Monday, April 14, 2014

Why creationists think they are more open-minded than scientists

Vincent Torley was initially very skeptical when I described the differences between human and chimpanzee genomes and explained that those differences could be accounted for by evolution. He didn't want to believe that was true because it didn't fit into his views of how humans came to be.

After resisting for a week or so, he finally came to the realization that what the scientists are saying is correct [When I’m wrong].
Professor Moran and I disagree on many things, and I’m sure we’ll have many lively exchanges in the future, but it would be downright churlish of me not to acknowledge that my attempts to show that the neutral theory could not account for 22.4 million mutations arising in the human lineage over the last five million years have failed. I also wish to state that I had no intention of giving any offense to Professor Moran in our exchange of views, and that I have always striven to remain as polite as possible, while publicly disagreeing with him. The next time I’m dining out, I shall order a glass of red wine and silently toast him.
Thank-you Vincent Torley. I greatly respect you for taking the time to understand evolution and to listen to the explanations of evolutionary biologists.

I think you can see how your initial biases affected your ability to understand evolution. That's why you tried so hard to prove that population genetics was wrong when you didn't understand it and had only heard of the explanation for the first time a few days earlier.

Now Torley wants to address a different point. He wants to show us that creationists are more open-minded and less biased than evolutionary biologists [A question of bias].
In today’s post, I’d like to explain why I believe that evolutionary biologists who regard evolution as an unguided process are more ideologically biased than people who believe that God made us – whether through a process of (a) direct creation or (b) guided evolution. The distinction between the latter two positions is totally irrelevant, from Professor Moran’s perspective ...
It's a long post. Torley describes seven different arguments in support of his position.

1. Evolutionary biologists have an a priori commitment to materialism

Here's where Vincent Torley trots out the famous quotation of Richard Lewontin where he says, "We take the side of science ... because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism." This leads Torley to ask ...
The above quote was taken from Lewontin’s review of Carl Sagan’s last book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark ("Billions and Billions of Demons" in the New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997).

I would ask my readers: if this is not a clear-cut example of ideological bias, then what is?
Torley is correct. Lewontin's view, taken at face value, is a clear-cut example of an a priori commitment to materialism. I think Lewontin is wrong. I do not agree with his view and I do not share it.

I don't think there are many evolutionary biologists who adopt this a priori commitment to materialism. Most of us are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

2. Leading evolutionary biologists refuse to be swayed by any evidence for God

Torley quotes PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins claiming that no amount of evidence could convince them that gods exist. He also mentions that Jerry Coyne says he is open to the idea that the existence of gods could be demonstrated.

I'm with Jerry Coyne on this one and I suspect most evolutionary biologists would agree. I've been looking for evidence for a long time and haven't seen any yet but that doesn't mean I've rejected the possibility.

3. Professor Michael Behe explains why theists are less biased than scientific materialists

Now this is an interesting argument, coming from a philosopher.
In an Apologetics 315 interview with Brian Auten on August 28, 2013, Intelligent Design advocate and biochemist Michael Behe made a highly persuasive case that theists are less biased than scientific materialists when examining the question of how life emerged on Earth, since theism does not rule out Darwinism, whereas materialism precludes the possibility of Intelligent Design at the very outset:
The first thing that's wrong is the strawman argument that evolutionary biologists are committed to materialism and atheism (see above). They aren't.

The second thing that's wrong requires a bit of thought. Here's what Behe and many creationists are saying. If you believe in magic then you are less biased than those who don't. That's because whenever you are faced with a problem you have two viable solutions, a magical solution and a naturalistic solution. Similarly, if you believe in UFO abductions then you are less biased than those who don't because whenever you hear of a missing person you have an extra solution than the ones considered by rational people.

And if you believe in both magic AND UFO abductions then you are even less biased. Are you open to the possibility that we all live in the Matrix? Bingo! Even less bias.

See how this works? Here's how Michael Behe puts it ..
In my mind at least, a Christian or theist, is in best position in discussions of evolution because, at least as far as I can see, God could have used Darwinian processes to make life if he wanted to. Who am I to say that he couldn’t? But he didn’t have to. I don’t know what he did, and so I go out and look, and a theist can go out and look, and kind of evaluate the evidence, whereas somebody who rules out God from the start is in a bind. Then they have to simply shoe horn all of the data into this worldview where the only thing around at the beginning was mindless energy and matter. So, I think theists have an edge in this discussion.
Just in case you didn't understand what I said earlier, I do NOT rule out gods from the start. If Behe or anyone else has evidence that they exist then I'm ready to examine it.

4. Evolutionary biologists as thought police: further proof of ideological bias

Torley then quotes from a number of post and articles—including several of mine—where we say that if students who study evolution fail to understand it then they should not pass the course. This also applies to candidates for a Ph.D. and scientists we hire. You don't get a Ph.D. and you don't get hired if you don't understand the science of evolutionary biology.

Torely thinks this is proof of ideological bias.
Queen Elizabeth I is supposed to have once famously remarked, “I would not open windows into men’s souls.” But today’s evolutionary biologists apparently think otherwise. Some of them have gone on the record as saying that science students who hold personal beliefs (e.g. a belief in creationism) which are at variance with the currently accepted findings in their field of science, should not be allowed to graduate, no matter how well they understand the science in their field. That means that if you’re a biology student at university and you get 100% on all your examinations, and you also happen to be a creationist or an Intelligent Design theorist, then you shouldn’t be allowed to graduate.
For the record, if you got 100% on all the exams then it should mean that you lied about what you understand and accept. In other words, you do NOT understand it but you pretended to understand in order to fool your teacher get a high grade.

None of us would flunk such a student because we wouldn't know that she was lying. We assume that students are honest.

According to the logic of this argument, creationists are less biased because they would give high marks to students who reject evolution in favor of creationism and they are also capable of giving high marks to students who reject creationism and argue for materialistic science. It probably means that Christian universities are much more open minded than secular universities. (Sort of like arguing that the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) in Toronto is much less biased about medicine than a typical medical school [Naturopath Education: Still Replete With Bollocks].)

In any case, in order to make his point, Torley needs to show that evolutionary biologists as a group are acting a lot more like thought police than creationists. Good luck with that. Read the comments on Uncommon Descent.

5. Nobel Prize winning scientists betray their ideological bias, by publicly declaring that evolution has no purpose

So far, there's no scientific evidence to support the idea that evolution has a purpose. Most of us would be happy to see such evidence, if it exists. It would certainly give us a lot to think about.

