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How can I respond to the following Christian “apologetic”......
Posted: 04 October 2013 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 151 ]
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PLaClair - 04 October 2013 02:35 PM

Chris, for starters, my name is Paul. No offense taken, an honest mistake.

Again with all due respect, I think your epistemology is simply dreadful. You write about constructing God out of existence as though you can construct the same into existence in the first place. The intent behind FSM is completely irrelevant: both constructs are imaginary.

There are several arguments - several *kinds* of arguments - for God’s existence. You may be under the impression that somehow the sciences have disproved God or made Him irrelevant. I can only disagree; point to the hordes of working scientists who are theists of one stripe or another. Naturalism as a philosophical system has always been in trouble of one sort or another. Attempts to sort of define God out of existence largely failed, partly because they made *all* knowledge difficult if not impossible. And so on. My epistemology isn’t the issue; the existence of God has not been swept off the table by any discovery known to Man, despite Dawkins and Dennett.

I also accept personal revelation, although not in philosophy or science: I mean if a person came to me and sincerely told me of being visited by the FSM, I would not dismiss him out of hand if he were otherwise sane. Does that surprise you? (That said, I would only be patient for a friend. We all have limits, and it’s reasonable to not stray too far from them. If God’s existence is just too much for you to think about, we might be too far apart to do each other much good. But I’m a Pollyanna about such things, personally.)

All you’ve done is ignore theism’s foundational problem, asserting on the same thin air as you assert your conception of God that it isn’t a problem.

This is not the thread for my question: What *is* theism’s fundamental problem, in your opinion? Maybe that’s a new thread.

It ignores what we know of reality.

What we know of reality - which is precious little, though precious enough to those who prised it from Nature’s filing cabinet - is not exhausted by what we know of Nature. to claim otherwise is just to assume what has not been proven. by. anyone. Again, who is more connected to reality: Sheldon or his mom? And why? forget his mom’s *religion*: isn’t she more keyed into specifically *human* matters? Aren’t these at least *arguably* non-natural, or at least rather distant from matter in motion, or modification by descent? How are morals, altruism - heck, how is justification, argumentation - ‘natural’ in a well-defined way THAT YOU CAN TELL OF? Not speculat; not muse on; not spin a possible tale. Even if they are natural, they are *so* distant from the obviously natural - so distant that Sheldon cannot get from physics to human interaction despite his genius. I know, it’s a fable, but it is true to life. I used to be surrounded by Sheldons.

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 152 ]
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Paul

I know about the structure of arguments.

Heh, I bet you do. And that’s fascinating about Larry Sklar, I hope he was as great in class as in print. (That’s not always the case.)

You’re still missing the point. Logic and reason are essential but without a grounding in reality, we’re only playing a schoolboy’s academic game.

Well, that’s just where we disagree Paul. I and many others - others (not me) just as intelligent as Dr. Sklar - are arguing about how big and capacious is reality. You think that there is only what we can discover empirically - yes? I think Sheldon’s mom is grounded in one part of reality - the non-naturalist part, tho’ a little less firmly in the religion department! - moreso than Sheldon.

(I’m not sure how to connect this with the thread’s title, but maybe I don’t need to. just to be clear.)

Come now. You have no proof that I, or more importantly the philosophers, scientists etc. who believe in Gods and who have argued about them, have a wish-fulfillment about God. You don’t believe what you cannot prove, right? When you bring the psychology results proving it, I’ll think differently.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 153 ]
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IMHO, we are all talking about the same thing.  The Ultimate Causality.

The difference is that religions claim to know this ultimate causality, namely God, who has supernatural powers to creates and shape the universe “at will”. But except from some old unreliable documents, that is the totality of the claim for a sentient and motivated God.

OTOH, Science recognizes that the ultimate causality is NOT YET known and is seeking to discover this causality by looking at the parts which make up the universe.

