Ten Widely-believed Fallacies Today
by Christopher Andrus
August 30, 2013
- Every reasonable person knows the God described in the Bible can’t exist.
- There is no evidence that the Biblical God exists.
- All claims of immaterial existence are ridiculous because they can’t be demonstrated scientifically. So belief in the Biblical God is akin to belief in Santa Claus or the “flying spaghetti monster”.
- Because Science has been proven to be the only reliable way to understand the physical world, then this world must be all that exists.
- Biblical Christianity is anti-Science and anti-Reason.
- We can know what happened in the past and what will happen in the future based on what we understand about how nature works now.
- I am not religious because my beliefs are all scientifically-based.
- It is always wrong to judge others.
- There is no such thing as absolute truth.
- Every reasonable person knows that the Bible is filled with scientific impossibilities, evil teachings or actions done by or required by God and other errors.
Introductory note: Because of the importance of these issues for every one of us it is not rational either to ignore or dismiss the arguments which follow. They must either be refuted with rational arguments or accepted. We assert that only the Christian worldview can account for all we experience and know.
- Every reasonable person knows the God described in the Bible can’t exist.
Why this is a fallacy:
It is impossible to know that God doesn’t exist because proving the non-existence of God would require complete knowledge of the universe, and not just in the present, but also from the beginning. Of course, this is impossible for any human being. So, one may doubt that God exists. But you cannot know that He doesn’t. However, the reality is that everyone actually knows that the Biblical God does exist, but most suppress this knowledge.
This is because human beings are made in the image of our Creator God and for the purpose of having a relationship with Him. But we have also been born with a natural tendency to run away from God, which we inherited from our ancestors, going all the way back to our First Parents, Adam and Eve. Because of this sinful nature, we have the desire to get along without our Creator and to try to make sense of the world without Him. This is the driving force behind all philosophies and religions other than Biblical Christianity. (The use of the pronoun “Him” for God does not mean that God is male. God created both the male and female genders. However, the New Testament message is that God became a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.)
Modern public education is based on the false premise that The God of the Bible doesn’t exist. So, from our very first days in school we are taught about a world in which God is irrelevant. One is free to believe in God personally, but only if this belief has no impact on one’s life and understanding of the universe. In other words, God is only acceptable if He is irrelevant and powerless.
But, The Almighty Creator God cannot be dismissed. Because of Who He Is, we must begin learning by learning about Him. If we don’t, we have actually rejected Him and replaced Him with something else. The Bible calls this idolatry. In the past idolatry was obvious, being seen in open worship of other gods or ideals. But the most common form of idolatry in the 21st century is more subtle. Today’s main idols are human reason and desires and Science as the only source of knowledge.
Because God is The One Who gave every one of us life and everything else and Who sustains us moment-by-moment, we are “biting The Hand that feeds us” if we do not make our relationship with Him our top priority. Again, you cannot plead ignorance on this. You already know in your heart that you are completely dependent on God every single moment of your life. He calls you to forsake your false sense of independence and your futile resistance to Him.
- There is no evidence that the Biblical God exists.
There is plenty of evidence and arguments which show that belief in God is far more reasonable than believing that He doesn’t exist or, even, doubting that He does. In a court of law, evidence will be sought and viewed differently by the prosecution and the defense. Such is also the case between those believe in God’s existence and those who assume that God doesn’t exist.
The first piece of evidence for God’s existence is the existence of human minds. The most common belief today (which is falsely called “scientific”) is that the universe really consists only of matter/energy and mindless forces of nature in time. But if this is true then the universe is ultimately mindless. But then where did human minds come from?
Saying that our minds and identity are only brain chemistry and that we only imagine otherwise won’t work. This is because, even if we are deluded about ourselves, “we” still exist as subjects of the delusion. In other words, “you” and “I” exist both as objects and subjects. We are not our brains. Rather, you and I have bodies (including our brains), but we are clearly more than this. For example, if a person is viewing their own brain-scan he or she must be distinguished from what is being viewed. It is not brain chemistry viewing itself!
The Biblical view explains why we have minds – because we have been made in the image of our Creator as rational and moral beings. And it is also explains why we have bodies, and also why there is a physical world (which the alternative view cannot) – because God created the universe and created us as minds/souls/spirits housed in physical bodies.
The next evidence of God’s existence is the existence of logic and morality. Both of these are not part of the material world, so they cannot be explained if matter is all that exists. Logic simply isn’t observed in Nature. Rather, it must be assumed and relied upon before we can study and learn about Nature or anything else and before we can communicate with others, and, even, before we can think at all. In other words, logic is a characteristic of our minds.
In this also we are like God. God, Who is The Original Mind, is the Creator of our minds. And our minds also reflect how His works. God is perfectly logical because true logic describes how His mind works and how ours should work. As such, God is not under rules of Logic which are higher than Him. Nor is He logical because He arbitrarily defines what is logical.
In the same way, although we do make moral judgments about things which we observe in the material world, morality in itself cannot be observed in the material world. It is also important to recognize that we tend to make such judgments only on actions done by people, not by animals. This is quite revealing in itself in pointing to the uniqueness of humanity as rational moral beings.
Morality, like logic, exists in our minds. Again, this reflects our Creator. And, as with logic, true morality describes what God is like as The Original Person. More accurately, it is The Original Three Persons, Who are equally-divine. This is important because without this plurality God could not be relational and, thus, moral within His own Being. This is why Christian Theism is superior to other monotheistic theologies (most significantly, that of Islam and Judaism, but also that of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other monistic faiths). All polytheistic theologies (with multiple, clearly distinct deities) are clearly inferior because God must be The Supreme Being, otherwise He is not Worthy of The Name. So, it is necessary that God be One Supreme Being but in more than One Person.
Morality describes how The Three Persons of God have always related to each other and how we, as beings made in God’s image, should relate to each other, as well as to our world and to God. This is also why there is an impressive amount of agreement on what is right and wrong around the world and also throughout history. Of course, there is also a considerable amount of disagreement. But this can be explained as the result of mankind’s natural tendency to reject both God and His moral ways.
As is the case with logic, God is not under rules of morality, nor is He moral because everything He does is moral by definition. The latter would make morality arbitrary. But morality is both divinely-based and real (not arbitrary) because God is Three Real Personal Beings Who are also perfectly Good. Of course, in the latter respect, we are not like Him.
The next piece of evidence that there is a divine Mind behind the universe is the fact that we find both order and disorder in the universe. On our level, it is clear that purposeful human activity is constantly required to create order and prevent increasing disorder. Anyone who never cleans their house or brushes their teeth easily finds this to be true! This is also true of human societies.
But, if this is so in our experience, then it is questionable at best to assume that purposeful activity wasn’t required in order to produce the amazing order which we observe both in the physical universe itself and, especially, in living things. Today, we are constantly learning more and more about how complex even the simplest living things are. Furthermore, this complexity involves countless parts working in harmony so that if even one of them is missing or defective the organ or organism cannot function. (This is known as “irreducible complexity”.) It is simply an extreme act of blind faith to believe that this developed without a Mind and design behind it. We know that it takes a watchmaker to make a watch. It took a far greater Mind to create the universe which includes watches, living things and everything else.
So, the problem is not a lack of evidence. Rather, it is that most people don’t want to look at the evidence as pointing to God, but, rather, are completely committed to trying to make sense of everything without God. The claim that there is no evidence for the God of the Bible is simply a lie. The most that anyone can claim is a belief that the evidence more reasonably points to the non-existence of God. But we assert the contrary.
Furthermore, it is absolutely absurd for anyone to demand that an Almighty God prove His existence to them before they will acknowledge Him. For this is to put one’s self in the seat of judgment and, thus, at least equal to, if not above God. The One True God doesn’t have to prove Himself to human beings or anyone else! Rather, we have to answer to Him. If you don’t like this it’s your problem, not His.
- All claims that immaterial entities exist are ridiculous because they can’t be demonstrated scientifically. So belief in the Biblical God is akin to belief in Santa Claus or the “flying spaghetti monster”.
There are plenty of immaterial entities which we all take for granted constantly. First, there is logic, which (as indicated under the last point) cannot be observed in the physical world. Rather, it must be assumed before all observation of this or, even, before any human thinking at all can occur. Logic is the rules of thinking without which it would be impossible to distinguish what is reasonable from what is nonsense.
Next, there is human consciousness, which includes our self-awareness, our awareness of other people and our awareness of the world around us. Although consciousness is associated with brain chemistry (at least in our current existence), it simply cannot be reduced to this (as we also established under the last point).
Another immaterial entity which we must assume to be real in order to get along in our world is morality. As indicated previously, this also cannot be observed in the material world.
Finally, there is all of our experience and knowledge, including all scientific knowledge. While scientific knowledge is about the world of objects, what we learn from Science is not in itself found in the physical world.
Furthermore, the study and understanding of these immaterial entities is just as possible as that of the material world using both evidence and reason, except that the “objects” of study are not objects, they are subjects. This includes Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology and Theology, which is the study of The Ultimate Subject – God. Though the first three are usually considered scientific fields, they are not physical Sciences because they seek understanding of people, who are more than just material entities governed by mindless laws of nature.
