Schneider on God

People often tell me that I have a skewed view of religion because of my frequent participation in creationist gatherings. Yes, obviously, the fundamentalists are out of their minds, and it is discouraging that they give religion a bad name generally. But there is also a rich body of serious, probing work in Christian theology that is full of nuance and texture.

Or so I am told. I have yet to encounter it, and not for lack of looking. To me it always seems like an awful lot of intellectual energy wasted on a foolish and pointless project.

Part of the problem is that often, when I read books and essays written by devotees of the more sophisticated sorts of religion, they speak in ways I simply do not understand. The words on the page obviously held some meaning for the person who wrote them, but to me they are rather more opaque.

As a case in point, take this essay by Nathan Schneider from Sunday’s New York Times.

Schnieder opens with a few words about the ontological argument for God’s existence. A few paragraphs in we come to this:

It was the summer after I finished college, and I was passing a few weeks at home in Virginia before moving to California. I stretched out on the carpet floor of my old bedroom in the basement, reading Anselm’s “Proslogion,” finally, for the first time. Dangling on the lonely precipice between a certain past and a long, uncertain drive west, I thought back on the bizarre choice I’d wandered into, almost four years earlier, when I got myself baptized a Catholic. Now, moving far away, with the chance to start over, I started to wonder if I believed in any of it anymore. Did I still even think that God exists?

Anselm’s proof rained on me a drop of consolation. It filled my head enough to cover over the hollow low in my stomach.

That’s clear enough. A young man having a crisis of faith finding solace in the work of a great theologian. The trouble, though, is that whatever Anselm’s merits as a philosopher and theologian, the ontological argument just does not hold water. Schneider is aware of that. After a few more paragraphs about the argument he writes:

I let the rapture in his proof take hold of me. For passing moments, lying on my back with the book in my hands, I came to sense the whole enormity of a God wrapped around my little mind, like a lonesome asteroid must feel touching the gentle infinity of space. Then, always, my mind wandered elsewhere and I forgot some movement of the logic. The whole thing dissolved away, along with the sense of certainty. I started to remember the echo of Kant’s devastating complaint against Anselm: existence is not a predicate. God seemed to disappear.

That’s also pretty clear. Initially he was very taken with Anselm’s argument, and it helped to shore up his waning faith. Sadly, further thought and an understanding of at least one refutation of the argument showed him that the ontological argument is not very good, and his faith began to wane once more.

That’s where things get weird. the next paragraph is:

But I read on. I was reminded it wasn’t God’s existence that plagued Anselm — of that, he had no doubt — it was the phrasing. Modern arguments and evangelists and New Atheists have duped us into thinking that the interesting question is whether God exists; no, what mattered for Anselm was how we think about God and about one another.

Well, yes, actually I do think the interesting question is whether God exists. Where is he going with this?

When Anselm discovered his proof, he was still a precocious young monk in the quiet of a monastery. He loved silence and contemplation, yet constantly he reached out beyond it. The letters he wrote to far-flung friends in those years overflow with longing, in language eerily like what he used to describe his proof. “Everything I feel about you is sweet and pleasant to my heart,” Anselm wrote to another monk named Gundulf. “Whatever I desire for you is the best that my mind can conceive.” His passion in friendship is so palpable, and so unusual for its time, modern scholars have wondered whether these relationships were entirely celibate. (They probably were.)

The God he conjured in proof he had learned from his friends. The fullness, the absence, the solitude and the hunger — I recognized myself. The answer I found in his proof is no answer at all, no truly abstract, autonomous assurance that I can have all to myself. I have to stitch it out of memories, hopes and loved ones, as he did. It is no self-thinking thought; it’s a pleasure built out of language and sharing.

Setting off for a new place, I was saddled in the past, in what I had been and done. My conversion, and with it God, is not a thing I can live down, but something I’ll always have to live in, through and around. The very fact of it, that it happened at all, is a proof for its own ongoing existence.

What does that last sentence mean? To what does “it” refer? The best interpretation I can come up with is that in his past he had a conversion experience that convinced him of the reality of God. The very fact that this experience happened at all is, he believes, proof of God’s existence.

