The Plausibility (or “Equal Possibility/Probability”) of the Miraculous- Refuting the Skeptical Presumption of Scientism/Naturalism

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Enjoy;

Anchor Audio Link = Here’s the podcast:

 

CLAIMS, STATEMENTS OF BELIEF & PRESUPPOSITIONS;
Claims &Presuppositions: No claims/presuppositions this week as we have a guest on the Skeptical side and so I wish to keep the show as an open and free dialogue without needing to box either of us in to advancing one position/issue.
Statements of Belief: I believe that God exists and given his existence and the fulfillment of certain other factors, then supernatural miracles are fully plausible explanations for events. This show is only on the issue of the plausibility of the supernatural/miraculous in the light of certain common skeptical objections to such, I’m not necessarily trying to argue that these types of events have ever actually occurred in history (or will ever occur in the future). Further, I’m not providing any explanation as to how one might gain epistemic warrant in identifying such events via the use of various criteria for identifying miracles that philosophers have devised (that shall have to wait for a future show that I know David has planned for the New Year).

 

The Plausibility (or Equal Possibility/Probability) of the Miraculous- Refuting the Skeptical Presumption of Scientism/Naturalism

I believe it is one of our esteemed listeners, Teddi Pappas, who rightly says that “anything is possible”, I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiments of this expert criminal defense attorney; clearly at face value (prima facie), any thing is possible.  If it were otherwise then there would not be a “thing” to speak of at all, no logically possible worlds in which such a “thing” can be said to exist or to be true.

Imagine for a second, as much as is possible so as to get my point across at least, that you a “blank slate” and that you know nothing about the nature and mechanics of the universe that we inhabit, in such a state we ought to adopt what philosophers and logicians call the “Principle of Indifference” (others call it the “principle of equal probabilities”).  The Principle of Indifference states that “if there is no known reason for predicating of our subject one rather than another of several alternatives, then relatively to such knowledge the assertions of each of these alternatives have an equal probability for being true”.

This is basic commonsense, if I hear hoof-beats and am provided with 3 alternative hypotheses that they either belong to a horse, a donkey or a zebra  and I have no way to adjudicate between them, then I ought to remain agnostic as to which of the three alternatives is true; they would all have an “equal probability” of being true based on all the available evidence that I’m privy to.  Similarly, if one added a “supernatural/miraculous” animal like a unicorn to that list and I had no means to “rule out” that option as being true/false, then this principle would state that one must remain agnostic on the question of which of now 4 hypotheses (3 naturalistic and 1 supernatural/miraculous) for explaining the hoof-beats is in fact true.  This is clearly the “default state” for any rational and intellectually honest person to adopt in such a situation.

Yet skeptics today often dismiss any and all supernatural/miraculous possibilities straight out of the gate, seemingly without any rational justification for doing so at all.  Is it the case that these skeptics are just biased or do they actually have “reasons” that they present as to why they think one can “rule out” the supernatural from the table of options a priori?  Before, we answer that question it might help us to get a better idea for what exactly the supernatural/miraculous entails.

The Nature of the Miraculous

In the first place, it might be helpful to provide a little explanation as to what exactly it means for something or someone to be “miraculous/supernatural”; it’s important to note that in this blog/show my aim will not be to prove that the miraculous does indeed happen, nor will I outline the criteria by which scholars have determined useful in identifying such events/entities (I shall save that for another show with David in the future), here I only wish to elucidate on what the miraculous generally entails.

Miracles usually function as “signs” of divine activity, their occurrence is only possible via the power of God (either directly by Him and/or indirectly through an instrumental means such as one of His agents”).  That said, God is also considered causally necessary for all events in the universe (both natural and supernatural) and as such philosophers have traditionally distinguished between God’s “providentia ordinaria” (His ordinary providence via the use of the laws of nature and regular/ordinary natural mechanisms) and His “providentia extraodinaria” (His extraordinary providence whereby ordinary natural mechanisms and laws alone would not ordinarily produce such an event).  Now, one needs to discern that “supernatural miracles” are not the only form of “extraordinary providence” that God can use as a divine sign, through God’s Middle Knowledge, there is a category of non-miraculous special providence that can occur and still serve as a “sign of God”- for example, imagine God setting up the world so that a rockslide would happen at the precise moment the Israelites approached the Jordan River and/or perhaps the planets Jupiter, Saturn and another star all happened to meet naturally and perceptually over Bethlehem on the same night that Jesus was born (as per the Nativity Story movie).  Such events are extraordinary not so much in that they are supernatural or non-natural in nature, but in the light of the incredible coincidence of the natural events happening at a particular time and place which signifies some kind of divine involvement in the event’s occurrence (in this case it is the circumstantial evidence that makes the event “extraordinary” in nature, not the event itself).

Supernatural events by contrast, are the results of mechanisms beyond the productive capacity of natural mechanisms and laws altogether.  What’s more, there are further classifications that can be made within the category of supernatural/miraculous events as well; for example, there are at least two types of supernatural event; i) Miracles done to authenticate a religious message from God (what I call a “G-Belief Authenticating Event”), and ii) Supernatural events done for another purpose (such as miracle healings of compassion for example).

Now, with those distinctions in place, we can move on to discuss a couple of the more prominent “reasons” that skeptics and Atheists often give for why they feel justified in “ruling out” the supernatural/miraculous a priori.

Supposed Reason #1- The Skeptical Assumption of Scientism

It has become very popular amoung sceptics to “assert and assume” that they do in fact have reasons to, a priori, reject miracles as being “equally probable/possible” explanations; one such common reason is the Satan-inspired notion of scientism.

Scientism, roughly speaking, is the view that science is the very paradigm of truth and rationality; if something does not comport with current well-established scientific beliefs, is not appropriate for scientific investigation and/or is not amenable to scientific methodology, then supposedly it is not true or rational to believe.  In other words, according to many lay skeptics, any beliefs or claims not matching the above criteria is equivalent to “just making things up”!

There are actually two forms of scientism: strong scientism and weak scientism.  Strong scientism is the view that something is only true/rational to believe if it is a scientific proposition or theory that has been successfully formed, tested and used in accordance with current scientific methodologies.  Such a view claims that fields like philosophy or theology invalid as they are not seen as cognitive disciplines/enterprises.  This strong position has largely been abandoned by “skeptics in the know” today as it is clearly a self-refuting and therefore ridiculous and foolish position for a person to hold to.   Think about it for a second, scientism is not itself a proposition of science proper (no one scientifically tested the claim that “only scientific propositions are true and rational to believe”), but rather scientism’s claim is a second-order proposition in the field known as the Philosophy of Science (a field which deals with second-order issues assessing the metaphysics of science, its methodology and its practical usefulness, etc.).  Self-refuting propositions are necessarily false (logically impossible to be true) and thus no amount of future scientific progress will ever be able to make this position true- it simply must be abandoned else the Skeptic shows himself to be totally irrational!

Weak scientism on the other hand, is a little more nuanced, yet it is still plagued with foolish unproven assumptions and beset by various problematic notions.  This view says that there may be some minimal truths that can have a positive epistemic status without the support of science, but science is still the most valuable, serious and authoritative sector of human reasoning/learning.  For advocates of this view, science can and must be used as quickly as possible to make a given non-scientific field’s body of knowledge rational to believe and any verification or communication on this front is considered to be a one-way street.  Science is used to clarify and advance knowledge in other disciplines but not the other way around, the conversation between science and philosophy/theology is essentially a monologue whereby philosophy and theology must simply wait around for science to come along and give it rational support for its belief but philosophy and theology cannot be used to inform, justify or correct science.

There are two problems that apply to weak scientism (and strong scientism simultaneously);

i) The first is that science itself rests on certain philosophical/logical presuppositional foundations which cannot be rationally justified within the discipline of science proper. We have to remember that science is not practiced in a vacuum, but instead presupposes the truth of at least a dozen or more philosophical theses before it can even get off the ground.  Examples of such presuppositions include the following; the existence of a theory-independent external world- aka. the assumption of realism vs. anti-realism, the knowability of the external world- are we in a dream world, the existence of truth, the truth of the laws of logic, the reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties, the existence of values- aka. report the data honestly and the uniformity of nature and induction just to name some.  The problem with this is that all of these assumptions are theses that are properly debated and assessed within the field known as the philosophy of science and therefore they require philosophical/logical justification before one can be rational in believing them as true.  Therefore, it is totally irrational of the proponent of weak scientism to suppose that scientific propositions can have greater epistemic authority than the philosophical presuppositions on which the entire scientific discipline is founded upon.

As a quick case study, scientists will often make inductive inferences based on some observed or examined cases of a phenomenon and then generalize to claim that all cases whether examined or unexamined, whether past, present or future will always be the same as whatever the relatively small sub-set of observed data provided.  It was the famous radical Enlightenment and Atheist philosopher David Hume who raised the obvious problem of induction that arises in this respect- how can one possibly rationally warrant/justify such inferences?  Well, without going into detail as to how philosophers have tried to solve this problem, suffice it to say that the solution involves an assumption about the truth of the uniformity of nature principle which is a philosophical and not scientific premise (i.e. it is a subject of debate in the domain of the philosophy of science).  Thus, it is philosophers and not scientists who are the experts on such issues and it is their opinions that should inform, justify and even supersede those of ignorant scientists who dare to speak outside their discipline’s area of expertise.

ii) The second is that we can observe how foolish it is to deny that we have equally strong knowledge claims in non-scientific disciplines; in fact in some cases we actually have stronger epistemic justification in those non-scientific disciplines compared to what science’s best-case examples can ever give us. I have a properly basic belief about the non-physicality of my own subjective qualia, or knowledge of my own existence in the 100% degree (both philosophical/theological theses). Science, by definition, can never hope to provide someone with 100% knowledge on a given topic on its own merits, at best it can prove things to be true beyond reasonable doubt, but by its own inherent limitations, it never claims to be able to remove all doubt in proving something to be absolutely true.

History, linguistics, poetry, philosophy, religion, etc. these are all non-scientific fields that provide one with knowledge to varying degrees and in some cases can provide one with knowledge of facts to a stronger degree than science can.  For example, most historians and archeologists will often favour actual historical evidence over and above scientific C-14 evidence when trying to adjudicate a historical date for a given artifact.  Historians know from experience that the scientific evidence should not be used to override the obvious knowledge that they have about the object being 2000 years old (according to all the historical evidences like the style of writing, internal evidence indicating age of the artifact, external corroboration that the artifact existed 2000 years ago, etc.) simply based on one anomalous scientific datum suggesting its only 1000 years old.  The advocate of weak scientism would be totally irrational in privileging one single data point vs. multiple other contradictory data points simply based on a blind faith allegiance to scientism that maintains that science can never be informed or corrected by other disciplines; doing so would be positively foolish!

Supposed Reason #2- The Inviolability of the Laws of Nature (i.e. The Presumption of Naturalism)

It was none other than the vitriolic Atheist Voltaire who said, “a miracle is the violation of mathematical, divine, immutable, eternal laws and is therefore a contradiction”.  This lead Voltaire and many other radical skeptics like himself to conclude that the supernatural is thus logically impossible. Many skeptics today still hold to a position of Naturalism and thus they continue to “assert and assume” that supernatural or miraculous events are “violations” of the laws of nature which makes them impossible to occur.  Of course, a more thoughtful person will recognize at once that there is another option which emerges from this alleged contradiction; one can simply deny that the supernatural “violates” the laws of nature via arguing that the essence of the natural laws do not entail a contradictory violation at all.

We have come a long way from the scientific ignorance that lead to this radical Atheistic view, we no longer hold to the rigid Newtonian “World-Machine” perspective in terms of what the laws of nature are and how they are said operate within our universe.  With the various “paradigm shifts” in science (to steal Thomas Kuhn’s terminology) that occurred and developed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, there are essentially 3 predominant views about the laws of nature and how they work and as we shall see below, none of them entail a logical contradiction or “violation” in relation to the supernatural/miraculous.

The first position is called “Regularity Theory”, this view sees the laws of nature as nothing more than mere generalized descriptions of the way things happen in the universe; they describe the regularities of phenomenal occurrence that we observe in nature.  Now, as this theory simply claims that the laws of nature are nothing more than generalized descriptions (devoid of any sort of prescriptive aspect) of whatever happens in nature, it follows that no event (whether supernatural or otherwise) can be said to “violate” those said “laws”, instead such events can simply be added in as part of the overall amended description of what happens in the universe.

Nomic Necessity Theory (i.e. the laws of nature are prescriptively necessary; this is the view that David J. seems to hold to given some of the claims he’s made on the show before-), is the view that the laws of nature are not merely descriptive but prescriptive in nature; they tell us what can and cannot happen (i.e. they allow us to make counter-factual judgements such as if the density of the universe were sufficiently higher than it would have contracted by now).

However, on this view the laws of nature are still taken to include universal inductive generalizations and as such a “violation” of these said laws is not technically possible since they can easily take into account any and all supernatural phenomena (outside the current purview of the law) and revise accordingly.  Further, in reality proponents of this theory don’t hold to the laws of nature so rigidly anyways, since most scientists have learned not to be presumptuous since the shocks of Relativity and Quantum theories arose on the scene.  Thus, all natural laws are now thought to have implicit assumptions about all things being equal.  Thus, the laws of nature do no more than state what is or what will be the case under the assumption that no other outside factors interfere in some way.

So, when a natural anomaly does occur in the universe whereby that event is not predicted or described by the currently known laws of nature, scientists simply assume that there must be certain unknown natural factors at play that are interfering with the process in some way and so they’ll claim that the natural law need not be said to have been “violated” nor in need of revision in such cases.  In the same way then, supposing supernatural factors might be at play in bringing about an event which the  currently known laws of nature fail to predict or describe (such as God raising our beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus from the dead), this cannot be said to entail a violation of the said laws nor does the supernatural event’s occurrence require a revision to the existing laws.  Since natural laws are only said to be valid on the implicit assumption that no unknown natural or supernatural factors are at play in interfering with the operation of ordinary natural mechanisms.

Finally, the third position one might adopt is the Causal Dispositions Theory, this theory supposes that everything has a certain nature or essence which includes certain causal dispositions to react to or affect other things in specific ways.  Salt for example, has the essential causal disposition to dissolve when put in water.  Now, while this view allows for certain metaphysically necessary natural propensities of things in the universe, there is no inherent prohibition against the possibility of there being other natural and/or at least supernatural causal factors that can serve to causally interfere with and/or impede a natural object’s ability to fulfill its causal disposition/propensity.

We know of many cases in science where a thing’s natural propensities are impeded due to an external causal influence that interferes with the former’s fulfillment (for example, a boy may have a natural disposition to kiss a pretty girl he likes, but he is impeded in doing so when the girl’s father walks into the room).  No one claims this constitutes a “violation” of a natural law and in the same way, when God acts supernaturally in the universe, He is merely temporarily impeding or interfering with the relevant thing’s ability to fulfill their natural propensities temporarily in order to bring about the supernatural occurrence- impediment/interference alone does not entail a logically contradictory violation of natural law!

Conclusion

We have seen that the proper default state on the question of whether supernatural miracles are possible/plausibility is agnosticism; given the Principle of Indifference one rationally ought to be equally open to any and all logical possibilities (including any supernatural/miraculous events).  Unless and until the Skeptic can prove or provide a warranted reason to think that such events are improbable/impossible to occur, then intellectually honest people will not, a priori, “rule out” the possibility of the supernatural.

That said, skeptics today have often employed a position of Scientism and/or a claim that supernatural miracles would “violate” the immutable and metaphysically necessary laws of nature as two such “reasons” to think it improbable or even impossible for supernatural events to occur.  As we have seen, both of these “reasons” are entirely unwarranted as utterly false notions on the part of the Skeptic and as such, barring any further warranted reasons for thinking that supernatural miracles are improbable, they must remain open to the plausibility of the supernatural/miraculous.  To do otherwise, only reveals that such Skeptics ought to be condemned as irrational raving Atheists with nothing more than an anti-supernatural bias to support their “blind faith” in Naturalism.

And that’s the view of the Christian/Seeker.

Dale

 

Matthew Taylor’s Response Blog (Skeptic’s View)

My position on miracles is very simple; if I am to accept that a miracle has happened, or can happen, I need evidence showing that the alleged miracle was performed by the agent that is getting credit for it. To be specific, if someone I dearly love is on their deathbed and then suddenly shows unexpected signs of improvement, for that to be accepted as a miracle, I would want to know what changed in order to make them improve and, this is of critical importance, I would want to know how the alleged agent of miracles initiated the change. It is taken as read that the latter part includes confirmation that the agent actually exists.

Why is this my standard? Because that’s the standard we hold to everything else. If a medical company claimed they have a medicine that they could spray into a recently deceased patient’s mouth and it would restart their heart, we would demand they explain how it works and the what the ingredients are so that the claim can be matched against the knowledge we have of the ingredients identified, and we would want to see evidence that the claim works, by testing it directly. The same goes with any miracle claim, show the process and the agent or forever be doubted.

Many miracle claims rely on incomplete human knowledge, we don’t know therefore miracle. This is not good enough, a lack of knowledge of how something happened does not mean the event was a miracle, it just means we don’t know. One should never accept a miracle claim on this criteria.

The rest of this post responds directly to Dales comments.

Dale believes there is a god and that god can or does perform miracles. If Dale’s god does indeed exist, then yes, I will happily accept that miracles are not only plausible, but they are to be expected. The existence of one suggests the other. However, the existence of any such god is a matter of significant doubt and all past miracle claims are sketchy at best. We are long past the point at which good evidence for either would have been found, so on that basis I deny that miracles are plausible.

Dale makes an appeal to The Principle of Indifference, which states “if there is no known reason for predicating of our subject one rather than another of several alternatives, then relatively to such knowledge the assertions of each of these alternatives have an equal probability for being true”.

There is a technicality here that I wish to quibble with here; the observer that has no knowledge will likely assign equal probable to each, but that does not mean each is equally probable. One of the options could be impossible and it is the observers’ ignorance that assigns it a value. The fact is, the observer with no knowledge that assigns equal probably has made a fundamental error and from that point all calculation and predictions are wrong. Starting from a position of error by ignorance is not a good starting point for any argument.

Unfortunately, Dale thinks it’s common sense and presents us with the three hoofed animals example that we hashed out in an episode of Ask An Atheist Anything.

Dale says he doesn’t wish to establish that miracles have happened, only that they’re plausible, the problem is, he can’t have one without the other. For me know that it’s plausible that talking an Aspirin tablet will rid me of my headache, I need to know that the medication has gone through trials, been tested, and, if I really wish, I can find details of how it works. The combination of that knowledge establishes the plausibility of two aspirin’s making a very real difference to the rest of my day.

If Dale wishes to establish that miracles are plausible, he must face also answer how they happen, what makes them happen, and what tests can be established to confirm one, adding miracle to a list of options and relying on ignorance to gain votes is not how you establish genuine plausibility. Believing something to be plausible does not make it plausible.

Ah, scientism, that oft thrown about accusation that those who deny the supernatural are guilty of scientism and therefore are unscientific and therefore whatever it is they are denying must be plausible. This is the line of attack taken by those who lack integrity, bring the evidence for your claim, or don’t be taken seriously because without evidence no one can know if the claim being presented has any foundation.

Conclusion:

One can pontificate about various philosophies of knowledge and quote thinkers both ancient and modern, but in the harsh world of real life, claims that can’t be demonstrated either die in obscurity or get relegated to religious belief. Miracles are one such claim. For miracles to be accepted as plausible they need to be elevated above the the level of a wish list tick box item. Miracles need to be established and the only way that can happen is by meticulous exposure to test and prediction. Dale may cry scientism at this point, but this the is same scientism that gives him medicine, education, a roof above his head and the technology used to present this post and podcast and you don’t see him rejecting those as ‘foolish’. The appeal to the Principle of Indifference is really the worship of ignorance, scoff at it as much as you like because that’s all it deserves.

The scientific method works and you should be suspicious of anyone who will not let their claim be subjected to it.

And that’s the position this hard nosed skeptic will defend.

 

Matthew

 

Recommended Sources (for further study);

0) Stanford Article that contains discussion on the Principle of Indifference (Equal Possibility/Probability) = https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/probability-interpret/ .

a) Martin Gardner on the Limits of Science = M. Gardner- Science & the Unknowable

Also see an interesting article on a revolutionary new thought about the Earth floating in space in Ancient Greece- no way to demonstrate its true, yet they knew it was plausible and they turned out to be right- therefore foolish for skeptics to not be open-minded based on lack of current demonstration = ROVELLI-Earth floats in space, suspended in the void.

 

b) See the chapters on the Possibility of Miracles in Dr. Michael Licona’s and Dr. Gary Habermas’ PhD’s dissertations on the evidence for the Resurrection = gary habermas_dissertation_1976- Resurrection and Possibility of Miracles

& Mike Licona’s = Mike Licona PhD Dissertation on the Resurrection

c) Naturalism- Differing Notions of the Laws of Nature = THREE VIEWS ON LAWS OF NATURE- OMER FATIH TEKIN & TWO VIEWS ON LAWS OF NATURE-MICHIL GHINS

 

d) William Lane Craig on Arguments Against Miracle’s = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sek3lp2CHos (see other parts from Parts #13-18 for full discussion).  Short videos by WLC = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJk_TnDHhZo (DO MIRACLE VIOLATE THE LAWS OF NATURE), 5 MIN CLIP ON JOHN ANKERBERG SHOW = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnYvkeomwM0 (ARE THEY POSSIBLE. & Finally, SCIENTISM REFUTED = https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/is-scientism-self-refuting/

 

e) Various Videos =

SCIENTISM REFUTED by JP MORELAND 15 MINS = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQYuCIOjuTQ&feature=emb_logo OR CRAIG KEENER ON David Hume’s Objections to Miracles refuted =  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InKAO3x5N5o .  ALSO SHORT 5 MIN FUZ RHANA SCIENCE VS. SCIENTISM = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N4Y411HE3U

LONGER LECTURE BY IAN HITCHINSON called “THE SCIENTISM DELUSION” = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvTPDRDCZLU

ALSO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFVARio4pAk  (LECTURE by a non-Philosopher who is a Historian and Chemist = 1-HOUR  AT WHEATLEY INSTITUTION- addresses the HISTORY AND POLITICS OF SCIENTISM AS WELL).

 

 

499 thoughts on “The Plausibility (or “Equal Possibility/Probability”) of the Miraculous- Refuting the Skeptical Presumption of Scientism/Naturalism

  1. Matthew, excellent job. I can’t wait to hear the debate.

    I have also attacked Dale’s assumption that everything one can throw onto the ballot has equal possibility. Hearing the hoofbeats does not make it equally likely that it is a unicorn. It just means that a person is ill-informed of the possibilities. To say that anything is possible is to negate the need for the ballot box at all. One can never eliminate anything. The moment something is eliminated, then not anything is possible. The truer statement is that anything seems possible to the ignorant. But that does not mean anything is actually possible in reality.

    One hears a knock at the door. They don’t know how many people are out there. So they say it could be any number of people. They would be wrong. It could not be 8 billion people since there are only a bit over 7 billion on the planet. Their ignorance of that fact is irrelevant.

    I find the scientism accusation to be just as flawed as you. It is a desperate attempt to shift the burden of proof. I believe in science because it continues to work. I would believe in other things if they are shown to be just as effective. So I have repeatedly asked the faithers like Dale to present some other form of epistemology that works as well as science. Tell me what it is and how I can access it. To this day, no one has offered anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I appreciate your view point David and that you feel I’m attacking a red herring but I’ve listened to both you and Darren and I do feel that you espouse these views despite your explicit denial that you do. I think its sub-conscious on your guys part but I recognize and acknowledge that both of you have denied that I’m rep’ing skeptics properly.

      That said, on the laws of nature aspect, have I represented you there- you’ve said you see the laws of nature as necessary multiple times on the show- have I characterized you accurately there?

      As to the scientism aspect- I suggest you listen to this presentation as its interesting- not philosophical but historical and done by a non-Philosoper historian and chemist = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFVARio4pAk . You might appreciate his take even if you don’t care about philosophers take on it

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      1. It is hard to know what is in your mind with regard to my opinions. So I will just state my opinion. There are laws of nature that describe how things work. They are descriptive. But that does not mean they are not also stable. Otherwise, we couldn’t call them laws.

        Oil and water don’t mix. It is not just that they haven’t mixed. If you try a thousand more times, you have no chance of getting a different result. It is a description of how things work, or in this case, don’t work.

        e=mc2 is not just true today, but yesterday and tomorrow. To deny that is to embody the meaning of science-denying.

        When you talk of descriptive vs. prescriptive laws, you are entering a false dichotomy. The laws of nature are descriptive. No one prescribed them. They simply describe the natural limits of our universe. The laws don’t limit the universe. They describe the limits already there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. David,

          Hmm OK so you’ve retracted your prior claims about the laws of nature being logically necessary then as that would be where the prescriptive part comes in. OK well I’m glad if you’ve changed your mind on that as that helps progress toward an openness to miracles and metaphysical possibilities like unicorns and God.

          Anyways, I’ll being bowing out now until after the show as I told Brian, but my view of where you were coming from was based on multiple prior shows where you went so far as to say you held to a metaphysical fatalism in that you think its not even possible that I be wearing a different colour shirt on any given occasion. That’s why I assumed you would have taken a Necessitarian or prescriptive stance on the laws of nature. Perhaps you do but the limits come from something else that is already there like the circumstances but then those aren’t necessary in themselves either.

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          1. You are mixing conversations about laws of nature and possible worlds. And you compiled bits and pieces of my thoughts in ways I would not.

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  2. Hi Dale and Matthew,
    Looking forward to the show.

    I’d guess the first issue is defining what a miracle is. Looking at the On-line Etymology Dictionary the word originally had meanings such as “smile” or “wonder”, “astonishing” and “amazing.” To me, today, I think the word means any time God intervenes and changes how things would naturally play-out. It could be something major – say if God were to cause the sun to vanish when it wasn’t going to. Or, it could be minor – say if I ask God to help me find my glasses and God causes me to look over at my desk and see them. Any time God causes something to happen that wasn’t going to – that would seem, to me, to be a miracle.

    So, are miracles plausible? To me, if there is a God who interacts with nature, then it would be plausible. However, it there is no God, or if God does not interact with nature, then it wouldn’t be plausible for there to be miracles.

    Now. how one knows if there is a God – or if something is the result of God interacting in nature – that is a very different question.

    Again, looking forward to the show,
    Brian

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Brian,

      I’m going to wait for the show to be put up before getting into the details, but I will make sure to answer your questions once that is up this weekend. Thanks for your take as always 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Brian,

      I just re-read this as I have a few seconds free right now and no questions for me- great, that saves time- awesome. I do have a question for you though. First I share your sentiment, but let me ask you as a blank slate- why does the non-existence of God entail that it is improbable for supernatural to be possible/plausible. What if there are supernatural gods and not just a God or supernatural Satan,demons or even supernatural dust bunnies that provide the mechanistic means for supernatural phenomena in the universe.

      Just curious as there are Atheists who believe in the supernatural, so why do you think that the non-existence of God an be said to serve as an argument that the supernatural is impossible. Is it all definitional- i.e. we both define them as acts that involve a God and thus no God then no acts of His or is there a fundamental difference with God that He alone makes miracles possible/plausible but supernatural hobbits do not in your view?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dale: “I do have a question for you though. First I share your sentiment, but let me ask you as a blank slate- why does the non-existence of God entail that it is improbable for supernatural to be possible/plausible. What if there are supernatural gods and not just a God or supernatural Satan, demons or even supernatural dust bunnies that provide the mechanistic means for supernatural phenomena in the universe.

        Just curious as there are Atheists who believe in the supernatural, so why do you think that the non-existence of God an be said to serve as an argument that the supernatural is impossible. Is it all definitional- i.e. we both define them as acts that involve a God and thus no God then no acts of His or is there a fundamental difference with God that He alone makes miracles possible/plausible but supernatural hobbits do not in your view?”

        Hi Dale,
        I had shared that my understanding is when people use the word “miracle” today, they pretty much mean God interacting with nature to make something happen that wasn’t going to happen. So, if there isn’t a God then there cannot be God interacting. However, if one were to change the definition replace “God” with “supernatural being” – then I’d say that if there is a supernatural being who interacts with nature, then miracles would be plausible. However, it there are no supernatural beings, or if there are supernatural beings who do not interact with nature, then it wouldn’t be plausible for there to be miracles.

        I hope this clarifies my thinking on the matter,
        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Cool, yes thank you it does clarify your position Brian 🙂

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  3. Wow. Well, at least Dale doesn’t have a strong bias against those foolish and ignorant scientists.

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    1. His real bias seems to be against lay skeptics who dare have an opinion. He seems fine with lay Christians like himself who have polarizing opinions.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. See, I had a zinger comeback against lay skeptics like yourself for this liner here, but given what happened last week and the fact that this is my first week running the show on my own, my way, probably best not to say it as it might be taken the wrong way and start a whole bunch of chaos- but it would have been funny though.

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    2. Darren,

      I wrote the blog prior to the blow up last week, I would not have written it that way had I written it after what happened. That said, I do stand by my words that often times Atheist scientists speak with authority on matters that they have no business pontificating on- they are as lay as you or I on issues of the philosophy of science.

      That said, I did take efforts in prior blogs to remove inflammatory words like saying skeptics were lay or ignorant (in the blogs at least) but I noticed the way David spoke of me and Christians in his subsequent blogs on the Trinity (very offensive, even assigning various perfidious motives to me personally) and so felt I was entitled to speak provocatively on my end as well- so that is why the blog is written the way it is.

      Thank you for your criticism, it is noted.

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  4. Dale wrote: We have seen that the proper default state on the question of whether supernatural miracles are possible/plausibility is agnosticism; given the Principle of Indifference one rationally ought to be equally open to any and all logical possibilities (including any supernatural/miraculous events). Unless and until the Skeptic can prove or provide a warranted reason to think that such events are improbable/impossible to occur, then intellectually honest people will not, a priori, “rule out” the possibility of the supernatural.

    I was going to respond, but Matthew beat me to it, : There is a technicality here that I wish to quibble with here; the observer that has no knowledge will likely assign equal probability to each, but that does not mean each is equally probable. One of the options could be impossible and it is the observers’ ignorance that assigns it a value. The fact is, the observer with no knowledge that assigns equal probably has made a fundamental error and from that point all calculations and predictions are wrong. Starting from a position of error by ignorance is not a good starting point for any argument.

    It’s also worth pointing out that we are not completely ignorant of the supernatural. We know for example that the supernatural has never been demonstrated to be a real thing. People can claim 100% knowledge about it all they want because of their properly basic beliefs. But that doesn’t mean they are doing anything other than deluding themselves since they can’t demonstrate that the belief reflects anything real in reality (ie. is true)

    We know that all the falsifiable supernatural claims made in the past have in fact been falsified when tested.

    We know that there has never been a known natural explanation that has ever been shown to be incorrect in favor of a supernatural explanation. And yet thousands of supernatural claims have been shown to be incorrect in favor of a natural one.

    So the supernatural doesn’t start out on equal footing as the natural because we are not completely ignorant about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darren,

      I had a ready made response to this, but I will just say this about the whole it might be logically impossible (in terms of mere epistemic possibility- for all I know as an ignorant blank slate- not speaking of it might be the case in terms of ontological or metaphysical possibility); therefore one ought to disbelieve in miracles plausibility rather than be open to it until one has reason.

      Under this view Darren, this would mean you (assuming you were in the position of being a “blank slate” at least) ought to be a Theist then, I guess you believe in God because it could be the case (epistemially possible) for God to exist as a logically necessary Being- that means it is logically impossible for Him not to exist. Obviously, this is a flawed position for someone in the “blank state” to take- that person should remain open unless and until he has reason to favour the notion that its logically impossible for God not to exist (thus the Theist making the claim has to prove to him that its improbable or implausible for God not to exist).

      The solution is not for the blank state person to assume God exists until proven its possible for him not exist, its to remain agnostic until presented with evidence or reason one way or the other.

      In the same way, the blank slate must not assume that miracles are implausible because they may be impossible for all they know, they must remain agnostic until someone presents evidence or reason for that person to think they are impossible/implausible.

      Either way, you are now obligated to either say I’m right that one should be agnostic on the plausibility of miracles or else by applying your reasoning process then you are saying one must believe that a supernatural God exists until the Atheist proves that it is possible (metaphysically possible not mere epistemically possible in this case) for God not to exist (which is an absurd request- I’m sure you’ll agree).

      I will be leaving the dialogue at this on my end at least for now.

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      1. Either way, you are now obligated to either say I’m right that one should be agnostic on the plausibility of miracles or else by applying your reasoning process then you are saying one must believe that a supernatural God exists until the Atheist proves that it is possible for God not to exist (which is an absurd request- I’m sure you’ll agree).

        To be agnostic on the plausibility is not the same as saying that it is in fact plausible. Being agnostic means you haven’t seen any reason to think it is plausible yet. If you had a reason to think it was plausible you wouldn’t be agnostic on its plausibility.

        And I gave the reasons why we have reason to think that it is not plausible. Given the utter failure of theists to demonstrate their claims are actually true, even after 5000 years of recorded history, I’m pretty sure we have given the theists plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their claims about the supernatural are correct, and can safely discard the notion at this point until the theist figures out a way to demonstrate their claims are accurate (ie. true).

        As you already know, baseless claims don’t make something plausible.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Darren,

          We have different definitions of what plausible means then, just insert whatever word allows you to be in the default agnostic position on the question of whether supernatural miracles are possible or not and that is what I’m arguing for.

          Yes, you did provide reasons to favour one side over the other (which a blank slate person would not be privy to of course) but obviously those will have to be tackled and refuted to maintain the agnostic state- I’m assuming Matt will be raising them in the Podcast tomorrow and so you’ll hear my rebuttal to those at that time if he does.

          But, since my computer is taking forever to load this thing right now, I will just say- I’m the blank slate and you come to me and say I should think it improbable that miracles are possible. Why I say. You say b/c for 5000 years no Theist has been able to demonstrate that one has occurred. Let’s pretend I find this form of reasoning, if true, to be persuasive (I don’t but just say I do for the sake of argument).

          I, in my blank state, say OK prove it, demonstrate to me that after 5000 years of recorded history theists have had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their miracle claims are true and yet they failed to do so. Are you able to prove that Jesus didn’t appear to Peter in his supernaturally resurrected state thus demonstrating to him, can you prove that Muhammad didn’t perform any miracles in front of his followers thus demonstrating it to them, what about that random guy Jim Bob Jones who no one ever heard of in 1938, can you demonstrate to me that he didn’t supernaturally heal his neighbours kid in front of the whole village thus demonstrating it to them? And so on and so forth.

          The point is at some point its impossible for you to demonstrate that its true that no Theist has demonstrated the possibility and/or occurrence of the supernatural, at which point, I as the blank slate, even if convinced that your reasoning was sound in warranting the conclusion that I ought to favour the impossibility or implausibility of miracles will simply say, well that was a failure as an argument- the Atheist just made a claim and didn’t demonstrate to be true at all. I’ll stay agnostic thank you very much.

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          1. We have different definitions of what plausible means then, just insert whatever word allows you to be in the default agnostic position on the question of whether supernatural miracles are possible or not and that is what I’m arguing for.

            The default position is you wait and see whether it is plausible or not before making any declarations about its plausibility.

            Plausibility has to be demonstrated, just like implausibility does.

            No apologist has ever demonstrated plausibility, but I have given good reasons to think it is implausible. When the apologist can demonstrate plausibility then we can look at the balance again, but until then the skeptic is perfectly warranted to dismiss miracles out of hand. After all, what makes your claims of the miraculous any different than the thousands before you that have all been debunked?

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            1. Darren,

              Again we quibble on the definition of what “plausible” means- that’s fine, I’ve been through that with Vaal before and I have my own definition of it. Simply remove that word and replace it with whatever word you like to represent the “agnostic” position on not taking a stance on probability they can occur or probably they can’t occur and it’s fine, you agree with me then.

              As to your reason, well I refuted the one you gave below, as a blank state I’m totally unconvinced by someone simply claiming that no one has ever demonstrated a supernatural miracle to anyone in 5000 years- I don’t believe you and there was no proof or demonstration of that in any comment I’ve seen from you. You can of course modify your argument to be more nuanced maybe by saying that no one has demonstrated one in a way that was universally known and accepted by all elites or people or scientists or something like that (even that more nuanced argument will still fail as an argument though). Or you can present an entirely new argument to me as a blank slate and see how that fairs.

              But as a blank slate, simply being presented with your unqualified argument below that “even after 5000 years of recorded history, I’m pretty sure we have given the theists plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their claims about the supernatural are correct and they have all failed”. That is mere assertion and vague and hence I interpreted that to mean that you’re saying no one has ever demonstrated the supernatural to anyone and to that I say prove- prove that Jesus didn’t supernaturally appear to Mary Mags, the “12” and others early followers after his death on the cross.

              If you can’t then your claimed argument fails to convince the blank state person one way or the other, just as it would if I went up to the blank slate guy and said the supernatural is probably metaphysically possible because there have been times when someone has demonstrated it to be true. Blank slate guy says- right yeah I’ll buy that, OK prove it then. Well Jesus supernaturally rose from the dead and appeared in front of the his Apostles to demonstrate this to them. Blank slate guy says, OK great, can you prove that happened. Well, no I’m just asserting and assuming it to you and expecting you to believe me. Right says the blank slate guy, well no thanks, I’ll stay agnostic until you can prove that happened to me.

              Same deal with you, you can assert and assume that no one has ever demonstrated the supernatural is possible to other people before, but I’ll stay agnostic until you can prove that is in fact the case over the past 5000 years.

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              1. Simply remove that word and replace it with whatever word you like to represent the “agnostic” position on not taking a stance on probability they can occur or probably they can’t occur and it’s fine, you agree with me then.

                If I agree with you, then why are you claiming the agnostic position means something should be counted as plausible before you have given any reason to think it is plausible? After all, that was the point of your post. Scientism and naturalism don’t provide a good reason to dismiss the supernatural out of hand, therefore the blank slate guy should think it is plausible.

                Your entire post was about why you feel dismissing the miraculous out of hand was unreasonable. You did nothing at all to demonstrate that the miraculous was actually plausible.

                As to your reason, well I refuted the one you gave below, as a blank state I’m totally unconvinced by someone simply claiming that no one has ever demonstrated a supernatural miracle to anyone in 5000 years-

                That’s not a refutation, that is just your opinion about if we should accept it or not. But hey, if you can produce a manuscript that does more than making baseless claims, I will be happy to take that reason off the pile of reasons.

                Until then Theists are making claims, and the lack of results for demonstrating those claims are true is a good indication that they are just making things up.

                I don’t believe you and there was no proof or demonstration of that in any comment I’ve seen from you.

                You can not believe me all you want. But you also can’t produce any documents where the theist has demonstrated their claims are true. Which is the point of my statement.

                But as a blank slate, simply being presented with your unqualified argument below that “even after 5000 years of recorded history, I’m pretty sure we have given the theists plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their claims about the supernatural are correct and they have all failed”. That is mere assertion and vague and hence I interpreted that to mean that you’re saying no one has ever demonstrated the supernatural to anyone and to that I say prove- prove that Jesus didn’t supernaturally appear to Mary Mags, the “12” and others early followers after his death on the cross.

                That is nice that you are trying to shift the burden of proof, but that isn’t how it works. My statements are an observations of the failings of the theist to demonstrate their claims are true. No one has ever demonstrated that Jesus did, in fact, supernaturally appear to Mary Mags and the 12.

                All the blank slate has to do is go out and see what the apologists are saying to show that it is true. Had something like that ever actually happened then you wouldn’t even bother with your 11 point argument for god, or the ontological arguments or any of the other arguments. Your goto would be to point directly to the resurrection, and the evidence it actually happened. It would be everyone’s goto because as much as apologists like to pretend science doesn’t matter, when they think they have scientific evidence it is always their first stop, over any other philosophical or theological argument.