And, in practice, it is not hard to demonstrate rationally how The God described in the Bible must exist, as opposed to other claims of deity or conceptions of ultimate reality or obviously fictional characters. We dealt with the first two under the last point. As for fictional creatures, it is completely ridiculous to compare belief in The Creator God with belief that these are real. This is because all sane adults know that fairy tales and fictitious creatures are made up. But untold millions of people over thousands of years have based their lives on belief in The Creator God. But, more importantly for the current point, all sane people in human history have assumed that they are real people. And people are more than material bodies.
- Because Science has been proven to be the only reliable way to understand the physical world, then this world must be all that exists.
This is such an obvious fallacy that it is absolutely stunning that the entire modern philosophy of secular education (which is metaphysical Materialism and its corresponding epistemology of Empiricism) is based on it. This is a fallacy of composition. That Science enables us to understand one aspect of reality does not mean that this is all there is to reality. The conclusion just doesn’t follow. And it’s not just that the conclusion is believed to be true. It is actually believed by many people in the developed world today that the success of Science has proven that God and other immaterial entities can’t exist. This false logic is basis for the common “Science has made religion obsolete” claim. But, those who believe this have actually turned Science into a religion in practice by viewing it as an all-explaining approach to reality. It is a testament to the blinding power of a Philosophy/Religion that a small child is capable of understanding the logical error here, but Nobel Prize-winning scientists are not.
Instead, it must be recognized that there is an entire realm of reality in addition to the physical world. Some of the reasons for this were given in point #4. In addition to returning to Christian Theism as the correct understanding of reality, we must return to metaphysical Dualism, in which it is recognized that both bodies and minds (or souls or spirits) are real. This is represented in the diagram which can be found on this blog entitled “The Creator and the Creation”.
- Biblical Christianity is anti-Science and anti-Reason.
Biblical Christianity is entirely compatible with proper Science – the study of the physical world as it works today. Far from being anti-scientific, the rise of modern Science actually came under Christian Theism as the reigning worldview! And the most fundamental scientific discoveries upon which the modern world is built (especially electricity and artificial propulsion) were achieved by many scientists who were Bible-believing Christians and during a time when most scientists were Christians. And even the most revered pioneer of the last century, Albert Einstein, was a Theist. Finally, many scientists are Bible-believing Christians today.
But modern Science has become an illegitimate, anti-Christian religion by claiming to be the only means of obtaining knowledge. The most prominent example of this is the evolutionary approach to the origin of the universe and life, which assumes that ultimate reality consists only matter/energy and mindless forces of nature in space/time. Not only is this an article of pure blind faith because it is unknowable in principle, it also essentially denies the existence of all subjects and subjectivity. So, the philosophy underlying Evolution is both anti-Christian and anti-rational (since rationality in itself is not material). Furthermore, (as indicated previously under the second point) without an Intelligent Creator the existence of human intelligence simply can’t be explained.
- We can know what happened in the past and what will happen in the future based on what we understand about how nature works now.
First, it is a fallacy to assume that there could not have been past supernatural influence in how the universe came to be as we observe it today. This possibility simply can’t be ruled out. Amazingly, this possibility alone means that we cannot understand the distant past or the future based on the present. In other words, Science alone cannot tell us how old the universe, the earth and all life is, or how they came to be (or about the future of the universe).
Another common fallacy is the belief that to accept the possibility of supernatural influence would destroy Science. As common as this idea is, it is a false dilemma. On the contrary, it is the natural order which God built into the universe combined with our God-given ability to understand this (as rational creatures created to be like Him) which is actually what makes Science possible. Without The Creator God no credible explanation has been given for why this order exists, nor for why it is that we are capable of understanding it.
All radiometric dating methods used to determine the ages of things in the natural world falsely assume the unknowable conclusion that the only possible influences on nature are the natural forces which we understand today acting identically to how we observe them acting today. This is a four-fold fallacy, in assuming that we know all of the natural forces involved, assuming that we know these and the conditions in which they operated sufficiently, assuming that these natural forces always worked exactly as they do today, and assuming without warrant only natural forces. In effect, most scientists today implicitly assume and proceed as though Science has now reached a complete understanding of the forces of nature. But this is simply an arrogant and dogmatic presumption and a belief that, far from helping advance Science, has actually always tended to block progress in Science in the past.
It is one of the most amazing facts of Modernity that, although it has become almost universally-accepted, all so-called “Scientific” speculation about what happened in the beginning of the universe and what will happen in the future is actually invalid. This is because all such speculation is based on a four-fold fallacy, any one of which is enough to render such speculations illegitimate. The first is: Do we really know all of the relevant forces involved in producing what we observe today? This has been a common error throughout the history of Science. But do we really know we are not still guilty of it? The answer is: No. We simply can’t know what we don’t know!
Second, even if we have come to know all of the natural forces involved, can we really assume we know them well enough to understand all of their effects? Once again, this has proven to be a faulty assumption on many occasions in the history of Science.
Third, can we really assume that the natural forces which we observe today always worked exactly as we observe them today? Indeed, basic Science is dependent on this assumption, so this is clearly valid over the short-term. But isn’t it merely a matter of “blind faith” to assume that the forces of nature could not have worked differently in the past or that they might in the future? Indeed, can we even speak of the existence of forces of nature in the Singularity which was believed to exist prior to the supposed “Big Bang”?
The first three betray a presumption that we now have come to a complete knowledge of how the universe works. But, such hubris, far from protecting Science, has always hindered the progress of Science in the past.
This brings us to the fourth fallacy, which is the denial of the possibility of the Supernatural. While I anticipate that many of you will snicker over this one, the important thing to ask is: Why do you dismiss this as impossible and ridiculous? Does the fact that you have never observed a miracle mean that such events are impossible? No, this just doesn’t follow. Nor does the fact that Science is the proper way to study Nature does mean that Nature is all that can exist (as was discussed in the previous point). Your dismissal of the possibility that the Supernatural exists is both arbitrary and irrational.
Furthermore, the common charge that allowing for the possibility of Divine influence in the universe would invalidate all Science is also a clear fallacy. Indeed, in order for a miracle to be recognized as such actually requires common knowledge of the natural order, of which the miracle is seen as a unique exception. In other words, the world which Science studies must be presupposed, otherwise miracles would be unrecognizable.
It is historically incorrect to assume that the ancients had no understanding of natural laws. While the world in which Judaism and Christianity emerged certainly lacked the scientific sophistication of today, it was not a world which was hopelessly lost in superstition. The reality is that no society can exist without understanding a good deal about the forces of nature, whether consciously or unconsciously. In fact, it is not even possible for any individual to do this. For, even the truly insane must or they will quickly perish.
All of this means that, despite the unquestioned value of the process of induction regarding how the universe works today as one of the foundations of proper Science, one simply cannot use induction in order to understand what happened in the distant past or what will happen in the future. For, strictly speaking, such questions are not subject to scientific examination.
Thus, to believe in the speculations of modern Cosmologists and, even, to believe in general that we can know the past or future based on the present is essentially a religious position. It is an act of blind faith by people who arbitrarily and, thus, falsely reject the possibility of an Almighty Creator God. The existence of the Almighty Creator God described in the Bible cannot be ruled out. And the mere possibility of God’s existence means that “all bets are off” concerning both the origins and future of the universe. For, this possibility is a huge unaccountable Variable which makes all extrapolations from the present to the past or future dubious.
It has become common for advocates of Intelligent Design to defend their work as Scientific, and rightly so, for this can easily been demonstrated for anyone who is the least bit open to seeing this. But, at the same time, it must be recognized that those who arbitrarily reject a Creator are making a religious claim no less than those who presuppose an Intelligent Designer. In other words, this is not a matter of “Science vs. Religion”. It is a question of which Religion is the true basis of Science: the reductionistic Materialism/Empiricism which dominates the academic world today, or Christian Theism?
We assert that it is Christian Theism which alone explains why anything exists, why the universe has order and why it is that we can come to understand this order (or, for that matter, why we exist as people and can experience or know anything). Without an Intelligent Creator human intelligence cannot be explained. On the other hand, the Philosophy/Religion assumed by most scientists and intellectuals and, indeed, by most people today absurdly reduces the universe to being composed, ultimately, only of objects without any knowing subjects. The rejection of Christian Theism, far from being a positive development in intellectual history, is actually The Biggest Error in human history.
- I am not religious because my beliefs are all scientifically-based.
You have many beliefs which cannot be scientifically demonstrated in practice or, even, in principle, especially your faith in logic, your belief in your existence as a person and the existence of other people along with countless things which you know about yourself and others, beliefs about the nature of ultimate reality (including the non-existence of The God described in the Bible), and beliefs about right and wrong. So, we are all religious believers in one way or another. The question is: Which religion is the correct one? Christianity can be rationally demonstrated to be superior to all other approaches because it alone can account for all existence and knowledge.
You may wish to define “religious” more narrowly, but this simply is avoids the basic point that we are all in the same boat in having a set of fundamental beliefs which we simply assume but cannot verify or falsify scientifically. You may call it your “philosophy” or “worldview” or “religion”. It doesn’t matter what you call it. But one thing it isn’t is scientific.
- It is always wrong to judge others.
