2/14/10

Prove “god”

This post has been moved to True Freethinker were it resides at this link

14 comments:

  1. I'd concede that he made hash of the terms. Notwithstanding, why don't you take your best shot and humor the man?

    I for one would like to see some shred of real evidence that stands up to even cursory skepticism. I don't demand proof, just something to indicate that there's anything more than human fantasies.

    1) I'm with him, the bible's pretty much right out. The fidelity of its copying is not sufficient justification to accept that it depicts true events in an accurate fashion. Contemporary extrabiblical corroboration is preferred, please.

    2) Miracles count, by all means. Citations should include any reasonable expectation that said miracle actually took place, and why a supernatural agent is the most plausible explanation.

    3) Person B is not justified in accepting a claim based on the opinion or faith of Person A. But if you want to enter something from this as evidence, feel free, and I'll give it the weight it winds up warranting.

    4) Checkable citations are a reasonable request, I think.

    Will you convince me? Maybe, maybe not. I'm inclined to think "Aliens with the power to affect the brain are messing with our minds" as a more plausible answer to any given miracle than ascribing such things to ostensible universe-creating bodiless immortals.

    But please, present what you think is fair, rather than column-inches whinging about some yahoo's bad writing skills.

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  2. 1) I'm with him, the bible's pretty much right out. The fidelity of its copying is not sufficient justification to accept that it depicts true events in an accurate fashion. Contemporary extrabiblical corroboration is preferred, please.

    You've got it all over the place. Next.

    2) Miracles count, by all means. Citations should include any reasonable expectation that said miracle actually took place, and why a supernatural agent is the most plausible explanation.

    You've got that with the glut of research on the resurrection of Jesus. Next.

    3) Person B is not justified in accepting a claim based on the opinion or faith of Person A. But if you want to enter something from this as evidence, feel free, and I'll give it the weight it winds up warranting.

    Telling how something meaningfully impacted one's life isn't irrefutable proof, but it's a helpful testimony. Tylenol helped take away my headache, you may want to try it.

    4) Checkable citations are a reasonable request, I think.

    Google "Christian apologetics".

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  3. 1) News to me. Be more specific.
    2) If there is contemporary extrabiblical evidence that he existed at all, let alone that he performed or embodied miracles, I've yet to see it. Do tell.
    3) I'll give it the weight it ends up warranting.
    4) Results unimpressive.

    So, I ask in earnestness for reasons to believe, and I'm given dismissive answers, unsupported assertions, and the next best thing to LMGTFY. Seriously, I'm listening.

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  4. Sorry mariano, but you should be able to prove God without a shadow of (reasonable) doubt.

    That is to say, any counter-arguments that the sceptic could provide would have to deny reason, make some circular argument like "but you never really know", or ask for a standard of evidence that could not be provided even for the most well held and considered belief (i.e, if their only argument against the evidence provided for God could be equally used as an argument against the evidence for heliocentrism).

    As everybody else has put their posts in numbered format, I might as well contribute:

    1. Agreed with (1) and (3).
    2. Now I haven't seen the evidence for Jesus's resurrection, but I do know about the evidence for Vespasian curing a blind man by spitting on him. No, really. Tacitus was one of many historians who clearly stated that it happened and one of many who was certainly not fearful of criticising the Roman Emperors (by the way, Tactitus was also the chap who made one of the few records of the existence of Jesus of Nazereth, so don't dismiss him). Further testimony from non-historians is widespread, and from persons across the Empire.

    So the point is, the best attested to miracles are those of long dead religions. As I said, I don't know of the evidence for the resurrection, but I'm confident that it's weaker than the evidence for many other miracles by many other false prophets. If you take on Jesus's miracles, then there is every reason to believe Vespasian (a pagan) could cure a blind guy by spitting on him. I just prefer to reject all miracles.

    3. Testimony about Tylenol is different to testimony about miracles. Here's how I assess miracles (and I'm taking from David Hume's Of Miracles here, which everyone should read): Consider the chance that miracle happened, then compare it to the chance that an alternative sequence of events happened that produced the appearence of a miracle.