                But you don’t have that evidence. You don’t have anything that demonstrates even a little bit that the miraculous is plausible, which is why your entire post had no evidence in it, just attacks on other philosophical positions that don’t do anything to prove your case. Your go-to is the ignorance of the blank slate, not the fact that you can demonstrate that the miraculous is a real thing.

                If you can’t then your claimed argument fails to convince the blank state person one way or the other,….

                No, it doesn’t convince you because you have a vested interest in thinking your position is reasonable.

                For everyone else it is convincing. It is why they don’t believe in bigfoot, the lock ness monster, Zeus, fairies or any of the other thousand things that have been proposed but then dismissed because the person making the claims haven’t produced any evidence that their claims are accurate.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Darren,

                  Again I feel that you are losing the main point here due to a difference in terminology, I’ve already clarified on that front as to what I mean by plausibility- it is simply the blank slate- nothing more or nothing less. Is that the precise definition- no perhaps not and hence why I’ve now corrected for that. For me, the agnostic blank slate means something is plausible, but you disagree definitionally and as your definition or use of the word is technically correct this is why I’ve taken measures to explain what I mean by it.

                  That said, I think you agree with me, if I were to say does the blank slate guy have to think the supernatural is “implausible” (your definition of the word) until he goes out and produces that manuscript or should he be agnostic as to whether its plausible vs. implausible (under your definitions of the term). You’ve already answered me on this, you said “Plausibility has to be demonstrated, just like implausibility does”.

                  Essentially in my terms, I would say I agree with you that “The probability of the possibility of miracles has to be demonstrated, just like improbability of the possibility of miracles has to be demonstrated”. That would be how I say it given my own definitions of the terms.

                  Hence, you agree with me, you just disagree with my use of the word “plausibility” as you think I’m saying the blank slate guy should think that the supernatural is “probably possible”- no that’s not my argument. Unless and until we have reasons to think one way or the other than we ought to be open to the equal possibility or impossibility of the supernatural- that’s my argument this week. I also try to imply that there are no reasons that are persuasive as to why one ought to think that the supernatural is “probably” metaphysically impossible and/or in your terms implausible.

                  That is what I’m aiming to do this week, I’m not arguing that miracles are “probably metaphysically possible” (my terms) or plausible (your terms) at all.

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                  1. Again I feel that you are losing the main point here due to a difference in terminology, I’ve already clarified on that front as to what I mean by plausibility- it is simply the blank slate- nothing more or nothing less.

                    Ok, a blank slate is not how anyone else defines plausibility. That isn’t even how philosophers define plausibility. If this is really what you mean when you say plausible, then you should make that clear in the podcast, because I am guessing that isn’t what you actually mean and absolutely no one else is going to know what you are talking about if you keep saying plausible.

                    For me, the agnostic blank slate means something is plausible, but you disagree definitionally and as your definition or use of the word is technically correct this is why I’ve taken measures to explain what I mean by it.

                    Yeah, it isn’t only me that is going to disagree definitionally. You are not using the word even remotely correctly.

                    That said, I think you agree with me, if I were to say does the blank slate guy have to think the supernatural is “implausible” (your definition of the word) until he goes out and produces that manuscript or should he be agnostic as to whether its plausible vs. implausible (under your definitions of the term). You’ve already answered me on this, you said “Plausibility has to be demonstrated, just like implausibility does”.

                    Yes, but as David already pointed out above, if he has no reason to think it is … I don’t even know what word to use here since you mangled the definition of plausible.

                    Let me just say the blank slate has no reason not to dismiss baseless claims out of hand. If you can’t demonstrate that the supernatural or the miraculous actually happen, then there is no reason for the blank slate to take your claims of the miraculous seriously. And he is highly warranted in doing so.

                    Your inability to demonstrate the miraculous is a real thing is the problem, not a couple of philosophical positions that don’t represent the real problems with thinking the miraculous deserve a spot in the ballot box, as David would say.

                    Essentially in my terms, I would say I agree with you that “The probability of the possibility of miracles has to be demonstrated, just like improbability of the possibility of miracles has to be demonstrated”. That would be how I say it given my own definitions of the terms.

                    Ok, and how do you determine the probability of something you can’t demonstrate is a real thing? Or is your definition of “probability” something along the lines of, “says what I want it to say to support my already existing beliefs.”? Which seems to be what most apologists mean when they start talking about probabilities.

                    Hence, you agree with me, you just disagree with my use of the word “plausibility” as you think I’m saying the blank slate guy should think that the supernatural is “probably possible”- no that’s not my argument.

                    Then you should scrap your post and rewrite it then. Because this is not at all what your post was indicating.

                    Unless and until we have reasons to think one way or the other than we ought to be open to the equal possibility or impossibility of the supernatural-

                    And David and Mathew already showed why that is a flawed place to start. Your ignorance on the subject doesn’t make it equally possible, especially when no one has ever demonstrated that what you are trying to claim is possible has never been demonstrated to be a real thing.

                    I also try to imply that there are no reasons that are persuasive as to why one ought to think that the supernatural is “probably” metaphysically impossible and/or in your terms implausible.

                    And I have already given the reason to show that there is a lot of reason to think that the miraculous is implausible, and probably metaphysically impossible as well. But there has yet to be an apologist that has ever demonstrated that the possibility of the miraculous is above 0.

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                    1. Darren,

                      I will ensure to make that clear on the Podcast for people, I will respectfully decline your request for me to re-write the blog as I’m allowed to use words anyway I want to so long as I clarify what I mean if using them in uncommon ways. I have now done so by correcting the title of the Blog. I seem to recall David inventing his own meaning for the word “Jesus Mythicism” so as to equivocate and essentially make all Atheists and even some Christians technically speaking “mythicists”- I supported him and you didn’t complain to him at the time for his use of words in non-ordinary ways.

                      As to my supposed ignorance on this subject, well I’ve worked with the world’s experts in this area specifically for years (ones that disagree and ones that agree with my take), received recognition from the head of Ryerson’s Philosophical Society for my work in this area specifically and received a mark of 100% on an essay that I wrote on this topic specifically. I think pretending that I’m ignorant simply b/c I used a term in a non-ordinary way and forgot to clarify that in a blog is not a warranted inference to make.

                      This is not bragging on my part, but I think if you are going to say that I’m ignorant about an issue, then I should be able to bring in my background as a defense for people to decide for themselves.

                      Thank you for your take and for exposing a lack of preciseness in my blog- I have made the necessary amendments and have made note to be specific in the Podcast tomorrow.

                      Have a good day.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. I will ensure to make that clear on the Podcast for people, I will respectfully decline your request for me to re-write the blog as I’m allowed to use words anyway I want to so long as I clarify what I mean if using them in uncommon ways. I have now done so by correcting the title of the Blog.

                      The clarification in the title isn’t going to help as it doesn’t actually clarify what you mean. However, it doesn’t really matter because all of my arguments against plausibility work just as well against “Equal Possibility/Probability”.

                      You would be better off just not using the word plausible in the podcast. It will help prevent a lot of confusion since your target audience is not “the world’s experts in this area” or the “head of Ryerson’s Philosophical Society”.

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                    3. Given that you seem to accept the idea that plausibility (which by your definition means equal possibility/probability) has to be demonstrated before you can make the claim of plausibility, it will be interesting to hear how you demonstrate that equally possible/probable has been demonstrated for the clean slate to accept the miracle claims as an option in the ballot box.

                      Do all you have is ignorance and baseless claims? or do you have a real reason?

                      Looking forward to finding out.

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                    4. This is the key point. The reason we can suggest that it is plausible that miracles don’t exist is because there are none that we can detect happening right now, and none we can say for sure have happened. So it is at least plausible that state has always been the case. That is a reasonable starting point for plausibility.

                      Dale wants us to simply grant without warrant that miracles are equally plausible despite the fact that we do not have similar grounds for miracle plausibility. Is Dale suggesting we don’t need to establish any grounds for plausibility? That’s what it seems like. I’m prepared to stand corrected on this point.

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  5. Mathew wrote: If Dale wishes to establish that miracles are plausible, he must face also answer how they happen, what makes them happen, and what tests can be established to confirm one, adding miracle to a list of options and relying on ignorance to gain votes is not how you establish genuine plausibility. Believing something to be plausible does not make it plausible.

    I think this idea needs to be highlighted since it is a common tactic of the apologist. They want you to believe that ignorance makes their ideas more plausible.

    Notice though that Dale didn’t do anything to demonstrate that the supernatural or miracles were a real option, something that actually happens and therefore has a seat at the table when considering the possibilities. He appealed to people’s ignorance on the subject, trying to slip the miraculous in with no evidence that it actually deserves to be there.

    There has never been an apologist that has ever demonstrated the supernatural or miraculous is a real thing. The only thing they ever try to do is slip in the miraculous through your ignorance on what really happened.

    And I think that is an important thing that people need to watch out for when evaluating the plausibility of the miraculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks all for the comments, and Dale for this opportunity.

    Looking forward to the discussion tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are welcome Matt, last you told me you weren’t free until 2020, so I wasn’t expecting to be speaking with you on this, if I had known than I probably would not have mentioned Scientism as I remember in the Still Unbelievable book comments you mentioned to me how much you hate that label.

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  7. The show is now available. It was rather tense at times. But it was an excellent show. Special props to Dale for taking on three skeptics.

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  8. That was quick David.

    Thanks to all and thanks especially to Dale, I’m sure he’d have rather had a 1 on 1 dialogue.

    He and I could have sent more time questioning each other, but when the four of us very together, it’s always a little bit meandering!

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    1. Hey Matt,

      About archaeology vs. C-14- here are some info;

      “An archaeologist has a number of tools she can use in trying to ascertain the historical date of a particular strata or assemblage of remains in a site. These include various techniques for dating (e.g. radiometric dating, thermoluminescene), inscriptional references, and especially pottery. The field is heavily dependent on the dating schema of pottery types. For illustration, the field will determine that a certain type of collared-rim jar was mainly used by Israel in the Iron Age, or that “Chocolate on White Ware” was confined to a narrow region around the Jordan Valley in the 16th century. The presence or absence of such ‘index remains’ are key determinants in dating a site. Generally, entire assemblages of items are preferred, but the field folks work with what they get. Archaeologists use the term site formation to describe how the original occupants’ behavior radically determines what materials entered the archix record–in other words, what articles were left and preserved when a site was abandoned (and all sites are ‘abandoned’ in some way, even those on top of which later settlements are built)….. techniques such as the carbon 14 method have not yet achieved a degree of dependability and accuracy that would allow us to use their results without some reservations….archaeological contexts only infrequently permit a clear demarcation between one period and the next. Drawing such dividing lines is thus very much a matter of the judgment of the individual scholar…”

      And,

      Dr. Robert Stuckenrath, one of the early pioneers and world’s experts in C-14 dating specifically said this in regards to general problems with C-14 in dating archaeological artifacts, “The date of a sample whose provenance is in doubt is worse than useless, its misleading”. He said this because its been proven to be in error so many times for objects of known age.

      Anna Hullbert, a specialist in the conservation of medieval art and paintings said “Carbon dating like X-rays or any other analytical technique should only ever be regarded as one tool amoung many, never to be used as the sole arbiter of the actual age of an archeological artefact”.

      Secular Middle Eastern archaeologist Eugenia Nitowski said, “In any form of inquiry or scientific discipline, it is the weight of evidence that must be considered conclusive, in archaeology, if there are 10 lines of evidence , C-14 being one of them, and it conflicts with the other 9, there is little hesitation in secular archaeology to throw out the C-14 date as inaccurate due to unforeseen contamination”.

      As to a specific example of the Egyptian Mummy, I read the example in a book but was unable to find the reference in the short time I had to write this, I could find it in time but rather than that though, I can provide you with the peer-reviewed article on the Trondhiem Report that demonstrates times when the CC-14 has false dated objects of known historical age (based on other evidence) and the process messed up and was thus ruled to be inaccurate compared to the more reliable historical methods- see R Burliegh, M. Leese and M. Tite, “An Intercomparison of Som e-AMS and Small Gas Counter Laboratories” in Radiocarbon, Vol. 28, No. 2A (1986).

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      1. As on the show, I fail to see your point. C-14 is reliable when used appropriately. There are many instances when it has not been used appropriately. No one denies that. You are not proving that science does not work. You are simply showing what happens when it is not used well.

        And you are not demonstrating an alternative to the natural. You know what method is not used to determine history? The miraculous. So you are still not making any headway in proving that the miraculous should be considered equally possible, only that C-14 should not be the only method of scientific evaluation. Agreed! So what?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Its also worth pointing out the C-14 dating has also been used to correct historical dating in the past. Egyptian dating comes to mind as a specific example. A lot of the dates presumed by Egyptologists were confirmed using C-14 dating and some controversial dating was shown to be incorrect because of the carbon dating.

          The C-14 dating in these case overrode the historical dating.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Darren,

            Yes, you are entirely correct on that front, in fat I would say that most of the time, C-14 is a reliable dating method and has provided accurate dates– sometimes the scientific evidence can and has entirely overturned the historical evidence we have and rightly so- so it is a two-way street, you are entirely on point for mentioning that.

            It gets down to a case by case basis, but so long as we recognize it can be a two-way street and not a one-way then my point against scientism is sustained.

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            1. No one was arguing scientism. You are still fighting a straw man. What you have not addressed is how you are refuting naturalism as you promised in the title of this blog. You are trying to conflate scientism with naturalism and by addressing one, you claim to have made your case. Some might see that as disingenuous.

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              1. David,

                You seem to have a bee up your bonnet and for a comment where I was supporting a valid point made by Darren. Again, if I’m somehow angering you with the comments here, its unintentional but I will stop commenting and study for my finals now if they are having this effect on you for some reason.

                Take care.

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                1. As I said before, and repeatedly, you are straw manning our positions. Further, you are not defending the territory you said you would. That is on you. But perhaps others see it differently. What I am unhappy about is your continued misrepresentation of my position for the sake of rhetorical value. I am not willing to leave a false impression about what I said unchallenged.

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                  1. David,

                    Well this is what made me so unhappy with the whole affair as I’m the one being railroaded into making claims I never did and then being forced to answer things I don’t want or don’t need to in order to establish my point. Look, I’ve been consistent in terms of my intent in the blogs, in the Podcast and here in the comments. You had misunderstandings as to my intent and as Darren exposed prior to recording day, part of that was my fault for using loose definitions on what I meant by establishing “plausibility”- as such I took efforts to clarify what I was doing prior to recording and as promised to Darren, in the show itself I made sure to explain what I was trying to do.

                    So I’m sorry you feel like I’m strawmanning you, but this is literally what you are doing to me as my topic was about refuting skeptical claims that miracles should be presumed to be probably impossible a priori- that means skeptics will present arguments/reasons to think that and then I would refute it. You can say that none of you made claims and as I said so be it, we will be left in the blank slate which was my goal from the beginning.

                    Maybe state right here and right now- do you lack belief that miracles are impossible, if so then my job was accomplished in terms of my stated goals. If not, then OK you need to prove your claim by showing me warranted reasons that make the supernatural probably impossible.

                    I honestly don’t know how I can be any clearer or fair in my stated stance, its all on the public record in audio and comment form at this point, so I’d ask you not to presume to speak for me on what my goals in this show were at this point- not angry or upset here, I’m just trying to tell you as plainly and impartially as I can that I’m not being dishonest or saying things for rhetorical purposes and at this point, its getting a little offensive for you and the others to say that is what I’m doing, this was the kind of thing that lead to me being “mad dog dale” as you called him.

                    I don’t believe for a second that you and Andrew and Matt, were deliberately trying to play rhetorical games by requesting that I prove miracles have actually occurred at all, I don’t feel the need to constantly malign their efforts by describing them having “nefarious” (Andrew- but he cleared the air and hasn’t said anything like this since so just using for illustration purposes), dishonest (Matt- continuing to say that I’m this) and “misrepresenting people on purpose for rhetorical value (you again up until now). You guys don’t have to stop this and I won’t complain or get defensive if you keep it up, but just be aware that this kind of thing is not helpful for Christian vs. skeptical conversation.

                    Take care.

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                    1. Let’s just assume everyone is being as honest as possible. Great. If everyone on the show who had a chance to read your blog in advance and think about careful responses are mistaken about the point you are trying to make, and feel like you are straw manning their position, and think you are not addressing the point you said you would be addressing… If that is the case, the problem might be in the delivery of the message.

                      But for the sake of being agreeable, I will just say that all the skeptics are idiots and misunderstood you, and continue to misunderstand you. You are truly gracious to even try to communicate with the likes of us.

                      Okay, there might have been a hint of snark there. 🙂

                      Liked by 2 people

                    2. Hey David,

                      Well apart from the title and one instance in the blog where I used the word “plausible”, I don’t think you should have been confused. I re-read after Darren asked me to re-write it and I was surprised that for the most part I stated things correctly. So, I think the confusion mostly came in the with the big title using the Word plausibility and that’s why I changed that to add in “Or Equally Possible/Probable”.

                      So yeah, I clarified this point specifically in the comment prior to the show, changed the title to clarify what I meant, explained what I was going on about in the show itself and even in my frustratedness explained I felt you guys were missing the point. I made a mistake with the title, OK so be it, but I did everything else I could think of to clarify what I was doing, I literally don’t know how to make it any more clear if its still not making sense at this point. Maybe I should hire a speech writer or something, cause other than that no idea what else I could possibly do at this point 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

            2. It gets down to a case by case basis, but so long as we recognize it can be a two-way street and not a one-way then my point against scientism is sustained.

              Yes, it is a two-way street, but no, it doesn’t support your point against scientism. It may support your point about what Christians like to call scientism, but it doesn’t make your point against people that rely on science to distinguish fact from fiction, which is what most Christians call scientism.

              All I ask is that you remember this conversation when you start making claims about the shroud, and refrain from accusing people of scientism just because they disagree with you on the science of the shroud. Or when they disagree with you about the “evidence” you are providing for miracles.

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              1. Darren, I will remember this whenever Teddi finally gets her thing up and the convo begins- though bloodstains not the C-14 is the first issue she wants to discuss and so that may not come up for a while.

                Anyways, yes C-14 can be an evidence that overrides other evidential factors, but in the case of the Shroud, just like with the Sudarium (which even the C-14 scientists agreed was wrong b/c the historical evidence was stronger and their results were therefore contaminated and rejected), I don’t think it does- the results are not reliable (and this can be proven statistically off the data as is and there are factors that C-14 scientists themselves admit means the C-14 date is not reliable evidence. That combined with the more reliable historical evidences from the links to the Pray Codex, and Sudarium of Oviedo for example warrant us in saying that very probably the C-14 should be rejected in this particular instance. You’ve heard me present these reasons already and so as long as you don’t dismiss those but seriously consider them on the reliability of the C-14 dates then it will be good.

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                1. I don’t think it does- the results are not reliable (and this can be proven statistically off the data as is and there are factors that C-14 scientists themselves admit means the C-14 date is not reliable evidence.

                  I have yet to see anything compelling along this vein. Though I have seen a lot of claims that don’t pan out the way the pro-shroud crowd is hoping.

                  That combined with the more reliable historical evidences from the links to the Pray Codex, and Sudarium of Oviedo for example warrant us in saying that very probably the C-14 should be rejected in this particular instance.

                  I haven’t seen reliable historical evidence either, just supposition and big leaps to try to make the actual evidence try to fit the mythology.

                  You’ve heard me present these reasons already and so as long as you don’t dismiss those but seriously consider them on the reliability of the C-14 dates then it will be good.

                  Yes, I have on both counts, and it just isn’t convincing. I just don’t find speculation that can’t be demonstrated to be true, or magical thinking to be persuasive.

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      2. Hi Dale,

        Regarding the first part of your post, what do you think it’s saying?

        When I read that, I read that c14 lacks the definition to give a specific date for archaeological purposes. As said on the show, c14 gives a range, to narrow the range you need other indicators.

        Also, like all good scientists, archaeologists don’t rely on a single indicator to get a date. They use multiple ones so that they can validate each other.

        This is not a criticism of c14.

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      3. Regarding the second half of your post, I’ve tried to find the Robert Stuckenrath quote to see the context, but all I can find is that sentence used in shroud related documents.

        To be blunt, it smells of a cherry picked quote aimed at discrediting c14. Which is exactly the sort of dishonesty I detest so much with regards the scientism accusation.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Matt,

          Once again thanks for saying I’m dishonest, how honest of you mention it again- well I will just turn the other cheek to that one.

          Anyways, wow so many things to reply to and I went out of order so losing track. I don’t think I replied to you yet. As to my point on C-14, as I told Darren, I’m not a science denier, I’m not trying to show that the validity of C-14 as a whole is not good evidence- no of course not I rely on it myself as an evidential factor for things. In fact C-14 scientists have made vast improvements to the methods to try and correct for some of the early errors that took place and remove or mitigate against such from taking place. That said the method is not infallible and the point remains there are cases where by other fields have been used to inform and correct the scientific conclusion based on flawed C-14 data alone and that is all I need to make my point- why on Earth we needed to spend so much time on one simple point is beyond me.

          The Sudarium of Oviedo was known based on historical evidence to be at least 5-6th century A.D. in Judea region but when it was C-14 dated they got a date of 700 A.D. Everyone including the C-14 scientists dismissed the scientic evidence and trusted the more reliable historical evidence in this case (no one denies this not even Shroud skeptic Hugh Farey who was in contact with the C-14 scientists personally and the C-14 scientists attributed their error to oil contamination at the conference they presented at).

          As to the sources, I don’t enjoy the implication that I’m making things up and putting me on the spot to know a specific reference for you to read on air struck me as very disingenuous on your part- do you have everything you’ve ever read memorized and catalogued in your head so that on demand you can give specific citations on the spot. No, I don’t think so.

          As such, I gave you a secular peer-reviewed source in the Radiocarbon Journal if that is cherry picking or special pleading then great let’s dismiss the 1989 Nature article dating the Shroud to 1355 or thereabouts too.

          As to Robert Stuckenrath quote, my source is the following peer-reviewed science journal article = Robert Stuckenrath Jr. “On the Care and Feeding of Radiocarbon Dates” Archaeology, Vol. 18, No. 4 (December 1965), pp. 277-281.

          P.S.- You also asked somewhere that I’ve lost track of to do another show on this topic with just you and me- OK that is cool with me we can do it as a solo show of mine (and of course as always you can put it up on 4A or SU if you like). I’ve got exams this week and to be honest I’m struggling with the work load right now, so it’ll have to wait until after then. We are geared up to David’s miracles show on the 21st of Decemeber and so perhaps we can do it during the week before that show (either the 14th or any other day/time that works for you).

          What I’d suggest is this- we get my blank slate thing- so how about each side comes up with 2 reasons to favour miracles being probably possible or probably impossible and then we can discuss each of those. Obviously, you know where I’ll go- God exists and also the modal possibility of supernatural things/events and perhaps you can tell me 2 reasons you will use to say that miracles are probably impossible and we can go from there.

          Sound good?

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  9. I found this one a bit frustrating. The heart of the matter surrounds appeals to the “blank slate” and for 2 hours of discussion, this was barely touched upon. Apart from philosophical masturbation, why would one appeal to a blank slate?

    We don’t appeal to a blank slate when we walk out our door each morning. Sure an alien might be waiting to body snatch me. Or a giant brain sucking worm may be lying in wait for me. Or the Terminator might be just around the corner waiting to stab me through the heart with his morphing limbs. Do I consider these as equal threats to my set of stairs that I have to negotiate? No. I know stuff about the world and therefore I dismiss the fantastical and walk confidently out of our front doors each day but being careful to put each foot in the middle of each step so as not to fall and hurt myself. I know from personal experience and the testimony of people spanning thousands of years that falls from stairs pose a greater risk to my safety than Terminators and so the latter does not figure in my calculus.

    We know that miracles have a dubious history. Whenever they are properly investigated, something shows up to cast doubt on them. Or we learn something new, e.g. the body does occasionally go into spontaneous remission of advanced cancer due to the immune system evolving new defenses. The reports of historical miracles always fail to reach the evidential standards of say, what we might require for FDA approval of a new drug.

    Miracles cannot enjoy an equal chair at the table with what we know actually does happen in this world. One might think they have a properly basic belief or one’s modal evaluating faculties might be giving one confirming flatulence, but the paucity of reliable evidence which withstands even modest scrutiny means the miraculous must take a seat in the outer.

    And even given theism, the verdict is no different. We live in a world, theistic or otherwise, where the wheels of the laws of nature churn out day after day after day. That is the way of things.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I share your frustration and I was the one moderating. While the blank slate is important to Dale’s argument, I don’t know what more we could have said about it. Your comment above is perfect. It makes the point without wiggle room. It took about two minutes for me to read. It would have taken even less for you to say it on the show. I hardly see how we could have taken more than a half hour on it.

      The blank slate idea seems like a complete non-starter. We can’t even set up a ballot box of ideas or possibilities without prior knowledge. We are not even born as a blank slate. When we set up a series of equal possibilities, we are making the judgement that each item on the ballot is at least possible. Then, we are deciding that it is equal to all other possibilities on the ballot. By definition, there is no blank slate with regard to equal possibilities.

      We all tried to point this out earlier in the show in one form or another. Dale has an idiosyncratic formulation of starting points. This is something we have all wrestled with him on in his use of Bayes. If the starting point is wrong, the conclusion is unreliable. Dale’s starting point arbitrarily sets everything at 50/50. And he completely ignores prior knowledge when setting that value.

      Also, Dale believes he has sufficiently covered this material in his solo shows and other podcasts. So it is hard to get him to go over it afresh. I’m sure Dale will have more to say on this as the week progresses. But that is some of the frustration we were navigating.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Anthony,

      I understand where you are coming from, I was deeply frustrated with the show and am completely unsatisfied with how it turned out myself, its the first show that I just had no interest in listening to myself and I’m a host.

      That said, my goal with the blank slate is to show that skeptic’s aren’t allowed to just assume certain givens that miracles are implausible but have to prove those reasons are warranted first and that’s what I wanted to highlight with my approach.

      You and I have gone back and forth on this before, you give a reason based on precedent that the laws of nature are the way things have always gone and therefore the prior prob is very low, Vaal had raised a similar reason to yours except he approaches is from the divine psychology aspect, God exists and has created the laws of nature and has gone with them ever since, so the likelihood of a supernatural event happening is very low a priori. I’ve addressed this objection to you and Vaal’s variation of the argument and to my mind, even if not to yours, refuted them. God is not bound based on prior precedent in all circumstances, as a freewill agent who has purposes, He is perfectly able to do a supernatural miracle at anytime in history even if He hasn’t or rarely has done so before. This is where the religious context becomes important, it explains why God doesn’t do miracles everyday and provides an equally probable reason as to why he might have done one in the case of a religious context such as raising Jesus from the dead for example.

      Sadly, the skeptics didn’t raise this as a reason and thereby take on the burden of proof, in fact they didn’t officially raise any reasons on their part apart from hinting at some and when I tried to highlight and address those reasons I was told I was putting words in their mouth or misrepresenting them and so I left it well enough alone. The main aim seemed to be just to shift the burden onto me to try and prove that miracles are “probably possible”, which is fine but it wasn’t the main aim of my show which was to get skeptics to understand that they too have a burden if they want to say that miracles are “probably impossible”. That was my goal and it seemed that skeptics can’t deal with that, it always needs to be on the Theist, well according to Matt, I actually won even that as he admits that if God exists, then miracles are indeed “probably possible” and thus, its only a matter of doing shows whereby I prove that God exists and then my job is done on this front- talk of PBB and modal evaluating faculties about the logical possibility of the supernatural is not even required.

      As an example, one thing reason that skeptics constantly brought up to think that miracles are probably impossible is that none have been demonstrated to be true and until then the skeptic is justified in “rejecting” them or thinking they are probably impossible. I say no, one should still be in the blank slate. Look, in the first place no one denies that if I could demonstrate, in a way that is undeniable (Matt’s words I believe) a miracle has occurred than of course its probably possible, the heck with possibility, I just proved it has in fact occurred. But let’s pretend I can’t do that, that doesn’t mean miracles are probably impossible. I would challenge the skeptic to bear his burden of proof in proving the lack of demonstration of truth proves that they probably not possible. There are any number of counters to this, the skeptic has to prove that there has indeed been no demonstrations in history, the skeptic has to prove the relevance of this, assuming its true, maybe God has reasons not to not to provide undeniable miracles- I’ve certainly given answers to this hiddenness of God based on developing “salvation-fit characters” and allowing for the goal of saving as many souls as possible. God’s undeniable existence via miraculous proof that can’t be denied by anyone doesn’t entail that these goals will be fulfilled and if you say they will then I say prove it (prove how many souls are saved in this world vs. another where God gives everyone undeniable proof of miracles)- in fact doing so could be counter-productive and elad less to be saved as they grow to resent God being so blatantly present in their lives and certainly the Bible presents many cases where proof of the miraculous was insufficient to cultivate salvation-fit characters from developing as the sinful people simply ignored it or even grew resentful of God and his prophetically proved message to them.

      So, if you can prove that one should expect wide-scale undeniable demonstration of the miraculous in order for them be considered probably possible well then by all means prove it by showing that God would not have cause to not give such, starting with proving my notion about saving as many free creatures as possible is false. Demonstrate to me that less free souls choose to be saved in this world then one with wide-spread undeniable miracles to everyone in it. Show your work please.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. This is blatant burden-shifting that no skeptic is going to fall for. We all have a burden for getting our candidates on the ballot. If an occurrence happens we can’t explain, the skeptics has the burden of showing it should be naturalistic. Burden accepted.

        The Christian wants to slide the miraculous onto the ballot without meeting the same burden. Rather, they use the faulty logic that we can’t disprove the possibility. But that is not how the burden works. We meet our burden for showing the possibility of natural causes. The Christian must equally bear the burden of showing the possibility of it being a miraculous cause.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. David,

          Well, you can say that and that mistaken notion is what I aimed to correct on the show with the whole blank slate notion. This is why I have to go through the motions of explaining how logic works in terms of the default position and the Principle of Indifference, so that skeptics and Christians understand best how to approach the issue.

          Think of it this way, you have no issue understanding the blank slate when it comes to the existence of God, you fully know how to use the whole “I only lack belief” in that context and properly so. It would be ridiculous for a Theist to then say OK, you have to prove to me that God doesn’t exist if all you are saying is that you are in the blank slate- remember you made this point and took issue with me on the show on Reasonable Atheism when I took you to be an Anti-Theist, you quickly said no, I just lack belief, so you have to prove He exists before I believe and I said, cool. But even you recognize that had you been making a positive claim of Anti-Theism, then yes you would have to prove that God doesn’t exist.

          I’m asking you to be consistent with this reasoning process in regard to miracles, one should simply lack belief that miracles are possible vs. impossible unless and until one side presents reasons to favour one position over another. If you want to say miracles are probably impossible because; (insert reason here- no demonstrations, violations of the laws of nature, scientism, no explanation as to the causal link as per Andrew, their rarity as per Anthony66, God’s disposition not to do miracles as per Vaal), then fine, you are the one making a claim and you must prove it. Similarly, if the Theist wants to claim that miracles are probably possible, then I bear the burden of proof to prove it via presenting reasons in favour of their possibility like (God exists, modal faculty produced PBB’s, demonstrating miracles actually have occurred, etc.).

          Your response here David, shows precisely why its so important that I make this point about the blank slate, you guys still are applying a double standard (not purposefully). I wanted to change that to provide a proper framework for discussing the issue just as Atheists and skeptics on here understand the proper framework on the existence of God and the mere lack of belief (blank slate stance) that you try to espouse and would take issue if I said to you OK then prove to me that God doesn’t exist as though you were claiming to know God doesn’t exist when you say you simply lack belief and accuse you of shifting the burden of proof onto Theists to prove God exists when you do so.

          Fair is fair here and so if you get it on the one issue that helps the skeptics, you can understand the point on miracles as well.

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          1. Now you are demonstrating false equivalence. We are not in the same position at all. In the one instance, you tell me there is a god and I tell you I don’t accept your claim. I have no burden. You have the burden to prove your claim. I don’t have a burden to disprove it.

            In this case, we are both trying to get our candidate explanations up for consideration. I have the burden to show a thing can be explained naturalistically. You want to get a miracle explanation on the table so you make the positive claim that the miraculous is equally possible. Therefore, it should also be considered. That is the claim. You have to show the miraculous is equally possible.

            When you offer the miraculous, we rightfully push back and ask what right you have to offer that alongside the natural as an explanation. You say that the miraculous is equally possible. But you are somehow trying to force us to disprove the claim rather than you being forced to support the claim. I don’t buy it. Curious to see if anyone else does.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. David,

              I hear your complaint, but they are exactly the same thing. The skeptic who says God doesn’t exist, is the same as the skeptic who says miracles are not possible- each is a claim entailing the burden of proof. If you offer but the natural has been demonstrated to be true to everyone and the supernatural hasn’t, than that is a reason you present to support your claim and I say its not a persuasive reason as its an unwarranted basis upon which to claim miracles are probably impossible. Just as you’ve said you think the argument from logical incoherence of God’s existence is an unwarranted reason presented by a skeptic to think God probably doesn’t exist.

              All logical possibilities are on the table as options for people to consider as blank slates. If you say no they are not, then you need to prove why they ought not to be there.

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              1. I hear your complaint, but they are exactly the same thing. The skeptic who says God doesn’t exist, is the same as the skeptic who says miracles are not possible- each is a claim entailing the burden of proof.

                What are you talking about? Who are you talking about? You are still arguing the straw man you built. Not one of the three skeptics on the show argued that god doesn’t exist. You are making the claim that god exists. We don’t accept your claim. Do you not get the difference or are you misunderstanding it on purpose for rhetorical value?

                Likewise, no one said that miracles are not possible. That is your scientism straw man. We said we have been given no reason to believe they are equally possible. You are the one claiming miracles are equally possible. Everyone who heard the show heard me say these things. And at this point, even the Christians have to be wondering what you are talking about. You are not representing what we said, seemingly, for the purpose of giving us a burden we don’t have and to shift it away from you, the one making the claims.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. David,

                  I can sense you are getting angry for some reason. Equally probable/possible is the default state- it doesn’t have to be proven- that is the point, its where we all start via the Principle of Indifference. If you can’t say that miracles are probably possible or probably impossible ontologically speaking that is the same as saying that epistemically (as far as the blank slate guy knows) miracles could be possible or impossible, I’ll keep the possibility on the table until I learn otherwise.

                  Look, if skeptics’ don’t claim to have reasons (and therefore no burden) to prove that miracles are probably impossible, then great but I would ask you to guys to be more careful with the way you speak of miracles as you do seem to be saying that in pretty much everything you guys say about them and that is me trying my best to get you guys.

                  In terms of my claim that miracles are probably possible (which I didn’t make in my blog at all), then fine I will simply say that you all agreed with me that if God exists then miracles or the supernatural is probably possible ontologically speaking and thus, fine its a debate about whether God exists then.

                  Finally, you’ll notice that I didn’t make any claims this week despite it being my turn to pick a topic- I did this because I thought I would be debating Doug on my own and wanted to be kind to him as he doesn’t know our set up. So I think it is you that is “misrepresenting what I said, seemingly, for the purpose of giving me a burden I don’t have and to shift it away from skeptics who think there are reasons to claim they are probably impossible- i.e. the ones that are actually making the claims according to the set up of my own blog. This was my week to pick a topic not yours, so that means I tell you what and who is making the claims that I’m responding to, please remember that as I respected you on your week with the Resonable Atheism blog, I didn’t insist that because it was your week, I will make up your claim that you are arguing for Anti-Theism, no I submitted to your mere lack of belief claim and operated accordingly. I deserve the same respect here please and thank you.

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                  1. I’m happy to give you the last word on the matter for now. But this is not a respect issue. This is a you making up positions that we don’t hold and arguing against those positions issue.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  2. Equally probable/possible is the default state- it doesn’t have to be proven- that is the point, its where we all start via the Principle of Indifference.

                    And what David is saying is that the principle of indifference is either flawed itself, or you are using it incorrectly. If you can just insert miracles without any warrant to do so, then it makes the principle largely meaningless.

                    If you were actually starting from a blank state then you would have to demonstrate that possibility is warranted.

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              2. All logical possibilities are on the table as options for people to consider as blank slates.

                Just to help clarify, what David is pointing out is that you have yet to demonstrate that miracles are logically possible. You are just asserting they are. The skeptic is just saying you have yet to demonstrate the claims you are making about it being logically possible are correct.

                Just saying you can imagine it, thus it is logically possible is not good enough. The reason it isn’t good enough is that we are not talking about hypotheticals that you can imagine. We are talking about real things, that exist in the real world that could possibly affect the real world, and if magic doesn’t exist, then it doesn’t matter how good your imagination is, something that doesn’t exist can’t logically be responsible for making anything happen.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Darren: “Just to help clarify, what David is pointing out is that you have yet to demonstrate that miracles are logically possible. You are just asserting they are. The skeptic is just saying you have yet to demonstrate the claims you are making about it being logically possible are correct.”

                  Hi Darren,
                  My understanding is that the definition of “logically possible” is “capable of being described without self-contradiction” (https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/logically-possible ). I tend to think that miracles (a supernatural being making a change in what would naturally happen) can be described without self-contradiction and so would be logically possible. Do you see any self-contradictions in the description of miracles?

                  Thanks,
                  Brian

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                  1. Do you see any self-contradictions in the description of miracles?

                    I don’t know. What is the supernatural and how did you learn enough about it to make claims about what it can or can’t do? How do we determine if there is a contradiction if we don’t know the details of what we are talking about?

                    For example if I said the Gerberverbal can Golemplinity. Is that a coherent concept? Do you see any contradictions in the statement?

                    I’m not sure how one can claim coherence when they don’t actually understand what the words they are saying actually mean. Do you?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Brian: “Do you see any self-contradictions in the description of miracles?”
                      Darren: “I don’t know. What is the supernatural and how did you learn enough about it to make claims about what it can or can’t do? How do we determine if there is a contradiction if we don’t know the details of what we are talking about?
                      For example if I said the Gerberverbal can Golemplinity. Is that a coherent concept? Do you see any contradictions in the statement?
                      I’m not sure how one can claim coherence when they don’t actually understand what the words they are saying actually mean. Do you?”

                      Hi Darren,
                      I’m happy to go with the dictionary’s definition of supernatural for purposes of our discussion: “(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.” (From: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/supernatural ). Darren, I would agree with you that if we are not sure whether something is self-contradictory then we couldn’t be sure if it was logically possible either. At the same time, I wouldn’t default to the position that nothing is logically possible unless we know all the details of it. For example, I think it is logically possible that someday there will be a cure for cancer even though I don’t know what the details of that cure would be. Likewise, I can imagine a possible world where there is a fairy named Tinkerbell, even though I don’t know exactly what a fairy is. Maybe there is a self-contradiction there, but I don’t see it. Anyways, just some thoughts for whatever they are worth.

                      Hopefully this would help explain why some might see miracles as logically possible.
                      Brian

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                    2. I wouldn’t default to the position that nothing is logically possible unless we know all the details of it.

                      But surely we must know something about a thing we declare to be logically possible. So the question is what do we need to know about miracles to say they are or are not logically possible? We should at least be able to define them and recognize them if encountered.

                      If the natural is the set of all possibilities, then would it not be contradictory to say that something happened that is outside of that set? It seems incoherent. But at the very least, before declaring a miracle, you have to eliminate the entire set of possibilities.

                      Dale believes that everything is possible. Therefore, there is nothing outside of the set of all possibilities. If everything is possible and nothing is outside of that set, then it is senseless to call anything a miracle. Miracles are impossible.

                      However, Dale defines a miracle as something that god does as an intervention in this world. Are miracles possible under that definition? It depends on if there is an interventionist god. So we are not really asking if miracles are possible, we are really just finding another way of asking if Dale’s god is possible.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Brian: “I wouldn’t default to the position that nothing is logically possible unless we know all the details of it.”

                      David: “But surely we must know something about a thing we declare to be logically possible. So the question is what do we need to know about miracles to say they are or are not logically possible? We should at least be able to define them and recognize them if encountered.