But to date there is no evidence that a motivated, sentient God (as claimed in the available documents) was “necessary”, and even highly improbable as described in scripture.
No scientist will completely rule out the possibility of a god, but does rule out a supernatural scriptural god as it would any claim of the ability to function outside of Natural laws, which have been proven to be consistent by copious evidence.

The problem does not lie with the assumption of a god. The problem lies in the unwillingness by the believer to modify any of his/her views of the only available and unreliable documentation.  Science does not reject the proposition of a “wholeness” which exhibits certain potentials, it merely rejects the assumption of a god with supernatural potential. This is done on the logical conclusion that many examples in scripture are inconsistent with Natural laws as we know them to be and therefore are not available to scientific investigation, but must be taken on faith. In science this is not allowed, science requires evidence and either confirmation or falsification of any claim of certainty, something which scripture cannot provide.

Thus the tween shall never meet.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 05:05 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 154 ]
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Lily,

when people continually say incorrect things about what the Bible teaches I like to share what I’ve learned to the contrary.  Many of the people here actually think evilbible.com and skepticsannotatedbible.com are good sources for what the Bible teaches.  That’s just sad.

Yeah, it takes all kinds. Wait, did you just say someone is wrong on the Internet!?

On just one point of your reply to my very brief outline of the argument *against* god’s existence from unjust suffering:

How can a person [too young to deserve suffering] suffer after death?  Death is the end of suffering.  God has taken home those children who die in disasters and they will suffer no more.

(Scratching chin) I guess so. Do you think this is true, or is it just one possible explanation? (In Christian apologetics, we need not prove things, except to prove our doctrines are not against reason. That’s the problem Paul/LaClair is having with us.)

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 04:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 155 ]
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Write4U - 04 October 2013 03:37 PM

But no scientist will completely rule out the possibility of a god, but does rule out a supernatural scriptural god as it would any claim of the ability to function outside of Natural laws, which have been proven to be consistent by copious evidence.

You may want to read this article.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2056018/Laws-physics-change-depending-universe.html

Excerpts: “The ‘constancy’ of physics is one of the most cherished principles in science - but the scientists say that the ‘laws’ we know may be the galactic equivalent of ‘local by-laws’ and things may work quite differently elsewhere.

“The discovery - if true - violates one of the underlying principles of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and has profound implications for our understanding of space and time.”

“It also means that in other parts of the universe, the laws of physics might be hostile to life - whereas in our small part of it, they seem fine-tuned to supporting it.

“Research carried out at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge found that one of the four known fundamental forces, electromagnetism - measured by the so-called fine-structure constant and denoted by the symbol ‘alpha’ - seems to vary across the Universe.”

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Posted: 04 October 2013 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 156 ]
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Chris, you are under many misapprehensions about what I believe, none of which I’ve given you cause for.

Science has not disproved the existence of a god, though there are some conceptions of God that science has clearly disproved: a god with a 6,000-year-old universe, for example. I’m surprised that you don’t know that as a scientific naturalist I recognize that the existence of a god is not falsifiable, and therefore is not capable of proof or disproof.

I don’t think science has rendered God irrelevant. The idea of God influences the behavior of many people around the world and is highly relevant for that reason.

You misunderstand my views on naturalism, or perhaps more accurately, persist in not understanding them. Of course naturalism runs into philosophical trouble if you take it far enough, trying for example to explain the “ultimate nature of reality,” whatever that is and if such a thing there be. So does every other world view. However, naturalism is the only means by which we have acquired knowledge about nature, from subatomic particles to cosmology. Theism and theology haven’t contributed anything – not a speck, shred or iota of knowledge in the thousands of years of their history. You’re overlooking the operational nature of scientific philosophy and inquiry. And again it goes back to the same thing you keep ignoring: reality, the way things really work in the world we actually inhabit.

If your epistemology isn’t the issue, then why do you keep advocating for it? And whether it is your issue or not, it is mine, among many other issues, because it is dreadful.

