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Cheap shot skepticism, courage and cowardly ‘free thought’

Today I am enjoying the privilege of sitting in on some high school senior religion classes (through virtual conferencing software) and taking the role of non-believer, challenging the students on what they believe, especially in regards to the resurrection.

Some may think it difficult to take the role of the skeptic but I find it to be astonishingly easy.  So easy, it reminded me of some observations about skeptics and their arguments- or more precisely, the wind that carries them- that I’ll share now.

It’s easy to be a skeptic because it is much easier to not believe something as to believe it.   Skepticism has no non-arbitrary stopping point.  That is, full blooded skepticism will naturally morph into cynicism.  There is no objective point where any kind of argument, piece of evidence, or logical deduction must coerce belief.  This is a point I raise in this post. Many skeptics construe their skepticism as an act of courage, as though being willing to question everything shows a brave streak that others do not have.  To a point, there is courage… and in a way, yes, there is something to that.

However, if it is brave to question everything it is braver still to believe anything.  Let me illustrate.

Let’s say we are debating the location of a particular car.  Person ‘Bob’ says the car is in location X.  Person ‘Steve’ is not convinced.  Now, there are an infinite number of places that the car actually could be but there is only one place that it actually is.  If Bob points to location X, Steve need only only retort that it might actually be in location Z or Y or BB, or H, or ALKJDKLJDF, ad infinitum.  Steve can strictly only be refuted on any particular point by traveling to one of those points to see if it is actually there or not.  If it isn’t, Steve”s worldview is left basically intact, because rather than conceding the point he can always raise the possibility that it could be somewhere else. 

Bob, on the other hand, is making a definitive statement that he is prepared to back up.  In sum, negative assertions exist in infinite numbers but positive assertions are bound to narrow, finite realities.

Now, I know that you are saying that in this scenario Bob can make his case simply enough to Steve by showing him to location X, and thus Steve will be compelled to stop his dispute.  This would be rational, but this would not be the spirit of skepticism that I’ve observed related to discussions of God and Christianity.  If a person does not want to accept something, pure skepticism allows them an infinite number of escapes.

So, Steve, upon being given the exact location of the car and the opportunity to examine it, can still say such things as…

  • “Maybe the car only appears to be there.  It could be a hologram.”
  • “The car could be a hallucination that we are sharing.”
  • “Perhaps we are both encased in a life sustaining device ala the Matrix where in reality we THINK we can feel and touch the car, but in fact, this is just a trick of our mind.”
  • “Space aliens have implanted this experience because they want us to reveal technological secrets to them so they can invade us.”
  • “Given a nearly infinite amount of other, parallel universes, it could be that the car is actually located in another of the universes but because of some, yet undiscovered, quantum law, an image of it is able to present itself to our minds but it is physically located in some other universe.”
  • “The car is not here.  You are not here.  The universe is not here.  It is all a function of my singular mind- solipsism is actually true, and there are many who agree!”

And so on and so forth.  If this sounds ridiculous, you are looking at variations of skeptical arguments that I have actually heard.  For example, I had an atheist tell me that even if Jesus really did rise from the dead, this could be explained as an alien abduction.  Note, he didn’t actually believe this.  His point was simply that he could come up with a naturalistic explanation and any naturalistic explanation is preferred over a supernaturalistic one.  And how many times have the implications derived from contemplating the ‘agreed’ facts about the origin of the universe- apparently at a discrete point in time in our history, from nothing- been parried by the skeptic by invoking the multiverse?

As a case in point, consider Stephen Hawking’s recent determination that ‘something can come from nothing.’  Ie, the universe could have just ‘popped’ into existence, uncaused.

Well, obviously if someone is prepared to believe such a thing, than believing anything about anything and nothing about everything is welcome.  For example- you think you are reading this post… in fact, the universe just popped into existence a micr0second ago, replete with the appearance of age and the illusion that you have been living out a life this whole time.  In fact, it just ‘popped’ into experience, fully formed with its mature nature and your recollections- uncaused.

Why not?

This isn’t bravery or courage when one has descended to that level of thinking.  If anything, it is the opposite- it is pure cowardice.  The really brave thing would be to admit that by all appearances, the universe had a discrete beginning and its madness to think that it came into existence without a cause.  Everything else we know with beginnings have causes- why the exception for the universe?  Gone is the day when the atheist could posit that the universe is eternal.  The scientific evidence points to something else, but as we see in this scenario, the skeptic can still find a way to question and doubt and as this example illustrates, is perfectly willing to go well beyond science and well beyond what we could ever, in principle, know as an empirically verifiable fact.

In saying all this, I do not contend that all belief is warranted or that arguments for belief in a particular thing are very good or well substantiated.  I don’t mind rigorous evaluation of truth claims.  However, I am saying that the skepticism of the atheist is only courageous insofar as there is a realistic place on the spectrum of questioning where he would be willing to settle on something definitive as true and real.   As a corollary, someone who is willing to finally make up their mind that something is true and real and is ready to change their life to reflect that conclusion also exhibits courage and bravery, and this courage and bravery is of a different character than the courage of questioning.  The latter, as I have argued, can go on and on forever, while the former must eventually choose a hill to stand on, and on that hill, possibly ‘die.’

I said early on that there is no non-arbitrary break between free wheeling skepticism and outright cynicism.  I stand by that (bravely).  To keep someone from becoming a simple cynic one will have to pick a place where one will be willing to give their provisional assent.  And then… and this is key… hold firm to that, consistently, wherever it leads you and whatever consequential implications follow from doing so.

For example, if you choose to accept as true that which is empirically verifiable, and reject that which is not, then you know that things that have beginnings have causes- and the universe had a beginning.  Will you accept this implication or will you chuck out your standard now that it has produced a conclusion that threatens your atheism?

I give this as an example of what I mean, and it should not be construed as exhaustive.  For example, I might also ask:  what of the things you believe are true and real that you have not demonstrated empirically?

Ok folks, be brave out there.

 

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109 Responses to Cheap shot skepticism, courage and cowardly ‘free thought’

  1. “For example, if you choose to accept as true that which is empirically verifiable, and reject that which is not, then you know that things that have beginnings have causes- and the universe had a beginning”

    I actually believe that the universe did not have a beginning, but is eternal. We know beyond a doubt that matter and energy are interchangeable and constant (unless you doubt that E really is equal to mc2) and they can not be created or destroyed. All of our atoms will exist in some form forever and have existed “forever” (I love that business about how we all have a little bit of Pope Pius XIV in our bodies, or something equally amazing and bizarre).

    Anyway, I believe that the universe has always existed in some form and will alway exist in some form. The current form is just one of an infinite number of forms. Why do we need a beginning?

  2. We also know beyond a doubt that entropy exists and has summarily disproven the option of the universe being eternal.

    Once again, we see your beliefs based on little to no actual evidence or understanding.

  3. “For example, if you choose to accept as true that which is empirically verifiable, and reject that which is not, then you know that things that have beginnings have causes.”

    What about radioactive decay?

  4. “Once again, we see your beliefs based on little to no actual evidence or understanding.”

    Amazing, isn’t it? That people are happy to construct contra-evidential beliefs, and then defend them by demanding the very evidence they rejected.

  5. Stathei, I’ll get around to responding to you, soon.

    Tim- radioactive decay is indeed pretty interesting, especially from purely naturalistic perspectives. Certainly it poses a serious problem for Stathei, since he just said he is ready to posit an eternal universe. On that basis, there would have been an eternity of moments preceding us, therefore all elements ought to have already decayed into their daughter elements by now. Hence, the mere existence of radioactive elements is a challenge- maybe even a death blow- to his position. Bandaids like a steady-state hypothesis might save him, although they have fallen completely out of favor. But as I said, they are interesting, even on the basis of the commonly accepted cosmology as I will allude to here presently.

    Radioactive decay is not a problem for my statement ‘things with beginnings have causes’ even on the commonly accepted cosmology. One word: nucleosynthesis.. So, radioactive elements are believed to have a cause after all.

    Whether or not you are satisfied with this explanation, no one that I’m aware of posits that radioactive materials had beginnings without causes. The only thing I’ve ever had given to me as a rebuttal are ‘virtual particles’ (and not a very good rebuttal, at that).

    Nucleosynthesis is about as ad hoc as the steady-state hypothesis, but it is a sufficient answer to your challenge anyway.

  6. Anthony,

    “On that basis, there would have been an eternity of moments preceding us, therefore all elements ought to have already decayed into their daughter elements by now.”

    You’re not suggesting that the protons, electrons and neutrons in any given radioactive atom have always been part of that radioactive atom, are you? Or, put another way, that all of the radioactive atoms that will ever exist have already been assembled?

    Stathei might be mistaken about the eternality of the universe, but, if he is, it won’t be because there are some atoms still decaying.

    “One word: nucleosynthesis.. So, radioactive elements are believed to have a cause after all.

    I wasn’t talking about the creation of radioactive elements, I was talking about the rate at which they decay.

    To wit:

    “Radioactive decay is a stochastic (i.e., random) process at the level of single atoms, in that, according to quantum theory, it is impossible to predict when a given atom will decay.”
    Wikipedia

    That is, each instance of decay is uncaused.

  7. “Or, put another way, that all of the radioactive atoms that will ever exist have already been assembled?”

    I actually think that its a definite possibility that ‘new’ radioactive elements can be created. I don’t think we’ve been studying it long enough to know otherwise, and the universe is a big place. However, given that radiometric dating is supposed to give us surefire evidence of the age of the earth, our solar system, and the galaxy, I’d bet that an awful lot of atheists wouldn’t be so willing to grant that possibility.

    Actually, having had dozens and dozens of such conversations over the years, I can say from experience that even suggesting what you just suggested has earned me scorn and contempt.

    Thanks for the clarification on what you were referring to in particular. My response…

    “That is, each instance of decay is uncaused.”

    Whoa, partner. Back the truck up. First of all, let’s be clear- just because something is random, doesn’t make it uncaused. If I flip a fair coin, it will randomly come down heads or tails, but in either case it wasn’t uncaused. In this case, clearly the proximate cause was the fact that I flipped the coin! But other causes could be brought into the mix, such as the wind blowing the coin, or maybe the ‘heads’ side being just a smidgen heavier, or whatever. What we call a ‘random’ result is actually the end of a chain of interlocking causes, many of which… or even most of which… we’ll never know. But no one believes that a coin that comes up heads was uncaused just because it was ‘random.’

    Second of all, let’s try not to prove the point of the post that you’re reacting to. 🙂 Just how far are you going to go to redeem your point? I ask, because by invoking this sort of argument about causation, obviously it is a simple matter to point out that the there are causes all over the place in this scenario, and eventually we will find ourselves running smack dab into the singularity of the Big Bang… which, if did not happen, there would be no universe, and hence no radioactive materials to decay. 😉

    In short, the thing with a beginning- the specific discrete decay- had a cause, a chain of causes, like the coin flip- where we can point out that the decay was ’caused’ at the minimum by the fact that the material existed in the first place in order to decay. 🙂

    Having said that, I don’t really agree that just because we presently do not know why or when a particular atom is going to decay that it is uncaused. I also don’t accept the idea that we can cherry pick just one tiny aspect out of a whole chain of events to fix our ‘beginning.’ As is, I can see you saying “Well, the atom began to decay without a cause, therefore here is a thing with a beginning that didn’t have a cause.” But that’s really a funny place to fix your ‘beginning’ because, as I have already hinted, the ‘beginning’ of the decaying was not non-contingent: it was contingent on the existence of the radioactive materials to begin with, so on and so forth.

    As an aside, I’m with Einstein on this one. I think that if our knowledge was sufficient, we WOULD know when a particular atom was going to decay, and why. It may be that the nature of the thing forbids us from ever having that kind of knowledge, in principle or in practice. Nonetheless, you can see that even accepting your ‘beginning’ point, I don’t really believe that just because the moment of decay was ‘random’ that it was ‘uncaused’, I believe we just don’t currently know what the causes are.

  8. I don’t think radioactivity is a problem for my pet theory. I don’t think that our particular “universe” is eternal, but that it began at the big bang having existed in some other form before that.

  9. And pray tell just how did we reach the present, Stathei, if you’re going to hold to an infinite number of past “universes” with no ultimate First Cause?

    Problem with an infinite past with no caused beginning (and when I say “beginning” I mean “of everything”) is that there would be no present or future given that all past events would have a preceding event occuring before them. Forever. But since you are in the present arguing for a belief that effectively denies the forward march of time, I’d say you’ve got a problem.

  10. EB, why does there have to be a beginning? Just because our feeble minds need one to help us understand?

    My bottom line is that all this stuff is as far beyond human comprehension as E=mc2 is to my dog – we’ll never truly understand it. I think they guy with the real problem is the complacent oaf who thinks he knows all the answers.