What, then, of his earlier crisis of faith and his search for a good argument for God’s existence? The sequence of events seems to be: He had a conversion experience, began to doubt its veracity, read Anselm and was initially taken with his ontological argument, decided the argument wasn’t so great after all, read more Anselm, decided it was best to take God’s existence as axiomatic, concluded that his conversion experience is proof all by itself that God is real.

For myself, I have never had any such conversion experience and theological writing has never had much emotional impact for me. I’m still stuck on the existence question. Shows you what a silly New Atheist I am.

We all have moments of fullness, absence, solitude and hunger, but what has that to do with God’s existence? And we all shape our views of life in part from our experiences, memories, friends and loved ones. Again, though, what has that to do with God? If the goal is to find meaning and purpose in life (which seems to be what Schneider has in mind) I fail to see how a God of uncertain existence provides much help.

But perhaps I have misinterpreted him in some way. Let me know what you think.

Comments

  1. #1 Jim
    August 25, 2009

    I was telling my blog partner earlier today that I wanted to write a post on this, but I genuinely do not know what to say about it. I’m not even sure what Schneider is getting at with his article. What does Anslem’s value of friendship have to do with his arguments for the existence of God. And what is this nonsense about “I was reminded it wasn’t God’s existence that plagued Anselm — of that, he had no doubt — it was the phrasing.” The ontological argument was hardly Anslem’s only attempt at providing a proof for God’s existence. He had several, many of them of the common cosmological and teleological brands. I don’t know if Schneider is that ignorant of the history involved here or if he’s dishonest. Either way, he’s just flat wrong when he suggests that Anslem wasn’t all that concerned about providing a proof for the existence of God. Perhaps he should go back and reread Anslem’s Proslogion to remind himself just how much time and work goes into Anslem’s effort to establish that the Christian God really is “that than which nothing greater can be conceived.”
    So my question is simple: what the hell is Schneider talking about? And I’m serious. I genuinely don’t know what the point of his essay is.

  2. #2 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 25, 2009

    Jim -

    Obviously I agree with your befuddlement about Schneider’s point. In fairness to him, however, I think it is accurate to say that Anselm took God’s existence as axiomatic. He felt that reason had an important role to play in enriching faith (and, indeed, was one of the earliest to promote that view), but that faith was nonetheless paramount.

  3. #3 Tom Coward
    August 25, 2009

    I have come to think that theology has the same probelm that parapscychology has: it has not proven that its subject matter actually exists. Therefore, as with the existence of ESP, telekinesis, etc., isn’t it reasonable for skeptics to suggest that theologians actually prove that a god or gods actually exists before discussing the nature, attributes, importance, etc., of such god or gods?

    Again, as with parapsychologists, theologians have nevertheless gone ahead and constructed an elaborate superstructure of “analysis” over a subject matter that has not been demonstrated to exist.

  4. #4 Your Name's Not Bruce?
    August 25, 2009

    Mr. Schneider says:

    I came to sense the whole enormity of a God wrapped around my little mind, like a lonesome asteroid must feel touching the gentle infinity of space.

    Asteroids, be they lonely or not are unthinking, unfeeling, ancient leftovers from the formation of the solar system, orbiting the sun, bathed in lethal radiation in the cold, hard vacuum of space. Put in these terms I would agree that, yes, god is well represented by a vacuum.

  5. #5 Koray
    August 25, 2009

    And what if god’s existence is taken as axiomatic? All that it gives that ‘a’ god must exist. It doesn’t say whether he loves you, is in any way involved in “insert major religion” or there’s afterlife, order, purpose in the universe. How much comfort does that give?

    I too can contort my brain to conclude that a unicorn must exist, but still I’ll live my life as if it doesn’t.

  6. #6 pough
    August 25, 2009

    Modern arguments and evangelists and New Atheists have duped us into thinking that the interesting question is whether God exists; no, what mattered for Anselm was how we think about God and about one another.