    For example, suppose someone claims to me that they can cure illness with their bare hands. Well they might claim that because they actually can cure illness with their bare hands, but the chances are very, very small. Or alternatively, they might claim that because they are a liar, or deluded, and given the number of people who have claimed to be able to cure with their bare hands and have been exposed as frauds or madmen, I would say the chances of this explanation being true aren't so small. So I'll go for the latter explanation.

    With the Tylenol example, either Tylenol actually helped, or somebody has lied to me about Tylenol (which is the only plausible alternative explanation I can think of). Here I think the former explanation is slightly more proable than the latter.

    And so for Jesus's resurrection, either Jesus was resurrected, or through outright fabrication, poor testimony or exaggaration (all of which have contributed to, and no christian would deny this, the spread of countless myths and rumours about false miracles) the story was spread despite being falsehood. Here, the latter seems significantly more probable.

    4. Citations should only be needed for statistical or evidential statements (so a quote only needs citation if it is being used as evidence in the argument, no need if it's merely being used for expository or poetic purposes). Christian apologetics tend to (ab)use logic and philosophical argument techniques rather than try to gather any actual physical evidence for their claims, so I don't see how googling them is an alternative to proper citation.

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  5. Everybody knows that yellow tastes like 5.

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  6. dreamer,

    1) News to me. Be more specific

    There are Biblical archaeological journals that constantly publish new findings corroborating the testimony of the gospels and Acts. There are corroborating extra-biblical testimony from Josephus and Tacitus etc.ad infinitum. There's more historical testimony to the life of Christ than all military figures of the past. Only someone who's too lazy or dogmatic in their rejection of the facts would have missed that.

    2) If there is contemporary extrabiblical evidence that he existed at all, let alone that he performed or embodied miracles, I've yet to see it. Do tell.

    AS I said, you either didn't try very hard, or have your blinders turned up extra high if the name Yeshua or any of its derivatives is brought up. I suspect it's the latter.

    3) I'll give it the weight it ends up warranting.

    No you won't. You'll give it the weight it ends up warranting minus your prior commitment to your emotional rejection of the facts. That would probably be < 0.

    4) Results unimpressive.

    According to you. But the fact they exist punts your silly objection out the window. All you have now is hand waving.

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  7. Anonymous,

    I don't know of the evidence for the resurrection, but I'm confident that it's weaker than the evidence for many other miracles by many other false prophets

    You don't know the evidence, but you're confident it's weak? That's called prejudicial reasoning. You're coming to a conclusion lacking the evidence you'd need to determine whether or not you're justified in taking that stance. Talk about intellectual dishonesty.

    If you take on Jesus's miracles, then there is every reason to believe Vespasian (a pagan) could cure a blind guy by spitting on him. I just prefer to reject all miracles.

    Hasty generalization, and appeal to personal incredulity. You're a fallacy machine, my friend!

    Testimony about Tylenol is different to testimony about miracles.

    Why?

    Here's how I assess miracles (and I'm taking from David Hume's Of Miracles here, which everyone should read)

    Then you should read Hume's Abject Failure: The Argument Against Miracles (written by a non-theist). Hume didn't take into account the probability of the evidence being there without the event happening, ie applying Bayes' Theorem.

    Pr(M|E&B) Pr(M|B) PR(E|M&B)
    _____________ = _________ * ____________
    Pr(not-M|E&B) Pr(not-M|B) Pr(E|not-M&B)

    (Where M is the miracle, E is the evidence, and B is the background knowledge)

    Using this reasoning, the miracle may be more likely given the evidence than not. In the case of all the historical evidence there is for the risen Christ, I'd say it's far more likely. Hume's argument is not valid, it's an abject failure. Next.

    Christian apologetics tend to (ab)use logic and philosophical argument techniques

    You need to proffer a specific example. Not saying it isn't done, but it's done on the other side too. Plus, when poisoning the well, why bother with the brackets? Really? Are you like ten years old?