Creationists KNOW that evolution (if it exists) has a purpose. Therefore, they are less biased.

6. The epistemological bias underlying biologists’ rejection of God

This one's a little complicated. Let me explain my position. I have not been convinced by any evidence for the existence of gods therefore I don't believe in them. I also don't believe in Bigfoot, the tooth fairy, and the Loch Ness Monster for the same reason.

If you believe in something without any evidence, then this cannot be consistent with the scientific way of knowing. It would have to be knowledge gained by some other way of knowing. I haven't seen any convincing examples that such another way of knowing exists.

I do not "reject" the possibility of gods or tooth fairies in a philosophical discussion. I just fail to believe in them.

Apparently, I suffer from "epistemological bias" because I don't believe in Bigfoot or any one of 1000 different gods. Torley, on the other hand, is much less biased because he only rejects 999 of them (and Bigfoot).

This is really more about the existence of gods than the difference between creationists and scientists.

7. Venom as an indicator of bias among evolutionary biologists

Vincent Torley thinks that evolutionary biologists are much more rude to their opponents than creationists. This means that creationists are less biased.

No, really, that's what he said.

The conclusion is obvious to Vincent Torley.
I put it to my readers that on any reasonable assessment of the evidence, evolutionary biologists who regard evolution as an unguided process are far more biased than the creationists and/or Intelligent Design theorists whose views they disparage.
Remember, this comes only a few days after Torely was obliged to admit that there was strong evidence for an unguided process—fixation of neutral alleles by random genetic drift— leading to the vast majority of differences between modern humans and their common ancestor with chimpanzees.


80 comments :

  1. I am afraid that I a going to have to part company with Prof. Moran on the issue of methodological naturalism. IMHO, one can not do science without making this assumption. The reason is that supernatural explanations are unbounded, because the Christian god is unbounded (as is the Hebrew and Islamic god).

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    1. Why are supernatural explanations unbounded? Who are you to declare what the supernatural is or is not? If we can't test the supernatural, how did you even determine that the supernatural cannot be tested? By not testing it? Then how do you know that the supernatural cannot be tested?

      The natural/supernatural distinction is a synthetic semantical fabrication. There is only testable and not-testable models. We can perfectly well make god-models with elements of testability, they've all come up short when we tested them. Historically, theists have responded to such tests by engaging in ridiculous ad-hoc rationalizations about god's willingness to engage in such tests. That doesn't actually mean god-models cannot be tested, it just means theists are afraid of and cannot get themselves to accept the results of such tests.

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    2. Re Rasmussen

      God did it explanations are unbounded because the Christian god is all powerful and can do anything. Thus, it makes no difference as to the result of an experiment or observation as god did it is an explanation for any such result. Thus, such an explanation is unfalsifiable, even in principal and hence not scientific.

      As an example consider Prof. Moran's junk DNA. If most of DNA is junk, so what, that's the way god set things up. If none of DNA is junk, that's the way god set it up. Who are we to question the whys and wherefores of the almighty?

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    3. ... and when you look at Richard Lewontin's notorious statement, you find that there is a second part that is never quoted. He says there that the reason you cannot admit supernatural explanations for "to appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."

      In short, Lewontin is invoking precisely the nonpredictability from supernatural explanations. He is not just stating a prejudice against them.

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    4. colnago80 says,

      ... one can not do science without making this assumption (methodological naturalism)

      Wrong. You can use science as a way of knowing to investigate whether miracles exist or whether a supernatural explanation is the best explanation. You don't need to rules these out a priori before you start.

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    5. [Lewontin] says there that the reason you cannot admit supernatural explanations for "to appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."

      What's wrong with that? If we find evidence that miracles can happen then so be it. I'm perfectly willing to investigate the evidence for miraculous claims instead of denying a priori that they can't possible exist and sticking my head in the sand.

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    6. "Wrong. You can use science as a way of knowing to investigate whether miracles exist or whether a supernatural explanation is the best explanation."

      Exactly. The only meaningful definition of 'miracle' is one where the 'law' is suspended. The Catholic Church 'investigates miracles', and what they claim they are doing is 'ruling out the scientific explanations'. I can, as a thought experiment, imagine a world where the laws of physics apply 99.9999% of the time, but God has cheat codes.

      The theology of miracles is well-trodden ground, and a miracle is a little like terrorism - there would be no point doing it if no one realized that's what was happening. If people came back from the dead anyway, and seas parted themselves, then doing that wouldn't be a miracle.

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    7. What's wrong with that? If we find evidence that miracles can happen then so be it.

      Would a miracle once explained, however remarkable the explanation, remain a miracle?

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    8. Does it really matter? If they can demonstrate an effect, I don't care what kind of semantic label you stick on it. If you want to call spontaneous regrowing of amputated limbs a "miracle", then so be it. What I'm interested in is whether you can show that such things happen, not whether you sit afterwards and stick semantic labels on it.

      When IDiots declare god intervenes in the evolution of life, I'm interested in whether they can actually show this. I don't care whether they call such interventions "supernatural" or "miraculous", I want to see the actual event.

      I hereby define the supernatural as testable. Now what?

      Let me outline a "supernaturalist/miraculous", abrahamic religion prayer-model that is testable:
      Praying to the god of Abraham, Yahweh, should result in the spontaneous regrowing of fully amputated limbs(arms and/or legs of Homo sapiens, amputated at the shoulder or pelvis, respectively) with some nonzero frequency.

      Praying to any other entity or deity, or not praying at all, should NOT result in spontaneous limb regrowth.

      In order to test the model, we can have two control groups, one that prays to many different deities, and one that doesn't pray at all, in addition to the group that just prays to Yahweh.

      If you can show "miraculous powers"(by performing the above experiment and documenting with hard, independently verifiable, emprical evidence, the spontaneous regrowth of amputated limbs), I don't care what you call them. If they form part of a model that makes testable predictions, I'm going to sit up and take notice when they survive attempts at observational/experimental falsification.

      This might not logically, deductively prove the existence of the god of Abraham, but it certainly goes a long way to show there's something there about the concept worthy of note.

      When theists then sit back and rationalize the results of such tests that god doesn't want to be tested, that doesn't mean the "supernatural" cannot be tested, it just means theists are capable of rationalizing any concievable observation because they're deeply emotionally invested in their belief.
      There is no scientific model you cannot also rationalize in ad-hoc fashion why the results came out some way too.

