional Jewish punishment for this “crime”. Jesus is purported to have used some very clever, poetic, powerful, and deeply thought provoking words that in effect pointed out that all humans are sinners and we would all prefer to be understood and forgiven instead of punished for our sins, so it is better to not throw stones, to not punish, rather, empathize and forgive.

    Crucially, he also admonished the woman to go forth and sin no more. So. in return for the forgiveness and the love and the empathy she was instructed to change her ways with the implicit message that god does not approve of a cycle of willful sinfulness followed by pleas for forgiveness.

    My extremely abbreviated summary of all this “don’t throw stones” is a fair subset of the overall complexities of the greater context, and is thus not a quote mine, which is an out of context snippet used for the purpose of distorting or misrepresenting the full message.

    “you have missed Jesus’ meaning entirely ”
    * Hardly. Jesus was abrogating Mosaic law. He most certainly did instruct the crowd to not throw stones in this situation. In this passage Jesus overturned the capital punishment prescribed by Moses. His instruction came in the form of a highly thought provoking admonition, clearly restricting permission to throw stones to the sinless.

    “In short, your “textual fact” is not a textual fact.”
    * Here are my words
    “July 28, 2016 at 12:52 am
    What is Jesus purported to have said?

    Don’t throw stones.
    Love your neighbor as yourself.
    Don’t get divorced.
    Pay your taxes.
    Serve your master.
    Give a thief even more than he stole.
    Turn the other cheek.
    Love your enemies and pray for their salvation.”

    Clearly this list is not intended to be the exact text of what is written in some particular translation. Yet, Jesus did say these things. These are fair paraphrasings, clearly abbreviated and in no way dishonest or distortions.

    “Jesus had no choice but to agree that she should be stoned,”
    * Jesus is god and can do whatever he chooses. He abrogated much of Mosaic law which is why much of the horrors of the OT can be kept out of Christian doctrine.

    Who are you to place limits on what god can do? Jesus also got rid of the writ of divorce previously allowed because men’s hearts were hard, but with his new message of love what god has brought together let no man put asunder. How very much I wish Christians understood what that means.

    “The passage itself doesn’t tell us what Jesus wrote in the dust (dust implied), but from the absence of any jeering or arrest, Jesus evidently answered directly and correctly (“Throw stones”, as you would paraphrase it.)”
    * Wrong. The crowd dispersed, no stones were thrown. Jesus told her he did not condemn her but she was to sin no more. Yet you have somehow twisted this clear message all around based on some guess about what was written in the dirt and some supposed limitations you place on god incarnate.

    “Jesus cannot throw the first stone, he’s seen nothing, he cannot witness against her.”
    * Jesus sees all. You are a Christian?

    “Jesus challenges them with “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”.”
    * Obviously this means that only a sinless person is allowed to throw a stone, and since there are no sinless human beings then nobody can throw a stone. Logic. Pretty simple. You have brought Jesus down to the level of a mere mortal and cast Christianity back to the horrors of the OT.

    “I do not think John 8:7 means what you think it means.”
    * Right, which is in keeping with you being wrong about it.

  81. Ryan says:

    TFBW: You can stop pretending that we have any common ground. Nobody else here uses Stardusty Logic, or even knows how it works. I don’t think anyone else here wants to know how it works.

    Right. He keeps claiming that everyone agrees with his “logic postulates”, but obviously we don’t, because we keep debating him on almost everything he asserts. It seems to be more of his delusions, like his “feelings” about a moral “ought” that nonetheless doesn’t make him feel obligated to do anything.

    His view of “logic” is essentially no different than human language: We can conceive of humanity using one and only one language (many linguists believe there was orginally only one human language). For the sake of argument let’s make it contemporary English. Now we have a situation where there is complete consensus across the entire human race that the word “cat” maps onto a particular type of animal. This, however, tells us absolutely nothing about the objective reality of “cats”. To quote Stardusty on his view of “logic”: It simply means we have formed a consensus upon which we can communicate and do a very great deal of highly effective work. Yep. That’s all that it means, and nothing more. Knowing that “cat” maps onto a certain animal tells us nothing about the nature of reality, and his presentation of “logic” is identical to this scenario. Therefore, his “logic” tells us nothing about reality. Nothing.

  82. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, I note that you haven’t even attempted to approach the problems I brought up about the Big Bang. Of course, you asserted that my arguments are invalid based on your personal, subjective, not-applying-to-reality, closed-box “logic”. You expect me to have faith that you are right. I don’t, so demonstrate what is wrong with my argument or you’re just hand-waving.

  83. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche July 29, 2016 at 10:04 am >
    “And again, for all of these very same people — ie very nearly everybody — who don’t meditate, or haven’t practiced long enough, Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:”
    * That’s just a quote mining hack.

    I’ve quoted Harris correctly (or as you say, it is a “textual fact”) …

    https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/killing-the-buddha

    … and I really don’t see how you can put any other interpretation on his words than I did.

    You call it quote mining. It is a snippet, which is because I trim to what’s relevant rather than clutter (and I see you trimmed when quoting me — I have now restored my full sentence.)
    You cannot deny he wrote it. If you can suggest what other interpretation his words can reasonably take, in or out of context, please supply it.

    Your “That’s just a quote mining hack” is just a cop-out.

  84. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: Who are you to place limits on what god can do?
    Ha!! Now Stardusty is an expert on Christian theology, thought he admits he hasn’t even read the relevant text in years. Stardusty, you who are an expert in linguistics, theology, logic, and reality in general, thank you for blessing us with your presence. You have shone light upon the darkness of our foolish minds. We who have spent much more time studying the Bible than you cannot compare with the knowledge and understanding that you have from a McDonald’s-drive-thru approach of reading a couple snippets of the Bible years ago and expounding upon it many years later. Your shallow and superficial study of the biblical texts is surely superior to the interpretation given by those of us who have striven for years through deep study of the texts. I dub thee Sanctus Stardustius, Doctor Stultissimus.

  85. TFBW July 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm
    Stardusty:Do you accept the principle of non-contradiction? If not, then we have no consensus basis for conversation, because I do.

    “It does us no good that we all profess to agree upon logic when we’re evidently talking about two completely different things: namely, Stardusty Logic and Everyone Else Logic. ”
    * Ha Ha Ha. I do appreciate the notion that I am so exceptional as to have derived a whole new system of logic. Alas, I endeavor to use the same propositional calculus as virtually everybody else.

    “That which is a contradiction under Everyone Else Logic can be perfectly coherent under Stardusty Logic.”
    * Not by virtue of a fundamental difference between us in the acceptance of the logical principles we have mutually agreed to, rather, my insights into various false assumptions in the premises others put forward.

    “You can stop pretending that we have any common ground.”
    * I have a common ground for communication with anybody who accepts the propositional calculus, the basic reliability of the human senses, that the nature of our reality is at least in part discoverable, and that the characters appearing on our screens have a human authors.

    “Nobody else here uses Stardusty Logic, or even knows how it works. I don’t think anyone else here wants to know how it works.”
    * More’s the pity.

  86. Ryan
    “Therefore, his “logic” tells us nothing about reality. Nothing.”
    * I would be honored indeed to have derived a whole new logic, sort of like Leibniz and Newton derived a whole new branch of mathematics.

    However, I lack the conceit to think I have actually done this.

  87. Ryan July 30, 2016 at 3:52 pm
    Stardusty, I note that you haven’t even attempted to approach the problems I brought up about the Big Bang.
    * I have, time and again. There simply is no reason to assume ad hoc that matter was at a “perfect state of rest” or that matter/energy was created at the big bang.

    The rest of your arguments are built on theses false premises and therefore your conclusions are not validly demonstrated by your arguments.

    Do you agree that to demonstrate a valid conclusion by argument the premises must be true? That is “Stardusty Logic”. Premises must be true for the conclusion to be validly demonstrated by them. In “Stardusty Logic” true premises are a necessary condition.

    “so demonstrate what is wrong with my argument or you’re just hand-waving.”
    * I just did, again, like the last few times I have repeated these same points.

  88. Dhay July 30, 2016 at 5:27 pm
    Stardusty Psyche July 29, 2016 at 10:04 am >
    “And again, for all of these very same people — ie very nearly everybody — who don’t meditate, or haven’t practiced long enough, Harris says your minds are “a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion”:”
    * That’s just a quote mining hack.

    I’ve quoted Harris correctly (or as you say, it is a “textual fact”) …

    * Here more of the context,
    “There is much more to be discovered about the nature of the human mind. In particular, there is much more for us to understand about how the mind can transform itself from a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion into an instrument of wisdom and compassion. Students of the Buddha are very well placed to further our understanding on this front, but the religion of Buddhism currently stands in their way.”

    He did not say that is all every mind is, or every mind that does not meditate. The article is, among other things, a comparison between religions. A very large segment of the religious population is full of greed, hatred, and delusion (most especially in Islam), but there is hope such minds can transform themselves though the contemplative insights such as those of the Buddha if unfettered by the religion of Buddhism, Harris is, I think, saying.

    “… and I really don’t see how you can put any other interpretation on his words than I did.”
    * Yes, that is becoming increasingly apparent to me. Calling it a “quote mining hack” was probably unnecessarily harsh. I think you probably genuinely did not realize how difficult it often is to “get” Harris with that sort of snippet.

    Harris sometimes writes in a style that is highly susceptible to misinterpretation by taking snippets. He sometimes provides a great deal of setup and qualifiers and caveats before he drops a plain text phrase bomb. Taken by itself the phrase can seem outrageous, yet if one applies all the provided caveats and qualifiers the statement is at least defensible if not agreeable.

  89. Ryan “Thank you for blessing us with your presence.”
    * You are most warmly welcome my friend. It is gratifying to be so appreciated!

    “You have shone light upon the darkness of our foolish minds.”
    * It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

    “I dub thee Sanctus Stardustius, Doctor Stultissimus.”
    * Oh, an honorary doctorate no less!!! High praise indeed!

  90. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Not by virtue of a fundamental difference between us in the acceptance of the logical principles we have mutually agreed to, rather, my insights into various false assumptions in the premises others put forward.

    That distinction makes no difference to the outcome. The outcome consists of situations such as someone saying, “you’ve contradicted yourself here,” and you saying, “no I haven’t,” or you saying “here is an argument for my position,” and someone else saying, “that’s not even an argument, it’s just a word salad.” These are fundamental differences between how the parties perceive the state of play, and they can not be resolved. The result is an impasse, and every conversation that you have had with everyone here has reached impasse quite quickly, then carried on for quite some time making no progress whatsoever.

    In situations such as this, the parties may opt for a pragmatic resolution by presenting their case to a competent and impartial judge to make a ruling on who has the right of it, if anyone. That doesn’t solve the fundamental problem, but it works around the impasse. The trouble is that you have gone on record to say that you recognise no such judge. You “follow your own reason, [and] accept no authority of reason over your own.” If a judge told you that you were wrong about something, you’d contradict him just as readily as you would contradict anyone else, and the impasse would stand. An argument’s not the same as contradiction.

    It seems that you’re happy with your performance so long as you can maintain the impasse. Well, that’s a very easy thing to do: all it takes is sufficient intransigence.

    All who think that Stardusty might possibly budge an inch under any circumstances are invited to carry on “arguing” with him. Everyone else is invited to withdraw from engaging him.

  91. Dhay says:

    TFBW > It seems that you’re happy with your performance so long as you can maintain the impasse. Well, that’s a very easy thing to do: all it takes is sufficient intransigence. All who think that Stardusty might possibly budge an inch under any circumstances are invited to carry on “arguing” with him. Everyone else is invited to withdraw from engaging him.

    I observe he engages with as many people as possible, answers each post of each of person with, well, any old crap so long as it is notionally a “response”, and presumably means to continue this until all withdraw, claiming some “victory” over us all, all of us, to onlookers or mates when eventually he is the last man standing.

    I’ve dipped my toe in the water, got back …

    “Jesus cannot throw the first stone, he’s seen nothing, he cannot witness against her.”
    * Jesus sees all. You are a Christian?

    “Jesus challenges them with “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone”.”
    * Obviously this means that only a sinless person is allowed to throw a stone, and since there are no sinless human beings then nobody can throw a stone. Logic. Pretty simple. You have brought Jesus down to the level of a mere mortal and cast Christianity back to the horrors of the OT.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/atheist-pseudoscience-2/#comment-13711

    … and really cannot see what point could be served should I continue to engage. I’m formally out.

  92. TFBW July 30, 2016 at 11:33 pm
    “If a judge told you that you were wrong about something, you’d contradict him just as readily as you would contradict anyone else, and the impasse would stand.”
    * Indeed, unanimous rulings by the SCOTUS are uncommon. Just because some particular judge makes a ruling does make insure it is a correct ruling or the best ruling.

    “It seems that you’re happy with your performance so long as you can maintain the impasse. Well, that’s a very easy thing to do: all it takes is sufficient intransigence.

    All who think that Stardusty might possibly budge an inch under any circumstances are invited to carry on “arguing” with him. Everyone else is invited to withdraw from engaging him.”
    * Thus your intransigence laid bare.

    You allow for two outcomes, either I will change or all should disengage.

    Your lack of consideration for your own learning, your own change, your own potential error is a glaring and telling omission.

  93. Dhay July 31, 2016 at 2:23 am
    “… and really cannot see what point could be served should I continue to engage. I’m formally out.”
    * Translation, you cannot defend your highly unconventional notion that somehow Jesus actually said “throw stones” because he wrote it in the dirt, even though there is no indication in the text of what he wrote and the text clearly indicates no stones were thrown despite the readiness of the crowd to carry out this traditional punishment for the woman caught in the act of a capital crime..

    Of course John 8:7 boils down to don’t throw stones.

    I grew up educated as a Christian and that lesson was taught to me clearly. It is a prime example in Christianity of the loving forgiveness Jesus brought to humanity.

    Jesus said a sinless man was to throw the first stone. Obviously that means no man may throw a stone because we all know that no man is without sin. You can find this logic clearly stated in numerous explanations of the verse.

    Yet, somehow I am intransigent in using this very obvious logic in the same was as I was taught in Sunday school as a child and every Christian I have ever engaged with sees it.

    When you can put together a logical argument on John 8:7 just let me know…

  94. Ryan July 29, 2016 at 7:52 pm
    “OK. But wait. Pause for a moment. How long was this process of change (guided by the laws of physics) going on? If it was going on for an infinite amount of time before the Big Bang happened, then how is it possible the conditions for the Big Bang weren’t reached?? An infinite amount of time with matter interacting is enough time to produce the conditions for the Big Bang, is it not?! This leads to an absurdity wherein the conditions necessary for the Big Bang had to have occurred before the Big Bang happened.”
    * How do you know other big bangs did not occur before our big bang occurred? You make an error is in assuming that our big bang is the only one that could have occurred.

    “An act of free will. A choice. A decision. A decision made by a mind that put things in motion. An infinite mind solves the dilemma”
    * An infinite mind with perfect foreknowledge and free will is incoherent and thus solves nothing.

    “Something must be infinite.”
    * Something must be the case that human beings are unable to understand thus far, or perhaps ever, since nobody has solved the fundamental riddle of our existential origins.

    The hypothesis of the Christian God is incoherent, since it asserts mutually exclusive properties.

    One can assert a deistic substance god but that is no different at base than asserting an unknown material substance that has always existed and can give rise to matter/energy.

    What is this supposed mind made of? Absolutely nothing at all? Then in what sense do you say it exists? Is it made of something? If so, then some material can have always existed and there is no problem with the eternal existence of the material.

    What is the structure of this mind? No structure at all? Then how can it be complicated? If it has structure what is the stuff that is structured? By what mechanism does this structured stuff “create” matter/energy out of absolutely nothing at all? What was the first cause of this structured stuff?

    Do you merely define god as eternal mind that can create stuff? I can just as well define unobtainium as eternal material that can transform into matter/energy.

    If we are faced with a logical conundrum simply defining X as something capable of defying logic does nothing to solve that conundrum.

    I don’t claim to have a solution to this ancient riddle. I am just saying you don’t have a solution either.

  95. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Your lack of consideration for your own learning, your own change, your own potential error is a glaring and telling omission.

    Your presumption that you are an appropriate agent for that learning and change is a glaring and telling admission. Let me take care of my own education, you supercilious prat. You have absolutely nothing to offer.

  96. TFBW July 31, 2016 at 10:47 am
    Stardusty said:Your lack of consideration for your own learning, your own change, your own potential error is a glaring and telling omission.

    “Your presumption that you are an appropriate agent for that learning and change is a glaring and telling admission. ”
    * Tut tut, I merely presented a set of possibilities your limited options omitted, not an assumption that I would fulfill any or all of those possibilities for you.

    “Let me take care of my own education, you supercilious prat. You have absolutely nothing to offer.”
    * Thus your own supercilious nature laid bare. I remain open to the possibility that I might learn something here. It is you who considers yourself to be the clear superior, and thus displays a supercilious attitude.

    But, since you are so superior by your own estimation could you please educate me as to the Latin term used for the fallacy of calling somebody an ass?

  97. TFBW says:

    That’s it, you’ve degenerated to pure trolling. No more for you.

  98. TFBW July 31, 2016 at 11:44 am
    “That’s it, you’ve degenerated to pure trolling.”
    * Oh, now I am a troll, well I expected that from a person who calls me an ass.

    My estimate is that you are just a little mad because you cannot use logic to support your specific assertions against my refutations of those assertions. I have done my best to answer all points with rational argumentation on topic.

    It seems as though you have not considered that an atheist might have a whole self consistent system of thought already worked out to such a fine degree that this system of rational analysis is impervious to all the usual theistic slings and arrows.

    I am fully capable of expressing and defending moral relativism, materialism, and atheism to any degree of detail to which you might wish to attack. You seem incapable of finding flaws in my system of thought that reveal it to either be at odds with itself or with the evidence of existence all around us.

    Your incapability is not an indication you or anybody else here is somehow stupid or uneducated or inarticulate or illogical. I cringe when I hear atheists say as much. I have been thinking and reading and communicating on these subjects for a very long time. I come to this site already having explored the potential pitfalls of my language and my arguments and my views to a fine level of detail.

    In my view all my opinions are correct. I would not hold an opinion I thought to be incorrect. If I discover that one of my opinions is actually incorrect then I change that opinion to correct it. So far despite the kind engagement the folks here have offered nobody has been able to assist me in discovering any further errors in my personal system of rationality, but one never knows for sure what the results of further tests might be.

  99. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: How do you know other big bangs did not occur before our big bang occurred?

    That solves nothing. If the matter that our universe is made of has eternally existed and has been interacting per the laws of physics for an infinite amount of time then the physical conditions that caused the Big Bang would have been reached an eternity ago. Ergo, the Big Bang happened an eternity ago. In that scenario there would be other Big Bangs, yes, in fact there would be an infinite number of Big Bangs that all occurred an infinite amount of time ago. This is a serious philosophical dilemma, one that you obviously have never thought about in your rigorous self-examination of your worldview.

    Stardusty: What is this supposed mind made of? Absolutely nothing at all?

    Of course not! The infinite, eternal Mind is made of mind. In a similar way, matter is made of matter. Are you going to tell me that we can dig deep enough and discover that matter is made up of elements that are themselves not matter? Well, that would instantly destroy your materialism! So, your response is of course that “matter is made of matter”. If you respond with “matter is made of photons, etc.” then I will ask if photons are matter and you will of course respond that they are to protect your materialist worldview. So, every response you give is a variation on “matter is made of matter”. Or are you saying that science will one day discover that the most basic element that matter is made of is something that is not itself matter? Matter is made of matter. The eternal mind is made of mind. I’m playing by your rules here. Don’t ask dumb questions that you don’t subject your materialist worldview to.

    Stardusty: I can just as well define unobtainium as eternal material that can transform into matter/energy.

    Ok. I would allow that for the sake of argument. But it doesn’t solve the philosophical dilemma, which requires an “arbitrary” act, something independent of the mechanical laws of matter and physics. Something with the capacity of free-will and decision solves the dilemma. If unobtainiumhas that capacity then it solves the dilemma, but then you’ve just created a new name for what most of us call “mind”. You can call it “fhdisofj” for all I care, but most of use the term “mind” to refer to such a thing. So, unobtainium is the word you prefer to describe an eternal mind. Got it.

    Stardusty: I don’t claim to have a solution to this ancient riddle.

    And you never will, unless you embrace theism. I don’t claim this argument leads to the Christian God specifically, but it does lead to the inescapable conclusion that an infinite, eternal, all-powerful mind exists. The Christian God is compatible with such a description, that’s all I will say.

    Stardusty: the Latin term used for the fallacy of calling somebody an ass?

    argumentum dicendo disputatorem esse asinum

    Literally, “argument by saying the debater is an ass”. Note that asinus has the double meaning of “donkey” and figuratively “idiot” just as the English word ass does. Joking aside, TFBW called you a “prat”, not an “ass”. That is a textual fact.

    Stardusty: In my view all my opinions are correct.

    Yes, I agree. Yet you have demonstrated no method of determining whether your opinions are correct or are simply delusions. Not even a method of determining that your opinions are probably correct. Nothing. The fact that you arrogantly accept no authority outside of yourself means that you are a slave to your own mind, and there is no hope for you ever discovering whether your opinions are correct or merely delusions, not unless you’re willing to lay down you self-appointed god-like authority.

    We have thoroughly destroyed your positions. Your arguments have been ripped to shreds. Your worldview is not based upon any “logic”, we have thoroughly demonstrated that. I know that you have a different opinon. But that’s all you have.

  100. FZM says:

    Ryan,

    Actually, he presents his positions as if they are subjective and objective at the same time. His view seems to be that humans can’t differentiate between objective reality and a subjective perception of it, so our views can be both at the same time. When he’s on the offensive he argues as if it’s possible to know objective truth, then when he’s on the defensive he hides behind an extreme skepticism that prevents any criticism of his assertions (or so he thinks).

    I was curious about this apparent tendency to blur the subjective and the objective in Stardusty’s arguments. I thought it was likely to be important in trying to understand how (and if) he justified his claim that it was highly unlikely that any absolute or objective truths existed and that logic, mathematics, the reliability of sense experience, morality etc. were all only postulated.

    I think I am correct to understand this position of Stardusty’s as moving beyond a position of pure scepticism, which would involve the individual holding it limiting themselves to saying that they can neither know whether something is an absolute or objective truth or whether is an unproved, subjective postulate of some kind.

    In general I’m not sure I see the point of discussing claims or statements that are too subjective and personal in nature. This would include those occasions when appeal is made to ‘personal proofs’ as justification for claims or assertions without any indication as to whether this kind of ‘proof’ would be recognisable as valid to anyone else; without any indication as to whether it is intended to reflect any kind of shared reality; or finally without any indication as to whether the person making the claim expects others to treat it as rationally justified.

    As an example, when you wrote that Stardusty claimed that he couldn’t prove anything, he replied:

    No, I cannot absolutely prove anything not derived from my self awareness. I can prove things within a closed system of logic, and what we ordinarily think of as common or formal logic is a closed system that rests on postulates that are not themselves proved.

    If the meaning he intended here was:

    I can prove to myself (without this being any indication anyone else would recognise this proof as having any validity, as reflecting any shared reality or as being rationally justified) that I cannot absolutely prove anything not derived from my self awareness. I can prove to myself (without this being any indication anyone else would recognise this proof as having any validity, as reflecting any shared reality or as being rationally justified) that I can prove things within a closed system of logic and I can prove to myself (without this being any indication anyone else would recognise this proof as having any validity, as reflecting any shared reality or as being rationally justified) that what we ordinarily think of as common or formal logic is a closed system that rests on postulates that are not themselves proved.

    I don’t think there is that much basis for further discussion.

    I’m not clear discussions with Stardusty have ever really got beyond the kind of thing I describe in my modified/expanded quote. As far as I can see the only suggestion otherwise seems to have been his idea that because he perceives many similarities between himself and other humans, he can infer that because he can prove things to himself to his own satisfaction, what he has proved to himself and knows as derivative from his self-awareness must also be proved and known to others, because they are very much the same as him.

  101. “Are you going to tell me that we can dig deep enough and discover that matter is made up of elements that are themselves not matter?”
    * Yes, of course. Sean Carroll will tell you at base are only fields. String theorists will tell you matter is made of strings, although they have little to show for their decades of research. What matter is ultimately made of has yet to be determined, yet we have an enormous amount of evidence for the structure of matter, how we interact with matter, how matter and energy are related, and the reality of matter.

    “Mind” as some sort of substance is entirely speculative, by contrast.

    “The eternal mind is made of mind.”
    * That statement is a mere silly vacuous baseless unevidenced speculative tautology.

    “Ok. I would allow that for the sake of argument. But it doesn’t solve the philosophical dilemma”
    * Neither does god. Nobody has solved the riddle of our origins, Both infinity and creation ex nihilo lead to unsolved philosophical conundrums, which your speculation of god only worsens.

    “I don’t claim this argument leads to the Christian God specifically, but it does lead to the inescapable conclusion that an infinite, eternal, all-powerful mind exists.”
    * False dichotomy.

    ” The Christian God is compatible with such a description, that’s all I will say.”
    * The Christian God is incoherent and thus compatible with nothing.

    “TFBW called you a “prat”, not an “ass”.”
    * Distinction without a difference.

    “We have thoroughly destroyed your positions”
    * Ha Ha Ha! The folks here have been kind enough to make some moderately good attempts, so I do appreciate that much…

  102. FZM
    “I’m not clear discussions with Stardusty have ever really got beyond the kind of thing I describe in my modified/expanded quote. As far as I can see the only suggestion otherwise seems to have been his idea that because he perceives many similarities between himself and other humans, he can infer that because he can prove things to himself to his own satisfaction, what he has proved to himself and knows as derivative from his self-awareness must also be proved and known to others, because they are very much the same as him.
    Leave a Reply”
    * Actually, I am not terribly concerned with absolute proof. I prefer common discussions where we don’t bother with idle speculations that our existence is all some sort of dream.

    But the subject tends to comes up, largely because god is such an outrageously speculative assertion that almost inevitably the subjects of radical skepticism and what we can ultimately prove with certainty come up.

    I am scientifically minded and science doesn’t do proof. Science does evidence, and there simply is no scientific evidence for god.

  103. Ryan says:

    “Are you going to tell me that we can dig deep enough and discover that matter is made up of elements that are themselves not matter?”
    * Yes, of course.
    Sean Carroll will tell you at base are only fields.

    OK. I finally got you to reject materialism. That took way too long. You acknowledge that there is more to reality than matter. The fields are not matter. This is what you’ve said. I’m satisfied to finish here. Materialism is false as a worldview. We agree on that much.

  104. FZM says:

    Stardusty,

    Actually, I am not terribly concerned with absolute proof. I prefer common discussions where we don’t bother with idle speculations that our existence is all some sort of dream.

    This is quite a weird response. You brought up the whole scepticism thing and the possibility that existence is some sort of a dream in the first place. You made a lot of posts in the other thread concerned with denying that any absolute or objective morality could be known, that anything could be known for certain, that numbers, maths and so on are only postulates.

    But the subject tends to comes up, largely because god is such an outrageously speculative assertion that almost inevitably the subjects of radical skepticism and what we can ultimately prove with certainty come up.

    Well, the subject appeared to come up (at length) in relation to things unrelated to God in your posts on the other thread. There a lot of the discussion was about moral realism vs. moral relativism, nominalism or conceptualism vs. realism about properties and universals, the possibility of knowledge and proof and so on. These questions aren’t specifically God related, nor does the question of scepticism and what can be proved with certainty have anything to do with God. (In itself scepticism doesn’t even seem useful in dealing with God claims and counter claims because it just creates doubt about them all.) You seemed to provoke a lot of this discussion with your moral relativist, conceptualist and sceptical claims in the first place.

    I am scientifically minded and science doesn’t do proof. Science does evidence, and there simply is no scientific evidence for god.

    If you are mostly scientifically minded, why make so many metaphysical claims and engage in philosophical arguments about morality, universals, objective knowledge and so on? The statements you make here seem to lead to more metaphysical discussion. Is proof unrelated to evidence? What is the status of scientific knowledge if it is unrelated to proof? How is science and evidence being defined? Does ‘science’ (presumably defined in some way that makes claims of this kind non-trivial) provide a complete or exhaustive picture of reality, so that saying that there is no scientific evidence for God/god/gods etc. means that God/god/gods are unlikely to be real?

  105. FZM says:

    I forgot a couple of words in the last sentence of my last paragraph: (presumably defined in some way that makes claims of this kind non-trivial) should read: (presumably defined in some way that makes claims of this kind both non-trivial and defensible)

  106. Kevin says:

    “Actually, I am not terribly concerned with absolute proof.”

    Agreed. Where we part ways is that I am also not terribly concerned with scientific evidence in areas where science is not equipped to truly inform on a matter. For example, I don’t need science to tell me I don’t like coffee (apparently this makes me a freak of some sort). I don’t need science to tell me that my children love me. I don’t need science to tell me that rape is wrong. And I don’t need science to tell me that God is a superior explanation for what science HAS informed us.

    Basically, the most science can contribute to the God question is, does Discovery X make more sense with a creator, or with atheism? Obviously can’t prove a negative, so science can’t say atheism is true. And God as understood in the vast majority of Christian thought is not part of the creation, which is the only thing science can study. Rough analogy, science can study the paint from within the painting, but it has no access to the painter. And all the people can do from within the painting is decode whether their painting makes more sense having been painted intentionally, or not.

  107. Kevin says:

    Decide, not decode. I really need to quit posting from my phone.

  108. Ryan August 2, 2016 at 3:57 am
    “Are you going to tell me that we can dig deep enough and discover that matter is made up of elements that are themselves not matter?”
    * Yes, of course. Sean Carroll will tell you at base are only fields.

    “OK. I finally got you to reject materialism. ”
    * No.

    “That took way too long. You acknowledge that there is more to reality than matter. The fields are not matter”
    * Yes

    “This is what you’ve said”
    * Yes

    “. I’m satisfied to finish here. Materialism is false as a worldview.”
    * No

    ” We agree on that much.”
    * No.

    I realize “matter” is the root word in “materialism”, but that has unfortunately led you to the notion that materialism asserts that everything is made of matter. That would be roughly similar to saying all water is made of ice, when in fact water also has liquid and gaseous forms. Those molecules divide into atoms, the atoms into subatomic particles, and some of the particles divide into quarks (avoiding the details of the particle zoo of the standard model). There are strong indications that at least one more level of division is the case but that has not yet been worked out.

    Checking a few definitions in Oxford I see this is a rare occasion in which my friend has let me down, but then, there is no god of English.

    Matter as in E=mc^2

    Matter as a specific phase of material stuff. Not everything is made of matter as a physicist would define matter, as opposed to energy or fields.

    I know it sounds a bit childish but I like the word “stuff”, partly because its use implies a level of ignorance and because it is so general.

    For me “materialism” is “stuffism”. Matter is a phase of stuff.

  109. Crude says:

    I realize “matter” is the root word in “materialism”, but that has unfortunately led you to the notion that materialism asserts that everything is made of matter.

    Goodness, who could ever get such an idea. What you really mean by materialism is that matter is stuff, which in turn is nice and general and free of ultimate content. I suppose because if materialism meant, you know – ‘matter’, as it did for ages – then we’d have to conclude that science either has moved beyond materialism, or refuted the position entirely.

    Now the holdouts say that materialism is just ‘stuff, whatever the hell that ultimately is’. Of course, ‘whatever that ultimately is’ fits nicely with panpsychism, idealism, panentheism and more. They’re welcome to keep drawing epicycles.

    I am scientifically minded and science doesn’t do proof. Science does evidence, and there simply is no scientific evidence for god.

    You’re not very scientifically minded at all, or you’d realize that those with a scientific mind don’t look for scientific evidence for non-scientific claims. There’s no scientific evidence for metaphysical views generally (naturalism, atheism, classical theism, etc) or many of their objects.

    The scientifically minded acknowledge that and hit the brakes. People who find science woefully inadequate and unsatisfying just to graft things onto it and call it science. But at that point, science it ain’t.

  110. SteveK says:

    “Matter is a phase of stuff.”

    Where’s the evidence for stuff? You say there’s no evidence for God but don’t question your belief in stuff – why?

  111. FZM says:

    Goodness, who could ever get such an idea. What you really mean by materialism is that matter is stuff, which in turn is nice and general and free of ultimate content.

    I was wondering what kind of nature and properties ‘stuff’ is supposed to have. If ‘stuff’ has an indeterminate and ultimately mysterious nature and set of properties it seems to be an uninteresting concept. Arguments about what was made of ‘stuff’ and what wasn’t could never really go anywhere.

    I think it’s a bit like arguments about Physicalism or Naturalism in which Natural and Physical remain largely undefined, open ended concepts. Physicalism which is based on claiming a future ‘complete’ Physics which may or may not resemble the Physics we have at present will provide an exhaustive account of reality may also have something in common with this.

  112. FZM “If you are mostly scientifically minded, why make so many metaphysical claims and engage in philosophical arguments about morality, universals, objective knowledge and so on? ”
    * Because the brain is multifaceted, to use one metaphor. I can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, to use another.

    “Is proof unrelated to evidence?”
    * No. But to accurately define that relationship requires an accurate and detailed and highly specified set of definitions.

    In general, I act absent absolute proof, rather upon a preponderance of evidence that exceeds my personal actionability threshold.

    “What is the status of scientific knowledge if it is unrelated to proof?”
    * Scientific knowledge is inherently provisional. To “scientifically prove” is necessarily to “provisionally demonstrate”.

    “Does ‘science’ (presumably defined in some way that makes claims of this kind non-trivial) provide a complete or exhaustive picture of reality,”
    * No.

    “so that saying that there is no scientific evidence for God/god/gods etc. means that God/god/gods are unlikely to be real?”
    * Yes.
    Science cannot prove the universal negative. If you wish to concoct all manner of bizarre speculative assertions cleverly constructed to avoid an absolute disproof, fine.

    This is what I mean when I say these topics almost inevitably come up. For myself, I do not spend time concerned I might be a brain in a vat. But the very notion of a god is so outlandishly speculative as me being a brain in a vat that simply discussing the reality or unreality of god almost inevitably leads to such incredible speculations.

    I mean, brain in a vat, god, teapots in orbit, invisible unicorns on Mars, spirit, soul, mind, Casper the friendly ghost, the matrix, divine Jesus, Vishnu, the flying spaghetti monster, I am god dreaming, the holy spirit, karma, reincarnation, the great ju ju up the mountain, the spirit of the smoking toad…whatever.