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  8. Read about the solution to the "problem of miracles" here.

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  9. Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius et al. are not contemporary, they were writing much later, either reporting hearsay, documenting the existence and claims of Christians (which are not in doubt) or in the case of Josephus, an entire section which is a later interpolation.

    I don't deny that there is overall a good case to be made that he exists, I'm saying that the CONTEMPORARY sources for his life, ministry, and death are sorely lacking, and the gospels themselves are not reliable. Beside the fact that a textual account, no matter how well corroborated, is insufficient justification for belief that the known laws of nature were suspended. We have as much evidence for UFO abductions as we do for Jesus' miracles, and more contemporary.

    Claims of faith are all around me, and mutually contradictory. I have no way to distinguish or accurately weight the claims of Christians vs. Moslems vs. Scientologists ad nauseam. If each of them swore by a different brand of painkiller and claimed the competing brands were deadly poison, I'd be justified in not taking any of them until I had better information--especially since I see none of them dying, and they all seem to still get headaches.

    As far as apologetics go, I've looked, and I see a vast sea of special pleading, ad hoc rationalizations, logical fallacies, question-begging and other such things. I am asking, begging for something better, if it exists. Please, pick one or two that you think are the best and I promise you I will examine them.

    Lastly, you don't get to tell me what I will and won't believe. I am here because I want my beliefs or lack thereof to be able to stand up to examination, and you're basically calling me a liar and that I'm not asking in good faith.

    I'll leave off with the email signature I use at work, from Marcus Aurelius:

    "If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm."

    Humor me.

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  10. Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius et al. are not contemporary, they were writing much later

    If this is your standard, then we can't be really too sure about much of anything historically. You're creating unreasonable standards and demanding that we apply them, but you're a random silly internet atheist. No historian would consider writing 60 years after an event an unreliable account, especially when Josephus lived during the time of the apostle's ministry.

    Tacitus wasn't much later, and was writing a critical account of Jesus. He clearly accepted the reality of the man.

    If you are going to apply these standards to historical texts, then we need to disregard anything written about Alexander the Great, since there are no surviving contemporary sources on his life. The earliest extant writings we have were written over 400 years after his death, not 40 as in the case of the gospels (which you have no reason to disregard as historical documents), and not 20 as in the case of Paul's accounts. You move the goalposts when it comes to Yeshua (Jesus, for those of you in Rio Linda).

    So, since we do have accounts written by contemporaries of Jesus, and accounts compiled by historians who interviewed contemporaries of Jesus, His existence and actions are far better attested to than anyone else in ancient history. You just don't like the sources because they're included in the canon of scripture. But that doesn't seem like a good reason to disregard them.

    Plus, the accounts of historians who lived shortly after Christ.

    and the gospels themselves are not reliable

    According to whom? Why shouldn't they be considered reliable? Is it because you're introducing a philosophical presupposition into your consideration of the evidence? Talk about intellectual dishonesty.

    is insufficient justification for belief that the known laws of nature were suspended

    There are unexplained anomalies that happen all the time. Should we doubt those events because they seem to contradict natural law, even if we observe them directly? Furthermore, who said there is a violation of natural law in a miracle? Natural laws are predictions made by induction, all things being equal. Suppose the law fails to describe what would happen in the even a supernatural force intervened. The natural law wouldn't be violated, it just didn't take into account supernatural action into its prediction.

    Now, the only reason you disregard the possibility of miracles is because of your commitment to naturalism. But that's the debate, whether there is a God that could manipulate nature, and therefore you are begging the question, making your argument null. If the evidence presented is best explained by a miracle, which it is, as we should expect a miracle to occur if God is going to verify the claims of Jesus. Only if atheism were proved true could one rationally deny the possibility of miracles. You're welcome to take a stab at that. But if it is even epistemically possible that a God exists, then there are no intellectual grounds to think that He wouldn't use miracles to verify the claims of prophets and/or Himself in the person of Christ.