Theism’s foundation problem is that it isn’t based on any evidence. Again, that may not be your focus but I think it is essential to any meaningful philosophy.

“How much we know of reality” is more a statement about how each of us chooses to look at the matter than anything else. It’s not a useful question because we don’t know how much of the whole we know; we couldn’t because we don’t know what the whole is. All of that is just speculation. What matters about reality is that it is the only thing we have to check our hypotheses and theories. And we’re right back at the same place again: every single thing we know with any degree of reliability is a product of our investigations into or stumblings upon reality.

Larry Sklar was a treat to have as a professor: animated, intellectually and personally supportive and of course brilliant.

With all due respect, Chris, you fundamentally misunderstand what I’m saying. I know that because you write: “You think that there is only what we can discover empirically - yes?” No. There may be more but we can’t make any reliable statements about it until we discover something objective that justifies making such a statement.

You seem to assume that we should have answers for everything. I recognize that the correct answer to many questions right now is “We don’t know.”

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Posted: 04 October 2013 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 157 ]
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Write,

the tween[s] shall never meet.

Not if the middle-school principle has anything to say about it, they won’t.

Chris Kirk

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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 158 ]
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LilySmith - 04 October 2013 04:31 PM
Write4U - 04 October 2013 03:37 PM

But no scientist will completely rule out the possibility of a god, but does rule out a supernatural scriptural god as it would any claim of the ability to function outside of Natural laws, which have been proven to be consistent by copious evidence.

You may want to read this article.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2056018/Laws-physics-change-depending-universe.html

Excerpts: “The ‘constancy’ of physics is one of the most cherished principles in science - but the scientists say that the ‘laws’ we know may be the galactic equivalent of ‘local by-laws’ and things may work quite differently elsewhere.

“The discovery - if true - violates one of the underlying principles of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, and has profound implications for our understanding of space and time.”

“It also means that in other parts of the universe, the laws of physics might be hostile to life - whereas in our small part of it, they seem fine-tuned to supporting it.

“Research carried out at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Cambridge found that one of the four known fundamental forces, electromagnetism - measured by the so-called fine-structure constant and denoted by the symbol ‘alpha’ - seems to vary across the Universe.”

I have read the article and it is an interesting phenomena. Multiple universes with different Natural laws have never been ruled out by science.  David Bohm speaks of different plenums (stages) in the greater wholeness..

It shows that science “so far” has not been able to observe the entire universe, that there is an event horizon, similar as there is an event horizon inside a black hole, where Natural laws seem to break down. Would you argue that a black hole is evidence for a god?
We know of “different natural laws” that govern under certain circumstances such as particle behaviors. We know of “virtual particles” which are not directly observable but are known by the observable traces they leave.  We have propositions of “string theories” predicting multiple universes.
This is why science does not attach a single law of nature, but has identified 4 fundamental forces which we have named and which seem to be constant in our universe. Read Newton’s Laws (classical mechanics)

Newton’s laws hold only with respect to a certain set of frames of reference called Newtonian or inertial reference frames. Some authors interpret the first law as defining what an inertial reference frame is; from this point of view, the second law only holds when the observation is made from an inertial reference frame, and therefore the first law cannot be proved as a special case of the second. Other authors do treat the first law as a corollary of the second.[8][9] The explicit concept of an inertial frame of reference was not developed until long after Newton’s death

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton’s_laws_of_motion

Bohm’s work explains why GR and QM themselves seem to be inconsistent in outcomes. But he also explains that this is because scientists have failed to look at the universe as a wholeness (he calls it the holomovement of the fundamental causal forces) and in his book Wholeness and the Implicate order describes in detail the different plenums necessary for this (our) universe to become manifest in reality.

We also know that the “inflationary epoch” did not obey the current laws of nature which govern our universe. But that was just until space cooled down enough for the universal constant to become active. We have known of “different states” for a long time now.
We may well discover other abberant (but natural) phenomena under certain circumstances, in due course.

