Granting God

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Enjoy the podcast:

I do not believe in god. And I don’t know if there is anything that can make me believe in a god short of god making his presence known to me in a way I couldn’t deny. He seems disinclined to do anything of the sort. But I’m not going to let that stop me. For the remainder of this blog post, I grant that there is a god, or at least good reason to think so. Here we go…

Which god?

Acknowledging there are good reasons to believe in a god does not get us to the god of the Bible, not even close. Here is a site that lists hundreds of gods. And it acknowledges that the list is far from complete. I could be mistaken. But I believe these are only gods worshipped today.

https://www.rationalresponders.com/a_big_list_of_gods_but_nowhere_near_all_of_them

I’m not sure why all of these gods should be rejected as a candidate. And how do I sort them? Should I just start at the top? Go by alphabetical order? I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough life to examine them all. So how do I stop? Is it when one of them seems to have a coherent story that makes sense of the world? What if that is the first one? Should I stop then? What if two or more meet that criteria? Oh, dear! This is turning out to be more difficult than I thought.

Christian apologetics do not get a person to the Christian god. At best, the good ones get you to some sort of first mover: a concept I don’t have a problem with. I don’t believe it. But I also don’t find it problematic. Any of the gods in the above list could be the first mover. You can make a good case for the Christian god. But apparently, you can make a good case for any of the gods. My proof is that modern people are actually worshipping these gods. So the case was good enough for them.

I think to get out of this mess, we are going to have to grant more stuff as I can’t find a way to reason past the obstacle of too many gods from which to choose. So that we can move forward, I will grant that the god I have discovered is the god of one of the abrahamic religions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really help all that much.

Do I study the Jewish bible, Christian bible, or Muslim bible? They each say different and conflicting things about god. Judaism was first. Christianity borrows from Judaism. Islam borrows from both. Just to be inclusive, LDS borrows from all of them. I see no reason to privilege Christianity as the true revelation when it received neither the first revelation nor the last.

To get to the next heading, we are going to have to make a further grant. Let’s just say it is the Christian god. Now what?

Reason or reality

This will be quick. We can’t actually make any progress until we clean up the mess I made earlier. What exactly are we granting? Are we granting there is good reason to believe there is a god, or that in reality we know there is a god?

While granting reasons to believe makes the most sense, it leaves us in a type of paralysis. We have no way of determining if it is actually true. This is no good as no call to action can resolve the issue. So I feel another grant coming: I grant that I have certain knowledge that the Christian god exists.

I also acknowledge that this presents problems I can’t resolve. For instance, how did I obtain that certain knowledge? The method of obtaining that knowledge might dictate a particular course of action. It might also lead one to assume that when I gained that knowledge, I also took the time to get other important questions answered. So the grant will be that I know the Christian god is real. But I don’t know anything else. Now what?

Worship or not to worship

For the moment, I am skipping the question of good god or evil god. Assuming he is a good god and he definitely exists, do I become a follower having no further information I can confirm?

I am averse to worship. It seems a god who wants to be worshipped is not worth worshiping. And a god who demands it is worthy of scorn. A good god simply would not demand a free being worship him. I have an ego. But I am not megalomaniacal. I know that because I do not want to be worshipped. I get uncomfortable when people pay me a complement. God wants you on your knees before him. I simply can’t relate to that.

I could definitely believe in a god I wouldn’t worship. I consider the devil a god. So if we also grant his reality, it is easy to picture a kind of god we wouldn’t worship. And it doesn’t even have to be an evil god. It could just be a non-interventionist god. There is no reason to worship a god who simply doesn’t want to be involved.

The Christian god is unappealing because he wants, even demands worship. This is kind of a dealbreaker for me. I don’t naturally want to worship. I want to give credit where it is due. I will even thank a person profusely, even embarrassingly. But I stop well short of a lifetime of worship.

There is another problem that will be covered more fully in an upcoming podcast. But it bears mentioning here. How do I worship a god that, in my heart, I really don’t want to worship? Is it just a matter of works? Can I just go through the motions? What are the motions? This is something I can’t grant my way out of. Knowing the Christian god exists would not cause me to worship him.

To love or not?

This is a similar but worse problem. One can at least go through the motions of worship. But love cannot be so easily contrived. As I understand it, one is commanded to love the Christian god. I cannot love anyone who demands I love them. True love cannot be commanded anyway, not even by an all-powerful god. True love can only be freely given by someone who genuinely feels it. That is not me.

Can I pretend to love god? Would that work? If not, then it is on god to woo me and convince me to fall in love with him. I don’t know how he could accomplish this. I don’t like what I know of him. And I’m not really looking for a love relationship. Can’t we just be friends? Maybe we could start there.

Jesus takes the further step of conflating love and obedience. He says that to love him is to keep his commandments. I can’t think of too many people I sincerely love, and who are in a position to give me commands that I must obey. In the military, I suppose a person can love their commanding officer. But it would be awkward. If the commander orders you to leave him behind because he is injured, love would compel you to disobey him. Obedience is not a sign of love, but acquiescence.

We can tolerate on command. We can appreciate and obey on command. But we can never be compelled to like or love a person on command. So the fact that this god believes he can order us to love him taels me that he does not understand how humans operate.

The god of the Bible wants to marry you by gunpoint. Love him or die. Those are not good options. We know he is real and that we have to love him. I feel stuck, trapped with no way out. Can I fool him into thinking I love him? Probably not. Should I fake it till I make it? That sounds like purposely giving myself a case of Stockholm syndrome. That’s no good. Loving god feels like a dead end.

Getting to know him

Just knowing that he’s real does not get me any closer to a relationship with him. For that, I need to get to know him. Unfortunately, he is still an invisible being who does not talk to me or manifest in a tangible way. So what method would I use to get to know him better since a traditional conversation is out of the window?

Unfortunately, I believe we are at another dead end. All I have to do is look at how well Christians know him. The bad news is they don’t seem to know him any better than I do right now. They claim to know him. But they cannot demonstrate intimate knowledge of him. As a Christian, I thought I knew him. But as it turns out, I didn’t.

I could study the Bible and try to learn more about him that way. But I have already done that at a level much higher than the average seeker. It didn’t help. I have read the Bible like a conservative scholar, a liberal scholar, and a simple devotee. It doesn’t help. I still end up with more questions than answers.

Still, small voices do nothing for me because I can’t distinguish the voice of god from my own internal dialog with myself. I can’t rule out the possibility that I received direct guidance from god at some point in the past. But I have no way of distinguishing it from my own guidance. So it does nothing to help me get to know him better.

There is always prayer. I did quite a bit of that. And I can say that did very little for me. I got to know myself a little better with regard to my fears and insecurities. But I never came to know god. Acknowledging his reality would not do anything to help me get to know him. I don’t know how to solve that particular problem.

Christian?

Beyond worship, love, and knowledge of Jesus is discipleship. To please god, you have to be a follower of Jesus. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that means. If I don’t get my marching orders from voices in my head or other internal feelings, the only place I can think to look is in the Bible. But that means following the Bible is the same as following god. And I do not know how to follow the Bible. It is far too confounding a document for me.

the Bible is also not a document that guides us in realtime. It does not tell us what career is right for us, or whether or not we should go for that promotion. It does not tell us which political system is best, or how we should vote assuming that is even an option for us. It would be nice if it gave us useful guidance on what to eat or how best to take care of the environment. For all those practical things, we seem to be on our own.

Does following god mean supporting Trump, being against gun control, homosexual equality, egalitarianism, trans? Should I be vegetarian, pro death penalty, anti-abortion? I simply have no concept of what it means to follow Jesus in any meaningful way.

What should I do as a Christian that I am not doing now? Is it essential for me to go to church? How often? Which denominations are okay? Do I have to give money to the church? Do I have to ask god’s permission before I do things? How will I know his answer? I’ve been baptized. Do I need to be baptized again? Did I need to be baptized at all?

Knowing that god exists does not answer any of these questions. According to the Bible, there will be those who thought they had the answers. They were believers who were active in the church. They had miracle power as confirmation of their faith. Yet god will say that he never knew them. How do I make sure I avoid that fate? I have no idea. I just know that believing in god doesn’t clear it up.

Conclusion: Now what?

Granting god doesn’t help. I have laid out a few of the reasons why. Now, I call upon the Christian to tell me what they think I am supposed to do. I temporarily grant your god though I don’t actually believe. Now what?

Is there a prayer you want me to pray? I can assure you I have already prayed it. But I will be happy to pray it again on air. Is there a church I need to attend? Be specific and tell me how long I should attend and what level of participation I need to achieve. I will consider attending if it is possible. Is there some mantra I need to repeat to help convince me of the reality of god? Is there a book I need to read that I haven’t read, or an issue I need to study that I haven’t already studied? Let me know.

What I am saying is that granting god is as far as I can go. I still don’t grant that the Bible is the word of any god. Must I grant that as well? I don’t grant that the Christian god is good by my definition of goodness. I do not believe in either heaven or hell. So granting god doesn’t get me very far. Where do I go from here? I can’t wait to read the suggestions.

And that’s the view from the skeptic.

David Johnson

112 thoughts on “Granting God

  1. What is your favorite god name? Sorry about the random question. This is the kind of place my mind goes when I am up past 10.

    Cthulhu has always been my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. Jehovah has a nice ring to it. But Cthulhu just has more punch. He sounds like a god that could get stuff done, even more than Joe Pesci. And that’s saying a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quetzalcoatl has always been my favorite god name. Plus he is a feathered snake, long before we knew that dinosaurs were known to be feathered. How could the Aztecs know unless a god actually told them right?

      Though I have to admit. Cthulhu is also a pretty cool god name.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Amaterukuniteruhikoamanohonoakarikushitamanigihayahinomikoto (A Shinto god).

      Liked by 4 people

  2. The podcast is done. I will have it on the board in a couple of hours at the most, I think. We had a special appearance by Dale in communication with Bryan and Darren with no fireworks. Just a great discussion. Further, the after show discussion between Dale and Darren was so amazingly good, I got them to agree to record a podcast together in three weeks. It’s going to blow you away.

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    1. Yes, I enjoyed the convo with both gentlemen myself and the after show with Darren (aka Mr. Rogers) was great for me as well as it was on a topic that I find to be very important; so I’m exited to discuss that with Mr. Rogers on air in a few weeks time. Kudos to Darren for officially winning the “Original Lay Skeptic” title this week- sorry David and Bryan you can now only consider yourselves the “Runner Up Lay Skeptics”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I can live with the moniker.

        Thanks again for the great conversation!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s real exciting news, I can’t wait to listen to that.

      Was a great roundtable and I think we covered a lot of territory. We missed you Sarah and Teddi!

      And I know Dale was rooting for a couple on-air conversions from the lay skeptics, sorry we had to disappoint 🙂

      Looking forward to all the feedback.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. All done. I loved this conversation. Hope you all do as well. Special thanks for Dale filling in the roundtable at the last minute.

    https://anchor.fm/skeptics-and-seekers/episodes/Granting-God-eaddk4

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  4. A better analogy of the way I view Hell would be a child who insists on misbehaving at the dinner table and ruining the great meal for everyone else. Refusing to behave properly, the kid is punished by being quarantined and put in his room until he learns to behave properly and enjoy the meal along with everyone else properly. The said part is, the Bible tells us that many of those kids will refuse to behave at the dinner table and prefer to sulk in in their rooms forever.

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    1. The problem with this analysis is 3-fold:

      1.) We don’t have access to Hell to confirm your claimed interpretation. So it remains speculative.

      2.) The purpose of a “timeout” is to promote better behavior after it’s over. If a “timeout” is eternal, it’s a misnomer and fundamentally misses the whole point of using one in discipline.

      3.) If Hell isn’t eternal, then there are a lot of Bible passages that are really, really wrong about Hell. And as an atheist, if I will have the opportunity to learn more about the afterlife after I die and make better informed decisions then, then my incentive to convert to Christianity in this life disappears.

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      1. Hey Bryan,

        Yeah I realize there were some things that my analogy left out- so for example I probably should have said the kid was misbehaving because they have a medical problem (i.e. sin disease). The father has a pill that will cure this behaviour problem (Jesus’ atoning for our sins) and yet the kid refuses to take it and keeps misbehaving, then my analogy comes in.

        In terms of the issues you raise.

        1. Yes, I think that is true except I think my notion of Hell is divinely revealed in the Bible- so there are ways to understand that the Fire of Hell is metaphorical and/or has nothing to do with Hell at all through proper exegesis and not just making it up to avoid the fact that torture is bad. There are positive reasons to think this way and one needs to assess those properly just as there are some reasons to think Annihilationism is true and one needs to carefully evaluate the biblical data to understand what view is right.

        2. I do think the Bible is clear that Hell is eternal for some, now here is where I might be weird, I do think its possible that some of those in Hell may escape and be redeemed in the afterlife though I’m not dogmatic about that and realize there are some Scriptural reasons to think once in Hell, always in Hell for everyone.

        So assuming the worst case of once in Hell always in Hell, I think the justification here is that the punishment is doing its job in atoning for our sins but more and more punishments are incurred throughout eternity as we continue to sin more and more in Hell- so it would be like the kid, he could come out afterward, but he keeps swearing and yelling and sinning and thus, fine you’ll have to stay there for another hour and so on and so forth.

        3. Also, the incentive is more here than in Hell as it is easier in a world with God in it however distant than in Hell where God is totally relationally absent for you to pay your fine and/or come to faith in Jesus and get saved. If you don’t do it here, then it is very unlikely you would ever do it in Hell and this is why even if I’m right that some people may be able to escape Hell in time, not everyone will choose to do so and indeed it would be virtually impossible to do in that environment compared to this world.

        4. Finally, it could be that our natures crystallize upon death or Judgement or placement in Hell or whatever and thus its impossible for us to be redeemed once there, hence why eternal punishment is necessary for you. It’s like saying to the kid, OK I’ve got a potion to make you good like Dr. Jekyll instead of evil like Mr. Hyde but you have to take it now as if you don’t take it now than your nature will be permanently fixed into Hyde mode- No, I like being Mr.Hyde the kid says- OK then Hyde has to stay in his room forever then as I refuse to let you out into the dinner table and spoil the meal for all of us.

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        1. Dale,

          “I think the justification here is that the punishment is doing its job in atoning for our sins but more and more punishments are incurred throughout eternity as we continue to sin more and more in Hell- so it would be like the kid, he could come out afterward, but he keeps swearing and yelling and sinning and thus, fine you’ll have to stay there for another hour and so on and so forth.”

          Yeah, that’s the diabolical move Craig uses too. Congratulations.

          What “sinning” can I do in hell? Are there other souls around to assault or rob or whatever? Surely not, especially in the “isolation” scenario. So what constitutes “sinning” in hell? It appears to be, as Christopher Hitchens points out, punishment for “Thought Crimes.” The Dictator will punish you for Thinking Wrong.
          It’s ghastly. First, any human knows we can’t just simply control our thoughts, so we judge one another on our actions. John may be married and when at the beach feel lust when seeing a beautiful young woman in a bikini. After all, this is what nature has instilled in men. But Johns rational and moral faculties controls his BEHAVIOR – he doesn’t go over and propose to or rape the woman. We all know that we battle our own thoughts and can’t simply control what thoughts come to mind, but we CAN to some degree have control over which thoughts we act upon. Being asked to fully control our thoughts is incredibly unreasonable given human nature. And yet in hell apparently we would be punished for thoughts that come in to our mind!
          How in the world do we suddenly control all our thoughts in hell, when nothing in all our previous life prepares us to do so?

          And what kind of thoughts are worthy of God keeping us in isolation and agony?

          I can tell you for certain that if I were in hell I’d be BEGGING to get out.

          But apparently for a Good, Loving, Compassionate God, seeing my torment and pleading isn’t good enough.
          I have to worship and love Him.

          Well HE’S TORMENTING ME! He’s locked me away in a place that causes torment. This is like a torturer saying “Look, as soon as you learn to love me and worship me as The Best Possible Person, I’ll stop tormenting you!” This would be obvious madness and obviously the criteria of a deranged sadist the in any other context, yet we are supposed to accept it as reasonable for the Christian God. So God torments souls by placing them in Hell, which understandably would make it extremely difficult for them to feel affection and love towards Him, and then uses THAT as a justification to keep them in Hell. This is the self-perpetuating system only a sadist could dream up.

          ” If you don’t do it here, then it is very unlikely you would ever do it in Hell and this is why even if I’m right that some people may be able to escape Hell in time, not everyone will choose to do so and indeed it would be virtually impossible to do in that environment compared to this world.”

          Did you forget that the majority of humans do not believe in the Christian God? One of the reasons people aren’t doing what your God wants is they don’t even believe in Him, so it would be irrational for them to worship something they don’t know or believe exists.

          But in the scenario you are talking about, it’s after death and then we would have knowledge Christianity is true, and now they have a rational choice to make if they want to accept it. So it doesn’t follow that because someone “didn’t worship the Christian God” in this life, that they would not in the afterlife.

          And if you say it may be “virtually impossible” to make the choice for God in the afterlife, that just indicates the unreasonableness of the scenario God has set up.

          Again: if I find myself after death facing a choice between heaven and hell, I will vociferously beg for heaven.

          “4. Finally, it could be that our natures crystallize upon death or Judgement or placement in Hell or whatever and thus its impossible for us to be redeemed once there, hence why eternal punishment is necessary for you. It’s like saying to the kid, OK I’ve got a potion to make you good like Dr. Jekyll instead of evil like Mr. Hyde but you have to take it now as if you don’t take it now than your nature will be permanently fixed into Hyde mode-“

          Which is insane. How can you not see this Dale?

          Look, if you were in the position to create intelligent, moral creatures and were doing so, would you make the decision: I’ll give these creatures the ability to make mistakes, to learn and grow, to change their mind, even if they had made many moral mistakes, they will always have a chance to learn how they were wrong and change their views and behavior. But…ONLY for an exceedingly limited time. I’ll only give them this ability for 1000,000,0000 (keep adding zeros) of their existence and then I’ll have them CRYSTALLIZED in whatever state they happened to be in, so they can no longer experience change, growth, change their mind, develop morally. And whoever I have crystallized at a point of their journey that doesn’t please me, I will take that crystallized version and PUNISH IT FOREVER. Since I’ve arranged the person’s nature to be crystallized in a form I dislike, I can justify punishing that person forever.

          Of course you wouldn’t. And you know it.

          That would be madness Dale. Madness! It isn’t the scenario of a loving compassionate being; it’s the plan of a sadist who has devised a way to put people in to perpetual torment with no way out!

          You keep making the blinders for yourself and we keep trying to lift the corners so you can see your way out.

          Also: It’s amazing that it doesn’t seem to even strike you what a problem this is. Could anything be more vital than knowledge about our eternal fate? And yet even you, a devoted Christian trying your best to come to this knowledge can’t do it. You are all over the map – as is Christianity in general – as to what *may* be the stakes in the afterlife. We still don’t know from Christians what gets us in to heaven (works? faith alone?), keeps us out of hell, whether we simply vanish at death, whether we are tormented forever, or for some time, whether there is a way out or if this is the only chance we have, etc. That a Loving God would produce revelation that would leave among the most important possible information on our fate ambiguous is simply ludicrous.

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          1. Vaal,

            You ask me specifically questions and you do have some substantive points to discuss with me, my recent experiences with Bryan and I putting our past behind us and David and Marvin yesterday has really inspired me to want to try if I can to have good substantive convo with you and avoid stuff like what Sarah is putting me through on last week’s Boards.

            Here is the thing, if I agree to address your substantive points can you promise me that you will not use insulting or mocking rhetoric- as far as I know Bryan didn’t insult me when he gave his 3 substantive counters and I tried my best not be insulting when I responded to him in turn, so not sure why you feel the need to say things about my motives as though I am “white-washing” or “diabolical” or treat me as though I’m just an idiot or whatever it is. Why not just treat me like an equal thoughtful human being who has a different opinion to yours and you want to see if we can make some progress on the issues as friends in sharing our views. If after a few rounds we are still not able to agree, than fine let’s end the convo with no need to name-call or belittle each other- are you up for that?

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          2. Vaal: “First, any human knows we can’t just simply control our thoughts, so we judge one another on our actions. John may be married and when at the beach feel lust when seeing a beautiful young woman in a bikini. After all, this is what nature has instilled in men.”

            Hi Vaal,
            There are different definitions about what lust is and what it meant when used in the Bible. Pope John Paul II seemed to feel it was different from merely a biological response to a woman (or man). Rather it was more about the intentional reducing the person to merely an object of sexual gratification without seeing her as a person. He felt one shouldn’t objectify women (or men). So, a bit different from merely appreciating, or even responding to, the beauty of a person. Of course, others have different definitions and views about lust which seem to more closely match up with your above comment.

            Just sharing one slightly different view,
            Brian

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    2. Bryan has already pointed out disanalogies, and Dale has just given us the standard white-washing spin you get from Christians on Hell that we’ve gone over and torn apart so many times before.

      The analogies by Christians are built to abstract and cover for the actual details they are trying to get us (actually, themselves) to accept.

      It’s like appealing to the principle that “Parents are justified in teaching their children lessons about life, even if sometimes those lessons may make their kid uncomfortable.” Ok. Sure. That’s a commonly ascribed to idea.

      But what actual ACTIONS are we being asked to accept under this principle? Oh, it turns out that “John” has given this as justification for having “thought his daughter a hard lesson about the world.” And what was that lesson? It was a lesson about hardship and suffering. John thought his daughter Susan needed a lesson about the harsh realities of the world, so he decided to torture his other daughter, Joanna, with fire, boiling oil and slicing her up with knives. He finished by chopping off Susan’s thumbs and locking her in a room for a week. As John tells us “Kids have some hard lessons to learn about the world, and isn’t it a parent’s job to teach them these things, even if it can sometimes be uncomfortable for both of us?”

