Pharyngula

We’ve been seeing an amazing amount of press given to something as simple as atheist signs on public transport, and here’s another thing that makes the apologists for religion tear their hair out: Russell’s teapot. They don’t get it. They read the idea with dumb incomprehension, and when they do try to explain it, they just expose their own silly misinterpretations. Case in point, Ross Douthat, who puts a goofy gloss on it.

This analogy – like its modern descendant, the Flying Spaghetti Monster – makes a great deal of sense if you believe that the idea of God is an absurdity dreamed up by crafty clerics in darkest antiquity and subsequently imposed on the human mind by force and fear, and that it only survives for want of brave souls willing to note how inherently absurd the whole thing is. As you might expect, I see the genesis of religion rather differently: An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature; this intuition has intersected, historically, with an enormous amount of subjective religious experience; and this intersection (along with, yes, the force of custom and tradition) has produced and sustained the religious traditions that seem to Richard Dawkins and company like so much teapot-worship. The story of our civilization, in particular, is a story in which an extremely large circle of non-insane human beings have perceived themselves to be experiencing an interaction with a being who seems recognizable as the Judeo-Christian God (here I do feel comfortable using the term), rather than merely being taught about Him in Sunday School.

Michael Drake has his own pithy reply:

Shorter Ross Douthat: Comparing belief in God to belief in the Celestial Teapot is absurd, because it’s like comparing a belief only some people know is absurd to a belief everyone knows is absurd.

I have my own version:

Shorter Ross Douthat: If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.

When I was about 10 years old, I went to see a late-night horror movie (Die, Monster, Die with Boris Karloff, if you must know; it had face-melty mutants produced by a weird meteorite kept in an old mansion), and afterwards my uncle drove me home in his old 50′s era Ford with the big bench seats high up off the floorboards. I vividly recall a terrible dread that there was something, a horrible monster, hiding under the seat, and if I let my legs dangle down, it was going to rip my feet off. I knew there wasn’t — the seats weren’t that high that Boris Karloff could fit under them — but my perfectly normal, non-insane mysterious agency perception was simply set tinglingly high by a few hours of jump-and-twitch at a monster movie, and I was imagining supernatural beings where there weren’t any.

Look. I was ten years old, high on Coca-Cola and jujubes, and I could figure that out. How old is Ross Douthat?

If you actually read Dawkins, or any of us other critics of religion, you will discover that we do not think the majority of humanity is insane, and we also don’t believe religion was cobbled up by a shadowy cabal of power-mad priests. Douthat almost has it: we know that human beings readily imagine agency even where there is none, and that it is extremely easy to feel a sensation of the existence of unseen entities, especially when you’ve been primed by an exercise in the imagination, whether it is a horror story or preacher in his pulpit. However, we do not have agency sensors, we have agency interpreters. Imagining a boogey man or a god is perfectly normal, but it does not make them real. Taking your boogey man and wrapping him up in layers and layers of ritual and tradition and over-reaching apologetics does not make him any more real.

That’s our message. It’s time to look under the car seat, gang, and see there’s nothing there. And don’t you feel silly, spending millennia going on and on about the all-powerful beastie, and finding it’s nothing but cobwebs and darkness and your own hyperactive imagination?

As for Russell’s Teapot, I have to add a little fillip to that tiny porcelain entity. As it goes trundling in its circuit about the sun, I must imagine that there is painted on its side a little sign: “There probably is no teapot. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” It definitely won’t make it any more real, but it will infuriate those who believe the manifestations of imagination must have some objective reality.

Comments

  1. #1 CosmicTeapot
    January 30, 2009

    But there is a Cosmic Teapot.

    Now stop worrying and enjoy your life (the weekend is here after all).

  2. #2 IST
    January 30, 2009

    Douthat misses a more important point that Russell’s teapot is intended to illustrate. There is absolutely no point to give credence or worship to something that doesn’t demonstrably exist. The illustration scence from Chasing Amy comes to mind…

  3. #3 Holbach
    January 30, 2009

    The stupid moron unwittingly summed up the whole irrational existence of religion. What the hell can we add to that? Now if he would only realize what he stated and believed, then he may come to his rational senses and see and understand the obvious. Can we hope for such eventual and final enlightenment? Or will it remain the same old “bible”?

  4. #4 JStein
    January 30, 2009

    PZ, I always wondered how the Teapot was interpreted by these kinds of people.

    It’s a great philosophical devise, but those of us who have the reasoning capacity to understand evolution (as well as its necessity to pretty much all of the sciences) and physics are already leaning heavily towards the side of unbelief.

    Russell’s Teapot, I’ve personally found, is a little too cerebral to explain why we don’t believe. I’ve found Dawkins’ use of the “atheist with regard to fairies” argument to be a little simpler and more easily understood (though similarly objectionable).

    Still, I’m not shocked that they have trouble with this concept.

  5. #5 Dianne
    January 30, 2009

    Cosmic Teapot: So the Cosmic Teapot, instead of having a long list of contradictory commands and requirements, simply tells us to stop worrying and enjoy life. Sounds like a god much more worthy of worship than the one described in the Judeo-Christian bible or its Islamic offshoot. I think I’ll become a teapotist.

  6. #6 Anonymous
    January 30, 2009

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Professor Meyers isn’t enjoying it a little early, given the time of this post…

    Great blog, BTW, I should read it more often.

  7. #7 Glen Davidson
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always painfully clear that they (albeit not all religionists) don’t get Russell’s teapot.

    I mean, ID is predicated on exactly the same kind of default to unevidenced “entities” that the teapot is to overthrow, and they even made a movie about how mean and Nazi-like people are for not letting such a “new idea” be considered equally with hard science in classes meant to teach science.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  8. #8 CrypticLife
    January 30, 2009

    WHAT????

    The teapot isn’t porcelain! It’s bone china!

    Note that the Italian city which had prohibited atheist signage on buses (while simultaneously allowing 5000 posters in the city libelling atheists), is now allowing a modified sign.

    “The good news is there are millions of atheists in Italy. The excellent news is they believe in freedom of expression.”

    Now, I believe in freedom of expression, but it seems like a rather obvious forced obsequiescence. Sort of a “atheists are here, but don’t worry because we won’t threaten your dominance, we’ll just sit quietly in the corner” kind of sentiment.

    Unless, of course, one contrasted it to the religious lack of belief in freedom of expression.

  9. #9 Galbinus_Caeli
    January 30, 2009

    Shorter version yet. “We imagine it, therefore it is”

  10. #10 Brownian
    January 30, 2009

    Wow, thanks Ross. You see, all of us who are atheists are just incapable of getting religion. Not one of us ever actually spent any time in church, ever felt the hair on the backs of our necks stand out at particularly moving hymns or even Bible stories. Not one of us ever felt the rapturous joy that comes from contemplating the wonder and mystery of a beautiful, all-powerful being that actually talks to you because he loves you.

    None of us have ever felt that–we couldn’t possibly have, otherwise we’d be defending that feeling that there just golly gee! must be something out there just as hard as you are, right?

    Right.

    By the way PZ, I’m confused by your Boris story; was there a monster under the seat? I mean, you felt it, right? And I daresay most people here (and even those of Rossie’s church, whatever and wherever it may be) have had that feeling too. So, there must have been a monster, right?

    Right.

  11. #11 SaraJ
    January 30, 2009

    I used to believe there was a green hairy monster under my bed (until I was about 14!) so at night I would have to run and jump from the doorway to make sure my feet didn’t get eaten. Then in the morning I would lower this big stuffed dog that I kept in bed with me to the floor by my bed to check if the monster had fallen asleep.

    The silliest thing is,even though I now KNOW there is no ugly green monster under my bed, I still feel a slight twinge of trepidation every time I stand near a bed and I am now 27 years old.

  12. #12 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    I think their problem is “how does the teapot gives me power over other people? It can’t, god can.”

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Shorter Ross Douthat: If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.

    None of us are as dumb as all of us.

  14. #14 pazmusik
    January 30, 2009

    Shorter version still: Argument ad populum.

    “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But neither is it evidence of existence.”

    Carl Sagan, Gifford Lectures

  15. #15 JD
    January 30, 2009

    “An enormous amount of subjective religious experience.”

    One million Elvis fans can’t be wrong.

  16. #16 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Here’s what happens when you look under the seat: Nothing is there, of course. You sit back up, and just as you breathe your sigh of relief it (puts flashlight under his face) JUMPS UP FROM THE BACKSEAT AND GRABS YOU! YAAAHHHH!

    Y’know, this analogy would make a great double feature with Die, Monster, Die. Throw in White Zombie with Bela Lugosi and I’ll bring popcorn enough for all.

  17. #17 jck
    January 30, 2009

    I would add that a lot of people believe because they WANT to believe. They believe in a designer and an afterlife because it makes the feel better, which is fine, as long as they don’t force me to live my life according to that.

  18. #18 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Ross Douche-hat sums it up thusly: I feel it, everybody else is doing it, that settles it.

    I think that our devices of Russell’s Teapot and the FSM are simply our ways of showing monotheists how their faith looks to an outsider. They tell us, pretty much: “Our God is an awesome god! He loves all His creation! You can’t see, hear or otherwise detect his presence, so you’ve got to have faith. Oh, and, if you don’t worship Him, preferably the way I tell you to, you will spend an eternity of torment in Hell. What? Of course I can’t prove He’s watching over us! That’s why you need faith! If we didn’t have faith, He wouldn’t love us! Honestly, you secular heathens.”

    And, to someone who’s given up the holy ghost, that kind of mentality makes about as much sense as the idea of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the orbiting teapot. If you can neither prove nor conclusively disprove the existence of one, why not accept the others while we’re at it?

  19. #19 bobxxxx
    January 30, 2009

    you will discover that we do not think the majority of humanity is insane

    I personally think a belief in a magic god fairy is a mental illness, and I would call the religious extremists (creationists and terrorists) completely out of their minds, a danger to themselves and others.

  20. #20 Bullet Magnet
    January 30, 2009

    We must see to it that those “There is probably no teapot” teapots become commercially available.

  21. #21 CrypticLife
    January 30, 2009

    you will spend an eternity of torment in Hell.

    Good post, Alyson, it made me realize another problem with the analogies is that the teapot doesn’t put anyone in Hell, and the FSM is also represented as largely beneficent so long as you wear pirate regalia. The FSM should really have more of a fire and brimstone side as well.

  22. #22 abb3w
    January 30, 2009

    an extremely large circle of non-insane human beings have perceived themselves to be experiencing an interaction with a being who seems recognizable as the Judeo-Christian God

    Depends on under what definition of “non-insane” and “recognizable”; and implicitly presumes that the perception of an experience necessarily has direct correspondence to the underlying nature.

  23. #23 Tom Foss
    January 30, 2009

    It’s interesting how theists can so thoroughly miss the point of analogies. I suspect it’s part of why they find the tornado airplane argument so convincing (as an example). It seems to me that Russel’s teapot is primarily a response to the “you can’t disprove God/it takes as much faith to be an atheist” arguments. Taking it out of context as this twit has misses the point entirely and sets the argument up as something far more than it is meant to be.

  24. #24 J-Dog
    January 30, 2009

    PZ – I think you are wrong. People that believe in The Magic Sky Faja ARE insane. Does this make me a Type A++++ Atheist?

    Thanks, I’ll hang up and listen to my answer.

  25. #25 Goheels
    January 30, 2009

    “idea of God is an absurdity dreamed up by crafty clerics in darkest antiquity and subsequently imposed on the human mind by force and fear, and that it only survives for want of brave souls willing to note how inherently absurd the whole thing is.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

  26. #26 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    True, Teapotism does not embrace the concept of Hell, but those who break It’s commandments will be slowly brewed in an aromatic Darjeeling blend…

  27. #27 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    Argumentum ad populum. That’s all he’s got? Oh, and Argument by Age too, I guess.

  28. #28 Reginald Selkirk
    January 30, 2009

    How dare you ridicule the teapot worshippers in this way? Why don’t you go pick on the muslims instead?

  29. #29 Tom Foss
    January 30, 2009

    Gah, sorry for the multipost.

  30. #30 jeffj
    January 30, 2009

    “An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature…”

    An intuitive fear of the dark seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature.

    Therefore, the dark is something to be feared.

  31. #31 Daevid DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    Hear me now from the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet…

    Have a cup of tea, have another one, have a cup of tea

    High in the sky, what do you see?
    Come down to Earth, a cup of tea
    Flying saucer, flying teacup
    From outer space, Flying Teapot

    They got a Flying Teapot, don’t need a taxi
    They’re from the planet of love, the Pot Head Pixies
    Ding dang dong, singing the song, it’s pretty catchy
    They just can’t give you enough, the Pot Head Pixies

    I’m a real Pothead Pixie
    The green planet Gong is my home
    I live everywhere but in case I’m not there
    You can reach me by Radio Gnome

    Now so
    Now you know
    Here and now
    They come and go

    Bom bom bom bom…
    Good afternoon

  32. #32 Richard Harris
    January 30, 2009

    I see the genesis of religion rather differently: An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature;…

    No, religion evolved. At first there was animatism, where a tree, or spring, was believed to incorporate a spirit. That evolved into animism, where a spirit was believed to take up residence in a tree, or spring, or rock, which became its home, and the object became sacred. This then evolved into polydemonism, which later evolved into polytheism, when some of the demons took on individual identities.

    It’s all documented by biblical scholars, aided by a bit of archaeology & anthropology.

  33. #33 Jujubes
    January 30, 2009

    Andrew Sullivan posted an equally vacuous letter on the FSM earlier this week:

    Telling me what you don’t believe tells me very little, but it’s a really cool way to get into the conversation in such a way that everyone has to defend their positions except you — you get to attack. … You gotta live somewhere, and you gotta believe in something, because your beliefs are being expressed every day in how you live your life. Atheists should be forced to articulate their positive position (say, secular humanism) as price of admission to the conversation. So when your reader wants to “put the burden of proof on the one making a specific, positive claim,” I simply point out that living your life is a specific, positive claim, and thus everyone has to bear the burden of proof equally.

  34. #34 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    “…but those who break It’s commandments will be slowly brewed in an aromatic Darjeeling blend…”

    Blasphemer! Earl Grey is the only blend worthy of our beloved and terrible Teapot!

  35. #35 DiscoveredJoys
    January 30, 2009

    Many religions start with the assumption that (their particular) God is real… and therefore all experience and thought has to be viewed through this belief.

    Many philosophies start with a particular assumption (e.g. free will exists, therefore…) and this shapes the argument supporting that belief.

    Even some atheists start with the assumption that there is no god.

    The common feature is that many of these people do not care to examine their initial assumptions, or even acknowledge that they exist. They cannot be reached by rational argument because their beliefs are driven by emotions, not reason.

    Me? I’m a teapotist. It makes sooo much sense.

  36. #36 Jujubes
    January 30, 2009

    Andrew Sullivan posted an equally vacuous letter on the FSM earlier this week:

    Telling me what you don’t believe tells me very little, but it’s a really cool way to get into the conversation in such a way that everyone has to defend their positions except you — you get to attack. … You gotta live somewhere, and you gotta believe in something, because your beliefs are being expressed every day in how you live your life. Atheists should be forced to articulate their positive position (say, secular humanism) as price of admission to the conversation. So when your reader wants to “put the burden of proof on the one making a specific, positive claim,” I simply point out that living your life is a specific, positive claim, and thus everyone has to bear the burden of proof equally.

  37. #37 Tom Foss
    January 30, 2009

    Gah, sorry for the multipost.

  38. #38 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    I am a cosmic teapot
    Short and stout
    Here is my handle
    And here is my spout

  39. #39 AJ Milne
    January 30, 2009

    But there is a Cosmic Teapot.

    I always knew! Praise be!

    /Mandatory.

  40. #40 Muzz
    January 30, 2009

    I thought he made a fair bit of sense there actually. Doesn’t deserve the full Gumby. Maybe half a Gumby for the last bit.
    I’ve often thought similar things; that there’s a good percentage of people who ‘sense’, somehow, …something not quite them that’s fairly important to the structure of things that’s completely intangible.
    What it is, of course is up for debate and it doesn’t really escuse or justify religion. But it might explain it a bit.
    I liken it to an abstract “external” point in “space” in relation to which people can get their bearings, so to speak. A prop for consciousness (that’s function not form).
    It’s become pretty clear that lots of people like PZ, probably have no experience of this and find it completely unecessary (but it’s a lot more fundamental than a fear of imaginary monsters under the seat).
    What is it then? There I don’t know. Strange neurological/psychological structure the mind feels the need to explain? I don’t know enough about that stuff. But as a lapsed churching sort its a vague notion I find potentially more satisfactory than a lot of the dismissive things said about faith. And it goes to why people just keep coming back for no other discernable reason (The Bloom article linked there goes into this a little but it mostly about dualism). Thin, but it there it is.

  41. #41 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Blasphemer! Earl Grey is the only blend worthy of our beloved and terrible Teapot!

    And thus began the great and terrible wars following the Teabag Schism, which settled into a centuries-long pattern of grudging tolerance (marked by occasional sectarian flareups) following the Diet of Lipton.

  42. #42 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    there was something, a horrible monster, hiding under the seat, and if I let my legs dangle down, it was going to rip my feet off.

    That was me. I was gathering “lucky human’s feet” to sell to superstitious rabbits.

  43. #43 Ubi Dubium
    January 30, 2009

    @crypticlife #22

    The FSM (pesto be upon him) does have a hell for non-believers. It’s the same as heaven, but the beer is stale and the strippers are ugly and have STD’s. His Noodliness is a benevolent god, after all.

  44. #44 Matt Heath
    January 30, 2009

    Goheels@26. No, it probably doesn’t sum it up. God is an absurdity cobbled together out of perfectly natural fear and the human tendency towards mind projection and then co-evolved with the self-interested ideologies of the powerful (and also occasionally of the weak). No-doubt the concept was sometimes subject to deliberate manipulation, but there is zero evidence that it was invented on purpose by some shadowy cabal. Theism was not intelligently designed.

  45. #45 Mikey M
    January 30, 2009

    Re: #32

    I never expected to see Gong quoted in a science blog, but I must admit that I always hoped to.

  46. #46 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: Tom Foss | January 30, 2009 12:18 PM [kill]?[hide comment]

    Gah, sorry for the multipost.

    Posted by: Tom Foss | January 30, 2009 12:24 PM [kill]?[hide comment]

    Gah, sorry for the multipost.

    Look, it’s, like, a metaGah.

  47. #47 Woozle
    January 30, 2009

    The thing about the teapot, though, is that it’s only necessary as an argument if “God” has no detectable attributes.

    This is certainly what the Goddists claim, in order to get you to accept the ever-popular “God is undetectable, so I can’t prove he exists but you can’t prove he doesn’t exist, so maybe he does!” argument — but then once you swallow that, they start making claims about the nature of “God”: he thinks X is sinful, he really wants people to do thus-and-so, he has a Plan (like the Cylons!), he Loves us — and nobody seems to catch on to the fact that the Goddist has just invalidated her/his original claim that God’s existence is undetectable.

    If God can’t be detected, where is all that information about God’s nature coming from? And what in the world makes anyone think that they know what God wants, if they can’t even detect God’s existence?

  48. #48 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    The FSM (pesto be upon him) does have a hell for non-believers. It’s the same as heaven, but the beer is stale and the strippers are ugly and have STD’s.

    Being a teetotalling strip club non-attendee, I see FSM’s hell as being nothing but win for me.

    Oh, wait, it’s probably all reality shows on tv. Fuck. Time to get right with His Noodliness.

  49. #49 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    Jujubes:
    I heard you the first time.;)

    SUllivan vacuous?

    Andrew Sullivan is a proud apologist, who has compartmentalized his rationale for belief. Colbert seems to like him since he has had him on the Colbert Report a few times.

    Most of what I read from Andrew usually produces a reaction of “meh, so what?”, that is when he’s not simply a link whore. He’s out of the closet when it comes to sexuality but still in denial over religion. Sad.

  50. #50 donna
    January 30, 2009

    Or, it could be just teapots all the way down….

  51. #51 Siamang
    January 30, 2009

    Standard apologist trick.

    He sidesteps and ignores the actual argument behind russel’s teapot, which is about the burden of proof, and writes all about… well something else entirely.

    I’m sure he then claims to have handily dismissed the teapot argument!

  52. #52 blueelm
    January 30, 2009

    I would also really like to own a “there is probably no teapot…” teapot.

  53. #53 MH
    January 30, 2009

    This analogy – like its modern descendant, the Flying Spaghetti Monster Scientology – makes a great deal of sense if you believe that the idea of God Xenu is an absurdity dreamed up by [a] crafty clerics in darkest antiquity second-rate sci-fi author and subsequently imposed on the human mind by force and fear, and that it only survives for want of brave souls willing to note how inherently absurd the whole thing is.

    Corrected that for him.

  54. Godless Peeps:
    I heard that the sign on the tea pot actually says “Believe it or not the cat ended up in here.”
    : )
    jim ellis

  55. #55 Scotty B
    January 30, 2009

    Judeo-Christian God (here I do feel comfortable using the term)

    Why is it that I’ve been seeing them use this term more and more, and yet they still hate Muslims?

  56. #56 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    The letter wasn’t of Sullivan’s writing; it was email from a reader, which he posted after other (atheist) readers sent him their thoughts on the meaning of the Teapot and the FSM. I don’t deny that Sullivan makes about as much sense as Douche-hat in defending religion, but he posts letters from all sides.

  57. #57 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right. Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

  58. #58 Aaron Baker
    January 30, 2009

    Not to piss on this happy parade, but the celestial teapot & flying spaghetti monster analogies are amusing ways to express one’s conviction that religious belief is absurd; as arguments, however, they’re blatantly question-begging, and this, rather than stupidity, is why a lot of believers react to them as Douthat does.

    Note that Douthat says: “several scoffing readers have directed me to Bertrand Russell’s famous teapot analogy, which supposedly settles once and for all the question of whether nonbelievers should give any credence to the possibility that God exists.” The analogy settles nothing, because it contains the assumption the atheist needs to prove: that belief in God is absurd. Any intelligent theist, when handed the teapot or the FSM as a slam-bang argument-ender, will rightly respond with irritated derision.

  59. #59 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right. Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    Because there is exactly zero evidence for one.

  60. #60 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, so a belief in a deity or deities is the default position. How do you know that your deity of choice is that right deity out of the thousands that has been worshiped by humanity over the many thousands of years?

    Talk about supreme confidence.

    Also, tossing in evolution as if it is some kind of insult shows that you have no idea what you are talking.

    Just keep whistling past the graveyard.

  61. #61 AmericanGodless
    January 30, 2009

    Oh, I get it! With enough intuitive belief and subjective experience (reinforced by, yes, the force of custom and tradition), the teapot, too, would also certainly exist.

    (But could the teapot drown us in Darjeeling — or Earl Grey — or its acolytes beat us to death with stale scones for failing to knit a proper cozy for it?)

  62. #62 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    I went to church every Sunday like a good Christian kid, and the churchgoing was a largely positive experience, except that what they kept telling me just didn’t add up with what I saw outside. I took the Magic Skydaddy out of the equation, and suddenly the world made a lot more sense. I kept going to church until I was 20, and yet the idea of the Magic Skydaddy never became any more convincing. No faith needed. Nice try, though.

  63. #63 Invigilator
    January 30, 2009

    We should take up a collection to put a teapot in orbit around the sun — then we could have an evidence-based faith.

  64. #64 Richard Dawkins
    January 30, 2009

    Russell little guessed. No matter how absurd it is, some religious wingnut will worship it. Just take a look at this:-

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/.stm

  65. #65 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right.

    Wow. Pascal’s Wager. Never seen that one before.

    Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    Where fractal wrongness meets Wernike’s aphasia.

  66. #66 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Shorter Aaron Baker: It is up to you to disprove my beliefs.

  67. #67 blueelm
    January 30, 2009

    “how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?”

    I can’t help you. I didn’t come to a faith-based conclusion that there is no god. I don’t have faith in the lack of god. I don’t *believe* in the lack of god, I fail to believe in god because I fail to see a good reason to believe or have faith in god. Big difference, right?

  68. #68 Acronym Jim
    January 30, 2009

    “I heard that the sign on the tea pot actually says ‘Believe it or not the cat ended up in here’.”

    So, Mr. Ellis are you saying that it’s not Russell’s Teapot, but rather Schrodinger’s Teapot?

  69. #69 Matt Heath
    January 30, 2009

    Aaron Baker@59: I think you are missing what Russell’s Teapot and FSM are arguments for. In both cases they were offered as a response to the idea that because a claim was not provably false (in Russell’s case the god hypothesis in the FSM’s creationism) then, by that very fact, it deserved to be taken seriously.

    They aren’t meant to prove that god is absurd; only that (the very common bullshitting trick of) claiming that because we don’t know for sure whether there is a god it can’t be absurd doesn’t hold.

    God’s absurd for other reasons.

  70. #70 blueelm
    January 30, 2009

    “how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?”

    I can’t help you. I didn’t come to a faith-based conclusion that there is no god. I don’t have faith in the lack of god. I don’t *believe* in the lack of god, I fail to believe in god because I fail to see a good reason to believe or have faith in god. Big difference, right?

  71. #71 Mentat
    January 30, 2009

    Scotty B #56: perhaps we should make an effort to always say “Judeo-Christo-Islamic”. Not only is it more accurate, it’ll piss them off further. Maybe eventually we can work Mormonism into it as well. “The Judeo-Christo-Islamo-Mormonic God”… that sounds hilarious!

  72. #72 Evolving Squid
    January 30, 2009

    You can see the cosmic teapot in the constellation “Saggitarius”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittarius_(constellation)

    faith-based conclusion

    Wouldn’t that phrase fit the definition of an oxymoron?

  73. #73 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right.

    Atheist just treat the “god” question with the same skepticism as we’d treat any extraordinary claims. If you want to convince us, show us some objective, unmistakeable evidence. Doesn’t seem like a hard thing for a god to do.

    Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist.

    How hard is it to muster “none”? How much faith does it take for you to not believe there are elves living behind your couch?

  74. #74 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    I am sorry, Professor Dawkins but the link leads to a dead end.

  75. #75 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    I’m guessing Jackie a troll of the standard Drive By theist idiot variety.

    I’d be surprised if she came back to answer anything.

  76. #76 Richard Dawkins
    January 30, 2009

    Russell little guessed. No matter how absurd it is, some religious wingnut will worship it.

    Sorry, the url I gave doesn’t work. You can find it (it’s quite funny) if you google “Malaya” “Teapot” “Cult” and it should be the first hit that comes up. BBC news story about a teapot cult.

  77. #77 AJ Milne
    January 30, 2009

    So, Mr. Ellis are you saying that it’s not Russell’s Teapot, but rather Schrodinger’s Teapot?

    Impossible! My teapot is right here in zis box… Vis zis hammer, und zis Geiger counter…

    (/Or, then again, it might not be.)

  78. #78 CJO
    January 30, 2009

    His close:
    But it is one thing to disbelieve in God; it is quite another to never feel a twinge of doubt about one’s own disbelief. And just as the Christian who has never entertained doubts about his faith probably hasn’t thought hard enough about the matter, the atheist who perceives the Christian God and the flying spaghetti monster as equally ridiculous hypotheses really needs to get out more often.

    First, FSM is not really a descendent of Russell’s Teapot. As I recall, the revelation of His Noodlyness was intended as a parody of the “equal time” nonsense the Kansas Kreationists were peddling c. 2003, specifically in regards to ID and the high school curriculum. A reductio ad absurdum. If equal time for God, then Vishnu also, and Mithras, and… FSM!

    Russell’s teapot is an epistemological argument. It’s not that it’s “equally ridiculous” as the Christian god (if anything, it’s much less ridiculous), it’s that we “disbelieve” in an infinite number of things, without a “twinge of doubt,” every day, all the time, and we must do so just in order to go about our existence. Fairies at the bottom of a garden, Last Thursdayism, etc.: all these are ways to make the same point. The theist claim needs to be justified by more than appealing to “an extremely large circle of non-insane human beings have perceived themselves to be experiencing an interaction with a being who seems recognizable as the Judeo-Christian God,” unless hysterical mobs are now going to be given privileged epistemological insight. Crowds act on the basis of nonsense all the time; we should be even more skeptical of things “everybody knows.”

  79. #79 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie: “Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?”

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: “Because there is exactly zero evidence for one.”

    An argument from ignorance is no argument, dearheart. Google “argumentum ad ignorantium” to brush up on your logic.

  80. #80 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Where fractal wrongness meets Wernike’s aphasia

    I had to look it but, but that right there is good stuff.

  81. #81 Mantecanaut
    January 30, 2009

    PZ
    Excellent post, I can’t believe I haven’t used the “look under the bed” idea before…so obvious.
    kudos.

  82. #82 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Right now, as I type, my customized radio station is playing God’s Song(That’s Why I Love Mankind) by Randy Newman. This must mean something.

  83. #83 aratina
    January 30, 2009

    Well said, PZ. Douthat’s statement has been bugging me ever since Andrew Sullivan used it to lash out at his atheist readership. (Sullivan has been doing much of that recently. I am starting to think he may be going through a slight period of apostasy after the canceling of the excommunication of the Holocaust denier.)

    The whole final statement is totally backwards; it is Christians (not all, however) who are afraid to doubt their own belief, not atheists. This impenetrability to doubt is very easy to test in Christians, just tell them that you would be willing to try to believe in their god if they would be willing to believe that their god doesn’t exist. They won’t likely do it out of fear because it would be heretical to the church and treasonous to their god.

    Yet here we are having fun after considering the real possibility and consequences of not only the existence of a god but of cosmic teapots, invisible pink unicorns, fairies, witches, shadow monsters, and flying spaghetti monsters, and it is fairly clear from all our undertakings that none of these things exist. I guess Douthat can’t understand that we’ve been there, done that and are as confident in our knowledge that these things don’t exist as Douthat is confident that his perceived interactions with the Judeo-Christian god are real.

  84. #84 6EQUJ5
    January 30, 2009

    Religion, like any superstition, arises from our innate ability to get things wrong.

  85. #85 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Aaron Baker, #59: …the celestial teapot & flying spaghetti monster analogies are amusing ways to express one’s conviction that religious belief is absurd….

    No, the Celestial Teapot are ways of showing the absurdity of the claim, “well, you can’t prove that my beliefs are wrong, so they are just as sensible as your non-belief.”

    Sorry you didn’t understand that, but it seems that you’re in good company.

  86. #86 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    As several commenters have pointed out, the teapot analogy is not making God analogous to a teapot: it’s making faith in God analogous to faith in a teapot — if the apologist is arguing fideism (that belief in God is irrational, and therefore should rest on an act of faith.) It’s pointing out that we put a burden of proof on acts of faith in areas other than religion, so fideism is special pleading.

    “An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature … “

    Yes, indeed. In every life, ever since we can remember, we’ve always had a vague sort of idea that there was some powerful Person watching over us. This Agent knew when we were hungry; knew when we were wet; magically seemed to know what we were unhappy about. From seemingly nowhere it would appear to provide for us. Sometimes it wouldn’t, and that would make us angry, because we knew this Powerful Being was completely concerned with us and our good at all times. Getting angry was naughty, then. We had to do what this presiding Agent wanted. Saying ‘no’ was naughty, too. The rules always seemed arbitrary to us, but there may have been a deeper reason beyond our ken.

    Some of us felt that there were many powerful, all-knowing Agents watching over us, both aiding and thwarting us, doling out gifts and punishments. They would set up a world made just for us, filled with things brought down to our level, for our entertainment — and yet they would magically know what we were thinking if we left that world, and set off crawling towards the machines with the buttons we were not allowed to touch, because those were sacred, higher things.

    We’ve had this deep, pervasive, instinctive, intuitive belief in presiding Agents or Agents since babyhood. Where the hell would we have gotten it — if there wasn’t really a God out there?

  87. #87 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    Has anyone actally looked at the criticisms of Russel’s teapot.
    1)It’s a category error.The teapot is an entity contingent on the universe while a theist makes the claim the universe is contingent on God.
    2) A celestial teapot has nil explanatory. For example A theist may claim that God is a good explainaton for complexity and design in the universe. While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something. What does this teapot explain? nil.