                      If the natural is the set of all possibilities, then would it not be contradictory to say that something happened that is outside of that set? It seems incoherent. But at the very least, before declaring a miracle, you have to eliminate the entire set of possibilities.

                      Dale believes that everything is possible. Therefore, there is nothing outside of the set of all possibilities. If everything is possible and nothing is outside of that set, then it is senseless to call anything a miracle. Miracles are impossible.

                      However, Dale defines a miracle as something that god does as an intervention in this world. Are miracles possible under that definition? It depends on if there is an interventionist god. So we are not really asking if miracles are possible, we are really just finding another way of asking if Dale’s god is possible.”

                      Hi David,
                      Thanks for the response – I appreciate it.

                      I think that all we have to know about a thing to determine if it is logically possible is whether there is a self-contradiction or not. Seems there are 3 options: 1.) Self-contradiction – not logically possible; 2.) No self-contradiction – logically possible; 3.) Don’t know if there is a self-contradiction – don’t know if it is logically possible.

                      I think that defining and recognizing something is very different from whether that something is logically possible or not.

                      I agree that if natural is defined as all possibilities, then everything would be natural and nothing would be supernatural. Using such a definition, if there were a God, then God would be natural and not supernatural. However, I question if that is the definition most people use for natural.

                      I thought that Dale held that the laws of logic had to apply for something to be possible. For example, I didn’t think Dale would hold that it is possible for 1+1 to both be equal to 2 and not equal to 2 at the same time. But, perhaps I’ve misunderstood Dale.

                      I agree with you that if miracles come from God, then without God there are no miracles.

                      Thanks again for sharing your views on these things,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    4. Hey Brian,

                      For sake of continuity and in case David does not spot our conversation, I want to add to your three possibilities.

                      To restate them. A thing is:

                      1. logically possible if it is internally consistent
                      2. logically impossible if it is internally inconsistent
                      3. logically unknown if application of logic to it cannot be known

                      Possible in my reading only invites the reader to go beyond the application of the valid argument test to the truth of the propositions test. Consider the two following arguments:

                      1. All Polygogs are excellent house builders.
                      2. Jerry is a Polygog.
                      3. Therefore Jerry is an excellent house builder.

                      1. All Polygogs lack the ability to build houses
                      2. Jerry is a Polygog.
                      3. Therefore Jerry lacks the ability to build houses.

                      So, I see no way for lack of internal contradiction to determine the truth of any argument. Imagine that you encountered the argument that supernatural beings could live forever but not heal humans first in your life. What would your position be in respect to that argument if I were to now say that a supernatural being could heal you? Would you not require evidence o f the claim and not simple internal consistency? Can you say with certainty that supernatural creatures can heal humans as well as live forever? Can you say with certainty that one can live forever?

                      As well, the ability to perform one act does not imply the ability to perform another act. For instance, to claim that we should be able to cure cancer because we can put people on the moon is a mistake. The ability to perform one has nothing to do with the other, even though one is possible and the other seems logically possible or at least not inconsistent with reason. Yet, it may be that we won’t cure the range of cancers for some set of valid reasons. (I hope that is not the case.) Yet, in granting the idea of the supernatural, it seems to me that the grantor hand waves away any such testing of supernatural claims

                      So, is it not that some different standard is being inequitably applied to the supernatural?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Hi Andrew,
                      I’m getting lost somewhere – I’m sure it is my fault and I’m just not following something very well. Please excuse me if I miss your points.

                      I agree with you about the logically possible, impossible and unknown.

                      I agree with your two polygog examples that both are valid. Whether they are sound or not depends upon whether the premises are true or false. And, it would seem to me that they both cannot be sound in the same world at the same time. The same would apply, I think, to your example of supernatural beings both being able to heal and not able to heal at the same time – a conflict which would make it logically impossible.

                      Again, I think that valid arguments are logically possible. As you say, we would need to know the truth of the premises to know if the argument is sound. But, even if the premises are false, that doesn’t mean that the argument is logically impossible. Andrew, if you are asking if we’d want to know if the premises about God or miracles are true – I would agree – that would be nice to know.

                      I rather suspect that I’ve missed your points here – my apologies if I have.

                      Thanks,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    6. Hi Brian,

                      I’m happy to go with the dictionary’s definition of supernatural for purposes of our discussion: “(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.”

                      Ok, can you explain what that definition means? What does it mean to be beyond the laws of nature? You can say the same thing in different ways, but what does it actually mean? What does it look like to be outside/beyond nature? We can say the words, but we don’t actually know what the words mean.

                      Darren, I would agree with you that if we are not sure whether something is self-contradictory then we couldn’t be sure if it was logically possible either.

                      And that is the problem with declaring that miracles are possible. No one actually knows if it is self-contradictory, because no one actually knows what it is they are talking about when they say the words.

                      At the same time, I wouldn’t default to the position that nothing is logically possible unless we know all the details of it.

                      Neither would I. The problem is not that we don’t know EVERYTHING. The problem is we don’t know ANYTHING about the supernatural.

                      For example, I think it is logically possible that someday there will be a cure for cancer even though I don’t know what the details of that cure would be.

                      Sure, but if someone asks you what cancer is, you can point to it and explain what it is and what its characteristics are, and if required you could demonstrate your understanding of cancer is accurate.

                      We don’t have that with the supernatural. And that is the problem with calling it logically possible.

                      Likewise, I can imagine a possible world where there is a fairy named Tinkerbell, even though I don’t know exactly what a fairy is.

                      Yes, but just because you can imagine it doesn’t mean it is possible it exists as an explanation in the real world, which is what miracles are, and explanation for why some things happen in the real world.

                      Maybe there is a self-contradiction there, but I don’t see it.

                      The self-contradiction comes in when you start claiming Tinkerbell does things in the real world. Non-existent things don’t cause things to happen in the real world.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. Brian: “I’m happy to go with the dictionary’s definition of supernatural for purposes of our discussion: ‘(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.'”

                      Darren: “Ok, can you explain what that definition means? What does it mean to be beyond the laws of nature? You can say the same thing in different ways, but what does it actually mean? What does it look like to be outside/beyond nature? We can say the words, but we don’t actually know what the words mean.”

                      Hi Darren,
                      I don’t think I can do a better job than the dictionary at explaining words. But, I would say that I obey the laws of nature and cannot fly (under my own power) nor walk through solid walls. If I could then I would say some supernatural force/power is acting upon me.


                      Brian: “Likewise, I can imagine a possible world where there is a fairy named Tinkerbell, even though I don’t know exactly what a fairy is.”

                      Darren: “Yes, but just because you can imagine it doesn’t mean it is possible it exists as an explanation in the real world, which is what miracles are, and explanation for why some things happen in the real world.”

                      Darren, I’ll just say that I don’t see any self-contradictions in such a world and so would assume it is a logically possible world. But, I’m often wrong and perhaps you see self-contradictions that I don’t.

                      Brian: “Maybe there is a self-contradiction there, but I don’t see it.”

                      Darren: “The self-contradiction comes in when you start claiming Tinkerbell does things in the real world. Non-existent things don’t cause things to happen in the real world.”

                      Darren, when did I make any claims about Tinkerbell or that Tinkerbell does things in the actual world? Or, are you saying that until I make such a claim that you agree that a world with a fairy named Tinkerbell is logically possible?

                      Thanks,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    8. Hi Brian,

                      I don’t think I can do a better job than the dictionary at explaining words. But, I would say that I obey the laws of nature and cannot fly (under my own power) nor walk through solid walls. If I could then I would say some supernatural force/power is acting upon me.

                      The problem is that the dictionary doesn’t explain it either. Those are some of the effects you think the supernatural can do, but that doesn’t explain what the supernatural actually is. How would I go about testing if it actually is the supernatural allowing me to fly or walk through walls and not an unknown natural law? What would I look for to distinguish the two options? What are the aspects of the supernatural that I would look for?

                      Darren, I’ll just say that I don’t see any self-contradictions in such a world and so would assume it is a logically possible world. But, I’m often wrong and perhaps you see self-contradictions that I don’t.

                      The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t see a self-contradiction because you haven’t been given enough information to know if one exists or not. Imagining something you don’t know you are imagining correctly is not an indication of no contradiction. How does Tinkerbell fly? Magic? If no magic exists then it can’t exist in any possible world which means that Tinkerbell flying is a contradiction. She can’t use something that doesn’t exist to help her fly.

                      Darren, when did I make any claims about Tinkerbell or that Tinkerbell does things in the actual world? Or, are you saying that until I make such a claim that you agree that a world with a fairy named Tinkerbell is logically possible?

                      I’m bringing the example of Tinkerbell in line with the example of Miracles. Miracles are not something that is supposed to be happening in some imaginary possible world. They are supposed to be happening in the real world. Having real effects and having/being a real cause.

                      I don’t know if Tinkerbell is logically possible, but I do know that Tinkerbell is not possible at all in the real world. And if Tinkerbell isn’t possible in the real world, then there is no reason to think she is possible in any possible world because we don’t know there is a possible world that Tinkerbell actually could exist in.

                      Sure people can imagine a world she exists in, but just because someone can imagine it, doesn’t mean it is possible.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. Brian, Just as a follow-up.

                    a supernatural being making a change in what would naturally happen.

                    Would you agree that if a supernatural being doesn’t exist, then to say that being does anything in the real world would be incoherent?

                    After all, how is it coherent to say that a non-existent being makes changes in what would naturally happen?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Darren: Brian, Just as a follow-up.
                      Brian: a supernatural being making a change in what would naturally happen.
                      Darren: Would you agree that if a supernatural being doesn’t exist, then to say that being does anything in the real world would be incoherent?
                      After all, how is it coherent to say that a non-existent being makes changes in what would naturally happen?

                      Hi Darren,
                      My understanding would be that In any world where there are no supernatural beings, then nothing that happens in that world would be caused or influenced by these non-existing beings.
                      Does that help?

                      Thanks,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    2. Does that help?

                      I’m not sure. My question was whether you would find a claim that a non-existent being makes changes in the world coherent. I’m guessing that is a no?

                      But my follow up question would be, would you find the claim non-contradictory that this non-existent being is possible because we can imagine a possible made-up world with him in it? Is it a coherent statement?

                      In other words, if the being doesn’t exist, is it non-contradictory to say that the being is possible just because we can make up another world and imagine him in that world? Does that make the supernatural or the being in question suddenly non-contradictory?

                      Like

              3. Hey Dale,

                My repeated request on the show was for a miracle claim to be offered, with its corresponding causal agent, and with a description of mechanism that links the two. I know I made the request twice. I may have made it more often. The listeners can double check me.

                I went further. For purposes of the show, I refused to define a miracle but allowed it to be defined in what ever manner was appropriate, as long as there was an example. I’m still waiting.

                Likewise, my inbox is empty of Christians who are willing to accept my challenge about healing miracles.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Hey Andrew,

                  Why is my providing you with knowledge of who the causal agent was and the description of the mechanism linking the two necessary to prove the possibility of an event. Logically, its not, things can be possible and not true (hence one can’t demonstrate them to be true). One can be ignorant about who or what caused a house to be built on an alien planet as well as ignorant as to how it was made (did they use laser bull dozers or telekintic tonka trucks)- these are not necessary criteria to establish the possibility of something. If you claim they are, then great can you prove that such are necessary criteria for proving that miracles or anything in general are probably possible?

                  For example, I gave the link to the article on Rovelli- Anixmander’s unproven notion that the Earth is in the void- he made it up and there was no evidence that he would have had in ancient Greece to support it, no one believed him at all back then. But sure enough they all knew his idea was possible a priori and centuries later we’ve now proven that he was actually true. The point is, prior to the proof, it was still logically possible and thus an option on the table a priori that one need to prove or disprove to be likely on the evidence.

                  Again, I also gave two such examples of miracles on the show (the Shroud and the Resurrection of Jesus), but asking for such was outside the scope of the show. It was David’s idea to do a blog on demonstrating miracle healings, I was doing him a favour by not discussing that issue in my blog (as I thought he wouldn’t be in it at all), so maybe I should have said, fine if you guys are forcing me to talk about what you guys want to discuss without my blessing, then I refuse to talk about it again in two weeks when its David’s turn to do it. Should I have thrown out the point that was important to me and messed over David’s plan by discussing that topic this week instead- is that what I should have done?????

                  As to Christians trying to heal your eye- you went to Seminary, you know its sinful to test or tempt the Lord, are you seriously surprised that Christians will not sin against God for you???

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Hey Dale,

                    Lets start from the bottom.

                    Christians hold a full continuum of view on prayer requests. I’ll bet your church has a prayer list. So apparently, the god you propose can take a prayer any way he wants. I call BS 0n this part of your response. But, we can go further. I don’t care what supernatural event you care to mention. It was a confirmation, asked for or not.

                    You may be under the mistaken impression that my request is something other than genuine. If so, you are laboring under a misconception. But, I’ll take my challenge a step further because the god you promote, under some conditions, went further. There are instances in the Bible where your proposed god took someone with a disease and healed the person, only to then afflict them with the same disease. So, I’ll even take that as a confirmation.

                    Dale, its not my fault you have to defend a book of contradictions, but I won’t let you pick and choose what to defend.

                    Like

              4. Hey Dale,

                All logical possibilities are on the table as options for people to consider as blank slates.

                The above is an affirmative statement about possibilities that should be on the table. So, how do you demonstrate that miracles are logically possible?

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Hey Andrew,

                  Well I agreed with that when Matthew brought it up on the show, remember this was a presupposition of mine, but hey if you want to say the laws of logic are out the window then this just proves the the supernatural is both possible and impossible at the same time, we should all be open to them on the table and not open to them at the same time.

                  Once you take away the laws of logic, then chaos ensues and the skeptic certainly has no reason for anything- in fact no one does- its pure chaos.

                  Like

                  1. but hey if you want to say the laws of logic are out the window

                    He neither said nor implied that the laws of logic should be thrown out the window, This just reads as a dishonest tactic you are using because you don’t like the idea that people aren’t just granting you something you haven’t demonstrated yet.

                    I have no clue if you are trying to be intentionally dishonest, but that is how it is coming across since you have been told repeatedly what the problem is, and no one is suggesting throwing out the laws of logic.

                    Like

                  2. Hey Dale,

                    What the heck are you talking about?

                    What logical rules put miracles on the table?

                    The laws of identity, exclusion, and non contradiction for example don’t tell us anything about whether miracles are possible. As an example:

                    1. All Polygogs are excellent house builders.
                    2. Jerry is a Polygog
                    3. Jerry is an excellent house builder.

                    This tells us nothing about Polygogs, Jerry the individual, or Jerry’s capacity to build excellent houses. But, the argument is logical.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Andrew,

                      Once we are given the laws of logic, then one can establish that miracles are logically coherent and with that, this means they exist or are true in some logically possible world. If that is the case, then it could be the case that they are true in this possible world unless and until someone gives me reason to think they can’t be in any possible world and/or in this possible world specifically or vice versa if someone gives reason to think they probably possible in this possible world specifically.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. When did we establish that miracles could be the case in some possible world?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. David,

                      We didn’t really, but Matt questioned me a little on that front via attacking my epistemic foundations for the laws of logic and by the same token one’s ability to know when things are logically possible/coherent or not. It was in response to my using a PBB to say that miracles are probably possible (if I were trying to prove this claim).

                      Like

                    4. This might explain some of the disconnect. Do you believe you have solidly established that miracles are logically possible in some world? If so, your statements make more sense. But you can perhaps understand the pushback from those who don’t believe it has been established that miracles are logically possible. That would be the first step to showing micaracles are equally possible as an explanation for events.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Yeah, I do think that David, though again in our show I was more presuming it I guess- though I did provide two means to argue for that if need be. But yeah to be probably possible minimally means that you exist or are true in one or more possible worlds. Of course there is the added question of even if they are possible logically, are they possible in this world- i.e. are they factually possible and that is where, I would say argument like Anthony66 and Vaal’s or other specific to our world would come into play.

                      In your view under this understanding, would you say that you can live with saying the supernatural may be metaphysically/logically possible in some possible world (as proven by our modal faculties allowing for their conceivability and/or arguments about God existing in a possible world), but you just want to say they are not factually possible in this world specifically. Again, that is fine, one would just need to provide nuanced arguments to show that they are possible here as well- perhaps by arguing that given God exists and is necessary than He exists in every possible world and since God is omnipotent that means He must have the power to cause supernatural events to happen in every possible world (including ours) or something like that.

                      Dr. Jerome Gellman has made an interesting modal argument that God, if omnipotent must be so in every possible world see Section 5.5 here = http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/LCA.html

                      On the skeptical side, if you want to claim that miracles are probably factually impossible than perhaps one could make arguments that God doesn’t want to do miracles in this world or doesn’t have reason to do so, or you could argue that the laws of nature in this world would be violated and they are inviolable here even if can be different in other worlds or something, etc. You see what I mean, you would just need to tweak the arguments to make them localized to this world specifically and speak of factual possibility/impossibility rather than metaphysical/logical possibility/impossibility.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. This feels like you are trying to get me to grant claims that you don’t have to officially make, or make claims so I have the burden of proof. I reject both. You tell me what claim you are willing to defend and I will evaluate your proof. I am not the one saying that the miraculous is possible, or if possible, that it is equally possible to a naturalistic explanation. And I refuse to be drawn into countering a hypothetical claim that you are not actually making.

                      Despite the claims you seem to be making, your entire argument is a defensive position against skeptical claims that no one is making. And I will not get roped into making them.

                      Like

                    7. Well David, I would just say that this is not all about you or Matt or Andrew, you don’t represent every skeptic in the world and the truth of it is some of them do use scientism as a reason or naturalism as a reason (heck, you and Andrew said no and Matt said yes to that one). I’m allowed to do shows countering or responding to issues that are out there in the wider world and you are of course free to disagree and say that you think those reasons are fallacious and then you could have presented your own reasons.

                      If you simply refuse to provide reasons as you think it is some kind of unfair ploy on my part, well then fine, I will make my case and you can hae as your blog or opening statement, that you personally don’t want to make any claims bearing a burden of proof or don’t think you can give any reasons to say miracles are impossible. At which point we can end the show at the 20 min mark and move on from there.

                      Likewise, if you do a show on lack of belief, I’ll let you do your opening speech and I guess I’ll just respond by saying well as the Atheist didn’t make any claims of his own, I’ll just say I don’t make any claims this week either and so I guess there is nothing to talk about then- we can wrap it up at the 20 min mark then and call it a show.

                      Scientism which is what we kept going on and on about way past what we should have simply because I asked Matt 2 questions about it (and didn’t have a chance to move on to my questions based on Matt’s objection and Andrew’s example of the crumpled paper, etc.). Regardless it is a valid thing in philosophy the majority of the world believed in this, it is not a Christian made up attack, but an actual position in secular philosophy. It has fallen out of favour now b/c people know how wrong it is to think that way. That said, under the official definition of it, you guys said some things that hint that you are influenced by it and thus proving its relevant to call attention to it. I don’t care about how its been abused by Christians to dismiss skeptical claims, I only care about do people hold to the position and is the position rational to hold (and thus a reliable guide to truth)

                      Like

                    8. I would love to get to the heart of your argument which is that all logically possible options should be equally considered. Are you interested in dialoging on that subject at all? Because I see that as a central claim of yours. Here are the things I believe you need to establish:

                      1. Miracles are logically possible in any world.

                      2. Miracles are logically possible in this world.

                      3. If logically possible, that they are equally probability in this world to naturalism.

                      That seems to be a good place to start. And as near as I can tell, you haven’t even made a run at those.

                      Liked by 3 people

                    9. David: “3. If logically possible, that they are equally probability in this world to naturalism.”

                      Hi David,
                      Would you elaborate a bit more on this? Are you saying that all logically possible things have equal probabilities? If so, would you share what that would be?

                      Not understanding,
                      Brian

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                    10. I was actually just trying to state Dale’s claim that all logical possibilities should be equally evaluated and that none should be eliminated a priori. This is not at all my belief. I am wanting Dale to defend or clarify his territory.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    11. David,

                      1. Well, I’ve seen you go back and forth with Brian already on this (either you or someone else). Logical possibility or coherence means that there is no provable logical contradiction entailed in the concept and hence its conceivable. I explain this in the section of “Coherence Comprehension” section of my blog in the Coherence of Christian Theism Part 1 show = https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/doctrine-of-god-series-the-coherence-of-christian-theism-part-1/ .

                      Essentially anything that does entail a logical contradiction is logically possible, supernatural events do not entail any logical contradictions and thus are possible in some possible world.

                      2. As to miracles being factually possible in this world, again no logical contradictions are entailed and I see no prvable factual contradictions either. So this is what the skeptic would be doing to prove that miracles are probably factually impossible by presenting reasons to suppose a contradiction between the factual possibility of miracles and some fact about our universe/world. This is what the violation of natural law objection might try to do for example or the skeptic’s claims that no such events have been demonstrated universally and undeniably to be true in this world and if they were possible we would expect to have such demonstrations, thus this contradicts their factual possibility in this world. At that point, I would say no its not, there is no contradiction entailed in the fact that miracles are factually possible and there being no wide-spread undeniable demonstrations of such. It here I’d ask the skeptic to prove there is actually a contradiction on these matters.

                      3. On equal probability, remember what I mean by that. In the blank slate I say that is 50/50% in Bayes but in your terms I would just say the blank slate is 0% proven miracles are logically and/or factually possible and its 0% proven that miracles are logically and/or factually impossible. We are at the starting line, as much as is possible and then we can take it from there to present reasons on both sides.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    12. Dale: “Essentially anything that does entail a logical contradiction is logically possible, supernatural events do not entail any logical contradictions and thus are possible in some possible world.”

                      Hi Dale,
                      Should this read: “Essentially anything that does NOT entail a logical contradiction is logically possible, supernatural events do not entail any logical contradictions and thus are possible in some possible world.”

                      Are you missing a “not”?
                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    13. Brian,

                      Lol yes you got me exact, I shall never forgive myself as long as I live for missing that “not”. Thank goodness you caught it in time, or I’m sure there would have been massive confusion on that haha 😛

                      No but seriously, yep good on you, that is correct, there should have been a not in the place you put it 🙂

                      Like

                    14. Hi Dale,
                      I wasn’t trying to “get” you or be nit-picking or anything. I’ve had issues myself where I’ve forgotten a negation and it completely altered what I was trying to say. At least it isn’t like the “Adulterous Bible” where the publisher forgot the “not” in the commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_Bible

                      Brian

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                    15. Brian,

                      No that is cool, I was trying to be sarcastically humorous with you, as I knew where you were coming from there. I gave the tongue in cheek emotion to prove it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    16. David: “This might explain some of the disconnect. Do you believe you have solidly established that miracles are logically possible in some world? If so, your statements make more sense. But you can perhaps understand the pushback from those who don’t believe it has been established that miracles are logically possible. That would be the first step to showing micaracles are equally possible as an explanation for events.”

                      Hi David,
                      Is it your position that miracles are self-contradictory in all possible worlds?

                      Thanks,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    17. That is not any position I have stated aloud. I am not making a claim. Dale is the one who claimed that miracles were logically possible in some possible world. I only want him to justify that claim.

                      Like

                    18. David, I have done so in the same way all logical coherence claims are proven, there are no logical contradictions entailed in the concept of the supernatural. If you want to claim that miracles are logically impossible than prove there is contradiction.

                      You obviously think its possible for God not to exist, for all you know personally. But Theists like me say that it might be logically contradictory for God not to exist as He is a logically necessary Being.

                      So let me ask you to get an idea of how you go about this, how would you prove or demonstrate that God’s non-existence is logically possible? If you feel you can’t do so, than fair enough but would you agree that your failure to do so wouldn’t mean that until you do so, I’m justified in rejecting the notion that God’s non-existence is logically possible (i.e. meaning I positively know that God’s existence is logically possible)?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    19. Our starting points are very different. How did you determine that a miracle is not logically contradictory? By my definition, it is because it is outside of the set of all possibilities. By your definition, it just has to be something done by god in an interventionist way. But I also believe your idea of god is logically contradictory. I find nothing logical about the presentation of your particular god and his doings in this world.

                      But I reject that it is on me to prove miracles are logically contradictory. You are the one positively claiming that they are not. But as of yet, that is just a claim without substantiation. And I have no way of validating the claim that there are no logical contradictions. Like Darren, I’m not even sure I know enough about your view of miracles to know if there are some hidden contradictions.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    20. Dale, I don’t mean to derail your conversation with David, and I don’t expect a response, but I thought I would just pop in for one post and point out that if the only reason you think it is logically possible is because you can’t think of a contradiction, then I hope you realize why no one is going to take your claims about logically possible seriously and is not going to let you get away with such a flimsy foundation when you start making arguments based on it.

                      After all, you don’t accept the idea that god is logically impossible because the skeptic can’t think of any way that it is consistent with the reality we know about, as an excuse to think it is logically impossible. So you shouldn’t expect us to accept your inability to think of a contradiction as a good excuse to think it is logically possible.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    21. Very well said.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    22. Dale,

                      You are evading the issues before you. Coherance is a claim in the sense in which you are using it in our conversation. But, evasion is not your worst problem.

                      unless and until someone gives me reason to think they can’t be in any possible world and/or in this possible world specifically or vice versa if someone gives reason to think they probably possible in this possible world specifically.

                      By your words, you believe everything unless someone gives you reason not to believe. But, this is not indifference. It is just special pleading for your position. On the other hand, I asked you specifically for a demonstration of miracles as proof of your position, in the ordinary sense in which proof is usually requested. At every turn, you have evaded, avoided, remained silent, and attempted deception against my questions.

                      I’ll go further. I offered the syllogism about Jerry the excellent house builder. Your position is that all things that are logically possible exist in some possible world. Would you care to prove that Jerry the Polygog exists? Perhaps you can bring him along with any god who is interested in making an appearance.

                      In the interim, pleas provide exactly which rules of logic you believe make miracles possible and how. You are faced with the issue of truth and validity. I posted a syllogism which was well formed but for which we have no evidence. Your position is that the syllogism is proof enough. This is nonsense. If it were not, we would not have the question of proper form separate from demonstrability. But, you are attempting to hoodwink the listeners and readers into acceptance of any well formed argument without concurrent evidence that equals the claim. You must do better than that for those of us who are familiar with the issues.

                      So, I’ll ask again. Can you do a miracle? Do you know someone who can do a miracle? Can any of us study to learn the trick? Can we pray for it? Is their a potion, a place, or a position through which miracles are granted?

                      I’ll say for the record that I don’t accept any claim, no matter how well formed its argument. Indifference requires that the argument have evidence equal to it, and you appear to want that thrown out.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    23. I need not reach inside your mind. I have claimed that you are avoiding, evading, etc. the central points of our conversation. Your post about reaching inside your mind is a perfect example

                      Like

                    24. Dale, we can all spot evasive replies, and I note that I’m not the only board participant who finds you have been evasive today. You are apparently going to persist in evasion rather than reply to the substance of the posts between us. As much, I have no idea what you are referring to when you threw David’s name in the mix.

                      I’d appreciate it if you would respond to the the questions put to you. You are not being persecuted, but you are being directly asked to respond to your claims. I note to that you have leveled the claim of evasion against others with respect to their arguments and without any accusation of personal flaws. So, I find your use of evasion not in keeping with my intent.

                      But, in fact, I was not the first person to accuse you of evasion, even within the confines or our conversation. Though, in that case, it was accusation by implication, rather than. my more direct statement that you were avoiding the substance of my posts to you.

                      But, its worse than all the above. You have admitted that you were avoiding some aspects of this shared conversation. Now, you want to drag us off topic by quibbling with the word evasion. It has been my experience in these kinds of discussions that people defend the strongest ground left to them. I hope to find that you move back to topics of substance.

                      Liked by 1 person

                2. Andrew: “So, how do you demonstrate that miracles are logically possible?”

                  Hi Andrew,
                  A challenging show! I’m only part-way through and needed to take a break. How you 4 were able to keep going is amazing (but maybe not a miracle).

                  If, by definition, logically possible means “capable of being described without self-contradiction” (https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/logically-possible ), what part of a supernatural being changing what would naturally happen (a miracle) is self-contradictory?

                  Curious,
                  Brian

                  Like

                  1. Hey Brian,

                    My apologies for the late reply. I just saw this.

                    Logically possible is an interesting problem. Consider the following two syllogisms:

                    1. All Polygogs are excellent house builders.
                    2. Jerry is a Polygog.
                    3. Therefore Jerry is an excellent house builder.

                    1. Polygogs lack the ability to build houses.
                    2. Jerry is a Polygog.
                    3. Therefore Jerry lacks the ability to build a house.

                    Both claims are logically true, but indifference requires that I maintain neutrality on the claims until such time as one or the other has been demonstrated. So, in the case of miracles as I have put to Dale, we are not just talking about a mere argument, unless of course one wishes to leave the argument in the classroom.

                    Let me phrase your question like the arguments above:

                    1. Supernatural beings can change the natural.
                    2. Jerry is supernatural
                    3. Therefor Jerry can change the natural.

                    1. Supernatural beings cannot change the natural
                    2. Jerry is a supernatural being,
                    3. Therefore Jerry cannot change the natural.

                    Another form:
                    1. Some supernatural beings can change some natural things.
                    2. Jerry is a supernatural being.
                    3. Therefore Jerry can change some natural things.
                    There are other forms for this partial claim.

                    In these cases, we require verification of the claim because it is possible to construct equally well formed counter claims. So, to move from logically possible to actual indifference is not sufficient, IMO. This is why we recognize the distinction between truth and validity. One has to do with form while the other has to do with demonstration.

                    More to the point, within the domain of those things that are logically possible, it is possible to have contradiction, as demonstrated above.

                    As a final note, even Christians recognize the limitations of supernatural claims. Satin is less powerful than the Christian god. Some demons only come out by fasting and prayer. Witches are less powerful than god. I could go on. Thus, we must go beyond assertion, no matter how well constructed, to accept any claim.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Hi Andrew,
                      If you think yours was a late reply, then your standards are way too high! Cut yourself some slack! Any reply at all is nice – and a reply within a few days is pretty fantastic. (At least that is my opinion.)

                      I’d be inclined to rephrase your examples a bit:

                      There is at least one possible world A in which:
                      1. Supernatural beings can change the natural.
                      2. Jerry is supernatural
                      3. Therefore Jerry can change the natural.

                      Myself, I see no self-contradictions there and so I’d say that world is logically possible – would you agree?

                      There is at least one possible world B in which:
                      1. Supernatural beings cannot change the natural
                      2. Jerry is a supernatural being,
                      3. Therefore Jerry cannot change the natural.

                      Again, I see no self-contradictions here and so I’d say that world is logically possible – would you agree?

                      Now, if we were to say that possible world A and possible world B were the same world, then I would see self-contradictions and would conclude that world A=B in not logically possible – would you agree?

                      Andrew, your last example, since only some supernatural beings can change things, and we don’t know if Jerry is one of the supernatural beings who can change things, therefore, we don’t know if the conclusion follows or not.

                      Now, it seems to me that whether these are actual worlds or not isn’t the point, if the question is whether they are logically possible or not. I’m no logician, but I think we only need verification of the claims if we are trying to determine if these possible worlds are also our actual world.

                      At least that is my inexpert take.

                      Thanks for the discussion – I appreciate it,
                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Hey Brian,

                      In the third case, it was stipulated that Jerry was supernatural; so, I’m not sure why, in the context of the argument, we are not sure of Jerry’s nature.

                      You said you would be inclined to change the wording, but I don’t see the type of phrasing you suggest as common. And, it seems to me that we are very much attempting to decide whether this is a possible world with an affirmative claim to miracles.

                      This is why I pointed out that within the realm of logical possibility it is possible to make counterfactual deductive claims about most any position. Thus, it is not merely internal consistency that mediates a claim of actual possibility. At least, I understand the affirmative claim on this board to generally be that miracles are not only possible but possible in this world. Thus, the claim of possibility goes directly to the affirmative claim of the possibility of miracles in this actual world. This is also why I chose not to use the ‘some possible world’ phrasing.

                      Now, it may well be that the affirmative nature of miracles applies to some possible world but not this world. If that is the case, its only an interesting philosophical diversion, but I think we are further along than that exercise.

                      Reading back over this, I’m afraid I’m writing at cross purposes to your reply. So, my apologies if so. Maybe I’m missing the point.

                      Like

                    3. “In the third case, it was stipulated that Jerry was supernatural; so, I’m not sure why, in the context of the argument, we are not sure of Jerry’s nature.

                      You said you would be inclined to change the wording, but I don’t see the type of phrasing you suggest as common. And, it seems to me that we are very much attempting to decide whether this is a possible world with an affirmative claim to miracles….”

                      Hi Andrew,
                      In your third case, yes Jerry was supernatural – but, according to premise 1, only “some” supernatural beings can change “some” natural things. We need to know if Jerry is one of the “some” or not to know if Jerry can change natural things. At least that is how I understood your example.

                      I think that I should leave it that only supernatural beings can cause miracles – if there are no supernatural beings, then there are no miracles. Myself, I cannot prove whether there are supernatural beings or not.

                      Thanks again,
                      Brian

                      Like

      2. “it explains why God doesn’t do miracles everyday …”

        Hi Dale,
        Would you share why you think that God doesn’t do miracles everyday? If we define a miracle as God interacting in the world and changing how something would have been without God’s interaction, then I know plenty of people who say they encounter almost daily miracles. The number of times they pray that their son makes it home OK and the son does they attribute to God’s watching over their son (or God’s having a guardian angel watch over him). Any prayer that is answered would be a miracle, wouldn’t it? If one believes in a God that interacts with humans then it isn’t an issue of there being miracles – but rather how to know if something was the result of God’s interaction or if it would have naturally happened.

        Heck, if there were multiple possible worlds and God actualized this one then isn’t everything that happens in the actualized world (that wouldn’t have happened if another world had been actualized) a miracle?

        Or, am I missing something?

        Seeing a difference between miracles happening and recognizing the miracles that happen,
        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sure Brian,

          God has many reasons but two main ones is that if he did the supernatural constantly, they would simply be a part of naturalism and nothing would demarcate them to give their occurrence significance. Its this initial wow, how odd factor that inspires people to look closer at them. Further, it could be that God’s overall purpose would not be facilitated if he did miracles for everyone, so let’s pretend He does them for some today, well its never happened for me, I can say that much. Maybe that is the case b/c God knows its better in terms of His overall plan either for me (forcing me to study intellectually) and/or for everyone overall in terms of saving as many people as possible- who knows the ramifications if God gave me and you miracles right now- maybe that means you and I get saved even (great two souls saved) but what if by doing that the entailed consequences or causal-chains lead to 5000 souls being damned a thousand years from now that otherwise would not have.

          As to your question- perhaps on a Regulatory Theory as that is just a mere description, if you hold to a Modal Fatalist outlook then maybe since everything that happens is necessary- my counter-factual of my wearing a red shirt vs. a blue one would be a violation or logically impossible and hence a miracle according to Hume and Voltaire’s definitions of one at least.

          I don’t hold to a Modal Fatalist position though and so no, I don’t think every counter-factual is a supernatural miracle. Scientists make counter-factual judgements all the time within science proper- we can say naturally and scientifically what would have happened to the Ozone Layer had we not taken measures to prevent the hole from growing back in the day vs. what actually happened where its now being restored cause we did stop our behaviour.

          Liked by 1 person

      3. Hi Dale,

        As I said on the show, your inability to produce a description of how a miracle happens and what the agent involved does to perform it, is enough for me to reject the idea that they are plausible. I owe you no further burden.

        If you want me to accept miracles are plausible, give me something I can work with.

        I get the frustration, when the four of us very together, things go wobbly, you wanted to says l say things but couldn’t and I wanted more dialog with you directly.

        How about we cut the cheer leaders and try again?

        Like

        1. There will be another shot at miracles on the 21st. Nothing will be held back from that one. The topic of this show was narrow in scope. Next time, it opens up.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Yes that is true David and I did that for you, remember you were not to be in this show at all and you asked me not to do a topic that you wouldn’t want to be a part of yourself and so I figured doing a prelude type show to the miracles would be something you wouldn’t mind missing and also not detract from your show on the issue.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks. I appreciate that. I did my best to keep the narrower topic in view as the others would not have been as familiar with the plan. Herding cats is hard to do.

              Liked by 1 person

      4. “God is not bound based on prior precedent in all circumstances, as a freewill agent who has purposes, He is perfectly able to do a supernatural miracle at anytime in history even if He hasn’t or rarely has done so before.”

        This might be the case in some fantasy world of your imagining, but come back to the real world where the threat of tripping from steps overwhelms the threat of the Terminator. We simply don’t have the substantiated evidence that miracles take place or that God has any inclination to perform them.

        What we do have are a myriad of religious texts which claim the miraculous and make up stories why *this* particular miracle is the real deal. But these simply do not withstand modest scrutiny, let alone the sort that would see a drug pass a phase three trial, or support the rejection of the null hypothesis.

        I continue to find your appeal to the blank slate to be totally inscrutable and a highly idiosyncratic way of thinking. WE KNOW STUFF ABOUT THIS WORLD. Miracles aren’t a part of this picture. Each investigation I’m aware of that has probed a miracle claim has resulted in a failure to meet the evidentially standard. A rational calculus must therefore assign a very low likelihood to their existence.

        The fact that you have to make up stories about why God doesn’t do miracles much (i.e. your maximal soul salvation head canon) is a tacit admission of the paucity of evidence available that might raise their likelihood of existence above that of the negligible. Your challenge in the final paragraph affirms that you, like the rest of the skeptics, believe the evidence is scant.

        Like

        1. Anthony,

          Yes, I do believe the evidence is scant, that’s true, but evidence there is regardless. Further, I don’t believe you if you claim to know that miracles are or never have been a part of the picture, that is a positive skeptical claim that requires you to prove that they haven’t occurred, you can’t just assert that and expect me to believe your unproven assumptions based on the fact that en masse miracles either don’t occur or at least haven’t been proven empirically to occur or something along those lines. None of that knowledge of this world entails that miracles are impossible and it doesn’t even show they are factually impossible from occurring in this world.

          A rational calculus wouldn’t presume to ignore relevant factors from its calculation like you do, it wouldn’t ignore questions of potential divine psychology (i.e. God’s reasons not to do miracles all the time but only on rare occasions for particular purposes that can’t be achieved any other way). Its exactly like saying you think the prior prob of Dale going to University to study Philosophy must be low b/c he’s never done until now, no if I did the prior prob, I would consider that Dale is a free will agent and might have reason to do something unprecedented, such as converting to Christianity and wanting to become a PHL teacher for Christ as a relevant factor/option in the calculation. Same deal with God acting rarely or even uniquely in history miraculously as a free will agent with purposes that may require such actions then and at no other times, you can’t ignore possible relevant data/factors of consideration and expect your prior prob calc to have any bearing on the issue.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Miracles are not part of the picture of the reality of this world because as I stated, “Each investigation I’m aware of that has probed a miracle claim has resulted in a failure to meet the evidentially standard.”

            I really think it is unhelpful to frame thing in terms of “impossible”. Sure, it is not impossible that the Terminator will appear at my front door but that event does not figure in my calculus. The likelihood of that event simply doesn’t meet the *evidentially threshold* and so I ignore it as a possibility.

            I wouldn’t say miracles (I’m using the term in the broad sense which I presume you are without tightly defining it) are impossible but they certainly don’t meet the evidentially threshold to raise them above the likelihood of the Terminator greeting me tomorrow morning.

            Your appeal to divine psychology is wrongheaded on many levels. Even granting the existence of a god made in human likeness, we have no access to his mind. Yes, there’s so called “revelation” but the instances of those have all the characteristics of what we’d expect to be produced by a god made in human likeness (perhaps I’d grant some of the Upanishads seem to offer some genuine transcendental insight). And Dale, an on the spectrum geek (that’s not an insult) with a Christian background being attracted to a WLC style of Christianity and then wanting to go off to do further study so as to further the project of saving as many souls as possible…is oh so predictable. You belong to a class of individual which is far from unique. Even in my sphere, I could name a dozen individuals that have a similar life trajectory (Be aware I learned over the weekend that one of them has just suffered an extremely ugly divorce). There is nothing unprecedented about your life course.