      Now, any decent person would think that insane. The rationalization of a truly warped mind. Why? Because sure parents have the right to teach lessons to their children, but within the context of benevolence, love and caring for their well-being. The type of “lesson” John is describing utterly transgresses moral considerations – the lines no actual good or loving parent would cross. His excuse is pure, deranged bullsh*t.

      And yet, THIS is what we get from Christians like Dale and so many others when the subject of Hell arises!

      ETERNAL torment is whitewashed as analogous to simply ” a misbehaving kid being put in his room.”
      The bible seems clear enough that the punishment of hell will entail agony, whether it’s from fire or from being separated from God or whatever. Even if it’s separation from God, it is said to be utter isolation resulting in agony for the individual. So an ACTUAL analogy to this would be like a parent taking a misbehaving child, placing that child in solitary confinement, a tiny, horribly uncomfortable, empty room utterly devoid of anything nurturing or ameliorating of the discomfort of the child, so that the child is immediately in mental agony. And the parent has placed the child there for the REST OF HIS LIFE. (In fact…for ETERNITY if they could, would be more analogous).

      That would, like the case of “John” “teaching a lesson to his daughter” be immediately seen as monstrous by any decent human being. For reasons we can all see as too obvious.

      But Christians can’t make the analogies that exacting or the lie just comes in to full view. Instead they have to spin-doctor and soften the analogies to produce something we would normally accept while covering for a situation we would in fact NEVER accept as decent or good.

      When Christians speak this way it isn’t for skeptics. We simply watch them spin with their words comfy silk blinders to place on their own eyes, to ameliorate their own cognitive dissonance over the problem of hell.
      The only people they are fooling with these obvious disanalogies is themselves.

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      1. typo above: sentence should read:

        Oh, it turns out that “John” has given this as justification for having “TAUGHT his daughter a hard lesson about the world.”

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  5. Hi Gang,
    A fun and interesting podcast so far – congratulations!
    But… a bit confusing too. The show seemed to jump around a bit – and I got confused about what and why certain things were being granted.
    For example, fairly early on David asked about granting the first mover. This seems to be looking at St. Thomas Aquinas’ reasoning – where he shares how he gets to an unmoved mover – but he then just says something like “and this we all call God.” Darren rightly pointed out what some unmoved mover might be. I think Darren is so very right – how does that get one anywhere? If cosmic flux is the first unmoved mover – or the big bang is – and, following St. Thomas Aquinas’ logic we now call that God – that just relabels cosmic flux as God – or the big bang is God. I doubt any theist is going to accept that God = cosmic flux. Picture, if you will, a legislative bill to change the words “one nation under God” to “on nation under cosmic flux”!

    At one point the question was raised about a monotheistic god and why that rather than many gods. Myself, I would think it was be easier to determine if there are any gods first and figure how how many afterwards. Kind-of like figuring out if black holes exist before figuring out how many and what kind of black holes there are.

    David said there are claims of thousands of gods and asked how to figure out which is true. Somehow he went from that to granting the Abrahamic God. I sure missed his steps in going from one position to the other.

    In my very limited experience. it seems many people get their beliefs in God from something told to them by people they believe – or by some sort of experience or encounter that have had (a type of divine revelation?). Might looking at those things help? Dale, for example, talks about the inner witnessing of the Holy Spirit. Might looking at that experience be helpful? Is it testable? How many people experience it? Does the experience differ from person to person?

    Again, just a bit confused about how the steps that were taken in granting the possibility of a first mover to granting the Christian God.

    Another comment before going back to the show. The concept of worship came up. Dale, I feel, rightly pointed out that originally it came from the word meaning “worthy”. So, was about giving proper respect or honor to something. Heck, in the United Kingdom, don’t they address some officials as “your worship” even today? Of course the meaning of words changes over time – so what is meant today by worship might be different from what was meant 200 years ago – or 2,000 years ago. So, the discussion about giving worship – what you meant by that – was a bit confusing to me.

    David asked “how many times does one have to say ‘Thank you’?” To me it depends. If a stranger holds the door for me – then once. If it is because of what my parents or spouse have done for me over my life – then lots – and not just with words but with my actions and how I live my life. David, how often should one say “I love you” to one’s spouse or child? If I said it once 20 years ago is that enough? Myself, I kind-of think giving proper respect (worship) would be a bit like that.

    Again, really impressed with all of you – now, back to the show,
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good observations. I can clear things up only a little. It is hard to grant something like a god without the prior work that establishes what you are granting. Darren was right about that. My goal was to start with the most basic grant and see if we could work to the next step with logic. We could not. That was true every step of the way. So no matter what you grant, you just have to grant the next step to get to the god of the Bible.

      You are right that I jumped from a god out of thousands to the Christian god. But that was because no one could figure out a method of working our way to the Christian god. So to get past that point, we simply had to make another grant. That is the problem, and the point. Even if you convinced us there was a god, you still can’t get to the Christian god. If you could, you still can’t get us to worship him, love him, or know him better. It still wouldn’t matter. As Hitchens would say, all your work is still in front of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marvin and I had an outstanding conversation. The link will be posted soon. But I just wanted to take this moment and say that the battle between Marvin and I is forever buried in the past.

    Let me make an even stronger statement: I am sorry for perpetuating the bad blood we have had over these many years now. He is not my enemy. In fact, I am happy to consider him a friend. I only knew him in writing. He does not present well in comments. Remind you of anyone you know around here? But he is nothing like that in person.

    I only ask that those who have known only an adversarial relationship with Marvin as I did to give him a chance and listen to our discussion about the meaning of life. In case there are some wondering if I’m pulling your leg, I know how you feel. I assure you that I am not. I am doing my part to make amends for several years of bad blood.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hi Gang,
    A few more comments for whatever they are worth.

    Darren rightly asked, time-and-time again, “which god” and “which Christian God?” But he never was really answered. It seemed that some were thinking of a God who demands worship and love and sends people to eternal torment for violating the rules. Certainly that is one version of the Christian God – and there are Christians who hold to that view. Dale seemed to be talking about a different version of the Christian God – not one who sends people to eternal torment but rather one who allows people to not be with Him. Very different versions of God – and I share Darren’s frustration about which one people were discussing.

    Darren also mentioned about love being biological. Even if that is true, might not encounters and experiences with God that people talk about – might those not generate the love chemicals? Reading the scriptures and meditating are said to sometimes be linked with chemical/hormonal changes within the body – might not some of those be tied in with the love chemicals? So, I guess I’m wondering if a person could still love God even if love was biological?

    Taking a break from the show – but enjoying it,
    Brian

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Brian,

      Glad you’re enjoying the show. On the “which god” issue, I share the frustration but that was the point of the exercise as I saw it. There are infinite buckets of properties that can be attributed to deities. The more properties you attribute, the more work you have to do to demonstrate that it indeed has these properties.

      We were attempting to isolate the “levels” one by one getting to the most specific deity we could. At every level, I tried to answer as narrowly focused to the level we were discussing while granting wide berth of detail while there.

      Darren’s point about love was also spot on and raises a common issue we run into in these discussions. Love is definitely biological but if it is “more” those advancing a specific “more” need to define it and demonstrate it’s real. But the way you describe it, if my interacting with god generates the “love chemicals” then that would be biological, no?

      It also raises an interesting conundrum. If god could use his powers to conjure up the love chemicals in me, would that make my loving him of my free will? Doesn’t appear so to me at first glance.

      Hope you enjoy the rest of the show.

      Bryan

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Bryan: It also raises an interesting conundrum. If god could use his powers to conjure up the love chemicals in me, would that make my loving him of my free will? Doesn’t appear so to me at first glance.

        This is actually why most determinists are determinists. You never choose to fire off those chemicals. They are always fired off because of external stimuli. You don’t choose to love your baby, you just do. And if you don’t then it is because the chemicals didn’t fire off as they would in a neurotypical person.

        The idea of free will doesn’t even survive the thought experiment if you take the path of god not tampering with your neurochemistry.

        But then again, according to the mythology god is the one that created our neurochemistry in the first place. So our feelings of love and anger are already because that is how he made us react to our surroundings.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “The idea of free will doesn’t even survive the thought experiment if you take the path of god not tampering with your neurochemistry.”

          Well, I think we’d disagree there 😉

          (I’m a compatibilist on free will…)

          Cheers.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Vaal: (I’m a compatibilist on free will…)

            If that is the case, then I am guessing you mean something else when you say free will than a theist does.

            Like

            1. “If that is the case, then I am guessing you mean something else when you say free will than a theist does.”

              Yes.

              And…no.

              Yes I mean something different in that free will is not based upon magic, the supernatural, dualism, contra-causal abilities etc.

              No I don’t mean something totally different because I think the compatibilist case for free will captures the essence of what people actually typically mean by “I could have done otherwise” including theists. (Theists just have a bad theory for why they presume they could do otherwise).

              If someone isn’t familiar with compatibilism, I understand that the short reply above may seem confusing.

              But you and I would definitely agree that no one is “free” in the sense of having a soul that can make choices independently of physics or somehow removed from the chain of any causation. It would seem the best inference we have is that everything we do and choose is, for all intents and purposes, determined within a chain of causation.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Vaal: It would seem the best inference we have is that everything we do and choose is, for all intents and purposes, determined within a chain of causation.

                Yes I mean something different in that free will is not based upon magic, the supernatural, dualism, contra-causal abilities etc.

                What do you feel free will is based on?

                Like

                1. “What do you feel free will is based on?”

                  At minimum the ability to choose between options, especially to take the action that fulfills our desire, or what we “will” to do.

                  Foundationally, concepts like “I could do either A or B” and “I could HAVE done A or B” are ways of conceiving of and conveying conveying empirical information, the same way we talk about the rest of the empirical world.
                  In other words, to say “I could choose to eat either the steak or the fish at the restaurant if I want to” is an empirical claim – not a metaphysical claim – in the same sense as “water can be frozen solid at 0 celsius or heated to a boil at 100 celsius.” To talk in the past tense “I COULD HAVE ordered the fish instead of the steak”
                  is the same as saying about a glass of water “This water COULD HAVE been frozen solid if placed in the freezer.”

                  There is no other way to apprehend, conceive of, and speak about our experience of living in a world in which everything is passing through time in changing conditions EXCEPT in a manner that abstracts from previous experience and predicts future behavior via counterfactuals, conditional If/Then statements etc. This is the conceptual scheme that is actually doing the real work when we think and talk about the world and our possibilities for acting in it, not dualist metaphysical claims (which could not in fact guide us successfully through a determined/material world….or really any other world).

                  When people, theists or otherwise, think they need to posit a dualistic entity within us that can act outside the chain of physics or causation, this is just a bad theory for resolving two deep intuitions (Intuition #1: “I seem to experience having actual choices all day long where I could have done otherwise” Intuition #2: Everything that happens has a cause as it’s explanation. It seems on first glance that following the implications of #2 means that since our actions and choices are caused, then #1 can’t be true, so one intuition has to win out. So hard incompatibilists throw out “could have done otherwise” and with it free will, where others like theists throw out the intuition about causation, and posit their actions therefore MUST be uncaused in order to explain their experience of “having an actual choice.” This is, as compatibilists would argue, a false dichotomy, just an error in thinking through the situation.

                  That’s a snapshot of the idea. The thing with the free will debate is that it is so intuition-driven and that’s what makes it a maddening debate. Once someone has considered the apparent clash of intuitions and fallen to one side it is incredibly hard to budge that intuition. The babbling I wrote above is my view only the tip of the iceburg of the debate, of course.

                  Cheers.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Vaal: So hard incompatibilists throw out “could have done otherwise” and with it free will, where others like theists throw out the intuition about causation, and posit their actions therefore MUST be uncaused in order to explain their experience of “having an actual choice.” This is, as compatibilists would argue, a false dichotomy, just an error in thinking through the situation.

                    You speak a lot about having the intuition that we could have done otherwise. Do you feel it matters whether the intuition accurately maps onto reality? Or would the illusion that we could have done differently suffice to have free will?

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                    1. “Do you feel it matters whether the intuition accurately maps onto reality?”

                      Of course it does! So long as we care about understanding reality, which we do (at least you and I).

                      Intuitions are generally a poor base on which to stake claims of reality, as we have plenty of evidence showing many of our intuitions have been wrong. (It certainly isn’t my natural every-day intuition that I’m standing on a globe and that when I’m “standing still” I’m actually traveling around at about 1,000 miles per hour!).

                      But as I say, intuitions are hard to budge even when you can produce good arguments against them.

                      “Or would the illusion that we could have done differently suffice to have free will?”

                      Absolutely not. If “we could have done otherwise” were *only* an illusion, it couldn’t suffice as basis for free will. We want to talk about what is (likely) real, not fantasy. So I’m certainly not trying to say we ought to accept something that is pure illusion as a basis for free will. Libertarian Free will and theories that depend on dualism or excepting our decisions from the chain of causation are non-starters.

                      We need to examine our intuitions to see if they hold up to scrutiny and have any worthwhile foundation in reality. It can turn out that some intuitions stand up to scrutiny better than others. The intuition that “everything that happens has a cause/explanation” will for instance suffer possibly in certain domains (e.g. the quantum realm in which causation may start to look questionable, depending on one’s interpretation of the implications of our physical theories). But generally speaking in the vast number of situations that we face, on the scale at which we operate, it DOES seem to be a robust and justified intuition. It’s why we seek explanations for phenomena and find them, rather than “oh well, there was no reason to think there is an explanation for that observation.”

                      Do I think the intuition we tend to have of “I could have done otherwise” is, upon examination, both explicable and justified? Yes.

                      But what free will-deniers will immediately default to assuming the intuition I’m talking about is one concerning magic, contra-causal, dualism. As if THAT were the obvious basis for people thinking and feeling “I could have done otherwise.” I argue that’s wrong and the intuition I’m talking about is NOT ultimately a magic metaphysical intuition, but one that arises FROM normal empirical reasoning we apply to our own powers in the world as we apply to anything else.

                      I could expand on that if you wish with examples. But I may already have bored you.

                      (The debate between Hard Incompatibilist/Free Will deniers and Compatibilists tends to revolve around two questions: 1. Whether it makes sense to talk of “freedom” and “free will” in the context of determinsim at all.
                      And…2. Is compatibilist free will what “most people think of as Free Will?” Hard incompatibilists will argue that what “most people think of as free will is Libertarian Free Will, where their decisions are magically excepted from physical causation, and if THAT isn’t what you mean by “free will” you are just “talking about something else.” This is, by the lights of compatibilism a fundamental misdiagnosis of what people actually tend to think and mean when making decisions or claims about “could have.” People are not, in fact, basing their decisions on false metaphysical assumptions but on empirical assumptions that survive just fine if determinism is true)

                      Like

                    2. Vaal: Absolutely not. If “we could have done otherwise” were *only* an illusion, it couldn’t suffice as basis for free will. We want to talk about what is (likely) real, not fantasy.

                      Then I suppose the next question is, how does one determine it is true that we could have done otherwise? How do we distinguish between the fact of having free will, and the illusion of having free will?

                      Like

                    3. “Then I suppose the next question is, how does one determine it is true that we could have done otherwise?”

                      You can ask. It can be demonstrated.

                      As I mentioned, talk of what we “can” or “can not do” or what we “could have or could not have” done conveys the same type of information as talking empirically about anything else. It’s not a claim that “X could have been different under precisely the same conditions at the same time but rather we are talking about what can happen in relevantly similar conditions, with some variable relevantly “jiggled” or added.

                      Again, reference how we can and do talk about water in order to convey it’s nature. If I have a glass of water I can explain that the water “can remain liquid at room temperature” but “could be frozen solid if cooled to 0 C” and “could be boiled in to vapor at 100 C.” That conveys empirically true statements about water, right?
                      What are we doing there? We can not be employing a metaphysically impossible basis for the claims, e.g. that the water could do all those things “given the exact same state of the universe.” First, given the exact same state of the universe, and given determinism, we could only ever talk about ONE state of water. EVER.
                      But the universe is never in the exact same state – it, water and we are moving through time and changing to one degree or another. So what we are doing in talking about what is “possible” for water is abstracting from all the previous experiences with water to say “we are talking about the same thing here as it shares the relevant characteristics” and we are extrapolating how water has behaved through time, in *different* but *relevantly similar* circumstances. If I say water will remain liquid at room temperature I’m referencing the current circumstance of the room temperature allowing it to remain liquid. That’s the relevant variable for the claim even though this is entirely different “water” than any water we’ve had experience of before.

                      Same goes for the claim that water “COULD” be frozen solid. Do I mean “under precisely the same circumstances as this moment in which it is in room temperature air?” No, of course not. I mean “IF it’s placed in freezing temperature. And that claim will be an abstract inference from how water previously behaved in *relevantly similar* conditions, e.g. being placed in a freezer.

                      Saying “The this liquid water currently at room temperature COULD HAVE been frozen solid in the freezer” is just another way of expressing this information about water. Does it mean “could have been frozen” under EXACTLY the same conditions and at the same time in which it was liquid? Of course not. It means under the conditions relevantly similar to how water has behaved in the past which tells us how it’s likely to behave now.

                      This way of thinking about and describing the world is the same thought processes we apply to our own nature, abilities in order to rationally employ our powers in the world.

                      Say I’m contemplating “should I bike to work or take the car?” Well..such a deliberation could only make sense insofar as I “could” take either of those actions. Otherwise it’s incoherent. Well, why would I presume I “could” take either of those actions in the first place? It’s the same form of inference to understand myself, as I make about water. I’ve had the capability to drive a car, or walk the distance to work, in *relevantly similar situations to the one I am now contemplating.* Start making the situation different enough, e.g. I have a broken leg, or the car is in the shop, or there is a hurricane going on outside, then I’m not going to presume I have the ability to do either of those things. My evaluation is not a metaphysical claim of being a magic being. Rather, it is based on rational, real-world inferences from relevant past experience to THIS TYPE of situation.
                      And I can model the possibilities by varying certain relevant factors “IF I WANT to walk I can but IF I WANT TO DRIVE INSTEAD I could do that.”

                      Thinking about what is possible for me to do is necessarily based upon this type of abstraction-over-time (not frozen in time) and conditional thinking.

                      So, if I claim “I could drive to work” I can demonstrate that claim by driving to work.

                      If I claim “I could walk to work” I can demonstrate that claim by walking to work.

                      If I say “I could either walk to work or ride to work” I’m not required to demonstrate I can do both *at precisely the same time in the exact same state of the universe* but rather *in the relevantly similar conditions* so I could demonstrate my claim by driving to work today and walking to work tomorrow.

                      To say “I drove to work but COULD HAVE rode my bike to work” conveys exactly the same claim about my abilities. In relevantly similar situations I can ride my bike to work, and I can demonstrate how I “could have done so” by riding my bike to work in a situation *similar enough to the one I’m referencing* to show my ability.

                      And my claim “I COULD HAVE rode my bike to work” usually has implicit “IF I’d WANTED TO” which is a relevant variable. So in other words, in the type of situation I was in, HAD I WANTED TO (a jiggle of a relevant variable), I had the ability to ride my bike.’

                      It’s the only way we can actually understand ourselves in a determined, physical world, and because the thinking is *not* based on a useless claim of “being able to do otherwise in precisely the same state” it isn’t threatened by determinism at all.

                      This both explains and justifies our intuitions that “I could do either A or B” and “I could HAVE done either A or B.” The actual empirical assumptions and inferences we are using, often so automatically we aren’t conscious of them, are actually producing the “feeling” and “belief” I can do otherwise and is actually JUSTIFYING those beliefs. Our feeling and beliefs “we have options, choices, and could do otherwise” have a justified basis in reality. (There is *some* illusion in how we think about things to be sure, as we’ll find if we dig down in to any of our perception/thinking. But the *important* components of how we are thinking undergird the rationality of our choice-making).

                      So, again, if I had a salt shaker and a pepper shaker on the table in front of me and I picked up the pepper shaker, I can claim “I could have picked up the salt shaker.” How do I demonstrate this claim? I simply reach out and pick up the salt shaker. (I have the ability to do either action, in this relevantly similar scenario).

                      That doesn’t get us all the way to free will – there are various complexities and challenges to address. It just clears a lot of the brush in getting there. And having spent ungodly amounts of time on this debate, I may wish to start bowing out….:-)

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. Vaal: That doesn’t get us all the way to free will – there are various complexities and challenges to address.

                      I don’t think this even gets you started on the path to free will. Perhaps you can clarify my confusion.

                      You said that your water example was a good one, so I will use it to illustrate my concerns about your argument.

                      If water is sitting in a bowl on the counter in a room temperature room then it can’t actually freeze. It doesn’t have that option and could not have done other than what it did. That option to freeze is not open to it. The temperature in the room is incapable of removing the heat from the water. The same is true if you put the water in a freezer, it would be incapable of being liquid. It doesn’t have that option.

                      You literally have to change the deterministic factors in order for it to be able to have done anything differently.

                      So if that is the same as your statement that you could have ridden your bike to work, then are you saying you had no choice but to drive your car? And had the deterministic inputs that form your decision-making process been different then you would have ridden your bike to work because you wouldn’t have been able to do anything else?

                      That sounds like determinism to me.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Hi again Derren,

                      “If water is sitting in a bowl on the counter in a room temperature room then it can’t actually freeze. It doesn’t have that option and could not have done other than what it did. That option to freeze is not open to it. The temperature in the room is incapable of removing the heat from the water. The same is true if you put the water in a freezer, it would be incapable of being liquid. It doesn’t have that option.”

                      Of course.

                      That’s why I went in to all that detail explaining what we actually convey when talking about what is “possible” in the world! And that’s why I was…I thought!…so clear that I couldn’t be talking about water (or me or you) doing anything different in *precisely the same conditions!*

                      You literally have to change the deterministic factors in order for it to be able to have done anything differently.

                      Yes!

                      That’s what I had argued. And that’s what we do when we normally convey empirical information about the nature of anything in the world. In describing the nature of anything we talk about what is “possible” for it by referring to various scenarios, wiggling variables.