  88. #88 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Rev. BigDumbChimp: “Because there is exactly zero evidence for one.”

    An argument from ignorance is no argument, dearheart. Google “argumentum ad ignorantium” to brush up on your logic.

    Dear, I know exactly what and argument from ignorance is.

    Do you believe in Thor?

    If no, tell me why not.

  89. #89 streetwise
    January 30, 2009

    Dear fellow Atheists,

    The time of our resurrection will come soon; in my home country of the Netherlands, some nitwits of religion have actually taken the trouble of starting an “anti-evolution theory” print campaign. Well, let me rephrase this: they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another “belief”. A seizable amount of influential Christians have come up with the idea that pre-, middle- and high school children are entitled to or should be eligible for both ‘theories’: Creation and Evolution.
    And the beauty of it all, they will deliver the pamphlets to all households in the Netherlands, unless you’ve been able to acquire a sticker on your front door that unequivocally states you don’t want to receive the pro-Creation pamphlet.
    Like they will care!
    I personally find it’s just frustrating, because apart from the fact that the ‘stickers’ have long been sold out, the whole idea is just too much: another sign on the wall that Christians are being discriminated in favour of non-believers. What’s going on?
    But my fellow Atheists, our time will come when pro-creation actions like described above, will give us momentum in finding ways of letting the theists know we’re still here, and we’re the fuck not dodging!
    Come on people ? it’s our world as well!
    I say: Let’s start a worldwide initiative to distribute a counter campaign, and let the Spain atheist-buses guide us to resurrecting our scientifically correct attitude towards the origins of life.

  90. #90 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, #58: Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    In the same you come to the conclusion that there is no milk in your refridgerator. Contrary to what some people think, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  91. #91 Evolving Squid
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right. Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    I have no faith as an atheist. In fact, I even understand that there is a chance that I might even be wrong about the whole god thing. However, I conclude on the weight of evidence for the existence of gods and the balance of probability regarding anything that exists yet leaves no evidence whatsoever that there are no gods.

    As for the thinly-veiled restatement of Pascal’s wager regarding the graveyard, please note that PW makes a single false assumption – that unfounded belief in a God comes at no cost. Personally, I feel that it comes at great cost.

    So properly stated:

    If you believe in God, and there is a God, you win.
    If you don’t believe in God and there is no God, you win.
    If you don’t believe in God, and there is a God, you lose big (eternity in Hell).
    If you believe in God, and there is no God, you lose big (atrophied your thinking, wasted your life in guilt and sacrifice, etc.).

    Of course, Blaise Pascal never did explain why the Christian God was such a better choice than any other God, weird philosophical wagers notwithstanding.

  92. #92 Buford
    January 30, 2009

    Richard Harris @ 33

    You’re going to make their heads explode by saying their religions evolved.

    Are you going to say that they are still evolving, too? Where are the transitional forms? God created all Religious Kinds at the same time. You know, Judaism in far BCE, Christianity at BCE/CE transition point and Islam in the 600′s – all together, created fully formed and different. They all know that they are completely different species that have no common ancestor (oh, wait…)

    And then there’s the irreducible complexity of the Cracker?

  93. #93 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    once again and / an

  94. #94 Aaron Baker
    January 30, 2009

    Janine, Leftist Bozo wrote:

    “Shorter Aaron Baker: It is up to you to disprove my beliefs.”

    Two responses: 1) they’re NOT my beliefs; 2) I’m not saying it’s up to someone else to disprove them; I’m making the very different point that calling those beliefs absurd is not the same thing as proving they’re absurd.

    Matt Heath wrote:

    “Aaron Baker@59: I think you are missing what Russell’s Teapot and FSM are arguments for. In both cases they were offered as a response to the idea that because a claim was not provably false (in Russell’s case the god hypothesis in the FSM’s creationism) then, by that very fact, it deserved to be taken seriously.”

    That may have been Russell’s sole intent; though I suspect that the obvious absurdity of a teapot in orbit with no human agency was part of his point. But I’m referring here to how, according to Douthat, the teapot was being used by some of his atheist correspondents. I’d also venture to say that with the FSM, one very obvious part of what its creators were getting it was this: belief in such an entity is obviously absurd.

  95. #95 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, #88: The teapot is an entity contingent on the universe while a theist makes the claim the universe is contingent on God.

    That is question begging. The theist has no more right to claim that we respect her belief that God must exist if we can’t definitively prove it than we have to demand that she must respect the belief that a teapot is in orbit about Uranus just because she can’t prove it. This gobbledegook about “contingency” doesn’t add anything to the argument and just confuses the logically impaired.

    -

    While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something.

    No it doesn’t. Unless it leads to a greater understanding of the phenomena in question, it is just more words tacked onto the phrase, “gee, it’s complex” that don’t add anything.

  96. #96 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist.””

    “How hard is it to muster ‘none’?”

    You don’t lack faith, sweetie. You have unbounded faith in the creative powers of unintelligent material causes, to which you attibute your very being. I’ve never been able to muster your boundless faith, which is shared by all atheists.

    “Religion, like any superstition, arises from our innate ability to get things wrong.”

    Is that right?

  97. #97 Rev. T. Potts
    January 30, 2009

    The Church of England is well aware that The Celestial Teapot is up in the heavens (although whether its orbit is between Earth and Mars or not is a matter of some teaological debate). This belief is acknowledged each Saturday in summertime when Garden Parties are held in the gardens of rectories and vicarages, and gallons of tea are drunk from sacred shining urns presided over by the handmaiden of the local divine (well, the vicar’s wife).

  98. #98 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    A theist may claim that God is a good explainaton for complexity and design in the universe. While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something. What does this teapot explain? nil.

    Presumably, an explainaton is a sub-elementary particle containing the entirety of the explanatory power of theism.

    “God did it” explains everything, which explains nothing, adding exactly nothing to our understanding of anything. The celestial teapot is not an explanation, but an analogy.

  99. #99 AmericanGodless
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie — Yep, it’s a “faith-based conclusion” — faith in probabilities and data. Note that Richard Dawkins, along with all atheists who are also scientists, say that there is almost certainly no god. Leaving that vanishingly tiny possibility of god existing is not a bow to the tradition of the god mythologies, its what we assert about all human knowledge — that it carries some uncertainty.

    We see no data, no evidence, that a supernatural intelligence exists that could have any effect on the real world that we can observe — any more than we see evidence for the celestial teapot. We do see a very long history of claims that “oh, here’s where a god just had to intervene,” but they never pan out to be anything but stories and misconceptions. Every time the hypothesis fails again, the probability of it having any validity is reduced yet again, until it becomes just perverse (like asserting the existence of the teapot) to cling to it.

    To science, it is as Victor J. Stenger put it in the title of his recent book: God, the failed hypothesis. If you don’t understand that, all I can suggest is that you school yourself in the sciences: biology, physics, chemistry, cosmology… With science, he world makes sense; but with the god hypothesis, it only makes nonsense. How do you maintain your belief in the god nonsense? Oh yeah, you do it by never trying to understanding what we can know about the world and universe through observation and telling each other (and ourselves) the truth about what we have observed, as best we can express it; which is all science is.

  100. #100 Holbach
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie @ 58

    “Faith based conclusion”? I think you meant reason-based conclusion, for this is what tells us that faith is based on the belief in the non-existent and irrational, mixes together and the result is insane religious morons, as you seem to brand yourself with the frequent use of that crap word, faith. Do you have the unequivocal faith to get your imaginary god to come down and kick the crap out of us, and perhaps kick faith into us? When we die, we will go nowhere except into the ground to feed the uncaring worms which will give you morons equal treatment, your imaginary god chewed along with you and shat out with the other detritus. Now doesn’t this just piss you off, to be reduced to the evolutionary offal that your god has no control over? You will lie there with no place to go, without a prayer, and you and your imaginary god will die together, unknown, and just an imaginary memory. And your steadfast, moronic faith will avail you no longer. Better get your god to prevent this resultant folly of faith before you are totally insane.

  101. #101 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: Buford | January 30, 2009

    You’re going to make their heads explode by saying their religions evolved.

    Are you going to say that they are still evolving, too?

    That was the theme of a collection of short stories by Harlan Ellison, Deathbird Stories.

  102. #102 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    This gobbledegook about “contingency” doesn’t add anything to the argument and just confuses the logically impaired.

    You did seem confused.

    Unless it leads to a greater understanding of the phenomena in question, it is just more words tacked onto the phrase, “gee, it’s complex” that don’t add anything.

    So are you saying it is not reasonable to say complexity resulted from design?

  103. #103 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Oh Jackie, why must you dress up atheism in theistic drag?

  104. #104 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    If the only hypothetically discernible difference between a universe created by a God, and one not created by a God, is “the one not created by a God would not be able to exist,” then the God “explanation” is not only question-begging, but empty. There is no reason to take it seriously.

    I agree that a lot of atheists somewhat misuse the Teapot Analogy to equate God with the teapot, instead of keeping it all on epistemic ground. But I suppose there can be different teapots, if a different argument is your cup of tea.

  105. #105 Aaron Baker
    January 30, 2009

    Chiroptera wrote:

    “No, the Celestial Teapot are ways of showing the absurdity of the claim, “well, you can’t prove that my beliefs are wrong, so they are just as sensible as your non-belief.”

    Sorry you didn’t understand that, but it seems that you’re in good company.”

    See posting #95 above; as often happens, I may not be in good company after all.

  106. #106 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    . I’d also venture to say that with the FSM, one very obvious part of what its creators were getting it was this: belief in such an entity is obviously absurd.

    It’s called special pleading.

  107. #107 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, #103: You did seem confused.

    Yeah, you can’t explain how “contingency” makes a cogent criticism of Russell’s teapot analogy, so I must be confused.

    -

    So are you saying it is not reasonable to say complexity resulted from design?

    No. Are you having problems comprehending what you are reading?

  108. #108 heddle
    January 30, 2009

    IST #2,

    Douthat misses a more important point that Russell’s teapot is intended to illustrate. There is absolutely no point to give credence or worship to something that doesn’t demonstrably exist. The illustration scence from Chasing Amy comes to mind…

    Except that wasn’t Russell’s point at all. Russell’s work was more sophisticated and far superior to ?new Atheist? challenges to theism of our day. He wouldn?t and didn?t make such a simpleminded playground argument. His teapot was to point out, correctly, that is absurd for theists to place the burden of proof that God does not exist on atheists.

  109. #109 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    So are you saying it is not reasonable to say complexity resulted from design?

    `You might just as well say,’ added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, `that “I breathe when I sleep” is the same thing as “I sleep when I breathe”!’

  110. #110 Teleprompter
    January 30, 2009

    @ Sastra #87

    Parents — that’s one answer.

    Read what you just said over again one more time. Who do we believe watches over us and provides for us? Parents.

    The concept of “god” is a sort of cosmic parent, more or less. “Our Father”?

    I don’t see much of a leap from “wait until Dad gets home and he hears about this!” to “wait until god comes back and he hears about this!”

  111. #111 SteveM
    January 30, 2009

    Has anyone actally looked at the criticisms of Russel’s teapot.
    1)It’s a category error.The teapot is an entity contingent on the universe while a theist makes the claim the universe is contingent on God.

    perfect illustration of completely missing the point. The point of “the teapot” is to illustrate that it is ridiculous to use absence of evidence as evidence of existence. That is, you can’t prove the teapot doesn’t exist so therefore you are going to assume it does? It is an answer to the charge, “you can’t prove god doesn’t exist”. And neither can you prove he does. So the atheist takes the least complicated solution and concludes god does not exist. Provide some proof that he does and every rathional atheist will become a theist.

    2) A celestial teapot has nil explanatory. For example A theist may claim that God is a good explainaton for complexity and design in the universe. While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something. What does this teapot explain? nil.

    If every phenomenon we experience can be explained without invoking the existence of god, then, no, god does not have any explanatory power. Russell’s teapot is not meant to explain the universe, but to illustrate a point of how logical inference works, and so it does indeed have explanatory power.

  112. #112 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    “You have unbounded faith in the creative powers of unintelligent material causes, to which you attibute your very being. I’ve never been able to muster your boundless faith, which is shared by all atheists.”

    Not to speak for anyone else, but what part of the word “faith” don’t you understand? I don’t have “faith” in unintelligent material. Much less that it’s creative.

    There is evidence of evolution. Hard, vigorously tested evidence. It’s what leads me to understand that this is far and away the most likely cause of our existence. No faith involved. All we ever ask of your ilk is that you show us evidence to the contrary, since you seem so sure of yourself. You never have. Unless you can do so now, it might be a good time to walk away from an argument lost.

  113. #113 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    An argument from ignorance is no argument…

    Physician, heal thyself. Saying “there’s no evidence” is an inference to the best explanation. Using the Latin doesn’t automagically validate your assertion.

    This, is a textbook “argumentum ad ignorantium”:

    Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    Right: “evolution doesn’t explain us, therefore Goddit”

    Fuckin’ A!

  114. #114 KnockGoats
    January 30, 2009

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists aleprachaunists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God leprachaun question right. Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist aleprachaunist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is are no God leprachauns? – Jackie

    In the same way I came to the conclusion that there are no leprachauns. No evidence for them, no sound argument for their existence, they play no explanatory role. Of course, when you come to specific gods, such as the Christian one, the position is a lot clearer: that particular entity cannot possibly exist because its description is logically self-contradictory.

  115. #115 Somnolent Aphid
    January 30, 2009

    >>imposed on the human mind by force and fear

    This has always been my experience, crusades, spanish inquisition… or more personally, bullies on the playground, etc. An endless list.

    Fear shapes lives in unspeakable ways, often permanently.

    But now, it is tea time. Where’d I put the pot?

  116. #116 Owen
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis – design is a perfectly reasonable initial inference, until you start to look closer and realize that the organized chaos of what you are seeing looks nothing like design and exactly like the product of common descent, random mutation and environmental selection…

  117. #117 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Aaron Baker, #106:

    I saw that comment after my comment finally got posted.

    It could be that some people are misusing the teapot analogy. In that case, Douthat could have a point. But, then, he could also have explained what Russell’s original intent was.

  118. #118 Matt Heath
    January 30, 2009

    Incidentally, who “whistles” pasts graveyards anyway. At least when I’m in England*, I don’t, I hang around, look at the statues, enjoy the quiet. (*Portuguese graveyards are oddly sucky in my experience)

  119. #119 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis #103:

    So are you saying it is not reasonable to say complexity resulted from design?

    Sure, it’s quite reasonable — an empirical argument which can be examined pro and con.

    Given up on presuppositionalism, have we?

  120. #120 Somnolent Aphid
    January 30, 2009

    >>imposed on the human mind by force and fear

    This has always been my experience, crusades, spanish inquisition… or more personally, bullies on the playground, etc. An endless list.

    Fear shapes lives in unspeakable ways, often permanently.

    But now, it is tea time. Where’d I put the pot?

  121. #121 Teleprompter
    January 30, 2009

    @ Sastra #87

    Furthermore, I felt it was critical that you used the words “since babyhood” to describe how we have these feelings of a higher Agent taking care of our lives.

    I feel strongly that this is emblematic of parental care. As I said earlier, I feel that one could make a very strong case that part of what gives us such a strong, fundamental urge to seek for agency is the agency of our parents.

    Almost everything you said in your comment could be applied to parents almost equally well as it could be applied to a god. Most of us grow up with the idea that there is someone taking care, looking after our needs. Why not extrapolate that to a cosmic scale?

  122. #122 Waldo
    January 30, 2009

    Just for the record, I’d buy a t-shirt with a picture of a said teapot in orbit with PZ’s slogan on the back.

    I would buy millions of them.

    ~LW~

  123. #123 AJ Milne
    January 30, 2009

    You have unbounded faith in the creative powers of unintelligent material causes, to which you attibute your very being.

    Translated: justified and reasonable confidence based on the actual observation that localized complexity can be and is distilled by natural algorithmic processes, and noting that certain other explanations have multiplied entities unnecessarily beyond this despite a want of evidence for them, and thus dismissing or ignoring them on this basis, shall be understood as ‘unbounded faith’.

    Oh, and it’s all too true… It’s terribly arrogant and ‘faith-based’ of y’all, y’know… Observing a phenomenon and taking that understanding and the vast and lengthy natural history demonstrating its potential and inferring they do explain a great deal, and noting that so far they’re actually all you’ve really got for an evidence-based explanation as to how you got here… See, if you were sophisticated thinkers (yet so humble) like our deep thinker, here, you’d ridicule such naive notions as getting terribly ahead of yourselves… I mean, you’re so casually dismissing (or at least ignoring) any number of these perfectly valid (and ever so cautious, themselves) alternative explanations involving all-knowing cosmic intelligences which themselves came from… Well…

    Okay… We won’t get into that. But anyway. You’re all so ‘faithy’, doing that. So there.

  124. #124 Siamang
    January 30, 2009

    “I’d also venture to say that with the FSM, one very obvious part of what its creators were getting it was this: belief in such an entity is obviously absurd.”

    Well the comedy of the Flying Spaghetti Monster does help in its propagation as an internet phenomenon. But I think it spells out well the fact that the FSM is as “disprovable” as Yaweh. Douthat does not grapple with the central prong of the argument, and instead attacks, as you do, the easier and trivial set-dressing: the comedy. Yes, we know it’s a comical thing. That’s *A* point, but it’s not *the* point.

    If you say to a theist that Yaweh is as provable and as disprovable as Zeus, they act offended that you would compare their God to pagan mythology. If you say Yaweh is as provable and as disprovable as the Great Pumpkin, or the FSM or the teapot, they laugh it off as you being silly and not serious. Or they say, like Douthat, that “you need to get out more.”

    Come off it.

  125. #125 Waldo
    January 30, 2009

    Just for the record, I’d buy a t-shirt with a picture of a said teapot in orbit with PZ’s slogan on the back.

    I would buy millions of them.

    ~LW~

  126. #126 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    @Facilis

    You did seem confused.

    (S)He’s confused that both the formal Universal Unchanging Laws of Logic, and your formal modeal logical proof for belief in God as a properly basic belief, are conspicuous by their absence.

    I get to start each day with: “I wonder–as soon as they’re pointed out to him–which errors in reasoning Facilis will run away from today!”

  127. #127 KnockGoats
    January 30, 2009

    I’ve never been able to muster your boundless faith, which is shared by all atheists. – Jackie

    Jackie, you’re a crashing bore. We’ve all heard this “atheism requires faith” crap more times than we can count. Find something new to say, or shut up.

  128. #128 Matt
    January 30, 2009

    explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    Invalid question, as it assumes that I have some sort of “faith-based conclusion”.

    It gets back to the whole difference between “I believe there is no God”, which IS faith-based, versus “I do not believe there is a God”, which is a simple statement of fact. When you ask me why I do not believe, I will tell you that I’ve been given no reason or evidence upon which to do so.

    And saying that things are too complex to have just happened (itself an unproven notion; maybe it DID “just happen”) does not automatically lead to “God did it.” That’s a shrug right there, an abdication of reason, saying that something is too complicated to figure out, so I’m going to hang a big label on it that says “God” and quit thinking about it.

    Absence of evidence may not be evidence of absence, but if we’re going to swap cliches, then extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

  129. #129 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    heddle #109 wrote:

    His teapot was to point out, correctly, that is absurd for theists to place the burden of proof that God does not exist on atheists.

    Agree.

  130. #130 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    Invalid question, as it assumes that I have some sort of “faith-based conclusion”.

    Jackie does seem to have made several trips to the logical fallacy buffet, n’est-ce pas?

  131. #131 Roger
    January 30, 2009

    At this point, we may expect “Jackie” to do the following:

    * “bless us” all and inform us that she’s far too busy to respond to our comments, as she is preparing dinner for her 6.5 children (praise Gawd for overpopulation!),

    * or she will “bless us” and tell us that she will offer an invocation to her Imaginary Sky Friend on our behalf (if you do, could you ask it to bless me with the following men: Eric Bana, LL Cool J, Justin Timberlake, Blaine Bishop, Hugh Jackman, and, oh, throw in about five bodybuilders? Kay, thanks!)

    * of she will lament how mean and awfully closed to open discussion we Big Bad Mean Old Atheists are.

    …of course, now that she’ll read this, chances are she’ll take another tack, but it will be no less lame than the ones listed above.

  132. #132 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Teleprompter: I’m fairly sure Sastra was deliberately describing the parent-child relationship as an analogy to belief in a god.

    Meanwhile, I find Douthat’s sniffing that atheists “need to get out more” especially amusing. Does he not realize that many atheists (if not most) are, in fact, the offspring of monotheists? That many of us had religious upbringing? It isn’t as though we haven’t given organized religion a chance to make the case for their God to us. We were brought up learning about how God is watching over us, we thought about it, and we still don’t buy it. Even better, does it not occur to him that believers in the monotheist God are the majority of our society? That we are well into the minority and that the assumption of their God is all around us, every day, and that most of us have already been told that our immortal souls are in grave danger if we don’t accept Jesus into our lives? The difference in the “new atheism” is that now we’re noisy enough to show the majority how their belief system looks from the outside. How dare we.

  133. #133 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie is just willfully confused. She hasn’t figured out that faith is not the same thing as trust so she projects her boundless faith in the unprovable deity lacking any empirical evidence on to us.

    weak sauce.

  134. #134 Andrés Diplotti
    January 30, 2009

    you will discover that we do not think the majority of humanity is insane

    Well, I do, but that’s not related to religious belief.

  135. #135 Chris A.
    January 30, 2009

    That last paragraph sounded as if it were written by Douglas Adams

  136. #136 SteveM
    January 30, 2009

    Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist.

    What this means is that you do not have enough courage to face a world where you are not protected from imaginary demons by a benevolent parent. It means that have not rid yourself of those childish fears and so cling to the idea of a god to protect you. It is kind of ironic that the Bible itself says

    When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.

    Belief in god is a psychological artifact of an evolved behavior of children to seek the protection of the parent, to inherently trust the parent so as to learn how to survive. That is what “faith” and religion are all about.

  137. #137 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Teleprompter #122 wrote:

    Almost everything you said in your comment could be applied to parents almost equally well as it could be applied to a god. Most of us grow up with the idea that there is someone taking care, looking after our needs. Why not extrapolate that to a cosmic scale?

    Yes, that was my point.

    For an interesting examination of this argument on the origins of religion, I suggest psychologist M.D. Faber’s The Psychological Roots of Religious Belief: Searching for Angels and the Parent-God.

  138. #138 anon
    January 30, 2009

    More than one have told me they still cannot comprehend — and think there’s something ‘magical’ about — an aircraft flying (apparently unsupported) through the air. Never underestimate the credulity of the great unwashed.

  139. #139 Gav
    January 30, 2009

    @ Teleprompter #111

    … an idea taken up by Eric Satie in “peccadilles importunes”. Roughly:

    “Taking advantage of the corns on his feet to take his hoop from him – if God sees that, he’ll be furious … It’s something you must never do, unless you’re told to.”

  140. #140 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie @58:

    It’s always a hoot to watch atheists whistling past the graveyard, supremely confident that they’ve got the answer to the God question right. Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist. Could one of you unintended products of the blind evolution of matter explain to me how you came by your faith-based conclusion that there is no God?

    I don?t want to rain on your parade there Jackie, but I have $50 that says:
    You have never seen an atheist whistle and another $50 that says nor have you seen an atheist whistle anywhere near a graveyard.
    Atheists are confident that they have the answer to just about every imaginary critter you can name. How many can you name? And how much time do you have?
    Personally you are ignorant (and I say that with all due respect to what you think you know) of everything regarding atheists. For starters we don?t excite our ?faith? neurons to be atheist. It?s more of a, ?So, what you?re saying is that there?s a big sky daddy up there watching us masturbate, really?!? with a furrowed brow and a couple of blinks just to make sure you aren?t some illusion spouting a canoe load of crap out of your mouth when you start babbling on about some god-pig floating around in space.
    Blind some of us may be but through a tiny bit of optics (science to you morons) most of us can have our vision corrected to nearly 20/20, or better. You, on the other hand, by using your faith, will always be completely and totally blind.
    ?Faith-based conclusion?? You didn?t really intend that for us, did you? Or was that a little bit of your own psychological projection leaking through your trousers? OK, I?ll bite: Most of us came to our ?faith-based conclusion? that there is no god/gods because, well, frankly, there simply aren?t any. Plain and simple. Difficult for some to grasp. But there were no gods, there are no gods, and there will be no gods.
    To summarize: Your ignorance knows no bounds and I have probably been hosed by a Poe.

  141. #141 aratina cage
    January 30, 2009

    Dearheart… Sweetie… it’s always a hoot to watch… you unintended products of Teh Blind Evolution… I’ve never been able to muster your boundless faith…

    Deerliver, I–I mean Jackie, please stop saddlebacking in front of us.

  142. #142 notherfella
    January 30, 2009

    I’m not sure I agree with everyone’s assessment on what the teapot analogy means.

    I don’t think it’s an argument for atheism, necessarily. Of course, it takes an atheist perspective as it asserts there is no evidence for God.

    What it seems to be most effectively is an argument against agnosticism – pointing out the folly of saying one is agnostic about a flying teapot, and it then follows that if you see similarly little evidence for God’s existence, then it is lunacy to say you are agnostic about a deity too.

    Of course, it is founded on the not unreasonable central thesis that evidence should dictate beliefs. But I’m not sure that’s what Russell’s analogy best illustrates.

    I’m probably being a bit of a pedant here.

  143. #143 anon
    January 30, 2009

    Similarly, I’ve heard many express wonder at how a huge ship (tanker, car-carrier, etc.) can ride so high on the surface of the sea withou toppling over. It seems the concept of ‘ballast’ is eternally beyond their comprehension.

  144. #144 simea mirans
    January 30, 2009

    It’s unfair not to quote or allude to the rest of Ross’s piece:

    This is not to say that humanity’s religious experiences and intuitions are anything like a dispositive argument for the existence of God. Certainly, there are all sorts of interesting efforts to explain them without recourse to the hypothesis that they correspond to anything real, and all kinds of reasons to choose atheism over faith. But it is one thing to disbelieve in God; it is quite another to never feel a twinge of doubt about one’s own disbelief. And just as the Christian who has never entertained doubts about his faith probably hasn’t thought hard enough about the matter, the atheist who perceives the Christian God and the flying spaghetti monster as equally ridiculous hypotheses really needs to get out more often.

    He’s not saying “If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.” He’s saying if enough of us imagine it, it’s worth knowing about. It’s a humanist statement: even atheists should take enough interest their fellow humanity to understand the religious impulse, not as a guide to the reality of the cosmos but as a part of human nature.

    You can disagree with that, but calling the guy a moron is off-base.

  145. #145 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    Andrés Diplotti:
    I agree. The more I know of people, the better I like my dog. -Mark Twain

  146. #146 Dave W.
    January 30, 2009

    KnockGoats @128:

    Jackie’s not a bore this time. She’s a hoot! If she wants to call “faith” the process of reasoning that people go through to conclude the universe is without a god, we should encourage her. It’s the same process, really, that everyone uses in their day-to-day lives, which really strips “faith” of all of its alleged specialness.

    In other words, Jackie is asserting that her faith in God is no different from my “faith” that my furniture doesn’t dance around the house while I’m not looking. Such statements should be seen as an epic fail (Jackie turning what seems to be vitally important to her into the pathetically mundane), and thus a real good “point and laugh” moment.

  147. #147 Li'l Innocent
    January 30, 2009

    The part of Douthat’s apologia that struck me was his bit about “experiencing an interaction with a being who seems recognizable as the Judaeo-Christian God” being a major part of “the story of our civilization”. I don’t read the guy, so don’t know what he considers to be “our” civilization, though this does resemble the various recent statements by pols about the US (or “America” if they’re going back to the Pilgrims/Puritans) being founded on Judaeo-Christian religion.

    The founders, some of whom were at most deists and many of whom were well-informed admirers of pre-Christian, non-Judaic ancient Mediterranean civilization, would have been able to give him a good argument — an argument that would hold good for European civilization in general. If he’s talking about the story of human civilization worldwide, he’s far, far out in left field. Out of the ballpark, in fact. I’m no scholar in comparative religion, but I’ve read enough to know that the patterns of Christianity/Judaeism/Islam are not shared by other religions that are followed by millions and have been for centuries.

  148. #148 KnockGoats
    January 30, 2009

    But it is one thing to disbelieve in God astrology; it is quite another to never feel a twinge of doubt about one’s own disbelief. – simea mirans quoting the moron Ross Douthat

    Tosh is tosh, however many people believe it.

  149. #149 Jim A
    January 30, 2009

    Maybe it should be Magrit’s teapot “C’est ne un teapot”

  150. #150 Carl Caster
    January 30, 2009

    Douthat says -

    “An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent…”

    What better definition have you ever seen for what a biosociologist might call “ancestral human tribal instinct?”

  151. #151 George Atkinson
    January 30, 2009

    #103: “So are you saying it is not reasonable to say complexity resulted from design?”

    Agents capable of design clearly produce complex things.
    Before designing agents were around, complexity could hardly have resulted from design.

  152. #152 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Do you believe in Thor? If no, tell me why not.”

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    “…they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another ‘belief’.”

    Horrors. The Netherlands should act swiftly to halt this exercise of free speech.

    “Note that Richard Dawkins, along with all atheists who are also scientists, say that there is almost certainly no god.”

    Oh, well. Silly me. If Richard Dawkins said it, it must be true. Google “argumentum ad verecundiam” to brush up on your logic.

    “There is evidence of evolution. Hard, vigorously tested evidence. It’s what leads me to understand that this is far and away the most likely cause of our existence. No faith involved.”

    Science never proves its theories, dearheart. The problem of induction never goes away, regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded. Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    By the way, what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?

    Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies. On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths? If Darwinian evolutionary theory is true, how could it deliver minds capable of knowing that it’s true?

  153. #153 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    “Do you believe in Thor? If no, tell me why not.”

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    Tell me the difference in what you just said and what I said?

    “Note that Richard Dawkins, along with all atheists who are also scientists, say that there is almost certainly no god.”

    Oh, well. Silly me. If Richard Dawkins said it, it must be true. Google “argumentum ad verecundiam” to brush up on your logic.

    Missing the point for 1000 Alex.

  154. #154 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Meant to blockquote jackie’s quote from “Note …to…logic”

  155. #155 Lowell
    January 30, 2009

    #145

    He’s not saying “If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.” He’s saying if enough of us imagine it, it’s worth knowing about.

    Really? I didn’t read it that way at all. I read it to mean, “if enough of us imagine it to be real, it is more likely to be real (i.e., it is not “equally ridiculous” as the FSM).”

    Totally fallacious.

  156. #156 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    simea mirans, #145: He’s saying if enough of us imagine it, it’s worth knowing about.

    Well, that much I agree with as far as it goes. Enough of “us” imagine that the earth was created 6000 years ago and was perfect until a talking snake mucked things up, and so I agree that those beliefs are worth knowing about. But one can acknowledge that a lot of people share a certain belief and so it may be a good thing to know more about those beliefs and also point out the inherent silliness in those beliefs.

    Personally, I think that he’s saying that since enough people believe that God exists, that belief must be acknowledged as a reasonable opinion. I disagree with that. Now, perhaps one should acknowledge belief in God as a reasonable opinion, but not just because so many people believe it.

  157. #157 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    Only until the evidence is found. Then there is a solid evidential footing, which religion can in noway copy. Evolution is so solid the chances of it being overturned are about the same as you flying off the earth and into space in the next ten minutes.
    You see faith where none is needed. And your silly god doesn’t exist.

  158. #158 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    This person professes to “see many reasons to believe in the God of the Bible” yet asks “what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor?”
    Are you serious? Can it really be possible to so thoroughly misunderstand the extremely basic concept of “evidence”?
    Which is more troublesome to you: the “problem of induction” or the “problem of just making shit up”?

