Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Does Science Disprove the Existence of God? #1 Post of 2012

Post Author: Bill Pratt

As I’ve read comments on the blog over the years, I’ve often read a version of the following: “science disproves the existence of God.”  Even prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger say something similar.  Edgar Andrews, in his book Who Made God?, points out that this argument can be circular.

Andrews explains:

The assertion is based on the claim that science presents no evidence for the existence of supernatural forces or phenomena. It sounds plausible until you look a little more closely. The argument can be expressed as a syllogism as follows:

1. Science is the study of the physical universe.

2. Science produces no evidence for the existence of non-physical entities.

3. Therefore non-physical entities such as God do not exist.

Why is this a circular argument?  What is the fallacy?

Again the fallacy is clear.  In point (1) ‘science’ is defined as the study of the physical or material world.  This statement thereby excludes by definition any consideration by science of non-physical causes or events.  The proposition then argues from the silence of science concerning non-material realities that such realities do not exist.  By the same logic, if you define birds as ‘feathered creatures that fly’, there’s no such thing as an ostrich.  It’s fairly obvious in this example whose head is in the sand.  The correct conclusion, of course, is not that ostriches are mythical but that (on your restrictive definition of ‘bird’) they are not birds.  In the same way, to define science as the study of the material universe simply prohibits science from making statements about a non-material entity like God.  If the remit of science is deliberately restricted to the physical realm, the fact that science (so defined) tells us nothing about God has no bearing whatever on his existence or non-existence, as most scientists recognize.

Science can actually give us evidence of God’s existence, as Andrews argues throughout his book, and as I’ve argued elsewhere.  Science examines effects in the natural world that lead us back to God as the cause of those effects.


About The Author

Comments

  • Johndoe

    Bill,

    You’re wrong. You’re argument falls apart by the simple fact that if science can only prove something within the physical universe than your God becomes non-physical: i.e. magic.

    According to Christian doctrine magic does not exist and is evil. Yet, here you are reducing gods existence to magic. So if you are a priest stating that god is magic then aren’t you a witch? If so, then according to Exodus 22:17 you should not be allowed to live.

    If you say he is not magic and is physical then science can prove whether he exists or not, so where is the proof of his existence? So your argument becomes circular, doesn’t it?

    If anything, all your argument does is make Yahweh the god of the gaps. “Well, science can’t disprove x so therefore it’s God.” It’s an argument from ignorance. Is that what you want to be?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Johndoe,

    How is non-physical by default magic?

    The magic you say Christian doctrine is opposed to is not identical with the supernatural realm that you are calling magic.

    Is logic magic? How about beauty, love, wisdom, truth, etc., etc.? These are all things that exist, but are not physical realities. As a matter of fact, all of them are difficult for science to get its finger on. You might say beauty is of something physical, but what is the quality of beauty? Is it magic?

    As far as the god of the gaps, that is so misrepresented. There might be some who say that since science doesn’t have an answer to something, then it must be God. That someone says it doesn’t make it the claim that Christianity makes. Rather, Christianity states, prior to science saying anything about it, that God created the universe and life. Now, it so happens that science does not have a hard objective answer, but rather only conjectures, about how the universe or life got started.

    While Andrews point is perfectly logical for the premises given, one might question whether the first premise is true. In general, that is the definition of science, but it sure makes an attempt at studying the non-physical that is evident in the universe. Regardless, how can anyone say that science has disproved God when there is also the claim that there is no evidence for it. Saying that something doesn’t exist because there is no evidence for it is not the same as proving something false. When Bacon devised the scientific method, no one heard of a quark. There was no evidence for it. Does it make sense that those early empiricists would say that quarks don’t exist because they didn’t have evidence for it? What about electrons, black holes, and so forth? NOTHING is proved to not exist until it is actually positively shown to not exist – like ether was shown to not exist.

    So, can something that is supernatural be proven to not exist by observation in the physical world? If the supernatural has no interaction with the physical world, then the answer is no, it can’t possibly be proven to or not to exist. Yet, if there is interaction between the supernatural world and the physical world, then there is indirect evidence that can be evaluated. As far as I know, science is not involved in such endeavors. Textual criticism, history, and archeology, make attempts (not really physical/experimental science in my book), but since the 19th century, these disciplines have chose to assume there is no supernatural and interpret everything in that light (or darkness). Fine to interpret in that light for comparison, but one must also interpret in other light to do the comparison. Such is not done by the majority of scholarship. If one throws the possible conclusion out in the premises (a negative version of begging the question), then there is no comparison to make and the proof that there is no supernatural realm cannot be established. For example, ether was assumed as a possibility in the proof that it didn’t exist.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Johndoe,

    How is non-physical by default magic?

    The magic you say Christian doctrine is opposed to is not identical with the supernatural realm that you are calling magic.

    Is logic magic? How about beauty, love, wisdom, truth, etc., etc.? These are all things that exist, but are not physical realities. As a matter of fact, all of them are difficult for science to get its finger on. You might say beauty is of something physical, but what is the quality of beauty? Is it magic?

    As far as the god of the gaps, that is so misrepresented. There might be some who say that since science doesn’t have an answer to something, then it must be God. That someone says it doesn’t make it the claim that Christianity makes. Rather, Christianity states, prior to science saying anything about it, that God created the universe and life. Now, it so happens that science does not have a hard objective answer, but rather only conjectures, about how the universe or life got started.

    While Andrews point is perfectly logical for the premises given, one might question whether the first premise is true. In general, that is the definition of science, but it sure makes an attempt at studying the non-physical that is evident in the universe. Regardless, how can anyone say that science has disproved God when there is also the claim that there is no evidence for it. Saying that something doesn’t exist because there is no evidence for it is not the same as proving something false. When Bacon devised the scientific method, no one heard of a quark. There was no evidence for it. Does it make sense that those early empiricists would say that quarks don’t exist because they didn’t have evidence for it? What about electrons, black holes, and so forth? NOTHING is proved to not exist until it is actually positively shown to not exist – like ether was shown to not exist.

    So, can something that is supernatural be proven to not exist by observation in the physical world? If the supernatural has no interaction with the physical world, then the answer is no, it can’t possibly be proven to or not to exist. Yet, if there is interaction between the supernatural world and the physical world, then there is indirect evidence that can be evaluated. As far as I know, science is not involved in such endeavors. Textual criticism, history, and archeology, make attempts (not really physical/experimental science in my book), but since the 19th century, these disciplines have chose to assume there is no supernatural and interpret everything in that light (or darkness). Fine to interpret in that light for comparison, but one must also interpret in other light to do the comparison. Such is not done by the majority of scholarship. If one throws the possible conclusion out in the premises (a negative version of begging the question), then there is no comparison to make and the proof that there is no supernatural realm cannot be established. For example, ether was assumed as a possibility in the proof that it didn’t exist.

  • TB

    For me, one of the best arguments for God is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, in history. If that happened, which the best evidence shows, then that IS God; that requires God.

  • Andrew Ryan

    What evidence is there for the resurrection?

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Even prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger say something similar.”

    I believe that Dawkins’ stand is that it is possible that Gods exist, but he sees no evidence for them.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Even prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger say something similar.”

    I believe that in The God Delusion, Dawkins’ stance is that it is possible that Gods exist, but he sees no evidence for them. I don’t think he ever talks about proving the negative of God’s non-existence.

  • Anonymous

    Stenger: “Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible because of their unequivocally opposed epistemologies–the separate assumptions they make concerning what we can know about the world.”

    No one on this blog can disprove an invisible tiny pink elephant lives in Bill’s left ear. Does that mean it is likely or even possible?

    This old canard, that science tires to disprove god and fails, is simply a “Quick! Look over there!” strategy from those who are asked to provide evidence to back up claims made about this reality. If the hypothesis is asking Does god cause effect in this universe?? then it falls on those who answer this claim with an affirmative to provide good reasons based on evidence to support why this is so. It does not fall on those who have no good reasons to agree to disprove the hypothesis any more than it falls on christians to disprove every other religious belief first. But if you insist that this responsibility falls on those who do believe the hypothesis is true, then please set the example and begin your task to disprove every belief you do not hold.

  • Anonymous

    …beauty, love, wisdom, truth, etc., etc.? These are all things that exist, but are not physical realities.

    Walt, these are terms – words – we use to describe ideas and relationships. They are not ‘things’ independent of the mind that grasps them. They are mind dependent notions and, as such, do not exist in reality. Science describes a method of inquiry that yields mind independent data about this universe, aiming – as I’m sure you’re well aware – to reveal what’s true for everyone everywhere all the time. Religion is the polar opposite, relying as it does on mind dependent personal revelation to describe and define ‘hidden’ agency, intention, meaning, and design (none of which is supported by evidence equivalently true for everyone everywhere all the time from this reality).

    People are quick to assign imagined and asserted causation to effects without any linking evidence. That’s how magicians make their living, based on our remarkable predisposition to fool ourselves. But that doesn’t make the ‘magic’ real.

  • Ggodat

    How does science explain the human mind?

  • Anonymous

    Science is a method of inquiry, Ggodat. There are many avenues of inquiry through science that attempts to better understand what the mind is and how it works. The best description I’ve come across is that the mind IS what the brain DOES.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    At least from my perspective, no one is insisting that it is the role of science to disprove God. My point from my previous posting is that it is a fallacy for anyone to claim that science has proved God does not exist, when in fact it hasn’t and has made no attempt to do so.

    As far as an invisible pink elephant in Bill’s left ear is concerned, if it has no effect on Bill or anyone else, it is irrelevant. If the elephant is actually relevant, then there must be a way to determine whether it is there or not. With God, if there is no way to know if such exists, then He is irrelevant and science definitely cannot provide any answer to the question. But, if He is relevant, then there must be some way in which He is relevant (there is an influence on the natural world) and thus can be investigated if one cared to do so. Obviously it is an indirect investigation if such exists. It so happens that we do indirect investigations in the science world all the time. The only different is that we can use mathematics to understand the effects in that world, and other methods have to be used for investigation of God since such does not follow (or is not expected to follow) objective deterministic laws. But even in science, with mathematics, it is possible to accurately describe the effects within the limits of the observations while totally missing the boat on the nature of the cause (particles, quantum, etc.).