Bottom line, Science does not CLAIM to have all the answers. OTOH, Religion does make that claim but does not provide any EVIDENCE.

The article does not prove the existence of God at all, it just shows science does not know everything. But to cite this article as proof of God is argument from ignorance.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 06:19 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 159 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 05:03 PM

Write,

the tween[s] shall never meet.

Not if the middle-school principle has anything to say about it, they won’t.

Chris Kirk

Are you suggesting that we teach Creationism in science classes, using the bible as the authority?  If I recall this was tried already for centuries and has brought no new knowledge to science. On the contrary, it has resulted in some of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by mankind unto itself.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 06:13 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 160 ]
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Paul,

Chris, you are under many misapprehensions about what I believe, none of which I’ve given you cause for.

Maybe. Is it possible you’re under misapprehensions too? If you’re *sure* you’re not, we wont’ get far. You *sound* so sure of yourself that you’ve called my epistemology awful in so many words. Really.

Now I’m going to - what’s the word for replying to every snippet of an Internet post? But only so we can get ourselves clear of mutual rubbish.

Science has not disproved the existence of a god

True enough - but many people haven’t gotten the memo. And I have no interest in that side of things. When did i say it had? YOu *sure* you’re not misapprehending me? But naturally (heh) we both have a larger audience in mind, and we’ve just met. but to be clear: I’m not a methodological naturalist and I find it a bit bizarre to boot. It took me a while to love arguments for themselves, but here I am. So perhaps we two should shift to argue about methodological naturalism.

I’m feeling you out - i’m not ‘misapprehending’ you. Okay?

though there are some conceptions of God that science has clearly disproved: a god with a 6,000-year-old universe, for example

There are clever folk who could make hash out of that. (Unfortunately: seeding the world with fake fossils, that sort of rubbish.) The arguments against such a crappy God are not ‘scientific proofs’ however - look up Al Ghazali and his opponents; they involve God’s relation to the physical world. 

I’m surprised that you don’t know that as a scientific naturalist I recognize that the existence of a god is not falsifiable

Ah, so you’re a scientific naturalist (there’s non-scientific naturalists? Maybe theoretically). As a scientific naturalist, do you reject the arguments against God’s existence from evil as a good argument? (For curiosity’s sake.) Well, truth in advertising: I used to be an analytical chemist in the environmental and pharmaceutical industries (as a small cog, trust me); I ended up as a philosopher with emphasis in the history and philosophy of science. Beyond that I’m a non-naturalist, maybe even a supernaturalist (tho’ it’s dangerous to let one’s opponents describe you). I have a side-interest in ethics, partly out of force of teaching it. I tend to collect arguments from evil in a desultory way.

, and therefore is not capable of proof or disproof.

Wait, ‘not falsifiable’ only means you cannot disprove the thing in question. You might prove it - in a relevant sense of prove. Let’s not get too hung up on technical words. (Only mathematics has proofs, technically.)

I don’t think science has rendered God irrelevant. The idea of God influences the behavior of many people around the world and is highly relevant for that reason.

Ah, but I don’t happen to care about that. That’s the sociology of religion. Let’s not confound the *God* with *idea of God*.

You misunderstand my views on naturalism, or perhaps more accurately, persist in not understanding them.

Now now! I didn’t know you were gunning for naturalism, epistemic or ontological. We’ll have to take this to another room soon. In all this I’ve tried to keep one eye on the title of this thread; maybe that’s making me intellectually wall-eyed. (Sharpening immaterial knives.) By all means, let’s have a big slab of naturalism.

Of course naturalism runs into philosophical trouble if you take it far enough, trying for example to explain the “ultimate nature of reality,” whatever that is and if such a thing there be. So does every other world view.

Good. Very good. You’re not claiming impenetrable armor. You’re not a fool.