  11. Anthony,

    My only point here was that new atoms of already known elements are being created all over the universe, all the time. So the fact that a still-decaying atom of a particular radioactive element exists in no way excludes the possibility of an infinite universe.

    I have no idea whether actual new elements (as in, new entries in the periodic table) are being created. I’ll leave that, and all these sorts of questions, to the experts… physicists.

    “First of all, let’s be clear- just because something is random, doesn’t make it uncaused.”

    It’s not the randomness
    That isusually true, but not in the case of radioactive decay.

    Your example doesn’t really fit, for three reasons.

    Firstly, your random event (the coin toss) has a cause by definition. You are essentially saying, “If I cause a coin toss, then the ultimate outcome has a cause”, which doesn’t prove much.

    Secondly, the random variables are different. The random variable in the coin toss is the outcome, whereas the random variable in radioactive decay is the time taken for an individual atom to decay. The difference is significant, since, with a discrete random variable such as heads / tails, we know the full set of outcomes, even if we can’t predict which it will be. But a continuous random variable, like time, has an infinite number of possible outcomes.

    Thirdly, given enough time, it is certain that each atom will decay. The same cannot be said of the coin toss. That is, given an infinite number of coin tosses, we cannot say with certainty that a head, for example, is certain to occur.

    In any event, the fact remains that physicists are happy to report that nothing causes a particular atom to decay.

    “I don’t really agree that just because we presently do not know why or when a particular atom is going to decay that it is uncaused.”

    Shouldn’t we let the physicists decide?

    “As an aside, I’m with Einstein on this one. I think that if our knowledge was sufficient, we WOULD know when a particular atom was going to decay, and why.”

    Can you point me to where he said that? I’m not being facetious, I’m genuinely curious.

    “I don’t really believe that just because the moment of decay was ‘random’ that it was ‘uncaused’”

    Good, no one else does, either! 🙂

  12. “My only point here was that new atoms of already known elements are being created all over the universe, all the time.”

    I don’t think that was actually your point. 🙂 But I’ll just reiterate that this is a dangerous thing to assert if you wish to include radioactive elements, as this leaves open a challenge to radiometric dating- which, mind you, I personally don’t mind, but could pose a problem for folks on the atheist side of the aisle.

    ““If I cause a coin toss, then the ultimate outcome has a cause”, which doesn’t prove much.”

    That’s not at all what I was saying. In my example of the coin toss, I was merely taking aim at your assertion that because radioactive decay happens at random, it happens uncaused. You seem to have come on board with me on this, so now what?

    “Secondly, the random variables are different. The random variable in the coin toss is the outcome, whereas the random variable in radioactive decay is the time taken for an individual atom to decay.”

    It goes without saying that the variables are different. Obviously they are going to be different. This doesn’t change the fact that there are, in fact, variables.

    “Thirdly, given enough time, it is certain that each atom will decay.”

    Is it? The question interests me, but doesn’t really change my argument. If there are just 2 atoms left of radioactive element Z with a believed half life of 1,000,000 years, I really don’t know how we can get to the idea that it’s really certain that after a million years one of those atoms, and one only (or either), will in fact decay. Despite the success in using radioactive decay in measurement and time and such, I still view the whole endeavor as an extrapolation- after all, we’ve only been observing such things in an orderly fashion for some 150 years. That’s far off from the hundreds of thousands and millions of years given for the half life of some elements.

    “In any event, the fact remains that physicists are happy to report that nothing causes a particular atom to decay.”

    Nothing that they can say, that is, which is different indeed.

    And what of the phenomena of ‘critical mass.’? Surely this presumes that there are some forces at work to generate the instability associated with critical mass- regardless of the fact that we don’t know what those forces are, per se.

    “Shouldn’t we let the physicists decide?”

    You’re the one pinning your argument to this. If you’re going to appeal to the physicists then the burden is on you to defend your claim. You won’t be able to get away with “the physicists say” because in making the argument your own, you’ve made the responsibility to employ the argument your own.

    I note that you haven’t actually cited any references or anything to ensure us that you’ve actually represented the physicists correctly on this particular point. So far you are depending on our shared understanding of nuclear physics. Unwise, probably. How about some sources showing that the physicists really believe that decay is ’causeless’?

    More to the point, why don’t you ask them if uranium is required in order for uranium to decay? As I said, that counts as a cause. The decaying is contingent on there being something to decay from, but something that really is causeless is contingent on nothing.

    “Can you point me to where he said that? I’m not being facetious, I’m genuinely curious.”

    It’s all that “God does not play dice with the universe” stuff, and his rejection of the thought line that eventually led to the Heisenberg Uncertainty. Check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohr%E2%80%93Einstein_debates

  13. Apologies for some dodgy proof reading in my previous post. 🙂

    Interestingly, your point has implications for the foundation on which Christianity is built. If everything has a cause, then so do our choices, so there is no free will, and no original sin.

    And if you want to claim that the decay was caused vicariously via the atom’s exitence in the first place, then we can trace all causes back to god’s alleged creation of the universe, and hence, original sin was caused as well. By god himself.

  14. “I don’t think that was actually your point.”

    Let me assure you that it was precisely my point.

    “But I’ll just reiterate that this is a dangerous thing to assert if you wish to include radioactive elements, as this leaves open a challenge to radiometric dating.”

    It does no such thing. I didn’t say that new radioactive atoms are being created on earth. And even if there were, it would simply change the statement “the earth is 4.5 billion years old” to “the earth is at least 4.5 billion years old”.

    “I was merely taking aim at your assertion that because radioactive decay happens at random”

    I asserted no such thing.

    “If there are just 2 atoms left of radioactive element Z with a believed half life of 1,000,000 years, I really don’t know how we can get to the idea that it’s really certain that after a million years one of those atoms, and one only (or either), will in fact decay.”

    Of course you can’t say that. A half-life is a statistical average of the stochastic waiting time until an event. If you lined up a billion of your Z atoms, you simply know that, after a million years, you will have roughly 500 million Z atoms left. But it is absolutely certain that, given enough time, there will be none left at all.

    “I note that you haven’t actually cited any references or anything to ensure us that you’ve actually represented the physicists correctly on this particular point.”

    True. I’m relying on recollections of various “first-cause” rebuttals that I have read, which is, admittedly, not very rigourous. Likewise, you haven’t presented references that show that physicists believe there is a cause, but they don’t yet know what it is.

    Why don’t we both go away and do some research? 🙂

    “More to the point, why don’t you ask them if uranium is required in order for uranium to decay? As I said, that counts as a cause.”

    I don’t think it counts as a cause at all. If you could, you may as well start prosecuting the murder weapon, instead of the murderer himself.

    That Einstein article is rather long… can you point me to the relevant section?

  15. That’s OK… found it. From the article on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle :

    “Albert Einstein believed that randomness is a reflection of our ignorance of some fundamental property of reality.”

    From my brief reading, however, it appears that Einstein was mistaken…?

  16. To Stathei, finally.

    First of all, Stathei, can you jump out of a bottomless pit? That’s what EB is getting at. You can’t, because there is nothing to push off of in order to make the jump.

    I am glad that we had a chance in the meantime to iron out a little about your position. It isn’t that you think the universe is eternal, but impersonal ‘stuff’ is eternal. There are some serious problems with this, though. In the first place, there is simply the empirical problem coupled with the current scientific theoretical consensus. Note, I am here assuming for the moment that there is no God. Based on the notion that there is no God, a bunch of scientists have determined that your position is impossible. Sorry.

    IN the first place, while for a while there was hope that in the big bang cosmology there was a constant cycle of bang followed by collapse followed by bang, of late the assessment is that there is bang followed by heat death: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_death_of_the_universe and universe expanding forever.

    Probably more importantly, theoretical physicists agree that the laws of nature that we rely on right now completely break down as you approach the event horizon of the singularity of the big bang… see, for eg,

    source that says: For virtually any application we can imagine this limitation of our theories is completely irrelevant, but it means we can’t describe the universe immediately after the big bang. We can only say that our current model of the universe begins when the density was somewhere below the Planck density and we can say virtually nothing about what the universe was like before that. We therefore take as our initial condition a universe at or just below the Planck density, and any questions about the instant of the big bang itself are eliminated from consideration.

    Is this a cop-out? It certainly is.

    That’s just one example. Many others can surely be found. The point is that all of the logical rules that you take for granted (eg, cause and effect) can’t be assumed at all prior to a certain point before the big bang.

    From the foregoing, you can see that the basic scientific consensus right now is:

    1., in principle, we can know nothing about the nature of reality prior to a certain point after the big bang.
    2., the universe as we know it is expected to expand on into eternity
    3., rather than a cycle of bangs and collapses, maximum entropy and final heat death seems to be the order of the day.

    In short, your belief that the universe is eternal is completely at odds with current scientific beliefs.

    Now, I don’t necessarily fault you for this. As I hope I was clear, the above conclusions are based on purely naturalistic assumptions, and I don’t myself believe that we ought to adopt, a priori, purely naturalistic explanations. For you, however, this poses a problem, because you’re ready to hang your hat on what science has said, and you believe something that is contrary to what science has said.

    And frankly, what you believe is really a lot like what you reject from ‘religionists.’ You have no way of knowing about the nature of reality in other putative universes or before the big bang or after a trillion years. No one does. And yet you have the audacity to taunt EB? That makes no sense at all.

    Haven’t you any curiosity at all how an impersonal universe can yield personal beings such as yourself? You realize you can’t get more out of a system than the system contains, right? If you have a pile of coins that are all dimes, no wishing otherwise will produce a nickel. If the universe is utterly impersonal, it cannot give up something that is personal. Unless the universe is not utterly impersonal…

    In which case, you are just a few steps away from Hinduism, and not very far away from theism.

    Except maybe you aren’t a personal being at all? Perhaps you are just a mechanical expression of cause and effect that are predetermined by your ingredients, nothing more, nothing less?

    Finally, there is an epistemological problem here. On your view, there is an infinite amount of time to work with and any number of possible universes to play in. Given this, it is inevitable for any particular scenario to eventually play out. Eg, if you rolled a die 1,000 times expecting a six to pop up all 1,000 times, you would consider the proposition absurd. The odds against such a thing are astronomical- and yet, there is nothing particularly supernatural or remarkable about a die being rolled and a six coming up. So, if you have an infinite amount of time and any number of universes, eventually you WILL have a six come up 1,000 times in a row. Indeed, in some universe at some time, someone has actually tried the experiment.

    Ok, but this means that there is also a universe in where ‘you’ exist but the atoms are all lined up in your head so that a moment after hearing this argument, they will roll like dice and re-align so that they accept my argument. Infinite time + infinite universes, that’s inevitable. And certainly, there are universes where you’ll reject the argument. Also inevitable. But on the basis of your view, whether you reject or accept the argument, it never has anything to do with TRUTH. On a purely materialistic and impersonal view such as yours, mind reduces to brain matter, which itself is just a sophisticated collection of dice which happen to roll this way and that.

    So, you reject theism- that’s about as significant as rolling five dice and coming up with a full house, 2 threes and three fives. And on your view, my acceptance of theism is like my own full house, 3 threes and 2 sixes. Neither of us can hardly be blamed for the particular arrangement that has turned up, and neither of us can be credited as having the ‘true’ answer. It’s just the roll of the dice.

    Thus, if you are right, it is the death of knowledge. It is the end of epistemology, because all things known can be reduced to nothing more than a mere arrangement of the physical components of the brain, with an infinite amount of time and universes to play with. All conclusions are mere illusions.

    Hence, if you are right, you must be wrong, for on your view, there can be nothing that can really be believed as ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Only on my view can there really be true things that we can actually know.

    But at any rate, your belief about infinite universe(s) without beginning strikes me as being just as much ‘faith’ as the religionists you mockingly reject. You have stepped out of what supposed empiricism has wrought, and interestingly you still think of yourself as an atheist. I don’t get that. If you had said ‘agnostic’ that’d make more sense. But being an ‘atheist’ suggests you’ve managed to come to a decisive conclusion, but you’ve not provided any rational reason at all to be an atheist. Your position seems to be this: agnostic in regards to your own views, but atheistic in your rejection and hostility to other views.

    That hardly seems fair.

  17. “Apologies for some dodgy proof reading in my previous post. :-)”

    No problem. 🙂

    “Interestingly, your point has implications for the foundation on which Christianity is built. If everything has a cause, then so do our choices, so there is no free will, and no original sin.”

    Only if we accept the premise upon which such conclusions rest- a purely naturalistic one- which I hope I’ve made clear that I don’t accept. I’m trying to keep my supernaturalistic positions out of the debate, in order to immunize myself from inevitable objections that will arise if I rely on them.