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  11. Claims of faith are all around me, and mutually contradictory.

    It doesn't follow that they are all, therefore, false.

    I have no way to distinguish or accurately weight the claims of Christians vs. Moslems vs. Scientologists ad nauseam

    Sure you do. You could compare the epistemic viability of each, checking the logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and existential relevancy.

    It's easy to knock a majority of the religious claims out at the outset. Once it's established that the universe had a beginning, and that fact calls for a cause of the universe, then you've eliminated pantheistic religions that consider the universe as a god, yet god as eternal.

    You can know many things about this being that has been established just from the ability to create the universe; such as He is supernatural, incredibly powerful, self-existent, immaterial, transcends time, etc.

    This resembles the God of monotheistic religions.

    Knocked it down to three faith claims right off the bat. Logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and existential adequacy belong to Christianity alone. If you follow the historical evidence that clearly points to the bodily resurrection of Christ, the conclusion is not hard.

    If each of them swore by a different brand of painkiller and claimed the competing brands were deadly poison, I'd be justified in not taking any of them until I had better information

    Bad analogy, as it's an eternal decision that is being made, and there is good evidence to choose one out of many.

    As far as apologetics go, I've looked, and I see a vast sea of special pleading, ad hoc rationalizations, logical fallacies, question-begging and other such things

    Where? You claim they exist, but you don't offer any examples. It could be that your ability to discern logical fallacies and truth isn't up to par.

    Please, pick one or two that you think are the best and I promise you I will examine them

    I tend to enjoy the Cosmological argument and the argument from reason. But there are a lot of good ones.

    Lastly, you don't get to tell me what I will and won't believe

    Well, since I never claimed I did...

    I am here because I want my beliefs or lack thereof to be able to stand up to examination, and you're basically calling me a liar and that I'm not asking in good faith.

    No, I'm saying you let emotional blinders get in your way, instead of examining claims rationally. You have a prior commitment to naturalism.

    On Marcus Aurelius quote

    Was he a solipsist? Because it's not possible to prove much of anything to an absolute T. I can't prove to you that you aren't a brain in a vat stimulated by electrical impulses, or that the next meal you eat at Red Lobster won't be poisoned. You have to assume otherwise.

    There's evidence there, but you've set your standards higher than you would on any other aspect of life. If you were consistent with this statement, you wouldn't believe anything at all.

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  12. And your righteous indignation over me questioning your openness to the facts rings hollow, since you have accepted a belief without any evidence provided for it; the belief that there is no God. It seems that you're believing what you want to believe, whatever the evidence may be, which sounds an awful lot like a dogmatic blind faith.

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  13. Lastly, you don't get to tell me what I will and won't believe

    Well, since I never claimed I did...


    BULL.


    Me:

    I don't demand proof, just something to indicate that there's anything more than human fantasies.

    I ask in earnestness for reasons to believe...Seriously, I'm listening.

    I am asking, begging for something better, if it exists. Please, pick one or two that you think are the best and I promise you I will examine them.

    If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth...
    (you run away with the word "proof" in a way COMPLETELY inconsistent with everything I've written. His word, not mine.)

    Manny:

    you either didn't try very hard, or have your blinders turned up extra high if the name Yeshua or any of its derivatives is brought up. I suspect it's the latter.

    You'll give it the weight it ends up warranting minus your prior commitment to your emotional rejection of the facts. That would probably be < 0.

    The only reason you disregard the possibility of miracles is because of your commitment to naturalism.

    No, I'm saying you let emotional blinders get in your way, instead of examining claims rationally. You have a prior commitment to naturalism.

    It seems that you're believing what you want to believe, whatever the evidence may be, which sounds an awful lot like a dogmatic blind faith.



    I thought about responding to your points (nothing new) but honestly, if you're not even going to accept what I say about myself at face value, it's not going to be possible for us to have a meaningful conversation.

    Feel free to email me if you're willing to forgo the stereotyping and prejudice.

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  14. dreamer,

    How is this supporting what you said?

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