    Well, he’s certainly mastered the Courtier’s Reply. It doesn’t matter whether or not the Emperor is wearing any clothes. What matters is the cut and quality of the cloth and the stylish flair of the complementary accoutrements!

  7. #7 Jim
    August 25, 2009

    Jason, I’m no expert on the Neoplatonists in general nor Anslem in specific. However, I have read both the Monologion and Proslogion, and I have some familiarity with the background in which Anslem was working. He was very concerned about grounding Christian doctrine in reason. His two main works consist almost entirely of his proofs and his justifications for what he derives from them.
    Not to diminish the status of faith for Anslem, but reason and proofs for God’s existence were anything but peripheral to his concerns.

  8. #8 Wes
    August 25, 2009

    Jim,

    You’re right. But remember, in the introduction to the Proslogion, Anselm says, “I do not understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand.” I’ve always taken that to mean he was being a “good” theologian–taking what he already believed and coming up with ways to make it sound reasonable. Anyways, though reason was important to him, like any Christian thinker he started with faith and moved on from there. Like all theology (as far as I’m aware), his theology starts with beliefs he accepts purely for social and emotional reasons, and then proceeds to put a gloss of logic and verbiage over them.

  9. #9 NewEnglandBob
    August 25, 2009

    But there is also a rich body of serious, probing work in Christian theology that is full of nuance and texture.

    Or so I am told. I have yet to encounter it, and not for lack of looking.

    When all of theology is comprised of fantasies and woo, how could there ever possibly be nuances or texture that mean anything?

    Computer science has a name for their phenomenon:
    Garbage In, Garbage Out

  10. #10 Jim
    August 25, 2009

    Wes, you’re absolutely right about Anslem being a “good” theologian, and I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise.

  11. #11 Simea mirans
    August 25, 2009

    I’ll give it a try. I’m an atheist, and I’ve never had a conversion experience, but I’m willing to respect religious people who use theology to reflect on the human condition. Here’s how I see it:

    We all have to manage our relationship with this big, mostly empty universe somehow. Asteroids are unthinking and unfeeling but we’re not. Rationality is the most important piece of equipment we have for this project, but it’s not sufficient for many of the biggest issues; for those we need love, a sense of humour, appreciation for beauty, etc. Do we all agree so far?

    Now, to be useful, some of this irrational stuff has be embraced as if it were rational, at least for many of us. The philosopher Tim Minchin has shown how romantic love won’t stand up to rational analysis (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gaid72fqzNE), but we still feel it, long for it, participate in it enthusiastically. We’re monkeys; we can’t do this rationality thing very consistently.

    So what do you do with the feeling that your love for your spouse and your kids is bigger and more important than you can justify rationally? If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t reflect on these things, you probably don’t need to do anything, which is fine. If you’re more like Schneider (or Anselm), you build your sense of the universe around it. And if you’re like Ken Ham you try to use it to answer questions the way physics and biology do (at which point you’ve lost my respect entirely and I flip over to full New Atheist mode).

    Theology can have nuance and texture the same way poetry can, and the fact that there was never a prince of Denmark named Hamlet is the least important thing to know about Shakespeare’s play. If you don’t like poetry either this probably won’t move you, but I hope you can acknowledge that some other people get real benefit from it. (If not, then this whole debate is jut the science majors against artsies, which is too boring to be worth even a single blog posting).

    So you end up with people speaking in what I consider to be metaphors, but expressing them as if they were truths. As long as this tendency is kept out of areas where objective truth is knowable and important, I don’t mind — I’m an accommodationist. When it contributes to a person organizing their life in a way I find admirable (committing themselves to social justice and liberal politics, taking care of the planet, and so on), I really don’t feel comfortable criticizing it. The Christians I know are like this; and while they occasionally drive me crazy with their attention to Scripture (looking for ways to finesse a gay-friendly interpretation instead of just saying that Paul was wrong, for example), the important point is that theological thinking provides them with a basis for living good lives: in them it does much good and no harm.