  159. #159 Julian
    January 30, 2009

    Richard Harris: Exactly. What really annoys me about most folks like Mr. Douthat is that they, by choice, continue in an ignorance that a single semester of Intro to Classical Civilization or a single, complete reading of Dr. Freud’s Totem and Tabo could dispel, and no matter how often you point out the actual history of religion, they refuse to take the step to actually educate themselves.

  160. #160 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    It’s a humanist statement: even atheists should take enough interest their fellow humanity to understand the religious impulse, not as a guide to the reality of the cosmos but as a part of human nature.

    When, for the second or third or eleventy billionth time, the dog refuses to hunt, you should stop offering to take him to the duck blind.

    If the religious were not actively trying to force consensus reality to conform to their “impulse”, then you and Douhat would have a point. But they do, so you don’t. Well not as strong a point. Think of it as conversational intolerance.

    @Jim A

    You meant: “Ceci n’est pas un théière”

  161. #161 Helfrick
    January 30, 2009

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    Wow sugarbuns, you kind of dodged the question didn’t you? Do you have evidence of your god?

  162. #162 AJ Milne
    January 30, 2009

    Oh, well. Silly me. If Richard Dawkins said it, it must be true. Google “argumentum ad verecundiam” to brush up on your logic.

    Heh. Right. Seems you’re pointing to the wrong page… Believe you meant to direct the audience to ‘bad faith misdirection’, sport.

    Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    … aaaand we retreat again, as is inevitable, to appeals to solipsism…

    And oh, look. We’re back in teapot territory. How very a propos.

  163. #163 CJO
    January 30, 2009

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    Do share.

    Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies. On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths?

    Uh, because we survive? It’s kind of like the ultimate test. The strategies work.

    <>If Darwinian evolutionary theory is true, how could it deliver minds capable of knowing that it’s true?

    What grounds do you have to doubt it?

  164. #164 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Aww, Jackie calls us petnames and thinks she’s putting us down like mad dogs with the famous Problem of Induction! Isn’t she just the cutest widdle thing? *pinches cheeks*

  165. #165 JimC
    January 30, 2009

    What is it then? There I don’t know. Strange neurological/psychological structure the mind feels the need to explain? I don’t know enough about that stuff

    I have always felt this entire ‘feeling’ can best be relayed as a remnant ancestral primate behaviour. We are conditioned to look to the alpha male or ‘troop’ leader for direction, needs, protection, etc. As humans evolved away from alot of this the physical need to submit remains.

    The hypothesis also helps explain why far more women then men are religious and feel the need to do so because of emotion. It also helps explain why there are fewer atheists than theists(at least for now) as perhaps these individuals are variations that could be selected for or against in the population.

    Personally, I’ve never been able to muster enough faith to be an atheist

    Good grief how silly.

  166. #166 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    By the way, what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?

    Jackie, sweet cheeks, you really are a fool.

  167. #167 Holbach
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie @ 153

    Oh well, silly you. To imagine a non-existent god and never produce one in the flesh or as smoke. We tell you with more than conviction and reason that your made up god is a figment of unsound minds, and you insist that all that nonsense is valid to the point of madness. You have only to get your imaginary god to appear before us and you have our word we will laugh in good humor and state that we thought it was all a joke. Come on Jackie, your phony god must have at least the ability to show itself, and I don’t mean in a cow turd or an intelligent designed tornado that is indiscriminate in its slaughter.

  168. #168 CG
    January 30, 2009

    to Muzz@40

    I haven’t finished reading all of the comments yet so apologies if someone has covered this point already. I think a lot of the ‘religious feeling’ can be chalked up to a few different neurological processes.

    First, you have the child’s ability to make up reality. All of us as children played a version of pretend where you made up situations and friends and the like, I view religions as a different facet of that. Most adults don’t have imaginary friends because at some point we realized that they were made up (excluding of course the more traditionally insane) but as we grow older some individuals fill that gap with a god or a spirit or what have you. They feel empty without it so they want to believe something is there watching them all the time.

    Add to that the tendency all humans have to make everything seem more human; when we see random images we make them into face, we imagine animals have human like feelings, etc. So we (as humans in general) put a human face on some being that’s always watching us and trying to make sure we do the right things.

    If I really thought about it I’m sure I could make a list of a dozen or so reasons why these traits would be selected for back in the beginnings of modern type humans and all of them would probably be accurate to some degree. I’m sure someone has already done the footwork on it though, so maybe I’ll spend some time searching around later on tonight to find a good article or paper on reasons that these traits developed.

  169. #169 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    Science never proves its theories, dearheart. The problem of induction never goes away, regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded. Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    More fractal wrongness.

    The goal of scientific theories is not “proof”, but “inference to the best explanation”, so the problem of induction is no impediment. Read Chalmers, you dolt. Arguing against naieve empiricism is so last-century.

  170. #170 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    It’s a humanist statement: even atheists should take enough interest their fellow humanity to understand the religious impulse

    People already study that. There is literature out there, a number of competing hypotheses about where god-belief comes from. There was an article mentioned by PZ just a few days ago, in fact. He’s also ignoring the significant proportion of atheists who used to be theists and so have first-hand experience with god-belief.

    not as a guide to the reality of the cosmos but as a part of human nature.

    Then why bring up FSM or Russell’s Teapot at all? Those are completely unrelated to the thesis you believe he’s presenting. They are simply analogies demonstrating the misuse of logic.

    You can disagree with that, but calling the guy a moron is off-base.

    He’s being called a moron for the statements he actually makes, not the ones you are putting into his mouth. Maybe that’s unfair. Perhaps he’s just a very bad writer and didn’t revise his essay after he changed topics partway through.

  171. #171 Erin
    January 30, 2009

    First of all, it’s great that you see no reason to believe in Thor but many reasons to believe in God. Now answer the question and actually explain why.

    Secondly, I’m sure you would be “horrified” if a group went door to door, leaving 6.5 million pamphlets outlining the various reasons that god probably does not exist. You’d certainly have some complaint that a child could find said materials and be brainwashed–well, we feel the same way about your beliefs, so stop forcing them down our throats. And no one is saying the Christian group should be legally prohibited from exercising their free speech, just that the speech they are exercising is most probably incorrect.

    Secondly, the Dawkins quote was not mentioned to try to validate atheism because someone important beleives it (as an appeal to authority), it was mentioned to illustrate the skeptical yet not totally close-minded nature of many atheists’ ideas about god. And by the way, using Latin words doesn’t make you sound smarter.

    Thirdly, you are correct in saying that science does not definitely, absolutely prove its theories. That is because if the evidence changes, the theories change. How often has your theory of God changed due to new evidence (or lack thereof)? Also, in science, the word theory doesn’t mean the same as it does in popular parlance. For an idea to become a theory, it must have overwhelmingly positive evidence for it’s validity. So again, where is the evidence for God? Show me and I’ll take it into consideration. I guarantee that your “evidences of god” are not anywhere near as solid as the evidence for evolution.

    And finally, the “testing” you ask of Darwin’s idea, though not the same as a recreation in a lab, is no less important or valid. Developmental biology, geology, paleontology, etc all have found evidences of evolution. And some examples of evolution actually have been observed, in organisms like bacteria or fruit flies, which have shorter life spans. You can read this article and “brush up” on such scientific discoveries (that we’ve known about for years

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/06/science/06conv.html

    Sorry, one last thing. The overly sweet, condescending “pet names” you use to address people are not cute, honey.

  172. #172 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    “And just as the Christian who has never entertained doubts about his faith probably hasn’t thought hard enough about the matter, the atheist who perceives the Christian God and the flying spaghetti monster as equally ridiculous hypotheses really needs to get out more often.”

    The reason atheists tend to use an argument originally meant to critique faith to critique God is because theists themselves are confused. The two big arguments out there are

    1.) Based on the evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that God exists than that it doesn’t.

    and

    2.) In order to believe in God, one must go beyond what the evidence warrants, and make a leap of faith.

    And these usually come from the same people. But it should be either one, or the other. Not both at the same time.

    Point out that leaps of faith and cautious agnosticism would apply equally well to Russell’s teapot, and they start screaming that no, atheists are ignoring #1! It’s not just faith, we’ve got tons and tons of evidence and argument and reason!

    Point out that the evidence, argument, and reason do not lead to the conclusion they say it does, and then they sigh and note how the silly atheists are forgetting the importance of #2. God doesn’t want to compel people, after all. Can you prove God doesn’t exist? The least you should be is cautiously agnostic, and admit it could be true — and then God leaves that leap up to you.

    Apologists need to pick a horse and ride it, and then maybe we’d stop throwing the crockery around.

  173. #173 Me
    January 30, 2009

    If you can’t use your own personal experience, critically examined, to arrive at truth, whose can you use?

  174. #174 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Tell me the difference in what you just said and what I said?”

    Reasons and evidence are not the same thing, sweetie. We have reasons, for example, for thinking that Hoffa was murdered, but we have no evidence for that hypothesis. Does the absence of such evidence entail that Hoffa wasn’t murdered? Of course not. When the search area is large (as it is with respect to the God question), absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (as it might be when the search area – a refrigerator, perhaps – is quite small). If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.

    If you’d like to acquaint yourself with the evidence for God, why don’t you avail yourself of one of the many books written on that subject? To name but one of them, you might read “Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question,” edited by John Warwick Montgomery.

  175. #175 JimC
    January 30, 2009

    what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?

    Why do only really, really ignorant people choose to talk about things they have no understanding of?

    I think the evidence has shown Darwin incorrect on many things but yet his basic elemental idea sound.

  176. #176 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie Sweetie, your god doesn’t exist without physical eveidence. Otherwise, all you have is a delusion between your ears. No physical evidence exists for your god. And he won’t exist until you present some. Get cracking and present some, as we have been waiting a long time for the evidence that will pass scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine origin. Until then, you are loony toons.

  177. #177 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Reasons and evidence are not the same thing, sweetie. We have reasons, for example, for thinking that Hoffa was murdered, but we have no evidence for that hypothesis. Does the absence of such evidence entail that Hoffa wasn’t murdered? Of course not. When the search area is large (as it is with respect to the God question), absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (as it might be when the search area – a refrigerator, perhaps – is quite small). If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.

    I am empowered by logic to say that the evidence so far presented to me does not convince me of the existence of any gods. There for I do no accept that gods exist. I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

    So far nothing has done so.

    I don’t take the default position that something exists because it hasn’t been shown to me to not. Invisible dragons in garages and such.

    Do you?

    Why do you reject the Hindu or Norse gods?

  178. #178 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, sugar dumpling, you analogy is flawed. We have proof that Hoffa existed. Then one day Hoffa was no longer around. Reason enough to assume that he might have been murdered. But we have no proof that your deity exists.

    Get it, sugar plum? We have proof of Hoffa’s existence. Not so much for your sugar daddy.

  179. #179 AnthonyK
    January 30, 2009

    At the risk of starting a schism can I say that I believe 100% in NASA’s toolbox?

    And so we have the silly christianists, here to stand up for their faith. You don’t get it, do you? We don’t believe in your god, we don’t believe in any god. No faith recquired. It’s scarcely our fault if you need to tap into superstition and your programming to interpret the world – we’re really not responsible for your lack of imagination and understanding or your refusal to put childish beliefs behind you. I mean, look what happens when you’re confronted with evolution, which is both true and awe inspiring; you just can’t handle it.
    And the worst is, you’re here simply to proselytize, to show off your faith. Well, your nonexistent god is laughing at you.
    Worse, this is just another tiresome attempt at christian apologetics. Well go on then – fucking apologize!
    Then fuck off.
    Dear.

  180. #180 JImC
    January 30, 2009

    If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.

    No atheist, I think, denies that God may exist. Just that the evidence as currently understood presents no case that a God exists or a particular version. Hence the default position.

    Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question,” edited by John Warwick Montgomery.

    You deride evolution but trumpet this book. You are silly.

  181. #181 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    @Jackie

    If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.

    We’re not relying on logic. We’re relying on epistemic responsibility and intersubjective empiricism. In other words:

    The difficulty for the religionist is that non-empirical justifications for belief ? revelation, intuition, scripture and authority ? routinely violate these norms. Such justifications are notoriously influenced by wishful thinking; they don?t require public evidence to corroborate subjective impressions and intuitions; and they are cognitively mysterious; for instance, we don?t know how the intuition of god?s presence, a ?sensus divinatus,? might work (discussed by Dacey on p. 93). Why then should we trust them as guides to what?s fundamentally real? Unless the religionist can answer this question, his claims to objectivity ? the basis for his worldview ? aren’t credible.

    @Jackie

    …what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence…

    Uh, well there’s about 112 years worth. How long do you have?

  182. #182 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Which is more troublesome to you: the ‘problem of induction’ or the ‘problem of just making shit up’?”

    Why should the latter bother someone who worships in the Church of Darwin, whose sacred texts are full of “shit” that is just made up? Read, for example, Darwinian accounts of the evolution of the human eye – accounts that are as full of imagination as they are devoid of rigorous, testable data.

    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” – Mark Twain

  183. #183 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    At the risk of starting a schism can I say that I believe 100% in NASA’s toolbox?

    nice

  184. #184 Azdak
    January 30, 2009

    If I’m not very much mistaken, instruction in the use of condescending saccharine endearments is covered in chapter 4 of the Internet Troll Handbook.

  185. #185 Erin
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie-

    rea?son
    ? ?/?riz?n/
    ?noun
    1. a BASIS OR CAUSE AS FOR SOME BELIEF, action, fact, event, etc.: the reason for declaring war.
    2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action.

    ev?i?dence
    ? ?/??v?d?ns/
    noun, verb, -denced, -denc?ing.
    ?noun
    1. that which tends to prove or disprove something; GROUND FOR BELIEF; proof.
    2. something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign: His flushed look was visible evidence of his fever.

    I think a basis for belief and ground for belief sound pretty similar.

    “If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.”
    And if YOU know no evidence of god, how does that empower you by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for god entails that god DOES exist? That’s makes even less sense.

    To acquaint yourself with arguments against the existence of god, I suggest you read “The God Delusion” written by Richard Dawkins.

  186. #186 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, why you poor dear (if you’re from the Southern USA you’ll understand the implied meaning: “Jackie, you retard”):

    I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    What do these many reasons look like, oh wise and faithful one?

    The problem of induction never goes away, regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded.

    Induction? What the fuck are you talking about?

    Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    You keep using that word, “science” – I don’t think you know what it means.

    Jackie: noun, today’s example of willful ignorance steeped (teapots again!) in boiling hot cognitive dissonance served up with a heaping helping of chocolate coated Dunning-Kruger Effect scones.

  187. #187 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Orrrr…

    You, Jackie, could give me your reasons right now for knowing that God exists but not Thor. I’m still waiting on that one. “I know that the Bible is true because the Bible says so” does not settle the issue here, btw.

  188. #188 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Why should the latter bother someone who worships in the Church of Darwin, whose sacred texts are full of “shit” that is just made up?

    Pookums you are skiing way out over your tips now.

    Projection is not an appealing trait.

  189. #189 Tulse
    January 30, 2009

    I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    and

    The problem of induction never goes away, regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded.

    I’m waiting for Jackie to disappear in a puff of logic.

    what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?

    Tons. What do you want first: DNA similarity? Paleontological evidence? Anatomical correspondence? Neurological comparisons?

    On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths?

    On what grounds do you? How do you even know that there are external truths? Because something external tells you? How is that any different that what science does?

  190. #190 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie #153 wrote:

    Science never proves its theories, dearheart. The problem of induction never goes away, regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded. Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.

    I think you’re equivocating on the meaning of “faith.” Science forms working theories, explanatory models open to disconfirmation, given new evidence or argument. Pragmatic reliance is not the same as religious “faith,” which has to do with hope, need, and a firm commitment to believe one’s own conclusions.

    If you think they’re the same thing, I’d be interested to know what sort of new evidence or discoveries would cause you to throw out God, as an inadequate hypothesis, and accept a thoroughly natural reality?

    Would it be conclusive evidence for evolution?

    If so, then you agree that we need to consider God as we would consider any other scientific hypothesis.
    If not, then drop the arguments against evolution. You’d just as gladly argue for theistic evolution as you’d argue for Intelligent Design, and those folks are on the same side as the atheists in the Evolution vs. Creationism debate.

    Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies. On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths? If Darwinian evolutionary theory is true, how could it deliver minds capable of knowing that it’s true?

    As you’ve already pointed out, evolution could not give us minds with Direct Access to Absolute Truth and Certainty. It would only give us the kinds of minds which needed to be cautious, careful, and use methods like science to correct themselves when in error.

  191. #191 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    @Jackie

    Read, for example, Darwinian accounts of the evolution of the human eye – accounts that are as full of imagination as they are devoid of rigorous, testable data.

    Serious SIWOTI territory.

    How about you read accounts of the evolution of the human eye. You really ought to know at least a bit about what you presume to criticise.

  192. #192 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: Jackie | January 30, 2009

    Why should the latter bother someone who worships in the Church of Darwin, whose sacred texts are full of “shit” that is just made up? Read, for example, Darwinian accounts of the evolution of the human eye – accounts that are as full of imagination as they are devoid of rigorous, testable data.

    Jackie, that delectable strawberry shortcake, knows that all you scientists spend your time in your monasteries, sitting on your asses and making shit up.

    Give it up! Jackie is one smart cookie. She knows!

  193. #193 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, ever hear of “Modern Synthesis”. It is the up-to-date version 150 year improvement of evolution that includes genes, DNA, and all that good stuff that solidified evolutionary theory into something as solid as the Theory of Gravity, that Darwin knew thing about. Continually harping on Darwin just shows your ignorance of the subject.

  194. #194 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Agents capable of design clearly produce complex things.
    Before designing agents were around, complexity could hardly have resulted from design.”

    Presumably, dearheart, you have in mind intelligent design theory. If that is so, you should know that design theorists do not argue that complexity signals design. They instead argue that *specified* complexity is a reliable hallmark of design. If the distinction is not clear to you, you’ve got some homework to do before you can knowledgeably criticize ID theory.

  195. #195 CJM
    January 30, 2009

    An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature;

    People used to ‘intuitively believe’ that the sun went around the earth or that my physics textbook is going to fall faster than my cell phone (I wish).

    Galileo et. al. pretty much put an end to that nonsense. Science wins again.

  196. #196 Sceptical Chymist
    January 30, 2009

    Jim A: Merde alors! Shouldn’t that be “Ce n’est pas un teapot!” But enough of this storm in a teapot. I came to the U.S.A. from England 46 years ago as a refugee from the teapot wars. Andrew Sullivan’s knowledge of mathematics, among other things, is pathetic: See my letter to Atlantic Magazine last year in which I pointed out he doesn’t know logarithms from a hole in the ground.

  197. #197 Lee Picton
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, dumpling,
    With your regurgitating the nonsense you think you know about the human eye, you have just convcinced me that you are no more than a garden variety godbot. That is, weapons-grade stupid. Impervious to reason, logic, sanity, or science. I am astonished the regulars have been so patient with you. Now, produce your god, or run along. The grown-ups have better things to do.

  198. #198 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.

    Thank you, Janine, for stating exactly the concept behind the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  199. #199 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    And as long as we’re slinging quotes from one of my favorite observers of the human condition:

    The so-called Christian nations are the most enlightened and progressive…but in spite of their religion, not because of it. The Church has opposed every innovation and discovery from the day of Galileo down to our own time, when the use of anesthetic in childbirth was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve. And every step in astronomy and geology ever taken has been opposed by bigotry and superstition. The Greeks surpassed us in artistic culture and in architecture five hundred years before Christian religion was born.

    …and…

    If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be–a Christian.

  200. #200 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, the key lime pie, sure is proud of the fact that she has no idea what she is talking about.

    Jackie, sweetums, look up Facilis. I see the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

  201. #201 CJO
    January 30, 2009

    They instead argue that *specified* complexity is a reliable hallmark of design.

    Okay. Let’s say you find a pocket watch laying in the grass. How much *specified* complexity is there in the watch, and how much is there in the grass?

    Please, show your work.

  202. #202 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    For the last time, Darwin is NOT OUR GOD. He is our PROPHET. Our gods are the Holy Trinity of Physics, Chemistry and Chaos Theory. When are you trolls going to grasp that?!

  203. #203 les
    January 30, 2009

    I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    Care to share? Oh, nearly forgot–care to share, poopsie?

  204. #204 Norman Doering
    January 30, 2009

    There’s another quickie atheist parable that I find Christians don’t get that we’ve all probably used: “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?”

    But then, this guy doesn’t get much of anything:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de7kisfQ1vY

    Of course, the problem is that not all Christians go to faith healers. Some of them also think Peter Popoff, W. V. Grant or Pat Robertson for real.

  205. #205 Erin
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie,
    Darwin is not a god. He did not die and rise again. He does not grant wishes. He does not damn you to hell or send you to heaven. The book he wrote is not sacred or mystical. HE did not create the world. Doesn’t sound too much like your god, does it?

    Also, no one thinks Darwin’s specific ideas of how evolution occurs were 100% correct, it’s the general idea that he developed that is important. He didn’t know all the other things we now know that further support evolution. Again, that’s what is great about science, when evidence turns up, theories change and grow. Evolutionary theory has developed, but never disproved.

    Are you even reading all these posts? It seems your “responses” are just rehashing the same tired ideas.

  206. #206 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Naked Bunny, I did not say that.

  207. #207 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    I may be mistaken but wasn’t Jackie here a few months back?

    I think she has a blog. If that is her I’m curious why should doesn’t link back to it.

    Jackine you never answered my questions from post 177

    I don’t take the default position that something exists because it hasn’t been shown to me to not. Invisible dragons in garages and such.

    Do you?

    Why do you reject the Hindu or Norse gods?

  208. #208 mothra
    January 30, 2009

    @39

    I’m a cosmic teapot, orbiting about.
    Here is my handle, here is my spout.
    At ambient space temperatures, I don’t steam.
    Ice won’t pour and they can’t hear me scream.

  209. #209 AJ Milne
    January 30, 2009

    Are you even reading all these posts? It seems your “responses” are just rehashing the same tired ideas.

    It’s pretty much the standard Gish Gallop. Throw out a lotta shit, hope some of it sticks. If called on anything you can’t answer or shows up the dishonesty of any part of your game, either answer with misdirection, or ignore it entirely… Keep on shoveling it, try to present a moving target… And bam, you a straight-from-central-casting creationist shill, muffin, and you go!

  210. #210 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, lovely, sugar-sweet, darling, hunny-bunny, dear, you ask that I “Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.” That’s like a Kalahari Bushman telling an airplane mechanic that he should look into that “flight” thing sometime. Perhaps well intentioned, but showing an ignorance of epic proportion.

    You make me sad. Really. I hate ignorance. I wish to cure it. That’s one of the reason’s I’m an educator. I know your type. Your ignorance is willful. You don’t wish to really know things, not if they don’t fit with how you wish them to be. In your mind, ignorance is truly bliss. That’s very sad.

    I’ve watched you here use terms and words you obviously have no understanding of. I think there is some dim part of you that is aware that everything you hold dear is just smoke and mirrors. Because you can’t refute this, you convince yourself that all others do the same. Pathetic.

    I hope you’ll get some help. Really. Real, psychiatric help. It may not be to late! Until then, try not to make yourself look any more of an idiot than you have already. Put the bottle down.

    Goodbye dearheart and fuck you (I mean “god bless!”).

  211. #211 Tulse
    January 30, 2009

    At ambient space temperatures, I don’t steam. /
    Ice won’t pour and they can’t hear me scream

    Great — now I’m picturing a large slimy egg-shaped teapot…

  212. #212 mayhempix
    January 30, 2009

    Jujubes!!!

    Are they still around? I haven’t seen them in ages. I loved how they’d stick to your teeth.
    Ill bet dentists loved them too.

  213. #213 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | January 30, 2009

    Jackine you never answered my questions from post 177…

    Oh, thank you, oh King Of Typos! I am going to have nightmares that somehow, that delicious cream filling, Jackie and I were merged and became one. This is more scary than Cronenburg’s version of The Fly.

  214. #214 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    Sorry, Janine, I meant Jackie. I’d tell you to spank me for that mistake, but I think you know that would not be a punishment.

  215. #215 Stephen Wells
    January 30, 2009

    Since I have personally observed lightning, I think there’s probably more reason to believe in Thor than in Yahweh. Jackie?

  216. #216 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie,

    “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” – Mark Twain

    OK, since you think quotes change reality:

    “Faith, is believing in something you know just ain’t true.” – Mark Twain

    Damn, you are an idiot.

  217. #217 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    Goodbye dearheart and fuck you (I mean “god bless!”).

    That’s not idiomatic Christian. “I’ll pray for you” is usually translated as “fuck you”.

    “God bless” is usually rendered as “go fuck yourself“.

  218. #218 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Rev.BigDumbChimp,
    Yes, Jackie was here a couple of months ago. Did a quick search and found similar adolescent ramblings spouting her certainty and ignorance of just about everything that she writes. Didn’t come across a blog link but then I didn’t search too carefully. That amount of willful, moronic, imbecilic, cask-strength stupid (h/t Emmet!) is dangerous and might go critical if too much is gathered too closely together.
    Where?s my revolver when I need to make the village idiot dance? ;)

  219. #219 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Naked Bunny, how about I tie you up and tickle your feet with a feather.

  220. #220 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Rev.BigDumbChimp,
    Yes, Jackie was here a couple of months ago. Did a quick search and found similar adolescent ramblings spouting her certainty and ignorance of just about everything that she writes. Didn’t come across a blog link but then I didn’t search too carefully. That amount of willful, moronic, imbecilic, cask-strength stupid (h/t Emmet!) is dangerous and might go critical if too much is gathered too closely together.
    Where?s my revolver when I need to make the village idiot dance? ;)

  221. #221 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Mothra, I so want to get my nieces and nephews to recite that.

  222. #222 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    “Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies. On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths?”

    “Uh, because we survive? It’s kind of like the ultimate test. The strategies work.”

    Why in the world do you suppose that a thought that promotes survival must correspond to truth? Indeed, if thoughts are mere survival strategies (as they must be, if Darwinian theory is true), the very possibility of knowing objective truth is ruled out. As you suggest, a mind produced by Darwinian evolution evolves towards survival strategies that work. But such a mind has no grounds for trusting that the ideas it forms correspond to truth (“What works” does not necessarily equate to “What is true”). By reducing thoughts to mere survival strategies, Darwinian theory gives us no grounds for thinking that it’s objectively true. The same applies to any thinking used to try to validate Darwinian theory. The Darwinian explanation of the mind cuts its own throat.

  223. #223 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Rev.BigDumbChimp,
    Yes, Jackie was here a couple of months ago. Did a quick search and found similar adolescent ramblings spouting her certainty and ignorance of just about everything that she writes. Didn’t come across a blog link but then I didn’t search too carefully. That amount of willful, moronic, imbecilic, cask-strength stupid (h/t Emmet!) is dangerous and might go critical if too much is gathered too closely together.
    Where?s my revolver when I need to make the village idiot dance? ;)

  224. #224 Rey Fox
    January 30, 2009

    “If you know of no evidence for God, you’re entitled to say that you know of no evidence for God. You are not, however, empowered by logic to say that your ignorance of any evidence for God entails that God does not exist.”

    And once again, back to the teapot. Round and round she goes…

    Trouble is now I can’t read “evidence” without thinking of that Holocaust-denying bishop from a few threads ago. “IVVIDENCE.”

    Also, the Faith No More song of the same name.

  225. #225 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Since I have personally observed lightning, I think there’s probably more reason to believe in Thor than in Yahweh.

    IIRC, Yahweh was a thunder god too, just after getting out of his pantheon’s mailroom. Along with Zeus, Thor, Susa-no-O, Shango, Apocatequil, and Indra.

    Jackie still hasn’t told why he/she thinks Yahweh is provable while the others are not. Is it because I haven’t tried using a passive-aggressive cutesy nickname in my requests that this question be answered?

  226. #226 Timebandit
    January 30, 2009

    Now I feel compelled to get a ceramic teapot, paint “Russell” on one side and “There’s probably no teapot. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” on the other.

    It’d make a great conversation piece.

  227. #227 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, Hostess Cupcake, before you can offer a coherent criticism of evolution, you must know what you are talking about. All you serve up is word salad.

  228. #228 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    Heliobates @ 218,

    Oops! Thanks for the correction. My ignorance shows. It is a tricky language though.

  229. #229 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    January 30, 2009

    how about I tie you up and tickle your feet with a feather.

    Oh hell, not another woman who does that!

    Er, I mean, that wouldn’t bother me at all. *coughs and fidgets*

  230. #230 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    “There’s probably no teapot. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

    How am I supposed to enjoy my life if there’s no tea?

  231. #231 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    I see Jackie hasn’t learned the first rule of holes. When you are in over your head, stop digging. She has been in over her head for an hour now, and it is time for her to stop digging.
    Jackie, evolution is a sound scientific theory with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of scientific papers backing it up. Your belief is irrelevant both to science and to the validity of evolutiion. Your silly imaginary god has zero evidence, except in your delusional mind.

  232. #232 Neil B ?
    January 30, 2009

    Russell’s Teapot is a silly illustration, but for a different reason (and to appreciate the fallacy of his argument is independent of whether any particular thing exists or not.) The RT, like FSM, is a case of straw man argument. Of course imaging something, anything at all, was real wouldn’t be enough to make it so. The whole point in wondering about God, ETs, “other universes”, whatever, is to see if you can come up with a supporting argument (if you don’t have direct evidence.) How convincing would depend on just what was proposed and how good the argument is.

  233. #233 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Jebus, tap-dancing Christ pogo-sticking on a cracker, what’s up with the multi-posting?
    Post once, get an error, close browser window just for safety, go back to PZ’s blog, scroll down to the Jackie pile-on story, and there I am in all the triumvirate glory. Praise be and pass the beer!
    Oh, apologies everyone. Except you, Jackie you tiny brained godbot.

  234. #234 Rey Fox
    January 30, 2009

    So why has the mind produced by God turned out to be so faulty? I mean, none of the minds he created figured Him out until about 4,000 years ago, and even now, the majority of minds on the planet have apparently got Him wrong in some way.

  235. #235 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    The Darwinian explanation of the mind cuts its own throat.

    Jackie, sugar walls, whoever it is whose mind you’re wasting, would you return it to them before you damage it any further, please? All you’re doing with it is getting it kind of damp and moldy.

  236. #236 Dr. Matt
    January 30, 2009

    2) A celestial teapot has nil explanatory. For example A theist may claim that God is a good explainaton for complexity and design in the universe. While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something. What does this teapot explain? nil.

    Reminds me of those arguments about who would win in a fight: Superman vs. Son Goku. But, but, God has x-ray vision, so he can see Russel’s Teapot trying to sneak up on him, and dodges the scalding tea attack.

  237. #237 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    I think “sugar walls” is my new favorite term of condescending endearment. I’m still waiting to hear Jackie-pie’s “reasons” for believing in the God of the Bible. Let me see if I can guess this one:

    “I believe in God because the Bible tells me so. I accept the Bible as inerrant because it was written by God.”

    In other words, the dog chases its own tail!

  238. #238 Glen Davidson
    January 30, 2009

    I gave a reasonably short answer (though it’s not really a short post–these things require some argumentation) to the old Plantinga BS about evolution and “truth”, at SMUDailycampus a few months back. Here it is:

    Glen Davidson
    posted 11/13/08 @ 12:17 PM CST
    Ever since Kant it has been recognized that empiricism is not anything that gives us “Truth,” or at least we cannot know that it does. We know this without having to bring evolution into it. Yet we do have ways of understanding the world that are consistent and reliable, or, one might say, “intersubjectively sound.”

    And, since most of what actually concerns us is empirical knowledge, we are more or less stuck with science to deal with information that is important to us. With “Truth” being well outside of our abilities, we assign truth-values to statements collectively in a manner that agrees with our sensory and intellectual abilities, and then we use such truth-statements to model the world–including evolution.