    Lastly, I take exception with Stenger’s statement. Their epistemologies are not opposed, but compatible and very much alike except that one tends towards inductive empiricism based on repeatable observations (giving a testable domain) and the other towards inductive rationalism based on one time events and stories. Both require interpretation. Both require some level of faith. More assurance and less faith is involved when you have repeatable observables, but more faith is involved in the historical sciences where induction in only possible from current knowledge and projected into the past where it is untestable and thus unprovable in an absolute sense. The evidence for God requires more faith since very little is repeatably testable. However a broader induction can be done with a reasonable degree of assurance, even if never 100% provable. About the only thing I think is valid to say relative to Stenger’s quote is that science is about dissecting things to get at the particulars to understand the universals, and Christian faith is about applying an understanding of the universals to understand the why of the particulars. Yet, they are not as diametrically opposed as Stenger claims.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Who exactly has made this claim?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I take it that dildeb was thinking I was making the claim. Beyond that, I don’t know that anyone has made such a claim other than Joe on the street.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I take it that dildeb was thinking I was making the claim. Beyond that, I don’t know that anyone has made such a claim other than Joe on the street.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I guess I mean who is making the claim Bill is opposing? Who claims science disproved God?

  • Boz

    Syllogisms are fun to mess around with, but I don’t think they will ever persuade anyone, because they are tautological.

    Do you like this one?

    1. Science is the study of things that exist.

    2. Science produces no evidence for the existence things that do not exist.

    3. Therefore unevidenced entities such as Yahweh do not exist.

  • Anonymous

    Bill writes I’ve often read a version of the following: “science disproves the existence of God.” Even prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger say something similar.

    This is clearly a very poor interpretation of what has been written by these esteemed authors Dawkins and Stenger and, I suspect, from most literate atheists. What the method of science does is look at claims of causal effect and tries to link them by some knowable mechanism to a single variable figure to see if the causal link works. Hence, the power of double blind studies. I honestly cannot figure out why anyone with an honest desire to figure out what’s true in reality should willingly suspend this wonderful method to privilege and protect some religious claim about reality, about causal effect without subjecting it to this reliable and consistent method that works! This is why Feynman wrote Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

    This is why it’s ironic, Walt, that you immediately jump to ‘effect’ to investigate the positive claim that there really IS an invisible pink elephant living in Bill’s left ear, that we can safely ignore the positive claim if there is no effect. What would you say if I claimed that Bill’s moral and ethical understandings and actions were the ‘effect’ of this little invisible critter, that without such a critter Bill’s moral character would be in doubt? Why, I can assign a million ‘effects’ to this invisible elephant and when challenged can quickly make a negative claim that you can’t DISprove the elephant itself… as if that in some way allows my absurd claim of causal effect to stand. That’s why I call the negative claim a “Quick! Look over there!” tactic. That’s why you know any legitimate scientist is not going to write something so stupid as Bill suggests Dawkins and Stenger have done.

    Proofs are used in logic and mathematics based on axioms. The scientific method does not share this starting point, other than allowing reality the right to dictate what is true about it and using reality to help write the explanation based on what seems to work reliably and consistently well. Linking effect in this reality to some cause in some other reality is a non starter hypothesis in science because we have no access to it. What we can do, and I’ve written this before, is come up with explanations from ONLY this reality that seem to work very well coming up with a framework that produces knowledge and practical applications. No god is required. It only adds complexity and uncertainty to try to insist that the invisible pink elephant in Bill’s left nostril plays some part in his moral development because we have no access to it. There are better explanations that can and do link effect to cause about morals through biology rather than woo.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Boz,

    Your syllogism is not valid since 2 is a restatement of premise 1. You need two premises minimum for a syllogism, not one stated in two different ways.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    If your claim about the moral effect of the elephant was made with out any support other than your opinion, I’d have no basis on which to make a decision about the truth of the claim or not. Given what we know about elephants and morality, I’d have more reason to discount your claim than accept it. But, let’s call the elephant that we can’t see a virus, something more plausible given today’s knowledge. There is evidence that viruses can affect one’s mind and consequently one’s decisions. Take alzehemiers for example. The cause it not known for sure. Maybe it is a virus, maybe it is just genetic, or some combination of some sort. The fact is that there is something that is normal and hypothetically Bill is not normal. There is a possibility that a virus causes his condition. Even without being able to investigate directly (it would cause death), there are tests we can do indirectly. My point here is that there is greater knowledge that comes to play than mere speculation at trying to arrive at a cause.

    As far as a god hypothesis to explain reality, it is true that the simpler explanation is always better. But, I think we arrive at that inductively. It is virtually impossible to prove that the simplest explanation of something that is observed indirectly is always the true explanation. In science, a theory for explaining data that is a result of something that can’t be directly observed is sufficient for predicting the outcome of the experiments, and while it should be true to the validity of the predictions, does not necessarily have to be true to the underlying phenomenon. Simpler is definitely better in that case. However, as more is taken into account, related phenomena, the theories need to be coherent. As they are coherent, there is more likelihood of them being correct. (Relativity is more correct than Newton’s laws, but Newton’s explanation is simpler. Quantum mechanics is definitely not simple. etc.) With the god hypothesis, you can’t just pose it to explain something. The god of the gaps is not what Christians pose (I don’t think they do). But, is what skeptics say Christians are doing. Christians do pose God as the cause of things, but not to plug a hole in knowledge, rather because they have other reasons to believe there is a God. They do find it interesting, however, that where science does not have answers, the Bible just so happens to claim that God is the source of those particular things. That claim was made well before modern science, so the Bible writers didn’t know that would be a gap one day.

    You said, “I honestly cannot figure out why anyone with an honest desire to figure out what’s true in reality should willingly suspend this wonderful method to privilege and protect some religious claim about reality, about causal effect without subjecting it to this reliable and consistent method that works!” First, it is interesting that the honest desire to figure out what is true led me to faith after having been trained as a physicist. Second, aren’t you claiming that you can’t know anything about God? So why say anything about abandoning a method that can’t discern any truth about God anyway? However, I don’t think that is true. While an experimental method can’t show God to exist, the type of approaches used in the historical sciences and used in algorithms for identification of unknown targets in radar signal processing can. What I think is wrong is suspending judgment on something that has a larger body of evidences just because it can’t be contained within the normal scientific inquiry methods. Apriori dismissing what might be real because it doesn’t meet a natural explanation is what is nutty.

  • Anonymous

    It is often very difficult to determine who is making the claims that Bill (or any other internet apologist) purports to be refuting.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    For arguments sake, it is probably best to cite an actual claim and talk to it – that’s what would normally be done in a paper. But, there are claims that are made often by the people on the street and on forums such as this one that are so common that it is odd to hear someone question that anyone makes the claims. This came up with the quantum physics discussion with regard to the law of non-contradiction. You couldn’t see my jaw drop when several here questioned that anyone makes the claim. I can’t even count the number of times I came across it. It might be because of my working in the science field, but even Bill said he runs across it. The claim that science has proved God does not exist is so common that you find it addressed in books on most common objections to Christianity. When a claim is common, the attempt to track down who says it is usually left aside. However, I will admit, whoever first seriously proposed the idea should be cited. But then, that is a bit of work to find out for discussions of this sort. This particular claim seems to have slowly creeped in over time as far as I can tell.

    I agree the claim may not actually be made by the prominent atheists. I’ve listened to and attended debates of prominent atheists to find that in a debate about the existence of God, they actually don’t debate it. Rather, they point to the negative evidence and leave the question about God Himself in the closet. Saying you can’t know about God (which is still arguable) is different than saying absolutely God does not exist. What I have come to understand about atheists (not skeptics, which is more understandable) is that they actually don’t claim God doesn’t exist. Rather they merely discount His existence as irrelevant and cite their negative evidences. Technically I think that is more of an agnostic position. On occasion there are real atheists who say there absolutely is no God, but they seem to be rare.

  • Anonymous

    Walt writes I take exception with Stenger’s statement (that the epistemology of science is incompatible with the epistemology of religious belief). Their epistemologies are not opposed, but compatible and very much alike except that one tends towards inductive empiricism based on repeatable observations (giving a testable domain) and the other towards inductive rationalism based on one time events and stories. Both require interpretation. Both require some level of faith.

    This is just flat out dishonest. The method of science yields ONE chemistry, for example. Different scientists don’t ‘interpret’ different chemical systemic interactions. Chemical knowledge is the same and as true for an Argentinian chemist as is it for a Russian. The same chemical interaction is as true in Rwanda and it is Romania, as it is for a young man or old woman, as it is for people of different linguistic and cultural affiliations. This is not an equivalent epistemology to religious belief that draws different conclusions in India than it does in Iceland, where belief in Shiva is not ‘inductively rationalized’ into Loki. Nor is it honest to suggest that chemistry is based on an equivalent kind of faith to these INCOMPATIBLE and very different beliefs in these different gods. It’s not equivalent whatsoever. You are slapping lipstick (of the ‘inductively rationalized’ kind) on these very different religious beliefs and claiming equivalencies in epistemology to one that arrives at a single method that works for everyone everywhere all the time compared to one that produces vastly different and conflicting claims. Your claim here is simply not true. Religious belief is not inductively reasoned from reality but is an a priori conclusion applied to it. This is a clue, by the way, why we have tens of thousands of DIFFERENT religious beliefs and only ONE chemistry. There is a significant and meaningful qualitative difference in epistemology between the two and the results in knowledge derived from them show how this difference plays out in reality. One chemistry, tens of thousands of christian sects! You can’t be both honest and accurate if you think they share a compatibility of epistemology when the products are so dramatically different: science produces practical knowledge; religious belief produces no knowledge. These result are not ‘very much alike’ by any honest comparison and they certainly are not compatible when religious claims about reality stand in conflict with scientific explanations. That’s why when polled, over two thirds of religious Americans would choose to believe a religious claim even when they know it is factually wrong. You will find no such equivalent ‘faith’ allowed in the discipline of chemistry.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “It is probably best to cite an actual claim and talk to it

    You said it! I’d say it is not just best, it is essential.

    “But then, that is a bit of work to find out for discussions of this sort.”

    It can’t be that hard, if the claim is so common. Bill certainly managed to find long quotes from someone DEBUNKING the claim, so he could at least have offered at least one instance of the claim being made.

    “The claim that science has proved God does not exist is so common that you find it addressed in books on most common objections to Christianity. ”

    I’ve read several of the most famous books on the subject – Dawkins, Hitchens etc – and haven’t seen this claim once.