This one is easy. The statement itself is a judgment, so it is inherently self-contradictory and hypocritical. In fact, all of us must constantly judge many things as to whether they are right or wrong or good or bad and we also frequently make judgments about people and their views so that we can decide whether or not to trust them and follow them.
- There is no such thing as absolute truth.
This is also a self-contradictory statement. If there is no such thing as absolute truth, then it cannot be absolutely known that this is the case.
- Every reasonable person knows that the Bible is filled with scientific impossibilities, evil teachings or actions done by or required by God and other errors.
All objections to what is in the Bible are based on the fundamental (and unknowable) assumption that The God described in the Bible doesn’t exist. But all of them are answerable if one begins with the premise that this God does exist. In other words, the Bible is internally coherent on this basis. If God exists, He can do everything He is described as doing in the Bible because He is not bound by the laws of nature which He Himself created, nor can He be judged for His actions because human moral judgment is based on His own moral and rational Nature, which we have been given as creatures made in the image of our Creator. He is The Perfectly Just Judge to Whom we must answer. We cannot judge Him.
This statement is also a fallacy because most people who say this today have little or no knowledge of what is actually in the Bible. You simply can’t know something which you have never studied. Furthermore, even among the most advanced scholars of the Bible, no one has ever proven that the Bible has an error. For, all of supposed factual errors or contradictions in the Bible have conceivable explanations. The fact that many are not open to these is their problem, not the Bible’s problem
You’re really not very very good at this, you proceed from assumption to assumption and make no claims that have any basis in reality or common sense. It would be funny if it weren’t so utterly insane
Sorry, but I looked at your initial one word response first. Nevertheless, most of what I said there still applies. You are assuming many things which you can’t possibly know. And you should realize that insane people always assume they are sane and every who disagrees with them is insane. Of course, you could try to turn this around and say this is true of me, except that, unlike you, I have been on both sides of this debate. But I came to see in 1982 that the God-denying side is the truly insane side. Besides, calling me insane is just an ad hominem attack. It proves nothing. Nor do your general charges against me. But if you want to pick one specific point I make and try to refute it then we could have a reasonable debate.
As a short response to your fallacies, I only have time for the first few.
1. I certainly never claimed this.
2. a)The mind (ie consciousness) has a clear biological and chemical basis, arising from neural functions. If it were separate, then our consciousness could not be impacted by things like psychoactive drugs, lack of glucose, oxygen, blood supply, injury and so forth. Yet each of these have profound impacts upon consciousness of patients every single day.
b)You employ a non-sequitur in saying that logic and morality, as mental constructs, necessarily imply the existence of God.
c)In regard to your argument against polytheism, the Bible itself is rife with polytheism, or perhaps better characterized as henotheism (Ex 15:11, Ps 82:1, Ps 97:9, Gen 1:26, 3:22, 20:12). In fact the titles of Yahweh are taken straight from Canaanite mythology, like El Elyon, El shaddai, El Roi and El Olam. El was the Canaanite high God.
3. I also never claimed this. A lack of evidence simply is a lack of evidence.
4. I also never claimed this. Science is a very powerful tool for understanding the physical universe, but it is not the sole means of gaining knowledge. Empiricism goes hand in hand with Rationalism.
5. Creationist tenets rely not only a lack of understanding of the relevant scientific concepts and evidence, but are also based upon poor exegesis of the Genesis texts themselves, especially by taking them out of the cultural, social, theological and historical contexts in which they were written.
Anyway, nice chatting, and have a good day.
Of course, I realize that not all unbelievers embrace all of these beliefs. I will comment on those you hold. On 2.a), it is good that you appear to recognize that consciousness is something more than brain chemistry. Given this, though, your assumption that consciousness must be a product of the brain is just that: an assumption (based on other assumptions you make due to your belief in evolutionary development). You must consider that, while the relationship between our consciousness and our brains is agreed upon by all, this does not necessarily entail that our brains produce our consciousness. Connections are observable, but causality can only be inferred. Theoretically, at least, the causality could go the opposite way, as it has increasingly been observed (in advanced prosthetic research, for example) that deliberate changes in our thoughts cause changes in our brains, which, in turn, produce other changes in our bodies. And, it is just as possible that this something else (the mind or spirit or soul, which I believe are just 3 different names for the same thing) was bound to the physical body by God. We say that God created mankind with design similarities with the other animals (including brains as the central processors of the bodies), except that in mankind’s case, He filled our bodies with something else, namely an immaterial entity which we call a soul or spirit. It is only one’s commitment to their overarching theory which pushes one toward one view or another.
On 2.b), our view that logic and morality originate in our Creator’s nature is not a non sequitur. A non sequitur is something which can be shown to be a logical contradiction. There is no logical contradiction in this claim. Your resistance to this possibility is based on your anti-Creationist, pro-evolutionary belief. The history of Philosophy shows that no other explanation for the existence and reliability of both logic and morality has been given which does not run into insolvable problems. To claim that this is only because we haven’t yet found the correct explanation is simply a matter of faith (as a deliberate refusal to consider the Christian explanation). In other words, it is an argument from ignorance and a case of wishful thinking done by those who just don’t want to consider our alternative.
On 3., it is simply false to say that we have no evidence for God’s existence. But, again, you are committed to viewing the evidence in order to fit it into your anti-Theistic worldview. How we view all things, including evidence and arguments, as well as what evidence we seek and arguments we make, is always determined by which “Big Picture” we subscribe to. This is a basic reality of all research. Unfortunately, the pro-evolution side denies this and falsely claims an epistemological superiority over those who believe in a Creator. Jason Lisle’s “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” does a good job at showing this problem and is helpful in many other ways. I encourage you to check it out.
On 5., as a person with 6 years of graduate Biblical studies I am well aware of the various ways of interpreting Genesis 1. But The Big Issue is not how God created the universe and all life, it is whether or not He did. Many Christians also fail to understand this, but the evolutionary approach is ultimately committed to proving that no Creator exists. In other words, Cosmic Evolution = Anti-Creation/Anti-Creator.
Going back to your point 2.c), this is just a basic misinterpretation of the Old Testament. One thing that virtually all scholars agree on is that OT Judaism was a monotheistic religion. That the Canaanites, Egyptians and others used similar language to refer to their gods certainly doesn’t entail that the Jews worshipped their gods. On the contrary, the OT is filled with condemnation of those who follow other gods. And to say that linguistic agreement means that the Jews must have borrowed from the other religions around them is simply an arbitrary assumption, which is based on an equally non-demonstrable assumption that human religion evolved from polytheism to monotheism. Rather, we would say that polytheism was the rejection of The One True God, Who was worshipped from the beginning, and that the other ancient religions appropriated elements of The True Theology which they liked and rejected those which they didn’t in creating their own idols and forms of worship.
I will conclude by appealing to you to consider why you have chosen to take the anti-Creation side. I did so until 1982 because my public education overcame the far less extensive instruction I had received in Catholic catechetical study. As such, I embraced the belief that Christianity is an antiquated religion and, indeed, is pernicious in many respects (both morally and intellectually). But, when I actually began to think critically about the worldview I had been taught (including the Materialist metaphysic, Empiricist epistemology and Humanist ethics) I became increasingly skeptical of it and open to other possibilities. I eventually found that Christianity was the only approach which is both internally-consistent and also explains what is wrong with the other approaches. Again, like you, I formerly regarded Christianity as both intellectually untenable and morally inferior. But I came to see that what I had rejected as bad is actually The Most Wonderful Thing that we can know.
I thank you for your willingness to consider these things and engage in respectful dialogue. I pray and hope that you will re-consider your commitment to trying to live and understand all things without reference to your Maker. People who resist considering real Christianity are like people who have been invited without charge into the most lavish and wonderful feast anyone has ever seen, but who refuse the offer, preferring to fend for themselves.
Thanks for your reply.I agree, it is nice to have a calm, rational ind-depth discussion of these topics.
2a)Science works by making falsifiable predictions about relationships, altering variables and observing what happens. This is the essence of experimental science. So what happens if I give Dextrose to a patient who is unconscious with a blood sugar of 25 mg/dL? They wake up, and usually do so quickly with no memory of what has occurred. I have fundamentally changed how their brain — and therefore their consciousness — is functioning.
Same occurs if an unconscious patient who has overdosed on opiate drugs and I give them narcan — they wake quickly up, with no memory of being unconscious, and are invariably very angry because you just killed their buzz. The inverse occurs if a patient is given propofol — they quickly lose consciousness and have no memory of what occurred while they were out.
The point is these chemicals all have a well-known effect on our consciousness, moods, personality and so forth, and why they work is understood on a cellular and molecular basis (although not always). Many drugs do, from licit medications like haldol, lithium and prozac to illicit drugs like heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. The idea that our consciousness depends on the biology and chemistry of the brain is not an assumption, it’s a fact documented in hospitals, doctors’ offices and ambulances every single day.
2b)A non-sequitur simply means it “does not follow”. Your point in this regard is an assumption, it is not something demonstrated as logically necessary.
2c) I will discuss this in point 5.
3)I think you mistakenly believe that I hold evolution somehow disproves a Creator. It doesn’t. I do not, nor ever would utilize an evolutionary argument in regard to God’s existence because it simply wouldn’t be a good argument. Evolution is just like gravity, electromagnetism, osmosis, or any other aspect of science — it says nothing about God, for or against.
