Richard Dawkins: Actually, I’m not sure that God doesn’t exist

posted at 5:40 pm on February 24, 2012 by Allahpundit

Go on. Laugh it up. Twist the knife in my heart.

Seriously, though, he’s making a banal point here — banal enough that I’ve made it myself repeatedly when arguing with readers in our comment threads. Having one of the world’s most prominent atheists admit he’s not totally sure is catnip for believers, but all he’s doing is being a conscientious skeptic. Every atheist is technically an agnostic; the distinction in the labels is largely the degree of confidence with which one’s concluded that there’s no God. Since there’s no way to conclusively prove that God doesn’t exist, no one can correctly claim absolute confidence. That’s all Dawkins is getting at, per his point that he’s a 6.9 on his own seven-point scale of doubt. I’d guesstimate that most people between, say, four and six call themselves “agnostic” while anyone beyond six self-identifies as “atheist.” Point is, you can never quite get to seven, just as virtually any conscientious believer will admit that they’re not quite at one. Which of course is why they’re called “believers,” not “knowers.”


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 8 9 10 11

You seem to have taken me to have been advocating the substitution of scientists for God, and giving them a presumption of infallibility and inerrancy!

No, all I said was that your less than ringing endorsement does not persuade me to your singular definition of life, the universe and everything by science only, and by no other discipline of human endeavor.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM

the big issue that ties them all together?

Why don’t you just come right out and tell us what you feel that “big issue” is? (Quit complaining and going for personal attacks, and just get to the point. Make your case.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM

When you said I believe there is a better way to approach the world than being rational, you were taking me at face value?

When you want to include religion in your approach to the world, what other conclusion makes any sense?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:50 AM

Why don’t you just come right out and tell us what you feel that “big issue” is? (Quit complaining and going for personal attacks, and just get to the point. Make your case.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:46 AM

What personal attack? What have I said about you other than that you have failed – either incidentally or on purpose – to understand what I have been trying to tell you?

By the “big issue”, I am referring to the central thesis of the post at the time that I write it. For example, you start a sidebar argument about whether science is right 100% of the time (an issue I never even approached), instead of discussing the point of the post as a whole: that you speak without truly listening, and therefore the discussion does not move forward.

This post, in fact, is another example: you accuse me of making personal attacks rather than address the fact that you have spent all your time trying to tell me what I think, and not simply and plainly listening to what I am saying.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM

When you said appreciation for music requires one first to believe in God, you were taking me at face value?

I was just asking what you really thought. I don’t remember, in all this fuss, what your answer was.

Why should music be taken has having anything to do with supernaturalism? Where is the connection?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:54 AM

When you want to include religion in your approach to the world, what other conclusion makes any sense?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:50 AM

To make sure I understand you correctly: you are supposing that a person can only employ one field of study to how he defines his world – either science, or religion, or mathematics, or philosophy, or music, or history – and must do so to the utter exclusion of all others?

Eventually you are going to have to stop pretending I have not presented you with this question.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:55 AM

Why should music be taken has having anything to do with supernaturalism? Where is the connection?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:54 AM

If you had left it in the context of the larger post, instead of trying to strip it out and turn it into something I did not say, it would have been easier for you to understand.

If you want to know “what I really think” just go back and read the post in its entirety. I was plain and provided detail and example. Everything else that has followed on from that one post has been nothing more than you misunderstanding that initial thesis.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:57 AM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM

The subject of this thread is the existence of God. What is it that you have been trying to say concerning that issue. What have I missed?

(Let’s quit carrying on about being misunderstood, and just get to the point. You really did manage to get me distracted there. Congratulations, you won that round. Now let’s get back to the subject.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM

And by the way, the reason you don’t remember my “answer” is because you never asked the question. You made an assertion that I tie appreciation of music directly and exclusively to a belief in God, just for the sake of dismissing it, and then when I pointed out that wasn’t what I said, you moved on without correcting the problem.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:00 AM

that initial thesis.

Could you please give me a break and repeat it? (Or at least provide a link to that post, ’cause I’ve lost track in all this kerfuffle.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:02 AM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:00 AM

Gosh, sorry. There’s a lot going on here.

So what should the correction have been?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:03 AM

You made an assertion that I tie appreciation of music directly and exclusively to a belief in God, just for the sake of dismissing it,

Sorry, I must have been trying to anticipate where you were going. I guess I thought you were taking to long to get to your point. But you still have the chance to make it, if you think it’s worth making.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:06 AM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 12:57 AM

Well, then, could you at least state the time stamp of the post you have in mind?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:08 AM

Well, I’ll check back later.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:09 AM

(Let’s quit carrying on about being misunderstood, and just get to the point. You really did manage to get me distracted there. Congratulations, you won that round. Now let’s get back to the subject.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 12:59 AM

For me to “win the round” assumes that my goal was to distract. Distraction does not increase understanding, so clearly that could not have been my goal. The point has been in plain sight for you on more than one occasion (and btw, one request would have sufficed; asking five times in six posts… I just don’t see the point) :

(Regarding the notion that non-existence precludes observation) – That presupposes non-existence, a state which even Dawkins, who is effectively what I refer to as an “evangelical atheist”, has the good sense not to do. It also erases the distinction between that which is not quantifiable in three-dimensional space under current methods of observation, and that which absolutely does not exist…

But even leaving religion out of the equation, even eschewing all sense of the supernatural and metaphysical, science is only one discipline of human study, only one class which a student attends in a day filled with seven or eight different subjects. Clearly there are other sources of truth in the world apart from science, no less legitimate for the fact that they cannot be reproduced in a lab.

you have ignored all the ways that a rational person can give consideration to such issues, despite admitting that you add to your own existence in ways that defy scientific formulation.

To repeat something I said at the very beginning, and which you never addressed, science is only one discipline of human study, only one facet of the human experience. I don’t see what is “rational” about saying that only the things that can be quantified within that single discipline can have any presence in the rational mind. For my part, it doesn’t make sense with respect to the nature of the soul. For your part, it seems to strongly contradict the pleasure you take in music. That’s to say nothing of philosophy or even of recreational games, much less to more concrete topics like mathematics or history.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:11 AM

Hmm. Apparently we can spend seven hours arguing about what I did or did not say, but seven minutes is too long to wait for a proper response.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:13 AM

Last comment. I win!

joe_doufu on February 28, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Congratulations on your wonderful victory!