                      The point is how do you convey empirical information about that glass of water? It’s true to say “IF you place this liquid water in the freezer, it will turn solid.” Insofar this has been the case reliably in the past for water in relevantly similar circumstances (e.g. water that has been put in below 0 C temperature freezers has frozen solid) this is a rational inference to a truth about water.

                      In order to understand the full nature of anything in the world of necessity we have to talk about it in terms of alternative possibilities “IF you do X, then Y will be the case, IF you do Y then Z will be the case…” and we could not adduce this way of understanding from analyzing “what is possible under precisely the same conditions” because then NO ALTERNATIVES could ever be possible. So we can’t be thinking in those terms, and in fact do not. We conceive of what is possible by abstracting/generalizing about the nature of someone or something through time, and apply conditionals to understand the options or likely outcomes in similar (but not identical!) situations, or in different situations.

                      So if that is the same as your statement that you could have ridden your bike to work, then are you saying you had no choice but to drive your car?

                      No, I had a choice in that I am physical capable of driving the car or riding the bike in those types of circumstances IF I WANT TO. So when making the decision I’m thinking “If I want to ride my bike to work, is that something I’m capable of?” The answer is yes. Why? Because I’ve shown that capability in similar circumstances, and there is no other reason to think I’m not capable of doing it today. This is standard reasoning justifying a choice. Am I capable of driving the car if I want? Yes, for the same reasons.
                      So I understand what I’m capable of doing, and I survey my desires as to which action will satisfy those desires (e.g. maybe I have a goal of losing weight and becoming for fit, so it makes sense to choose the bike option).

                      To say “I could have” taken the car instead is just a way of expressing the same claim about my capabilities in such situations.

                      “And had the deterministic inputs that form your decision-making process been different then you would have ridden your bike to work because you wouldn’t have been able to do anything else?”

                      Again, you appear to be importing your own concept of “couldn’t do anything else,” assuming it, against what I have actually argued.

                      It’s true deterministically that if I’d chosen to ride my bike I could not have done anything else *under precisely the same deterministic conditions* that resulted in my choice to ride the bike. We would agree on that.

                      But you likely presume (and this is the intuition at work) therefore it makes no sense to say “I could have done othwerwise.”

                      Whereas I have argued the proposition “I could have done otherwise” DOES make sense, given it is NOT a reference to *precisely* the same conditions. Rather it’s a claim about what is possible under *conditions that are relevant to gaining information about what it’s possible for me to do in the world.*

                      So in the case of riding my bike to work instead of taking the car, when I say “I could have taken my car” I am necessarily *jiggling* some variables, such as IF I HAD WANTED TO take my car at that moment, if I had some other overriding reason to take the car – e.g. I wanted to get to work quicker.

                      At this point I can virtually guarantee your intuition is pushing this response in your mind: Ok, but you DIDN’T want to take your car! You wanted to take your bike. You weren’t actually in control of what you wanted to do. The reason you wanted to take your bike was fully determined by a previous causal chain, so at that moment you never were going to choose otherwise. The choice is completely determined, THEREFORE talking about what “could have been” by changing things is really just saying if things were different, things would have come out differently, which is just an empty tautology. It’s just a fantasy, and if you are basing claims of free will on fantasies of what “could have been” then you aren’t basing it on truth and reality. .”

                      But that is a misdiagnosis for all the reasons I’ve argued. We gain empirical information all the time by talking about how “if things were different there would be a different result.” That’s how I can explain to you the nature of water for instance. This glass currently contains liquid water, but *if something relevant were different* – the air temperature were 0 C – then the outcome would be different – it would be frozen.
                      That’s true to say about water even IF you never place that particular glass of water in 0C, because it’s an inference from water in relevant conditions in the past, applied to understanding *what is possible* for water.
                      Saying “the water could have been frozen IF the air temperature had been 0 C” is just another standard way of expressing a truth about the nature of water. If that has to be rejected as an invalid way of describing water – that it is mere “fantasy” talk and not referring to any truth about water – then you have just removed the basis for most empirical inferences and understanding about the world, scientifically or otherwise.

                      Saying “I can ride the bike to work IF I want, or drive my car IF I want” are empirical claims of exactly the same nature, as are past tense versions: “IF I had wanted to I could have…”

                      They don’t refer to precisely the same circumstances; they jiggle variables to get the information we need, to understand what we are capable of doing in various circumstances.

                      Even Hard Incompatibilists who reject free will could never get rid of this manner of thinking, or assuming “he could have done otherwise” in order to make judgements about people’s character.

                      That sounds like determinism to me.

                      It is!

                      As I said, I’m a compatibilist. That means talk of choice, freedom, free will etc is compatible with determinism.
                      In fact it seems to me we couldn’t really be rational, reasonable, responsible etc without determinism!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    6. Vaal: In order to understand the full nature of anything in the world of necessity we have to talk about it in terms of alternative possibilities “IF you do X, then Y will be the case, IF you do Y then Z will be the case…” and we could not adduce this way of understanding from analyzing “what is possible under precisely the same conditions” because then NO ALTERNATIVES could ever be possible.

                      Well. That is the question. If you have to change the starting conditions for an alternative to be possible, that would mean you would have to take a step back to change the starting conditions of the starting condition 1 in order to change starting condition 1. But in order to change the starting conditions of 2 so that you can change the starting conditions of 1, you have to take another step back to change the starting conditions of 3, so you can change the starting conditions of 2 which change the starting conditions of 1, etc.

                      So, how are you proposing that other alternatives could ever be possible by saying if you change the starting conditions, new possibilities arise? You can’t actually go back and change the starting conditions, can you?

                      We conceive of what is possible by abstracting/generalizing about the nature of someone or something through time, and apply conditionals to understand the options or likely outcomes in similar (but not identical!) situations, or in different situations.

                      Sure. But just because you can conceive of it doesn’t mean it is a fact rather than an illusion right?

                      No, I had a choice in that I am physical capable of driving the car or riding the bike in those types of circumstances IF I WANT TO.

                      Sure, but you haven’t demonstrated yet that you could have desired anything differently. You have done a good job of showing we can think about doing something differently, but you haven’t demonstrated that the abstract consideration is a fact rather than an allusion we rationalize for ourselves.

                      And that is what I am after. How do you distinguish between an illusion that we could have done differently, from the fact we could have done differently?

                      You have made your case. Now how do we take the next step to demonstrate that your reasoning on the subject accurately maps onto reality?

                      At this point I can virtually guarantee your intuition is pushing this response in your mind: Ok, but you DIDN’T want to take your car! You wanted to take your bike. You weren’t actually in control of what you wanted to do. The reason you wanted to take your bike was fully determined by a previous causal chain, so at that moment you never were going to choose otherwise. The choice is completely determined, THEREFORE talking about what “could have been” by changing things is really just saying if things were different, things would have come out differently, which is just an empty tautology. It’s just a fantasy, and if you are basing claims of free will on fantasies of what “could have been” then you aren’t basing it on truth and reality. .”

                      Lol, you called it. Mostly. I don’t know if it is a fantasy or not. I tend to lean determinist because that seems to be what the evidence points to and as you have already called out here, the compatibilist doesn’t seem to be saying anything different than what the determinist is.

                      But that is a misdiagnosis for all the reasons I’ve argued. We gain empirical information all the time by talking about how “if things were different there would be a different result.” That’s how I can explain to you the nature of water for instance.

                      Sure, but just because we can talk about it doesn’t mean it could have actually been different. I think that is my sticking point.

                      How do we distinguish our ability to talk about something that could never have actually happened, but we could conceptualize as happening, vs something that could never have actually happened differently in reality?

                      As I said, I’m a compatibilist. That means talk of choice, freedom, free will etc is compatible with determinism.

                      I get this. But that doesn’t really address the question I asked.

                      How do we distinguish the illusion of choice, freedom and free will from having none at all? I don’t see how the ability to talk about it distinguishes the illusion from the reality of the situation.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    7. “So, how are you proposing that other alternatives could ever be possible by saying if you change the starting conditions, new possibilities arise? “

                      How do you propose it is possible to understand and truthfully describe the nature of water, including predicting it’s behavior, without the conceptual scheme I have outlined?

                      Does talking about “possibilities” concerning water make sense by referencing relevantly similar situations or not? If you want to describe the liquid nature of water you will normally be referencing inferences from many different occasions where water remained liquid. All sorts of specific facts can vary among all those instances – water in a lake, water in a bathtub, water in a pool, water in your drinking glass etc. They aren’t exactly the same causal scenario but rather they are relevantly similar scenarios – relevant in terms of the temperatures involved. How else could you tell me WHY water is remaining liquid in the first place? If you were stuck only thinking in terms of “what happened to water in exactly one time in one causal state of the universe” you could not GAIN INFORMATION about what it was causing the water to be liquid! It’s jiggling relevant variables that actually gives you that information! You can vary where and when water is liquid as in all those instances I mentioned, which helps you identify the relevant variable which is constant – the temperature.

                      Saying IF you wiggle the variables in a scenario, X is possible is how we gain and convey the type of information we need about the world.

                      Can you suggest otherwise? If you were describing the nature of water to someone, in a way that conveys the type of true information that would allow them to predict it’s behavior and manipulate it, please let me know how you’d do this without defaulting to the conceptual scheme of abstraction/generalization, and conditional statements that I’ve argued for.

                      Remember that if you wish to give some alternative account for apprehending empirical truth and speaking about it than the one we already use, it would have to also predict how the one we use is actual successful at guiding our actions through the world. The fact so much of our interaction with the world has predictable success needs explaining if you propose our normal way of thinking as I”d described it is wrong and can only produce untruths.

                      The reason I said the free will debate is so maddening is how intuition-based people’s positions are. That is they have an intuition that they aren’t actually examining or defending because it just “seems so obviously the case” so you end up continually begging the question without even noticing it, as you keep doing here. (I know you don’t think you’ve been begging the question, but you are).

                      Sure, but you haven’t demonstrated yet that you could have desired anything differently.

                      ^^^ Which contains implicit begging the question.

                      You’d only write that if you didn’t absorb the point I’ve been making over and over about in what sense I mean “could have done differently.” Your claim is stuck assuming I haven’t demonstrated desires can change “in precisely the same conditions.” But for all the reasons I’ve explained, we wouldn’t consider “could I have desired differently” in *precisely* the same conditions. We are always appealing to conditions *relevant enough to what we want to find out.* (I don’t mean to say you need to agree with what I’ve argued; but in begging the question you aren’t even acknowledging the point that I’ve argued to directly address it. And I certainly don’t think this is disingenuous of you! It just tends to happen in this conversation).

                      So, I chose to ride my bike. Why? Because I wanted to and was capable of doing so. But I could have done otherwise – drove my car. That would entail wanting differently – wanting to drive my car. Could I have wanted to drive my car? YES! With the universe at precisely the same time, the same causal state, with precisely the same conditions in which my brain wanted to ride the bike? Of course not! But those AREN’T THE CONDITIONS upon which my claim is based! The claim is based on, in this case, being in relevantly similar conditions where I have demonstrated wanting to drive my car instead.

                      Go back to me at a table with a salt and pepper shaker. You ask “do you actually have a choice between picking up either item? Could you pick up either?” Me: Yes, watch: I pick up one then the next. “See, I am capable of picking up either one. I have a choice.

                      Changing the situation, what if I just pick up the salt shaker and you ask “could you have picked up the pepper?” I say “Yes. Watch, I’ll demonstrate” and I reach out and pick up the pepper shaker.

                      You say: Ok, but I want to know after you picked up the salt shaker if you could actually have desired differently, if you could have wanted to pick up the pepper shaker.” I explain: Of course I could. Watch: I pick up the pepper shaker. Why? My desire changed to wanting to pick up the pepper. That shows that in *situations such as this* – me sitting in front of two such items – I am capable of desiring differently and acting differently.

                      If your mind keeps defaulting to “but that doesn’t make sense because at the precise moment/causal state of picking up the salt shaker you COULD NOT have desired or acted differently” then that is your intuition simply question-begging against the actual argument I keep giving you! You have to move on from the intuition of “if I can’t do differently at precisely the time/causal state then it makes no sense to talk of other possibilities” and actually address the reasoning I have provided. 🙂

                      And that is what I am after. How do you distinguish between an illusion that we could have done differently, from the fact we could have done differently?

                      Demonstrations as I’ve suggested above.

                      Salt/pepper shaker scenario. I pick up the salt shaker but believed I was capable of picking up the pepper shaker. I can pick up the pepper shaker numerous times to justify this belief. But what if it turns out I didn’t know my arms were paralyzed when trying to pick up the pepper? And hence I try but can not pick up the pepper? Then I didn’t have the ability, the freedom, I thought I had. That can go for the possibility of altering my desires. What if I’m not physically incapacitated from lifting the pepper, but when I go to test my claim “I can desire to pick up the pepper instead” my mind just keeps defaulting to desiring to pick up the salt, so I keep picking up the salt? Well, now I have evidence against my belief/claim that I’m capable of having a different desire under those relevant conditions. I didn’t have the freedom, the capacity, I thought I had to have different goals/desires regarding the salt/pepper.

                      This is one of the reasons why we hold that addictions seem to be a strike at the heart of our freedom.
                      I’m not addicted to alcohol so I can desire to drink sometimes, but have a desire to abstain and act on that desire at other times. Someone addicted has less freedom in that regard where they can not, in fact, think/act significantly differently under those circumstances. They don’t have the capacity to have different desires in the situation where booze is available, which causes them to keep making the same choices of action, even if this is thwarting some other strong desire they may have (like the desire to stop being an alcoholic).

                      The free-will denying incompatibilist will usually automatically default to the reply: But in BOTH cases, yours and the alcoholic’s, you couldn’t have done otherwise as your decision in any specific case is as determined as the alchoholic’s. ”

                      But…that just begs the question against what we mean by “could do otherwise” which is the question under debate! That type of response is merely assertion, restatement of an intuition, where I have provided argument as to why the sense I defend of “could do otherwise” is consistent with how we think empirically everywhere else. Defaulting to an analysis that, at bottom, both my and the alcholic’s brain work on determinism, does not give us the type of information we need to access about the nature of how our brains are acting differently in the same type of situations! We have to be able to identify that in a similar situation one person has a range of possible behaviors and another person has a more constricted range of behaviors open to him/her. That’s how we gain information about ourselves and the world; how we can understand, predict and manipulate outcomes.

                      Sure, but just because we can talk about it doesn’t mean it could have actually been different. I think that is my sticking point.

                      Yes, that is your sticking point. I’m suggesting that’s the intuition I spoke to right at the beginning. When you say “actually could have been different” your notion of “actually” being different is being assessed *in precisely the same conditions.* And that is exactly the intuition I’m trying to get you to see around and re-examine:-)

                      Again: try and describe the nature of water WITHOUT appeal to the notion of “possibilities” and empirical truths as I have described it. Once you try, you will see you will fail to make sense unless you actually use our normal method of description (because our common method of talking about “possibilities” actually works to capture information about the world).

                      It’s a mistake to think this does not apply to the empirical descriptions of human deliberation and choice-making,and in understanding what we “can” and “can not do” in the world. People fall in to the false dichotomy of either “our decision-making is excepted from determinism and therefore free” or “our decision-making is not excepted from determinism and therefore not free.” But if you understand how we ACTUALLY think about the world, this turns out to be a misapprehension.

                      Cheers

                      Liked by 1 person

                    8. Vaal: Saying IF you wiggle the variables in a scenario, X is possible is how we gain and convey the type of information we need about the world.

                      Sure. You have said this a lot and I agree. So how does us get us to the proposition that our past or future could have been different than what it was? How do we get from a conception of could have been different, to an actuality of it being possible it could have been different?

                      Sure, but you haven’t demonstrated yet that you could have desired anything differently.

                      ^^^ Which contains implicit begging the question.

                      Well no. It is asking you to demonstrate that what you are claiming accurately maps onto reality.

                      Your claim is stuck assuming I haven’t demonstrated desires can change “in precisely the same conditions.” But for all the reasons I’ve explained, we wouldn’t consider “could I have desired differently” in *precisely* the same conditions.

                      Which is the problem. How can you claim free will if you can’t desire differently in precisely the same conditions? If the conditions are required to change in order for your desires to change, that seems to me to rule out free will.

                      So, I chose to ride my bike. Why? Because I wanted to and was capable of doing so. But I could have done otherwise – drove my car. That would entail wanting differently – wanting to drive my car. Could I have wanted to drive my car? YES! With the universe at precisely the same time, the same causal state, with precisely the same conditions in which my brain wanted to ride the bike? Of course not! But those AREN’T THE CONDITIONS upon which my claim is based! The claim is based on, in this case, being in relevantly similar conditions where I have demonstrated wanting to drive my car instead.

                      With this paragraph, I have no clue how you can say you have anything resembling free will. If your will is directly determined by the input, and it can’t be different unless the input is different, then I really have no clue how you can defend the idea of free will. Which is probably why I’ve never thought the compatibilist position is all that coherent.

                      Go back to me at a table with a salt and pepper shaker. You ask “do you actually have a choice between picking up either item? Could you pick up either?” Me: Yes, watch: I pick up one then the next. “See, I am capable of picking up either one. I have a choice.

                      Yes, you are claiming to have a choice. What I was asking is for you to demonstrate your claim to have a choice is true and not an illusion.

                      After all, if the conditions have to change in order for you to pick up the salt shaker as opposed to the pepper shaker, then I don’t see that you actually have a choice. You have a set of conditions that are dictating your actions.

                      You have an illusion of choice because you think you could have done either, your intuition on the subject. But you aren’t actually describing a choice. You are describing a set of conditions that have to be different to produce a different result.

                      That shows that in *situations such as this* – me sitting in front of two such items – I am capable of desiring differently and acting differently.

                      Except it doesn’t actually demonstrate that. You are claiming you can have a desire to do either, what you haven’t done is demonstrate your claim is accurate.

                      The best you have come up with so far is that if you change the inputs, then your desire will change. But that doesn’t mean that you are capable of desiring and acting differently than you did when sitting down in front of the two items.

                      And that is what I am after. How do you distinguish between an illusion that we could have done differently, from the fact we could have done differently?

                      Demonstrations as I’ve suggested above.

                      Except you haven’t demonstrated it. As explained above.

                      Salt/pepper shaker scenario. I pick up the salt shaker but believed I was capable of picking up the pepper shaker.

                      Right, and as I have already pointed out, just because you believe something doesn’t demonstrate that what you believed is accurate.

                      Just because you believe you were capable of picking up the pepper shaker doesn’t mean you actually were capable of it. And even if you could be capable of picking up the pepper shaker in a different situation, it doesn’t demonstrate that you were capable of picking it up in the situation when you picked up the salt shaker.

                      I can pick up the pepper shaker numerous times to justify this belief.

                      Except picking up the shaker numerous times doesn’t justify the belief. You still haven’t demonstrated the picking it up is anything more than a result of the inputs. And if you are saying you have to change the inputs in order to get a different output, then it actually speaks against your position, not for it.

                      They don’t have the capacity to have different desires in the situation where booze is available, which causes them to keep making the same choices of action, even if this is thwarting some other strong desire they may have (like the desire to stop being an alcoholic).

                      The problem, of course, is you haven’t demonstrated that you have any more control than the addict does. You believe you have more options, but you haven’t demonstrated that your beliefs on the subject are accurate.

                      The free-will denying incompatibilist will usually automatically default to the reply: But in BOTH cases, yours and the alcoholic’s, you couldn’t have done otherwise as your decision in any specific case is as determined as the alchoholic’s. ”

                      Which is a valid critique. Just because you can do something different in a different situation, doesn’t mean you were capable of doing anything different in the situation you found yourself.

                      But…that just begs the question against what we mean by “could do otherwise” which is the question under debate!

                      As opposed to your begging the question? Don’t you have your own idea of what we mean by “could do otherwise”?

                      How is your idea any more valid than mine? Or are you just begging the question by assuming it is?

                      That type of response is merely assertion, restatement of an intuition, where I have provided argument as to why the sense I defend of “could do otherwise” is consistent with how we think empirically everywhere else.

                      Except you didn’t actually do this. What you did is just state a belief. You didn’t demonstrate the belief was accurate.

                      You haven’t even supported your asserted belief. All you have demonstrated is that you can do different things in different situations. You haven’t demonstrated that you could do different things in a single situation.

                      Defaulting to an analysis that, at bottom, both my and the alcholic’s brain work on determinism, does not give us the type of information we need to access about the nature of how our brains are acting differently in the same type of situations! We have to be able to identify that in a similar situation one person has a range of possible behaviors and another person has a more constricted range of behaviors open to him/her. That’s how we gain information about ourselves and the world; how we can understand, predict and manipulate outcomes.

                      Which is not a valid way to answer the actual question being asked. The question isn’t whether we have the physical capabilities to do something different. The question is whether we actually had any possibility of doing something different in the situation.

                      Is choice an illusion or is it something that actually exists? I already know I have the physical capability. So comparing physical capability doesn’t actually do anything to demonstrate free will or choice.

                      Yes, that is your sticking point. I’m suggesting that’s the intuition I spoke to right at the beginning. When you say “actually could have been different” your notion of “actually” being different is being assessed *in precisely the same conditions.* And that is exactly the intuition I’m trying to get you to see around and re-examine:-)

                      Then I think you are making a mistake. I have no clue why you would claim to be a compatibilist if all you are trying to say is that different inputs and situations cause different outputs.

                      You aren’t talking about free will or choice at that point. just the outcomes of different situations.

                      Again: try and describe the nature of water WITHOUT appeal to the notion of “possibilities” and empirical truths as I have described it.

                      This is just a red haring because it doesn’t address the question I actually asked. How do we distinguish between the illusion of choice and actually having a choice?

                      Saying that we have to change the inputs in order to get a different output just means we only have an illusion of choice, not an actual choice.

                      It’s a mistake to think this does not apply to the empirical descriptions of human deliberation and choice-making,and in understanding what we “can” and “can not do” in the world.