    “And if you want to claim that the decay was caused vicariously via the atom’s exitence in the first place, then we can trace all causes back to god’s alleged creation of the universe, and hence, original sin was caused as well. By god himself.”

    Indeed. You’re absolutely right, we could not have sinned if we did not first exist. But there are various manifestations of the notion of ‘causation.’ If a man runs down someone in his car, obviously he couldn’t have done it if the car maker hadn’t made the car. But is the car maker morally culpable for the action? Causation does not necessarily entail morally culpability.

    “It does no such thing. I didn’t say that new radioactive atoms are being created on earth.”

    No you did not. But why not? Surely this is possible as soon as you are willing to admit that new radioactive atoms can in fact be created?

    “And even if there were, it would simply change the statement “the earth is 4.5 billion years old” to “the earth is at least 4.5 billion years old”.”

    Not at all. The whole security gained by employing radiometric dating is accomplished by knowing just how much of the stuff you started out with in the first place. But if more radioactive materials can be created, surely more of their daughter elements can be created, too. In other words, the whole enterprise is thrown into doubt.

    “I asserted no such thing.”

    Direct quote:

    I wasn’t talking about the creation of radioactive elements, I was talking about the rate at which they decay.

    To wit:

    “Radioactive decay is a stochastic (i.e., random) process at the level of single atoms, in that, according to quantum theory, it is impossible to predict when a given atom will decay.”
    – Wikipedia

    That is, each instance of decay is uncaused.

    “But it is absolutely certain that, given enough time, there will be none left at all.”

    You’ve waited around and watched to see that for yourself, did you? 😉

    “Why don’t we both go away and do some research? :-)”

    I might, if I had made the claim. 🙂

    “I don’t think it counts as a cause at all. If you could, you may as well start prosecuting the murder weapon, instead of the murderer himself.”

    This is the problem when you begin delving into causation- a can of worms you insisted on opening. 🙂 There are various aspects of causation. Eg, we can make a distinction between contingency and non-contingency. If event X is contingent on arrangement Y, then yes, X is a cause of Y. But that doesn’t mean that Y is morally culpable for Y- which introduces into the discussion to what degree we could blame something for allowing another thing to happen. Then there is the simple aspect of direct cause and effect.

    A good way to see various forms of causation at work is a game of pool. in order to have it at all, there has got to be a pool table, the balls, and a stick to hit them with. the game is contingent on these. However, the actual striking of the cue against the other balls, which then ‘obey’ laws of nature, which again they are dependent on, and are not self-generating by the game. Then you have the rules of the game which may be deemed arbitrary but while in place, are in fact the rules in which the game must be played, which will determine or influence which kinds of shots will be taken when- which in turn will rely on the ‘laws’ of physics and in turn could never happen if there weren’t a pool table, balls, and stick to play with. And at the same time, one could say that if someone picked up their stick and jammed it through their friend’s skull, this could not have happened if there hadn’t been a game, or materials, or laws of physics. ‘Causation’ turns out to include a great number of facets. Not every action will easily be tracked to one particular facet over against another, but when someone asserts that something is uncaused, they must be uncaused COMPLETELY, in view of ALL facets.

    No cherry picking which facet one will assert something is uncaused when the argument in view is that anything with a beginning will have SOME cause of SOME kind. 🙂

  18. Been thinking about it a bit more, and I don’t think I was right about the certainity of complete atomic decay. So, apologies for that.

  19. And note that I posted my admission of error before your latest reply. 🙂

  20. heh heh yea and now I’m going to go to bed so you don’t have to worry about slipping things in to make sure you get proper due credit. 🙂

  21. “EB, why does there have to be a beginning? Just because our feeble minds need one to help us understand?”

    Think I already explained that there can’t be a present without one. As such there is no “have to”. There WAS a beginning. Period.

    “My bottom line is that all this stuff is as far beyond human comprehension as E=mc2 is to my dog – we’ll never truly understand it. I think they guy with the real problem is the complacent oaf who thinks he knows all the answers.”

    And this is a pathetic excuse that shows the real problem is fear of a paticular answer one doesn’t want to face no matter how much evidence or logic supports it.

  22. SJ, thank you for your reply – please excuse me while I digest it before getting back to you! While you’re waiting, here’s a question for you – how do YECers explain light years, and the light from stars taking longer to reach us than you believe the universe has existed?

  23. As I recall there have been some observations that suggest the speed of light isn’t as constant as one would think. One theory has light being much faster in the past than it is today. And I also heard of that Einstein guy making a big fuss over time not being so constant either.

    Astronomy is a fascinating subject, but like physics has been noted in this thread, wendon’t have all the details yet.

  24. Hi Stathei,

    Your question is a bag of worms waiting to be opened, but in brief, you can answer your own question by ruminating on the classic question, “Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”

    To answer it more fully, you could imagine that it was day 8 after creation and ask yourself, “How do YECcers explain people being older then there are days of creation?”

    I don’t think anyone skeptic or theist, believes that the text supports the idea that God created Adam and the Woman in the embryonic stage on day 6. Rather, they were young men and women, equivalent in our understanding of fifteen, twenty, thirty years old, whatever- but they were in fact… two days old.

    Therein contains the simple answer. The expanded answer has to do with uniformitarian assumptions and the like.

  25. Don’t bother ruminating, Stathei… they didn’t have navels. 🙂

    The real question, which we discussed a little in a previous thread, is… was Adam created with reproductive organs?

    From the old thread:

    “God made Adam, then saw that he needed a companion, then tried to find one among the animals, [and when he couldn’t, he] then created Eve. It’s clear from the text that Eve wasn’t part of the original plan – she was a response to an unperceived problem.

    For Adam to have reproductive organs, god had to have created him with testes, and sperm, and all the other complicated biological machinery that is necessary, even though at that point Eve hadn’t even been thought necessary. So, he had the foresight to make sperm, but didn’t realise that wombats were lousy companions?”

    Much more worthy of rumination.

    EB – the speed of light can change according to what medium it travels through, but where did you see the theory that the maximum speed was faster in the past than it is now?

  26. heh clearly some of us have a different notion of things worthy of rumination. 🙂 Did that thread ever reach a conclusion? I can’t remember.

    Re: speed of light, not to preempt EB here, but its a fact that different measures for the speed of light have been reached over the centuries. This has been explained away as insignificant, but it was only ‘explained away’ at all because a speed of light that was constant is required for certain theories to be correct. Now, I’m not saying that there may not be merit to some of the ‘explaining away’ but I find it hard to trust because it isn’t based on empirical rigor but rather the presupposition that that the speed of light is constant. Dang it, its constant.

    I seem to recall similar spurious reasoning being employed in the Michelson-Morely experiment. It bothers me when allegedly scientific conclusions are ruled in and out by assumptions rather than experiments.

    But I digress.

  27. No, we didn’t reach a conclusion. I responded, but I guess you got sidetracked with… er… actual work, rather than indulging my penchant for asinine dribble.

    The speed of light in a vacuum is constant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light

  28. So either SJ believes that the universe is very, very much smaller than we suppose, or that the speed of light is very, very much faster that we suppose. Have either of these ideas been demonstrated?

  29. That is not correct, Stathei. Like I alluded to already, your question speaks to ‘first positions.’ There is a real danger of taking the conclusions from one set of explanations that are built on one set of premises and importing those conclusions to another set of explanations that are themselves built on a different set of premises. They may cover the same facts, but the premises are different, and this must be factored in.

    For example let’s say you and I both come to a structure in the middle of the field. Let’s say that you are an atheist and will only allow purely naturalistic explanations for things, and reject any notion that the detection of intelligent design is scientific and/or reliable. We’ll say that I don’t share those assumptions. We both begin to explain the house, you by invoking a myriad of natural processes and extrapolating their work back millions of years, and me by invoking a builder.

    Under this scenario, it is highly implausible for a house to assemble by unguided natural processes, but with enough imagination, and enough time one can render it plausible. So let’s say in the course of such theorizing one determines that sand, when left alone, takes a certain amount of time to compact well enough to serve as a foundation of the house. We will allow that this is a demonstrable fact: sand takes 1 million years to compact to the degree necessary to support the house. So, you plug that into your analysis of the structure, and you must allow that it is at least 1 million years old, or else your unguided naturalistic explanation simply won’t work.

    But then I start my theorizing. I do not reject your assessment that it takes a million years for sand to settle well enough to be foundation material, I reject your premise that we must assume it was left alone. A intelligent builder may have a way to produce that compaction in much less time- say, a day. And that is when you raise your objection:

    “Ah, but that is impossible, because we know that it takes sand a million years to compact!”

    You see what is happening? In this scenario, you are taking the conclusions reached from one set of explanations that are based on one set of premises and playing them off against the conclusions from another set of explanations based on an entirely different set of premises. When what is at precisely under debate is which set of premises is most reasonable, that sort of analysis is improper and unreasonable.

    So, your question assumes a Big Bang cosmology which in turn assumes there is no ‘builder’ and assumes then that red shift gives us a reliable measure of the rate of expansion of the universe, etc, etc. But I do not believe we can assume there is no builder, and when the very question at hand is whether or not there is a builder cannot accept the conclusions based on the assumption there isn’t one. (Which would have been circular reasoning.)

    It’s all about the first positions, and its hard to go over it all efficiently in this format. But I would caution you against thinking you get my position on this. I’d do a lot more research on YEC first- on its own coherency based on its own premises, first.

  30. I’m not sure how this gets around the issue of the speed of light.

  31. What’s the issue of the speed of light you refer to? That was really EB/Tim. I just popped in because I wanted to note that historically there have been different measurements for the speed of light and that these generally have been summarily dismissed because it was ‘known’ that the speed is constant. That’s all I wanted to communicate.

    Are you speaking to light from the stars getting to the earth in a young universe and not understanding why my question, “did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?” is relevant?

  32. Anthony,

    Under this scenario, it is highly implausible for a house to assemble by unguided natural processes

    True. And that’s why no rational person would suggest that it was.

    So, your question assumes a Big Bang cosmology which in turn assumes there is no ‘builder’

    Not true. It’s not that science assumes there is no builder, it’s that none of the available evidence suggests one.

    Tim

  33. Tim,

    You’re missing the point of the example, which was only to show how different assumptions lead to different conclusions and why it is unreasonable to use the conclusions from one scenario against the conclusions of another scenario.

    As for your follow up assertion that is off topic and does not actually relate to my point that ‘none of the available evidence suggests one’ that is obviously a matter of opinion. I have yet to meet an atheist who believed that the evidence didn’t suggest one who didn’t begin by assuming at the beginning of his analysis that there wasn’t one. On this blog, you have denied this, so you may be the first, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Anyway, please confirm that you now understand the point and purpose of my illustration.

  34. Of course I understand the point of your example, it’s just not a particularly good example. In the first instance, no atheist that I know would assume a house was built by pure chance, and, in the second instance, you deployed the example against an argument that no one makes.

  35. I do, however, need you to explain “why [your] question, ‘did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?’ is relevant?”.

  36. It doesn’t really matter that you think it is an argument that no one makes. The fact that you are fixated on it makes me think you actually don’t get it at all.

    Why should it matter if no one would actually make the argument? Here.

    Given phenomena X, explanation A, then B. Or, Given phenomena X, explanation J, then K. The atheist retorts: “Ah, but we know B, therefore not K!”

    Or:

    Bobby Sue says, “I just woke up and found myself in New York City. No doubt I got here by train!” Billy Ray replies, “But the fact that you are in NYC could also be achieved by car!” Bobby Sue snorts, “Dear me, that’s absurd. We know that it couldn’t have been a car. Like I said, I got here BY TRAIN!”

    The point of the illustration had nothing to do with the FACT that atheists do in fact assume the universe was built by pure chance. I forgive you for the interpretation because reading it too fast might make you think that was the point. However, now that I have corrected you twice there just isn’t any reason for us to debate that particular issue right now.

    The issue at hand, if you understood why I raised the example at all, has to do with the irrationality of employing the conclusions garnered from one set of reasonings based on one framework against another set of conclusions derived from an entirely different framework- especially when what is in question is in fact the frameworks themselves.

    Now, Stathei asked me a question which I did not want to answer until this basic principle was understood. It makes no sense to employ conclusions generated from a methodology that explicitly rejects the possibility of the supernatural or intelligent agency against the conclusions that do not share that view. So, on Stathei’s view as I understand it, the speed of light and the putative distance of the stars poses a problem for a YEC perspective, because light takes a certain amount of time to get here. Hence, the universe must be at least as old as that light.