    Kant, however, had no reason to assume that our faculties actually correlate reasonably with our world, so that he even supposed that the three dimensions of space that we experience were merely a product of our brains (he even had “proofs” of it). What evolution does is to explain how what we see generally has a good correspondence with “small-t truth,” especially where it comes to understanding spatial and temporal relations. While what we see might in fact be completely fictional (we can’t check, for all we know of “the world” is mediated by our own senses and cognition) if nonetheless predictable, presumably the simplest way for evolution to model the world is going to be fairly straightforward. As “practical reason” goes, then, evolution gives us reason to believe that the world maps out reasonably close to how we experience it to be.

    We know quite well that evolving to survive has not given us a clear and “truthful” knowledge of the world, for we are subject to optical illusions, and we have a psyche which is prone to believe in invisible and unobservable beings. However, we have a variety of means of “knowing the world,” hence we can check our illusions and biases against more solid processes, like checking and rechecking our observations and our logic (the latter two may be fictional, as I said previously, but they are reliable and able to be “intersubjectively sound”).

    Again, evolution provides the reason we can check our faulty evolved understanding, because on the whole we must be able to relate reliably to the environment in which we evolved. Thus, while mistakes are inevitable in evolution, the “core of knowledge” ought to be sound (at least “intersubjectively” so), and the outlying mistakes will not be repeated by correlative processes, while reliable understanding should be corroborated by different processes and senses.

    The fact is that Plantinga falls on his own sword, since he’s stuck like theist Kant, without having any “practical” reason to suppose that our faculties correlate at all with empirical “truth.” Evolution gives us the only reason we have to think that our minds ought to be generally reliable, even if they are not going to be perfect sources of knowledge.

    Indeed, why is it that past thinkers have had an unclear view of things, typically naive realism, if God is responsible for our “minds”? Now that’s a real problem, for we came into our knowledge of the brain and both its reliability and mistakes only by making a huge number of mistakes, having to check one source of knowledge against another one for millenia, before we finally got it right (Kant, no matter the many problems with his “Critique of Pure Reason,” seems to have gotten the main solution right). If we have it right now, that is.

    People used God to prop up naive realism, to say that God is why we know that red things really are red (now we know that “red” is just something primates evolved to see food)–although one must credit the God-believing Kant for understanding how wrong such a view must be. The fact is that people believed that God is truth, so he gave us senses that give us the Truth about the world (see, for instance, Descartes), when in fact our senses are only reliable (not necessarily a source of Truth) when we carefully filter them through our logic and knowledge.

    No, theism never gave us any knowledge about the world, although Kant, Newton, and others, show that theists may be good thinkers. Only observation and checking one source against another one ever gave us a reliable way of dealing with the world–even a world that, we have reason to believe, gave us a reasonably straightforward spatial model of that world, via evolutionary pressure to survive and to navigate in that world.

    Glen Davidson
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  239. #239 Nangleator
    January 30, 2009

    The funniest, most entertaining thing about the godbots is their insatiable need to paint atheism as a religion and Darwin as the false god. It’s as if they can’t come to grips with anyone on other than purely religious grounds. That way, it boils down to “My faith is stronger than yours! My god is stronger than yours! My daddy can beat up your daddy, any day!”

  240. #240 CrypticLife
    January 30, 2009

    The teapot is more likely than God.

    Figure, Russell lived some time ago, right? And, since then mankind has thrown quite a few things into space.

    If I were in a position to do so — an astronaut in NASA or something, I’d be tempted to bring a teapot with me, even a tiny, keychain-sized one, and dump it into orbit. It seems far more probable to me than a semi-extradimensional nontangible being of unlimited power, knowledge, and lifespan setting up dimensions for punishment and reward of particular creatures occupying a very small part of the existence of one universe based on internal mental states of those creatures.

  241. #241 Jay
    January 30, 2009

    I am always amused by the “..but, PHILOSOPHERS have discussed proofs for the existance of god.”

    Am I the only one who finds much philosophy to be intellectual masturbation?

  242. #242 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Dr Matt. Astronauts vs. cavemen?

  243. #243 Jackie
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Mission accomplished.

    Ta, ta.

  244. #244 Epikt
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie:

    Presumably, dearheart, you have in mind intelligent design theory. If that is so, you should know that design theorists do not argue that complexity signals design. They instead argue that *specified* complexity is a reliable hallmark of design. If the distinction is not clear to you, you’ve got some homework to do before you can knowledgeably criticize ID theory./

    Sorry, cupcake. Argumentum ad Dembskium doesn’t win you any points with the grownups.

  245. #245 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    Gods Neil B, when heddle gets the point of it and you don’t, it’s over.

  246. #246 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, #223: Why in the world do you suppose that a thought that promotes survival must correspond to truth?

    And how in the world can we arrive at the truth if there is an omnipotent God who can make us see and believe anything that he wants? Seems that access to the “truth” is a bit more problematic for God-believers.

    On the other hand, I “know” that when I “hit” my “knee” against the “table” it “hurts”. So I’m careful not to do that. I may not know the “truth”, and to be frank, I don’t much care what the “truth” might be. Not “hitting” my “knee” against the “table” works in keeping me pretty happy. I’m not sure what your problem with this is.

    P.S. I got a submission time out, but I can’t see that this comment made it through. I am going to submit it again — my apologies if it shows up twice (once without this P.S.).

  247. #247 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Oh, thank you, oh King Of Typos! I am going to have nightmares that somehow, that delicious cream filling, Jackie and I were merged and became one. This is more scary than Cronenburg’s version of The Fly.

    Long live the king!

    sorry about that

  248. #248 Logicel
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, my delectable gumdrop, my luscious caramel topped profiterole, my interlacing pile of multi-flavored licorice ropes, my twice-baked biscotti, you are a twit. And no, none of us want to develop and embrace the mind-crushingly, disingenuous, intellectually dishonest perspective that you have. You must be at the bursting stage after having stuffed yourself with so many red herrings?go pop a Pepto, OK, my little fruitcake?

  249. #249 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    *ka-BOOM*

    There goes my irony meter again.

  250. #250 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Shorter Jackie: I can’t answer they’re questions, so I’m pulling out and declaring victory.

  251. #251 Erin
    January 30, 2009

    HMM, “Mission Accomplished” Where have I seen that before?

  252. #252 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie again:

    Why in the world do you suppose that a thought that promotes survival must correspond to truth? Indeed, if thoughts are mere survival strategies (as they must be, if Darwinian theory is true), the very possibility of knowing objective truth is ruled out. As you suggest, a mind produced by Darwinian evolution evolves towards survival strategies that work. But such a mind has no grounds for trusting that the ideas it forms correspond to truth (“What works” does not necessarily equate to “What is true”). By reducing thoughts to mere survival strategies, Darwinian theory gives us no grounds for thinking that it’s objectively true. The same applies to any thinking used to try to validate Darwinian theory. The Darwinian explanation of the mind cuts its own throat.

    And now Jackie sweet cheeks has gotten into granny’s rheumatism ‘medicine’. Put the jug down Jackie honey and back away from the keyboard – it’s making you all flibberty gibberty.
    Did those words just plop out of the keyboard like that and in that order or were you trying to say something coherent? Personally, I?d choose ?plop? because that list of characters is 100% fermented manure gone bad.

  253. #253 pdferguson
    January 30, 2009

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.

    Sure, because how could Bronze Age goat herders possibly be wrong about this? I mean it’s not like they’re Vikings or something; those guys were idiots…

  254. #254 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    That’s Christian for “Run away! Run away!”

    Mission accomplished.

    That’s Christian for “Fuck that was a close one! I was, like this close to having to make a substantive argument!”

  255. #255 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie, #245:

    Jackie, you would look better if you just quit posting. Announcing that you are leaving because you think that everyone else is an imbecile just makes you look like the imbecile. No, really. I cringe even when someone I agree with does this.

  256. #256 Blake Stacey
    January 30, 2009

    That’s not idiomatic Christian. “I’ll pray for you” is usually translated as “fuck you”.

    We had a bit of fun with this one a while back, during the heyday of “Crackergate”:

    “Oh, yeah, well I’ll pray for you too!”

    “Yeah, well, I prayed for your mom last night!”

    “Shut your pray-hole, or I’ll pray for yo’ sister until she’s like, ‘Oh God oh God oh God oh God’!”

  257. #257 Erin
    January 30, 2009

    HMM, “Mission Accomplished” Where have I seen that before?

  258. #258 Scooby1967
    January 30, 2009

    To unwind at the end of the working day I come onto this fantastic blog and watch the likes of “Jackie” get eaten alive in a manner not alike the young lady who gets shoved into Blofeld’s piranha pool in “You Only Live Twice”.

    Could someone clarify whether it is a single religious twat who comes on here all the time under different names, or that there is more than one of them out of the asylum???

    PZ, if you were British I’m sure we could all club together and buy you a knighthood for services to reason, common sense and pissing off the Catholics big time.

  259. #259 Stephen Wells
    January 30, 2009

    Jacky really doesn’t see why systematically believing false things might threaten your survival? Wow. I guess in Jacky-world, believing that tigers are vegetarian, fire is cold, and you can fly by wishing hard enough, is fine and doesn’t lead to your being eaten, incinerated or splat.

  260. #260 Kaessa
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Mission accomplished.

    Ta, ta.

    And the standard “I can’t dodge around the questions anymore, so I’m outta here”.

    Nice work.

  261. #261 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Damn, that was weird. I caught my typo and thought I’d stopped the process in time to correct it, but instead it printed the typo after the corrected posting. Strange.

  262. #262 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    “OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.
    Mission accomplished.
    Ta, ta.”

    translation: “I can’t answer your questions”

  263. #263 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Oh, we’re sorry. Can we call you a whaaaaambulance?

  264. #264 Helvetica
    January 30, 2009

    When you can’t refute the substance, refuse the style.

  265. #265 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    Ah, you meanies have made Jackie mad. Dearheart is her expression of frustration, notice how she began to repeat them?
    She’s throwing out things she doesn’t really grasp because she thinks she grasps it. To her, it’s all a “he said/she said” kind of debate because she doesn’t understand how anyone can not have a godhead figure. If you won’t accept her god and dogma then obviously you’ve just substituted Darwin, who must have dogma rather than empirical data, instead because all knowledge is dogmatic to her way of thinking. Science is no different than History, you just memorize a bunch of subjective facts.
    She’s not an idiot, but she is a willfully ignorant equivocator as Dahan pointed out.
    Prepare for denials that she’s pissed and more mangled logic from Sweetums.

  266. #266 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie #223 wrote:

    As you suggest, a mind produced by Darwinian evolution evolves towards survival strategies that work. But such a mind has no grounds for trusting that the ideas it forms correspond to truth (“What works” does not necessarily equate to “What is true”). By reducing thoughts to mere survival strategies, Darwinian theory gives us no grounds for thinking that it’s objectively true.

    And our minds shouldn’t “trust” that our ideas correspond to objective Truth. Instead, we should recognize that the human mind is subjective, and doubt ourselves when our conclusions lie only on our personal selves. In order to be more accurate and objective, we need to use tools like the methods of science, and inter-subjective checking.

    Otherwise, a personal intuition that one’s in direct contact with a Higher Intelligence outside the self could be mistaken for direct knowledge that is 100% certain. Without our recognition that our brains evolved through a process which will not give us absolute reliability in all our interpretations, we might accidentally think we had a sense divinus that could not be wrong.

    The Darwinian explanation of the mind doesn’t cut its own throat, because we can already easily see that humans are fallible, and we need to check our quick and simple conclusions. It does, however, cut any claim that man can ‘Know’ God through an encounter with the Holy Spirit off at its knees, though.

  267. #267 Prometheus
    January 30, 2009

    “If I were in a position to do so — an astronaut in NASA or something, I’d be tempted to bring a teapot with me, even a tiny, keychain-sized one, and dump it into orbit.”

    Assuming it matches the tea cup and saucer on his desk in the McMasters University Russell archive, you are looking for a rather small but cheerful green striped porcelain Richard-Ginori teapot and he specified an elliptical orbit around the sun between earth and mars.

    I think it would be a hilarious for Pastafarians to lead a Quest for ‘Russell’s Teapot’ through the second hand shops of Wales. Upon it’s discovery they can throw aside their fedoras, whips and wherewithal holding it up to the light and declare “Now that’s the teapot of a Mathematician!”

  268. #268 Janine, Leftist Bozo
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: Alyson Miers | January 30, 2009

    I think “sugar walls” is my new favorite term of condescending endearment.

    At the risk of being really condescending, you must be young. Here is Sugar Walls.

  269. #269 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie #223 wrote:

    As you suggest, a mind produced by Darwinian evolution evolves towards survival strategies that work. But such a mind has no grounds for trusting that the ideas it forms correspond to truth (“What works” does not necessarily equate to “What is true”). By reducing thoughts to mere survival strategies, Darwinian theory gives us no grounds for thinking that it’s objectively true.

    And our minds shouldn’t “trust” that our ideas correspond to objective Truth. Instead, we should recognize that the human mind is subjective, and doubt ourselves when our conclusions lie only on our personal selves. In order to be more accurate and objective, we need to use tools like the methods of science, and inter-subjective checking.

    Otherwise, a personal intuition that one’s in direct contact with a Higher Intelligence outside the self could be mistaken for direct knowledge that is 100% certain. Without our recognition that our brains evolved through a process which will not give us absolute reliability in all our interpretations, we might accidentally think we had a sense divinus that could not be wrong.

    The Darwinian explanation of the mind doesn’t cut its own throat, because we can already easily see that humans are fallible, and we need to check our quick and simple conclusions. It does, however, cut any claim that man can ‘Know’ God through an encounter with the Holy Spirit off at its knees, though.

  270. #270 damnedyankee
    January 30, 2009

    Ah, yes. Sheena Easton attempting a dance that consists of only moving her facial muscles.

  271. #271 CJO
    January 30, 2009

    I’m just waiting for Janine to morph into Janine, Supercillious Asshole

  272. #272 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    I think “sugar walls” is my new favorite term of condescending endearment.

    I thought using a genitalia reference was verboten after the *unt brouhaha.

  273. #273 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    *sigh* Sorry for the double post. I opened another window, and saw that it hadn’t gone through. Even the Previews were failing to go through.

    Scienceblogs is tricksy.

  274. #274 pdferguson
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Actually, I believe the correct term is a sphincter of supercilious assholes. Please make a note of this for future reference.

  275. #275 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    Pssst. Neil B cannot grasp what a “straw man argument” is, he thinks Russell’s Teapot is an example of such. Why am I surprised?

  276. #276 Tulse
    January 30, 2009

    Jacky really doesn’t see why systematically believing false things might threaten your survival?

    False beliefs might threaten one’s survival, but not always (heck, it’s been argued that religious belief is adaptive, for example). The better response to sugartits is Glen’s — we don’t need “The Truth”, just predictable, intersubjective agreement.

    Indeed, we can’t even know “The Truth”, and positing a god doesn’t really help here, since such a god could be fooling us into believing things that aren’t true. Heck, we could all be in a god’s version of the Matrix.

  277. #277 Janine, Supercillious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: CJO | January 30, 2009

    I’m just waiting for Janine to morph into Janine, Supercillious Asshole

    Oh dear! I have to reread Shooting The Elephant by George Orwell.

  278. #278 Sigmund
    January 30, 2009

    What do you mean it’s not real, of course it’s real! It’s just not in the correct orbit.
    Well, not yet……………….
    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2008/05/wegwood-document.html

  279. #279 miller
    January 30, 2009

    I’m sorry, but I think Michael Drake’s reply is almost as far off the mark as Douthat’s. The celestial teapot argument has little to do with the absurdity or the unpopularity of belief in the celestial teapot. It has to do with the fact that the celestial teapot is a claim specifically constructed to be very difficult to disprove. And yet, we can hardly be blamed for doubting it. The same applies to God.

    Michael Drake seems to have reduced the celestial teapot argument to “Because God is absurd, God is like the celestial teapot, and therefore as absurd as the celestial teapot.” This is begging the question. If we keep on misstating the argument, how can we expect people like Douthat to do any better?

  280. #280 SC, OM
    January 30, 2009

    I thought using a genitalia reference was verboten after the *unt brouhaha.

    Surely not when there’s a Sheena Easton reference involved:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiJElPRnz54

    (supercilious – one l)

  281. #281 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    In the future, I think I will retain the right to name myself.

  282. #282 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    I’m just waiting for one of the Space Shuttle crew to take a microminiature teapot up with them. Hey, what about that bag that contained a wrench that drifted off on the last space mission? Contraband teapot inside?

    SC@#283:
    But it was written by Prince.

  283. #283 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    If it hadn’t been for the Washington Wives, I might never have heard the phrase…

  284. #284 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    But I posted that video first. E.V.
    pout

  285. #285 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Mission accomplished.

    Ta, ta.

    I’ll take that as your concession statement.

  286. #286 Teh Merkin
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Mission accomplished.

    Ta, ta.

    Wow, how completely surprising!!! I didn’t see that coming at all. I’ll bet no one here did, since it is so uncharacteristic of you fucknut christians to come by this blog, poop out a few faithbombs, cry victory, and run before it becomes too obvious that you do not, in fact, have a leg to stand on. Never happens, nope.

    Oh, and Jackie, snookums? I hope the doubt eats away at your soul.

  287. #287 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    you must be young. Here is Sugar Walls.

    I’m 28; I suppose that’s too young to have been a contemporaneous fan of 80s music. But thanks for that cheese-tastic link, it was hilarious!

    I thought using a genitalia reference was verboten

    Well, I have no problem saying C-U-Next-Tuesday out loud, when we’re actually talking about sexual anatomy. Must that be verboten?

  288. #288 Strangest brew
    January 30, 2009

    “I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder.”

    Yet many folks did…quite popular was Thor…in fact it has been suggested that the first alien religion to reach the American mainland included Thor in the pantheon of delights that was the religious predisposition of the finders.

    ” I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible”

    And yet some do not…illogical fallacy does not a persuasive argument make dearheart!

    “”…they will start distributing over 6.5 million copies in February of pamphlets stating that the Evolution theory is just another ‘belief’.”
    Horrors. The Netherlands should act swiftly to halt this exercise of free speech.’

    That is not free speech it is a campaign organised out of desperation!

    “Science never proves its theories, dearheart.”

    Science does not have to the evidence does…as soon as the evidence indicates another possibility that is taken into consideration dearheart…unlike the dogmatic weed infested concrete of religion…Science can move and breath fresh ideas….

    ‘The problem of induction never goes away’

    Only if you want it to be a problem…which you seem to advocate.

    “regardless of how persuasive the evidence might be to those who are eager to be persuaded”

    So you get an answer that does not suit and therefore it is wrong…nice reasoning but par for dearheart …I would wager!

    “Brush up on what the scientific method can deliver and you’ll understand that science, like religion, is steeped in faith.”

    After a bit of textual diarrhoea like that it would appear that it is you that needs a refresher course in scientific method dearheart!

    “By the way, what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?”

    By the way, would you accept the research if it was given to you…must try harder dearheart! …you are showing your ignorance and prejudice and moving goal posts is a symptom of a hopeless position…which when given such data you will inevitably instigate such a scraping sound as to deafen the departed!

    “Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies.”

    Nearly right dearheart…but you stopped when on a roll…Survival strategies also evolved further in to modern thought processes…not so much now ‘fight or flight’ but more ‘believe or go to hell’

    “On what grounds, then, do you trust that anyone’s thoughts correspond to external truths?”

    Hoisted by your own petard dearheart…on what grounds do you salivate after jeebus?

    “If Darwinian evolutionary theory is true, how could it deliver minds capable of knowing that it’s true?”

    By the same process that convinces creotards that the Earth is only 6000 years old…

    Abstract thought was an extension of the cognitive process…only these days the cognitive seemingly is bypassed for the barking amongst the mentally challenged and rather bizarre assumptions squeeze into the gaps left by reason…but you know that god exists apparently…how do you know that is true dearheart?

  289. #289 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    All of this talk of genitalia references, it reminds me of one of my favorite Chicago centric jokes.

    Q) Name the three streets that rhymes with vagina.

    A) Paulina, Regina and Lunt.

  290. #290 Roger
    January 30, 2009

    One thing I’ll say for moronic godbots like Jackie; they are certainly worth their weight in entertainment. Reading one of their posts is like a day’s recommended allowance of stupid!

  291. #291 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    As you’ve already pointed out, evolution could not give us minds with Direct Access to Absolute Truth and Certainty.

    Are you certain of this?

  292. #292 AmericanGodless
    January 30, 2009

    You know, Jackie understands the basics, but is too wrapped up in the certainty of her own faith and her misapplied logic to understand the implications of her own words. She skips right past the fact that Dawkins says there “ALMOST certainly,” is no god, pretending that if Dawkins’ name is mentioned, then its an argument from authority. And then she proudly crows that “Science never proves its theories, dearheart. The problem of induction never goes away..” (Well, yeah, that’s the point). Then she comes up with the zinger: “If Darwinian evolutionary theory is true, how could it deliver minds capable of knowing that it’s true?” It can’t, and no modern biologist or neuroscientist would say that it can. It can only deliver minds capable of knowing that naturalism and evolution are highly probable, and that supernaturalism and creation stories are highly improbable.

    But Jackie is so strongly committed to believing that she has a pipeline to absolute knowledge that she doesn’t even understand when she is supporting her opponent’s point. Her faith in the infallibility of her own god and her own point of view makes her ineducable, and like all true believers, ultimately dangerous.

  293. #293 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Roger, the fact that Facilis commented after you is so damned funny.

  294. #294 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009
  295. #295 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    OK. I’ve had my fun. My main purpose was to give the Pharyngula chorus an opportunity to demonstrate yet again that they Christians are a pack of supercilious assholes.

    Fixed that for you…

    As you’ve already pointed out, evolution could not give us minds with Direct Access to Absolute Truth and Certainty.

    Are you certain of this?

    Oh, let me guess. You have been blessed with magical Direct Access to Absolute Truth and Certainty.

    Am I right? Do I win anything?

  296. #296 mothra
    January 30, 2009

    Is this Facilis?

    Words: “never, absolute, certain.” Bad form, no points. However, the original poster used the words correctly, your use of ‘certain’ simply shows humor (I hope) or a lack of understanding (if this is the real ‘Facilis’).

  297. #297 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    *breaks out the popcorn* Fallacious is here! I’ll be entertained all weekend!

    Science teaches us we can’t ever be perfectly, conclusively, inflexibly certain of anything–but after a certain amount of evidence, we can be fairly confident that we’re looking in the right direction. Certainty as Facilis defines it is antithetical to knowledge, which makes it a very appropriate part of most organized religions, come to think of it.

  298. #298 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis absolutely mangles logic and knows nothing.

  299. #299 Hank
    January 30, 2009

    Jackie: By way of a magic 8-ball of course.

    “MY SOURCES SAY NO”

  300. #300 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    And our minds shouldn’t “trust” that our ideas correspond to objective Truth.
    Is this statement true?

    Instead, we should recognize that the human mind is subjective, and doubt ourselves when our conclusions lie only on our personal selves.

    Is this conclusion personal?

    In order to be more accurate and objective, we need to use tools like the methods of science, and inter-subjective checking.

    Did you use the scientific method or intersubjective checking to find out this? Or is it unreliable?

    Otherwise, a personal intuition that one’s in direct contact with a Higher Intelligence outside the self could be mistaken for direct knowledge that is 100% certain.

    1) Could an omnipotent God reveal some things to Christians in a way they can be certain of it?
    2) Does atheism allow for epistemic certainty?

    Without our recognition that our brains evolved through a process which will not give us absolute reliability in all our interpretations, we might accidentally think we had a sense divinus that could not be wrong.

    Or we could accidentally think we didn’t have a sensus divinus.

    The Darwinian explanation of the mind doesn’t cut its own throat, because we can already easily see that humans are fallible, and we need to check our quick and simple conclusions.

    Did you check this conclusion?

  301. #301 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    Heck, we could all be in a god’s version of the Matrix.

    How do you KNOW that we are NOT in the Matrix?

  302. #302 Wolfhound
    January 30, 2009

    Aaaaaaaaand, having crapped all over the board, the chess-playing pigeon known as “Jackie” flies back to her flock to declare victory!

  303. #303 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, #303: Could an omnipotent God reveal some things to Christians in a way they can be certain of it?

    Suppose that an omnipotent God (we’ll leave aside for a minute that problematic nature of “ominpotence”) could do this. How could the rest of us tell the difference between the certainty and mental illness? I’m not sure that this is getting you where you want to be.

    -

    Does atheism allow for epistemic certainty?

    Let us suppose that it doesn’t. Why does this matter? Why does anyone, atheist or theist, need epistemic certainty?

  304. #304 Lowell
    January 30, 2009

    Janine:

    All of this talk of genitalia references, it reminds me of one of my favorite Chicago centric jokes.
    Q) Name the three streets that rhymes with vagina.
    A) Paulina, Regina and Lunt.

    LOL! Lived in Chicago my whole life and never heard that one. Thanks!

  305. #305 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    And how would Facilis know anything? His god doesn’t exist. Poor lost soul.

  306. #306 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Nerd of Redheat, #308: And how would Facilis know anything?

    And why does he keep phrasing everything as a question? Is he trying to learn something? Does he not have a real point to make? Is he a contestant on Jeopardy?

  307. #307 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    How do you know that I am not just dreaming that I don’t know whether or not you are actually imagining that I might really be in the matrix?

  308. #308 AnthonyK
    January 30, 2009

    A few weeks ago it was getting really tedious because bored regulars were posting poes. Thank Darwin that we’ve got some real fuckwits (and some…errr..ladies’…sugar walls) to argue with at last Hooray!
    They must be spending time at home.
    Could this be the Christian crunch?

    And when oh when are some of those churches going to start going out of business?

  309. #309 pdferguson
    January 30, 2009

    For example A theist may claim that God is a good explainaton for complexity and design in the universe. While you may disagree with this claim, it shows that at least God is able to explain something.

    Oy… All this shows is that theists are able to claim something. It doesn’t imply that God actually explains anything.

    Are ya really a complete idiot, or do you just play one on the Internets?

  310. #310 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    [Does he not have a real point to make? ]
    My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

  311. #311 SC, OM
    January 30, 2009

    But I posted that video first. E.V.
    pout

    Sorry, Janine! Please don’t pout! I should’ve known. That’s what I get for jumping onto a thread as I’m on my way out the door. …Well, I was on my way out the door, but when I thought about the cold, snow, slush, ice, and dark,I changed my mind, even though I was looking forward to going where I was going.

    I HATE winter. :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

    ***

    Intelligent Person: I don’t believe leprechauns exist.

    Facilis: Did a leprechaun tell you that? That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?

  312. #312 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

    *Stares, not for the first time, agape and slack-jawed at the silliness of this person*

  313. #313 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Chiroptera, Facilis keeps asking questions because he thinks he has proven his argument, and wants us to try to disprove it. We conclusively disproved it weeks ago. He really doesn’t have a clue. Personally, I intend to keep mocking him until he either provides physical evidence for his imaginary deity, acknowledges his argument failed, or goes away.

  314. #314 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

    Yeah don’t forget Norse gods, Islam, Judaism, Hindu, and every other religion.

    What a fucking idiotic statement that was.

  315. #315 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    Yeah don’t forget Norse gods, Islam, Judaism, Hindu, and every other religion.

    Every time I meet someone who is a member of one of those religions I ask him how he accounts for logic and reason according to his worldview.

  316. #316 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    And how would Facilis know anything?

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

  317. #317 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    That’s your argument?
    Logic and reason; therefore, the Christian God?

  318. #318 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    Could an omnipotent God reveal some things to Christians in a way they can be certain of it?

    “But God talks to me.”

    “Yeah, God talks to you. Hey Charlie, here’s a candidate for an ‘I love me jacket’.”

    Unless, of course, you’re a fundamentalist, in which case the proper response is apparently “Yeah, Jebus is really down on them liburls. He told told me the same thing.”

  319. #319 spurge
    January 30, 2009

    shorter facilis

    I am insane therefore god.

  320. #320 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    such as

  321. #321 Neil B ?
    January 30, 2009

    Whether something is a straw man argument can depends on which group is referenced, since someone somewhere may believe in whatever representation is put out. But if this characterization is true,
    The point of “the teapot” is to illustrate that it is ridiculous to use absence of evidence as evidence of existence. That is, you can’t prove the teapot doesn’t exist so therefore you are going to assume it does? It is an answer to the charge, “you can’t prove god doesn’t exist”.
    then it’s a straw man because few people use absence of evidence as evidence of existence. Some religious believer do just assume God, but the teapot is still a straw man relative to arguments like those from Paul Davies pertaining to why the laws of the universe are the way they are, etc. The point made by Facilis,
    It’s a category error. The teapot is an entity contingent on the universe while a theist makes the claim the universe is contingent on God.
    was a very cogent rebuttal to the whole teapot fluff. The RT being a fallacious comparison is true whether or not the universe is contingent or not, as a mistake of form.

  322. #322 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, #313: My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science…

    I’ve seen many people try to make this point. All have failed so far. You are welcome to try to make this point, but experience leads me to believe that you won’t succeed.

    -

    …and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

    Unfortunately, even if you succeed in “proving” the impossibility of the contrary, that doesn’t mean that Christianity is accurate — it just means that you conclusion follows necessarily from your premises. It remains possible that one or more of your premises are wrong.

    That is the problem with trying to gain “certainty” by rigorous proof. You can never be certain that your premises are correct.

  323. #323 pdferguson
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    That’s nice, sweetie, but the grownups are trying to talk. Why don’t you go into the living room and watch the TV. I think your favorite cartoons are on!

  324. #324 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    PEOPLE! Don’t feed the willfully stupid troll. Starve it of attention and it will go away

  325. #325 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    Here’s another one for the rubber room, Charlie. This wacko actually thinks that ‘god’ tells him stuff.

  326. #326 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    And yet, the One True God Sideshow Bob has done exactly the same, and declared your silly Christian God to be false.

    It’s a pity you’re actually epistemically corrupt. Oh, well.

  327. #327 Evolving Squid
    January 30, 2009

    Science never proves its theories, dearheart.

    That is true.

    If any religion could produce half the volume of evidence that supports any of the Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Evolution, or the Germ Theory of Disease, I’d probably join up right quick.

    By the way, what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?

    I’d say the fossil record combined with gene sequencing pretty much nails that one.

    Also, in the Darwinian scheme of things, your thoughts – like my thoughts – can be nothing more than evolved survival strategies.

    Untrue. You have revealed your complete lack of understanding of how evolution works. However, if we must look at it that way, one could argue adaptive intelligence – let’s call it thoughts – has an obvious evolutionary advantage, as evidenced by the fact that the top level predator on the planet is certainly in the top 5 most intelligent, thinking creatures on the planet. Since our intelligence has allowed us to have time that isn’t permanently devoted to solving the problem of how to not be on the business-end of the food chain, it stands to reason that the thinking can be spent in other, potentially less-productive ways.

    I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder.

    Why not? What reasons does the Christian god have that the pantheon of Norse gods does not? Personally, the idea of hot, blonde, blue-eyed valkyrie taking me to Asgard at my death is much more appealing than standing trial in front of a hairy desert carpenter. I see a multitude* of reasons not to believe in the Christian god even before you get to “but there’s no evidence that god even exists”.

    In Thor’s (Odin’s really) pantheon, people who are good to their fellow man are taken to paradise. People who are shits are punished. There’s no cosmic whitewash of deathbead repentence, and Odin doesn’t care if you believe in him or not because he knows he’s the boss. He doesn’t have a bizarre inferiority complex that compels worship on pain of eternal celestial punishment. It’s been a while, but I don’t think the Norse had a concept of eternal punishment at all – do the crime, do the time, but eventually everyone gets to some level of paradise.

    the atheist who perceives the Christian God and the flying spaghetti monster as equally ridiculous hypotheses really needs to get out more often.

    I can only speak for myself, but I am confident that as a former Christian and having studied a certain amount of philosophy, I have put more consideration into my atheism than nearly every religious person has put into their fairy worship.

    * The men who wrote the Bible would be proud I squeezed that word in.