            Liked by 1 person

    3. I wanted to spend more time exposing the blank slate idea for the bogus thing or is, but as you know, time and conversation went wobbly.

      The blank slate idea is the tactic used to get miracles on the table, but that means every impossible but imagined idea should also be I the table, but Dale doesn’t bring those, he only brings his pet idea.

      The whole point of extending knowledge is to work out what is and to eliminate what’s not, not matter how probable it may be. In others, the goal is to take things off the table by elimination.

      Dale doesn’t seem to like that miracles don’t survive the process of scrutiny and so the tactic used is to attack the process instead of defend his idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Matthew (or so I presume), and everybody else,

        Clearly, once again, I am late to the party! I’ll have to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, I have not read very many of the comments, so, my apologies, if I bring up some issues that have already been addressed.

        As an aside, I want to take issue with how atheists and agnostics have appropriated the term “skeptics” for themselves; they don’t have a corner on the market concerning critical thinking/skepticism. I think that there is greater transparency when they label themselves in accordance with their belief system —whether it be atheists, agnostics or whatever. To do otherwise can give off the mistaken impression that atheists and agnostics are coming at the issues that we are discussing with a lack of bias and an open mind. I think that a fair assessment of things is that the minds of atheists on this board are as open as the minds of Christians. I’d love, however, to be proven wrong about this.

        A “skeptic” is merely a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions. By that definition, I’m a skeptic, too. I like to ask a lot of questions, and I have a lot of doubts about things. To my way of thinking, the opposite of a skeptic is a dupe. Also, healthy skepticism shouldn’t ever be the goal. The goal should be the discovery of the truth. Healthy, intellectually honest skepticism is the best method to, hopefully, arrive at the truth. Can we agree on this?

        Skepticism regarding a particular matter doesn’t have to be constant. Once one thinks that one has discovered the truth, one’s skepticism on that particular matter ceases. Unless new evidence gives one cause to suspect that what they thought was the truth isn’t, then, healthy skepticism should resume to, once again, suss out the truth. Can we agree on this?

        You mentioned in the beginning of the podcast that “you want knowledge so that you can eliminate the impossible and the improbable.”

        In order to ELIMINATE the impossible, one has to first DETERMINE what is impossible. How can one do this –to a 100% certainty– unless one is omniscient? Someone who is not omniscient is, by definition, not knowledgeable of everything; that, of course, means that there might be forces, contingencies, etc. that one might not be aware of. I’ve brought up the example before of the concept of “virgin births.” For most of humanity, people thought that reproduction was “impossible” unless both a male and a female contributed to the process. Late in the game, we discovered that asexual reproduction can occur under certain circumstances. What had been thought of as “impossible” for the longest time (which means that, by your standard would’ve been “eliminated” as a possibility or probability), was, indeed, not only possible but happening. It was just that we, not being all-knowing, had not encountered that possibility yet.

        This is why I adhere to the proposition that “anything is possible.” Let us not, however, confuse this with thinking that anything is PROBABLE. Unless one is omniscient, it’s unwarranted hubris to ever say, with 100% certainty, that a possibility has been eliminated. The best that we can do is use what knowledge we have to determine what the probability is that certain things are (1) true or false, (2) likely to happen or not likely to happen, or (3) likely to have occurred or not likely to have occurred. Moreover, I don’t think that, technically, one can “eliminate” the improbable for the same, aforementioned, reason. Wisdom demands respect for the proposition that we cannot be aware of what we do not know. As such, we should not 100% foreclose the possibility that something is possible. Can we agree on this?

        Also, I would argue that the purpose of knowledge is not to eliminate the improbable, because the improbable might, indeed, be the cause of something. There are odd-defying occurrences all the time. Instead, knowledge should be used to pursue Truth. Probabilities are useful in that they, generally, increase our odds at arriving at the truth. But, while Occam’s Razor is important to routinely consider, if all we ever do is follow the odds, there will be some mistakes —sometimes very serious mistakes with serious consequences— along the way. Why do we think that physicians, often, might be rather certain that they know what the cause of person’s ailment is; however, they will, often, perform certain tests or have the person undergo certain scans to be sure. Why? Because wisdom and experience tells them that just because probabilities point strongly in one direction, the most probable cause of something isn’t, always, the actual cause of something. Can we agree on this?

        I’ll give atheists and agnostics the home field advantage by arguing within some of the parameters set forth by none other than, apparently atheistic philosopher David Hume himself —the man who penned An Enquiry concerning [sic] Human Understanding, a book that devoted an entire section to arguing against miracles.

        As an example of Hume’s thinking about miracles (not the parameters that I want to set forth for the discussion), Hume asserted that (1) miracles are a violation of the laws of nature and that, as such, are impossible, and, he argued in the alternative, that (2) one cannot have a justified belief that a miracle occurred.

        The parameters that I would like for us to base our discussion around, for now, are these from Hume’s aforementioned book. Let’s see if we can agree on these:

        (1) A “miracle” is “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.”

        (2) I’m going to slightly alter/expand a quote from Hume concerning what constitutes sufficient evidence for a miracle —since Hume, judging from the below-referenced quote, did not take into account that physical evidence of a miracle —as opposed to just testimonial evidence— might exist. My alteration, below, will substitute the word “testimony” for “evidence.”

        Hume stated: “No [evidence] is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the [evidence] be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous that the fact which is endeavors to establish.”

        (3) Hume, also, stated, “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”

        So, do we have any common areas of agreement? I think it would be helpful if we can see where we stand before delving into the details of this topic. Thanks!

        P.S.: Why does it take three atheists to debate one Christian? Are we ever going to be treated to hearing three Christians debating one atheist? Regardless, it was a great debate and a great performance by all.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. No time to respond properly today. But I promise I will get to it tomorrow. Thanks for weighing in. I will just comment on the last bit for now:

          Andrew, Matthew, and I do roundtables a few times a year as it is a combination of our various shows. The roundtables are always crowd favorites. And we love doing them. So it is not intentionally 3 against 1. We all regard Dale as a full and beloved member of the ReasonPress team. His frustration in the podcast had nothing to do with it being 3 against 1. He will probably support me on that.

          Last year, Dale brought me lots of great luminaries to argue with. I would have loved to have been the 1 against which three qualified gladiators came after. That is actually a fun exercise that Dale has the benefit of enjoying from time to time. The other three of us are frankly envious. If Dale wants to bring three Christians to debate me at once, I will be happy.

          Would you like to be one of them? We can make that happen. In fact, I am looking for someone who can stand in for Dale for one show in a few weeks. Challenge presented. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

          1. David,

            About the shows, I’ve actually received an invite from our buddy Robert Stanley to go on his show and for him to come on ours, given my vacation time and his schedule which is very precise, there are only a couple days available to do it- I will be setting it up with him regardless of your availability but if you can make it you are welcome to join in and use that as a show to put up while I’m out recharging my batteries.

            Or if you can’t do weekdays with him and I, I can record the show and put it in the Dropbox for you to use.

            As to Teddi, of course like everyone she is welcome- heck, maybe she’d like to do the Round Table with Cliffe- so that way it would be 3 Christians vs. 3 Atheists, I have no idea how I would organize such a beast of a show, but I can try to think of something.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Hi, David,

            What are the topics? I’m interested if the topics are something that I think I know enough about to properly advocate for them.

            I think roundtable discussions are great fun, as well –kind of like The McLaughlin Group. As far as the 3 against 1, though, there’s a built-in advantage for the 3 –while one is advocating, the other two have additional time to think of responses, and if one of the three is stumped for a response, there are two others to chime in.

            When you get a chance, email me so that I can get the details about the topics. Thanks!

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Teddi,

          You should read some of the comments, but we can leave that for later. Here is paragraph 91 from Hume on miracles:

          The plain consequence is (and it is a general maxim worthy of our attention), ‘That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish; and even in that case there is a mutual destruction of arguments, and the superior only gives us an assurance suitable to that degree of force, which remains, after deducting the inferior.’ When anyone tells me, that he saw a dead man restored to life, I immediately consider with myself, whether it be more probable, that this person should either deceive or be deceived, or that the fact, which he relates, should really have happened. I weigh the one miracle against the other; and according to the superiority, which I discover, I pronounce my decision, and always reject the greater miracle. If the falsehood of his testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.

          In building the consensus, are you likewise willing to agree that it is always more likely, as a fallible creature, that you are wrong about a miracle claim than it is that a transgression of natural law took place? As a side note internet diving can be a hazardous hobby. 🙂

          Ok, lets turn to the top of your post. Atheism is a position on a single issue, that of whether a god exists. So, when you ask atheists to be clear about their view, atheism only answers that one question. It does not answer questions of dualism, ethics, free will, awareness after death, etc. Likewise, the way you framed your post, agnosticism only applies to that single question.

          On the other hand, Skeptics and Seekers as a brand accepts the notion of the Christian in the Seeker’s role and an atheist in the Skeptic’s role, most weeks. So, I’m not really sure what your complaint is. Can you go further? After all, the boards under the SnS brand accept these notions.

          You mentioned in the beginning of the podcast that “you want knowledge so that you can eliminate the impossible and the improbable.”

          Can you provide a timestamp for this. You go on with:

          In order to ELIMINATE the impossible, one has to first DETERMINE what is impossible. How can one do this –to a 100% certainty– unless one is omniscient? Someone who is not omniscient is, by definition, not knowledgeable of everything; that, of course, means that there might be forces, contingencies, etc. that one might not be aware of. I’ve brought up the example before of the concept of “virgin births.” For most of humanity, people thought that reproduction was “impossible” unless both a male and a female contributed to the process. Late in the game, we discovered that asexual reproduction can occur under certain circumstances. What had been thought of as “impossible” for the longest time (which means that, by your standard would’ve been “eliminated” as a possibility or probability), was, indeed, not only possible but happening. It was just that we, not being all-knowing, had not encountered that possibility yet.

          Do you defend the notion of an all knowing being? If so, how do you balance that against the implied acceptance that none of us do know everything? Also, you appear to be equating asexual reproduction with the supposed virgin birth of Jesus. We do, as you suggest, now understand asexual reproduction. Can you provide similar detail about the virgin birth that appears to be written between the lines? If not, you are engaging in a false equivalence.

          Toward Agreement On Your Questions

          (1) A “miracle” is “a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent.”

          The NT had perfectly visible agents supposedly working miracles every day, and the well known televangelists propagate the same ideas. Do you accept their claims?

          (2) I’m going to slightly alter/expand a quote from Hume concerning what constitutes sufficient evidence for a miracle —since Hume, judging from the below-referenced quote, did not take into account that physical evidence of a miracle —as opposed to just testimonial evidence— might exist. My alteration, below, will substitute the word “testimony” for “evidence.”

          Hume stated: “No [evidence] is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the [evidence] be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous that the fact which is endeavors to establish.”

          See my question above on the likelyhood that one is wrong about a miracle rather than natural law being broken.

          (3) Hume, also, stated, “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.”

          Minus the misogyny of Hume’s time, there is always a question here about what constitutes evidence. I understand that you are a practicing attorney in the US. As I understand it, ‘god made me do it’, ‘the devil made me do it’, and their analogs are not acceptable defenses, though a person can certainly claim that for him or her self. While you are working toward the idea of evidence, can you provide some legal detail about why that defense is not accepted?

          As a final note, I did a show with Dale on The Shroud. Dale and Barry both accepted The Shroud as authentic. I do not. Furthermore, I believe David has participated in shows where he was out numbered. Are you volunteering to set up a panel of three or more interlocutors? I’m interested, as I believe Matthew and David will be. In fact, I’ll go further. Reason Press would like to extend an offer to every church for Sunday night services. We will bring two or three atheists and answer questions from as many Christians as are present. Can you schedule such an event with your church?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi, Andrew,

            Thanks for your response. Let me start off with giving you the timestamp for Matthew’s statement that I quoted in my comment. It can be found at 37:35. I’m not quite sure if you are willing to stipulate to any of the points that I made or not. Regardless, I’ll answer your questions.

            You asked me, if I am willing to agree that it is always more likely, as a fallible creature, that you are wrong about a miracle claim than it is that a transgression of natural law took place. My answer is “no” to that statement as written. That’s loading the dice by way of the injection of bias. If you are asking me if I am every bit as suspicious as you are regarding miracle claims, I will tell you that I am. I share that bias with you. But, the proper analysis of anything –miracle claims included– requires objectivity. Everything starts at zero, and then we start examining, and cross-examinig, the evidence with rigor. What are your thoughts with how I have phrased this? Do you agree, or do you require putting your thumb on the scale from the get-go?

            I will agree with you that, strictly speaking, atheism is a position on a single issue –faith in the belief that there is no God. I understand that some atheists will make the positive claim that there is no God, and some atheists prefer to keep their head down and just go with the squishier version of “I just don’t have enough evidence to believe in God.” But, in my opinion, if it’s the latter, one is, more properly, an agnostic. In my opinion, the latter type of atheist isn’t really making, and isn’t really interested in making, a good-faith effort to try and find out if God exists, because if they did, they would refer to themselves as “agnostics” –to announce that the do not have enough knowledge to warrant either faith in God or a disbelief in God. They just want to evade the burden of pushing themselves to prove –either by a preponderance of the evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt– that there is no God. The only reason why, in my opinion, I can think of why the squishy atheist might not want to identify themselves as being “agnostic” is because they have an aversion to God or an aversion to the concept of God.

            I agree with you, Andrew, that being an atheist or an agnostic doesn’t answer questions regarding ethics, free-will, dualism, etc. However, regarding the issue of the plausibility of miracles –I think that one’s status as an atheist or an agnostic is highly pertinent. Here’s how I think it links up: if miracles are plausible, they might be provable. If miracles are provable, they point to a supernatural force or forces that are causing the miracle. If supernatural force/s is/are causing miracles, then it/they would be viewed by many as “God.”

            So, with regard to the name of the brand, “Skeptics & Seekers” –which is rather catchy– the format of the show creates a dichotomy between the skeptic and the seeker. I think that we should all be both skeptics AND seekers until we think that we have discovered Truth on whatever matter we’re investigating. If, after we discover what we think is the truth, we acquire new evidence which casts doubt upon its validity, we should revert back to our status as a skeptic AND a seeker and see if we can find out what the truth is.

            You asked me if I defend the notion of an all-knowing being. To what degree of certainty? I think that there is a preponderance of the evidence –on the higher side (not 50.1%) that supports that the Judeo-Christian God is all-knowing.

            I’m not quite sure what you’re asking me when you ask how I balance (either there being an all-knowing being or defending that there is an all-knowing being) against the implied acceptance that non of us know everything. I have zero evidence to think that any human (that is not God incarnate) is all-knowing.

            You said that I appear to be equating asexual reproduction with the supposed virgin birth of Jesus. Actually, although it’s a happy coincidence that those two virgin births tie in together given we’re discussing religion. However, I was, actually, not trying to tie-in one with the other since I’ve never heard of virgin births/asexual reproduction in HUMANS outside of the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus. I was, merely, trying to point out that, in the realm of our natural laws –for the longest time– asexual reproduction was a laughable idea –until it started being observed in some species. My point was limited to the notion that we should never be 100% certain that some of the most basic of concepts that we hold out as true might turn out to be false. It’s just a reminder that we all should have a certain amount of humility in light of the fact that there is so much that we do not know or can even conceive.

            You asked if I accept the claims of televangelists. Without having conducted some deep investigation into each and every one of them, I can’t really say I have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt regarding every televangelist that ever lived. But, if you’re asking me if I would bet my last dollar that they are frauds with regard to their miracle claims, I’d place that bet. I’ve acquired too much information over the years (just in the general news –not through any personal experience) to lead me to believe that those types of televangelists that perform “miracles” are charlatans. At best, I think that if someone is the so-called “beneficiary” of a miracle from one of those hucksters they are experiencing the placebo effect, and, at worst, I think there’s just out-and-out chicanery.

            You bring up the issue of what constitutes evidence, and yes, you are correct, I am a licensed criminal defense attorney in the U.S. You mentioned that, as you understand it, that defenses like “god made me do it,” the devil made me do it,” etc. are not acceptable defenses. The answer regarding your understanding of whether these defense might be acceptable or not depend upon whether or not the jurisdiction one’s in has adopted the M’Naghten Rule –and there can be differences from state-to-state in terms of the elements required for various offenses. Those kind of “God/Devil made me do it” type of defenses are, usually, seen in conjunction with “insanity defense” –as opposed to, for example, some terrorist [who might not be insane] who might be claiming that he violated the penal law because God told him to do it. In the case of a non-insane terrorist, good luck on that kind of defense sticking.

            However, if a defense attorney thinks her client was mentally ill at the time of the commission of the offense, that attorney would have her client mentally evaluated to see if an insanity defense might be a viable option. If the M’Naghten defense is available in one’s jurisdiction, this is, generally, how most jurisdictions will apply it: in order to be deemed “not guilty by reason of insanity” the defendant must be laboring under such a defect of reason from a disease of the mind as to not know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, OR if he did know it, he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong.

            So, as David would say, someone can be “b@t$hit crazy,” lol, but still not meet the criteria to launch an effective insanity defense. And, uh, just in case anyone’s getting any ideas, the insanity defense is used in about 1% of cases, and it’s successful less than 25% of the time. 😉

            You asked me if I was volunteering to set up a panel of three or more interlocutors. I wasn’t. But, since I’ve now been invited, I’d be delighted to join the melee (provided, as I mentioned to David, we’re discussing a topic that I have a clue about.)

            Lastly, you asked me if I could schedule a question and answer event with my church for atheists (or for atheists and Christians.) While I am, and have always been, deeply religious (not just “spiritual” –whatever that means), for quite a few years now, I’m not very good about going to church very often. Also, I don’t know if y’all have been to a Greek Orthodox Church, but (having grown up in it) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I would be shocked if they (or, really, any church) would be interested in giving atheists a platform to spread their message.

            I look forward to learning from you if you think there are any points of agreement that we may share so that we can get onto the substance of the discussion. Thanks!

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            1. This is a common error Christians routinely make:

              I think that one’s status as an atheist or an agnostic is highly pertinent. Here’s how I think it links up: if miracles are plausible, they might be provable. If miracles are provable, they point to a supernatural force or forces that are causing the miracle. If supernatural force/s is/are causing miracles, then it/they would be viewed by many as “God.”

              You are too locked into your Christian bubble to see the bigger universe of wackadoodle nonsense. Your god is not the only fantasy supernatural miracle force candidate out there. The problem is that Christians think they own miracles. So all miracles and supernatural powers point to their god. Dale went as far as to say that even the devil only acts through god’s power.

              But let’s be sure to pay our respects to ghosts, spirits, demons, gens, fairies, and those nameless forces and energies new-agers are always going on about. Practitioners of voodoo don’t believe in your god. But they are still enthralled by supernatural powers. There are also the sci-fi freaks who believe in unproven mental powers such as ESP, telekinesis, teleportation, and the like.

              The kookosphere is crowded. There is barely room for your crazy ideas about gods and miracles. Atheists are just as represented at the Buffet of BSC ideas as Christians. We don’t need a belief in your god to be wrong about the supernatural.

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              1. Hi, David,

                This is a common mistake atheists make. 😉 You are too locked into your “atheist bubble” to realize that voodoo practitioners, believers in fairies, leprechauns, New Agers and the like in no way have the historical bona fides —spanning almost 2,000 years—that Christianity does.

                Moreover, they don’t have (1) a supernatural figure that (2) came down to Earth as God incarnate, (3) made provable claims that are (4) recorded in the Bible [a historical document] and then (5) left behind miraculous evidence [the Shroud of Turin] that (6) has been intensely studied [and not credibly disproven despite what you think of the C-14 test] by many of the greatest scientific minds in the world and (7) proving that He made good on His provable claim to rise from the dead in three days if anyone kills Him [“destroys His body/temple.”]

                Show me another religion or set of beliefs that can match or exceed that, and then they can earn a place at the table to lay claim to being the source of supernatural occurrences. Until that happens, I think it’s safe to say that if there is a supernatural force/being that we need to really concern ourselves with, it’s the Judeo-Christian God, and only the Judeo-Christian God.

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                1. Moreover, they don’t have (1) a supernatural figure that (2) came down to Earth as God incarnate, (3) made provable claims that are (4) recorded in the Bible [a historical document] and then (5) left behind miraculous evidence [the Shroud of Turin] that (6) has been intensely studied [and not credibly disproven despite what you think of the C-14 test] by many of the greatest scientific minds in the world and (7) proving that He made good on His provable claim to rise from the dead in three days if anyone kills Him [“destroys His body/temple.”]

                  Well, Christians definitely have the STORY that this all happened. What they don’t have is any evidence that any of this actually happened or is even possible in the first place. But if all you want is a story of magical things happening with miracle artifacts that have never been demonstrated to be legit, then we have all sorts of religions that fit the bill, Most of them are older than Christianity. After all, we are constantly digging up mummified remains of Egyptians that are said to be descended from the gods themselves, and were considered to be divinity in most cases. Christianity doesn’t even have that much. And the ancient Egyptian religion goes back at least 3000 years, more likely around 5 or 6.

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                  1. Hi, Darren,

                    A religion that is older than Christianity but that has, also, lost its relevance a very, very long time ago doesn’t adequately compare to a religion that has grown more and more in strength and had been, consistently, around for almost 2,000 years.

                    I won’t argue that just because one religion has more followers makes it true, but I will say that an unbiased and intellectually curious mind should wonder: why have Judaism, Christianity and Islam withstood the test of time, and what do they have in common? I’ll let you do the Venn diagram for that in your mind to figure out the answer.

                    By the way, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go, again” —with your mantra of the “story of magical things happening and miracle artifacts that have never been demonstrated to be legit.”

                    Once again, the best scientific minds and legal minds understand that you must look at ALL of the evidence when analyzing something.

                    When one important test (that is rendered unreliable if an artifact has been contaminated) conflicts with a barrage of many other important tests that affirm each other and that are supported by historical evidence, that lone test is known as an outlier and, as such, is not, in and of itself, compelling evidence.

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                    1. A religion that is older than Christianity but that has, also, lost its relevance a very, very long time ago doesn’t adequately compare to a religion that has grown more and more in strength and had been, consistently, around for almost 2,000 years.

                      You do realize that the Egyptian religion at one point did grow more and more in strength and had been consistently around for more than 2000 years right? The Egyptian religion was going strong for at least 3000 years and more than likely longer than that. So Christianity still has a long way before it catches up to the staying power of the Egyptian religion. Not to mention the Hindu religion which has had staying power for much longer than either of them.

                      Perhaps you can try to make a venn diagram to figure out why.

                      And given that worldwide the Christian religion is starting to grow weaker and weaker, I feel it is safe to say that Christianity isn’t going to make it as long as the Egyptian religion did before it dies.

                      I won’t argue that just because one religion has more followers makes it true, but I will say that an unbiased and intellectually curious mind should wonder: why have Judaism, Christianity and Islam withstood the test of time, and what do they have in common?

                      We already know why. It isn’t a mystery and it isn’t because they are true, it is because of how cultures and wars work and how the human brain is wired.

                      By the way, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “There you go, again” —with your mantra of the “story of magical things happening and miracle artifacts that have never been demonstrated to be legit.”

                      Yes, there I go again, just like you are going again about how great the shroud is even though the evidence for the shroud is not that great. And I will explain why it doesn’t do what you think it does when you present what you feel are the most compelling parts of the evidence.

                      Once again, the best scientific minds and legal minds understand that you must look at ALL of the evidence when analyzing something.

                      I agree. But that is not what the shroud proponents are doing, they are cherry-picking and misrepresenting the data to fit their preferred mythology. And then just dismissing the data that demonstrates they are wrong.

                      When one important test (that is rendered unreliable if an artifact has been contaminated) conflicts with a barrage of many other important tests that affirm each other and that are supported by historical evidence, that lone test is known as an outlier and, as such, is not, in and of itself, compelling evidence.

                      True, but there isn’t one compelling test, that shows the shroud is a fake, there are many. And none of the “evidence” for it being authentic is anything other than speculation and trying to sneak the miraculous in through ignorance.

                      The problem is you are putting too much weight on speculation and not enough weight on the actual facts of the shroud.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. Darren, David, Andrew and Matthew and Bryan,

                    Just because I am an attorney doesn’t make me a better debater than y’all, and I‘m really not. The “stuff” that makes up the characteristics that most attorneys have is something that many other people have as well. It’s something that’s usually born, not made —it’s a personality type and a certain natural way of thinking that you would have had even as a child.

                    Law school just tends to, naturally, attract people with those personality types.

                    All the commenters that I have seen on S & S have been born with this same “stuff”/ability that most attorneys have. Nobody without that type of ability would dare jump in —and stay in— a board like this.

                    But, let me tell you a secret that I learned a long time ago: the person with Truth on their side will always have the stronger lines of argument. Never forget that.

                    That’s why when criminal defense attorneys are representing a guilty defendant, we have an infinitely tougher job than the assistant District attorneys do. It’s not hard to shoot fish in a barrel.

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                    1. But, let me tell you a secret that I learned a long time ago: the person with Truth on their side will always have the stronger lines of argument. Never forget that.

                      I agree. And people that can demonstrate that what they are claiming is actually true usually have better arguments than trying to slip in the miraculous through the ignorance of others. They can provide positive proofs.

                      For example, how much of your argument for the shroud is discussing what the supernatural is and how it works? What aspects of the supernatural are you demonstrating work the way you claim it is? And how much is just trying to show that we currently don’t understand how it was made and then trying to slip in the miraculous through that ignorance?

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                  3. Hi, Darren,
                    The religion of ancient Egypt was shifting/evolving/changing quite a bit. That’s not really one religion where the God or gods stay the same. Furthermore, what does it tell you that the religion of ancient Egypt has been swapped, for the most part, for a belief in God? Moreover, I find it quite curious that you’re wanting to argue with sub-par evidence (that you would shred if I offered it up) about mummified remains that “are said” to be descended from the gods themselves and “were considered to be divinity.” So, what? That’s what we all call a baseless claim. Give me some science, some forensics –like over a 100 years worth– that shows something supernatural about those mummies, and then we can talk. Otherwise, we’re all skeptics on that, right? You say Christianity doesn’t have that much. You, clearly, haven’t listened to the Shroud Wars debates –if you did, it was just background noise for you. I’ve posted articles, and will be resuming my Shroud research (after about a week off from being able to do anything because of the holidays and getting ready for them), so that I can get my paper on the blood evidence written so that we can get the party started.

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                    1. The religion of ancient Egypt was shifting/evolving/changing quite a bit.

                      And so has Judaism and Christianity. If the Egyptian religion changing is a mark against it, then Christianity changing over the years has to be equally a mark against it. After all, we wouldn’t want to have a double standard right?

                      Furthermore, what does it tell you that the religion of ancient Egypt has been swapped, for the most part, for a belief in God?

                      It tells me that the warriors for Rome and Islam were better at killing than the warriors for Egypt were. You do realize that the only reason that the Americas are Christian is that Christians slaughtered the inhabitants and forced the remaining peoples, by sword point, into the Christina religion right? It wasn’t because the inhabitants actually thought it was true.

                      Moreover, I find it quite curious that you’re wanting to argue with sub-par evidence (that you would shred if I offered it up) about mummified remains that “are said” to be descended from the gods themselves and “were considered to be divinity.” So, what?

                      The “evidence” is better than what has been presented for Christianity. Yes, it is sub-par, but then again so is the evidence for Christianity. After all, I noticed in your original list that you didn’t include that you could demonstrate the shroud was authentic, just that no one had disproved it from being authentic. So by all means, try disproving the divinity of the mummies. That seems to be the bar you have set for yourself, so it is only fair you use the same bar for everyone else.

                      That’s what we all call a baseless claim.

                      Yes, it is. I find it telling that you recognize when other people are making baseless claims, but somehow it is ok when YOU present baseless claims.

                      I think it is very telling that Christians have a higher standard for others than they do for themselves.

                      Give me some science, some forensics –like over a 100 years worth– that shows something supernatural about those mummies, and then we can talk.

                      Show my something supernatural for the shroud. Not ignorance about how it was made, or baseless claims about it being supernatural. I have to wonder again at the double standard since you have yet to demonstrate the supernatural is even a real thing or that the things you are calling indicators for the supernatural are in fact indicators.

                      You say Christianity doesn’t have that much. You, clearly, haven’t listened to the Shroud Wars debates –if you did, it was just background noise for you.

                      There is nothing that was presented int he shroud wars debate that is any different than what the mummies present. After all, at one point we didn’t actually know how they were made. So we even had the ignorance as to how they were made to smuggle in the supernatural like what you are doing with the shroud.

                      The only difference between the mummies and the shroud is that we now know how they are made, and ALL the tests indicate they are properly dated.

                      I’ve posted articles, and will be resuming my Shroud research (after about a week off from being able to do anything because of the holidays and getting ready for them), so that I can get my paper on the blood evidence written so that we can get the party started.

                      I’m looking forward to it.

                      My prediction is that you won’t be able to present any method by which the supernatural was able to make it, but you are going to make the baseless claim that it was the supernatural because you can’t figure out how it was done naturally. You are going to overstate the case, claiming things as impossible, not because you can show it is impossible, but only because you can’t figure it out. And you are also going to make baseless claims about what the indicators are for the supernatural without any indication that you are correct in those claims.

                      The thing you are not going to do is demonstrate that your claims about what the supernatural can and can’t do are accurate.

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                    2. On shifting religion, Christianity has tens of thousands of denominations. Probably some shift there.

                      Egyptians swapping gods is just like Christians who convert to Islam or new age spiritualism.

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                    3. The Egyptians really didn’t swap out gods. The religion was pretty much codified by the time the Old Kingdom came about. Though they did add gods to the pantheon. Imhotep, for example, was thought to be a very successful medical man and then was thought to have become a god after he died. And then, of course, the Pharaohs were all considered to be divine and took up their place in the heavens after they died, which is why their bodies were mummified. The Pharaohs were guides and people didn’t want them getting pissed off because their earthly bodies weren’t taken care of properly.

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                    4. Darren and everyone,

                      I’m not intruding in the convo on Egyptian religion, but I’m very much interested in history and my favorite of all docs on the History of Egypt as a whole is Immortal Egypt by Joanne Fletcher as there is some truth that Christianity has changes since its inception but ancient Egypt’s is case different and much more chaotic. The religious situation evolved during different periods and even different regions- the same god’s name was used but considered entirely different gods with their own myths despite sharing the same name.

                      I wanted to share this doc which doesn’t speak really to the issue you and Teddi are debating except for tangentially here and there, but if one wants the entire socio-historical context of ancient Egypt then this is the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of docs on Egypt = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo6OO992ywI&list=PLhMDlPcDRBKSmMYcsJ_29dak29zvIm2pE

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                    5. The religious situation evolved during different periods and even different regions- the same god’s name was used but considered entirely different gods with their own myths despite sharing the same name.

                      Christianity has the same issues, after all, the Wesborrow church has a much different god than the Catholic Church does, and the Jewish and Islamic god are different than the philosophers god you worship. And yet you all call them god and they all branched off from the same place. And that doesn’t include all the changes that your god went through before Judaism became a monotheistic religion.

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                    6. Darren,

                      Yeah, I hear ya on that and I’m not looking to debate it, but there is a difference I find in the situation between the evolution of religions like Christianity and Islam compared to religions like ancient Egyptian religion or ancient Hinduism. There is a certain kind of “tetherdness” for lack of a better word that applies to the latter and not the former (or at least not to the same degree). Again, its more just something that people who study the history of religions have picked up and noted, its been attributed to different things. But yeah as I’m busy with finals this week, I’m more just speaking as a secular historian at this point to say that there are some important differences of note between the development of religion in Ancient Egypt and Christianity most certainly even if there are some similarities- no one can deny that Christianity has evolved over the years and was never a monolithic static religion even in the medieval period when Catholics and the Byzantines dominated Christendom, the situation was far more complex than pop culture thinks.

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                    7. There is a certain kind of “tetherdness” for lack of a better word that applies to the latter and not the former (or at least not to the same degree).

                      I think that has more to do with the name changes of the religion than anything else. Islam and Christianity are just different branches of Judaism. However, the Egyptian religion and all of its branches are all bundled under the same label. And yet Christianity is the only one of the three where god is a trinity, and not in all the denominations even then. Then you have even more branches with things like Mormonism and various cults of personality that build on the Christian base.

                      If you treated the different branches of the Egyptian religion the same as you do the Christian ones, I bet the “tetherdness” would start looking more the same in both cases.

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                    8. They didn’t actually start changing religions until they were forced at sword point to do so.

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                    9. Hi, Andrew,
                      I’d have to disagree that “swapping gods” —especially when going from gods that are part animal to gods that are only in human form— is comparable to just doctrinal differences among the various denominations within Christianity (where the God doesn’t change.)

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                    10. Nice try. Tell you what, you put up a precise detailed definition of the god you promote. We will then use that template as a survey among Christians as a litmus test.

                      As has been pointed out, Christianity doesn’t have its house in order on this point.

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            2. Hey Teddi, thanks for the reply.

              I’m going to start at the top and write as long as I have time. Looking at the list of topics in our posts, I’ll try to pull out the ones that seem most interesting to both of us. Feel free to amend the list when you reply. Also, my work week picked up last night; so, I may only reply once a day.

              Thanks for your response. Let me start off with giving you the timestamp for Matthew’s statement that I quoted in my comment. It can be found at 37:35. I’m not quite sure if you are willing to stipulate to any of the points that I made or not. Regardless, I’ll answer your questions.

              Thanks for the timestamp. I want to circle back with Matthew over the exact quote. As to stipulation, The examples you used along with an attempt to gain consensus were problematic from my view, but I’ll try to care out agreement where it can be had in this post.

              You asked me, if I am willing to agree that it is always more likely, as a fallible creature, that you are wrong about a miracle claim than it is that a transgression of natural law took place. My answer is “no” to that statement as written. That’s loading the dice by way of the injection of bias.

              We disagree here. I’m not inserting any bias but recognizing a universal limitation, even by Christian standards. So, I’ll put it back to you this way. Are you claiming that you can identify a miracle from a fraud. If so, what method do you use, and can you teach it to others? If so, can you provide a list of candidate miracles on which we can all practice the skill of miracle discernment? More on this a bit further down.

              If you can’t answer affirmatively to these challenges, the problem is not with an insertion of bias. The problem is with the lack of ability to divide miracles from the unexplained and the unexplained from natural events.

              I will agree with you that, strictly speaking, atheism is a position on a single issue –faith in the belief that there is no God. I understand that some atheists will make the positive claim that there is no God, and some atheists prefer to keep their head down and just go with the squishier version of “I just don’t have enough evidence to believe in God.” But, in my opinion, if it’s the latter, one is, more properly, an agnostic. In my opinion, the latter type of atheist isn’t really making, and isn’t really interested in making, a good-faith effort to try and find out if God exists, because if they did, they would refer to themselves as “agnostics” –to announce that the do not have enough knowledge to warrant either faith in God or a disbelief in God. They just want to evade the burden of pushing themselves to prove –either by a preponderance of the evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt– that there is no God. The only reason why, in my opinion, I can think of why the squishy atheist might not want to identify themselves as being “agnostic” is because they have an aversion to God or an aversion to the concept of God.

              Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive. As much you have appealed to degrees of certainty in making your case for the amount of certainty you have about your own world view; yet, you appear to be suggesting that atheists who take the weak position are shying away from their obligation to investigate and draw conclusions. This is just bias on your part. You should know this because you are interacting on a board with skeptics who are at least as well acquainted with the material as you are.

              It seems to me that you are suggesting a kind of naive realism by implication. Are you saying that if all just had your reading list and experiences we would agree with you?

              I agree with you, Andrew, that being an atheist or an agnostic doesn’t answer questions regarding ethics, free-will, dualism, etc. However, regarding the issue of the plausibility of miracles –I think that one’s status as an atheist or an agnostic is highly pertinent. Here’s how I think it links up: if miracles are plausible, they might be provable. If miracles are provable, they point to a supernatural force or forces that are causing the miracle. If supernatural force/s is/are causing miracles, then it/they would be viewed by many as “God.”

              Maybe, but you started the chain of reasoning at the wrong place. Plausability is something for which we must test. We can have a very different conversation if you can do miracles or bring along a friend who can. At that point, we can test plausibility of miracles against natural explanations. I’m looking forward to those exercises.

              So, with regard to the name of the brand, “Skeptics & Seekers” –which is rather catchy– the format of the show creates a dichotomy between the skeptic and the seeker. I think that we should all be both skeptics AND seekers until we think that we have discovered Truth on whatever matter we’re investigating. If, after we discover what we think is the truth, we acquire new evidence which casts doubt upon its validity, we should revert back to our status as a skeptic AND a seeker and see if we can find out what the truth is.

              My bet is that you are special pleading for Christianity. Since truth is not a popularity game, I can introduce many religions you should investigate, based on your words, but the ability to recite Christian story touchstones as those elements that convince you is not a defense for close examination of other religions and their evidence. Yet, what I have read from you is just that. You have decided that because you have a story you find consistent you need not investigate further.

              So, I’ll go further about religion in general. I don’t and can’t know everything. Furthermore, I see no way to determine that any being knows everything, if such a thing is possible. It is always more likely that I am wrong or that I have been deceived on this point. As much, the Christian story makes parallel claims about eternal life moral perfection, perfect judgment, complete power, and the list goes on. Yet, I have no way to evaluate such claims and cannot accept them based on testimonial evidence of people like me who have my limitations. But, we’re not done. Can you define what kind of knowledge one might have to know that one has complete knowledge? Can you do this for the other claims?

              You asked me if I defend the notion of an all-knowing being. To what degree of certainty? I think that there is a preponderance of the evidence –on the higher side (not 50.1%) that supports that the Judeo-Christian God is all-knowing.

              I’ll wait for that evidence that should get me over 50%.

              I’m not quite sure what you’re asking me when you ask how I balance (either there being an all-knowing being or defending that there is an all-knowing being) against the implied acceptance that non of us know everything. I have zero evidence to think that any human (that is not God incarnate) is all-knowing.

              I’m waiting for god to show up and demonstrate the capacity to answer all questions. You certainly have the right to think that such a being is lurking around here, but I’m not interested in the assertion. I’m interested in the proof of an all knowing being.

              You said that I appear to be equating asexual reproduction with the supposed virgin birth of Jesus. Actually, although it’s a happy coincidence that those two virgin births tie in together given we’re discussing religion. However, I was, actually, not trying to tie-in one with the other since I’ve never heard of virgin births/asexual reproduction in HUMANS outside of the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus. I was, merely, trying to point out that, in the realm of our natural laws –for the longest time– asexual reproduction was a laughable idea –until it started being observed in some species. My point was limited to the notion that we should never be 100% certain that some of the most basic of concepts that we hold out as true might turn out to be false. It’s just a reminder that we all should have a certain amount of humility in light of the fact that there is so much that we do not know or can even conceive.

              But surely, the problem is knowing.. Asexual reproduction is not virgin birth, and I think I can demonstrate it quite clearly. If you think that asexual reproduction and virgin birth area equivalent, you are actually saying that Mary gave birth along the following lines.

              Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction by which offspring arise from a single organism, and inherit the genes of that parent only; it does not involve the fusion of gametes, and almost never changes the number of chromosomes.

              The ongoing problem is that you have no way to demonstrate anything about the birth of a historic Jesus in the way that we understand asexual reproduction. So, I’m hoping you will prove me wrong and talk about virgin birth with the same level of specificity as we understand asexual reproduction. Mind you, you have to do more than make a claim.