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 2:32 AM

Hmm. Apparently we can spend seven hours arguing about what I did or did not say, but seven minutes is too long to wait for a proper response.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:13 AM

A previous engagement was on the schedule. Life goes on.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 2:36 AM

science is only one discipline of human study, only one class which a student attends in a day filled with seven or eight different subjects. Clearly there are other sources of truth in the world apart from science, no less legitimate for the fact that they cannot be reproduced in a lab…. science is only one discipline of human study, only one facet of the human experience. I don’t see what is “rational” about saying that only the things that can be quantified within that single discipline can have any presence in the rational mind. For my part, it doesn’t make sense with respect to the nature of the soul. For your part, it seems to strongly contradict the pleasure you take in music. That’s to say nothing of philosophy or even of recreational games, much less to more concrete topics like mathematics or history.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 1:11 AM

Okay, so in the school sense, there’s more than just science class. There’s also math, history, music, English, French, home ec, PE, philosophy, architecture, electrical engineering, civil engineering, painting, photography, graphic design, interior design, accounting, journalism, jazz dancing, horticulture, astronomy, etc. and so forth.

I don’t see the point of bringing that up in a thread on the subject of “the existence of God.” Are you trying to say that there should be a class on “the supernatural” which is considered as just as valid as anything else? That God is as accessible to study (and appreciation) as potatoes, planets, polonaises, poker, or polemics? But why make me guess? If you have a point, why don’t you make it?

I thought you maintained that God was somehow “outside” all that, that He didn’t fit in reality in any way that could reasonably be determined and experienced. That God couldn’t be pinned down and researched like butterflies, or listened to like music, or gazed at like a painting, etc.

Am I “putting words into your mouth” again. Well, it’s just because you won’t get to the point and end the wondering and the suspense. It’s like pulling teeth, as the saying goes, to get you to say what your point is.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 3:19 AM

But why make me guess? If you have a point, why don’t you make it?

I have stated the point several times, and I don’t understand why it continues to escape you. I do not define my reality strictly and exclusively by what I can empirically demonstrate through science and science alone. You do. That’s it. That has always been it. It is listed a half dozen times in my previous post.

Since my reality is defined through multiple facets, religion informs my worldview in the same way that many other intangibles do. Because yours is defined only through one narrow window, I have no way to explain my reasons for believing in God any more than I can explain to you what I like about music or why I play board games or how I relate to my sons. There’s no scientific barometer for these things, and therefore no common terminology by which I can rationalize them. The key problem is, by your logic, none of these other things can even be demonstrated to exist, and it is impossible even to observe them happening.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 3:32 AM

And there is a very simple test to determine whether you are putting words into my mouth or not. Is there a place in this thread where I have stated that schools should teach classes on the supernatural?

If the answer is yes, then I am trying to say that. I shouldn’t even have to explain this; it’s essentially a tautology to have to say: if I am saying this, then I am saying this. If the answer is no, then you have indeed taken away from this conversation something that I did not add to it.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 3:35 AM

I have no way to explain my reasons for believing in God any more than I can explain to you what I like about music

But you could explain to people that you like song X but don’t like song Y — and there would be a common, objective point of reference.

On the subject of God, however, you cannot do any such thing. You cannot say that you like X that God did but don’t like Y because there is nothing objectively real to refer to. God is an imaginary mysterious character, not something real like a song, a Scrabble board, or a child.

what I like about music or why I play board games or how I relate to my sons. There’s no scientific barometer for these things, and therefore no common terminology by which I can rationalize them. The key problem is, by your logic, none of these other things can even be demonstrated to exist, and it is impossible even to observe them happening.

That’s blithering nonsense. There’s nothing in “my logic” to imply or support such a goofy outlook. How do you get to the notion that being an atheist (or a scientist) means being unable to see that people have children and relate to them? How do you come up with this stuff?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:00 AM

But you could explain to people that you like song X but don’t like song Y — and there would be a common, objective point of reference.

Not through science. Music appreciation is subjective and personal.

How do you get to the notion that being an atheist (or a scientist) means being unable to see that people have children and relate to them? How do you come up with this stuff?

You are the one who said that nothing which cannot be demonstrated empirically through science exists and that there is no possible way even to demonstrate the existence of a non-empirically-existent thing.

I have challenged you several times on this science-and-only-science outlook on life and never once have you disputed this. Why would you only now find it strange that I would say you would deny the existence of a non-scientifically-provable thing like which board games are fun or which music is good or how I convey love to my sons?

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:05 AM

I do not define my reality strictly and exclusively by what I can empirically demonstrate through science and science alone. You do.

Even if I actually did do that (which I certainly don’t), how is your approach supposed to make the existence of God somehow possible? Do you feel that you can just define God into existence?

And just to touch on this point, I don’t “define my reality” — I observe the reality that is actually out there to be experienced. I don’t just make stuff up and define it as “reality.”

And God is just a made-up character, not a literal part of objective reality outside the imagination. He can’t actually reward or punish people. Only other people can do that.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:15 AM

Why would you only now find it strange that I would say you would deny the existence of a non-scientifically-provable thing like which board games are fun or which music is good or how I convey love to my sons?

Well, I have to admit that it just didn’t get through to me that you have such a bizarre notion of science as the denial of things so inescapably obvious (and actually rationally understandable).

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:22 AM

Even if I actually did do that (which I certainly don’t), how is your approach supposed to make the existence of God somehow possible?

You say that you don’t do that, but like I said, you have never disputed this notion the countless times I have presented it, you have repeatedly denied the existence of anything you cannot empirically define through science, and whenever I have ventured any possibility that there exists things which we observe in other ways, you have combated that idea without reservation.

Now suddenly you concede that there are things in this universe that exist outside the field of science, and that it’s so obvious as to be absurd to think otherwise? Where has THIS person been for the last ten hours?

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:24 AM

You are the one who said that nothing which cannot be demonstrated empirically through science exists and that there is no possible way even to demonstrate the existence of a non-empirically-existent thing.

But music, board games, and children are all “empirically existent” and can all be “demonstrated empirically through science” to exist. So can the facts that people like some instances of those things, and dislike others.