5 & 2c)I grew up Catholic, and had many classes in theology and (I know, surpsiginyl for a Catholic) biblical studies.
I think the problem is that we have to place the Bible in its context. It did not fall out of the sky — it was written, edited, redacted, copied, translated and compiled by human beings. So what was the cultural, theological, social and historical context in which the Bible was written? In this respect I am going to focus on the Torah and the Deuteronimistic history.
I am guessing you are familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis, as well as the later critiques of the DH by people such as Whybray. In either case, we have a collection of books cobbled together from disparate earlier sources (ie principally J & E), most likely in the late monarchic, Exilic and post-Exilic periods.
These writers were — despite their strong protests to the contrary, culturally Canaanite. Hebrew itself is essentially a Canaanite language, and is even referred to in Isaiah as the “language of Canaan”. Their cultic items — from pillars (massebot), high places (bamot), four-horned altars (mizbeach), tabernacle (‘ohel), and even the brazen serpent (neshustan) were all Canaanite in origin. The Jerusalem Temple was a fairly common type of Canaanite temple, similar in description to the Temple at Ain’Dara. Their sacrificial theology was the same as Canaanites at Ugarit and elsewhere including the Hamayim, Zebach hamayim, shelamim, neder, kalil, ‘olah and apparently the mulk as well. And their cultic functionaries (ie priests) carried the same titles as well.
While some of these practices were later condemned and stopped under the later reforms of Hezekiah and Josiah, in each case, the Bible has examples of where they were considered part of accepted Yahwistic orthopraxis. In other words, the Bible itself is a work of historical revisionism.
Religion is fundamentally a conservative phenomenon. People tend to worship the same as their ancestors. The Israelites were no different. And this included a belief in many gods, many of whose attributes were later accorded to Yahweh, as in my above discussion of the titles of El.
The Bible itself refers to them in Exodus 15:11, Psalms 82 and many other places. Even Genesis 20:12, if the Hebrew is rendered correctly says “the gods caused me to wonder” (Elohim hithu, as the majestic plural does not apply here).
Israelites, even those who are counted as “good guys”, named their children after these other gods. David names his children after no fewer than five gods: Yahweh (Adonijah), Daniel (El), Absalom (Shalim), Abijam (Yamm) and Baal (Beelyada). One of the judges bears the name of the Canaanite goddess Anat (Shamgar ben Anat, Judges 5). Inscriptions at Khirbet el-Qom and Kuntillet’Arjud depict the goddess Asherah as Yahweh’s wife, although there is some debate about what exactly this means.
In this Canaanite/Ancient Near Eastern (“ANE”) context, I think Genesis reveals itself not as an unique story of Creation, but rather an adaptation of the common cosmological model of the ANE in a Yahwistic framework. Not only the chronology, but the features and concepts of Genesis 1 are virtually identical to similar creation stories of that time, I think seen most especially in the dicussion about “separation of the waters”(mayim/shamayim) and the “vault of the heavens”(raqia shamayim) which are prominent motifs in Egyptian, Babylonian and Sumerian stories.
I am likely boring you at this point, so I will stop, but I think you probably get the general idea that the Bible did not originate in a vaccum — rather it has to be understood as a product of its time.
Thanks and have a wonderful day.
I don’t have time to address all of your post, but will point out the first two problems I read. On 2.a} you make a basic error in going from observing a causal connection between two entities to the unwarranted conclusion that one must cause the other. This is a non sequitur, unlike my assertion you previously called one. In my the assertion, the conclusion (the existence of a logical, moral Source) may reasonably be seen to follow from the premises (the existence of a universally-accepted logic and a widely-agreed-upon morality). It is a reasonable conclusion, especially considering the lack of a clear alternative. It isn’t a non sequitur because the conclusion may follow from the premises. In the same way, you may claim that the brain may cause consciousness but can’t claim that the interaction between the former and the latter proves this. An external Cause of both is still possible. And I would remind you that the cause and effect relationship can also be seen to go in the opposite direction.
I am also surprised that you don’t recognize the difference between a theory about the past like Evolution and theories about how nature works presently (like gravity, electromagnetism, etc.). Historical Science (as well as behavioral Science) is very different from operational Science, as honest scientists on your side admit. The former requires certain assumptions about the past which simply can’t be tested. And I reject what the Catholic Church and many other Christians believe about Evolution not being inherently anti-Creator. This is especially clear w.r.t. cosmic evolution. Consistent evolutionists always seek natural explanations and exclude any possibility of any supernatural influence (though I would say it is a great irony that even their own activity is itself supernatural in the respect that it assumes that we can be over nature both as observers and manipulators of it). Stephen Hawking originally used the term “God” (as in his “A Brief History of Time”), but, even then, it was clear that he was only using this term as a synonym for the “theory of everything” which he was seeking. Even then, he was completed opposed to any Creator distinct from the cosmos (unlike Einstein). He subsequently came clean on this and openly declared his anti-Creation position. More later.
Thanks for your reply.
2a)You admit there is a predictable, causal connection, but then deny that consciousness arises from the brain, even though this is demonstrated in medicine thousands of times per day.
Are you thinking glucose, or psychotropic drugs work by spiritual means? If so, what is your evidence?
2b)You say: “it may reasonably follow…due to a lack of a clear alternative” . This seems to me an appeal to ignorance. We don’t know how or why X exists, therefore God. But that aside, if we consider ethics and logic as human inventions and human tools, I fail to see why we must therefore attribute these things to God.
3,4,5)Evolution is a historical science as well as an experimental one.
Experimentally, studying fruitflies, bacteria, humans or any number of organisms, DNA changes at a fixed rate. For example, in each human cell division, there is an average of 63 errors. A fairly small amount when considering there are 3 billion base pairs, but enough to add up. In humans this rate is 2.5 x 10^-8 mutations per base pair per generation in the genome at large.
Over time, this translates to changes in allele frequency in populations over time. And at times, speciation has been documented per Mayr’s BSC (Dobzhansky, 1971, 1989).
But historical aspects of evolution can’t be studied experimentally as you correctly stated. In this respect, scientific investigation occurs by making predictive hypotheses which can be falsified on the basis of empirical observation. Astronomy and cosmology work much the same, as it’s not easy to manipulate the variables of a supernova.
And this method also yields results. For example, it was hypothesized that a transitional form should be found in late Devonian sediments, with traits of both lobe-finned fish from an earlier time (eg Eusthenopteron), and traits of the earliest amphibians like Ichthyostega. Furthermore, it was predicted such a transitional form would be found in clastic, braided river sediments near a delta.
So we have predictions of traits, time and environment. Sure enough, as predictied, such a transitional form was found? Tiktaalik roseae. Other important finds using this method have also been found, like Morganucodon.
The problem with investigation of Supernatural causes for evolution or the universe is fairly simple: Nobody has figured out a means to test it, whether experimentally or through empirical observation. If you remember the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate from earlier in the year, you might have noticed Bill Nye asking several times for ANY predictive hypothesis which can be offered by Creationism. Ken Ham ignored the challenge completely.
Advancing supernatural causes without the ability to make predictive hypotheses which can be falsified on the basis of experiment or empirical observation means ID/Creationism has to change the definition of science itself. As Michael Behe admitted at the Dover trial, his redefinition would necessarily include considering astrology as a “science” as well.
This doesn’t mean a Creator exists or doesn’t exist. It simply means nobody has a scientific means to investigate such an idea.
Anyway, have a good day.
You still fail to recognize that the causal connection between brain chemistry and consciousness does not prove that the former produces the latter! Claiming this as proof is a non sequitur. That God created immaterial souls and joined them to material bodies (including material brains) is also a possibility supported by the relationships we observe. It shows the incredible power of the anti-Creationist indoctrination over the past century that I encounter so many people who cannot recognize such a basic logical fallacy as this. I could also show how you ignore the real issues with the other fallacies on my list. The problem is that you are simply not open to considering that you may be wrong. The most important thing that you could do at this point is to seriously ask yourself why.
Your side claims that introducing immaterial entities is illegitimate, since these cannot be observed (though I say they can be, indirectly). But even the recognition of something which we call consciousness (even if you want to say that it is only an emergent “phenomenon” of matter) is already the recognition of something that isn’t material. Saying that consciousness is just brain chemistry observing itself is an absurd claim which cannot avoid the ultimate conclusion that all human experience is meaningless. If you claim this, then you also fall prey to the problem of subjectivity being swallowed up by objectivity. Knowledge requires both knowers and things to be known, some of which are material things, while others are immaterial, like love, ethics, God and other people, and history (both human and natural). Science is the study of the material world as it functions today, but it cannot give us knowledge of these other things.
I watched the Ham/Nye debate. Nye completely ignored Ham’s point that historical and operational Science work differently (which he made citing an introductory mainstream textbook). I would have pressed Nye on this and also on the basic logical fallacy of assuming uniformity of natural forces at all times (uniformitarianism, as opposed to uniformity of natural processes today). The Jason Lisle book “The Ultimate Proof of Creation” does a very good job at exposing these and other fallacies of the philosophy on which Evolution is based. Also, Intelligent Design scientists do produce predictable results, but the dogmatic anti-Creation establishment today refuses to acknowledge them, nor do they accept any of the legitimate philosophical and evidentiary problems with Evolution.