              You asked if I accept the claims of televangelists. Without having conducted some deep investigation into each and every one of them, I can’t really say I have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt regarding every televangelist that ever lived. But, if you’re asking me if I would bet my last dollar that they are frauds with regard to their miracle claims, I’d place that bet. I’ve acquired too much information over the years (just in the general news –not through any personal experience) to lead me to believe that those types of televangelists that perform “miracles” are charlatans. At best, I think that if someone is the so-called “beneficiary” of a miracle from one of those hucksters they are experiencing the placebo effect, and, at worst, I think there’s just out-and-out chicanery.

              Finally we have ground for full consensus — I think. The trouble is that I see no way for 2000 year old records and endless stories of the unexplained to do better. Something unexplained is just that — unexplained. You are being challenged to provide explanations beyond assertions.

              You bring up the issue of what constitutes evidence, and yes, you are correct, I am a licensed criminal defense attorney in the U.S. You mentioned that, as you understand it, that defenses like “god made me do it,” the devil made me do it,” etc. are not acceptable defenses. The answer regarding your understanding of whether these defense might be acceptable or not depend upon whether or not the jurisdiction one’s in has adopted the M’Naghten Rule –and there can be differences from state-to-state in terms of the elements required for various offenses. Those kind of “God/Devil made me do it” type of defenses are, usually, seen in conjunction with “insanity defense” –as opposed to, for example, some terrorist [who might not be insane] who might be claiming that he violated the penal law because God told him to do it. In the case of a non-insane terrorist, good luck on that kind of defense sticking.

              Thanks for the above paragraph. I understood from a lawyer that there was a provision in the US Code about miracle defenses. I’ll try to circle back on this point because I find it interesting. As a personal bit of color, I took some prelaw classes in college, and I still enjoy the subject as a private citizen.

              It very much seems to me that if miracles were as attemptable as natural causes, it would be commonplace to have tribes that center around the miraculous. But, what we have is more a landscape of mental illness where miracles are offered into the legal system.

              However, if a defense attorney thinks her client was mentally ill at the time of the commission of the offense, that attorney would have her client mentally evaluated to see if an insanity defense might be a viable option. If the M’Naghten defense is available in one’s jurisdiction, this is, generally, how most jurisdictions will apply it: in order to be deemed “not guilty by reason of insanity” the defendant must be laboring under such a defect of reason from a disease of the mind as to not know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, OR if he did know it, he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong.

              Lef in for completeness.

              So, as David would say, someone can be “b@t$hit crazy,” lol, but still not meet the criteria to launch an effective insanity defense. And, uh, just in case anyone’s getting any ideas, the insanity defense is used in about 1% of cases, and it’s successful less than 25% of the time. 😉

              As a complete aside, I dislike using the corrections system as a double for treatment of the mentally ill. I’ll be called a snowflake for that one.

              You asked me if I was volunteering to set up a panel of three or more interlocutors. I wasn’t. But, since I’ve now been invited, I’d be delighted to join the melee (provided, as I mentioned to David, we’re discussing a topic that I have a clue about.)

              Fair enough. I’ll look forward to the show.

              Lastly, you asked me if I could schedule a question and answer event with my church for atheists (or for atheists and Christians.) While I am, and have always been, deeply religious (not just “spiritual” –whatever that means), for quite a few years now, I’m not very good about going to church very often. Also, I don’t know if y’all have been to a Greek Orthodox Church, but (having grown up in it) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I would be shocked if they (or, really, any church) would be interested in giving atheists a platform to spread their message.

              Probably true but I think its a bit sad. As you acknowledged, atheism is a position on a single question. We have much more to discuss than is there a god. And, it is rare that Christians understand atheists in my experience.

              As a final note, I ready to get on with the substance of the discussion. I see that resurrection, The Shroud, and other topics are already in play. I’l happily politely discuss any topic you find interesting.

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              1. Hi, Andrew,

                Thanks for your reply, and I just want to touch on something really fast –I will respond to the rest of your responses tomorrow, as I still have work to do tonight. But, about Christians understanding atheists. From what I have observed, I’ve detected two types of atheists: (1) the type whose minds work in such a way that they need pretty compelling evidence to believe in the supernatural, and (2) the atheists who grew up in a household where their parents and, probably, their church were shoving religion down their throat so they run for the hills in the polar opposite direction. I get the impression that the latter type feel, either, injured by religion or God or they had certain expectations from God or their religion and were disappointed.

                I’m guessing those churches were probably preaching nothing but hellfire and brimstone and very controlling, and I’d bet that a lot of these kids were having to learn Bible verses at home or who knows what. I think you get where I’m coming from –it’s where kids or young adults were brought up in an oppressive religious and/or home environment to where it was choking off their oxygen. By becoming atheists, they could “breathe” again. It’s not hard to understand the psychology behind this –it’s rather straightforward. Now, they have such an aversion to religion that they want nothing to do with it. I get that, and I’m sympathetic to that.

                The only thing is, I think that –at least in the case with religion– that’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There are other churches, or one can still keep one’s belief in God without participating in organized religion. I think that some people lose their faith because they feel disappointed by it because it doesn’t meet up with their expectations. I’ll get back to you on the rest tomorrow.

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              2. Hi, Andrew,

                This is a response to your prior comment to me (there was no “reply” button to push) about giving a precise definition of the God that I believe in (although I think you used the word “promote.” As Dale can tell you, I’m not really big on trying to create tight definitions of God, because I think that definitions are, by their nature, restrictive. I have a tough time imagining that the Almighty Being that created life and everything around us can’t do whatever He wants, IF He wants to.

                To properly define God, one would have to know everything about Him. I’m confident that we do not know, or even have the capacity to understand, everything there is to know about God.

                So, I am not going to try and “define” God (much less precisely define Him), but I will tell you what my understanding is of my God –which is the Judeo-Christian God.

                I understand and believe that God is comprised of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I like to say that He is 1 in 3 and 3 in 1. Another way of describing the Trinity is 1 x 1 x 1 = 1. I understand God to be an eternal being who created everything. I think He is independent of, and away from, the material universe while still being involved in it, and I think He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
                I think that we should look to the Bible as our best guide to understand who God is, but I am not convinced that the Bible tells us everything that there is to know about God. Also, given the various versions of the Bible and the various languages the Bible has been translated into, I think there’s always the potential for some “play” in meaning under these circumstances.

                My apologies for not having the time tonight to respond to the longer comment of yours (from yesterday.) I’ll do my best to get to it tomorrow.

                Like

              3. Hi, Andrew,
                My apologies for the delayed reply. You asked me if I was claiming whether I can identify a miracle from a fraud. Well, depending on what’s going on, quite possibly. If I catch some charlatan “healing” audience members who are actually shills, well, definitely yes. I agree that people can, often, be experiencing the placebo effect although they might be thinking that they are the recipient of a miracle. Moreover, If, for example, someone goes to the doctor, gets prescription medicine from the doctor for whatever ails them, and in three days feels terrific –claiming that they’ve been on the receiving end of a miracle, well, I hate to break it to you, Andrew, but you and I will be on the same team for that.

                I won’t discount the very real possibility that God performs “miracles” through natural means, but if He does, it makes it even more challenging to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the occurrence really was a miracle.

                Experts –especially in the fields of medicine, forensic science and science in general– can also help us sift through miracle claims that capture our interest.

                The timing of a miracle occurrence with the request for a miracle is also a factor, although, certainly not a determining factor. As they say, correlation does not equate to causation. Still, it is legitimate evidence to factor into the mix.

                You asked for me to offer up a candidate miracle. Well, that’s easy. I’m sure you’ve already heard me talking about it: the Shroud of Turin. Quite frankly, that’s the only miracle that I find to be of vital importance. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

                You said that I appear to be suggesting that atheists who take the weak position that they “just don’t have enough evidence to believe in God” are shying from their obligation to investigate and draw conclusions. With regard to that, I think that these types of atheists (who don’t want to just come out and say, “God does not exist.”) are just trying to evade the responsibility that comes with proving up a claim. So, if they want to do that, they should opt for labeling themselves “agnostics.” But, I suspect that, nowadays, it’s far more trendy and edgy among a certain demographic to be an “atheist.” Being an “agnostic” is probably perceived by these folks as having almost one foot in a church.

                From what you mentioned, I think that you’re thinking that I’m the type of Christian that sees miracles where plausible explanations exist. I’m not –that’s why I offered up a slightly modified version of atheist David Hume’s requirement to establish a miracle. I just broadened the term “testimony” to include “evidence” in general –which is only fair. Since Hume said this in 1748, science wasn’t exactly at it’s zenith. But, again, Hume said: “No testimony [evidence] is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more ridiculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.”

                I agree with you that truth is not a popularity game. You mentioned that you could mention a whole bunch of religions for me to investigate. Unless I hear or a religion having more compelling evidence supporting it than Christianity does, or unless you can successfully demonstrate to me how Christianity is a false, then why would I waste my time looking into every religion under the sun. Every religion under the sun doesn’t have the long track record of believers and a miracle that has lots of scientific evidence to support it.

                Have you investigated all of those other religions? Or, did you just go from Christianity to atheism?

                The reality is that most of us don’t do independent research for everything we have to make a decision on. We rely on experts whose judgment we trust. Do you investigate every political story? Of course not. You figure out which newspapers or reporters, etc. that you trust, and you have faith that what they say is true.

                I’m pleased to see that you acknowledge that you don’t and can’t know everything. That’s a starting point. Now, can we move the ball to this: Since we can’t know everything, anything is possible (although that doesn’t mean that everything is probable.)

                I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions on these boards that I think that it’s a very tricky proposition to try and tightly define what God can and can’t do. I’m really not convinced that there is a huge need to do so, either. What’s really important is determining whether God exists or not, if God is giving us a message, and what is the message.

                As for what I base my thinking that a preponderance of the evidence supports the idea that the Christian God is all-knowing, here’s how I get to that: (1) the Shroud provides strong evidence that Jesus was resurrected from the dead (we can get into the details of that in a separate comment because there’s a lot to say), (2) the Shroud provides strong evidence that Jesus, when He was on Earth, told the truth about who he is (3) because of how well the Shroud coincides with the Bible, this lends the Bible additional credibility, (4) the Bible says that God is omniscient So, there you have it. Not 100% proof, but more proof than what you have for your faith in the idea that there there is no God –based on your belief (I suppose) that there is not enough evidence to warrant a belief in Him.

                Regarding the “virgin birth” thing, again, I was strictly using it as an example of how prior to our learning about how asexual reproduction can occur in nature, almost everyone would have said it was “impossible.” But, it wasn’t. It was just that it took time for us to discover it.

                As for demonstrating the “virgin birth” of Jesus, that would fall under the heading of “miracle.” While I do not, unfortunately, have the kind of evidence in support of Jesus’ virgin birth like I do for the Shroud, I will say that since the Shroud evidence strongly supports that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that what he said in the Bible was true, I would argue that this means that Jesus was God on Earth, and that it shouldn’t be surprising that God coming down on Earth might choose to do so in a special way that announces Him as special –a virgin birth. Also, the Shroud evidence, again, lends credence to the Bible, and the Bible says that Jesus was born of a virgin.

                But, the truth is that all one really needs in one miracle –the resurrection– to establish compelling evidence of the existence of the supernatural. After that, everything else falls into place.

                As for miracles being as attemptable as natural causes, I certainly never said that. I tend to think that real miracles –or, at least “big miracles” are relatively rare. One might argue that answered prayers are a form of “small miracles.” Maybe there’s not a difference between them other than their magnitude.

                As for using the corrections system to treat the mentally ill, that’s a mixed bag right there. There’s a lot of mental illness going on in prison. If you let every inmate with a mental illness out, you probably wouldn’t have too many people left in jail/prison. If you put them all in a mental hospital, the mental hospital would have to be built as a prison –with guards, cells, etc. to keep order in the prison and to keep the public safe. it There are services provided by the state that can help inmates that are mentally ill –even when on probation/parole.

                Why do you think Christians don’t understand atheists? What would you (and all the other “usual suspects” 😉 ) say that we need to know that we might not already know?

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        3. Hey Teddi,

          Well in the New Year, I was planning on doing a Grill a Christian Round Table with your contact Cliffe and so that will be 3 Atheists on 2 Christians if everyone agrees when I set that up. I’ve also got an in principle agreement for a solo show with a Protestant, a Catholic and a Muslim dialogue in the works, no Atheists involved, so that should be good to mix things up a bit.

          On my end, believe it or not I’m not phased by tackling 3 Atheists at once, despite how things went in this episode (for other reasons entirely), I’ve done it many times without issue in the prior Round Tables of Season 1, so 1 on 1 or 1 vs. 100, I’m willing to tackle them all for Christ- just so long as my integrity isn’t questioned- I just don’t like being called dishonest or disingenuous, etc. when I’m trying my best not to be such in answering the questions of the skeptics and trying to keep track of everyone’s objections, etc.

          As David said, let’s all assume everyone is trying to be honest and answer the questions properly and I think everything should be good 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

        4. I agree with you in the way you lay out being sceptical and establishing what is probable.

          This is the process I wanted to get on to describing, unfortunately that didn’t happen.

          My approach is essentially, look at the evidence you have and from that evidence establish the most probable explanation. This way you don’t get caught up investigating ideas that have no merit.

          This is also why I wanted to pick apart Dale’s black slate idea, because that always all suggestions, probable or not, leaving the investigator with the thankless task of having to justify the dismissal of unevidenced hypotheses.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hello, again,

            I think that every single person who has been commenting on this board agrees with the concept that we should examine the evidence, have trusted experts scrutinize it (and then, scrutinize it by more experts), weight the evidence against alternative hypotheses, and then figure out what the most reasonable explanation is for what has happened.

            I like to think of it this way. The question of whether ghosts exist. I think that unless one is omniscient, one cannot exclude something –to a 100% certainty– from being possible. So, yes, I think that it’s POSSIBLE the ghosts might exist. Yet, every time I head, watch or read about credible accounts of ghosts, I assume that the people giving their account of seeing a ghost are either crackpots, honestly mistaken, suckers or charlatans.

            I’m confident that we agree here, right?

            Because I’m not overly interested in investigating whether ghosts really exist, I don’t put any time into it. Also, I’ve not ever heard credible sources mention credible evidence for the existence of ghosts. Moreover, since my believing in ghosts doesn’t really make a difference in my life (or, potentially, afterlife), and since I’m not overly curious about it, it’s not worth my time and effort to thoroughly examine such claims. I write them off, and there’s no real down-side to me in doing so.

            BUT, if I happen to start learning that enough credible experts present enough credible evidence that ghosts really do exist, guess what, I’m going to start believing in ghosts (unless or until the evidence that I’ve seen/read about gets successfully debunked.)

            Isn’t this how we should all be?

            My understanding of Dale’s “blank slate” idea is that when we are embarking upon trying to figure out what something is that WE HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE ABOUT, we start with a blank slate.

            We don’t, from the get-go, start polluting the investigative process by inserting our biases into the mix through presumptions (which are defined as something one thinks is true before one knows any facts about a certain matter.) This tips the scale in favor of what typically happens.

            The problem with this is that there are some things that happen which aren’t typical, but which happen nonetheless.

            A sloppy process might get one decent results a good amount of the time, but what kind of consequences might result –in certain situations– if the sloppy process is wrong?

            To engage in a sloppy process regarding miracles makes it less likely that one will ever learn whether or not the supernatural world really exists. It’s important to know whether or not the supernatural world exists, because if it does, then a whole new world of possibilities exist.

            So, with things that are of lesser importance, let’s use Occam’s razor to our heart’s content –we’ll be right more times than not. When we’re occasionally wrong, the earth won’t come to an end.

            But, for things of great importance, let’s go through a careful investigation and examination of the facts and see where the facts lead us.

            Can you agree with what I have just described –whether or not it comports with Dale’s “blank slate idea”?

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            1. You may be right about Dales blank slate, but you’ve not been very specific about how one gets to the truth from his black slate.

              Dales blank slate has a serious flaw, it uncritically accepts every idea as equally possible before attempting to filter fact from fantasy.

              The sceptical approach is that all ideas are not possible until they have evidence that elevates them.

              Dales approach means that positive biases towards miracles will distort the results, which is why he has the absurd notion that the shroud should be taken seriously and that miracles happen due to his god.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Instead of my giving my understanding of Dale’s approach, let me give you my approach in a very simple, visual way.

                Just create an old-fashioned pro-con list. At first, there is nothing under “pro” and nothing under “con.” Then, just start listing the evidence and arguments for both sides. Whichever side has the best arguments and most compelling evidence in support of its position wins. If there’s not enough compelling information one way or the other to determine an outcome, it falls in the “I don’t know” category.

                They both start at zero, but the “natural” side should start piling up pretty fast I would imagine.

                I subscribe to the notion that miracles are a lot more rare than natural events. Do I think that an occurrence is more likely to be natural than a miracle? Yes, I do. BUT, that doesn’t mean that when we investigate it that we should insert our biases and put our finger on the scale.

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                1. The problem with your approach is that if a specific event hasn’t had enough evidence gathered for the natural side, then the miracle side will be artificially weighed. We see this with the shroud.

                  The other issue with miracle claims is they rely on incomplete explanations. That’s not an honest way of doing investigation.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Hi, Matthew,

                    The natural side is, naturally (!!!😆) going to have the advantage with explanations. Whether you start from zero and build up or not, if those natural situations are debunked and the miracle explanations haven’t been or remain unexplained, a wise man (pun!!!😆) should start believing.

                    Let’s get to the real question: Why does it feel like the choking off of their oxygen to the atheists to believe? They resist like a lamb going to the slaughter. This means that they are, probably not examining things as neutrally as they, perhaps, should.

                    If Christians are wrong, so what? If atheists are wrong, it’s a different story.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Teddi,

                      Whether you start from zero and build up or not, if those natural situations are debunked and the miracle explanations haven’t been or remain unexplained, a wise man (pun!!!😆) should start believing.

                      This is called an argument from ignorance fallacy and is a known flaw in thinking.
                      https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/56/Argument-from-Ignorance

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. Hi, Darren,

                      Have you ever realized that some people on this board want to take the easy way out and just slap a fallacy label on something without tearing down the opposing argument and demonstrating why it’s a bad idea for the real world —where there are real risks and benefits —as opposed to if we were just living our life in a protected bubble?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Have you ever realized that some people on this board want to take the easy way out and just slap a fallacy label on something without tearing down the opposing argument and demonstrating why it’s a bad idea for the real world….

                      You don’t have an argument. You have the baseless claim that our ignorance about how the shroud was made naturally means it was done supernaturally.

                      You don’t have any evidence that the supernatural is real.

                      You don’t have any evidence that the supernatural is capable of creating something like the shroud.

                      You don’t have any evidence that the aspects of the shroud you are calling supernatural are in fact supernatural.

                      You have nothing but baseless claims and the structure of your argument is a logical fallacy.

                      Have YOU ever realized that some people on this board want to take the easy way out and just make baseless claims rather than doing the real work of demonstrating that their claims are accurate?

                      Like

                    4. Hey Teddi,

                      You have been doing a phenomenal job tackling the misunderstandings of the skeptics this week in my absence, just wanted to say thank you and Brian for understanding the point about my blank slate notion, you guys really seem to get it and the reactions of the skeptics trying to tip the scales in favour of naturalism is why its so important to have this discussion on their equal probability first before one gets into the question of whether there are such or not.

                      I will just say that you get me exact, there is one thing Darren noted about my saying the default is 50%/50% and not 0% and 0% on both sides. This is a bit of a trick on their part. I agree its 0% like you but when you translate that into Bayes Theorem probability values 0% = 50% and I’ve mathematically proved this 100% degree so that Anthony 66 (who is on these Boards and has a PhD in Math agreed I’m technically correct- I kept his comment saying so to me back in the day).

                      If you want to understand the probability maths of how 0% =50%, in Bayes if you put 0% the formula interprets this as saying its 100% proven that miracles are impossible (a skeptical claim with a burden of proof). Anyways I made a document here = https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/ask-an-atheist-anything-when-does-the-atheist-bear-the-burden-of-proof-dale-guest-stars/ = See the document in the sources section called; “c) See my attached file with detailed illustrations of how the my Bayes calculations work in contrast to Andrew. See here = 4A- BAYES EXPLANATION”.

                      At this point, my blank slate notion and how I calculate it has been logically (principle of indifference) and mathematically (the above document) proven- denial of it is akin to saying one believes 1+1= 8 at this point, they simply are ignorant of what they are talking about or deeply biased and don’t want to be open to truth on the matter. Its that simple at this point, demands that one prove miracles are true first are biased and not the way possibility is established and we don’t do this in any other field when making counter-factuals such as the ones scientists make all the time with their various models of possible climate change scenarios given different circumstances or the government’s report on how to handle possible zombie attacks for example (which included the possibility of supernatural/magical zombie attacks) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFMU–9SdYc (Apparently, the U.S. government knows its factually ridiculous to speak about zombies- supernatural or otherwise as there is no demonstration of them but their modal evaluating faculties are functioning sufficiently to envision various modal possibilities involving such creatures).

                      P.S.- on the issue of 1+1=2 and not 8, it seems science has finally “proved” (at least in the way skeptics use science in not caring about any empirically equivalent notions of the data that they don’t like and so I’ll adopt that method here) that babies have properly basic beliefs about basic mathematical truths, once again my modal evaluating faculties have proven true (see the 29-38 min mark) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyvDG8qjt-M (proof God designed our brains to discover the mathematical world of mathematical truths). Any other empirically equivalent explanations can be ignored until the skeptic demonstrates they are true, til then I reject them and say God designed our math knowing faculties. If you object to this, then this illustrates how skeptics reason unfairly when it comes to miracles.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. This is a bit of a trick on their part. I agree its 0% like you but when you translate that into Bayes Theorem probability values 0% = 50% and I’ve mathematically proved this 100% degree so that Anthony 66 (who is on these Boards and has a PhD in Math agreed I’m technically correct- I kept his comment saying so to me back in the day).

                      Actually, you haven’t. The math works out but what the numbers mean breaks the Beyes analysis and corrupts the results. Multiple people have already tried to explain this to you but you don’t seem to care about Truth and seem to only want to unjustly weight the scales in miracles favor by cheating at the math rather than presenting real evidence.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. Well first you need to debunk a natural explanation, whatever that means.

                      But instead of doing that hard work, you seem content with inserting god into every perceived gap that hasn’t yet been explained naturally.

                      How dishonest!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. First of all, where have I been trying to insert God into every gap? How “dishonest” of you to argue that —especially in light of the fact that I mentioned in my response to Andrew that I agree that there are certain areas where we really can’t be sure if a miracle occurred or not.

                      Maybe you didn’t read that. I’ll be gracious and give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t see that comment.

                      It is patently obvious that my earlier description [in our first back-and-and forth with each other] of what I considered to qualify as “intellectual dishonesty” got deeply under your skin —even though I EXPLICITLY stated that I was NOT trying to make a veiled reference towards you since I had not even had the experience of having a completed exchange with you.

                      Is it, perhaps, because you know that you are guilty of the intellectual dishonesty that I described that you are now, repeatedly, trying to call me dishonest? One has to wonder. Keep it up, you just continue to reveal your character in the doing so.

                      Note to David: This called “calling someone out” —it’s not playing the victim.

                      I’ll give you a prime example of debunking a natural explanation. Regarding the Shroud of Turin, iron was found on one of the samples taken from the Shroud. Famed scientist Walter McCrone jumped the gun and declared that the image on the Shroud was a painting, because pigment used to make paint can sometimes contain iron. The problem was that his theory has been proven wrong.

                      While iron has been detected on the Shroud (through the retting process —where flax is turned into linen), through microscopic flakes of paint due to painted copies of the Shroud being held above and, also touching the Shroud to sanctify them), there is no amount of iron on the Shroud that could be responsible for formulating what is visible on the Shroud to the naked eye.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    8. Every time you assert something as a miracle you’re inserting god into knowledge gap.

                      You’ve not got under my skin, don’t flatter yourself, and save the psychology for the experts.

                      Replacing one natural explanation for another isn’t really debunking though is it. Science does that regularly, do you say science is the process of debunking natural explanations?

                      Like

                    9. Well said Teddi, I said much the same in my Shroud show Part 8 in reference to the iron, so if they listened to the evidence with an open mind, they should be agreeing with you whole-heartedly on this example- let’s see if the skeptics do or if they dishonestly deflect again 🙂

                      Like

                    10. Teddi,

                      Regarding the Shroud of Turin, iron was found on one of the samples taken from the Shroud.

                      So how does iron equate to the supernatural? What supernatural even can you point to that leaves iron behind? How did you demonstrate that the supernatural was able to even affect iron in the first place? Or turn into iron?

                      Like

                    11. As others have pointed out, this is an argument from ignorance fallacy. No need to take my word for it. You can look it up. You said:

                      The natural side is, naturally (!!!😆) going to have the advantage with explanations. Whether you start from zero and build up or not, if those natural situations are debunked and the miracle explanations haven’t been or remain unexplained, a wise man (pun!!!😆) should start believing.

                      A few questions:

                      1. Under your theory that anything is possible, why would the natural side have the advantage?

                      2. How would one go about debunking all natural explanations? Clearly, a specific and well-formed explanation can be debunked. But that doesn’t rule out naturalism, does it?

                      3. How would one go about debunking a miracle explanation? We don’t even know how we would recognize a miracle. So how would we falsify it in your mind?

                      Another observation: As already stated, naturalistic explanations have to be specific and well-formed to count. As such, they can be debunked. But miracle explanations don’t seem to have the same standard. For example, it is not enough for a person to say that nature did it. They would have to come up with all manner of detailed hypothesis to be taken seriously. But the Christian counters that by simply positing that god did it. And they want that to have equal weight to the detailed proposition of naturalism. That doesn’t seem fair or honest. What say you?

                      Liked by 3 people

                    12. Teddi: “If Christians are wrong, so what? If atheists are wrong, it’s a different story.”

                      Hi Teddi,
                      Why is it a different story if atheists are wrong? Would you elaborate?

                      Thanks,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    13. Hi, Brian,

                      It’s a “different story” for the atheists if they are wrong about the existence of God, because the Bible indicates that God gives us the choice to either be with Him in the afterlife or to go to Hell. God won’t force us into Heaven to be with Him. He gives us a choice, and He respects us enough to honor our choice.

                      What Hell is, exactly, and whether God might surprise people with a second chance when everything is said and done, who knows? Pascal, however, was right on the money with his “wager.”

                      Oh, I didn’t get a chance to respond to the other comment you made. Yes, you have definitely found a big hole in the “almighty” definition of God. I don’t know if the Bible says He’s almighty or if that’s just something humans say, but, not being able to make yourself not exist is something I had never thought of. That’s why I often say it’s better to not use tight definitions regarding God.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    14. Teddi: “It’s a ‘different story’ for the atheists if they are wrong about the existence of God, because the Bible indicates that God gives us the choice to either be with Him in the afterlife or to go to Hell. God won’t force us into Heaven to be with Him. He gives us a choice, and He respects us enough to honor our choice.

                      What Hell is, exactly, and whether God might surprise people with a second chance when everything is said and done, who knows? Pascal, however, was right on the money with his ‘wager.’”

                      Hi Teddi,
                      Thanks for going into more detail. There is a lot there to unpack.

                      Are you of the opinion that everyone who doesn’t believe in God and that Jesus is God and accept Jesus as their savior will end up suffering eternal torment in Hell?

                      I know that many Christians hold this view and I wasn’t sure if you do. I also know that many Christians don’t hold to this view – so it doesn’t seem to be a doctrine for all Christians.

                      For example, infants and those in the womb as well as even some older adults who are mentally handicapped do not have the cognitive ability to believe in God – yet I don’t know of any Christian who holds these will all suffer eternal torment in Hell.

                      Some denominations, such as the Catholic Church, holds: “Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” (Lumen Gentium; Vatican II; http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html ). This would seem to apply to many atheists whom I know – they do not have an explicit knowledge of God but strive to live a good life. Now, I’m not saying the Catholic Church is right – just that it isn’t a universal belief among all Christians that only those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will avoid eternal torment in Hell.

                      Sorry for going off on a tangent – just wanted to share that some Christians don’t necessarily think it is that much of a “different story” for all atheists,
                      Brian

                      Like

                    15. Teddi,

                      God won’t force us into Heaven to be with Him.

                      But he will force us into hell if we don’t decide to mindlessly worship him.

                      Like

                    16. Teddi: “God won’t force us into Heaven to be with Him.”

                      Darren: “But he will force us into hell if we don’t decide to mindlessly worship him.”

                      Hi Darren,
                      Not all Christians hold that view. Some believe it is entirely up to the individual whether the individual will be with God or not with God. I’m not saying they are right or wrong – just that not all Christians hold the view that God forces people into hell.

                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    17. Hi Brian,

                      Not all Christians hold that view. Some believe it is entirely up to the individual whether the individual will be with God or not with God. I’m not saying they are right or wrong – just that not all Christians hold the view that God forces people into hell.

                      Your example doesn’t provide an example of people that don’t believe god will force them into hell. ‘Not with god’ means hell because that is the dynamic that the mythology says god created. What if they decide not to go with god OR go to hell? God still forces them into hell because they didn’t choose him.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    18. Darren: “Your example doesn’t provide an example of people that don’t believe god will force them into hell. ‘Not with god’ means hell because that is the dynamic that the mythology says god created. What if they decide not to go with god OR go to hell? God still forces them into hell because they didn’t choose him.”

                      Hi Darren,
                      I’m probably not parsing your statement properly and so might be misunderstanding your point. Sorry if I am.

                      If there are 2 options in the afterlife: with God or without God, and the individual makes the choice, then I don’t see that God is doing any forcing.

                      Of course, there doesn’t seem to be a uniform opinion of what it would be like in the afterlife without God. Some hold it would be a literal eternal physical torment in fire – but not all hold that view. But, what an afterlife without God is a different topic than whether God forces people or if the individual makes the choice.

                      Not saying that you are wrong – just that there are multiple views on this,
                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    19. Hi Brian,

                      If there are 2 options in the afterlife: with God or without God, and the individual makes the choice, then I don’t see that God is doing any forcing.

                      If there are two options then there are 4 choices to make. To make this clearer I will just convert “without god” as Hell. Because that is what it means in the Christian context, and it will make my explanation easier to follow.

                      I can choose with god or without god as two choices. I can choose hell or not hell as the other two choices.

                      Notice that just because I choose not god, doesn’t mean I am choosing hell. There is still the choice of not god, AND not hell.

                      Because god has barred the choice of not hell. And made the choice of not god equal a choice for hell, then he has rigged the game so that any choice that isn’t him is forced to go to hell.

                      But, what an afterlife without God is a different topic than whether God forces people or if the individual makes the choice.

                      No one would ever choose hell. The only way to get people there is to force them to go. ‘Not god’ is not the same as choosing to be tortured for all eternity in any ordinary circumstances. But god decided that is what it meant, so he is, in fact, forcing anyone who doesn’t accept them into hell.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    20. Hi Darren,
                      I don’t see that there are 4 choices to make at all. If, as you say, “without God” = “hell” and “with God” = “not hell”, then the choice of “with God” or “without God” is the same as “not hell” or “hell”, isn’t it?

                      Darren, since you are converting “without God” to “hell”, then, if one chooses “without God” they are choosing “hell.” I think that is called a tautology.

                      Darren, you say “no one would ever choose hell.” But, if “hell” = “without God”, then that is the same as saying “no one would ever choose without God.” Again, wouldn’t that be a tautology?

                      As for hell being a state of being literally tortured for all of eternity – I agree that many Christians hold to that view – in fact it may, historically, well be the majority view. But that doesn’t mean that all Christians hold to that view. Pope John Paul II put had a little different view. He said:
                      “The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy.” (http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/audiences/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_28071999.html )
                      And, “Damnation consists precisely in definitive separation from God, freely chosen by the human person…”

                      Again, I’m not saying this is right or wrong – just that some Christians believe that God doesn’t force but that the individual freely chooses,
                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    21. Hi, Darren,

                      If you are in the ocean {Earth}, and a life-saver {Jesus} is thrown out to you, and you are told {by God}, “Grab onto the life saver if you want to live {forever with God in Heaven}, or you will die {live forever in Hell and wish you were dead.}

                      You can be upset or angry with God for not giving you more options, but earthly parents do the same sort of thing with their kids.

                      There’s an obvious reason (at least to me) why anyone gives a binary choice of two dramatically different options —one option that everyone should want {Heaven}, and another option that nobody should want {Hell} — it’s to push you as hard as possible {without, actually, forcing you} to choose Heaven.

                      Just pick Heaven. Just do it. It’s not hard unless you just can’t stomach the thought that someone is “lording” over you. Parents are bossy, but they are that way, ultimately, for your own good. On Earth, when kids run away from their earthly parents, it rarely ends well. When kids run away from their heavenly parent, the Bible tells us that isn’t going to end well.

                      Do, make the right choice in your head, no matter how many doubts you have. Mother Theresa had serious doubts, herself, for a long time, yet she still submitted herself to a god that she wasn’t sure was in existence.

                      Just do it, it’s a simple choice. You don’t have to swim really well or even at all, because you are holding on to a life-saver. Let the details of everything get sorted out once you are in Heaven. Just be sure that you have the “ticket” to get up there.

                      Please, don’t make this harder than it is. Let go of whatever toxicity you grew up with, and just, at the minimum, really think about the simple advice that I am sharing with you. My advice poses absolutely no risk to you, and it enjoys the best benefits. If I am wrong, you lose nothing. If you are wrong, you’re almost certainly not going to like how that plays out.

                      Your friend,
                      Teddi

                      Liked by 1 person

                    22. Teddi: You can be upset or angry with God for not giving you more options, but earthly parents do the same sort of thing with their kids.

                      So you tell your kids that they have to love you or you are going to lock them in the basement and set them on fire?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    23. I’ll go on record to say I don’t treat my child anything like the Christian God treats children. Furthermore, I will work to have anyone who does locked up.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    24. Hi, Darren,
                      First, we really don’t know what, exactly, “Hell” is. We don’t know how much of that language is literal vs. figurative (wow, “props” to all of my past English teachers that that’s still stuck in my head😆.)

                      Moreover, let me ask you this. If someone gives you life, gives you the opportunity to live in this world (with all the good and the bad in it), and then that person demonstrates his love for you by being put to a slow death in the most painful and publicly humiliating of ways —in order to pay your debt— so that you can have an eternally good life in Heaven, tell me, Darren, how would you react towards the person who did this?

                      We really can’t be certain how God will react until it’s our time to find out.

                      All I know is that there is a fine line between love and hate. When one really no longer cares, one becomes indifferent.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    25. Moreover, let me ask you this. If someone gives you life, gives you the opportunity to live in this world (with all the good and the bad in it), …

                      My mother and father gave me life.

                      ….and then that person demonstrates his love for you by being put to a slow death in the most painful and publicly humiliating of ways….

                      You mean the person that according to the mythology didn’t have to go through a slow death, but only did so because he decided everyone deserves to be tortured for all eternity and this is his excuse to break his own rules? This is the event you feel is showing that this being loves us?

                      —in order to pay your debt—

                      The debt that god was the one who decided we owed? Who could have gotten rid of the debt without all the theatrics, or decided we didn’t owe the debt in the first place?

                      ….so that you can have an eternally good life in Heaven,

                      Right, but initially decided that we should all be tortured in the first place?

                      ….tell me, Darren, how would you react towards the person who did this?

                      I would question his competence. I would question his morality. And I would demand he apologize to all the souls he has terrorized and harmed over the last few hundred thousand years that humans have existed.

                      He would have a lot to atone for, and even eternity wouldn’t be long enough for him to do it properly.

                      We really can’t be certain how God will react until it’s our time to find out.

                      Actually, I am fairly certain I already know. Non-existent beings can’t react. So there probably isn’t going to be any reaction.

                      Like

                    26. Would you like water for that Koolaid.

                      Like

                    27. Hi, Andrew,

                      I’ve got lots of scientific evidence backing my belief that there’s life after death. You have zero evidence that life ceases to exist somewhere else once our earthly body is dead.

                      It takes a lot of “Kool-Aid” and BLIND FAITH to believe what you do in light of all of the scientific evidence authenticating the Shroud.

                      Do you, perchance, believe that if either you OR you and everyone else don’t know if something that that something can’t exist? I doubt it, but I figure I shouldn’t presume. Do we have a stipulation here?

                      The dubious C-14 results (which were gotten from testing that violated carefully planned protocols and have additional problems) do not reasonably invalidate the many other scientific tests which scientifically validate (in conjunction with history) the authenticity of the Shroud.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    28. So the answer is yes you want water.

                      Like

  10. Hi Gang,
    Only part way through the show – and I must admit it is a bit confusing. I do admire Dale for going up against three such worthy opponents at the same time! Not something that I would ever try!

    David, at one point you mentioned how you wouldn’t be able to identify a miracle – something about there being natural and miracle – and that you could recognize the natural but wouldn’t know a miracle if you encountered one. (Please correct me if I misunderstood.) I think you also defined supernatural as being above or beyond the natural. But,… if things are natural or supernatural – and you can recognize the natural – then would anything that you didn’t recognize as natural be supernatural? And, wouldn’t that be the same as miracles given your definition of miracles?

    But, … I may well have missed something that you said – or have misunderstood something.

    Thanks,
    Brian

    Like

    1. You somehow walk the tightrope of being liked and respected by everyone who is both on and off the mic. You are too good for this blood sport. We are all lucky to have you.

      As for your question, no. Absolutely not. The reason I can’t recognize a miracle under my definition is that I do not have an exhaustive knowledge of what exactly is in the set of all possibilities. And neither does anyone else. If I did it the way you suggested, we would have to declare everything we didn’t immediately understand as a miracle, a mistake a lot of people have done over the centuries.

      What we have to do is recognize the limits of what we know and can know about the set of all possibilities. Wen we see something that wasn’t previously in the set as per our limited understanding, we can either add it to the set of possibilities and thus increase our knowledge on that front, or we can take more time to study it before we try to categorize it.

      This is why we don’t have a method of identifying a miracle. We can’t tell the difference between something that was in the set of which we simply were not aware, and something that does not belong in the set at all. So we have to find other ways besides our ignorance to categorize a miracle. I’m open to suggestions.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. David: “You somehow walk the tightrope of being liked and respected by everyone who is both on and off the mic. You are too good for this blood sport. We are all lucky to have you.
        As for your question, no. Absolutely not. The reason I can’t recognize a miracle under my definition is that I do not have an exhaustive knowledge of what exactly is in the set of all possibilities. …”

        Oh David!
        <> <>
        You sweet talker!

        So, if I’m understanding you correctly, when you said in the podcast something about being able to recognize something natural – that wasn’t an all-inclusive claim. Rather, that you can recognize some things as natural, but if you don’t recognize something as natural that doesn’t mean it isn’t natural – just that you have a limited ability to recognize things as natural. Thus, if it isn’t something that you recognize as natural that doesn’t mean it is supernatural – just that you don’t know. Have I got your view correctly now?

        An embarrassed,
        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nailed it.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Just a quick count tells me that we have 150 comments in this thread that are all on-topic. Outstanding engagement. And there are plenty of aspects of the podcast that have not been brought up. I will mention one of them in my next post.

    By comparison, there are 75 comments on the Unbelievable board. 43 of them are from one person whose posts are usually sweetly off-topic. Even so, all of the conversation there is in response to that one poster. Remove those, and the board is dead. That is a show with a million listeners more or less. What I’m saying is that we totally rock.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, David,
      What can we say? We like to shake it up around here!😆 It keeps things interesting.

      Like

  12. 154:30, Dale says that “anything Satan does, or any other instrument does is done through the power of god.” And he later confirmed that “when Satan acts, it is through the power of god.” There are two things here I find worthy of discussion. This is a place where Andrew was frustrated because I wouldn’t let him rejoin. He is probably still pissed off over that. But I was saving it for the board. So here we go:

    1. This seems to be a special plea for there only being one source of supernatural power in the universe. Dale has not really established that there is one. But he goes further here by suggesting that there could be no other source. Thoughts?