  328. #328 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    such as

    Logic and reason,some morals, the fact that he exists and Jesus is his son, the fact that the bible is his word, the assurance of salvation for his elect. Stuff like that.

  329. #329 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis #294 wrote:

    “As you’ve already pointed out, evolution could not give us minds with Direct Access to Absolute Truth and Certainty.”
    Are you certain of this?

    Given that evolution is an undirected process which retains what works, it’s the most reasonable conclusion, with no convincing evidence otherwise. Jackie asked the question on the assumption that this view of evolution was correct. We agreed on the frame.

    Facilis #303 wrote:

    Is this statement true?
    Is this conclusion personal?
    Did you use the scientific method or intersubjective checking to find out this? Or is it unreliable?

    They’re reasonable inferences, and likely to be accurate. Lack of absolute certainty =/= cluelessness. There are degrees, as you surely recognize. The more intersubjective agreement, the less likely are errors of subjective bias.

    1) Could an omnipotent God reveal some things to Christians in a way they can be certain of it?

    Absolutely certain? No. The problem isn’t with God not having enough ‘power.’ It’s with human beings being admittedly error-prone in so many ways — particularly when there are no checks in reality on what it is they think they know. Even if God could grant them “certain knowledge,” they could not be sure that was what they had.

    2) Does atheism allow for epistemic certainty?

    Only with math, logic, stipulated definitions, and direct, uninterpreted, unmitigated experience.

    Or we could accidentally think we didn’t have a sensus divinus.

    I think we could be mistaken in thinking that we don’t have a sensus divinus — but I don’t think we could be mistaken in doubting it.

    “The Darwinian explanation of the mind doesn’t cut its own throat, because we can already easily see that humans are fallible, and we need to check our quick and simple conclusions.”
    Did you check this conclusion?

    Yes, I think we’ve all rather thoroughly checked and cross-checked the theory that “humans are fallible.” In which case, as counter-evidence, you’re going to have to produce a human who is not capable of error. A human being, in other words, who claims to be God.

    No hearsay evidence.

    (by the way, it would be a lot easier if you focused on maybe one or two questions.)

  330. #330 black wolf
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis,
    Sye TenB or whatever your name or the person you’re getting your presuppositionalism from is this week: we know the routine.
    To save everybody’s time, people please look up ‘presuppositional apologetics’ respectively the dialogue philosopher Stephen Law had with a presupp on his blog page.
    Facilis, if God accounts for logic or morality, they are not absolute. If they account for God, he isn’t necessary to account for them. You’re constructing God as a specially pleaded exempt concept to avoid things like the Euthyphro dilemma.
    Of course now you’re going to ask ‘in your worldview, how do you account for the logic that special pleading is a fallacy’ or something similar. I think that’s playground level arguing, and no I don’t account for that with any logic. If you think God is pleased with that silly sort of word game, be our guest.
    Meanwhile, you could tell us what predictions presuppositional apologetics makes that can be verified with evidence from observational reality.

  331. #331 Lowell
    January 30, 2009

    This has probably been pointed out before, but it’s fitting that Facilis has chosen a name (from the Latin for easy) closely related to the English facile, one meaning of which is “readily manifested and often lacking sincerity or depth (facile tears).”

  332. #332 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    Here’s another one for the rubber room, Charlie. This wacko actually thinks that ‘god’ tells him stuff.

  333. #333 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    I can see from the comments that facilis (I have him killfiled) is back to his old, failed non-argument.

    I’ve got two words for you, facilis: Sideshow Bobhad a bat or a ball – or we actually wanted him around in the first place…

  334. #334 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    such as

    Logic and reason,some morals,that he gave me reliable senses, the fact that he exists and Jesus is his son, the fact that the bible is his word, the assurance of salvation for his elect. Stuff like that.

  335. #335 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    ok

    and this

    Logic and reason,some morals, the fact that he exists and Jesus is his son, the fact that the bible is his word, the assurance of salvation for his elect. Stuff like that.

    So god exists because he exists and I know this because the bible is his word.

    That’s awesome. That logic you think you get from god, well you just failed it miserably.

    Which version of the bible and at which point in history?

  336. #336 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, #319: God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    Yeah, me too. He revealed to me that he doesn’t really exist, and he revealed it in such a way that I am epistemically certain of it.

  337. #337 black wolf
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis,
    Sye TenB or whatever your name or the person you’re getting your presuppositionalism from is this week: we know the routine.
    To save everybody’s time, people please look up ‘presuppositional apologetics’ respectively the dialogue philosopher Stephen Law had with a presupp on his blog page.
    Facilis, if God accounts for logic or morality, they are not absolute. If they account for God, he isn’t necessary to account for them. You’re constructing God as a specially pleaded exempt concept to avoid things like the Euthyphro dilemma.
    Of course now you’re going to ask ‘in your worldview, how do you account for the logic that special pleading is a fallacy’ or something similar. I think that’s playground level arguing, and no I don’t account for that with any logic. If you think God is pleased with that silly sort of word game, be our guest.
    Meanwhile, you could tell us what predictions presuppositional apologetics makes that can be verified with evidence from observational reality.

  338. #338 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, more lies that you can’t prove. When will you learn your argument is a failure, and we know that?

  339. #339 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    Logic and reason,some morals,that he gave me reliable senses, the fact that he exists and Jesus is his son, the fact that the bible is his word, the assurance of salvation for his elect. Stuff like that.

    In other words you believe in fairy tales. Sorry, but I grew out of that stage before I reached puberty.

  340. #340 E.V.
    January 30, 2009

    … And Neil B swings and misses.

  341. #341 Rey Fox
    January 30, 2009

    “And why does he keep phrasing everything as a question?”

    It’s the infinite regress of insipidity. No one can really know anything except facilis, because he’s got a book of ancient fairy tales that tell him.

  342. #342 black wolf
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis,
    Sye TenB or whatever your name or the person you’re getting your presuppositionalism from is this week: we know the routine. It’s old and a dime a dozen. Nice trick, but that’s all it is.
    To save everybody’s time, people please look up ‘presuppositional apologetics’ respectively the dialogue philosopher Stephen Law had with a presupp on his blog page.
    Facilis, if God accounts for logic or morality, they are not absolute. If they account for God, he isn’t necessary to account for them. You’re constructing God as a specially pleaded exempt concept to avoid things like the Euthyphro dilemma. And claiming special certainty of revelation only counts in the real world after you’ve substantiated your premise. Otherwise you’re talking about a revelation within your construct, which is no more than a model or concept unless you prove the premise to be valid in observational reality.
    Of course now you’re going to ask ‘in your worldview, how do you account for the logic that special pleading is a fallacy’ or something similar. I think that’s playground level arguing, and no I don’t account for that with any logic. If you think God is pleased with that silly sort of word game, be our guest.
    Meanwhile, you could tell us what predictions presuppositional apologetics makes that can be verified with evidence from observational reality.

  343. #343 SC, OM
    January 30, 2009

    Every time I meet someone who is a member of one of those religions I ask him how he accounts for logic and reason according to his worldview.

    With apologies to everyone else, I gotta ask: What do Jewish people answer about their like, totally different god?

  344. #344 black wolf
    January 30, 2009

    sorry for the mostly double post. had that error thing, hit back and refreshed, didn’t show my post, so I resubmitted with a slight addition. some code doesn’t work right here.

  345. #345 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    “And why does he keep phrasing everything as a question?”

    You know that game little kids play? I call it the “Why game”.

    It’s the same thing.

  346. #346 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    In other words you believe in fairy tales.

    No I believe in logic ,reason, science , morals, knowledge and the necessary precondition for those things.

  347. #347 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    Ok, I?ll bite.

    How does god reveal?

    How does god reveal certain things?

    How does god reveal certain things to you?

    How does god reveal certain things to you in such a way?

    How does god reveal certain things to you in such a way that you can be epistemically (using knowledge ? isn?t that redundant, if not oxymoronic?) certain?

    But first, using your all-powerful fallacious skills: How god?

    How many here suspect Facilis is some sort of AI class project bot trying out their newest iteration of the Turing Test?

  348. #348 Facilis
    January 30, 2009

    Heck, we could all be in a god’s version of the Matrix.

    How do you KNOW that we are NOT in the Matrix?

  349. #349 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    Logic and reason

    Same as the Deist God of the philosophers.

    ,some morals,

    Unlike the Christian God, the Deist God has never sent bears to murder 42 children for yelling “Baldy!” (He’s not the Die-est God, after all)

    the fact that he exists and Jesus is his son,

    Oh? You mean you have absolute epistemic certainty that God exists and can have a child? Just like that?

    And I note that the Greek philosophers had absolute reasoned epistemic certainty that the Deist God exists.

    the fact that the bible is his word,

    Just like Deists have absolute epistemic certainty that nature is the work of the Deist God.

    the assurance of salvation for his elect. Stuff like that.

    So… you have absolute epistemic certainty that even if you had never read the bible or heard of Christianity, you would still have absolute epistemic certainty that it was all true?

  350. #350 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, logic and morals are defined by men. Anything else, is a lie, like your god. Failure after failure. Your have no integrity so everything you say is a lie. Why stay?

  351. #351 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, do you know your god doesn’t exist? You need to go look for him. Take a few years to find him.

  352. #352 John Morales
    January 30, 2009

    F:

    How do you KNOW that we are NOT in the Matrix?

    I don’t. In what sense does it matter?

    Facilis, I think you should go and engage in mutual masturbation with Rhology (search for his blog, Rhoblogy). He’s been doing the presupp schtick for years, about a hundred times better than you (so he’s only pathetic).
    Tell him I sent you ;)

  353. #353 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 30, 2009

    PEOPLE! Don’t feed the willfully stupid troll. Starve it of attention and it will go away

    Has that ever worked before?

    I will feed the troll. I intend to feed it till it blows apart.

    Here goes:

    How do you KNOW that we are NOT in the Matrix?

    We don’t know that we’re not in the Matrix. And neither do you.

    Even solipsism is unfalsifiable; I have no way to be absolutely certain that I am not the solipsist.

    However, unfalsifiable hypotheses are worthless. It’s impossible to do anything with them. They can’t explain anything (because they’re compatible with everything and its opposite). We are forced to ignore them.

    You said you believe in science. Very revealing choice of words: you believe that science exists, but you have not the slightest inkling of what it is.

  354. #354 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    How do you KNOW that we are NOT in the Matrix?

    We don’t KNOW.

    How do you know you aren’t a figment of my imagination?

    We can go one with questions like this eternally. That’s a ridiculous exercise in mental masturbation.

    What we can do is look at the evidence before us.

    Does your version of God interact with the Physical world?

  355. #355 black wolf
    January 30, 2009

    John Morales,
    Are Sye TenB and scmike over there too? Sometimes I wonder if they’re just one person or two, because I almost cannot believe that more than two people would be dumb and silly enought to think presuppositionalism has any value.

  356. #356 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    Hmm, my post #336 seems to lost a paragraph.

    What I meant to say what, once we start asking facilis to justify why Sideshow Bob can’t be responsible for the thing he claims his god is responsible for he gets upset because he doesn’t have any answers. The beauty of his so-called ‘impossibility of the contrary’ argument means that anything he can claim for his god I can claim for my Bob – and there ain’t a Bob-damned thing you can do about it, is there facilis?

    So he takes his bat and his ball and goes home. Which might be an issue if he had a bat or a ball – or if anyone wanted to play with him in the first place.

  357. #357 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    @Facilis

    Every time I meet someone who is a member of one of those religions I ask him how he accounts for logic and reason according to his worldview.

    Hey, could you ask them if they have the full formal explication of the Universal, Unchanging Laws of Logic? And maybe the formal modal proof that the existence of God is a necessary presupposition? I’ve asked Sye for them. I’ve repeatedly asked you for them and so far I got bupkis.

    Oh, and while we’re at it, could you explain how the UULL encompass or somehow include the two other logics (modal and paraconsistent). I’d of course need to their formal treatments as well, because I, and every other non-presuppositionalist, including the vast majority of the academic philosophical profession, truly cannot follow your reasoning without them.

    Perhaps the reason that no presuppositionalist has them (despite making constant reference to them) is that all the believers in other gods stole the products of God’s common grace from y’all. Yeah, that must be it.

  358. #358 WRMartin
    January 30, 2009

    Or might Facilis be one of those poor chaps on the playground who fell for every ruse already known to everyone else?

    Hey Facilis,
    Did you know that gunpowder tastes like cherries?
    We?re going on a snipe hunt tonight ? do you want to hold the bag?
    Did you know that if you rub a nickel on your belly for an hour every day you will be given a larger dinner roll at the cafeteria?
    Did you know that if every night before you go to bed you eat a raw turnip from the stem end first the monsters under your bed won?t eat your feet?
    Did you know there?s a magic man in the sky who loves you, likes to watch you masturbate, and he is very lonely and wants to talk to you?
    Did you know there is a funny-looking old man at that fancy building down the street that also speaks to the magic man in the sky and he says the magic sky man wanted you to give him 10% of what you earn?
    Etc.

    Gullible may not be in the dictionary but it sure applies to Facilis.

  359. #359 CJO
    January 30, 2009

    Well, there’s a case to be made that the universe is computationally intractable, so there’s some reason not to consider the craziest brain in a vat/evil demon/matrix possibilities. But against self-delusion we must be ever vigilant. Fatuous helpfully provides us with an object lesson on that score.

  360. #360 Strangest brew
    January 30, 2009

    “My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy”

    Only it is not a philosophy just the absence of hysterical reaction to fear of the unknown.

    “that cannot allow for certain knowledge”

    Knowledge is only provisional on evidence…it is subject to change..there is no such critter as ‘Certain knowledge’

    “logic”

    Atheism is broadly based on logic…that is why there are atheists!

    “reason”

    Atheism is broadly based on reason…that is why there are atheists!

    “morality”

    And what does a godbot know of morals?
    Atheism is more moral in a figurative sense anyway…Atheists have no bigotry or hatred to disguise as morality.

    “induction”

    Induction into what?

    “science”

    Grabbing at red herrings makes your post no sweeter!

    “and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.”

    Nope that is a disparate attempt at ignoring the evidence…
    The Christian world view can never be ‘proved’…even by Christians…and because of their asinine attempts at just rubbishing the competition their world view looks much more like wishful thinking then a valid religion…in fact the incompetence of Christians to forget they are supposed to be Christian is legendary…you do not need atheism to ‘prove’ anything either way…because Christians are doing a damned fine job of obliterating their own cult all on their lonesome!

    Carry on… atheists do not mind!

  361. #361 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    No I believe in logic ,reason, science , morals, knowledge and the necessary precondition for those things.

    So you believe in reason. So why do you cling to the fairy tales about The Big Guy In The Sky and his son Jebus?

  362. #362 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    Look! Facilis has a fan club!

    The point made by Facilis,

    It’s a category error. The teapot is an entity contingent on the universe while a theist makes the claim the universe is contingent on God.

    was a very cogent rebuttal to the whole teapot fluff. The RT being a fallacious comparison is true whether or not the universe is contingent or not, as a mistake of form.

    Sometimes I think that if somebody on Pharyngula told Neil B that the gun was loaded, he’d point it at his head and shoot just for the contrarian cussedness of it.

  363. #363 Prometheus
    January 30, 2009

    Perhaps the reason that no presuppositionalist has them (despite making constant reference to them) is that all the believers in other gods stole the products of God’s common grace from y’all. Yeah, that must be it.

    Actually, I stole epistemic certainty, and gave it to the epistemically impoverished.

    You probably know how that turned ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!-out.

    Curse all heparotrophic eagles, anyway.

  364. #364 Cath the Canberra Cook
    January 30, 2009

    Well, that was fun. I was almost convinced for a moment that Jacke was a Poe. I mean “Mission Accomplished”!??! Srsly?! I mean, is that a nod and a winking giveaway or what?

    But then again, no, she’s probably just a sweet sugar-coated cream-filled republican moron.

  365. #365 clinteas
    January 30, 2009

    Did I read this here recently?

    If there is a god,why did he make me an atheist?

    Sums it up neatly,really.

    Agree that many religionists dont get the teapot analogy at all.

  366. #366 Nurse Ingrid
    January 30, 2009

    “I see no reason to believe in a god of thunder. I see many reasons, on the other hand, to believe in the God of the Bible.”

    “By the way, what vigorous testing has been done to confirm that men and apes share a common ancestor and that Darwinian mechanisms fully account for human existence?”

    Seeing those two sentences as part of the same argument almost made my head explode, trying to fathom what standards of “evidence” this person could possibly be using. I was reminded of a great line from my mother, an ex-fundie herself:

    “Jesus walking on water? That’s a historical fact.
    Oh, but evolution? THAT’s just a THEORY.”

    It’s funnier to hear her say it, but you get the idea.

  367. #367 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

    Sounds like an ambitious project. You’ll be sure and let us know once you’ve gotten started researching it, won’t you?

  368. #368 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    Actually, I stole epistemic certainty, and gave it to the epistemically impoverished.

    Oh my lack of absolute certainty, Prometheus killed Kenny!

    You bastard.

  369. #369 Matt Heath
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis, put away the apologetics and read some Quine, or Wittgenstein for that matter (a Christian no less). Formal logical systems are (valuable) human abstractions, not essential parts of the universe. Your failure to even conceive of the possibility of this (while I believe everyone here can conceive of you “god” scenario- at least a spirit of fantasy fiction) makes you seem unimaginative and unintelligent. You may well actually be unimaginative and unintelligent, but you would be taken more seriously if you were able to hide the fact behind some thin veneer of learning.

  370. #370 Dahan
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis,

    We wait with baited breath for your enlightenment. You claim that:

    “I believe in logic ,reason, science , morals, knowledge and the necessary precondition for those things.”

    What are these preconditions? An omnipotent god? Where did it’s reason, morals, knowledge, etc. come from? Did they evolve or did some other being give your god these? Or did this vast amazing entity just happen to always be, with no beginning?

    We have an answer as to how intelligent life could exist, you don’t.

  371. #371 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    BTW, Neil? You may not be aware of this, but accusing facilis of making an argument that is very cogent is not going to convince facilis that he should let you into his fan club, since cogency is a measure of the success of an inductive argument, and facilis rejects induction (science, he claims, depends on it, so it’s icky).

  372. #372 Feynmaniac
    January 30, 2009

    God reveals certain things to me in such a way that I can be epistemically certain of them.

    How can you be certain ?
    How can you be certain of your certainity?
    How can you be certain of your certinaity of your certainity?
    How can you be certain of your certinaity of your certainity of your certainity?
    …..
    …..

    See, anyone can play this pseudo-Socratic, recurssive word game.

  373. #373 John Morales
    January 30, 2009

    black wolf, I’m not familiar with those handles, sorry.

    I think Facilis is one of those people so are so upset by uncertainty that they latch on to wishful thinking and doublethink and suspension of disbelief to avoid existential angst*.
    For them, it’s easier to believe it all makes sense and has purpose (even if such is ineffable or vacuous and can only be validated after death) than to accept that, so far as we know, the uncertainty and indifference of reality. Apologetics fail because they’re trying to justify something by other than its true rationale and only utility. It’s a comfortable but unsupportable assumption, and I respect the religious only inasfar as they admit their rationale is only an act of faith rather than make spurious claims.

    * I seem to be one of those who never felt such angst. I’m comfortable with being yet not knowing.
    Big deal, even my dog can do that. :)

  374. #374 AnthonyK
    January 30, 2009

    Mr Facilis,
    Not to do with religion, but when you post here, do you wear any umm…unusual underwear of any sort…restictive, kind of? And are you often a naughty boy? Is punichment, for you, the answer?
    Just wonderin’

  375. #375 AnthonyK
    January 30, 2009

    Mr Facilis,
    Not to do with religion, but when you post here, do you wear any umm…unusual underwear of any sort…restictive, kind of? And are you often a naughty boy? Is punishment, for you, the only answer?
    Just wonderin’

  376. #376 Feynmaniac
    January 30, 2009

    Neil B,

    The point made by Facilis…..was a very cogent rebuttal

    Oh, fuck. We’re in for a night* of fallacious, philosophical arguments. Get ready for word games, word salads and four letter words.

    * It’s night because North America is the world.

  377. #377 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    If Facilis got his logic from God, then holy crap, that God is seriously dropping the ball.

    This one has me giggling like a Tickle Me Elmo doll:

    My point is that atheism is a bankrupt philosophy that cannot allow for certain knowledge , logic , reason ,morality ,induction or science and to prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary.

    Okay, first off? Atheism is not a philosophy. Atheism is a negative definition. The word “atheism” defines only what one does NOT believe. All atheists are not the same. There are atheists who worship at the altar of science, and there are atheists who wallow in shameless New Age woo. All our philosophies are not the same, so your “atheism has no morality” drivel is utterly meaningless. The rest of your litany is simply hilarious. Also? You’ve been trying for weeks to show us “the impossibility of the contrary” of the Christian belief system, and so far all you’ve accomplished is to show us how energetically you can chase your own tail.

    But nothing tops this:

    Rev. BDC says:
    Yeah don’t forget Norse gods, Islam, Judaism, Hindu, and every other religion.

    To which Fallacious replies:

    Every time I meet someone who is a member of one of those religions I ask him how he accounts for logic and reason according to his worldview.

    EVERY TIME?! Damn, you must be reeeeeeally popular among all non-Christian groups, huh?

    Now, you do realize, don’t you, that Jews and Muslims worship the same god as Christians, right? Right? They may call Him by different names, and they have different ideas about who’s represented Him, and how He should be worshipped, but it’s all the same Abrahamic deity. How is the father of Jesus any more self-evident, based on what you call “logic and reason” than the god of Moses or Muhammad? And while we’re at it, how is your God any more valid than the Hindu or Norse gods? Why couldn’t they have written the laws of logic?

    Oh, and certainty is to knowledge what alcohol is to proper hydration. Briefly empowering, but rapidly counterproductive.

  378. #378 Chiroptera
    January 30, 2009

    Alyson Miers, #380: Now, you do realize, don’t you, that Jews and Muslims worship the same god as Christians, right? Right?

    Don’t you realize that logic doesn’t work unless Jesus rose from the dead? Self-evident, really.

  379. #379 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    I like certanaity; it’s just the thing for the laity. I’ll bet it’s made of explainatons, which must be what the god-of-the-gaps is composed of. Certanaity does not help us with any understanding of the nature of consciousness, since consciousness is made of unexplainium and Our Structureless, Irreducible, Precious Essence.

    “No-one knows the reason for this, but it’s probably quantum.” –Gaspode the Wonder Dog

  380. #380 Feynmaniac
    January 30, 2009

    Facilis Fallacious,

    prove the Christian worldview by the impossibility of the contrary

    Please see here.

    To everybody else: his proof is not “impossibility of the contrary” but an argument from ignorance . I have told him that dozens of times but he has yet to even respond. I think he honestly believes if he keeps repeating it it will come true.

  381. #381 Roger
    January 30, 2009

    This is my first time actually reading anything this “Facilis” godtard has written. I declare his writings to be the written equivalent of an episode of “American Idol”: a lot of flash and bang, but no substance. He’s (I’m assuming it’s a male) hardly worth the task of deconstruction and is seemingly impervious to logic, reason, and non-godbottery.

  382. #382 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    If Facilis got his logic from God, then holy crap, that God is seriously dropping the ball.

    Alyson got it right. Clap, Clap, Clap, brava.

    Not that Facilis the Fallacious Fool can figure it out.

  383. #383 Ciaphis
    January 30, 2009

    @ Jay

    Am I the only one who finds much philosophy to be intellectual masturbation?

    Now, now… Philosophy is fun, naturual behavior and is nothing people should be ashamed of.

    50/50 my HTML will be full of fail

  384. #384 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    See, anyone can play this pseudo-Socratic, recurssive word game.

    Ah, but see, he gets to stop because God lets him stop.

    Of course, that implies that he’s claiming to be God, but that doesn’t stop him. Because God lets him get away with it.

    his proof is not “impossibility of the contrary” but an argument from ignorance . I have told him that dozens of times but he has yet to even respond.

    As have I, and others. He’s too ignorant to realize that he’s ignorant, thought.

    I think he honestly believes if he keeps repeating it it will come true.

    God lets him get away with not knowing what he’s talking about.

  385. #385 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 30, 2009

    facilis rejects induction (science, he claims, depends on it

    Really? Is he that silly? Induction is thoroughly unscientific. It doesn’t work.

  386. #386 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    “Shorter Ross Douthat: If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.”

    Where does Douthat say anything whatsoever about god’s reality?

    You have to keep your eye on the ball.

    Ross acknowledges in the very first sentence that RT is about whether the *possibility* of god’s existence is to be given “*any credence*.” He also says clearly that arguments from the *number* of people who have religious experiences isn’t dispositive (actually, he says it more robustly — it isn’t “anything like” dispositive) when it comes to the issue of god’s existence. That’s a far cry from “it must be real.”

    He simply claims — quite legitimately — that it’s silly to compare a belief that’s obviously absurd to everyone with a belief that’s not at all obviously absurd to nearly everyone and think the issue is settled. Now, you can make the comparison and follow it up with an argument for the absurdity of belief in god — that’s fine; however, when you simply throw out a comparison like this one and consider the issue settled (again, read the first sentence: “…Bertrand Russell’s famous teapot analogy, which supposedly *settles once and for all* the question of whether nonbelievers should give any credence to the possibility that God exists”), you should expect reasonable people to think it’s a bit ridiculous.

    I haven’t read through all 380+ comments, so I apologize if I’m addressing issues that have already been settled.

  387. #387 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Presuppositionalism doesn’t work, either. (At least, not if you want to make sense to someone who doesn’t already march in lock-step with you.) It makes about as much sense as claiming you know God is out there because you hear Him talking to you.

    Immaterial, disembodied voices reveal themselves to me, too, and tell me stuff. I think of them as characters and insert them into these things called novels and call it fiction. But I don’t give them credit for writing the laws of logic.

  388. #388 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    “Shorter Ross Douthat: If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.”

    Where does Douthat say anything whatsoever about god’s reality?

    You have to keep your eye on the ball.

    Ross acknowledges in the very first sentence that RT is about whether the *possibility* of god’s existence is to be given “*any credence*.” He also says clearly that arguments from the *number* of people who have religious experiences isn’t dispositive (actually, he says it more robustly — it isn’t “anything like” dispositive) when it comes to the issue of god’s existence. That’s a far cry from “it must be real.”

    He simply claims — quite legitimately — that it’s silly to compare a belief that’s obviously absurd to everyone with a belief that’s not at all obviously absurd to nearly everyone and think the issue is settled. Now, you can make the comparison and follow it up with an argument for the absurdity of belief in god — that’s fine; however, when you simply throw out a comparison like this one and consider the issue settled (again, read the first sentence: “…Bertrand Russell’s famous teapot analogy, which supposedly *settles once and for all* the question of whether nonbelievers should give any credence to the possibility that God exists”), you should expect reasonable people to think it’s a bit ridiculous.

    I haven’t read through all 380+ comments, so I apologize if I’m addressing issues that have already been settled.

  389. #389 AnthonyK
    January 30, 2009

    Am I the only one who finds much philosophy to be intellectual masturbation?

    Certainly, a lot of philosophers do wear glasses!

  390. #390 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    Sorry for the double post.

  391. #391 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    He simply claims — quite legitimately — that it’s silly to compare a belief that’s obviously absurd to everyone with a belief that’s not at all obviously absurd to nearly everyone and think the issue is settled. Now, you can make the comparison and follow it up with an argument for the absurdity of belief in god — that’s fine; however, when you simply throw out a comparison like this one and consider the issue settled (again, read the first sentence: “…Bertrand Russell’s famous teapot analogy, which supposedly *settles once and for all* the question of whether nonbelievers should give any credence to the possibility that God exists”), you should expect reasonable people to think it’s a bit ridiculous.

    I haven’t read through all 380+ comments, so I apologize if I’m addressing issues that have already been settled.

    Eric you’ve missed the point of the teapot… at least in my estimation.

    It’s not about whether god exists or not its about who’s burden of proof it is.

  392. #392 John Morales
    January 30, 2009

    Rev BDC,

    Eric you’ve missed the point of the teapot… at least in my estimation.
    It’s not about whether god exists or not its about who’s burden of proof it is.

    I prefer Sagan’s The Dragon In My Garage.

  393. #394 mothra
    January 30, 2009

    For Facilis, god rest his non extant soul.

    “I don’t wonder why I don’t wonder why.
    I don’t wonder why I don’t wonder.
    I don’t wonder, why I don’t wonder why.
    I don’t wonder why, I don’t wonder.”

    Thanks Feynmaniac for the inspiration.

  394. #395 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    The Rev. BigDumbChimp, heddle, and Sastra agree. Not only is the burden of proof not on atheists, the Celestial Teapot twits agnostic mugwumps. While there is no valid deductive argument refuting the non-zero probability of the existence of Russell’s Teapot, neither is there anything stronger than an utterly feeble argument to be made for the equivalent likelihood of its existence.

  395. #396 mothra
    January 30, 2009

    slight revision (posted too soon) :}

    “I don’t wonder why I don’t wonder why.
    I don’t wonder why I don’t wonder.
    I don’t wonder, why don’t I wonder why.
    I don’t wonder, why don’t I wonder.”

    For Facilis with its’ dead problematical soul- Nothing kills the soul of wonder like certainty of a god.

    Thanks Feynmaniac for the inspiration.

  396. #397 JohnDoe
    January 30, 2009

    I think Jackie raised an excellent question with regard to the trustworthiness of our thoughts if we are simply the products of the blind evolution of matter, although none of those who responded seemed to get her point. Perhaps the following quotes will shed some light on her question:

    “The horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” (Charles Darwin, Letter to W. Graham, July 3rd, 1881, in Darwin, F., ed., “The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,” 1898, Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. I., 1959, reprint, p.285)

    “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true.and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” (J.B.S.
    Haldane, “Possible Worlds,” Chatto & Windus: London, 1927, p.209)

    “The idea that one species of organism is, unlike all the others, oriented not just toward its own increased prosperity but toward Truth, is as un-Darwinian as the idea that every human being has a built-in moral compass – a conscience that swings free of both social history and
    individual luck.” (Richard Rorty, “Untruth and Consequences,” The New Republic, July 31, 1995, pp. 32-36)

    “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” (Francis Crick, “The Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul,” Scribner’s, 1994, p. 3)

    “I am astonished that otherwise intelligent and informed people, including physicians, are reluctant to believe that mind, as part of life, is matter and only matter.” (Arthur Kornberg, “The Two Cultures: Chemistry and Biology,” Biochemistry 26, 1987, pp. 6888-91)

    “On Kornberg’s own premises.his astonishment was unjustified. Presumably, one kind of chemical reaction in the brain causes Kornberg to accept materialist reductionism, while another kind of reaction causes those
    physicians to doubt it.” (Phillip Johnson, “Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education,” Intervarsity Press, 1995, p. 65)

    “(If the) mind is a product of the irrational (which
    materialistic-naturalistic evolution claims it is) then how shall I trust my mind when it tells me about Evolution? What makes it impossible that it should be true is not so much the lack of evidence for this or that scene in the drama as the fatal self-contradiction which runs right through it. The Myth (of Evolution) cannot even get going without accepting a good deal from the real sciences. And the real sciences cannot be accepted for a moment unless rational inferences are valid: for every science claims to be a series of inferences from observed facts. It is only by such inferences that you can reach your nebulae and protoplasm and dinosaurs and sub-men and cave-men at all. Unless you start by believing that reality in the remotest space and the remotest time rigidly obeys the laws of logic, you can have no ground for believing in any astronomy, any biology, any palaeontology, any archaeology. To reach the positions held by the real scientists – which are then taken over by the Myth – you must, in fact, treat reason as an absolute. But at the same time the Myth asks me to believe that reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of a mindless process at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. The content of the Myth thus knocks from under me the only ground on which I could possibly believe the Myth to be true. If my own mind is a product of the irrational – if what seem my clearest reasonings are only the way in which a creature conditioned as I am is bound to feel – how shall I trust my mind when it tells me about Evolution? They say in effect: ‘I will prove that what you call a proof is only the result of mental habits which result from heredity which results from bio-chemistry which results from physics.’ But this is the same as saying: ‘I will prove that proofs are irrational’:
    more succinctly, ‘I will prove that there are no proofs’: The fact that some people of scientific education cannot by any effort be taught to see the difficulty, confirms one’s suspicion that we here touch a radical disease in their whole style of thought. But the man who does see it, is
    compelled to reject as mythical the cosmology in which most of us were brought up. That it has embedded in it many true particulars I do not doubt: but in its entirety, it simply will not do. Whatever the real universe may turn out to be like, it can’t be like that.” (C.S. Lewis,”The Funeral of a Great Myth,” in “Christian Reflections,” 1967, Hooper, W.,
    ed., Fount: Glasgow UK, Fourth Impression, 1988, pp.117-118)

    “Here is a curious case: If Darwin’s naturalism is true, there is no way of even establishing its credibility let alone proving it. Confidence in logic is ruled out. Darwin’s own theory of human origins must therefore be
    accepted by an act of faith. One must hold that a brain, a device that came to be through natural selection and chance-sponsored mutations, can actually know a proposition or set of propositions to be true. C.S. Lewis puts the case this way: ‘If all that exists is Nature, the great mindless
    interlocking event, if our own deepest convictions are merely the by-products of an irrational process, then clearly there is not the slightest ground for supposing that our sense of fitness and our consequent faith in uniformity tell us anything about a reality external to ourselves. Our convictions are simply a fact about us – like the colour of our hair. If Naturalism is true we have no reason to trust our conviction that Nature is uniform.’ (C.S. Lewis, ‘Miracles: A Preliminary Study,’ 1947, Fontana:
    London, 1960, Revised Edition, 1963, reprint, p.109] What we need for such certainty is the existence of some ‘Rational Spirit’ outside both ourselves and nature from which our own rationality could derive. Theism assumes such a ground; naturalism does not.” (J.W. Sire, “The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalog,” 1976, InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, Second Edition, 1988, pp.94-95)

    “The validity of rational thought, accepted in an utterly non-naturalistic, transcendental (if you will), supernatural sense is the necessary presupposition of all other theorizing. There is simply no sense in beginning with a view of the universe and trying to fit in the claims of thought at a later stage. By thinking at all we have claimed that our thoughts are more than mere natural events. All other propositions must be fitted in as best they can around that primary claim.” (C.S. Lewis, “A
    Christian Reply to Professor Price,” Phoenix Quarterly, vol. 1, No. 1, Autumn 1946)

  397. #398 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    Oh great, Phillip Johnson AND CS Lewis?