    However, this would be like coming up on Adam and Eve on day 8 of the universe and doing a bone growth measurement, determining that they are each, say, 20 years old according to known rates of bone growth, and concluding that the universe must therefore be at least 20 years old, rather than 8 days. Such a conclusion would require ignoring the fact that on a YEC perspective God is not supposed to have created everything in its infancy but rather created things right from the start with ‘age.’

    Adam and Eve did not have a belly button because they were not born of a mother and hence requiring the cutting of an umbilical cord. Similarly, Adam and Eve were not 20 years old on day 8, because they had only been specially created 2 days earlier- as young adults or adults. No YECcer believes that God created Adam and Eve as embryos wriggling around in the dirt without a uterus for them to be nurtured in- after all, from where would that uterus have come from?

    In the perennial question: which came first, the chicken or the egg, the YEC actually has an answer: the chicken.

    Likewise, according to the starting assumptions of a YEC perspective, just as Adam and Eve and everything in the earth would have started whole cloth in mature forms, so too would have the universe- including the light on the way from the stars and the whole ball of wax.

    Now, I am not here trying to defend this. If either of you think that I am you are sorely missing the point. My point is that it is nonsensical to now say, “Ah, but we know that light takes such and such time to travel and because of our expansionary universe hypothesis and our interpretation of red shift, the universe cannot be young.” It would be nonsensical because that view precludes from the start any notion that there may have been a special creation and derives its conclusions from that premise. It may be completely valid, given its own premises, but it is not necessarily valid if one starts with different premises.

    And if one is going to properly understand the YEC position in order to critique it, one must be prepared to do so taking it on its own terms- just as I critique the Big Bang hypothesis and evolutionary theory on its own terms. That is, my rejection of Darwinism does not come ‘because the Bible says so’ as Stathei has said so often in the past, but because I do not believe that Darwinism obtains on its own terms.

    Again, I’m not making an argument for or against YEC or for or against Darwinism. I’m explaining the ground rules for how any reasonable analysis of either perspective will have to proceed.

  37. As you fashion your attempt to re-state your view that no atheist does in fact ‘assume’ anything like what I’ve said, do you deny that the mainstream scientific establishment has adopted ‘methodological naturalism’?

    Does methodological naturalism by definition allow for non-natural explanations or not?

    Is the Big Bang derived from employing methodological naturalistic principles of ‘science’ or not? If not, in what way not? If so, how is methodological naturalism not a stripping away of non-natural explanations from consideration from the get go?

  38. This is actually helpful – what you appear to be saying is that you can not evaluate YEC unless you look at it from a YEC perspective. I seem to remember saying that to you several years ago in a less kind fashion and getting my post deleted for my troubles 😉 .

    Alas, this STILL doesn’t explain the speed of light issue – Adam being created as a two day old man who looked twenty is nothing at all to do with it. We can see how fast light travels. We know how far away distant galaxies are, and even if we are out be a factor of millions, they are further than they could possibly appear to be if the universe is a few thousand years old. The only way for the YECers to get around the problem is simply to make stuff up, like Adam and his belly button (it’s not in the Bible, is it?).

    On the subject of Adam, many more structures than the umbilicus are caused by our in utero manufacture, so he must have been missing quite a few bits and pieces in addition to his belly button. Multiple other structures are remnants of the potentially female bits and pieces which regress in the male, so he must have been missing those too. Did he have nipples?

  39. Don’t kid yourself about the reasons why you got that post deleted. 😉

    You are not understanding me. I’m not saying that you can only evaluate YEC from a YEC perspective. (Although, if that’s what you think, I’d like to know if you agree that you can only evaluate a naturalism from a naturalistic perspective.) I don’t really want to repeat myself, either. Please re-read it again.

    I’ll try one more way.

    A+B=C

    B=the phenomena we are empirically presented with. We will assign it a value of 5. ‘5’ stands for all the things we observe: light, heat, motion, consciousness, beauty, dirt, tomatoes, etc.

    C=explanation/conclusions. These are the the assessments we have derived from looking at B, in combination with A.

    A=the assumptions we bring to the our analysis of B. The belief that all things must be evaluated naturalistically would qualify as ‘A.’ The belief that you must evaluate all things supernaturalistically would qualify as ‘A.’ More subtly, but still greatly important, the belief that our logic and reason can be trusted is an ‘A’ category. (Without that one, my little algebraic equation is useless.)

    When we wake up to the world we are presented with basically this scenario:

    A+5=C.

    That is, when we first begin making sense of the world in any orderly and deliberate fashion, we only have 1 of our 3 values known. As you surely know, in order to solve this equation, you need to have 2 of the values known. Thus, as it stands right now, this equation is unsolvable. Moreover, there is no absolute way any of us can ever reach a value of either A or C with 100% certainty. Indeed, we must even say of ‘B’ that it is only composed of that which we currently know, and given the size of our universe, I doubt the honest examiner would be too strident. But that is besides my point.

    So we begin to try making sense of reality, and to do that, we begin plugging in different values in A and C, tweaking each of them in the effort to eventually get an ‘equation’ that matches up with reality to our satisfaction.

    So, let’s say that a naturalistic perspective = 10. That is, A=10. We now have sufficient data to complete our equation.

    A=10
    B=5,
    A=B=C
    (10)+(5)= solve for C… C=15.

    So then I come to the room and I don’t think that this equation actually matches up to reality. So, I say, no, 10 is an unreasonable or incorrect value for A. I propose ‘8.’ So now I plug it into the equation:

    A=8
    B=5
    (8)+(5)=solve for C, C=13.

    And this is when your irrational objection enters. You protest, just as you did in your latest comment, that “we know” that C=15, therefore my conclusion can’t be right. But this is obviously absurd, because your conclusion of 15 was reached by assigning a different value to A. Therefore, it is unreasonable and irrational to to put forth ’15’ as any kind of rebuttal.

    So, one reason why you probably don’t understand what I’m getting at here is that you actually have no idea how they determine ‘how far away distant galaxies’ are. For example, you appear to be unaware that the only directly empirical measure of the distance of a star has very little to do with light. It has more to do with relative position. This measurement device is called parallax.

    All assessments about the distance of stars and the like from light rest are derived from naturalistic presuppositions. Note, I’m not saying that their calculations are incorrect or not eventually based on empirical data. I’m merely pointing out that modern measurements of the distances of stars are not purely empirical at all, as you seem to think. They rest on assumptions about an expanding universe and the like being valid, which in turn rest on the assumption that we must evaluate reality without taking into account the possibility that there is a God and he made it.

    You would be helped here if you did some research into how they actually determine these distances you are referencing, but it wouldn’t change my point. You believe that the measurements you refer to are in the category of ‘B’ (all of reality that we observe) but in fact they are in the category of ‘C’, and therefore are not suitable for use in rebutting another interpretative framework with entirely different starting values of ‘A.’

    But this doesn’t mean you have to adopt a YEC position in order to evaluate it.

    This all comes home in regards to your analysis about Adam having nipples – ‘potentially female bits and pieces that regress.’ Why not say that females have potentially ‘male bits’ that become exaggerated? But i digress. In your example of Adam and his potential ‘female’ bits you are ignoring the possibility that Adam could have been created from scratch, just as he was, in an instant, and assuming that in order to be a man he would have had to have been in a mother’s womb in order to ultimately have the characteristics he has.

    But where, pray tell, did the mother’s womb come from? One presumes, from a woman. And how was conception brought about if there were not yet any other men? And where did the woman come from, if not another womb? But if there were no men or women in order for there to be eggs, sperm, and wombs, how did the process begin at all?
    Do you know how carefully calibrated the human reproductive system is? Are you aware of how many things have to go right for a new child to be generated and similarly how many events can go wrong? Yet unguided natural selection managed to find a way. Hoorah for evolution. But!

    But, a YECcer doesn’t have this problem, not because it is just making stuff up, but because it doesn’t accept the view that one has to figure out how all these stepwise ‘tweaks’ managed to happen without the use of intelligent guiding.

    So here again we have a situation where you have cited ‘C’ material, evolutionary mumbo jumbo derived from observing ‘B’ material, and employed it against my position. On the YEC view, this idea that there are ‘female’ bits that ‘regress in the male’ is evolutionary rubbish.

    Personally, I don’t see any way to plug ‘unguided naturalistic processes’ into A, human reproductive systems into B, and come out with any C that is anything but imaginative horse pucky. But if I plug ‘directed intelligence’ into A instead, the resulting C and final ‘equation’ appear quite cogent, to me.

  40. Very fancy and wordy, SJ, but you are again using misleading gimmicks to make your untenable position seem like it has credibility and validity when it has neither. You have decided that the truth is the bible and have no qualms about making stuff up to maintain your position.

    Scientists, many if not most of whom believe in God, try to reach the truth without assumptions. That includes assuming that the bible is true – you seem to be insisting that we use this as a starting point. I’m afraid this makes any absurd belief valid – if you assume that Zeus and his cronies exist, I’m sure you could make up stuff in the same way you do to make this belief seem less embarrassing to you. I’m sorry to use the “F” word, but here goes – this is called FAITH.

    As far as Adam goes, why did he have a penis? Testes? All the other stuff needed to get sperm where they need to be? Did he have a line down his palate where he fused in utero? A similar line down his scrotum? Sutures in his skull so it could grow and mold to get through the birth canal? Epiphyses in his bones left over from where he had grown? Or the evolutionary remnants like an appendix, used in herbivores for digesting grass? A diving reflex, left over from amphibian days? Goosebumps left over from making himself look bigger by standing his hairs on end?

    “Do you know how carefully calibrated the human reproductive system is? Are you aware of how many things have to go right for a new child to be generated and similarly how many events can go wrong?”

    Yes, and I am aware that they go wrong very often, making your god the biggest abortionist in existence. Don’t tell EB, he’ll want the death penalty.

    “On the YEC view, this idea that there are ‘female’ bits that ‘regress in the male’ is evolutionary rubbish.”

    You can see them in the fetus, and you can see that they regress in the male. They are demonstrable fact.

    PS Natural selection is not unguided, as you know. Why pretend that you think it is?

  41. You are so predictable.

    Well, I’ve discharged my duty. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Whenever I say something that you don’t understand you begin summarily dismissing it. No skin off my back.

    Since we’ve skipped to the stage where all you do is ask questions that admit you haven’t understood a previous word, why don’t we skip to the part where you show us how its done?

    So, on your view point, which came first, the penis or the vagina? The egg or the sperm? Realize, you’re not allowed to make up anything- you’ve got science on your side! So, let’s hear your definitive scientific answer for whatever you please.

    Then, since you can’t believe a God that is the biggest abortionist in existence, your alternative is to defend the evolution of the human reproductive system- should be fun, since you just admitted that it goes wrong very often.

    You surely admit that on your view there is no intelligent entity driving natural selection. The very term ‘guide’ implies something intelligent. You are not telling me that you believe that whatever you think is ‘guiding’ natural selection is sentient, are you? If not, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about when I say unguided.

    Note, I didn’t say ‘random.’ I know that gets evolutionary feathers a-ruffled. I said unguided, as I recall, and for a reason. Come now, professor, teach us all that science says on these issues: its my turn to sit around asking contemptuous questions.

    One of these days when you ask me a question and I give you an answer I’ll remind myself that you don’t want an answer- you are not truly interested in my position, and I should just assume you want an argument. And knowing how you handle those- I should just pass altogether.

  42. SJ, we’re well into your incredible predictable cycle of argument when you indignantly demand definitive answers to questions you answer by saying “Ummmm, it says right here in the Bible…”.

    I freely and happily admit I don’t know the answer – and neither do you, by the way. There may even be a god as far as I’m concerned. All I have ever claimed is that it is unlikely that the petulant teenage girl you worship did anything it says she did in her diary. If there is a god, I suspect it makes yours look like a mean spirited Sunday school volunteer.

  43. heh see, you’ve got nothing. You don’t know anything about what I said and you don’t know anything at all about what you believe. You know you have some beliefs, and you know some people out there share them, but as for you you cannot defend them one bit.

    The lurker will note that I never said “it says right here in the Bible” and the lurker will note that I in good faith attempted to answer your questions as thoroughly as I was able but then when questions were put to you, you paved the way for a ‘cut and run.’

    What’s interesting is that you don’t know any answers, and yet you know that I am wrong.

    More irony: you dismiss my beliefs under the caricature of “it says right here in the Bible” but you believe in an eternal cycle of universes. If your caricature were correct, I’d still have more evidence for my view than you have. 🙂

    But just to put a finer point on it, my friend, never in this thread did I attempt to defend or argue for a YEC position. I have been only trying to explain to you why citation of the putative distance of galaxies based on a ‘known’ speed of light cannot rationally be used as an argument against YEC.

    Very simple, and I explained it as many ways as I was willing to do so.