    It’s all the same to me…infinitesimal speculations.

  113. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: Checking a few definitions in Oxford I see this is a rare occasion in which my friend has let me down, but then, there is no god of English.

    You’re a joke. You’ve presented Oxford as an authority on English but now that it doesn’t fit your predetermined conclusions you throw it under the bus and create your own definition for “materialism” ad hoc that no other dictionary lists. You are now claiming to have authority over the expert professionals that produced the Oxford dictionary. Apparently you do believe there is a god of English: you.

    Stardusty: For me “materialism” is “stuffism”. Matter is a phase of stuff.

    OK, continue rambling in your padded room. It doesn’t change my earlier point though. I asked what matter was made of because you asked what mind is made of. So, I ask now: What is stuff made of? If science digs deep enough will we discover that stuff is made up of basic elements that are not themselves stuff? You’re pinned. Your only response is that stuff is made of stuff. God is made of God. Mind is made of mind. Don’t ask stupid questions that you don’t subject your “stuffism” to. By the way, “stuffism” is not word. Here’s the only thing I could find: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Stuffism

    Stardusty: I am scientifically minded and science doesn’t do proof. Science does evidence, and there simply is no scientific evidence for god.

    OK. So you can’t prove that you have evidence. You simply assert that science has evidence, but you can’t prove that any supposed evidence is evidence. How do you know the evidence is actually evidence? Faith, trust, belief, etc. I’m sorry, but I won’t accept on faith that you have any evidence for anything. Prove the evidence. Oh, that’s right, you don’t do proof, one must just believe.

    Stardusty: there simply is no scientific evidence for god.

    And there is no scientific evidence that Latin and Greek are descendants of one ancient language. There is, however, linguistic evidence. I confidently assert that Latin and Greek are descendants of a Proto-Indo-European language. Science didn’t prove this, Linguistics did. There were no laboratory tests, there were no physical examinations of “stuff”, there was only the abstract analysis of language structures. There is knowledge outside of the realm of science. You really need to expand your tiny mind. Secondly, you have repeatedly said that you are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to evidence for God. You have no idea what evidence for God would look like. You cannot state there isn’t evidence for God. You don’t have a functioning God-evidence detector. Stardusty, the “stuffist”, I have had long discussions with intelligent atheists that I have a lot of respect for. You are not one of them. You’re unqualified for this discussion. “Matter is stuff”. That is a dumb and useless statement.

  114. Ryan says:

    Stardusty: It’s all the same to me…infinitesimal speculations.

    Yet the idea that there is an external reality and you’re not delusional is not an infinitesimal speculation? Please rigorously and scientifically explain how you know this. Do you have evidence that the external world is real? How do you prove that any supposed evidence is actually evidence and not another delusion? Must one operate on faith/trust/belief? Must evidence be proven? Or can one simply assert that something is evidence based on faith? You’re worldview relies upon blind faith in a way I’m not comfortable with. I rejected atheism years ago for this very reason.

  115. Crude August 2, 2016 at 1:43 pm
    “Now the holdouts say that materialism is just ‘stuff, whatever the hell that ultimately is’. Of course, ‘whatever that ultimately is’ fits nicely with panpsychism, ”
    * No, Crackpot. Not science.

    “idealism,”
    * This one is kind of fuzzy.

    “panentheism”
    * Well, maybe on the idle speculation of substance dualism.

    “They’re welcome to keep drawing epicycles.”
    * Huh? Your post is getting kind of strange. What does any of this have to do with the Ptolemaic system?
    .

  116. SteveK August 2, 2016 at 3:10 pm
    “SP Matter is a phase of stuff.”

    “Where’s the evidence for stuff? ”
    * The whole of physical science.

    “You say there’s no evidence for God but don’t question your belief in stuff – why?”
    * Mountains of scientific evidence for the material, zero scientific evidence for god.

  117. FZM August 3, 2016 at 6:03 am
    “I was wondering what kind of nature and properties ‘stuff’ is supposed to have.”
    * To our present level of measurement stuff has the aggregate properties described by modern physics, and derivative sciences of chemistry, astronomy, geology and on and on.

    “if ‘stuff’ has an indeterminate and ultimately mysterious nature and set of properties it seems to be an uninteresting concept.”
    * That would be like ancient Greeks calling their atomists merely engaging in an uninteresting subject. If you are not interested in uncovering the nature of the underlying reality then you simply are not an especially deep thinker.

  118. Ryan August 3, 2016 at 1:45 pm
    Stardusty: Checking a few definitions in Oxford I see this is a rare occasion in which my friend has let me down, but then, there is no god of English.

    “You’re a joke. You’ve presented Oxford as an authority on English”
    * Falsehood. Ryan, my friend, I did not see this coming. You have hit a new low here.

    There are no authorities in English. Oxford is my favorite for finding incisive definitions that fit the consensus usage and most often they convey my meanings better than I could extemporaneously.

    So, I often go to Oxford to see what they have to say and typically I find their words to be useful.

    At no time have I ever cited any source as an authority for English, or science for that matter.

    “Apparently you do believe there is a god of English: you”
    * Of my own use of language, in some colloquial sense, yes. In any general sense applied to others, of course not.

    ” Your only response is that stuff is made of stuff”
    * Stuff is made of something that in the aggregate can be contained, observed, separated, and measured. We have a very great body of such observations and measurements described in the Standard Model. Please provide a link to the standard model of “god” and the standard model of “mind”.

    “By the way, “stuffism” is not word”
    * Thanks for the research that demonstrates I have coined a new word.

    ” How do you know the evidence is actually evidence? Faith, trust, belief, etc.”
    * Knowledge is a probability estimate. On the postulate of the basic reliability of the human senses science is fundamentally true.

    “Science didn’t prove this, Linguistics did. ”
    * Linguistics is a science, What are you even going on about?

    lin·guis·tics
    liNGˈɡwistiks/
    noun
    the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics. Specific branches of linguistics include sociolinguistics, dialectology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, historical-comparative linguistics, and applied linguistics.

    WTF?

  119. Ryan August 3, 2016 at 1:56 pm
    Stardusty: It’s all the same to me…infinitesimal speculations.

    “Yet the idea that there is an external reality and you’re not delusional is not an infinitesimal speculation? Please rigorously and scientifically explain how you know this.”
    * Huh? It’s on the list.

    “How do you prove that any supposed evidence is actually evidence and not another delusion? ”
    * in an absolute sense, I can’t. I really do not care very much. My hunger seems real me. My food seems real to me. I eat my food. I seem to not starve to death thereby. I just do not spend much time worrying about it. If you do, well, fine, go ahead right on.

  120. FZM says:

    “Does ‘science’ (presumably defined in some way that makes claims of this kind non-trivial) provide a complete or exhaustive picture of reality,”
    * No.
    “so that saying that there is no scientific evidence for God/god/gods etc. means that God/god/gods are unlikely to be real?”
    * Yes.
    Science cannot prove the universal negative.

    So I guess as you see it science must provide an almost or likely to be exhaustive picture of reality, otherwise the claim that the fact that there is no scientific evidence for God or gods makes their reality unlikely wouldn’t make much sense.

    Thinking of science in terms of the best natural science; claims that are empirically testable and demonstrable, with experimental evidence to back them up, what is the empirical scientific evidence to demonstrate that science likely provides us with an almost exhaustive picture of reality?

    This is what I mean when I say these topics almost inevitably come up. For myself, I do not spend time concerned I might be a brain in a vat. But the very notion of a god is so outlandishly speculative as me being a brain in a vat that simply discussing the reality or unreality of god almost inevitably leads to such incredible speculations.

    Well, as I said, if you have convictions about conceptualism, moral relativism and scepticism and then make claims about them these topics are likely to come up. As far as I remember they mostly didn’t arise in a discussion about God per se. But if you have a need to guide discussions towards expressions of your emotions about the God topic I suppose this isn’t that important.

    It’s all the same to me…infinitesimal speculations.

    If this is supposed to be trying to communicate something about a reality you share with others it might possibly be interesting. If not only someone who has a reason to be interested in your mental states and personal feelings will be concerned about what you feel about these things.

  121. FZM says:

    I was wondering what kind of nature and properties ‘stuff’ is supposed to have.”
    * To our present level of measurement stuff has the aggregate properties described by modern physics, and derivative sciences of chemistry, astronomy, geology and on and on.

    From your arguments with Ryan ‘stuff’ also seems to have properties for which there is no experimental or empirical proof in modern physics, like its eternal nature, what it was like prior to the Big Bang and things like that. Some knowledge of it (for example, apparently that mind isn’t made of stuff and stuff doesn’t have properties that can include or give rise to those of minds) doesn’t seem to be part of the natural sciences at all, but derives from philosophy.

    That would be like ancient Greeks calling their atomists merely engaging in an uninteresting subject. If you are not interested in uncovering the nature of the underlying reality then you simply are not an especially deep thinker.

    How much does saying that everything is made of ‘stuff’, nothing can exist which isn’t made of ‘stuff’ and anyone making any claim to the contrary is engaging in outlandish and unimaginable speculation, when ‘stuff’ is something whose nature and properties are in various respects unproven, undemonstrable or based on philosophy very much open to debate, help us in uncovering the nature of the underlying reality?

  122. SteveK says:

    “Where’s the evidence for stuff? ”
    * The whole of physical science.

    This comment fits perfectly given that this blog post is about atheist pseudoscience. Well done.

  123. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, if there is no “god of the English language”, then how can you say that Oxford is incorrect in its definition of “materialism”? By what standard are you saying that Oxford is wrong? If there’s no ultimate authority for the English language then you can’t say that Oxford is wrong. The consensus of the experts that produced the Oxford dictionary is that their definition of “materialism” is correct. If there is no god of English and we must work from consensus then we have to accept the definition given by Oxford, not the one that you made up that has no consensus. Therefore, you agree that materialism (as defined by Oxford) is a false worldview.

    SD: Knowledge is a probability estimate.

    Are you going to demonstrate this or do you expect everyone to accept it on faith? You have stated that “brain in a vat”, “delusions”, etc. are real possibilities. How do you know they are less probable descriptions of reality than the idea that the external world is real? You’ve never shown how you came to this probability estimate. I know that you believe that an external world is a more probable explanation than delusions, but you’ve never showed why. You simply assert it. Where is the evidence that makes your view more probable? You say that you “feel” that the external world is real, but that is just as much evidence for delusions or “brain in a vat”. If you were merely a “brain in a vat”, an expected outcome would be that you would “feel” that the external world is real, so that feeling is not evidence for anything. So, what other evidence do you have apart from “feelings”? Nothing. Just faith, belief, and trust. Your worldview is no stronger than it’s weakest link. At the foundational level your worldview operates on blind faith. It’s irrelevant how logical your arguments may be (and they aren’t) within your “closed system” of logic. None of it goes anywhere without your initial “leap of faith”. You take a huge leap of faith and then formulate an entire worldview based upon that leap of faith and then have the arrogance to speak as if your worldview has some sort of superior objectivity. Scientific-minded? I see “giant leap of faith”.

    SD: Linguistics is a science, What are you even going on about?

    It’s a social science, yes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_science. So is political science. Linguistics is not physical science though. Linguistics exists and functions independent of physics, chemistry, etc. Nothing discovered by the physical sciences affects Linguistics. Linguistics explores the abstraction that we call “language”, something that is not made of matter and shouldn’t exist according to your worldview. Linguistics posits that irrealis moods exist. These are not made of matter, they aren’t even “processes” or “activities”. They can’t be described within the constraints you’ve placed upon “that which exists”. That is, they don’t exist according to your model of reality. They are like God or minds. We see their effects, but we never experience them directly. No one has ever had direct experience of an irrealis mood. The Latin Eo ut cibum emam “I’m going that I may buy food” has a subjunctive emam “I may buy”. The word emam is said to be “in the subjunctive mood”, but it’s not the mood itself. The subjunctive mood (a type of irrealis) affects words in Latin in a predictable way, e.g. legit “he reads” becomes legat “he may read”. There is an observable “process” that happens to words when they are affected by the subjunctive mood, but the process is not itself the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is an abstract thing, something undetectable by physical science. We see its effects, but we’ve never seen the subjunctive mood itself. It has no mass, no shape, no volume, no energy, and it’s not made of “stuff”.

    According to your religious faith: Stuff is made of stuff. Stuff is eternal and uncaused. Don’t ask Christians what God is made of or what caused God. These are dumb questions, and demonstrate that the questioner is dumb. God is made of God. God is eternal and uncaused. Don’t play the double standard game. If “stuff” is made of things that aren’t “stuff”, well then you’re no longer a “stuffist”, and you must reject your “stuffism”. First you were a materialist. I pushed and that house collapsed with you retreating into “stuffism”. Now I push here and this house will collapse with you retreating into something even more silly and stupid, perhaps Thingamajigism: the view that everything is made of thingamajigs and all that exists is thingamajigs.

    I’ve conversed with you for way too long. You’ve been checkmated multiple times by many different people around here. What you do in such a situation is revealing: You simply place your pieces back on the board and pretend it didn’t happen, or change the rules of the game ad hoc. You are a perfect example of what is wrong with New Atheism: Intellectual laziness, intellectual dishonesty, unproven claims, claims lacking evidence, and a superiority complex that looks down upon theists that is incredibly ironic given the giant leaps of faith taken in manufacturing the New Atheist worldview. “Science studies stuff. Everything is made of stuff.” Wow. That is really brilliant my friend. I knew that things were made out of stuff when I was five years old. I would hope that we could advance beyond that. According to you, we can’t. Your understanding of reality is at the level of a five year old, congratulations. I’ve checkmated you once again, but I expect that you’ll simply put your pieces back on the board and say with exuberance “See, all my pieces are still on the board!” It’s actually pathetic. Go ahead, have the last word. Put your pieces back on the board and pretend that you haven’t been checkmated about three dozen times.

    I’ll end my discussion with you by saying that physical science is useful, but it does not and cannot explain the deepest questions about the nature of reality. Take the Codex Sinaiticus. Physical science can tell us the weight and dimensions of this book and the material (stuff) that it’s made of, and what type of ink was used and help us date the book. Physical science cannot, however, tell us what language the book is written in, or what the meaning of the book is. Messages are nonphysical, but manifest themselves in physical form. The message “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” has no physical form. It can in fact take on an infinite number of physical forms: in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram / εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην / בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃ / INPRINCIPIOCREAVITDEVSCAELVMETTERRAM. It could be carved in stone, or formed with playdoh. There are an infinite number of physical manifestations that this message could assume. The message has no definite physical features: no definite shape, no definite mass. A particular manifestation of this message will have a definite shape, but that shape is an accidental feature, and not indicative of the underlying message itself. We can never see the pure message that lies behind the infinite number of physical manifestations of which In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth is just one. It could be expressed through sound (an infinite number of ways) or writing (an infinite number of ways) or hand gestures (an infinite number of ways) or binary code (in infinite number of ways). I could go on and on. The message is not limited to any physical form, because the message is not physical, it’s immaterial. Same with God. If you want to see God, the closest you will get is Jesus: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:18 ESV) Jesus is a physical manifestation of the immaterial God, much like these words you are reading right now are a physical manifestation of an immaterial message. “The Word became flesh” i.e. the immaterial God took on a physical form.

  124. Ryan says:

    FZM, I want to say that I admire your gentle approach.

  125. FZM August 4, 2016 at 4:59 am
    “So I guess as you see it science must provide an almost or likely to be exhaustive picture of reality, otherwise the claim that the fact that there is no scientific evidence for God or gods makes their reality unlikely wouldn’t make much sense.”
    * Exhaustive in that the big easy stuff has already been discovered. The time is past when a single person can make fundamental discoveries across a broad spectrum, such as one man deriving calculus, motion, gravity, and optics.

    Science is not exhaustive in the very tiny, the very old, the very far away, the very subtle. Is that where your god hides? In the ever receding shadows of remaining scientific ignorance?

    “what is the empirical scientific evidence to demonstrate that science likely provides us with an almost exhaustive picture of reality?”
    * The vast, global, interplanetary, and inter galactic repeatability and utility of science and especially the highly functional technologies that are its derivative.

    Science works in myriad ways for billions of people on every continent every day. That is vast empirical evidence, as is the fact that our interplanetary robots work at distances up to 11 billion miles, our pocket communicators can determine our location accurately using Einstein’s relativity, and on and on and on.

  126. FZM August 4, 2016 at 8:38 am
    “From your arguments with Ryan ‘stuff’ also seems to have properties for which there is no experimental or empirical proof in modern physics, like its eternal nature,”
    * Quite the contrary. Every repeatable experiment and every equation of science confirms conservation and existence, hence eternal existence.

    What we lack is a conceptual basis to rationalize the copious evidence. No human being has solved this problem and made that solution generally known.

    “Some knowledge of it (for example, apparently that mind isn’t made of stuff and stuff doesn’t have properties that can include or give rise to those of minds) doesn’t seem to be part of the natural sciences at all, but derives from philosophy.”
    * Right, mythological substances like mindstuff, souldstuff, godstuff, unicorn blood, and unobtainium are just concepts in brains.

    “How much does saying that everything is made of ‘stuff’, nothing can exist which isn’t made of ‘stuff’ and anyone making any claim to the contrary is engaging in outlandish and unimaginable speculation, when ‘stuff’ is something whose nature and properties are in various respects unproven, undemonstrable or based on philosophy very much open to debate, help us in uncovering the nature of the underlying reality?”
    * By recognizing that the limitations of our present modern physics strongly indicates there is a least one more level of existence below that which we already know much about. This is what is driving string theory research, to find that underlying reality, to discover the fundamental properties and structure of stuff.

    No serious effort is under way that I have ever heard of to discover the stuff of “mind”. Mindstuff should in principle be discoverable, because it is speculated to interact with matter so strongly. Somehow, this mindstuff has structure to store information, and it has, apparently, data processing elements to make decisions and have a time sequence of concepts. Further, mindstuff can act very powerfully upon human tissue, human cells, affecting the chemistry of the hydrogen, oxegyen, carbon, and other elements that we are made of. Mindstuff somehow imparts energy into cells, billions of cells all in just the right way to spark them into physical motion.

    All this structure and data processing and energy transfer in such a vast and complicated and intricate way yet it is invisible and undetectable? How could any rational person take such an outlandish speculation seriously at all?

  127. SteveK August 4, 2016 at 11:05 am
    “Where’s the evidence for stuff? ”
    * The whole of physical science.

    “This comment fits perfectly given that this blog post is about atheist pseudoscience. Well done.”
    * Interesting. So you suppose then that our reality is actually just a vivid dream?

    The whole of physical science tells us that our material world is made of matter and energy and fields acting in space and time. Over time we have learned that substances divide into atoms, which divide into electrons, protons, and neutrons, which are further related to the particle zoo of the standard model.

    Yet, many shortcomings and unanswered questions remain. The search for the next layer of division is on, and indeed it is driven by the vast evidence of the whole of physical science.

    I thought all of that would be so obvious that I only wrote the last 5 words previously, but apparently it was not so obvious to you.

  128. Ryan August 4, 2016 at 5:17 pm
    “Stardusty, if there is no “god of the English language”, then how can you say that Oxford is incorrect in its definition of “materialism”? By what standard are you saying that Oxford is wrong?”
    * In that particular case I was not able to get useful words from that source that conveyed my meaning in my context.

    Oxford, in this case, used a very broad and somewhat colloquial meaning for “matter”. I was am speaking of matter in the sense of physics, as opposed to but related to energy as a physicist would write “m” for matter and “e” for energy and distinguish between the two, as opposed to lumping all of existence into a single term “matter”, as Oxford does.

    “If there is no god of English and we must work from consensus then we have to accept the definition given by Oxford”
    * Individuals remain free to reject the consensus, which I have done in this case for the reasons cited above.

    I reject both the tyranny of god and the tyranny of the majority.

    “the one that you made up that has no consensus.”
    * I did not make up the distinction between matter and energy. There is that consensus among physicists, if not the general population.

    SD: Knowledge is a probability estimate.
    “Are you going to demonstrate this or do you expect everyone to accept it on faith? ”
    * It is a position statement, an assertion, a statement of conclusion, a simple declarative statement, perhaps food for thought, definitely something I can then refer back to as an anchor point in further discussions in many respects.

    “How do you know they are less probable descriptions of reality than the idea that the external world is real? You’ve never shown how you came to this probability estimate.”
    * If this is all a dream it would be enormously vivid, detailed, and extended, as compared to my dreams, which are short, disjointed, incongruent, and fleeting. My hunger seems very real to me so I eat, as opposed to presuming the vat tender with continue to inject nutrients into the mechanically pumped blood.

    “I know that you believe that an external world is a more probable explanation than delusions, but you’ve never showed why. You simply assert it. ”
    * My only absolute knowledge is derived from my self awareness, as Descartes described centuries ago.

    “You take a huge leap of faith and then formulate an entire worldview based upon that leap of faith and then have the arrogance to speak as if your worldview has some sort of superior objectivity. Scientific-minded? I see “giant leap of faith”.”
    * All the evidence I have is that my senses are basically reliable. They are highly consistent over long periods of time under a very wide variety of circumstances.

    I have vast evidence for the reality and basic reliability of my senses.

    The rest is just idle speculation with no evidence. It seems reasonable to me to act upon the vast evidence and to discount the endless number of potential idle speculations to the contrary.

    “Linguistics is not physical science though.”
    * Wrong. The poverty of stimulus indicates a physical basis for language.

    “Linguistics exists and functions independent of physics, chemistry, etc. Nothing discovered by the physical sciences affects Linguistics.”
    * That is wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. Language is a function of physical animals and wholly dependant upon physical structure. Or perhaps you have heard voices come out of a vacuum?

    “Linguistics explores the abstraction that we call “language”, something that is not made of matter and shouldn’t exist according to your worldview”
    * Language is a real process of matter/energy.

    “The subjunctive mood is an abstract thing, something undetectable by physical science.”
    * Abstractions are brain processes. The brain is a physical system. You are in a rabbit hole of woo here.

    “Don’t ask Christians what God is made of or what caused God. These are dumb questions, and demonstrate that the questioner is dumb. God is made of God. God is eternal and uncaused.”
    * So, god is made of godstuff, souls are made of soulstuff, minds are made of mindstuff.

    Are these all the same stuff? If god is made of something then godstuff is a substance, a material, as is soulstuff and mindstuff. They all interact strongly with matter/energy so they are in principle detectable with scientific instrumentation, yet they are not detected, so that is strong evidence you are just making this all up in your imagination, which is a real process in your real brain but has no realization outside your brain as actual godstuff, soulstuff, or mindstuff.

    “Thingamajigism: the view that everything is made of thingamajigs and all that exists is thingamajigs.”
    * Labels are arbitrary, and if you want to call the ultimate reality a thingamajig then go ahead.

    When you can come up with a system of equations and experiments and observations that show how thingamajigs give rise to our observed physical existence and account for the shortcomings of our present modern physics I think you will deserve naming rights.

    “You’ve been checkmated multiple times by many different people around here.”
    * Ha, Ha, Ha. You are truly a legend in your own mind.

    ” I knew that things were made out of stuff when I was five years old.”
    * Indeed, it is rather obvious. Perhaps you should end your continual counter speculations.

    “I would hope that we could advance beyond that. According to you, we can’t. ”
    * We have advanced as far as modern physics, but it is glaringly obvious that much work needs to be done and we do not yet know the nature of the fundamental stuff of existence, even though we know much of its aggregate properties at the level of present day modern physics.

    Whatever this stuff is it must combine and act to give rise to what we presently observe.

    Your assertion that I think somehow we cannot advance from the mere observation that things are made stuff only shows you remain fundamentally ignorant.

    “The message “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” has no physical form. ”
    * Right, it is just a silly superstitious primitive attempt at explaining how we came to be. It is a real process of a brain imagining things that have no demonstrated basis in outside reality.

    “The message has no definite physical features: no definite shape, no definite mass. ”
    * Agreed, a concept is not itself an object floating around out there made of mindstuff. A concept is a real process of a brain.

    “The message is not limited to any physical form, because the message is not physical, it’s immaterial.”
    * The message is a material process, a material function, a sequence of changes in matter/energy.

    The symbols do not somehow contain a message object. A brain process inscribed symbols as a representation of concepts. Absent any other brain to observe them the symbols are just bits of ink or paper or clay. When another brain observes these symbols and is familiar with them then that observation creates a stimulus response and a brain process in the reader occurs very roughly similar to the brain process of the writer.

    This method of communication of concepts is entirely physical, entirely material, requiring no ethereal ghostly entities whatsoever.

  129. Ryan says:

    It occurs to me that I never made my conclusion explicit after my long discussion about messages. So I will add this post scriptum: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (which is the only solution to the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang), is a message. The message can be expressed in countless languages in countless ways (visually, with sound, etc.). Each one of those instances has a unique physical form that can be measured by physical science and each one elicits processes in the mind of a person. However, the forms are all different, and the processes are all different in the minds (different languages use different processes, e.g. Latin does not rely upon word order like English but tags nominals and verbs to demonstrate their function/role in the message).

    So, linguistically there is one message behind the infinite number of surface forms and processes associated with God is good / Deus bonus est / ο θεος εστιν αγαθος / etc. Theses are all physical forms and processes of one message. They are not that one message though. One cannot point to the English form or the mental process associated with the English form and say “Here is the message”. That would be “anglocentric”. The English surface form is not the archetypal form of the message. The English, Latin, and Greek surface forms of this abstract message differ in number of words, word order (the Latin reads “God good is”), number of syllables, phonetics, and morphology. They do not have the same form or process. Yet, anyone fluent in these three languages will instantly recognize that they all represent the very same message: Deus bonus est. There is one message, not three. And yet there are three radically distinct forms and processes.

    It would be the single most important breakthrough of Linguistics if we could identify that underlying message, the pure message, the archetypal message, and express it in a universal form, a form that is not bound to any specific language. That pure message is immaterial though, and cannot be experienced by us humans, we can only experience the manifestations of it in countless languages. We know that one message lies behind those various manifestations, but we can’t get to it, it will always lie beyond our reach.

    This is significant because the Bible describes God in a similar way. In fact, Jesus is even described as an eternal message in John 1 (commonly translated “word”, but the Greek word λογος has a broader semantic range than English “word”: http://logeion.uchicago.edu/index.html#λόγος).

    There are people whose mind is limited to this physical dimension. Such people must say that the archetypal message doesn’t exist because we can’t physically experience it. We can’t say it or write it or express it in any way without using some particular language. A materialist must say that there are three separate messages: God is good / Deus bonus est / ο θεος εστιν αγαθος. Linguists and those fluent in these three languages recognize that there is only one message but in three distinct forms and processes. Materialism is a serious defect of the mind that cannot grasp the reality that I’ve demonstrated here: there is one archetypal message that lies behind these different processes and forms.

  130. SteveK says:

    SP,
    The whole of physical science tells us that our material world is made of matter and energy and fields acting in space and time. Over time we have learned that substances divide into atoms, which divide into electrons, protons, and neutrons, which are further related to the particle zoo of the standard model.

    So far, I don’t see “stuff” listed – yet you believe matter is a phase of “stuff”.

    Yet, many shortcomings and unanswered questions remain. The search for the next layer of division is on, and indeed it is driven by the vast evidence of the whole of physical science.

    Nobody has the answer, therefore SP believes matter is a phase of “stuff”. Nice.

  131. SteveK August 5, 2016 at 3:00 pm
    “Nobody has the answer, therefore SP believes matter is a phase of “stuff”. Nice.”
    * Do a little research into dark matter, dark energy, string theory, the incompatibility between Quantum Mechanics and Relativity, the search for a GUT and TOE…

    You think I am just making this up? Call it whatever you want, the fact is nobody knows what it is but “everybody” (except you apparently) knows there is something more fundamental, some kind of more fundamental material substance, yet to be discovered.

    http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150824-what-is-the-universe-made-of

    “All these familiar things only make up a fraction of the matter in our Universe. The rest is something else, a material that nobody on Earth has ever seen.
    For want of a better name, physicists call this stuff “dark matter”.”

    “At this point you may be throwing your arms up in frustration. “First they decided there’s all this invisible matter, now they’ve decided it’s made of some new kind of stuff that they can’t detect!”

    http://nautil.us/blog/how-the-universe-made-the-stuff-that-made-us

  132. SteveK says:

    “Call it whatever you want”

    God. For some reason this ” more fundamental” entity can’t be God.

  133. Ryan August 5, 2016 at 2:27 pm
    “It occurs to me that I never made my conclusion explicit after my long discussion about messages. So I will add this post scriptum: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (which is the only solution to the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang),”
    * Wrong. The god speculation solves no philosophical dilemmas and only creates more such dilemmas.

    Further, the Big Bang is not a philosophical dilemma.

    “It would be the single most important breakthrough of Linguistics if we could identify that underlying message, the pure message, the archetypal message, and express it in a universal form, a form that is not bound to any specific language. That pure message is immaterial though, and cannot be experienced by us humans, ”
    * So, humans cannot experience love because the word for love is different in different languages.

    The “pure message” is the brain process of that message irrespective of the language used to express the message. The “pure message” is the emotional experience, or the conceptual experience that is common to human brains irrespective of the language and at a personal experiential level for each individual.

    Holy grail found.

    “There are people whose mind is limited to this physical dimension. Such people must say that the archetypal message doesn’t exist because we can’t physically experience it.”
    * It does exist and we do experience it, unless perhaps your experiences are strictly limited to spoken words or words “pronounced” internally..

    “We can’t say it or write it or express it in any way without using some particular language.”
    * Depends what “it” is and what “language” is. Facial expressions are nearly universal indicators. Body language and non-verbalized sounds or utterances can be powerful expressions of experiences.

    “A materialist must say that there are three separate messages: God is good / Deus bonus est / ο θεος εστιν αγαθος.”
    * No, a materialist says that humans construct various sets of symbols to convey the same fundamental brain process. Basic human emotions are perhaps a more obvious example of the commonality of human experience being expressed using different symbol sets.

    “Linguists and those fluent in these three languages recognize that there is only one message but in three distinct forms and processes. Materialism is a serious defect of the mind that cannot grasp the reality that I’ve demonstrated here: there is one archetypal message that lies behind these different processes and forms.”
    * You are inventing an imagined difficulty with materialism that simply does not exist.

  134. SteveK August 5, 2016 at 4:37 pm
    “SP Call it whatever you want”

    “God. For some reason this ” more fundamental” entity can’t be God.”
    * Are you a pantheist? Is the universe, all the matter/energy in it, the atoms of our bodies, everything literally made of godstuff?

    You can call it god if you want, but that means we can, in principle, derive the equations of god. That means god is just the most fundamental substance or set of substances. We can, in principle, observe god scientifically, if not in every detail at the level of the most fundamental godstuff, then at least when enough godstuff acts to create a relative macro particle, say an electron, then we can scientifically observe that aggregate form of godstuff.

    An election then is just some derivative form of fundamental godstuff.

    You really think that is the case?

  135. SteveK says:

    For my own reasons I’m not a pantheist.

    You can call it god if you want
    Glad to hear you’ve come around. You no longer lack belief because you admit there IS evidence.

  136. SteveK says:

    “but that means we can, in principle, derive the equations of god.”

    Every physics textbook has them. Math textbooks and chemistry textbooks too.

    “That means god is just the most fundamental substance or set of substances.”

    The foundation of everything, yep.

  137. Ryan says:

    SD: The “pure message” is the brain process of that message irrespective of the language used to express the message.

    I know I said I was done, but this is a slightly different topic so I’ll feed the troll a little longer. There is no such brain process irrespective of the language used to express the message.It’s actually laughable that you’re trying to say that the brain process is the same for a native English speaker, a native Latin speaker, and a native Ancient Greek speaker all hearing a completely different string of words. That is laughably dumb to suggest. The brain processes (plural) involved with God is good / bonus est Deus / ο θεος εστιν αγαθος are different. There is not one process behind these three strings of words, there are three different processes. We now know that people with different native languages even process sound differently. A native Spanish speaker actually hears the exact same speech sounds differently than a native English speaker.

    If the brain process behind God is good, Deus bonus est, and ο θεος εστιν αγαθος was one and the same then it would be unnecessary to learn a foreign language. I speak Latin with some fluency, with about 1/3 of the conversation in my home being done in Latin. I had to study for quite a long time to learn how to think in Latin, since Latin syntax is much different than English. For example, compare “When you come in the summer, my house will be being built” to Cum veneris aestate, domus aedificabitur. Latin can express in 5 words what takes 12 words to express in English, because Latin uses a very different syntax than English. Not only that, but word order in Latin is very flexible: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_order#Latin The Latin sentence could be said with the words rearranged in almost any order and still be easily understood upon first hearing, as long as the temporal clause (the “when…” clause) remains separate from the main clause. If you move the words around in English it quickly becomes unintelligible: “When come summer the you in, built be being my will house” (I kept all words within their respective clauses). This forces one to think very differently. It’s a different brain process to express the same message. If you are focused on the physical chemistry going on in the brain then you cannot say that there is a single brain process behind the two messages. If the same brain process underlies all languages then you should already be able to speak Latin and we can have this conversation in Latin. Latine loquamur? But I have a hunch that you’re monolingual. People that speak multiple languages usually have a much better grasp of how language works than you do.

  138. FZM says:

    Stardusty,

    * Exhaustive in that the big easy stuff has already been discovered.

    To put what I was asking in other terms, where in the natural sciences do we find empirical, experimental evidence to tell us what we need to put on the complete list of the things that need to be included in a near exhaustive picture of reality, and empirical evidence to tell us which methods we need to employ to discover them?

    Is there part of the Standard Model of Physics which proves/demonstrates the place Physics should have in an exhaustive account of reality and which demonstrates to us what kind of methods we must employ to pursue Physics research which yields probably accurate knowledge of reality?

    Science is not exhaustive in the very tiny, the very old, the very far away, the very subtle. Is that where your god hides? In the ever receding shadows of remaining scientific ignorance?

    From your replies to Ryan about Linguistics I am wondering how broadly you are understanding ‘science’. If you are including all the social sciences, and probably more besides, there seems plenty of space for God or gods to hide, in amongst the Feminism, Marxism, Freudianism, Structualism, Empiricism, Queer theory etc.