    2. Typical Christian doctrine as I understand it is that Satan is an independent agent who is cut off from god, and does his mischief by his own power. But Dale says that the Prince of Darkness is using god’s power to act against god. Does this even make theological sense outside of strict Calvinism? Thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, I wasn’t truly pissed, but I don’t like leaving nonsense laying around. People can trip over it and hurt themselves. 🙂

      On point #1, if I know you are drunk and hand you the keys to the gun cabinet I cannot claim innocence when someone nearby gets shot by your hands. Likewise, if god is simply handing Satan the keys, with full knowledge that he will act badly, god can’t be let off the hook. Mind you, it is built into the story that Satan was thrown out for bad acts; so, there is no amount of special pleading for kinds of god knowledge that save god from candying magic keys to Satan.

      On point #2, I don’t know what it means to make sense of an all powerful god who has an opponent who does dirty deeds by his own power! I’ll wait for the theological double talk to start over this. But, make no mistake, the typical Christian view is that god has infinite creative power; so, he can have as many souls of any kind without the need for fourty years of wondering in the wilderness to cleanse wrongs. In red letters, “God is able of these rocks to raise up children to Abraham.” Presumably he can do this trick infinitely until he is satisfied.

      So no, I don’t understand a god that leaves naughty angels hanging around, when he can simply rewrite the story to fit his wins. As far as I’m concerned, the story is fundamentally contradictory and the contradiction is written in red letters.

      I don’t find that there is a Christian god, but if there were and he is all powerful, he is playing a game unworthy of the all powerful, unnecessary to gain redeemed souls, and unnecessarily punitive for the rest. If you play such a gameChristians, you are the immoral.

      Let the special pleading begin.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Hi, David and Andrew,

        I’m going to do something really unwise, and open up a can of worms before the other can has been closed. But, this is too juicy to pass up. Isn’t the simple answer the basic truth that there can be no free-will without a choice and without temptation to choose wrongly?

        How else can we demonstrate love and obedience unless there is the equal opportunity to gate and rebel?

        If I’m understanding what Dale means, it’s simply that God is the source of everything —even Satan. God gave Satan free-will, and Satan did what he did—and does what he does. You’ll ask, why did God create Satan? Without Satan’s influence to juxtapose God’s influence, how can humans have a legitimate choice between good and evil? Without that, it’s all a shell game.

        God doesn’t force anyone into Heaven. He tells us what the deal is, and He gives us a choice. We are responsible for our choices. As my uncle has told me ever since I was a child, “Use good judgment.”

        Liked by 1 person

        1. How else can we demonstrate love and obedience unless there is the equal opportunity to gate and rebel?

          There are two things wrong with this line of thought.

          1. Why should we have to demonstrate love and obedience? Doesn’t that make god more than a bit immoral?

          2. He didn’t have to give us the capacity to stab other people with knives or create cancer or hurricanes in order for us to also have the option not to love or obey him.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It was always going to be a race to start special pleading. Teddi gets the gold for this race.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Hi, Darren,

            I’m sure you’ve figured it out, but “gate” was a typo —I meant “hate.”

            How many atheists in the world call themselves “atheists” because they are angry and/or hate what they perceive God to be, or they are angry because of what their childhood was like —living with parents and going to a church that were oppressive or judgmental?

            Making a show of one’s denial of God’s existence is the, ultimate, act of rebellion against one’s parents and God under such circumstances.

            But, how well thought out is this game-plan once you have taken in your last breath?

            With the atheist’s game plan, you’ve got to have, quite frankly, even MORE FAITH than a religious person needs to have, because the stakes are eternally higher. If an atheist is going to behave morally/ethically on earth, your risk-benefit ratio makes even less sense to me.

            Of course, I’m not suggesting that moral atheists should become immoral, I’m saying, “What do you really have to lose —unless it’s the act of rebellion that you can’t let go of?

            Be the imperfect Christian that we all are —do your best to believe in God, or at least submit yourself to the idea of God. At the very least, have respect for this God who is, at the very least, possible. Then, let the chips fall where they may.

            How many of the Christians-turned-atheists come from families and churches who had a healthy, positive approach to religion?

            How many Greek Orthodox or Methodist parishioners become atheists compared to some of the much stricter denominations?

            How many Christians-turned-atheists would have flushed their religion down the toilet if they had grown up in a healthier religious and/or family environment?

            While the atheists might not think these are rhetorical questions, I do —because I consider the answer obvious.

            If you didn’t like how things were in your church and/or family growing up, you can change how you practice your beliefs —you are all adults now.

            Your life is not a pendulum that has to swing to extremes.

            Like

            1. How many atheists in the world call themselves “atheists” because they are angry and/or hate what they perceive God to be, …

              I would guess none. If they thought god was real then they wouldn’t be an atheist. And if they don’t think he is real, which is what is required to be an atheist, they aren’t going to hate god. No more than people hate Voldemort or Darth Vader when they talk about how evil they are.

              … or they are angry because of what their childhood was like —living with parents and going to a church that were oppressive or judgmental?

              Usually, this just points out how ridiculous the stories of a god are. It may be the catalyst to start the journey to unbelief, but I have never heard anyone say that was the reason they didn’t believe.

              Making a show of one’s denial of God’s existence is the, ultimate, act of rebellion against one’s parents and God under such circumstances.

              That is what Christian’s like to tell themselves if nothing else.

              But, how well thought out is this game-plan once you have taken in your last breath?

              I don’t know. I guess if you worship the moral monster you do, someone who is going to torture you for all eternity for it, then I suppose it isn’t a good idea. But if the god was actually loving, like is claimed, then it wouldn’t be any big deal. A loving god would accept you regardless. Only an evil god would torture you for all eternity.

              With the atheist’s game plan, you’ve got to have, quite frankly, even MORE FAITH than a religious person needs to have, because the stakes are eternally higher. If an atheist is going to behave morally/ethically on earth, your risk-benefit ratio makes even less sense to me.

              Yeah, this is among the more idiotic ideas that Christians put forth. If you can’t demonstrate your claims are true, then there is no reason for me to care what they are, or even think about it overly long, Just like you completely give no real thought to being Muslim just in case to avoid their Hell, or Zorastrian, or any of the other religions with their own hell ideas. You also don’t sacrifice people to Quetzalcoatl to try to extend the life of the universe because you have no reason to think it is a real thing, and it obviously doesn’t take any faith on your part to dismiss baseless claims.

              And at the end of the day, that is all the Christian Hell fantasy is. A baseless claim.

              Of course, I’m not suggesting that moral atheists should become immoral, I’m saying, “What do you really have to lose —unless it’s the act of rebellion that you can’t let go of?

              Our integrity. Our morality. Our dignity and critical thinking skills. And for what? A baseless claim? No thanks, you can keep your moral monster of a god. I have absolutely no interest in giving up my morality to worship a baseless claim.

              Be the imperfect Christian that we all are —do your best to believe in God, or at least submit yourself to the idea of God. At the very least, have respect for this God who is, at the very least, possible. Then, let the chips fall where they may.

              Thats ok. I have no interest in submitting to something that doesn’t exist. You have yet to demonstrate a god is even possible, so you don’t even have that going for you. It is just another baseless claim.

              While the atheists might not think these are rhetorical questions, I do —because I consider the answer obvious.

              Of course, you do. And you would be wrong because you have never actually looked into the reasons. The problem isn’t that people are treated badly, though it doesn’t help, the problem is that the Christian can only make baseless claims, and eventually people notice. That is why Christianity is dying in all the first world countries. The US just happens to be a bit slower about it than everyone else.

              After all, you didn’t do a single thing in this post to demonstrate your claims were actually real. All you did was try to sneak in the supernatural through people’s ignorance and prey on people’s fear of being tortured for all eternity.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Teddi is using the same old tired Christian playbook. If she can’t threaten you with hell she will appeal to you with Pascal’s Wager.

                What a load of crap.

                On the other hand, we can measure the harm of Christianity by the number of children who have been abused.

                Edit- Hey Andrew, I know things are heated right now, but as a moderator, I just want to say please refrain from swearing on my boards, I haven’t officially announced the new rules for my Boards and so I will leave it up this week and just ask that you express yourself without swearing- for example “what a load of garbage” or something like that.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. That brand of argumentation has never made any sense to me.

                  He’s a loving god. But he’ll mess you up if you don’t love him back.

                  If you can’t bring yourself to love him, you at least ought to be afraid enough to fake it.

                  And they lecture us about the abusive religious ideas we had as Christians. How ironic is that?

                  Liked by 1 person

                2. Hi, Andrew,

                  Everyone is responsible for their own actions. In certain situations –like when one knows that somebody is harming others and one isn’t doing anything to try and stop it, one might very well share in the responsibility for some evildoer’s actions.

                  Just because a priest or preacher in a church abuses kids doesn’t make it the fault of Christianity. Just because that priest or preacher is supervised by people who are spineless and worried more about negative publicity than doing the right thing by getting abusive leaders out of the church STILL does not make that the fault of Christianity. The fault is with the wrongdoers and those who turn a blind eye to the wrongdoing.

                  Not to mention, since it’s common knowledge that pedophiles tend to be disproportionately attracted to professions/vocations that give them easy access to kids –like being religious leaders, coaches, teachers, and Boy Scout leaders, etc.– parents need to be as proactive as they to not allow their impressionable and easily manipulatable children to be in situations where predators have an opportunity to strike.

                  Like

              2. Hi, Darren,

                When I asked how many atheists in the world call themselves atheists because they are angry with God or hate him for some reason, you said that you would guess none. This is pure argumentation that is not rooted in reality. If a person thinks that they have to behave in a certain way in order to be accepted in their family, church and/or God, and the person refuses to conform, guess what, all of a sudden, the family, church and God are wrong [and, maybe, they are and, maybe, they aren’t.] Although a sane person can’t just decide that their family and church no longer exist –since they are in the material world– it’s not hard to pretend that God doesn’t exist –out of sight is easier to get out of mind –sort of.

                I think that if a person was a true believer at one time, deep down, there is more than a kernel of that left inside of them. What would be going through their mind if they were in a foxhole being shot at? Something tells me they will be pleading with that non-existent God they keep talking about to let them live. They’re not going to be reaching out to “Voldemort” or some other character they know is pretend, are they? We all know, deep down, despite the loudest protestations how this sort of thing goes down.

                Most of us know of someone who wasn’t religious who decides to “find Jesus” on their deathbed? What if an atheist or agnostic is not fortunate enough to have a “heads-up” that they are dying –so that they can get themselves right with God? This is my sincere concern for each and every agnostic and atheist reading this.

                To compare the Judeo-Christian God to Voldemort is a faulty comparison, Darren, and I know that you know that. We know Voldemort is a character created by J.K. Rowling. I don’t see a bunch of people worshipping Voldemort, and I don’t see people worshipping Voldemort for any span of time that would even register a blip in the history of the world. Moreover, I don’t see people risking their lives fighting in the name of Voldemort. Even children, upon realizing that Santa is not real, clearly see that the comparisons between the two are shallow, while the distinctions between the two are deep.

                To get away from what was making them so miserable about religion –and this does seem to be a common complaint among many atheists– they soothe themselves by deciding that their religious beliefs were a lie. This quiets the cognitive dissonance in their head. They seem to go on about how much better they feel once they become atheists. Why? Because creatures delight in getting out of cages if they think they are in one.

                Sadly, some families and churches create religious cages for their children, and, once those children get old enough to pick the locks . . .

                It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a myriad of alternatives that can let people be happy and have God in their lives.

                Like

                1. When I asked how many atheists in the world call themselves atheists because they are angry with God or hate him for some reason, you said that you would guess none. This is pure argumentation that is not rooted in reality.

                  Arguing that a god exists is pure argumentation that is not rooted in reality. What I said was the definition of atheist. If you are an atheist then you don’t believe a god exists, and just wanting to act in a different way than your parent doesn’t mean you don’t believe in a god. And given the pure hell that religious families put their atheist members through, they aren’t going to call themselves atheist just to act out. They are more likely to just call themselves lapsed.

                  But you seem to enjoy just making up motivations for people to have, so I doubt you will actually care that you are indulging in pure speculation about motives.

                  We all know, deep down, despite the loudest protestations how this sort of thing goes down.

                  I always love it when Christians start pretending they can read minds and that atheists don’t actually believe what they say they believe. Its one of the few testable claims that Christians make, and it is so easy to show the claim is false to ourselves. Given how mistaken you are about the claims that are testable, it makes your untestable claims that much more likely to be wrong since you seem to be ok with just making things up.

                  What if an atheist or agnostic is not fortunate enough to have a “heads-up” that they are dying –so that they can get themselves right with God? This is my sincere concern for each and every agnostic and atheist reading this.

                  According to your repugnant religion, they are then tortured for all eternity by your morally evil god.

                  To compare the Judeo-Christian God to Voldemort is a faulty comparison, Darren, and I know that you know that.

                  They are both fictional characters. The only difference is that you were indoctrinated so young that you seem to be terrified of being tortured for all eternity, so you desperately hold on to the lies your religion tells you.

                  It’s one of the truly horrific things religions do to young children. It makes them terrified of fairy tales. And it is done young enough that it is incredibly hard to shake off as an adult. Its how they have survived so long since if they tried selling you that BS as an adult, there is no way you would buy it.

                  We know Voldemort is a character created by J.K. Rowling.

                  And your god is a character created by unknown bronze age peasants thousands of years ago.

                  I don’t see a bunch of people worshipping Voldemort, and I don’t see people worshipping Voldemort for any span of time that would even register a blip in the history of the world.

                  So? That doesn’t make your god any more real than Voldemort. It just makes a bunch of people brainwashed by their society and parents.

                  Moreover, I don’t see people risking their lives fighting in the name of Voldemort.

                  So? People have fought and died for thousands of different gods that you think are just as fictional as Voldemort. How does that make your god any more real than Voldemort?

                  If you hadn’t been fed that religious BS since you were a child, there is no way you would buy this line of argumentation. This is about as sub-par as you can get.

                  It doesn’t have to be that way. There are a myriad of alternatives that can let people be happy and have God in their lives.

                  Then I suppose your next step is to demonstrate that god is real, and not just a baseless claim that you keep making.

                  I noticed in this post you didn’t even bother to try to show your claims are real, you just made up motivations for others to have as if you know what is going through their heads better than they do.

                  If you are so easy to make up motivations, why should I trust any of your other baseless claims?

                  Like

                2. I could spend all day refuting the wrong in this post. And my work would still be incomplete. I will just grab this tiny bit:

                  I think that if a person was a true believer at one time, deep down, there is more than a kernel of that left inside of them.

                  On what basis do you think such a thing? And have you considered the other edge of that sword? Clearly not. Before you cut your own head off with that thing, consider this:

                  A person who is converted to Christianity from something else such as Satanism will always have that kernel of knowledge inside of them that Satan is the one true god. Do you really think one owes loyalty to the first thing they truly believed?

                  Liked by 2 people

        2. Teddi: “I’m going to do something really unwise, and open up a can of worms before the other can has been closed. But, this is too juicy to pass up. Isn’t the simple answer the basic truth that there can be no free-will without a choice and without temptation to choose wrongly?”

          Hi Teddi,
          Some say that the triune God has free-will and can never, by God’s very nature, choose wrongly. What could tempt the triune God to choose wrongly?

          Would you agree that, at least in the case of the triune God, there is free-will without temptation and the choice to choose evil?

          Curious,
          Brian

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi, Brian,

            You always posit the most fascinating questions! You may have read before where I don’t like to make a lot of presumptions and try to paint God into a corner by applying tight definitions to Him.

            Ultimately, I think that any force or being that is capable of creating life, capable of creating the universe and beyond can do whatever He pleases. Maybe the Bible tells us everything about God, and maybe it doesn’t.

            But, because this is such an enticing question, here’s what I would argue.

            I would argue that God would need to be almighty or, at the minimum, extremely almighty, in order to design and create all that He did.

            Since the Bible says that He designed us in His image, since we have free-will, it’s reasonable to think that He does, too. If God doesn’t have free-will, who’s pulling His strings? The string-puller would, then, be the real God.

            So, if God has free-will, just because His nature is such that He will remain righteous doesn’t mean that He can’t still CHOOSE to go against His nature. But, because He is righteous, He doesn’t.

            We all have our own natures, but we are not forced to act accordingly with our nature. It’s just that we, usually, choose to.

            For example, a person might have a hot temper –that’s their nature. Yet, it’s funny how they won’t, usually, blow up at their boss at work who’s being a jerk –the way they would if it was their friend or spouse that was doing the same thing that their boss was.

            I don’t think that the Almighty –who is the creator of everything– is capable of choosing wrongly. Anyway, for God to choose wrongly would mean that there has to be a moral law giver higher than He.

            Since God is the determiner of right and wrong, and it’s only natural and logical that His moral laws are in accordance with His nature, it wouldn’t make sense to me that He would want to make Himself morally wrong.

            He would not create laws that go against His nature and would cause Him to be in conflict with His own values.

            Regarding the temptation issue, I would say that one is not going to be tempted by something that one has no natural interest in. For example, someone can’t tempt me to rob a bank by offering me and endless supply of tickets to professional football games anywhere in the world. I’m just not interested. (I might rob the bank, however, to AVOID having to go to football games!) 😉

            So, I think that any Almighty worth His salt has the ability to choose evil, I just think that God is not tempted (and, thereby interested) in doing so, so He doesn’t.

            What do you think? I’m (well, actually we all are) always interested in your take on things.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Here is where your argument is circular and why it exposes the flaw in the moral argument for god as moral law giver:

              Since God is the determiner of right and wrong, and it’s only natural and logical that His moral laws are in accordance with His nature, it wouldn’t make sense to me that He would want to make Himself morally wrong.

              This is one of the horns of the euthyphro dilemma. If a thing is good simply because god said it was good, then he can arbitrarily call anything good and good has no meaning. You are acknowledging that god’s nature is not good as in it does not comport with any preexisting definition of good. God declares that a thing is good if it happens to match is nature.

              If god is the kind of guy who likes to test people by telling them to kill their kid, that kind of test is good. If god likes to murder bratty kids with angry bears, that couldn’t possibly be wrong. He simply takes stock of his nature and declares all those things he naturally likes as good, and those things he dislikes as bad. In that way, he is never tempted to do wrong.

              That is no better than if I declared that my likes and preferences defined the good. I would be the most moral being in the universe without temptation to do anything wrong because I wouldn’t be tempted to do what was repugnant to me. In this way, the only difference between me and god is not morality, but power. What makes god good without the possibility of doing evil? Might makes right! And that couldn’t be a worse measure for goodness.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. David: “This is one of the horns of the euthyphro dilemma. If a thing is good simply because god said it was good, then he can arbitrarily call anything good and good has no meaning. You are acknowledging that god’s nature is not good as in it does not comport with any preexisting definition of good. God declares that a thing is good if it happens to match is nature.”

                Hi David,
                Some, like Saint Augustine, view evil as the absence of good in something or someone. So, if there is something that gets damaged, then that is not good – or bad or evil. If we use a definition similar to that, then doesn’t that avoid the Euthyphro dilemma? Heck, it even avoids going back to a God/god. By definition, that which damages something or someone is not good and that which heals or makes whole something or someone is good. So, if I murder you, then by definition, I’ve damaged you and that is not good. No need for God/god to declare that murder is not good. If you are sick and I give you medicine to cure you then I’ve eliminated the damage that had been done to you and so did good. Again, no reason to have to have God/god declare giving medicine is good. Seems to me that Occam’s Razor would say there is no need to even look to God to determine if something is whole/good or damaged.

                Probably overly simplistic, so just a thought – what do you think?
                Brian

                Like

            2. Hi Teddi,
              Thanks for taking the time to respond. You have a lot there to unpack.

              If I’m following you correctly, you are saying that God has free-will – that He has the choice to choose wrongly but, because of His nature, He never will choose wrongly. And that God cannot be tempted to choose wrongly because His nature is to always choose good. Am I summarizing your position accurately?

              You asked about my thoughts. Hmmm… Seems to me that to choose wrongly is to choose evil – or to choose to damage something or someone. God, by His nature, is good and only wants what is good and so cannot choose to do evil. Now, I know there are Bible verses that say God does evil and God is the source of evil – I think the more modern understanding of God holds a different view. So, I would say there is at least one being (God) who has free-will, yet, cannot do evil and cannot be tempted to do evil. Provided, of course, there is a God.

              Teddi, I must admit that I don’t know exactly what one’s nature is (either human nature or divine nature) and whether it is even possible to go against it.

              Thanks again for sharing your thoughts,
              Brian

              Like

              1. Hi, Brian,

                Yes, my comments rarely fit in the overhead bin! 😉 If God “cannot” choose evil (as in, He doesn’t have the power to choose evil) how can He be almighty? (Now, I’m really stirring the pot! Lol!) However, if His Righteousness causes Him to never be tempted to do choose evil, His free-will is preserved (because He has a choice between good and evil), and His goodness and righteousness is still preserved.

                I know for a fact that one can go against one’s nature, because I’ve done it and, I think, that everyone has. It’s just hard to do and, it usually requires a concerted effort. I’m not sure if I know what a divine nature is. I’ve just always thought of our nature as being distinctly human, but, as always, you have managed to make me stretch my thinking in interesting ways.

                Might our “divine nature” be all that is good about our “human nature?”

                Always a pleasure pondering things with you,

                Teddi

                Like

                1. Teddi: “Yes, my comments rarely fit in the overhead bin! 😉 If God ‘cannot’ choose evil (as in, He doesn’t have the power to choose evil) how can He be almighty? (Now, I’m really stirring the pot! Lol!) However, if His Righteousness causes Him to never be tempted to do choose evil, His free-will is preserved (because He has a choice between good and evil), and His goodness and righteousness is still preserved.

                  I know for a fact that one can go against one’s nature, because I’ve done it and, I think, that everyone has. It’s just hard to do and, it usually requires a concerted effort. I’m not sure if I know what a divine nature is. I’ve just always thought of our nature as being distinctly human, but, as always, you have managed to make me stretch my thinking in interesting ways.

                  Might our ‘divine nature’ be all that is good about our ‘human nature?’

                  Always a pleasure pondering things with you,”

                  Hi Teddi,
                  They say there are some things even the almighty God cannot do or be. For example, can God both exist and not exist at the same time? And, which is more powerful (more almighty?) a God who necessarily exists (must exist) or a God who can choose not to exist? And which is more good – a God who can only do good or a God who can do both good and evil? Likewise, can good be evil? Seems, on the surface, to be a contradiction. So, can God, who is all good, also be evil? An analogy might be to take a glass and fill it full of clear water – the glass representing God and the water goodness. Now take some red marbles, and let’s say they represent evil. How many red marbles can go into the full glass and still have the glass be completely full of water without any spilling out? Most would say 0 marbles. So, no evil can be in an all-good God.

                  But, obviously different people have different views on this.

                  Can we go against our natures? Perhaps it depends on the definition of our human nature and if that is different from our individual nature. For example, I cannot walk through solid walls – nor can I fly like a bird – is that because those things are against my human nature? Or, is human nature something else? I admit that I don’t know.

                  Always enjoying discussing these things with you,
                  Brian

                  Liked by 2 people

        3. Let’s start here:

          If I’m understanding what Dale means, it’s simply that God is the source of everything —even Satan. God gave Satan free-will, and Satan did what he did—and does what he does.

          I don’t think you are right about that at all. Only Dale can say for sure what he meant. But I don’t believe he is making the simple statement that god created everything with free will. That does not address the power to which we have access. My free will would get up to so much more if I could tap into this magical force. But god does not grant me that power.

          Satan, on the other hand still has the ability to do magic, even better magic than the average angel. He is called the god of this world. He has the magical power to oppose god in a spiritual war. From whence does that power come?

          What Dale is saying is that Satan is not using his own power because he doesn’t have it any more than we do. But for whatever reason, god has turned on the spigot to the force for Satan to use as he pleases. And god can simply turn off the spigot whenever he pleases. When Satan kills a bus load of children, or possesses a human to shoot up a school, he is tapping into god’s magic to make it happen. And god is okay with that, for now.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. David: “2. Typical Christian doctrine as I understand it is that Satan is an independent agent who is cut off from god, and does his mischief by his own power. But Dale says that the Prince of Darkness is using god’s power to act against god. Does this even make theological sense outside of strict Calvinism? Thoughts?”

      Hi David,
      I’ll be interested in reading people’s responses to this. Some hold that God is the creator and sustainer of all things. But, if Satan is totally cut off from God, then wouldn’t that mean that God is no longer sustaining Satan’s existing? If so, then how does Satan still exist? Some say that the images of Hell represent a life without God, but how can there be life without God?

      Looking forward to learning something new,
      Brian

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are going to have to get more than one Christian to weigh in because there is more than one view. There is just an intuitive layer here that is hard to get past. Satan is the enemy of god. Fine. God presumably wants to defeat the enemy seeing that he is locked in immortal combat with him. But if it turns out that god is secretly feeding the enemy his power to prolong the war, that should be scandalous. If all god has to do is turn off the power spigot, why hasn’t he?

        This is why intuitively, one has to believe that Satan has his own source of power from which he draws to contend with god. Imagine a sports contest where the two sides are publicly battling for dominance. But one side is actually much more powerful than the other. So the strong side secretly changes uniforms and plays for the other team to keep it interesting. This is the world Dale proposes. His explanation for this is, you guessed it… molinism.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just wanted to quickly add one more log to the fire. God initially gave us the power to live forever. But when that became inconvenient, god cut us off from that power. What I am saying is that god has demonstrated the ability and inclination to cut those off from his power who use it badly. So even if one says that Satan is free to use his power however he wishes, one still has to explain why god doesn’t just cut him off were Satan actually going against what god wanted him to do.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. From Dale above:

    “Once we are given the laws of logic, then one can establish that miracles are logically coherent and with that, this means they exist or are true in some logically possible world. If that is the case, then it could be the case that they are true in this possible world unless and until someone gives me reason to think they can’t be in any possible world and/or in this possible world specifically or vice versa if someone gives reason to think they probably possible in this possible world specifically.”

    This is an example of where philosophy divorced from evidence can lead the unwary to false conclusions. On the face of it, the argument is basically sound, but it gets us no closer to the reality of *this world*. The argument tries to lead us to a state where we just throw up our hands and declare parity on likelihood or non-likelihood of miracles. The problem with it though is thinking in a vacuum, pretending a great many things we all know aren’t known.

    How do we breach the impasse?

    For the miracle affirming, they need to come up with a proof (how I hate that word outside of mathematics), an incontrovertible example of the overturning of the laws of nature. In mathematics, if one wants to prove the existence of a mathematical object, one may develop a proof based upon given axioms. But this often a weak proof. What is more satisfying is a constructive proof where the object is actually produced or created. In our current context, the weak proof is problematic. Instead the skeptic demands a constructive miracle proof – exhibit A to be brought forth. We are still waiting.

    The task for the miracle denier is one of proving a negative. This is where inductive means must be employed. Sure, we may not be able to “logically” dismiss miracles occurrences, but if one rises from the vacuum, we realize that there are a number of facts about *this world* which are rather decisive. There is the fact that the vast number and proportion of miracle claims have been established to be fraudulent, erroneous, inaccurate, or failed to be validated on any number of grounds. We know for a fact that miracles suspiciously happen in historical periods (or geographical regions) that are comparatively illiterate and superstitious, in conditions where validation is near impossible. We know for a fact that where education is high and the means is available to test wild claims, that reports of miraculous phenomena largely disappear. We know for a fact that there is a not a single miracle claim that inhabits the pages of refereed academic papers. When one factors all of this in, the task of the “a-miraculist” is pretty much done. And there can then be no special pleading of my miracle to exclude it from the logic of induction (for that we need exhibit A). One can’t pretend to have the inside running on the psychology of a god for that claim too lies in the realm of the multi times dis-confirmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just want to add to your comment so this is for Dale as much as for you. A reduction of Dales argument is that you can’t prove miracles are not equally possible as natural causes so he is justified in claiming they are until you take over the burden of proof and positively claim miracles are impossible. I came across the following site which should probably be a bookmark for everyone who engages in philosophical debate. This particular post might have saved Dale from his argument. (Probably not. :))

      Proving Non-Existence

      https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/145/Proving-Non-Existence

      It is pretty short So I highly recommend it go in the reading list.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t engage in silly arguments about burden of proof. Each and every position entails an epistemic probability. Therefore every position entails a positive assertion.

        In saying that, we have to recognize that our background knowledge means the prior probabilities are such that one side typically has all the work to do. Here, the miracle affirmer has that task.

        Like

        1. I actually believe the miracle affirmer is in much better shape than the miracle denier because all the affirmer has to do is produce a miracle the denier can’t deny. As Andrew repeatedly called for in the podcast, just produce one and we can have a much different conversation.

          Once any miracle is validated, then we would all agree that miracle is a legitimate candidate for being considered as the cause to some phenomenon. Until then, it is hard to take it seriously as a candidate. The fact that I can’t prove garden pixies don’t exist does not make it reasonable for me to say they are equally probable explanations for why my crops failed.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Anthony: “Here, the miracle affirmer has that task.”

          Hi Anthony,
          I would think that the person who claims “this was a miracle” would bear the burden of proof.
          Likewise, I would think that the person who claims “this was not a miracle” would bear the burden of proof.
          Whoever makes the claim, seems to me, should bear the burden of proof.

          Just my take,
          Brian

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hi, Brian,
            Spot on, I couldn’t agree more!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Spot on, I couldn’t agree more!

              I’m glad to hear that you agree. Perhaps when you hear your fellow Christian saying it is true until you can disprove it, like say the argument for the shroud, or Dale’s argument for the coherence of god, you will point this out to them as the correct way to go.

              Like

          2. Hey Brian,

            I think there is a little ground left out of your options. It is possible for something to be unexplained and for someone to argue for good reason that some event is neither miracle or natural, if one accepts that miracles are possible. Though, you will likely respond that they would have the burden to argue for the event being unexplained. If so, I agree; though, I think the argument for miracles is problematic, in any case.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Andrew: “I think there is a little ground left out of your options. It is possible for something to be unexplained and for someone to argue for good reason that some event is neither miracle or natural, if one accepts that miracles are possible. Though, you will likely respond that they would have the burden to argue for the event being unexplained. If so, I agree; though, I think the argument for miracles is problematic, in any case.”

              Hi Andrew,
              Thanks for responding!

              I think that I’m not understanding your comment very well. Would you give an example of an event that would be neither natural nor a miracle? Would it be some sort of other supernatural event?

              In general, when something is unexplained, don’t we start looking for possible explanations? Look for clues as to the cause of the event? Myself, if I were to be looking for an explanation for an event, I’d start with the possible natural causes before looking at supernatural ones.

              Brian

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Hey Brian,

                While you are looking, what do you say of that event? If you call it unexplained, you have the point I was making. It falls into a third category.

                As it turns out and as I said above, I agree about natural cause. But your Op invited two categories — miracle and natural. There are three categories if we take the position you laid out — natural, miracle, and yet to be understood or as yet uncategorized due to lack of ability to define or assign a cause.

                You see?

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I understand.
                  Thanks,
                  Brian

                  Liked by 1 person

            2. Hi, Andrew,

              I will agree that there are three options for judging an event: (1) natural, (2) miracle and (3) we just don’t know –because the scales aren’t tipping hard enough on the miracle end.

              Like

              1. I don’t actually agree as you have stated it. This was a technical point if one grants miracles.

                What we have at present are natural causes and the unexplained. When one of you Christians can produce a miracle, we will have a third category. I pointed this out on air.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Hi, Andrew,

                  The miracle is already here. It’s in Turin, Italy.

                  My apologies for mischaracterizing the third option. I had only read the snippet that I had responded to. I must’ve missed some other stipulation you had previously made.

                  Like

      2. Good source, I’ll just provide a counter for consideration b/c this claim is just not true despite it being a popular misconception of many Atheists, heck I even heard from the supposedly smart Octavian in HBO’s Rome, I lost some respect for the character after that.

        Anyways in reply to proving non-existence is impossible claim of the Atheist (its in the context of does God exist, but the point can be applied to miracles as well) = https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/must-the-atheist-be-omniscient/;

        Unfortunately, the argument is misconceived on a couple of counts.

        First, negative, universally quantified statements can be proved. We do this all the time. When we make statements about “all” or “none,” we are speaking about what is the case with respect to a certain domain. We are saying that all or none of the members of that domain have or has a certain property. If the domain is not too large, I can confidently make universally quantified affirmative and negative statements. For example, I am quite confident that “No U.S. Senator is a Muslim.” Or again, if I have a typical sample of the domain, I can make inductive inferences on the basis of the evidence from the sample to the whole, even if the whole domain is too large for me to canvass; for example, taking as my domain all the microbes on Earth, I can confidently assert, “No microbes have brains.”

        Now someone might say that while it is admittedly true that negative, universal statements can sometimes be proven, still the point remains that in the case of God, the domain is too large and our sample too small to come to any negative conclusion. But those who propound this argument seem to think that the way one determines whether God exists is by taking a sort of universal survey to see if anything answering to the description of God exists somewhere out there. There are, however, other ways of coming to a knowledge of negative, universally quantified statements than doing an inductive survey.

        For example, we can have knowledge of negative, universally quantified statements on the basis of things’ essential properties; for example, “No water molecules are composed of CO2.” (Even if something looked and behaved just like water but was made of CO2 , it still would not be water but just a look-alike substance.) Or if we could show that a notion is logically impossible, we would know that it does not exist; for example, “There are no married bachelors.” Significantly, many atheists have tried just this route to proving that God does not exist, arguing that the idea of a being which is all-powerful or all-knowing is logically incoherent.

        Atheists will also typically present deductive arguments against God’s existence, which will rule out God’s existence without an inductive survey. For example, the atheist might argue:

        1. If God exists, gratuitous (unnecessary, pointless) evil does not exist.
        2. Gratuitous evil exists.
        3. Therefore, God does not exist.

        If the premisses of this argument are true, then it follows that God does not exist.

        The point is that it is not at all impossible to prove negative, universally quantified statements, and atheists have historically tried to present non-inductive arguments to show that there is no God.

        Second, the statement that “God does not exist” is not a universally quantified statement. When the theist asserts that “God exists,” the word “God” is being used as a proper name, not as a common noun. It is not a statement like “Dogs exist” but rather like “Lassie exists.” In order to prove that God does not exist, one need not prove that there are no gods whatsoever. Our interest is in one specific being, not in all the other beings which may have been imagined or worshipped throughout the world. So the claim that “God does not exist” is really a singular claim, like “Sherlock Holmes does not exist” or “Harry Potter does not exist.” No one thinks that negative, singular claims cannot be proven.

        So whether this claim is being made by the atheist trying to shirk the burden of proof or by the Christian apologist intent on showing that atheism is inherently unprovable, the claim is, I think, false. Of course, absolute certainty is not available, but that’s really a red herring, since we have absolute certainty about almost nothing. Demanding absolute certainty will only lead to an unlivable scepticism.

        Now as to your question whether this argument backfires on the theist, it seems to me that it does. There might at first seem to be an asymmetry between the theist and the atheist. If one has knowledge that God does exist, then it doesn’t matter what facts lie outside the domain of one’s knowledge—you still know the fact that God exists. But if one has no knowledge of the fact that God exists, then maybe that fact lies outside the domain of one’s knowledge. To illustrate, if you found a gold marble, then you know that gold marbles exist, regardless of what facts lie outside your limited field of knowledge; but if you haven’t found a gold marble, that’s no good reason to think that gold marbles do not exist, for perhaps the evidence for their existence lies outside your limited field of knowledge.

        The weakness is this reasoning is that the atheist could have, not merely no knowledge of God’s existence, but positive knowledge of the fact that God does not exist, and then he, too, would know this fact regardless of what other facts lie outside the realm of his knowledge. So neither the theist nor the atheist need be omniscient to know what he claims to know.

        Now this response might seem to miss the point. The point, one might say, is that the theist could be justified on the basis of his limited knowledge in believing that God exists, whereas the atheist can never be justified in believing on the basis of the limited evidence that God does not exist.

        But, as we have seen, there’s no good reason to think that that is the case. The argument assumes that the way one comes to a knowledge of God is by doing a sort of inductive survey and seeing if God comes up in your dragnet. In fact, the evidential situations of the theist and atheist seem symmetrical. Outside the atheist’s field of knowledge could lie the evidence that God exists; but in the same way outside the theist’s field of knowledge might lie the decisive disproof of God’s existence.

        The bottom line is that we have no choice but to go on the basis of the knowledge and evidence that we do have—just we do in all other affairs of life.

        Like

        1. I’m going to have to temporarily retire the field while I go out and get a degree in philosophy. I got a bit lost in all that. But hold that thought. I’ll be back in about 4 years. 🙂

          Like

        2. Dale,

          Gold marbles can be passed from you to me, and if I were to suspect that gold marbles did not exist, your passing the marble would be a compelling case. Unfortunately, you have failed to pass the marble.

          The claims Christianity makes are of an all knowing god, who lives forever outside space and time, with perfect characteristics. This god is everywhere at all times, shapes events to its liking, and even does magic tricks to demonstrate not only its reality but its supremacy.

          But, Christian dogma, against these things, has a god who is hidden and undetectable. So, the gold marble is a false comparison. The contradiction is that god should be detectable based on one set of descriptors but is nevertheless undetectable for some unknown reason or reasons

          You are in fact attempting to pass an undetectable gold marble. You should not be surprised when our hands are empty, and we say so.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Dale, I entirely agree with your final paragraph. Which is odd because it appears to conflict with your blank slate suggestion which is everything has equal status.

          One of my issues with miracles is lack of evidence, but your response is not to provide evidence, but to attack my process. But my process is as detailed in your final paragraph.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. Hi, Matthew,

            The Shroud of Turin is physical evidence, which still exists, of, arguably, the most important miracle that we need to know about. The scientific and forensic evidence that supports the Shroud’s authenticity verifies that Jesus was telling the truth about who He was and what He would do [come back from the dead.]

            The Shroud is the most studied and scrutinized artifact in the history of man —by many of the world’s greatest scientific/medical/forensic expert’s.

            A treasure trove of scientific articles (most of which are free on the internet) exist with great scientific detail, and scores of book have been written given the scientific details proving its authenticity beyond a reasonable doubt.

            If you go to Shroud.com, you will have free access —that is easy to navigate— to a mountain of information —science—not hoodoo— about the Shroud. There is even a section devoted to scientific articles on the Shroud —most are peer-reviewed articles from scientific journals.

            Barrie Schwortz is the person who put this phenomenal website together and who, regularly, updates the information contained in it. Mr. Schwortz was a member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (“STURP”) team . The STURP team —comprised of some of the world’s most brilliant scientists— took on the task of scientifically investigating the Shroud, up close and personal, for 5 days back in 1978.

            Nobody suggests that one has to look into every crackpot’s claim. However, willful ignorance and/or intentional disregard for solid, compelling evidence from extremely credible scientific sources, that Jesus made good on his claims, makes that someone intellectually dishonest (due to bias or something else) when discussing whether there’s any (scientific) proof for miracles.

            I know that what I said can come across as offensive to anyone who might be guilty of doing this, but the truth can hurt. Maybe the truth, in some situations, needs to hurt in order to prompt change.

            By the way, just so that we are clear, I am not trying to imply that you fall under the description above. I really don’t know anything about you. I’m just giving you my thoughts —unvarnished as they are.

            By the way, I’m sure you’ve heard that the C-14 tests on the Shroud “prove it’s a fake.” Not so fast. Contamination is a notorious cause for C-14 tests being inaccurate —even though the science behind the test is. The protocols that the STURP team had created over a year before even going to Turin to study the Shroud, was NOT followed with regard to how the C-14 testing was supposed to have been done.

            The C-14 test results conflict with many scientific test results (which are consistent with historical information we have) that point to the Shroud of a Turin being authentic. That makes the C-14 test an outlier, and as such, the best way that we have to discover truth is by way of following the strongest evidence to discover where it leads us.

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            1. Please don’t lie.

              There are many artefacts that are better studied than the shroud.

              The claim that the shroud is the result of a miracle is based solely on the fact that we’ve not been able to explain what it’s created from, which is because access to it is tightly guarded.