    But really, my friend, its just bad form to raise issues if you’re not prepared to defend and explain them. If you’re going to throw your lot in with naturalistic explanations for things, and mock someone with a different view, don’t you think you should at least have the decency to actually KNOW something? lol

    He admits that he doesn’t know anything except that I’m wrong. lol, what a laugh. There is no way I’m going to even take anything you say seriously, even your notions about God as petulant teenage girl. That presumes you have some reasonable basis upon which to render such a judgement. You have no such basis and admit you have no such basis. Thus, your opinion amounts to…

    Excrement.

  44. Anthony,

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of your position… I’m sorry that it was in vain (as I already understood your position), but I appreciate the effort.

    I have two issues with your position.

    1
    Your argument, if true, essentially means that no one can ever prove anything. Ever. In a losing argument, I always have the option of calling my particular brand of ridiculousness to circumvent my opponent’s reason-based argument. “DNA as evidence for evolution? Please! Don’t you know that it’s just really tiny noodles, planted by the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

    All you’re saying is that theists are free to poo-poo any evidence that contradicts their position.

    2
    The absence of god is not an assumption. It’s a conclusion.

    Tim

  45. Hi Tim, thanks.

    1., I don’t agree that this is a consequence of my view but I don’t blame you for thinking that. I was attempting to make a very narrow point. Returning to the formula A+B=C for illustration, the purpose was merely to show that one person who assigns a value of 5 to A to come up with C=10 cannot be rebutted by someone who says, “No, your conclusion is wrong, because we know that C=15!”… not mentioning the fact that they had a different value for A.

    Now, this is a very narrow point, but it is irrefutable. I can illustrate this. Complete the following equations:

    A+5=C
    where A=10

    5+B=C
    where B=12

    If you would do me the kindness of solving those equations, I will show you how my point is inescapable.

    But of course in the quest for knowledge, we are not just reduced to these three variables. For example, I mentioned that an ‘A’ component would not merely be a presumption of naturalism, but would also include such things as a trust in logic and other important intangibles. But as far as epistemology goes, we would plug other things into the ‘formula’ such as corroboration, predictibility, etc. While you never could ‘prove’ anything, that doesn’t mean your ‘formula’ could not be shown ‘false.’ I didn’t speak to these other thigns because I was trying to make a single, very narrow point.

    However, I think the truth is that you CAN’T prove anything straight up. Axioms and assumptions are everywhere. For example, you and I take the logical law of noncontradiction as axiomatic, and use it to complete formulas such as the one above, (where the value of A cannot simultaneously be 5, or 10, or 100). But it cannot be proven. However, once the axiom is in place, things can be proven.

    Re: 2, Maybe. If you can present your argument in such a way so that:

    A+B=C where C=there is no God and B=all facets of our experience that require explanation but A does NOT rely on purely naturalistic assumptions, I’d be interested in hearing it. Clearly, if C=there is no God and A=there is no God, it is circular reasoning, and thus invalid.

    Of course, the notion that circular reasoning is invalid is one of of those unprovable axioms. I suppose it could be valid… in one of Stathei’s infinite universes- and maybe this is one of them. 😉

  46. SJ, you are correct. I don’t presume to know it all – do you? On what basis? Faith? On what basis do you know more about the universe than Stephen Hawking? The Bible?

    Since you are so fond of formulae, here’s another:

    Faith + The Bible < Excrement

  47. At no point did I say that I do know it all, but in saying that I know that you are wrong, I have reasons for why I believe you are wrong. More importantly, I have reasons and evidences for why I believe I am right. I see that you have again attempted to reduce my position to a fideism. Unfortunately, this better matches your view than mine. I am an evidentialist, not a presuppositionalist or fideist. Look them up.

    Anyway, I understand this is just a tactic of yours to cover up your own willful ignorance about my position or even your own so I need not concern myself with it any further.

  48. SJ, I have no clue how the automatic lights go on in my car when it gets dark. If I ask the guy in the dealership how it works and he says “fairies”, I should not be expected to pay too much attention. If he has a degree in electronics and tells me about photosensors I’ll listen – even if I don’t fully understand.

  49. And Stathei is really calling the kettle black if he can get away with entertaining the thought of an infinite universe when Stephen Hawking says it isn’t so.

    The hypocriscy would be amusing if we didn’t see this juvenile behaviour so often from him.

  50. Anthony,

    I accept your very-narrow point. How could anyone not? Unfortunately it’s so narrow as to be useless to the argument at hand.

    Let me refine it for you.

    One person comes up with an explanation for what makes objects fall to the earth when dropped. Everyone nods their heads and says \Wow, that’s amazing, and all the evidence confirms it\. But then someone else comes along and says \But what about my evidence? What about all the invisible angels floating above us that are pushing everything down?\.

    You’re really just giving people licence to invent their own evidence.

  51. SJ, I don’t really know how the lights on my car go on automatically when it gets dark. Now, if I ask the guy in the dealership and he says “Fairies under the dash”, should I believe him? Even if he says I just need to evaluate it from a Fairy viewpoint?

    Now, what if he talks about photocells? Do I need to know all about photocells and all about Fairies to know which is more plausible? You seem to think so, but that is because you would be the guy telling me about fairies and how everything isn’t really the way it seems and the photocell guys have a grand conspiracy against fairies and if I read The Fairy Handbook I would have a right to argue but until then my views on photocells are excrement, etc., etc., etc., etc.

    I need more than the Fairy Handbook, but that’s all you’ve got.

  52. EB, please check out the No Boundary Proposal, then come back and apologize.

  53. Yeah, the fact that it explicitly proposes the universe is finite in real time kind of upsets your position.

    Now admittedly the appeal to “imaginary time” tries to keep the hope alive, but I’d say if you’re going to rest your belief on an “imaginary” anything, my comment about you being a blatant hypocrit in your mockery of anyone elses belief (whether they be about God or fairies) is spot on. Especially when one conclusion is a result of observable science and the other is a result of imaginative speculation (which kind of explains where the “imaginary” comes from).

  54. “I accept your very-narrow point. How could anyone not?”

    It is rejected all the time. You probably saw an example of this in this very comment thread.

    “Unfortunately it’s so narrow as to be useless to the argument at hand.”

    I’m going to have to strongly disagree with this. It isn’t useless, its true. And you just said that you accept it, so I’m assuming you agree with me that it is a valid observation. In that case, you have a problem, not me. You say, “You’re really just giving people licence to invent their own evidence.” But you just accepted my narrow point, which means that from an epistemological point of view- on your telling- you’re also giving people license to invent their own evidence.

    Now, its not a problem for me because I’ve already come to terms with the fact that one can’t argue circularly and defy the law of non-contradiction, even if the circle is a very large one or the non-contradiction comes very late in the chain of analysis. I understand that it is my responsibility to keep truth claims in proper context and when making a challenge to one I have to ask myself if the argument or fact I’m deploying is in the ‘A’ category, the ‘B’ category, or the ‘C’ category.

    Only the ‘B’ category is common to all of the systems, and that’s the point that I think your illustration fails to note. The ‘B’ category, as I explained already, represents reality as it presents itself to us. Thus we do not get to ‘invent’ evidence. We are stuck with what we’ve got. However, what happens in these kinds of debates all the time is that ‘A’ and ‘C’ category material gets thrown in as ‘B’ category- which is what I object to.

    If someone presents an argument against my position that rests on initial assumptions that my position isn’t true, why should I accept the premise? That’s like asking me “When did you stop beating your wife?” If this means that the skeptic has to think long and hard about how to frame an objection without that objection taking for granted that his objection is already true, that’s not my problem. It’s the skeptic’s.

    I would just point out to finish that ‘B’ includes all of reality as it presents itself. We don’t get to pick and choose. Philosophical atheism might be able to account for some ‘B’ material coherently (coherence being another test of a worldview, limiting invention!) but only by ignoring other important ‘B’ material. For example, the effectiveness of our logic itself can be seen as ‘B’ material.

  55. Clarification:

    I said: “However, what happens in these kinds of debates all the time is that ‘A’ and ‘C’ category material gets thrown in as ‘B’ category- which is what I object to.”

    I should have said: “However, what happens in these kinds of debates all the time is that ‘A’ and ‘C’ category material gets thrown indiscriminately in as ‘B’ category- which is what I object to.”

    It actually doesn’t bother me too much for ‘A’ and ‘C’ material to show up in the ‘B’ category as long as we all know what is happening and we are aware of the difficulties such an action poses. Indeed, one of my chief objections to philosophical naturalism is that on their view, everything must collapse into the ‘B’ category at some point… which in my view violates the coherency principle, etc, but that is neither here nor there for the point I’m making here, which is that we should carefully note if and when ‘A’ and ‘C’ material is being presented as definitive, empirical, reality.

  56. “Especially when one conclusion is a result of observable science…”

    EB, please tell me that you aren’t referring to your beliefs when you say that. Please.

  57. Unless you think the computer you use to type on was the product of unguided natural forces, I don’t see any issue. Though knowing you I suppose you can (and will) envoke some Star Trek multiverse explanation to say that somewhere a computer is built without any intelligence behind it.

  58. Anthony,

    No, I am saying the exact opposite. You don’t get to just invent your own evidence.

    Why don’t you go and argue about Christ’s divinity with a Muslim or Jew? Using your logic, the discussion is not just doomed to failure, but not even capable of being resolved… ever. Each side can just accuse the others of not accepting the assumed divinity of their holy book.

    “If someone presents an argument against my position that rests on initial assumptions that my position isn’t true, why should I accept the premise?”

    I think there are two issues here:

    1
    You keep saying (or hinting) that this is what atheists do, but it really isn’t. God has never been observed, and every piece of scientific knowledge ever discovered has been explained without him. Why on earth should we assume he exists? Attempting to explain some natural phenomena without god is the same as explaining it without Bertrand’s teapot.

    2
    Even if it is an ‘assumption’ (and it isn’t), your point is only valid if that assumption is actually used to prove a particular point.

    No one says, “Assume there is no god. Therefore, evolution”. Rather, all the available evidence points to evolution.

    Tim

  59. “No, I am saying the exact opposite. You don’t get to just invent your own evidence.”

    I understand that you think you’re saying that, but if you accept my narrow point while still believing that you just don’t get to invent your own evidence, then it surely means that I also can maintain my narrow point without it meaning that we get to ‘invent our own evidence.’

    Ironically, all we’re doing here is still talking about the law of non-contradiction and you’re actually violating it in your protests to me! On the one hand, you accept my narrow point but maintain we don’t get to invent our own evidence, on the other hand, you insist that if I believe my narrow point, it means we get to invent our own evidence! My dear man, both propositions can’t be true at the same time! That’s what the law of non-contradiction is all about!

    “Using your logic,”

    Well, this is where you’re just being a bit presumptuous. Because I was fixed on making a narrow point and making sure that it was understood it doesn’t mean that’s all that I had to say on the matter of epistemology. In point of fact, you don’t know a fraction of what ‘my’ logic really is. I doubt you’ve read all 600 blog entries here in order to know what I think about epistemological issues and I’m afraid to say that even if you did read them it wouldn’t exhaust what I think about them. The format has its limitations.

    You are acting as though my ‘narrow point’ represents my full and exhaustive approach to learning about the world. That is absurd, and unreasonable.

    “You keep saying (or hinting) that this is what atheists do, but it really isn’t.”

    Here again is you being a bit presumptuous. You should know perfectly well that there are many atheists out there and they have a variety of viewpoints. I have already said that if you wish to distinguish yourself from my general statements, you are welcome to, and I look forward to hearing your attempt. So, since I have already said that, I think you’d just be getting on with it.

    “God has never been observed,”

    lol, well duh. The thing under discussion is a transcendent, immanent, personal entity. If you have been trying to observe him its no wonder you haven’t had any success! lol

    “and every piece of scientific knowledge ever discovered has been explained without him.”

    Ah, but there is the rub. Let’s go back to my analogy of the house on the plain. You COULD explain the house without appealing to a builder, you know. You could do it, but it would probably be unsatisfying. But how do you quantify ‘unsatisfaction’ in an explanation that actually works? Merely having an explanation and considering the work done is something I call the explanatory fallacy.

    Merely having an explanation does not at all make that explanation any good. I think a fair number of the ‘scientific discoveries’ that are explained ‘without God’ are gobbly-gook.

    “Why on earth should we assume he exists?”

    I didn’t say you should. I’m only insisting that you don’t assume he doesn’t.

    “No one says, “Assume there is no god. Therefore, evolution”. Rather, all the available evidence points to evolution.”

