Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Angry Conversations with a Childhood Friend & Calvinist: Part IV

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on April 30, 2009

Calvinist Friend:

Wow! Once again, you provide more logical inconsistencies, demonstrate several fallacies, and misinterpret what I say or believe. You make an attack out of ignorance to say that I lack training in logic. How do you know what exact training I have in logic? I don’t need your judgment or assessment of my training. You fall down the good old slippery slope by saying that my “entire worldview is based on a logical fallacy”. You also again attack out of ignorance, since I have never directly expounded upon my worldview (remember the old saying, when you assume you make an ass out of you and me). You also fall short logically by attributing motive in saying that I have a need to fill “the gap” with my specific God. I have NEVER said this. I simply want you to accept that possibility that any intelligent designer could fill that gap. You make an ad hominem attack on R.C. Sproul (and again an attack out of ignorance since you’ve never read him). You also attribute motive by saying that I have a need to fill the gap at all, since I have never said that and in fact have explicitly said that I don’t have a need to fill the gap but only a curiosity that leads me to balance the evidence and come down in favor of an intelligent designer. You attribute motive by saying that I have a foregone conclusion. A direct quote from you is that my “goal is to establish that my deity is real”- again, an attribution of motive. You accuse me of a bandwagon appeal, but do the exact same with people such as Darwin. One of my favorites is when you fall victim to emotionalism (actually this occurs frequently in your responses) when you call my statistical evidence “statistical analysis crap”. The old name-calling clearly demonstrates illogical thinking and emotional appeal. And on and on go the logical fallacies. Your own words keep trapping you.

You say that I’m only considering one possibility by considering that an intelligent designer fills “the gap”. No, I’ve simply demonstrated to you that logic dictates that possibilities that do not include an intelligent designer are impossible. Other than that fact, I’m open to any possibility that you have to offer. What you have to realize is that there can be facts WITHIN gaps. I grant that science alone can’t determine that my God fills the gap but it is a logical necessity that some intelligent designer must fill the gap. We may not know what specifically happened before what you call “singularity” (i.e., the gap) but logic necessitates what could NOT have happened. This is different than the box you are trying to put me in, which is to say that I can only imagine my God as filling the gap. Your interpretational proposition of what you think I said completely misrepresents what I in fact was actually saying.

In your expounding upon statistical evidence, you demonstrate a lack of understanding of statistics. Evidence is VERY rarely definitive; it is more probabilistic. And yet you say that evidence had better by definitive in some areas before public policies are made. That just doesn’t happen. Most of social science is based on statistical probabilities. You call the statistics I provide “pseudoscience”, but to use your own argument why should I trust what you define as pseudoscience since you lack training in science.

You say at one point that you have no gut feelings about “the gap” and that you will withhold judgment. Since you are doing so, then you can’t rule out an intelligent designer. Otherwise, you are making a judgment.

And I love how you fancy yourself a “free thinker”. You mind is more enslaved than you perhaps will ever know. You have such a limited and narrow-minded view of many things as demonstrated in your writings. I understand the need to feel that you are a free thinker. I once liked to fancy myself a free thinker as well. Of course I now realize that many “free thinkers” in fact limit their thinking in many ways that they don’t even realize.

You talk about the specific laws of nature that I mentioned as being human creations. I assume you also think that rules of logic are human creations as well. So if these laws and rules are human creations, and humans can be wrong in their taxonomic creations, then how can you be certain that these rules and laws are not wrong? In other words, how can we even rely on logic or any other rule or law of nature?

You indicate that absolutes are “general moral human grammar”. A generality is not an absolute. And yet you said there are things that people should absolutely not do. Why should they absolutely not do them? What do you make of the people who disagree with the things that you say they should absolutely not do? What happens when two “absolutes” are diametrically opposed?