    Focusing on the natural sciences though, Physics, as an example, does not seem to be exhaustive in dealing with questions of epistemology and proving the metaphysical assumptions that have to be in place to carry on any study of Physics in the first place.

    * The vast, global, interplanetary, and inter galactic repeatability and utility of science and especially the highly functional technologies that are its derivative.

    This may be empirical evidence if you are thinking of empirical evidence in the terms that might be recognised in Sociology or Political Science, when asking a lot of people what they think or feel about something (in this case, how successful they believe science is at describing reality) is empirical evidence for what people believe or feel, and asking them how strongly they believe something is used to provide some measurements of belief and feeling.

    If you are thinking in terms of the natural sciences though, where are the findings from within Physics or Chemistry to tell us that human judgements of utility, production of technology humans find useful and repeatability are the key (probably only?) factors to examine to determine whether or not some particular account of reality is near, or likely, exhaustive?

  139. FZM says:

    * Quite the contrary. Every repeatable experiment and every equation of science confirms conservation and existence, hence eternal existence.

    I am wondering if you are equivocating here (about the nature of what exists eternally, for example) or, possibly inadvertently, lying? This is because personally I can’t remember seeing anyone present scientific (observational/experimental) findings which provide details of the properties and nature of what existed pre-Big Bang and of the fact that whatever it is is eternal.

    People, including physicists, have speculated about these things, but speculating about them in the absence of any empirical evidence to validate the speculations is different to having ‘overwhelming scientific evidence’ to support a claim.

    I can’t imagine many Theists denying that something has existed for eternity or pre-existed our universe, but they wouldn’t agree that this something has only the properties which Physics ascribes to matter and energy as observable/quantifiable in our universe.

    * Right, mythological substances like mindstuff, souldstuff, godstuff, unicorn blood, and unobtainium are just concepts in brains.

    Right? As in some of the properties you attribute to ‘stuff’ are mythological? I remember you saying something along the lines of numbers, mathematics and logic being just concepts in brains in the other thread as well.

    * By recognizing that the limitations of our present modern physics strongly indicates there is a least one more level of existence below that which we already know much about. This is what is driving string theory research, to find that underlying reality, to discover the fundamental properties and structure of stuff.

    By this I understand you to be saying that ‘eternal stuff’ has basically the properties and nature of matter and energy in our universe as described by something not unlike our current Physics, and that therefore this is all that can really exist; and that the descriptions that something close to our current Physics provides of this matter and energy describes everything that really happens (or has ever happened, or ever will happen I guess). The challenge isn’t just getting the physics right, it is showing that everything else is reducible to this Physics, and that there is really nothing else
    apart from what this Physics describes.

    No serious effort is under way that I have ever heard of to discover the stuff of “mind”.

    Here you apparently have determined that ‘stuff’ can’t give rise to or can’t possess any of the properties of mind (they are all just illusions or something, as in Elminative Materialism?). The idea that Philosophy of Mind is a subject that no one is interested in or carrying out research into at the moment is, I think, very false. Likewise, it’s false that there is some consensus among philosophers interested in this field that eliminative approaches to mind and its properties are the only credible ones.

    Though, when you are talking about ‘no serious effort’ perhaps you mean that no one is studying the mind in university Physics departments.

  140. Ryan
    “The brain processes (plural) involved with God is good / bonus est Deus / ο θεος εστιν αγαθος are different. There is not one process behind these three strings of words, there are three different processes.”
    * Ok, so you realize language is just a brain process, You are learning.

    ” “When come summer the you in, built be being my will house” (I kept all words within their respective clauses). This forces one to think very differently. It’s a different brain process to express the same message”
    * Again you realize thinking is a brain process. Very good Ryan!!!

    “If you are focused on the physical chemistry going on in the brain then you cannot say that there is a single brain process behind the two messages.”
    * The more clear example is that of love. I think it is reasonable to suggest that we all experience the emotion of love roughly the same, yet there are many words in many languages used to express this same emotional experience.

    The case of our basic emotions is more clear because they are not at base internally “pronounced” experiences, rather, we simply feel them. From there if we wish to describe those basic experiences of feeling we use language, which of course uses various symbols and syntax depending on the language.

    The case of more complex expressions is less clear. We can introduce the notion of information. Consider solving an addition problem in base 10, base 2, or base 16. The information is fundamentally the same, but the symbol sets and the step by step process is different. That does not require some sort of ethereal number spirit. Counting is just another brain process as you now realize language is.

  141. FZM
    “To put what I was asking in other terms, where in the natural sciences do we find empirical, experimental evidence to tell us what we need to put on the complete list of the things that need to be included in a near exhaustive picture of reality, and empirical evidence to tell us which methods we need to employ to discover them?”
    * Science is necessarily provisional. So “exhaustive” in the absolute certain sense is not a scientific goal.

    We live at an intermediate level between the very large and the very small. All the basic observable physics phenomena at this level have been accounted for to a high degree of accuracy. If you are interested in that account you can buy a set of college textbooks in all the physical sciences and read well organized summaries of these accounts.

    If you think there are some missing chapters in the physics and chemistry textbooks, fine, that would be interesting news to me.

    The list of subjects has existed in somewhat diffuse form for millennia. People have long sought to account for the physical phenomena they observe.

    As for methods we do what works. People have tried pure reason without experiment but that usually yields poor results when others get around to testing such assertions. Science has developed as an iterative process of hypothesis, observation, and theory and has been found empirically to be highly successful. The evidence for this success is in our technology and the global repeatability of established science.

    “where are the findings from within Physics or Chemistry to tell us that human judgements of utility, production of technology humans find useful and repeatability are the key (probably only?) factors to examine to determine whether or not some particular account of reality is near, or likely, exhaustive?”
    * When the theory accurately explains phenomena then it is successful, but not absolutely proven to be fundamental.

    However, when a theory fails to fully explain phenomena we can say to a scientific certainty it is incomplete.

    So, our degree of certainty is asymmetric in that comparison. We can be scientifically certain of incomplete understanding, but if we have a seemingly complete theory we cannot be certain it is truly exhaustive.

    At this time we are scientifically certain that physics is incomplete because there are many unexplained phenomena. The search is on for the true nature of the underlying reality, with strong indications there is at least one more layer of physical existence below our present understanding. I call that stuff, the word thingamajig was suggested and it is equally valid to stuff, since both are simply arbitrary labels for the unknown.

    You can call it god if you want to, but that is a pantheistic god, a god that we can discover using physics experiments, a god for which we can write mathematical equations, a physical god that acts in time and space and gives rise to mass and energy and fields, an impersonal mindless purposeless god composed of vast numbers of submicroscopic particles or fields or strings. That does not sound like any god anybody I know believes in.

  142. FZM August 6, 2016 at 6:22 am
    ” or, possibly inadvertently, lying?”
    * A lie is necessarily an intentional falsehood. I don’t see how I could be inadvertently lying.

    “This is because personally I can’t remember seeing anyone present scientific (observational/experimental) findings which provide details of the properties and nature of what existed pre-Big Bang and of the fact that whatever it is is eternal.”
    * Right, but that is not what I said we have copious evidence for. All our evidence tells us matter/energy is conserved. If X cannot be created and X cannot be destroyed then X is conserved. If X is conserved and X exists then X has always existed and X will always exists If X has not always existed then X can be created. If X will not always exist then X can be destroyed.

    All the evidence we have in every physics experiment performed says matter/energy is conserved and that it exists so the evidence we have tells us matter/energy is eternal. All our equations of science are just that, equations. The equations are restatements of conservation.

    What we lack is the brainpower to understand how that can logically be the case. The god hypothesis only makes the riddle worse.

    “Right? As in some of the properties you attribute to ‘stuff’ are mythological?”
    * The properties of “stuff” are as yet undetermined but they are constrained by modern physics. Whatever those properties are they must reduce to modern physics as a derivative in the aggregate or a valid approximation.

    The properties of “stuff”, therefore, are no mere mythology, no ad-hoc assumption, no fictional character in a long line of ancient story characters. The properties of “stuff” are what they presently are, and lie in wait for us to scientifically discover them

    ” I remember you saying something along the lines of numbers, mathematics and logic being just concepts in brains in the other thread as well.”
    * As opposed to existent objects in a Platonic world of forms, yes, in that sense, logic does not “exist”. Logic is a real process of the brain and the physical world is very well described by logic.

    “The challenge isn’t just getting the physics right, it is showing that everything else is reducible to this Physics, and that there is really nothing else”
    * What else could exist? If it exists yet we do not observe it then it is undiscovered physics. In what sense could something exist yet not be a part of physics? The very notion of a non-physical existence is incoherent.

    “The idea that Philosophy of Mind is a subject that no one is interested in or carrying out research into at the moment is, I think, very false.,”
    * How is sitting around thinking about mind an effort to discover the stuff of mind? What is mind made of? If mindstuff is an elementary substance what are the equations of mindstuff? What description do we have for the structure of a mind made of mindstuff? How is mindstuff structured in a vastly complex manner to store our memories? How is mindstuff structured to have data processing elements to account for our thoughts and logic and decision making processes?

    How does mindstuff attach to the brain? How does mindstuff manipulate the brain on a cellular level, impart energy to the brain to trigger the vastly complex actions of our nervous system?

    How does information from our eyes and our tongues and our ears and our skin get transmitted to the brain and then somehow absorbed by mindstuff, where it is processed, the outputs of that process then somehow transmitted to the brain to spark our actions?

    Seriously? Mindstuff research? Where? By who?

    All these subjects are being researched about the brain, The brain is real. There are in fact observable structures to account for all these processes in the brain. One can obtain a PhD in neuroscience and do scientific research and publish papers in peer reviewed journals on these subjects of the brain.

    No such thing is being done for mindstuff because mindstuff is a fantasy.

    “Though, when you are talking about ‘no serious effort’ perhaps you mean that no one is studying the mind in university Physics departments.”
    * Or anyplace else where actual scientific research is done to discover, measure, and describe complex substances and energy transfers.

    Somehow the electrochemical signals from our sensory cells gets absorbed by this speculated mind. Somehow this speculated mind triggers electrochemical signals to our muscles. Where is the scientific research on this bidirectional energy transfer?

    How about Liberty University? Surly a university that offers degrees in science, philosophy, and religion would have something about mindstuff.
    http://www.liberty.edu/admissions/index.cfm?PID=27267
    Well, no. Turns out that even a university with multiple degree offerings in apologetics, ministry and even the pseudoscience of YEC does not do scientific research into the soul or the mind.

    The reason is simple, there is no such thing to research and there isn’t even enough scraps of pseudo science available to fake such an effort.

  143. Ryan says:

    SD, Are the natural sciences the only means of discovering knowledge about reality? Is Linguistics a natural science or a social science? Do you think Linguists are crackpots? If I describe theology as a science (as it was described for centuries), will you accept the conclusions of theology? If not, can you give a definition of science that will exclude theology but include Linguistics?

    There is one message, but an infinite number of brain processes associated with it. The brain process associated with “tomorrow I will buy some food” is very different from the brain process associated with cras cibum emam. However, they express the same message. Translation between languages assumes the messages expressed by languages exist independent of any one particular language or brain process. The message cannot be the brain process, because there are countless brain processes associated with any single message.

    The more clear example is that of love. I think it is reasonable to suggest that we all experience the emotion of love roughly the same

    No, that’s not reasonable: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love Read the first couple paragraphs. Besides, we’re talking about communicating immaterial messages via their countless physical manifestations in human languages, we’re not talking about emotions. If I say the word “love”, this will prompt a radically different brain process to a non-English speaker who will merely hear sounds. Even two English speakers will have a different mental response to the word, as their concept of “love” will be conditioned by their experiences and understanding. If we are committed to materialism (I’m aware you rejected materialism above asserting matter is made of stuff which is not matter) then we can only examine brain chemistry. The brain chemistry will not be identical between two English speakers who hear the word “love”. Do you really think all people that listened to Hillary Clinton’s string of English words during her acceptance speech at the DNC experienced the same brain process as a result of the words? Messages cannot be described in terms of brain processes. Physical science fails us here, we are in territory where physical science cannot explore.

    Your stuffism leads you to conclude that “God loves me”, Deus me amat, and ο θεος με αγαπα, are three different messages, because they are made of different stuff. But those of us who have the capacity for abstract thought recognize that there is one immaterial message that lies under these three physical forms that are different in shape, sound, and brain process. Concrete thought that is limited to the physical world is primitive. Animals think in terms of only the physical world. Humans, possessing superior intelligence, can think abstractly and understand that there is much more to the world than merely the physical “stuff”. Your materialism or “stuffism” could be described as “primitive-animal-brainism”: the view that primitive animals which cannot think abstractly but are limited to the physical world have a better grasp of reality than humans who constantly abstract.

    Earlier you said you had no answer to my questions about the Big Bang, yet you now claim to have solved the philosophical dilemma. So which one do you accept? (1) Both stuff and the laws of physics are eternal. Therefore stuff was interacting by the laws of physics for an eternity before this present moment. Infinite time was a sufficient amount of time for the conditions to come about for an infinite number of Big Bangs, including the Big Bang of this universe. Therefore the Big Bang occurred an infinite amount of time ago. (2) Stuff is eternal but the laws of physics are not eternal. The laws of physics popped into existence (I’ll avoid the term “magic”) a definite amount of time ago and at that moment the eternal stuff began interacting. So, the eternal stuff has been interacting by the laws of physics a limited amount of time eventually leading to the conditions for the Big Bang. Therefore, the Big Bang happened a limited amount of time ago (agreeing with contemporary science). (3) Laws of physics are eternal but stuff is not eternal. Stuff popped into existence a limited amount of time ago and began interacting by the laws of physics. Therefore, the Big Bang happened a limited amount of time ago. (4) Neither the laws of physics or stuff is eternal. Rather, an infinite, eternal, all-powerful mind brought both into existence a limited amount of time ago by means of a free-will act of choice. Therefore, the Big Bang happened a limited amount of time ago. Which is your model? Or do you present another model? Or are you in over your head?

  144. Ryan says:

    In what sense could something exist yet not be a part of physics?

    Is Linguistics a part of physics? I don’t remember studying physics in my linguistics courses. Neither do I remember studying linguistics in any of the physical science courses I took. Social sciences like Linguistics are now invalid because you say so? The authority you assume you have is unbelievable.

    The very notion of a non-physical existence is incoherent.

    To a dog, or an insect, or some other primitive brain, yes. Not to the superior intelligence of the human mind. Perhaps your mind lacks this ability? We all understand the concept that a message lies under the various linguistic forms of “God is good”. The message is not the particular linguistic forms, it is immaterial. You can’t understand this? Are you bluffing or does your brain really lack this ability? Do you really think the animal brain is superior to the human brain? Abstraction is a sign of intelligence, not delusion. Humans understand reality more by abstracting, not less.

  145. FZM says:

    Ryan,

    I know I said I was done, but this is a slightly different topic so I’ll feed the troll a little longer.

    From the last couple of replies SD posted I’m getting the feeling that ‘feeding the troll’ might be what is going on here…

    The points you made about the structure of Latin sentences being very different to English ones was interesting. I studied Romance languages at university but unfortunately never had a chance to study Latin, now I have to learn Russian and I’m finding it slower going (especially learning to speak) I think because of the well developed case system and the big differences in sentence structure it brings with it.

  146. Ryan August 6, 2016 at 2:44 pm
    “SD, Are the natural sciences the only means of discovering knowledge about reality? Is Linguistics a natural science or a social science?”
    * If human beings are natural then the scientific study or human activity is a natural science.

    Science is interdisciplinary. To study geology one must study chemistry and physics at least enough as they directly apply to geology.

    “Do you think Linguists are crackpots?”
    * If they follow sound scientific methods, no, else, yes.

    “If I describe theology as a science (as it was described for centuries), will you accept the conclusions of theology?”
    * Not merely by your assertion. How is the god hypothesis testable by observation?

    “If not, can you give a definition of science that will exclude theology but include Linguistics?”
    The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment:

    Please direct me to an audio recording of god.

    “Translation between languages assumes the messages expressed by languages exist independent of any one particular language or brain process. The message cannot be the brain process, because there are countless brain processes associated with any single message”
    * Translation works because the experiences word describe are largely universal brain processes irrespective of the variations in the symbology used to describe those experiences.
    “tomorrow I will buy some food”
    Human beings experience the passage of time. We experience a sense of self. We experience the exchange of money for goods. We experience the sensory perception of food. Each of these experiences is a brain process and it is reasonable to think these expereiences are broadly the same for all of us.

    The sentence you wrote expresses a concatenation of common experiences, common brain processes. There is no message to the sentence that exists as some kind of object out there. I have a set of experiential brain processes I wish to convey. I convert those to symbols. A reader sees they are in a foreign language and translates those symbols into another set of symbols algorithmically, say, using a computer translator. They are then read and are interpreted as the same sequence of fundamental brain processes for the senses of “tommorrow” “I” “buy” “food”.

    This is entirely a material process carried out by brain processes absent any ethereal message or mind objects.

    “If I say the word “love”, this will prompt a radically different brain process to a non-English speaker who will merely hear sounds. ”
    * A recognized word is much different than an unrecognized word. The unrecognized word only get as far as what engineers call the front end. A signal processing machine works in stages. The outermost stage, particularly for a signal receiver, is known as the front end, sort of like a front door or a front hall or a store front. It is the interface between the inside and the outside.

    Speaking the word “love” in various languages to speakers of those languages is a different process at the front end, but as it relates to the common human experience of love the brain process becomes roughly the same irrespective of the language used for the transmission process.

    “I’m aware you rejected materialism above asserting matter is made of stuff which is not matter)”
    * How silly. Materialism does not suggest all things are made of matter as opposed to energy or fields or whatever more fundamental phase of stuff such as strings might be discovered.

    “The brain chemistry will not be identical between two English speakers who hear the word “love””
    * Strawman. I never said “identical”

    “Do you really think all people that listened to Hillary Clinton’s string of English words during her acceptance speech at the DNC experienced the same brain process as a result of the words? ”
    * Very broadly similar within categories, yes.

    “Messages cannot be described in terms of brain processes. Physical science fails us here, we are in territory where physical science cannot explore.”
    * You are again in your rabbit hole of woo.

    “Humans, possessing superior intelligence, can think abstractly and understand that there is much more to the world than merely the physical “stuff”. ”
    * In your imagination, which is a brain process, yes. As a realized so-called abstract object, no.

    “Earlier you said you had no answer to my questions about the Big Bang, yet you now claim to have solved the philosophical dilemma”
    * Huh? My answer was and is that there is no philosophical dilemma to the Big Bang. There is a philosophical dilemma to eternal existence that has not been solved and is only made worse by the god hypothesis.

    “an infinite number of Big Bangs, including the Big Bang of this universe. Therefore the Big Bang occurred an infinite amount of time ago. ”
    * Non-sequitur. If there have been an infinite number of Big Bangs then “a” Big Bang happened an infinite amount of time ago but not “our” Big Gang. Thus, no dilemma for our Big Bang.

    However, even our language fails us here. The notion of an infinite amount of real time is irrational. That is the crux of the true philosophical dilemma that your god hypothesis fails to solve as does every other.

    “Stuff is eternal but the laws of physics are not eternal.”
    * The term “law” in this context is another shortcoming of language. The so-called “laws” of physics are descriptions of how things act under certain circumstances. It is irrational to think the same stuff under the same circumstances would act in some fundamentally different way. It is also irrational to think something would just pop into existence out of absolutely nothing at all.

    “Laws of physics are eternal but stuff is not eternal. ”
    * Since “laws” are descriptive of how stuff acts, but there is no stuff, it is irrational to think there were descriptions somehow existing within absolutely nothing at all.

    “Neither the laws of physics or stuff is eternal. Rather, an infinite, eternal, all-powerful mind brought both into existence a limited amount of time ago by means of a free-will act of choice. ”
    * This assertion is incoherent because it asserts mutually exclusive properties. If this mind is all-powerful then it has the power of perfect foreknowledge which immediately negates a free will choice.

    If this mind does things in the past, and then makes a decision to do something else then this mind acts in a time sequence of events. But an infinity of actual time sequence of events is irrational.

    If you say something can exist for eternity that has power to create matter/energy/space/time then there is no need that it have all these other properties you have ascribed to it which only make your assertion in one aspect incoherent and in another aspect irrational.

  147. Ryan August 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm
    “Is Linguistics a part of physics? ”
    * It is a derivative of physics.

    “I don’t remember studying physics in my linguistics courses. ”
    * More’s the pity. If you had a grounding in materialism you would not make so many pedestrian errors, nor would you be so highly susceptible to woo.

    “Social sciences like Linguistics are now invalid because you say so?”
    * Strawman. I never said the science of Linguistics is invalid.

    “The message is not the particular linguistic forms, it is immaterial. You can’t understand this? ”
    * The message is a brain process. The notion that it is immaterial is superstition or at best ancient Platonic speculation without modern rational foundation.

    “Are you bluffing or does your brain really lack this ability?”
    * My brain has the ability to imagine that there is some sort of material existence not yet discovered. Substance dualism is not incoherent on its face, simply untenable upon investigation.

    Immaterial dualism is incoherent. To exist a thing must be made of something, else it is absolutely nothing at all and does not exist. To speak of an existent immaterial thing is equivalent to speaking of a massless mass, merely the combination of mutually exclusive terms within an incoherent assertion.

    “Abstraction is a sign of intelligence, not delusion.”
    * Confusion that an abstraction is a real outside object is the delusion.

  148. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Immaterial dualism is incoherent. To exist a thing must be made of something, else it is absolutely nothing at all and does not exist. To speak of an existent immaterial thing is equivalent to speaking of a massless mass, merely the combination of mutually exclusive terms within an incoherent assertion.

    Folks, this is why it’s futile to discuss the existence of God with Stardusty. His mind is firmly set on the idea that “existence” means “physical existence”. In order for God to exist, He would have to be a physical God, and nobody who talks about a capital-G God with any understanding of the concept thinks of him as a physical being. Stardusty’s metaphysics are simply incompatible with God as a concept. End. Of. Story.

    Now, I know you’re all thinking, “yes, but his metaphysics are also incompatible with a bunch of other things that he takes for granted. If only we could make him see his own inconsistencies, he might realise that his metaphysics are inconsistent.” Yes — if only. Not going to happen, though. I mean, if he can’t see the problem with the idea, “to exist, a thing must be made of something” (presumably “made of something else“), then he can’t see the obvious. Trying to point out Stardusty’s inconsistencies to him is like speaking louder to someone who doesn’t know your language because he didn’t understand you the first time.

  149. Ryan says:

    TFBW: Trying to point out Stardusty’s inconsistencies to him is like speaking louder to someone who doesn’t know your language because he didn’t understand you the first time.

    A perfect analogy. And I just had a new angle I was going to try! If I could get SD to acknowledge that the LNC would remain true even if the universe did not exist then he would have to admit that the LNC is not a process of any physical matter, the sort of thing that cannot exist according to him. But you’re right. I decided I had enough and then got sucked back into this black hole.

  150. TFBW August 7, 2016 at 1:36 am
    “He would have to be a physical God, and nobody who talks about a capital-G God with any understanding of the concept thinks of him as a physical being. ”
    * If god is not made of something then in what sense do you say it exists? Everything that we know of that exists is made of something or is some kind of elementary substance acting in space and time.

    You say your god is outside of space, time, and material existence, yet acts in a time sequence of events in space and creates matter/energy just by thinking about it using infinite knowlege made of nothing yet existing. Those are just empty jibberish words. I can say that about anything, magical pixies, invisible unicorns, whatever. How do you suppose such wild and nonsensical speculations are somehow supposed to be respected as any kind of serious concept?

    “but his metaphysics are also incompatible with a bunch of other things that he takes for granted. If only we could make him see his own inconsistencies,”
    * Like what? I have been entirely self consistent.

    “I mean, if he can’t see the problem with the idea, “to exist, a thing must be made of something” (presumably “made of something else“), then he can’t see the obvious.”
    * How is an existing thing somehow made of absolutely nothing at all in any sense a coherent notion, much less an obvious necessary being?

    And no, presumably there is some fundamental substance or structure or set of substances which may have multiple properties but is not further divisible. Else, we would have an infinite regress of ever smaller entities.

    “Trying to point out Stardusty’s inconsistencies to him is like speaking louder to someone who doesn’t know your language because he didn’t understand you the first time.”
    * You haven’t validly pointed out any of my supposed inconsistencies, You do seem more inclined to shout as opposed to listening carefully to understand what the other is saying that you do not yet understand.

  151. Ryan August 7, 2016 at 4:05 am
    “If I could get SD to acknowledge that the LNC would remain true even if the universe did not exist”
    * The “law” of non-contradiction is a concept of the human brain. If there were absolutely nothing at all how could there be any concepts at all?

    The “law” of non-contradiction is postulated and inferred to be a valid description of how substances act in space and time. If there were no space, time, or substances how could there be any observations of their actions?

    We can indeed ask “why is there something as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?” The answer is that nobody knows, or if somebody has figured it out that individual has failed to describe in words and generally distribute that solution.

    The god speculation solves nothing of this question, since we now must ask “why is there god as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?” Unless god is absolutely nothing at all, but if so, then in what sense do you say it exists?

  152. FZM says:

    TFBW,
    Folks, this is why it’s futile to discuss the existence of God with Stardusty. His mind is firmly set on the idea that “existence” means “physical existence”.

    I can think of two possible knock down demonstrations of the idea that existence must mean physical existence:

    1) If something exists and is explainable/describable, the thing in question and its description or explanation is part of Physics and reality as described by Physics (leaving open the question of what existence is, how it is proved and what explanation/description of a thing aught to involve.)

    2) For a thing to exist it has to be describable by something close to the kind of Physics now available. If can’t be described by this Physics (this involves in being measurable using the instruments physicists presently use to measure things) it must be non-existent. Something close to our current Physics is therefore our only reliable source of knowledge of the content of reality and it provides, as far as this is possible, a complete account of reality.

    This is amply ‘confirmed’ by experience and observable phenomena (because any experience or observation of phenomena that can’t be described and explained by Physics just cannot be real or exist, can’t really been observed or experienced in the first place and must be some kind of illusion that doesn’t require any explanation).

    Problems with the mind and its properties, metaphysics, epistemology etc. all vanish because they are ‘really’ nothing but whatever it is that Physics can describe and explain.

    I got the feeling Stardusty may be making use of both these examples of powerful reasoning .

    Ryan,

    But you’re right. I decided I had enough and then got sucked back into this black hole.

    …the good old black hole of long equivocal and question begging arguments?

  153. FZM says:

    Correcting two typos:

    If can’t be described by this Physics (this involves in being measurable using the instruments physicists presently use to measure things) it must be non-existent.

    should read:

    “If it can’t be described by this Physics (this involves it being measurable using the instruments physicists presently use to measure things) it must be non-existent.”

    and

    “…can’t really been observed or experienced in the first place and must be some kind of illusion that doesn’t require any explanation.”

    should be:

    “…can’t really have been observed or experienced in the first place and must be some kind of illusion that doesn’t require any explanation.”

  154. Ryan says:

    SD, the fact that all of us have no problem with the concept of non-physical existence and you find it incoherent suggests that either we are crazy and/or lying or you are ignorant and intellectually lacking in some way and/or lying. My wife is not great at math and never reached the level of Calculus. I tried to explain some of the concepts to her once, but it seemed incoherent to her and she was not able to conceptualize it. She didn’t, however, suggest that Calculus is some silly notion, rather she acknowledged that it’s just not her type of subject. Non-physical existence is understood by very intelligent people. I’m not a scientist, but I have a friend who is an astrophysicist and a christian. He has no problem accepting the existence of an eternal, all-powerful mind. The problem is you, not the idea.

    You say the evidence for God is missing. Yet when asked what evidence is missing you give a deer-in-the-headlights response. First crickets, then some babbling in an attempt to explain how you can declare something to be missing while not knowing what it is you are declaring to be missing. Dumb. The simple fact is that you can’t explain what evidence is lacking. And so your declaration that “there is no evidence for God” is nothing more than hot air, bluffing, an assertion pulled ex parte posteriore.

    The “law” of non-contradiction is a concept of the human brain…. The “law” of non-contradiction is postulated and inferred to be a valid description of how substances act in space and time.

    Speaking of contradictions. This is actually a very clever joke SD! Contradicting yourself in the very process of defining the LNC… you are a comic genius! First it’s merely a concept of the brain (like the flying spaghetti monster), then it’s a fundamental description of the nature of reality itself. You are either in waaaay over your head, or you are a comedic mastermind. And see below where I prove that the LNC functions even if there was absolutely nothing physical, therefore it is not dependent upon physical things in space and time.

    Everything that we know of that exists is made of something or is some kind of elementary substance acting in space and time.

    Except of course space and time. Is space an elementary substance acting in space and time? Is time an elementary substance acting in space and time? If not, they don’t exist according to what you just said above. You said: Everything that we know of that exists….. So, space and time don’t exist? Or are they elementary substances acting in space and time? I see now, space and time are elementary substances acting in space and time. I can finally think like you! You may want to modify your above statement to allow for the existence of non-physical entities like space and time. Abstraction is what makes the human mind superior to the mind of beasts. If abstractions (like time and space) do not represent reality, then perhaps dogs are smarter than humans? They don’t get caught up in the “delusions” brought about by abstraction. I’m beginning to think that materialism may stem from some sort of cognitive deficit or intellectual disability: a human mind that has difficulty abstracting and is stuck in a cognitive mode akin to primitive animals. Animals have no concept of a “god”. Primitive human religions worship physical things, and more developed religions continue to abstract until one reaches a monotheistic conception of an eternal mind. This is seen as a progression from primitive animal thought to sophisticated human thought. According to you it’s a regression, and the primitive animals got it right. This says quite a lot about you, quite a lot indeed.

    Else, we would have an infinite regress of ever smaller entities.

    Here you exclude infinite regresses. So, something must be eternal. Eternal mindless stuff lacking the capacity of choice cannot solve the dilemma of the Big Bang. Eternal personal mind having the capacity of choice solves the dilemma. Why does God exist? Because something must be self-existent, and in order to solve the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang (you haven’t solved it yet), that self-existent entity must have the power of choice. To kick start reality an act of choice is required, it cannot be the result of an infinite regress of physical processes. You can’t solve that dilemma, but theists solved it long ago.

    If there were absolutely nothing at all how could there be any concepts at all?

    OK. But the LNC would still be valid even in an empty void. If there was absolutely nothing at all it would still be true that there was nothing at all. It could not be true that there was absolutely nothing and our universe at the same time. So, the LNC holds even if there was absolutely nothing. What you are claiming is that if a tree falls and no one hears it… it really doesn’t make a sound! Strange position to take for a self-proclaimed “scientific-minded” person. We don’t need an empty void to eliminate concepts, we merely need a universe without humans. If what you say is true, then the “laws” of physics weren’t operating at the time of the Big Bang, because humans didn’t exist at that time to think about the concept of the “laws” of physics. Those “laws” don’t exist in the external world according to you, but are merely concepts in the mind. So, the “laws” of physics didn’t actually exist until humans thought about them. Interesting idea. This means that science cannot explore anything in the past. It also means that new scientific theories only apply from the moment they are conceived. Science is then not an absolute, universal description of reality, but completely contingent upon humans thinking about it. It exists while humans think about it. You’ve really trapped yourself in a corner here. But we can all see that the LNC holds even if absolutely nothing physical existed. Therefore, the LNC is completely independent of physical reality. It’s not made of physical matter, and it isn’t a process of physical matter. Perhaps you don’t accept the existence of the LNC. That would explain your posts.

    I think I’ve gotten it out of my system. I’ve tried my hardest to get you to think like a human (embracing non-physical reality) instead of being restricted to thinking like primitive animals (embracing only what can be sensed physically). If you insist on thinking like a primitive animal, then have at it.

  155. FZM
    “1) If something exists and is explainable/describable, the thing in question and its description or explanation is part of Physics and reality as described by Physics (leaving open the question of what existence is, how it is proved and what explanation/description of a thing aught to involve.)”
    * This is what makes substance dualism at least not incoherent on its face, rather, just an entirely speculative branch of physics no more credible than thousands of speculated gods and demons and pixies and ghosts.

    “2) For a thing to exist it has to be describable by something close to the kind of Physics now available. If can’t be described by this Physics (this involves in being measurable using the instruments physicists presently use to measure things) it must be non-existent. Something close to our current Physics is therefore our only reliable source of knowledge of the content of reality and it provides, as far as this is possible, a complete account of reality”
    * This presupposes our physics is close to complete. I do not make that presupposition.

  156. Ryan August 7, 2016 at 3:31 pm
    “SD, the fact that all of us have no problem with the concept of non-physical existence and you find it incoherent suggests that either we are crazy and/or lying or you are ignorant and intellectually lacking in some way and/or lying.”
    * It means people imagine all sorts of things that are poorly thought through. Most people for many thousands of years have believed in some kind of god, and still do. The brain is diverse, or multifaceted or compartmentalized or highly subdivided or possesses multiple intelligence or however one wishes to describe the highly complex nature of our thoughts.

    “She didn’t, however, suggest that Calculus is some silly notion, rather she acknowledged that it’s just not her type of subject”
    * Unlike your wife who never had the benefit of an education in that particular subject I have had an extensive education in these subjects starting with a confirmation as a Christian.

    I am sure she is an intelligent person who can see that textbooks have been written and many equations have been written and there is global agreement as to the correct application of those equations and that they form the foundation for a great many very real technological accomplishments.

    Nothing analogous to this evidence exists for god in general or your particular speculation of god.

    “Non-physical existence is understood by very intelligent people.”
    * Imagined, yes. Understood, no. I have found that a person who understands something can explain it. Further a person who can’t explain it doesn’t really understand it even though they think they do; god is like that.

    ” I’m not a scientist, but I have a friend who is an astrophysicist and a christian. He has no problem accepting the existence of an eternal, all-powerful mind. ”
    * Indeed, people who think clearly in one area have muddled thoughts in another area owing to the multiple intelligences of the brain.

    “You say the evidence for God is missing. Yet when asked what evidence is missing you give a deer-in-the-headlights response. First crickets, then some babbling in an attempt to explain how you can declare something to be missing while not knowing what it is you are declaring to be missing. Dumb”
    * First, I leave that up to her, she being omniscient and omnipotent and all, I am sure she can figure out a way to demonstrate her existence to me, yet she chooses not to.