    Obviously it’s not the only basis for a good life, and obviously many religious people aren’t like them. But any argument that puts me on the other side from people I admire and respect, for no good reason, is one I’m not interested in pursuing, especially when there are so many more important battles to be fought. They’re on my side when it comes to gay marriage, science education, global warming, etc.; that’s good enough.

  12. #12 itchy
    August 25, 2009

    Very nice analysis, Simea.

    The problem I have is that Schneider seems to be saying that, yes, it’s not important that there was a prince of Denmark named Hamlet, but … by the way, there was.

    If the existence of god is not important, then it’s not important, and he needs not make any claims about it.

    But I agree that, when I read the piece, Schneider seems to be redefining God into the actual feeling he has and which, I suppose, others have. This, of course, exists. If he were to stop there and make no further claims, he’d be on solid ground.

    As Koray commented, there’s a world of difference between positing the existence of a god and making any claims about that god. Theologians always seem to jump right past the first realm and into the second.

  13. #13 Tyler DiPietro
    August 25, 2009

    Simea,

    It seems to me that you’re conflating two different definitions of the word “rational”. It can describe both beliefs justified by evidence and behavior that minimizes cost and maximizes utility. My family and other loved ones have provided me with ample evidence that they love me, and vice versa. So love fits easily into one definition of rational (belief justified by evidence) while, being of a selfless and unconditional nature, it doesn’t fit into the other (minimizing cost/maximizing utility).

    I also think your analogy of theology to poetry is fallacious. The basic activity associated with poetry is using language to express inarticulate perceptions. It is largely subjective, and thus I don’t consider antithetical to rationality. But even supposedly “sophisticated” theology attempts to describe things that are allegedly real, and thus should be subjected to critical, evidence-based analysis. (If it doesn’t describe things that are real, then I would argue that it reduces to literature and art.)

  14. #14 Ivan
    August 26, 2009

    …the whole enormity of a God…

    Ha!

  15. #15 Sigmund
    August 26, 2009

    Someone on Ophelia Bensons blog, Wheels and Butterflies, posted the following quote on the problems with Anselms argument (and ultimately the problems of the type of God produced by more modern ‘sophisticated theologians’.)

    “Why would I want to worship such a god? Anselm’s god is nothing more than a philosophical blow up doll. I’d rather have a love affair with a deity that is mysterious and makes demands of me than one that is nothing more than the sum total of my self and and all of its abilities.”

  16. #16 Sara
    August 26, 2009

    I’m a linguist, and do a lot of discourse analysis.

    The most straightforward interpretation of the above paragraphs, I think, would be something along those lines:

    Anselm’s proof is pretty but wrong. Yet Anselm was a generally nice person, and very young, when he came up with his proof, so there! Also, I converted, so it can’t all be completely pointless, can it?

    I mean, obviously, Nathan Schneider seems like a very nice person, too, and that’s a cool thing, but the reality-based approach suggests that Anselm’s proof was still wrong, and Kant was right.

  17. #17 Simea mirans
    August 26, 2009

    Itchy and Tyler: under my interpretation (as an outsider to this kind of religious experience) I think the issue isn’t what you know and how you know it (the evidence for your family’s love and so on) but what you do with big, ungovernable emotional insights like conversion experiences or falling in love. Applying a rational analysis to them isn’t sufficient to integrate them into your life. What I see in people like Schneider is an overflowing into areas properly reserved for evidence-based knowledge of the world, leading to statements that sound like truth-claims but are really metaphors. The believer is somewhere on a continuum between awareness and lack of awareness of the process. They’re on another continuum of the ability to keep this tendency from tainting their evidence-based understanding of the real world, with delusionals like Ken Ham at the far end. Hitchens may be right that religion poisons everything, but the dose makes the poison. All I’m arguing for is a little humane sensitivity to distinguish the harmless from the harmful.

  18. #18 Blake Stacey
    August 26, 2009

    So love fits easily into one definition of rational (belief justified by evidence) while, being of a selfless and unconditional nature, it doesn’t fit into the other (minimizing cost/maximizing utility).