    Our brains evolved to deal with the various challenges we come across day to day. Those who could not trust most of their thoughts were more likely to not make it to fecundity over the given long time frame in given populations.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  398. #399 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    I think Jackie raised an excellent question with regard to the trustworthiness of our thoughts if we are simply the products of the blind evolution of matter, although none of those who responded seemed to get her point. Perhaps the following quotes will shed some light on her question:

    Why did you bother? You could have just typed, ‘I, the person posting here as JohnDoe, am a complete tool.’ This would have saved you the effort of posting that block of irrelevant nonsense and us the effort of ignoring it.

    Come back with evidence* to suggest that a soul or a spirit can exist independent of a human body and maybe we will listen.

    *By evidence I mean evidence, not quotes from more people who didn’t have the answers but didn’t let that stop them from prattling on as if they did.

  399. #400 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    Oh, look. More presuppositionalism.

    I’m not going to address everything raised in that Huge Wall o’ Text? (which I am certain contain plenty of quote-mines), but I will point out that C.S. Lewis, at least, is simply wrong:

    “(If the) mind is a product of the irrational (which
    materialistic-naturalistic evolution claims it is)

    “Materialistic-naturalistic evolution” most certainly does not claim that the that the way that nature works is “irrational”.

    And all of the other arguments by theologians make the same mistaken assumption that Lewis did; that nature in and of itself would somehow work against itself to prevent “mind” from arising.

    Bah.

  400. #401 JohnDoe
    January 30, 2009

    “Our brains evolved to deal with the various challenges we come across day to day. Those who could not trust most of their thoughts were more likely to not make it to fecundity over the given long time frame in given populations.”

    You’ve missed the point: Minds that evolve to deal with challenges are not necessarily minds that can know truth. Indeed, as Darwin himself worried, there’s really no reason to trust the validity (in an epistemic sense) of the ideas arising in minds that evolved simply to enhance the survivabiity of the organisms possessing those minds.

    Try again.

  401. #402 Owlmirror
    January 30, 2009

    Minds that evolve to deal with challenges are not necessarily minds that can know truth. Indeed, as Darwin himself worried, there’s really no reason to trust the validity (in an epistemic sense) of the ideas arising in minds that evolved simply to enhance the survivabiity of the organisms possessing those minds.

    What is this “truth” of which you speak? Empirical, real-world truth? In can be deduced from our interactions with the real world. Mathematical and logical truth? It can be inferred from empirical correlation, and from basic, basic axioms, such as noncontradiction.

    Anything more abstract than that… well, you have no basis on which to infer that there is any truth that abstract.

    Got anything else in mind?

  402. #403 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    You’ve missed the point: Minds that evolve to deal with challenges are not necessarily minds that can know truth.

    Why?

    Minds that come from a “gift of God” are not either. How do you know that God isn’t tricking you?

  403. #404 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    “Eric you’ve missed the point of the teapot… at least in my estimation.
    It’s not about whether god exists or not its about who’s burden of proof it is.”

    RevBigDumbChimp, I was responding to PZ, who mistakenly thought that Douthat took it to be about the reality of god’s existence (“Shorter Ross Douthat: If enough of us imagine it, it must be real.” Nowhere in the article does Douthat come anywhere near saying this). Douthat clearly says that it’s about how credible it is to consider whether god’s existence is possible.

    Note that Russell is making not one but at least three points with his celestial teapot (as philosopher William Vallicella points out here: http://maverickphilosopher.powerblogs.com/posts/1169851433.shtml). Vallicella’s formulation of Russell’s third point is identical with Douthat’s: “But the real appeal to atheists and agnostics of the Teapot passage rests on a third move Russell makes. He is clearly suggesting that belief in God (i.e., belief that God exists) is epistemically on a par with believing in a celestial teapot. Just as we have no reason to believe in celestial teapots, irate lunar unicorns (lunicorns?), flying spaghetti monsters, and the like, we have no reason to believe in God.”

  404. #405 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Well, no, Mr. Teal Deer Herder, we can’t very well trust our own minds to know the truth when left to their own devices. The prevalence of religion, alone, is plentiful evidence of the human mind’s natural gifts of self-delusion. That is why we developed the scientific method and laws of formal logic. These are not ways of giving ourselves what we want; these are battles we wage with our own consciousness. These are ways of keeping our powers of self-deception in check. Without these checks and balances, we end up being left with…faith in imaginary beings that will punish us for not believing in them. What is the beginning of your argument, anyway? Is it that we can’t really know the truth of our world because our minds evolved naturally, or that we can’t have evolved naturally because we know the truth? Pick one and stick with it.

  405. #406 tomh
    January 30, 2009

    John Doe wrote:
    You’ve missed the point: Minds that evolve to deal with challenges are not necessarily minds that can know truth. Indeed, as Darwin himself worried, there’s really no reason to trust the validity (in an epistemic sense) of the ideas arising in minds that evolved simply to enhance the survivabiity of the organisms possessing those minds.

    There is a technical term for this kind of writing ? bullshit, defined by Harry Frankfurt as the words of someone who “is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are”.

  406. #407 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    “Materialistic-naturalistic evolution” most certainly does not claim that the that the way that nature works is “irrational”.”

    Owlmirror, Lewis corrected this error after it was pointed out to him by Anscombe. Later editions read ‘non-rational,’ which is quite accurate.

  407. #408 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    JohnDoe wrote:

    You’ve missed the point

    That would imply you have one. You don’t. All you’re doing is trying to show there’s a gap – presumably into which you can cram your increasingly irrelevant magic sky-fairy.

    You’re facing the same hurdle that tripped up facilis and saw him land flat on his face, over and over again.

    What you’re trying to do is get two-for-one, to sneak your god in through the fire exit while the ushers aren’t looking. A logical/philosophical possibility is one thing; going from that broad possibility to your assumed specific certainty is another.

    Even if we were to accept the premise ‘evolved minds are unable to know truth’ we have no reason whatsoever to tack on ‘therefore, the God of the broader Judeo-Christian belief system, and only that god, can be responsible.’

    Perhaps it is you who should try again.

  408. #409 'Tis Himself
    January 30, 2009

    JohnDoe #400

    I think Jackie raised an excellent question with regard to the trustworthiness of our thoughts if we are simply the products of the blind evolution of matter, although none of those who responded seemed to get her point.

    If we posit that “god” invented our minds, then how can there be atheism or even different religions? It would have been a trivial matter for “god” to have programmed our minds to automatically accept “its” existence. Since atheism and a multitude of religions exist, then either “god” is a sloppy programmer or else there isn’t such a critter.

    “But,” I hear you say, “god lets us have free will. We can believe anything we want.” Calvin and Cornelius Jensen would disagree, but the Jesuits and other metaphysical libertarians* cling to this view. However there is no practical difference between a hands-off god allowing free will and the “blind evolution” decried by Jackie. So the end result is either a non-omniscient god or blind evolution. A difference that makes no difference is no difference.

    *Note to politico-economic libertarians, metaphysical libertarianism has nothing to do with your ideology other than the name.

  409. #410 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    Jebus. It isn’t the full moon, but the batshit insane people were out in force today. Jackie, Facilis, Pilty, Neil B, John Doe. All in need of some good old fashioned mental health. I recommend mental floss. It’s supposed to remove those thoughts giving one cognitive dissonance.

  410. #411 Dave2
    January 30, 2009

    there’s really no reason to trust the validity (in an epistemic sense) of the ideas arising in minds that evolved simply to enhance the survivabiity of the organisms possessing those minds

    There’s no reason to distrust them either.

    And what better way to see how far they are to be trusted than empirical investigation?

    Coherentism FTW

  411. #412 Eric
    January 30, 2009

    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think. See Plantinga’s ‘Naturalism Defeated’ or Victor Reppert’s ‘C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea.’

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/naturalism_defeated.pdf

  412. #413 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    I’ve got about 300 photos I have to process and upload for a client.

    Care to give me the cliff notes on that Eric?

  413. #414 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    I can trust my mind a lot more, to be quite honest, while accepting that it evolved naturally. If we were all “intelligently” designed by the Magic Skydaddy, there’s no telling what kind of crazy shit He’s hiding from us. A mind without a conscious creator is one that is allowed to comprehend anything it finds, if it observes honestly. And if there are some things that my poor limited monkey brain is simply too small to comprehend, I can trust that there is no deliberately chosen reason for that restriction. I can take responsibility for that which I cannot understand. I am no one’s puppet.

  414. #415 Nerd of Redhead
    January 30, 2009

    OK, which Eric is saying John Doe has anything? Too many Erics for me to keep track of. I recall one trying the god of gaps argument.

    John Doe, physical evidence will eventually be required. No physical evidence means you are a liar and bullshitter.

  415. #416 Wowbagger
    January 30, 2009

    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think.

    That there is an avenue for speculation on the nature of truth or consciousness or morality or whatever other concept you’d like to discuss is, as I noted in #411, one thing; the proposition that, because we can speculate about such things, the god of the broader Judeo-Christian belief system must exist is another, critically different one.

    I’m okay with the proposal that unanswered philosphical questions may mean a god might exist. I will not accept that it must mean their god does.

  416. #417 Inquisitor Numad
    January 30, 2009

    I don’t think I can’t read past Plantiga’s introduction. “Oddly enough.” Charming.

  417. #418 «bønez_brigade»
    January 30, 2009

    I always think of the proverbial teapot as being made of brass. More difficult to shatter than porcelain, for sure, as are the religi-myths that currently infect the masses. Plus, it just appeared that way in me thoughts upon me first exposure to the Celestial Teapot? tale/analogy.

  418. #419 Laser Potato
    January 30, 2009

    #413: In the words of Flewellyn, “Are there a whole bunch of full moons all lined up in a row somewhere, shooting Bozo Beams into people’s heads?”

  419. #420 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    Wait! No, dude, wait!
    How do YOU know that I’m not, like, in the Matrix? Like, dreaming that I’m not? Like, in the Matrix? And, like…how do you know, man?

  420. #421 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    @Eric

    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think.

    No it isn’t

  421. #422 windy
    January 30, 2009

    Dear theists who think that God is necessary for us to know stuff: Please explain how it’s possible that

    1) most people think they’re better than average drivers

    2) we know that not all of them can be right.

  422. #423 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    I mean, i might be, like, dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, right? Only I’m not in the Matrix.
    Or am I?

  423. #424 JohnDoe
    January 30, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead: “Jebus. It isn’t the full moon, but the batshit insane people were out in force today. Jackie, Facilis, Pilty, Neil B, John Doe. All in need of some good old fashioned mental health. I recommend mental floss. It’s supposed to remove those thoughts giving one cognitive dissonance.”

    I don’t mean to singly you out, Nerd, but your comments are such a fine example of the repellent postings that are so typical of Pharyngula’s herd of independent minds. I came to the blog because I’d heard that it’s a hot-bed of hilarious presumptuousness, and I’ve not been disappointed. I’d be glad to debate the issue of mind and matter raised by Jackie, but I’ve found no reason to respect – and thus engage – anyone in the Pharyngula herd. My visit here has not been for nought, however. As someone who has doubts about Darwin, I’m delighted to see that the apologists for Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism, or The Modern Synthesis, or whatever you want to call it) who post here write in ways that ensure that no one outside of the herd will pay any attention to them. It’s apparently never occurred to members of the Pharyngula herd that their light (if they have any) is obscured by their repellent heat. From what I’ve seen, few who aren’t in the herd stick around Pharyngula for long. Who can blame them? Pharyngula is clearly an incestuous intellectual circle-jerk, given to orgasmic self-congratulation among members of the herd.

    Have a nice day.

  424. #425 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    John Doe, you forgot your football.

  425. #426 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    Okay, Reformed Epistemologists; if Plantinga and Reppert are right, please use the resulting theory of mind to account for Phineas Gage, and the neurocognitive degeneration caused by diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, brain tumors, or damage due to strokes?

    What happens to non-physical “mind” in these circumstances and how do you know?

    Show your work.

  426. #427 heliobates
    January 30, 2009

    As someone who has doubts about Darwin, I’m delighted to see that the apologists for Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism, or The Modern Synthesis, or whatever you want to call it) who post here write in ways that ensure that no one outside of the herd will pay any attention to them.

    Dunning-Kruger cleanup in Aisle 10.

  427. #428 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 30, 2009

    Posted by: JohnDoe | January 30, 2009

    I think Jackie raised an excellent question with regard to the trustworthiness…

    At this point, I realized that there was no reason to read any more by John Doe. Sugar glazed Jackie had point? Never.

    At this point, I had to get a John Doe I liked. Some people give me the creeps.

  428. #429 Ken Cope
    January 30, 2009

    I got yer C. S. Lewis right here, pal:

    If Susan Pevensie had only saddlebacked like a good Christain, she might have survived the Last Battle to live with Reepicheep and Aslan in Narnia forever. Therefore, God.

    JohnDoe, don’t forget to let the door hit your quote-mining, science-denialist ass as you smugly scarper away, unable to stand the heat.

  429. #430 Sastra
    January 30, 2009

    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think.

    Genetic fallacy, and modo hoc. Also, conflation of justified belief with absolute certainty.

    Been there, done that.

  430. #431 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    At this point, I had to get a John Doe I liked. Some people give me the creeps.

    hell yeah

  431. #432 Feynmaniac
    January 30, 2009

    1) most people think they’re better than average drivers

    2) we know that not all of them can be right.

    Also, about 80-90% (can’t remember the exact figure) of people think they have above average intelligence.

    Anyway, I’m of something Kaderie wrote:

    Creationists: Because there is a left side to the IQ bell curve.

  432. #433 Laser Potato
    January 30, 2009

    “you forgot your football.”
    IT’S A STONE, LUIGI. YOU DIDN’T MAKE IT.

  433. #434 John Morales
    January 30, 2009

    JohnDoe:

    It’s apparently never occurred to members of the Pharyngula herd that their light (if they have any) is obscured by their repellent heat.

    Heh. How quaint. You seem to imagine that Pharyngula is about proselytising and we care about your opinions.

    (my bold)

    Pharyngula is clearly an incestuous intellectual circle-jerk, given to orgasmic self-congratulation among members of the herd.
    Have a nice day.

    Love it.

    Such civility! Thank you.

    Incidentally, did it occur to you that you’re part of this “incestuous intellectual circle-jerk” no less than I, by virtue of having comments here?

  434. #435 Alyson Miers
    January 30, 2009

    Aww, poo! The Teal Deer Herder is picking up his ball and self-important bat and going home! He was just getting fun to play with, too.

    I’d heard that it’s a hot-bed of hilarious presumptuousness,

    *kablooey*

    Will you goddicted self-righteous twerps stop doing that to my irony meter! These things are expensive to replace.

  435. #436 Sherry
    January 30, 2009

    I believe in Russell’s teapot.

    I also am totally enthralled with Battle Star Galactica.

    It must be part of the plan.

  436. #437 Sven DiMilo
    January 30, 2009

    No, seriously, stay with me dude…
    If I’m NOT in the Matrix, but THINK I MIGHT be DREAMING about being in the Matrix, how would I know I wasn;t, like, dreaming I wasn’t? In the Matrix? OR NOT?!

  437. #438 Teh Merkin
    January 30, 2009

    It’s apparently never occurred to members of the Pharyngula herd that their light (if they have any) is obscured by their repellent heat.

    More than any other place on the ‘net I have been, the folks here are very aware of what they mean and how they say it. We don’t pull punches, and if that hurts your little feelings, tough. That’s what happens when you play with the big boys and girls.

    Oh, and suck my ass, you oxygen thief.

  438. #439 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 30, 2009

    I also am totally enthralled with Battle Star Galactica.

    It must be part of the plan.

    Oh mutherfucker.

    I totally spaced it was on tonight.

    bah shit

  439. #440 yorktank
    January 30, 2009

    So much about this post and the comments thereafter is just pure gold. But I was most intrigued by Jackie’s use of the term dearheart. I’d never heard it before, so I had to look it up (using the only dictionary I trust). My irony meter almost couldn’t take it:

    dearheart: an affectionate soubriquet for the person that has woken your heart and dispelled your misgivings about the world at large

    If only!

  440. #441 Ken Cope
    January 31, 2009

    I won’t pay for cable, but I’ll pay for BG eps as they show up for download at Amazon. I figure it’ll show in about an hour. Until then stay tuned for our next episode of Animatrix, in which Karl Popper finds out the hard way whether or not reality is disprovable, in Animatrix-Kid’s Story.

    “Reality can be a pretty scary thing for some people.”

  441. #442 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    “Reality can be a pretty scary thing for some people.”

    I think that Jackie, JohnDoe and Facilis have demonstrated that right here on this thread.

  442. #443 Feynmaniac
    January 31, 2009

    JohnDoe (if that’s your real name),

    As someone who has doubts about Darwin, I’m delighted to see that the apologists for Darwinism (or neo-Darwinism, or The Modern Synthesis, or whatever you want to call it) who post here write in ways that ensure that no one outside of the herd will pay any attention to them.

    People are frequently claiming scientists have poor public relations skills. Maybe, maybe not. What I think is interesting is that to succeed in each field you need vastly different strategies.

    Ideas in science are critically challenged when presented. They depend heavily on evidence, logic and facts.

    In public relations the goal is to win over hearts and make your company, organization, politican, etc. look good. This isn’t always done with well reasoned arguments. Lying by omisssion, using fallacious arguments, appeals to emotion are all alright if the conclusions support your goals.

    I don’t mean to pick on people in public relations. My beef isn’t with the field so much as how it’s currently being used. We need to be reminded that there are powerful people trying to manipulate the public through disingenuous means. Otherwise, countries get invaded, woo gets published in the press, and corporations get to do whatever the fuck they want. However, being good at public relations doesn’t make you good or competent. It won’t insure that you will be greeted as liberators, science standards will hold and smoking will not cause lung cancer.

    In short,

    “[R]eality must take place over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

  443. #444 Tulse
    January 31, 2009

    If I’m NOT in the Matrix, but THINK I MIGHT be DREAMING about being in the Matrix, how would I know I wasn;t, like, dreaming I wasn’t? In the Matrix? OR NOT?!

    Like, if I was in the Matrix, would these Doritos still be as munchable? SERIOUSLY, dude!

  444. #445 Feynmaniac
    January 31, 2009

    Oh mutherfucker.

    I totally spaced it was on tonight.

    It was a pretty good episode.

    No, seriously, stay with me dude…
    If I’m NOT in the Matrix, but THINK I MIGHT be DREAMING about being in the Matrix, how would I know I wasn;t, like, dreaming I wasn’t? In the Matrix? OR NOT?!

    Dude, can I get 10 g of whatever you are smoking?

    Until then stay tuned for our next episode of Animatrix, in which Karl Popper finds out the hard way whether or not reality is disprovable

    Damnit, I knew I should have produced my cartoon of Karl Popper applying falsifiability to the idea of reality before somebody stole the idea.

  445. #446 Sherry
    January 31, 2009

    “Dearheart” is a phrase used extensively amongst my “kin”.

    They hail from Pigeonroost, KY. Methinks Jackie is from the same sort of area. Back up in the “hollers”.

    My Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs loving heretic of a grandpa thankfully moved his family out of Appalachia. I’m proud to be the first to graduate from college.

    My grandpa taught me how to clean a chicken, clean a fish, and to imagine the the beautiful immensity and randomness of the Universe.

    I sure was lucky that my spirit was nurtured by a freethinker who believed in reality rather that a superstitious fearful self-centered religious sheep.

  446. #447 Rey Fox
    January 31, 2009

    “As someone who has doubts about Darwin”

    Darwin doesn’t flatter John’s pretty mind enough.

  447. #448 Dahan
    January 31, 2009

    Glory to God! Johndoe and Jackie have convinced me that God exists! All I needed was just one little tiny itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny crumb of truth and they came through! Where so many others have failed, they succeeded. Unlike all the others, they came here and presented to me and everyone else real-world evidence. Let me just find the quotes… Hold on, just take a second. Hmmm. OK. It was here, I swear. Something about a thing…

    Drat! OK. Maybe I was wrong. I guess they failed like everyone else has. Oh! But wouldn’t it be fun to be able to believe such batshit-crazy talk! I hold out hope. Someday…

  448. #449 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009
    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think.

    Genetic fallacy, and modo hoc. Also, conflation of justified belief with absolute certainty.

    Been there, done that.

    As DaveL noted:

    What philosophers and theologians have you read?I myself was reading Van Till the other day. Those dutch reformed have weird ideas about logic.

    Atheists often find themselves doomed to repeating Monty Python’s Banana Sketch with apologists.

    “Have we done Ontological arguments?”

    “Yes”

    “St. Anselm’s? Kalam?”

    “Yes”

    “Ha! Plantinga’s!”

    “We’ve done Plantinga’s.”

    “I bet we haven’t done First Cause, though!”

    “Done it.”

    “Fine Tuning?”

    “Yes…”

    “Argument from Design?”

    “YES!”

    “Right… the Trilemma! We haven’t done the Trilemma!”

    “We did the Trilemma last week.”

    “I see. Well it’s obvious you’re all just too proud and closed minded, and can’t bear the idea of being held morally accountable.”

    “We’ve done that one too.”

    And on and on it goes. I have no need to post an exhaustive list of all the philosopher’s I’ve read to know there isn’t a decent argument out there for exactly the same reason I don’t have to scour the scientific literature for the last 100 years to know we haven’t yet developed faster-than-light space travel, and for the same reason I don’t have to read every newspaper on the planet to know alien spacecraft did not land at the U.N. today. That kind of thing would be kind of important, and could not possibly be allowed by theists to rest in obscurity.

  449. #450 melior
    January 31, 2009

    An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature; this intuition has intersected, historically, with an enormous amount of subjective religious experience; and this intersection (along with, yes, the force of custom and tradition) has produced and sustained the religious traditions that seem to Richard Dawkins and company like so much teapot-worship.

    Ross’s failed logic can be easily dismissed.

    The obvious problem with “historically” as Ross fixates on it is that he is considering only the tiniest, most recent sliver of the entire history of human nature. How could this supposedly extremely common feature of basic human nature, belief in a Judeo-Christian god, only start showing up in the last several hundred generations?

  450. #451 Christophe Thill
    January 31, 2009

    “An intuitive belief in some sort of presiding Agent seems to be an extremely common, albeit hardly universal, feature of human nature”

    Russel’s intuition of a cosmic teapot has to come from somewhere. Something can’t come from nothing, right? I know he was British, therefore the teapot was an important although ordinary object for him. But why is it so? Why is the teapot a quasi-sacred object, linked to a quasi-religious ritual, among the British? That also has to come from somewhere…

    “this intuition has intersected, historically, with an enormous amount of subjective religious experience”

    Many, many people have, at least once in their life, felt the existence of the Cosmic Teapot. They can’t say so, for fear of ridicule. But deep inside, they KNOW.

    “and this intersection (along with, yes, the force of custom and tradition) has produced and sustained the religious traditions that seem to Richard Dawkins and company like so much teapot-worship.”

    It’s ok, my dear. Have a nice cup of tea (sugar or no sugar?). Oh, and by the way, Russel’s teapot was not an example of worship. Just a reflection about proving something’s existence.

  451. #452 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    John Doe, not only did you forget your football, but also your brain. We know Darwin existed. We know Darwin first proposed the Theory of Evolution. We also know Darwin got many things wrong. He just did not have the data that was discovered after his death. When all that interesting data, like genomes, genes, DNA, and the like are added to Darwin’s original idea, it becomes the “Modern Synthesis”. Note no mention of Darwin. The fact that you can’t get past Darwin, unlike scientists, says a lot about you, none of it good.

  452. #453 AnthonyK
    January 31, 2009

    Mr Doe (is that is your real name – please, on behalf of my fellow commenters, let me apologise for the circle-jerk of orgasmic self-congratulation you have found here. But, having just had a wank and feeling rather pleased with myself, may I just caution you to judge not, lest ye be judged.
    Anyone coming on here spouting a list of quotes from christian apologists and theologians (and please note that C.S.Lewis, for one, did accept evolution), expecting us to take him seriously, merely sets himself up for ridicule and that (having another wank) I think we do rather well – don’t we guys!
    But we don’t take quasi-philosophical bullshit about evolved minds and presuppositoinal nonsense – personally, I’m more of a post-neo-presuppostionalt – in any way seriously.
    As for your central “argument”, of course the product of an evolved mind can be mistaken – see religion and the perception of a personal god as evidence.
    Now I feel another bout of self-pleasure coming on. Anyone care to join me?

  453. #454 Escuerd
    January 31, 2009

    You’ve missed the point: Minds that evolve to deal with challenges are not necessarily minds that can know truth. Indeed, as Darwin himself worried, there’s really no reason to trust the validity (in an epistemic sense) of the ideas arising in minds that evolved simply to enhance the survivabiity of the organisms possessing those minds.

    Oh, so you’re saying that humans evolving by natural selection doesn’t entail that we are capable (or inclined) of discovering truth? That’s quite a profound revelation, and not trite, obvious or irrelevant at all.

    If our mind is an evolutionary adaptation, it’s possible it’s not capable of discerning truth. If it’s not an adaptation, it’s possible that it’s not capable of discerning truth. Clearly, then, the only way we can ever justify belief in anything else is by first embracing Jesus.

  454. #455 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 31, 2009

    I think Jackie raised an excellent question with regard to the trustworthiness of our thoughts if we are simply the products of the blind evolution of matter

    Evolutionary epistemology. If our thoughts about reality weren’t trustworthy, we’d have died out long ago.

    Next question!

    I think John Doe’s point is more serious than some here seem to think. See Plantinga’s ‘Naturalism Defeated’ or Victor Reppert’s ‘C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea.’

    http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosophy/virtual_library/articles/plantinga_alvin/naturalism_defeated.pdf

    In the fucking eighth line, Plantinga writes “current evolutionary doctrine”. What reason can you give me for reading on, now that Plantinga has shown he has no idea what science is? How does he get his shit published? — Oh, I see: he publishes books that never go through, say, peer-review or anything…

    Well, I’ve found a reason for reading on: to add further evidence that Plantinga is an incompetent (because ignorant) nincompoop. And that’s easy. For example:

    Near the top of the second page, he says most mutations are deleterious. Wrong. Most mutations are neutral, and if Plantinga had any understanding of genetics, he’d know that full well.

    Footnote 7: Mutations are random in the sense that they are “perhaps” not predictable? They are not predictable, period, except probabilistically.

    In the same footnote, Plantinga demonstrates his ignorance of the principle of parsimony. In other words, he demonstrates his ignorance of fully half of the entire scientific method.

    On the fourth page, he demonstrates his complete ignorance of evolutionary epistemology. This is truly astonishing, because it concerns the very topic of his article and was worked out decades ago!

    On the same page, he fails to make a distinction between what I’m used to call reality and truth: the former is what science is concerned with, where the argumentum ad lapidem is not a logical fallacy; the latter consists of boring (untestable) questions like whether I’m the solipsist, and there, the argumentum ad lapidem is a logical fallacy.

    I agree with Plantinga that minds that are the product of evolution don’t necessarily give us access to truth (as opposed to reality — a distinction that, see above, Plantinga seems not to make). But we don’t have access to truth anyway. Sure, we could figure it out, but if we had done so, how could we find out that what we have found is indeed the truth? By comparing it to the truth, which we don’t have?

    Major science theory fail.

    I gave up on the seventh page, skipped to near the end, and found no new argument. Have I missed anything?

  455. #456 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    OK, OK, wait…
    What if it’s, like, Plantinga who’s only dreaming that he thinks he’s not in the Matrix? You know?

  456. #457 Falyne
    January 31, 2009

    Wow. Epic thread. That’s some good atheist-argument shit right there. Bookmarked for future reference.

  457. #458 Julian
    January 31, 2009

    JohnDoe, Jakie et al: Truth? What are you talking about? The truth is what you see, perceive, measure and prove through experiment. “Truth” is that which is proved through experience. “External Truth”? “Epistemological Truth”? These are nonsensical concepts. Yesterday I thought about saying as much but, because Jakie wasn’t explicit in his/her Platonism I figured I’d just keep quiet. In applying “truth” to evolution, it is those who defend the research, the analysis, the centuries of careful study, the lifetimes of careful study and prudent decision building one atop the conclusions of another, verifying, clarifying, correcting, who are standing up for real, concrete truth. It is you and those like you, apologists for dumb opinion, refusing to acknowledge the achievements of others out of your arrogant championing of such metaphysical and empty concepts as ideal truth who refuse it in favor of self-congratulatory flagellation.

    Plato, Augustine, Hegel, Marx; One-thousand years of arguing that the world is governed and mirrors something ideal, apart, and outside of our experience and what has such worshiping of ignorance got us but one-thousand years of suffering and pain? I put to you this question; What use is a truth we cannot prove, test, or experience? What value does it have when it can in no way affect our lives? Even if every chair were some example of an ideal chair, why would it matter? You can’t sit in an ideal chair, or see it, or touch it. What value then is god, a concept which in Christianity has merely become an ideal human? Even if god existed, it has no impact on our world or our lives, has no traffic with us, so why spend our time on it? Science is just a fancy word for knowledge, in other words, a quick way of saying “that information we have gathered to improve our lot”. You argue that it is unreliable in a naturalistic system because it is the product of the mind; that a natural, imperfect process will produce imperfect results. So what? Our lives are what we experience and we can only experience, and learn of, those things which we perceive. If due to an imperfection in our minds we are unable to perceive or interact with something of a “higher” reality, then it might as well not exist at all. In fact, in that we cannot experience it, it really doesn’t.