    A personal real time demonstration of some sort would be strong evidence for a being that has that particular power, which would be a start.

    Jesus is written to have walked on water, healed the sick, fed the multitudes, and risen from the dead. Those would be pretty interesting for starters too.

    The only crickets on the subject are from your god.

    “This is actually a very clever joke SD! Contradicting yourself in the very process of defining the LNC… you are a comic genius! First it’s merely a concept of the brain (like the flying spaghetti monster), then it’s a fundamental description of the nature of reality itself.”
    * A description is a concept in the brain. How is that somehow a contradiction?

    Reality does seem to be non-contradictory in its nature, although some aspects of QM seem contradictory most people attribute that to human shortcomings as opposed to any true natural self contradiction.

    Because we observe nature to be non-contradictory we infer it will be non-contradictory in other places and times. These observations and inferences are brain processes.

    How is any of this unclear to you?

    “Is space an elementary substance acting in space and time? ”
    * That is actually a very fascinating question that has not been resolved. Einstein refers to spacetime as a unified entity. In Big Bang models space itself is said to be expanding, but expanding in what, if anything? Some sort of multiverse space? And what is space made of? There seems to be a vacuum energy after all, although not for the ad-hoc reasons Einstein used. Some say space is composed of a soup of virtual particles, and some evidence has been found for a virtual particle pressure effect.

    So, I can’t give you a definitive answer to your excellent question, but I don’t feel too bad about that fact since nobody else can either!

    “If abstractions (like time and space) do not represent reality”
    * Abstractions may or my not represent an outside reality, but in any case they are not the outside reality itself since an abstraction is a brain process.

    “perhaps dogs are smarter than humans? They don’t get caught up in the “delusions” brought about by abstraction”
    * Here you (falsely) equate “smart” with “not delusional”. A single brain can be both very smart and very delusional owing to the highly complex and distributed structure of its many parallel processes.

    “more developed religions continue to abstract until one reaches a monotheistic conception of an eternal mind.”
    * Actually monotheism is quite ancient and primitive and full of bizarre debauchery. Theism has advanced significantly since the days of Moses, particularly as it advanced to deism,

    “This is seen as a progression from primitive animal thought to sophisticated human thought. According to you it’s a regression, and the primitive animals got it right.”
    * The delusion that abstractions are real outside objects seems to be an unfortunate side effect of the advantages of abstraction in problem solving.

    Evolution works by net procreation advantage. Sometimes a new feature has both advantages and disadvantages, but when the advantages outweigh the disadvantages the feature is selected for, though individuals continue to suffer the disadvantages.

    Delusion that an abstraction has an outside reality can be a disadvantage to the generally advantageous capability of abstraction.

    “Eternal mindless stuff lacking the capacity of choice cannot solve the dilemma of the Big Bang”
    * There is no dilemma of the Big Bang but there is a dilemma of infinite regress of real time or real material subdivisions.

    “Eternal personal mind having the capacity of choice solves the dilemma. ”
    * No, because god is made of godstuff, and all stuff suffers the same dilemma of infinite regress.

    “Why does God exist? Because something must be self-existent, and in order to solve the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang (you haven’t solved it yet),”
    * You are going in circles and have answered nothing.

    Why is there a god as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

    “To kick start reality an act of choice is required,”
    * False dichotomy. All you are proposing, at base, is that something can be eternal which in turn can give rise to our material existence.

    You have solved nothing.

    I can just as easily speculate ad-hoc that fantasmagorium can be eternal and can also give rise to our material existence. Therefore the answer to this riddle must be fantasmagorium.

    Ad-hoc definition of a speculated abstraction is no solution at all, mere arm waving.

    “OK. But the LNC would still be valid even in an empty void.”
    * An empty void is something, as you rightly alluded to above.

    Absolutely nothing at all is just that, not anything. No space, no time, no matter, no energy no nuthin nohow.

    Just for the record, I think Lawrence Krauss has morphed from a fine public spokesman for reason into a purveyor of woo, which kind of breaks my heart but there it is.

    “So, the LNC holds even if there was absolutely nothing.”
    * Only as an abstraction in our brains which are something, not a a property of nothing. Only something has properties. Properties are properties of something.

    I think the notion of absolutely nothing is extremely difficult for the human brain to understand, which is one reason we are so prone to think of life after death. I have a visceral sense of how it feels to be dead and what absolutely nothing is because I have had a near death experience. It remains a void in my stream of consciousness unlike anything else in my experience so I can very well imagine the nothingness of death and by extension the meaning of absolutely nothing at all.

    “What you are claiming is that if a tree falls and no one hears it… it really doesn’t make a sound!”
    * No, I am claiming that if there is absolutely nothing at all there is no such thing as a tree or falling or sound.

    “Those “laws” don’t exist in the external world according to you, but are merely concepts in the mind. ”
    * The external world proceeds the way it proceeds irrespective of our descriptions of it. I think it is rather presumptuous of us to call our present descriptions “laws”.

    ” If you insist on thinking like a primitive animal, then have at it.”
    * The delusion that our abstractions are real outside entities it very primitive. That is the essence of superstition. Clearly, Yahweh is the superstition of a small primitive desert tribe.

    Many thousands of such primitive delusions have been believed by peoples around the world for thousands of years. The enlightenment saw an advance to deism. In the modern age we have advanced to atheism.

    Each advance is an indication that human being have gained the ability to use their capacity for abstraction for advanced problem solving of real scientific and technological accomplishments, while shedding the delusion that abstractions of ghosts and spirits and ethereal entities are somehow real external objects.

  157. TFBW says:

    For future reference, I offer the term “epistemic solipsism”, the fundamental tenet of which is, “never doubt your own judgement, no matter how many people tell you that you are wrong.”

  158. Kevin says:

    It appears as if stardusty can never be wrong in her mind, owing perhaps to the complex structure and processes of said brain, but if she can demonstrate any sort of evidence she has admitted that someone else was right and she was wrong, I would be willing to admit that I was wrong about her. But that would be on stardusty to prove about herself.

  159. TFBW says:

    I see what you did there.

  160. Ryan says:

    FZM: now I have to learn Russian and I’m finding it slower going (especially learning to speak) I think because of the well developed case system and the big differences in sentence structure it brings with it.

    Yes, the case system is what makes Latin grammar difficult. Russian is one of the few Indo-European languages that still has an extensive, functional case system. English has vestiges of it in the pronouns (I, me, my; he, him. his), but otherwise strict word order and heavy use of prepositions has replaced the case system of Old English. Latin eventually lost its case system as it morphed into the modern forms of Latin, the Romance languages: Italian, Spanish, French (which was heavily disfigured by the influence of the Celtic/Germanic languages of the original populace that the Romans conquered), etc. I’m not very familiar with Russian but I would assume that there is a “default” word order that is nevertheless very flexible and the words can be rearranged for emphasis, style, wordplay, etc.

    The Romance languages preserve much of the complexity of the Latin verbal system (not so much French). The synthetic passive, however, has been lost. Latin verbs express in a single word not only person, number, tense and mood, but also voice (active/passive). For example: “he loves” amat change tense to future: “he will love” amabit change number to plural: “they will love” amabunt change voice to passive: “they will be loved” amabuntur. The word amabuntur can be broken into its morphemes thus: ama “love” bu “future” nt “they” ur “passive”. So ama-bu-nt-ur carries in one word what English must use four words to convey: “they will be loved”. This combined with the case system makes Latin words “dense”, i.e. they carry a lot of information embedded in them. One more example with a noun and a verb together: “He will be killed by the sword” gladio necabitur. Here, gladius “sword” changes to gladio which gives the meaning of instrumentality to the word: “by means of the sword”. And necabitur is the future, passive, third person form of necare “to kill”. So we have gladio “by-the-sword” necabitur “he-will-be-killed”.

  161. TFBW August 7, 2016 at 7:44 pm
    “For future reference, I offer the term “epistemic solipsism”, the fundamental tenet of which is, “never doubt your own judgement, no matter how many people tell you that you are wrong.””
    * People telling me I am right or I am wrong does not impress me or motivate me one way or the other.

    I can go elsewhere and have people tell me I am right. Shall we take a poll? You may if you wish, but the results are of no matter to me.

    You have told me I am wrong, but you have not demonstrated I am wrong. Sound rational argumentation is what I value, and thus far no one on this blog has presented sound rational argumentation in opposition to my views. Tick tock.

  162. Kevin says:

    “Sound rational argumentation is what I value, and thus far no one on this blog has presented sound rational argumentation in opposition to my views. ”

    Explain the difference – without resorting to your subjective opinion – between our failure to impress you with our arguments, and your failure to impress us with yours.

  163. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Sound rational argumentation is what I value, and thus far no one on this blog has presented sound rational argumentation in opposition to my views.

    And you are the arbiter of what counts as sound rational argumentation. Epistemic solipsism. Every possible argument that you disagree with can be dismissed as “not sound rational argumentation,” and there is absolutely no way for anyone to dispute that — no higher court to which one might appeal. Stardusty is Lord Chief Justice of Rational Argumentation in the court of Stardusty. No wonder you win all your arguments.

  164. Ryan says:

    TFBW: For future reference, I offer the term “epistemic solipsism”

    I think this very accurately represents its worldview.

  165. FZM says:

    Arguing with Humpty Dumpty:

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

  166. Dhay says:

    Zoltan Istvan — remember him? — would like moral values to be determined by computer, perhaps by one a thousand times more intelligent than any of us, one which would probably be designed by a less powerful computer.

    Er, haven’t we read all this before? And once the lesser computer — let’s title it “Shallow Thought” — has designed its wise successor — let’s title it “Deep Thought” — then let it run for a few minutes (or half a dozen billion years, whatever it takes), is there any guarantee that it will reach answers better than that famous “42”? Or that it will determine better questions?

    Oddly, Istvan makes no mention, none that I’ve seen, of applying science to the moral landscape. He must think Sam Harris’ ideas and values are rubbish, I guess.

  167. Kevin August 9, 2016 at 12:25 am
    “Explain the difference – without resorting to your subjective opinion – between our failure to impress you with our arguments, and your failure to impress us with yours.”
    * Being impressed is irrelevant. Ryan can try to impress us with his multilingual skills. He is still wrong on the supposed immaterial nature of a “message”.

    It has been asserted that I am contradicting myself, yet no specific example that accurately quotes my words shows a contradiction between them, only a lack of understanding of the specifics of my words that leads the readers to perceive falsely that there is a contradiction on my part.

    I am not interested in impressing you nor will your personal attributes impress me. Sound rational argumentation on the merits is what I value.

  168. SteveK says:

    only a lack of understanding of the specifics of my words

    The consensus view of the textual facts disagrees with you – and they are in the best position to understand textual facts. All hail the consensus view of meaning!

    SP said: The plain text meaning of a textual fact is the meaning of the words taken at face value according to the consensus view for the meaning of the words factually written.

  169. G. Rodrigues says:

    @starmusty psycho:

    “Sound rational argumentation on the merits is what I value.”

    So does everyone else here and that is why virtually everybody has declared that dialogue with you is a waste of time (or words to that effect).

  170. Kevin says:

    “I am not interested in impressing you nor will your personal attributes impress me. Sound rational argumentation on the merits is what I value.”

    Replace “impress” with “convince”. Thus:

    Explain the difference – without resorting to your subjective opinion – between our failure to convince you with our arguments, and your failure to convince us with yours.

  171. Ryan says:

    Dhay: Oddly, Istvan makes no mention, none that I’ve seen, of applying science to the moral landscape. He must think Sam Harris’ ideas and values are rubbish, I guess.

    There is one simple question that exposes the problems with giving moral decisions over to a hypothetical AI or some “scientific” algorithm devised by Harris: What if the AI/algorithm concludes that the elimination of a large group of people is “moral” based upon its purely objective calculations? No doubt Harris or Zoltan the Magnificent will say that such a conclusion will be impossible. But that’s exactly the point: If we know ahead of time what the moral conclusions of the machine/algorithm will be, that means we have predetermined the outcomes when creating the machine/algorithm. What then is the point? If, on the other hand, the machine/algorithm really is smarter and more objective than all of us it would conceivably make moral conclusions that are contrary to ours. In that case do we follow a machine/algorithm that tells us to do something we all instinctively believe is morally wrong? Any sane person would say “Screw the damned machine/algorithm, that is morally wrong.” And so, if we simply override the machine/algorithm every time it comes to a different moral conclusion than our own…. what the heck is the point? Herein lies the fundamental problem with all this nonsense, and it applies to Harris’ brand of nonsense just as much as it does to Zoltan the Magnificent’s. These idiots really need to read some good sci-fi and think deeply about the themes explored. Good sci-fi leads to deep philosophical and ethical questions, and is much more than flying cars, AI, and time travel. A person who imagines a future super intelligence that will dictate morality to us and usher in some sort of heaven-on-earth utopia really hasn’t read or understood the sci-fi genre.

  172. Ryan says:

    SD, just a couple final questions for you:

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘all that exists must be made of “stuff” ‘?

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘there is no evidence for God’?

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘the Big Bang doesn’t create a philosophical dilemma’?

    Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?

    Is it possible that you have deep, repressed psychological motivations (so deep that you honestly don’t see them) that prevent you from being rational and objective when discussing the topic of God?

    Is it possible that there is an absolute morality and you simply lack the ability to recognize it?

    Is it possible that every position you have taken in your posts is wrong?

    And I want to point out a huge victory: A personal real time demonstration of some sort would be strong evidence for a being that has that particular power, which would be a start.

    You presented this as evidence for God. It has been clear throughout the discussion that ‘God’ refers to an infinite, eternal mind. If you didn’t understand that, you have serious reading comprehension problems. So, you give an example that would be strong evidence for the existence of an infinite, eternal mind. You therefore acknowledge the possibility of an infinite, eternal mind. You cannot say that an infinite, eternal mind is a nonsensical absurdity and at the same time discuss what evidence for such an entity would be. No one can say what evidence for a square circle would be, because it is an example of a nonsensical absurdity. By giving an example of evidence for God you have declared that God (an infinite, eternal mind) is a real possibility and not a nonsensical idea. Now, seeing this, and being enslaved to a particular worldview, you may attempt a retreat along the lines of “I didn’t mean ‘God’ in the sense of an infinite, eternal mind”. That would imply that you are stupid and lack basic reading comprehension skills, because it has been made very clear that ‘God’ refers to an infinite, eternal mind. So, perhaps you are seriously unqualified to engage in these types of discussions because you have very, very bad reading comprehension and lack the ability to follow an argument. Or, perhaps you do accept that an infinite, eternal mind is a real possibility. Go ahead, take your pick.

  173. TFBW August 9, 2016 at 1:41 am
    “And you are the arbiter of what counts as sound rational argumentation. Epistemic solipsism. Every possible argument that you disagree with can be dismissed as “not sound rational argumentation,” and there is absolutely no way for anyone to dispute that — no higher court to which one might appeal. Stardusty is Lord Chief Justice of Rational Argumentation in the court of Stardusty. No wonder you win all your arguments.”
    * Vacuous dissembling. If you can put together an actual argument for or against something, fine, I am waiting with bated breath.

  174. SteveK August 9, 2016 at 11:36 am
    “The consensus view of the textual facts disagrees with you”
    * I detect a pattern emerging in the posts of my detractors here, an utter lack of specificity.

    “– and they are in the best position to understand textual facts. All hail the consensus view of meaning!”
    * Ok, whatever. Do you have a specific point to make?

    “SP said: The plain text meaning of a textual fact is the meaning of the words taken at face value according to the consensus view for the meaning of the words factually written.”
    * Ok, fine, if you have a better definition for “plain text meaning” I am open.

    So, I tried a quick search but most hits have to do with encryption and encoding techniques. Here is something though
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Plain-Meaning+Rule

  175. G. Rodrigues August 9, 2016 at 12:13 pm
    “@starmusty psycho:”

    That is a true original!!! I have been called dusted psycho, starboy, and starfuck, but starmusty is a first!!!

  176. Kevin August 9, 2016 at 12:54 pm
    “Explain the difference – without resorting to your subjective opinion – between our failure to convince you with our arguments, and your failure to convince us with yours.”
    * How can I avoid my subjective opinions? My only personal certainties are based on my self awareness.

    If you and I agree to provisionally proceed on the basis of the postulates of logic then then I can show you the rationality of my positions.

    Do you have a specific point to make or dispute? A specific argument to make or refute?

  177. Ryan
    “What if the AI/algorithm concludes that the elimination of a large group of people is “moral” based upon its purely objective calculations?”
    * Indeed a problem if one substitutes “God” for “AI”.

    “God” decided that elimination of large groups of people was moral.” In my view that morality is a putrid debauchery.

    ” If we know ahead of time what the moral conclusions of the machine/algorithm will be, that means we have predetermined the outcomes when creating the machine/algorithm. What then is the point?”
    * Indeed, on perfect foreknowledge there is no point, no free will, no reason to simply be the groveling robots of God.

    “If, on the other hand, the machine/algorithm really is smarter and more objective than all of us it would conceivably make moral conclusions that are contrary to ours. In that case do we follow a machine/algorithm that tells us to do something we all instinctively believe is morally wrong? Any sane person would say “Screw the damned machine/algorithm, that is morally wrong.”
    * Yes!!! Screw the damned God, that is morally wrong!

    “And so, if we simply override the machine/algorithm every time it comes to a different moral conclusion than our own…. what the heck is the point?”
    * How true! What the heck is the point of the scripture algorithm if theists just override the scripture algorithm every time they reach a different moral conclusion?

    ” A person who imagines a future super intelligence that will dictate morality to us and usher in some sort of heaven-on-earth utopia really hasn’t read or understood the sci-fi genre.”
    * Bravo Ryan! The fantasy of a super intelligence that dictates morality to usher in a heaven on earth utopia is indeed a most dangerous fantasy!!!

  178. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Vacuous dissembling. If you can put together an actual argument for or against something, fine, I am waiting with bated breath.

    Sorry, I have no idea what counts as an “actual argument” in Stardusty land, given the examples of such you’ve presented here. They bear no resemblance to the valid forms of argument I’m familiar with.

  179. Kevin says:

    “If you and I agree to provisionally proceed on the basis of the postulates of logic then then I can show you the rationality of my positions.”

    Just because something is logically sound does not make it true, if a premise is flawed. This is why you are failing to convince me of any of your positions, because many of your assertions are flawed.

    Everything ranging from the pettiness of using “she” when referring specifically to the Christian god (incorrect whether God is real or fictional) to your syllogism about matter and energy existing forever (just because new matter or energy cannot enter the system, or because they cannot leave the system, does not mean the system itself always existed, and no reason to assume it did, which is why your “inescapable” conclusion is so easily dismissed…and this doesn’t even get into the subject of contingency), your arguments are nowhere near as good as you say they are. And quite frankly many of the arguments you dismiss are absolutely correct.

    Of course you will dismiss everything I said, quite predictably, which is fine. I too dismiss unsound or uncompelling arguments, which is why after so many years of debating and reading atheists, I still find atheism untenable.

  180. Dhay says:

    Ryan > What if the AI/algorithm concludes that the elimination of a large group of people is “moral” based upon its purely objective calculations?

    Or wants to explore morality scientifically by hypothesis testing? Here’s a cartoon strip which explores the latter:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/human-testing

  181. Doug says:

    Apparently, the uber-AI VIKI in this film concludes (on the basis of entirely objective calculations, no doubt) that in order to save humanity, it is necessary to terminate a number of humans, and seriously curtail the freedoms of many others. Good thing Will Smith was around to save us.

  182. Ryan says:

    Doug: Good thing Will Smith was around to save us.

    Along with helping fight off an alien invasion and finding a cure for a virus that turns people into vampires.

  183. Ryan says:

    SD: How can I avoid my subjective opinions?

    Logic. That is in fact the entire point of the study of logic. You’re about 2,500 years behind in this discussion. Basically, here you are admitting that nothing you say rises above merely your personal opinion: Pepsi vs Coke. I also point out that you’ve avoided answering the simple yes/no questions I asked above.

  184. Kevin August 10, 2016 at 9:16 am
    “Just because something is logically sound does not make it true, if a premise is flawed. This is why you are failing to convince me of any of your positions, because many of your assertions are flawed.”
    * You probably mean “valid” as opposed to “sound”. Typically, and argument is said to be valid if constructed correctly such that if the premises are true then the conclusion follows. A sound argument is said to be a valid one wherein the premises are indeed true and therefore the conclusion does indeed follow.

    “just because new matter or energy cannot enter the system, or because they cannot leave the system, does not mean the system itself always existed, and no reason to assume it did,”
    * Indeed, but we have no evidence for that. I never claimed to prove matter/energy must necessarily be eternal. I claimed our evidence leads to the inescapable evidence based conclusion that matter/energy is eternal.

    If you wish to speculate that the whole system can somehow poof into being, go ahead, I cannot absolutely disprove that speculation, but there is no positive scientific evidence for it.

  185. Dhay August 10, 2016 at 10:50 am
    “Or wants to explore morality scientifically by hypothesis testing? Here’s a cartoon strip which explores the latter:”
    * Indeed, substitute “Yahweh” for “Quantum Ultra Brain” and we get much the same justifications for divine global genocide, human suffering, and eternal torture.

  186. Ryan August 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm
    SD: How can I avoid my subjective opinions?

    “Logic. That is in fact the entire point of the study of logic. You’re about 2,500 years behind in this discussion. Basically, here you are admitting that nothing you say rises above merely your personal opinion: Pepsi vs Coke. I also point out that you’ve avoided answering the simple yes/no questions I asked above.”
    * Very well then, please submit your proofs for the fundamental postulates of logic.

  187. FZM says:

    Very well then, please submit your proofs for the fundamental postulates of logic.

    Very well then, please submit your proofs that the fundamental postulates of logic are postulates and not something else.

  188. FZM says:

    I wrote that last post, then I was thinking that the content of any reply might be something like:

    1) No one has been able to yet prove to Stardusty’s satisfaction that the fundamentals of logic are something other than postulates, therefore they must be postulates.

    2) The idea that the fundamental postulates of logic could be something other than postulates is incoherent; for Stardusty the meaning of statements like ‘the laws of logic are not fundamental postulates’ or ‘we can’t know whether the laws of logic are fundamental postulates’ must be ‘the laws of logic are illogical or without logic’.

    …only a lack of understanding of the specifics of my words…

    I was also thinking that a lack of understanding of what Stardusty means, specifically, by ‘postulate’ might be an issue.

    Defining ‘postulate’ as ‘something that is not absolutely proved’ or ‘something that is not a certainty/proved with certainty’ is not helpful, because there is also a lack of understanding of what Stardusty means when he says that something is ‘absolutely proved’ or a ‘certainty’. And there is a lack of understanding of how Stardusty differentiates postulates from things that are proved absolutely or certainties… except, perhaps the idea that he derives such knowledge from his own self awareness and because everyone is much the same as he is everyone else must also have such knowledge as derivative from their self awareness.

  189. Kevin says:

    “You probably mean “valid” as opposed to “sound”. Typically, and argument is said to be valid if constructed correctly such that if the premises are true then the conclusion follows. A sound argument is said to be a valid one wherein the premises are indeed true and therefore the conclusion does indeed follow.”

    There is no language god that requires me to use certain words in certain instances. Otherwise please point out this language god to me.

    “inescapable”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  190. FZM August 11, 2016 at 5:10 am
    SP Very well then, please submit your proofs for the fundamental postulates of logic.
    “Very well then, please submit your proofs that the fundamental postulates of logic are postulates and not something else.”
    * The absence of human proof of the fundamental principles of logic demonstrates that from a human perspective logic is postulated, not proved.

    Humanity is finite. There are no published proofs for the fundamental principles of logic. If logic is somehow provable no human being has written down that proof and put that writing into general circulation.

    Thus, all those who use logic do so as, at base, postulates.

    However, you can prove me wrong. Mine is a falsifiable claim. Simply post your proofs for the fundamental principles of logic.

    Still, logic seems very reasonable to me and I am quite willing to proceed on that basis and in doing so nobody here has been able to logically refute any of my positions.

  191. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    You’ve written a lot – most of it reactions to what other people write… not exactly particularly resembling “positions”. Perhaps you can help us out by reiterating some position or other?

  192. G. Rodrigues says:

    @storydust psychopath:

    “However, you can prove me wrong. Mine is a falsifiable claim. Simply post your proofs for the fundamental principles of logic.”

    Of course there can be no such proof, because any such proof would necessarily rely on the logical principles it seeks to demonstrate and therefore be circular (*). What can be done, what is done, is to offer justifications of the principles, to argue dialectically in ways that are not strictly demonstrative (e.g. retorsion arguments).

    On the other hand, if you are demanding proof of the fundamental principles of logic, it follows that *you* cannot take for granted that circularity is a formal logical fallacy. And if it is not a fallacy, then there is indeed a proof of any fundamental principle of logic you care to name.

    Neither is your position falsifiable because falsifiability in the sense that say, Popper used (as opposed to whatever idiocy you think you have read in a hasty google search), can only apply to contingent matters that can be decided by experimentation. Furthermore, falsifiability *presupposes* the fundamental principles of logic as anyone that *actually* knows what it is can readily recognize.

    And if you *really* do think that the logical principles can possibly be false, then you were mendaciously lying when you thumped your chest with high-sounding self-righteousness that “Sound rational argumentation on the merits is what I value.” Sound rational argumentation presupposes not only the validity of the logical laws but their fairly strong logically necessary status. There can be no rational argumentation, there can be no knowledge, there can be no modern empirical science, without strong logical necessities.

    You would know all this if you were not an ignorant moron in thrall of a shallow, pernicious, idiotic ideology. Because let us face the facts honestly; you *like* to pretend that you are actually interested in arguments, evidence and such, but this is nothing more than a pose, a sort of virtue signalling, since you are *demonstrably* incapable of formulating a correct argument, let alone recognize a valid and sound one. In fact your position *entails* that there can be no valid and sound arguments. You could retort that entailment is a logical relation, which is precisely what you deny (or the denial of which is implied by your other committals) — which is a fair point I suppose, but just goes to show that you are not to be reasoned with, because you are no better, speaking in rational terms, than a turnip or a dead sheep. Instead you clutter the combox with your vacuous, idiotic claptrap, which for some reason I know not some people here think worthy of response.

    And yes, I am aware that I am responding and thus fall prey to my own injunction. In my defense, I have some time to kill and what better use of my time than wasting it in a little internet rant? But I have no wish to engage this moron any further.

  193. Ryan says:

    G. Rodrigues: On the other hand, if you are demanding proof of the fundamental principles of logic, it follows that *you* cannot take for granted that circularity is a formal logical fallacy. And if it is not a fallacy, then there is indeed a proof of any fundamental principle of logic you care to name.

    I have a feeling that this will go completely over its head.

    SD: If you and I agree to provisionally accept the foundation postulates of logic then I can prove things to you contingent upon those postulates.

    You keep repeating this but you never demonstrate it. Go ahead, just do it and quit talking about it: list the specific ‘postulates’ that you want us to accept and then work entirely within the constraints of those postulates to prove things. I would like to see you rigorously prove these conclusions of yours: (1) all that exists must be made of ‘stuff’ (2) ‘stuff’ must be eternal (3)there is no evidence for God. If these can be proven within the closed system of the fundamental postulates of logic, then demonstrate it! Otherwise your above statement is mere puffery, to use a legal term.

  194. Ryan says:

    SD, I ask these simple yes/no questions a third time now:

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘all that exists must be made of “stuff” ‘?

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘there is no evidence for God’?

    Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘the Big Bang doesn’t create a philosophical dilemma’?

    Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?

    Is it possible that you have deep, repressed psychological motivations (so deep that you honestly don’t see them) that prevent you from being rational and objective when discussing the topic of God?

    Is it possible that there is an absolute morality and you simply lack the ability to recognize it?

    Is it possible that every position you have taken in your posts is wrong?

    And again, the fact that you gave an example of something that would be “strong evidence” for the existence of an infinite, eternal mind means that you recognize the possibility of an infinite, eternal mind, contradicting your position above.

  195. Kevin August 11, 2016 at 6:28 am
    “SP You probably mean “valid” as opposed to “sound”. Typically,”

    “There is no language god that requires me to use certain words in certain instances. Otherwise please point out this language god to me.”
    * Indeed, hence my use of the words “probably” and “typically”. In typical usage “valid” and “sound” probably have the meanings I describe. If you have other meanings for those words, fine, but that removes our common basis for communication. If you wish to remove that common basis, if you thus choose to dissent from the consensus, fine, that is up to you, but you have rendered further communication far more difficult thereby.

    “inescapable” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
    * Again, indeed, that would account for your error.

  196. Doug August 11, 2016 at 10:47 am
    @Dusty,
    “You’ve written a lot – most of it reactions to what other people write… not exactly particularly resembling “positions”. Perhaps you can help us out by reiterating some position or other?”
    * I have been accused by the moderator of a few things, and honestly I do not recall the precise words he used, it’s back there someplace on some thread, if somebody wants to dig it up, fine.

    My point is that the moderator has accused me in the past of kind of being a troll or just picking a fight or attempting to dominate the thread or being obsessed or something like that, I honestly do not recall the precise words, so go ahead and tell me what they are if it matters that much to you, it is something similar to all that.

    To his credit the moderator recognized that if I am responding repeatedly to the individual assertions of others who specifically address me then that is a different matter compared to some jerk who has a bunch of scripted statements that he just copies and pastes all over the place loading up discussion forums with pasted propaganda.

    In fact I prefer a conversation. I find no satisfaction in merely shouting into the void. From time to time I have made the first comment on a thread, or I make some other statements somewhat unprovoked, but it is true that I typically post in response as a part of a conversation.

    If I posted a dissertation of my whole worldview and philosophy I suspect it would be met with a mix of glazed eyes and retching!!!

    But ok, a few things that have come up here is that …

    I am strongly personally convinced there is no god, of any sort, in any sense of the word I know of.

    All my absolute truths are derived from my self awareness..

    I am scientifically minded. Science is inherently provisional.

    All the evidence we have shows that matter/energy is conserved and that it exists and is therefore eternal. Yet, the notion of an infinite regress of a time sequence of events is irrational, and the notion of something poofing into existence from absolutely nothing at all is also irrational. So there is a fundamental riddle as to the origins of existence itself that no human being has solved, published, and communicated generally.

    Most especially, the speculation of god, any god, in any form, solves nothing of this age old riddle and only adds further unknown variables to the problem, thus only making the problem worse.

    Have your eyes glazed over yet? ::-)

  197. FZM says:

    Stardusty,

    All the evidence we have shows that matter/energy is conserved and that it exists and is therefore eternal.

    I found this idea interesting but haven’t been able to find any other source or references for a more developed argument along these lines elsewhere so far. Has anyone else used this argument about the scientific evidence making the eternity of matter/energy an inescapable conclusion or is it something original to you?

    If it was an inescapable conclusion given the scientific (and other?) evidence that matter/energy cannot be destroyed or dissipated and cannot be created then there seems no mystery or additional questions to be answered about where it came from or why it exists.

    Yet, the notion of an infinite regress of a time sequence of events is irrational, and the notion of something poofing into existence from absolutely nothing at all is also irrational.

    I can see that this would be an issue if it was an inescapable conclusion of the scientific evidence that some kind of sequence of events or changes has also been going on for eternity. Is there some more detailed argument for this?

  198. FZM says:

    Ryan,

    You keep repeating this but you never demonstrate it. Go ahead, just do it and quit talking about it: list the specific ‘postulates’ that you want us to accept and then work entirely within the constraints of those postulates to prove things.

    It seems like the ‘postulates’ idea and all the stuff about ‘absolute proof’ creates a kind of epistemic fog and ambiguity around the assertions and claims SD makes which, for rhetorical reasons he might be disinclined to give up on.

    I think you can hide all sorts of premises and ideas in phrases like ‘…if we postulate the basic reliability of our senses…’ or ‘…if we postulate the fundamental laws of logic’.

    In respect of your challenge to Stardusty:

    I would like to see you rigorously prove these conclusions of yours: (1) all that exists must be made of ‘stuff’ (2) ‘stuff’ must be eternal (3)there is no evidence for God.

    I’d be most interested in responses that don’t involve defining ‘stuff’ or the ‘material/physical’ in trivial ways. If ‘stuff’ is just given the meaning ‘whatever things that exist are made of’ and ‘material’ or ‘physical’ are both used as synonyms for ‘existing/what exists’ it is easy to demonstrate that:

    1) All that exists must be made of stuff (stuff meaning here ‘whatever things that exist are made of’).

    2) Anything that exists must be material or physical (material or physical meaning here ‘existing’).

    3) The idea that anything immaterial or non-physical (meaning here non-existing) can exist is illogical or impossible.

    …because these statements are all just tautologies.

  199. Kevin says:

    “If you wish to remove that common basis, if you thus choose to dissent from the consensus, fine, that is up to you, but you have rendered further communication far more difficult thereby.”

    You seem to have no problem doing this yourself, so why not?

    “Again, indeed, that would account for your error.”

    Disagreeing with you and your opinion is now an error?

  200. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    Thanks for the brief re-iteration. I do like the fact that your:

    All my absolute truths are derived from my self awareness.

    was juxtaposed with:

    I am scientifically minded.

    Making both of these claims in a single breath demonstrates a fundamental failure to be scientifically minded. It is simply not the case that “science” is derived from your self-awareness. Quite impressive work though: you managed to contradict yourself in record time!

  201. G. Rodrigues sAugust 11, 2016 at 12:21 pm
    @storydust psychopath:
    * Good one!!!

    “SP However, you can prove me wrong. Mine is a falsifiable claim. Simply post your proofs for the fundamental principles of logic.”

    “Of course there can be no such proof,”
    * Indeed, TYVM

    ” What can be done, what is done, is to offer justifications of the principles,”
    * Yes, there are a great many such justifications that are well known.

    “On the other hand, if you are demanding proof of the fundamental principles of logic, ”
    * I don’t demand proof. I am content to accept them as postulates owing to the massive justifications for them and their apparent utility.

    “Neither is your position falsifiable”
    * My claim is that the principles of logic have not been proved and published by any human being. That claim is falsifiable. Simply point out such a written proof.

    “Furthermore, falsifiability *presupposes* the fundamental principles of logic as anyone that *actually* knows what it is can readily recognize.”
    * Indeed, so anybody who attempts to falsify my claim should address that issue in their written proof. Good luck with that folks, I will not be holding my breath.