                      No it isn’t a mistake. Your examples don’t provide a distinction between an illusion of choice and actually having a choice. You are in fact arguing for us only having the illusion of choice while claiming that the illusion doesn’t exist.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    9. (PT 2)

                      Darren,

                      Here you seem to think you are giving a bit of argument against my position by appealing to a definition. But it too implicitly begs the question:

                      The definition of choice: “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”

                      Right! But the whole argument revolves around what we could mean when referencing one or two “possibilities.” And neither the definition you just wrote, nor the dictionary definition of “choice” or “possible” settles the issue of what it means for two options to be “possible.”

                      If we can only say two options are “possible IF and ONLY IF they can manifest under PRECISELY the same deterministic conditions” then of course we can never talk of various “possibilities” in this way! That’s obvious. That should be a big clue as to why this can’t be what we actually MEAN when talking of “possibilities.”

                      I’ve given arguments for why this is so. We employ abstractions/generalizations when describing any entity, including ourselves. And we infer and employ models using conditionals to understand what is “possible.” IF X then Y…IF Y then Z.” None of which entails a denial of determinism an in fact is exactly how we’d have to think if determinism is true!

                      But here’s yet another reason to accept my account that talk of “possibilities” is a way of conveying truth and information in a deterministic world. Because the thing is, we use talk of “possibilities” and “options” all the time to pass on knowledge. And how could we convey knowledge this way – knowledge that helps predict the world – if we were not conveying “truth” in this manner?

                      Example:

                      John and Larry both set off from their shared apartment in California, driving in separate cars to their friend James’ apartment in NYC. Both wish to get to James’ apartment as quickly as possible.

                      While driving in their cars they have a conference call with James. James tells them “it’s cool that you are driving all the way here, but that’s not the only possible way for you to get here. You COULD INSTEAD park your car at LAX to take a flight here, which will get you here much quicker than driving.”

                      This is clearly standard way of talking about “possible alternative actions” that conveys information, right?
                      What if John protests: “To say it’s possible for me to do otherwise – to park my car and fly instead – is sheer fantasy. You mean I could do otherwise under *precisely the same conditions* and since that is impossible, your claim of alternative possibilities is false. I’ll keep driving thank you!”

                      Meanwhile, Larry, being a normal person, understands what James means by offering up this alternative possible action, and he diverts to the airport, taking a flight and arriving a day earlier than John.

                      Now, John has to explain things like this: If it was not actually “possible” for Larry to “do otherwise” how did Larry manage to “do otherwise” and take that option?

                      Further: If James saying “you have an alternative option of flying to get here faster” was invalid because talk of alternative possibilities is fantasy not reality and not true….how in the world was Larry able to beat John to James’ house?

                      If you assert that “possible” and “alternatives” only means “under precisely the same conditions” then the above is simply a mystery. How can conveying pure fantasy account for how we pass olong so much useful information about the world, such as that which got Larry to James’ place faster?

                      It HAS to be the case that what James said and Larry understood as “possible” and an “alternative” and “doing otherwise than Larry is doing” entailed at least implicit conditionals like “IF you WANT TO.” In other words, GIVEN A CHANGE IN YOUR DESIRES, X becomes possible. Not “if your brain is under precisely the same state, with the same desires you currently have now.” Possibilities entail explicit or implicit conditionals which do not conflict with everything being caused and determined, and which are necessary to describe truths about the world and our options/abilities within it.

                      ”Perhaps you can explain how you can have two or more possibilities if you are not talking about the same time/causal state.

                      That’s what I’ve been doing this whole conversation. It’s what I just expanded upon yet again above 🙂

                      ”What you are describing is not a choice.

                      Which begs the question, because you’ve assumed that to have a “choice” entails “being able to take alternative actions under precisely the same conditions” which…again…is exactly the claim under dispute so you can’t just keep re-presuming it in your replies. The fact you keep feeling like you’ve actually provided an argument when your replies contain the implicit (or explicit) assumption “choice is being able to take alternative actions under the same conditions” indicates how intuition is driving your responses.

                      Again, the relevance of my examples like understanding and describing the nature of “water” is that you actually DO accept the conceptual scheme I’m describing, but you are being inconsistant in rejecting that I could be using it to make truth claims about what I “could have done.” This is why it is so critical that you actually answer my question directly. But, again, you ignored it.

                      ”Sure, because water has no choice but to be what it is. It can’t do anything other than react to the inputs provided. It is completely incapable of being anything than what the inputs dictate it must be. No matter what situation the water is put in, it has no choice but to follow the laws that govern how it will react.”

                      That was a non-answer to my very direct, clear question. I didn’t ask if water had a “choice” or not. It does not. We both know that. What I asked is WHAT YOU WOULD SAY when asked to describe the nature of water. You have a cup of liquid water at room temperature. You want to convey TRUE and useful information about water to someone who is unfamiliar with it. How do you do this. Surely mentioning that “water can’t make choices” is far from sufficient. You’d want to include statements about the nature of water that include how it behaves at room temperature, in freezing temperature, when boiled etc, in order to impart useful information, would you not?

                      Please: Just write a paragraph or so as if you were actually describing the nature of water to someone, and you will then be directly confronted with the issues I’ve been arguing about.

                      Like

                    10. Vaal: Here you seem to think you are giving a bit of argument against my position by appealing to a definition. But it too implicitly begs the question:

                      Well, if you reject the standard usage of how a word is used, then I don’t think I am the problem in this conversation. 🙂

                      Right! But the whole argument revolves around what we could mean when referencing one or two “possibilities.”

                      It means that when I am in a situation I have more than one possible action to take in that single situation. That is the whole point. If we have to change inputs in order to change the possibility we are going to choose, then that means we don’t have different possibilities, it means there is only one possibility. The rest of the options are not possibilities because there is no way to actually choose them.

                      And neither the definition you just wrote, nor the dictionary definition of “choice” or “possible” settles the issue of what it means for two options to be “possible.”

                      Pretty sure it does.

                      If we can only say two options are “possible IF and ONLY IF they can manifest under PRECISELY the same deterministic conditions” then of course we can never talk of various “possibilities” in this way!

                      So your solution is to change the definitions around so that you can promote a different argument?

                      That’s obvious. That should be a big clue as to why this can’t be what we actually MEAN when talking of “possibilities.”

                      No. There is no big clue. It just means that choice is an illusion. Something we like to believe we have but doesn’t actually exist.

                      I think the big clue is the fact that you have to change what words mean in order to support your argument.

                      I’ve given arguments for why this is so.

                      Yes, and I’ve already pointed out several times why this doesn’t work. Just because we can use abstractions to discover things about the world doesn’t mean we can use the same method to determine things about having a choice.

                      You still have failed to make that connection. Instead, you have decided to start changing definitions.

                      Especially considering you have already acknowledged that you have to changing definitions in order to make it work.

                      Because the thing is, we use talk of “possibilities” and “options” all the time to pass on knowledge. And how could we convey knowledge this way – knowledge that helps predict the world – if we were not conveying “truth” in this manner?

                      You have yet to demonstrate you are conveying truth. As I’ve already pointed out, just because you can talk about something, doesn’t mean that what you are talking about is actually true.

                      This is clearly standard way of talking about “possible alternative actions” that conveys information, right?

                      Yes. But that is not the same as saying that what people are talking about is actually true. That is just talking about how we perceive the situation, not that we are perceiving the situation accurately.

                      What if John protests: “To say it’s possible for me to do otherwise – to park my car and fly instead – is sheer fantasy. You mean I could do otherwise under *precisely the same conditions* and since that is impossible, your claim of alternative possibilities is false. I’ll keep driving thank you!”

                      This is not at all the determinist argument that is being made. It’s not even a good characterization of it.

                      The point is that given all the different options you can think of, is there an actual possibility to be able to choose between those different possibilities? Or can you only choose one? Is the choice an illusion? or is there an actual way to make those choices?

                      What you seem to be saying is that it is all an illusion, but you really really want there to still be a choice so you are going to change the definitions until they no longer resemble anything that anyone else would recognize.

                      Now, John has to explain things like this: If it was not actually “possible” for Larry to “do otherwise” how did Larry manage to “do otherwise” and take that option?

                      Except you aren’t demonstrating that Larry managed to do something he could have chosen not to do. You are just demonstrating that Larry followed his programming after being given new information that changed his initial conditions.

                      This is why your argument fails. It doesn’t do what you are claiming it does.

                      If you assert that “possible” and “alternatives” only means “under precisely the same conditions” then the above is simply a mystery. How can conveying pure fantasy account for how we pass olong so much useful information about the world, such as that which got Larry to James’ place faster?

                      Again you are not accurately conveying the ramifications of talking about “under precisely the same conditions”.

                      It HAS to be the case that what James said and Larry understood as “possible” and an “alternative” and “doing otherwise than Larry is doing” entailed at least implicit conditionals like “IF you WANT TO.”

                      Yes, but that is not the same as saying their understanding was reality and not just an illusion.

                      In other words, GIVEN A CHANGE IN YOUR DESIRES, X becomes possible.

                      And other things become impossible. You still aren’t making a valid argument for your case.

                      ”Perhaps you can explain how you can have two or more possibilities if you are not talking about the same time/causal state.

                      That’s what I’ve been doing this whole conversation. It’s what I just expanded upon yet again above 🙂

                      The problem, of course, is you haven’t been as I have pointed out above.

                      Which begs the question, because you’ve assumed that to have a “choice” entails “being able to take alternative actions under precisely the same conditions” which…again…is exactly the claim under dispute so you can’t just keep re-presuming it in your replies.

                      Well, that is what the words actually mean. That is what everyone in the world is actually talking about when they start talking about having a choice.

                      That isn’t begging the question, that is just using the generally agreed-upon definition of the words we are using.

                      The fact you keep feeling like you’ve actually provided an argument when your replies contain the implicit (or explicit) assumption “choice is being able to take alternative actions under the same conditions” indicates how intuition is driving your responses.

                      No, just the common understanding of the words being used. I think the fact that you have to change definitions to make your case demonstrates the biggest problem in your case.

                      The rest is just a red hearing, as I’ve already pointed out.

                      Like

                    11. (PT 1)

                      Darren,

                      I’m confident both of us understand the problem of “begging the question.” I’m saying you are continually doing so without realizing it. And you’ve just continued to in this last response.

                      I’ve been giving the outline of building the case for compatibilism. This STARTS with tackling an issue of fundamental dispute between compatiblists and those who reject compatibilism. The issue of dispute is: what it means to say “I could have done otherwise?”

                      Generally speaking, non-compatibilists (e.g. Libertarian Free Willers and Hard Incompatiblists) assert that to say “I could have done otherwise” is to mean “I could have done otherwise under precisely the same conditions” (i.e. at that same time/the universe and myself being under precisely the same causal conditions). Otherwise saying “I could have done otherwise” can not make sense and isn’t what people convey by “I could have done otherwise.”

                      ^^^^ That claim about what it means to say “I could have done otherwise” is EXACTLY the claim under dispute. It’s the one I’m arguing against and you would need to argue FOR.

                      So the conversation keeps taking on this character:

                      Darren: To demonstrate that you ACTUALLY “could have done otherwise” you’d have to demonstrate you could have done so in precisely the same conditions.

                      Vaal: But that’s exactly the claim I’m disputing! My arguments against that claim include the fact it would be futile to understand the world, including our choice-making, from that stand-point; that we can understand “I could have done otherwise” in a sense that does not entail “in precisely the same conditions” which is therefor compatible with determinism, and that this account is bolstered by reference to the fact we accept this conceptual scheme when thinking about anything else in the empirical world! What do you say to my arguments and the examples I’ve adduced in support?

                      Darren: Your arguments have failed.

                      Vaal: How?

                      Darren: Because your arguments have failed to demonstrate that you could have ACTUALLY done something differently in precisely the same conditions!

                      ^^^^ See? Begging the question: you dismiss my argument by presuming the very notion of “could have done otherwise” that is in dispute! If you are waiting for me to demonstrate we could have done otherwise in precisely the same conditions you’ll wait forever, having missed the point of my argument. And if you say well that’s what “doing otherwise” ACTUALLY means, you are simply begging the question by asserting that which is under dispute!

                      Can you see the problem now, I hope?

                      (Follow up post in a moment…)

                      Like

                    12. Vaal: The issue of dispute is: what it means to say “I could have done otherwise?”

                      Yes, and the problem is you are not describing anything that resembles “I could have done otherwise?” You are describing an “I don’t have a choice and CAN’T do anything else.”

                      …assert that to say “I could have done otherwise” is to mean “I could have done otherwise under precisely the same conditions”

                      Yes, because that is how the English language works. Your effort to try to redefine it doesn’t work because you are no longer addressing the issue of whether or not you could have done something different. You seem to be saying that you couldn’t have done anything differently because the inputs haven’t been changed.

                      It’s the one I’m arguing against and you would need to argue FOR.

                      I am, but you seem to not care about definitions. You are trying to redefine choice without giving any good reasons to do so.

                      My arguments against that claim include the fact it would be futile to understand the world, including our choice-making, from that stand-point;….

                      Which is a red hearing, as I already pointed out, because the structure of knowing about the world is irrelevant to the question of choices.

                      They are completely different things and you have yet to adequately connect the two concepts.

                      ….that we can understand “I could have done otherwise” in a sense that does not entail “in precisely the same conditions”…

                      Yes, I understand that is the claim you are making. You no longer have to keep repeating it. Now it is time to take the next step and show that is what people are actually asking about when they say ‘having a choice’ or when they talk about free will.

                      ^^^^ See? Begging the question:

                      No. Pointing out that you haven’t done what you are claiming to have done isn’t question-begging. It is just pointing out that your argument has so far failed and that you need to shore it up before we can continue on.

                      Can you see the problem now, I hope?

                      Yes, I do see the problem. You are defending a definition of choice that no one actually uses when they use the term. So you are not creating an argument that is relevant to what everyone else means when they say choice or free will.

                      What you are describing is what everyone else would call not having a choice at all.

                      Like

                    13. Hi Darren,

                      ”Well, if you reject the standard usage of how a word is used, then I don’t think I am the problem in this conversation. “

                      You are simply asserting your own meaning in to the definition….the ACTUAL definition does NOT contain what you say it does. Remember you quoted this:

                      ”The definition of choice: “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”

                      Does the definition contain the physically impossible caveat: “Two or more possibilities GIVEN PRECISELY THE SAME STATE OF THE UNIVERSE?”

                      No. It doesn’t. You can’t give a dictionary definition to establish the claim under contention, and when it doesn’t actually make the claim, tell us “oh, that’s what it means anyway!”

                      This is you inserting that question-begging meaning in to the definition, which does not contain what you want it to say. (Again, I’m not accusing you of being disingenuous; I just see this as what it’s like being driven by an intuition that you keep assuming in to the conversation, even in to definitions that don’t mention what you’ve assumed).

                      ”It means that when I am in a situation I have more than one possible action to take in that single situation. That is the whole point.”

                      No, that’s your assumption. It’s not an argument. The whole point is actually over what we could MEAN, what information are we conveying, when we say “A and B are POSSIBLE actions?”

                      I’ve already explained why it would be impossible for us to navigate the world if we actually demanded of it that “we have various alternatives given the universe in precisely the same causal state.” You seem to think that it is good enough to suggest something like “well, even if people because people think this way doesn’t make it true.” But that is to not run the implications through. We literally COULD NOT survive if that were the conceptual scheme we used to understand the world. It CAN NOT be the explanation for how we understand and navigate the real world. We can get along with some level of error and fantasy, but note one that is utterly foundational to any possibility of comprehending the world! I’m trying to get you to see these implications, to follow the logic of what you are actually arguing and see the problems that arise.

                      ”If we have to change inputs in order to change the possibility we are going to choose, then that means we don’t have different possibilities,”

                      But that is exactly HOW we have different possibilities! If you have a glass of water you can only know it if “possible” to freeze it insofar as you think “IF I place it in the freezer (or some similar water-freezing action). How could it even make sense to talk of some change being possible…without assuming some change???

                      Same with ordering at a restaurant. It’s “possible” for me to order either the steak or the fish. “Possible? What does that mean?” It means that IF I desire to eat steak I have the physical capability to order and receive steak, but IF I have the desire to eat fish I have the capability to order and receive the fish to eat.” Now, I’ll survey my desire and see what I want. Ah, I want the steak. And true to my cogitating, I am able to order it.

                      Now you will no doubt want to say “but deterministically speaking you never were going to order the fish, so it really wasn’t ‘possible’ for you to order the fish.” Which, again, is just to continue to ignore the conceptual scheme of conditional/abstract thinking that IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT FANTASY…but which we use to understand and convey TRUTH about the world. If I say “your plants will die if you totally deprive them of water” the plants never have to die for that to convey TRUTH about the plants, for it to be informative, and for that information to be used to successfully make predictions about the plants.

                      You want to keep denying this as a way of making truth claims, because that’s the form of truth claim I’m making for the possibilities for our actions. To deny it will render much of what you think, write and believe utterly incoherent. Science goes. Almost everything goes, if you want to say we can not make truth claims about the world and ourselves this way.

                      And that’s why it’s been so important you actually take up my challenge to describe the nature of water. Because in trying to tell us TRUE THINGS about water, you will necessarily avail yourself of the conceptual scheme I’ve been defending and you’ve been rejecting.

                      It’s just fascinating that you just refuse to do this. Since the only possible hope here to get you to see how inconsistent you are being is by actually interacting with examples that will show it, I can only try one more time. This time I won’t ask you to write about water, I will (the following are of course basic facts to which caveats apply, which don’t change the basic facts):

                      Here’s a glass of liquid water.

                      1. This liquid water will remain liquid IF you leave it sitting here in room temperature.
                      2. This water will freeze solid ( “ice”) IF you place it in your (working) freezer (0C and below).
                      3. This water will boil (bubble rapidly turning in to gas) IF you heat it to 100 C on your stove.

                      Now, please tell me: Are those acceptable ways of conveying TRUE FACTS about the nature of water, or not?

                      If not, if the conditional statements above are mere illusion and fantasy, please tell us how to convey true empirical information about water…or anything else.

                      If those claims ARE a valid way of conveying information about water – true information and hence useful for predicting the behavior of that water – then it seems you are special pleading in rejecting my applying just that same type of talk to human beings, as if talk of “what could be IF” does not reference truth, but mere fantasy.

                      Think of how you would establish those claims as true or not. Then reflect on what I have said about how I say we would establish my claims that “IF I want to do A and can do A but IF I want to do B I can do B…”

                      Cheers.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    14. Vaal, I like you, I hope you know that. But I really have no clue why you feel you are putting together a coherent argument here. I’ll try one more time to point out where you are going wrong, but at this point, we are just going around in circles so it might be better to just call it quits.

                      You are simply asserting your own meaning in to the definition….the ACTUAL definition does NOT contain what you say it does. Remember you quoted this:

                      Given that you have not given any coherent alternative to the definition, I have no clue why you keep asserting this is the case.

                      ”The definition of choice: “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”

                      Does the definition contain the physically impossible caveat: “Two or more possibilities GIVEN PRECISELY THE SAME STATE OF THE UNIVERSE?”

                      Yes, it does.

                      No. It doesn’t.

                      You have yet to demonstrate this is actually true. You have asserted it is true, but you have yet to demonstrate it is true.

                      You have yet to adequately address the question of how you can have two or more possibilities if you are not talking about the precise same state of the universe. All you have claimed is that different situations have different outcomes.

                      I can claim that on January 1st I can go to school, or on January 4th I can go to the coast, but that doesn’t mean that I have two or more possibilities. It just means there is just one possibility given the date of the year. That is not a choice.

                      This is you inserting that question-begging meaning in to the definition, which does not contain what you want it to say.

                      No. That is just me not trying to change the definition of a word to suit my argument.

                      No, that’s your assumption. It’s not an argument. The whole point is actually over what we could MEAN, what information are we conveying, when we say “A and B are POSSIBLE actions?”

                      Sure. But that isn’t what you are doing. You refuse to acknowledge that we mean given the same state of the universe, so it is literally impossible for you to answer the question about A and B being possible actions. You want to talk about January 1st and 4th when the question is about Jan 1st all by itself.

                      I’ve already explained why it would be impossible for us to navigate the world if we actually demanded of it that “we have various alternatives given the universe in precisely the same causal state.”

                      Yes, and I’ve already demonstrated why you are just factually wrong to think like that.

                      We literally COULD NOT survive if that were the conceptual scheme we used to understand the world.

                      Which is completely irrelevant to the question of what our options are on Jan 1st at 1pm. The type of reasoning you are proposing is completely irrelevant to the question at hand.

                      I’m trying to get you to see these implications, to follow the logic of what you are actually arguing and see the problems that arise.

                      The problem is that the implications you are claiming are the case, are not the actual implications for figuring out possible actions given a certain situation with a certain set of inputs.

                      But that is exactly HOW we have different possibilities!

                      So? I’ll say it again. So? That doesn’t mean we can make a choice between the different possibilities. The question is whether we can actually make a choice between the different possibilities or if there is only one possible result form our choice and all the other possibilities we can recognize are not actual choices we can make.

                      How could it even make sense to talk of some change being possible…without assuming some change???

                      Again you aren’t actually addressing the question being asked. After you have identified all the different possibilities. Do you actually have a choice? Or is it only possible to choose one of the options?

                      Same with ordering at a restaurant. It’s “possible” for me to order either the steak or the fish.

                      Is it? How do you know? Yes, both options exist, but how do you know it is, in fact, possible for you to order either the steak of the fish? Are you locked into just one choice, unable to choose anything else even though the options exist?

                      The only way to talk coherently on this question is to assume you are talking about the same point in time with a specific set of inputs. It makes absolutely no sense to talk about the question if you are talking about going to the restaurant on two different occasions.

                      “Possible? What does that mean?” It means that IF I desire to eat steak I have the physical capability to order and receive steak, but IF I have the desire to eat fish I have the capability to order and receive the fish to eat.”

                      This doesn’t actually address the question since you haven’t given any reason for you to control what your desire is going to be.