The frustrating part of debates such as this is that those on the pro-Evolution side doggedly refuse to consider any challenges to your position (as you have demonstrated here). This is certainly understandable from a behavioral standpoint, since it is always very difficult for anyone to consider that he or she may be wrong on the level of their most basic beliefs. But we are saying that this is exactly what is the case and that many of us have already gone through the process of questioning what we had been taught and coming to see The Big Lie upon which all modern secular education is based: that The Creator God doesn’t exist.
However, my frustration with the stubbornness of unbelievers is tempered by knowing that God is always revealing Himself to all people and that He also breaks through the natural resistance of those whom He is pleased to save, though we are all culpable for refusing to seek Him. I only hope that I can serve as one of God’s ambassadors and help people like you discover the most wonderful and precious knowledge of all: to know one’s Creator as our loving Father, Savior and Lord. You have been trained to believe that this is both irrational and bad (as I was), but you must question this. I feel I have done my best to try to shake you out of your dogmatic slumbers (as Hume inadvertently did to Kant). Unless you become open to considering the opposing position, instead of resisting it at every turn, further discussion will probably be pointless. I pray that you will do this, as it has the most “crucial” (pun intended) of consequences for you and everyone else.
Sorry for some of the sloppy error and grammatical mistakes. I was in a bit of a hurry.
This is getting fairly long and complicated, so let me summarize my thoughts.
1)If the brain does not give rise to consciousness, then by what action are you claiming drugs, glucose, injury, neural stimulation work, especially with such predictable results?
And more to the point, what is your evidence for this proposed method of action?
2)Uniformitarianism is not really how it works, but rather the Principle of Actualism. Catastrophic events in the rock record are usually quite noticeable (ie brecciated material, microtektites, shocked quartz, shattercones, and many others).
If Creationism/ID were science it would be able to make predictive hypotheses which could be falsified by experiment or empirical observation. Evolution can do this, and hence is science. So why should we consider Creationism/Id to be science if it can’t?
3)I am happy to answer any and all challenges. What do you view s the most pressing challenge?
On 1), we don’t deny the casual connections (plural, in part, because they go in both directions) between brain chemistry and consciousness, just that this proves that the latter arises from the former. It is entirely reasonable to say that God (The Original Immaterial Mind) designed human beings as conscious spiritual beings (minds or souls) who could operate without physical bodies, but that He chose to give us bodies to use (including physical brains as the central controllers for the rest of our bodies) in order that we might live in the physical world which He created.
Your second point is meaningless semantics and merely assumes your conclusion. And you are either lying or just ignorant of the real scientific work which ID scientists are doing today. AnswersinGenesis.org, CreationRevolution.com and other sites provide numerous examples of this. On 3), I have already answered your objections enough to show you that there are serious problems in your position. That you refuse to even consider these is simply due to your own prejudice. Further appeals to you won’t change this. Only you can decide that you will open your mind to these issues and to our alternative. May God help you to do so, not just for the sake of intellectual honesty but for the eternal blessing of your soul.
I have been nothing but polite to you, so to begin questioning my integrity simply because I disagree with you is uncharitable and baseless.Sadly, I have found in almost the vast majority of my debates with Christian that they stop debating the topic at hand — and seek to make the other person the topic. You have sadly already started this trend.
I can assure you I am not ignorant about Creationism (AiG, ICR, I’ve even met Carl Baugh personally through my sister). I am also well-versed on the Bible and relevant archaeology.
And I am absolutely, devastatingly honest. But I wish to keep this exchange amicable and with mutual respect. So perhaps against my better judgment, I proceed with my reply:
1)Causation is established by showing that X precedes Y. And that if not X, then not Y. Indeed, when giving (or denying) glucose to the brain, this is precisely the relationship that is observed. Especially since you hold causation can be established elsewhere in chemistry (after all, everything from laundry to cooking to putting gas in the car relies on chemical principles), why is it you deny this relationship between the brain and consciousness?
There might be a spirit or a soul. I have no idea. But whether or not a person is conscious is very much dependent on chemistry and biology as it pertains to the brain. If you doubt me, go ask any doctor, RN or paramedic.
2)It is not semantics at all. The terms I used are actual geological terms, and relate to actual geological features. Uniformitarianism is not a modern principle, rather Actualism — that features today can be understood as a result of physical AND chemical processes observed today.
The problem with Catastrophism and other Creationist ideas is that they ignore details in this regard. How do we know there wasn;t a global flood? Because of unconformities, particularly angular unconformities.
A flood also makes zero sense in terms of the sorting of the fossil record. They try to propose hydrological sorting could explain it. But trees would float to the top too — yet lepidodendrons are never, ever found in Quaternary sediments.
Furthermore, the rocks show quite clearly when there is something rapid that occurred. Things like shocked quartz, regional metamorphism, shattercones, microspherules, ashbeds, microtektites, brecciated material and many other clues.
Creationism — and I am going to be blunt here — relies on adherents not knowing basic geology. While AiG and ICR has a few geologists on staff, I have never, ever, ever met a single creationist personally who understood even something as basic as biostratigraphy.
The truth is — BEFORE you debunk something, you have to understand it.
3)We have been over a LOT of material. If you could pick a SINGLE thing you most want me to understand or address, what would it be?
Oh, puhleese, don’t start playing the victim here. After all, you are the one who attacked me first. And you still can’t (or refuse to) see the fallacy in your argument. Advanced prosthetics is based on the idea that a deliberate act of consciousness changes brain chemistry and, subsequently, changes other parts of the body. So the causation goes both ways. And it’s a purely arbitrary assumption to claim that consciousness cannot exist apart from a physical brain. Your side uses circular reasoning here, demanding direct material manifestation of immaterial entities, based on your arbitrary assumption that only material entities exist.
Your geological arguments are also circular, falsely assuming only natural forces are possible; indeed, only those natural forces which we understand today, itself a major problem with modern Science, an error which has always stood in the way of progress in Science in the past. And FYI there have been many trained Geologists (as well as other credentialed scientists) who have switched sides in this debate or, who at least question the current consensus in fundamental ways. It continues to amaze me how so many scientists today act exactly like intolerant religious authorities in the past (like the medieval Catholic Church) in being utterly closed to valid challenges to what you believe offered by qualified scientists.
Your illogical jump from brain chemistry to consciousness causality to the conclusion that the former must cause the latter is the most obvious problem in what you have written. This is a basic logical fallacy. To illustrate the problem, consider any mechanical device made by us. In such devices, each part in the mechanical chain causes the action of the part which follows it in the chain. But does this prove that each part creates the part which follows it? Obviously not. Indeed, we say that our creative activity in this way is itself a reflection of what God did in creating both us and the marvelous universe which we observe and live in. Furthermore, we say that the existence of devices made by man alone proves that nature is not all that exists. The very distinction between the natural and the “man-made” actually assumes this.
As for the personal nature of this debate, it is inevitable that this debate be personal because both of us think “I am right and he is wrong.” Furthermore, we both think (and rightly so) that there are major consequences for being on the wrong side in this debate. In other words, this is not a mere intellectual exercise. Your side believes that belief in God leads to evil (as I once believed also), while we say that rejection of The One True God is the root of all evil. We say that this is the case whether one rejects God for an openly religious alternative or for a supposedly non-religious alternative, like yours. Indeed, I see this conflict as the ultimate cause of all human conflicts (regardless of other reasons claimed). This is why you doggedly resist our arguments, as I once did, too, until God opened eyes. You, too, must see the folly of dismissing the evidence of God’s existence in your mind as well as in the world around you and of resisting His call to be reconciled to Him.
I never once attacked you personally, or in any way implied you were dishonest or lacked integrity. I think perhaps you simply expect an atheist to be mean or nasty. Indeed, many can be, like Dawkins, who is frankly just kind of an a**hole. I’m actually a very pleasant guy. I get along with all who show me the same respect and courtesy I show them. I would like very much to keep this exchange amicable, calm and pleasant. So with that plea stated, on with the show.
The problem with your mechanical analogy above is that you, in the middle switch from the cause of Widget A effecting movement of Widget B, then C and so on to what made the widgets themselves.In Aristotelian terms, you have mistaken the debated efficient cause for the material cause which was not being debated.
Efficient causation can be shown if X precedes Y, and If not X, then not Y. For example:
a)Glucose precedes consciousness in a hypoglycemic patient. If no glucose, then no consciousness.
b)Oxygen precedes consciousness in a hypoxic patient. If no oxygen, then no consciousness.
c)Propofol precedes unconsciousness in a surgery patient. If no propofol, then no unconsciousness.
d)LSD precedes altered level of consciousness. If no LSD, then no alteration of consciousness.
e)Alcohol precedes altered mental states and lowering of inhibition. If no alcohol, then no altered mental states.
f)Sepsis precedes change in level of consciousness (medical jargon, LOC). If no sepsis, then no change in LOC.