      Of course the supernatural is testable, and it has failed every time.

      It's sad to see many well-meaning and intelligent scientists buying into the charge that the scientific method is biased against the supernatural, only to be then told by supernaturalists, when said scientists actually bother to test the supernatural, that their test failed to test the supernatural because "god could choose X, Y or Z".

      So which one is it, can we test the supernatural or not? They can't have it both ways - either they accept that science can test the supernatural and live with the results of such tests(no evidence of the supernatural), or they shut up about science being biased against the supernatural by ruling out supernatural explanations beforehand.

      What we're fighting here isn't some deep epistemological issue, it's human psychology of religious believers that's at fault.

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    9. Lewontin said (in an aside to the main article in NYRB January 9, 1997: Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

      Flowering rhetoric: yes. A priory commitment to Materialism as a philosophical position? No. This is methodological naturalism as practised by all science.

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    10. @helen,

      Methodological naturalism is NOT practised by all science. YOU may be happy to put limits and restrictions on the questions you can ask using the scientific way of knowing but, as you can see from my post and these comments, many of us are not.

      In the future, people who share your opinion need to make it clear that it's just a personal preference and not an absolute requirement of doing science.

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    11. If you can show "miraculous powers"...I don't care what you call them.

      Would everyone who believes in telekinesis please raise my hand.

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    12. Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen:

      Let me outline a "supernaturalist/miraculous", abrahamic religion prayer-model that is testable:

      Praying to the god of Abraham, Yahweh, should result in the spontaneous regrowing of fully amputated limbs(arms and/or legs of Homo sapiens, amputated at the shoulder or pelvis, respectively) with some nonzero frequency.

      Praying to any other entity or deity, or not praying at all, should NOT result in spontaneous limb regrowth.


      Well, first, you have to identify a religious group that would postulate such an outcome. One of the aspects of "supernatural" claims is that their proponents do not make such predictions. Even the YECs, who tie themselves tightly to empiric claims, such as the age of the Earth, maintain that the empiric evidence can and has been manipulated by God to give the "appearance" of age, an appearance that you accept only because of your a priori commitment to materialism. So you, in your example, are not testing the supernatural claims being made but your own idea of what supernatural claims should be.

      Be that as it may, what would you do if there was an example of a human being who regrew a limb? Would you immediately fall on your knees and start praying to Yahweh? Or would you start looking for a naturalistic explanation? After all, regrowing limbs is hardly unknown in Earth organisms. Would you sequence the DNA of the person who was "healed" looking for a mutation that allowed the regrowth? If this was the only single example of this "nonzero frequency" of the event, would you really put it down to a supernatural cause or would you think it is an anomaly that still may be shown to be the result of naturalistic causes?

      The point here is that science resists non-naturalistic explanations a priori and I have yet to see a reasonable "example" of an actual supernatural explanation made "on-the-ground" by theists that scientists would blithely accept, either without further investigation or without simply putting it down, at worse, to some as yet unknown naturalistic cause.

      Methodological Naturalism is a heuristic that has worked so well that it is the standard by which formal science works (Larry's personal "scientific worldview" notwithstanding). Larry is welcome to his "worldview" but, like any philosophy, it is not "science."

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    13. Larry:

      Methodological naturalism is NOT practised by all science.

      Really? Can you give the cites to scientific papers that explore methodological supernaturalism? (Not including the IDiots house papers, of course!)?

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  2. #1: The problem I have with not being materialist/naturalist is that I have yet to see a meaningful definition of the supernatural. As far as I can tell, things are either observable or unobservable. If they are unobservable, nobody can say anything, but if they are observable science can get to work on them. Calling some observable things supernatural or non-material does not add anything to the discussion, and calling unobservable things supernatural or non-material does not make it more plausible that we can know anything about them.

    #2: Dawkins, really? I thought he was on the record as only 99% convinced of atheism.

    #3: I have no idea why materialism would preclude design. I am a materialist/naturalist, and I can see evidence for design in a watch, and I can likewise imagine hypothetical evidence for design of life. The problem is that for life on this particular planet the evidence does not point towards design, not that such a conclusion was precluded.

    #4: By that logic, any flunking of students for denying demonstrable fact would be ideological bias.

    Not much to say about the other three.

    colnago80,

    I don't see the general problem. If a religion postulates a god that for example punishes public amorality with earthquakes, or provides miraculous healing in exchange for sacrifices, then that god is scientifically testable. They could be accepted by science - tentatively, as in all cases. If it turns out in 200 years that it was just aliens messing with us from their flying saucers we can still revise our conclusion.

    What you probably mean is the moving of goalposts on the lines of "god is mysterious" or "god will not be tested"; but where is the difference to other pseudoscience, on the lines of "I totally have this perpetual motion machine but I cannot show the details to you now or you will steal the idea"? Same thing really.

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    1. I would also add that, in addition to being unbounded, non-naturalistic explanations are also science stoppers. If god did it, no further need for more observations as they prove nothing.
      Solar system is stable, god did it. Solar system is unstable, god did it. Newton accepted the non-naturalistic explanation, Laplace did not; he had no need of a non-naturalistic hypothesis.

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    2. See, this is what I don't get. No, they aren't science stoppers, as your very own examples clearly show.

      A scientist can always come along and revise a tentative conclusion. That would be as true for the tentative conclusion "our universe sure looks as if it was built for us by an unknown intelligence" or "some powerful being regenerates amputated limbs if prayed to in Latin by an official Catholic priest, P < 0.00001", as it has historically been true for the tentative conclusion "god needs to stabilise the orbits". What is to keep us? How are those any more science stopping than all the other tentative explanations?

      You would only have a point if scientists still believed in god stabilising the orbits today, but they don't.

      No, my real beef is that the word "supernatural" does not actually mean anything sensible. If there were a god, immaterial souls, demons or animist spirits, they would simply be part of nature.

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    3. Re Alex SL

      It was a science stopper for Isaac Newton who did not pursue a naturalistic explanation, being content for whatever reason to be satisfied with the god intervenes explanation. Laplace, being a freethinker, was not so satisfied. As Neil Tyson explains, Newton could have invented perturbation theory to solve a many body problem but did not.

      http://goo.gl/pufm0M

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    4. Of course, but again, where is the difference to a professor I know who does not want to accept that his biogeographical pet theory does not have evidence behind it? I just don't see what is special about supernatural explanations, not least because I don't understand what the word supernatural means.