                      If your desire dictates that you want to eat steak, then in what sense does it mean that you have a choice? If you can’t choose to have the fish because you can’t choose to desire it, then the fish is not a possibility. Your desire eliminates it from the realm of possibility. The steak is the only possibility you have. And given that the definition of choice is having two or more possibilities, that means you don’t have a choice because you don’t have the possibility of having the fish because you don’t have the desire to have the fish.

                      Now, I’ll survey my desire and see what I want. Ah, I want the steak. And true to my cogitating, I am able to order it.

                      Yes, and unable to order the fish because your desire for steak removed the possibility of ordering fish from your list of possibilities.

                      Which, again, is just to continue to ignore the conceptual scheme of conditional/abstract thinking that IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT FANTASY…but which we use to understand and convey TRUTH about the world.

                      Given I program computers for a living, I am fully aware of what conditional/abstract thinking is. And your take on it is not making your case for you.

                      If I say “your plants will die if you totally deprive them of water” the plants never have to die for that to convey TRUTH about the plants,….

                      Which is a red hearing once again because that has absolutely nothing to do with choice or having different possibilities to choose between.

                      You want to keep denying this as a way of making truth claims, because that’s the form of truth claim I’m making for the possibilities for our actions.

                      I am doing no such thing. I am pointing out that there is a difference between determining possibilities and being able to actually choose between them when you are given a choice.

                      And that’s why it’s been so important you actually take up my challenge to describe the nature of water.

                      No it isn’t. As I’ve already described above. Your argument fails because you are not addressing the actual question. The choice between possibilities. To get to that point you have to move past the identifying the possibilities stage and get to the making a choice between those possibilities stage.

                      It’s just fascinating that you just refuse to do this.

                      Yes, because it is completely irrelevant to the question at hand. It is literally not important or even relevant.

                      Now, please tell me: Are those acceptable ways of conveying TRUE FACTS about the nature of water, or not?

                      Yes. And it has absolutely no bearing on making a choice. If this will get you to get past this completely inconsequential thing and move on to the actual discussion of making a choice when presented with different possibilities, I will agree with you on this.

                      Like

                    15. Darren,

                      You gave this definition for “choice”:

                      ”The definition of choice: “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”

                      Anyone can see that that that sentence does not contain the clarifying caveat: “Two or more possibilities GIVEN PRECISELY THE SAME STATE OF THE UNIVERSE.” It’s simply NOT THERE. “

                      You simply reply “yes it does.”

                      I find this truly bizarre at this point. You can see your definition above, see that it does not does not contain the clause “given precisely the same state of the universe” and yet you seem to be hallucinating that it does, and just declaring it does. I don’t see how a conversation on that point can continue, so moving on….

                      (Once again: in no way am I saying you are deliberately obfuscating).

                      To the matter that you insist is a red herring:

                      Vaal: Now, please tell me: Are those acceptable ways of conveying TRUE FACTS about the nature of water, or not?

                      Darren: Yes.

                      See, that wasn’t so hard was it? 😉

                      ”And it has absolutely no bearing on making a choice.”

                      Actually I’ve done nothing BUT explain how this bears directly on the coherence of “making a choice.”

                      I am applying the same concept of “possibility” to human beings that you and I and everyone use in making truth claims about anything else! And you just (finally!) demonstrated this.

                      So take one of the claims about water you accepted. Remember that the starting point was a glass of water in liquid form. You have accepted this description as “true:’

                      2. This water will freeze solid ( “ice”) IF you place it in your (working) freezer (0C and below).

                      How would you demonstrate the truth of that empirical claim about water? Surely it will HAVE to be along the lines of either pointing to evidence of how water has behaved in the past when placed in freezing temperature, to bolster your inductive claim of how it is likely to behave in this situation. And/or you will demonstrate it by showing your claim predicts the results: you place the water in the freezer and it freezes! Claim demonstrated!

                      This is the type of empirical reasoning you use and accept for truth claims all the time right?

                      Yet when I offer precisely that type of claim for my own actions (or yours or anyone else’s) you reject it as baseless illusory talk. And you ask how my claims can be demonstrated. I’ve explained that since the claim employs the same structure as for water above, claims about what it is “possible” for me to do can be demonstrated in precisely the same way.

                      “I can pick up that salt shaker IF I want to.” I reach over and pick it up to demonstrate the claim.
                      ” I could have picked up the pepper if I wanted to.” I reach over and pick up the pepper to demonstrate the claim.

                      We use words like “could” and “can” and “possible” to convey this type of information all the time. The claim you endorsed as “true” for water is typically conveyed in our language by words like “could” or “can” or “possible.” You “could” or “can” freeze this water solid IF you place it in the freezer. It’s “possible” to freeze that water by putting it in the freezer (If you put it in the freezer). To talk of what is “possible” in this way does not entail that “it DID happen” but it “COULD happen IF…” To say it WAS possible for the water to have been frozen IF it had been placed in the freezer conveys the same type of information. It is of necessity implying *some* relevant change in conditions.

                      We use phrases like “could have” to convey the same type of empirical information. John, a Canadian, and Susan, an American, are at a french restaurant. John orders for both of them in English to the waiter. Susan, knowing that John comes from an ostensibly bilingual English/french country, asks “COULD YOU HAVE ordered our meal speaking in french?”

                      What do you think Susan MEANS by that? In other words: what is the point of asking; what information is she seeking from John in asking the question like that? She’s seeking information on John’s ability to speak french or not!

                      In a normal situation, John if he can speak french would say “yes I could have ordered it in french.”
                      And to demonstrate, John could simply just read out the order again for Susan, speaking it in french.
                      Susan is impressed. She has the answer she was seeking!

                      That would satisfy how we normally demonstrate claims like “I could have done X.”

                      But what if John, who actually can speak french, replied “no unfortunately I could not have spoken french. You see, all our actions are determined and at that moment I was never going to do anything other than speak english to the waiter.”

                      Now, any normal person will be rightly baffled that John thinks THAT is a helpful response, as if THAT spoke to the point Susan had in mind with her question. “Uh…what the hell are you talking about? How does that answer my question?”

                      Susan wasn’t asking John his stance on metaphysics. She was simply using that question as a way of finding out if John could speak french! In particular, if John has enough french to order in french in the type of situation they are in. And THAT is why she doesn’t demand that John can “wind back the clock of the universe” in order to demonstrate that he “could have” spoken french. He need simply demonstrate he can do so in the *relevantly similar conditions* that gives Susan the information she was seeking. Simply reading the menu order in French moments after having ordered in english suffices to justify the conclusion John “could have ordered for them in french.”

                      When faced with rationalizing any decision, I have to understand what is “possible” for me in the same way as I apprehend what is “possible” for anything else in the world. When I think of what “I” am capable of it will of necessity be inferences drawn from experience in other *relevant* situations in the past, to say “this is a relevantly similar situation, and I have the relevantly similar abilities I had then, so it’s POSSIBLE for me to take this action now IF I want to.”

                      If what I meant was “under precisely the same circumstances” then nothing will ever come back as “possible.” All such answer will be false.

                      How else could we be successful in navigating ourselves through reality if we did NOT have this as a basic conceptual scheme? If we take the world to be physically deterministic, ourselves included, WHAT OTHER form of inference-making could be be using that explains our success?

                      This is why this thinking applies not only to what is “possible” for water or anything else, but for our actions in the world. You can’t neatly separate the two and explain how we get around in reality. This is why my argument is pertinent not only to what “I” as a compatibilist mean by “I could have done X or Y” but it’s an explanation of *what we all tend to mean* when speaking of possibilities, and various actions it is or was “possible” for us to take. We could not have survived if our language about what is or was “possible” for us to do if it only referred to illusion and falsehoods (if we only ever referred to “alternatives are possible under precisely the same conditions).

                      This is why, after this conversation, you will continue to use talk of “possible actions” “could” and “could have” to exchange information with your fellow human beings. It’s not because you have fallen in to some matrix-like illusion. It’s because even as a determinism this is a way we use to yield true information about yourself and the world.

                      Do people make mistakes when thinking about free will? Yes. Similar to how many people make mistakes in understanding where they get their morality, when they think they have gotten it from the bible. They’s misdiagnosed what is really happening in their thinking process when reading the bible (in fact, they are applying their own morality to the scripture to pick and choose).

                      Free Will theories are supposed to be an account for how it is true to say “I could have done otherwise.” What you get are some bad theories to explain it “Oh, I was sure I could have done A or B at the time, and I guess that can only be explained by denying determinism!” But that is simply a misdiagnosis. They were RIGHT that they could have done A or B at the time because the heuristic their brain was ACTUALLY employing was a valid empirical heuristic within a determined world. They were implicitly making inferences not from *precisely the same conditions* but from *relevantly similar conditions* and implicitly employing conditionals to understand what actions were “possible” if they want to take them. There never was a threat to determinism when you look at the way we actually navigate the world!

                      Anyway, that’s my hail-Mary to try to get my point clear through. Thanks for the conversation. I’m out (I think…)

                      Like

                    16. Vaal: Anyway, that’s my hail-Mary to try to get my point clear through. Thanks for the conversation. I’m out (I think…)

                      Yep me too. The problem isn’t that your point isn’t clear, the problem is that your point is not a valid one. Your argument just doesn’t tell us anything about having a choice. For some reason you don’t seem to understand that identifying the different options is not the same thing as making a choice between those different options. But I’ve already been down that road, so I won’t try to rehash it.

                      Thanks for the conversation though.

                      Liked by 2 people

                  2. Darren,

                    And this is how the discussion between the incompatibilist and compatibilist goes.

                    I do appreciate your replies and you are clearly wishing to understand my point of view. So thanks for the conversation. But though you have provided responses to what I wrote, your responses haven’t constituted arguments against what I wrote. They continue to be question-begging replies.

                    Every time you say to me: “you’ve only described an illusion of choice but not an ACTUAL choice” this critique only makes sense insofar as you have assumed that an ACTUAL choice can only be made sense of “if you could have done something differently in precisely the same time/causal state.” But that is THE PROPOSITION UNDER DEBATE. That’s the assumption that I have actually provided arguments against. I’ve explained how saying “I could do A or B” and “I could HAVE done A or B” is simply a CONSISTENT application of empirical thinking of the type we use to apprehend and explain truths about the world. This is the argument you have not actually addressed, only dismissed it as a “red-herring” because what you really want to see me do is demonstrate how it’s true “I could have done otherwise” under *precisely the same conditions.” So you are begging the question and simply not grappling with the examples I’ve given against your assumption and how they support the conceptual scheme I’m arguing for regarding “could have done otherwise.”

                    It seems to me the only hope of breaking this deadlock is to ask you again to answer the question I had posed, because that will put you face to face with the dilemma I’ve posed. Here’s what I hope you will answer directly:

                    You are in a kitchen. You are holding a glass of liquid water. You have a guest who knows nothing about water.

                    QUESTION: How would you impart information about the nature of water to your guest? What exactly can you say?

                    Not “fantasy” or “illusion,” but real honest-to-goodness empirical information about the nature of water.
                    Your description of water will include how it behaves in “room temperature,” “freezing” temperatures, “boiling” etc, would it not?

                    If you answer this question directly, we can see whether you have employed the assumptions and conceptual scheme I’ve described or not. And then trace the implications to what I’ve been arguing when it comes to describing empirical entities like us humans and our deliberations.

                    Thanks.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Vaal: But though you have provided responses to what I wrote, your responses haven’t constituted arguments against what I wrote. They continue to be question-begging replies.

                      You keep using the phrase question-begging. I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means.

                      Every time you say to me: “you’ve only described an illusion of choice but not an ACTUAL choice” this critique only makes sense insofar as you have assumed that an ACTUAL choice can only be made sense of “if you could have done something differently in precisely the same time/causal state.”

                      The definition of choice: “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” Perhaps you can explain how you can have two or more possibilities if you are not talking about the same time/causal state.

                      What you are describing is not a choice. It is just a different result from a different set of inputs. That is not the question I was asking.

                      But that is THE PROPOSITION UNDER DEBATE. That’s the assumption that I have actually provided arguments against.

                      No, you haven’t. You seem to be thinking that I don’t understand what it is that you are saying, so you are saying the same thing over and over again. But I’ve already pointed out why your explanation doesn’t do what you are proclaiming it does.

                      You have yet to show that talking about different situations reflects an accurate reality about having a choice.

                      I’ve explained how saying “I could do A or B” and “I could HAVE done A or B” is simply a CONSISTENT application of empirical thinking of the type we use to apprehend and explain truths about the world.

                      Yes, you have. And I’ve explained why that doesn’t work since you haven’t adequately tied it to having a choice or free will.

                      This is the argument you have not actually addressed, only dismissed it as a “red-herring” because what you really want to see me do is demonstrate how it’s true “I could have done otherwise” under *precisely the same conditions.”

                      Yes. The definition of choice.

                      What exactly do you feel is the definition of choice or free will that you are defending?

                      So you are begging the question and simply not grappling with the examples I’ve given against your assumption and how they support the conceptual scheme I’m arguing for regarding “could have done otherwise.”

                      Ok. But you aren’t demonstrating “could have done otherwise” you are demonstrating “could not have done otherwise unless the initial conditions change”.

                      Not “fantasy” or “illusion,” but real honest-to-goodness empirical information about the nature of water.
                      Your description of water will include how it behaves in “room temperature,” “freezing” temperatures, “boiling” etc, would it not?

                      Sure, because water has no choice but to be what it is. It can’t do anything other than react to the inputs provided. It is completely incapable of being anything than what the inputs dictate it must be. No matter what situation the water is put in, it has no choice but to follow the laws that govern how it will react.

                      If you answer this question directly, we can see whether you have employed the assumptions and conceptual scheme I’ve described or not. And then trace the implications to what I’ve been arguing when it comes to describing empirical entities like us humans and our deliberations.

                      I’m still waiting for you to provide a coherent connection there. So hopefully now that I have answered directly you will be able to produce that connection.

                      Like

        2. Darren: “This is actually why most determinists are determinists. You never choose to fire off those chemicals. They are always fired off because of external stimuli. You don’t choose to love your baby, you just do. And if you don’t then it is because the chemicals didn’t fire off as they would in a neurotypical person.

          The idea of free will doesn’t even survive the thought experiment if you take the path of god not tampering with your neurochemistry.

          But then again, according to the mythology god is the one that created our neurochemistry in the first place. So our feelings of love and anger are already because that is how he made us react to our surroundings.”

          Hi Darren,
          But, can a person not do things to make it easier or harder for these chemicals to be produced or fire? For example if one puts themself in a situation where oxytocin is more likely (or less likely to be produced) – be in a relaxed (or stressed) situation – don’t things like that have at least a minor impact?

          Curious,
          Brian

          Like

          1. Brian: But, can a person not do things to make it easier or harder for these chemicals to be produced or fire?

            Sure, but think about what you are suggesting. You are adding additional causes to help determine if the chemicals will fire or not.

            For example if one puts themself in a situation where oxytocin is more likely (or less likely to be produced) – be in a relaxed (or stressed) situation – don’t things like that have at least a minor impact?

            Absolutely. But the reason they have that impact is because of the external stimuli that are being added to the causal chain of events. And then you have to ask, why did you put yourself in that situation? There is also a causal chain of events that lead up to that as well.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Bryan: “Darren’s point about love was also spot on and raises a common issue we run into in these discussions. Love is definitely biological but if it is “more” those advancing a specific “more” need to define it and demonstrate it’s real. But the way you describe it, if my interacting with god generates the “love chemicals” then that would be biological, no?”

        Hi Bryan,
        I’m not up on experimentation techniques so I may well be wrong. But, doesn’t one first have to define what “love” is? Then get a sample group and test the chemicals active and see if they truly only match to those who have this “love?” If all who have these chemicals and only those who have these chemicals then I would think one would say that “love” mapped onto these chemicals. If there are any with the chemicals who don’t love – or any who love without these chemicals – then I would think there would be a missing factor.

        But, again, not something I know anything about.

        And yes, if your interacting with God generated the love chemicals then it would lend support to the theory of love being biological. And, if God doesn’t exist, then one could have a biological love for that which doesn’t exist and for which one doesn’t know (for one cannot know that which doesn’t exist) and doesn’t have a relationship.

        Appreciating your feedback and comments,
        Brian

        Like

        1. BTW, I didn’t mean to spark off a free will debate, interesting as it has been.

          My point was there’s a difference between me loving God because of who he is and his attributes being attractive to me versus God using something like the Amortentia potion in the Harry Potter stories to make me love him irrespective of whether I would or not absent being given the potion.

          With a powerful being like God, how could I know my love was genuine, not being induced by a divine trick?

          Liked by 3 people

          1. The command to love is even more problematic than we have discussed so far. God is offering a big mansion, royal robes, and golden streets. It is as if he is telling us to love him for all that he has and can do for us. It is a little like a wealthy prince asking a fair maiden to marry him for his money.

            He has castles and servants and money and power, not to mention all those rare and priceless trinkets. He bought you dinner at the most expensive restaurants. He gave you a nice cottage. And he rescued you from that drunk who beat you all the time. To continue living the good life he promises, you just have to love him. Why won’t you love him. Did he mention that he was a wealthy prince?

            I don’t see god’s command to love him any differently.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Darren also mentioned about love being biological. Even if that is true, …

      The science has shown it to be true. 🙂

      ….might not encounters and experiences with God that people talk about – might those not generate the love chemicals?

      I didn’t get the chance to finish my thought on that question, but yes. And it doesn’t even have to be a real encounter with a god. They could just believe they had an encounter with a god. Which is why emotions are not a reliable way to distinguish fact from fiction.

      So, I guess I’m wondering if a person could still love God even if love was biological?

      Love is biological and we love other humans, so yes a person could still love god just like a person can love Santa Clause and a particularly endearing tulpa.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello everyone,

    I just wanted to make the announcement for the show about Marvin vs. David on the Meaning of Life, as David said it was great conversation that totally revolutionized David’s thinking about Marvin and putting their cantankerous past behind them they are now friends. Future friendly convos on other issues are already being planned 🙂

    Enjoy the blog post here = https://realseekerministries.wordpress.com/2020/01/25/the-meaning-of-life-marvin-wallace-christian-vs-david-johnson-atheist/

    Podcast Audio here = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/Discussing-the-Meaning-of-Life–Marvin-Wallace-Christian-vs–David-Johnson-Atheist-eae045

    David, if you wouldn’t mind making the announxement with the two links for people on the Unbelievable Boards that would be great as well 🙂

    Thanks everyone,

    Dale

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There is another substantive point that I think I failed to mention on the show.

    So I agreed that there are various steps to establishing an objective case for the truth of Christianity but I think the Skeptics make a mistake in including irrelevant things that don’t need to be established and/or could be by-passed without need to be established. So for example I don’t need to establish that a higher power exists assign a % value to that and then prove each attribute of God one by one multiplying the % proven level each time- no I can by-pass any need for that by just proving a full God exists with the Ontological argument or the Moral Argument or whatever for example and its the same deal with other issues as well.

    Dr. Alvin Plantinga is brilliant but I think he makes this basic reasoning error himself in relation to the Resurrection evidence he has what he calls the “Problem of Diminishing Probabilities” where he includes a need to prove things like bible inerrancy- no that factor is not necessary to establish the truth of the Rez.

    Here is Dr. William Lane Craig on this reasoning error on his part and I want to warn the skeptic not to make the same mistake in relation to proving God exists vs. a higher power or whatever the issue at hand is.

    See here =https://www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-2/s2-doctrine-of-christ/doctrine-of-christ-part-23/ .

    “Plantinga’s Problem of Diminishing Probabilities

    I think we have time to cover Plantinga’s Problem of Diminishing Probabilities, so let me say something about that. Remember Plantinga said that if you try to argue for the resurrection historically, the probabilities are going to get smaller and smaller and smaller as you get more specific, so that you can’t in the end, perhaps, show that the resurrection is the more probable. Someone in the class remarked, there has got to be something wrong with this argument because we reason like this in science all the time. This would undermine modern science if this were correct.

    Let me give a very good illustration of this fact. There is an astronomical object by the name of Cygnus X-1 that many astronomers think is a black hole. In fact, it is widely regarded as the most probable object to be identified as a black hole. Now the evidence that would establish the identity of Cygnus X-1 as a black hole can be analyzed in this same way. First, you have to assume the Copernican Hypothesis. The Copernican Hypothesis is that the same laws of nature that operate here on Earth operate in distant galaxies and in outer space. If there were totally different laws, then we could not make any inference. So you have got to start by assuming some sort of Copernican principle. Secondly, the General Theory of Relativity needs to be true. In order for black holes like this to exist, you would have to assume Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Thirdly, you need to think that it is probable that the x-ray eclipse of the companion body of Cygnus X-1 is caused by Cygnus X-1 itself. There is a kind of x-ray flux in and out that goes on in its companion body, and you have to say that there must be an invisible object that is causing this. Fourth, the orbit of this companion object indicates that the object is three to four times the mass of the sun – it is about three to four solar masses. And this is an inference based on its orbit – it is the evidence of the orbit that makes you think that Cygnus X-1 is about three to four times the mass of the sun. Fifth, the flickering x-ray output of the object gives it a size of about nine-miles in diameter. So you must infer that this is about the size of the object based on these flickering x-ray outputs. Sixth, no other object can be this small and yet this massive. For example, a neutron star might be an alternative to a black hole, but a neutron star cannot be so small and yet so massive. So, on the basis of these lines of inference, the inference is that Cygnus X-1 is most probably a black hole.

    I think you can see this six step pattern follows exactly the same sort of pattern as the inference to Jesus’ resurrection if you constructed it that way. You might say, “But then when you multiply the probabilities together, they get less and less and less until you conclude Cygnus X-1 is not a black hole,” which would be contrary to what modern science says!