People can certainly “empirically demonstrate” that they love their children (or even that they don’t, which unfortunately sometimes happens).

I just don’t see why you want to make life such a dark mystery (like you were a visitor from another dimension or something).

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:33 AM

whenever I have ventured any possibility that there exists things which we observe in other ways, you have combated that idea without reservation.

Come ON! I have disputed the existence of the supernatural. I have never disputed the existence of music, games, or children. Where do you get this nonsense?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:38 AM

But music, board games, and children are all “empirically existent” and can all be “demonstrated empirically through science” to exist. So can the facts that people like some instances of those things, and dislike others.

If you read back at what I said before, there is no formula for what MAKES something fun, or humorous, or pleasant to the ear. Is there a reason you discarded arguments about the scientific formula for humor and went with “a board game exists” instead of what I actually said?

I just don’t see why you want to make life such a dark mystery

I never said life was a dark mystery. The only thing I said – THE ONLY THING… I SAID… is that there are things in life that cannot be boiled down to a scientific equation. That is THE ONLY THING I SAID with respect to the validity of science. Now you explain to me why something THAT SIMPLE (not a dark mystery) is so controversial that you spent the entire night fighting me on it.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:38 AM

I have never disputed the existence of music, games, or children.

Again, not what I said.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:39 AM

The problem is, as a supernaturalist, you cannot give any clear account of what you believe in. You are reduced to claims about it being “not scientific,” “not natural,” etc., without being able to be specific and coherent. You have ineffable feelings about God, Commandments, Faith, Hope, Love, etc. — but none of it fits or is communicable in the physical world we actually live in. It’s “transcendent” otherworldliness.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 10:19 AM

You are reduced to claims about it being “not scientific,” “not natural,” etc., without being able to be specific and coherent.

There is a difference between “not physical” and “not coherent”. If you invested a fraction of the effort spent on snide retorts in achieving an understanding between people, this would not be hard at all to grasp. It’s common sense at its simplest.

The earth and the moon and the stars are physical constructs. Water and earth and air are physical constructs. The form and function of science is to quantify physical constructs and explain how they work together.

Humor is not phyiscal. Music is not physical. The human mind is not physical. These things are abstracts, not subject to scientific reduction.

The essential question, and a very basic one which you have yet to answer, is how you can criticize me for not physically quantifying something that exists in the abstract, yet apparently have a great deal of trouble addressing or even understanding the simple axiom that we live with and accept abstracts in our lives every day.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 11:19 AM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 11:19 AM

The subject is “the existence of God,” so why do you keep changing the subject to music or whatever instead of sticking to the subject?

The essential question, and a very basic one which you have yet to answer, is how you can criticize me for not physically quantifying something that exists in the abstract, yet apparently have a great deal of trouble addressing or even understanding the simple axiom that we live with and accept abstracts in our lives every day.

Because the abstractions and processes we actually live with are all based in physical reality (e.g., music, humor, the mind), whereas the supernatural is a contradiction of physical reality, and thus not a valid abstraction (except literarily — not literally).

You cannot reasonably conclude that since humor or the mind is not a physical object outside your brain that, therefore, God does (or might) exist. God is otherworldly, and this world is what exists.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 1:49 PM

The subject is “the existence of God,” so why do you keep changing the subject to music or whatever instead of sticking to the subject?

It’s called context. It’s no more use explaining God to you using physical criteria than it is using a jackhammer to install a motherboard. Science is the wrong tool for the job, simply put.

Because the abstractions and processes we actually live with are all based in physical reality

Explain how the mind is a physical reality. Or humor. Quantify it using scientific measurements only.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

The subject is “the existence of God,” so why do you keep changing the subject to music or whatever instead of sticking to the subject?

It’s called context.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 2:00 PM

It’s called: “dropping the context.”

It’s no more use explaining God to you using physical criteria than it is using a jackhammer to install a motherboard. Science is the wrong tool for the job, simply put.

Science certainly cannot “explain God,” since there is nothing to explain. There is literally no tool which can “explain God” — God can only be taken on faith, the blind, religious kind of faith, which is useless in terms of knowledge and understanding.

Believing in God can make you feel good, sort of like a literary comfort blanky. But God never actually created anything, performed any miracles, or had any children, etc. It’s fantasy, not reality. (As contrasted with humor, for instance, which actually does exist — even if not as a “quantifiable” physical entity per se.)

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Explain how the mind is a physical reality.

It’s direct experience.

You could test it out by getting rid of your body, then seeing if you can still find your mind.

Or you could get a disembodied mind from the “otherworld” to give a lecture for an audience of skeptics.

You would need to do something magical like that to make a plausible contention that the mind is not an aspect of physical reality, i.e., necessarily a process in an actual person, which is what we normally directly experience (and therefore should accept as actually, reasonably being the case).

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

It’s direct experience.

You have disqualified direct experience previously. Please limit your answers to scientific quantification.

How much does a song weigh?

What is the radioactive half-life of a joke?

How much intellect can I fit into a hole three feet cubed?

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 3:46 PM

What possible reason is there to believe in God?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I cannot answer the question while you continue to apply your standards inconsistently.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM

What possible reason is there to believe in God?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I cannot answer the question while you continue to apply your standards inconsistently.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM

You cannot answer the question, period. Blaming somebody else is really lame.

I can answer the question, though. There is no possible rational reason to believe in God (the supernatural), because the notion contradicts nature and therefore God is not a possibility (other than as a literary or fantasy character).

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 6:49 PM

I don’t appreciate the accusation of dishonesty. It doesn’t blend well with your ongoing refusal to cooperate.

If you had no intention of understanding a differing point of view, it would have served us both better to just admit you cared only about your opinion, and saved me the time and energy I have already invested in trying to help you understand.