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  3. Larry, I'm confused about what you are saying under #4: In order to pass a science course, students need to demonstrate that they understand the science in question. They do not need to demonstrate that they agree with it. For instance, you recently blogged about a study of why zebras have stripes. Suppose you submitted that blog post as answer to an exam question about that study. I imagine you would expect to be given credit for demonstrating understanding of the study despite disagreeing with it, and this is exactly how most of us view science (and other) education - we want to encourage rather than discourage justified criticism of the source material.

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    1. I also want to encourage justified criticism of evolution and critical thinking in general. If a student really understands evolution, and the massive amount of evidence that supports it, how could they not agree with it? It's like saying you understand why people say that germs cause disease but you don't agree and expect to get an M.D.

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    2. "If a student really understands evolution, and the massive amount of evidence that supports it, how could they not agree with it?"

      Um ... easily? You've read enough creationist bullshit by this point that you could pass a written exam on the subject. An economist could pass an exam about what Marx believed without being a Marxist. Most philosophers are atheists or agnostics, but they know their way around Aquinas. Galileo could describe, in greater detail than any priest alive today, the geocentric system.

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    3. Jem,

      I think you are answering the question "if they don't believe it, how can they still pass a test" and not "if they really understands it and the massive amount of evidence that supports it, how could they not agree with it".

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    4. Here I disagree with the post. If a student of mine (I taught chemistry) correctly answered a question about combustion, but then wrote (in all seriousness) that they really believed in phlogiston,I might fear for their sanity but would still have to give full credit for having mastered the material.

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    5. @paulbraterman

      I think the most important objective of a university education is to teach critical thinking. In a science course, this means teaching students how to appreciate and evaluate evidence to arrive at rational conclusions about the fundamental concepts of the discipline.

      In order to find out whether a student has mastered those goals you need to ask them to explain their own understanding of combustion and why they think it is the correct one.

      If the student says they reject the scientific explanation and choose instead to believe in phlogiston then you have clear evidence that they have not mastered the primary goals of the course. They should flunk the course.

      You seem to think they have mastered the material even if they reject one of the primary concepts (combustion). You must have very different goals than mine. What are they? Are you happy to award science degrees to students who believe silly things in spite of scientific evidence? Are you aware of the fact that they might become politicians making decisions about funding science or teachers in your children's classroom?

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    6. 'and not "if they really understand it and the massive amount of evidence that supports it, how could they not agree with it".'

      Well ... faith. It always comes down to that. If reality clashes with their religion, it's reality that's got it wrong.

      The fact of the matter is you can't logic someone into or out of faith, any more than you can get someone to go out with them with a list of reasons why they should.

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  4. On #2: I've said it multiple times: the reason I will not accept any evidence for "god" is that the proponents refuse to be specific about their hypothesis. The identity of this imaginary being is so fluid that it evades any possible test. Go ahead, pin god to a specific concept, and then we can talk about disproving it.

    Torley's own post on the falsifiability of his beliefs is a lie. His example of the disproof of his belief in Jesus, for instance, is finding Jesus' dead body. How does he know we haven't already?

    On #7: it is routine that creationists will tell me I'm going to suffer eternal torment forever for my ideas...and they want to call ME arrogant and rude?

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    1. Perhaps along your line: Since nobody knows what is really going on in this universe, many an idea is possible and worthwhile to consider. The trouble begins with convictions, and unwarranted extensions from unwarranted convictions. And fuzzy inconsistent thinking attending those convictions.

      I think the term ignosticism should have greater use. From Wickipedia:

      Ignosticism is the view that any religious term or theological concept presented must be accompanied by a coherent definition. Without a clear definition such terms cannot be meaningfully discussed.

      I have yet to meet a theist with any coherent definition of what it is they believe in, or what they mean by god.

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    2. ...and, unimportantly, I just noticed I put the Wicked in Wikipedia.

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    3. (Sorry for the many comments, should have done a big one at the end.)

      I am not happy with the retreat to the position that religious concepts are untestable or the invocation of ignosticism because that assumes that believers are playing fair. What they really do is play three card Monte:

      They believe in some bearded man in the sky level nonsense, turn around to face the skeptic and say, "haha, you unsophisticated boor, we really believe in an abstract, untestable ground of being", turn back around and assure each other that the bearded man in the sky has specially created us, helps them survive diseases and accidents, and cares about who is allowed to marry whom.

      No, there simply is no ignosis about the gods that the faithful actually believe in, only about the ones they pretend to believe in for about four seconds when challenged.

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    4. I guess perhaps the word ignostic has something of a variable meaning as well (as does agnostic and atheist in the minds of some). But the point about changing and fluid definitions of god is the actual point for me: if there is no consistent (or coherent) definition of what they mean by god, the matter is rather hard or impossible to debate. I might be using the word ignosticism in its most unsophisticated sense.

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    5. I actually do not think there is a tremendous problem of people refusing to state what their beliefs are, or of refusing to say under what circumstances they would stop believing. To take beliefs shared among many organized Christian churches as an example, they happily profess to logical impossibilities (e.g., the Trinity that is at once three separate entities and a single indivisible one - so Jesus on the cross was not talking to himself, yet he and the entity to which he was talking are one and indivisible), or occurrences we have every reason to understand as impossible based on the evidence (virgin birth, walking on water, feeding thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread), and also are happy to state that these are crucial matters of faith they will never stop believing no matter what the evidence.

      I think the key word in "science as a way of knowing" is "knowing." It's not "science as a way of believing." And while knowledge must be provisional, understanding that I don't have the final answer is different than giving up halfway and saying it's all too hard, I'll just settle for belief without (or in the face of) the evidence.

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    6. "The identity of this imaginary being is so fluid that it evades any possible test. Go ahead, pin god to a specific concept, and then we can talk about disproving it."

      Yes. We can disprove every individual truth claim, when it's properly formulated. Somehow, being able to do that doesn't count as disproving God.

      The way I see it working is, well, imagine there's a list of 37 pieces of evidence. Call that set 'Reasons to think God exists'. Using the standards we'd apply to anything else we talk about - logic, evidence, what words actually mean, fixed definitions, no special pleading - we can cross out all 37, most of them very easily.

      I'd argue that the moment that last item gets crossed off, the set vanishes. I guess the person of faith demands that we keep the file open, in case new evidence comes along.