    So what is the problem here in Plantinga’s argument? Where does the fallacy lie? Very simply this: Plantinga forgets that at each successive step, you add in new evidence. You are not considering the additional hypotheses relative to the same evidence again. New evidence is added in at each step so that the probability can actually increase. So, for example, the evidence for the General Theory of Relativity isn’t the same evidence as the evidence for the x-ray eclipse that this object produces. That is new evidence. That is additional evidence. And that doesn’t include the evidence concerning its orbit. That is new evidence that is added in and indicates that the mass is three to four times that of the sun. Then you compute the size on the basis of new evidence. So there is new evidence that is being added in at every step. Or another way to think about it is the way I think someone suggested the other day when we talked about this – you can take all of the evidence and fold it into the original body of evidence and then say, “OK, relative to that total body of evidence, what is the probability that Cygnus X-1 is a black hole?” And relative to that total body of evidence, it is very good; it probably is.

    Similarly, with respect to the resurrection, you don’t need to unfold the evidence step by step; you can just take all of the evidence, put it into the original body of evidence, and say, “OK, what is the probability of the resurrection relative to that body of evidence?” And it can well be over 50%. So in either case, you don’t encounter the problem of dwindling probabilities. You can either add in new evidence at each step so the probabilities don’t dwindle, or you can fold all of the evidence into the original body of evidence to be explained and simply infer immediately to the best explanation of that evidence. That conquers the problem of diminishing probabilities, which saves not only the Resurrection Hypothesis but also the hypothesis that Cygnus X-1 is a black hole.

    Discussion

    Question: Does Alvin know that you disagree with him on that?

    Answer: I don’t know if I have actually said it to him, but what I have shared here is nothing original. This comes from Tim McGrew, who is a professor of philosophy at the University of Western Michigan and an expert in probability theory. McGrew wrote, frankly, just a withering critique of Plantinga’s Problem of Dwindling Probabilities, and I simply am sharing it with you in a very simplified version.

    [A comment that these things occurred in a relationship rather than as individual pieces. They occurred in relationship with each other and should be analyzed together as such and not as disparate pieces.]

    Question: (inaudible)

    Answer: For those that could not hear, he wanted to emphasize that what this shows is that we can’t divorce the existence of God from evidences for Christianity because how you assess the Resurrection Hypothesis is going to depend on how probable you think God’s existence is relative to the background information. That also shows again why science is so important to Christians and why we can’t be indifferent about science, since that will be included in the background information when we assess how probable it is that God exists. I agree entirely, and I think, to repeat, this shows the relationship between natural theology and Christian evidences. Christian evidences build upon the foundation established by natural theology, on which we spent literally weeks in this class, laying a solid foundation for belief in God through the various types of philosophical arguments for God existence.

    Having dispatched those two objections, next time we will consider what is the best approach to determining the best explanation for the data.”

    Like

    1. I’m not familiar with Plantinga’s “Problem of Diminishing Probabilities” argument, and frankly can’t be arsed to look it up.

      But I’m also hesitant to take Craig’s representation of Plantinga’s point as I’ve seen him conveniently strawman other people’s arguments before in the service of apologetics.

      It seems suspicious to me that a careful thinker like Plantinga was making the basic mistake pointed out by Craig.

      It immediately struck me that it makes more sense to me if Plantinga were making that argument in the context of moving from natural theology arguments to probabilities concerning the resurrection, in which case Plantinga would be essentially correct. Ah, but then Craig says:

      “For those that could not hear, he wanted to emphasize that what this shows is that we can’t divorce the existence of God from evidences for Christianity because how you assess the Resurrection Hypothesis is going to depend on how probable you think God’s existence is relative to the background information.”

      ^^^^ And there it is. If that is indeed the context of Plantinga’s argument, he’s right and Craig is off base.
      Craig is always trying to bolster the bogus “cumulative case” for Christianity that starts from a natural theology foundation to purportedly raise the likelihood of the resurrection story.

      He’s just embarrassingly wrong for reasons I’ve gone over again and again here. (You don’t in any practical way raise the probabilities of a resurrection and, as Plantinga would no doubt point out, the more specific you get, adding in all the details of the Christian claim, you get even LESS probability of being correct in terms of what an inference from natural theology could help justify).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well Vaal,

        If you were a real seeker you would know that I already provided you this argument for free on S&S multiple times in the Sources sections- go back and look for yourself before you offer an uniformed attack on William Lane Craig.

        You seem to be spoiling for a fight today for some reason and I’m not in the mood as I’ve just had to put 3 arrogant and hypocritical skeptics in their place today and I don’t wish to have to do so with you too. Please, don’t make ignorant and arrogant pre-judgements, go and read Plantinga and then decide. It’s in the Warranted Christian Belief Book I’ve attached on here in many shows.

        Like

        1. Darn, I’ve missed out on gaining Dale’s Real Seeker Badge Of Merit again? 😉

          Regardless of whatever Plantinga was arguing, the part I quoted from Craig is bogus reasoning, as I’ve argued for already.

          Like

          1. Not really Vaal, you need to be a real seeker before you assert and assume things about Dr. Craig. Anyways, I see that you have not answered me about being willing to not name xall in my answering your Hell questions, so I assume you just wanted to make a statement in response to my answer and not interested in my answers- OK.

            On the Dwindling Probabilities issue, if you don’t like William Lane and won’t read Plantinga’s own words, then how about critiques from these two experts;

            Here try to read Richard Swinburne 7-pages on it here = http://users.ox.ac.uk/~orie0087/pdf_files/Responses%20to%20Controversies/Response%20to%20Dwindling%20Probabilities.pdf

            Or, see the more detailed analysis by Dr. Tim McGrew see starting on p.53/75 or search for “Dwindling Probabilities” here = https://skepticsandseekers.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/tim-and-lydia-mcgrew-resurrection-chapter-in-balckwell-book.pdf

            Like

  10. Hi Gang,
    A few more comments – hope I’m not giving too many.
    Great show – lots of fun listening. Lots of different ways it went.

    The main thing goes back again to Darren’s question “which God?” For example, in talking about worship, I think David talked about getting on one’s knees as a requirement. And, I suspect in a number of denominations that is true. I don’t think it is a requirement in all denominations – and some hold the going to one’s knees is forced while others look at it as a voluntary natural reaction of humans in the presence of God. So it goes back again to which God and which set of Christian beliefs.

    In talking about loving God, both Bryan and David were once Christians and my impression is they would have said they loved God then. Maybe it would be worthwhile to ask yourselves how you knew you loved God back then. Bryan said one needs to know someone to love them. Can you love that which doesn’t exist? I’ve met couples who claim to love their newly conceived child without yet knowing the child. So maybe those love chemicals work and one can love God or a child even if neither exists.

    In the discussion of how to know God, Darren talked about having a chair available for God. Seems to me this is a way of saying one way is to experience God to know God. Many will share ways in which they have experienced God – maybe through worship services or charismatic services or through prayer or retreats or meditation or the liturgy (in some denominations) or reading holy books, etc. I know you will be doing a Pascal show and I’m looking forward to it. He talked about what to do if one wanted to believe but didn’t – to basically fake it until it becomes real. I take it to mean to look at how others know and follow God and try to do the same and see if that works. None of this has worked for me – but that doesn’t mean it might not work for others.

    Finally, about following God – again which God – which denomination – so many have different views. Some might say it means following one’s informed conscience. To me, I suspect people do that whether they hold to a God or not. So, if there is a God, I rather think any who follow their informed consciences are following their God to the best of their abilities even if they don’t believe in God.

    Thanks again for a wonderful show – I thought you all did a terrific job,
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Still waiting…

    After putting myself out there as I did, at least one Christian should have popped up by now to take me up on my offer. I am not going to fake belief. But I am open to suggestion. Introduce me to your god. How do I reach him, or encourage him to reach me?

    One criticism of the show was that I didn’t specify a god. I don’t think that is up to me. I granted the existence of a generic god. It is not my job to know which god concept is correct. Make your best case. You tell me how to reach out to the one true god, or gods. If you have a relationship with a god, tell me what I should do to get in a relationship with your god. At this point, I’ll take any god, even an evil one.

    I’m just trying to establish the truth of the god claim by trying to experience this god the best way I can. Christians, you say I am going to hell for my disbelief. Tell me how to believe. What must I do to come to faith in your god? One would think Christians would have an answer for that. I don’t think they teach this in apologetics class. They are only prepared for fighting. They have no idea what to do wit someone like me who says, you win, now what. Is there anyone who can tell me what to do next? Anyone?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. David,

      I feel that I did provide you one so not sure if you mean you wanted other Christians to give you advice. Obviously, what you have to do is remain a real seeker and seek out any and all new opportunities for you to learn the truth to the best of your ability for the rest of your life minimally. That is what you must do, but I know you say you don’t care about that- fair enough but at least one Christian (me) did tell you what I think you must do next whether you agree with me or not.

      But yeah, otherwise your challenge doesn’t seem to be proper, for example you mentioned you would read any ONE book, or pray for 1 MONTH- there were limits that you placed on the suggestions people could give you which I get why you do this as you don’t want to be committed forever, but that is precisely where the request becomes invalid (in the eyes of Christians)- God doesn’t work on our terms or our schedules and I think that you’ll find even others who reject my real seeker notion, would still tell you that you need to remain open and seek out God’s truth always not just for a limited period of time.

      Now, sometimes God does reveal Himself in the small amount of time and/or someone reads Lee Strobel’s book and converts, but it is wrong to think God is limited to a one-size fits all approach in reaching people- what works for one does not work for everyone. So if other Christians take the bait so to speak (lol) it would be interesting to see if they disagree with me in thinking that God ought not to be put to the test in such a manner as you propose here- with certain self-imposed restrictions.

      That’s just my take but I think its a good thing if you genuinely want to be open to God’s truth and not just test Him- forget about my real seeker stuff as I know people react badly to it, why not keep it simple just say that you’ll be open to God revealing the truth to you for the rest of your life without restriction as to how or when God reveals it to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know you believe you have answered the challenge/request. But you haven’t from my perspective. I asked for a concrete course of action. Be a real seeker is not a concrete course of action. It is a bumper sticker.

        Be open is not a call to action. I am open to the possible reality of space aliens visiting the earth in my lifetime. But I am not spending any effort researching it as I don’t believe it has happened. But if it does and is documented in a convincing way, I would not reject the reality for some religious purposes.

        The same is true with god. I don’t believe he is real. But this is the problem with apologetics. You can win the argument and I can be cornered into admitting the possibility or even likelihood of god existing. Now what? That does not change the belief or disbelief in my heart. You have to have something more than that. So that is what I am asking for. What does the Christian have for the nonbeliever beyond the apologetic arguments? How can we go from intellectual ascent to actual belief, worship, and love?

        You are not offering anything that can help me there. You are saying that I should be a real seeker for the rest of my life. I contend that the act of seeking as you speak of it, is a faith-based act. But I don’t have any faith. So I would need faith to devote my life to seeking

        That said, I am willing to explore any avenues I haven’t tried. I am willing to give this god of yours a chance to introduce himself. I am being as open as I can be. Yes, there are limits. I believe those limits are reasonable. Sorry if you don’t. I will go through whatever intense seeking program anyone wants to suggest and outline for me within reason.

        For instance, if they say I need to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, I’m out. I can’t afford it. Don’t bother. If someone says I need to read the entire works of Augustine in the original language, or take a university course, I can’t do it. That is impractical. But it says something that the only way this person thinks I can come to the knowledge of their god is to do something impractical.

        By not making any practical suggestions, you are going the other way. You give me platitudes rather than suggestions. And you place no reasonable limits on the search. That pretty much disqualifies your suggestion from consideration. If god cannot communicate with an interested party in a month, I don’t know what game he is playing or why I should care.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Hey David,

          OK but believe it or not, I do think the real seeker suggestion does have real import for you, even without faith, it is a change in attitude whereby you remain open to any and all new concrete opportunities that come your way- so I’ll make a couple suggestions for you as a start but then if they don’t work, remain open to other suggestions at least until you feel confident enough that you have knowledge on the subject in a 100% degree whatever way.

          That said, I will give you a couple of real concrete suggestions right here and now that I think will be a good start for you.

          1. The historical evidence for the Resurrection- I highly recommend you read Mike Licona’s book “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach”- I found this book very thorough and its probably one of the best treatments out there covering various angles in fuller detail. You haven’t read too many 700 page books and I think that there are lots of things in these books that could help you out. That said, if you don’t have the money, I posted for free on our S&S site when we interviewed him his earlier PhD thesis which is about 500 pages and is more or less the same thing as buying the book, you could take some time and read that, see here = https://skepticsandseekers.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/mike-licona-phd-dissertation-on-the-resurrection.pdf

          Now, I would say not to stop there but check out maybe 2-3 other books by Christians like N.T. Wright’s book and I have some recommendations but if only one book is what you want than read Mike’s book- seriously its the best one out there in my books (until Gary publishes his 5000 page book he is working on right now on it).

          2. The Shroud of Turin, I get that saying well read all the peer-reviewed sources may be too much- even just the 26 ones available for free on Shroud.com but how about you at least read through the single 80-page source I sent to Sarah as it summarizes all of the major evidences and theories about the Shroud, its history in a an easy to understand format with pictures and everything. See here = https://www.shroudofturin.com/Resources/CRTSUM.pdf or I can send it to your email as an attachment.

          How about these two real suggestions as a start?

          Like

          1. There are three problems with this post:

            1. You assume I haven’t read many 700 page books. Wrong! I did spend a little time in college. And I was a preacher after all. I have read a lot of dusty old tomes. Never assume.

            2. Your first suggestion is a 700 page book on a subject that doesn’t matter to my faithlessness. I lost my faith while I believed Jesus was a historical figure. You are simply barking up the wrong tree. I consistently argue against theism while assuming the historicity of Jesus. So reading a book about it will not help.

            3. The shroud has no bearing on my faith. I was a Christian while not believing in the shroud. I have read way more on that subject than I can fully digest. I have listened to all the debates and find all sides interesting. But at the end of the day, I am not remotely convinced by the shroud even if you could counter all my objections and leave me admitting I don’t know. That, by the way, is the state I am in now. Another book on that will not do the trick.

            The shroud is a mysterious artifact that doesn’t even convince most Christians. I can easily grant the historicity of Jesus without missing a beat. I would think you already know this about me. Yet your best suggestions are these? I’m going to hold out a bit and see if some other Christian has something a bit more practical than that.

            By the way, I find it interesting that you didn’t suggest some part of the Bible, or some commentary on some part of the Bible, or prayer, or something remotely spiritual. I am already granting you the intellectual argument for god. We don’t need apologetic tools from here. We need something that can speak to my heart or bring me into a close encounter. But you are an apologist. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

            Dale, my friend, I’m not a nail.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. David,

              I was so exited as it really sounded like you were open to any and all suggestions here and I really tried my best to give you my best shot for you having just one shot to get through to you and wet your appetite but then I see this reply and it depressed me, I feel tricked and duped, not saying that is what you were trying to do but you have no idea how depressing it is to me as I really thought you meant it and were willing to take any advice so long as it was concrete and doable and tired so hard to provide that to you- free sources in the form of a book and website.

              I was literally really excited when I thought you were genuine and I now feel depressed and defeated (not totally blaming you, but I just thought I had a chance to really get through to you here).

              1. I didn’t assume the book thing David, I was going by your own words in the Keener or Brown show I think where you explicitly said you don’t read many 700 page books anymore. So I was not insulting you but just taking what you said in your own words seriously.

              2. Licona’s book is on the Resurrection and has many great things in it that can speak to you on many different levels- trust me it is really worth the read- take some months to go over it, I’m telling you it will minimally change your mind and/or open your mind to some of things that you believe and which are really false right now, I think even if it fails to convince you, it will make you a more substantive Atheist debater- really I do.

              3. The Shroud- David you simply do not have an adequate foundation of knowledge on the Shroud in the same way you may be said to have a foundation on the Rez- I really wanted to give you this as my best source to potentially peak your interest in it as it is literally the best thing on the Shroud for someone on a intro level. It is the best source for someone who knows nothing about the Shroud to learn everything about the Shroud all in one easy to read source (albeit from a bird’s eye level).

              All I can say is please take these two suggestions- try it, I really do think if you approach them with an open mind then you may learn a thing or two and/or even be inspired to want to look further into them on your own with other sources. Please take advantage of my two recommendations here David, otherwise I don’t know, I just feel duped by your request- another skeptical farce and I fell for it 😦

              Like

              1. You couldn’t be more wrong. You are just wrong about me and my response to you. So I will try again and hope it gets through to you.

                First, I did limit it to any one book. So you propose the equivalent of 2 and possibly more. Unless you are feeling there is some magic in reading about the shroud, you know that is one of the subjects I am most closed to for the many reasons I have conveyed over these many months. You don’t know how disappointing it was to me when your response was to just give another plug for the thing I have repeatedly described as kook theology. Is this really all you are about? With an opportunity like the one I gave you, this is how you use it?

                I will check out what I can of Mike’s book. But one reason I limited it to one book is that other people might have other suggestions. But you can’t recommend a human-sized book. Are there none you would find convincing or helpful? Do you know how much time it will take me to read that one book, even the shorter version? Again, this is who you are. But it is not who I am.

                Do you really believe there is a scholarly argument on the resurrection I haven’t heard? I believe your suggestions show just how out of touch you are with the average person and the mainstream Christianity of the fat middle. You will make a great apologist one day. But you will make a lousy evangelist. One just has to win arguments. The other has to persuade.

                You spent your one book suggestion on Licona. I have no intention of diving any deeper into the shroud. If that disappoints you, then you have too much reliance on the shroud. You should reevaluate that. You have already given a book assignment. Do you have any other suggestions?

                Like

                1. David,

                  (Sigh) OK well you have mentioned you will at least read the Licona book that I thought would help you, but you seem closed-minded to it before you even begin so probably best you don’t even worry about it- I officially give up trying at this point.

                  Instead feel free to do a song and dance with your farcical praying exercise to a God that you don’t really believe in for a month or so and then you can make your inevitable pronouncement that God failed to speak to you as though that somehow proves that God doesn’t exist and/or that you are justified in not believing- that’s really all you seem to want to do, so go ahead and do it already, but I’ll tell you now that the Christians on here and God can see through that kind of charade.

                  Again, I’m not trying to start a fight with you at all, I’m really just out of steam and in despair as to how you have read my comments meant to be helpful in such a bad way; I really thought you were being sincere in asking me for concrete suggestions as to what you could do next in the light of your good convo with Marvin and I did my best to provide some good suggestions on that front, but alas to no avail.

                  Take care David, I let this be my final word on this 😦

                  Like

                  1. I can easily express the same disappointment in you. I thought you would take an honest stab at a suggestion as opposed to purposely sabotaging the effort with the shroud and 700 pages of something I am very familiar with. This might surprise you. But as I started reading the Licona work, it was very familiar. I don’t think I have read the whole thing. But I have read much of this before. You see, you are not the only one who has done a lot of reading of this type. I am not an academic. But I have been hanging around academics my whole life. I used to do this kind of reading for fun. You underestimate me.

                    You judge that my invitation is only a farce to make Christians and their god look bad. Dale, you guys have been doing that without my help. It is a shame that you believe the only outcome to such a challenge is that there can be no response for such as me. You discourage other Christians from wasting their time because you know it is a waste of time. It is not that I am insincere. It is that at the end of the day, you know your god will not come through.

                    I am setting up a falsifiable scenario. I can’t help that. You are constantly making philosophical arguments about the existence of god. Did you ever consider what might happene if you ever won? You haven’t. But you could. What you would end up with is someone like me: a person who theoretically lost the argument and is forced to admit that logically, there must be a god. But in his heart, does not believe any such thing. You have to learn the difference between winning an intellectual argument and helping a person come to faith in god.

                    That is a lesson I learned when I was 10.

                    Now I am giving you the chance to explore the next step with someone who is open to your suggestions but still doesn’t believe. This has to be done honestly. Your solution was to study the shroud some more and seek for the rest of my life. I should write you off completely. But true to my word, I am reading the book, I am almost certain for the second time.

                    Now, I’m still waiting for someone to suggest a way forward for a person who does not believe in god but is willing to give him a chance to bring me to faith. You have a month to play with my life. If all I have at the end of this experiment is a book review of an academic work that pretty much no one in this audience has or will ever read, I would consider it a loss. If there is a god who wants to be known by such as me, he’s got my attention. I am looking at signs, listening for voices, and watching for interesting coincidences. I’ll let you know how it goes.

                    Stop being so afraid of putting your god to the test and start trying to figure out how one practically can go from not believing to believing. Thing is, if this were a challenge to discover Satan, all of you Christians would be worried that I could easily open a door to the dark kingdom just by drawing pentagrams and playing with Ouija boards. But you are so convinced that nothing I do can open the door to your god that you want even offer any practical suggestions to someone begging you for them.

                    You all are so worried that I am playing a game that you will inevitably lose that you won’t even try to bring an unbeliever to belief when he is open to your suggestions. If this were such a game, you already lost. Be ashamed. You could have had me in conversation with local pastors, sent me to church services, had me on my aching knees in daily prayer. I would have done it all, and still would if someone sincerely thought it might help.

                    What this tells me is that you think your god is so weak and pathetic, he can’t break through and make himself known to a sincerely open unbeliever. Fine. Go back to your regularly scheduled debates on trinities and cosmological arguments. The whole point of this weeks podcast is to get atheists to get past the arguments and explore what’s next. Well guess what, you Christians should be doing the same. After you are done playing apologetics games and you get someone to agree, what’s next.

                    What’s next!

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. David,

                      As I said, I wasn’t trying to start a fight with you as you have been kind and understanding toward me this last week. So, I was being as honest as I could in wanting to help you, but you think I am playing a game with you. All I will say is that I’m not or wasn’t playing a game here and I’m literally so saddened that you feel this way on what happened here that as I’ve honestly given up hope in reaching skeptics through Discussion Boards- no matter what I say or do it is always taken in the wrong way.