Very simply, when you treat me with one set of standards, and treat your own beliefs with another set of standards, you are not applying them consistently. Without a common frame of reference and understanding about the proverbial rules of the game, there cannot be meaningful progress in this discussion. I will spend the entire rest of the week working this out if it results in a worthwhile discussion, but I don’t intend to waste one more minute if your only intent is to continue acting like a jackass.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Not only lame, but lashing out. You really don’t want to answer the question about why to believe in God, do you?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:26 PM

That’s okay. That in itself is a good demonstration of the utility of religion.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:28 PM

I will spend the entire rest of the week working this out if it results in a worthwhile discussion,…

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

From the supernaturalist standpoint, any discussion is not likely to be “worthwhile,” since supernaturalism has nothing to stand on — and nothing in reality to talk about. The resort to otherworldliness, transcendence, faith, scripture, “eyewitness testimony,” miracles, and “mysterious ways,” etc., is not likely to be persuasive to most people.

Still, hope springs eternal….

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope,
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:44 PM

Not only lame, but lashing out. You really don’t want to answer the question about why to believe in God, do you?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Once again, you discard something I say directly and substitute your prejudices to marginalize me. There’s something more important in a discussion than merely answering a question, and if you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention, and/or if you care in the slightest, you’ll know what it is without my saying so (for a sixth time).

If the things I actually say and the philosophies I actually hold are so meaningless to you that you have been having both sides of the conversation this whole time, you could at least have done me the courtesy of leaving me out of it.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 7:48 PM

… you could at least have done me the courtesy of leaving me out of it.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 7:48 PM

But the point was to try to get the views of a believer spelled out on the record, as specifically (and even perhaps clearly) as possible. Not an easy task (as believers are a generally slippery bunch).

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 7:55 PM

But the point was to try to get the views of a believer spelled out on the record, as specifically (and even perhaps clearly) as possible.

If that was the point, then by taking every single one of my major points out of context and turning them into something entirely different; by making me repeat simple, common-sense concepts five different times and still not acknowledging them; by deliberately refusing to answer direct questions; by deflecting any attempt to arrive at a common set of terms and standards by which to hold the conversation, the sum total of your contribution to this thread has been to torpedo any hope of specificity or clarity, removing the voice of the believer in favor of a). the non-believer and b). the caricature of the believer as presented by same.

And the part that pisses me off is, I was enough of a sucker to approach the subject earnestly and thoroughly, anticipating a fair hearing in return. And boy, did I fall for it bad.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

if your only intent is to continue acting like a jackass.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM

I’ve never actually done it, but will consider trying it on your recommendation. I’ll let you know if I decide to try and need some pointers.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Why do you feel that what anyone else says has the slightest effect on your ability to clearly state your own views?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:23 PM

the sum total of your contribution to this thread has been to torpedo any hope of specificity or clarity, removing the voice of the believer … The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:07PM

I’m not the moderator. If anybody removed any of your posts, it wasn’t me.

But if you mean to say you feel that my disagreeing with and questioning your views is somehow tantamount to “removing your voice,” then you had better reconsider your outlook.

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:31 PM

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Consider this: caricaturing is NOT “torpedoing” and reductio is not “removing.”

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:36 PM

I’ve never actually done it, but will consider trying it on your recommendation.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:20 PM

This contradicts your earlier admission that you have been deliberately derisive, and taking glee in doing so.

Why do you feel that what anyone else says has the slightest effect on your ability to clearly state your own views?

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:23 PM

A genuine discussion is a two-way street, and clarity is predicated on understanding. When you make it a point to refuse to understand, it precludes any possibility of bringing you clarity. I could bring myself clarity but I could just do that talking to the wall, so I don’t think it’s too far off the mark to assume you did not intend for me to enlighten only myself.

But if you mean to say you feel that my disagreeing with and questioning your views is somehow tantamount to “removing your voice,” then you had better reconsider your outlook.

This is pure bullcrap because you have never HEARD my views. The garbage you have been spewing back at me is not representative of what I’ve been saying, and I have immediately and directly informed you of that at every single juncture.

You know that you have been mis-stating my points, and you don’t care. You know that you have been accusing me of things I did not say or do, and you don’t care. You know that you have made no real attempt to bring real understanding to the table, and you don’t care. For you to make the dishonest attempt to use mere “disagreement” to whitewash your behavior is beyond the pale, and you have used up all my patience for your utter lack of consideration.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Consider this: caricaturing is NOT “torpedoing” and reductio is not “removing.”

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 8:36 PM

Changing something I said into something I did not is NOT a reductio argument. And none of the actions listed here are consistent with an honest and fair discussion. NONE.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:55 PM

A genuine discussion is a two-way street,…

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Well, then before trying to discuss whether or not you believe in God, and why, first try clearly stating exactly why you believe in God (or not as the case may be). Forget me, state it so that anybody could understand it.

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 10:01 PM

And so yet again you dangle the vague hope – with the conspicuous absence of any actual, stated assurance – that the last fifteen attempts notwithstanding, honest listening will suddenly happen this time. If you expect me to come running to kick that particular football, you must think I’m even dumber than you’re letting on.

You have previously refused to accept any explanation other than scientific quantification, despite the fact that you use whatever evidence suits you when discussing abstract concepts.

Since I cannot mutate my entire world view in order to shoehorn it into your Science-Only-Or-Die filter, and since you have not shown any inclination to forgo that requirement for anyone other than yourself, I don’t have the means to communicate my philosophy on terms that would be agreeable to all sides.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM

“I used to literally pray that God would let me grow up and be a songwriter and be lucky enough to have Glen Campbell record one of my songs,” Jimmy Webb writes. “I rest my case for the existence of God.”

Steve Stoddard on February 28, 2012 at 11:41 PM

You have previously refused to accept any explanation other than scientific quantification,…

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM

If you don’t think that method is adequate for explaining God, what do you propose as an alternative? How else could you explain why you believe God exists — so that somebody else could understand what you are talking about? What would you refer to; what arguments would you offer?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:21 AM

Does anyone believe that God is ineffable? That belief in God is so intensely personal a matter that it is incommunicable to any other person? That it has nothing at all to do with any particulars of this Earthly realm, but is entirely a matter of otherworldly feelings and vague aspirations?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:32 AM

Since I cannot mutate my entire world view … I don’t have the means to communicate my philosophy on terms that would be agreeable to all sides.

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM

Don’t mutate. Just explain.

You should try it. You might surprise yourself.

Or at least you could demonstrate to all those other “sides” who’s Boss.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:36 AM

Since I cannot mutate my entire world view in order to shoehorn it into your Science-Only-Or-Die filter,…

The Schaef on February 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM

You are the one who has “shoehorned” my view into that bogus “Science-Only-Or-Die filter.” That was never my view. You just keep carrying on as if it were.