These are just a few examples demonstrating that consciousness arises from a properly functioning brain. Prosthetics work because they get electrical impulses from the brain. Thoughts too have a biochemical basis, as they originate in the flow of K+ and Na+ in and out of neurons, thus stimulating a neural action pulse and movement of neurotransmitters across the synapse. Interrupting this process large scale in the brain results in –you guessed it — a change in the patient’s level of consciousness.
As for your geology argument, the problem is visible in the first sentence: “Your geological arguments are also circular, falsely assuming only natural forces are possible”.
I do not ASSUME this only natural forces are possible at all. Rather, this is a limitation of science. It is not equipped to study supernatural causes or intervention. Creationists and ID proponents have tried to propose means to test such divine intervention, but that always results in needing to redefine science and rejecting the necessity of falsifiable hypotheses. Michael Behe himself admitted at Dover for ID to be considered science that redefinition was necessary, but in so doing was also forced to admit his redefinition would include astrology as a science.
As for myself, I do not hold religion is evil. I am what you might call a reluctant atheist. I was raised a devout Catholic, and at one point had decided to become a monk. But as time went on, and I learned to think critically, I realized my beliefs didn’t hold up well to scrutiny. So I decided to question until I could question no more.
For years my only prayer was “God if you’re real, show me”. I liken my quest to looking for that tiniest gold nugget — which I could bite down upon as hard as possible, only to realize that the nugget was beyond any reasonable doubt proof that God did exist.
I learned the Bible largely as a result of looking for that nugget. I learned Tipler’s theories, the Biocosm hypothesis, Behe’s “irreducible complexity”. I read, prayed, meditated, studied. I had long screaming matches with God — just begging him to reveal himself.
In the end, I never found that nugget. Maybe that nugget is still out there. But more than anything else, my allegiance has to be to the truth regardless of whether it makes me want to jump for joy — or go stick my head in an oven.
Anyway, have a nice evening.
The cause of consciousness is exactly what is being debated here. You falsely equate an efficient cause with a material cause. You also falsely assume that an immaterial God cannot be the cause of the existence of both material things and immaterial entities. I have already stated that consciousness can reasonably be regarded as distinct from the body, an immaterial entity created by God. You simply assume it isn’t. Furthermore, all of your examples assume that the only consciousness which exists is that which we observe.
As for ID, I actually disagree with the common view that ID is Science. But evolutionary thinking is not itself Science either. Both are metaphysical/epistemological foundations for scientific research. It is simply a lie to say that ID scientists don’t do Science. Any honest examination of the work of ID scientists clearly reveals this. And I’m sorry if this charge offends you. The bottom line is that one of us has been deceived by a Big Lie into being a servant of it. You might be surprised to read that I actually wouldn’t absolutely exclude the possibility that I have been deceived and that an evil Demiurge has deceived us all. I don’t accept this because I don’t have any reason to do so. Besides, if it was the case, then everything we do would be meaningless, which neither you nor I really believe. But you also must accept the possibility that you have bought into a lie in accepting Materialism/Empiricism. Furthermore, we argue that your philosophy cannot explain why our lives are meaningful (which is why I abandoned it over 30 years ago).
The claim that Science can account for all that exists necessarily assumes that nothing other than natural forces exists. For, if there is even the possibility of something else, then Science cannot determine how things came to be as they are today (nor, for that matter, how they will be tomorrow) due to unknown variables. You may claim to be open to the possibility of the supernatural in theory, but, in practice, you categorically exclude the possibility that it exists. In fact, your belief that this is the case isn’t falsifiable because you are absolutely committed to explaining everything on the basis of your anti-supernatural assumption. Whether you will be able to continue doing so on the day when you see your Creator (as we believe everyone will) remains to be seen, however.
Finally, your prayer shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how God reveals Himself. God’s existence must be accepted as one’s First Principle. To refuse to do this is to reject Him already. “. . . without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) No one is ever neutral about God. Either you see evidence for His existence everywhere or you have blinded yourself to seeing Him anywhere.
I did not conflate a material cause of consciousness with a material cause. In fact, in the 2nd paragraph of my above response, I disagreed with your argument because it conflated the efficient cause and the material cause.
I have never claimed to know the material cause, as it would involve knowing not only how life started on earth, but would involve knowing exactly how the universe started. I rather only am making arguments as to the efficient cause, demonstrated by if X precedes Y, and if not X, then not Y. I provided several examples of this occurring for both the efficient causes of consciousness and unconsciousness.
The difference is I’m not assuming anything, I am simply going by the evidence. You however assume that there is a God, and this God is both the material and efficient causes, but doing so without any recourse to the evidence.
There MIGHT be consciousness in the absence of neurons firing properly, but speaking both anecdotally (through my own personal experience of two of the above medical conditions) and empirically, patients universally report no consciousness. In fact, almost always a hypoglycemic patient wakes up asking “what the hell happened?” The only reports that ever surface are patients who’ve had a NDE — and while certainly tantalizing, and nearly always pleasant, NDEs have suffered when put to the test (Parnia et al, 2014).
As for evolution, creationism, ID and science, you claim that none of them are science. This naturally leads me to ask then how are you personally defining science? What are the necessary conditions for something to be considered scientific?
I have not claimed science accounts for all that exists. I am saying for understanding the material, physical universe, it is the most powerful tool we have. As for what exists beyond the physical if anything is simply something I make NO CLAIMS about, ever. I simply do not know, and fail to see how we could know. I’m not making ANY assumptions — in fact, quite the opposite.
Anyway, have a good day.
I define Science narrowly because far too much is passed off as scientific today which does not involve the controlled conditions, repeatability and falsifiability of legitimate scientific research. This includes much of so-called historical Science, since we cannot directly study the past, but must rely on uncertain assumptions which cannot be proven.
The problem with your approach is that you want to have it both ways in saying that you don’t regard Science as the only way to know things, but then refusing to accept that there is any other way and seeking to reduce all human experience to some unperceivable phenomenon of matter (presumably, so that it can be studied scientifically). If our experience is nothing other than some mysterious product of brain chemistry, then it is all an illusion. But no one actually believes this. We cannot live without believing our lives have real meaning. (I would add that a further problem with the claim that all is illusion would be: Who is experiencing the illusion? We simply can’t absorb subjectivity into objectivity without absurdity.)
What happens when we lose consciousness (temporarily) is admittedly a challenge to those of us who hold that consciousness can be independent of a functioning brain. It could be that you actually were aware while you were in an unconscious state (as viewed externally), but you could not recall your awareness afterwards, as when people cannot recall their dreams, though neurological evidence indicates that we consistently dream.
If our experience is more than a material phenomenon (as we say it must be), then being agnostic about it shows a major flaw in one’s worldview, especially in the face of an alternative (Christian Theism) which can explain the existence of both material reality and human experience. Furthermore, you actually do know countless things without the need for scientific verification or which are not even conceivably demonstrable scientifically, like your knowledge of yourself as person, your knowledge of other people, knowledge of history (not including the false claims of Evolution!), confidence in the reliability of logic and many other things which you rightly claim to know.
Season’s greetings to you. This is the kind of debate I seek, which can help both parties grow and also help others. I do appreciate your reasonableness, unlike most I encounter on-line, or others like Richard Dawkins. I have met many very pleasant and reasonable Atheists and other non-Christians with whom I have had friendly dialogue. In fact, my experience dialoguing with people in person has always been overwhelmingly friendly, so I am always seeking more opportunities to do so.
EDIT: First sentence: “Material cause with efficient cause.”
I really should do a better job of proofreading prior to posting.
I think it’s rather lame that you won’t post your reply here. I think you do this so that we can’t have a real debate. You just want to bombard me with arguments, quantity without quality. I simply don’t have the time to refute your lengthy reply, though I know I could at every point. But it would be a waste of time anyway, as you are clearly waaaaaay too zealous about defending your position and attacking mine.
I am content with the fact that you were at least willing to interact with my points to some extent. This is better than most Atheists today and I commend you for this. I also know that The Truth about God will out in the end and that it haunts every human being who has ever lived until they decide to stop running away from Him, turn to Him and discover, to their amazement, that He wants to be their perfectly-loving Father.
“I think it’s rather lame that you won’t post your reply here. ”
You can think what you want. You asked me to read your long response and ponder it. I did. Read it. I pondered much of this stuff long ago. As I said, not much if it is new to me that I haven’t already heard pondered, refuted or seen refuted.
“You just want to bombard me with arguments, quantity without quality. ”
You are free to think so. I spent a lot of time thinking about every point you made. If you don’t like the “quality” that’s your prerogative. I tried very hard to answer your points the best way I could.
” simply don’t have the time to refute your lengthy reply”
Well.. I took the time to look over your arguments. A lot of time.
“But it would be a waste of time anyway, as you are clearly waaaaaay too zealous about defending your position and attacking mine.”
I could say the same could be said about you. I was a Christian for half my life, so I have been in your position already. I have thought about it. Long and hard. For a long time. “attacking” is not the same as “rebutting”, but it seems that you and I will just have a back and forth about words.
“also know that The Truth about God will out in the end and that it haunts every human being who has ever lived until they decide to stop running away from Him, turn to Him and discover, to their amazement, that He wants to be their perfectly-loving Father.”