      'The God Delusion' is not 'thinking there might be gods'. It's exactly this: thinking there might be a God in the absence of any reason or evidence to. Valuing the belief in something when there's no evidence *above* the value of evidence. Anyone can believe a biscuit *doesn't* become the flesh of Jesus, anyone who believes it *does* must have some ability beyond the normal human being, right?

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    7. "turn around to face the skeptic and say, "haha, you unsophisticated boor, we really believe in an abstract, untestable ground of being""

      I think PZ is right, but I think this is *more* right. The problem is not that people debating this are slippery, it's that what Christians - in this example - *say* they believe, or what they are taught, versus the practice and expectations of Christians on the ground.

      (I have a friend who went to seminary. He reports that about 75% of the time involves getting blowjobs, that basically everyone there apart from a handful of exceptions, is a C student who never read an actual book in their life, just the notes, and that *the whole course* is basically an exercise in learning what to tell people who ask awkward questions. That basically every question is answered by saying 'interesting, but wiser men than us have discussed this, rest assured')

      Here's the killer question: ask a Christian exactly who goes to Heaven and when, and what you can do to improve your odds, then ask that person's priest the same question.

      I would like it to become common practice that when some Christian says something soppy about how their mom is looking down from them from Heaven and smiling to shout out 'HERETIC! That is not Christian belief. Christian belief is that they are mouldering in the grave until judgement day, that on that day, and only on that day, they will be judged by God and the vast majority will be sent to Hell. Your faction of Christianity nuances this further by [X].'

      If God's abstract and it's naive to imagine him, y'know, doing something measurable, why pray in hospitals?

      The God that Christians have in their head is *exactly* the kindly Santa Claus God that theologians sneer at. The very best way to empty the Churches is to make the people who go to them listen to what the scholars of their tradition teach.

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    8. Jem,

      Good idea, although unfortunately I can't see myself looking up the official teachings of every possible Christian sect on the afterlife in advance...

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    9. "I can't see myself looking up the official teachings of every possible Christian sect on the afterlife in advance."

      Fair enough.

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    10. The God that Christians have in their head is *exactly* the kindly Santa Claus God that theologians sneer at. The very best way to empty the Churches is to make the people who go to them listen to what the scholars of their tradition teach.

      Yes, I like to call it a cartoon god. But Ive noticed that many of the christians I have spoken to can be provoked, with a few simple questions, into abandoning this concept for more mysterious and metaphorical versions. No doubt they revert back to the "heavenly father-figure" by the following sunday, if not sooner. But at least the god in the clouds idea is somewhat definable in a simplistic, cartoonish way. Its when they temporarily abandon this notion that it becomes clear they themselves have no idea what they mean by god.

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    11. SRM. Let's take a rather simplistic definition of God: "something or someone that is worshiped, served or idolized". I bet if you poll a random sample of teenagers they view Justin Bieber as a God (that one actually really blows my mind :) Also, I think we are all guilty, at least on some level, of viewing ourselves as God (lotta big egos). Thirdly, and sadly, I believe that many church-goers also have a hard time defining what it is they worship at church because they are failing to open up their Bibles and really understand who Jesus was and what He did for mankind. So, if you want a clear definition of God...I'd say go right to the source, start with the book of John in the new testament and it's all there. It starts off "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...(then verse 14 says the Word became Flesh)" that's Jesus. And if we continue through that chapter we learn that Jesus provides more than enough evidence that He was in fact God. Here's a short list: Jesus states: "I and the father are one" John 10:30, "I am the way, truth and life"...John 14:6, "I am the light of the world" John 8:12, "I am the resurrection and life" John 11:25, "I will raise this temple [my body] in 3 days" John 2:19 (that's what's celebrated this weekend) just to name a few! Jesus also performed miracles, forgave people of their sins (which only God can do), and was viewed as God by his closest followers (many of whom wrote down their eyewitness accounts and which today is read as the Bible). It's all there! And these guys all were killed for writing this stuff down and knew it! That's proof in itself they believed Jesus was God. Anyways, sorry I rambled a bit but hopefully that helps. You want a definition of God from a Christian...It's Jesus Christ.

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    12. And these guys all were killed for writing this stuff down and knew it!

      You quote John a lot. He, for one, was not killed for the stuff he'd written, if we can trust Christian tradition.

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    13. "But at least the god in the clouds idea is somewhat definable in a simplistic, cartoonish way."

      The God of the theologians is such an abstracted, impersonal thing. The irony is that it probably makes more sense, but it's not meeting any of the emotional needs of human beings (ironic because that's what the religious accuse scientists of pushing).

      I honestly think religion is about three questions deep, wherever you dig. You get an evasive answer, the you haven't read enough theology answer, and then a you just don't get it because you lack faith answer. Whatever question asked, whatever the prior claim.

      The God Christians worship is a being who likes peace and fairness, and who won't let you down. Which sounds great until you realize that what they really want is that God will back them up in any given argument.

      As I say, I really would like bishops, theologians and other Christian thinkers - the smart ones, not low hanging fruit like Egnor or Quest, or creationists - to say exactly what their religions teach about medical prayer, the afterlife, homosexuality and so on. It's vile, most of it. The God of theologians is, by any other standard, a monster.

      One of my favorite challenges, and it's topical this week, is the one Philip Pullman came up with. If it was somehow within your power to rescue Jesus before the Crucifixion, knowing the suffering he was about to endure, would you do it?

      Most atheists would, without hesitation. It's a moral no-brainer. A man, doesn't matter who he is, is about to be tortured to death. If I could save him, I would. Now ask a Christian that. The smart ones, when pressed, end up conceding that they'd allow it.

      *Theologically* you'd have to let it go ahead. This is an argument against theology, not for it.

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    14. "I and the father are one"

      Yes, 1 + 1 = 1 (or actually 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 if you include the Holy Spirit), showing the impeccable logic of the doctrine. Or to put it in non-mathematical terms, the guy's his own daddy, but at the same time he's not. That may be one reason why people don't make much of a practice of opening their Bibles, since there's a great deal in there that defies all logic and sense. Of course that was the intent - if everyone could do it, what would make Jesus special enough to be a candidate for Messiah (when the early Christians were still mainly a Jewish sect) or God (after Christianity separated from Judaism and none of the Messianic predictions - no more war or suffering, God's kingdom on Earth, etc. - came true, and the Second Coming became doctrine)?