                      That said, I don’t want this to sound mean but I have to be true to God by warning my Christian brothers and sisters not to fall into David’s trap of testing God in the way he proposes. Jesus warns us strictly against the kind of thing that David is demanding here whereby he demands God play to David’s tune as though under an ultimatum of prove to me your real in 1 month or time’s up, I will never be open to you again. That kind of excercize is fruitless according to the Word of God and that is simple Biblical fact that the guy on the street will agree with me on.

                      To be honest, if Go did bend to your unreasonable demands than I would think the Bible must have an error in it and perhaps even think Christianity is false as a result as God is not the Sovereign God represented in Scripture if that were to be the case. Human being have no right to make ultimatums with God and demand he prove himself in the way they want or at the time most convenient to their own selfish interests; it is merely our job to be humble and open-minded toward God’s truth whenever and however it comes.

                      That’s the best advice I can literally give you, you can either take it or not.

                      Thank you and take care,

                      Dale

                      Like

                    2. That kind of excercize is fruitless according to the Word of God and that is simple Biblical fact that the guy on the street will agree with me on.

                      To be honest, if God did bend to your unreasonable demands than I would think the Bible must have an error

                      Elijah and prophets of Baal?
                      Many a guy on the street has sincerely called out to god in his hour of need, and not heard back. Many, almost had the right one (Jewish in Auschwitz). For some, it was the the first time it occurred to them. But then they died. The end.

                      Like

                    3. Sorry that should have been.

                      Dale That kind of excercize is fruitless according to the Word of God and that is simple Biblical fact that the guy on the street will agree with me on.

                      To be honest, if God did bend to your unreasonable demands than I would think the Bible must have an error

                      Elijah and prophets of Baal?
                      Many a guy on the street has sincerely called out to god in his hour of need, and not heard back. Many, almost had the right one (Jewish in Auschwitz). For some, it was the the first time it occurred to them. But then they died. The end

                      Like

                    4. Dear Dale,

                      My name is Sanjib Patel, I live in a remote village in India. Christian missionaries have been once and said I could meet their god. One was ok, the others were really horrible people, I wasn’t impressed with them. Very materialistic. It pretty much put me of their god. However, Apparently he came down to earth and rose again. I find that hard to believe. What evidence have you? I have seen Ganesh drinking milk at my temple and that was amazing. I got goosebumps and felt warm inside. But even then I’m not sure Ganesh should be replaced. How do I connect with your god?
                      May Ganesh bless you
                      Sanjib.

                      Narrator Sanjib has no access to the internet. He is not a privileged western guy living in the 21st century. He can’t read or write. He also doesn’t have much time to study as he works 3 jobs to gain 1$ a day to live on which he hopes might save his eldest daughter being sold into prostitution. Life is hard, rough and short

                      DALE. ok no shroud, no Licona books, no WLC. It’s got to be answer 4; inner witness of the Holy Spirit.

                      SANJIB ‘That‘s along the lines of what the missionaries said. I gave that a shot, but nothing happened,so I’ve given up. I am now dying of dysentery. ‘

                      Sometime later sanjib’s family has confirmed his demise.
                      There was no deathbed conversion.
                      He died still asking the Christian god to help.
                      He was begging for his life at this point, so it was pretty sincere.

                      Was this poor fool a real seeker? Where was god?why didn’t he turn up?
                      Answer; to keep the whole making sense: he did it on the other side of the curtain. 🤦🏽‍♀️

                      -“…….”……….”……..

                      Dear Dale,

                      My name Jacob Ben David. I am a Jew stuck in a concentration camp, it’s 1943. I have a reasonable understanding of my culture heritage/faith, though I wasn’t especially practising. Many of us our crying out to Yahweh in here. We are terrified, alone, starving and ill. We are dying in great numbers. Someone said god works it all out molonistically speaking. I’m afraid, after seeing my wife brutally raped and my daughter sodomised by guards and myself having to sleep among rotting cadavres, I have lost all hope in that notion. In fact I have lost all hope, I long for death. Why would god make such a world? It makes no sense. Yahweh doesn’t exist, I have no choice to conclude otherwise.

                      A messianic Jew said I should try his god, Jesus. It seems it’s my tradition plus+. Apparently it’s foretold in our scriptures, but everything I have read so far in our book isn’t viewed like that. i have dismissed it therefore as bunk. I haven’t the stomach to plead anymore to a new god, I just await death.

                      Shalom,Jacob

                      Narrator Jacob, died aged 25 pleading to both the gods briefly One last time. He reported no comfort or the inner witness of anything nor a proper basic belief happening.

                      Was this poor fool a real seeker? Where was god? why didn’t he turn up? Why couldn’t he have a relationship with this man through this experience? A few in the camps said they did but it wasn’t possible for this to be experienced by all.
                      Answer; to keep the whole making sense: he did it on the other side of the curtain. 🤦🏽‍♀️
                      .………

                      Dear Dale,

                      My name is Sarah Sarkiwench. I am of average intelligence. When I was born, the sun was in the sky at the top bit, so I am naturally a hilarious type and make a lady called Teddi laugh a lot.
                      I tried your god with all the upfront loading of faith and indoctrination to give me a head’s start. I have done some studying on it. I was let down by what was promised and had to admit I no longer bought it. I tried long and hard. I felt a million times better when I stopped and lots of things made more sense.

                      A chap called Gale Dover talked to us a lot about his view. he is very very bright. Somehow, his theories seem to look a bit ‘odd’ to me, some thing is a bit off. I’m not that bright so can’t always know why. It’s more intuition. Gale has no time for intuition, it is not logical. However, It all strikes me as odd as it causes his moral compass to get lost, it involves a lot of studying of things I’m not that interested in. You can almost never get a pass mark. His god is bit mean and I see a lot of special pleading and whitewashing. Sometimes killing people is ok and once he tried to make me believe in a talking donkey. It also rests on a key idea of real seekers. But I know Jacob and Sanjib, so I know it’s not really a true thing, but we’re not allowed to question it or he gets a bit mad at you.

                      Why didn’t your god reveal himself to me? What should I do now? I don’t believe in the following and can’t make myself change view; a notion of hell, a cosmic spiritual battle, molinistic dodas, real seeker. I find the point of no return unlikely, though may be somewhere north of London. Mostly it seems to be after death thing where god goes ‘tada!’ Maybe we’ll all have a good laugh about it then, I don’t know. Other Christians tell me otherwise. Other ones, tell them otherwise too. It never ends. No one has any idea but they are good at Pretending to know and getting along despite their differences for the sake of the kingdom. Except when they don’t and have wars over it.

                      I’ve given up. It was like hockey. I gave it a go, but I got a bit sick of being whacked in the legs. It wasn’t for me.
                      Do I have to pick a side? I’m happy enjoy the experience of life and i mostly doesn’t know. Is that not ok?

                      Regards
                      Thicko.

                      This is a billion people’s story. Meeting with this god seems to happen behind closed crematorium doors. Which is Infalsifiable, unlikely, and worse, if true, shows your god as shy and not at all wanting us to discover him on earth. So he has lied about wanting a relationship plain and simple.

                      Like

                    5. Stop being so afraid of putting your god to the test and start trying to figure out how one practically can go from not believing to believing. Thing is, if this were a challenge to discover Satan, all of you Christians would be worried that I could easily open a door to the dark kingdom just by drawing pentagrams and playing with Ouija boards.

                      So true! Satan was certainly more active. More likely to pop out, more influential on your character and mind. I had no problem believing if you sincerely called him up he’d be right there. That’s what made him so dangerous and frightening. You had to constantly be protected and prayed for, and against him. He prowled nearby, he never left you side. He whispered to your mind constantly. God and the Holy Spirit were much harder work. They managed to break through the army of demons on a Sunday to make an appearance in our Charismatic Movement, but I understand not everyone was so lucky. I could hardly tell between the inner witness of the HS and my own preferences and thoughts. Every bad thought was clearly from Satan.

                      @ Dale. If this challenge was being offered to the dark lord, to reveal himself, would you attribute a high or lower probability that after a month of sacrificing chickens and sincerely learning all we could about lucifer, we would be pretty much walking around with our heads spinning? I think most Christians would be horrified and do all they could to stop a person from doing this, so likely they’d think it pretty likely to succeed. There’d be no doubt in their mind you’d have an encounter. Why don’t they attribute their god with the same power? Ask them how to encounter their god, and they give you a commemorative tea towel with a faint pattern on it.

                      Like

                    6. David: “Did you ever consider what might happene if you ever won? You haven’t. But you could. What you would end up with is someone like me: a person who theoretically lost the argument and is forced to admit that logically, there must be a god. But in his heart, does not believe any such thing. You have to learn the difference between winning an intellectual argument and helping a person come to faith in god.”

                      Hi David,
                      Your above comment made me remember an argument that my little brother had with our mom years ago when he was in grade school. At the end of the argument, which my mom dominated, my brother cried out in frustration: “Just because you argue better that me doesn’t mean you are right!!!” I have always thought those were pretty wise words coming from a small child.

                      Enjoying a flashback to my youth,
                      Brian

                      Like

              2. I gotta be honest, Dale, I agree with David.

                I asked you to introduce me to your god on the podcast, and you started speaking out loud to him. Is that how it works? He didn’t speak back that I heard, did he speak back to you?

                If I wanted to introduce you to someone alive today, I wouldn’t point you to a book or dirty laundry of theirs. I’d introduce you to them. Why can’t god do this?

                The skeptics have provided pushback on why books and shrouds aren’t convincing. Yet you still push them on us as if you haven’t heard what we’ve had to say in rebuttal and instead claim we’re not real seekers if we don’t read your sources. That’s pretty presumptuous of you given I’m sure the fraction of the human population that has access to your recommendations is infinitesimal Are there really so few to almost no real seekers in the world?

                I hope you’ll take this feedback in the spirit it’s intended. Even now that we’ve had the chance to speak to each other, I don’t feel like I’m getting heard. I think other skeptics would agree. You have to start putting yourself in others’ shoes. Remember I was in your shoes for 30 years..

                Take care.

                Liked by 2 people

                1. Hey Bryan,

                  Yes I believe you mean this in good faith my friend so thank you for that, but I would just say please understand I really did get exited as it seemed David really was saying, “Hey, I’m up for anything, give me your best shot and I’ll give it a go”- and I get that you guys are disappointed with what I offered, but that really was my best most thoughtful way I could think of to offer something meaningful that may even inspire David to want to go on or at least realize there is more to the case than he is aware of.

                  You’re saying introduce me to God as though he is a flesh and blood human being wasn’t an honest point, you knew that wouldn’t happen- God doesn’t get tested or play to our tune like that. That was why I wanted to tell you remain a real seeker, look for and take advantage of the opportunities that God gives you and he will eventually reach out to you in one way or another.

                  I’m not sure what David expected me to provide him as advice as he rejects being open to properly basic beliefs via the inner witness of the Holy Spirit- had I say remain open to that, it probably would have been worse. If I was disingenuous and said just pray to God or read the Bible (which he has already done many times) that would probably not work and at worst it would cause David to sin as he would then be mocking God and me by pretending and going through the motions. So this is why I saw the objective evidences route as the best option. For me, there are 2 objective evidences that have provided me with sufficient warrant on a balance of probabilities- the Rez and the Shroud- hence why I tried to give sources related to that.

                  I don’t think asking someone to take some months to read one book on an issue where David knows the main arguments from popular level debates, but I’m not sure how much he knows in depth about it- trust me reading books like the one I gave is entirely different than listening to a debate on Unbelievable or S&S and thinking you know the arguments. Again, one book is hardly enough on its own, but as I only was able to give one book I choose the one that had the most impact on me personally in terms of the evidence and that I thought handles the material very thoroughly and properly and would give David a good grasp on the scholarly views out there as well if he wanted to investigate further. This may have been insulting to David but I know for a fact he has explicitly told us on S&S that the material that Keener on Acts for example or sometimes when I present mainstream ideas from these books I’m treated as though I’m presenting some weird unique idea that seem to be entirely new to David and so I think its fair to say, yes I think its time for an update and this is the best source I know of to help him do that.

                  As to the Shroud, I know for a fact David hasn’t studied the topic properly just from the things he lists off as constituting what he has done- remember my test last week David has no idea what the most important features of the Shroud evidence is or if he does why didn’t he reveal that he has looked into it then. The source I gave would actually provide an overview of everything so that he would be able to actually say yes I know the lay of the land in Shroud research now and then he could decide nothing to see here or maybe there is more to it then he gives it credit for. The source does a good job of representing the main views- pro and skeptic so its a good launching pad whereas simply listening to my debates with Alan is not- we covered a very limited and a non-important issue like the dating. If you cared about truth, wouldn’t you want to reject the Shroud evidence based on the best case made for it (i.e. my Minimal Relevant Features approach) rather than the worst case for it?

                  I suppose I could have offered the Messianic Prophecies angle and/or Mike Brown’s books on Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus as reading those books really allowed the H.S. to produce a PBB in me, but I suspect as David hates Dr. Brown he wouldn’t have wanted to pay money to buy his books.

                  So yeah, I really feel if your going to make this seemingly heart-felt appeal to Christians and say “I’m really open here, give me your best advice” and then one does so and you then try to shame them for trying to help you- I’m sorry I don’t see how you can agree with David. Its like saying I’m open to the truth but so long as he reveals it to me in comic book within the next 20 mins- anything other than that, too bad, so sad type deal. No, you really need to be willing to do your best effort to find the truth on God’s terms and David is capable of reading a 500 page book-I didn’t demand he pay money, or spend years researching or go to school or travel the world, I simply gave him a free online book and said take some time to digest this material with an open mind and a sincere desire to find truth. Why does he need it to be 1 month time limit, who made that rule up?

                  Thank you again for your take, but I really do see it as problematic if my asking you to read one book that I know David would enjoy reading as he loves the subject matter on various fronts, why is that asking too much- its not really, not if you are sincerely looking for the truth instead of make a point and I think you kind of get what I’m saying here.

                  Take care my friend 🙂

                  Dale

                  Like

          2. I must say the shroud material from the link is rather underwhelming. I’m willing to bet that none of the Christians on this board have bothered to read it, and for good reason. I suspect that most of the sources used are not what many outside of Catholicism would consider reliable. Even as a Christian, I and most of the scholars I knew (which was quite a lot) would have dismissed this document on the basis of the mix of superstition and hearsay cobbled together as fact.

            This is not a fair description of everything in the document. But it is a little like making a case for the martyrdom of the apostles on the basis of some of the Catholic source material they typically use to make the case. It is a poor case built on unreliable material. The more I read of it, the less convinced I become.

            But maybe it is not the evidence of the documentation that matters. Maybe there is some mystical experience to just reading it. So I will soldier on and see if something speaks to me beyond the words. There is always excedrin for the headaches.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. David,

              Sorry I just saw this now- even though I hate what you’ve written here about the Shroud and I don’t think you’ve really put too much into assessing the source, but given that you were just going to ignore it entirely at first, the fact that you’ve at least scanned it means a lot to me and as such I will respect your take on the Shroud evidence there and I won’t even probe you for more specific as to why you feel this way.

              Thank you for at least scanning over it and for not using your unimpressed state as a means of falsifying God- fair enough, maybe there is another way that might speak to you.

              On that front as you have shown a gesture of respect for me, I want to make another suggestion to you that might be helpful based on things that you said would be more helpful to you.

              Dr. Keener has a great free online bible commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (also Romans and Acts if you like) but maybe watch the 19-video series on Matthew here =https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jejjJJ8bDM&list=PLnNXzYjQerJidshPWCq2OrdQ4V3rjgDc3

              Next, do you you give me permission to pray for you and have my chruch pray for you as you open mindedly listen to it? Further, so long as you think it is possible for the Christian God to be true, than you can make a general pray for a month to God to reveal Himself, but only if you really think it is possibly true otherwise it is a sinful farce on your part and I can’t make that recommendation in good faith.

              Finally, going to church services and talking to a Pastor- yes this is fine if you find a proper Bible believing church but I get the sense. I’ve sensed with you that there is a strong volitional element to your disbelief in Christianity- perhaps they can address some of your emotional or volitional doubt issues in ways that I just wouldn’t know how to- so give that a go as well if done in good faith and you must be honest, don’t let your ego stand in the way and pretend your disbelief is purely intellectual as I think there is more to it than you want to admit so be as honest as you can to the Pastor to see if it will help.

              Finally, maintain that humble real seeker attitude- look at these means not as a falsification test but a verification test- you are open to God revealing Himself in the month while you do these and look for further opportunities he might give you beyond the 1 month time, but say even if nothing happens than you won’t use that as some means to falsify God as doing so would be using the wrong test (according to the Bible) in the same way my saying there was no orange on my table this morning, therefore this falsifies the theory of evolution. In the same way the Bible tells us we can’t demand when and how God speaks to us (within reasonable limits and moral/logical principles of course) and as such it would be wrong to say, look I did all of these things for a month and nothing happened therefore God doesn’t exist, the Bible says that is the wrong way to go about it, instead seek him out humbly all your life and be open to any and all opportunities wherever, however or whenever they come.

              Like

              1. You should know I did a lot more than scan it. I read the first 71 pages of it. I will try to finish it by the weekend. But no promises. I will not get into the specifics beyond that which I have said already. But much of this is very familiar to me. I couldn’t pass a test on it even now. But I am familiar with it. I used to read Catholic sources for lots of things. And I can say that I am simply not impressed with a lot of what Catholics consider rigorous argumentation and documentation.

                These are the same people who bring us Mary’s perpetual virginity, Purgatory, and popes speaking ex cathedra. I reject all of that even though it is covered by much scholarship and documentation. Do some reading on the process of sainthood. I think you will see my point if you tried.

                You will want to listen to this week’s show I will try to put out this evening. After spending the first hour complaining about suggestions offered by Christians, I spend the next hour bending over backward trying to accommodate the Christian view into my search. I have decided to pursue the search with or without Christian help or blessing. I am beyond caring about someone else’s opinion of my sincerity. I argue against Bryan in favor of a Christian position for the sake of the search. But I end with an honest question that makes the search extremely difficult. You will want to listen to the whole two hours.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. Hey David,

                  I will definitely listen to the full show, I always do anyways- whenever I listen to your shows I always make sure to listen to the full thing and not just parts of it, so I will really consider what you say now that I know you’ve read through the Shroud thing up to page 71- that is really wonderful esp as you will now be getting into the most important bits on Section 4: Image Characteristic Evidence and various theory analysis.

                  That said, I get what you might be saying in regards to the Historical facts but not the medical or linen cloth evidence this supported by modern secular fact and there are sources on that in the peer-reviewed literature by the world’s experts in those areas, so your take is not really true even if there may be some things in there like the “H-facts in Section 1 that are as you describe them here based on speculation and traditions- again its only an intro level source giving an overview of all the various info/data on the Shroud and that includes the various theories that historians have about the Shroud’s providence that aren’t meant to be reported as solid fact in the same way the data of the other sections is meant to be such. Pay attention whether the fact is reported as a Class 1, 2 or 3 level fact in the left column and remember my case for the Shroud is only based on the Class 1 facts (Minimal Relevant Features), so try not rule out everything just because they report on Class 3 level facts so people are aware of them in this survey of the evidence.

                  That said, if you do press on and finish the rest of it, even if you still feel the way you do now about it, I promise I will back you up as a real seeker on the Shroud going forward despite your disagreement with me on it, as it seems you are doing your best to give it a go here. I would just say try to take it seriously esp in the next sections you’re about to get into- these are solid facts published in the peer-review.

                  Anyways, I will forever be grateful that you are doing this and even though it is not going according to plan in your assessment of it, it really does mean a lot to me that you are giving it a go here 🙂

                  Thanks and I look forward to hearing your show and speaking to you tomorrow morning with Stanley 🙂

                  Dale

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. Hey Dale, really looking forward to your thoughts on the show when you’re ready. We brought you up by name a good amount; it was really helpful to have concrete ideas and a paradigm to kick around. If you feel you were misrepresented at all, please do speak up.

                    Cheers.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Hey Bryan, yes I’ve just finished listening now, I have to say I was not impressed with the first 13 mins or so- David wants me to die by burning or something???? But yeah, I get that was just him venting a little and once we got past that, I found the convo more helpful on how you guys saw my advice so that was helpful for me to see what I said through your eyes.

                      I’ve written up some substantive notes but I’d like to re-listen again first after my show with David and Robert Stanley before I post it on those Boards. But just something quick for you, I wasn’t contradicting myself when I introduced you to God, I was being sarcastic when I did that as I honestly thought you were joking at the time yourself when you said that on last week’s show, so I was sort of saying “Yeah God meet Bryan” in a sarcastic way there- my main point was about being the real seeker for life and that was my serious answer to you about how you would meet God.

                      Liked by 1 person

  12. The new BSC is out. We can all Thank Sarah for this abomination of a story. I was on my way out the door when I read her email suggestion and I turned right around and did the recording. It cost me an hour. But it will only cost you five minutes. Enjoy:

    https://bscweekly.home.blog/2020/01/27/satanic-pregnancies/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just as well you got straight on it. I gave you a head’s start. I then sent it to Smalley. Whilst it would take a special person to wish to use their unfortunate situation, it is not to make White look like the loon she is, it’s to have a chance to have her power/influence removed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sarah,

        There are no reply buttons to your posts to me. Elijah was a perfect example of a prophet doing the bidding of God where God wanted to prove Himself on His terms in that context. The point about not testing God is an attitudinal one- we must not be an arrogant human being making demands of God as some kind of ultimatum to falsify him but instead humbly submit to His truth whenever and however it comes- that is the difference that is key and why David’s and your refusal to read that Shroud source is a case in point that you have the wrong attitude and thus its a waste of time to make any recommendations in the first place. You mock the Shroud evidence but are entirely ignorant of it- remember I proved this was the case when you couldn’t even answer me what the 7 categories of Minimal Relevant Features (without looking it up in my Shroud stuff) were- this is literally the most important thing for you guys to know and you were all clueless- therefore, none of you have the right to judge the evidence or me for believing it until you do learn these fact minimally. It is scientifically proven that some form of Radiation from the Body of a human male corpse made to resemble Jesus of the Gospels is the best explanation for the formation of the images on the Shroud and the source I sent David and you would reveal the basic case for this scientific conclusion to you for why that is the case. Radiation coming from a dead body in this way so as to form unique images on some “dirty laundry” is not a natural phenomenon that modern scientists recognize and thus I’d submit is an event worthy of further consideration than what you or any other skeptic on here has given it.=- your knowledge base is inadequate to entitle you to an opinion on it at the moment I’m sorry to say.