On your other possibility of the C.S. Lewis trilemma, are you questioning the reliability of the New Testament as an historical document that was accurately recorded? Are you questioning the actual words of the person Jesus that were recorded from those who DID know him and recorded his words? I don’t have time to lay out all of the proof for the historical reliability of the Bible but the “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” book is an excellent source on this. I will say, however, that if you can’t buy into the Bible as at least recorded and translated reliably, then why should we trust that we are in fact reading what was originally written from any other historical document of that time? Why should we trust the historical accuracy of any historical documents at all if the criteria is that the documents a) can’t be written a long time ago, and b) can’t be written by uneducated people. Here in your comments you also default to an ad hominem attack on the New Testament writers by calling them an “ignorant bunch”.

I notice too in your expounding on why you accept your own ignorance that you seem to think that science speaks for itself instead of being interpreted through a framework or worldview. The old “follow the data wherever it leads” is weak because data never speaks for itself (remember that Mark Twain said there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics”). Most of the great scientists of the past never waited to have the data lead them. They used deductive analysis in which they formulated propositions and used either the scientific evidence or the rules of logic to test the propositions. Again, you seem to want data to speak for itself while you’re standing by passively waiting.

I can go on and on. Your arguments provide too many holes. You have proven nothing and have not made any progress in shutting down the basic evidence that I have provided you with. You suggest that I engage in wishful thinking. I honestly do wishfully hope that my God is real because I dread the alternative. But I have stuck to evidence here and not wishful thinking. I can separate the two. You don’t accept it as evidence because you wishfully hope there is no god. In debating you and providing evidence for my perspective, I have no more engaged in logical fallacies than you have. But it’s rare to convince a believer and you’re a believer of agnosticism, so let’s face it. There’s no evidence that will convince you, no matter how strong it is. Let’s keep trying though. I’m not giving up on you. You gotta be smarter than you are letting on. If you’re a serious free thinking, then take a gander at some of the resources that I have pointed you to. I have read your blog and scanned the articles you’ve linked me to, and looked at the web links you provide. I’ll take a look at anything else you recommend. So do the same. Don’t limit your knowledge or quickly write off what doesn’t agree with you new faith in agnosticism.

The Chaplain:

Calvinist Friend: Wow! Once again, you provide more logical inconsistencies, demonstrate several fallacies, and misinterpret what I say or believe.

If I misinterpreted what you said, it is perfectly innocent. As you might have noticed, we have very different ways of thinking, and it is inevitable that our different frameworks will collide (thanks to a lack of common ground and the fact that we do not share similar definitions for the same terms).

Calvinist Friend: You make an attack out of ignorance to say that I lack training in logic. How do you know what exact training I have in logic? I don’t need your judgment or assessment of my training.

I cannot judge what training you have had, but I am quite able to analyze your ability to use argument and recognize good proofs vs. fallacies. I usually do not wait to be asked my judgment before giving it. If you don’t need my judgment then don’t take it. Remember, you are the one coming to me. You are the one interested in using up my time by talking about your religious beliefs. If the conversation is not going the way you want it to, feel free to end it.

Calvinist Friend: You fall down the good old slippery slope by saying that my “entire worldview is based on a logical fallacy”.

I fail to see why this is a fallacy. Your worldview is based on the idea that the supernatural exists. That is the vital center of your belief. It is a belief in something that is false. Ergo, your entire worldview is based on a falsehood.

Calvinist Friend: You also again attack out of ignorance, since I have never directly expounded upon my worldview (remember the old saying, when you assume you make an ass out of you and me).

Sure you have. You told me what denomination you are with, and it is clear from your arguments that you believe in the supernatural and the Judeo/Christian deity. That is all of the information I need to say that you are believing something with no evidence to support it. Faith (believing something without evidence) has led you to assert a “truth” with no evidence. That is a fallacy. Obviously, I do not expect you to accept my viewpoint. I don’t see it qualifying as a fallacy though.

Calvinist Friend: You also fall short logically by attributing motive in saying that I have a need to fill “the gap” with my specific God. I have NEVER said this.

If you’ll look back at the last post, you’ll see that I say God’s position in the gap is a “happy side effect.”