    What I often find is an apologist SAYS they’ve heard a claim made, and when I push them hard enough they’ll offer me a quote that doesn’t really mean what they told me it meant.

    eg, “Science has disproved God” turns out to be something along the lines of “We have scientific explanations for most things that Christians historically pointed to as evidence for God”

    or “The law of Non Contradiction can be broken” turns out to be “The LNC is a construct of man”. Not the same thing at all, as the latter is entirely consistent with saying the LNC cannot be broken.

  • Ggodat

    Thats not a scientific explanation, it’s your opinion. Science cannot even explain why science exists. Can it explain original life? NO! You said “the best description you have come across”… so you agree that this is not truth but again just your opinion of what you think is the best description? Not very “scientific” if you ask me… but then again I deny the existence of atheists.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Can it explain original life? NO!”

    I don’t think you know much about how science works, or what it claims to know. If you hate science so much, stop using your computer.

  • Anonymous

    Ggodat, the point is that if you honestly want to know more about your mind, then the method of science will serve you far better than pretending ‘goddidit’ offers you a better explanation. If you’re not concerned with what’s true in reality, than stick with your beliefs. That’s fine. But don’t pretend you have a good basis from reality to back up your beliefs when they only come from your beliefs about it. Your beliefs about reality and reality are not the same thing, I’m sorry to tell you. You inflate your beliefs to an unearned position of authority when you assume they reveal a position of insight yet allow me no way to test if they are true in fact.

    This method you are using to inform your belief is incompatible with the scientific one for just this reason and (sadly, I’m sure you’ll agree) produces no applicable knowledge about reality. And that is a fact – a rather significant shortcoming – that no amount of rationalizing – inductive or deductive – can overcome.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    You picked chemistry to justify your position. I assume you mean experimental chemistry, where I said the method is different. Basic chemistry, elementary mechanics, and etc., is one thing, but to claim one physics, one cosmology, one archeology, one paleontology, one evolutionary biology, etc., is to demonstrate a lack of involvement with those sciences. There about as many different opinions with regard to interpretations on current science as there are Ph.Ds to study it. Why is that? Because most of the sciences are now in the realm of indirect knowledge extrapolated from derived theories. They are constantly in flux. If not, why do people still get Ph.Ds? The test for the Higgs boson is a test of a theory. It might be right or it might not. And even then, it won’t necessarily be 100% conclusive.

    I don’t think my difference with Stenger is dishonest. Maybe my understanding of epistemology is different. Actually, there are practically as many views of epistemology as there are philosophy professors today. There might be a handful of basic views, but they splinter into all sorts of wacky ideas. So, what is truth? What is dishonest is to claim science has absolute knowledge by citing basic chemistry – one small part of the whole realm, and itself based on models that while great at predicting events in the lab are still just models that may or may not be right. Chemistry still worked when electrons where thought to be small planets orbiting a nucleus. Now we know that is not correct. Yet, what really is an electron? We have a model for it that describes its behavior, but what is it?

    Also, there may be more to religious belief in general than to which you are giving credit. Why is religious belief so persistent – even among people with Ph.Ds in the sciences, whether in America or India?

  • Anonymous

    First, it is interesting that the honest desire to figure out what is true led me to faith after having been trained as a physicist.

    It’s interesting to note that physics has nothing whatsoever to do with leading anyone to superstitious beliefs. In fact, you willingly suspend known laws of physics that work for everyone everywhere all the time to allow for certain acceptable – and even necessary – religious beliefs. Something else – certainly not physics – must have been at work leading you somewhere. I wonder what?

    Second, aren’t you claiming that you can’t know anything about God?

    I’m claiming WE can’t know anything about a god that supposedly operates from some supernatural realm because WE cannot link effects HERE to causes THERE.

    So why say anything about abandoning a method that can’t discern any truth about God anyway?

    I’m saying YOU can’t make causal claims about some supernatural god without abandoning a reality-based epistemology and substituting one based wholly and solely on your BELIEFS. Your beliefs and reality are not the same arena.

    While an experimental method can’t show God to exist, the type of approaches used in the historical sciences and used in algorithms for identification of unknown targets in radar signal processing can.

    Yes, and this is called cause and effect linked by a knowable mechanism. You can work backwards along this link to get to the cause, but if that cause cannot be linked by EVIDENCE from reality, you’re left again with only and wholly beliefs. Beliefs and reality are not the same arena.

    What I think is wrong is suspending judgment on something that has a larger body of evidences just because it can’t be contained within the normal scientific inquiry methods. Apriori dismissing what might be real because it doesn’t meet a natural explanation is what is nutty.

    No, it’s called rational. Once you get outside of ‘normal’ scientific inquiry to link supernatural cause with natural effect, your halfway to crazy town without any directions to get back again.

  • Anonymous

    You’re confusing ontology with epistemology, Walt. The opinions you cite about differences in results… not epistemology.

    I’m glad you raised the Higgs bosun. Why are they excitied these days? Because two readings showed a spike in energy, meaning EVIDENCE for another particle. That’s why they’re looking: for confirmation. Belief like religious faith is not seeking confirmation whatsoever: you already assume the god hypothesis to be true. If you didn’t, you’d be agnostic. So again, you’re really not being honest with yourself when you suggest the epistemologies are equivalent and compatible when they, in fact, remain polar opposites. You do not hold your religious beliefs – like beliefs about scientific explanations – tentatively whatsoever; neither do you seek confirmation in the meantime.

    This reveals another dishonesty of you trying to present those who appreciate why the scientific method should be consistently applied against ALL truth claims – and not just those that don’t compete with religious belief claims – as claims of ‘absolute truth’. No scientist worthy of the name falls into this straw man you’re creating. All scientific explanations are considered tentative, as you very well know, schooled as you are in the sciences. So why pretend otherwise if not for the purpose of being dishonest in the service of your beliefs?

    If science had all the answers, we wouldn’t have anymore science, now would we? But it’s thriving as we inquire into all kinds of unknown. We have no clue what energy is (other than by different names, like acceleration and mass). So what? Assigning what we don’t know to be part of or evidence for some supernatural agency is nothing more and nothing less than the god of the gaps tactic. It doesn’t support knowledge but empowers superstitious nonsense.

    My argument here is not about religious beliefs per se but about causal claims made about god by assigning and attributing and asserting based solely and wholly on belief that effects here reveal cause there. This line of evidence is built entirely on a broken epistemology.

  • Anonymous

    And that’s why religious belief produces not one jot of new knowledge.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “In fact, you willingly suspend known laws of physics that work for everyone everywhere all the time to allow for certain acceptable – and even necessary – religious beliefs.” What known law did I suspend in order to come to a belief that there is something beyond the natural world? As far as I know, I have not suspended any known laws of physics. I believe they are all still valid.

    “Something else – certainly not physics – must have been at work leading you somewhere.” Indeed. My statement wasn’t to say physics led me to belief, but that with a training in physics, I still came to belief. In other words, my faith in science did not prevent a faith in God. What prevents faith in God is faith in naturalism alone – something that is purely a faith perspective. There is NO WAY to prove naturalism is all there is. “Something else – … I wonder what?” What is your opinion on what?

    “I’m saying YOU can’t make causal claims about some supernatural god without abandoning a reality-based epistemology and substituting one based wholly and solely on your BELIEFS.” What is your evidence for that? If this supernatural God does have a link into reality, then it is possible to come to such belief. Also, I have yet to see where you show how reality-based epistemology must be abandoned? Maybe you meant to say a naturalism only epistemology has to be abandoned. I’ll grant you that is that is what you meant. But, I think your presuppositions blind you if you think I have abandoned a reality based epistemology. I am a realist. My epistemology is realism. Rather, you seem to confuse reality with naturalism. Again, I don’t know how anyone can prove naturalism is the truth of reality. I do my physics just as well as the next guy who is a naturalist. So, I don’t think my beliefs distort my sense of reality as far as science is concerned.

    “Your beliefs and reality are not the same arena.” That’s too bad. What is the point of beliefs if they don’t have some correspondence with reality, or at least as much as can be justified or warranted?

    “Once you get outside of ‘normal’ scientific inquiry to link supernatural cause with natural effect, your halfway to crazy town without any directions to get back again. ” That is an assumption on your part. Can you prove it? If you can, then I rest my case.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “Belief like religious faith is not seeking confirmation whatsoever: you already assume the god hypothesis to be true.” I didn’t. How do you know so much about me and how I came to faith?

    “You’re confusing ontology with epistemology, Walt. The opinions you cite about differences in results… not epistemology.” No, it was the cause of the results I was talking about. Epistemology ought to be tied to ontology or it makes no sense at all! I’m talking about the relationship of what is known (epistemology) with what is (ontology). So, maybe I wasn’t clear in my statements, but I don’t believe I’m confusing the two.

    “All scientific explanations are considered tentative, as you very well know.” I surely am not trying to be dishonest, but more honest than I think naturalists are about what they can truly know (epistemology). My very point is that knowledge from science is not absolute in the ontological sense and has subjectiveness to it at certain levels, even if it is able to describe predictions reasonably well based on the models. If that is so, then you can’t be certain that naturalism is all there is and that ultimately there isn’t a God behind all this. But if I leave my point at that, I have left it at agnosticism. I don’t leave it there. There is enough global evidence to indicate there is indeed something more. We might be confused about it, but it is there. There is a reason why so many cultures in the world have a religion. There is also a reason that some are so opposed to that idea. That there are differences between religions have more to do with history and turf/tribe battles than anything else, but at the core, there is something there!

    “My argument here is not about religious beliefs per se but about causal claims made about god by assigning and attributing and asserting based solely and wholly on belief that effects here reveal cause there. This line of evidence is built entirely on a broken epistemology. ” I agree with you on that point. Where I disagree is whether there is a way to know without breaking the epistemology.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    You don’t think it even produces moral behavior? You might say behavior is not knowledge, and I agree, but knowledge does dictate or influence behavior.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I will say that the lenses we view the world through, do make a difference for how we see it. I think the view I have now is much more rich in understanding than the view I had before I had come to faith.

  • Ggodat

    so, if not science, then what can explain original life? Also, science has nothing to do with me using my computer. I dont believe in science but i can still use my laptop. Just like you dont believe in God but do believe there is a rational explanation for an absolute moral code. I might actually have a shread of respect for you if you actually lived by the standards atheism demands.

  • Ggodat

    how do you know science exists? You dont, therefore it doesn’t!