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    15. Happy Easter Week says It's all there! meaning all the information is right there in the bible.

      Yes, yes. We know its all there! It's wonderful you like the stories, and a major concern that you view this as evidence of things that really happened. And if writing things down got these men killed, this points to why its a major concern that you believe is such testimonies: let us just recognize that it wouldn't have been atheists who did the killing. Killing in the name of competing nonsense continues to this day. Anyway, happy easter.

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    16. Jem says: The God of the theologians is such an abstracted, impersonal thing. The irony is that it probably makes more sense, but it's not meeting any of the emotional needs of human beings....

      Exactly. A god truly of everything might as well be a god of nothing in particular. I imagine a creator of the universe if one existed, would have as much to do with us as with rabbits, rocks, and that hydrogen atom in the Crab Nebula. But people do need that active, reactive, human-like but omnipotent father with which to have a personal relationship. Jesus, or someone, take the wheel, for christ's sake!

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  5. If Behe or anyone else has evidence that they [Gods] exist then I'm ready to examine it...

    God says in the Bible that "those who seek me find me" Proverbs 8:17 and "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" Jeremiah 29:13. I was a bio major at a rather prestigious college when I took that challenge and "sought" after this so-called God and I found him in his son Jesus Christ. Simply stated, if you seek Jesus, study Jesus, and follow Jesus, it too will be revealed to you that Jesus is God. Now this may require some faith (and possibly an apologetics course or two for evidence that you can trust the Bible as accurate. I recommend Lee Strobel's Case for Christ) but God's plan is not to remain hidden and that's proven in the life of Jesus. He wants nothing more than to reveal Himself to you. But, as was the case for me, you need to be willing to seek Him first.

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    1. You have a very peculiar understanding of the term "evidence". Helpful hint: Really, really believing something is true is not evidence that it is actually true. And if you have adequate evidence, "faith" is unnecessary.

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    2. Oh, come on, Lutesuite, if mentioning Jesus by name four times in a single sentence isn't evidence, what is?

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    3. My point is that God explicitly states that if you seek Him, by studying the account of Jesus in the Bible and believe, he will provide evidence/faith for you. Read the Bible like you'd read a Bio-book...Study it...put it to the test. My bio book states that we evolved from basically algae and archaeopteryx is "transmutation of species" and the peppered moth etc etc and it's all crap. In my opinion it requires way more "faith" to believe in a science book than the Bible. And again I was merely responding to point #2 because I believe there is evidence for God but you have to be willing to seek it out for yourself instead of sitting in the bleachers heckling believers...step up to the plate and read the Bible. A great place to start is the book of John. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. Because this same Jesus claims that if you believe in Him you will have eternal life (John 3:16). On your deathbed is it really going to matter if dinosaurs died 65 million years ago? (my bio book somehow says they did???) Anyways, if you want me to punch some numbers and provide further evidence I will. The Bible is chock-full of evidence for Jesus. Let me know.

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    4. I don't doubt HappyEasterWeek. A human who seeks to believe will indeed come to believe. Its not for nothing this popular idea of abandoning oneself to christ, even on a trial basis...what have you got to lose? It works best when evidence is nothing, until such time nothing becomes evidence.

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    5. Absolutely, HappyEasterWeek:). Let's see the numbers that prove Christianity is true.

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    6. Great! Let's use some basic analytical theory here because we both know that mathematical proofs/numbers are basically unchallengeable. As an example, let's take a look at the probability of chance origin of life...a single cell is going to require hundreds of functional proteins to appear simultaneously each of an independent probability, then you need to consider things like handedness (chirality), DNA, other cell matter etc and you come up with number that is zero (1 chance in a number with a lot of zeros behind it that chance origin of life happened..no matter how long you have). So, using that type of math, let's look at the Bible. The Bible is centered around a man named Jesus Christ, so much so that people were predicting his coming hundreds of years before he showed up and predicted very detailed events (stuff that makes nostradamus look like an amateur). For example Jesus' place of birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), that He was a sin offering (Isaiah 53), entered Jerusalem at a certain time (Daniel 9:20-27), hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16) just to name a few. Some scholars count upwards of 322 prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. So, even taking a hand full of the most well known ones that would be impossible to "self fulfill" and using conservative estimates like 1/100,000 for accurately predicting his place of birth, the final number is again zero or 1 in a number with tons of zeros behind it. The number is so improbable Jews still can't believe it happened. BUT we know from the Bible and other secular historians (Josephus for example) that a man named Jesus did come and has fulfilled messianic prophecy with 100% accuracy. It's flat astounding. And this week we get to celebrate his greatest fulfilled prophecy, his death and resurrection on the cross (as prophesied in Genesis 22, psalm 22, psalm 41, Isaiah 53, Zechariah 12, Psalm 34 and Psalm 16). That's why it's Happy Easter Week!

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    7. The number is so improbable Jews still can't believe it happened.

      I would suggest you might want to start taking after the Jews you refer to, but that would only slightly lessen the load of nonsense you carry in your head.

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    8. sez happyeasterweek:
      "Great! Let's use some basic analytical theory here because we both know that mathematical proofs/numbers are basically unchallengeable."
      Not exactly. As the saying goes, Figures never lie—but liars sure can figure. Or perhaps a different saying, with greater generality: Garbage in, garbage out.

      "As an example, let's take a look at the probability of chance origin of life..."
      Hold it. "chance origin of life" doesn't refer to a single, well-defined concept; at absolute best, being as charitable as possible, "chance origin of life" refers to a class of many different origin-of-life scenarios. And these scenarios can and do differ in many details. If you happen to disprove chance-of-life-scenario A1, bully for you, but you haven't thereby disproved chance-origin-of-life-scenario A2.

      "a single cell is going to require hundreds of functional proteins to appear simultaneously each of an independent probability"
      Hmm. Looks like your 'proof' assumes that every last one of the bits of the cell just happened to fall into place, all in one fell swoop. That… uh… isn't a scenario that any real scientist thinks might have happened. Because, as you correctly point out, the odds of every last one of the bits of the cell just happening to fall into place, all in one fell swoop, are so very improbably small as to be indistinguishable from zero. Now, would you care to apply your penetrating analysis to any of the origin-of-life scenarios that real scientists actually are working on?