    Again, you are being presumptuous. I am closing in on twenty years of debating with atheists and evolutionists. You say ‘no one says’ but I can think of several who assumed just that (eg, cutupmaster). You are not the first atheist I’ve debated with. You may be the exception to this observation of mine, but so far any atheist I’ve debated with for an extended amount of time finally admitted, at the very ruddy end of things, that they maintain an assumption of naturalism on all points. Very few of them ‘says’ that they assume there is no God, but upon further scrutiny, that turns out to be exactly what they mean.

    Besides, haven’t you ever heard of the presumption of atheism? A very famous former atheist advanced it forcefully. So speak for yourself, Mr. Tim, but realize that there are atheists out there that I’ve interacted with that fit my generalization to the tee. Again, if you are the exception, then I look forward to hearing you explain how.

    I assume that if you are the exception, when you sat down to examine reality and come to an account of it that you did so with an open mind, neither assuming that there was a God, or wasn’t one, and proceeded from there. I’d like to hear about that process- in particular, I’d be interested to know if you made sure that the ‘explanations’ you were considering did not beg the question by adopting a presumption of naturalism.

  60. EB, if God designed us he did a piss poor job of it. At the time of Jesus children had a FIFTY:FIFTY chance of living to be TEN YEARS OLD – and that was in a civilized city like Pompeii! Now, thanks to the science that you and SJ rail against when it contradicts your ancient manuscripts, our children have a 50/50 chance of living to be ONE HUNDRED.

    The Lord doesn’t move in mysterious ways, he doesn’t move at all.

  61. “EB, if God designed us he did a piss poor job of it.”

    Yeah, because no computer is without bugs, and the Sphinx is a completely flawless construct. Congradulations Stath, by your logic you’ve proven human beings don’t exist. In which case, I guess you’re not really making any argument then, right? 😉

  62. Oh, and as for your nonsensical rant Stath, I’d say thanks to the “science”, we’ve got about a fifty:fifty chance of even making it out of the womb today. Just more food for thought. 😉

  63. Anthony… I want to respond to your post properly, but, in the meantime…

    EB, your powers of analogy are… how you say… NON-EXISTENT. Your all-powerful sky fairy allegedly introduced design flaws on purpose (Probably just as a way to trick us into believing in evolution so there are more people to send to hell. You know, like how he planted all those dinosaur bones).

    If a computer has bugs, it’s because people make mistakes.

    You’re god’s not supposed to.

  64. No, my analogy indicates that calling out the existance of flaws is not de facto evidence of something not being the product of an intelligent designer. If you hold on to this notion then you have to dismiss your own existance on those same grounds.

    And as I recall the Bible lays a pretty clear explanation of just who is guilty for those flaws coming into existance, and it’s not God. If an artist creates a ‘flawless’ statue and someone else comes along and breaks it, that’s hardly evidence no artist existed.

    As such the only way your arguement merely depends on your assumption of God not existing a priori to work, and I thought you said no atheist does that to SJ? 😉

  65. No, my analogy indicates that calling out the existance of flaws is not de facto evidence of something not being the product of an intelligent designer.

    But you don’t just claim him as an intelligent designer, do you EB? You claim him as an omniscient, omnipotent, perfect designer. Who apparently introduced idiotic design flaws on purpose.

    And as I recall the Bible lays a pretty clear explanation of just who is guilty for those flaws coming into existance [sic]

    HAHAAAAAAA… oh man, that is priceless. Yes, the recurrent laryngeal nerve used to take the most direct route, but after a woman made from a rib talked to a snake and ate a piece of fruit, it was re-routed as divine retribution.

    HAHA… you are actually pretty funny somtimes, EB!

  66. “Yeah, because no computer is without bugs, and the Sphinx is a completely flawless construct. Congradulations (sic) Stath, by your logic you’ve proven human beings don’t exist.”

    Wow – that is utterly incoherent even by your standards. I have no idea what you are talking about.

    “If an artist creates a ‘flawless’ statue and someone else comes along and breaks it, that’s hardly evidence no artist existed.”

    So the fact that human beings die like flies when exposed to tiny bacteria and viruses is our fault? Is that what you’re saying, EB, you twisted pervert? It is “our fault” that people are able to survive when science intervenes. The Lord’s Will appears to be a horrible, painful childhood death.

    “I’d say thanks to the “science”, we’ve got about a fifty:fifty chance of even making it out of the womb today.”

    I’m not sure how you made up this figure but I assume you are blaming science for abortions, even though spontaneous abortions (presumably God’s Will again) are commoner by far. Warped.

  67. “But you don’t just claim him as an intelligent designer, do you EB? You claim him as an omniscient, omnipotent, perfect designer.”

    *shrug* That may be true, but it’s irrelevant to the issue of evidence for ID. When looking at a thing and trying to determine whether it was created through intelligence or unguided processess the character traits of the designer don’t enter into it.

    “Who apparently introduced idiotic design flaws on purpose.”

    Once again, this just demonstrates SJ’s over arcing point about judging ‘A’ and ‘C’ while changing the presumption of ‘B’ and such. If you’re going to allow the premisis that God created the world as the Bible claims in order to point out ‘flaws’, then openly mock and reject the circumstances the Bible gave that creation in that explains how those ‘flaws’ occured, then you’re simply being unfair and obtuse. And your mockery simply shows (once again) SJ is entirely correct that you really do opperate under an assumption there is no God and the described events didn’t happen when looking at the evidence rather than have the evidence dictate to you, just as many (if not all) atheists do, all your explicit denials not withstanding.

    More interesting is where you get off to even object to ‘flaws’ as if there is some kind of transcendant standard for perfection? Tell me just where that standard would come from Timmy? 😉

  68. “Wow – that is utterly incoherent even by your standards. I have no idea what you are talking about.”

    I suspect you do, but given that it’s YOU I can’t be entirely sure if you have the ability to make the connection. I’ll lay it out for you:

    You object that God doesn’t exist due to ‘flaws’ and a “piss poor job”.

    When looking at many accepted human constructions there are many with obvious ‘flaws’ to them.

    Thus by your logic because there are ‘flaws’ in human constructions there is no evidence for humans existing.

    Don’t think I can simplify it any more than that Stath.

    “I’m not sure how you made up this figure but I assume you are blaming science for abortions, even though spontaneous abortions (presumably God’s Will again) are commoner by far. Warped.”

    I’m not sure how you got to yours either, or how you get to credit God for all the bad but humans for all the good seeing how if you think God is ultimately responsible for everything than that would logically mean the good too. But then I remember logic and coherency are pretty foreign to you.

    Though I’m curious as to your explanation on how the laws of science you worship are so coherent in an unguided universe where things would opperate more randomly if true. 😉

  69. 1. So you agree that God did a piss poor job of designing us. Surprising, given his omniscience and that we are created in his image.

    2. I don’t credit God for anything at all- it is you who credit him with all of the good but none of the bad, although as you say you should logically credit him with all of the bad too – nice job on the Japan earthquake, Lord!

    “Though I’m curious as to your explanation on how the laws of science you worship are so coherent in an unguided universe where things would opperate (sic) more randomly if true”

    Sorry, you went incoherent again. No clue what that means.

  70. 1. That’s purely YOUR position. One that is neither surprising nor significant.

    2. Given how you are obviously a hard-core atheist, I understand you don’t actually credit God for anything. However given your statement in (1), I simply followed the premisis YOU laid out. Though I’m not surprised how you flip-flop whenever it suits you.

    And yeah, I do hold God ultimately responsible for everything. Sadly for you it doesn’t equate to guilt anymore than a car manufacturer being guilty for a guy who intentionally drives into a building.

    “Sorry, you went incoherent again. No clue what that means.”

    *shrug* Coherency is often lost on those of limited competance. I can only do so much.

  71. When looking at a thing and trying to determine whether it was created through intelligence or unguided processess the character traits of the designer don’t enter into it.

    Umm… why not? If you posit your designer as the ultimate designer, who is perfect in every way, but then discover that his ‘design’ contains numerous flaws, doesn’t it call into question his supposed perfection, if not his very existence?

    Once again, this just demonstrates SJ’s over arcing point about judging ‘A’ and ‘C’ while changing the presumption of ‘B’ and such.

    No, no, no, no, no.

    I am actually assuming god exists for the purpose of this whole design argument (as, I believe, is Stathei). This is how logic and reasoning works. Assume A, deduce B. Does B conform to reality? No. Well then A must be bullshit.

    So, I will assume that:
    (a) god exists, and he is perfect; and
    (b) the bible is true, and is an accurate description of reality.

    This means god designed the human body. It was originally perfect, but mankind rebelled, and our bodies became susceptible to disease, ageing etc.

    OK, but what about the recurrent laryngeal nerve? The route it takes is nothing short of idiotic. Are you seriously going to claim that god re-routed the nerve from it’s original path as part of our collective punishment?

    And if so, why did he re-route the nerve in all mammals? (especially in giraffes, where it connects two areas a few inches apart with a nerve up to 4m long)

    The truth is, a perfect designer wouldn’t have designed it that way at all, so your perfect designer is an invalid assumption. That either means he exists, but isn’t perfect, or he is perfect, but doesn’t exist.

    Your call.

    But I guess here is where you pull your “God’s ways are inscrutable” card.

  72. Unless I’ve missed something, the stuff about the ‘route’ of the laryngeal nerve is a perfect case in point of a loaded pre-supposition fueling an argument, ie, importing a conclusion as though it were an empirical fact. The idea that something is ‘poor design’ begs any number of questions. In order to be in a position to make a determination about something being poorly designed one has to do more than just show how it is in other creatures and the like. You have to actually show how a different design would ACTUALLY be 100% better, among other things.

    Also, I take issue with the statement that takes something that actually works and classifies it as ‘poorly designed.’ I mean, it WORKS right?

    I have in my sight three different computers all designed quite differently. The funny thing is… they all work. There are elements to each of them that if I were to design them differently, I think I would. However, given the overall parameters of the technical goals, for all I know as soon as I delved into the matter myself, I would understand why the designers made the choices that they did.

    Even if I did not understand their choices at first, I still could not say that their computers were poorly designed until I undertook to make my ‘perfectly designed’ computer. Only then would I be able to say of another design that it was inferior.

    I don’t hear very much talk in general about testing different designs in actual humans and others which means that most assertions about ‘poor design’ are really just that: assertions. They are untestable and unfalsifiable. Meanwhile, the ‘poorly designed’ X (whatever X is) tends to keep on trucking along just fine.

    You do need to keep in mind that according to the Genesis account, the genetic code was flawless at the beginning, but became increasingly corrupt over the years. This isn’t a ‘God’s way are inscrutable’ statement, its merely understanding that according to the terms of the account, these genetic problems are not individual choices by God to ‘punish’ but just the natural consequence of the chain of events. I trust that you know what one of the main causes of genetic mutations are and are familiar enough with the YEC perspective in order to know what specifically changed in that regards? If not, then I think you should stop being antagonistic and go inform yourself. Frankly, you’re sounding a bit presumptuous again. 🙂

    I mean, you were already well on your way when you began talking about what a ‘perfect designer’ would or would not do. But maybe I’m wrong, and you have recently genetically engineered a perfect human so you are in a position to make assertions. Please let me know if that is the case.

    😉

  73. Anthony,

    Are you saying that you couldn’t come up with a better pathway for the RLN? Or that we are never able to say that something could have an objectively better design?

    If I may hijack your computer example… assume we have two computers that are identical in every way, except in the length of their power cords. The cord for the first computer runs directly from the back of the computer to the power point. The cord for the other runs from the back of the computer, out the door, down the street, under the ocean, up the Eiffel Tower, and around Queen Elizabeth’s waist, before running back to the power point the same way it came.

    Are you seriously suggesting that it’s impossible to say which power cord route has the better ‘design’? Which computer would you prefer to use?

    I trust that you know what one of the main causes of genetic mutations are and are familiar enough with the YEC perspective in order to know what specifically changed in that regards?

    Yes, on both counts. But that just makes things harder for you. Not only do you now need to explain how the RLN came to follow its circuitous path in every human on the planet, you also need to explain why it follows that path for every other mammal as well.

    But maybe I’m wrong, and you have recently genetically engineered a perfect human so you are in a position to make assertions. Please let me know if that is the case.

    Come on Anthony… that’s just silly.

  74. “Are you saying that you couldn’t come up with a better pathway for the RLN?”

    I’ve played around with skeptic’s assertions about ‘poor design’ before, but not this particular one. I’d rather speak to the reasoning, especially since I’m confident that you can do no more.

    “Or that we are never able to say that something could have an objectively better design?”

    I said no such thing. I gave a couple of ideas on what would enable someone to speak ‘objectively’ a ‘better design.’ You labeled these realities as silly.