    Given that one’s utility function contains a term for love, one can still maximize it by following methods informed by reason and empirical inquiry.

    (New idea for science-fiction story: Term Enough For Love.)

  19. #19 AnswersInGenitals
    August 26, 2009

    If your interests concern the foibles and foolishness of man, then study theology. But if you are drawn to the glory and greatness of God, then study science.

  20. #20 Tyler DiPietro
    August 26, 2009

    “Given that one’s utility function contains a term for love, one can still maximize it by following methods informed by reason and empirical inquiry.”

    I’m thinking in terms of tangible benefits to individuals. One could include arbitrary phenomena as terms in a utility function, including frivolous monetary losses. But that would contradict what we intuitively consider “utility”.

  21. #21 BaldApe
    August 26, 2009

    I was reminded it wasn’t God’s existence that plagued Anselm — of that, he had no doubt

    And that’s it in a nutshell (not to mix a metaphor or anything).

    Theological arguments assume the existence of some kind of god, then make unsupportable statements about what this god must be like. They are at base circular.

  22. #22 JonJ
    August 26, 2009

    I don’t think it’s profitable to spend much time trying to understand Schneider’s essay by analyzing it rationally. The couple of sentences, especially, are quite incoherent. He’s really just expressing a mood or feeling which seems important to him, but (in my opinion) not doing a very good job of telling the rest of us why we should be interested in it.

    As for the ontological argument itself, there happens to be a considerable philosophical literature on it which has been added to ever since Anselm’s time. In the twentieth century, with the development of new systems of logic, some attempts have been made to put it into a valid form. However, I think the general consensus of professional philosophers is still that, while it is an intriguing little problem to think about, it’s not really a valid argument. It’s a pity, I think, that so few non-philosophers know anything about the technical arguments that have been going on about this topic for centuries, but I guess it’s not surprising, given that most people either never take philosophy courses in college, or, if they do, are so bored by them that they promptly forget everything the prof droned on about.

  23. #23 JonJ
    August 26, 2009

    Sorry: “the last couple of sentences, especially …”

  24. #24 heddle
    August 27, 2009

    BaldApe,

    Theological arguments assume the existence of some kind of god, then make unsupportable statements about what this god must be like. They are at base circular.

    Not necessarily. Christian “Presuppositional Apologetics” assumes that God exists and the bible is his word, but it does not then use the bible to “prove” that God exists and the bible is his word. Rather it asks: given these presuppositions, can we create a cogent, biblically based, self-consistent and accurate view of the world and the human experience? Whether it succeeds or not is a fair question—but it needn’t be circular.

  25. #25 Ivan
    August 27, 2009

    Yep, heddle, I used to buy into that presuppositional stuff because it was “logical”. Then I realized it was all about straining at gnats and swallowing camels (to quote a certain book).

    When you swallow axiomatic camels like that, you can prove true all sorts of utter bullshit. Just look at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. And before to you object to their interpretation: that’s just it, “The Bible is God’s Word” isn’t even a proper axiom, because everyone has their own insanely detailed interpretation that conflicts with everyone else’s.

    And of course, “Allah exists and the Quran is His Word” is equally cogent and self-consistent, according to the presuppositionalist’s standards, anyway.

  26. #26 heddle
    August 27, 2009

    Ivan,

    You conveniently miss the boat. Yes anyone can start with presuppositions. Even scientists do: we presuppose that science is not a fool’s errand, that with hard work and time advancement will continue. But we are taking that on faith–we cannot know as a matter of fact that we have not reached the limits of the human mind’s ability to comprehend.

    And yes, people can start with the same presuppositions and reach wildly different conclusions.

    Or different presuppositions–e.g., Christian v. Moslem.

    That’s is all a given. And the question is not whether you can, starting with your presuppositions, build a self-consistent model of the world. The question is: can you build a satisfying model that works better than other models.

  27. #27 Ivan
    August 27, 2009

    Rather it asks: given these presuppositions, can we create a cogent, biblically based, self-consistent and accurate view of the world

    vs.