  • Vinnyjh

    Walt,

    I agree that there is often very little difference between agnostics and atheists. I call myself an “agnostic,” but there is very little difference between my reasoning and that of most people I encounter who call themselves “atheists.” On the other hand, while I only consider myself an agnostic concerning God for lack of evidence, I confidently profess to be an a-leprechaunist, an a-gnomist, and an a-pixieist, also for lack of evidence.

    I think the reason that I affirm the non-existence of leprechauns, gnomes, and pixies is that I am satisfied that the leprechaun hypothesis, the gnome hypothesis, and the pixie hypothesis have no explanatory value whatsoever. There is nothing within my knowledge and experience that makes any more sense by positing their existence and I think it highly likely that there never will be. On the other hand I am not similarly satisfied concerning the God hypothesis. There are still questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” and “Why is there consciousness?” for which I think it possible that the God hypothesis might have some explanatory value. I have not seen it yet, but I’m not prepared to dismiss the possibility that I ever will.

    On the other hand, I know many thoughtful people who have reached the conclusion that it is sufficiently unlikely that the God hypothesis will have any explanatory value that it is reasonable to affirm the non-existence of God in the same way that I affirm the non-existence of leprechauns. If I devoted more time and effort to the subject, I might, too.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I know scientists, they practice science – ergo science exists. Duh!

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Vinny,

    It would be interesting to do a study, or maybe someone has, that compares beliefs in leprechaun with beliefs in God. Why is one understood universally to be fable and the other considered to be real, even if there are differences in the various religions? There is something fundamentally different about leprechauns and God. I haven’t ever considered the question, but it would be interesting to work through it. I have looked at the differences and comparisons between myths of various religions, but not this.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Funny Andrew!

    I think Ggodat was mocking Boz’ syllogism.

  • Anonymous

    This comment box is getting rather small!

    I assume (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that you allow for certain ‘miracles’ including the resurrection of Jesus. This – as well as any miracle – would require a suspension of many natural laws. My problem with allowing this possibility is a matter of consistency: there is no good reason to suspend these laws here but not there, for cellular decay to be suspended here but not the physical laws of aerodynamics there… except when convenient for these specific religious beliefs. (I doubt, for example, you believe in winged horses, but you very well might make an exception if you were muslim). It’s the cherry picking that bothers me and the willingness of people to go along with this privilege without a healthy dose of attached scepticism.

    The naturalism you point out is not quite right: it’s methodological naturalism, meaning that when working with the scientific method we are forced to limit our scientific research to the study of natural causes – the only kind we have access to – because this is avoids exactly the kind of causal argument you present that always ends up in a god-of-the-gaps conclusion. Only in the event of evidence for intervention would this assumption found to be wanting, and then we must first look for natural cause from within this universe rather than to assume we must give up the inquiry to the supernatural (which stops scientific inquiry dead in its tracks) because it must be caused from beyond it. To do otherwise is to abandon this basis for inquiry…. at least in part… and this is what believers do to make room for ‘miracles’. To me, this cost has no exchange rate worthy of it. This is why I say we are directionless how to get back from this crazy acceptance because we have forsaken our ability to know from reality what is true about it if it can be so easily suspended.

    Your beliefs and reality are not the same thing. This does not mean they do not correspond and I never suggested they couldn’t; I meant simply they are not carbon copies of each other and not equivalent synonyms. Belief may be completely delusional; only reality itself can arbitrate what is true about it and not our beliefs.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Boz’s syllogism was meant to illustrate the pointless tautological nature if syllogisms. He said that himself. Calling his syllogism tautological, or mocking it, is kind of both missing his point and proving it at the same time!

    And I wouldn’t assume anything with Ggodat – he appears to be under the impression that his computer was made without the benefit of science…

  • Anonymous

    Religious belief certainly promotes various kinds of behaviours; whether they are moral requires some other metric than religious belief! Otherwise you end up like WL Craig so morally confused that you promote the divine command principle where we are to feel compassion for soldiers commanded by god to kill children!

  • Anonymous

    And I would say the net affect of exercising religious belief as if it were true is negative. Too often it is actually anti-life, anti-rights, anti-freedom, and even anti-human. No doubt your beliefs don’t carry you quite so far, but that’s not to give credit to your beliefs but your character.

  • Ggodat

    How do they know they are a scientist? where did science come from? If they are so good at science why do they have to practice it?

  • Ggodat

    My computer was made by chinese manufacturers. Science cannot reveal itself to me therefore i do not believe in it.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    The syllogism was tautological because it wasn’t a true syllogism.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    what other metric can you apply that is not a matter of opinion where you end up with Hitler and his thugs doing the right thing in the holocaust?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I hope that my character has been shaped by my beliefs. Without knowing the specifics to which you refer, I would say those labels generally have to do with “legalistic” behavior, which misses the point of “freedom in Christ.” (There is a lot of false religion out there which is out to control people rather than develop them spiritually.) If you are referring to Old Testament activities (also indicated in your comment about Craig), it is a bit more complicated than simple labels or directives imply, especially from the modern perspective 3000 years removed.

    I will acknowledge that attrocities are done in the names of religions. It is important to understand where the directives are coming from – a human dictator / cult leader type, or reflects what is truly good.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “I’m glad you raised the Higgs bosun. Why are they excitied these days? Because two readings showed a spike in energy, meaning EVIDENCE for another particle. That’s why they’re looking: for confirmation.”

    Yeah, but note that the spikes are produced by a chain of events, not by the bosons themselves. The events are highly probabilistic and difficult to discern from noise blips – thus the reason to not be so sure of the results just yet. There is even a chance something other than the boson was discovered, but it will be hard to sort out if the theory predicted bosons instead. These experiments are not as straightforward as mixing an acid and a base and measuring the resulting ph.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I like to think of morality as it relates to human well-being and the metric to associated to improving or reducing it. The analogy is that of elevation or numbers: it doesn’t really matter where you start because the metric itself is a means for comparison. The comparison itself is what matters and we can use science to help us in this matter in the same way that numbers are about comparative quantity and not an object (ie ’7′ as a discrete thing). On this metric, Hitler can indeed be judged, whereas on religious grounds he cannot.

  • Anonymous

    What can you say to someone convinced that his revelatory directive is from god regardless of the ensuing behaviour? He’s worshiping a false god? And you know this how?

    Hey! Here we are back to a broken epistemology about you arguing that religious belief is acceptable as it informs reality rather than the other way around for every other kind of belief!

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “On this metric, Hitler can indeed be judged, whereas on religious grounds he cannot. ”

    I don’t see how science can establish metrics for comparison of morals. From Hitler’s perspective, exterminating weaker races made perfect sense for the greater good of all of mankind. From an evolutionary perspective it could be contrived to make sense to those in power. From a religious sense, where all human beings are made in the image of God, it makes no sense at all. What produces the best well-being for one man may interfere with the well-being of another. For example, a couple with low finances may need to take care of a seriously ill and incapacitated elderly parent. It would add to the well-being of the couple if the parent was not under their care. However, displacing the parent may not result is the most well-being.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “Hey! Here we are back to a broken epistemology about you arguing that religious belief is acceptable as it informs reality rather than the other way around for every other kind of belief! ”

    If the belief is grounded, I wouldn’t say the epistemology is broken and it will have part in informing reality, not as a substitute to basic empirical epistemology, but additionally. The question when you are comparing all religious beliefs is what are the beliefs grounded in? But it doesn’t have to be about religion, it can be all kinds of things – such as whether there is life on other planets and such beliefs. What is the reason, the justification, and the warrant for various beliefs? The fact that there might be competing beliefs on a topic does not mean that one of the beliefs is not correct (of course it doesn’t mean any of them are either). The question to address is what are the beliefs based on? Is there sufficient reason to hold such beliefs? Is there sufficient reason to not hold certain beliefs? If we were to sit down and compare the reasons that lead up to our respective beliefs about things beyond the natural world, we would find that it is the weighting of those reasons that we disagree on. I am slowly (too slowly it seems) working on a paper that assesses these reasons that lead to beliefs. I am using my image processing background to do the mathematics in a way different than what someone like Swinburne has done that I expect to be less subjective.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “This – as well as any miracle – would require a suspension of many natural laws. My problem with allowing this possibility is a matter of consistency: there is no good reason to suspend these laws here but not there”

    Suspension of natural laws for particular miracles does not necessarily destroy epistemology related to how science is done. No doubt if could. But, there is a responsibility there to not preempt science’s role of investigating the natural world. I do not look for miracles when doing science. I will admit that I think there is ultimately a God behind it all, but when investigating the natural world, that shouldn’t enter into the equation. Why do I not look for miracles? First because science IS about investigation the natural world. But second, by definition, miracles are rare – very rare. Thus, I am skeptical of any miracle claims in general. However, I do accept the resurrection as a physical resurrection. You are right to say it isn’t consistent – because it IS a miracle. It is a special cause out of the ordinary. The very point is that is not what happens normally. But it isn’t a random miracle either. It was a very special one of significance and predicted prior to its occurrence. Yet, in exclusion of many other things, I used to write off the resurrection as a physical event. However, there is a bigger picture that has to be taken into account a lot of details to show the coherence and justification of the resurrection is most likely being true. Most other miracle events have no reason for their existence other than for fanciful stories. I’ve had previous discussions here about miracle claims in other religions and some of the far out ones that are in the Bible. I don’t wish to repeat it all here because my answer is really in the paper I am still working on. But from my perspective, there truly is a uniqueness to the resurrection that does not exist in any other religion or any other miracle claim.

  • Ggodat

    Walt,

    I commend you for trying to bring reason into the brains of atheists but I’m sure you can see by now its a lost cause. Anyone that can claim the almighty science as their savior yet clearly be in contrast to the 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics, is beyond me. They have no scientific explanation for why anything even exists. Science clearly cannot explain the origin of the universe but it can tell us that it had to be created (or come into existence) and yet they deny a creator.

    On a side note, i would love to get you in discussions with my son. He is hoping to attend either MIT or Columbia to study applied Physics in the fall. Where did you study?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Hi Ggodat,

    I studied physics at MIT and worked 26 years in the defense industry before leaving last year to finish seminary and prepare for missionary service. I’d be happy to talk with your son sometime. Look me up in Facebook and we can go from there. facebook.com/wltucker09

    As far as my discussions are concerned, I used to be on that side of the discussion.

  • Todd

    from Walt in an earlier post: “On occasion there are real atheists who say there absolutely is no God, but they seem to be rare.”