    “Are you seriously suggesting that it’s impossible to say which power cord route has the better ‘design’? Which computer would you prefer to use?”

    heh nice try, but I don’t think this is a good counter-example. For one thing, this longer power cord is probably not going to work, is it? If you’re going to try to lay out an example of something we’d recognize as ‘poor design’ you’ve got to still make sure its something that still works. Your long power cord won’t. Secondly, and this is also in line with my previous objection, you are giving me an example of something that I am familiar with. Ie,

    I know what kind of power cord I need, I know what my power demands are, I know how much cord I can store, I know what kind of outlets I’ll be plugging into, and so on and so forth. With such a baseline of experience in hand, I am in a position to speak to such issues.

    I have never heard a skeptic provide anything more than arguments derived from comparative anatomy. Sorry, that’s just not going to cut it.

    Arguments derived from comparative anatomy are like walking upon a pile of power cords of different lengths- including your cord that goes to Paris and back and making judgements about them without any clue what needs drove their production. Setting aside for a moment that your long power cord wouldn’t actually work, I may mock the long power cord when I find it, unaware that it was made for a particular purpose or meets a particular need or avoids a particular problem. It may be ‘poorly designed’ relative to plugging in my laptop. It may be ‘perfectly’ designed for something else.

    So there are two categories of inquiry here. There is the first category, where the judgement is born of a baseline of knowledge and experience and interaction with the materials, and the second category, where the judgement is born only of comparisons (of usually working features, I’ll again add).

    Second category judgements are on very weak epistemological ground. Sadly, most complaints about design fit in this category.

    “Yes, on both counts.”

    Let’s hear it then. 🙂

    “Not only do you now need to explain how the RLN came to follow its circuitous path in every human on the planet, you also need to explain why it follows that path for every other mammal as well.”

    Not at all. See, you’re bringing in C material. “how it came to follow” implies a whole bunch of naturalistic evolutionary stuff that I just don’t buy. Eg, you presume that we know there was a starting position that was different despite the fact that this feature works.

    “Come on Anthony… that’s just silly.”

    Not at all. You see, contrary to Stathei’s assertions, I don’t think we can just make stuff up. You have NO IDEA whether or not any particular biological feature represents good or poor design. You walk into a room with power cords and start measuring them- category 2, comparative. You have no idea if YOU could do better… I mean, actually COULD, not just imagine you could… and you have no idea whether or not the route has other advantages you haven’t thought of. In short, your assertion on this point, and probably any others that you make related, are just pot shots based on a fundamental ignorance. You and I have both had experience with computers, plugging them into different places, etc, and so we both have some knowledge with which to make our judgements. You have no such experience with the RLN.

    If anything, what I’ve observed as technology has increased and our knowledge of anatomy has increased with it, is that things previously rejected as useless or ‘poorly’ designed end up having uses after all and the design makes better sense.

    Ever heard of genetic entropy?

    Anyway, I would just like to point out that you are also being unreasonable in citation of your ‘perfect designer’ thing. I didn’t follow the previous conversation, waiting for a response to specifically to me. I gather, though, that you have leapt immediately to a demand that if one is going to logically infer design, well, gosh, that inference can’t be trusted because we maintain a ‘perfect designer.’ This is absurd. This is like walking into your room of ‘poorly designed’ power cords and determining that since one is so long you don’t know what anyone would do with it, they must not have been designed by anyone.

    There is no reason to consider the particularly Christian ‘issue’ of how to reconcile apparently ‘poor’ design with a special creation at this point. The inference to a designer is not contingent on that designer being ‘perfect.’ See again your long power cord. The issues can be taken separately and in my opinion, though EB was right on his assertions, he should never have accepted the terms of your debate. The notion that ‘if there is a designer it must be perfect’ does not come from a Christian worldview. Ie, this notion is imported from your worldview.

  75. “The notion that ‘if there is a designer it must be perfect’ does not come from a Christian worldview.”

    So you are saying that the Christian worldview is that God is not perfect?

  76. I said exactly what I meant to say. Note that in my phrase ‘if there is a designer it must be perfect’ the word God does not appear.

  77. I was assuming the designer was God – if not, who?

  78. You know what they say about assumptions. 😉

    The identity of a putative designer is an entirely different issue then the determination- if there is a determination- that actual design is present.

    In the foregoing, these two issues were conflated, and then assumptions about a particular designer were imported. Not cool. In my opinion, poor design is still design. If that means that space aliens are the topic for discussion for awhile, so be it. Nonetheless, the two issues are separate and distinct and I for one see no point in discussion the option of ‘God as possible designer’ when it isn’t even yet conceded that there IS design. ‘Poor’ or not.

  79. “The issues can be taken separately and in my opinion, though EB was right on his assertions, he should never have accepted the terms of your debate.”

    You must have only done a brief skim through SJ, as I didn’t accept his terms and explicitly said the issue of character traits of the designer was a seperate issue than whether there is a designer AT ALL. Timmy and Stath, simply don’t accept this because they wouldn’t have any grounds to complain on if they did.

  80. yea, it was brief. sorry.

  81. :Nonetheless, the two issues are separate and distinct and I for one see no point in discussion (sic) the option of ‘God as possible designer’ when it isn’t even yet conceded that there IS design.”

    That is untrue and a cop out of the highest magnitude. Is God the designer or not? You mock me for assuming that he is, even though that is clearly the case. The entire point of this discussion is the unlikely nature of an omniscient being making such a poor job of his designing. If you insist that we have to concede that there is design before discussing anything, you might as well talk to yourself. Or EB, which is the same thing…

  82. PS Utterly hilarious that you have so often insisted that I read your verbose and boring posts in full before daring to offer my opinion, yet you feel free to opine on your sidekick’s post without reading it!

  83. “Given how you are obviously a hard-core atheist”

    I’m not sure what that means. I think it’s unlikely that there is a god, and if there is it’s even less likely that he is the inadequate nut job homophobe of SJ’s fantasies. I post on SJs blog and nowhere else. I don’t go somewhere every week to meet up with fellow Atheists to discuss how awesome we are, nor to I mutter incantations about Atheism – can you say the same about your Fundieness? I don’t read the same book on Atheism over and over, nor do I credit Atheism with saving me from anything more than a wasted visit to church on Sundays.

    I suspect you are a lot more “hardcore” in your beliefs than I am in the lack of mine – and your lord SJ is the very definition of hardcore, even though he likes to refer to hardcore Atheists at every opportunity. Feel free to explain what a hardcore Atheist is, and how you think I fit your archetype.

  84. “That is untrue and a cop out of the highest magnitude.”

    That’s your opinion, which means little to me.

    “Is God the designer or not? You mock me for assuming that he is, even though that is clearly the case.”

    I didn’t mock you at all. You really need to grow up.

    “yet you feel free to opine on your sidekick’s post without reading it!”

    You really are a child.

  85. By the way, now I have mocked you.

  86. “By the way, now I have mocked you.”

    And thus attempted to distract from the fact that yet again you dodge and duck when we get to the real heart of the issue. You don’t fool anyone, SJ – except maybe good ol’ EB.

    I’ll ask you once again, but only to confirm to the lurker that you won’t answer:

    ANTHONY, IS GOD THE DESIGNER OR NOT?

  87. Wow… I turn away for a minute and look what happens! 🙂

    I’ve played around with skeptic’s assertions about ‘poor design’ before, but not this particular one. I’d rather speak to the reasoning, especially since I’m confident that you can do no more.

    Cop out.

    I said no such thing.

    Good. Although, you do say it later, at least in regards to anatomy.

    But I don’t think this is a good counter-example.

    It’s an excellent counter-example, especially since your worst criticism seems to be that it wouldn’t work. I suppose that was my fault, since I forgot to mention that the power cord had several thousand booster points along the way. But if that’s still not to your liking, I’ll just change it so the cord merely runs out the door of the room and then straight back again.

    Sorry, that’s just not going to cut it.

    Right… so we can make objective judgments about design quality, as long as they don’t relate to anatomy?

    It may be ‘poorly designed’ relative to plugging in my laptop. It may be ‘perfectly’ designed for something else

    How very Darwinian of you! But, unfortunately, that argument quite clearly doesn’t apply in this case. This isn’t like looking at the appendix and saying “Well, sure, it looks like it has no use now, but it must have done something“. We know what nerves do. We know what power cords do. And it is obvious to everyone (except you, it would seem) that a nerve (or a power cord) that takes an extremely circuitous route to its destination admits of objectively better design.

    Let’s hear it then.

    My paragraph after “Yes on both counts” quite clearly shows that I knew what you were talking about.

    You have NO IDEA whether or not any particular biological feature represents good or poor design

    Again with the “objective design judgements are possible, just not for anatomy”.

    You have no idea if YOU could do better… I mean, actually COULD, not just imagine you could

    See, that’s why it’s silly. Why is actuation a requirement for statements on design optimality?

    And you have no idea whether or not the route has other advantages you haven’t thought of.

    You need to go an read more about the RLN.

    The notion that ‘if there is a designer it must be perfect’ does not come from a Christian worldview. Ie, this notion is imported from your worldview.

    As Stathei noted, this is an extremely puzzling statement, which I would love for you to clarify, if you have time (perhaps you have already, this comment has taken me a while!).

    In the foregoing, these two issues were conflated, and then assumptions about a particular designer were imported. Not cool.

    The issues were not conflated, they are inextricably linked:
    1. Did god design us?
    2. Does god make mistakes?

  88. “I post on SJs blog and nowhere else.”

    Yes, your general ignorance and lack of experience has already been freely admitted and noted.

    “I suspect you are a lot more “hardcore” in your beliefs than I am in the lack of mine…”

    Sadly nothing you’ve shown or mentioned detracts from my labeling of you as a “hard-core atheist” in that your atheism is stubbornly held while admitted to be based largely on ignorance (as much as ALL atheism is based largely on ignorance). You’re an atheist simply because you see other “smart” people be atheists and just want to emulate them rather than do any research and think for yourself. And that you so willfully mock other’s beliefs, while doing so little to have your own informed, is what makes you a “hard-core” atheist.

  89. So:
    1. Atheism is based on ignorance, and
    2. Stahei is only an atheist because of all the intelligent atheists.

    Tell me, you muppet, what is the atheism of all those intelligent people based on?

  90. “Cop out.”

    Sorry, it isn’t. There is no sense in getting bogged down in particulars when my general argument against them all is unassailable.

    “Good. Although, you do say it later, at least in regards to anatomy.”

    No, I didn’t.

    “It’s an excellent counter-example, especially since your worst criticism seems to be that it wouldn’t work.”

    The point of the things ‘working’ or not has to do with the fact that your ‘particulars’ will usually concern things that work. I’m not very impressed with assertions that working things are ‘poor design’ as a general rule. Perhaps you’ll find someone who accepts your premise and your argument will go further with them. It’s going no where with me.

    “Right… so we can make objective judgments about design quality, as long as they don’t relate to anatomy?”

    You seem to be missing the salient point re: objectivity. I spelled it out pretty clearly: we have a good baseline understanding of power cords and such, and if we pushed it further a good understanding of computer engineering in general. Thus, we are in a position to speak about the quality of design for such things.

    How you get from my stating that to me saying we can’t objectively discern good and poor design is beyond me.

    The difference, then, is that we generally lack (I am being kind… we almost completely lack) any such level of expertise re: human/genetic engineering. As such, claims about ‘poor design’ are just rubbish.

    “And it is obvious to everyone (except you, it would seem) that a nerve (or a power cord) that takes an extremely circuitous route to its destination admits of objectively better design.”

    Ah well, the “it’s obvious” argument. Of course, you once again return to the power cord example, which I have already addressed re: discerning design. The simple fact is you don’t know a single thing for a fact regarding the design factors involved in this nerve or any other particular example of ‘poor design.’

    So I suppose I need to be clear: I am not saying that we cannot objectively discern poor design in anatomical structures. Such discernment requires actual knowledge. You, we, the human race, has virtually none.

    “My paragraph after “Yes on both counts” quite clearly shows that I knew what you were talking about.”

    I think you’re bluffing. 🙂 But I can’t wait to be shown wrong.

    “The issues were not conflated, they are inextricably linked:”

    Linked does not mean indistinguishable. I stand by my statement that if one will not even concede that design is present, poor or not, it is useless and pointless to speak to the identity of that designer. Baby steps.

    Now, I find it a bit interesting that you’re talking about things like this nerve being an example of ‘poor design.’ You seem to be insistent that we can objectively discern good and poor design. Are you saying, then, that design can be scientifically discerned? If not, what else does ‘objectively’ possibly speak to?

    Also, while we’re at it I’d just like to raise another problem I have with these kinds of arguments, namely your cherry picking of examples. You had to dig pretty deep for this nerve… but what about…

    The brain. Pretty complicated and sophisticated, don’t you think? Works pretty well, generally speaking? You don’t find yourself having to remind your heart to beat, do you?