    “And if you *really* do think that the logical principles can possibly be false, then you were mendaciously lying when you thumped your chest with high-sounding self-righteousness that “Sound rational argumentation on the merits is what I value.” ”
    * I cannot imagine how the principles of logic can be false, but truth does not hang on my imagination. Nor is the fact that I value a thing make it necessarily true.

    “There can be no rational argumentation, there can be no knowledge, there can be no modern empirical science, without strong logical necessities.”
    * Hence the great utility of accepting the principles of logic as postulates without proof.

    “You would know all this if you were not an ignorant moron in thrall of a shallow, pernicious, idiotic ideology.”
    * My, my, my. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    “you are *demonstrably* incapable of formulating a correct argument,”
    * You have failed to provide any such demonstration.

    “In fact your position *entails* that there can be no valid and sound arguments”
    * Once one accepts the principles of logic and the basic reliability of the human senses one can make valid and sound arguments within that closed logical space.

    “You could retort that entailment is a logical relation, which is precisely what you deny (or the denial of which is implied by your other committals) ”
    * I never denied logic is true. You are making that up out of whole cloth.

    “you clutter the combox with your vacuous, idiotic claptrap, which for some reason I know not some people here think worthy of response.”
    * Ironic that your sentence contains the very things it condemns.

    “I have no wish to engage this moron any further.”
    * Typical ad hominem hit and run. Ho hum.

  202. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Stardusty Psyche:

    “Typical ad hominem hit and run.”

    Ad hominem is a fallacy of relevance which I did not commit. What I did was insult you in a rather crude and in-your-face-way — for which my apologies.

  203. RyanAugust 11, 2016 at 3:34 pm
    ” I would like to see you rigorously prove these conclusions of yours: ”

    (1) all that exists must be made of ‘stuff’
    -Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    -Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    (2) ‘stuff’ must be eternal
    I never said that as an absolutely provable assertion. Based on our evidence then stuff must be eternal. Our evidence could be incomplete
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy cannot be created
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy exists
    -If our experimental evidence is complete then matter/energy has always existed
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy cannot be destroyed
    -If our experimental evidence is complete then matter/energy will always exist
    -Therefore, contingent upon evidence, matter/energy must be eternal

    (3)there is no evidence for God.
    Note, I do not claim to be able to disprove god, and that is not my burden, since the speculation of god is your positive assertion it is your burden.
    I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified that claim so I continue to make it.

    “If these can be proven within the closed system of the fundamental postulates of logic,”
    * Adjusting for a few of your misplaced words, done.

  204. Ryan August 11, 2016 at 3:45 pm
    “SD, I ask these simple yes/no questions a third time now:”
    * Oh, please, I have answered your questions at such great length I have been accused of being being obsessed, cluttering up this channel, and other such terms. You don’t get to put words in my mouth. When you use a strawman I answer in my own words. If you ask “do you still beat your wife?” I will refuse to answer yes or no.

    “Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘all that exists must be made of “stuff” ‘?”
    * That is a certainty based on my self awareness. I am absolutely certain I exist in some form. I cannot be absolutely nothing at all. Since I define stuff as that which something is made of even if I am god dreaming I must be made of godstuff.

    “Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘there is no evidence for God’?”
    * Yes, since that is a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified it that I have ever encountered so I continue to make that claim.

    “Is it possible that you are wrong when you say that ‘the Big Bang doesn’t create a philosophical dilemma’?”
    * Since a philosophical dilemma exists within a closed system of logic then there is no such possibility within that closed system, if by “the Big Bang” you mean “our Big Bang”.

    The philosophical dilemma is infinite regress of real time or creation ex nihilo, both of which are irrational, and both of which are not solved by the speculation of god, and neither of which are made better or worse by our Big Bang.

    “Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.

    “Is it possible that you have deep, repressed psychological motivations (so deep that you honestly don’t see them) that prevent you from being rational and objective when discussing the topic of God?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.

    Perhaps I am a brain in a vat having a nightmare, or a paranoid schizophrenic strapped to a gurney, or a patient in a deep coma being fed through a tube. The speculations could go on and on but they become tiresome quickly.

    “Is it possible that there is an absolute morality and you simply lack the ability to recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.

    Perhaps I am god dreaming and I am the perfect arbiter of morality. Barring such tiresome speculations then no.

    “Is it possible that every position you have taken in your posts is wrong?”
    * No, since some of my positions are absolute truths based upon my self awareness at least those posted positions are absolutely true.

    “And again, the fact that you gave an example of something that would be “strong evidence” for the existence of an infinite, eternal mind means that you recognize the possibility of an infinite, eternal mind, contradicting your position above.”
    * Sure, as I said, I might be god and you might be a figment of my divine imagination.

  205. Michael says:

    Dusty:

    I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified that claim so I continue to make it.

    Last time we talked, the evidence clearly indicated you were a closed-minded Gnu. So of course a closed-minded Gnu is going to continue to spout Gnu talking points.

    Also, last time we talked, we established what you meant by “evidence.” For you, evidence = a Gap. Thus, your atheism amounts to this: No Gap, thus no God. God of the Gaps atheism.

    Dusty confuses his opinions with truth. Because he does not personally see any evidence for God, there is no evidence for God.

    Dusty, it doesn’t look like you have convinced anyone with your blizzard of replies. Have you considered using the new atheist “how to argue” app?

  206. Ryan says:

    SD: Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    -Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    FZM, you called it! If ‘stuff’ is just given the meaning ‘whatever things that exist are made of’…it is easy to demonstrate that:
    1) All that exists must be made of stuff (stuff meaning here ‘whatever things that exist are made of’).
    ,
    SD’s brand of circular logic and tautologies is quite predictable. ‘Stuff’ means that which exists, ergo all that exists is stuff. Breathtaking. SD is not qualified to have logical discussion. I have actually never seen someone put forth such an obviously circular, question-begging argument outside of joking around. SD is not joking with this argument. In his incredibly poor understanding of logic, this is an argument. This is a textbook example of begging the question.

    SD: “Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.

    Non sequitur. The basic reliability of the human senses is not the same as an absolute reliability of the human senses. The noun phrase basic reliability assumes the possibility of the human senses making false conclusions. Otherwise, it would be impossible for humans to have delusions, hear voices, etc. Therefore, according to the mere basic reliability of the human senses (not absolute reliability), it is entirely possible that there is plenty of evidence in front of your face that you can’t recognize. You acknowledge that it is possible that you are a brain in a vat, so it is of course possible that there is evidence for God in front of your face that you can’t recognize.

    “And again, the fact that you gave an example of something that would be “strong evidence” for the existence of an infinite, eternal mind means that you recognize the possibility of an infinite, eternal mind, contradicting your position above.”
    * Sure, as I said, I might be god and you might be a figment of my divine imagination.

    Finally. You acknowledge that an infinite, eternal mind is a logical possibility. Remember this the next time you are tempted to use that as an argument against theists.

    SD, you’ve failed to convince me that thinking like an insect or some other primitive animal (materialism) is superior to thinking like a human (abstraction, acknowledging existence beyond what we can sense physically). You have shown above (top of this post) that you are completely unqualified for logical discussion by putting forth a laughably circular argument. It’s a complete waste of time for me to have a discussion with someone as unqualified for logical discussion as you are. What you really need to do is spend more time studying logic and less time trying to use it. Rise above thinking like a primitive animal, it’s your calling as a human.

  207. Kevin says:

    “Dusty, it doesn’t look like you have convinced anyone with your blizzard of replies.”

    Using the same parameters, since no atheist has ever convinced me that there is insufficent evidence and justification to believe in God, then there is sufficient evidence and justification to believe in God.

  208. FZM August 12, 2016 at 6:09 am
    Stardusty,All the evidence we have shows that matter/energy is conserved and that it exists and is therefore eternal.

    “I found this idea interesting but haven’t been able to find any other source or references for a more developed argument along these lines elsewhere so far. Has anyone else used this argument about the scientific evidence making the eternity of matter/energy an inescapable conclusion or is it something original to you?”
    * I am somewhat surprised that this argument does not come up more often as it is so glaringly obvious and simple. I actually have developed my own personal language for communicating this idea, but I would not dare say it is my original idea.

    “SP Yet, the notion of an infinite regress of a time sequence of events is irrational, and the notion of something poofing into existence from absolutely nothing at all is also irrational.”

    “I can see that this would be an issue if it was an inescapable conclusion of the scientific evidence that some kind of sequence of events or changes has also been going on for eternity. Is there some more detailed argument for this?”
    * An inescapable conclusion of the evidence is not absolutely inescapable, it is merely the conclusion that the available evidence dictates.

    We must consider that our evidence is incomplete. Lots of scientists have tried to use mathematical models to show that something can indeed come out of nothing in order to solve the problem of an infinite regress of real time events. One notion is that all of existence is some sort of virtual particle that just popped into being. Laurence Krauss had gone around peddling his book with the idiotic title “A universe from nothing” as though this somehow solves the fundamental problem, which of course it does not, and his whole thesis is nothing more than equivocation and arm waving abuse of language.

    There are those who claim that an infinite series can have no first term, and that this solves the problem of infinite regress. This notion fails because an infinite series is not a time sequence of events, it is not a process, it is an expression of infinity in zero time, a mathematical concept with no realization in the universe.

    Krauss, again equivocates, declaring that we can deal with infinities very easily, apparently thinking that because he can write a little sideways 8 on paper that means he has somehow created a real infinity. Utter nonsense.

    If I get the time one of these days I will read through Bertrand Russel on these subjects as I generally like his writing style and he is one of the few philosophers I can stand to read at any length, most being so excruciatingly tedious and full of ancient absurd presuppositions that I can’t get far before the pain is too much for me to bear.

    This looks interesting
    http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/br-haldane-on-infinity.html
    http://people.umass.edu/klement/imp/imp.html

  209. FZM
    “…because these statements are all just tautologies.”
    If a thing is not made of anything then in what sense do you say it exists? Perhaps you will say an idea exists, but an idea is a process of a thing that is made something. A process is a dynamic property of the material, not an independently existent thing.

    What difference could there be between material, substance, physical, and stuff? In their general senses, they are synonyms.

    Thus, substance dualism is not incoherent on its face, since it merely speculates some undiscovered material that can account for certain phenomena. Nobody knows what that material might be and in particular our inability to detect it with scientific instruments when it is speculated to interact so strongly with matter/energy make the assertion of its existence entirely speculative.

    Immaterial dualism is incoherent on its face. A tautology is at least a true statement, though one may consider it trivial, at least it is not false. “Immaterial existence” is just an oxymoronic combination of terms with no discernible truth value or identifiable connection to any realization even of the most speculative sort.

  210. Kevin August 12, 2016 at 8:13 am
    “Disagreeing with you and your opinion is now an error?”
    * I think so, but if you disagree then you are just making another error, see how neat that works?🙂

    But seriously folks, sure I think you are wrong if I disagree with you, or you disagree, or we disagree with each other. If I thought you were right I would stop disagreeing with you!

  211. Ryan says:

    SD: Laurence Krauss had gone around peddling his book with the idiotic title “A universe from nothing” as though this somehow solves the fundamental problem, which of course it does not, and his whole thesis is nothing more than equivocation and arm waving abuse of language.

    I’m glad to say that we agree here… Krauss thinks he’s much smarter than he is.

  212. Kevin says:

    “An inescapable conclusion of the evidence is not absolutely inescapable, it is merely the conclusion that the available evidence dictates.

    We must consider that our evidence is incomplete.”

    I believe it is a given that our evidence isn’t complete, given that to accept either that everything poofed into being from nothing (and not Krauss’ nothing) or in an infinite regression of events, causes, and contingencies, is seemingly irrational.

    And while I agree that your logic is soundly valid in of itself, it really only applies if one assumes that the universe is all there is, that the system in which the thermodynamic laws apply is the sum total of existence – and the door is wide, wide open for speculation at the very least that the universe is not all there is.

    And we know that the door is open because the only two possibilities otherwise are equally absurd based upon what we currently know.

    It reminds me of what Dawkins said about religion, except in reverse – the problem with atheism is it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world, if it limits us strictly to scientific data for consideration – a very deficient philosophy for experiencing reality.

    A theistic deity is in my mind (and you understand the weight one’s own mind carries in reasoning) by far the best ultimate explanation for what we know and even for what we don’t know, for that matter. In over a decade of debating and trading insults with atheists, I have never heard a better explanation or speculation that makes a creator unnecessary, nor adequate arguments given to suspect that my reasoning is unsound on the matter. “We don’t know so let’s be atheists” doesn’t cut it for me, since naturalism has not been demonstrated to be tenable.

  213. Doug August 12, 2016 at 10:47 am
    @Dusty,
    Thanks for the brief re-iteration. I do like the fact that your:
    SP All my absolute truths are derived from my self awareness.
    was juxtaposed with:
    SP So I am scientifically minded.

    “Making both of these claims in a single breath demonstrates a fundamental failure to be scientifically minded. It is simply not the case that “science” is derived from your self-awareness. Quite impressive work though: you managed to contradict yourself in record time!”
    * Where is the contradiction in my words? My absolute truths are derived from my self awareness and I am scientifically minded. These are entirely self consistent statements. How do you suppose they are not?

    ” It is simply not the case that “science” is derived from your self-awareness.”
    * Right, and science is not an absolute truth. Science does not do absolute truth, or proof, or certainty.

    Science is inherently provisional.

    Sorry Doug, you have some sort of misconception here, although I am not certain where you are mixed up exactly.

  214. Doug says:

    @Dusty,

    Science may indeed be provisional (not at issue), but at its core, it (still) derives from the existence of an objective truth (which can in no way depend on Dusty’s self-awareness). To be disconnected from this core is to be demonstrably not “scientifically minded”. What actual science have you done, Dusty? Without any evidence that you are “scientifically minded”, and, indeed, evidence to the contrary, we can only conclude that your “scientific mindedness” is but a delusion, adopted to prop up your pre-conceived ideas.

  215. Michael August 12, 2016 at 1:59 pm
    Dusty:

    “SP I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified that claim so I continue to make it.”

    “Also, last time we talked, we established what you meant by “evidence.” For you, evidence = a Gap. ”
    * No, “we” did not establish that, you merely asserted it and provided a number of poorly constructed arguments in support of that assertion.

    “Thus, your atheism amounts to this: No Gap, thus no God. God of the Gaps atheism.”
    * Oversimplified convoluted terminology.

    “Dusty confuses his opinions with truth.”
    * Interesting, what is truth?

    “Because he does not personally see any evidence for God, there is no evidence for God.”
    * You started this comment by quoting me, but did you read and understand my sentences you quoted, or did you just paste it in without much thought?
    ***I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified that claim so I continue to make it.***

    What is a “falsifiable claim”? Do you suppose it is an assertion of absolute truth? If so then I suggest you study a bit more about what truth is and how human beings go about attempting to arrive at it. Perhaps such further study will disabuse you of your confused notions of “god of the gaps atheism” and your apparent lack of understanding of what a “falsifiable claim” is.

    “Dusty, it doesn’t look like you have convinced anyone with your blizzard of replies.”
    * That’s quite alright, I had no expectation to do so. A couple months back Sam Harris put out a podcast of some conversation he had and later he complained at length that his opponent had not changed his mind in real time despite Sam’s self assessed knock down arguments.

    I thought that was rather unrealistic so I sent Sam a little message to that effect. Change for a grown person is typically slow and by small increments. Change comes by the cumulative effects of repeated conversation, study, and contemplation.

    I have my reasons for engaging the kind folks here at such length.

    “Have you considered using the new atheist “how to argue” app?”
    * No !-) I think you are just making that up, but, of course, there are many articles out there about how to argue. I suppose maybe you are not making that up, since there seems to be an app for dang near everything.

  216. Ryan
    “SD’s brand of circular logic and tautologies is quite predictable. ‘Stuff’ means that which exists, ergo all that exists is stuff.”
    * Ryan, for a person with such language skills I am repeatedly surprised at how you leave out key words, misconstrue, oversimplify, and then dismiss. You never seem to tire of this strawman process.

    “This is a textbook example of begging the question.”
    * Then language itself is begging the question as every word is defined in terms of other words. Eventually the dictionary turns in on itself. To break this self-referential trap we use the postulate of the commonality of human experience.

    You asked me for the argument, but then you failed to read it carefully and instead invoked your strawman.

  217. Ryan
    “SD: “Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.”

    “Non sequitur. The basic reliability of the human senses is not the same as an absolute reliability of the human senses.”
    * Are you familiar with the use of the word “on” in this context? Apparently not.. For example WL Craig will say things like “on atheism there can be no absolute morality”. He is correct on that point.
    “Therefore, according to the mere basic reliability of the human senses (not absolute reliability), it is entirely possible that there is plenty of evidence in front of your face that you can’t recognize.”
    * No, if I am suffering from a delusion of failure to see something right in front of my face my senses are no longer basically reliable.

    Further, I included the postulates of logic. Both conditions must be satisfied in my statement

    “(abstraction, acknowledging existence beyond what we can sense physically)”
    * Abstraction is a modeling process of the brain. To believe abstractions exist as outside real objects is a delusion.

    An abstraction can be an approximate representation of an existent outside object, but not the object itself. Simply making up fictional abstractions and then thinking they are real objects can be and often is a very serious delusional condition.

  218. Crude says:

    Lots of scientists have tried to use mathematical models to show that something can indeed come out of nothing in order to solve the problem of an infinite regress of real time events. One notion is that all of existence is some sort of virtual particle that just popped into being.

    No, they haven’t. And they couldn’t, since there is no way to scientifically determine or even infer that X ‘came out of nothing’. This isn’t a math problem, and it isn’t an evidence problem. It’s a scientific limitation problem: the closest science could ever get to is a lack of explanation for a given phenomena or event. That’s a state of considerable ignorance – it’s not a demonstration that ‘something can indeed come out of nothing’. And calling something ‘nothing’ doesn’t help matters.

    (1) all that exists must be made of ‘stuff’

    You’ve defined ‘stuff’ so broadly that it includes Berkeleyan idealism. Alright.

    (2) ‘stuff’ must be eternal
    I never said that as an absolutely provable assertion. Based on our evidence then stuff must be eternal. Our evidence could be incomplete
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy cannot be created
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy exists
    -If our experimental evidence is complete then matter/energy has always existed
    -All experimental evidence shows that matter/energy cannot be destroyed
    -If our experimental evidence is complete then matter/energy will always exist
    -Therefore, contingent upon evidence, matter/energy must be eternal

    And here’s where a whole lot of problems come in.

    First, you immediately equate ‘stuff’ with ‘matter and energy’. That’s a tremendous assumption, when there’s a more parsimonious view onhand: matter and energy are just models, which by all experience underdetermine ‘stuff’. That’s assuming that the ‘stuff’ is all of one kind, since ‘all that exists must be made of stuff’ doesn’t mean all the ‘stuff’ has to be the same.

    Second, no – experimental evidence doesn’t show that ‘matter and energy exists’ in a way that you need it to. Matter and energy are, as far as science is concerned, objects in a model. They’re an idealization at best. Hence: “It is important to realize that in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is. We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount. It is not that way. However, there are formulas for calculating some numerical quantity, and when we add it all together it gives “2828”—always the same number. It is an abstract thing in that it does not tell us the mechanism or the reasons for the various formulas.”

    Third – the second law of thermodynamics is largely a principle, which undermines claims to experimental evidence. If you study a closed system and you end up with less or more energy than you started with, you haven’t demonstrated that matter can be created or destroyed (if you did, we’d have ‘experimental evidence’ of the violation of the second law like crazy.) You’d be left with questions like ‘Was my system really closed? Did I make a mistake somewhere?’ Go ahead, examine your experimental setup thoroughly – if you’re so lucky as to be able to repeat the event. Find nothing? You’re still ignorant at best. You can make a model, perhaps, but your model would be based on an assumption about something you could never verify scientifically.

    Finally, saying ‘If I make a tremendous assumption, X follows’ isn’t that impressive. Find an experiment where you end up with measurements of more or less energy in your system at the start or end of said experiment. (Shouldn’t be too hard – people will just invoke error bars.) Well, you have an apparent violation of what you’re claiming. Saying ‘Therefore, contingent upon evidence, matter/energy can be destroyed/created’ is technically correct. It’s also, shall we say, not too impressive there.

    (3)there is no evidence for God.
    Note, I do not claim to be able to disprove god, and that is not my burden, since the speculation of god is your positive assertion it is your burden.

    Claiming that there is no evidence for God is your burden, however, and your evidence has come down to ‘the existence of a gap’. Great; gaps are available all over the place if that’s what you want. You can insist the gaps are provisional, but any gap is, so that shouldn’t bother you. Granted, this doesn’t mean you have to believe in God – as in you personally – but by the standards you’ve laid out, others would have ample reason to believe.

    And on top of that they have the general arguments for God’s existence.You seem content to arrive at conclusions about the ultimate and fundamental nature of the universe and reality based on a mix of scientific misunderstandings and assumptions. Hard to complain when others do the same with better arguments and evidence.

  219. Crude says:

    “SD: “Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.”

    That’s not much of an answer. ‘Is it possible there’s a lot of evidence and you can’t recognize it?’ gets a reply of.. what, ‘Well, not if my senses are reliable and I’m using logic properly.’? That’s like replying to a question of ‘Is it possible you’re wrong?’ with ‘Assuming that I’m right, no.’

    ***I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim. No person has yet falsified that claim so I continue to make it.***

    If all you’re saying is that God’s existence or non-existence is not subject to rapt scientific falsification, that’s barely of interest to anyone. Naturalism, atheism, metaphysics in general, materialism, the existence of other minds, etc are also not subject to scientific falsification. Science as the foremost arbiter of truth is not subject to such falsification either.

    But that’s a very narrow strip of evidence, which is why few people care, except a certain class of weirdo, generally. However ‘evidence’ != ‘scientifically falsifiable claim’. The former’s a heck of a lot broader than the latter.

  220. Crude says:

    A couple quick points.

    First, pardon my reference to the second law. I meant the first. Whoops.

    Second, just to really sharpen the point I’m making to psyche, consider this: what would a successful falsification of the first law of thermodynamics look like?

  221. Doug says:

    Here’s a philosopher on “stuff”, in case anyone cares…

  222. Ryan says:

    SD: Then language itself is begging the question as every word is defined in terms of other words. Eventually the dictionary turns in on itself.
    Cop out. My argument for the existence of God as the only possible solution to the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang does not beg the question. It simply states that because something exists, therefore an infinite, eternal mind is a necessary conclusion. (God solves the infinite regress problem because by definition God is changeless, moving and changing all things while not changing himself.) The problem with the following monstrosity is that the first premise makes the conclusion. The conclusion is not drawn from multiple premises.

    Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    Premises 2 and 3 above are completely unnecessary. The conclusion follows without them, because the conclusion is simply a restatement of the first premise!. This argument goes nowhere. Any philosophy teacher would say that this is an example of “begging the question”. It’s a blatant example. The fact that you put that garbage forward as a serious argument is alarming, because it says a lot about your general ability for logical discussion. But, if you think such “arguments” are useful, then I’ll present this argument that proves the existence of God:

    -God is a general term for an infinite, eternal mind that exists.
    -If something exists, it cannot be said to not exist.
    -Therefore, God does indeed exist.

    Pretty stupid, huh? The first premise already makes the conclusion, since I’ve defined God as a being that exists. This is strong evidence that you have no competence in logic.

  223. Crude says:

    Actually, Ryan’s post reminded me of another problem with SP’s first on the list.

    To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    -Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    3 either doesn’t follow, or needs to be qualified in an important sense. Something can exist and just be fundamental. It’s not ‘made of’ anything – it’s the rock bottom.

  224. Michael says:

    * No, “we” did not establish that, you merely asserted it and provided a number of poorly constructed arguments in support of that assertion.

    Okay, you say “there is no evidence for god.” You assert that this claim is falsfifiable. How? Provide evidence for the existence of God, right? OK, tell us what would count as evidence for God.

  225. TFBW says:

    Let me, if I may, repeat and emphasise Michael’s question above by putting it a different way. Stardusty asserts (Aug. 12):

    I say there is no evidence for god as a falsifiable claim.

    To assert that a claim is falsifiable is to say that you know a set of conditions which would count as a contradiction of the claim. What set of conditions would those be? Bear in mind that you also said (way back on July 29):

    I am quite vague on what evidence for god would even look like. I suppose an omnipotent omniscient being could figure out this problem but lacking those qualities I am kind of stumped and can only offer some vague hypotheticals that might be fairly personally convincing.

    On its face, this appears to be an admission that you don’t know what set of conditions would count as a contradiction of the claim, which undermines your assertion regarding the falsifiability of the claim. If “vague hypotheticals” are the best you can do, then the only kind of “falsifiability” you can offer is “vague, hypothetical falsifiability”, which is to say, “none at all, really.”

    Your claim to falsifiability rests on your ability to actually specify concrete conditions which would count as falsification. Go ahead and specify those conditions, or renounce your claim of falsifiability.

  226. TFBW says:

    @Doug: you linked to an article by Galen Strawson. My go-to philosopher for a level-headed take on other philosophers in matters of consciousness is Jerry Fodor, so I suggest Fodor’s review of Strawson’s book as a counter-point.

  227. Doug says:

    Thanks, TFBW — great review!

  228. FZM says:

    Stardusty,

    What difference could there be between material, substance, physical, and stuff? In their general senses, they are synonyms.

    It is true that there won’t be any difference between the meaning of material, substance, physical and stuff if they are all treated as synonyms of the terms ‘existing’, ‘what exists’ and so on.

    Thus, substance dualism is not incoherent on its face, since it merely speculates some undiscovered material that can account for certain phenomena. Nobody knows what that material might be and in particular our inability to detect it with scientific instruments when it is speculated to interact so strongly with matter/energy make the assertion of its existence entirely speculative.

    The question of dualism won’t (can’t?) arise until definitions more specific and limited than those I suggested are given to terms like ‘material’, ‘physical’ and ‘stuff’. As you can see my tautological definitions in the other post were just different ways of saying that ‘what exists is existing’ or ‘what exists are things that exist’.

    To take a well known example, I think Descartes came up with his idea of substance dualism because he attributed a specific set of properties to the material and different incompatible ones to the mind:

    “Then, in the Sixth Meditation, having established, to his satisfaction, the mark of truth, he used that mark to frame a positive argument to the effect that the essence of mind is thought and that a thinking thing is unextended; and that the essence of matter is extension and that extended things cannot think (7:78). He based this argument on clear and distinct intellectual perceptions of the essences of mind and matter, not on the fact that he could doubt the existence of one or the other.”

    From:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes/#MinRel

    All the theories of mind I have come across, whether dualistic or monistic, Descartes to Bertrand Russell, work within some more specific definition of matter/physical than those very minimal ones I presented.

    Immaterial dualism is incoherent on its face. A tautology is at least a true statement, though one may consider it trivial, at least it is not false. “Immaterial existence” is just an oxymoronic combination of terms with no discernible truth value or identifiable connection to any realization even of the most speculative sort.

    Someone talking about ‘immaterial existence’ is not likely to be using ‘material’ as a synonym for existing or existant so they probably aren’t talking about ‘inexistant existence’, which would be obviously incoherent. I imagine when they use ‘material’ in this kind of context they probably intend it to have some more specific and limited meaning, for example, things that can be known/described using certain methods etc.

    Perhaps you will say an idea exists, but an idea is a process of a thing that is made something. A process is a dynamic property of the material, not an independently existent thing.

    If I remember you have raised a point like this before in these threads. I think it depends on what exactly you mean. If you mean something like this:

    An idea is a process of a thing that is made of something (where ‘made of something’ just means ‘exists’). A process is a dynamic property of the material (where material means ‘existing thing’ or ‘what exists’), not an independently existant thing. Process or dynamic property mean something like ‘way or mode of existing’.

    That would be uncontroversial; probably few people could find reasons to disagree.

    If the terms ‘made of something’, ‘material’ and ‘dynamic property’ are intended to mean something more specific it would be important to identify what this meaning is and provide some kind of proof or argument to back up the claim about ideas and dynamic processes of material things that avoids begging the question. (For example, by assuming that an idea must be a process of a thing that is made of something because only things made of something and processes or dynamic properties of these things can exist, so if it exists what else could it be?)

  229. FZM says:

    TFBW,

    To assert that a claim is falsifiable is to say that you know a set of conditions which would count as a contradiction of the claim. What set of conditions would those be?

    I am risking a guess again here, but SD might end up saying something along the lines of ‘when convincing evidence for the existence of God is presented the claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God will be falsified’.

    From what I could gather earlier, Stardusty has also argued in response to the question ‘what could count as evidence for God?’ that if an omnipotent God exists, such a God could convince him of his existence in such a way that he couldn’t deny or doubt. Since Stardusty hasn’t experienced such proof or evidence, he can conclude that there is no evidence or that God probably doesn’t exist.

  230. TFBW says:

    Entirely possible, FZM, and you have “called it” rights if those turn out to be correct predictions. Just so the information is out there, I consider the first paragraph to be an evasion of the question, since it adds no details to that which has already been stated, and concrete specifics have been requested. The second paragraph has similar issues, and more besides.

  231. Ryan says:

    FZM: I am risking a guess again here, but SD might end up saying something along the lines of ‘when convincing evidence for the existence of God is presented the claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God will be falsified’.

    I would modify that to when evidence that convinces Stardusty of the existence of God is presented…. That’s a fundamental problem with his worldview: that he alone is the ultimate judge of all evidence. Because if ‘convincing evidence’ means evidence that convinces the average person, then we can say that convincing evidence exists, since the vast majority of humanity is convinced that God exists. He builds arguments upon consensus until the consensus stops providing the outcomes he wants, then he rants about the “tyranny of the majority” (<- direct quote from him referring to the Oxford English Dictionary which he tossed to the flames, after constantly quoting it as an authority/friend, because it didn't define 'materialism' in a way that would help his argument.)

    The real standard for all truth is Stardusty himself. Consensus is merely a justification (along with the “postulates of logic”) to make it seem that he has more than his own opinions to peddle. When consensus doesn’t work for him he retreats into some form of solipsism which justifies (in his mind) accepting things without evidence.

    The flowchart is like this: (1) apply ‘logic’ -> if ‘logic’ gives an undesired conclusion -> (2) apply ‘consensus’ -> if ‘consensus’ gives an undesired conclusion -> (3) state that nothing can be known for certain but it seems reasonable and practical to assume _________ (<– insert desired conclusion or "premise" that contains conclusion within it). The underlying idea is this: make your argument as rigorous and logical as possible, but never sacrifice your desired conclusion in the pursuit of such things.

  232. Michael August 13, 2016 at 8:32 pm
    * SP No, “we” did not establish that, you merely asserted it and provided a number of poorly constructed arguments in support of that assertion.

    “Okay, you say “there is no evidence for god.” You assert that this claim is falsfifiable. How? Provide evidence for the existence of God, right? OK, tell us what would count as evidence for God.”
    * An omniscient omnipotent being would presumably be able to provide such, yet nothing of the sort has been delivered to me. So either this omniscient omnipotent being does not exist or it simply chooses to remain hidden, Either way, my assertion remains unfalsified by god.

    Many attempts have been made by humans to use physical evidence or logic to demonstrate the existence of a god of some sort. The argument from beauty, the argument from design, the argument from irreducible complexity, the argument from personal experience, the fine tuning argument, the Kalam cosmological argument etc. These all fail and thus my assertion remains unfalsified by the vast numbers of learned scholars who have attempted this task.

    A personal real time demonstration of powers outside the scope of any human capability would be evidence for a being who possesses these capabilities. Jesus is written to have done just that. He is reported to have healed the sick, fed the multitudes, walked on water, and most crucially, risen from the dead. The asserted miracle of the resurrection is often asserted by Christians to be the central proof of the divine nature of Jesus. Yet, these are just ancient stories of no more value than the stories of thousands of gods, none, so story books fail to falsify my assertion.

    It has been said that any space alien race with sufficiently advanced technology would appear to be a god to humans. But I do not think that is necessarily the case. I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe, for example creating something from nothing, traveling both back and forward in time at will, making something be both true and untrue at the same time. These sorts of demonstrations would at the very least provide evidence that there exists some sort of being capable of existing outside of yet within our material universe and capable of manipulating it at will, which would meet some definitions of god.

    However, merely demonstrating some kind of power does not mean this being has all the other attributes attributed to various god delusions, such as being all good, perfectly moral, and eternal.

    But we do not even have any scientific documentation of some interesting teasers, say spontaneous regrowth of a limb, or miraculous feeding of the starving, or miraculous resurrections of the dead, or a global simultaneous visual full sensory contact.

    So, not only has god refrained from providing absolute proof (presumably possible for an omnipotent being), but there aren’t even any strong hints of apparent miracles, or even the ability of our most learned apologists to make a sound argument for god.

    Some kind of hint would at least be a step in that direction but we don’t even have that much. Thus my assertion stands unfalsified.

  233. Michael says:

    Dusty,
    I asked a simple question – what would you count as evidence for God? – and you offered up a 475-word salad. It certainly comes across as some type of smokescreen. But look closely enough and we find buried in the 475 words one sentence that comes close to answering my question:

    I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe, for example creating something from nothing, traveling both back and forward in time at will, making something be both true and untrue at the same time.

    In other words, a Gap – something that could not possibly be explained by natural laws. The evidence you need is a Gap. Your atheism is built on god-of-the-gaps logic.

  234. Crude August 13, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    “since there is no way to scientifically determine or even infer that X ‘came out of nothing’. This isn’t a math problem, and it isn’t an evidence problem. It’s a scientific limitation problem:”
    * Why? If it really happened there is no reason in principle why it could not be reproduced and modeled.

    “First, you immediately equate ‘stuff’ with ‘matter and energy’. ”
    * Right now nobody knows what matter and energy are exactly we just can’t seem to avoid conservation.

    “matter and energy are just models, which by all experience underdetermine ‘stuff’.That’s assuming that the ‘stuff’ is all of one kind, since ‘all that exists must be made of stuff’ doesn’t mean all the ‘stuff’ has to be the same.”
    * No, stuff could be a set of substances or fields or whatever the most fundamental structures are.

    “Second, no – experimental evidence doesn’t show that ‘matter and energy exists’ in a way that you need it to. Matter and energy are, as far as science is concerned, objects in a model. They’re an idealization at best. ”
    * If by idealization you mean an aggrate model of some things more fundamental, yes. If by ideal you mean somehow immaterial at base, then no.