    As Christianity defines god, I am solidly in this category of atheist. Christianity has provided no evidence of a god as described in the bible or the pulpit. I would go as far as to answer Bill’s post that when dealing with the Christian god, science has disproved that existence; or at a minimum disproven anything a Christian has attributed to their god. Science has shown that all of the miracle claims are not based in reality; while any other attribution is typically based on the fallacy of false authority. Anytime a Christian utters “God is …” or “God does…” or “God …” are inventing attributes for something which has no basis in reality.

    When describing god vaguely as the creative force behind the beginning of the universe then I fall into the reasonable category of being skeptical of anyone who ascribes this unknowable phenomena to a deity.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Well Todd, you are one Andrew is looking for!

    So the question is: how has “science has disproved that existence; or at a minimum disproven anything a Christian has attributed to their god. Science has shown that all of the miracle claims are not based in reality; while any other attribution is typically based on the fallacy of false authority.”?

    I know of no such proof. That I don’t know of it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, but I doubt your claim. I have no reason based on reasonable evidence to believe such proof has been made. As a matter of fact, your claim is no more than a faith statement. I think there is some reasonableness for the agnostic position even though I don’t think a person needs to stay there . However, being an absolute atheist is as much a faith position as what is claimed of Christians. See what I’m saying? In a sense, when you look at the way you perceive my and other believer’s faith, you are looking in the mirror – it just happens to be a flipped image/position.

    If you can show me a proof of science that THE resurrection absolutely did not happen (when I say proof, I mean proof of the type you demand for the resurrection and not mere conjecture), I will put my Bible down, terminate my studies at the seminary, drop plans to do missionary work, rip up my ordination certificate, and reenter employment in the secular world. Honestly, I think all you will be able to muster is that miracle claims are inconsistent with what we know about the natural world. But that is not the same as proof by science that no miracles have ever happened in the history of the universe.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Atheism just means you don’t believe in Gods – it’s nonsense to talk about it ‘demanding’ a standard. And ‘absolute moral codes’ cannot be explained by deities either. All your other points have already been answered.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh, Walt, I wish you a little more careful in your comprehension. I didn’t suggest science can establish a moral metric any more than religion can. I suggested the metric be based on human well-being and that once such a metric is selected, science can help us to compare and contrast what enhances and reduces this. If you THEN insert your examples, you can easily see how any activity can be COMPARED. And you’re quite right to point out the complexity in establishing which course of action is the most moral. But at least this has the benefit of showing which course of action reduces well being, in the same way that 4y may be compared to 6y by showing which value ranges for these unknowns works to make one greater of less than another.

    Pretending that we can receive some objective moral guidance from texts considered holy is easily shown to be false: your moral sense predates your religious affiliation and interprets it. That’s why the moral zeitgeist has shifted to interpret slavery in the bible, for example, to be a morally repugnant act in this day and age, a moral non starter that for a millennium was according to good christians and muslims shown to be a moral act justified by scripture because it was not condemned in the holy book (and blows apart the claim that religious belief like christianity comes equipped with a deep moral respect of all humans because scripture teaches us that all are made in the image of god).

  • Anonymous

    My math skills these days… I meant to to use two different variables, like x and y, and not the same one (y) that I did. My bad.

  • Anonymous

    Unlike you, Ggodat, I don’t pretend to have special access to supernatural answers for questions about the natural world. But I do have knowledge built on a method inquiry I – you – can trust with my life. Walt has decided to compromise and undermine this method of gaining reliable and consistent knowledge in the service of his promoting and protecting his religious beliefs. I don’t think that’s a fair exchange.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, sorry if I am missing your points. You did not specifically say science would develop the metric, but I hope you can understand how I could come to that from what you said reading from my context. That doesn’t make it excusable, but I hope understandable.

    Anyway, it isn’t obvious how anyone, science or whoever, can come up with the metric.

    As far as the subjectivism in Scripture is concerned, I don’t agree with your premiss that objective moral standards cannot be obtained from the text, but I do agree with you that there is a lot of subjectivism applied to interpretation over the years. What is true is that people will more often than not interpret anything to their advantage. It is very easy to twist Scripture, isolate proof verses, etc., to make almost any argument. That it is done is virtually a proof of the message of the Bible – we are fallen creatures seeking our own glory rather than God’s. Many times people repeat what they hear others say without studying a text for themselves to see what it really says. I see this so much now as a preacher. People in general are very superficial about their biblical knowledge. And, even the most studied can make errors once they get on a particular theological bent. But what I find is that as I meditate on Scripture and use proper hermeneutical methods I find a lot that I had heard the past to flat out wrong. As we study the Scripture more and more under the influence of the Holy Spirit, I truly believe the intended meanings do come out. We also have to take into account cultural differences of the times, etc. Most who misinterpret are doing so of an English translation in ignorance of the culture and the theological background of the time. Many times they are looking to support a position rather than seek what the Scriptures really say.

  • Anonymous

    Epistemology is not “WHAT we know”, Walt: it’s HOW we can know. A good rule of thumb (for any doctoral students out there) is to associate the ‘how’ with epistemology and the ‘what’ with ontology. The quality of the ‘what’ is determined by the quality of the methodology used to inform the ‘how’.

    This is why the religious epistemology for informing ontological statements hinges on a method that must respect the authority of faith. Dennett describes this ‘spell’ as believing in belief and in need of breaking. Dawkins points out that this belief in belief is equivalent to delusion. The Hitch explains how this epistemological approach poisons everything, and Harris describes why we need to stop respecting any claims based on it before we kill ourselves believing what is not true about reality. Stenger, as I’ve already pointed out, explains why belief in belief is in conflict with understanding reality, and Hawking explains science will win this battle because it has the bad manners to work.

  • Anonymous

    They have no scientific explanation for why anything even exists.

    Really?

    Really?

    Why do you keep making such silly uniformed statements as if the were true?

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    tildeb,
    Your take on the role of faith in Christianity is just not accurate. I know you’re a big fan of Edward Feser, so I would like to point you to a pair of posts (part 1 and part 2) I wrote recently that explain the role of faith and reason in Christianity, based on Feser’s writings.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    tildeb,
    Based on your epistemology, I assume you roundly reject as pure poppycock the current hypotheses of the level 2 multiverse?

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, I didn’t mean to indicate epistemology is “what” we know. I was merely saying by my parentheses that epistemology is related to knowledge where as ontology is related to what is.

    I wouldn’t use Hawking’s epistemology to make any statements worth making about reality. His positivism is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read from of a prominent scientist’s pen. Not that I don’t think the others are misguided, but I at least they are reasonable within their own positions.

  • Todd

    Walt,
    When you say “your claim is no more than a faith statement” I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean that I have faith in the accuracy of science as you have faith in the accuracy of the bible, then its something of a wierd statement. I have faith in science to some degree when I hear something that seems counter intuitive but has been researched and agreed upon by credible peer reviewed institutions. But I think ‘faith in science’ is generally a misnomer as faith requires an element of the unknown and science tends to remove those elements.

    As for proving that the resurrection did not happen, let’s first see if we can agree that resurrection is a medical impossibility. In a series of posts some time ago I seem to recall you stating that you’ve heard third person about resurrections happening in India. As the debate continued there was no proof. If we are to continue that discussion here I think you’re refutation will need additional evidence to appear cogent. Anywho, I’m not a professional logician, but I think it goes like this:

    A person can not be both dead and alive.

    Medical science has proven that a person cannot return from death (this should be knowledge apriori).

    Therefore if Jesus died, he could not have returned from death.

    In more lay terms that I’m used to, I find absolutely no logical reason to believe that there was a one time exception to reality based on the vague evidence of the bible. Of all the people who have died since the beginning of our species, those hundreds of millions of lives lost… not once has there been an exception to this rule. If you call it conjecture to say science proves Jesus did not rise from the dead, then what am I missing from the arguement?

  • Anonymous

    Bill, we know Aristotelian physics is wrong, so we know there’s something wrong with epistemology that informs it. Efficient, formal, and final causes fail to link causal efficacy to a demonstrable mechanism, and so we end up reasoning our way only to the edges of the metaphysical paper bag that remains separated from the reality we inhabit. This is Feser’s problem, so he attributes this shortcoming to those who simply point it out and insists that sophisticated theology overcomes it without demonstrating this. And so we’re left with the same problem we had to begin with: Aristotelian physics doesn’t work in reality.

    The epistemology you attribute to me is the same one you use every day in every area of your life… except when it comes to justifying your religious beliefs. When you can’t find your keys, you don’t sacrifice a goat and make burnt offerings to some unseen agency asking for supernatural aid. You go and look. You don’t pretend to have them when you do not, and you are not satisfied with sophisticated explanations that you have them in some metaphysical sense. Pretending that reason alone is sufficient to help you feel in possession of your keys when you are not fails the reality test when you try to unlock your house or car or mail box. For these you still need your keys no matter how much effort you put into creating a mental bubble that protects you from the strident and militant insistence that you need the physical keys to do the physical jobs necessary in your interaction with reality.

    The various hypotheses of multiverses are certainly interesting but I have no clue if they are an accurate reflection of reality and I take great exception to anyone who uses them to try to justify the mutilation of anyone’s genitals or affect the legal rights of people based on gender. I am willing to stand up to anyone who believes that Stork Theory should not be presented to children in science class as an alternative theory about human reproduction unless there is excellent and compelling evidence to do so. I have yet to find any good reason to accommodate and excuse belief in belief and shall continue to enjoy supporting a method of inquiry that yields practical benefits that work for everyone everywhere all the time over and above belief conclusions that are, when examined, scattered and incoherent. The death and resurrection of Jesus falls fully into this description now that we know Adam and Eve are fictional characters. This undermines the entire reason d’etre for the resurrection, for which there is the very weakest of evidence (I know a guy who knew a guy who says he was there!)

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “Medical science has proven that a person cannot return from death (this should be knowledge apriori).” Todd, what journal is that proof published in? If it is apriori knowledge that science hasn’t proved, then first, your belief that science proved the point is false; second, if truly apriori, your statement is based on an assumption from your worldview, not from any tangible proof.

    “If you mean that I have faith in the accuracy of science as you have faith in the accuracy of the bible, then its something of a wierd statement.” I’m not saying anything about your faith in science or its accuracy. (I have faith in the methods of science to study what is repeatably observable. My faith in it starts to wane as more and more extrapolation from the experimental and directly observable is done.) Rather, I’m saying your conclusion is a faith statement since science has not proven anything of the sort. Again, all you can claim, regardless of whether you are a professional logician or not, is that resurrections are not consistent with reality – they aren’t the norm. Since you have no idea what happened to Jesus, you really can’t claim He wasn’t resurrected. All you can logically claim is that He likely did not. A likely did not is not proof.