Of course, that does give you an oh so convenient excuse for refusing to explain yourself.

When the subject is the existence of God, your preference is to change the subject to music appreciation. But how in the world is that supposed to be relevant? Who ever claimed that music created the universe and life?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:46 AM

Posting five times in a row to criticize me still more does not persuade me that you’ve come out of your attack stance long enough to listen. Especially when you still talk about the music as a “subject change” when I am certain that you and I have discussed that misunderstanding to the point where you understood that it was an example of a larger point.

You are the one who has “shoehorned” my view into that bogus “Science-Only-Or-Die filter.” That was never my view. You just keep carrying on as if it were

Your responses drive me to that conclusion. The first, essential point I made to you, two entire days ago, was that there are more ways to observe the world than just science. You have argued against me on that point, and on more than one occasion mocked such an idea in the process, to drive home how intellectually ridiculous it seemed to you.

The only possible conclusion to be derived when a person says, I view the world as being about more things than just science, and another person argues you into the dirt about it for two days, is that they do not agree with you on that point. If you are now saying you DO agree with me on that point, then it begs a pretty basic question: WHY HAVE YOU BEEN FIGHTING ME ON THAT POINT FOR TWO DAYS?

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Especially when you still talk about the music as a “subject change” when I am certain that you and I have discussed that misunderstanding to the point where you understood that it was an example of a larger point.

I still fail to see the relevance of music. As far as I can understand your argument, it seems to be that since music cannot be weighed on a scale, therefore you shouldn’t have to refer to any physical evidence relating to the existence of God. Are you trying to argue that God is somehow like music instead of a Being Who can make at least one bush burn and at least one virgin pregnant? Can music do that?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM

I am saying that there are other ways to observe the world apart from strict scientific measurement and formulation.

Either you agree or you do not.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

The first, essential point I made to you, two entire days ago, was that there are more ways to observe the world than just science.

Naturally — but NOT on the subject of making physical changes to the universe (like causing floods, burning bushes, getting stone tablets chiseled, etc.)

I agree that studying music is not the same process as studying geology or biology. But if God is supposed to be some sort of Conscious Being Who can cause physical changes, then He does not come under the music category, so that is not relevant.

You keep saying something like “God is like music,” while I keep asking for any kind of proof you have that God even exists — and you keep talking about music instead of dealing with the question of God’s existence.

Claiming that God is somehow like music does NOT solve the problem. It just looks like a distraction to me.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM

I am saying that there are other ways to observe the world apart from strict scientific measurement and formulation.

Either you agree or you do not.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 11:17 AM

And I still agree with you on that point, but so what? It is not relevant. The subject is not music, playing games, or raising children.

The subject is the alleged existence of the supernatural as a cause in the physical world!!!

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Although, I suppose that if you could show us a song written by God, that could tie the subjects together somewhat . . . .

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM

You keep saying something like “God is like music,”

No. I am not saying that. The very first time (of several) that you brought it up, I disputed it.

You keep jumping to the end when you can’t even come to an agreement with me on the beginning. I am trying to avoid any further confusion by arriving at the rationale through a progression of simpler steps. Either you want to understand my line of reasoning or you do not. If you do not, please honor this single request for a courtesy for my sake, this one time, and just tell me straight up, and we can walk away from a conversation that you never wanted to have in the first place, no harm done.

You say “I keep asking for any kind of proof you have that God even exists”, but what you really mean by that is you want God to be scientifically quantifiable, and ONLY BY THAT CRITERION will you consider something to be “proof”. There is a second reason I do not consider this a reasonable constraint, and I mentioned it in my initial post, but before I return to that, I have to address the conflict that arises by insisting on a specific standard that you simultaneously acknowledge to not be an appropriate standard to apply to non-scientific subjects.

If I can’t have this stipulation – for the sake of argument if nothing else – then I can’t have a reasonable discussion about this because you keep saying “use science only” and then when I say it’s unreasonable to look at the sum total of existence through science only, you then say “my view is not science only”.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

I am trying to avoid any further confusion by arriving at the rationale through a progression of simpler steps.

Then tell us what those steps are. Including every step would be very nice.

Either you want to understand my line of reasoning or you do not.

I want to see your line of reasoning. I cannot promise that I will be able to understand it (or even agree with it).

I’d like to be able to understand it, but you won’t tell us what it is.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:09 PM

If you think God is like music, then show us your line of reasoning for holding that view. What in particular about God is like music? How did you learn this?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM

You say “I keep asking for any kind of proof you have that God even exists”, but what you really mean by that is you want God to be scientifically quantifiable, and ONLY BY THAT CRITERION will you consider something to be “proof”.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Well, my line of reasoning is that if you claim that God can make quantifiable changes in the world, like burning bushes and making babies, then you are logically obligated to show quantifiable evidence to support your contention that said changes actually happened, and, if they did, that it was actually God who made them happen.

Quantifiable claims require quantifiable proof.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM

If you want to claim that God has done nothing quantifiable in the world, that you simply have a very strong feeling that He exists anyhow, then tell us that is your “line of reasoning.”

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:21 PM

You keep saying something like “God is like music,”

No. I am not saying that. The very first time (of several) that you brought it up, I disputed it.

If you think God is like music…

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Forget you. I am not going to waste any more time trying to be honest with someone who has no intention of dealing with me honestly. Don’t tell me you want to see and understand what I’m thinking, and then pull this crap again. I’m not going over that ground with you again.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM

If your line of reasoning is different than mine, then can you explain how it is different? What exactly is your line of reasoning?

Note that whatever your line of reasoning is, it cannot logically depend on any agreement from anybody else. Otherwise, it’s not a line of reasoning.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:25 PM

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 12:23 PM

At least we know that God-believers don’t necessarily believe in being civil.

Of course, according to scriptures, God wasn’t very civil: if you didn’t believe in him, He’d just have you killed. (Indeed, the world is still full of many people who will kill you for not believing in the God they want to you believe in.)

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 12:35 PM

There’s nothing uncivil about pointing out your dishonesty in dealing with me. It is simply the truth.