If you choose to think so. I don’t run from things I have no reason to think are real. I actually feel much more free not believing in those things anymore. Anyway, I wasn’t trying to be rude. I was trying to be thorough.
I appreciate your reply. I would actually be most interested in what specifically caused you to abandon Christianity. It appears we went in the opposite direction as young adults. I don’t find a lot of adult believers who lose their faith. Understanding why you went the way you did could help both you and me.
I get the sense that you are “zealous” about your position so why is it wrong for me to be zealous about my position?
I actually run into lots of adult believers who have lost their faith, but I suppose you and I run in different circles.
So I guess I never really liked Church even when I was a Christian. I was never into that kind of fellowship. As someone who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s I didn’t really get a choice in the matter. My family attended Sunday School and Church every Sunday for most of my adolescent life. I always had a lot of questions and issues with the things that I was being taught in Church. I did fervently believe in God and Jesus and felt conflicted and guilty about not liking Church and having doubts about the “morals” that God and the Bible dictate. I believed in God well into my college days.
I still maintained friendships with a lot of my old peers at my old church though and many of them tried to encourage me to go back and renew my faith on multiple occasions. I tried a few times. I ultimately couldn’t force myself to believe in things that no longer believed in. See.. in that respect I don’t think it’s a “choice” like os many Christians tell me that it is. Can you force yourself to believe that you can flap your arms and gain the natural power of flight? Believing in god(s) is not a choice. I can’t just flip a switch back to “believe.” But giving up one’s belief takes time and is a struggle.
I suppose we could also mention with the fact that I figured if I was going to tell other people that my religion and beliefs were correct and others were not, I needed to be able to explain why I believed in God and Jesus. Isn’t that what 1st Peter 3:15 says? Then there is Sun Tsu’s “Art of War”: Know your enemy and know yourself. I decided that I had to research other religions and do some due diligence to know something about them to be able to argue that they were false. Eventually after years of doing as much research for myself as I could stand… I could no longer believe in any religions including my own. It all sounded like unprovable claims to me and the Bible stories just seemed just as much fiction as Greek Mythology. I enjoy Bible stories to this day… as stories… but I consider them ancient fairy tales.
So a bit of advice for you: When you say things like “atheist really know in their hearts that God exists they just deny Him,” that is likely to get you a ton of very irritated atheists. With all due respect, don’t tell us what we know and/or don’t know “in our hearts.” When you say that to us, it sounds just like if I said to you, “you know that Quetzalcoatl exists in your heart you just deny him.” I already know how you are going to react to that. Take that feeling and ponder it. That’s how we feel when you say that to us about God. You don’t know us better than we know ourselves.
What I say to Atheists reflects my own experience and it happens to agree with what the Bible teaches about the universal nature & experiences of mankind. All of your objections are actually based on some fundamental beliefs which you obviously see as correct, but I seek to demonstrate as fallacious because they are either self-defeating or fail to account for what we all know. Of course, you are strongly resistant to this. But no matter how strongly anyone feels that they have the correct approach, it doesn’t mean that they do.
The history of critical thinking has always tended toward Skepticism because all attempts to come up with a comprehensive metaphysic and consistent epistemology starting either with our experience (Idealism) or the world around us (Materialism) invariably fail. No one has ever been able to explain the relationship between the two and attempts to reduce one to the other either lead to explaining away our experience (with Materialism) or leave us in perpetual doubt about what is really “out there” (with Idealism). Most people today opt for the former, so this is where my focus usually is. But, either way, nothing can be known with certainty. That we actually know anything is only because Christian Theism is true.
Christian Theism alone provides the basis for all existence and experience. It is only by starting with the existence of The Creator God described in the Bible that everything else can be explained. Your strong objection to this simply reflects mankind’s natural resistance to this, as well as more than 150 years of opposition to it in the developed world. Science and the intellectual world actually functioned just fine on the basis of Christian Theism, which ruled until the mid-1800’s. All progress since then has actually been in spite of the rejection of the Sole Source and Ground of all existence and knowledge. This rejection doesn’t affect functional “hard” Science very much, although it does affect goals and priorities in research. But it has a much bigger effect on historical and behavioral Science, leading to highly-destructive errors.
It is true that it is not possible to get into someone else’s head. But we could not relate to one another if we didn’t share a lot of common experience. Part of this, we say, is inevitable knowledge not just of any god, but of The Creator God described in the Bible. While people will suppress this as much as possible and always try to substitute other deities or other approaches, they cannot eliminate it altogether. This is where I was and where you still are.
“But no matter how strongly anyone feels that they have the correct approach, it doesn’t mean that they do.”
Correct. You could be wrong.
“But we could not relate to one another if we didn’t share a lot of common experience.”
“nothing can be known with certainty. ”
not even and especially you specific god concept.
“Christian Theism alone provides the basis for all existence and experience.”
I would emphatically disagree that no it doesn’t. As someone who used to be where you are now I relate to what you are saying. As someone who longer shares your views I don;t know how you can make such an assertion.
“Science and the intellectual world actually functioned just fine on the basis of Christian Theism”
Yeah… sometimes it did and sometimes it really didn’t. It depends on what you are talking about.
“It is only by starting with the existence of The Creator God described in the Bible that everything else can be explained.”
I would respond with “LOL’ on this, but I am attempting to keep this civil.
“Inevitable knowledge not just of any god, but of The Creator God described in the Bible.”
See… this is where we have to part ways. I think the Bible is nonsense and not real. that’s why I satirize it. I don’t think I am “suppressing” anything in as far as “knowledge in my heart that god actually exists.” If I actually thought that in the slightest, then I wouldn’t be an atheist.
“Science, leading to highly-destructive errors.”
That is a very bold claim on your part.
You seem to be willfully ignoring that I held your view until my Junior year at Duke. But it is clear that you never really held mine. This is apparent in the fact that you can’t even recognize very basic aspects of my view and some very simple implications of these, if they are true. It is also apparent in the fact that you ignore the philosophical foundations of your own view and merely assume these are correct, despite fatal flaws in these beliefs which I demonstrate. Sorry, but it is you who has blind faith that the worldview you have been indoctrinated in is correct.
As for my charge that Science makes highly-destructive errors today, I would say for one thing that insofar as we treat human beings only as machines we fail to treat people properly. This is especially seen in the tendency to reduce behavioral issues to issues of physiology, as with LGBT, addictions, depression, other mental-health syndromes and suicide.
“You seem to be willfully ignoring that I held your view until my Junior year at Duke.”
How did I “willfully ignore” that exactly? I don’t think until now you ever mentioned anything about “Duke” so how could I have “willfully ignored” something you never brought up in our thread?
“But it is clear that you never really held mine. ”
Oh I was “never a REAL CHRISTIAN!!!” ::yawn:: Now who’s being lame? Why? Because your book says so in one of the Epistles somewhere? “Those who leave the faith were never of the faith.” Nonsense. Even if I cared about this even a little bit, I don’t think Christianity is something to aspire to anymore. I know how I used to think and feel and believe and to hear someone tell me that I was “never one of us to begin with” says more about you than it does about me. The sheer arrogance that you throw around and then claim it’s “humility.”
“Sorry, but it is you who has blind faith that the worldview you have been indoctrinated in is correct.”
When did I ever assert or assume that my “worldview” was absolutely correct? It is you who never acknowledged that yours MIGHT be false. What if you’re wrong? I asked myself that question when I was a Christian and I changed my mind. I was open minded to question that I MIGHT be wrong about 1000’s of god concepts.
Who exactly “indoctrinated” me into atheism? Do you know the details of my life? No one forced me to investigate things on my own and eventually come to my own conclusions. If I was ever “indoctrinated” into anything it was Christianity in the first place… but I don’t like using the word “indoctrinated” when talking about my loving family who… other than our differences of belief (and unbelief) we still get along quite well.
Sorry. Wrong again. It is not “blind faith.” And I love when Christians tell me what my “worldview” is or my “faith” is since I could say the exact same thing about you and your position, that you’ve been “indoctrinated” into believing in ancient fairy tales. And if all that we’re going to do is accuse each other of being “indoctrinated” then what more is there to discuss?
To paraphrase Shakespeare: “Me thinks the man doth protest too much!” Your reply is filled with defensiveness and lacking in anything relevant to the issues I have raised. Remember, you are the one who decided to launch a lengthy attack against me. Don’t dish it out if you aren’t willing to take it. And don’t pretend you want to have a discussion when all you want to do is to attack the opposing position.
I believe I know where you are because I believe that we all begin with the same problem with regard to God: we just don’t want to deal with Him. And while I wouldn’t say that no one who comes to understand Christianity correctly ever goes to the other side, it is a rare thing to find in practice. This is why there are many ex-Atheists in Bible-believing churches around the world, but very few adult Christians who become Atheists.
You appear to be no different than most Atheists I have encountered. You were taught Christianity as a youth, like me, but, like me, never truly understood and embraced it. I strongly suspect that, like me, you are a product of an anti-Christian public education system. It is not surprising that a constant bombarding of one philosophy 5 days a week will overcome whatever one may get on Sunday.