    I regret that I don’t have anything tangible at the moment about the events in India. When I return, I will make it a point to interview the witnesses and any doctors involved. It is nutty that they don’t document something because they said it happens all the time when in fact even there it doesn’t happen all the time, but only on rare occasions, if at all.

    To your particular syllogism:
    “A person can not be both dead and alive.

    Medical science has proven that a person cannot return from death (this should be knowledge apriori).

    Therefore if Jesus died, he could not have returned from death.”

    To premise #1, science has a tough time defining exactly what it means to be dead! If you don’t believe that, read papers on the subject of when to take organs.

    To premise #2, that is begging the question – your conclusion is in the premise. You have no proof of any sort. Again, if you can provide it, I’ll gladly go back to my old career (which paid me much better).

    The conclusion only follows as a truth statement if the premises are true. Since you have not shown them to be true. Your conclusion is not necessarily true. It might be, but at least not from your premises.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    To add to my last post…
    When I say your conclusion is a faith statement, I mean that you have come to that belief based on induction from what you otherwise believe. It has not been so exhaustively investigated to the point that is a deductive conclusion without any possible error.

    We do not go through life with deductive knowledge. We make inductions all the time. Most of science is inductive even if based on repeatable experiment. To Hume’s point, the theories of science are connected to the experiment by induction (cause and effect). You can’t ever know for sure that you covered every single possibility and that you have not fooled yourself. The chances of being fooled are reduced in science, but it is still possible to see connections that actually aren’t true.

    The epistemology of faith is really no different. We inductively come to understanding about the world around us. Science has the privilege of experiment for most of its disciplines. Religion is indeed more subjective – but it has its reasons and its evidences. Conclusions are arrived at by inductively concluding from what is known. That one thing seems to go against what we know – that dead men can rise – does not mean that the possibility is nil. Even in science, we discover things that are different than what we thought. We don’t reject the new discovery because of our prior theory. Of course we don’t quickly dump the old theory. Rather, we try to reconcile them and if that is not possible, see if we made an error in the new discovery or see what is wrong with our old understanding.

    With the Christian faith – it isn’t a blind faith. There are things we can’t prove with a 100% doubt. But, there are things that are reasonable given the world we live in, the history of the text of the writings and the people, and so forth. That there are different interpretations on that stuff, is because we don’t have proof 100%. But, that science investigates the natural world does not at all discount the history of Israel. That there are discrepancies there does not mean there isn’t some truth behind their history and their texts. So, we look at the claims, we look at the world, we start to see a bigger picture than one little miracle claim to see how it all fits together. No different than in science except that there you have mathematics and experimentation. In biblical studies you have a lot of conjecture at points. But, what about the big picture? Anyone following what I’ve said over the last couple of months will notice I keep saying “big picture.” The truth isn’t in the particulars, it is in the big picture which those particular make up. One can be misled only looking at particulars. We must look at the big picture to understand life. I am not advocating just believing stuff to believe it, or in believing nonsense. Rather, I am advocating looking at facts relative to a big picture. You can throw whatever hypotheses you want at it, but they have to be at the top level, not the details! That is why I say textual criticism will not win the day. Because it is a single detail. It must be paid attention to, but in light of possible big pictures. One big picture is that the natural world is all there is. But, does that really answer everything? Another is that the history of Israel is relevant to existence and how we live our lives. There are indeed other religions. But rather than just saying that, let’s look at them relative to the big picture. Induction gives us a big picture. But you can not go from the particulars to get the big picture. Rather you must start with the big picture and test the particulars against it.

    So, I have NOT abandoned the epistemology which I was trained in at MIT. Instead, if I tried to make it more holistic. I have applied a systems approach to it. There is a chance I’ve been fooled to becoming a Christian. I highly doubt it though given the study I’ve done so far. There is a spiritual aspect that I have ignored in most of these discussions. It is important. Yet, I also think that the Christian beliefs are rational independent of a spiritual influence. It is that influence that turns the light bulb on, though; where things can be seen for what they are. It is in that influence that people can say I’ve gone off the deep end. That is why I leave it to the side. But the fact is, no understanding truly happens of the Christian faith until that influence takes place.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,
    “Aristotelian physics doesn’t work in reality.”

    The details of his physics is antiquated, but what do you mean by “doesn’t work in reality”? Are you saying there is no cause and effect? Are you addressing determinism versus indeterminism? Just curious what you mean by that statement?

  • Anonymous

    What I mean, Walt, is that his physics is not a mind-independent method of inquiry but a philosophy that rests on mind-dependent (and incorrect) assumptions about the nature of reality.

  • Anonymous

    The reason why this is so important to understand is that much religious justification relies on the Aristotelian teleology that incorrectly assumes natural goals and purposes for objects. And it is upon this wobbly rock that stands the notion of direction and agency. Once you move away from these assumptions you can begin to codify processes and forces that stand apart from the objects. Claims for agency – and then goals and purposes and intentions and plans OF this agency – are now an addition without evidential roots.

    Consider erosion, for example. If one wishes to assign goals and purposes and so on to this physical product of gravity, then one has to prove agency capable of directing otherwise to do the directing we find. It’s a complication – and a completely unnecessary one – if one wishes to understand erosion; one gets diverted into arguments about metaphysical goals and mystical intentions about the divine spirits guiding this process that are entirely superfluous – and completely unfounded by good evidence – to understanding how erosion works and what changes it produces.

    In the same way we now know that motion is not a property of objects but a response to force to which all objects are equally subject, so too do we know that metaphysical assumptions about the nature of objects (like a person’s soul for example) are completely detached from any evidence provided by the objects themselves to support it. The only thing keeping Aristotelian physics alive these days is religious belief that finds a kindred spirit in making stuff up and calling it true.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,
    I’m haven’t read Aristotle’s science texts to know exactly what he taught. So I can’t say much. I know his method was philosophical for the most part, but I have seen people criticize his logic principles as no longer valid, and that is a whole other matter. If his logic principles were not valid, than the Bacon method would not be possible. The very foundations of science would be pulled out from under it. I was wondering if that was at which you were hinting.

    However, I think it is naive to think that modern science is entirely independent of assumptions about reality. The scientific method in its purest sense is ideal. It is not totally devoid of human agendas, preconceptions, assumptions, etc., however. As an example, look at the arguments that go on related to string theory.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, “The reason why this is so important to understand is…”

    I consider that evolution of thought. No sense in trowing rocks at an ancient Greek philosopher who was pretty astute for his time.

    “The only thing keeping Aristotelian physics alive these days is religious belief that finds a kindred spirit in making stuff up and calling it true. ”

    If you think that statement is true dildeb, then you have fallen into the trap yourself.

  • almamu18

    Oh brother….
    People need to realize that the evidence for God’s existence is overwhelming. Creation (things that have been brought into existence) implies Creator (a Being, God, who brought things into existence). You don’t need a PhD, or any degree for that matter to realize that.

    Also, it is beneficial to point out that science is fallacious, that it is not fact or evidence-based, but interpretation based. It masquerades itself as being evidence-based, but it turns into a matter of opinion. In the scientific world, there is not right or wrong, good or bad. Science is, therefore, not objective, but subjective.

    The point of the article was to show the circular reasoning of those who chose to argue that ‘science’ has disproven God. Science is only applied to the natural world, not the supernatural. Since we know that the universe is finite, we understand that it had a beginning. Since the universe is composed of space, time, and matter, they are finite as well. Again, space, time, and matter all have a beginning, therefore a Creator exists. This Creator exists outside of time, since He created time in the first place, therefore, He is eternal. Since He created the universe, He also created the laws of nature, physics, mathematics, etc. Since He created the laws of nature, it can be concluded that this Creator is supernatural, or exists outside or beyond nature.

    Like I said, science is fallacious, since we make it say what we want it to say. Dawkins, Stenger, and the like only use the evidence which fits into their worldview and call it objective science. The truth is that humans are not reasonable. The evidence for God is there; whether or not you accept the evidence, that’s entirely up to you…and God.

  • Anonymous

    Walt, there’s nothing wrong with Aristotle’s logic principles; his only mistake is assuming his premises were valid, and this is understandable given the lack of any other good method to use. (For example, who wouldn’t presume the eye is what sees rather than the brain?) I have the highest regards for lots of very big brained past people including religious giants who – given today’s epistemology – would soar I have little doubt to new and remarkable heights leaving behind the baggage of incorrect assumptions and unknowable assertions.

    And of course much of science done today is rife with human foibles. That’s why we’re very fortunate to have a method that continues to reduce these over time and distill what those who have gone before produced into very reliable and trustworthy explanations. Too often people assume science equals the latest and current tentative findings and, when these are later overturned, assume something is wrong with the method rather than appreciate how well it works due to this very self-correcting feature.

  • Anonymous

    But without a demonstrable causal link to effects claimed to be evidence for the divine, what we have is identical to made up stuff with no way to tell the difference.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    It is difficult to apply demonstrable causal links to most of life. It is fine that it can be applied to the mechanistic aspects of the universe – that is great for understanding things in a way that help us develop technologies that help mankind. But is just doesn’t address the fundamental questions that have to do with relationships and with living life. Psychology has attempted to understand, but it is very subjective and ultimately doesn’t change a person for good. Some evidence for that is that medicine is used more often than not these days to affect people’s behaviors rather than truly change thus person from the inside out. It is easier to use chemicals than to get at the real issues within the human soul (who they are). The scientific approach turns human beings into chemical processes. When that happens, there is no value to human life, but only to human productivity that satisfies the cycle of consumption and profit. People are reduces to machines rather than humans. When that happens, then it will be possible to develop metrics for morals – those that produce the most profit for society, rather than that which produces the most sense of what it means to be human.

    You have made science into a god, a savior, to solve all the world’s problems. The reality is that it reduces mankind to mere instruments. So much is so complicated, that analysis of the parts never helps fix the whole. As an example, one drug usually has side effects. Another drug is given to fix the side effects only to cause others. The problem is that the drug is isolated from the food parts that make it work the best in the human body. Having been involved with the development of complex “systems” for the government, I recognize that without analyses of the behavior of the whole system in their environments, the system can have catistrophic results. An engineer designing one aspect without regard for the whole can inadvertantly place a defect in the system. And yet, it is extremely difficult to do analyses of the whole. Science fundamentally doesn’t do so. It practically requires only changing one variable at a time. That is impossible in a very complex system.