    And the question is not whether you can, starting with your presuppositions, build a self-consistent model of the world

    If that’s the boat I missed, I’m glad I’m not on it.

    And comparing the presuppositions of reason to those of an intricately baroque faith = utter FAIL.

  28. #28 heddle
    August 27, 2009

    Ivan,

    You missing the boat–not once but twice, now that is UTTER FAIL. You ought to try and put the reason you claim to possess into practice.

  29. #29 Ivan
    August 27, 2009

    That’s all you’ve got? Blatantly contradicting yourself and then saying “I know you are, but what am I?” when someone points it out?

    But let me be even more clear. You say that two people who presuppose “The Bible is God’s Word” have the same presuppositions. I’m saying, no, what each person really presupposes is “My interpretation of the Bible is correct.” They have to, because the Bible isn’t written like Principia Mathematica. When you say

    people can start with the same presuppositions and reach wildly different conclusions

    you’re admitting that your presuppositions aren’t at all useful as axioms. They’re just a way of saying, “I’m right, because I presuppose that I’m right.”

    Tell me, how is it that scientists can agree on so much and theologians can agree on practically nothing?

  30. #30 Spartan
    August 27, 2009

    Yes anyone can start with presuppositions. Even scientists do: we presuppose that science is not a fool’s errand, that with hard work and time advancement will continue. But we are taking that on faith–we cannot know as a matter of fact that we have not reached the limits of the human mind’s ability to comprehend.

    I wouldn’t call presupposing that science is not a fool’s errand a faith proposition, except in the most incredibly general way. Whether or not it turns out that we are the limits of our ability to comprehend does not change the fact that science has not been a fool’s errand up until now, and scientists have *reasons* galore to continue to make the attempt. If scientists found out they were at the limits of comprehension then yes, they wouldn’t bother; that does not mean that they are then ‘taking on faith’ that they will be able to comprehend more, partly because it’s impossible for them to know if they are at the limits. What reason do they have to think that their comprehension has reached it’s limit?

    At some level, this direction just gets silly. Scientists presuppose that the moon won’t collide with the earth tomorrow also, which would also make science a fool’s errand; they are taking that on faith apparently. Where does reason and empiricism fit in, or are those just subsets of faith? Yes, anyone can start with presuppositions but not all presuppositions are equal.

    The question is: can you build a satisfying model that works better than other models.

    Which definition of ‘satisfying’ are you using here? Satisfy what exactly? Not ‘satisfy’ as in ‘makes me feel good’ I’m assuming. Islam appears to be quite satisfying to many, and it most certainly ‘works’ just as well as Christianity.

  31. #31 heddle
    August 28, 2009

    Ivan,

    You did miss the boat. First time: You didn’t respond to what I wrote. My first comment in #24 was narrowly focused. It said nothing more (in response to BaldApe) than a theology based on presuppositions does not need to be circular. That’s it. That’s all I claimed. You never said “that’s wrong heddle.” Instead you got your panties in a bunch that “when you swallow axiomatic camels like that, you can prove true all sorts of utter bullshit.”

    That may or may not be true, but it wasn’t a response to anything I wrote.

    You missed the boat #2 with your deliberations that you can “prove” anything. In a sense that’s true. I can start with the same presuppositions as a YEC and reach different conclusions because of the subjectivity of biblical interpretation. So what? Do you think that is a new and insightful observation? Do you think we don’t know that?

    Then, in #27, you quote mined, chopping the second quote and declaring blatant inconsistency. The two quotes in their entirety are:

    Rather it asks: given these presuppositions, can we create a cogent, biblically based, self-consistent and accurate view of the world

    and

    And the question is not whether you can, starting with your presuppositions, build a self-consistent model of the world. The question is: can you build a satisfying model that works better than other models.

    Far from being blatantly inconsistent they are in perfect harmony. Both say that self-consistency is necessary but not sufficient. One says that accuracy is an additional requirement—they other characterizes what you need beyond self-consistency as satisfying and that it is better than the competition. Same thing, more or less, just a different expression.