Just one more false accusation against me to cover the fact that you pretend to want to reach an understanding but take no action to accomplish it. Particularly ironic considering the behavior I’ve observed from you over the course of the week, and the fact that you consider it entirely justified.

If you want to deliberately distort what I say, I can’t stop you. If you want to bulldoze me with a half-dozen comments every time I try to get a word in edgewise, I certainly can’t get to the Submit button as fast as you can drop a load of tangents. The one thing I requested was that you at least be honest enough to stop the conversation instead of saying that you want to listen and then taking ten actions that demonstrate the opposite. It’s dishonest and inconsiderate and very informative about the value you place on having a real discussion.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM

You keep saying something like “God is like music,”

No. I am not saying that.
The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 11:41 AM

If you don’t think God is like music, then why did you make the diversion into music (and the rest) in the first place?

Naturally, studying a piece of music takes a different methodology than studying a piece of rock. But if you think God is nothing like music in any way, then why bring up music in the discussion?

Of course, it could also be said that God is not in any way anything like a rock, either. But then, why not go all the way and say that God is not like anything on Earth, not like anything known to man?

When I was a kid, I tried like hell to find a way to believe in God — because my dad was pushing so hard for me to believe. I even felt maybe he died from the stress of trying to make me believe. (You know you can feel some funny things when you’re full of grief.) But I couldn’t find any way. It sounds like you really haven’t either — at least, not one you can explain to anybody.

It just could be that there is no way to know or understand God through the mind, or words, or even music. God seems utterly and completely incomprehensible.

So what we’re left with are theists who don’t know that God exists, but feel that He exists regardless. On the other hand, we have atheists who also don’t know that God exists, but haven’t taken the dive into indulging any feeling that He exists anyhow.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 3:31 PM

Once again you are telling me what you think, and telling me what I think.

Just let me know when you’re finished. I’ll go over here and wait.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Once again you are telling me what you think, and telling me what I think.

Just let me know when you’re finished. I’ll go over here and wait.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Don’t hold your breath.

The problem is that you won’t tell us what you think, so we can only guess.

Maybe one of the guesses will be right. Maybe none of them. There is no telling since you won’t tell.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 3:45 PM

I won’t tell because every time I try, you go back to “God is like music.”

I opened with a thesis on my thoughts as a whole, and you stomped all over them without indicating any real understanding. Two days later you are still doing the “God is like music” thing. You didn’t understand the whole so I had been trying to get you to understand the pieces. Then I had been trying to get you to understand just one piece. Now I am wondering if we can go at least thirty minutes without you repeating the same misunderstandings from two days ago. Again.

I DID NOT SAY GOD IS LIKE MUSIC. I said studying music is not like studying a rock.

If I demanded that you explain music to me using geology, you would say I was being unreasonable.

Music was – and stop me if you’ve heard this one before – AN EXAMPLE. Another item, presumably shared in common by both parties, that can give clarity to a point not normally shared between them.

Studying music is not like studying a rock.
Studying God is not like studying a rock.
The EXAMPLE illustrates the REASON I do not try to explain things to you in ROCK LANGUAGE. There is NOTHING in those statements that mandates God being like music. The thing they have in common for the purposes of this discussion are that NEITHER OF THEM ARE A ROCK.

If this can put a close to the “God is like music” nonsense, and open an opportunity for discussion about the nature of God that does not restrict me only to scientific formulae, we can continue.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 4:01 PM

If this can put a close to the “God is like music” nonsense, and open an opportunity for discussion about the nature of God that does not restrict me only to scientific formulae, we can continue.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Well, put a close to it and continue, by all means!

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Are you sure? Because I know for a fact I have communicated this information to you in the past, and you came back to it anyway, piling on more “just guesses” instead of acknowledging long-standing information that it turns out you accepted as true anyway, or maybe just asking a couple of simple questions without the snide remarks in tow.

The reason I ask is because my other rationale for not constraining God to a purely natural explanation included another example – that of a builder not being defined or constrained to the house he built – and I don’t relish the prospect of two more days of you “guessing” that I am saying “God is like a construction worker”. I am saying only that a creator exists apart from his creation, and a greater thing cannot exist exclusively within the limits of a lesser sub-thing.

Does this also make sense?

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I am saying only that a creator exists apart from his creation, and a greater thing cannot exist exclusively within the limits of a lesser sub-thing.

Does this also make sense?

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 4:29 PM

Sure it makes sense.

Please continue.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 5:23 PM

So what is established is that there is not a scientific box into which God can be placed, but that unto itself does not demonstrate anything. When discussing two different paradigms, it’s not always appropriate to use the conditions of one to try and define the other. Also, a thing can be real even without falling within a particular category for definition.

Two things to note here: I am not using these points as de facto evidence for God’s existence. I am saying only that the inability to quantify Him scientifically – a discipline that exists specifically and exclusively to catalog the properties and behaviors of the natural world – does not make it impossible for Him to exist or to be revealed and studied in some way.

The other thing I want to note for the record is that these observations so far have not stood or fallen on Scripture or anything you might consider mumbo-jumbo. It will be a little while before I get to anything like that, but the point here is not to prove the mumbo-jumbo, it is to demonstrate that a rational mind can accept the existence of things not constrained to physical limits, because we do such things with great regularity. The ability to grasp abstract concepts is one of the amazing qualities of the human mind (itself an abstract concept).

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 6:34 PM

So you don’t think I intend to rest on that issue forever, I’m moving on to some general ideas about the nature of the universe.

First, the universe as we know it contains everything we are able to observe, and which is constrained to the laws of physics, etc, that govern its behavior.

So either: something exists apart from this universe, or it does not. Because a creator exists apart from its creation, if God exists, He must do so apart from the universe He created. At present, we have no way to make observations outside our own universe, so all things being equal, any notion of extra-universality remains an unfalsifiable claim.

To assume something like this, however, is not relegated to the superstitious mumbo-jumboer. Even within our universe we study quantum particles, unsure of their origin or even how they work, and though we cannot quantify dark matter, we can infer its existence from the behavior of the universe.

Moving away from the theoretical and into the hypothetical, there are scientists examining the possibility that our universe has more dimensions than the ones which we currently observe. They also ponder the existence of universes beyond this one, in a wide variety of possibilities.