              This is miracles of the gaps and is utterly dishonest.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Hi, Matthew,

                I’m not lying. One would think that if you are going to call someone out as being a liar that you might want to, at least, prove (or attempt to prove) your claim.

                Instead, you just make an unsubstantiated assertion that there are “many” artifacts that you claim have been “better studied” than the Shroud.

                If you know of any, it would stand to reason that you would have mentioned them by name to prove your point. Plus, if you know of any, I’d love to expand my knowledge base.

                Although Shroud research continues to this day, we already have knowledge about many of the unique features of the Shroud —the problem is the inability of human hands and the human mind to replicate all of those qualities on a piece of linen.

                Given how advanced we are —and the Shroud was supposedly made by a medieval forger, how stupid do you think the world’s best scientists are compared to this imaginary forger the skeptics put so much unwarranted belief in?

                Let me be clear, I am not pushing the narrative that just because something is inexplicable that it has a supernatural origin. Context is everything.

                Tell me, how best to show that something is supernatural than an inability to provide an explanation for it using natural law?

                By your logic, even if we assume for a fact that a miracle is real, it could never be provable to your satisfaction. This is a classic example of bias getting in the way of evidence.

                I’m CERTAIN that if I claimed that something was a miracle, and that we could explain how it was created and replicate it (in the natural world), you would just proclaim that the fact that we can explain and replicate it in its entirety is proof that it’s OF the natural (not supernatural) world, and that it is, therefore, not a miracle.

                As to what kind of evidence is sufficient for reasonable minds to conclude a miracle has occurred, we need to agree to something that has greater legitimacy than a game of three-card monte.

                Like

                1. Every hominid fossil that’s on display in museums across the world, and some that aren’t, has been studied more than the shroud.

                  The shroud is protected from serious scrutiny, to suggest anything else is to lie.

                  A miracle could be proven if they were real, but advocates of miracles seem to prefer attacking the sceptical process to actually working on how to prove it. That’s a clear indication that they don’t have truth on their side.

                  Like

                  1. Point me in the direction of just one such fossil that has been scrutinized for the span of time that the Shroud has been and by as many top minds from a variety of disciplines.

                    Which of those fossils is still being scientifically investigated and scrutinized today, and written about in scientific, peer-reviewed journals like the Shroud?

                    I doubt that those fossils would have required anywhere near the scrutiny that the Shroud got, because there was nothing bizarre and unexplainable about them. Try again if you like.

                    Like

                    1. Pick one yourself. They all have undergone greater scrutiny.

                      The shroud is protected from scrutiny by the church. Scientific artefacts are not.

                      By continuing to claim otherwise you are being dishonest.

                      Like

            2. Just thought I would highlight this tiny bit:

              I know that what I said can come across as offensive to anyone who might be guilty of doing this, but the truth can hurt. Maybe the truth, in some situations, needs to hurt in order to prompt change.

              This is why I completely disregard Teddi’s cries of unfair and offensive treatment. She has no problem being offensive as long as she is the one who can do the offending. She has a rationalization for being offensive. The truth hurts and you need the truth.

              Teddi, you cannot play the game of crying foul while you justify doing that about which you complain. I point out to Christians when they are being offensive. And they don’t care. Yet they are so precious about their little feelings. Teddi, I mock because I care. 🙂 Carry on. Just don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for you.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. David and/or Matt,

                You’ve all followed the rules here so not complaining, but just info gathering, do you feel that to your mind, Teddi has started the “offensiveness” out of no where and the skeptics have been totally “unoffensive” in their comments prior to this one?

                Again, I’ve learned not to try and persuade you otherwise at this point and so I’m just asking you guys if you truly feel its all on Teddi and skeptics have been totally well-behaved in their comments. As a host, I will take your answer without need for me to respond or rebut or anything- I just want to know if this is truly how you guys see these things or if you are self-aware of how your comments come across to Christians as well.

                Just as an aside, to share some Christian perspective from one of our listeners, I’ve received some feedback privately (I respect his privacy) and he said about this week’s skeptic’s on the show and the skeptical comments on the Boards this week were “irksome” and he was disincentivized to even listen to the skeptics (eventually he just skipped over their speaking parts) and/or he stopped reading the comments. I’m not trying to lay blame on anyone at this point, I’m just sharing some listener feedback from the Christian side for consideration by the skeptics, just as I will be considering their side if they feel Teddi or myself deserve to be called out as dishonest or having malicious motivations in our comments this week. Its pure info gathering and/or info-sharing that is my motivation in this comment here.

                Thank you.

                Dale

                Like

                1. I appreciate the spirit in which you pose the question. And I will try to answer it in kind.

                  First, I don’t find the persons of you or Teddi offensive in any way. I love interacting with Teddi so much, we are going to do an episode together. If I found her offensive as a human being, I would have a hard time doing that. And I podcast with you every week. I am not offended by you in the least. By and large, I enjoy our time together. My favorite time we spend together is the hours we have in conversation after the mic is turned off. Take that for what it is worth.

                  As to the rest, it is about offensiveness of the arguments more than the persons presenting them. And I don’t think it is particularly fruitful or mature to talk about who offended whom first. I don’t care. Also, it is impossible to say for sure. It is a thousands years old debate that didn’t start with me or Teddi.

                  I believe Teddi’s first post was a great example of Christians slinging offense without regard to the hearer. But she might argue that she was that way because of how I am on the board and on the show. And I might argue that I am that way in response to the way Christians have been, and so on… There is no end to the regress of offense. We are talking anonymously on the internet about one of the world’s two verboten topics. I’d say we’re all doing pretty well.

                  I think it is more telling who cries offense and tries to take the role of victim. This is an underhanded attempt to try and silence the other person so that you can have the upper hand. I don’t respect that move on a board like this. The only reason I brought up offense when Teddi first came on the show is the topic was Christian hate speech, and how it flowed from Christians without them having awareness or concern about how it came across to the other side. Otherwise, I don’t much care about Christians being offensive. That is what they do. We can’t have this conversation unless we are willing to wade through the other person’s offensiveness.

                  My problem with Teddi is that she tried to make a land grab for victimhood. She cried foul at the treatment she was getting. When it was pointed out that she was doing the same, she didn’t care. That didn’t stop her. She made excuses for why she had a right to do it, and why it was wrong when done to her. That is what I don’t much appreciate.

                  I could point out 10 very offensive things she has said in this thread, and every skeptic reading this would recognize each of them. But why bother. That is not typically how I play the game. But I am not going to respect the other side when they call foul.

                  On the matter of self-awareness, I tend to know exactly when I am being offensive because when I am, it is intentional. The atheist has the misfortune of being offensive to the Christian just for being atheist. Any reason we give for being atheist is even more offensive. And when we express displeasure at some biblical teaching, or the character of the character known as god, Christians take it downright personally, as if you insulted their daddy.

                  This does not speak to the question of who is more offensive. But it does speak to the question of who is more sensitive. Your cloud of silent email companions who refuse to join the fray because of those mean skeptics sicken me. I have no respect or sympathy for them. Everyday, I take the risk of standing up for what I believe for all to see and criticize. But they can’t be bothered to even listen when an atheist is speaking because that atheist might offend their delicate sensibilities.

                  I have a message for those people you describe who can’t be bothered to listen to the other side when they speak: Screw you! You have already lost! Your worthless opinion is not worthy of the arena of ideas. Go back to your private club meetings and reassure yourselves of how god loves you and how he is going to get people like me one day. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. And I assure you that when I was a Christian, I would have said the same thing to you. You are unworthy of your worthless faith. I would tell you to go away but you are already gone. You don’t figure into my calculous at all. I speak. You shut up and cower in your corner. I win! Chew on that!

                  So as not to end this on an acerbic note, I think a little perspective-taking is in order. We have no Nixak, Charles Bates, or any of the truly bad actors featured on other boards. We have few off-topic conversations compared to other boards. We have people who are roughly well-matched talking about interesting things at a relatively high level compared to the general population. We are all the same kind of geek. And we manage pretty well around here. Go try to find better and report back.

                  We don’t need to chase down who was offensive. We all were. Stop playing the innocent victim card. There are no innocent people here. I only care to have these conversations with people who can handle their core beliefs being challenged.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Hey David,

                    As I said, I was just asking for my own info, so its not about laying blame or making a point- I was just wondering if you were aware of how the skeptics comments come across or not as you guys seem to be taking issue with Teddi’s comment. So yeah, thanks for giving your thoughts, obviously we have some fundamental disagreements on some of these things (there is also some things you said that I’m sympathetic with). Obviously, you know my thoughts on this already so I just wanted to hear yours.

                    Like

                  2. David: “The atheist has the misfortune of being offensive to the Christian just for being atheist. Any reason we give for being atheist is even more offensive.”

                    Hi David,
                    I’ll just say that the Christians whom I know in real life generally don’t have a clue as to whether someone is an atheist or not (unless they are told) and thus they are not offensive to the Christians. I know! A survey of one is not representative! Only a small percentage of the people whom I know in real life, do I know their religious beliefs (or lack of religious beliefs). Of course, for the most part, I don’t ask people about their religious beliefs (or lack of) nor do I care what their religious beliefs are.

                    Just sharing from one person’s perspective,
                    Brian

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                2. Dale, please encourage your listener to be open.

                  If someone won’t tell me what they don’t like about my comments, then I can’t address their concerns, and nothing changes.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Matt,

                    OK, well again its up to them and this person is not of the nature to want to get into fights with skeptics. I just wanted to share some things to help give you guys some perspective to consider or not consider, its up to you guys what you do with it. But yeah, they are unlikely to comment publicly, they don’t even have a WordPress account in the first place and its not in their nature to get wrapped up in this stuff on here, they just gave me their take this week as I was in touch with them about my own stuff and it was mentioned in their reply to that.

                    Like

                    1. They heard my email get announced on the show.

                      I can’t respond to criticism that isn’t presented you me. If your listener wants me to take the comment seriously, they know what they should do.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  2. Hi, Matthew,
                    Please feel free to speak your mind to me.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  3. Hi, Matthew,
                    I just now read some of the earlier comments that Dale made prior to your saying this. I thought that you were referencing me when you said this (that’s why I responded.). Obviously, from reading just now what Dale was mentioning, y’all were speaking of someone else. Regardless, what I mentioned still stands (not that you haven’t been speaking your mind to me.😆.)

                    Like

              2. Hi, David,

                I don’t recall ever having complained of someone using tough/offensive arguments against me or my arguments. I’m not some fragile snowflake, and you won’t find any evidence that points to me being one.

                When I have been the recipient of untrue attacks or offensive attacks, I just pop back with a tough counter-response. That’s only fair, and it’s justified. I don’t boo-hoo and whine about stuff like that or go searching for a “safe-space” or hold up a white flag in surrender.

                What I HAVE done is called-out situations where someone has used over-the-top attacks against me or anyone else (especially attacks that are unwarranted), but then that same someone complains that others are being too tough on them. I call out the double-standard, because I detest double-standards, and I detest unfairness.

                The reason why they say friends and family shouldn’t discuss religion or politics is because these are two subjects that people will fight their hardest to defend and/or promote. Truth CAN get ugly. Being kind and not causing offense has always been very important to me, but that stops at the river’s edge when an important truth must be told —especially when it is of benefit to the recipient. I’ll tell that harsh truth with as much civility as I can, but that’s the best anyone should do under such circumstances.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. So that everyone is clear, Teddi and I don’t have a problem. Teddi, look for my email about show prep. It should be fun.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Hi, David,

                    I’d have to disagree with you in part. It’s almost always easier to tear down positions than to fortify them. But yes, if one miracle is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, game over. It would, then, be unreasonable to deny the existence of the supernatural. Anything beyond that, I’ll take the skeptical approach and examine the evidence for every miracle claim and see where it leads.

                    Regarding equal probabilities, my understanding of what Dale was saying about this, is that this is just the STARTING point to examine things. Every claim starts from zero. Then, you build up from there with evidence in support of the claim.

                    The claim that has the strongest evidence wins (at least until the opposing claim gets evidence as strong or stronger.)

                    You start at zero each time so that bias doesn’t put its thumb on the scale. Because, if that happens, it makes it harder to discover things that are rare but exist. That’s why doctors will frequently perform tests to make sure that what they think is going on with someone really is the case. Occam’s razor is handy, however, when there’s a scarcity of time, money or expertise -but that has a built-in cost of a certain amount of inaccuracy.

                    Like

                    1. This is a theory that does not survive contact with the real world:

                      You start at zero each time so that bias doesn’t put its thumb on the scale. Because, if that happens, it makes it harder to discover things that are rare but exist.

                      We don’t start at zero. We have evolved for hundreds of thousands of years to get where we are today. We don’t regress to Australopithecus when we try to find the cause of something. We use all that time baking in the evolutionary oven to bring out the most likely candidates and eliminate the least likely because we don’t have unlimited time and resources.

                      If your ballot of causes includes magical pixies, you have too many candidates. Things that go on the ballot of possibilities must be justified by something better than, “you can’t prove it’s not possible.” No ballot of possibilities that includes fairies should be taken seriously by those a bit more evolved.

                      You accuse skeptics of trying to artificially limit the possibilities to keep miracles off the table. But that is not true. Miracles have not earned their way onto the table in the first place. The only people who reason as you do are those who are artificially trying to expand the possibilities to include miracles and other imaginary ideas from fictional worlds. Real science isn’t done that way.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. David,

                      This is a theory that does not survive contact with the real world:

                      It does. It is just that right away we can put everything we have learned about the natural world forward. Things that have been demonstrated to be real.

                      You are correct that we don’t think of it in that way, but you just happen to be starting at step 1, rather than step 0. The theist just ends up being stuck in step 0 because they don’t have any claims they can demonstrate are accurate.

                      Like

                    3. I think the problem is not just practical, but philosophical. The Christian knows by now that the sin-theory of disease has failed to be justified. But germ-theory has done remarkably well. So when a person gets sick, we are justified in thinking that something in nature is the cause.

                      But wait: The Christian is not done. You haven’t disproven sin as a cause. It just hasn’t been the cause in any of the experiments we have conducted. So just because you have germs on the table as a cause does not mean you can eliminate sin. So they feel justified in continuing to offer sin as a candidate no matter how many times it fails. This is the game Christians are playing. And if feels rather dishonest. Philosophically, you can never eliminate their pet candidate even if it fails 100% of the time.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. This is the game Christians are playing. And if feels rather dishonest. Philosophically, you can never eliminate their pet candidate even if it fails 100% of the time.

                      I have very little care for philosophy. After all, philosophy is not the field of study you go to when you want to learn what is real about the world around you. There are some tools that philosophy uses that are useful, like logic and other ways to reason, but science uses those tools as well.

                      I think the philosophical idea that you can’t know anything for 100% certain is largely fellatios. We know with 100% certainty how electricity works and what we can do with it to help improve our lives. We don’t need to leave room for electron carrying fairies. They don’t exist. I know you are very disappointed to learn the truth, but it is true, they don’t exist. 🙂

                      Like

                    5. Regarding equal probabilities, my understanding of what Dale was saying about this, is that this is just the STARTING point to examine things. Every claim starts from zero.

                      That isn’t what dale is doing, he wants to start at a 50% chance when comparing the natural and the supernatural. He is trying to sneak in 50% when he hasn’t given any reason to think the proposition deserves anything over 0%.

                      You start at zero each time so that bias doesn’t put its thumb on the scale.

                      I completely agree, and I feel comfortable is asserting every skeptic on these boards also agrees.

                      The problem is that is never what the Christian wants to do. After all, you aren’t starting at zero with your shroud evidence. You haven’t even demonstrated that your claims about what the characteristics of the supernatural on the shroud are accurate. You haven’t demonstrated that the supernatural is even capable of creating something like the shroud. You are just making a baseless claim about it, based on nothing more than ignorance of how it was made, and expecting the rest of us to go along with it.

                      Dale has never demonstrated that his ideas about god are actually coherent. He just wants us to accept they are because he can’t think of a contradiction. He can’t demonstrate his claims about how you distinguish between the supernatural and the natural is accurate, and yet he wasn’t us to just accept the baseless claim. He didn’t start the Miracles series by demonstrating the supernatural was a real thing, instead, he took the tact of trying to sneak in the supernatural through people’s ignorance.

                      So yes, you are absolutely correct in your statement. The problem is that Christians aren’t interested in starting at zero. They want to jump ahead.

                      Like

                    6. Let me add one thought to your post before I call it a night:

                      It is quite fair to say that miracles as a possible cause starts at zero because we have zero examples of miracles being the cause of anything. But it is not fair to say that natural causes also start at zero. We have 100% confidence that mundane nature is the cause of at least some things that happen in this world.

                      So even if you come up with a justification to get miracles on the table for consideration, you can’t say they both are weighted equally. One has proven itself to be a cause and the other has not. If we are to examine miracles as a possibility, we must weigh them against other causes accordingly, not equally.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    7. David,

                      I agree completely, we are just using different language to say the same thing.

                      It is quite fair to say that miracles as a possible cause starts at zero because we have zero examples of miracles being the cause of anything. But it is not fair to say that natural causes also start at zero.

                      I would agree. If something is at step 0 they can not be considered a possibility. At step 0 they haven’t even been demonstrated to be a real thing, and something that doesn’t exist has 0% possibility of being the cause of anything.

                      We have 100% confidence that mundane nature is the cause of at least some things that happen in this world.

                      I agree. Humanity has spent hundreds of years figuring out how the natural world works so that we can move to step 1 and propose the natural as a possibility.

                      So even if you come up with a justification to get miracles on the table for consideration, you can’t say they both are weighted equally.

                      Until the Christians can get past step 0, then I don’t see that miracles have any weight at all as a possibility.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    8. Hi, David,

                      In reality, I think that what you and I are saying will pan out the same way. They just, largely, start off differently in principle. My version is more likely to use up more time, money and resources, but my method will, more likely, catch the rarer situations because it’s more thorough, and is less likely to be biased.

                      Your method is more efficient, cheaper and less time-consuming, but it will be prone to greater error.

                      So, why not use your method in lower risk situations and my method in higher risk situations?

                      Gee whiz, I’m starting to feel like I’m in the U.N. or something. Feel free to disagree —it’s more fun that way!🤣

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                    9. I have at least three practical challenges to your proposal:

                      1. How do we know when to insert a miracle as a possible cause to be examined? What is a lower-risk situation? Maybe that is where the most miracles are done. How would we know if we didn’t look at every situation equally?

                      2. How would we keep the ballot box from becoming practically infinite? In practical terms, we simply couldn’t do a very good examination of anything if we have to include every crackpot theory we could come up with. No investigation would ever be complete. This is why we don’t put every human being on the ballot for a presidential campaign. 7 billion candidates is too many. You have to have a way of narrowing the list before you can make the list. Otherwise, the list includes everything. And that’s not really a list at all.

                      3. Once miracle is allowed on the list (and I’m still not sure how it gets there), how do you eliminate it as a cause? You can show a causal connection for the natural and still claim that a miracle could still be happening that we can’t measure, or that a miracle was the catalyst for the natural cause. It can never fully be eliminated.

                      As an aside, the only positive evidence for a miracle can only be that we don’t yet have a natural cause to propose. It is the evidence of ignorance. Every skeptic on the board would reject that as evidence. Not knowing how the shroud image was formed does not point to miracle, but ignorance.

                      I asked Dale on the show how we could recognize a miracle. He did not want to tackle that question at this time. So I would have to ask, before negotiating this treaty, what would constitute positive evidence for a miracle?

                      Liked by 2 people

        4. Anyways in reply to proving non-existence is impossible claim of the Atheist…

          You seem to have misunderstood what the article was saying. All the examples you provide about where you can prove a negative the article calls “special situations”. Things that are finite where we can examine them all or where things are defined as being a certain thing with real-life examples showing the definition is accurate.

          The article uses a container as an example of containers being empty, but your finite easily examined group of senators not being Muslim is the same special situation.

          Here is the exact quote just in case you missed it: “Although it may be possible to prove non-existence in special situations, such as showing that a container does not contain certain items, one cannot prove universal or absolute non-existence. The proof of existence must come from those who make the claims.”

          For example, we can have knowledge of negative, universally quantified statements on the basis of things’ essential properties;

          The problem with this, of course, is you don’t actually know what the qualities of god are. There are a lot of baseless claims about what the properties are, but god has never been examined to see if those claims are accurate. Which isn’t all that surprising considering god has never been demonstrated to really exist in the first place.

          If one has knowledge that God does exist, then it doesn’t matter what facts lie outside the domain of one’s knowledge—you still know the fact that God exists.

          Just declaring you have knowledge doesn’t mean you are correct in your claim. And if the facts and evidence contradict your claims of knowledge, or if you can’t produce any evidence that you are actually correct, then your claims about having knowledge are largely meaningless.

          The bottom line is that we have no choice but to go on the basis of the knowledge and evidence that we do have—just we do in all other affairs of life.

          I agree. The problem is that the theist never presents evidence, just baseless claims and speculation.

          Liked by 3 people

        5. Dale: “If one has knowledge that God does exist, then it doesn’t matter what facts lie outside the domain of one’s knowledge—you still know the fact that God exists. But if one has no knowledge of the fact that God exists, then maybe that fact lies outside the domain of one’s knowledge. To illustrate, if you found a gold marble, then you know that gold marbles exist, regardless of what facts lie outside your limited field of knowledge; but if you haven’t found a gold marble, that’s no good reason to think that gold marbles do not exist, for perhaps the evidence for their existence lies outside your limited field of knowledge.”

          Hi Dale,
          I’m not understanding something here – perhaps you could explain a bit more. If one has knowledge that God exists – how could the fact that God exists lie outside the domain of that individual’s knowledge? It would seem to me that if someone had knowledge that God exists, then at least that fact (God exists) would be within the domain of that person’s knowledge.

          Likewise, in your analogy, if you find a gold marble, then you have knowledge that the gold marble exists – so wouldn’t the fact (this gold marble exists) be within your domain of knowledge rather than outside it?

          Seems to me that if we have knowledge, then whatever we have knowledge about would be within our domain of knowledge rather than outside of it.

          Looking forward to better understanding your position on what can be within and without one’s domain of knowledge,
          Brian

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Brian,

            Just quickly and then back to studying, yes that is exactly what the quote is saying- if one knows God exists (in the 100% degree) then no knowledge outside his current scope will be able to overturn that- such as knowledge of quantum physics, nothing will ever be able to overturn my knowledge that the law of non-contradiction is true on that front. But if I’m ignorant of the truth of the law of non-contradiction or only has knowledge in the 70% degree let’s say, then its possible that gained knowledge in quantum mechanics could overturn that and change one’s mind.

            So yes, I don’t see how the quote contradicts what you say here at all, obviously if one has knowledge in the 100% degree than that is within their domain and no amount of knowledge outside of that domain will be able to change the result

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Dale: “Just quickly and then back to studying, yes that is exactly what the quote is saying- if one knows God exists (in the 100% degree) then no knowledge outside his current scope will be able to overturn that”

              Hi Dale,
              I suspect that I mis-read or mis-understood what was being said. Thanks for clarifying.

              Brian

              Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m hesitant to wade into this morass, but here it goes. I started out pretty confused about what exactly Dale was arguing, but I think his response to David’s three part question offers the most clarity, and I don’t understand the subsequent resistance to this. “Logical possibility” has been clearly defined as “no APPARENT contradictions” (whether you agree with that or not) and the “blank slate” is excluding all other information from consideration. This is a purely epistemic claim (dependent on one particular knowledge condition) and is about as modest a claim as one can make in support of miracles – he is merely putting miracles on the same epistemic footing as unicorns, invisible dragons, and anything else we can imagine. Have I misunderstood something? What is objectionable about this?

    Now, on the chance that he is actually claiming more – that miracles are on equal footing with naturalistic explanations after we account for our experience of the world, then I would understand and agree with the resistance to that claim. Several years ago I had a dialogue with another blogger over a similar claim and my argument is simply that the massive inductive power of the observed regularity of nature, along with the massive inductive power of our encounters with observation errors produces a very large prior favoring naturalistic explanations over supernatural explanations – a prior which I think is sufficient to favor naturalistic explanations in every case I’ve encountered.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. he is merely putting miracles on the same epistemic footing as unicorns, invisible dragons, and anything else we can imagine.

      I completely agree. What I don’t understand is why any of us should waste more time on considering miracles as causes than we do unicorns and magical dragons.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Travis,

      Have I misunderstood something? What is objectionable about this?/b>

      What is objectionable about it is what you covered in your second paragraph. Dale wants to try to make the supernatural on equal footing as the natural, without going to the effort of actually demonstrating it deserves to be there.

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      1. I’m not sure that’s what he is trying to do, but only he can answer that.

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      2. Hi, Darren,
        I think that this is what Dale is arguing —this is, definitely, what I am arguing (and I’m going to demonstrate it through an example.)

        You’re at the Boston Marathon. Among the many participants are a 25 year old man (who has is a past winner of numerous marathons) and there’s an 80 year old man. Who’s going to win the marathon??? Fairness dictates that they BOTH start at the starting line. The 25 year old (who’s, already, got the higher odds of winning going into the race (because experience tells us that you don’t usually see an 80 year old beat a 25 year old in a marathon) doesn’t get to start the race 1 mile ahead; this could skew the results in favor of the 25 year old. Generally speaking, our experience tells us that the 25 year old (before even starting the race) is at an advantage, because our experience tells us so. So, why does the 25 year old need an advantage against an 80 year old?

        Now, is it possible the 80 year old could win? Sure, it is! The 25 year old could have, for example, had a heart attack 2 months before the marathon (due to one of those congenital heart situations.). The 80 year old might be one of those types that has been running marathons throughout his adult life. The 25 year old could have some bizarre health situation during the marathon and the 80 year old wins. Not only is this possible, it is logical. But, when you don’t go into the details of something, this would appear preposterous.

        So, all I am saying is that both miracles and non-miracles start at the same place, (because anything is possible), but as soon as the race starts, natural explanations are, usually, going to spring forward very quickly

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        1. Hi, Teddi,

          So, all I am saying is that both miracles and non-miracles start at the same place, (because anything is possible), but as soon as the race starts, natural explanations are, usually, going to spring forward very quickly

          Your example is about two people you know actually exist starting at the starting line. What we are pointing out is the starting line is not where you start, you have to first sign up for the race, and you have to first exist before you can sign up. That is why we don’t put fairies or dragons as explanations for things. Yet that is what you are trying to do for miracles. You have a concept you don’t actually understand. You have no understanding of what it is or how it works. And because of that, you have no clue if there are any contradictions in the concept. Yet you want it to start out on equal footing with something we have spent hundreds of years figuring out how it works.

          So, all we are saying is that if you want to promote Miracles to the starting line, you have to present more than just the word. You have to present some understanding of what it is you are actually proposing. Just describing it with other words that you don’t really understand doesn’t work.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think you’re putting an unreasonable obstacle on the discussion. Where do you draw the line between concepts that are understood and not understood? Realize that even naturalistic explanations are going to use other concepts to explain, which are going to use other concepts to explain, … ad infinitum. Are you requiring that a concept must be ultimately reduceable to a mathematical equation in order for it to count as understood?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi Travis,

              I think you’re putting an unreasonable obstacle on the discussion. Where do you draw the line between concepts that are understood and not understood?

              Ok. Let me put up an example real quick and see if you still feel this way.

              A Glovernicic is logically possible because there are no apparent contradictions. So because a Glovernicic we should put it at the starting line along with the natural and the supernatural.

              What is a Glovernicic you ask? Well, it is not natural and not supernatural.

              Do you see any logical contradictions with a Glovernicic? If not then we should accept it as a possible effect just like Miracles.

              Why is it that insisting we understand what the words mean first is unreasonable?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. That doesn’t answer the question. Where do you draw the line between concepts that are understood and not understood? What is the criteria which needs to be met?

                Liked by 1 person

                1. That doesn’t answer the question. Where do you draw the line between concepts that are understood and not understood? What is the criteria which needs to be met?

                  When the person making the claim can actually tell us something substantive about the words they are using rather than using other words that no one actually understands what they are. At the very least we should have enough understanding of what is being said to start looking for contradictions.

                  For example. Can you define the supernatural in such a way as we can understand what it IS, and not just what it isn’t?

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                  1. What counts as “something substantive”? (hint on how to answer: I can continue this line of questioning indefinitely)

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                    1. What counts as “something substantive”? (hint on how to answer: I can continue this line of questioning indefinitely)

                      So your goal here is to play stupid word games rather than having an honest conversation?

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                    2. No, my goal is to have you demonstrate that you have not set an unreasonable criteria for discussing concepts. Isn’t it ironic that the very same issue you have with miracles has now cropped up in determining your criteria for what we’re allowed to discuss? Who is the one playing stupid word games?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. Travis: No, my goal is to have you demonstrate that you have not set an unreasonable criteria for discussing concepts. Isn’t it ironic that the very same issue you have with miracles has now cropped up in determining your criteria for what we’re allowed to discuss? Who is the one playing stupid word games?

                      Now you are just making up positions for me to have. So no it isn’t ironic because you are not addressing my actual position.

                      To demonstrate to you what my actual position is, perhaps you would answer the question you decided to ignore earlier.

                      Can you define the supernatural in such a way as we can understand what it IS, and not just what it isn’t?

                      If we have no clue what the supernatural IS? then how are we supposed to determine if any contradictions exist?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. OK, let me try to steelman the position here. By parsing the comments in this thread from Darren, Andrew and Matt, I am seeing two possible criteria that have been set forth for what makes a concept meaningful:
                      1. A concept is meaningful if it can be defined by what it IS, and not just what it ISN’T.
                      2. A concept is meaningful if it has the possibility of being empirically investigated.

                      I think #1 is problematic because then concepts like holes, electrical noise, software bugs, and glitches all become meaningless. As for #2, it suffers the fate of logical positivism – what is it about criteria #2 that can be empirically investigated? Doesn’t this make the criteria itself meaningless?

                      If I’ve misunderstood and you’re actually establishing some different criteria, please explain.

                      And just so that my position is also on the table, I’ll note that I opt for a sort of Wittgensteinian pragmatism – a concept is meaningful if the parties who engage with the concept recognize it in relation to its context. So I can appreciate that you guys are claiming that a miracle isn’t a meaningful concept TO YOU, but it seems to me that the majority of people throughout history (including folks like Hume) had no problem working with the concept of miracles. And I suspect that you guys really do have an adequate understanding of the concept at some high level of abstraction, enough to support consideration as a possibility in the most modest sense. We aren’t requiring any other concept to have a rigorous explanation demonstrating that it isn’t non-contradictory down to some foundational level, so why is that burden seemingly being imposed on the concept of miracles? If you are going to insist on drawing a line for what counts as meaningful, explain what that line is and why everybody else should accept it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Hey Travis, thanks.

                      1. A concept is meaningful if it can be defined by what it IS, and not just what it ISN’T.
                      2. A concept is meaningful if it has the possibility of being empirically investigated.

                      I think #1 is problematic because then concepts like holes, electrical noise, software bugs, and glitches all become meaningless. As for #2, it suffers the fate of logical positivism – what is it about criteria #2 that can be empirically investigated? Doesn’t this make the criteria itself meaningless?

                      We do define software bugs by what they are. Generally, a bug is a bit of code that does not perform as expected. In good design, we catch those bugs with tests prior to production, and the industry goes to some length to build test suites for developers. These test suites also occasionally have bugs. 🙂 In the case of electrical noise at least in areas like power production and networking, noise is that behavior that interferes with the results wanted based on system design. As an example, the hope for 60 hertz AC power in the US is a sine wave.

                      There are instances, like fans, florescent lights, etc., that interfere or create noise. These are detectable results and in many cases can be remediated. In the past, it has been suggested that as much as 80% of software crashes were due to electrical problems within computers, and we have gone through iterations of design working out that kind of problem.

                      So, I’m having a problem spotting your objection. Are you saying that at the level of abstraction against which we work those problems we are simply wrong about the designs, issues, and iterative engagement?

                      I’ll leave #2 until we find some common ground on #1.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. …and the industry goes to some length to build test suites for developers.

                      Lol, yes, to the point of spending twice as much time writing the tests as went into writing the code int he first place. I truly despise writing unit tests. 🙂

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                    7. I hate them so hard. And have you used your linter today? 🙂

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                    8. Lol, Webstorm uses the linter for me.

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                    9. Thats a nice coincidence. At the moment, PyCharm is my linter. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    10. Travis,

                      1. A concept is meaningful if it can be defined by what it IS, and not just what it ISN’T.
                      I think #1 is problematic because then concepts like holes, electrical noise, software bugs, and glitches all become meaningless.

                      No they don’t. The reason this is important is that it tells me absolutely nothing to say that the definition of green is not a desk.

                      How do I determine what are and are not contradictory claims about green from the simple definition of not a desk?

                      2. A concept is meaningful if it has the possibility of being empirically investigated.
                      As for #2, it suffers the fate of logical positivism – what is it about criteria #2 that can be empirically investigated? Doesn’t this make the criteria itself meaningless?

                      What can be empirically investigated is the reliability of the method when determining facts about the world around us.

                      If you can find a better way to discover true things about reality than empirical investigation, then I would be happy to hear it.

                      If I’ve misunderstood and you’re actually establishing some different criteria, please explain.

                      The question is. What methods do we use to determine if someone’s claims about no contradictions are accurate? How do we rule out hidden contradictions that the claimant is either unaware of, ignoring, or being deceptive about?

                      Keep in mind that the claims we are addressing are about miracles that cause real things in the real world to happen.

                      I’ll note that I opt for a sort of Wittgensteinian pragmatism – a concept is meaningful if the parties who engage with the concept recognize it in relation to its context.

                      Sure, and the context in question here is reality, since the miracles are being claimed to be real things, in the real world affecting outcomes.

                      So I can appreciate that you guys are claiming that a miracle isn’t a meaningful concept TO YOU,..

                      Yes TO US. The people that live in the real world that are being asked to think that magic and gods are real and can do real things in the real world.

                      Why is it such a big ask to have the concepts explained to us in such a way as they can be understood?

                      …but it seems to me that the majority of people throughout history (including folks like Hume) had no problem working with the concept of miracles.

                      Which concept? There seems to be a lot of concepts out there. It’s also not clear to me that they actually understood what they were talking about. It seems like they were talking about half-formed ideas with no real underlying reality to inform them of how they are actually supposed to work.

                      And I suspect that you guys really do have an adequate understanding of the concept at some high level of abstraction, enough to support consideration as a possibility in the most modest sense.

                      I don’t. I have absolutely no clue what the person is talking about when they say supernatural. I have no clue how to evaluate it, how to confirm there are no contradictions. I can’t even tell in the concept itself is coherent because no one can explain what it actually IS. Which is probably a big red flag indicating the concept is not coherent.

                      We aren’t requiring any other concept to have a rigorous explanation demonstrating that it isn’t non-contradictory down to some foundational level, so why is that burden seemingly being imposed on the concept of miracles?

                      It isn’t. This idea of it being non-contradictory down to some foundational level is something you are adding to the conversation. Not something that was there before you entered the conversation.

                      If you are going to insist on drawing a line for what counts as meaningful, explain what that line is and why everybody else should accept it.

                      I still have no clue why you think basic understanding is not a good line to draw. If you can’t even describe what it is that you are talking about, then why should we accept the claims of non-contradiction?

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                    11. If you are going to insist on drawing a line for what counts as meaningful, explain what that line is and why everybody else should accept it.

                      Here is the line I think should be used. The line is that the person you are making the claim to understands what it is you are saying and has enough information to verify that your claims of no contradictions are accurate.

                      That seems like a reasonable line to draw to me. And everyone else should accept it as long as they want to have a persuasive argument. After all, baseless claims are not persuasive. If they don’t want anyone else to take them seriously, then they can ignore that line as they wish.

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                    12. Here is the line I think should be used. The line is that the person you are making the claim to understands what it is you are saying and has enough information to verify that your claims of no contradictions are accurate … And everyone else should accept it as long as they want to have a persuasive argument. After all, baseless claims are not persuasive.

                      Thanks. That’s actually pretty much on par with what I gave for my position, which means the line for what counts as meaningful is dependent on the subjective experience of “understanding” for the parties involved. But if the line is dependent on the participant’s subjective experience of understanding, then we just have to take people at their word. And this would apply to both sides. The “miracle has no meaning” camp would just accept that the “miracle has meaning” camp actually is working with a concept they understand, and vice versa. Then the only point of further discussion is to try and convince the other camp that they actually do or don’t understand the concept. And this means asking them to provide more rigorous descriptions of the terms they’re using to describe the concept, which brings us back to the infinite regression issue. So by drawing the line here it seems we either need to be content with the disagreement about what is understood, or content with nothing actually being understood (infinite regress), or mutually agree to draw a line somewhere other than subjective understanding (good luck with that) – or just keep talking about our disagreements for the love of the game (which is probably what has been going on the whole time anyway).

                      Liked by 1 person

                    13. But if the line is dependent on the participant’s subjective experience of understanding, then we just have to take people at their word.

                      I see no reason to take this as an axiom, and it doesn’t follow from what I said. If you can’t demonstrate that your claim of there being no contradictions is true, then you shouldn’t expect anyone else to take you seriously. Until you can demonstrate the claim is true, it is nothing more than a baseless claim, and the rest of us don’t have to accept it or the ideas seriously, and there is no reason for us to accept it as a candidate for explanations of why things happen.

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                    14. The problem is that demonstrating the claim of no contradictions is dependent on their subjective experience of understanding the concepts and their relations. They can have a conceptual understanding and an absence of contradictions even when you don’t. You’re right that you don’t have to accept it – you shouldn’t be expected to accept something you don’t understand – but that goes both ways. They shouldn’t be expected to reject something that they do understand.

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                    15. The problem is that demonstrating the claim of no contradictions is dependent on their subjective experience of understanding the concepts and their relations.

                      If they understand it, then they should be able to explain it to others.

                      They can have a conceptual understanding and an absence of contradictions even when you don’t.

                      That doesn’t mean they are correct that there are no contradictions or correct that they understand it.

                      You’re right that you don’t have to accept it – you shouldn’t be expected to accept something you don’t understand – but that goes both ways. They shouldn’t be expected to reject something that they do understand.

                      Since this blog is about the Christian trying to convince atheists that they shouldn’t dismiss miracles out of hand, then I think in this case the Christian will have to suck it up and demonstrate their claims of no contradiction are accurate. No one here seems interested in “just taking their word for it”.

                      If they can’t demonstrate that they do in fact understand it as they claim, then they are pretty much SOL.

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                    16. If they understand it, then they should be able to explain it to others. … If they can’t demonstrate that they do in fact understand it as they claim, then they are pretty much SOL

                      They’ve tried to explain it, they just weren’t able to cause certain other parties to also understand it. But now you’ve taken the criteria for when something is meaningful (all relevant parties have a subjective experience of understanding) and are requiring it for the understanding of each individual – a person who thinks they understand a concept only truly understands it if they are able to explain it so that all other relevant parties also have the subjective experience of understanding?

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                    17. They’ve tried to explain it, they just weren’t able to cause certain other parties to also understand it.

                      Can you demonstrate this statement is true? When did they try to explain it? Or are you saying that using other words we don’t understand to describe it is an explanation?

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                    18. Can you demonstrate this statement is true? When did they try to explain it?

                      The second section of the blog starts with “In the first place, it might be helpful to provide a little explanation as to what exactly it means for something or someone to be miraculous/supernatural …”. Then the comments are littered with further attempts to work this out.

                      Or are you saying that using other words we don’t understand to describe it is an explanation?

                      That just brings us back to the question line drawing and the potential infinite regress of explanations. I assumed we had moved past that.

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                    19. That just brings us back to the question line drawing and the potential infinite regress of explanations. I assumed we had moved past that.

                      So you feel. A miracle is fergletable beforitium. Is an explanation of what a miracle is?

                      How are using words no one actually understands an explanation? What does using words no one understands supposed to explain exactly?

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                    20. That just brings us back to the question line drawing and the potential infinite regress of explanations. I assumed we had moved past that.