However, naturalism is the only means by which we have acquired knowledge about nature, from subatomic particles to cosmology. Theism and theology haven’t contributed anything – not a speck, shred or iota of knowledge in the thousands of years of their history.

Add one single phrase - haven’t contributed anything *to knowledge about nature*.
Morals; propositions and justification; mental contents and qualia (colors, sounds, tastes) - all three of these have resisted naturalizing. In fact it can be argued (in some other thread) that they cannot ever be naturalized without simply making them what they aren’t: being moral isn’t being approved of or having the right feelings; being justified or valid isn’t much like ‘reliable’; being red isn’t ‘being a certain wavelength’.

(But, I’d say your rider is empirically false. I can think of one example off the top of my head where belief in God helped natural science along a bad patch. Bishop Tempier in the thirteenth century had the scientists of his day claiming they’d proved that a vacuum is impossible. He pointed out that God could make a vacuum if He wanted to - that the notion *vacuum* isn’t contradictory. He literally forbade scholars from claiming God couldn’t make a vacuum! That allowed for fruitful argument about vacua, and more important motion in a vacuum. That’s just one example where a belief in a Higher Power *encouraged* research where the scientists of the day had tried to close it off. Lucky them they had a bishop around.)

You’re overlooking the operational nature of scientific philosophy and inquiry.

I’m not overlooking if it hasn’t yet been needed. Why do we need to take natural science into account when arguing for or against God’s existence? Or that there is injustice in the world? Or that it is possible to argue unethically, but I reject the charge?

But why on earth bring in operationalism? You know there’s problems with that? Example: there are several ways to measure temperature, and different ways work best over the wide range of temps. But under operationalism, we’d be forced to say there are several different things under the name temperature, instead of one, single magnitude with different operations for measuring it. So operationalism isn’t what scientists typically think of when they talk about ‘the temperature’ of something. (Henry Kyburg, *Science and Reason* is one source.)

And again it goes back to the same thing you keep ignoring: reality, the way things really work in the world we actually inhabit.

Well, to repeat, I reject methodological naturalism. It’s unprovable. It’s not a *scientific* theory. And it’s *manifestly* false that somehow it has kept us tied to reality. Examples: Have we had no advance in morals over the centuries? False. Did we need more science to advance it? Doubtful. Did the Pope in the sixteenth century use natural science to argue that the Amerindians were fully human - The Spanish tried to say No. Hardly. Did the US abolitionists argue against slavery chiefly from science? Rarely, they were straightforward Christians arguing from the Bible. Was it religion that gave us the racism of the seventeenth through early twentieth centuries? It was just as much crappy biological theories. And so on.

If your epistemology isn’t the issue, then why do you keep advocating for it? And whether it is your issue or not, it is mine, among many other issues, because it is dreadful.

I see why you say this. You accuse me of being not a methodological naturalist, yes? And the only method on the table is methodological (i.e. epistemic) naturalism, right? Any other position is dreadful; therefore etc. Is this a little rude but fair to summarize your argument so? and so the rest of what you say follows, uh, naturally:

Theism’s foundation problem is that it isn’t based on any evidence. Again, that may not be your focus but I think it is essential to any meaningful philosophy.

With all due respect, Chris, you fundamentally misunderstand what I’m saying. I know that because you write: “You think that there is only what we can discover empirically - yes?” No. There may be more but we can’t make any reliable statements about it until we discover something objective that justifies making such a statement.