    So, it turns out that the methods need to become wholistic to get to the next level of technological achievement. Thus, the current scientific method is limited. It is not the savior of the world. If there is any chance of there being a “savior,” it has to be at the most global level. One question is, has that which caused the universe, whatever name you want to call it, already provided a way?

    Of course I believe the answer is Yes, He has. But, we can never know that way by closing our minds to it in favor of another god. The Bible says, “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door WILL BE opened.” The way that will really solve human issues is already there. All we have to do is ask. Yes, there is a mystical aspect. But if it is really there, then how sense is it to poo poo it?

  • Anonymous

    Well, you’ve asked a very important question but undermined any answer in how you approach it:

    has that which caused the universe, whatever name you want to call it, already provided a way?

    Your premise includes this notion that something, some agency, ’caused’ the universe. But this is where I raise my standard question: Is that claim true and, if so, how might we know?

    Assuming agency is one thing; attributing to some supernatural critter is quite another. If there is an answer we can know, then it has to reside – as you quite rightly point out – globally, meaning in the here and now everywhere. Your belief in god does not satisfy me.

    What does satisfy me is not science, nor the scientific method. It’s not even knowledge. It’s wisdom. And this is achievable for all of us if we learn to ask the right questions, gather knowable answers, develop our knowledge and test it for value, and apply the right reasons to live an authentic and purposeful life with meaning that builds our lives to be more today than they were yesterday. And meaning is subjective. We find it individually everywhere in our pursuits. But all of this is not subject to submitting our faculties to woo, to belief in belief, to realms unknowable and agencies imagined. Wisdom is attainable in the here and now without any need for superstitious beliefs if we learn how to pursue it honestly.

    You will not be the last person to accuse me of of some kind of religious faith in science, nor are you even close to being the first to warn me of turning humanity into automatons. But it’s a very silly conclusion when all I’m really arguing is that we need to respect what’s true and what’s knowable and stop pretending that we have access to some supernatural revelatory guide in our life’s journeys that will turn us into different and special people. The is a belief that is highly dangerous to the well-being of all us, and the arrogance to assume public privilege for this delusion profoundly negative.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “Your premise includes this notion that something, some agency, ’caused’ the universe. But this is where I raise my standard question: Is that claim true and, if so, how might we know?”

    Why should the idea of cause and effect, the basis of the scientific method, be abandoned on the question of something causing the universe?

    Elsewhere on this forum, I proposed the idea that God is the ultimate timeless ever present principles that created and govern the universe. It could be thought to be impersonal, so more argument was needed on that part. To my surprise, there was a lot of complaining about me calling “that” God (kind of a personal version of the “force”). But, even biblically, that IS God. Whether such is the same as the God of the Bible is a whole other question. But, if I return to that proposal, the very principles upon which the scientific method is done, relies upon God. God is undeniable. What is possibly deniable, again, is whether that God is the God of the Bible or any other religion.

    “I’m really arguing is that we need to respect what’s true and what’s knowable and stop pretending that we have access to some supernatural revelatory guide in our life’s journeys that will turn us into different and special people. The is a belief that is highly dangerous to the well-being of all us, and the arrogance to assume public privilege for this delusion profoundly negative. ”

    I would agree with you if I had made all this up; if there was no historical text written by eyewitnesses (which I know is arguable, but exists nevertheless); if there was no religious experiences; and if people weren’t incredibly transformed by the gospel (I will admit many are not, and that is another discussion). What is delusional is continuing to go down the path of self destruction (as a society, as well as individually) thinking somehow we would turn things around through use of the scientific method.

  • Todd

    Walt,
    You’ve said a lot here. A verbal discussion would certainly be easier, but I will endeavor to type my thoughts.

    Earlier I posited:
    Premise #2: “Medical science has proven that a person cannot return from death (this should be knowledge apriori).”

    You added:
    “To premise #2, that is begging the question – your conclusion is in the premise. You have no proof of any sort. Again, if you can provide it, I’ll gladly go back to my old career (which paid me much better).”

    Let’s for a second remove the controversial a-priori statement (something I was reticent to include in the first place and with hindsight shouldn’t have). You talk about the big picture later in your post, but I think that’s precisely what I’m doing with regards to the resurrection. I know your statement was meant for more than just this point, but it is one of the foundations of Christianty. If you gaze at the ‘big picture’ of the resurrection, on the one hand you have reality. In reality we have no basis for resurrection. I’m not sure what to say when someone denies that medical science has no proof against resurrection. People die in the care of doctors daily; but I’ve never heard of a credible physician waiting 3 days after pronouncing someone dead just in case they pop back up. Why? Because they don’t. You might find a reference here or there about someone resuccitated after being pronounced dead for a few moments or even minutes. But even the AMA agrees that Jesus was likley killed (http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/255/11/1455.short). In either case, the bible doesn’t dispute that Jesus died. I think we’re all in agreement on that. What the bible is claiming is precisely a supernatural resurrection, a miracle that snubs its nose in the face of reality. Reality that death is final, amen.

    On the other hand you have ancient accounts of Jesus, written 40-70 years after it happened, by authors who do do not clearly identify themselves in the text, written in third person narrative (as opposed to first person what one could reasonably would expect from an eye-witness account), with conflicting stories on where and how he appeared.

    Does the ‘big picture’ not dictate that the story is likely embellished? How can you reasonably conclude that a supernatural even occurred? I don’t think a reasonable person can without willful ignorance.

    Later in your post you argued:
    “Conclusions are arrived at by inductively concluding from what is known. That one thing seems to go against what we know – that dead men can rise – does not mean that the possibility is nil. Even in science, we discover things that are different than what we thought.”

    True. But there’s not much we don’t understand about what happens to people after they are tortured and killed. I think it is safe to say there is conclusive evidence that people killed in such a manner do not rise again. And even if we grant the possibility is not zero, given the time period and the evidence, I think there is zero chance that Jesus beat the odds.

    The big picture gets wider in your statement:
    “So, we look at the claims, we look at the world, we start to see a bigger picture than one little miracle claim to see how it all fits together. No different than in science except that there you have mathematics and experimentation.”

    I agree that we learn new things all of the time, especially when we examine the world. As we learn more about our world, the universe both large and small, we fit pieces of knowledge together that were previously unknown, or questioned. We gain knowledge and become better humans. But what new things has Chrisitianity taught us? And conversely, how often has christianity prevented or perverted that knowledge?

    So you conclude:
    “There is a spiritual aspect that I have ignored in most of these discussions. It is important.”

    I’m solidly in your camp here. There is the unknown, and our feelings about the unknown should not be ingored. How often has the gut feeling of a scientist lead to a new discovery? But when it comes to religion, I see no spirit. There is no new discovery, only the continued spread of ancient ignorance and fear. Though we move forward as a society, I fear we do so with the shackle of religious superstition hindering our every step.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “He created time in the first place, therefore, He is eternal”

    So how does an eternal being create time, given that creation requires change, which pre-requires the existence of time? I don’t think you’ve thought this through.

    If you think science is fallacious, stop taking medicine and stop using a computer.

    “Creation (things that have been brought into existence) implies Creator”

    Question begging and circular reasoning. If you’re right and ‘creation’ implies ‘creator’ then you can’t refer to anything as ‘creation’ until you’ve established the existence of said ‘creator’. When we see things come into existence – eg snowflakes – we try to work out the natural processes that brought them into existence. Feel free to suggest the supernatural, but you need to have some humility in the face of hundreds of years of discoveries – which your life depends on – all based on people searching for non-supernatural causes of events.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Todd, I think I get where you’re coming from, but you’re argument does seem to be “We know that supernatural events don’t occur, there this supernatural event can’t have occurred.”

    Sure, under natural circumstances we don’t see dead people rising to life again. That’s the point of the resurrection story – it demonstrated the supernatural.

    Now, I don’t believe the story either, but for the reasons you describe elsewhere in the post – there’s simply not evidence for it, all the accounts were written decades later and we’re not quite sure by whom.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Todd,

    “I’m not sure what to say when someone denies that medical science has no proof against resurrection. People die in the care of doctors daily; but I’ve never heard of a credible physician waiting 3 days after pronouncing someone dead just in case they pop back up. Why? Because they don’t.”

    Todd, what a doctor expects in ordinary circumstances has zero to do with Jesus’ resurrection. In context, no one expects an ordinary death to have a resurrection. In context, Jesus was expected to rise (even if those around him didn’t expect it or understand what was to happen). What is normal is not proof against what is out of the ordinary. All the ordinary does is put a question on the authenticity of the claim, but it sure doesn’t prove anything.

    “On the other hand you have ancient accounts of Jesus, written 40-70 years after it happened, by authors who do do not clearly identify themselves in the text, written in third person narrative (as opposed to first person what one could reasonably would expect from an eye-witness account), with conflicting stories on where and how he appeared.”

    First of all, there is disagreement on your statement. But second of all, it is just a smoke screen. Even if your statement is literally true, that is not proof that the resurrection did not happen. It might be another flag to question it, but not anything that proves it didn’t happen. (At this point, my focus isn’t proving it did happen, but to show you that you have no basis for saying there is proof it didn’t happen, since you made that claim.)

    “Does the ‘big picture’ not dictate that the story is likely embellished? ”

    Your ‘big picture” is still limited to your view of the text and your view of miracles individually. When I mention “big picture” much more has to be taken into account as a whole and all possible scenarios have to be evaluated against it.

    “I think it is safe to say there is conclusive evidence that people killed in such a manner do not rise again. And even if we grant the possibility is not zero, given the time period and the evidence, I think there is zero chance that Jesus beat the odds.”

    Todd, you speak as if Jesus’ resurrection was supposed to be within a natural course of events. That it could have been a fluke natural event. If that is how his resurrection happened, then it was not a miracle and no claim on God’s hand can be made. Your medical evidence against the resurrection is actually evidence for why it was a miracle. If Jesus’ coming back to life was a mere fluke, then I still have no reason to consider what he said any differently than any other wise person. You can’t argue that it doesn’t normally happen as proof that when God is involved, it could happen. Because, again, if it could have naturally happened, even with the smallest probability, then there is no validation on God having any part.

    “But what new things has Chrisitianity taught us? And conversely, how often has christianity prevented or perverted that knowledge?”