    What about this? I find that having the anus almost as far away as one can get from the mouth to be a very good design choice. Let’s give this unidentified designer some credit, eh? He could have put the anus just below the chin. Or between the eyes. Now that would be some poor design, no!?!? No credit for this, I suppose.

    Speaking of eyes- he very well could have put them at the bottom of one’s feet, right? That’d be pretty annoying. Or at the knees… a little better, I reckon. Ooh! At the belly button! I don’t suppose this putative designer gets any credit for putting them up about as high as they can practically go?

    These are just some examples off the top of the head. I could list- literally- a thousand of examples of pretty damn ‘good’ design (presuming you agree that we can make such objective discernments!) from the circulatory system, the reproductive system, the sensory system, the endocrine system, so on and so forth. On a percentage basis, I would be willing to bet that for every 1 example of allegedly ‘poor’ design I could produce a 1,000 examples of extreme thoughtfulness. You’d run out of examples after say, about 30 or 40, but I would be able to keep going and going and going.

    When all the systems of the human body are examined in full, at the macro and micro levels, there are lots of really good ideas that were implemented in ways that I think even you would have to admit were solid.

    But I suppose its obvious to everyone (except you, it seems) that the bladder belongs INSIDE the body, and not OUTSIDE it, dragging along behind us several feet. 😉

  91. “The issues were not conflated, they are inextricably linked:
    1. Did god design us?
    2. Does god make mistakes?”

    The issues ARE conflated, and at this point irrelevant Timmy. You don’t even concede a design and designer AT ALL, so there’s little point to the issue of whether God being the designer.

    But once again, the fact is that the ONLY explanation for ‘flaws’ existing being SOLELY the designer’s fault isn’t going to cut it. As I showed in numerous examples there is more than one explanation for flaws occuring that doesn’t have the designer at fault and if your going to criticize the God of the Bible, you should at least have the decency to acknowledge the Bible lays out such an alternative explanation (even if you don’t believe it). That the choices are either ‘it’s either flawless or it’s not designed’ is simply a false dichotomy.

    It’s so amazing when atheists appeal to absurd reasoning that they would never accept in any other circumstances (ie. arrest car manufacturers and alcohol makers for drunk drivers), but as soon as God is thrown into the picture they’re more than willing to jump at the rationale and take it to any length.

  92. So:
    “1. Atheism is based on ignorance, and
    2. Stahei is only an atheist because of all the intelligent atheists.

    Tell me, you muppet, what is the atheism of all those intelligent people based on?”

    Tell me Timmy, why do you think I said “”smart” people” with visible quotations? 😉

    Nor is “ignorance” necessarily the same as “stupidity”. I’m sure a nuclear physicist is very smart, but if he speaks to a subject he has no knowledge in, like the making and vintage of whine, naturally his views are going to be based on ignorance.

  93. “I stand by my statement that if one will not even concede that design is present, poor or not, it is useless and pointless to speak to the identity of that designer.”

    I rest my case.

  94. “I’m sure a nuclear physicist is very smart, but if he speaks to a subject he has no knowledge in (sic), like the making and vintage of whine (sic)(lol), naturally his views are going to be based on ignorance.”

    So why are you so willing to dismiss the views of experts in order to preserve your tenuous hold on your fantasy world of angels and demons?

    As for your comments on my Atheism, smart one, as usual you are completely unqualified to make your observations. I am therefore not going to dignify your remarks with a response. I am afraid I might call you what you are.

  95. “So why are you so willing to dismiss the views of experts in order to preserve your tenuous hold on your fantasy world of angels and demons?”

    Same reason I gave – even if they’re “smart” they still speak from ignorance. To say nothing of the fact that many times they simply try to go to any length to justify their views rather than actually consider the available evidence (and ONLY the available evidence). Even so-called “experts” hate to be wrong. Hawkings is a prime example of an intelligent guy whose let his personal beliefs drive him off the deep end.

    “As for your comments on my Atheism, smart one, as usual you are completely unqualified to make your observations. I am therefore not going to dignify your remarks with a response.”

    *deadpanned look* For not dignifying it with a response, you give a rather predictable response of mere denial.

  96. “Hawkings (sic) is a prime example of an intelligent guy whose let his personal beliefs drive him off the deep end.”

    “Intelligent” does not even begin to describe him – a little like the way “stupid” does not even begin to describe you. Talking to you is pointless, and I’m just realizing that my posts here are as pointless as yours. Bye SJ, it’s been fun but I’m finally cured. Have fun with EB, you deserve each other.

  97. Anthony,

    If you won’t answer Stathei’s question (“Is god the designer or not?”), will you at least tell us why you won’t answer the question?

    Tim

    P.S. Don’t leave Stathei! Bad ideas cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

  98. Also, Anthony… how do you reconcile your admitted mockery of Stathei above, with Christ’s plea for Christians to turn the other cheek?

  99. “Tell me Timmy, why do you think I said “smart” people with visible quotations?”

    Oh, I don’t know… because you couldn’t find the invisible quotations?

    “I’m sure a nuclear physicist is very smart, but if he speaks to a subject he has no knowledge in, like the making and vintage of whine [waaaaaa!], naturally his views are going to be based on ignorance.”

    I’m so glad to hear you admit this, EB! Are you going to post your evolutionary acceptance speech here or somewhere else?

  100. “Don’t leave Stathei! Bad ideas cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.”

    Thanks, Tim, but I’m done. The problem is that what we are challenging is not an idea at all. It’s a doctrine. If their cult forces them to ignore Einstein, Darwin and Hawking, I don’t think we are going to change them. I came here to provide a little balance for the lurker, but I have realized that we only dignify their preposterous and often hilarious disregard for reality by engaging with them. I’ve wasted way too much time already. Let them talk to themselves instead.

  101. “If you won’t answer Stathei’s question (“Is god the designer or not?”), will you at least tell us why you won’t answer the question?”

    Tim, I already answered it. Thrice.

    First time:

    “Anyway, I would just like to point out that you are also being unreasonable in citation of your ‘perfect designer’ thing. I didn’t follow the previous conversation, waiting for a response to specifically to me. I gather, though, that you have leapt immediately to a demand that if one is going to logically infer design, well, gosh, that inference can’t be trusted because we maintain a ‘perfect designer.’ This is absurd. This is like walking into your room of ‘poorly designed’ power cords and determining that since one is so long you don’t know what anyone would do with it, they must not have been designed by anyone.

    There is no reason to consider the particularly Christian ‘issue’ of how to reconcile apparently ‘poor’ design with a special creation at this point. The inference to a designer is not contingent on that designer being ‘perfect.’ See again your long power cord. The issues can be taken separately and in my opinion, though EB was right on his assertions, he should never have accepted the terms of your debate. The notion that ‘if there is a designer it must be perfect’ does not come from a Christian worldview. Ie, this notion is imported from your worldview.”

    Second time:

    “Linked does not mean indistinguishable. I stand by my statement that if one will not even concede that design is present, poor or not, it is useless and pointless to speak to the identity of that designer. Baby steps.”

    Third time:
    “Nonetheless, the two issues are separate and distinct and I for one see no point in discussion the option of ‘God as possible designer’ when it isn’t even yet conceded that there IS design.”

  102. Somehow the fact that I already stated my answer to that question three times passed unnoticed. That is astonishing to me, but I think I have an explanation. I don’t think you are getting the point I’m making about making sure we keep presuppositions and assumptions and conclusions out of our pool of empirical data (ie, the B material). This view influences my answers given three times, but I can only conclude that you don’t think I believe what I’ve been actually saying. So let me spell it out a little vis a vis the ‘identity of the designer’ issue.

    1. If there is every going to be any progress on understanding various viewpoints- never mind coming to a point where one’s mind is changed!, just understanding them!- we’re going to have to have to track things back to the point where we share common ground. This means, for the sake of the discussion, dispensing with as much of the ‘A’ and ‘C’ material as possible and focusing on the raw data (‘B’ material) as much as possible. In short, one cannot debate the interpretation of the data without agreement on the nature of that data.

    I firmly believe this, and my own approach is geared towards facilitating taking the conversation in that direction. I personally believe that conversation that doesn’t occur on ‘common ground’ as useless. Therefore, I will not engage in it. Someone is welcome to disagree, but they cannot compel me to expend my precious time on discussions that virtually by definition can go nowhere.

    2. Whether or not something is designed is obviously much closer to ‘common ground’ material. There is no sense in discussing the identity of a designer if one will not concede the actuality or possibility of design. To illustrate,

    Imagine coming upon a dead man in a room. I believe it is a homicide, you believe he died of natural causes. Moreover, it is known between us who I believe actually committed the murder. You think my suspect is ridiculous, and view all of my arguments for why it is a homicide and not natural death through the prism of my belief on who the ‘suspect’ is. But this is not the way real life works. If this were a real life situation, if it was determined that the death was from natural causes, the discussion about suspects would end. The latter is contingent on the former, not the other way around.

    Let me say that again. If it was not believed to be a murder, discussion of suspects is improper, out of place, useless, and flat out irrational. Likewise, if it is determined that something is not designed, then one need not discuss prospective designers. If however it is agreed that there was a homicide then one can begin discussing the relative merits of different suspects.

    Your approach is, “Your idea of who the suspect is is stupid, therefore the idea that it is a homicide is ridiculous.”

    I believe that approach is unreasonable. I believe it can’t be anything but fruitless. A waste of my time and yours. I may be interested in persuading you of the existence of my ‘suspect’ but I understand that the first step is to come to an agreement that there was a ‘crime.’ You cannot have a suspect if you don’t have a crime.

  103. 3. Finally, you are engaging in the same logical fallacy I protested before, but from the other side. You will recall that conclusions derived from a naturalistic framework were employed against conclusions derived from a framework that did not share those presuppositions. I made it clear at the time that your approach effectively was, (Statement A) “I shall now begin to interpret the world as if there is no God” but my approach was NOT the exact converse. That is, I was not saying that my view and approach is, (Statement B) “I shall now begin to interpret the world as if there is a God.”

    My approach is, (Statement C) “I shall now begin to interpret the world and derive the best account for it that I can, and if that leads to the conclusion that there is a God, so be it, if it leads to the conclusion that there isn’t a God, so be it.”

    This is the objective, neutral, fair away to approach things.

    But by your insistence to conflate the putative identity of the designer with the evaluation of design, you are acting as though my view reflects Statement B. More to the point, you yourself are the ones considering my perspective based as though the option on the table was Statement B.

    Please see above where YOU said: “Why on earth should we assume he exists?”

    But I had never said anything of the sort, and in insisting on conflating the issue of design with the identity of design, it is YOU assuming for the sake of the discussion that he exists. If that were my view, I’d be undercutting my own position throughout this whole exchange. But it isn’t my view. My view was stated explicitly in response to my quote of you:

    “I didn’t say you should. I’m only insisting that you don’t assume he doesn’t.”

    So I reckon the chief task before you is to decide whether or not I believe the things that I say I believe and then to recognize that if I do, I will act as though I do.

    That is the fourth time I have answered this question.

    There will not be a fifth.

  104. “Oh, I don’t know… because you couldn’t find the invisible quotations?”

    I understand sarcasm doesn’t always translate well over forums, but for some people it seems neither does whats actually written.

    “I’m so glad to hear you admit this, EB! Are you going to post your evolutionary acceptance speech here or somewhere else?”

    Don’t see why I should, given evolution is the perfect example of what I’m talking about – moderately intelligent people speaking to things they don’t know about, or CAN’T even know about even in principle. This is seen by the simple fact that so much of evolutionary beliefs that conflicts with Christianity are imagined historical accounts rather than observable science.

    I’ve yet to hear anyone accept the challange of producing “millions of years of evolution” in an observable and repeatable manner in order to meet the scientific requirement. 😉

  105. Anthony,

    Thanks for your detailed response. There are a number of things I want to address, but my response might have to wait until the weekend. Hope you can wait that long. 🙂

    In the meantime, did you see my question above? Namely, how do you reconcile your admitted mockery of Stathei above, with Christ’s plea for Christians to turn the other cheek?

    Do you see such mockery as throwing the moneychangers out of the temple? Or do you now feel it is un-Christ- like behaviour that you now regret?

    Tim

  106. yep, I can wait, no problem.

    Yes, of course I saw your question. I won’t be answering it one way or the other but look forward to your reply this weekend or longer, if you need the additional time.

    peace

  107. As before, if you won’t answer the question (and of course you don’t have to answer it), would you mind at least explaining why not?

  108. It would be hard to explain why I won’t without it turning into an unproductive- but entirely predictable- conversation.

  109. What if I promise not to respond? 🙂

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