Now I know you dismiss the possibility of other universes out of hand, and even ideas that are part of the modern scientific lexicon, like the Big Bang Theory and quantum mechanics, essentially everything that followed on from the likes of Einstein, Planck and Bohr. I’m kind of puzzled by that given what we’ve learned as a result of that field of study, but I’m not interested in engaging a debate about the merits of these theories. Whether you accept them or not, whatever either of us think about the existence of other universes, the POINT to be made here is that to ponder things beyond our understanding is not the exclusive realm of mumbo-jumboers. A rational person – even a scientific person specifically – can explore this same idea.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Now I know you dismiss the possibility of other universes out of hand, and even ideas that are part of the modern scientific lexicon, like the Big Bang Theory and quantum mechanics, essentially everything that followed on from the likes of Einstein, Planck and Bohr.

Just to note in passing that you are wrong about that. (You are trying to tell me — and everybody else — what I think, and you are being inaccurate. But let’s ignore that for the time being, as you continue your explanation.)

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 6:59 PM

…I don’t believe that scientists are gods, or somehow infallible. They can make some real whoppers in the mistake category.

The “big bang as origin of the universe” is one of them. (“Creationism” in a secular disguise.) “Multiple universes” is another… The notorious “Uncertainty Principle” is one of the really big whoppers.

Your words, not mine. Big Bang Theory. Multiple universes. The Uncertainty Principle is one of the lynchpins of quantum theory.

I did not attribute anything to you that you did not say directly.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 7:10 PM

You said, “essentially everything,” and that list hardly covers “essentially everything”!

But, drop it, and continue your explanation.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 7:31 PM

“essentially everything…” …what?

“essentially everything that followed on from the likes of Einstein, Planck and Bohr.”

Those three persons were what? Big players in the development of quantum theory.

In addition, it was in Einstein’s formulation of his field equations for general relativity that the expansion of the universe was discovered, the central pillar of Big Bang.

As a bonus, some scientists theorize that quantum tunneling may have been a contributing factor or even a major cause of the origins of the universe. So really, all three of these ideas are tied together at least marginally.

Additionally, the application of quantum mechanics is a significant part of modern physics, and its principles were used in the development of things like laser lights, MRI machines and solid-state disk drives. Denying quantum physics is denying a pretty significant amount of what we’ve accomplished in the last two generations.

Please take your own lesson to heart, and don’t apply things globally when they have localized explanations (as indicated by the specific names chosen in the post).

In any event, the takeaway from that is that rational people accept and put to practical use these principles regardless of what you think of their validity.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 7:55 PM

You sure do like to avoid explaining your position on why anybody should believe in the existence of God. Do you actually have one?

Misrepresenting my views is certainly not getting the job of explaining yours done. Do you have an explanation?

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 8:05 PM

I’ve spent four hours laying out the foundations of my ideas in pretty extensive detail. Please explain how someone who has given you that much explanation is avoiding explanation.

If there is a misunderstanding of something that you said, you certainly have a great opportunity to clear it up without going back into attack mode. I presented you with the specific information that led me to my conclusion, so you have evidence in front of your face that I made an honest assessment from the available information.

By contrast, saying that I am avoiding an explanation in the midst of a very detailed explanation is a misrepresentation of what I am doing. Quoting two words that I said and removing the entire rest of the sentence changed my statement into something entirely different. Making an accusation against me based on this changed sentence is a misrepresentation of something I said.

In the sum total of the posts surrounding your complaint, I have treated you dishonestly exactly zero times. You have treated me dishonestly twice in two posts, in a situation where a small amount of additional information would have solved everybody’s problem and might even have helped me communicate with you even better.

So from where I sit, there are three ways this can go:
- you can take back your false claim that I am trying to wrong you somehow, and we can continue
- you can offer a little more information to clear up what at worst might be a simple misunderstanding
- you can push for strike three and have this discussion with the open air.

What’s it gonna be?

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Here’s a quote to pass the time while we are waiting:

The basic debate between Einstein and Bohr (including Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle) was that Einstein was in essence saying: “Of course, we can know where something is; we can know the position of a moving particle if we know every possible detail, and therefore by extension, we can predict where it will go.” Bohr and Heisenberg were saying: “We can only know the probable position of a moving particle, therefore by extension, we can only know its probable destination; we can never know with absolute certainty where it will go.”

Einstein was convinced that this interpretation was in error.

That is one case where I agree with Einstein and disagree with Bohr.

Einstein also said, “E=mc2, and I think he was probably right about that, too.

I don’t disagree with “essentially everything” from Einstein.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 8:54 PM

What’s it gonna be?

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM

I am beginning to seriously doubt that you have an explanation to support believing in the existence of God, so it is fine with me if you want to quit now. I don’t think we would miss anything of substance. (Both your frequent diversions and your hostile attitude are getting too tiresome.)

So long to the Supreme Coordinating Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces.

Steve Stoddard on February 29, 2012 at 9:04 PM

I have long said that, whatever a person might say, their priorities come out in their actions.

For example, your complete lack of consideration notwithstanding, I have spent two and a half days trying to convey an idea to you. There is no honest reason to question my intentions after making an effort like that despite your repeated attacks.

Another example: an assurance of two-way honest discussion that would have been very, very easy to provide. If you don’t think I’m being honest, it would be a waste of time to provide information in which you have no trust – as bad or worse than no information at all. If I don’t think you’re being honest – and your constant false accusations against my character don’t help – then it would be a waste of time to pour good information into a black hole rather than an interested party.

When given the opportunity to make things better, your decided it would be better to double down on attacking my intentions. You made a claim about “frequent diversions” after derailing a perfectly good discussion over a misunderstanding you showed no desire to solve civilly. You made a claim about a “hostile attitude” just because I won’t let you keep bullying me under false pretenses. Your actions reveal your priorities.

When honesty and listening matter to you, make your intentions known and we can continue (not the first time, I will remind you, I have expressed willingness to do so). My words matter enough to me to wait until they receive a fair hearing.

The Schaef on February 29, 2012 at 10:25 PM

but all he’s doing is being a conscientious skeptic. Every atheist is technically an agnostic; the distinction in the labels is largely the degree of confidence with which one’s concluded that there’s no God. Since there’s no way to conclusively prove that God doesn’t exist, no one can correctly claim absolute confidence.