    Another smoke screen. I put “christianity” and “biblically revealed knowledge” in two different categories. Without having the details, what I presume what you are talking about with respect to prevented or perverted knowledge is not revelational knowledge, but human rhetoric used by religious people. The way I see it, most of the argument against Christianity is against what a group of humans have done and said throughout history in the name of Jesus, not against what Jesus himself did or said. If one reads what Jesus said, it pretty much turns the wisdom of the ages on its head. Others might have done that as well, but the unique thing about Jesus is not what he said as much as what he did and what he said about himself. He claimed to be the lamb of God described so vividly in Isaiah 53. That is quite significant. His death and resurrection is the means for healing the broken. All are broken, just some deny it. Ego trip I guess.

    “There is no new discovery, only the continued spread of ancient ignorance and fear. Though we move forward as a society, I fear we do so with the shackle of religious superstition hindering our every step. ”

    Todd, I won’t deny there is baggage that gets carried along with religion that should be shed. But a generalization of the works of men in religious history does not trump the work of God. Much is said in ancient language and not put in modern context. That is difficult to do without distorting the message. But, I think there is a meaning under the ancient language that is an relevant today as ever. I’m not saying it is myth, but that language can cloud the reality. The superstition that needs to be shed is that we can save ourselves from insignificance and death. It seems that the more we focus on the use of science to save ourselves, the more we push humanity into a realm of insignificance and even a death of any sense of worth. What is most amazing is that people today think we are so much smarter to not believe the stories of the first century. Actually, when you read the New Testament, you find that there were people who didn’t believe it then either. The Athenians thought it was crazy than anyone should rise from the dead in Acts 17. It is difficult to see an invisible God. We have to see Him by what He does in the world. For those who experience His Spirit, the reality of the spirit is recognized. John 14:17 says those in the world do not recognize the spirit because they don’t have it. So I am not surprised that you say you know not of the spirit. However, that spirit is available to all who ask.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I believe the big picture from what you have written is that its conclusions are nonsense. Sure, some might insist that I have arrived at that conclusion deductively but I want to assure you that with a wave of my hand my claim makes good sense because it’s based on good reasons. Take it on faith. But if I go into the details on what those reasons are based, this will not necessarily reflect the big picture which is, I assure you, I believe is most likely true.

    This approach to examining your claim is really the same kind of approach for doing science: we look at the big picture and assign supernatural causation because it sort of makes inductive sense… not to mention it’s so much easier than having to do the painstakingly hard detailed work religious belief demands. Ahem.

    Now move along… there’s nothing to see here; science and religion are just ‘different ways of knowing’ and really are BFF because I believe they are.

  • Andrew Ryan

    One problem I do see Walt, is that if you’re allowing for the supernatural, then you can’t prove ANYTHING outside of maths. Say you saw someone commit a crime – who’s that the natural laws weren’t momentarily suspended and what you saw wasn’t in fact a ghost? Say someone points out that an accused man was thousands of miles from a crime… well what if the natural laws were suspended and he teleported there.

    Sounds ridiculous, but it’s what you get when you say “OK, but your proof depends on every natural law we’re aware of continuing to exist”.

  • Anonymous

    I note that the believers in the resurrection of Jesus like to infuse this claim as if it’s proof of his divinity but never make the same attribution to others who go about raising people from the dead.

    Both Peter and Paul did so, as did Elijah and Elisha, and Matthew tells us all kind of ‘saintly’ people left their graves along with JC like they were off to attend a Palestinian lu’au. This resurrecting business seems to be presented as pretty mundane to me, carried out on all kinds of people by other people without any associated claims of ‘evidence’ for divinity.

    When religious believers themselves cannot put their own theological house in detailed coherent order, it’s very difficult to be patient and polite when we are told that the reason for this incoherency is because the listener doesn’t first recognize the spirit. What is recognized is that the spirit seems particularly able to befuddle the critical faculties of otherwise intelligent people.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Andrew,

    I honestly don’t believe that is what I’m saying. I’ve tried to be clear that context is EXTREMELY important! Todd’s claims that the resurrection could not have happened because we don’t see it happen regularly ignores context.

    Your story of a ghost committing a crime is a matter of context. I have no reason to believe a ghost did so. Now, if some one was saying this was going to happen before it happened, and there were several eyewitnesses who claimed to see it, THEN AND ONLY THEN, I have to look into it more seriously. Not that I believe it right away. Indeed I will look for natural causes because that is my natural inclination. But, the supernatural claim is only plausible and worth consideration in the proper context.

    To deldib’s, smart remarks, this IS what science does as far as induction goes, except, since science investigates the natural everyday stuff where repeatable experiments can be done, there is no presumption of supernatural cause. There is no reason to posit it when studying the mechanistic aspects of the natural world! Even if it were positing such for the reasons for the world or of life to even exist, science can’t verify that within its own domain of investigation. But, the method of induction is the same. If one does want to say science can work outside the domain of experiment, through logical (however inductive) connections and extrapolations, then you are looking at something like history, archeology, and so forth, but then it practically is the same thing. But again, outside of any reason, even in history and archeology you don’t assume supernatural causes. I think it is near impossible to verify the supernatural on a local, or specific instance, level. That is why I advocate the ‘big picture’ approach. I think the supernatural can only be seen or rejected in the larger picture.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “When religious believers themselves cannot put their own theological house in detailed coherent order,”

    On the resurrection accounts, I think you are overstating. There is nothing mundane about it. You can count the claims on less than one hand for several thousands of years of history. In all cases, it is understood God to be the one raising the person from the dead through the agent. No special spiritual access is needed to understand that. So, I don’t know where you get this idea about theological incoherence? The Spirit doesn’t make rational what is irrational. All the Spirit does is testify and bring illumination, but coherence is required even of God or there is no big picture to view.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    dildeb,

    “I note that the believers in the resurrection of Jesus like to infuse this claim as if it’s proof of his divinity but never make the same attribution to others who go about raising people from the dead. ”

    There is a difference. In all but Jesus’ resurrection, a prophet, apostle, or whoever, was involved. With Jesus, no one was involved other than God. There is also a difference in the outcome – with Jesus, the claim is that He never died again. For the others, there was eventual physical death again.

    As far as the Matthew statement about the multitudes, I don’t know enough to comment about it except to say that it was tied to Jesus’ resurrection in some way. The bottom line is that Jesus’ resurrection is the unique event prophesied of the Messiah (Is 53:11; Dan 6 typology; Mk 8:31; Mt 16:4; etc.).

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Walt: claims are made daily about resurrections. And we ignore all of them for exactly the same reason: once we understand how and why cellular decay works, we know that it is far more likely that the person was never dead to begin with. Or, as the ‘resurrected’ like to say, the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Your circular reasoning that only god explains the biblical resurrections so biblical resurrections are evidence for god is why I say the resurrection – as powerful evidence for god – is a critical faculty fail. And its a fail because resurrection stories are common and just as commonly dismissed as poor explanations. You hold the biblical ones to a different standard with no just cause other than your a priori belief it should be so.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb, “Your circular reasoning that only god explains the biblical resurrections so biblical resurrections are evidence for god”

    I don’t believe I ever said that! If I did I must have had a mental lapse. First, I would say that last half of the statement as, “biblical resurrections are an evidence for God that is worth investigating in context of the larger picture.” Second, I would never say that only God explains the biblical resurrections. What I meant was that the stories of resurrections in the Bible are attributed in the Bible to God, not that God is the only explanation of the stories (and technically I am only going along with your words, but they are resuscitations – there was only one true resurrection other than the mysterious story of the mass resurrection in Matthew).

    Lastly, I am familiar with resuscitations, especially in India. Right now I have no hard evidence for it, only testimonies. Therefore, I reserve judgment on those accounts. But, if they did happen, they were resuscitations, not resurrections. There has only been one resurrection and only God can do that since a miracle is required. If you can show me a claims of people be dead for 3 days and coming back to life as happening all the time, then I’ll give you that. But, I’m not familiar with such claims. I think you are talking about near-death experiences and those are no ways similar to resurrections. A resurrection by definition is from complete death and does not happen naturally, as far as we know, just as Todd notes.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Todd,
    I know I’m way late on this comment thread, but I wanted to point one thing out. You said:

    “Of all the people who have died since the beginning of our species, those hundreds of millions of lives lost… not once has there been an exception to this rule.”

    There is no way you could possibly know that, Todd, without examining each and every case of the hundreds of millions of people who ever lived. You are simply making an assumption based on the direct knowledge you have of, perhaps, hundreds of deaths. This is the problem with your approach to miracles. You take 100 data points about people who died and did not come back to life, and then you make the grand claim that none of the hundreds of millions of people who ever lived came back to life, even though there is eyewitness testimony that some people have come back to life!

    If you are going to be intellectually reasonable, you MUST allow for the possibility that some of those hundreds of millions of people did come back to life, and then go investigate the strongest claims of that having occurred. That is the best way to approach the subject.

  • Pingback: Does Science Disprove the Existence of God? | Time For Discernment

  • Todd

    Bill,
    “There is no way you could possibly know that, Todd, without examining each and every case of the hundreds of millions of people who ever lived.” I suppose by the same logic we can never know that all humans were born through fertilization. There are several accounts throughout history of people being born of a virgin even though science would rule out the possibility. Perhaps we should entertain stork theory since we can’t account for all births with %100 accuracy?

    “If you are going to be intellectually reasonable, you MUST allow for the possibility that some of those hundreds of millions of people did come back to life, and then go investigate the strongest claims of that having occurred.” Thinking myself a more than reasonable person, I MUST allow for nothing when there is no credible evidence that resurrection is possible. Until presented with credible evidence, I think it is more intellectually reasonable to assume that none of them came back to life.

    It seems odd to me to even have a conversation on the finality of death. I think it is your need to believe in resurrection to give credence to Christianity that makes you question this simple reality.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeeshan.parvez.18 Zeeshan Parvez

    Atheists are so dumb. Science couldn’t prove billions of things in the past and yet they existed. Then when scientific methods improved they started ‘seeing’ those unseen things. Now just because science cannot prove God atheists argue left and right that there is no God. Well guess what? Science can’t prove that I saw Hitler in my dream yesterday but I did. And you will have to take my word for it. I know I saw him. Since science can’t prove it, and never will it be able to, atheists will just call me a liar. See how dumb this lot is. Not only that….they make up less then 10% of the world’s population. Shows how much they count!

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline