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How can I respond to the following Christian “apologetic”......
Posted: 06 October 2013 11:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 196 ]
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LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I’m not filling in the “gaps” of my knowledge with God.  I enjoy filling in my understanding of God learning about how his creation works.  I fully understand that at a certain level of knowledge my ability to understand ends.  From there I must rely on faith.

It is even worse than I thought: a gap for you is not:
- something science has not found an explanation for
- science can principally never answer
but it is:
- something that you are not capable to understand.

This means that even if there are scientists who do understand, do have solid theories about it, and do have observational verifications, for you you put your faith in an old book, instead of those scientists. (oh yeah, I know, scientists are human, they can err, etc etc. But does that justify you put your faith in an old book, written by, yes, humans, that can err, etc…).

Let’s suppose you are not a quantum physicist and electrotechnician, so you have no idea how a computer works. Where do you get the faith that it works, that you are really having a conversation with me, another human at (I assume) the other side of the Atlantic? Because you put faith in God? Or in technology and the science behind it?

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I also believe that in everyday life God can affect, or influence, his creation.

You know that science is about events in spacetime, don’t you? So an entity ‘outside spacetime’ (whatever that could mean), causes events in spacetime. That would be miracles: events without causes, for us, because we are in spacetime. What makes you believe in them? Because you regularly experience them? Or because there are written reports about it in an old book, written by… etc.

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I believe in God because I believe, not because of anything science has come up with.

Yes. Exactly. That is honest.

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I don’t throw him in the gaps, but see him as the ultimate knowledge.

Yes. Because you believe it.

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I fill in the gaps with science, but science can never take away my faith in God.

What are gaps left by your faith? And if science discovers something that is opposed to your belief, you just stick to it? Or reinterpret the words of your faith so that it still fits your faith (‘six days’)?

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

Science in its understanding of the universe is ever changing.  Everything scientists say today may change tomorrow.  Why would I give up my faith in God for a learned guess?

Because a learned guess is better than a testimony that is 2000 years old, created by people who made no serious and structural effort to understand the world, and were not prepared to give up ideas when they turn out wrong? But if you want, forget about the learned guesses. Stick to established science, and accept that “we don’t know” means “we don’t know” and not “God did it”!

LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

I believe the Theory of Relativity would support the claim that from our time reference on earth at this point in the expansion of the universe the passage of time at the beginning of the universe would appear very different.  And what is dishonest about saying I don’t know how the passage of time during the six days of creation was measured?

You know that the big bang does not support in any way the story of Genesis, don’t you? The only agreement between Genesis and the big bang is that the universe did have some kind of beginning. We don’t know why it originally started off. But ‘“we don’t know” means “we don’t know”. Can’t you live with unanswered questions?

[ Edited: 07 October 2013 02:35 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 06 October 2013 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 197 ]
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LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

  I fill in the gaps with science, but science can never take away my faith in God.  Science in its understanding of the universe is ever changing.  Everything scientists say today may change tomorrow.  Why would I give up my faith in God for a learned guess?

Science builds upon its knowledge. First we have the wheel, then the cart, the carriage, the train, the car, the plane, the jet, the rocket to the moon, and finally a mission to Mars. Who knows where we may go next. We treat ailments seen as minor inconveniences, but were lethal 2 generations ago. Even my father died of something that would be manageable today, 40 years after his death. My preemie siblings were considered acutely preemature with a 50% survival rate born at 32 weeks, now this is the survival rate of a 26week preemie. Science changes because it builds on knowledge and grows. That is how you got your cell phone and GPS. Science. That is how you got your computer and flat screen TV.. science, it changes and grows.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 198 ]
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asanta - 06 October 2013 11:46 PM
LilySmith - 06 October 2013 03:19 PM

  I fill in the gaps with science, but science can never take away my faith in God.  Science in its understanding of the universe is ever changing.  Everything scientists say today may change tomorrow.  Why would I give up my faith in God for a learned guess?

Science builds upon its knowledge. First we have the wheel, then the cart, the carriage, the train, the car, the plane, the jet, the rocket to the moon, and finally a mission to Mars. Who knows where we may go next. We treat ailments seen as minor inconveniences, but were lethal 2 generations ago. Even my father died of something that would be manageable today, 40 years after his death. My preemie siblings were considered acutely preemature with a 50% survival rate born at 32 weeks, now this is the survival rate of a 26week preemie. Science changes because it builds on knowledge and grows. That is how you got your cell phone and GPS. Science. That is how you got your computer and flat screen TV.. science, it changes and grows.

Notice in my quote that I said, “Science in its understanding of the universe is ever changing.”  I was specific about the field of science I was talking about.  Even with that, however, the idea that “science builds on itself” has been questioned. 

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “In the early twentieth century, analytic philosophers of science started to apply modern logic to the study of science. Their main focus was the structure of scientific theories and patterns of inference (Suppe 1977). This “synchronic” investigation of the “finished products” of scientific activities was questioned by philosophers who wished to pay serious attention to the “diachronic” study of scientific change. Among these contributions one can mention N.R. Hanson’s Patterns of Discovery (1958), Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959) and Conjectures and Refutations (1963), Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Paul Feyerabend’s incommensurability thesis (Feyerabend 1962), Imre Lakatos’ methodology of scientific research programmes (Lakatos and Musgrave 1970), and Larry Laudan’s Progress and Its Problems (1977). Darwinist models of evolutionary epistemology were advocated by Popper’s Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach (1972) and Stephen Toulmin’s Human Understanding (1972). These works challenged the received view about the development of scientific knowledge and rationality. Popper’s falsificationism, Kuhn’s account of scientific revolutions, and Feyerabend’s thesis of meaning variance shared the view that science does not grow simply by accumulating new established truths upon old ones. Except perhaps during periods of Kuhnian normal science, theory change is not cumulative or continuous: the earlier results of science will be rejected, replaced, and reinterpreted by new theories and conceptual frameworks. Popper and Kuhn differed, however, in their definitions of progress: the former appealed to the idea that successive theories may approach towards the truth, while the latter characterized progress in terms of the problem-solving capacity of theories.” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-progress/

In science new ideas are added and others are abandoned.  The example I’ve used before is that in 1959 scientific consensus said our universe is eternal.  Then better telescopes were invented and it was observed that the universe was expanding.  The idea that the universe is eternal in its present form has been abandoned with the discovery of new information.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 199 ]
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LilySmith - 07 October 2013 08:03 AM

In science new ideas are added and others are abandoned.  The example I’ve used before is that in 1959 scientific consensus said our universe is eternal.  Then better telescopes were invented and it was observed that the universe was expanding.  The idea that the universe is eternal in its present form has been abandoned with the discovery of new information.

In addition to your fact error* I fail to see a point. Of course science adds new ideas as scientists get new information. That is how science works. Indeed, it is how knowledge works. Sociologists, historians and philosophers do the same, as do all people who approach knowledge with an open mind. The process is called learning.

*Edwin Hubble showed the universe is expanding in 1929, not 1959.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 200 ]
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Stephen,

Well, this thread is partly about specifics in apologetics, so why am I being prissy?

StephenLawrence - 06 October 2013 07:21 PM
LilySmith - 06 October 2013 04:27 PM
StephenLawrence - 06 October 2013 12:27 AM

He could have prevented all natural disasters before man and just started them off once man came along. Although why natural disasters are part of the plan at all is still mysterious.


He could also spare all animal suffering in natural disasters and makes sure only man suffers.

If he could he should Lily. And if he doesn’t he’s not perfectly good. That’s the problem. “That’s not how the world works” cut’s no ice.

Actually, there are three possibilities (other than denying His existence): he isn’t perfectly good, he isn’t perfectly knowledgeable (a ‘thin’ god, who lacks personal qualities), or isn’t perfectly powerful. Curious how we all focus on God’s goodness.

‘If he could (stop suffering), he should.’ That doesn’t follow necessarily. I can think of many kinds of counter-cases: a child seems to suffer unjustly when his parents let him cry; a patient seems to suffer unjustly when the doctor breaks his leg to reset it; a student seems to suffer when there is a quiz ‘unfairly’ scheduled every Friday afternoon when it would be much ‘better’ to be in the sunshine.

Here are two replies to unjust suffering by natural disasters (usually called ‘natural evils’).
1) Augustine’s answer to all unjust suffering is ‘free will badly applied is better than robotic beings’. The application is obvious for injustice by humans on their fellows. for natural disasters he attributes it to demons - they have free will too, and they commit these injustices upon human beings. You can ridicule this reply, but: demons have a long pedigree in religions; and besides, if you have sympathy for the existence of God, you’re being over-delicate if you won’t countenance lesser beings that are yet more powerful than us.

2) A different kind of reply is the ‘no best world’ argument. There is no Universe that can be well-constructed that would not have natural evils. Any Universe like the kind you’re thinking of would be like a very badly made story - you know, where the heroes always have perfect aim and the enemies always miss. On this notion there’s something *childish* about demanding God prevent all natural disasters. It would be a corollary that we could have no real natural science. That would be awful; we would be unable to gain any knowledge on our own. We truly would be entirely dependent upon the supernatural in a way difficult to understand. Such a world would be physical in some stunted sense, but utterly non-natural. Therefore, even granting a perfectly good and loving God, natural evils are necessary.

You know, it’s a weird fact that although natural evils are the hardest to explain in a theodicy (it seems to me and many others), the natural disasters that have occurred over the 600,000 years of existence of *homo sapiens* have not diminished belief in gods. So the argument against God’s existence from natural evils has had surprisingly little *real* force in men’s affairs. My opinion: what really seems to diminish belief in gods in the general population? Money. Consumerism.

Chris

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 201 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:26 AM

You know, it’s a weird fact that although natural evils are the hardest to explain in a theodicy (it seems to me and many others), the natural disasters that have occurred over the 600,000 years of existence of *homo sapiens* have not diminished belief in gods. So the argument against God’s existence from natural evils has had surprisingly little *real* force in men’s affairs.

Eh?

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 202 ]
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Lausten,

To briefly reply to the bulk of your posting, I was not talking about truth, but about force and appearances. I would not in fact perform the scenario I imagined; if I did, sooner or later I would be ashamed to have participated. It would be wrong.

Lausten - 06 October 2013 07:04 PM

What arguments would you make when you were pretending? Why not just take the position of reality? How can you be “setting someone up” if you honestly let him know that you have looked into perpetual motion and found it not worth considering?

Well, that’s not setting him up. Setting him up is to say ‘Hm, interesting idea, perpetual motion, I’m not sure how that would work, please explain it.’ Or words to that effect. (To be fair, Socrates does this a lot to his interlocutors in Plato’s early dialogues. But then they are strong, important and influential people: Socrates only beat up on people who could really hurt him, which seems right to me.)

I have certainty that there is no explanation out there that will make perpetual motion even possible, so I’d be flying under false colors, so to speak. I wouldn’t be *conversing* with the perpetual-motion maven. Maybe we could have a public debate - you know, with an audience, and moderators, that sort of thing. But it wouldn’t really be a mutual pursuit of knowledge in the matter. That’s unfair to the perpetual-motion maven. I should say rather ‘Perpetual motion is impossible; there’s nothing to discuss, except to tell you why it’s impossible. But I’ve been down this path before and I don’t want to do it again. Sorry.’ Or words to that effect.

Chris

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 203 ]
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An interesting distinction that you found there Lily. I don’t see how it supports what you have been saying. You say things like, “Science in its understanding of the universe is ever changing.  Everything scientists say today may change tomorrow. “ which is inarguable. But you use that to support the idea of having faith in God. I don’t see how that follows.

Asanta used the word “builds”. I see very little difference between that word and the idea of “earlier results of science will be rejected”. To improve upon something, sometimes you have to knock it all down and start over. You are taking Asanta’s idea of progress and twisting it into a philosophical discussion that is separate from what she is saying.

What you’re doing is sometimes called “quote mining”. I cited Karl Popper much earlier in this conversation when we were talking about the concept of falsification. You completely rejected that. This is why so many people are crying “foul” on you. You take a quote about the philosophy of how science progresses and try to turn it into a reason for abandoning or at least confining science and choosing faith. You apply a criticism to science, that it has said one thing in the past and now something different, but you refuse to acknowledge that the Bible is also a story of adding new ideas and abandoning others.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 204 ]
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GdB,

GdB - 07 October 2013 08:37 AM
inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:26 AM

You know, it’s a weird fact that although natural evils are the hardest to explain in a theodicy (it seems to me and many others), the natural disasters that have occurred over the 600,000 years of existence of *homo sapiens* have not diminished belief in gods. So the argument against God’s existence from natural evils has had surprisingly little *real* force in men’s affairs.

Eh?

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake.

It’s troubling the article is flagged by Wikipedia, but let it all be true for the purposes of our discussion:

This is one leaf out of 600,000 years. Secondly, the Modern Era’s rise of secularism is not generally ascribed to the Lisbon earthquake. Are you presenting a new theory of the rise of secularism? Thirdly, Portugal has remained pretty solidly Catholic up to now. Temporary doubts are not to be confused with long-term effects. You have to explain why *this* disaster eroded religious belief in a permanent way that all the previous natural disasters somehow failed to do. (For churches and temples have been destroyed for millenia, the good have died and the wicked remained, etc etc, yet religious belief was still strong long-term.)

Again, natural disasters do surprisingly little real damage to religious belief overall.

Whose likeness is it that you use?

Chris.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 205 ]
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This all makes sense, but I’m left trying to figure out what you were trying to say in your original post. This seems pretty typical of your posts, you use an example or rhetorical question like, “why would I argue about perpetual motion”, but it doesn’t apply to what I said. At least not in any way I can make sense of. I and no one else here has done any of this “setting up” you speak of.

inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:41 AM

Lausten,

To briefly reply to the bulk of your posting, I was not talking about truth, but about force and appearances. I would not in fact perform the scenario I imagined; if I did, sooner or later I would be ashamed to have participated. It would be wrong.

Lausten - 06 October 2013 07:04 PM

What arguments would you make when you were pretending? Why not just take the position of reality? How can you be “setting someone up” if you honestly let him know that you have looked into perpetual motion and found it not worth considering?

Well, that’s not setting him up. Setting him up is to say ‘Hm, interesting idea, perpetual motion, I’m not sure how that would work, please explain it.’ Or words to that effect. (To be fair, Socrates does this a lot to his interlocutors in Plato’s early dialogues. But then they are strong, important and influential people: Socrates only beat up on people who could really hurt him, which seems right to me.)

I have certainty that there is no explanation out there that will make perpetual motion even possible, so I’d be flying under false colors, so to speak. I wouldn’t be *conversing* with the perpetual-motion maven. Maybe we could have a public debate - you know, with an audience, and moderators, that sort of thing. But it wouldn’t really be a mutual pursuit of knowledge in the matter. That’s unfair to the perpetual-motion maven. I should say rather ‘Perpetual motion is impossible; there’s nothing to discuss, except to tell you why it’s impossible. But I’ve been down this path before and I don’t want to do it again. Sorry.’ Or words to that effect.

Chris

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Posted: 07 October 2013 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 206 ]
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GdB,

The more I read the article, the more it seems just a bunch of claims about the influence of the earthquake, *on the intelligentsia*. The intelligentsia hardly deserve the name, some days.

I mean the mass of people: they are intelligent in the sense of rational, they know how to raise children, they make societies work. They get the job done. They have remained, throughout time and space, largely religious. It seems that it’s mostly people with full bellies and too much leisure time who seem to get really exercised about God’s goodness and existence. The average Joe curses God heartily (and power to him), but returns to his ruined church or temple to rebuild it the following week.

Chris.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 207 ]
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In those days it had a huge influence on the intelligentia. If you had written ‘except the earthquake of Lisbon’, I would have given you some credit. It is very plausible that it is exactly this combination, the availability of natural explanations and the occurrence of such a disaster that make the argument strong. We now know there are natural explanations for disasters.

See e.g. SEP on Kant.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 208 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:48 AM

You have to explain why *this* disaster eroded religious belief in a permanent way that all the previous natural disasters somehow failed to do.
Chris.

This is the kind of ridiculous criteria that you attempt to impose on this conversation that gets you labeled as unreasonable.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 209 ]
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inthegobi - 07 October 2013 08:57 AM

GdB,

The more I read the article, the more it seems just a bunch of claims about the influence of the earthquake, *on the intelligentsia*. The intelligentsia hardly deserve the name, some days.

I mean the mass of people: they are intelligent in the sense of rational, they know how to raise children, they make societies work. They get the job done. They have remained, throughout time and space, largely religious. It seems that it’s mostly people with full bellies and too much leisure time who seem to get really exercised about God’s goodness and existence. The average Joe curses God heartily (and power to him), but returns to his ruined church or temple to rebuild it the following week.

Chris.

The intelligent, in this case Voltaire among others, not only wrote about and criticized the religious reaction to this disaster, they provided protection to some of from the masses when religious people were persecuting them. That’s how the one influences the other. You’re not going to find quantitative studies from that time counting the number of people who were influenced by Candide.

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Posted: 07 October 2013 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 210 ]
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Lausten,

This all makes sense, but I’m left trying to figure out what you were trying to say in your original post. . . . it doesn’t apply to what I said. At least not in any way I can make sense of. I and no one else here has done any of this “setting up” you speak of.

If you didn’t get the original scenario (the ten Christians ganging up on a secularist like yourself), don’t worry about it. Maybe I was gesturing to a certain thread involving a certain Christian.

But as to what ‘argument’ i might use if I were flying under false colors in a discussion, why, I’d say any damn thing it took to fluster and discomfit my opponent. If I and my buddies were clever enough we would introduce only true things (at least true to me). The purpose of an intellectual mugging isn’t ultimately to gain knowledge - since the gang is sure they’re right - but to demonstrate *power* over the opponent. I wonder what the causes are of the prevalence of that kind of mugging on the Internet. Are people generally that ready to club each other? Whenever I think hard about how the Internet works, the old movie *Forbidden Planet* comes to mind.

Chris

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