Dawkins and Allahpundit are wrong on this point.

In the first place, agnosticism is not a valid approach to this issue (or any issue, for that matter, but that’s another story). Either there is evidence for the existence of God, or there isn’t. There is not any logical third alternative for the agnostic to hide behind to avoid the issue.

In fact a “conscientious skeptic” is in denial of the possibility of knowledge, which is a completely dead-end approach to any discussion or belief.

To believe that there is or might be a God when the notion of the supernatural is a blatant contradiction of reality is nonsense

The notion that “there’s no way to conclusively prove that God doesn’t exist” is a rejection of reason and reality. Since there is not a jot or the vaguest hint of evidence for the supernatural, there is nothing to disprove in that regard. The notion of God is arbitrary, undefined, and utterly meaningless.

Calling for some disproof of God is like calling for disproof of uimcsgnso. The difference is that people have heard of “God” because of all the stories written about such fictional characters (they’re not all the same), while no stories have been written about “uimcsgnso.” Otherwise, there is equal evidence for the existence of both, viz., zero. Meaning: there is nothing to disprove.

The claim that “God is supernatural” means that God is impossible.

Steve Stoddard on March 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Another complete abandonment of a simple, direct question. Man, I totally did not see that coming.

The Schaef on March 1, 2012 at 1:39 PM

Wow – thread still going! Since it still is, I’ll address some of your posts, Steve.

And I don’t consider an “open mind” to be a virtue. People who claim they will believe anything just because somebody says it are not being sufficiently wise about what they are willing to put into their minds. I have rational standards, not “open admission.”

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 4:30 PM

“having an open mind” does not mean “I’ll believe anything someone tells me if I feel like believing it”, it means that you’re open to changing your beliefs relatively easily, foregoing dogmatism and obstinance – it is not “irrationality” per se, as you imply.

Here’s a reference to what I mean, in a response to the following post of yours:

However, that is not religious faith which is an entirely different approach to things. For instance, would you really take it on faith if somebody told you he was God?

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM

No, I wouldn’t take it on faith – unless the person gave me good reason to believe that s/he was God in the first place, I wouldn’t trust the claim if it was made. However, if good evidence was supplied to me that the claim was true, I would be showing closemindedness if I didn’t accept it.

My idea of the universe is: everything that exists. To me it makes sense that there can only be 1 set of everything. The notion of “multiple sets of everything” makes for a nice simple contradiction of the natural world.

So, in my mind, “another universe” = “the supernatural” (i.e., something impossible).

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 11:41 PM

You and I are defining “supernatural” differently, because I agree with your definition of “universe” here. I say that the supernatural is part of nature, but it’s a part of it which we don’t normally have access to, at least not consciously.

So, because I say that, it means that the following statement of yours does not actually address my usage of “eyewitness testimony” in regards to supernatural events.

Naturally, “eyewitness testimony about the supernatural” is unacceptable, since logically and empirically such “testimony” is utterly unreliable and bogus. Accepting it would be like accepting eyewitness testimony to having seen a square circle.

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Yep, you’re right, if your definition of “supernatural” were the one being discussed. But, as I just pointed out, it’s not.

The point at issue is that religion is not any part of a rational approach to life. Religion is, root and branch, irrational: it is faith-based, not reasonable.

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 10:00 PM

You’re still denigrating faith as irrational, even after I demonstrated how “reasoned” faith and “blind” faith are not the same – one is based upon a record of evidence, the other is a crapshoot. As you should know, history is not a predictor of the future, which is why words like “faith” and “trust” exist – they’re gambling terms, essentially. Are all gambles equally wise, or equally foolish?

If your wife were to tell you she saw an orange Rolls Royce one day, and from your experience with her you knew she wasn’t acting crazy or making a joke, would it more rational to believe her, or to disbelieve her? If you say it’d more rational to believe her than not believe her, would you then say it was irrational to believe her at all? For some strange reason, I don’t believe that you would.

A “supernatural realm” is a dream world not someplace real.

Steve Stoddard on February 27, 2012 at 11:46 PM

You say a dream world isn’t real – what do you mean, ‘not real’? If I use the term “dream world”, you don’t know what I’m referring to? Am I referring to some phenomenon which doesn’t exist?

Since you’re a universe=everything that exists=reality kind of person like I am, and since dream worlds themselves do exist, it means you can’t reasonably deny that dream worlds must somehow be real – the question about them is, on what level of reality do dream worlds then exist?

I ask you, how could/do you know that supernatural events aren’t some kind of manifestations of dream worlds on our level of conscious reality, which have been experienced by people throughout history? You might not believe that they are, but unless you are some type of divine being, you can’t know that they aren’t.

Going by my definition of “supernatural”, and supposing it’s true that the nature of miracles is that of a dream world’s materialization on our physical realm, you can’t say that a person’s religiosity is necessarilyfaith-based with no supporting evidence”. If you want to do that, prove that dream worlds can’t interact with where we are at now.

Bizarro No. 1 on March 1, 2012 at 4:11 PM

“having an open mind” does not mean “I’ll believe anything someone tells me if I feel like believing it”, it means that you’re open to changing your beliefs relatively easily, foregoing dogmatism and obstinance

The term “open mind” is too ambiguous. Sometimes it is used in a rational way to mean “foregoing dogmatism,” being willing to change your mind in the face of new evidence, etc. But sometimes it is used to advocate universal skepticism and a willingness to consider fantastic unsupported claims such as “the supernatural.”

So I prefer to think in terms of having a rational mind, actively in pursuit of knowledge based on facts and logic (rather than the pursuit of fantasies and authority for commandments).

Steve Stoddard on March 1, 2012 at 6:18 PM

I say that the supernatural is part of nature, but it’s a part of it which we don’t normally have access to, at least not consciously.

Which part is it? How do you identify it? Where is it?

What in the world would “not-conscious access” be? How could you do it? What would it be “accessing”?

How could it be “part of nature” if it cannot be “normally accessed”? The notion of “abnormal nature” seems rather strained.

In short, your statement raises a lot of questions.

Steve Stoddard on March 1, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Comment pages: 1 8 9 10 11