Calvinist Friend: I simply want you to accept that possibility that any intelligent designer could fill that gap.

gapThe likelihood that a supernatural deity inhabits that gap is of the same probability as any other make-believe thing filling that gap. Remember, constantly expanding and contracting universes eliminates the need for a first cause. Your pointing to a magical creature does NOT eliminate the need for a first cause. Your argument would become an infinite regress. The rules of causality apply to matter already in existence. They make no comment on a need for magic to create matter. Why can’t the existence of the matter, in one form or another, be the first cause? Why do magic and invisible realms and invisible creatures from ancient religions have to come into the picture?

Calvinist Friend: You make an ad hominem attack on R.C. Sproul (and again an attack out of ignorance since you’ve never read him).

Since I have not read him, I am curious about his qualifications; that doesn’t qualify as an ad hominem attack. Also, I could not address the merits or flaws in his argument since you provided no detail. You stated his opinion, and that was it. That isn’t a very compelling argument. I could quote people’s opinions all day. I would prefer to discuss ideas and evidence though.

Calvinist Friend: You also attribute motive by saying that I have a need to fill the gap at all, since I have never said that and in fact have explicitly said that I don’t have a need to fill the gap but only a curiosity that leads me to balance the evidence and come down in favor of an intelligent designer.

I addressed your first point above. You are free to make whatever assertions you would like, of course. I just happen to disagree with you. I think you have no evidence to support the existence of your deity or the supernatural, so I see no reason why this imaginary character should be pointed to as a first cause or “designer” for the matter in the universe. That, combined with the fact that this imaginary being would not solve the first cause “problem” you see, nor is it even necessary to have a first cause, makes the argument something I do not agree with you on.

Calvinist Friend: You attribute motive by saying that I have a foregone conclusion. A direct quote from you is that my “goal is to establish that my deity is real”- again, an attribution of motive.

Yes, I do think you are doing this. At any time in this argument you were constructing, was there a moment when you believed the possibility that your god does not exist? I didn’t think so. It is obvious that your whole goal in writing me is to convince me that it is perfectly reasonable to believe in invisible, supernatural and magical things. I find your evidence lacking.

Calvinist Friend: You accuse me of a bandwagon appeal, but do the exact same with people such as Darwin.

In arguments, I always tell my students to provide textual evidence. You state this, but I am not inclined to believe you without some evidence.

Calvinist Friend: One of my favorites is when you fall victim to emotionalism (actually this occurs frequently in your responses) when you call my statistical evidence “statistical analysis crap”. The old name-calling clearly demonstrates illogical thinking and emotional appeal. And on and on go the logical fallacies. Your own words keep trapping you.

I called it statistical analysis crap because it is. I am making a claim of fact. My evidence to support this is the fact that the main goal of the statistics is to convince people that it is scientific to believe in the supernatural. It is not. Those statistics do nothing more than demonstrate how rare it is for a person to be called a deity. No shit. I don’t need statistics to tell me that not everyone gets used as the topic of a holy book.

By using the scientific method, you will catch not one whiff of God—because the scientific method can only study what is actually there. The invisible and the nonexistent are suspiciously alike.

Calvinist Friend: You say that I’m only considering one possibility by considering that an intelligent designer fills “the gap”. No, I’ve simply demonstrated to you that logic dictates that possibilities that do not include an intelligent designer are impossible.

This is not true. You are choosing to think there has to be a first cause. Then, you decide that that first cause has to be magical (and only your form of magic). Why can’t the first cause be the singularity? Why couldn’t the mass in the universe have always existed in one form or another?

Calvinist Friend: Other than that fact, I’m open to any possibility that you have to offer. What you have to realize is that there can be facts WITHIN gaps.

Well, there are facts in gaps. I agree with you there; we just don’t know what those facts are yet. Deciding that magic is responsible is something I don’t put towards the top of the list of options—you know, since magic has never proven to have been responsible for anything, ever.

Calvinist Friend: I grant that science alone can’t determine that my God fills the gap but it is a logical necessity that some intelligent designer must fill the gap.

Actually, science can’t determine this AT ALL. Like I said, when something is invisible and undetectable, and leaves absolutely no traces or evidence of its existence, then the scientific method is useless. That is why faith is key; you must have an ability to believe in something without any evidence whatsoever. And no, I don’t agree that a supernatural deity is needed to fill the gap. Filling gaps with gods hasn’t proven to be correct even once in the past history of science.

Calvinist Friend: We may not know what specifically happened before what you call “singularity” (i.e., the gap) but logic necessitates what could NOT have happened.

Haha, I actually agree with this, but you won’t like my conclusion. Logic dictates that because we have no evidence of anything other than the natural world, we should not assume that an invisible, supernatural one does exist—especially since the only reason we would want to do that is because a book written by some ancient people claims it to be true.

Calvinist Friend This is different than the box you are trying to put me in, which is to say that I can only imagine my God as filling the gap. Your interpretational proposition of what you think I said completely misrepresents what I in fact was actually saying.

earth-in-handsHere is what I hear you saying: 1) Only a supernatural and invisible entity that comes from the belief system of a small group of Middle Easterners during ancient times, can explain what came before the Big Bang, 2) I can assert this because of my observations about humans (they design things, so a really big person must have designed what you use to make our own designs, 3) the fact that matter changes form but continues to exist convinces me that the matter had to be constructed from something or come from someone, 4) the Jewish people’s deity is supposed to be eternal (I can’t prove this, but I read it in the Bible), so He must have made it (even though I have no evidence to support this).

I hope that is a fair summary. I disagree with your argument on several points. First, there is no evidence that the Jewish deity or Jesus exist. Second, if there was a singularity, there is no reason why it cannot be the first cause. Or the universe before that… Lastly, your make-believe god does not solve the first-cause dilemma. Where did he come from? Some other magical creature prior to Him, perhaps? Maybe there is another ancient book I can look to for answers. Or, maybe I’ll just stick to the heuristic that has been generating results: the scientific method.

Calvinist Friend: In your expounding upon statistical evidence, you demonstrate a lack of understanding of statistics. Evidence is VERY rarely definitive; it is more probabilistic.

I explain above why these statistics are crap. I can assure you that I understand statistical probability in research studies.

Calvinist Friend: And yet you say that evidence had better be definitive in some areas before public policies are made. That just doesn’t happen. Most of social science is based on statistical probabilities. You call the statistics I provide “pseudoscience”, but to use your own argument why should I trust what you define as pseudoscience since you lack training in science.

I can still make this assertion based upon the fact that I am analyzing the writer’s use of statistics to make an argument. The arguer’s claim that his statistics prove believing in magic is reasonable is not supported by those statistics.

Calvinist Friend: You say at one point that you have no gut feelings about “the gap” and that you will withhold judgment. Since you are doing so, then you can’t rule out an intelligent designer. Otherwise, you are making a judgment.

I can’t rule out an intelligent designer, just as I cannot rule out Zeritus, Zeus, the invisible Pink Unicorn, fairies, space trolls, fuzzy sinkhole binders, or whatever else invisible thing you want to imagine inhabiting that gap. However, based on past evidence, or a complete lack thereof, the chances aren’t too good. They certainly aren’t good enough to eliminate all other magical possibilities in favor of your pet magical beliefs. You shouldn’t prejudice yourself to the possibility of the Flying Spaghetti Monster inhabiting that gap. I once read a theologian’s argument that I thought was very sound. He said that Christians should not have their God inhabit gaps, because what will happen when those gaps are filled by science? God runs out of room.

Calvinist Friend:And I love how you fancy yourself a “free thinker”. You mind is more enslaved than you perhaps will ever know. You have such a limited and narrow-minded view of many things as demonstrated in your writings.

Not the kindest words I have heard, shocking to see coming from a follower and worshiper of Christ.

Calvinist Friend: I understand the need to feel that you are a free thinker. I once liked to fancy myself a free thinker as well. Of course I now realize that many “free thinkers” in fact limit their thinking in many ways that they don’t even realize.

I’m sorry to hear that you went back to the mental slavery of religion.

Calvinist Friend: You talk about the specific laws of nature that I mentioned as being human creations. I assume you also think that rules of logic are human creations as well.

Yes, they are.

Calvinist Friend: So if these laws and rules are human creations, and humans can be wrong in their taxonomic creations, then how can you be certain that these rules and laws are not wrong? In other words, how can we even rely on logic or any other rule or law of nature?

realityThis is the nature of the world. We can accept it and do our best to function well within it, or we can cling to fantasies that we find reassuring. I prefer to face the world as it is. It is absolutely possible that our ways of understanding the world, our models and paradigms, are flawed or flat out false. This is always a risk. Still, you must live in the world and make decisions. This is why, regardless of what decisions we make, we need to keep in mind that, although we are doing the best we can given what we know and understand, we could be making decisions and saying things that will be regarded as backwards, primitive, or simply wrong by those who come after us. This fact can paralyze you, or it can motivate you. I prefer to find happiness and satisfaction in what I do.

Calvinist Friend: You indicate that absolutes are “general moral human grammar”. A generality is not an absolute.

I agree. It is not an absolute. Grammar is not absolute either—it is descriptive, not prescriptive.

Calvinist Friend: And yet you said there are things that people should absolutely not do. Why should they absolutely not do them?

Because they are things that do not mesh with our society’s Zeitgeist. There is also a constant tug of war between different Zeitgeist-factions within society.

Calvinist Friend: What do you make of the people who disagree with the things that you say they should absolutely not do? What happens when two “absolutes” are diametrically opposed?

People are free to disagree with me, and they do. This democracy, and others, have decided, for the most part, that people should be free to do what they want, as long as they aren’t hurting someone else. There is a lot of wiggle room in there. This is why there are so many issues in society. Democracy is a great system for creating compromise even when two sides are not at all interested in reaching compromise. Also, sometimes one side wins outright over another. The brilliance of our democratic system is that no one group’s opinion is allowed to get too out of hand for too long. Democracy is by far the best system developed to date. It has taken human civilization awhile to come up with something this good.

Calvinist Friend: On your other possibility of the C.S. Lewis trilemma, are you questioning the reliability of the New Testament as an historical document that was accurately recorded?

I don’t view the New Testament as a historical document. I don’t think its main goal was to document history. Its goal was to write a narrative about Jesus, and the writers were hoping to convince others to believe that Jesus was a deity. Documents claiming that virgins get pregnant are clearly not “historical” documents by any stretch of the imagination. At best, they are fantasy novels.

Calvinist Friend: Are you questioning the actual words of the person Jesus that were recorded from those who DID know him and recorded his words?

Which writer knew him and recorded His words verbatim? How do you know this? The truth is that we don’t know what Jesus actually said. We get some agreement between books, but I am sure you are aware of the theory of the “Q” text, etc.

Calvinist Friend: I don’t have time to lay out all of the proof for the historical reliability of the Bible but the “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” book is an excellent source on this. I will say, however, that if you can’t buy into the Bible as at least recorded and translated reliably, then why should we trust that we are in fact reading what was originally written from any other historical document of that time? Why should we trust the historical accuracy of any historical documents at all if the criteria is that the documents a) can’t be written a long time ago, and b) can’t be written by uneducated people. Here in your comments you also default to an ad hominem attack on the New Testament writers by calling them an “ignorant bunch”.

People in the past were more ignorant, as a general rule, than people who live in today’s world. For instance, humans now know that the Earth is much older than the Biblical time line allows time for. Our ancestors were ignorant. As for the reliability of historical texts, I don’t think the Gospels are historical texts. Their goal is to convince others that Jesus is a supernatural entity who exists in a supernatural plane. That is a motive that would bias the most extreme adherent to objectivity.