Finally, with regard to indoctrination, the truth is that all of us are indoctrinated one way or another, whether we want to admit this or not. What you think was a matter of you thinking for yourself was more a matter of you following others than you realize. Again, I know as I was the same way. Most people in the developed world today are completely oblivious to how they have been indoctrinated into what is a de facto religion: Secular Humanism (as 20th century Humanists were honest enough to admit in the first Humanist Manifesto). But God helps some of us come to see how we have been deceived and gives us the ability to see The Truth.
“To paraphrase Shakespeare: “Me thinks the man doth protest too much!”
I have heard this rebuttal multiple times from Christians who “attack” the atheist position. You appear to be no different either.
“our reply is filled with defensiveness and lacking in anything relevant to the issues I have raised.”
I rebutted your idea that “I was never a “real” one of you. It is an issue I hear quite a lot that once again, I will say you know nothing about me.
“never truly understood and embraced it.”
I know how I felt and what I believed and why I believed it. If you choose to dismiss the first half of my life then we have nothing further to discuss on that issue.
“You appear to be no different than most Atheists I have encountered.”
And you no different than most Christians I’ve encountered.
“I strongly suspect that, like me, you are a product of an anti-Christian public education system.”
There is no such thing. If anything, I grew up in a very “pro Christian” education system. I have no idea what you are talking about.
“It is not surprising that a constant bombarding of one philosophy 5 days a week will overcome whatever one may get on Sunday.”
I live in a fundamentalist conservative town where there is a Church in nearly every street corner. Churches outnumber public schools at a nearly 3-1 ratio.
“This is why there are many ex-Atheists in Bible-believing churches around the world, but very few adult Christians who become Atheists.”
Citation please? You are making an assertion and without data I don’t believe you. As I said, perhaps I am in different circles than you because I see a balance between unbelieving and believing adults.
“What you think was a matter of you thinking for yourself was more a matter of you following others than you realize.”
What others? Who affected me in this way when I began my journey? I was surrounded by Bible-believing christians most of my life. It was only recently in the past few years that I ever picked up any atheist literature or commentary of any kind. You know not of what you speak.
“What you think was a matter of you thinking for yourself was more a matter of you following others than you realize.”
Then why don’t you pray to him to show up then?
“And don’t pretend you want to have a discussion when all you want to do is to attack the opposing position.”
You say “attacking your position” and I say “defending mine and rebutting yours.” Again, if we are just going to argue about words then this is pointless. Why do you feel “attacked”? If you feel “attacked” that is not on me. If you think I am “being defensive” it is because you say things like “you were never a REAL Christian,” and I am sorry but I vehemently disagree with you there. But at this point I know that I am not going to convince you or anyone else what I felt or how I felt about my former beliefs. Am I not allowed to passionately defend my position much in the same way you do? Am I not allowed to rebut you and your claims? It can hardly be called “Christian Persecution” since, I am guessing you live an a western secular country where at least 70% of the population “self-identifies” as you (the United States). If I said to you, “you were never a REAL atheist” what would you say in return? I don’t play those kind of “No True Scotsman” and “You were never REALLY one of us” games though. Like many Christians I have encountered. Did you not believe in ANY god(s) before? Congratulations. You were an atheist. I can’t “No True Atheist” you and I wouldn’t try. Since the “unaffiliateds” and the “nones” are growing (at least in the United States), i fail to understand your claim that (paraphrase) “adult former atheists are converting to Christianity in droves.” I am sure it happens. I am not doubting that it happens. I don’t believe you that it happens in the quantities that you describe and I ask you for some statistics.
I went line by line in your original article and left rebuttals. I am sorry that you don’t think they are “quality” and that I was “attacking your position”. You asked me to read it and ponder it seriously. I did. I took the time to respond. I told you that most of it I had already read and pondered before to a greater to lesser degree. I tried to explain to you the “Law of Diminishing Returns” as to why I don’t read much Christian apologetics anymore: The more Christian apologetics posts and literature I read the less new information I encounter. I am sure you would say the same about your experience with atheist literature. You asked me to post my rebuttal here. I did not agree to that.
“Remember, you are the one who decided to launch a lengthy attack against me. Don’t dish it out if you aren’t willing to take it. ”
Again… not “launch an attack.” Offer a “spirited and detailed rebuttal.” I cannot help it if you perceive it as an “attack.” I can certainly take it. I just eye roll at comments like, “you were never a REAL one of us” because I hear it all of the time. I don’t believe you. You don’t know me or my past or what I believed and why.
I make no “no true Scotsman” claim. You may have been a true believer who has apostatized. The Bible itself refers to people like this. But, if you were ever truly a believer, there are some Scriptures suggesting that you may be beyond hope of turning back to God and being saved (especially Hebrews 6 & 10). So, I actually hope you weren’t, so that there is still hope for you to understand Christianity truly for the first time.
I said from the outset that I am not a believer in the value of lengthy debates. I seek people who are actually interested in understanding why an educated person like me became a Christian, not those who simply want to refute my positions, which is clearly your only goal.
That there hasn’t been a poll to confirm my anecdotal experience that far more adult Atheists become Christians than adult Christians becoming Atheists doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Of course you won’t believe me. But that is just a reflection of your own bias. And God has already “showed up”. He calls to every human being who has ever lived in each of our “inner conversations” (not audibly but by planting thoughts). I ignored His call for my first 22 years until He gave me “ears to hear”. And although this means that God must do something in order for us to believe, this doesn’t take away our responsibility to ask Him to do this.
” I seek people who are actually interested in understanding why an educated person like me became a Christian, not those who simply want to refute my positions, which is clearly your only goal.”
No. It isn’t simply my only position. I do not “simply want to refute you.” Again you are putting words in my mouth. Stop doing that. It seems that is all you are interested in doing: Putting words in the mouths of those who do not agree with you. Telling them that the “really do believe” something “in their hearts” when clearly they tell you that they don’t. Then telling them that they “were never one of you” to begin with. You don’t get to have it both ways.
“That there hasn’t been a poll to confirm my anecdotal experience that far more adult Atheists become Christians than adult Christians becoming Atheists doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”
Then why would you make such a claim if you cannot demonstrate the truth of your claim? I wasn’t just asking you just to be contrary.
“I said from the outset that I am not a believer in the value of lengthy debates.”
I do value debates. Why would you encourage atheists like myself to read and “ponder” your post if you were not interested in debating the “other side?” You posted this online. You encouraged atheist like myself to read it. I read it, responded, and at times refuted your claims and assertions. I attempted to have a polite dialog with you and you put words in my mouth, accused me of the same tired cliche things that believers always say about atheists and “apostates” and when I respond, you accuse me of being “defensive” which I wasn’t being… though I was offended by some of the things that you said… and then you say that you’re not interested in debate with me unless my questions are framed the way you want or only by people who “want to understand why an intelligent person like you would believe.” I consider myself an intelligent person and I don’t believe. I consider my family members intelligent people who are still believers. Being “intelligent” doesn’t mean you do or don’t believe in supernatural things or higher powers.
“adult Christians becoming Atheists doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”
I already responded that I said I am sure it sometimes happens. I never denied that some atheists gain faith in some supernatural deities. I was merely challenging your claim that “most” adult atheists rejoin the church and asked you for some evidence. You said that you could not provide me any. So.. that makes me “biased?” In what way? Because I asked you for evidence?
“And although this means that God must do something in order for us to believe, this doesn’t take away our responsibility to ask Him to do this.”
And you think I didn’t ask him “with all of my heart” when I was a Christian (and I WAS a Christian!!!) You think I didn’t want it to be true with all of my “heart and soul”?
Why do you”get “ears to hear” and I don’t? I was a Bible-believing passionate daily praying Christian for the first half of my life. I was brought up in the church by Christian parents and grandparents. My family is still very Christian. If I suddenly go back to being a Christian tomorrow was I suddenly a “real Christian” all along?
“And God has already “showed up”. He calls to every human being who has ever lived in each of our “inner conversations” (not audibly but by planting thoughts).”
I used to believe that this actually happened to me and I firmly believed I talked to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I had plenty of “inner conversations.” I no longer believe that’s what they actually were anymore and I am sure you will just tell me they “really weren’t” those experiences. So personal experiences are not evidence for someone else. Your God does have to show up and demonstrate himself to exist. Not just some inner ear conversation.
So I won’t post anymore because I don’t want you to think I am just here to “refute your position,” which is not my intention… and I am sure you will feel the need to get in the last word and that’s fine. I don’t feel the need to “win” a debate with you… because neither of us is going to convince the other.
First, if you read closely what I posted, I did not state that most Atheists become Christians, just that my experience is that more go from Atheism to Christianity as adults than the other way. While I have never done or seen a survey, I have met enough Atheists and Christians over the past 34 years to have a pretty good representative sample.
And it’s really you who is demanding that the discussion only be framed according to your own terms and refuse to consider anything on my terms. I, on the other hand, frequently use your terms for the sake of argument and seek to show where they fall short. But your typical response is to claim I am misrepresenting your position or just ignore my critiques and make attacks which don’t really take them into account.
Finally, if you really believe neither of us is going to convince the other, then it begs the question of why you have spent all the time you have refuting me. I would really like to know and it would be good for you to ask yourself this.
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There is no evidence for your god. Sorry not sorry.
See my reply to this same poster under the article “Twenty-one Tweets To Transform Your Thinking”.