    And how silly is it, really, to argue that a naturalistic explanation must be flawed because it includes an imperfect mind? How prideful to say that, because a philosophy doesn’t assuage your ego by telling you that your concepts are perfect, it must be incorrect? What aid would humanity gain from a system of belief that refused to admit the possibility of error? The scientific process is built upon the acknowledgment that humans are flawed; that we are intensely personal and social beings and that only through constant unbiased examination can knowledge be gained and assured. You argue that such a process is foolish because it doesn’t accept the perfection of the human mind? Poppycock! The imperfection of knowing is precisely why we have the scientific method; the success which constantly rechecking our assumptions brings is precisely why we trust in the products of science. Your argument is absurd, contradictory, and childish. Perhaps you should actually read some philosophy before you go around the internet acting as if you understand it.

  458. #459 the other Adam
    January 31, 2009

    “How could this supposedly extremely common feature of basic human nature, belief in a Judeo-Christian god, only start showing up in the last several hundred generations?”.

    The rise of agriculture, and ergot in the bread.

  459. #460 Muzz
    January 31, 2009

    CG @ 169.

    Hiya. Yeah, I see what you’re saying and I am pulling stuff from all over the place that probably falls under a lot of well identified structures.
    At the same time, merely being good at imagination and having structures for pareidolia doesn’t seem to do this effect justice for mine.
    A little background: I started stewing on this some years ago after a spirited argument with a philosopher type, a rigourous pure logician who was (I think) a born again christian (He was doubtless a christian, and upon hearing his arguments I wonder if it’s a little like the phenomenon of engineers becoming creationists in their old age, but that’s by the by).
    His arguments basically fall under the transcendental argument for god and the presuppostional apologetics. They no doubt have plenty of ways to be side stepped or swatted. But this guy was pretty interesting all the same.
    Most versions of that argument are sort of bullet points that reason from god on down like most of them (some of which appear in the thread here, I notice. Like John Doe’s quotebomb). This one went from logic and reason on up, which was a change. That all knowledge and reason, morality and even consciousness must depend on some “external” fixed position or be ultimately self defeating.
    Now, I’m not representing this argument very well and I can’t remember the details. It sounds silly like that, and it did go to those cringeworthy places like “You presuppose god just by having this conversation, you just don’t know it yet”, and why you’re supposed to just default to christianity at the end of it is a bit of a mystery too. Still at the time it was well laid out (the guy was actually a total ninja in all philosophical facets. This wasn’t some bible basher standing on the corner running the playbook) and following the logic gave food for thought, take my word for it.
    The trouble was, after all that brilliant logic being followed though the convolutions of my head with barely a missed step, at the end I didn’t believe in god. I knew already what that was like and, nope, nuthin’ sorry (and yes, transcendentalist arguments are basically saying that not believeing in god is cognitive dissonance).
    I did, however, think I got a sense of the thing at the end/beginning of every train of thought that seems incomprehensible to our conscious mind and it’s inexplicable-ness kind of gnaws away like a sense someone is watching you.
    This all probably sounds batshit and maybe it is. I just wish some of the big brains around here were there to follow the same logic and see where it went so I could hear what they had to say about it as that would be very interesting.

    Anyways, as I was saying, this is my partial suspect for what Douhat is talking about (the recurrence of religious belief) and I agree with him that it’s interesting.
    The reflexivity of mind isn’t without its problems and evolutionary developement doesn’t create perfect things, so my current favourite analogy is the blind spot in your eye (or perhaps what the blind spot “sees”). Fear of imaginary monsters and so forth may spring from the same structural quirks of mind, but a sense of a god is big enough to warrant more attention if you ask me.
    There’s a few oddments to note; one, as I said, is that a lot of people sense no such thing and never have. Another is the changing forms of ‘god’ over time and culture. Then there’s the point that the logic mentioned above is or comes from really old school monkish solipsism. We can see in this thread many retorts to believers along the lines of “where’s the evidence” for god et al. This to me speaks of a social, evidence based framework for consciousness that is/has perhaps neatly sidestepped or rendered irrelevant the old logic.
    I haven’t really thought that one through yet, so I’m getting ahead of myself. And I could well be barking up the wrong tree with the rest (and should be looking at some other oft climbed tree back up the road a bit). But it’s good string a bit of yarn now and then.

  460. #461 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    “Materialistic-naturalistic evolution” most certainly does not claim that the that the way that nature works is “irrational”.

    I am sorry but rationality is the product of minds (can gravity be rational? Can mutation be rational?)
    Unless you are some sort of pantheist or you believe in design from some sort of alien mind I don’t think you can ascribe rationality to nature.

  461. #462 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis, you can’t put rationality to god, because your god only exists between your ears. Nowhere else. And you call yourself rational? No wonder we see you as a deluded fool.

  462. #463 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009

    I did, however, think I got a sense of the thing at the end/beginning of every train of thought that seems incomprehensible to our conscious mind and it’s inexplicable-ness kind of gnaws away like a sense someone is watching you.

    You could numinous agency”, or something like that.

    When the philosophy-speak gets too thick, you can fight back using the same lingo:

    Given a sufficiently generous conception of properties, and granted the acceptability of the underlying modal logic, the theorems listed do follow from the axioms.

    Ah, lovely philosophical weasel-words.

    And granted the postulation that there exists an equality of desires with equines, it would logically follow that we would all have ponies.

    [from a thread a while back]

    There’s also the point of that old chestnut of an algebraic “proof” that 1=2. It relies on slipping in an invalid divide-by-zero operation. Cleverly argued logical arguments that end with “… and therefore Jesus is God and Christianity is true!” are hiding similarly invalid logical operations.

  463. #464 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    We don’t know that we’re not in the Matrix. And neither do you.

    Are you certain I don’t know.

    Even solipsism is unfalsifiable; I have no way to be absolutely certain that I am not the solipsist.

    But I do you see. God revels certain things to me in a way that I can be absolutely certain of it . You should admit that my worldview allows for such things while youyrs doesn’t.

    However, unfalsifiable hypotheses are worthless.

    Is this statement falsifiable?

    It’s impossible to do anything with them. They can’t explain anything (because they’re compatible with everything and its opposite). We are forced to ignore them.

    Consider these 2 statements.
    “Logic and reason exist”
    “Truth and falsehood exist”
    In either case you could not falsify these because In order to falsify logic and reason you would have to presuposse it and in trying to falsify the second you would presuppose falsehood.
    Do you agree?

    You said you believe in science. Very revealing choice of words: you believe that science exists, but you have not the slightest inkling of what it is.

    Quite to the contrary. I enjoy doing science because my worldview can account for the reasoning which underpins the scientific method and makes it possible for me to obtain knowledge. Your worldview cannot even tell you if you are in a matrix or not.

  464. #465 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis the fallacious fool, you are not doing science. Science does not allow for the existence of god. God is ignored. I know, I’ve been doing science for 30+ years. You don’t ignore your imaginary deity, so it cannot be science by definition. Another lie from the fool.

  465. #466 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    But I do you see. God revels certain things to me in a way that I can be absolutely certain of it .

    How do you know this?

  466. #467 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    @David

    But we don’t have access to truth anyway.

    Is this statement true?

    (People in this thread make a lot of self-refuting statements)

  467. #468 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    (People in this thread make a lot of self-refuting statements)

    Most of them post under the “Facilis”.

  468. #469 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    How do you know this?

    God, being omnipotent reveals it to me so I can know it for certain. Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

  469. #470 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    God, being omnipotent

    How do you know this?

  470. #471 AnthonyK
    January 31, 2009

    “Atheists – there is doubt and argument about everything.
    Therefore god exists and Jesus is your saviour.”
    I paraphrase, but I think that’s it.
    That’s it?
    Fucking morons.

  471. #472 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    In or out of the Matrix?

  472. #473 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    I admit if there is such a thing yes, but how do you know he isn’t tricking you to get you to do his bidding. And the actual truth is far from what you think it is as a result of what he tells you?

  473. #474 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    @472 – I though Walton was winning the Pantload of the Day trophy, but you just vaulted to the championship.

  474. #475 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    Absolutely certain? No. The problem isn’t with God not having enough ‘power.’ It’s with human beings being admittedly error-prone in so many ways — particularly when there are no checks in reality on what it is they think they know. Even if God could grant them “certain knowledge,” they could not be sure that was what they had.

    But could God give us his revelation in such a way that we could know it was from him and not our error-prone minds?

    Yes, I think we’ve all rather thoroughly checked and cross-checked the theory that “humans are fallible.”

    But you only checked it with your fallible mind. Everyone else could be correct and you could be the only fallible one.

  475. #476 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009
    “Materialistic-naturalistic evolution” most certainly does not claim that the that the way that nature works is “irrational”.

    I am sorry but rationality is the product of minds (can gravity be rational? Can mutation be rational?) Unless you are some sort of pantheist or you believe in design from some sort of alien mind I don’t think you can ascribe rationality to nature.

    The word “rational” has different definitions, and it is from equivocating and juggling those definitions that Lewis, and other theologians, and you yourself, bring forth logically indefensible arguments.

    The number 2 is defined as being a rational number. Does that mean that the number 2 has a mind? The number √2 is defined as being an irrational number. Does that mean that the number √2 has an insane mind?

  476. #477 Ken Cope
    January 31, 2009

    God revels certain things to me in a way that I can be absolutely certain of it . You should admit that my worldview allows for such things while youyrs doesn’t.

    I will admit that your worldview allows you to believe that your thinking is as good as your spelling, that it allows you to believe that you are close personal friends with a Pooka pal named Harvey or whatever it is you imagine your certainty-bestowing playmate to be, even that your worldview allows you to believe that you are not 5150, a danger to yourself and others; where our worldview, constrained by observation and evidence, does not.

  477. #478 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    @Sven

    In or out of the Matrix?

    Can god reveal to me that I am not in the matrix?

  478. #479 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis, your god only exists between your ears. Therefore, it appears you are calling yourself god. If you mean something else, why can’t you provide physical evidence for your imaginary companion? Your argument was disproved, so you have nothing except your continued ranting.

  479. #480 AnthonyK
    January 31, 2009

    So how do you religious types know absolutely that what you think your omipotent god tells you for certain is in fact true?

  480. #481 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    God, being omnipotent

    How do you know this Facilis?

  481. #482 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    “Atheists – there is doubt and argument about everything.
    Therefore god exists and Jesus is your saviour.”
    I paraphrase, but I think that’s it.
    That’s it?
    Fucking morons.

    My argument is more like
    “Atheists , God is the necessary precondition or logic , reason ,knowledge and certainty.
    Denying him gives way to great doubt and illogical argument”
    And to the guy above who called my argument an argumen from ignorance, that is like saying 2+2 (in base 10)=4 is an argument from ignorance. It is proven by the impossibility of the contrary.

  482. #483 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    @David
    But we don’t have access to truth anyway.
    Is this statement true?
    (People in this thread make a lot of self-refuting statements)

    If David’s statement is interpreted as “We don’t have access to Platonic truth with metaphysical certainty”, then the answer to your question is “probably”. Fallibilism is true in the strongest sense that fallibilism allows (and no stronger).

    We can applying fallible epistemologies to attach Bayesian probabilities to statements. Sometimes we can get those probabilities high enough that we can reasonably call what we have “knowledge of the truth” and that is IT. To hold that you have absolute certainty of anything is simply childish refusal to face up to your (and our species’) own limitations.

  483. #484 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis, the fact that you continue to need your imaginary deity just confirms you are delusional. Your god doesn’t exist. Believing in non-existent beings is not mentally healthy.

  484. #485 Sven DiMilo
    January 31, 2009

    Can god reveal to me that I am not in the matrix?

    Sure, in your “worldview.” God could also reveal to me that Jerry Garcia was wearing a space helmet throughout the second set in Grand Rapids, 8/24/80.

    But would an omniscient god reveal to you that s/he was actually an omniscient trickster god?
    Could you be certain of the lack of such revelation?

  485. #486 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    where our worldview, constrained by observation and evidence, does not.

    But to first make observations you have to account for the reliability of your senses. In order to interpret evidence you must use logic and reason.
    I can account for these things, while your worldview cannot.
    Atheists cannot even know if they are in a matrix or not.

  486. #487 Ken Cope
    January 31, 2009

    But could God give us his revelation in such a way that we could know it was from him and not our error-prone minds?

    Facilis with his error-prone, wasted mind, cannot distinguish between God-given certainty, and God punking facilis by allowing God’s close personal pal and co-conspirator Satan leave to fuck with the tiny little brainlet facilis is so proud of, as God did with Job, and making facilis believe it was God giving him a revelation when it was actually from a denizen of the demon-haunted world in which facilis believes.

    God, as famed in song and lore, is clearly an asshole with a sick sense of humor, and pulls shit like that all the time.

  487. #488 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis, reason and logic do not require your imaginary deity. Time to stop repeating your nonsense. It makes you sound like a petulant teenager.

  488. #489 Facilis
    January 31, 2009

    How do you know this?

    Because he told me in his revelation.

  489. #490 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Atheists , God is the necessary precondition or logic , reason ,knowledge and certainty

    At best true for an extremely vague definition of “God” and unrealistically strong versions of “logic , reason ,knowledge and certainty”. In any case the any help in gaining absolute certainty apparently given by asserting a god vanishes in less you claim a way of obtaining certain (in the same strong sense) knowledge of said god. Note that this strong certainty has to rule out arbitrarily unlikely and ridiculous scenarios (such as the Matrix or temporary insanity caused by the bombardment of your brain by cosmic rays), else we are merely back to fallible human reasoning. What process do you propose for obtaining such knowledge.

  490. #491 Nerd of Redhead
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis, you do know that hearing voices is a sign of mental illness? So you are acknowledging to us that you are mentally ill? That would explain a lot.
    We don’t need your imaginary friend for anything. Why don’t you both go home? Your mommy is calling.

  491. #492 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    How do you know this?

    Because he told me in his revelation.

    And around we go.

    petitio principii

  492. #493 AnthonyK
    January 31, 2009

    Moreover, your god seems to want you to make a fool of yourself on a rationalist forum like this.
    Talk about mocking the afflicted.
    And I, for one, am unable to share your pain.
    But then you apologists seek to share Christ’s pain, do you not?
    It’s at times likes this that I almost wish he hadn’t been crucified, but merely died an agonising death from old age, as is man’s lot, then and now, and despite his “sacrifice”.

  493. #494 Lurkbot
    January 31, 2009

    Muzz @ 463:

    I can understand being gobsmacked by dealing with a fundie apologist who isn’t one of the gibbering morons most of us are used to encountering all the time. Logic sounds much more convincing than bible-thumping, spittle-flecked screaming.

    I think a big problem is the one exhibited by Facilis and Bertrand Russell. Did I really mention them in the same sentence? That is, taking logic as some sort of ground from which everything else in the universe must be derived.

    Millennia of experience in counting objects and measuring land led, through a process of abstraction, to the invention of mathematics. Then, centuries of experience doing mathematics led, through a similar process of abstraction, to the invention of logic. This is why Russell and Whitehead’s attempt to derive mathematics from logic in the Principia Mathematica was such a bass-ackwards enterprise from the get-go, but that’s another rant.

    Logic is not a “God-given” constraint on how the universe works; logic is the product of observation of how mathematics works, and that’s several layers from the basic ground of everything, the way some philosophers would have it.

    So, no, Facilis: God is not necessary to give us logic in order to understand the way the universe works. We invented logic to help keep our thinking organized. It’s served us well so far, but it has come into problems, especially in dealing with infinite quantities. This doesn’t bother me as much as it does some, because I don’t believe there are any such things as infinite quantities, and therefore we’re under no obligation to explain how they behave. But that’s just me.

  494. #495 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    “Because he told me in his revelation.”
    And if you read/heard wrong (due to recurrent idiocy)? Or if the revelation is fake or corrupted? Or if he was testing your gullibility for his own mysterious reasons?

    Note (and please acknowledge or deny this) you are claiming access to absolute>/em> certainty. Simply saying the above are unlikely is worthless to your argument.

  495. #496 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    “Atheists cannot even know if they are in a matrix or not.”What you mean is “atheists are typically admit that they cannot know with metaphysical certainty that they are not in the Matrix”.
    If we were in the matrix, and it was running 2009 in simulation do you claim that the Facilis there would not be making the same arguments that you are making?

  496. #497 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009

    Consider these 2 statements. “Logic and reason exist” “Truth and falsehood exist” In either case you could not falsify these because In order to falsify logic and reason you would have to presuposse it and in trying to falsify the second you would presuppose falsehood.

    “Postulate”, not “presuppose”.

    What do think “truth” and “falsehood” mean?

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    No.

    The axioms of logic are postulated as universally true (although sometimes somewhat provisionally). But if God reveals things to you in addition to things that are universally true, then those things should be either in accordance with the axioms of logic, or derivable from them. But you insist on the truth of Scripture, which is neither in accordance with the axioms of logic, nor derivable from them. Therefore, your insisting that God has revealed Scripture to you as absolute truth is self-refuting.

    QED

    In addition to the above, if God could reveal things to you, he should, by your own reasoning, be able to reveal empirically demonstrable things as well. But you cannot provide an empirical demonstration of any revealed truth from God, therefore, a more general claim that God reveals things to you is self-refuting.

    QED

  497. #498 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009

    And to the guy above who called my argument an argumen from ignorance, that is like saying 2+2 (in base 10)=4 is an argument from ignorance. It is proven by the impossibility of the contrary.

    It is precisely an argument from ignorance because it is not proven by the impossibility of the contrary.

    You have not shown that logical axioms would be false if God did not exist.

  498. #499 Walton
    January 31, 2009

    Patricia: I though Walton was winning the Pantload of the Day trophy, but you just vaulted to the championship.

    To everyone: I admit I’ve made some poorly-worded statements over the last couple of days, and I’ve been unnecessarily rude and irritable when people called me out on them. Please accept my general apologies.

    I would admit that I’m not the brightest or most articulate person in the world, and I am young. And I sometimes get things completely wrong. I can only plead ordinary human fallibility.

  499. #500 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    There is more entertainment to be had reading Philip K Dick’s twisting of reality and perception.

  500. #501 Matt Heath
    January 31, 2009

    Walton:

    And I sometimes get things completely wrong. I can only plead ordinary human fallibility.

    Since Facilis won’t admit this even in the abstract you are definitely a better man than he

    Facilis:

    God, being omnipotent reveals it to me so I can know it for certain. Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    Actually that may be one of those things that qualifies as a proof that omnipotence is impossible (like the “can he microwave a burrito too hot to eat it” thing). If we accepted that a god were omnipotent presumably he could give you perfect certainty but he could give you it (exactly the same sensation) about a falsehood. Therefore you can’t rely on the sensation and it doesn’t deserve to be called certainty.

    Your “logic” is fail, Facile-is.

  501. #502 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Janine, Have you noticed SC or Emmet around in the last few days?

    Dammit I misspelled thought…must have caught a chimp germ.

  502. #503 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Patricia, SC was around briefly yesterday. But I have not seen Emmet for a few days. Isn’t it awful when real life intrudes?

  503. #504 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 31, 2009

    I am very contagious.

  504. #505 Sastra
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis #478 wrote:

    ” Absolutely certain? No. The problem isn’t with God not having enough ‘power.’ It’s with human beings being admittedly error-prone in so many ways — particularly when there are no checks in reality on what it is they think they know. Even if God could grant them “certain knowledge,” they could not be sure that was what they had.”
    But could God give us his revelation in such a way that we could know it was from him and not our error-prone minds?

    No, not even God could violate the laws of logic (which is why you realize that they must be placed inside of God’s nature or you run into logical contradiction.) If our minds are prone to error, they would not suddenly become Perfect and infallible when given a revelation from a Perfect, Infallible Being. As I pointed out on another thread, you cannot borrow infallibility from God, and become God when God speaks to you. You can be pretty sure — but not perfectly sure.

    From our perspective, being perfectly certain would entail that Facilis must be God — and that goes against the empirical evidence.

    From the perspective of your own argument, it would be a case of God contradicting God. So you can’t get there from any direction.

  505. #506 Rey Fox
    January 31, 2009

    “Because he told me in his revelation. ”

    He’s gonna be pretty pissed that you didn’t capitalize His pronoun.

  506. #507 Sastra
    January 31, 2009

    Walton #502 wrote:

    And I sometimes get things completely wrong. I can only plead ordinary human fallibility.

    I’d already copied this to reply before I saw that Matt said what I will say — that I think you are light years ahead of facilis, in this admission alone.

  507. #508 Feynmaniac
    January 31, 2009

    *** Annoying Pseudo-Socratic Recursive Mode ***

    Facilis,

    Are you certain I don’t know[?]

    Can you know that that I’m certain that you don’t know?

    God, being omnipotent reveals it to me so I can know it for certain.

    Can you be certain that it’s God and not the devil living in the matrix? Can you be certain that you are absolutely certain?

    Can you be certain of that playing the game What the Tortoise said to Achilles is unorginal?

    *** End Annoying Pseudo-Socratic Recursive Mode***

  508. #509 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Darn! Here I was, getting my hopes up for a romance.

  509. #510 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    January 31, 2009

    Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp | January 31, 2009

    I am very contagious

    I feel stupid and contagious.
    Touch me, I’m sick.

  510. #511 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009

    God revels certain things to me in a way that I can be absolutely certain of it . You should admit that my worldview allows for such things while youyrs doesn’t.

    (Does God reveal to you absolute certainty of how to spell the words “reveals” and “yours”?)

    You have not given any reason for us to make any such admission, given that your worldview is an illogically-argued self-deception.

  511. #512 Alyson Miers
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis is still drunk on certainty, I see. Time to get off that shit, man, it’s rotting your brain. Oh. Sorry, too late.

    This, however?

    that is like saying 2+2 (in base 10)=4 is an argument from ignorance. It is proven by the impossibility of the contrary.

    Oh, please, oh please, please tell me you’re really just a troll after all. Come on, guys, this HAS to be a troll. He can’t be serious.

    But, just in case you’re wondering, Fallacious, I’ll answer one of your questions regarding falsifiability. If I suddenly stepped through a door and walked into a room that looked like a scene from inside your mind, I would consider that adequate falsification for the statement that “logic and reason exist.” Your behavior on this site, alone, is proof that there’s considerable hair-splitting to be done with those axioms.

    Now, next time you talk to your God, let Him know that He’s not doing his job right, if He’s the one supposedly supplying you with logic, reason, and science. He keeps giving you the plaid crack instead.

  512. #513 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 31, 2009
    We don’t know that we’re not in the Matrix. And neither do you.

    Are you certain I don’t know.

    No, but that you don’t know has to be my starting position because of the principle of parsimony. If you claim you know you’re not in the Matrix, show me that we really are not in the matrix; as long as you don’t show me, the principle of parsimony compels me to keep assuming that you don’t know.

    Even solipsism is unfalsifiable; I have no way to be absolutely certain that I am not the solipsist.

    But I do you see. God revels certain things to me in a way that I can be absolutely certain of it . You should admit that my worldview allows for such things while youyrs doesn’t.

    And I’m suppose to accept this thoroughly unparsimonious speculation just because you say so?

    However, unfalsifiable hypotheses are worthless.

    Is this statement falsifiable?

    Well, duh: show me an unfalsifiable hypothesis that is not worthless.

    It’s impossible to do anything with them. They can’t explain anything (because they’re compatible with everything and its opposite). We are forced to ignore them.

    Consider these 2 statements. “Logic and reason exist” “Truth and falsehood exist” In either case you could not falsify these because In order to falsify logic and reason you would have to presuposse it and in trying to falsify the second you would presuppose falsehood. Do you agree?

    I don’t see what this has got to do with your quote of me, but… if you use reason to argue against reason, you are self-contradictory; if you don’t use reason, you’re unreasonable.

    “Truth and falsehood exist” is a silly word game; it’s the logical fallacy of reification. Rephrase it to “statements can be true or false”, and you’ll see much clearer.

    So, can statements be true or false? They can agree with reality or contradict it. By “reality” I mean the tangible external world, that in which the argumentum ad lapidem is not a logical fallacy. Whether there’s a truth behind that reality (for example, the truth could be that reality is just my imaginations — I’m the solipsist — or God’s imaginations — God is the solipsist — or the matrix or the “Hinduist” concept of maya or whatever; or, on the other hand, truth could be reality — that’s metaphysical naturalism) is impossible to find out; therefore, thinking about it is a waste of time. Science is completely unconcerned with truth. It’s only about reality.

    You said you believe in science. Very revealing choice of words: you believe that science exists, but you have not the slightest inkling of what it is.

    Quite to the contrary. I enjoy doing science because my worldview can account for the reasoning which underpins the scientific method and makes it possible for me to obtain knowledge.

    Knowledge about truth, or merely about reality?

    Your worldview cannot even tell you if you are in a matrix or not.

    Demonstrate that yours can. Either that, or stop wasting our time, that is.

    But we don’t have access to truth anyway.

    Is this statement true?

    I have explained how I have arrived at the conclusion that, if we find the truth (which may or may not be possible, I don’t know that), we cannot tell that what we have found is indeed the truth. Admittedly, however, my explanation in the form of a rhetorical question (How can we tell that what we’ve found is the truth? By comparing it to the truth, which we don’t already have?) can be accused of being an argument from lack of imagination. Your turn to find out if it is an argument of a lack of imagination. I’m all ears.

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    Show me that this isn’t a wrong question (like “why did Napoleon cross the Mississippi”). Answer comment 473 = 484. Either that, or stop wasting our time, that is.

    I’ll illustrate how seriously I mean the “waste of time” accusation:

    But could God give us his revelation in such a way that we could know it was from him and not our error-prone minds?

    I am, of course, tempted to say “no”, because any revelation would have to be received and processed by our error-prone minds. But wait! You said God is omnipotent, which means he can do absolutely anything, which gives an automatic “yes” as the answer to your question! But hang on a second! For the purpose of this question, there is no difference between “us” and “our error-prone minds”, which turns the answer back to “no” (as explained in the first sentence of this paragraph), which in turn means that omnipotence is a self-contradicting and therefore logically impossible concept! But — hey! Does “omnipotent” mean “being able to do anything that is logically possible”, or does it mean “being able to do absolutely anything, period”?

    Give me one reason why I shouldn’t consider the above paragraph a deeply silly word game and thus a complete waste of time.

    (Incidentally, I find it remarkably similar to Anselm of Canterbury’s Ontological Silly Word Game.)

    But to first make observations you have to account for the reliability of your senses. In order to interpret evidence you must use logic and reason. I can account for these things, while your worldview cannot. Atheists cannot even know if they are in a matrix or not.

    I think I’ve identified the misunderstanding. There is one basic assumption that science requires: that reality (not truth, just reality) is reasonably consistent; in other words, that miracles don’t happen all the time. This assumption is itself a testable hypothesis; it is tested — within the confines of reality — in every single observation (of an experiment or otherwise) and has still not been falsified.

    Once again, I’m merely talking about reality here. You appear to be talking about truth. No wonder we keep talking past each other.

  513. #514 God
    January 31, 2009

    Now, next time you talk to your God, let Him know that He’s not doing his job right, if He’s the one supposedly supplying you with logic, reason, and science. He keeps giving you the plaid crack instead.

    Hey, now. Don’t blame Me for the kid’s idiocy.

    I just tell him that I am the source of logic and reason. It’s his own damned fault that he’s gullible enough to believe Me.

  514. #515 Satan
    January 31, 2009

    I just tell him that I am the source of logic and reason. It’s his own damned fault that he’s gullible enough to believe Me.

    I thought You said that You had not spoken to him?

  515. #516 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Dammit god, I’m still guessing. Ken?

  516. #517 God
    January 31, 2009

    I thought You said that You had not spoken to him?

    Well, I hadn’t at that time.

    But just the other night, on a whim, I went and whispered in his ear “Psst! Hey, kid. I, God, am in fact the foundation of logic and reason. And you know I am GOD, because I wouldn’t lie about being GOD, and I wouldn’t lie to you about being the foundation of logic and reason.”

    Why do you think he’s arguing the exact same thing that was already refuted multiple times?

  517. #518 God
    January 31, 2009

    I AM THAT I AM.

    AND THAT’S ALL THAT I AM.

  518. #519 Bobber
    January 31, 2009

    God is.. Popeye?

  519. #520 Satan
    January 31, 2009

    Why do you think he’s arguing the exact same thing that was already refuted multiple times?

    Well, given his fondness for canned phrases, I figured that he’d just made a another run to the super(stition)market, and the special on Presuppositionalist Goulash was still on.

    Oh, I joke. I figured that him being an idiot was sufficient.

    I AM THAT I AM.

    AND THAT’S ALL THAT I AM.

    Does that make Me the Bluto to your Popeye?

  520. #521 Satan
    January 31, 2009

    just the other night, on a whim, I went and whispered in his ear “Psst! Hey, kid. I, God, am in fact the foundation of logic and reason. And you know I am GOD, because I wouldn’t lie about being GOD, and I wouldn’t lie to you about being the foundation of logic and reason.”

    Hah! That’s just what I said to him, too!

  521. #522 spurge
    January 31, 2009

    Sweet pea is Jesus?

  522. #523 David Marjanovi?, OM
    January 31, 2009

    BTW, facilis, I made an unspoken assumption that I should spell out. Namely, I implied that if you know something (with however absolute certainty you wish) but can’t make anyone else know it — if you can’t demonstrate you’re right; if there’s no way for others to test your claims — then it is for practical purposes just as if you didn’t know.

  523. #524 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    I blame you Satan. You are one piss poor demon if you can’t tempt facilis to hang out at the porno shop more.

    But I will compliment you on shoving that poker up Walton’s ass. Not even god can remove that one.

  524. #525 Anton Mates
    January 31, 2009

    Plenty of other problems with Plantinga?s arguments have already been pointed out on this thread, but here?s another one:

    Plantinga claims that since ?natural selection doesn’t care what you believe; it is interested only in how you behave,? evolution can’t shape anything about your beliefs except what they tell you to do. But that ignores the full range of impacts a belief can have on your behaviour.

    For instance, the emotional content of beliefs also affects behaviour. Both ?That tiger wants to kill me? and ?That tiger is my buddy and enjoys playing tag? may lead you to decide to run away. But only in the first case will you be running at absolute top speed, high on adrenaline, dilating your pupils for better vision in the dark, panting and spiking your heart rate and shifting blood flow around in your body to supercharge your muscles. Physiological fear is itself a behaviour.

    And?this is the big one?the complexity of beliefs affects behaviour. The storing and processing of complex beliefs comes at a cost: time, calories, the development of specialized brain structures. It does you no good to hold beliefs that lead to ?when I see a tiger, I should run away,? if it takes you ten minutes of hard thinking to come to that conclusion. By then, you?ll be tiger chow. Parsimony is an evolutionary virtue as well as a scientific one.

    So there are good reasons why evolution could produce minds which, on the whole, tend to find the simplest belief which leads to all the right behaviours. And as far as science is concerned, that?s pretty much what a true belief is; no prior criterion for determining truth is available to us.

  525. #526 God
    January 31, 2009

    Does that make Me the Bluto to your Popeye?

    Speaking of cans, don’t make Me open a can of whoop-ass on You.

  526. #527 Wowbagger
    January 31, 2009

    facilis up to his old tricks, eh? As usual, he’s hiding from the questions he can’t answer – well, not that he can answer any questions with anything resembling honesty or validity; some, however, he at least attempts to.

    But facilis can’t explain – and ducks whenever the topic comes up – why any other god (or Sideshow Bob) can’t be responsible for the things he claims his god is responsible for. The beauty of his so-called ‘impossibility of the contrary’ argument means that, without a valid argument for his god’s capacity to do what another god (or Bob) can’t, anything he can claim for his god anyone else can claim for theirs – and I can claim for Bob.

    And there ain’t a Bob-damned thing you can do about it, is there facilis?

  527. #528 Satan
    January 31, 2009
    just the other night, on a whim, I went and whispered in his ear “Psst! Hey, kid. I, God, am in fact the foundation of logic and reason. And you know I am GOD, because I wouldn’t lie about being GOD, and I wouldn’t lie to you about being the foundation of logic and reason.”