Calvinist Friend: I notice too in your expounding on why you accept your own ignorance that you seem to think that science speaks for itself instead of being interpreted through a framework or worldview. The old “follow the data wherever it leads” is weak because data never speaks for itself (remember that Mark Twain said there are “lies, damn lies, and statistics”). Most of the great scientists of the past never waited to have the data lead them. They used deductive analysis in which they formulated propositions and used either the scientific evidence or the rules of logic to test the propositions. Again, you seem to want data to speak for itself while you’re standing by passively waiting.

I am not a scientist in the field of astronomy or physics. This is why I allow a gap to remain a gap until further evidence comes along. If I were in that field, I would actively pursue the data necessary to confirm or disprove my hypothesis.

Calvinist Friend: I can go on and on. Your arguments provide too many holes. You have proven nothing and have not made any progress in shutting down the basic evidence that I have provided you with.

I wasn’t trying to prove anything. You are asking me questions about my worldview, and I am answering them. That is all. I disagree that I have been unable to “shut down” your evidence. What evidence did you provide? You provided NO evidence. Instead, you made a claim: the matter in the universe had to come from somewhere, so it came from God. I disagree with your claim. I don’t think we know whether the matter in the universe came from somewhere or whether it has always been. I see no evidence to support your claim that your God exists. Without evidence, there is nothing to shut down.

Calvinist Friend: You suggest that I engage in wishful thinking. I honestly do wishfully hope that my God is real because I dread the alternative.

Yes, this is why your belief is necessary for you. I don’t dread what is. What is, is. I can accept it, or I can embrace superstition. I have made my choice.

Calvinist Friend: But I have stuck to evidence here and not wishful thinking. I can separate the two. You don’t accept it as evidence because you wishfully hope there is no god.

Yes, I am aware you don’t accept my view. I see you twisting logic in ways that render it anti-logic in your attempts to convince yourself that what you already think, and would think regardless of what evidence you were presented with, is rational. I am aware that you think you are being logical. We disagree. I really do not care about the God issue. I do not “wish” for him/it/her to exist or not. I just look at the world as it is, and if it seems likely that God exists I would be more than happy to embrace that. However, I see no sign or evidence of the supernatural anywhere.

Calvinist Friend: In debating you and providing evidence for my perspective, I have no more engaged in logical fallacies than you have. But it’s rare to convince a believer and you’re a believer of agnosticism, so let’s face it. There’s no evidence that will convince you, no matter how strong it is.

That is simply not true. Provide me with evidence for your God, and I will believe that your God exists. Your wish that a God exist does not qualify as evidence. Think of other ways you have been convinced of things, and try to come up with evidence in that same vein. For instance, how have you been convinced of the existence of other things in your life? What evidence convinced you of their existence? That is the kind of evidence that might work.

Calvinist Friend: Let’s keep trying though. I’m not giving up on you. You gotta be smarter than you are letting on.

I have no desire to be a “project” of yours. If you have questions, I can answer them to the best of my ability. You obviously have a different standard for “smart.”

Calvinist Friend: If you’re a serious free thinking, then take a gander at some of the resources that I have pointed you to. I have read your blog and scanned the articles you’ve linked me to, and looked at the web links you provide. I’ll take a look at anything else you recommend. So do the same. Don’t limit your knowledge or quickly write off what doesn’t agree with you new faith in agnosticism.

I do not plan to read the resources you sent me, because I have already undergone the long process of escaping from the superstitious belief system I was raised in. I already read a massive slew of books on theology and specifically the modern American, Evangelical Christian dogma. I don’t care to start the process all over again, simply because you appear on the scene. I imagine that the Christians you mentioned are making the same exhausted arguments they have always been making for the reasonableness of believing in something that does not exist.

Let me know if you have any other questions. However, if you are viewing me as some sort of conversion project, I would prefer that we end this now. I am growing tired of the insults. I have a happy, positive life I would like to get back to and this is not contributing to it.

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8 Responses to “Angry Conversations with a Childhood Friend & Calvinist: Part IV”

  1. JN said

  2. prb3 said

    I want to touch on one of the many enlightening points ‘Calvinist Friend’ made above.