    “Third – the second law of thermodynamics is largely a principle, which undermines claims to experimental evidence. If you study a closed system and you end up with less or more energy than you started with, you haven’t demonstrated that matter can be created or destroyed (if you did, we’d have ‘experimental evidence’ of the violation of the second law like crazy.) You’d be left with questions like ‘Was my system really closed? Did I make a mistake somewhere?’ Go ahead, examine your experimental setup thoroughly – if you’re so lucky as to be able to repeat the event. Find nothing? You’re still ignorant at best. You can make a model, perhaps, but your model would be based on an assumption about something you could never verify scientifically.”
    * Scientific verification always provisional. The process you describe is just what science is and does

    “Finally, saying ‘If I make a tremendous assumption, X follows’ isn’t that impressive. Find an experiment where you end up with measurements of more or less energy in your system at the start or end of said experiment. (Shouldn’t be too hard – people will just invoke error bars.) ”
    * You have gone way off track here. Error can be accounted for in many ways, and in so doing getting more or less energy in the system has never been scientifically demonstrated.

    “(3)there is no evidence for God.
    Note, I do not claim to be able to disprove god, and that is not my burden, since the speculation of god is your positive assertion it is your burden.

    Claiming that there is no evidence for God is your burden, however, and your evidence has come down to ‘the existence of a gap’. Great; gaps are available all over the place if that’s what you want. You can insist the gaps are provisional, but any gap is, so that shouldn’t bother you. Granted, this doesn’t mean you have to believe in God – as in you personally – but by the standards you’ve laid out, others would have ample reason to believe.”
    * Believe whatever you want.

    “And on top of that they have the general arguments for God’s existence.”
    * All of which fail miserably.

    “You seem content to arrive at conclusions about the ultimate and fundamental nature of the universe and reality”
    * My only absolute certainties are based on my self awareness.

    “based on a mix of scientific misunderstandings and assumptions. Hard to complain when others do the same with better arguments and evidence.”
    * What is your better evidence based argument for god? I have never heard one that did not fail miserably, I doubt you have a new one any better.

  235. Crude August 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm
    “SD: “Is it possible that there is plenty of evidence for an infinite, eternal, mind right in front of your face and you simply cannot recognize it?”
    * On the basic reliability of the human senses and the postulates of logic, no.”

    “That’s not much of an answer”
    * Oh well, nobody promised me a rose garden. Life is full of mysteries that I will not solve, and then I will die.

    My senses may not be much, but that’s all I’ve got to work with, so try not to be so hard on poor little old me, ok?

    “Naturalism, atheism, metaphysics in general, materialism, the existence of other minds, etc are also not subject to scientific falsification”
    * Sure they are, because a scientific falsification is provisional, because science is provisional.

    “Science as the foremost arbiter of truth is not subject to such falsification either.”
    * Science makes no claim to be absolutely the best, only to be apparently the best way to get closer to the ultimate reality.

    “However ‘evidence’ != ‘scientifically falsifiable claim’. The former’s a heck of a lot broader than the latter.”
    * Science is evidence based. To scientifically falsify a claim is to make a provisional evidence based falsification of that claim.

  236. Doug August 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm
    “Here’s a philosopher on “stuff”, in case anyone cares…”
    * Thanks Doug, I have not had a chance to read it through carfully but it does bring up a number of points I have been discussing here.

    “Stuff” is not a word I coined in this context.

    Lots of people use “stuff” precisely because, as the article discusses, we really still do not know what matter and energy are really.

  237. TFBW says:

    Not only is it god-of-the-gaps logic, it fails to specify how it is possible to detect a Gap. Stardusty opines, “I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe,” but this fails on two separate accounts. First, it fails to be specific: insufficient detail is provided such that anyone reading it knows what these particular conditions are. The goalposts are still hidden (and may not actually exist at all).

    Second, how is it even possible, in principle, to observe a violation of the fundamental behaviour of the material universe? All you can observe is a violation of what you thought was a law of the universe. Having seen it violated before your very eyes, the appropriate scientific response would be to conclude that you were mistaken about the fundamental behaviour of the material universe, would it not? The behaviour of the universe can only be determined through analysis of that which actually happens, and if this “violation” actually happens, then it’s part of the behaviour of the universe, not a violation of it. You’d have to know with certainty that a particular thing was a fundamental law of the universe in order to see it violated, and, as Stardusty has repeatedly affirmed, science offers us no such certainties.

    Lastly, I note that one of Stardusty’s requests is, “making something be both true and untrue at the same time.” That can be provided: consider the statement, “this statement is true.” I think you’ll find that it is both true and false — and provides evidence for absolutely nothing other than, “TFBW has thought about that sort of thing way too much.” Probably what was being requested, though, was a logical impossibility. That would be the height of absurdity: assuming that such a thing is possible (which, by definition, it isn’t), then how would you even recognise it?

    How silly is it to demand evidence that you can’t possibly recognise as evidence? You may as well just stick your fingers in your ears and say “lalalalala”. The only difference would be that the latter approach does not involve kidding yourself that you’re open to persuasion.

  238. Ryan
    “SP –Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    –Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.”

    “Premises 2 and 3 above are completely unnecessary. ”
    * They are linguistically necessary

    “The conclusion follows without them, because the conclusion is simply a restatement of the first premise!. ”
    * No, the word “exist” does not appear in the first premise. The second premise ties “exist” to “not absolutely nothing”. The third premise ties “not absolutely nothing” to “something”
    Stuff = Something
    Exist = Not Absolutely Nothing
    Not Absolutely Nothing = Something
    Therefore Stuff = Exist

    A=B
    C=D
    D=B
    Therefore A=C

    “-God is a general term for an infinite, eternal mind that exists.”
    As compared to
    “Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.”

    Only mine is the demonstrably valid truth claim. Yours is pure speculation. Mine is a valid premise. Yours is an invalid premise.

    We have vast evidence for matter, energy, spacetime, and substances.
    We have no evidence for an infinite eternal mind. If you disagree please link to me the peer reviewed article that describes the scientific evidence for this speculated mind.

    “Pretty stupid, huh?”
    * Yours is, mine isn’t

  239. Crude August 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm
    ” Something can exist and just be fundamental. It’s not ‘made of’ anything – it’s the rock bottom.”
    * I didn’t say stuff is made of something else, I said stuff is what matter, energy. and spacetime are made of.

  240. Kevin says:

    “even the ability of our most learned apologists to make a sound argument for god.”

    If you can think of a single time in your life where you held a belief that you later found out was wrong, then you will understand why this statement is meaningless. Because you would understand that your personal opinion and the truth are not synonymous.

    On that note, the arguments for God are more than sufficient for me to dismiss every proposed atheistic explanation. I suspect no good explanations are forthcoming.

  241. Michael says:

    Not only is it god-of-the-gaps logic, it fails to specify how it is possible to detect a Gap. Stardusty opines, “I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe,” but this fails on two separate accounts. First, it fails to be specific: insufficient detail is provided such that anyone reading it knows what these particular conditions are. The goalposts are still hidden (and may not actually exist at all).

    Indeed. And the hand-waving was just getting off the ground. More demands came afterward: “However, merely demonstrating some kind of power does not mean this being has all the other attributes attributed to various god delusions, such as being all good, perfectly moral, and eternal.”

    So what is he going to count as evidence for a) being all good, b) perfectly moral, and c) eternal?

    Anyway, his god of the gaps logic causes another bit of his posturing to implode. He wrote:

    An omniscient omnipotent being would presumably be able to provide such, yet nothing of the sort has been delivered to me.

    But this is a Red Herring. Whatever the omniscient omnipotent being came up with, it better be one Impressive Gap, or it won’t count.

  242. stcordova says:

    “An omniscient omnipotent being would presumably be able to provide such, yet nothing of the sort has been delivered to me. ”

    Stealth aircraft don’t deliver proof of their existence either to their opponents, that is by design. Stealth aircraft can reveal their position if they choose, but that is usually to friendlies.

    Perhaps the only way you’ll ever know for sure God exists is for you to be omniscient, but that’s not going to happen, since if that were the case, you’d be God. Since you’ll always have incomplete information about reality as a matter of principle, is there any point you’d consider whether God exists? Seems to me, at some point, in order to be aligned with what is true, one needs an element of faith since one cannot be omniscient. If there is a God, for us to know he exists requires God revealing himself to us and us accepting by faith that he exists. Faith is necessary to ascent to the truth as a matter of principle because we are finite beings and therefore will forever have incomplete knowledge.

    Is there anything that might give you that faith, or have you decided already you can’t be persuaded?

    “If you disagree please link to me the peer reviewed article that describes the scientific evidence for this speculated mind.”

    From 2005, the prestigious scientific journal Nature, July 7, 2005:

    ““The ultimate cause of atheism, Newton asserted, is ‘this notion of bodies having, as it were, a
    complete, absolute and independent reality in themselves.’” Newton knew of Newton’s
    rings and was untroubled by what is shallowly called ‘wave/particle duality’.
    The 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics solved the problem of the Universe’s
    nature. Bright physicists were again led to believe the unbelievable — this time,
    that the Universe is mental. According to Sir James Jeans: “the stream of knowledge
    is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a
    great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental
    intruder into the realm of matter… we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor
    of the realm of matter.” But physicists have not yet followed Galileo’s
    example, and convinced everyone of the wonders of quantum mechanics. As Sir
    Arthur Eddington explained: “It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to
    accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character.”
    ……
    The Universe is immaterial — mental
    and spiritual. Live, and enjoy. ■

    Richard Conn Henry is a Professor in the
    Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics
    and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins
    University, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA.”

    So there is one peer-reviewed essay in a scientific journal. You can google it to read the whole article.

    FWIW, if you have nothing at risk on the question of God, then the question is of academic curiosity. It has no more relevance to your life than whether a coin lying on a random street is heads or tails. If however you might be the object of God’s wrath, then there might be reason to be concerned. Otherwise, why the protracted debate? What do you have to gain by being right except for some amusement. Would you find it reassuring to convince yourself there is no God?

  243. TFBW says:

    Michael said:

    So what is he going to count as evidence for a) being all good, b) perfectly moral, and c) eternal?

    We haven’t even had the slightest hint of an answer to that, but I’m willing to let it slide for now. Until such time as we’ve sorted out more basic issues relating to the existence of God, it’s too soon to address the finer points of His character. Given Stardusty’s penchant for producing word salad, it’s more important than usual to maintain a tight focus.

  244. TFBW says:
    August 14, 2016 at 12:43 am
    ” Go ahead and specify those conditions, or renounce your claim of falsifiability.”
    * Please see August 14, 2016 at 5:34 pm

  245. FZM August 14, 2016 at 11:29 am
    “From what I could gather earlier, Stardusty has also argued in response to the question ‘what could count as evidence for God?’ that if an omnipotent God exists, such a God could convince him of his existence in such a way that he couldn’t deny or doubt. Since Stardusty hasn’t experienced such proof or evidence, he can conclude that there is no evidence or that God probably doesn’t exist.”
    * Indeed, but I would add the speculation that this hypothetical omnipotent god simply does not choose to reveal itself to me. In either case, evidence for the existence of god is absent.

  246. Ryan August 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm
    ” Because if ‘convincing evidence’ means evidence that convinces the average person, then we can say that convincing evidence exists, since the vast majority of humanity is convinced that God exists. ”
    * How about you stop dancing around in the unnamed hypothetical and just tell me what this supposed evidence for god you have is?

  247. Michael August 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm
    Dusty,
    “I asked a simple question – what would you count as evidence for God?”
    * No, that is not a simple question. It is a very complex question that volumes have been written about for millennia. The fact you assert it is a simple question tells me you have not considered this subject carefully.

    ” – and you offered up a 475-word salad.”
    * A word salad is a term for disjointed words or words that do not form coherent assertions, but are merely gibberish. I challenge you to identify my specific words that meet that criteria.

    ” It certainly comes across as some type of smokescreen”
    * This response again indicates you simply have not considered these matters in much depth.

    .”But look closely enough and we find buried in the 475 words one sentence that comes close to answering my question:”
    * 475 words on the evidence for god is a pittance on the scale of what has been written on the subject.

    “SP I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe, for example creating something from nothing, traveling both back and forward in time at will, making something be both true and untrue at the same time.”

    “In other words, a Gap – something that could not possibly be explained by natural laws. The evidence you need is a Gap. Your atheism is built on god-of-the-gaps logic.”
    * You really do insist on this strange leap and generalization of the word “gap”, don’t you? Does that word hold some special significance for you? “Gap” seems to be your raison d’etre.

    “God of the gaps” is a specific line of argumentation applied under particular circumstances.

    The value of negative evidence and how one goes about analyzing a lack of evidence based on the particulars of the situation is a very interesting and complicated subject. You do not seem inclined to explore this subject in any significant depth, rather, you seem intent on playing some kind of gotchya game with the word “gap”.

    I am a scientifically minded person. Science is provisional. We who think scientifically look at positive evidence and negative evidence and evaluate in terms of assessed probabilities and provisional conclusions based on a preponderance of positive evidence or the lack of evidence where we have good reason to think there should be positive evidence if a proposition were to be the case.

    You seem uninterested in considering these analytical values in detail, rather, it seems as though the word “gap” holds some special rhetorical interest for you. I think it has something to do with a desire on your part to equate theistic thinking with atheistic thinking, but I am not a mind reader so I cannot say for sure what your personal motivation is for such concern over the word “gap”.

  248. TFBW August 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm
    ” The goalposts are still hidden (and may not actually exist at all).”
    * Then how about you stop dancing around and just share with us your great evidence for god?

    What is this wonderful evidence for god you have? Why continually speak of it in the unnamed third person? Just say it.

    What is your supposed evidence for god?

  249. Kevin August 14, 2016 at 9:25 pm
    “SP even the ability of our most learned apologists to make a sound argument for god.”

    “Because you would understand that your personal opinion and the truth are not synonymous.”
    * So what are these great arguments? Why can’t anybody here name them?

    “On that note, the arguments for God are more than sufficient for me ”
    * Such as?

  250. Michael August 14, 2016 at 9:53 pm
    “Indeed. And the hand-waving was just getting off the ground. ”
    * So howzabout you stop waving your hands about this supposed evidence for god?

    What is it? Can you name it? Why do you continually speak of it in the abstract? Just say it. What is this supposedly great evidence you have for god?

  251. stcordova August 14, 2016 at 10:27 pm
    “Stealth aircraft don’t deliver proof of their existence either to their opponents, that is by design. Stealth aircraft can reveal their position if they choose, but that is usually to friendlies.”
    * Right, like I am an enemy threat to god!!! To mangle Epicurus, if I am an enemy threat to him, why call him god?

    “Seems to me, at some point, in order to be aligned with what is true, one needs an element of faith since one cannot be omniscient. ”
    * Indeed, for theists it does seem to boil down to , “you just gotta believe”

    “Faith is necessary to ascent to the truth as a matter of principle because we are finite beings and therefore will forever have incomplete knowledge.”
    * Brother, this is so messed up on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin.. I hope one day you will cease to believe in stories people tell just because you cannot figure out the mysteries of our incredible journey through this short amazing life.

    “Is there anything that might give you that faith, or have you decided already you can’t be persuaded?”
    * Presumably an omnipotent being could give me such, but apparently I have been created defective and I am doomed to be tortured for all eternity as a sign of god’s infinite love.

    “SP If you disagree please link to me the peer reviewed article that describes the scientific evidence for this speculated mind.”

    “From 2005, the prestigious scientific journal Nature, July 7, 2005:
    ““The ultimate cause of atheism, Newton asserted”
    * Quoting Newton is not scientific evidence. Rather, argument from authority, and a very poor authority at that.

    “The 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics solved the problem of the Universe’s
    nature.”
    * Comical.

    “The Universe is immaterial — mental
    and spiritual. Live, and enjoy”
    * Woo. Ok, your post is denigrating into some kind of New Age mysticism. Done.

  252. TFBW August 14, 2016 at 11:08 pm
    “Michael said:

    So what is he going to count as evidence for a) being all good, b) perfectly moral, and c) eternal?

    We haven’t even had the slightest hint of an answer to that”
    * So throw me a bone here ok? What is this great evidence for god you guys keep referring to in the abstract like some great mystery behind the curtain?

  253. Ryan says:

    SD: What is this wonderful evidence for god you have? Why continually speak of it in the unnamed third person? Just say it.

    What is your supposed evidence for god?

    Find a solution for the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang. I demonstrated clearly before that eternal ‘stuff’ interacting by the laws of physics for an infinite amount of time creates an absurdity: the Big Bang happened an eternity ago. The solution is an act of pure choice and free will (eliminating infinite regress), which implies a mind. You can posit eternal ‘stuff’, but work it out. Solve it. I posit eternal mind (something with the capacity of choice), and it’s solved. Until you find an alternative solution to the dilemma, eternal mind remains as the provisional solution. Science is provisional, remember, so we’ll stick with eternal mind until someone finds a better solution. The ball is in your court now. God has just been proved to exist by necessity, but of course being finite humans this is provisional. I’ll await your solution to the dilemma.

  254. TFBW says:

    Ostensibly in answer to, “tell us what would count as evidence for God,” Stardusty said:

    An omniscient omnipotent being would presumably be able to provide such, yet nothing of the sort has been delivered to me. So either this omniscient omnipotent being does not exist or it simply chooses to remain hidden, Either way, my assertion remains unfalsified by god.

    The question is not whether the claim is falsified, but whether it is falsifiable — whether contrary evidence is possible. In order to be falsifiable, there must be a possible thing that you would accept as evidence. Your claim that God could provide such a thing is only true if such a thing actually exists, which is to beg the question — a waste of words.

    Many attempts have been made by humans to use physical evidence or logic to demonstrate the existence of a god of some sort. … These all fail and thus my assertion remains unfalsified by the vast numbers of learned scholars who have attempted this task.

    Once again, you have asserted that the claim is not falsified, but failed to address whether it is falsifiable. Indeed, if you categorically dismiss all such arguments as failures, then there is cause to believe that there is no possible argument you would accept, which suggests that your claim is not falsifiable by rational argument. This response has thus weakened your claim to falsifiability.

    A personal real time demonstration of powers outside the scope of any human capability would be evidence for a being who possesses these capabilities. … Yet, these are just ancient stories of no more value than the stories of thousands of gods, none, so story books fail to falsify my assertion.

    Again, you assert that the claim is not falsified by dismissing another category of possible falsifications: history. Again, your claim to falsifiability is weakened by your argument.

    I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe… These sorts of demonstrations would at the very least provide evidence that there exists some sort of being capable of existing outside of yet within our material universe and capable of manipulating it at will, which would meet some definitions of god.

    At last, a glimmer of hope that an avenue of falsification exists. But there are severe difficulties with the idea that a violation of the “fundamental behaviors of the material universe” could be observed: see my comments dated August 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm. A suggestion that “thing X would falsify”, where thing “X” is known a priori to be impossible, is not a possible falsification. Further clarification is required.

    Your comment contains no other suggestions as to possible avenues of falsification. Your claim of falsifiability looks extraordinarily weak: you begged the question once, weakened your position twice via categorical dismissals, and ended with a suggestion which seems impossible by definition. Where is the possible avenue of falsification in all that? I see nothing at all — a perfectly closed mind, immune to all arguments and demonstrations.

    As such, please understand how galling it is when you repeatedly demand that we share our evidence with you. Demonstrate that there is a single theoretically possible piece of evidence which you would accept first — then we can talk. There’s no point in pouring out words of argument if it’s all going to be more water off Starducky’s back.

  255. Kevin says:

    “I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe… These sorts of demonstrations would at the very least provide evidence that there exists some sort of being capable of existing outside of yet within our material universe and capable of manipulating it at will, which would meet some definitions of god.”

    Why would this be evidence for a god and not evidence that there is a gap in scientific knowledge?

  256. Michael says:

    * You really do insist on this strange leap and generalization of the word “gap”, don’t you?

    It’s not a strange leap and generalization. It’s an observation. If we define a gap as something that cannot possibly be explained by natural causes, then what you demand as ‘evidence’ is a gap.

    Does that word hold some special significance for you? “Gap” seems to be your raison d’etre.

    Being familiar with this very complex question that volumes have been written about for millennia, yes, I recognize the significance of the word ‘gap.’

    “God of the gaps” is a specific line of argumentation applied under particular circumstances.

    And, as it turns out, the popular atheist position asserting “there is no evidence for God” is a particular expression of the god of the gaps line of argumentation.

    The value of negative evidence and how one goes about analyzing a lack of evidence based on the particulars of the situation is a very interesting and complicated subject. You do not seem inclined to explore this subject in any significant depth, rather, you seem intent on playing some kind of gotchya game with the word “gap”.

    I’m happy to explore the topic in more depth, but you first need to acknowledge that when you demand evidence for God, you are demanding some type of Gap. If you are going to insist we all pretend you are not demanding gaps when you demand evidence, then you are not interested in any true exploration.

  257. Michael says:

    * So throw me a bone here ok? What is this great evidence for god you guys keep referring to in the abstract like some great mystery behind the curtain?

    First, you need to clarify if you think the god of the gaps argument is a valid argument. That is, do gaps count as evidence for the existence of God?

  258. stcordova says:

    * Woo. Ok, your post is denigrating into some kind of New Age mysticism. Done

    No, the words you say were so comical were verbatim from a scientific Journal.

  259. Michael says:

    Your comment contains no other suggestions as to possible avenues of falsification. Your claim of falsifiability looks extraordinarily weak: you begged the question once, weakened your position twice via categorical dismissals, and ended with a suggestion which seems impossible by definition. Where is the possible avenue of falsification in all that? I see nothing at all — a perfectly closed mind, immune to all arguments and demonstrations.

    Nicely stated. As it currently stands, the evidence indicates Stardusty’s atheism is unfalsifiable.

  260. TFBW says:

    We’ll have to wait and see where he goes with the “gap” thing. It’s about all that’s left.

  261. Crude says:

    Stardusty,

    Crude: “since there is no way to scientifically determine or even infer that X ‘came out of nothing’. This isn’t a math problem, and it isn’t an evidence problem. It’s a scientific limitation problem:”
    * Why? If it really happened there is no reason in principle why it could not be reproduced and modeled.

    Lesser point: Actually, yes, there’s reasons in principle why it could not be reproduced. You’re making assumptions about the phenomena before you even investigate it. Even on naturalism reproducability of a phenomena is not guaranteed for reasons raising from brute facts (aka atheist magic) to more mundane ones (the source of the phenomena is no longer available, or is unwilling.)

    Greater point: All you would ever be reproducing is a phenomena you had no explanation for. Did it come out of nothing, or something? You have no way to tell. Even if the phenomena keeps occurring, you just hit a wall and you can’t tell what the source or origin of the phenomena is. There’s no physics of nothingness.

    * Right now nobody knows what matter and energy are exactly we just can’t seem to avoid conservation.

    Crude: “Second, no – experimental evidence doesn’t show that ‘matter and energy exists’ in a way that you need it to. Matter and energy are, as far as science is concerned, objects in a model. They’re an idealization at best. ”
    * If by idealization you mean an aggrate model of some things more fundamental, yes. If by ideal you mean somehow immaterial at base, then no.

    Actually, yes, somehow immaterial at base. Science deals with models, not metaphysics. Even string theory at its most creative deals with models. What that ‘stuff’ that science models is fundamentally and ultimately remains an open question. If you dig in your heels and say ‘No’, I’m game: give me the experiment that determines metaphysical realities. Show me the test for idealism. You won’t find one, because it’s not a scientific issue to begin with.

    Scientific verification always provisional. The process you describe is just what science is and does

    Except, as you seem to otherwise know – the ‘provisional’ aspect turns on the ‘falsification’ aspect in part. For any prospective creation or destruction of energy, you can always hypothesize another source. Something appears out of apparent nothing? You can model it as if coming from something. Something disappears entirely? You can model it as if it went somewhere.

    You have gone way off track here. Error can be accounted for in many ways, and in so doing getting more or less energy in the system has never been scientifically demonstrated.

    Yeah, and those ways involve error bars and assumptions. And that’s just for experiments – not every phenomena is subject to experimental conditions. When you say ‘getting more or less energy in the system’, you don’t mean any system (that’s trivially demonstrated in an open system.) You’re either talking about artificially closed systems (where the closing is never perfect, and if you see a gain or loss, you appeal to either ‘error bars’ or take it as evidence that the system isn’t closed) or ‘closed’ on the universe level, which is subject to the same problems I keep pointing out. It’s a great principle with utility, but you’re trying to argue a metaphysical point, which is why I’m pointing out where you go wrong.

    * Believe whatever you want.

    I’m apportioning my belief to the evidence, and the evidence is you haven’t made your case. You’re back to gaps.

    * All of which fail miserably.

    Assertion without evidence, and your track record isn’t so hot here.

    Crude: “You seem content to arrive at conclusions about the ultimate and fundamental nature of the universe and reality”
    * My only absolute certainties are based on my self awareness.

    You didn’t answer my point. This isn’t about absolute certainty.

    Crude: “based on a mix of scientific misunderstandings and assumptions. Hard to complain when others do the same with better arguments and evidence.”
    * What is your better evidence based argument for god? I have never heard one that did not fail miserably, I doubt you have a new one any better.

    Back to the same question everyone else is asking of you, and which so far you dodge by saying that if God exists God would know what would convince you personally. That and appeals to the God of the gaps.

    The evidence is you’re failing miserably to back up your assertions. I’d say your arguments were failing, but you’re thin on those.

  262. Ryan says:

    SD: Yet, these are just ancient stories of no more value than the stories of thousands of gods, none

    Can you prove this positive assertion? The NT has no historical value? How do you know this, apart from an appeal to blind faith? Is this a scientifically proven assertion? Please don’t tell me you are attempting a straw man by comparing the NT with the ‘stories of gods’ written by the Greeks and Romans. I’m very familiar with Greco-Roman mythology, and it is nothing like the NT. The gospels read like historical narrative more than mythology, the stories are tied to real places, real dates, and real people. The events recorded were public and recent at the time of composition, making verification/falsification easy for the original audience. Greco-Roman mythology, in contrast, tells stories that happened long ago (to the original audience) in forgotten places and with forgotten people. The Iliad and Odyssey tell their stories about 400 years after the historical events they are based upon (the Trojan War is likely related to the destruction of Troy VIIa around 1200 BC, part of the Bronze Age Collapse). Have you seriously engaged with the NT and the ‘stories of thousands of gods’ enough to make a comparison. That is, are you qualified to make the statement that you did above? I am, I don’t believe that you are.

  263. stcordova says:

    Stardusty:

    ” Right, like I am an enemy threat to god!!! To mangle Epicurus, if I am an enemy threat to him, why call him god?”

    You are no threat to Him, his is however a threat to you. You demand evidence of this, you may find it some day. Are you willing to play that side of Pascal’s wager? If you are, then why are you wasting your time here discussing with theists? Is that how you enjoy spending your time. I don’t waste time with astrologers. I don’t agree with them, but I can’t recall I’ve spent anywhere near the time trying to disabuse them of their superstitions that you’ve spent with us trying to insist there is no evidence. Do guys like you show up to places like this to reassure yourselves you are on the right side of the wager?

  264. stcordova
    August 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm
    “You are no threat to Him, his is however a threat to you. ”
    * Indeed, the threat of an eternal torture seems to be the ultimate threat. Odd that an all loving god would issue it.

    “You demand evidence of this, you may find it some day”
    * Unlikely given that so many have tried to offer it an all have failed.

    “. Are you willing to play that side of Pascal’s wager?”
    * I am not playing either side of that wager. I simply am not able to believe something I do not really believe just as an insurance policy. That would get me all twisted up like a pretzel inside, knowing I don’t really believe it yet believing it anyhow just in case. What an absurd notion.

    ” If you are, then why are you wasting your time here discussing with theists?”
    * I don’t typically say much about my motives until asked or accused, because I have no means to demonstrate the voracity such personal assertions.

    ” Is that how you enjoy spending your time. I don’t waste time with astrologers. I don’t agree with them, but I can’t recall I’ve spent anywhere near the time trying to disabuse them of their superstitions that you’ve spent with us trying to insist there is no evidence. Do guys like you show up to places like this to reassure yourselves you are on the right side of the wager?”
    * I can t speak for anybody else, but I have my own selfish reasons as well as altruistic reasons for engaging those who differ with me.

    First, there is at least some possibility that I am wrong about something. To the best of my knowledge all of my opinions are correct, but my knowledge could be flawed. I prefer to discover any potential flaws in my opinions and the most likely means to do so is to express them among those who strongly disagree with me.

    On the altruistic side words do sometimes have a cumulative effect. It is unrealistic to think somebody is going to read one of my posts and have an epiphany of atheism. But people can and sometimes do change over time, so perhaps if you engage enough atheists, and think about it and read about it you might come to the light of reason and realize that what you call a superstition is actually the same sort of irrationality necessary for Christianity and theism more generally.

  265. stcordova says:

    ” To the best of my knowledge all of my opinions are correct”

    To the best of my knowledge your opinions are flawed and closed minded and not very well informed in terms of science and reason and logic. You’ve not provided any evidence you have the expertise to be making the assertions you’re making, much less be the judge for the rest of us what does and doesn’t constitute credible evidence.

    “you might come to the light of reason”

    You’re the one not looking rational in my opinion. I provided an essay from a peer-reviewed science journal Nature, July 7, 2005 regarding the Ultimate Mind. You dismissed it out of hand, you started spewing out nonsense. The physics professor who wrote it and the editors of the journal might not think so highly of your line of criticism.

  266. SteveK says:

    ” It is unrealistic to think somebody is going to read one of my posts and have an epiphany of atheism.”

    We finally agree.

  267. Michael says:

    Unlikely given that so many have tried to offer it an all have failed.

    Not surprising given your Closed-Minded Atheism and its childish demands for Earth-Shatteting Gaps. Look, you are so invested in your Atheism that you spend many hours here trying to convert others to your beliefs – “so perhaps if you engage enough atheists, and think about it and read about it you might come to the light of reason.” Ah yes, another god-of-the-gaps atheist promoting himself as the bearer of “the light of reason.”

    First, there is at least some possibility that I am wrong about something. To the best of my knowledge all of my opinions are correct, but my knowledge could be flawed. I prefer to discover any potential flaws in my opinions and the most likely means to do so is to express them among those who strongly disagree with me.

    You are fooling yourself here. Such an approach is very fertile ground for disconfirmation bias. I explained this years ago.

  268. Ryan August 15, 2016 at 4:32 am
    SD: What is this wonderful evidence for god you have? Why continually speak of it in the unnamed third person? Just say it.
    What is your supposed evidence for god?

    “Find a solution for the philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang.”
    * Done, there is none.

    “I demonstrated clearly before that eternal ‘stuff’ interacting by the laws of physics for an infinite amount of time creates an absurdity: ”
    * If by that you mean the infinite regress of time is irrational, true. That is not a philosophical dilemma of the Big Bang and god does nothing to solve this true philosophical dilemma.

    ” the Big Bang happened an eternity ago”
    * Your reading and writing accuracy is very low. You fail to understand the difference between “the” Big Bang and “our” Big Bang. When you get that straight you will realize there is no philosophical dilemma with our Big Bang.

    Focus Ryan
    “the”
    versus
    “our”

    “The solution is an act of pure choice and free will (eliminating infinite regress), which implies a mind.”
    * A false dichotomy of idle speculation and meaningless words. All we know is that either there is something that can be eternal that gives rise to our Big Bang or something that can pop into existence out of nothing that can give rise to our Big Bang, or perhaps there is some other alternative to existence no human being has described in general circulation.

    To assert ad hoc this must be some act “mind” and “free will” is an absurdly obvious false dichotomy, as well as simply answering one unknown with another unknown, thus adding zero explanatory value.

    You just are not very knowledgeable on these subjects, are you?

    Oh, BTW, if you want to add more ad hoc properties to this idle speculation such as perfect foreknowledge then it becomes incoherent given your assertion of free will.

    “You can posit eternal ‘stuff’, but work it out. Solve it. I posit eternal mind (something with the capacity of choice), and it’s solved”
    * I posit super duper stuff X that has magical powers to manufacture regular old stuff, problem solved.

    Don’t question the existence of super duper stuff X or she will torture you for all eternity.

    .

  269. Michael says:

    SD: What is this wonderful evidence for god you have? Why continually speak of it in the unnamed third person? Just say it.
    What is your supposed evidence for god?

    It doesn’t matter what he says. Your closed-minded atheism demands an Earth-Shattering Gap and anything less than such a Gap will be dismissed by your closed mind. You should stop pretending like you come to us with an open-mind about these issues. That is dishonest. With yourself and with us.

  270. TFBW
    “Your claim that God could provide such a thing is only true if such a thing actually exists”
    * Indeed, so for all those who believe in an omnipotent god then you must believe my claim is falsifiable by god.

    Hence, within your own worldview my assertion of falsifyability stands. You have thus been hoisted upon your own petard.

    “Indeed, if you categorically dismiss all such arguments as failures,”
    * If by “categorically dismiss” you mean preemptively dismiss without due consideration, no. I have examined every such argument individually and identified a variety of flaws in each argument on a case by case basis.

    Disproving a positive assertion by counter example or identification of flaws int the assertion is fundamentally different than proving a speculative positive assertions. Those are two very different sorts of analytical reasoning.

    I may not be able to conceive of the method god might use to absolutely prove to me her existence, but I can say that if little old me can easily identify flaws in an argument that cannot be the proof or even evidence for this speculated being.

    “But there are severe difficulties with the idea that a violation of the “fundamental behaviors of the material universe” could be observed:”
    * No, that would actually be very easy to observe. All your magic man has to do is pop into a physics lab, make something from nothing, and let the physicists measure it. This would be particularly effective if your sky dude did so simultaneously in every physics and chemistry lab on Earth simultaneously, then repeatedly on request.

    That would not convince me of perfect morality, omniscience, or other traits tacked on ad hoc but it would convince me that there is a thinking being who can be multi present and violate known physics at will, which is at least a subset of what a speculated god can do.

    “Your comment contains no other suggestions as to possible avenues of falsification. ”
    * False.

    Hit me with your best shot. Why you keep dancin around bro? You got nothin.

    What is this supposedly great evidence or argument you have? If you can’t name it you are just blowing smoke.