    Hah! That’s just what I said to him, too!

    Wait a minute, God. I didn’t say anything written there!

  528. #529 God
    January 31, 2009

    Wait a minute, God. I didn’t say anything written there!

    So… someone pretended to be You and claimed to have pretended to be Me?

    How do You know it wasn’t Me pretending to be You pretending to be Me?

  529. #530 Satan
    January 31, 2009

    How do You know it wasn’t Me pretending to be You pretending to be Me?

    Wait, what?

    No, never mind, don’t explain.

    Let a thousand Satans bloom!

  530. #531 Feynmaniac
    January 31, 2009

    God,

    Speaking of cans, don’t make Me open a can of whoop-ass on You.

    I always knew that Armageddon would start in the Pharyngula comments.

    P.S. God, why are wasting your time here? Don’t you have to appear on a piece of toast in Arkansas?

  531. #532 KnockGoats
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis has at last raised an interesting point – accidentally, I’m sure: could an omnipotent being cause a non-omnipotent being to know something with absolute certainty? Assuming that Facilis means (bear with me here – Facilis is of course much too stupid to make such a distinction as I am about to make) “Justifiably believe without accepting the possibility of error”, rather than simply “Believe without accepting the possibility of error”, the answer is: no. A non-omnipotent being can never justifiably rule out the possibility that they are somehow in error (e.g. being deceived by an omnipotent being, or a powerful but non-omnipotent one, although these are not the only possibilities). Even an omnipotent being cannot do what is logically impossible (since what is supposedly to be done has not been successfully specified), hence even an omnipotent being could not cause a non-omnipotent being justifiably to believe anything without accepting the possibility of error.

    Note also that we cannot justifiably believe without admitting the possibility of error that there is nothing we can justifiably believe without admitting the possibility of error. There is no self-refutation here, as it is entirely possible for the statement: “There is nothing a non-omnipotent being can justifiably believe without admitting the possibility of error” to be true, but unKNOWable (where I use “unKNOWable” to mean “impossible justifiably to believe without admitting the possibility of error”).

    Furthermore, it follows from the general case that no non-omnipotent being can ever justifiably believe without admitting the possibility of error that there is (or is not) an omnipotent being.

    Face it, Facilis (you won’t of course, you’re too much of a coward): for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.

  532. #533 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Wowbagger, Facilis is upstairs being changed by his mommie. Or maybe he’s at church practicing his altar boy duties with the priest.

  533. #534 Wowbagger
    January 31, 2009

    Patricia,

    He’ll be back. This place is like torture porn for a lightweight deadshit like him, and will remain so until we all get so bored we ignore him.

    I’ve made a start – I’ve got him killfiled – but enough people are quoting him that I can piece together that he’s still insisting on flogging the very dead presuppositionalist horse, despite its demonstrated invalidity on both levels.

  534. #535 Russell
    January 31, 2009

    At last I understand the keen eyed Wittgenstein’s famous brandishing of a poker at a Cambridge Conversatzioni meeting.

    Contrary to Popper’s account, It was not to belabor those asserting belief in moral imperatives, but to bat the meteoric teapot he spied out the window back into its proper orbit.

  535. #536 Teh Merkin
    January 31, 2009

    Because he told me in his revelation.

    As much as I like to make fun of fools who believe what men in dresses tell them, I can’t read the above without saying:

    Dude, get some fucking help. Seriously. You are not sane.

  536. #537 Patricia, OM
    January 31, 2009

    Russell – Use caution when you speak of pokers. One of the commenter’s here has a very close relationship with one, and you wouldn’t want to offend him, or his wife…er, I mean poker.

  537. #538 'Tis Himself
    January 31, 2009

    Even an omnipotent being cannot do what is logically impossible (since what is supposedly to be done has not been successfully specified)

    So now we have the answer to the age-old question: “Can god microwave a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it?”

  538. #539 Eric
    January 31, 2009

    “Face it, Facilis (you won’t of course, you’re too much of a coward): for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”

    You sound absolutely certain of that! Does that mean you’re omnipotent?

    You’ve obviously confused omnipotence and omniscience. We can conceive an omniscient being that is not omnipotent, and therefore conceive a non-omnipotent being that knows with absolute certainty. Note, you can’t say, “Ah, but a non-omnipotent omniscient being could be deceived by an omnipotent being”; I trust the contradiction in such a proposition is obvious, even to someone as arrogant and self-deluded as you.

  539. #540 Malcolm
    January 31, 2009

    Facilis’ “impossibility of the opposite” argument is disproven by reality. Since his god does not exist,the existence of logic and reason shows that they don’t require god.

  540. #541 Owlmirror
    January 31, 2009

    Note, you can’t say, “Ah, but a non-omnipotent omniscient being could be deceived by an omnipotent being”; I trust the contradiction in such a proposition is obvious,

    But the contradiction isn’t obvious. If the putatively omnipotent being cannot perform the deception, then clearly, there is a limit on the being’s power, and hence its power is not all-powerful. So you contradict your own negation of the contradiction of the proposition.

    Of course, I don’t think that the contradiction was obvious, even to someone as arrogant and self-deluded as you, otherwise I would not have had to point it out.

  541. #542 Robin
    January 31, 2009

    Put my name down for one of those teapots, but I think the subtitle should be “Now stop worrying and enjoy your tea.”

  542. #543 Michael Drake
    January 31, 2009

    Thanks again for the link, PZ.

    Miller said: “Michael Drake’s reply is almost as far off the mark as Douthat’s. The celestial teapot argument has little to do with the absurdity or the unpopularity of belief in the celestial teapot. [snip] Drake seems to have reduced the celestial teapot argument to ‘Because God is absurd, God is like the celestial teapot, and therefore as absurd as the celestial teapot.’”

    Thanks for the comment, Miller, but I have to admit it leaves me scratching my head. Where do I suggest the CTP argument logically depends on the absurdity or unpopularity of belief in the CTP? Where do I affirm the consequent (if that’s what it is) as you’ve described? (Remember — I’m sending up Douthat’s argument, not purporting to describe the CTP argument.)

  543. #544 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    Owlmirror, as you say, an omnipotent being must, by definition, be able to deceive any other being; an omniscient being must, by definition, be incapable of being deceived.

    So I do think it’s a contradiction – clearly, when the premises contradict each other, at least one of the premises must be false, and therefore, any argument based on such premises cannot be valid.

    PS Theologians I’m sure are aware of this, and consider it to be support for the proposition that there can be _Only One_.

  544. #545 John Morales
    January 31, 2009

    Eric, to make it clear, I should’ve added in #547 that your point in the comment @542 is based on contradictory premises and thus is vacuous.

  545. #546 Eric
    January 31, 2009

    “If the putatively omnipotent being cannot perform the deception, then clearly, there is a limit on the being’s power, and hence its power is not all-powerful.”

    Wrong. First, you’ve confused a possible with an actual. Sure, an omnipotent being *could* perform the deception, but if he were to, the non-omnipotent being *wouldn’t* be omniscient, hence the contradiction. There’s nothing inconsistent with supposing a possible world in which there exists both an omnipotent being and a non-omnipotent omniscient being, i.e. a possible world in which the omnipotent being never *in fact* deceives the other, which is of course the only possible world in which the non-omnipotent omniscient being *would* be omniscient. The only point is that given this possible world, it’s decidedly not the case simpliciter that “for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”

  546. #547 Anton Mates
    January 31, 2009

    Eric,

    There’s nothing inconsistent with supposing a possible world in which there exists both an omnipotent being and a non-omnipotent omniscient being, i.e. a possible world in which the omnipotent being never *in fact* deceives the other, which is of course the only possible world in which the non-omnipotent omniscient being *would* be omniscient.

    From the omniscient being’s perspective, how is this world distinguishable from a world where it is deceived by the omnipotent being and is therefore not omniscient?

  547. #548 Eric
    January 31, 2009

    “From the omniscient being’s perspective, how is this world distinguishable from a world where it is deceived by the omnipotent being and is therefore not omniscient?”

    Anton, I don’t see how this question is relevant given that the issue I’m addressing is whether a non-omnipotent being *could* be omniscient.

    That aside, however, there’s nothing wrong with supposing two possible worlds, one in which the existence of a non-omnipotent omniscient being obtains, and another in which a non-omnipotent being thinks it’s omniscient, given the activity of a deceiving omnipotent being; and with further supposing that from the perspectives of the non-omnipotent beings, the attribute of ‘omniscience’ seems to obtain in both worlds. This doesn’t in any way refute my point as long as the first world, in which a non-omnipotent omniscient being exists, is coherent, which I think it is.

    If we were discussing justification or knowledge, then your question would be an outstanding one.

  548. #549 pdferguson
    February 1, 2009

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    That’s so adorable! You’re like a little child tugging at her mommy’s apron, seeking approval for being a good girl…

  549. #550 Anton Mates
    February 1, 2009

    Eric,

    If we were discussing justification or knowledge, then your question would be an outstanding one.

    But we are discussing that. You were originally responding to KnockGoats, who argued that “a non-omnipotent being can never justifiably rule out the possibility that they are somehow in error” (my emphasis), and concluded that “for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”

    The possibility of an omniscient but non-omnipotent being does not refute KG’s argument, unless that being is also justified in affirming its own omniscience.

  550. #551 Inquisitor Numad
    February 1, 2009

    Anton Mates,

    In clear, are you saying that the non-omnipotent can’t be certain that they are truly omniscient?

  551. #552 Anton Mates
    February 1, 2009

    Yup, and I believe KnockGoats was too.

    (I’m somewhat hazy on whether the omnipotent can be certain they’re truly omniscient…that seems to get into weird areas of undecidability and such.)

  552. #553 eric
    February 1, 2009

    (1)”a non-omnipotent being can never justifiably rule out the possibility that they are somehow in error”

    (2)”for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”

    These are two different propositions; if Knockgoats argued for (1), but concluded (2) — as you, Anton, said — then there’s a problem, not only because the two cannot be identified, but because (1) doesn’t entail (2). Why not?

    If there’s nothing incoherent in supposing a possible world in which an omnipotent being *never* deceives a non-omnipotent omniscient being — and I think it’s obvious that there is no incoherence here — then there *is* a possible world that contains a being that is both non-omnipotent and omniscient. Being omniscient, this being would know every true proposition about his world, and one of those true proposition would be, “I am not being deceived by an omnipotent being.”

    However, even given your reading, there are some obvious confusions that have to be cleared up here.

    Is this a question of justification, of knowledge, or of certainty? The three categories are not the same, yet all three are being used as if they can be identified.

  553. #554 John Morales
    February 1, 2009

    Eric @556:

    (1)”a non-omnipotent being can never justifiably rule out the possibility that they are somehow in error”
    (2)”for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”
    These are two different propositions; if Knockgoats argued for (1), but concluded (2) — as you, Anton, said — then there’s a problem, not only because the two cannot be identified, but because (1) doesn’t entail (2). Why not?

    Why not? – Because because 2 → 1.

    It’s natural language logic, but perfectly clear.

  554. #555 Tulse
    February 1, 2009

    Theologians I’m sure are aware of this, and consider it to be support for the proposition that there can be _Only One_.

    I believe this was first proposed by that noted theologian Connor MacLeod.

  555. #556 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2009

    How, please, did this become a silly theological discussion after Facilis went away?

  556. #557 Kel
    February 1, 2009

    How hard is Russell’s Teapot to understand really?

  557. #558 Eric
    February 1, 2009

    “Why not? – Because because 2 ? 1.”

    That’s implication, not entailment — *huge* difference.
    By implication, it’s false; by entailment, it’s invalid.

  558. #559 Janine, Supercilious Asshole
    February 1, 2009

    Posted by: David Marjanovi?, OM | February 1, 2009 10:18 AM [kill]?[hide comment]

    How, please, did this become a silly theological discussion after Facilis went away?

    Because Facilis is stupid and contagious.

  559. #560 God
    February 1, 2009

    God, why are wasting your time here? Don’t you have to appear on a piece of toast in Arkansas?

    I don’t appear in bread products of any sort, or in stains on walls. That’s strictly kid stuff.

    How, please, did this become a silly theological discussion after Facilis went away?

    I exerted my ineffable transcendent omnipotence.

    And lo, there was heavy.

  560. #561 Ken Cope
    February 1, 2009

    I exerted my ineffable transcendent omnipotence.

    So much for exaggerated reports of God’s omnibenevolence.

    Oh, and God? Why won’t you ever invest in proper minions?

  561. #562 Neil B ?
    February 1, 2009

    BTW, I accept Heddle’s admission that the burden of proof is not on atheists to prove a negative and never said otherwise. But it’s simple-minded to think that’s the only issue about the teapot. What a lot of the sophomorics around here don’t get, is that one can agree with a major purpose of something and still think it has flaws in other ways. One track minds.

  562. #563 Sven DiMilo
    February 1, 2009

    Help! I’m still not sure whether or not I can be certain that I’m not dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, or not!

  563. #564 WRMartin
    February 1, 2009

    Sven, could you possibly be on the Holodeck in the Matrix?

    Facilis @472:

    Do you admit that an omnipotent God can reveal to me things so that I can know them for certain?

    Yes. Yes I do.
    The unicorns are pink. The rabbit is six feet tall and talks to you. The radio waves are making your feet itch. God talks to you. Jesus is your savior. These men in white coats are here to help you.
    Most insane people are not confused at all; they are usually quite certain of their reality, such as it is.

  564. #565 God
    February 1, 2009

    I exerted my ineffable transcendent omnipotence.

    So much for exaggerated reports of God’s omnibenevolence.

    Haven’t you heard the new theology? My omnipotence and eternal nature means that I cannot do wrong.

    Might makes right, therefore, All-might makes All-right.

    Why won’t you ever invest in proper minions?

    You mean… answer prayers? Perform miracles for believers? Comfort the downtrodden and defend the righteous? Work for a living?

    Are you completely insane?

    Help! I’m still not sure whether or not I can be certain that I’m not dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, or not!

    Here, have some genuine epistemic certainty, straight from Me, the all-knowing and all-powerful God, to you, an evolved descendant of apes with imperfect senses and imperfect brain.
    *poof*

  565. #566 Stephen Wells
    February 1, 2009

    Eric, you haven’t spotted that it’s impossible for a supposedly onmiscient being to know whether it is truly omniscient (and truly knows “I know everything truly”) or is being fooled (and _falsely_ believes “I know everything”). So it is impossible ever to _justifiably_ believe in omniscience.

  566. #567 Anton Mates
    February 1, 2009

    eric,

    (1)”a non-omnipotent being can never justifiably rule out the possibility that they are somehow in error”

    (2)”for the non-omnipotent, absolute certainty is an illusion.”

    These are two different propositions; if Knockgoats argued for (1), but concluded (2) — as you, Anton, said — then there’s a problem, not only because the two cannot be identified, but because (1) doesn’t entail (2). Why not?

    I see no reason why the two can’t be identified. If you can’t justifiably rule out the possibility that you’re in error, then by definition, your certainty is illusory. Absolute certainty, after all, is feeling that you can justifiably rule out that possibility.

    If there’s nothing incoherent in supposing a possible world in which an omnipotent being *never* deceives a non-omnipotent omniscient being — and I think it’s obvious that there is no incoherence here –

    To echo KnockGoats, it depends if “omniscient” is defined as “holding every true belief”, or “justifiably holding every true belief;” see below.

    then there *is* a possible world that contains a being that is both non-omnipotent and omniscient. Being omniscient, this being would know every true proposition about his world, and one of those true proposition would be, “I am not being deceived by an omnipotent being.”

    Sure. But in possible world #2 where the being is being deceived by an omnipotent, one of the things it could be deceived into believing is, “I am not being deceived by an omnipotent being.” So, again, it has no way to tell the difference between the two worlds.

    In general, so far as I can see, the omniscient being in possible world #1 and the deluded being in possible world #2 can have identical sets of beliefs, including nth-order beliefs like “I know that my knowledge that I am not being deceived is accurate.”

    If we require justifiability as part of the definition of omniscience, then neither being is truly omniscient; it’s just that one being happens to live in the possible world where its beliefs are true.

    If we don’t require justifiability, then the first being is truly omniscient but cannot be (justifiably) certain of that fact.

    However, even given your reading, there are some obvious confusions that have to be cleared up here.

    Is this a question of justification, of knowledge, or of certainty? The three categories are not the same, yet all three are being used as if they can be identified.

    If you look back at #535, KnockGoats explicitly said s/he’s talking about “knowing something with absolute certainty,” and proposed to characterize this as “justifiably believing without accepting the possibility of error.” You’re free to dispute that definition, but I don’t think there’s any confusion about what s/he meant.

  567. #568 Tulse
    February 1, 2009

    it depends if “omniscient” is defined as “holding every true belief”, or “justifiably holding every true belief;”

    “Knowledge” is usually defined as “justified true belief”, so if “omniscience” is “all-knowing”, then justification must certainly be present.

  568. #569 Anton Mates
    February 1, 2009

    “Knowledge” is usually defined as “justified true belief”, so if “omniscience” is “all-knowing”, then justification must certainly be present.

    I agree. Eric may mean something more like “all-correctly-believing,” though; I’m not sure.

  569. #570 Volly
    February 1, 2009

    “…God is an absurdity dreamed up by crafty clerics in darkest antiquity and subsequently imposed on the human mind by force and fear, and that it only survives for want of brave souls willing to note how inherently absurd the whole thing is.”

    Hey, quote-mining is an honorable tradition among creationists. And y’know, it’s FUN!

    But my personal honor requires uses of ellipses.

  570. #571 KnockGoats
    February 1, 2009

    Actually, on reflection I think Eric is right, although he’s making things more complicated than necessary: we don’t need to posit a possible world in which there is <>both an omnipotent and a non-omnipotent but omniscient being: the latter alone will do. Omnipotence implies at least potential omniscience (since an omnipotent being can bring about any logically consistent change in its own state of knowledge), but not vice versa. What I should have said is “For the non-omniscient, absolute certainty is an illusion.” This leaves undetermined whether either omniscience or omnipotence is logically possible, or would turn out to be self-contradictory if the concept were explored thoroughly enough – which I shall not attempt. However, if there were an omnipotent being, whether or not there could also be a non-omnipotent but omniscient one depends on our definition of omniscience – is an omniscient being one that as a matter of fact always knows (or can know) everything (Eric’s view); or one that can always choose to know everything whatever any other being wishes?

    My admission of fallibility is of course sufficient reply to Eric’s unfounded charges of arrogance and self-delusion, but with my near-omniscience, I know he didn’t really believe them but was simply trying to annoy me; and with my saintly forbearance, I forgive him ;-)

  571. #572 Anton Mates
    February 1, 2009

    However, if there were an omnipotent being, whether or not there could also be a non-omnipotent but omniscient one depends on our definition of omniscience – is an omniscient being one that as a matter of fact always knows (or can know) everything (Eric’s view); or one that can always choose to know everything whatever any other being wishes?

    I think either of those definitions rules out the possibility of a non-omnipotent omniscient being coexisting with an omnipotent one, however. The first definition implies that the omniscient being can justify all of its beliefs, which is impossible since it cannot rule out the possibility of delusion, as we discussed above. The second definition conflicts with omnipotence more directly, as it implies that the omnipotent being cannot limit the omniscient being’s knowledge even if it wishes to.

  572. #573 Gerry Shuller
    February 1, 2009

    No, clueless atheists, the failed logic is all yours. If evolutionism is true and religion is nonsense, then humanity would have grown out of it. Therefore, one or both of those ideas is false. (Hint: It ain’t one.)

    Cry to you daddy Dawkins all you want.
    There’s no way you’re getting out of this one, kiddies.

  573. #574 Nerd of Redhead
    February 1, 2009

    Gerry, can you show me any physical evidence for your imaginary god? Something that would pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as of divine origin? Until you do, you are a liar and bullshitter.

  574. #575 Wowbagger
    February 1, 2009

    Gerry Shuller, pissant troll

    What, pray, is ‘evolutionism’? I’m guessing it’s a figment of your imagination – not unlike your god. Evolution, on the other hand, is most certainly true; only the stupid and intellectually dishonest claim otherwise. Which are you?

    Religion is most definitely nonsense. How else would you describe something that seriously believes in talking snakes and donkeys and invisible magic men who live in the sky and grant wishes?

  575. #576 LwPhD
    February 1, 2009

    Gerry,

    So, “growing out” of something is conclusive proof that it is wrong? Does this mean that Americans are growing out of Republican ideology? Does this mean that since atheism still exists, that it is valid because we haven’t “grown out” of it? Looking at trends of secularism and religion in the U.S. and the world, have we been on the verge of “growing out” of Christianity and growing into Islam and secularism? What really is your point? If at some point in the arbitrary future there are half as many Christians, double the atheists and a surge in Muslims, what would that tell you? How far into the future are you willing to extrapolate, pray tell!

  576. #577 clinteas
    February 1, 2009

    As to Shuller,

    Ignorance of basic science—check
    Pompous arrogance—check
    Make up -isms —check
    Logical fallacies—check

    Seems we have a live one !!

  577. #578 Sastra
    February 1, 2009

    Gerry Shuller #576 wrote:

    No, clueless atheists, the failed logic is all yours. If evolutionism is true and religion is nonsense, then humanity would have grown out of it. Therefore, one or both of those ideas is false. (Hint: It ain’t one.)

    This is a strange argument I’ve not heard before. There is nothing in evolutionary development that mandates that human beings or any other species would eventually become Perfect Beings incapable of error. That’s a weird combination of religion and evolution, and there’s no support for it, nor does it follow.

    Religion is not “nonsense” on every front. There are valuable aspects having to do with such things as community cohesion or psychological security. After all, there must be religions out there you consider to be factually false and even nonsensical (Mormonism? New Age? Scientology?), and yet their adherents often have happy lives — and lots of kids.

    That’s all that matters over time, from the evolutionary standpoint. Some mutations are retained better than others.

    But thanks for the new argument.

  578. #579 Kevin
    February 1, 2009

    You don’t have to be ten years old to be taken by the perfect certainty of something. It even happens to middle aged men who know better.
    Sorry if this is a long post but I think it says something about the nature of faith.

    A few years ago, I was spending a year as a traveller in a small caravan. At one point, for about two weeks, I made my way down the Icefields Parkway which is a highway down the spine of one of the mountain ranges in Alberta.

    From time to time, I would park the van and set off down one of the hiking trails. At the beginning of every trail there was an information board and these included cautions about grizzly bears. The bears eat people now and then so it’s good to be aware.

    In the middle of the second week I put on my hiking boots and started down one of the trails which promised, at the end, a view of a particularly pretty lake. Not a hundred metres down the trail, I was suddenly seized by the overwhelming certainty that there was a bear. I was so frightened that I was shaking, struggling to hold my bowels, it was that bad. It was as intense as if the bear was right in front of me snarling, all teeth and claws.

    Except there was no bear there, or behind me, or in the bushes. There was no smell, no sound, yet I was surrounded by the sense of it. A panursine experience.
    So what could make someone absolutely certain of something for which there was no evidence?

    I did what I always do in these situations, I started to laugh at myself.
    If I could, I would rehabilitate the word experience. Falling down the stairs is an experience, a walk in the park with a pretty girl is an experience. Things that involve reality are experiences. Things that happen entirely inside your head are not experiences. Religious experiences are not experiences.

    I thought that there was a bear because I had read so many bear notices that the idea was primed in my mind. Then I slipped over the edge. Then I caught myself.

    I use science to save myself from the absurdity of my own mind.

  579. #580 Sastra
    February 1, 2009

    Kevin #582 wrote:

    So what could make someone absolutely certain of something for which there was no evidence?
    I did what I always do in these situations, I started to laugh at myself.

    And there we may have the Big Divide between the skeptics, and the believers. Believers work on the assumption that their instincts and intuitions are reliable — and they take them, and themselves, very seriously.

    I do not come from a conventionally religious background, but within the “spiritual” group I grew up with, your fear would have been seen as a significant indication that you could be channeling the “energy” left from fear and emotion vibrating in the air from a real person-to-bear encounter — either someone else’s, or your own in a previous life. Everything is supposed to be connected to everything else, to be examined and intuited by going deeper than appearances. You can’t just be wrong. Trust feelings.

    I like your reaction better.

    Of course, you may have also sensed some recently deposited bear pheromones in the area. Another pragmatic possibility.

  580. #581 Patricia, OM
    February 1, 2009

    Kevin, Thank you for that story, I enjoyed it.

    Shuller – That has got to be one of the top five stooopidest tries at trolling ever. Go ask gawd for help.

  581. #582 windy
    February 1, 2009

    Help! I’m still not sure whether or not I can be certain that I’m not dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, or not!

    You’re a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation.

  582. #583 Ken Cope
    February 1, 2009
    Help! I’m still not sure whether or not I can be certain that I’m not dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, or not!

    You’re a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation

    that doesn’t really understand Chinese.

  583. #584 Kel
    February 1, 2009

    If evolutionism is true and religion is nonsense, then humanity would have grown out of it

    Can’t expect humanity to grow out of anything, there are still genuine flat-earthers! Appealing to the general population is lame, putting a dichotomy between evolution and religion is misleading. What’s important on evolution is where the scientific community stands – and on that evolution is as well supported (by both scientists and evidence) as the earth revolving around the sun.

  584. #585 Ken Cope
    February 1, 2009

    Help! I’m still not sure whether or not I can be certain that I’m not dreaming that I might be in the Matrix, or not!

    You’re a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation
    that doesn’t really understand Chinese
    but is indistinguishable from a philosophical zombie that behaves as if it’s a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation that doesn’t really understand Chinese, but is bereft of the qualia of
    a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation that doesn’t really understand Chinese but is indistinguishable from a philosophical zombie that behaves as if it’s a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation that doesn’t really understand Chinese, but is bereft of the qualia of a butterfly that dreams that it knows what it’s like to be a bat in the Matrix but is actually a brain in a vat in a computer simulation.

    …all the way down, young man.

  585. #586 Lurkbot
    February 1, 2009

    Kevin:

    Great story. “Religious experiences are not experiences.” Couldn’t be more true.

    Many years ago I was in security at a big hospital here. I’d spend part of the night driving around outside in a van, checking the perimeter and driving people to their cars, etc.

    One night there was a blue Firebird with a white interior at the end of one row of cars. Its driver’s seat with its weird-shaped headrest was tilted forward. And that’s what I saw, over and over as my headlights swept across it on each trip, until suddenly, one time my lights hit it and I saw, as clear as I’ve ever seen anything: A blue Firebird with Quick-Draw McGraw in the driver’s seat.

    Did I start a new religion of McGrawism? No. I know a vision isn’t even a vision until it’s compared with a stored template in your brain that tells you what you’re seeing, and sometimes this process can have some weird results.

    The brain is an imperfect organ: Film at 11.

    @ Ken Cope:

    that doesn’t really understand Chinese.

    Don’t get me started on that imbecile Searle!

  586. #587 Ken Cope
    February 2, 2009

    Don’t get me started on that imbecile Searle

    OK, but can you be objective about Nagel?

  587. #588 Sven DiMilo
    February 2, 2009

    Help! I am bereft of qualia!!

  588. #589 Guy Incognito
    February 2, 2009

    Something about this thread reminds me of the speed dating scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

  589. #590 windy
    February 2, 2009

    apropos omnipotence/science, Springer is advertising a weird-looking book:

    Superior Beings. If They Exist, How Would We Know?
    Game-Theoretic Implications of Omnipotence, Omniscience, Immortality, and Incomprehensibility

  590. #591 Garfunkel
    February 4, 2009

    Nerd: “…can you show me any physical evidence for your imaginary god?”

    Quite a few scientists have thought that their science pointed to God. For example, in the fields of physics and astronomy…

    1) “When I wrote my treatise about our (Solar) System I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the belief of a Deity, and nothing can rejoice me more than to find it useful for that purpose.” – Sir Isaac Newton

    2) “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” – Sir Isaac Newton

    3) “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.” – Sir Isaac Newton

    4) “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover….That there are what I or anyone else would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” – Astronomer Robert
    Jastrow, holder of the prestigious Edwin Hubble chair at the Mount Wilson Observatory

    5) “The beginning (of the universe) seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.” – Cosmologist Arthur Eddington

    6) “Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory (than big bang theory) of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.” – Astronomer Robert Wilson, codiscoverer of the radiation afterglow in the universe

    7) “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.” – Astronomer George Smoot

    8) “Astronomy leads to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.” – Astronomer and Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias

    9) “Here (in the anthropic principle) is the cosmological proof of the existence of God – the design argument of Paley – updated and refurbished. The fine-tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design.” -Cosmologist Ed Harrison

    10) “The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light
    and energy…For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the
    final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” – Robert Jastrow

  591. #592 Super dog
    March 20, 2009

    Hi, this is a quite interesting discussion !
    My impression is that Russel?s analogy is deeply flawed from the start.
    He want to prove the following philosophical principle:
    if we have no evidence for something, it is hugely unlikely that it exists, or other formulated, we can know beyond reasonable doubt that it does not exist.
    He give then the example of this celestial teapot rotating right now around Mars: each sensible person would agree this example is completely absurd, even if we could not disprove its existence since it is too small to get detected. There exists no argument against the teapot, but everybody would agree it is completely silly to believe it could exist, and this the case because of the lack of evidence.
    However, I think most people would believe it does not exist not because of the lack of evidence ( which by itself would only justify agnosticism: I don?t know if there is a teapot or not) but because we have many overwhelming argument against its existence:
    teapot are typically designed by human mind, they could not appear through natural process, whether on the earth or outside the earth. Moreover, we have also solid evidences that no men was on the moon, and the arrival of alien from an other planet who turned out to have developed exactly the same technology at the surface of Mars just to let that is highly unlikely.

    So, if there was only no evidence about the CT of Russel, I would be only agnostic about its existence, I know with almost certainty it does not exist because of the existence of strong arguments against its existence.

    The same thing is true by the way of the flying spaghetti monster: I am quite certain it does not exist not because of the absence of evidence (we have never seen it) but because of tremendous arguments speaking for its utter impossibility: a monster is a living thing, and we know living thing need a very good organized brain to exist, or at least a system able to handle information and to direct the body.
    Of course, no such entity could be made up of spaghettis, it is physically impossible.

    However, I completely ignore what kind of animals could have evolved on remote planets far away from our earth, and if I am quite certain there is no unicorn on the earth (with its description, it is impossible that such species would not have been detected although we have found fossils of a lot horses), I am agnostic about the existence of unicorns everywhere in the universe, I have no evidence for it, but I see also no reason why such an entity could not have evolved on an other planet (there are no known limits to the cleverness of mutations and natural selection) , so I simply don?t know.

    So, my BASIC EPISTEMOLOGY could be summed up in the following manner:

    - I believe with almost certainty the existence of things for which I have many evidences (that the earth rotate around the sun, that the human species has more intellectual capacities than the other primates, that each species share a common ancestor and so on?)

    - I don?t know if something exists if there are neither positive nor negative evidences (a plastic teapot floating right now 50 km away from New York, the existence of an intelligent species somewhere in the space which look like bears, a parallel universe with fundamentally different laws of physics and so on and so forth)

    - I believe with almost certainty that something does not exist if I have not only no evidences, BUT ALSO if there exists strong arguments against its existence ( a stinking invisible cheese monster hiding his odor and situated just between the keyboard and the screen of my computer, that my supervisor is in fact a disguised alien planing to invade the earth etc?).
    In each case, my ?a-monsterism? or ?a-alienism? does not stem only from the absence of evidences, but also from the overwhelming arguments against them.

    So, I think that atheism can not been assumed as a default position, before affirming ?I know there is no personal God?, atheists have to provide positive evidences, the mere absence of evidences only lead to agnosticism.

    Now, many insightful atheists accepts that, and have in fact provided strong arguments against the existence of a personal God, like the obvious imperfections in the nature, the facts that human minds completely depend on the brain and that parts of the personality is destroyed if parts of the brain are damaged, the religious confusion and so on and so forth.

  592. #593 hery
    January 25, 2010

    You’re going to make their heads explode by saying their religions evolved

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