      "then you need to consider things like handedness (chirality), DNA, other cell matter etc and you come up with number that is zero (1 chance in a number with a lot of zeros behind it that chance origin of life happened..no matter how long you have)."
      Yes, yes, the 'one fell swoop' chance scenario (in which everything falls into place in one stroke of blinding improbability) is crap, and no real scientist should accept it. Quite right. Remarkably enough, no real scientist does accept the 'one fell swoop' chance scenario. Now, what do you have to say about any of the origin-of-life scenarios which are accepted by real scientists?

      "So, using that type of math, let's look at the Bible. The Bible is centered around a man named Jesus Christ, so much so that people were predicting his coming hundreds of years before he showed up…"
      Hold it. How do you know that? Yes, the bible has a bunch of words in it that refer to this "Jesus Christ" person—but how do you know that any of those words were actually written before JC showed up? And even if we accept, arguendo that some/all of those words actually were written before JC showed up, how do you know that they actually were intended to refer to JC, as opposed to being intended to refer to some other person entirely?

      "…and predicted very detailed events (stuff that makes nostradamus look like an amateur). For example Jesus' place of birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), that He was a sin offering (Isaiah 53), entered Jerusalem at a certain time (Daniel 9:20-27), hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16) just to name a few. Some scholars count upwards of 322 prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. So, even taking a hand full of the most well known ones that would be impossible to "self fulfill" and using conservative estimates like 1/100,000 for accurately predicting his place of birth, the final number is again zero or 1 in a number with tons of zeros behind it. The number is so improbable Jews still can't believe it happened."
      False. Jews can't believe it happened because they don't believe Jesus actually did fulfill the prophecies. Probabilities don't enter into it, me lad!

      [part 1 of a 2-part reply]

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    9. [part 2 of a 2-part reply to happyeasterweek]


      "BUT we know from the Bible and other secular historians (Josephus for example)…"
      Josephus? The dude what wrote the Testimonium Flavianum, a document whose passages dealing with Christ are, in part, the product of Christian meddling with the text after Josephus finished writing the TF? Yyyyyeah… that Testimonium Flavianum, it's totes reliable as a basis on which to conclude that Christianity is true. Totes reliable, dude.

      "…that a man named Jesus did come and has fulfilled messianic prophecy with 100% accuracy."
      Except, of course, that the Jews don't think Jesus "fulfilled messianic prophecy with 100% accuracy". [shrug] It's their prophecies, dude; go argue with them.

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    10. "…that a man named Jesus did come and has fulfilled messianic prophecy with 100% accuracy."

      When the Messiah comes, prophecy says of the Jews: 'everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.' (Isaiah 51:11).

      So ... pick one:

      1. Since the time of Jesus, the Jews have lived only in joy and peace.
      2. Not that.



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    11. That's nothing, HappyEasterWeek:). Wanna see an even bigger miracle?

      The post immediately after this one will consist of a number between 1 and 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.

      I predict it will be 23.

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    12. Oh, and:

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Failed_biblical_prophecies

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    13. HappyEasterWeek What convinces me most of the falseness of christianity is the jaw dropping lunacy and desperation of the attempts to demonstrate it is true.

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    14. HappyEasterWeek:) seems to have died and left this thread. But, not to worry, he's due to return today!

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    15. That is some good stuff right there :) nice. I like it. Anyways, you All make some great points (although the Bible references are taken completely out of context) but there's still just a very unsettling thought for me, and like I said it hit me in college as a bio major, that no scientist in the history of the world has ever been able to disprove God nor truly prove the origin of life or the origin of the universe. Lawrence says he would flunk me for "not having mastered the material" but would he have the balls to flunk guys like Louis Agassiz who adamantly opposed Darwin for good logic? Even current brainiacs like Kirschner and Gerhart who attempt to fill in the massive holes today can't do it without heavy opposition. So, what hope do non-creationists actually have? I am pro-science on many many levels, but realize that waking up "hoping" God isn't real or that someone somewhere will finally prove evolution or the big bang has to be unnerving, especially if someone has a gun to your head and the jury was still up!

      But, what an even greater tragedy if that same person had heard there was such a hope in Jesus Christ and chose never to investigate it for themselves. Although of equal misfortune would it be if that investigation only included the thoughtful perspective of any ordinary human ranging from an athiest to the pope himself; for how would a scientist find any evidence for the sun if they spent their entire life learning about the sun from a creature in a cave, for not even the pope himself can match what is the spring of true hope, Prayer and the Word of God when absorbed in its context! Worldviews aside, circumstances aside...religions aside...For God clearly states "you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" -Jeremiah 29:13

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  6. The key question here is "What is nature?" If one starts with a minimal set of assumptions for science (I've argued that once you accept 1. There are multiple observers; 2. These can communicate about observations; 3. We use a logic in which ((A->B) AND !A)->!B is a sentence, then you can do science), then you end up with something that is metaphysically neutral. We could do science in the Matrix.

    Now, under these minimal assumptions, we can still meaningfully define nature as the subject of scientific inquiry and it consists of *all* observations. We can also meaningfully talk about non-natural things - mathematics does this for example. However the two don't ever mix - either some entity is connected to observations or it isn't. In the former case it is natural, it the latter case it's not. It only makes sense to speak of evidence for things in the natural bin - there's no evidence that the square root of 2 is not a rational number...

    Now, where does that lead wrt evidence for god? A god for which there was evidence would be a part of nature - but this is incompatible with at least Abrahamic theism. But it does fit the Greek Pantheon: Dude lives on a mountain, does lightning. That's an entirely natural god (and could have been studied further by science). On the other hand god might be all of nature. Then we have Pantheism. Again, not really what theists are looking for. So a theist conception of god is incompatible with evidence.

    If there was evidence for god, then theistic concepts would become *less* plausible. If Jesus showed up at my front door, performed a couple of miracles and told me that he was god. Well, that's when I go from not believing to believing that not.

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    1. ((A->B) AND !A)->!B

      You mean ((A->B) AND !B)->!A, don't you?

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    2. I thought he was using formal logic to say "if and only if".

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    3. Yup, that was a typo. If and only if would be (A->B) AND (B->A). The statement ((A->B) AND !B)->!A is basically a formal way of defining falsifiability. There are some logics that don't have this statement and one could potentially build an empirical epistemology around one, but it wouldn't be science.