  271. Kevin August 15, 2016 at 6:21 am
    “I think there are potential demonstrations that could be analyzed to find that they violate the fundamental behaviors of the material universe… These sorts of demonstrations would at the very least provide evidence that there exists some sort of being capable of existing outside of yet within our material universe and capable of manipulating it at will, which would meet some definitions of god.”

    “Why would this be evidence for a god and not evidence that there is a gap in scientific knowledge?”
    * A personal demonstration on request is evidence for conscious actions of a being. Indeed, we would then ask, what is god made of? Where did this being come from? Why does this being exist as opposed to absolutely nothing at all? The speculation of god or even the demonstration of god’s reality only gets us right back to the same philosophical dilemmas, only now applied to god itself.

  272. Michael
    “t’s not a strange leap and generalization. It’s an observation. If we define a gap as something that cannot possibly be explained by natural causes, then what you demand as ‘evidence’ is a gap.”
    * By that generalization then all science is an investigation of “gaps” and their provisional explanations. A police investigation is the pursuit of evidence to fill a “gap”.

    “And, as it turns out, the popular atheist position asserting “there is no evidence for God” is a particular expression of the god of the gaps line of argumentation.”
    * I say there is no evidence for magical unicorns, but Alice says magical unicorns exist and explain the universe, I say Alice is inventing a speculation to fill a gap in our scientific knowledge.

    Yet, somehow you equate my statement with Alice’s statement. You clearly have not thought this subject through carefully, .

    God of the gaps argumentation is the attempt to answer a question with a speculated unknown when in fact an unlimited number of speculations could be concocted to “solve” the problem.

    Pointing out the worthlessness of that argumentation is not itself and instance of that argumentation, Demanding evidence for each of theses concocted speculations is not itself and instance of that speculative argumentation.

    “I’m happy to explore the topic in more depth, but you first need to acknowledge that when you demand evidence for God, you are demanding some type of Gap”
    * I demand evidence for magical unicorns from Alice just like I demand evidence for god from you.

    These are your idle speculations. The burden of proof is on you.

  273. Michael August 15, 2016 at 7:29 am
    * So throw me a bone here ok? What is this great evidence for god you guys keep referring to in the abstract like some great mystery behind the curtain?

    “First, you need to clarify if you think the god of the gaps argument is a valid argument. That is, do gaps count as evidence for the existence of God?”
    * Translation, you are bluffing.

    I call your bluff. Show me your cards or I say you have only fail.

  274. Kevin says:

    If you demanded evidence for God, and I walked up to someone with, say, a missing limb, said a prayer invoking Jesus’ name, and the limb regrew while you were standing there watching me, would this be evidence for God, or would it be evidence for a natural phenomena that isn’t understood yet?

  275. TFBW says:

    We’re not hiding anything, Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory. We have no arguments that you would accept, and we are unable to provide the kinds of demonstrations of logical impossibilities that it would allegedly take to persuade you. I can say with some confidence that there is nothing we can say or do which will ever make you change your mind the slightest bit.

    You can call that a fail on our part if you want.

  276. Michael says:

    Yet, somehow you equate my statement with Alice’s statement. You clearly have not thought this subject through carefully, .

    Oh, but I have. That’s how I am able to recognize it when you are talking out both sides of your mouth. From one side, you tell us god of the gaps reasoning is flawed. Yet, from the other side, when asked what you would count as evidence for God, you demand a Gap.

    I demand evidence for magical unicorns from Alice just like I demand evidence for god from you.

    Yet the only thing you would count as evidence for God is an Earth-Shattering Gap.

    Translation, you are bluffing.

    I call your bluff. Show me your cards or I say you have only fail.

    LOL. Dusty’s a day late and a dollar short. Your bluff has been called already, Dusty. All that talk about there being no evidence for God god, is nothing more than you insisting there isn’t a gappy enough Gap for you. Look, if I provide you a gap, you’ll complain about god-of-the-gaps. If I provide you with something that is not a gap, you’ll complain that it’s not a gap and thus no need to invoke the she-god. You may have fooled others with your “heads I win, tails you lose” game, but around here, we are on to your con.

    Of course, it does leave us to ponder one question. If your atheism was so intellectually robust, why must it be founded on the “heads I win, tails you lose” con?

  277. Ryan says:

    SD: These are your idle speculations. The burden of proof is on you.

    Science doesn’t do proof, remember? Stardusty, you are a troll. You came here with positive assertions, not the other way around. This blog is about New Atheism, not proving the existence of God. You came looking to start an argument.

    Now I will demonstrate very quickly that you are incompetent in logic:

    No, the word “exist” does not appear in the first premise. The second premise ties “exist” to “not absolutely nothing”. The third premise ties “not absolutely nothing” to “something”

    This was your desperate attempt to explain why you made a pointless question-begging argument:

    –Stuff is a general term for what any something is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all.
    -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something.
    -Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    Premise #3 is completely unnecessary: all things are something, and a thing cannot be nothing. The word nothing is a compound of no and thing and the word something is merely a compound of some and thing! Something means quite literally “a particular thing”: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/something#Pronoun and nothing means “not a thing”: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nothing#Pronoun. So, this stupid garbage: -If a thing is not absolutely nothing at all it is something. is unnecessary. You may as well say “A thing is not a non-thing and is therefore a thing”. Saying “this is a thing” or “this is some thing” or “this is something” are identical. You said The third premise ties “not absolutely nothing” to “something”. No, the English language and the LNC does, because “nothing” = “not a thing”, so “not absolutely nothing” = “not absolutely not a thing”, and the double negative cancels itself out so we are left with “a thing”, and “something” = “a thing”. Premise #3 says nothing more (or not a thing more) than “a thing is some thing”. I’m sorry, but chasing your tail around in circles is not an argument, or a “premise”.

    Now, for premise #2, this garbage: -To exist a thing must not be absolutely nothing at all. Again, nothing means “not a thing”, so we can simplify this to “a thing must not be a non-thing”. This “premise” is simply a restatement of the LNC. Whether it exists or not, a thing can never be a non-thing. This is just fluff, padding to make you argument look more complex than it is. But let’s explore the idiocy a little deeper, shall we? If the term “something” in premise #1 can possibly mean something non-existent (your reason for the other premises), then premise #1 is asserting that non-existent things are made of stuff also: Stuff is a general term for what any something (existent or non-existent) is fundamentally made of…. So, whether God exists or not, God is still made of stuff, but stuff is an existent material, so God then exists. Do you see how stupid your above argument is? I mean, it is really bad. Now, I’ll correct your “argument” for you:

    –Stuff is a general term for what any existing thing is fundamentally made of, including matter, energy, spacetime, and any as yet undiscovered substances.
    -Therefore for a thing to exist it must be made of stuff.

    I removed the unnecessary fluff and padding that resulted from your poor understanding of the English language. It’s very clear that this is a tiny circle, a useless argument. It goes absolutely nowhere. You have little competence in logic, and seem to misunderstand some basic English words.

    So the question is: are there non-existent things? If all things are made of stuff, does that include non-existent things?

  278. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, you have made statements that “Yahweh is a monster”, etc. before. I want to ask you what you think of someone who says “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” This, of course, was said by Sam Harris. Does this make Sam Harris a monster? I’ve read this quote in its context and it doesn’t change the meaning of the statement. The context is emotionally charged by a hypothetical scenario where one’s daughter is being tortured. It changes nothing for me. Emotions don’t trump logic and ethics. Sam Harris is a monster for saying this. This wasn’t something said without forethought in a heated exchange, this was published in a book. He whines that people don’t understand him, but if we examine the sacred texts of Harrisism (a blend of Buddhism and psuedo-science), we find this textual fact. We interpret this textual fact by the everyday meaning of the words and it means something like: “It’s possible that it’s morally right to kill people for believing certain ideas”. What?! What century is Harris living in? No, it’s not possible for any sane person. So, why did he say that? I propose that Sam Harris is a monster.

  279. SteveK says:

    The skeptics book of plausible deniability contains endless chapters.

  280. Kevin August 16, 2016 at 9:41 am
    “If you demanded evidence for God, and I walked up to someone with, say, a missing limb, said a prayer invoking Jesus’ name, and the limb regrew while you were standing there watching me, would this be evidence for God, or would it be evidence for a natural phenomena that isn’t understood yet?”
    * What else could god be but a natural phenomena not yet understood? If god is the original eternal stuff, then what could be more natural than god?

  281. TFBW August 16, 2016 at 12:53 pm
    “We’re not hiding anything, Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory. ”
    * Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    “I can say with some confidence that there is nothing we can say or do which will ever make you change your mind the slightest bit.
    You can call that a fail on our part if you want.”
    * indeed, that is about the weakest excuse for an inability to support a claim with evidence I have heard in a long time.

  282. Michael
    ” I provide you a gap, you’ll complain about god-of-the-gaps. If I provide you with something that is not a gap, you’ll complain that it’s not a gap and thus no need to invoke the she-god. You may have fooled others with your “heads I win, tails you lose” game, but around here, we are on to your con.”
    * Translation, you cannot state what your supposed evidence is, so you only dance around the subject with endless excuses as to why you don’t simply state it.

    What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?

  283. Ryan August 16, 2016 at 4:14 pm
    SD: These are your idle speculations. The burden of proof is on you.

    “Science doesn’t do proof, remember?”
    * For such a language expert you obviously do not grasp certain commonplace idioms.

    “If all things are made of stuff, does that include non-existent things?”
    * “Non-existent thing” is a concept, which is a brain process, not a real outside object.

  284. Kevin says:

    “What else could god be but a natural phenomena not yet understood?”

    Instead of nitpicking, answer the question. Would it be evidence for God?

  285. Ryan
    “” This, of course, was said by Sam Harris. Does this make Sam Harris a monster?”
    * Harris has the rhetorical style of setting up many conditions, caveats, and hypothetical situations and then making a statement connected to this complexity that taken by itself can seem rather horrible.

    To the best of my knowledge Sam Harris did not kill every human being on Earth save 8, nor did he bring down fire to destroy cities, nor did he give licence to genocidal invasion land theft conquest, nor did he order the actual stoning to death of many human beings for infractions such as gathering sticks on the wrong day, nor did Sam Harris create me sick with perfect foreknowledge that he would then torture me for all eternity for doing exactly what he knew I would do before he even created me.

    “Sam Harris is a monster for saying this”
    * You obviously need to learn the difference between words and actions.

  286. Kevin August 17, 2016 at 1:08 am
    “What else could god be but a natural phenomena not yet understood?”

    “Instead of nitpicking, answer the question. Would it be evidence for God?”
    * Depends how you define god. If a person in real time demonstrates an ability to perform an act then that is evidence that person has the power to perform that act. It does not mean that person is omnipotent, omniscient, all loving, perfectly moral, eternal, or other such attributes commonly ascribed to god.

  287. Kevin says:

    “Depends how you define god. If a person in real time demonstrates an ability to perform an act then that is evidence that person has the power to perform that act. It does not mean that person is omnipotent, omniscient, all loving, perfectly moral, eternal, or other such attributes commonly ascribed to god.”

    For someone who likes to nitpick language, your insistence on the incorrect lowercase g when referring to the god of the Bible is telling.

    At any rate, your answer tells me all I need to know. Thank you.

  288. SteveK says:

    I think this accurately describes the situation we are seeing here with SP. Thanks Crude.

    “When theists are asked to give evidence for their view, they point to hundreds of books featuring philosophical and metaphysical arguments, reports of miracles, and more.

    When atheists are asked to give evidence for their view, they point to dozens of books explaining why they think it’s completely unfair to ask them to give evidence for their view.”

    http://crudeideas.blogspot.com/2016/08/evidence-for-atheism.html

  289. TFBW says:

    Stardusty said:

    Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    If I throw you a bone, you’ll just tell me why you were right the first time. In any case, your analysis isn’t the sort of thing where I can highlight specific points I consider to be in error.

  290. Dhay says:

    This rabbit hole we’ve disappeared down from a thread about — well, who cares, who can remember, do we even want to remember a guy who seeks out attention, provokes attention and thrives on attention — …

    … this rabbit hole appears to have become a warren, a cave system, an extensive cave system.

  291. Ryan says:

    Stardusty, do you agree with the statement by Sam Harris: Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.? Do you believe that killing people for ideas is possibly ethical?

    SD: You obviously need to learn the difference between words and actions. Sam Harris needs to learn the difference between ideas and actions. He is the one contemplating the possibility of killing people for ideas. Do you acknowledge that Sam Harris is an idiot for saying such a thing?

    Oh, you still haven’t given any evidence for your assertion that “everything that exists must be made of stuff”. Your “argument” above is evidence that you are incompetent in logic, but not a thing else, or I could say nothing else… since that is what nothing means.

    SD: What else could god be but a natural phenomena not yet understood?

    Easy, supernatural, i.e. not a part of “nature” and its laws, but rather the source behind nature. A character in a story (Stardusty), assumes the story is all there is, but doesn’t consider that perhaps an author exists entirely outside of the story.

  292. Michael says:

    Translation, you cannot state what your supposed evidence is, so you only dance around the subject with endless excuses as to why you don’t simply state it.

    What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?

    Wrong. The correct translation is that your “heads I win, tails you lose” approach is fundamentally dishonest. Rather than deal with that (or try to refute my observation), you try to bait me into your con with taunts. This makes you look like a troll.

    I told you before that the evidence led me to think you are closed-minded about this issue. Do you have any evidence of being open-minded about the issue?

  293. Crude says:

    Stardusty’s failure so far is pretty considerable. A failure to properly comprehend science, a failure to comprehend science’s scope, a failure to defend their claims about God being unfalsifiable in any meaningful or interesting sense, a failure to defend their claims about being open to changing their mind about evidence for God (the fallback to ‘Well God would know what would change my mind!’ is priceless.)

    When they beg ‘throw me a bone here’, that’s pretty a straightforward indication of how the conversation is going for them. Analyzing their claims, pointing out the flaws in their arguments, especially the flaws about how all they need is evidence? That stifles them. And it shows why their desire to switch gears to ‘Hey, you guys try to convince me God exists, and I’ll just deny it all with a curious absent standard of evidence, and pretend my lack of being convinced means the evidence is bad.’

    But there’s another alternative: SD’s bluffing, has no standard of evidence, has a full-blown faith commitment that God doesn’t exist, and the faith commitment is unfalsifiable. And that’s where the evidence is pointing.

    So why should anyone be concerned what SD is willing to concede is good evidence or not, or a good argument or not? Wait, here’s an answer: there’s no reason to be concerned at all.

  294. Michael says:

    * Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    Dusty doesn’t understand the subjective dimension to evidence. Look, we know that Dusty has a closed-mind about the issue of God’s existence. His hyper-skepticism thus functions as a shield for this closed mind. What’s more, he thinks the God of the Bible is a monster. Thus, it would only make sense that he doesn’t want God to exist. For who would want such a Monster to exist? It’s important to understand his mindset as he “evalulates” the “evidence” for God. When you are dealing with someone who is so closed-minded about God and who doesn’t want God to exist, he is going to need something that will force/compel him to acknowledge any such evidence exists. And sure enough, he does. The only thing he will count as evidence for the existence of God is some Earth-Shattering Gap – some supernatural display of power that cannot ever possibly be explained by natural causes. He needs such shocking and mind-numbing events as “evidence” because he needs something to blow his closed-mind open. But even then, being existentially threaten by the possibility that the Omnipotent Monster exists, the hyper-skepticism will kick into overdrive in an intense effort to return to the comfort of his closed-mind – “Depends how you define god. If a person in real time demonstrates an ability to perform an act then that is evidence that person has the power to perform that act. It does not mean that person is omnipotent, omniscient, all loving, perfectly moral, eternal, or other such attributes commonly ascribed to god.”

    What Dusty does not understand is that most of us here do not share his closed-mind or his perception that God is a monster. As such, we do not require such shocking, forceful events as “evidence.” But because of Dusty’s mindset, he cannot contemplate our evidence as evidence because it fails to be powerful enough to blow up his mind that is bolted and nailed shut.

    Look, what Dusty brings to the table is a ham-handed, binary viewpoint that insists God’s existence entails his experience with Earth-Shattering Gaps. Thus, no Gap, no God. But the rest of us occupy the great expanse of middle ground between his extreme choices (Undeniable Gap vs. No God god). In this middle realm, there is room for clues. There is room for hunches. There is room for ambiguity and uncertainty. There is room to acknowledge God as a plausible, even “more plausible” explanation. There is room to take all the clues and come up with the explanation that seems most reasonable to each person. But Dusty cannot intellectually participate in such exploration, because anything less than a Undeniable Gap is flushed. As a New Atheist, Dusty is completely invested in defending and maintaining the core talking point of New Atheist activism – “there is no evidence for God god!”

  295. SteveK August 17, 2016 at 1:46 am
    “I think this accurately describes the situation we are seeing here with SP. Thanks Crude.

    “When theists are asked to give evidence for their view, they point to hundreds of books featuring philosophical and metaphysical arguments, reports of miracles, and more.
    When atheists are asked to give evidence for their view…”
    * Hilarious. Please provide me with evidence for your aleprechaunist views.

    No, I will not accept any lame excuses like “nobody has an scientifically verifiable evidence for leprechauns” or “leprechauns are just stories like thousands of other stories about magical beings.”.

    Noooooo. I demand solid evidence against leprechauns!

    Oh, but I am being so unfair, aren’t I Steve? I am sure you can, in your own words, give me the philosophical arguments that are evidence for god.

    Tick Tock.

  296. TFBW August 17, 2016 at 2:28 am
    Stardusty Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    “If I throw you a bone, you’ll just tell me why you were right the first time.”
    * So, you obviously realize you will have no rational retort at that point so you choose not to put yourself in the position of being demonstrated to have an erroneous set of propositions.

    Your abstention is thus a clear indicator of your self acknowledged error.

    “In any case, your analysis isn’t the sort of thing where I can highlight specific points I consider to be in error.”
    * Indeed. You are unable to identify any errors in my analysis.

    At least you have the intellectual honesty to admit it. So I will now invite you, my friend, into the light of rationality that is atheism. It is not so cold an foreboding as one might imagine. I find the search for as much knowledge as I am able to gain in this short amazing life to be thrilling.

    When I die I am convinced I will have no awareness of that fact or anything else. My own near death experiences have given me a visceral sense of this intellectual conclusion. All the more reason I cling to the absorption of as much reality as I can perceive in my fleeting moment of consciousness in the vast expanse of all existence.

  297. TFBW says:

    Stardusty, declaring victory and singing your own praises is cheap. Any fool can do it. Many do.

  298. Ryan says:

    SD, I’m still curious if you agree with Sam Harris that killing people for ideas is possibly ethical? Yes or no?

  299. Kevin says:

    This has been like the verbal equivalent of the Black Knight. Even complete dismemberment would not convince him he had lost the fight, and when King Arthur finally gave up and left, the Black Knight postured (as well as one can while standing on his pelvis) as though he won and Arthur was fleeing.

  300. Dhay says:

    Three hundred posts before this one; it must be a record; a broken one.

  301. Gottfried says:

    The patient is exhibiting the symptoms of WMA (Walter Mitty Atheism). No known cure, I’m sorry to say.

    In case anyone is unfamiliar:

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/10/walter-mitty-atheism.html

  302. SteveK says:

    Tick Tock.
    What on earth do leprechauns have to do with our current subject? Nothing.

    You mistakenly think there IS a relevant relationship there. This serves to demonstrate that you DON’T understanding the arguments and evidences for God. It’s ironic, but even more that that it’s tragic. Wake up!!

  303. TFBW says:

    He’s not asleep — he’s meditating. Can a meditative state produce a strong sensation of enlightenment? Because that would explain a lot.

  304. SteveK says:

    All of us (except Dusty) know that created things (contingent things) – even those things created by human imagination, like leprechauns and unicorns – are DIFFERENT than God. Dusty in his state of perpetual slumber has vivid dreams that God is like Zeus or Thor or some intelligent and powerful alien life form.

    Shhhh…let him keep dreaming. Don’t wake the baby.

  305. Dhay says:

    TFBW > We’re not hiding anything, Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Stardusty Psyche > Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    TFBW > If I throw you a bone, you’ll just tell me why you were right the first time.

    Stardusty Psyche > So, you obviously realize you will have no rational retort at that point so you choose not to put yourself in the position of being demonstrated to have an erroneous set of propositions.

    To which the answer had already been given.

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Definitely a broken record. One which Stardusty Psyche has evidently been determined to keep playing, however repetitive, until he is the last man standing — read, interested in perpetuating an extremely long and extremely futile exchange — in order to claim a spurious “victory” (a “victory I predicted way back in this thread he would eventually claim) and to come out with that arrogant and patronising “victory” exultation, “I will now invite you, my friend, into the light of rationality that is atheism.”

    It became very plain to me very early on that Stardusty Psyche was spouting all sorts of bollocks, and that everyone here recognised that; yet in his own mind, and his mind only, he evidently sees himself, somehow, as judge, and as jury, and as prosecuting counsel — and has now declared himself the successful plaintiff.

    Allow you to disabuse you of that notion, Stardusty Psyche: nobody here recognises you in any of those roles; nobody here recognises ourselves or Christianity in the role of defendant; your apparent claim to debate success is … is an an unacceptable, unaccepted and silly claim. None here has conceded defeat, none here has converted to atheism. None here has been impressed by what you claim is “the light of rationality that is atheism”, indeed the complaints that your positions have been untenable have been legion. And not withdrawn.

    Definitely a broken record, one which looks like it will skip into repeats indefinitely if allowed, so there’s not a lot of point anyone continuing to feed the troll. TFBW has already said it:

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

  306. FZM says:

    Dhay,

    Definitely a broken record. One which Stardusty Psyche has evidently been determined to keep playing, however repetitive, until he is the last man standing — read, interested in perpetuating an extremely long and extremely futile exchange — in order to claim a spurious “victory” (a “victory I predicted way back in this thread he would eventually claim) and to come out with that arrogant and patronising “victory” exultation, “I will now invite you, my friend, into the light of rationality that is atheism.”

    I suspected you might be right when I read that prediction a while ago. The quote you made about attention seeking behaviour here:

    This rabbit hole we’ve disappeared down from a thread about — well, who cares, who can remember, do we even want to remember a guy who seeks out attention, provokes attention and thrives on attention — …

    … is also interesting and I think relevant to the way this discussion has gone.

    Stardusty’s reply to TFBW was entertaining. If it wasn’t tongue in cheek though maybe a bit disturbing. Like an atheist version of Count Arthur Strong from the Radio 4 program?

  307. Michael August 17, 2016 at 7:20 am
    SP Translation, you cannot state what your supposed evidence is, so you only dance around the subject with endless excuses as to why you don’t simply state it.
    What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?

    “Wrong. The correct translation is that your “heads I win, tails you lose” approach is fundamentally dishonest.”
    * Can you be more specific? How is asking you for evidence for your assertion of god somehow dishonest?

    “you try to bait me into your con with taunts. This makes you look like a troll.”
    * Indeed I do not count “you look like a troll” as any sort of evidence for your assertion that there is a god at all, much less Yahweh/Jesus/Spirit.

    “I told you before that the evidence led me to think you are closed-minded about this issue. Do you have any evidence of being open-minded about the issue?”
    * I cannot prove my personal state of mind to you, nor can you prove yours to me, however, I do not expect you to change your mind easily or quickly. Change comes over time in small increments with much communication, reading, and contemplation. Certainly I have engaged at great length on topic in words that are obviously not simply copy and paste responses, which is at least consistent with a person with an open mind. You may, of course, propose alternative explanations, go ahead if you wish, it is of no matter to me because I generally do not assert my personal motivations unless asked or accused.

    Note, you still have not provided any evidence for god you think is worthwhile, even if you suspect I would not agree.

  308. Crude August 17, 2016 at 7:41 am
    “Stardusty’s failure so far is pretty considerable. A failure to properly comprehend science, a failure to comprehend science’s scope, ”
    * Truly hilarious.

    “the fallback to ‘Well God would know what would change my mind!’ is priceless”
    * Indeed, infact, it is irrefutable logic
    God could affect any real process
    Changing my mind would be a real process
    God could change my mind

    Of course, I reject the first premise, but on an omnipotent god it would be true. So, either you reject the speculation of an omnipotent god, or you realize such a god could change my mind, else you reject the postulates of logic itself.

    Which is it?

    “Analyzing their claims, pointing out the flaws in their arguments”
    * No person on the thread has validly done so.

  309. Michael August 17, 2016 at 11:51 am
    ” It’s important to understand his mindset as he “evalulates” the “evidence” for God. ”
    * That’s pretty good, reading my mind through the internet. I suggest you quit this blog and open a psychic chat line, you would clean up!

    “the hyper-skepticism will kick into overdrive in an intense effort to return to the comfort of his closed-mind – “SP Depends how you define god. If a person in real time demonstrates an ability to perform an act then that is evidence that person has the power to perform that act. It does not mean that person is omnipotent, omniscient, all loving, perfectly moral, eternal, or other such attributes commonly ascribed to god.””
    * Note, you did not find any actual flaws in my statement, you just kind of don’t like it.

    “Look, what Dusty brings to the table is a ham-handed, binary viewpoint that insists God’s existence entails his experience with Earth-Shattering Gaps.”
    * I take it back about you cleaning up in the mind reading biz, you are really not so good at it. Many things exist independent of my experience, to think otherwise would be grossly egocentric, unless I really am god and you really are a figment of my divine imagination.

    “In this middle realm, there is room for clues. ”
    * Do you have a clue? So far you have been unwilling to share it here, so that makes me think you don’t. What is this great clue you have?

    “there is no evidence for God god!”
    * You have done nothing here to falsify that claim.

  310. TFBW August 18, 2016 at 3:11 am
    “Stardusty, declaring victory and singing your own praises is cheap. Any fool can do it. Many do.”
    * I realize that in this setting it may seem that way to you. Believe what you will, I have no means to independently demonstrate my own voracity, but I will tell you nevertheless that I am perhaps cursed, perhaps blessed, with an overabundance of empathy. In my sensibilities each and every person I communicate with is a real human being, and I think of you as though you were sitting 5 feet away from me right now, even if you appear to only be four upper case letters on my monitor.

  311. Ryan August 18, 2016 at 4:28 am
    SD, I’m still curious if you agree with Sam Harris that killing people for ideas is possibly ethical? Yes or no?
    * You do not get to choose my words for me.

    We, as a nation, do in fact kill foreign people when our security services conclude that person has ideas of attacking the United States of America, and there is sufficient reason to believe those ideas will be realized in the future if that person is not killed.

    Are those the ideas you are asking about?

  312. SteveK August 18, 2016 at 11:37 am
    Tick Tock.
    “What on earth do leprechauns have to do with our current subject?”
    * God is leprechaun level speculation.

    “This serves to demonstrate that you DON’T understanding the arguments and evidences for God. ”
    * I have never read or heard a sound argument for god, nor have I ever been shown any valid evidences for god.

    Do you have any such to share here? I would be forever in your debt if you will.

  313. SteveK August 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    “All of us (except Dusty) know that created things (contingent things) – even those things created by human imagination, like leprechauns and unicorns – are DIFFERENT than God.”
    * leprechauns are eternal, don’t you know? They have magical powers to do anything. How is that different from god?

    “Dusty in his state of perpetual slumber has vivid dreams that God is like Zeus or Thor ”
    * How do you know Yahweh is not the son of previous gods? After all, is is a father, why not also a son?

  314. SteveK August 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    ” nobody here recognises you in any of those roles; nobody here recognises ourselves or Christianity in the role of defendant”
    * Indeed, your lack of recognition is very apparent.

    “None here has been impressed by what you claim is “the light of rationality that is atheism””
    * Most unfortunate for you, but I am still hopeful on your behalf.

  315. FZM
    “If it wasn’t tongue in cheek though maybe a bit disturbing”
    * So you are disturbed by sincerity?

  316. Kevin says:

    The problem, Stardusty, is that all of us have danced this dance numerous times in the past. A hyper-skeptic toward God is not going to accept any evidence for God. Indeed, as Richard Dawkins stated, nothing can be evidence for the supernatural and he has no idea what evidence for God would even look like, because he finds a hallucination or aliens more likely than God and does not believe himself capable of differentiating the two. If someone like Richard Dawkins demands evidence for God, it’s frankly contemptible. A closed mind is not seeking answers and thus should not pretend to be otherwise.

    So, constantly asking for evidence for God, when you yourself have said that even the regrowing of a missing limb immediately following a prayer invoked in Jesus’ name is not really evidence for God, is disingenuous on your part and an exercise in futility on our part. There is literally nothing that you will count as evidence for God, and all of us here know that.

    The other thing you are perhaps not aware of is that you are the only one who places real weight on your own opinion and your own powers of reasoning. I certainly have no expectation that anyone I encounter should by default think that I am better at reasoning than they are, thus they should put some inordinate amount of emphasis on what I say (unless it is in an area that I specialize in and they have no expertise, of course). Consider what I say, yes, that is a reasonable expectation in a conversation, and we have considered what you’ve said and we’ve rejected it, just like you’ve rejected what we say. Now, our interpretation of those rejections obviously don’t match, but it’s irrelevant.

    All of us with whom you have been conversing are convinced by the evidence that there is a god. We can explain why we believe in God all day long, and you can dismiss those reasons all day long, and it is frankly irrelevant to us. Your opinion is not evidence, and we have already rejected your arguments against God as insufficient. It would not concern me in the slightest if a piece of evidence I present you is rejected, because there is essentially a 100 percent chance that the reason you reject it is an objection I have already encountered numerous times and dismissed as flawed. That certainly holds true for the arguments presented in this blog, at any rate. Your certainty that your reasoning is correct is no doubt very compelling for you, but it means nothing for us.

    Just because no one is bothering to present you with reasons we believe in God and the supporting evidence for those reasons, and just because the arguments given to you have not changed your mind, does not automatically mean that it’s because we have poor reasons and your reasoning and arguments are superior to ours. Otherwise I suppose we can assume that Ken Ham has superior reasoning and arguments to all scientists who accept evolution, since they haven’t changed his mind.

  317. Ryan says:

    SD? We, as a nation, do in fact kill foreign people when our security services conclude that person has ideas of attacking the United States of America, and there is sufficient reason to believe those ideas will be realized in the future if that person is not killed.

    Are those the ideas you are asking about?

    No. Not at all. You are ignorant if you think conspiracy to commit acts is the same as believing certain propositions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_(criminal) That is not at all what Sam Harris was talking about. So, do you agree with this statement: Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. Sammy boy is clearly not talking about conspiracy to commit acts here. He is not talking about someone plotting to bomb a building or commit a terrorist attack. He’s talking about believing ideas. Are you really this obtuse? No language about intent to commit acts or planning activities… just believing propositions. And Sam is sitting there at his desk wrestling with the idea of killing people for believing statements. In his mind it may be ethical to kill people for believing certain ideas. Think about how insane that is. Really think about it.

  318. TFBW says:

    Ryan said:

    Are you really this obtuse?

    You need to ask? If he were any more obtuse, he’d be a perfectly straight line.

  319. Ryan says:

    Kevin: Your opinion is not evidence, and we have already rejected your arguments against God as insufficient….Your certainty that your reasoning is correct is no doubt very compelling for you, but it means nothing for us. Just because no one is bothering to present you with reasons we believe in God and the supporting evidence for those reasons, and just because the arguments given to you have not changed your mind, does not automatically mean that it’s because we have poor reasons and your reasoning and arguments are superior to ours.

    Stardusty really does not seem to grasp the importance of this. He accepts no authority but his own, and he does so proudly. But this reduces all his arguments to “I believe this because I believe this because I believe this.” Or “I don’t believe this because I don’t believe this because I don’t believe this.” He believes there is no evidence for God because he believes there is no evidence for God because…. All the reasons he gives are self-referential in the end.

  320. Kevin August 19, 2016 at 1:47 am
    “The problem, Stardusty, is that all of us have danced this dance numerous times in the past. A hyper-skeptic toward God is not going to accept any evidence for God. ”
    * Indeed, you keep dancing around. You are the kind of person who will spend 20 minutes telling my you don’t have the time to tell me something that would require 10 seconds to say.

    Howzabout you stop dancing around and just say what this great evidence for god is that you find so compelling and I am such a fool for not accepting yet you are so reticent to explicitly state?

    “when you yourself have said that even the regrowing of a missing limb immediately following a prayer invoked in Jesus’ name is not really evidence for God”
    * It would be an interesting attention getter at the very least. It would not demonstrate eternal existence, perfect absolute morality, omniscience, omnipotence, or other such traits often ascribed to various gods.

    Yet, not even this starting point is evident. If your god cannot even count to five why should I believe he knows the calculus of all existence?

    “There is literally nothing that you will count as evidence for God, and all of us here know that.”
    * Same old song and dance…

    You are like Joseph Smith and his golden plates he could not show but insisted were real.

    “we have considered what you’ve said and we’ve rejected it,”
    * Indeed, but absent expressed sound reasons for doing so.

    “All of us with whom you have been conversing are convinced by the evidence that there is a god”
    * That’s great, now we are getting somewhere. What is that evidence?

    “Just because no one is bothering to present you with reasons we believe in God and the supporting evidence for those reasons, and just because the arguments given to you have not changed your mind, does not automatically mean that it’s because we have poor reasons and your reasoning and arguments are superior to ours”
    * Translaiton: “I could if I wanna I just don wanna”

  321. Ryanb
    ” SH Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”
    * If the proposition is that one should plot to deliver a WMD against the USA and that proposition is determined upon diligent investigation to be a credible threat of being realized then quite possibly under those particular circumstances yes.

    “Really think about it”
    * Been there, done that. Sam Harris is not my god. I have no burden to defend his statements. I am certain he would characterize them differently than you have. I do not much care. I have my own statements to make. I do you use your words or the words of Sam Harris, rather, I use my words.

  322. Ryan
    “He believes there is no evidence for God because he believes there is no evidence for God because…. ”
    *…nobody will just say what this supposed evidence is!!!

  323. TFBW says:

    Stardusty:

    …nobody will just say what this supposed evidence is!!!

    You have never admitted the possibility that you would accept anything as evidence for the existence of God as described in the Bible. In fact, you’ve made it quite clear that you won’t accept anything of any sort, ever. As such, you’re inviting us to present evidence which we know a priori you will reject. Why are you doing that? It serves no purpose other than to give you an excuse to keep talking.