You know, I don’t happen to think I’ve *fundamentally* misunderstood you.
First, you must understand that you kept taking down my arguments by talking about something, epistemology, that was not *immediately relevant* to my arguments. Most other people would have gone after a weakness in the argument, or an ill-conceived concept. You know, attack the form, or attack the contents. Truly, I didn’t know at first you were really arguing that *there can be no such argument of any kind of natural-scientific method-type* arguments. As I’ve said, I get it, but that’s just too weird for me. But i’m game to argue with you about that.
Second: I know the different modes of naturalism; i just happen to think the epistemic kind must lead to the ontological kind. And I happen to believe people are slightly kidding themselves to tell me otherwise. Just my opinion. So let me test this: if you could be persuaded that there is such a thing as non-naturalist argumentation, then would you be open to arguments for God’s existence? Or moral facts, maybe? or logical validity and justification over and above merely reliable physical/biological processes? Not ready to be convinced by any ol’ argument that comes down the road; just open that such things as good, nonnaturalistic arguments. even *exist*.

You seem to assume that we should have answers for everything. I recognize that the correct answer to many questions right now is “We don’t know.”

Wow, talk about misunderstanding! No, we should *pursue* the answers to anything and everything. I am a confirmed Socratic: we do not have wisdom, we can only pursue it; what we have instead is *something* if not full knowledge.

I have written a lot more than i’d care too normally, but this seems important to sort out step by step.

Chris

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 06:23 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 161 ]
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Write4U - 04 October 2013 06:11 PM
inthegobi - 04 October 2013 05:03 PM

Write,

the tween[s] shall never meet.

Not if the middle-school principle has anything to say about it, they won’t.

Chris Kirk

Are you suggesting that we teach Creationism in science classes, using the bible as the authority?  If I recall this was tried already for centuries and has brought no new knowledge to science. On the contrary, it has resulted in some of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by mankind unto itself.

A tween is a youngster ‘be-tween’ elementary school and high school. It was a joke about kids and their hormones.

Chris.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 06:24 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 162 ]
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inthegobi - 04 October 2013 06:20 PM
Write4U - 04 October 2013 06:11 PM
inthegobi - 04 October 2013 05:03 PM

Write,

the tween[s] shall never meet.

Not if the middle-school principle has anything to say about it, they won’t.

Chris Kirk

Are you suggesting that we teach Creationism in science classes, using the bible as the authority?  If I recall this was tried already for centuries and has brought no new knowledge to science. On the contrary, it has resulted in some of the most heinous crimes perpetrated by mankind unto itself.

A tween is a youngster ‘be-tween’ elementary school and high school. It was a joke.

Chris.

red face Of course, I should have said “the twain shall never meet”.  My error.

[ Edited: 04 October 2013 06:29 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 04 October 2013 06:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 163 ]
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Apologies to posters for the very long post. I felt it important to reply to Paul carefully and fully.

Paul, if you’re interested, maybe we should exchange e-mails. maybe we have a lot to sort out in preliminaries first? Even with such a long post I felt I was rushing through it.

Chris

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Posted: 04 October 2013 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 164 ]
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Chris, I can barely find time to post here, so I’ll respectfully decline your offer to have a private discussion. Suffice to say, your epistemology doesn’t convince me in the least. The mere fact that a theologian happened upon a scientific discovery through his theology doesn’t mean that his theology can be credited for it; verification was still accomplished by naturalistic means. This anecdote is like the stopped clock that is right twice a day.

All fact claims should be subject to the same tests of reliability, whether they pertain to the specific gravity of a liquid or the existence of a god. Mine is a practical approach, based on what methods of seeking knowledge about nature (I agree with your clarification there) have been shown to work. Everything else you’re saying strikes me as an academic exercise that hasn’t yielded any meaningful fruit in the many centuries that people have been about it. It doesn’t interest me.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 04 October 2013 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 165 ]
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LilySmith - 04 October 2013 02:19 PM

 

All of what you say depends on what God is accomplishing.  Your idea is that God should create man, not give him any choice in the matter of his life, make everything pleasant for him and be sure to feed him on time.  And for heaven sake, no natural disasters.

You’re not answering why god didn’t prevent naturals disasters before man came along.

When you say “any choice” you are talking about libertarian free will which he didn’t and couldn’t give us in any case. And you know this because you know you can’t believe my father is an alien and equally I can’t believe Jesus was the son of god.

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