    ‘CF’ argues that the Christian scriptures are historically reliable and should be trusted as such. While I agree with Bob that the New Testament was not intended to be read as historical texts, I will concede that some events may have taken place and that parts are indeed historical. That said, it seems as though ‘CF’ takes this point to another dimension by taking a huge leap of faith which goes something like this: Because there are parts of the Bible (old & new testaments) that have been proven to have happened (historical), we must therefore, logically, believe in all the supernatural events and miracles that are also chronicled within.

    According to my calculations, if this ‘logic’ is applied consistently and honestly, it would stand to show that all religious texts & oral traditions containing bits and pieces of actual historical events should also be accepted as gospel. I mean, why stop with the Bible? The Agni people where I grew up have a great story about their exodus from modern day Ghana that is historically accurate but full of superstitious tales. In one incident, they had to cross a large and dangerous river, which would have been impossible without the aid of a great sorcerer who cast a magical spell, and suddenly, out of nowhere, hippopotamuses appeared and formed a ‘hippo-bridge’ allowing everyone to cross safely (walking on their backs).
    Sound an awful lot like the parting of the Red Sea? Well guess what! The Agni (and Baoulé) people did indeed flee from modern day Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire, so therefore, this story must be true! YEAH! See how much more colorful and fun real life can be if you just apply a little faith.

    • Bob said

      I love the Agni story. Walking on hippos backs beats parting the Red Sea any day of the week. And I think you are right about following the logic to its conclusion–that is precisely where it leads. The thing I always keep in mind when discussing the God hypothesis with Christians is that they aren’t starting from the argument and following it through to its conclusion; they are starting with the conclusion and then they try to come up with rationalizations that make the conclusion seem reasonable. That explains why they are willing to overlook (or just don’t see) when those arguments lead to unintended contradictions when applied to other scenarios within their belief system. An explanation has to resolve a quandary without multiplying internal contradictions.

      • Ann said

        Yeah, fundamentalists always fall back on Biblical inerrancy. If there’s a contradiction in thought, or from scientific study, return to the Bible for the right answer (a fool’s errand since we know from reading and studying the Bible it’s a mass of contradictions). The answer (or conclusion) is there, and a person goes backwards by developing their proof of already believed conclusions. There is no study of existing evidence to develop conclusions.

        Liberal Christians do the same thing, only they accept the Bible has been deconstructed (the key to releasing people from fundamentalism–once the idea of Biblical inerrancy is released, people can acknowledge stuff like evolution is true). They believe their feelings, or intuitions, especially as experienced through art and music, or meditation, support their conclusion that God exists. But they already believe God exists, so their experiences are just providing proof for their conclusion. Instead of studying their experience for an explanation that’s consistent. What I don’t understand is the point of God if all he or she does is provide supernatural experiences. Like making me feel full of Him or giving me mystical experiences, and then I die and join with the universe. Shouldn’t He be a little more fulfilling? Otherwise isn’t God just some guy who passes you His joint?

      • prb3 said

        Precisely. The idea of starting with the conclusion is very unscientific to put it mildly. This is why it’s impossible to get anywhere when arguing with most Christians. In addition to this false premise, Christians truly believe that there is another dimension of knowledge and truth that transcends human comprehension. The strange thing about that however is that even Christians argue that God created man and imparted on us the ability to reason/use logic in order to survive on earth, but for some strange reason, he decided that the salvation of all mankind would rest on our ability to disregard reason/logic completely and rely on faith alone. This makes no sense to me.

        • prb3 said

          Ann, you make a good point…maybe Rastafarians are on to something!

          • Ann said

            It’s not supposed to make sense. Remember, the definition of faith: (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

            • Ann said

              And don’t forget, all children in the world are told about some kind of God growing up unless they are a feral, wild child who grows up isolated from others and without language. Children told God exists from youth must look backwards to support the conclusion told as truth, that there is a God, by pretty much the whole world. What happens when they start looking forward instead to a conclusion?

              It’s what happened to me. I figured out as a child there was something seriously off about the way people were going about things. Once I started doing my own exploring and research…

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