  324. Michael says:

    * Can you be more specific? How is asking you for evidence for your assertion of god somehow dishonest?

    I did not say asking for evidence is dishonest. I said your “your “heads I win, tails you lose” approach is fundamentally dishonest.”” Why did you twist my words?

    * Indeed I do not count “you look like a troll” as any sort of evidence for your assertion that there is a god at all, much less Yahweh/Jesus/Spirit.

    Never said you should, now did I? I’ve shown how you come to the table talking out both sides of your mouth. You ignore this because you can’t dispute it. Since you can’t dispute it, you double down on the taunts. It is the taunting, coupled with you ignoring how your posturing has been discredited, that makes you look like a troll. Why are you here trolling? Does trolling help distract from the nihilism of your atheism?

    * I cannot prove my personal state of mind to you, nor can you prove yours to me,

    I didn’t ask you to prove anything. I asked if you have evidence of being open-minded about this issue. You don’t seem to understand the difference between proof and evidence. If you do, then it means you were dishonestly twisting my words.

    however, I do not expect you to change your mind easily or quickly.

    Indeed I do not count “I do not expect you to change your mind easily or quickly” as any sort of evidence for your assertion that you are open-minded.

    Change comes over time in small increments with much communication, reading, and contemplation.

    So, slowly, and over time, you think I will become an atheist because there isn’t a gappy enough gap for Stardusty? LOL. Stardusty, did you ever consider the possibility that your communication skills are lacking? I mean, what is your success rate at converting theists to atheists?

    Certainly I have engaged at great length on topic in words that are obviously not simply copy and paste responses, which is at least consistent with a person with an open mind.

    That you have engaged at great length on topic in words that are obviously not simply copy and paste responses is merely evidence that you are a closed-minded blabbermouth obsessed with converting theists to atheists, all facilitated by having too much time on his hands. It’s not evidence of your open mind.

    Note, you still have not provided any evidence for god you think is worthwhile, even if you suspect I would not agree.

    Given you do not understand the difference between proof and evidence, I think it highly likely that you are incapable of recognizing the subjective dimension to evidence, let alone the crucial significance of that point. Whether or not any evidence for God is worthwhile does not require your consent.

    Look, you have made it clear that, in your mind, nothing less than some explosive, undeniable Gap can count as evidence for God. You have made it clear that you are closed minded about this issue. So why do you keep pretending that you are interested in “evidence?”

  325. Michael says:

    * That’s pretty good, reading my mind through the internet. I suggest you quit this blog and open a psychic chat line, you would clean up!

    To understand one’s mindset, you need only read their words and consider their positions.

    * Note, you did not find any actual flaws in my statement, you just kind of don’t like it.

    It’s example of how extreme your uber-skepticism goes. And note Dusty’s double standard. When I asked for evidence of his open mind, he replied, “I cannot prove my personal state of mind to you, nor can you prove yours to me.” Yet here he is demanding that others prove God’s state of mind to him.

    * I take it back about you cleaning up in the mind reading biz, you are really not so good at it. Many things exist independent of my experience, to think otherwise would be grossly egocentric, unless I really am god and you really are a figment of my divine imagination.

    You are confused. I noted that what you bring to the table is a ham-handed, binary viewpoint that insists God’s existence entails your experience with Earth-Shattering Gaps. The reason you think God does not exist is because you have not experienced some miraculous display of power than could not be explained by natural causes. Entailed in your logic is the notion that if God existed, you would have experienced such miraculous displays of power than could not be explained by natural causes.

    * Do you have a clue? So far you have been unwilling to share it here, so that makes me think you don’t. What is this great clue you have?

    See? I never said anything about a “great clue?” Dusty can’t comprehend how others might formulate their views based on a synthesis of a variety of integrated clues. Dusty, that you need Big Gaps means your mind can’t process clues.

    * You have done nothing here to falsify that claim.

    LOL. That’s hardly a meaningful claim coming from one whose atheism is unfalsifiable. Do you have any evidence that you atheism is falsifiable?

  326. Michael says:

    Believe what you will, I have no means to independently demonstrate my own voracity,

    LOL. You have demonstrated your “voracity” Stardusty – 274 comments in 2 months time. More than the next three most prolific commenters combined!

    but I will tell you nevertheless that I am perhaps cursed, perhaps blessed, with an overabundance of empathy. In my sensibilities each and every person I communicate with is a real human being, and I think of you as though you were sitting 5 feet away from me right now, even if you appear to only be four upper case letters on my monitor.

    Wow. He’s so empathetic that he has yet to pause for one moment and consider why it is that everyone he interacts begins to think he is some type of troll.

    I’m thinking of capping Dusty’s “contributions” to the blog to 300 comments/year. Anyone have objections out there? Now is the time to speak up.

  327. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche > Certainly I have engaged at great length on topic …

    Arrant nonsense: the topic of this thread is transhumanism. Let me quote you this brief snippet of the OP, summarising and winding up:

    So transhumanism is form of pseudoscience that mixes atheism, narcissism, and the quest for power. Of course, from the Christian perspective, this is all quite predictable.

    @Michael: I have used Ctrl-F to search back for “Istvan”, “Zoltan” and “transhuman” (which also finds any variants such as “transhumanist” and “transhumanism”. Apart from the occasional on-topic interjection by myself, and even more occasional replies to those interjections (by others than Stardusty Psyche), this thread has been off-topic since it was — judging by the scroll bar — about 20% of its current length.

    That is, Stardusty Psyche has been off-topic for 80% of this thread, and shows no inclination now to return to topic.

    Could I suggest you close the thread to all further off-topic responses.

  328. SteveK says:

    – Old atheist –
    Here’s evidence for God
    I’m not convinced
    Here’s my reasoning…
    I disagree with that reasoning because…

    – New atheist –
    Here’s evidence for God
    There’s no evidence for God. Science! Statistics!
    Here’s my reasoning…
    You haven’t offered any evidence yet. Physics! Technology!
    I explained why that is evidence
    When will you give me the evidence? Evolution! Science!

  329. TFBW August 19, 2016 at 6:02 am
    Stardusty:…nobody will just say what this supposed evidence is!!!

    “You have never admitted the possibility that you would accept anything as evidence for the existence of God as described in the Bible.”
    * So? Does your evidence depend on my admissions?

    “In fact, you’ve made it quite clear that you won’t accept anything of any sort, ever. As such, you’re inviting us to present evidence which we know a priori you will reject. ”
    * Sounds like you have no confidence in the evidentiary value of your supposed evidence.

    “Why are you doing that?”
    * Science is very much about finding fault, uncovering flaws in reasoning, providing counter examples, and falsifying claims. I am always on the lookout for anybody who can do so with respect to my positions, opinions, arguments, and claims. So far all I have gotten from the kind folks here are disjointed arguments, and the schoolyard claim that you could do it if you wanted to but you just don’t want to because there would be no use to it so therefore you won’t

    My claim “there is no evidence for god” is an inductive reasoning proposition. I have looked in places I would reasonably consider to be possible sources for such evidence if it were to exist, yet I have found none. I have read and listened to learned theologians, theistic professors and philosophers, and various apologists. None of these folks have presented any even remotely sound arguments for god.

    But, you guys seem pretty sharp. Maybe you would be so kind as to point out the errors in my reasoning, I could only be the better for it. However, if you won’t provide any examples of what you consider to be valid evidence for god that means my claim stands unfalsified by all here.

  330. SteveK says:

    None of these folks have presented any even remotely sound arguments for god.

    Tell us which premises are false and provide the evidence.

  331. TFBW says:

    Science is very much about finding fault, uncovering flaws in reasoning, providing counter examples, and falsifying claims. I am always on the lookout for anybody who can do so with respect to my positions, opinions, arguments, and claims.

    So, then, one last time before I join Dhay in his suggestion that this thread be closed down, what kind of thing would you accept as evidence for the existence of God as described in the Bible (not just any god)? If your claim that there is no evidence is falsifiable, and you know that it’s falsifiable, then you must know some possible condition which would serve to falsify it. What condition is that?

    Why will you not share this information with us? Could it be that you don’t know of any such condition, or worse, that you know there is no such condition? I think that these alternatives are more likely. I claim that you have a closed mind, and are merely pretending to have an open mind in order to posture as though you hold the intellectual high ground. In actual fact, it’s blatant intellectual dishonesty — a game of “heads I win, tails you lose” as Michael puts it.

    You can falsify my claim by providing the missing information: a possible set of conditions which would satisfy you that there is evidence for the God of the Bible. Give us a crystal clear description of your requirements in that regard. One last chance. Be evasive, and I think we can all safely say it’s Game Over Stardusty.

  332. Crude says:

    TFBW said: “In fact, you’ve made it quite clear that you won’t accept anything of any sort, ever. As such, you’re inviting us to present evidence which we know a priori you will reject. ”

    Stardusty replied: Sounds like you have no confidence in the evidentiary value of your supposed evidence.

    So, let’s see. So far we’ve established – with a whole lot of evidence – that Stardusty is entirely close-minded about God’s existence. When they’ve started to stumble in the direction of saying what type of evidence they would consider to be evidence for God’s existence, they fell right back into God of the gaps land – at which point they become desperate to change the subject.

    At this point, they have one final fallback: ‘You guys have all been talking to me, and I remain unconvinced about God’s existence, or even that there’s evidence!’

    Two points about this. First, notice that when Stardusty can’t convince anyone here, they muse that of -course- no one here is convinced, for that takes so much time and dialogue and, etc. (Forget for a moment that most of us have been talking about this for years, with atheists far more intelligent than Dusty.) But when Stardusty isn’t convinced immediately, that’s supposed to be meaningful. The idea that they’re being put on the path to realizing (as many other atheists have) that their standards of evidence are bunk, and their position is unsound? They dance around that possibility.

    But second, notice the gimmick: Stardusty wishes so desperately that our standard for success or failure here is ‘The ability to convince Dusty that Dusty is wrong, and get them to admit it.’ Dusty isn’t asking for evidence for God (that’s available in copious amount). Instead, Dusty is demanding we get them to admit there’s evidence for God. Very different thing, and far less interesting. Same goes for evaluating arguments – Dusty huffs that they’re all bad and unsound, but no demonstration of that comes. Instead, we just get ‘the judgment of Dusty’, and that’s it.

    And that’s the sad state Dusty is in, and why New Atheism has become less and less interesting to even atheists, and the irreligious at large: because at the end of the day, it’s just inconsistencies and gimmicks like this. Even the slow-wits among the Cult of Gnu eventually want something new and at least interesting.

  333. Kevin says:

    You are the kind of person who will spend 20 minutes telling my you don’t have the time to tell me something that would require 10 seconds to say.

    I have plenty of time. What I don’t have is interest, since no matter what I say, I know exactly how you will respond, and your response will change nothing.

    Howzabout you stop dancing around and just say what this great evidence for god is that you find so compelling

    Are you that desperate to reject an argument? Do you believe your rejection will somehow convince me, when the countless times I’ve seen that objection in the past have been met with nothing but my dismissal for being flawed or not compelling?

    Same old song and dance

    Same old evasion on your part. Demonstrate that you won’t simply dismiss it out of hand, like all other New Atheists do, and I might feel there’s some profit that can be had in such an exchange. Because I’ve watched you get handily beaten on a number of issues in this thread and you can’t even recognize that fact.

    Indeed, but absent expressed sound reasons for doing so.

    “Sound reasons for doing so” and “reasons that managed to convince Stardusty” are not synonymous. See my previous post regarding the weight of your reasoning.

    Translaiton: “I could if I wanna I just don wanna

    Same old evasion on your part. Childish taunting is not sufficient to get us to engage in an exercise in futility. However, your complete inability to analyze your own methods and presentation (such as what I wrote to prompt the above childish taunt), and to see the errors that you make, is so fascinating that morbid curiosity keeps prompting me to come back, even despite the futility.

    I also call on this thread to be closed, just to get it over with.

  334. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche > I have read and listened to learned theologians, theistic professors and philosophers, and various apologists. None of these folks have presented any even remotely sound arguments for god.

    “None”; “any”; “even remotely”: there’s doxastic closure for you.

  335. G. Rodrigues says:

    @Dhay:

    ““None”; “any”; “even remotely”: there’s doxastic closure for you.”

    I am pretty sure that if we were to take the historically most important theologians (an Aquinas, a Leibniz), and then ask Stardusty to explain where they go wrong, he would not even be able to reconstruct their arguments it would. It is a case of doxastic closure in the exact measure that Stardusty does not have the least clue of what he is talking about.

  336. Ryan says:

    SD: I have read and listened to learned theologians, theistic professors and philosophers, and various apologists. None of these folks have presented any even remotely sound arguments for god.

    Correction. There is no possible way for you to make that assertion in your worldview. The most you can say is that “none of these folks have presented arguments that I consider sound in my subjective opinion.” Your worldview has no possible way of reaching beyond mere personal opinion. You’ve acknowledged this before. That is what all of us are saying. It’s pointless to discuss anything with you because you deem yourself to be the logic god, the language god, the morality god, and generally the god of everything. It’s interesting to note that, theologically speaking, this is fundamentally what sin is: the desire to be god. You are enslaved to yourself. You accept no authority but your own. You actually said this openly; I guess you think it’s some sort of virtue to be a narcissistic megalomaniac.

    When you dismiss arguments there is no demonstration of why the argument fails, no appeal to the “postulates of logic”; you simply dismiss them. You tell, but you don’t show. When I rejected your horrible argument that was supposed to prove that everything is made of “stuff” I demonstrated why it failed. I took the time to show that it was a question-begging circular argument. I didn’t just say “It’s horrible cuz of the fundamental postulates of logic, dude… cat got your tongue… throw me a bone.” Or something similarly stupid that you would say. You never specify exactly what postulates of logic you are talking about or rigorously show how you are applying them. You don’t show the logical process involved with your conclusions, and we all assume that’s because there is none. Saying “If we all provisionally agree upon the postulates of logic, then my conclusion is right” is something you might say after rigorously demonstrating it. But you don’t show, you merely tell. “Thus saith Stardusty” is all you have.

    You never explained the process involved in determining whether the definitions given by the Oxford English Dictionary are valid or not. It seems to have no logic behind it, merely your own whim. You accept this definition, you reject this one. The standard you appealed to was your own opinion of whether the dictionary got the definition right, which is just a complicated way of saying: Stardusty is the language god. I didn’t say that you claimed the right to define words, but you did assume the authority to determine whether a definition accurately reflects the common usage in English or not. The OED doesn’t assign meanings to words, it merely describes their acquired meanings. You claim to be a higher authority in determining the acquired meanings of words. But you seem to be completely blind to your arrogant, prideful claim to godhood.

    In closing I note that over 90% of the total mass-energy of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy. Both of which are hypothesized to exist and have no direct observable evidence. Over 90% of what we experience on a daily basis has no direct observable evidence. They are assumed to exist because we experience their effects; direct observation is not necessary to know something exists. I assume you believe in dark matter and dark energy although we have no direct observable evidence of them? We know God exists because we see the effects of his existence everywhere. You want to observe God directly. Yet it is because of God’s mercy that he doesn’t grant that. God “hides”, as you say, out of mercy. Direct observation of God by an unregenerate fallen human would be an experience of sheer terror: think naked in front of the classroom but to the nth degree. The incarnation was God communicating himself to us in a way that would not destroy us: clothed in humble human flesh, a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. If you spurn this humble condescendence of God and demand direct observation of God himself to believe, all I can say is “be careful what you wish for”.

    I think we’ve all reached the limit in feeding you.

  337. Michael says:

    * Science is very much about finding fault, uncovering flaws in reasoning, providing counter examples, and falsifying claims.

    Done with experiments.

    I am always on the lookout for anybody who can do so with respect to my positions, opinions, arguments, and claims.

    I , and others, have uncovered the flaws in your reasoning. You refuse to listen and instead double down on your flawed reasoning. There is nothing scientific about your approach.

    So far all I have gotten from the kind folks here are disjointed arguments, and the schoolyard claim that you could do it if you wanted to but you just don’t want to because there would be no use to it so therefore you won’t

    Not true. What I and others have done is uncover flaws in your reasoning processes, but you refuse to acknowledge them.

    My claim “there is no evidence for god” is an inductive reasoning proposition. I have looked in places I would reasonably consider to be possible sources for such evidence if it were to exist, yet I have found none.

    Oh really? Can you list these places?

    I have read and listened to learned theologians, theistic professors and philosophers, and various apologists. None of these folks have presented any even remotely sound arguments for god.

    This is closed-minded posturing. Your close mind needs a Gigantic Undeniable Gap just to pry it open a bit. Without having your mind blown open by such a Gap, you of course will dismiss anything less.

    But, you guys seem pretty sharp. Maybe you would be so kind as to point out the errors in my reasoning, I could only be the better for it.

    I have done that. Your atheism is built on god of the gaps reasoning, where the only thing you will count as evidence for God is some Gap. Yet, at the same time, you also insist that god of the gaps reasoning is flawed. The “heads I win, tails you lose” approach that is the essence of your thinking means your position is unfalsifiable. From where you sit, nothing can count as evidence for God.

    However, if you won’t provide any examples of what you consider to be valid evidence for god that means my claim stands unfalsified by all here.

    The only “example” you would accept is a Big, Undeniable Gap and that would work merely to pry your mind open a tiny bit. Your position is unfalsifiable.

  338. Kevin says:

    “I am pretty sure that if we were to take the historically most important theologians (an Aquinas, a Leibniz), and then ask Stardusty to explain where they go wrong, he would not even be able to reconstruct their arguments”

    I like this. Stardusty, can you name some of these people who have not even come close to making the case for God, and perhaps name one of their arguments and why it is flawed?

    Because if you can refute someone regarded as one of the best at articulating the arguments for God, then it is indeed possible that your reasoning is superior to my own.

  339. Michael
    “Given you do not understand the difference between proof and evidence,”
    * interesting, would you be so kind as to provide your evidence for god, while acknowledging it is not absolute proof?

    ” I think it highly likely that you are incapable of recognizing the subjective dimension to evidence, let alone the crucial significance of that point.””
    * Ok, now we are getting somewhere. You have no scientific or logical, or rational evidence for god, rather, your evidence is purely subjective and since I, in your view, have no capacity for the subjective it would all be lost on me, you think.

    Can you at least describe these subjective evidences? Do you feel god came to you in a dream? Do you get a warm feeling in your core when you imagine god? Is god some other sort of emotional experience for you?

    “So why do you keep pretending that you are interested in “evidence?””
    * The question presupposes a falsehood, more commonly known as a loaded question, along the lines of “are you still beating your wife?”

  340. Michael August 19, 2016 at 7:01 am
    * Note, you did not find any actual flaws in my statement, you just kind of don’t like it.

    “It’s example of how extreme your uber-skepticism goes.”
    * So, in your mind Descartes was a sort of troll due to his “uber-skepticism”?

    When did skepticism become a bad thing? Sorry, I didn’t get that memo.

    “When I asked for evidence of his open mind, he replied, “I cannot prove my personal state of mind to you, nor can you prove yours to me.” Yet here he is demanding that others prove God’s state of mind to him.”
    * False on several counts. Try to be more accurate, ok? I am not asking anybody to prove god’s opinions. I am not asking anybody to absolutely prove anything to me.

    All I am asking for is some evidence that god exists.

    You claim I do not know the difference between evidence and proof, yet you conflate them in your assertions against me. That is commonly a strawman technique. What do you hope to gain in your fallacious assertions against me?

    “I noted that what you bring to the table is a ham-handed, binary viewpoint that insists God’s existence entails your experience with Earth-Shattering Gaps. The reason you think God does not exist is because you have not experienced some miraculous display of power than could not be explained by natural causes. ”
    * You still don’t get it. God either does or does not exist irrespective of what I think. You contradict yourself in back to back sentences even upon repetition. That tells me you just don’t get it.

    “Entailed in your logic is the notion that if God existed, you would have experienced such miraculous displays of power than could not be explained by natural causes.”
    * No, again, you just don’t get it. Speculatively, god could exist and simply choose not to reveal herself to me.

    “See? I never said anything about a “great clue?””
    * You said clue. so what is this clue? If you could just say it instead of playing “I could if I wanna” like a kid on the playground I think that would be great.

    “Do you have any evidence that you atheism is falsifiable?”
    * Atheism is not a positive assertion, at least not for me. Your god is a positive assertion made by you.

    However, on an omnipotent god, then atheism is by definition falsifiable by god.

  341. Michael
    “LOL. You have demonstrated your “voracity” Stardusty – 274 comments in 2 months time. More than the next three most prolific commenters combined!”
    * Should have been “veracity”, not “voracity”

    “I’m thinking of capping Dusty’s “contributions” to the blog to 300 comments/year. Anyone have objections out there? Now is the time to speak up.”
    * Well, I am not surprised you are considering blocking me. About all I am doing is responding to questions addressed to me, Nobody here can provide evidence or rational argumentation against my positions.

    So, eventually, it’s safe space time, consensus by blocking.

  342. Kevin says:

    “Nobody here can provide evidence or rational argumentation against my positions.”

    “Nobody here can change my mind.”

    See the difference?

    But shoot, I can play your game and prove myself correct. First, give me your working definition of evidence and rational. Then, tell me if you agree with the following statement:

    A fact can be evidence for more than one possibility when the truth is not known.

  343. Ryan says:

    SD: Ok, now we are getting somewhere. You have no scientific or logical, or rational evidence for god, rather, your evidence is purely subjective and since I, in your view, have no capacity for the subjective it would all be lost on me, you think.

    I don’t believe that you’re really this stupid Stardusty, you’ve got to be trolling. Michael is saying that all evidence is interpreted by a human mind and is therefore subjective in a sense. There is no such thing as purely objective evidence. Michael is not saying that he has subjective evidence for God like “warm feelings”. He’s not talking about the type of evidence that you presented for your morality. Your evidence for your morality was of the “warm feelings” type. Remember that you appealed to nothing but your touchy-feelies? What Michael is saying, rather, is that all evidence is subjective the moment it is perceived by a human mind. Emotions affect one’s ability to interpret evidence. You have extremely strong negative emotions toward the concept of God. There is research that demonstrates that this will cause you to negatively interpret any evidence for God. It’s the same thing that lies behind racism and other similar attitudes. Atheists that don’t refer to God as a “monster” are much more rational in discussions like this. Calling God a “monster” is a purely emotional, feeling-type of response; it’s not scientific, it’s not rational, and it shows that you have very, very, very strong emotions attached to this topic. In other words, you cannot approach the topic rationally.

  344. TFBW says:

    Given Stardusty’s latest stuck-record responses, I’m OK with the thread being closed to further posts now. He’s never going to answer the question about what kind of evidence would satisfy him that the God of the Bible exists. He’s going to keep demanding that we kick a goal while he hides the goalposts. He needs to get his own forum instead of spamming other ones with his off-topic, repetitious and impossible-to-satisfy demands for evidence.

  345. Dhay says:

    Stardusty Psyche, since you seem determined to drag this thread around in circles, allow me to do the same:

    TFBW > We’re not hiding anything, Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Stardusty Psyche > Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    TFBW > If I throw you a bone, you’ll just tell me why you were right the first time.

    Stardusty Psyche > So, you obviously realize you will have no rational retort at that point so you choose not to put yourself in the position of being demonstrated to have an erroneous set of propositions.

    To which the answer had already been given:

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Definitely a broken record. One which Stardusty Psyche has evidently been determined to keep playing, however repetitive, until he is the last man standing — read, interested in perpetuating an extremely long and extremely futile exchange — in order to claim a spurious “victory” (a “victory I predicted way back in this thread he would eventually claim) and to come out with that arrogant and patronising “victory” exultation, “I will now invite you, my friend, into the light of rationality that is atheism.”

    It became very plain to me very early on that Stardusty Psyche was spouting all sorts of bollocks, and that everyone here recognised that; yet in his own mind, and his mind only, he evidently sees himself, somehow, as judge, and as jury, and as prosecuting counsel — and has now declared himself the successful plaintiff.

    Allow you to disabuse you of that notion, Stardusty Psyche: nobody here recognises you in any of those roles; nobody here recognises ourselves or Christianity in the role of defendant; your apparent claim to debate success is … is an an unacceptable, unaccepted and silly claim. None here has conceded defeat, none here has converted to atheism. None here has been impressed by what you claim is “the light of rationality that is atheism”, indeed the complaints that your positions have been untenable have been legion. And not withdrawn.

    Definitely a broken record, one which looks like it will skip into repeats indefinitely if allowed, so there’s not a lot of point anyone continuing to feed the troll. TFBW has already said it:

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    And now the broken record skips back and plays again:

    Stardusty Psyche > However, if you won’t provide any examples of what you consider to be valid evidence for god that means my claim stands unfalsified by all here.

    To which the answer is as I have stated in my words, and others have stated in theirs to say the same:

    TFBW > We’re not hiding anything, Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Stardusty Psyche > Do you at least have some evidence you think I should have found satisfactory but you think I erroneously rejected? Throw me a bone here.

    TFBW > If I throw you a bone, you’ll just tell me why you were right the first time.

    Stardusty Psyche > So, you obviously realize you will have no rational retort at that point so you choose not to put yourself in the position of being demonstrated to have an erroneous set of propositions.

    To which the answer had already been given:

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

    Definitely a broken record. One which Stardusty Psyche has evidently been determined to keep playing, however repetitive, until he is the last man standing — read, interested in perpetuating an extremely long and extremely futile exchange — in order to claim a spurious “victory” (a “victory I predicted way back in this thread he would eventually claim) and to come out with that arrogant and patronising “victory” exultation, “I will now invite you, my friend, into the light of rationality that is atheism.”

    It became very plain to me very early on that Stardusty Psyche was spouting all sorts of bollocks, and that everyone here recognised that; yet in his own mind, and his mind only, he evidently sees himself, somehow, as judge, and as jury, and as prosecuting counsel — and has now declared himself the successful plaintiff.

    Allow you to disabuse you of that notion, Stardusty Psyche: nobody here recognises you in any of those roles; nobody here recognises ourselves or Christianity in the role of defendant; your apparent claim to debate success is … is an an unacceptable, unaccepted and silly claim. None here has conceded defeat, none here has converted to atheism. None here has been impressed by what you claim is “the light of rationality that is atheism”, indeed the complaints that your positions have been untenable have been legion. And not withdrawn.

    Definitely a broken record, one which looks like it will skip into repeats indefinitely if allowed, so there’s not a lot of point anyone continuing to feed the troll. TFBW has already said it:

    TFBW > … Stardusty: you have seen it all, and rejected it all. There is nothing more in store which isn’t similar to that which you have already deemed unsatisfactory.

  346. TFBW says:

    Woah. Déjà vu.

  347. Ryan says:

    It’s like an episode of the Twilight Zone. (Rod Serling’s voice): “Meet Mr. Stardusty Psyche…”

  348. Michael says:

    * interesting, would you be so kind as to provide your evidence for god, while acknowledging it is not absolute proof?

    I would be happy to be so kind with folks who are sincerely interested and open and fair-minded about the issue. But the evidence indicates you are a closed-minded Gnu whose atheism is unfalsifiable. Your interest in “evidence” does not come across as sincere.

    * Ok, now we are getting somewhere. You have no scientific or logical, or rational evidence for god, rather, your evidence is purely subjective and since I, in your view, have no capacity for the subjective it would all be lost on me, you think.

    Given your “No BIG Gap, no God” position, I am not surprised you would twist my words like this. There is a subjective dimension to all evidence in the sense that evidence is not detected, it is recognized. Data are detected. The mind then “sees” the data as evidence as a function of the mind’s context of beliefs. I have written about this many times.

    Can you at least describe these subjective evidences? Do you feel god came to you in a dream? Do you get a warm feeling in your core when you imagine god? Is god some other sort of emotional experience for you?

    I didn’t say subjective evidences. I noted the subjective dimension to evidence. You seem to think your extreme closed mind about this issue is irrelevant. You couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I outlined the subjective dimension of evidence as it pertains to you here.

    * The question presupposes a falsehood, more commonly known as a loaded question, along the lines of “are you still beating your wife?”

    Wrong. The evidence indicates you are closed minded. You cannot dispute this. Neither can you provide evidence of your open mind. Thus, the question builds on the evidence and does not presuppose a falsehood – why do you keep pretending that you are interested in “evidence?” when the evidence indicates you are not?

  349. Michael says:

    * So, in your mind Descartes was a sort of troll due to his “uber-skepticism”?

    LOL. The troll compares himself to Descartes. You are no Descartes, Dusty.

    When did skepticism become a bad thing? Sorry, I didn’t get that memo.

    Skepticism is not a bad thing. Uber-skeptism is. It’s called disconfirmation bias.

    * False on several counts. Try to be more accurate, ok? I am not asking anybody to prove god’s opinions. I am not asking anybody to absolutely prove anything to me.

    But you backpeddled on your Gap as evidence for God claim by insisting that you would need more evidence about the Gap Maker’s state of mind – evidence that He is “all-loving” and “omniscient.” You can’t provide a single piece of evidence about your own state of mind, yet you insist others provide mighty evidence about God’s state of mind. But we’re all used to you talking out both sides of your mouth.

    All I am asking for is some evidence that god exists.

    LOL! In your mind, the only possible thing that could count as “evidence” is some mind-blowing miracle that would be viewed as a miracle only because it was a Gap. And even then, the only thing the Undeniable Gap would do is open up you closed mind a bit. Quit pretending you are interested in evidence.

    You claim I do not know the difference between evidence and proof, yet you conflate them in your assertions against me. That is commonly a strawman technique. What do you hope to gain in your fallacious assertions against me?

    When I asked you for evidence of your open mind, you evaded the question by insisting “I cannot prove my personal state of mind to you, nor can you prove yours to me.” The record shows you are the one who conflated evidence and proof.

    * You still don’t get it. God either does or does not exist irrespective of what I think. You contradict yourself in back to back sentences even upon repetition. That tells me you just don’t get it.

    You are now projecting your own confusion on to me. You are the one who has concluded God does not exist because you have not personally experienced a Wondrous Miracle/Gap.

    * No, again, you just don’t get it. Speculatively, god could exist and simply choose not to reveal herself to me.

    Since the only thing you count as evidence for God is Him “revealing Himself to you” through signs and wonders, thank you for acknowledge the vacuity of your entire evidential case. Yes, God’s existence is not a function of your experience (or lack of experience) with miracles. Just because there is no Gap does not mean there is no God.

    * You said clue. so what is this clue? If you could just say it instead of playing “I could if I wanna” like a kid on the playground I think that would be great.

    I honestly don’t think you capable of following such a discussion, epecially since you said you wanted a “big clue.”. But I’ll throw you a bone on your way out the door. One tiny little clue is you and your behavior (which is not unique to you). You unintentionally behave in such a way that is consistent with the truth of Christianity. It’s uncanny. But I don’t think you’ll ever be able to understand/comprehend that sliver of evidence.

    * Atheism is not a positive assertion, at least not for me. Your god is a positive assertion made by you.

    “There is no evidence for God” is a positive assertion about our shared reality. It is an unfalsifible claim given you a) insist on it being true for all and b) will not count anything as evidence for God.

    However, on an omnipotent god, then atheism is by definition falsifiable by god.

    When the atheist will count nothing as evidence for God, by definition, the atheist has an unfalsifiable position. When the only thing the atheist will allow as evidence for God is a Gap, yet the atheist will not allow god-of-the-gaps reasoning, by definition, this position is unfalsfiable.

    While you are constrained by the contents of your collection of Gnu books, others are beyond those assertions and capable of swimming in deeper waters.

  350. Michael says:

    * Should have been “veracity”, not “voracity”

    Yet a most humorous Freudian slip on your part.

    * Well, I am not surprised you are considering blocking me. About all I am doing is responding to questions addressed to me, Nobody here can provide evidence or rational argumentation against my positions.
    So, eventually, it’s safe space time, consensus by blocking.

    No, you are trolling. It’s been explained to you independently by several different people. Apparently you think you are entitled to monopolize the comments section here such that by Christmas time, there would be over 1000 comments from you ignoring the questions and points of others. I don’t understand why you think the comments section of this blog should be yours.

    If you want to see what a safe space looks like, consider Jerry Coyne’s blog or PZ Myers blog, where no dissent is allowed. Or Sam Harris’s blog, where no comments are allowed. Or Richard Carrier’s blog, where you have to pay to comment. Run an experiment – try posting 300 dissenting comments on Coyne’s or Myers blog. 😉

    On this blog, I have allowed you to monopolize the comments section all summer with close to 300 long-winded contributions that commonly ignore the points others are making or the questions they are asking. And that take the blog entry off-topic (as demonstrated by Dhay above). By allowing a Gnu atheist approximately 300 chances to spout his talking points and taunts over a period of only two months, even to the point of allowing a thread to be dereailed, I have shown just how open we are to dissent. There is no need for 400, 500, or 1000 comments. 300 is sufficient; the evidence is in. Actually, 300 was overly generous on my part and probably unncessary. So now that you have fulfilled your purpose….

    null

  351. TFBW says:

    Adieu, Stardusty. You can notch up that as another triumph for your superior intellect, where the forum owner banned you because your arguments were irrefutable. Walter Mitty wins again.

  352. Michael,
    “If you want to see what a safe space looks like, consider Jerry Coyne’s blog or PZ Myers blog, where no dissent is allowed. Or Sam Harris’s blog, where no comments are allowed. Or Richard Carrier’s blog, where you have to pay to comment. Run an experiment – try posting 300 dissenting comments on Coyne’s or Myers blog. 😉”
    * Indeed, those are safe spaces, so you have lowered yourself to their standards. I was hoping you were better than they are in that respect, but not expecting it really.

  353. Michael says:

    I often allow the banned one last parting shot after the ban. So Stardusty has his:

    Indeed, those are safe spaces, so you have lowered yourself to their standards. I was hoping you were better than they are in that respect, but not expecting it really.

    Oh, but if I was just like them, none of your 300 comments would have seen the light of day. Or maybe, like Coyne, I’d turn one of your comments into a blog post, criticize it, encourage others to pile on, and not let you post a single response to anyone. That’s how New Atheists play.

    By allowing you 300 chances to speak your mind, I have shown that I am “better” than these popular atheist blogs. Remember, I don’t have to be perfect. Just a little better. Lesson for the Day? The Christian was far more open to dissent, and far more tolerant of opposing views, than the blogs of today’s popular Atheist leaders. Thank you for acknowledging the atheist leader blogs are safe spaces.

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