    No reasonable person would characterize those two statements in their entirety, as you did in #29, as “blatantly inconsistent.” Congrats on your diploma from the Uncommon Descent school of Quote Mining.

    Finally you miss the boat yet again in your understanding of the purpose of apologetics. It is not to prove or even attempt to prove to you the validity of my view to you. That is manifestly obvious given that presuppositional apologetics assumes what you deny. And there is nothing I can do to prove God to you—in fact you are incapable of believing in God. The target of presuppositional apologetics (or any apologetics, in my opinion) is believers, not unbelievers. It is to dispel any cognitive dissonance. If a believer feels a tension between the bible and science, then one purpose of apologetics is to show how that tension is unnecessary. It is not an attempt to prove to you or any other unbeliever that we are right. That’s impossible.

    The only basis for any intellectual critique of my (or any) presuppositional apologetics is to, for the sake of argument, agree to my axioms, and then show where I don’t apply the rules of logic, or where a biblical interpretation is demonstrably wrong.

    Spartan,

    I hope the end of the post above addresses your question about satisfying. Satisfying means that to me I feel comfortable that I have a self consistent view that is consistent with both the bible and science.

  32. #32 Spartan
    August 28, 2009

    The only basis for any intellectual critique of my (or any) presuppositional apologetics is to, for the sake of argument, agree to my axioms, and then show where I don’t apply the rules of logic, or where a biblical interpretation is demonstrably wrong.

    I disagree. We can critique how much the presuppositions assume and show that with presuppositions that are similar in magnitude to yours, we can reach many conclusions, some mutually exclusive, that are also self-consistent. This calls into question whether the epistemological method which involves these excessive presuppositions is a valid way of ascertaining what is true.

  33. #33 Ivan
    August 28, 2009

    heddle, you are hilarious. Should I get all pissy now that you didn’t respond to my comments?

    Finally you miss the boat yet again in your understanding of the purpose of apologetics. It is not to prove or even attempt to prove to you the validity of my view to you.

    Whew, that was close. But seriously, heddle, get a grip, or at least a dictionary. This ain’t Through the Looking Glass. Or should we start calling you Vizzini?

  34. #34 Ivan
    August 28, 2009

    Damn it, previewing a post destroys special HTML sequences. The blockquote in my previous comment was followed by

    <dodges the blast from heddle’s brain-melt-O-ray>

  35. #35 snafu
    September 3, 2009

    The target of … any apologetics, in my opinion … is believers, not unbelievers. It is to dispel any cognitive dissonance.

    I don’t believe I’ve quote-mined that by removing extraneous bits.

    Do you really think that’s true? I don’t think many of the people who’ve targetted me over the years (in full knowledge that I’m a genuine non-believer) thought they were aiming at the wrong person.

  36. #36 Ivan
    September 3, 2009

    Does he really think that’s true? <snort> I suppose it’s possible that Humpty Dumpty has forgotten the actual meanings of all the words he’s redefined, yes.

    Really, I think he’s just tired of being told, Get in the fookin’ sack! by skeptics, thus the need for excuses. You’d think he could come up with better ones, though.

  37. #37 Christophe Thill
    September 3, 2009

    “The very fact of it, that it happened at all, is a proof for its own ongoing existence.”

    The very fact that some years agop I started to develop a fondness for Japanese monster movies is not a proof for the existence of Godzilla, ongoing or not.

  38. #38 Lisa
    September 5, 2009

    I think God and science are closely related. The key is finding the link between the two that makes the most logical sense. As far as God, I believe in Him I have faith. As far as Darwinism and evolution, good points I can see how some of it could be possible but the whole thing does not make all that too much sense because of the time factor. I believe survival of the fittest does work that is obvious. Do I think we all evolved from one piece of bacteria, No. It may be a stupid thought but I think there was certain animals created by God. Then, I think they were allowed to procreate with other animals to form different species until these species were not able to make another animal species. It is kind of like evolution but with a time factor boost (sex). But, it still goes along with the whole God created the fish, the birds and land creatures.