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  7. I agree with PZ Myers. God is untestable since it is a highly ambiguous and vague concept. God has no limits and constraints. So whatever evidence we present for a naturalistic explanation can be spun by theists to account for a God.
    For example, if we say life took billions of years to evolve and faced catastrophic mass extinctions, theists can claim "that's how God did it". If we point out the series of transitional fossils proving the evolution of whales from land mammals, theists can claim "God used evolution to create whales".
    In fact, this is the same strategy used by theistic evolutionists. They accept all of evolution and then say their God set the whole thing in motion.
    The recent discovery of gravitational waves proving inflation and big bang theories, was spun by creationists to say that the universe had a beginning, therefore God.
    God is so omniscient that he can exist inside our universe or outside it as and when he wishes!
    Unless theists can define God and propose a hypothesis of how he came to be and how he went about creating stuff, he'll remain untestable.

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  8. What's the definition of a "miracle"...?

    To me personally abiogenesis is a concept that fits the criteria of a miracle most of you here deeply believe in....

    ...or even life itself...

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    1. A miracle would be when you say something intelligent.

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    2. Quest, the bar is very low, here. By definition, if there's been one miracle, once, atheism is untenable. So ... point to a miracle that's not instantly laughable. Something that *couldn't* be explained by science, even in theory.

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    3. Jam,
      Your stupid opinion, at best, is just as valid as the beer I had sometime, somewhere... You have NOTHING to support your opinion...! So, don't try to intimidate me because you don't like what I say... Just because you chose to believe some unfounded shit.. it doesn't mean I have to buy it... Get it you moron...?

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    4. "So, don't try to intimidate me because you don't like what I say."

      I love what you say, it's hilarious. I'm not trying to intimidate you at all, I want you to keep talking, it's brilliant. I love the 'ask Quest a simple question' / 'he gets all flustered' routine.




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    5. Interesting, isn't it, how creationist stooges constantly attempt to depict scientists and science-literate laypeople as religious and faithful and dogmatic to the same extent they are? I see it as a tacit admission that they know their position isn't based in reality; simultaneously it's a desperate attempt to paint any competing viewpoint as similarly irrational, similarly faith-based, similarly religious.

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    6. "simultaneously it's a desperate attempt to paint any competing viewpoint as similarly irrational, similarly faith-based, similarly religious."

      There are whole sets of arguments that are basically 'you're just as bad as we are'.

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  9. #4. Thought police? Years ago, when I taught units on evolutionary biology to undergraduates, I'd give them a little talk about beliefs. Evolution is one of the basic principles of biology, I'd say. You need to know about it. And you need to know more about it than you learned when you weren't paying attention in high school biology class. Even if you don't believe it's true, you need to understand it. Otherwise, sooner or later you'll write a letter to the editor full of obvious errors, trying to explain why evolution is false. Then my Christian colleagues will shake their heads and say, "Oh, no! Not again!" and some of my non-Christian colleagues will say, "See? People who take their religion seriously are stupid" -- which isn't (necessarily) true. If you're going to argue against evolution, you need to know what you're arguing against.

    Some students would argue that they should receive religious exemptions from the evolution units. I'd say, you don't have to do the homework or answer the test questions about evolution (or any other subject you don't like). You'll get zeros, but if you do well on the other parts of the course, you'll still pass. (Not an option in a course dedicated to evolution only, of course.) Nobody actually took that "exemption."

    Students would say, "If you ask if I believe in evolution and I have to say 'no', I shouldn't be penalized!" I'd respond, "If I'm foolish enough to ask if you believe in evolution and you say 'no', I'll have to accept that as an accurate statement. But I'm not that foolish."

    I agree that if one really understands evolutionary biology and the evidence for it, one will find it true. The best I could usually hope for was shifting students from not believing in something they didn't really know anything about (though many thought they did). Yes, my standards were low. I hoped that if I could shift their position at all, they'd continue to learn about this subject. Or at least not vote to teach creationism in high schools.

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  10. Rum Crocket,

    You are really funny... Maybe you should consider a change of career...??? Since you can't provide any scientific evidence for abiogenesis, you can be telling jokes about it like the one with the vents...? I laughed my ass off when I heard that.... I'm sure you will find many people to laugh at you.... Just continue to provide jokes instead of evidence like you and your crew have.... We all need a good laugh ....LMAO ;)

    Cheers Rum,

    BTW: It is kinda sad that we laugh at something that so many people consider science.... I guess times have changed... but human blindness hasn't...unfortunately...

    A very clever and successful marketer ones told me that "...that even the stupidest idea will find it's followers..." He also said that the more stupid an idea it is, the more attention it draws... You are the living proof of this Rum.... LMAO... Good luck with your comedy act though... ;)

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    1. In addition to the interesting phenomenon of creationists projecting their own brittle and fragile faith-status onto scientists and non-religious people in an attempt to tar them as being as dogmatic as the creobots, they also love to claim things like "you have no scientific evidence for [in this case] abiogenesis"; as if now they actually care about science and evidence despite the fact that the evidence obtained by science runs their own dogma through with a sword, burns the corpse and pisses on the ashes.

      Such conflicting attitudes in the same thread, often even within sentences of each other, are part and parcel of the trite creationist playbook - you can't really be a creo without a big fat steaming load of cognitive dissonance. But it's only particular branches of science that get the "that's just dogma!" treatment - usually biological and rarely, say, meterological - and only particular areas of inquiry that get the "you have no evidence!" treatment - usually areas which have only just begun to be explored and for which there is little data (which as a result means there is no current dominant hypothesis, let alone a solid theory), like abiogenesis.

      It's not limited to abiogenesis of course - hell, anywhere there's a gap in our knowledge, you'll find some rube shoehorning a little god into it. It's just that abiogenesis is a big gap, so - for the moment anyway - Pest's big ol' god of Ever'thang gets to sit there as a placeholder.

      Anyway, what this shows quite clearly is that the "god done it" crowd read science as selectively as they read their own instruction manual.

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  11. Does Torley refer to or present any actual evidence for God's existence?

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  12. Quest said: Since you can't provide any scientific evidence for abiogenesis, you can be telling jokes about it like the one with the vents...? I laughed my ass off when I heard that....

    You gotta learn how to live with your asslessness along with your cluelessness.
    You know darn well there is no evidence of abiogogenesis and you are unable to wrap your mind around the fact that nobody claims there is any. If you have evidence against it, you are free to publish, The possibility of abiogenesis will stay open until you or someone like you present incontroversible evidence against it.

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