                      An explanation conveys information. If the words you are using don’t convey any information then it is not an explanation.

                      If you feel someone can just make up words and call it an explanation. Then I think we are at a fundamental impasse. If the explanation doesn’t actually explain anything, then I just can’t except it is an explanation.

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                    21. You are projecting the fact that you do not understand the concepts of a miracle and the supernatural onto everybody else. A lot of people, I think a strong majority, don’t share that perception of not understanding the concepts and a lot of ink has been spilled attempting to define these things. I mentioned Hume and you dismissed him, so it seems the problem is that you simply don’t trust that other people are being honest when they say that they understand these concepts and do not see any logical contradictions.

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                    22. You are projecting the fact that you do not understand the concepts of a miracle and the supernatural onto everybody else. A lot of people, I think a strong majority, don’t share that perception of not understanding the concepts….

                      And yet none of them can explain what the supernatural actually IS. I’m not interested that they have the illusion of understanding. I’m interested in whether they actually understand or not.

                      Can you demonstrate anyone who can clearly state what the supernatural IS? For someone who keeps claiming it is an understandable concept, you keep avoiding the question. And whenever I even scratch the surface of what is meant, no one can explain it other than to just repeat the same words I am trying to figure out.

                      …you simply don’t trust that other people are being honest when they say that they understand these concepts and do not see any logical contradictions.

                      I see no reason to think they are correct in the assessment of their own understanding. Because when you ask them to explain what the words they are using actually mean, no one can seem to do that. All they end up doing is repeating the words you are asking them to explain the meaning of.

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                    23. I have to agree with you in this conversation. I am flummoxed by how hard it is to get a Christian to even explain what they mean by the terms they use. Like “trinity,” I question whether Christians really understand many of the terms they use because attempts at explanations are all over the map. They can’t even explain what they mean by something as simple as faith.

                      In the program, I asked Dale to explain what he meant by the supernatural and how I might recognize it. I got nothing from him. I’m sure he has some answer. But he didn’t think I needed to know these things in order to evaluate whether a miracle should be considered on equal footing as the natural. Why should we consider the propositions if we can’t even get a clear and coherent explanation that tells us how we might recognize the thing in question?

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                    24. David: “They can’t even explain what they mean by something as simple as faith.”

                      Hi David,
                      A trip to the dictionary shows there are multiple definitions for “faith.” So, it shouldn’t be surprising if people use it in different ways. In general, I think to have faith in something is to have trust or a belief that thing. So, if I say that I have faith that you will read this post, I mean that I trust/believe you will read this post. If I say that I have faith that my watch is working, I mean that I believe/trust that my watch is working.

                      But, … that’s me. What do you mean when you use the word “faith?”

                      Brian

                      Liked by 1 person

                    25. Can you demonstrate anyone who can clearly state what the supernatural IS?

                      I think that (naturalist) Matthew Ferguson did a pretty good job at offering definitions in his paper and associated blog posts. But whether it is “clear” or not will lie in the eye of the beholder, as we have already established.

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                    26. But whether it is “clear” or not will lie in the eye of the beholder, as we have already established.

                      Highlighting the fact that he didn’t bother to try to explain what it means to be “non-physical”. I have no clue what it means to be non-physical and as far as I know, it might be as coherent a concept as a married bachelor. How do I use his ideas of the supernatural to tell the difference between 3 different states?

                      1. A natural phenomenon that we have never come across before. For example when we thought lighting was a magical assault from a god. Before we knew it was a natural phenomenon.

                      2. Advanced technology. For example, aliens playing pranks on us.

                      3. Is supernatural?

                      How do I confirm the supernatural as opposed to it being our ignorance on the subject (1), or advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic to us (2)?

                      If there is no way to tell the difference, then how are his thoughts on the subject a clear description?

                      And what exactly does it mean to be non-physical? Is the non-physical even capable of interacting with the physical? If not then that means we have found a contradiction in the definition of miracles.

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                    27. I was previously admonished for misrepresentation when I said that you seemed to be requiring a concept “to have a rigorous explanation demonstrating that it isn’t non-contradictory down to some foundational level”, and now it feels like this response is leading us in that direction. So I am inclined to draw lines again. To recap, previously the question was “when is a concept meaningful?” and we landed on “when it is understood and without contradiction”. Now the question is “when is a concept understood?” and your requirement is that the person claiming to understand it needs to be able to explain it. You have rejected all explanations on offer so far, so I must now ask “what counts as an explanation?”. What are the criteria that need to be met by an explanation to demonstrate that the explainer actually understands the concept?

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                    28. I was previously admonished for misrepresentation when I said that you seemed to be requiring a concept “to have a rigorous explanation demonstrating that it isn’t non-contradictory down to some foundational level”, and now it feels like this response is leading us in that direction.

                      If you don’t feel that the words you are using to describe the supernatural need to be understood, need to convey some sort of meaning, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is the same thing we require of any other explanation, so I’m surprised that you are having a problem with it for explaining the supernatural.

                      If you think an explanation is fine when people substitute one word they don’t understand with another they don’t understand, then I would say you have an illusion of understanding. You don’t actually understand what is being said. And you can’t be surprised when other people ask for clarification of your explanation. In ANY other situation, you wouldn’t be pushing back on this. You would probably want an explanation that actually explains rather than just substituting one meaningless word with another. But for some reason when it comes to the supernatural you are willing to just let it slide. Why is that?

                      You have rejected all explanations on offer so far, so I must now ask “what counts as an explanation?”.

                      An explanation is something that actually explains. Using words you don’t understand does not convey information and as such does not explain.

                      So yes, if you are going to use non-physical to define the supernatural, I am going to ask you what the non-physical is because I have no idea what it is and you saying non-physical does nothing to explain what the supernatural is. I still have no more understanding of what the supernatural is after your explanation than I did before your explanation.

                      What are the criteria that need to be met by an explanation to demonstrate that the explainer actually understands the concept?

                      The words have to convey information. Do you know what the non-physical IS? I don’t. Can you explain it in a way that describes what it is rather than what it isn’t? If you can’t then how can you claim to be conveying information when you describe the supernatural as non-physical? You are just substituting one word without meaning with another word that has no meaning.

                      I find it hard to believe that you don’t get this. Why is this such a stumbling block for you?

                      If you truly think it is ok to just substitute one word without meaning with another word without meaning, then we are at an impasse. I don’t think an explanation works that way. But if you do then you will never understand why I don’t accept a meaningless word as an explanation.

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                    29. OK, so a concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory (see what I did there with the ‘non’), and words are understood if they can be explained, and an explanation counts if it uses words that are understood. We have clearly entered an infinite loop. You weren’t willing to take people at their word when they said that they understood something, so what is the alternative? Is there a non-circular (see what I did there with the ‘non’) criteria for when something is understood? Don’t get me wrong – I actually agree that concepts are meaningful if they are understood and explainable, but there also has to be some way out of the loop. There needs to be a reasonable threshold for accepting that something is adequately understood without further explanation. I’m not going to spin my wheels explaining every term you ask about because I’m nearly certain that would never end. Give me something to shoot for.

                      You reinforced the notion that a definition should only use positive terms. Is that the next criteria we should examine – that a concept is only understood if the person can define it by what it IS, and not just what it ISN’T?

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                    30. Don’t get me wrong – I actually agree that concepts are meaningful if they are understood and explainable, but there also has to be some way out of the loop.

                      I think you are making this far more complicated than it needs to be. You can either explain what it means to be non-physical or you can’t. If you can’t then you can’t claim any non-contradiction because you can’t even demonstrate you understand what you are talking about.

                      There needs to be a reasonable threshold for accepting that something is adequately understood without further explanation.

                      Sure, but you seem to be reluctant to even get started. Can you tell me what it means to be non-physical? Can you explain it in positive terms as opposed to ‘Green isn’t a desk’?

                      If not, then the question of thresholds is largely meaningless because surely the threshold has to be higher than complete ignorance on the subject.

                      I’m not going to spin my wheels explaining every term you ask about because I’m nearly certain that would never end. Give me something to shoot for.

                      If you aren’t willing to clarify what you mean then I have no reason to think you actually understand what you are saying, and I have no reason to take your claims of non-contradiction seriously.

                      You reinforced the notion that a definition should only use positive terms. Is that the next criteria we should examine – that a concept is only understood if the person can define it by what it IS, and not just what it ISN’T?

                      Well, since I am asking about clarification on what it IS you are talking about, and I’m not asking for clarification about what you are not talking about, then I suppose that would be a next step you can take if you like.

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                    31. Well, since I am asking about clarification on what it IS you are talking about, and I’m not asking for clarification about what you are not talking about, then I suppose that would be a next step you can take if you like.

                      Great. Since this was already visited and responded to, let’s start with those.

                      I previously said that the requirement of only using positive terms is “problematic because then concepts like holes, electrical noise, software bugs, and glitches all become meaningless”. You responded with:

                      No they don’t. The reason this is important is that it tells me absolutely nothing to say that the definition of green is not a desk. How do I determine what are and are not contradictory claims about green from the simple definition of not a desk?

                      “not a desk” is a valid description of green. It is an exceptionally uninformative description because it reduces the space of what ‘green’ is by an infinitesimal amount, given the relative scarcity of desks compared to the totality of conceptual space. But on it’s own, there is no contradiction in the set of things and possible things which are not desks. Some other description of green may hold a contradiction, but this particular description does not.

                      Then Andrew also said

                      We do define software bugs by what they are. Generally, a bug is a bit of code that does not perform as expected.

                      Emphasis mine. He failed to define it without using a negative relation (not) to something else (performing as expected).

                      Andrew also said

                      In the case of electrical noise at least in areas like power production and networking, noise is that behavior that interferes with the results wanted

                      Emphasis mine. He failed to define it without using a negative relation (interferes) to something else (results wanted).

                      In general, the english language has lots of prefixes (a-, un-, non-, im-, …) and modifiers (not, no, lacking, without, …) that we commonly use to reference the totality of a space which excludes the property, entity, or state (call that excluded thing X). This is really useful because otherwise you have to list everything in that space when what you really care about is emphasizing the state of not X. The point is completely lost if you just have to list everything else. But it is also correct that positive descriptions are generally more powerful at constraining the conceptual space (i.e., are more informative).

                      That said, in contrast to “not a desk”, the term “non-physical” is actually pretty informative. Everything that is always empirically detectable is physical (though the definition of “physical” can get fuzzy with further scrutiny, but let’s not go there for now). So the conceptual space for the non-physical is everything except that which is always empirically detectable (which is a lot).

                      If I may prognosticate, I think that this is leading to a concern about the size of the conceptual space that results from attempts to define the supernatural. But descriptions can vary greatly in this regard, so if this is truly the concern then some new line needs to be drawn on how to determine the constraints of conceptual space which constitute an understanding (if any – is the concept of “everything” a concept that cannot be understood?).

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                    32. Hey Travis,

                      I’ll drop back in for a moment.

                      I did write:

                      We do define software bugs by what they are. Generally, a bug is a bit of code that does not perform as expected.

                      This could be rewritten:

                      We do define software bugs by what they are. Generally a bug is a bit of code that produces unexpected results. I could go on with this simple example. The following lines are valid python code and will work on any computer with a python interpreter.

                      print(“The following are the squares of 3, 4, and 5”)
                      print(3+3)
                      print(4/4)
                      print(5-5)

                      Each line is in fact a bug because each produces an answer that is not a square of 3, 4, or 5 respectively. And, each is an error independent and separate from the others. But, the wrong answer in one sense does not reduce the problem space at all. There are an infinite number of wrong answers for each expected right answer. Now, the problem is trivial so the correction is obvious in each case. I chose it for that reason.

                      But, it illustrates the point that eliminating green may get you no closer to a right answer. A problem space has at its heart a problem, hopefully well defined. I think Daren is complaining that you have a problem space with a problem insufficiently well defined to be less than infinite. But, I’ll let him speak to that rather than writing for him.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    33. I think you mean “unintended results” instead of “unexpected results”, but in either case the “un” is creating a negative relation.

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                    34. Surely he central issue is reduction of the problem space. But, I don’t need an ‘in’ word. Wrong, buggy, poor, work fine. In each case, we are describing intended design and comparison of results. Within the domain, I demonstrated that there was an infinite number of possibilities and selecting a false element did not reduce the space toward a correct answer, even in an admittedly contrived example.

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                    35. I agree that this is probably going to reduce to a concern over what counts as an adequate constraint on the conceptual space, but the issue at hand is whether the use of negative descriptions is reason to discount a concept as understandable.
                      Regarding your software bug, you still haven’t given a description in only positive terms – but maybe you don’t object to the use of negative terms to describe something?

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                    36. I don’t object to a mixture of terms. I would object to only negative terms for the reason given.

                      For fun on a definition, a bug is a faulty result within the parameters of the design considerations

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                    37. The value of a mixture of terms depends on the scope. The positive side of a relation (i.e., the “intended” in “unintended”) does a lot of work and we’re usually satisfied with that.

                      “Faulty” is a negative term, synonymous with “unintended”.

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                    38. Sure, now define positively what the supernatural is being philosophically honest to this exchange.

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                    39. The intent is to get there. But everything so far has been shot down, so the immediate goal is to establish the criteria that need to be met to show that a concept is understood.

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                    40. Do you agree that it will require positive claims that can be verified?

                      I affirm that ground.

                      Maybe you can answer yes or no and reply with another idea you affirm.

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                    41. Do you agree that it [the criteria that need to be met to show that a concept is understood] will require positive claims that can be verified?

                      No. What you’ve just affirmed is logical positivism, which is almost universally recognized as self-refuting. I think there are many good and useful practices associated with that philosophy, but it cannot be held as an absolute standard for comprehension.

                      Maybe you can answer yes or no and reply with another idea you affirm.

                      I will just affirm what I previously stated as my Wittgensteinian pragmatist position – “a concept is meaningful if the parties who engage with the concept recognize it in relation to its context”. I am willing to take you guys at your word that you can’t make sense of the concepts of a miracle, supernatural, etc… but this has been extended to the claim that those who claim to understand these concepts actually don’t understand them. That is a strong claim and that is what I am trying to unpack.

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                    42. But the parties involved will make positive claims about their own understanding. So what is your understanding of miracles. We need not agree to put our thought down in print.

                      So agreement aside, how do you recognize miracles, and how do you teach others to do the same?

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                    43. I’m using ‘recognize’ as a broad term that includes the act of recognition in purely semantic contexts. I don’t recognize miracles in the observational sense, only in the linguistic sense. I grasp the general understanding that society at large seems to have about what defines a miracle, and when I use the term accordingly, other people respond as if they agree with that conception. It is a useful concept and so is meaningful.

                      I have the same experience with the word ‘unintended’ and perceive that it is a meaningful concept for many of the same reasons even though it is a negative relation.

                      I have the same experience with the word ‘unicorn’ and perceive that it is a meaningful concept for many of the same reasons even though I don’t think any unicorns actually exist.

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                    44. Fine, so give three or four ways in which you have used the word miracle and gotten agreement from your community. In addition to using the word in context, provide your working definition.

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                    45. 1. The yellow-dog naturalism discussion I previously linked to was about miracles. Seemed to me that we understood each other.
                      2. I commented on Ferguson’s review of Keener’s Miracles book and nobody seemed confused there.
                      3. I once had a very similar conversation (though much shorter) and even though the author was arguing for the incoherence of the supernatural, we were able to understand each other when I tried to clarify the definitions.

                      I’m not picky about definitions so long as we seem to understand each other, but for now I’ll go with “an action by a supernatural agent that interferes with the regularity of nature”.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    46. I was not involved in the conversations you mentioned.

                      You said you don’t recognize miracles observationally, but you complained about logical positivism. I’m not sure what to make of that contradiction.

                      Moving on, when you used the word miracle in your community and others seemed to understand the word with your working definition, if you don’t recognize miracles observationally, why did you choose miracle? Was your community incapable of understanding other word choices?

                      What are you choosing to pass on if you don’t observe miracle but pass on the definition?

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                    47. I was not involved in the conversations you mentioned.

                      You said you don’t recognize miracles observationally, but you complained about logical positivism. I’m not sure what to make of that contradiction.

                      Moving on, when you used the word miracle in your community and others seemed to understand the word with your working definition, if you don’t recognize miracles observationally, why did you choose miracle? Was your community incapable of understanding other word choices?

                      What are you choosing to pass on if you don’t observe miracle but pass on the definition?

                      Have you in fact increased the understanding of your community? Mind you, I’m not asking about the ability to pass on a definition. I’m asking about the observation of that definition.

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                    48. I meant that I have never observed (or seen a description of an actual observation) that I would recognize as a miracle. I thought maybe that’s what you were asking about, so there may be a misunderstanding there that affects the rest of the comment. But I think I might see where you’re going. If you go to my last comment in that yellow-dog discussion I tried to explain how a miracle might be able to overcome the low prior. Is that what you’re looking for?

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                    49. Travis: “not a desk” is a valid description of green.

                      No, it isn’t. It may be technically correct, but it is not a valid description as it doesn’t do anything to actually describe what green is.

                      It is an exceptionally uninformative description…

                      Which is functionally identical to not being a description at all.

                      In general, the english language has lots of prefixes (a-, un-, non-, im-, …) and modifiers (not, no, lacking, without, …) that we commonly use to reference the totality of a space which excludes the property, entity, or state (call that excluded thing X).

                      Yes, and if using those prefixes gives us real information to describe what something is. Then I am fine using them. Non-physical is not one of those times.

                      That said, in contrast to “not a desk”, the term “non-physical” is actually pretty informative.

                      Then what information can I glean from it? Can the physical interaction with it? Where does it exist? What is it made out of? How does it work?

                      Everything that is always empirically detectable is physical (though the definition of “physical” can get fuzzy with further scrutiny, but let’s not go there for now). So the conceptual space for the non-physical is everything except that which is always empirically detectable (which is a lot).

                      So then the examples in the document you linked to, of the description of the supernatural, is complete rubbish. They were saying that ghosts were an example of the supernatural and since supernatural means non-physical, which means undetectable. Then ghosts are in fact not an example of the supernatural since ghosts are detectable by empirical means, in this case, sight.

                      So why did you give me that description of the supernatural if you knew it was contradictory and not a good description?

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                    50. It is an exceptionally uninformative description … Which is functionally identical to not being a description at all.

                      In this example, there is an insignificant difference between the description and no description – but the information content is not technically identical. Regardless, my intent was to see if we could agree on the general principle that negative descriptions can be informative, and I’m reading you as agreeing with that when you say “Yes, and if using those prefixes gives us real information to describe what something is. Then I am fine using them. That’s progress.

                      So, to recap: a concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory, and words are understood if they can be explained, and an explanation counts if it uses words that are understood. That last proposition puts us in a loop and we need some way to break out of it. It seemed that one candidate criteria was the requirement that explanations use only positive terms. We have now eliminated that criteria. What’s the next candidate criteria for how we break out of the loop? I think Andrew was on the right track when he agreed with my prognostication about the issue actually boiling down to concerns about whether a definition adequately constrains the conceptual space. Do you agree? If so, can you articulate that concern a bit further?

                      I am primarily interested in resolving the question above before continuing with the question of whether the concepts of the supernatural and miracles are meaningful, so that I know what you think is required to say that a concept is meaningful. But I’ll briefly address your questions anyway.

                      Then what information can I glean from it [non-physical]?

                      Assuming the definition of physical as “always empirically detectable”, then if something is described as non-physical, you know that it is not always empirically detectable.

                      So why did you give me that description of the supernatural if you knew it was contradictory and not a good description?

                      I used the word “always” in the definition for a reason. Scooby-doo tells me that the fake ghosts can’t evade detection and end up in jail, but the “real” ghosts can become undetectable when skeptics try to figure them out. Of course this is all dependent on what physical means, so if there’s something wrong with that definition then we could try to work that out. But as I noted, I’m more interested in seeing if we can first resolve the question of when a concept is meaningful.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    51. That’s progress.

                      If by progress you mean you are finally catching up to the actual argument being made and done making hay over something that was never in contention, then sure. Its progress.

                      So, to recap: a concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory, and words are understood if they can be explained, and an explanation counts if it uses words that are understood. That last proposition puts us in a loop….

                      No it doesn’t. The loop is entirely of your own making and does not exist in the real world.

                      It seemed that one candidate criteria was the requirement that explanations use only positive terms. We have now eliminated that criteria.

                      That was never one of the criteria, so eliminating it is rather meaningless.

                      The requirement is that you tell us what the thing you are describing IS rather than trying to describe it by telling us what it is NOT.

                      That is not the same as only using positive terms.

                      I think Andrew was on the right track when he agreed with my prognostication about the issue actually boiling down to concerns about whether a definition adequately constrains the conceptual space. Do you agree?

                      I do, hence the reason I would like the description to describe what the concept IS, rather than what the concept is NOT.

                      Assuming the definition of physical as “always empirically detectable”, then if something is described as non-physical, you know that it is not always empirically detectable.

                      So you are changing the meaning midway. Is it empirically detectable or only sometimes empirically detectable or not empirically detectable at all?

                      If it just means sometimes empirically detectable (..not always empirically detectable) Then you have gone from a useful definition that can be used to a meaningless definition that gives us no extra information and includes the physical.

                      This is why I contend that no one actually knows what they are talking about and the claims of understanding are illusory at best.

                      Of course this is all dependent on what physical means, so if there’s something wrong with that definition then we could try to work that out. But as I noted, I’m more interested in seeing if we can first resolve the question of when a concept is meaningful.

                      I would imagine at the very least the definition has to make sense. If the definition of physical is empirically detectible, and the definition of supernatural is non-physical, which means sometimes empirically detectable and sometimes not empirically detectable, then I would say you have a ways to go in your definition before it is meaningful.

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                    52. No it doesn’t. The loop is entirely of your own making and does not exist in the real world.

                      Please explain. That set of propositions was intended to reflect the chain of uncontested claims based on all the previous comments about what makes a concept meaningful. In logical form, it is the initial step of building an argument for why (or why not) a concept is meaningful:
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept (or word) is understood* if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts (or words) that are understood**

                      P2 depends on P3, which depends on P2, …. Are you saying that these premises do not accurately reflect the claims that have been made thus far? Or are you saying that understand* is different from understand**, thus no loop? Or are you raising some other issue?

                      That was never one of the criteria, so eliminating it is rather meaningless. The requirement is that you tell us what the thing you are describing IS rather than trying to describe it by telling us what it is NOT. That is not the same as only using positive terms.

                      Sorry, I don’t appreciate the difference. Can you try explaining more thoroughly what the requirement is?

                      I do [agree that the issue concerns whether a definition adequately constrains the conceptual space], hence the reason I would like the description to describe what the concept IS, rather than what the concept is NOT.

                      Thanks, that’s good to know. But I’ll need clarification per the request above to see how that relates to the IS vs IS NOT requirement.

                      If it [non-physical] just means sometimes empirically detectable (..not always empirically detectable) Then you have gone from a useful definition that can be used to a meaningless definition that gives us no extra information and includes the physical.

                      “not always empirically detectable” was intended to include both “never empirically detectable” and “sometimes empirically detectable”.

                      I would imagine at the very least the definition has to make sense. If the definition of physical is empirically detectible, and the definition of supernatural is non-physical, which means sometimes empirically detectable and sometimes not empirically detectable, then I would say you have a ways to go in your definition before it is meaningful.

                      Here and above you seem to be saying that “sometimes empirically detectable” falls within the definition of ‘physical’. It seems to me like you’re overlooking the role of the word ‘always’ in the definition, but I’m also open to a different definition for ‘physical’ if you want to propose one.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    53. Hey Travis,

                      The problem here has to do with meaning being derived from understanding and noncontradiction.

                      As an example, if we take the idea of creation ex nihilo, there appears to be a contradiction. Pursuing a resolution to that possible contradiction necessarily means having the conversation you appear to be avoiding.

                      Previously, I asked you to both provide a definition of miracle, which you did, and three or four places where you used it in your community, which you did not, after remarking that you use the word with understanding from those around you.

                      At issue here is the inner workings of miracles compared to the inner workings of non miraculous events. We have had some examples of things over which we share understanding, and understanding is presumably something you think can be passed on through conversation, based on this discussion.

                      I pointed out that we need not agree for each of us to describe our thoughts, but have have yet to read an attempt on your part for how you understand miracles. To avoid repetition, I’m not questioning your use of the definition but whether you have witnessed an event that fits the definition.

                      And yes, I have every intention of asking empirical questions about any such event because through the conversation, I have been willing to provide that kind of evidence in my posts.

                      You rejected ‘logical positivism’, but I find that empiricism is a good foundation for understanding. If it is your view that supernatural events have no empirical methods of investigation, we don’t have a foundation for discussion. Either way, its fair enough.

                      Like

                    54. Andrew,

                      Pursuing a resolution to that possible contradiction necessarily means having the conversation you appear to be avoiding.

                      I’m definitely not avoiding any conversations. I don’t think there’s any contention about the role of non-contradiction in defining when a concept has meaning, so it hasn’t needed to be addressed.

                      Previously, I asked you to both provide a definition of miracle, which you did, and three or four places where you used it in your community, which you did not

                      I guess you misunderstood my response. The numbered items were my examples of discussing ‘miracles’ without the participants seeming to be confused about what it meant.

                      To avoid repetition, I’m not questioning your use of the definition but whether you have witnessed an event that fits the definition.

                      No, I do not believe that I have witnessed any miracles.

                      You rejected ‘logical positivism’, but I find that empiricism is a good foundation for understanding.

                      I don’t hold to a foundationalist epistemology, but I’m willing to assume it for the discussion. Empiricism is a great tool for understanding and I don’t affirm the existence of anything that cannot be empirically detected. See my response to Darren to see where that goes.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    55. “I’m definitely not avoiding any conversations. I don’t think there’s any contention about the role of non-contradiction in defining when a concept has meaning, so it hasn’t needed to be addressed.”

                      I just gave you an example.

                      “I guess you misunderstood my response. The numbered items were my examples of discussing ‘miracles’ without the participants seeming to be confused about what it meant.”

                      Ok, I checked back over the thread and found these:

                      [Travis]
                      “1. The yellow-dog naturalism discussion I previously linked to was about miracles. Seemed to me that we understood each other.
                      2. I commented on Ferguson’s review of Keener’s Miracles book and nobody seemed confused there.
                      3. I once had a very similar conversation (though much shorter) and even though the author was arguing for the incoherence of the supernatural, we were able to understand each other when I tried to clarify the definitions.”

                      So, yes the misunderstanding on this point is entirely mine.

                      [Andrew]
                      “To avoid repetition, I’m not questioning your use of the definition but whether you have witnessed an event that fits the definition.”

                      [Travis]
                      “No, I do not believe that I have witnessed any miracles.”

                      [Travis]
                      “I don’t hold to a foundationalist epistemology, but I’m willing to assume it for the discussion. Empiricism is a great tool for understanding and I don’t affirm the existence of anything that cannot be empirically detected. See my response to Darren to see where that goes.”

                      I read your response to Darren, and I’m still wondering what empirical properties of a miracle you would affirm? Asked differently, based on your view, how would you recognize a miracle?

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                    56. what empirical properties of a miracle you would affirm? Asked differently, based on your view, how would you recognize a miracle?

                      My goal throughout this entire discussion is to understand the claim that a miracle is a meaningless concept despite the fact that most people seem to have no problem engaging with the concept. Your question seems to assume the requirement that in order for something to have any meaning it must reduce to the empirical. At the risk of being accused of avoiding the question, I would prefer to stay on track with the inquiry into the requirements for a concept to be meaningful. Please see my latest response to Darren for the current state of that exercise. I’m just trying to avoid having two separate but nearly equivalent threads. Feel free to suggest how you would update the premises there.

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                    57. My goal throughout this entire discussion is to understand the claim that a miracle is a meaningless concept despite the fact that most people seem to have no problem engaging with the concept.

                      Its very simple. When you ask them what they mean they can’t tell you. It really is as simple as that. They have the illusion of understanding, but when you ask them to explain something like non-physical. They have no clue what it IS.

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                    58. Please explain.

                      My short answer is that we explain things using concepts we already know. We don’t try to explain mysteries with other mysteries.

                      Or are you saying that understand* is different from understand**, thus no loop?

                      I would probably affirm this. I would describe an explanation as a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, you have reality. And for any description of anything real, you can always shortcut the process and just point to what you are trying to explain.

                      On top of reality, we apply concepts and ideas, expressed as words. We use those concepts and ideas to explain even more concepts that sit at the next level, and on and on until you have a mystery. In this case the supernatural, or the non-physical.

                      You don’t use a word that has no foundation to try to explain another word that has no foundation. You use words that are understood (have their own pyramids) to explain the new mystery (to help build its pyramid).

                      So there is no loop because each word has its own pyramid. The problem comes in when you are trying to explain one concept with no pyramid, with another concept with no pyramid.

                      Hopefully, that makes more sense.

                      Sorry, I don’t appreciate the difference. Can you try explaining more thoroughly what the requirement is?

                      I can explain Green in two ways. I can say Green is NOT a desk. Or I can say Green IS a wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum with a wavelength that ranges from 500–565 nm.

                      Saying that Geen is NOT a desk is functionally equivalent to not giving an explanation at all because even after you say it, I have absolutely no clue what you are talking about when you say green. I don’t even have a place to start to understand what it is.

                      Notice that I haven’t said anything at all about positive or negative terms. If you can describe what something IS by using negative terms, then that is fine. For example, Green IS a wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum with a wavelength that ranges from non-imaginary numbers 500–565 nm. We know what it means to be an imaginary number and we know what it means to be a real number, so it is an odd way to phrase it, but we are given real information regardless of the negative term used. But we know what both types of numbers ARE, so we understand the negative term and the information it is promoting.

                      ….but I’m also open to a different definition for ‘physical’ if you want to propose one.

                      I hesitate to give my definition since my definition is irrelevant. I’m not the one trying to claim that the supernatural is “non-physical”. It makes me feel like those Christians that insist on using their definition of nothing, even though they know that the physicists are using a different definition. But if it helps us communicate, my definition of physical is the quantum waveform and all the different ways it can collapse.

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                    59. Darren,
                      Thanks for the explanation. Very helpful.

                      At the base of the pyramid, you have reality … If you can describe what something IS by using negative terms, then that is fine … my definition of physical is the quantum waveform and all the different ways it can collapse

                      Good to see that we’re out of the loop. To clarify, when I previously spoke of “negative terms” I was specifically meaning negative relations; the way negative is used in “not a desk”. So I gather that you’re still affirming the need for only positive relations. And based on everything I’ve seen so far, I’m going to assume that the totality of reality is the physical. So let me try to update the premises:
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept (or word) is understood if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts (or words) that ultimately reduce to positive relations to the universal wave function

                      Is this a fair set of premises to define your position?

                      And just for a bit of further clarity, would you agree that “not a desk” is meaningful in the sense that it is a shortcut for positively identifying every part of the universal wave function that does not collapse into a desk? And non-physical is meaningless because there’s nothing left after you take away the physical?

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                    60. Good to see that we’re out of the loop.

                      I was never in a loop. And I don’t see how one could possibly exist.

                      So I gather that you’re still affirming the need for only positive relations.

                      Maybe. It depends on what you mean. But since I have explained this several times already, I’m not sure if I can be more clear about it.

                      And based on everything I’ve seen so far, I’m going to assume that the totality of reality is the physical.

                      Using my definition? I don’t know. Which is why I’m trying to get you to tell me what the non-physical IS. Is there something outside of the quantum waveform? Can it interact with the waveform? How do I establish you aren’t just making things up?

                      Is this a fair set of premises to define your position?

                      Maybe. I think P3 could be worded more simply just by saying ~ An explanation counts if it uses concepts(b) or words(b) for which we already have an understanding of.

                      And just for a bit of further clarity, would you agree that “not a desk” is meaningful in the sense that it is a shortcut for positively identifying every part of the universal wave function that does not collapse into a desk?

                      No, it is not meaningful. Like I said earlier. I am no closer to understanding what green is after you say, ‘not a desk’ than I am before you say it. I don’t even know what type of thing you are talking about, or where to start to look for understanding.

                      And non-physical is meaningless because there’s nothing left after you take away the physical?

                      That could be the case, in which case saying that something exists (supernatural) and doesn’t exist (non-physical as you defined physical in this post) is a contradiction.

                      But the problem is not my definition. The problem is that no one actually seems to know what it is they are talking about when they say non-physical.

                      If the physical is the quantum waveform, and non-physical is not the quantum waveform. I am no closer to understanding the non-physical or the supernatural than when you first started. I don’t even know what type of thing we are talking about, or where to start looking for understanding.

                      I have absolutely no way to evaluate your claims about non-contradiction, and as such can’t take any claims of non-contradiction seriously.

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                    61. Maybe. It depends on what you mean [by positive relations]. But since I have explained this several times already, I’m not sure if I can be more clear about it. … No, it [not a desk] is not meaningful.

                      OK. I feel like have a handle on your perspective in this regard so for now I’m just going to assume that “positive relation” is synonymous with your intent, unless you want to suggest a better term.

                      But the problem is not my definition. The problem is that no one actually seems to know what it is they are talking about when they say non-physical.

                      The deeper problem is that some people claim to understand the concept of non-physical \ supernatural \ miracle and some people disagree that those persons actually understand the concepts. My whole purpose in this discussion is to try and understand the reason for that disagreement. This means unpacking and evaluating the underlying assumptions which are responsible for the disagreement.

                      I assumed that you were affirming that the totality of reality is the physical, which is the quantum wave function. But I jumped the gun because you responded with

                      Using my definition [of physical = quantum wave function]? I don’t know [if the totality of reality is the physical]

                      So there’s still some work to do. You previously said “I would describe an explanation as a pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, you have reality.” Per the response just noted, you’ve stated that reality consists of at least the physical (quantum wave function), but could consist of other things.

                      With that step back, the set of premises are now:
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept or word is understood if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts or words that ultimately reduce to positive relations to reality

                      But you also said

                      I think P3 could be worded more simply just by saying ~ An explanation counts if it uses concepts or words for which we already have an understanding of

                      I see this as putting us back in the loop, because if P3 uses “have an understanding” then it is relying on P2, and P2 relies on explanation, which puts us back at P3. So I think something like the P3 above is necessary, but it is incomplete. What is required to determine whether anything separate from the wave function is part of reality? How do we know whether a concept is based in reality?

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                    62. I see this as putting us back in the loop…

                      No, it isn’t. There is no loop. You can drop the idea and move on. The loop doesn’t exist and I’m tired of explaining over and over again why it doesn’t exist.

                      If you don’t understand why it doesn’t exist by this point, then nothing I can say will make any difference.

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                    63. OK. Then please rewrite P3 into something you agree with and which is not dependent on P1 or P2.

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                    64. OK. Then please rewrite P3 into something you agree with and which is not dependent on P1 or P2.

                      No. I wrote it perfectly clear already. And no loop exists. If you feel a loop does exist. Then please provide a real-world example to demonstrate the loop. I think you will find fairly quickly that just because the same word is used in two places doesn’t mean a loop exists.

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                    65. please provide a real-world example to demonstrate the loop

                      OK. I think I might see the misunderstanding. I am referring to a loop in the logical structure which results in an infinite regress. It’s possible to go a long time without running the algorithm on the same word again, but the problem is that there’s no termination.

                      To make this clear, the premises with your P3 are:
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept or word is understood if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts or words for which we already have an understanding

                      Is the concept ‘physical’ meaningful? Per P1, it must be understood.
                      Is the concept ‘physical’ understood? Per P2, it must be explained.
                      Explanation: physical = quantum wave function
                      Does the explanation ‘quantum wave function’ count? Per P3, it must use words and concepts we understand.
                      Is the concept ‘quantum wave function’ understood? Per P2, it must be explained.

                      See where this is going?

                      So let’s drop the word “loop”. Can you rewrite P3 to avoid an infinite regress? I would expect that to happen by defining ‘reality’, as in my previous comment.

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                    66. OK. I think I might see the misunderstanding. I am referring to a loop in the logical structure which results in an infinite regress.

                      I understood you perfectly. There is no loop.

                      It’s possible to go a long time without running the algorithm on the same word again, but the problem is that there’s no termination.

                      There is always a termination, it is called reality. The very foundation of any pyramid.

                      See where this is going?

                      Yes. That is the structure of language itself. It is built on a foundation of words and ideas, which are built on other words and ideas. That is the reason I gave the pyramid analogy.

                      So let’s drop the word “loop”. Can you rewrite P3 to avoid an infinite regress?

                      If you want to call that an infinite regress, then your problem isn’t with how I have formulated things. Your problem is with all languages. And I can’t help you with that. You will have to take it up with the people that invented language in the first place.

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                    67. There is always a termination, it is called reality

                      OK, I guess you’re treating “reality” as a fundamental axiom? If two people disagree about the nature of reality, how is that disagreement settled?

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                    68. If two people disagree about the nature of reality, how is that disagreement settled?

                      The method that has given us the most reliable results is to look at it. Make predictions of an unknown. And the person with the predictions that are demonstrated to have come true gets the nod.

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                    69. OK. How’s this?
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept or word is understood if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts or words that ultimately reduce to reality
                      P4: Reality consists of that which has been validated by the most reliable method
                      P5: The most reliable method is the scientific method

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                    70. Maybe. I would have to see how it works in practice. But I suppose it sounds right since the context we are talking about is the real world and the things in it that actually exist.

                      P4: Reality consists of that which has been validated by any method that has been demonstrated to be able to reliably distinguish fact from fiction.
                      P5: The most reliable method to distinguish fact from fiction we are currently aware of is the scientific method

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                    71. P4: Reality is what exists.
                      P5: what we can say is true about reality consists of that which has been validated by any method that has been demonstrated to be able to reliably distinguish fact from fiction.
                      P6: The most reliable method to distinguish fact from fiction we are currently aware of is the scientific method

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                    72. Trying to clean things up and tie it all together. P4 seemed extraneous, in P3 I replaced ‘reduce to’ with ‘make claims about’ for continuity with the new P4, and I think ‘validated’ in P4 needed clarification, thus P6:
                      P1: A concept is meaningful if it is understood and non-contradictory
                      P2: A concept or word is understood if it can be explained
                      P3: An explanation counts if it uses concepts or words that ultimately make claims about reality
                      P4: The only justified claims about reality are those which have been validated by a method that has demonstrated an ability to reliably distinguish fact from fiction
                      P5: The most reliable method to distinguish fact from fiction we are currently aware of is the scientific method
                      P6: A claim is validated by the scientific method if it has been observed (directly or indirectly) and never falsified

                      Please revise anything that you think needs it.

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                    73. Travis, I am playing along because you seem to want to go down this rabbit hole. And you seem to be willfully ignoring the actual problem. Just to be clear, when someone says non-physical, they are not even putting forth any words that detail what they are talking about. There is no explanation even attempted. That is the real crux of the problem. We can continue going down this rabbit hole, but you really are missing the whole point of the critique.

                      There is no way you would be going through all this trouble if someone told you that green was gleruby. Instead, you would just ask them what they were talking about when they said gleruby. You wouldn’t care if they said, “well everyone seems to know what I mean when I say gleruby so let’s go down this deep dive into explanations”. This deep dive does absolutely nothing to change the fact that gleruby has no words associated with it at all, that describe what it is.

                      But here is my answer to your post.

                      P4 seemed extraneous

                      P4 is required because if you don’t have it then theists will start mis-characterizing your position and say that you believe that reality is just whatever you want it to be. The clarity is important when dealing with theists.

                      P3: An explanation of reality counts if it uses concepts or words that ultimately have a foundation in reality.
                      P4: The only claims about reality that anyone should be expected to be taken seriously are those which have been validated by a method that has been demonstrated to be a reliable way to distinguish fact from fiction
                      P5: The most reliable method to distinguish fact from fiction we are currently aware of is the scientific method
                      P6: A claim is validated by the scientific method if it has been observed (directly or indirectly), has made successful predictions of the unknown, is capable of being falsified and has never been falsified. The more successful the predictions, the more successful the model.

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