        As to the Rez book, I missed out that David says he has read Mike’s book in his last comment- interesting how??? He doesn’t own the book and its new so he didn’t read it during his own research phase- maybe he read the link I posted when I put it up a year ago when Mike came on the show- but fair enough then I ask him to re-read it again but this time make notes of the positive or strong points he thinks Mike makes and the negative or weak arguments he makes and list out any questions or areas of further inquiry he has from reading it and then he can do further research on his own to try and find answers for those questions from a Christian perspective and compare them to answers from non-Christian scholars that he is already aware of. That is how I would proceed with that book to do something new for him, but again if the right humble attitude is not in place than it is a waste of time- you can’t demand that after he reads the book and does that that God had best reveal Himself right then and there or else He is false- that kind of attitude just guarantees that God won’t do so.

        But hey, if you skeptics want a falsification test, than this is what I suggest- all of you on here for a period of 1 month purposefully mock God by pretending to pray to Him demanding (not asking but commanding God) that He reveal His truth to you or else you will call Him pond scum and then do a chicken dance and spin around 5 times afterward to seal the deal. If after that God does bend to your skeptical wills than I submit that will be a falsification test and falsify the Christian God of the Bible or at least show the Bible has major errors in describing God’s character to us. But if God is true to form, He will not play such games and not reveal Himself to you after doing such a thing and thus I can use the same bad reasoning on display here and say that if God doesn’t reveal Himself to you guys when you mock Him in this way, that must prove that He is real.

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        1. Sorry about the reply button issue. No idea what/why. I just post from iPad or pc.

          Sounds from your first paragraph that you already need to grant a lot of things before you even start, such as assume god is bothered by attitude, approach, testing etc. what if he is a god of arrogance and jerks and actually wants those type of people to come to him. I’d be ruling that one out! 😳

          I don’t research the shroud because even if it turns out to be slam dunk cast iron proof the following remains true

          – it’s hardly been around long enough to help anyone.(ie the science from 70’s) big wows. Too late for Jacob.

          -it’s not in mainstream Christianity or even fringe.
          -only a few people know about it ( too bad for Sanjib)
          -most people won’t have the tech to access it, have the brains to understand the science, or survive running the gauntlet of initial google searches that tell you it’s fake. (my initial experience when researching it before you came along.)

          -Christianity has been around for 2000 years without it, so we should hardly need it for belief.

          -if it took Allah 2000 yrs to produce some corroborating evidence you’d think allah biffed his communication.

          – it doesn’t change anything. The Christian experience didn’t live up to the claims. Knowing it’s true, still makes it disappointing. I knew it god was true when I believed in him, it was still a bit rubbish then.

          All it would do is make me scared of hell. It’s like this weeks podcast. OK, it’s true, now what, question.

          Them the reasons.

          Like

          1. Sarah,

            I saw your long list of “real people” for me to respond to and my answer in a nut shell to all of them is to remain a real seeker all of their lives- remember being a real seeker is relative to the individual so as some of your invented people are about to die and have no access to books or Shrouds- then fine have the remain open to whatever they do have and trust that God will reveal Himself before the point of no return via some other means like the inner witness of the H.S.- that may be at the point of death or after that. This takes care of everyone as there is no one size fits all, but in your case Sarah the real person, you do have access to the Shroud and therefore have to take advantage of the opportunity God is giving you to learn about Him.

            Now, on to this reply of yours. The attitude issue is a biblically deduced position to hold and it makes sense philosophically to as recognizing who we are in relation to God is a necessary “salvation-fit” character trait to have and hence why it is important to God to stress that as being needed to reveal Himself to people- otherwise you may not revere and/or submit to God and be deserving of Hell even if you know the Christian God is real because He meant your demands to prove He exists right here and now- remember the demons believe He is real also but they are damned to Hell- saving and redeeming people is the goal not just proving He exists to everyone.

            I’m perplexed by you saying that even if the Shroud is a slam dunk you wouldn’t care- if I gave you80% or 90% or even 100% proof that the Shroud proves Christianity is true as an “iron-clad” proof, are really saying you wouldn’t accept due to the problems below- what makes you think those factors outweigh actual substantive proof proving its not a fake- just bizarre thing to say. But let us assess your factors that you think warrant a close-mindedness on the Shroud;

            1. – It’s hardly been around long enough to help anyone.(ie the science from 70’s) big wows. Too late for Jacob.

            Well in the first place the Shroud was around to help me, and to help Teddi and to help Gary Habermas and to help Barrie Schwortz believe in God in general and it’s around to help you if you’ll seriously look at it- I don’t think you can say its not been around to help anyone as obviously its here now and has helped some.
            Secondly, what bizarre reasoning, I guess you would also dismiss the miracles of Jesus, the prophets and Moses on the same grounds as Jacob wouldn’t have had access to know about those later miracles either.

            2. “it’s not in mainstream Christianity or even fringe.
            -only a few people know about it ( too bad for Sanjib)
            -most people won’t have the tech to access it, have the brains to understand the science, or survive running the gauntlet of initial google searches that tell you it’s fake. (my initial experience when researching it before you came along.)”

            Dale’s Answer- Why does Christian agreement matter to you, would you believe the Earth was flat if everyone said so but you knew differently. If you travelled back in time to the Stone Age, would you stop believing in modern science and think that demons must be real just to be “mainstream”?

            Only a few people know of it- well define a few, I’d say millions of people is quite a lot (see the annual Pilgrimages) but if then those that don’t aren’t held responsible to know about it and God will reveal Himself to them in other ways that they do know about.

            Finally, as to people being different ability or resource wise, yes but none of that changes the fact that you personally are aware of it and have been provided with the means and have the intelligence to understand the various popular level sources I’ve provided you on the Shroud at the very least- the 138 page write-up I sent you and David is hardly beyond your comprehension Sarah- its not peer-reviewed material but simply summarizes it for you with pictures and everything- YOU are responsible to learn about it now, even if “Sanjub” is not.

            3. Christianity has been around for 2000 years without it, so we should hardly need it for belief.

            Yes that is true if by that you mean that modern scientific knowledge about the MRF’s of the Shroud images as opposed to the Shroud itself as obviously that dates back to Jesus. Yes knowledge of these facts is not necessary requirement for belief in Jesus, there are other means of coming to knowledge of the truth of the Gospel. But, I can tell you for me personally it was a component that provided me with sufficient warrant for my coming to faith and it may be the same deal for you once you look at it. What is needed for belief is for everyone to be a real seeker and be open to any and all means that God might use to establish the truth of the Gospel to them- for Sanjit as with my own mom maybe that is purely through the inner witness of the H.S. but for me I needed the Shroud and H.S. and the Rez. Perhaps you it will be purely the Shroud or maybe Messianic prophecies or Hey maybe it will be really personal proof unique to you, maybe you will be sailing the Mediterranean one day and a whale will swallow you but you live and God reveals He is true and wants you to be His prophet to mankind in that way, or something else- the point is you never know until you are open-minded and try for yourself to see what works and what doesn’t. Be open- look into the evidence with an open mind and see for yourself.

            4. If it took Allah 2000 yrs to produce some corroborating evidence you’d think allah biffed his communication.
            No, the Numerical patterns in the Quran are a modern discovery with computers- I see it as Allah simply hiding proofs in His message so that it speaks to people back then and to us today in different ways. All that matters is whether the original communication conveys the needed info that is sufficient for the purpose of the communication- extra discoverable stuff that comes later is just an added bonus as humans progressively come to see how amazing God truly is in providing proofs thousands of years ago that people couldn’t even think of at the time but later people living in age of skepticism can appreciate- man the providence of God or rather Allah in your example truly is a marvel in itself—incredible!

            5. It doesn’t change anything. The Christian experience didn’t live up to the claims. Knowing it’s true, still makes it disappointing. I knew it god was true when I believed in him, it was still a bit rubbish then.

            Knowing its true is an inspiration and beacon of hope, the fact it didn’t live up to the claims experientially must then mean it was my fault and not God’s and thus I can try again with a renewed sense of purpose and openness to asking God to help me experience the things I didn’t last time around due to my own failings. Obviously, knowing its true entails knowing that it wasn’t God’s fault for your previous lack and instead of blaming Him, you will be able to see how worthy of love He is and how you can depend on Him to sanctify you over time where you can honestly say He does live up to His claims of joy and inner peace or whatever it is you are mentioning here.

            This has literally happened to me in regard to singing- a slow process on my end as I’m like you, but recently I found myself taking joy and humming a song and I hummed it all that week and it filled me with joy each time. This is weird for me as I’m the guy that at 5 years old told my Sunday school teacher that “I will not sing!”. So if you are open and sincere and trust in God, its amazing what the sanctification process can do for those who are patient and don’t try to test God by blaming Him for our own faults or failings.

            Them the counters to your reasons- now I think you know what you have to do Sarah- get reading that 138 page report on the Shroud I sent you and do so with an open mind and sincerely and see if God speaks to you or not, see if you feel an urge to learn more or find some of the evidence worthy of more consideration and then be willing to submit and follow those divine0induced urges of curiosity.

            Like

            1. Dale,

              my answer in a nut shell to all of them is to remain a real seeker all of their lives- remember being a real seeker is relative to the individual so as some of your invented people are about to die and have no access to books or Shrouds- then fine have the remain open to whatever they do have and trust that God will reveal Himself
              I doubt they even are aware of your real seeker obligations. They are just trying to survive. Their story is legion. They having been dying in their ignorance, unbelief everyday for eons. All you’re left with to save your god for looking like a monster is to say ‘something happens behind the curtain’ in the big reveal, point of no return. It’s unprovable, not even biblically mentioned and starts to look pretty dodgy when that’s the default way God seems to operate.

              You haven’t engaged with the issue at all. Billions of people like Jacob and Sanjib. They don’t know about your “real” seeker theory, they’re just dying, confused.

              You quickly diverted to me and find my points about the shroud bizarre. Yes the shrouds been around to help a tiny select few.you personally are aware of it and have been provided with the means Unfortunately, I’ve seen Teddi’s reason when it comes to science and I’m not impressed. I’m not all that impressed with your get out of jail cards for God either, it’s all rather idiosyncratic and I have seen too much special pleading and pretzel logic. I therefore don’t put much stock in the fact both of you find it compelling. So I don’t consider that I have a duty at all to look into what you guys find interesting. I just don’t. I see it a fringe interest which some people get very excited about.

              The point that it’s not been around until v v recently, is that it is clearly not needed to prove Christianity. I barely know anyone who uses to prove or sustain faith. A few thousand or even millions that you say now do, is a drop in the ocean of the 110 BILLION who have lived to date. It’s not big news to the Christian community. As for pilgrims, many of those are tourist. I saw it. That hardly counts as anything. I’d googled it before going like most people probably do and saw all the hits said it was fake.
              Why does Christian agreement matter to you It doesn’t anymore, but it did previously. You can’t agree on almost anything. It was the total mess that Christianity that made me give up. I wasn’t connived in your mere definition either.

              the MRF’s of the Shroud images as opposed to the Shroud itself as obviously that dates back to Jesus. No one had any science on it before the 70’s. What ancient people believed about the relic is irrelevant. To use it as proof, you can only go from the 1970’s onwards. That’s the point I’m making.

              If it turned up to be 100% true, i’d have a little think about the implications. It might just mean Jesus rose from the dead. 2 a penny in those days. Some weird quantum flux, IDK, point being, it doesn’t prove the rest of the claims – that there is a loving god, that i will live forever etc. I’d probably put it down the the Consciousness theory a la Tara. It (the shroud) is true because we brought it into our conscious experience. Frankly I find that more believable.

              Perhaps you it will be purely the Shroud or maybe Messianic prophecies the latter isn’t a thing. The prophecies aren’t genuine. No Jew believes them.

              Knowing its true is an inspiration and beacon of hope, the fact it didn’t live up to the claims experientially must then mean it was my fault and not God’s Oh well, he can’t have been that bothered then. If his purpose was to save max souls, he had me. All he had to do was turn up once in a while. But he preferred to let me flounder for years. And he seems to be letting thousands go like that. People who searched more than they ever had done and came up with nothing. Then did what a perfectly sane person does and filed it under ‘doesn’t work’ and moves on. He prefers toying with them that way, then just being a bit more helpful when they’re on his side. What a jerk. And, he’s going to condemn them to hell for it too. Double jerk.

              Liked by 1 person

          2. Sarah,

            P.S.- There is something I forgot to say, perhaps reading the Shroud thing doesn’t lead to you believing but you aren’t using that a falsification test and instead just open to truth so maybe you learn something in that study that makes you say Hey I mis-assessed the Rez evidence or I misunderstood this or that and I want to learn more, so you don’t have to believe the Shroud afterward but maybe God might use your reading that to point you to another evidence that you would believe.

            On this front, it is a sinful farce for Atheists to pretend to pray to God for a month, but that said, I just realized it would not be such to ask me and other Christians to pray for you guys for a month as you read these sources to have something speak to you guys if your motives are pure and sincere. I’ve never prayed for the skeptics on here as David made it clear that would offend him and I assumed it would be the same for the rest on here. But if David is reading Mike’s book and you are reading that Shroud thing, then if you would allow me to pray for you guys that is another practical thing that wouldn’t be wrong for me as a Christian to recommend- let us pray for you as you read that material with an open mind, I’ll even make a prayer request for my church if you’d like and I wouldn’t feel it is farce for believers to pray to God. Same deal, if you think it is just 0.01% possible than you could pray yourselves sincerely based on that- “God if you’re real please speak to me or give me some indication as to what the next step might be, I’m open to if this takes years or even the rest of my life, but please use this opportunity to speak to me in whatever way you deem fit”.

            Something like that would not be a game and so I’d be happy to do that for you or David.

            Like

      2. Miss Sarah in the Alps,

        I got an email today from Marvin asking me if I would ask you if you might be interested in doing a talk with him on Moral Philosophy on my show in the Spring. You seemed to be his top choice for this topic but he mentioned a couple others he’d also go for if you say no.

        But yeah, as you were his top selection for this topic just wanted to see if you would be up for that in the Spring time?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Dale, I can only assume Marvin is taking the mick. LOL. I doubt he’d like to talk to me about the weather,/i> never mind moral philosophy. I can’t say I’ve much enjoyed interacting with him, though I was more impressed after hearing him. I think many were. So I’m happy to bury the hatched as it were.

          Either that or he has lost the plot or is suffering from imposter syndrome as he seems to have become all love and light. I do not recognise this dude you speak of.

          Whichever one of the scenario it is, thanks, but no thanks. Philosophy is not my area of expertise.

          Like

          1. Sarah,

            OK fair enough again, yes Marvin really is making the effort to be better with you guys and I think he has been proving that on the Boards this past week since he came on my show.

            Anyways, I was just being the messenger, if you don’t believe me here is what he said in the email to me “I think Sarah would be a different proposition and would bone up on the issues at hand. Would you ask her if she is willing to clash on moral philosophy in the Spring”. So that was the only reason I asked you, sorry to have bothered you.

            He makes two other recommendations, so I will reach out to them next.

            Take care,

            Dale

            Like

            1. Honestly, Dale, not an issue to ask.
              I’m touched, albeit with a slight bemusement and not without the odd thought on my mind that he’s just having a joke. 😉

              Like

              1. Alright cool but yeah no, he was being serious- ask him yourself on the Unbelievable Boards, if you don’t believe me. But yeah David and Marvin Round 2 is a go for this Spring so I think he’ll be happy either way there.

                Liked by 1 person

        2. Tell him I would be happy to do that topic if all his choices fall through. Moral philosophy is one of the few areas of philosophy I can appreciate.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hey David,

            Just saw this now- alright yea you were one of the two others I was telling Sarah about, the other one was Andrew. I told him I wanted you to be able to pick the topic when you talked to him as promised but if you are up for moral philosophy, then yeah I will let him know.

            One request for me, would you ask Andrew if he would want to do it as well- this way we can have a 2 Christians vs. 2 Atheists on this topic, I think that might be fun to do if you guys are up for that?

            Like

  13. David: It is a shame that you believe the only outcome to such a challenge is that there can be no response for such as me. You discourage other Christians from wasting their time because you know it is a waste of time. It is not that I am insincere. It is that at the end of the day, you know your god will not come through.

    There is an interesting phenomenon that happens when people believe, on some level, that what they are claiming isn’t true. Carl Sagan popularized it in his book, The Demon-Haunted World when he talked about the invisible dragon. Sagan used the example to show how an idea that is unfalsifiable is completely useless. However, Eliezer Yudkowsky took the next step and pointed out that in order to be able to explain away the tests you would like to do, they have to have a mental map of the world that is different than the one they are proclaiming.

    Carl Sagan used this parable to illustrate the classic moral that poor hypotheses need to do fast footwork to avoid falsification. But I tell this parable to make a different point: The claimant must have an accurate model of the situation somewhere in their mind, because they can anticipate, in advance, exactly which experimental results they’ll need to excuse.

    It’s an interesting read: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/CqyJzDZWvGhhFJ7dY/belief-in-belief

    Liked by 1 person

  14. RSM Announcement:

    Alright well this has been a busy couple of weeks for me, looking forward to things slowing down a bit but I just posted my newest show on the subject of Miracles (finally). The first time around both Matthew Taylor and I were not happy with the outcome and so Matthew asked me to try again and so we did.

    In this show, we have a much better and substantive conversation and we are joined by a newby and fellow Christian Podcaster Robert L. White- all three of us had a great discussion on the prior probability of the plausibility of the supernatural (both sides took on the burden of proof), how to identify miracles (including Robert’s helpful holistic heuristic approach to miracles) and finally spend over an hour going back and forth on discussing real examples of miracle healings.

    Please have a listen and/or check out the sources of my guests for their sake as I think you’ll find this was a bit of treat after how the first round went, all three of us really enjoyed our time together and David just so you know I took your advice and laid the groundwork of who is who and what will be discussed right at the beginning of the show and Robert is interested in coming back and doing shows with me, Matt and you again- one thing he mentioned is he really like John Loftus’ Outsider Test and I remember that was something you said you wanted to do with me earlier in Season 2- so maybe at some point we can do a show on that with you, me and Robert or even maybe John Loftus himself if we can manage it 🙂

    See the blog with sources here = https://realseekerministries.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/signs-wonders-part-3-miracles-debated-with-robert-l-white-christian-matthew-taylor-atheist/

    Or the Anchor Audio link here = https://anchor.fm/real-seeker-ministries/episodes/Signs%E2%80%93Wonders-Part-3%E2%80%93Miracles-Debated-with-Robert-L%E2%80%93White-Christian%E2%80%93Matthew-Taylor-Atheist-eahkrj

    For next week- David J. and Robert Stanley come on to speak to me about; i) Is the Bible true/false, ii) Religion and Politics and, iii) the Morality of the Bible (Robert selected these topixs as being important to him).

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This week’s podcast is available now. Pascal’s wager got bumped to next week. This week we define and embark on an honest search for god.

    https://skepticsandseekers.wordpress.com/2020/01/31/an-honest-search-for-god/

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Replying to realseekerministry January 31, 2020 — 11:43 pm

    David can speak for himself but I don’t think the burning in fire comment was meant for you personally, but as strong rhetoric against a type of odious criticism he gets. On another note, a subset of Christians are all but gleeful that atheists will die in the fires of hell so maybe some empathy can be shared here.

    If you were being sarcastic when I asked you to introduce me to god then I fear you didn’t find me sincere. As we discussed in the podcast, I don’t see a way forward if our sincere requests will be met with sarcasm.

    Looking forward to your further thoughts.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. This is correct. I don’t want anyone to die in a fire. Further, I wasn’t specifically, or at least not exclusively thinking of Dale. But he is certainly among the people who sets themselves up as the judge of other people’s inner-witness concerning their own sincerity. This is a vile act. and for the record, if you don’t think I am sincere about my own truth claims, you can choose not to interact with me. I will spend no more time trying to convince anyone of my sincerity. If you think I am lying, leave this board and go elsewhere, or stay and choose to interact with someone you think is not lying.

      I will also report that Sunday services online are not any better than they are in person. The only difference is that walking out is easier. I will have something more substantive to say after today’s recording.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even though it was online, I hope you still wore your best Sunday fedora and monocle.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. David,

        I’m not exactly weighing in on Dale’s side on this, but my pedantic-bit-of-brain is compelled to make this clarification (at least of my view).

        I agree that when someone who refuses to accept your account of your own belief and inner life this is off-putting and can be a conversation-endear for reasons you’ve given.

        On the other hand: It’s not a totally illegitimate concept or subject for debate. In fact, often enough, an account for how someone else is acting or proposing he believes is a subject of dispute. We can say things like “you SAY you believe X but your actions don’t support it, in fact they imply you actually believe Y…”

        So for instance an atheist will sometimes make the argument that Christian tell us they really, really believe in an Omniscient God who is, by implication, ALWAYS THERE WITH THEM AND WATCHING THEM, and yet many of their behaviors seem inconsistent with that claimed belief. In their private or “worst” moments, they often act in ways that suggest “no one is watching.”

        Similarly, especially philosophically and cognitively, we can suggest that someone’s claim about why they believe something is just wrong, when examined closely. We atheists often do this when it comes to Christians claiming they get their morality from God or The Bible. They are reporting what they actually believe of their inner reasoning. But we can point out that they are actually showing some self-blindness to the process they are really bringing to their religious belief; that they are importing to the bible their own moral intuitions (many of which in a modern civilized person can be traced to non-Biblical influences from their current cultural mores). So in effect we are claiming they are simply wrong in their claim, and in their interpretation of their inner reasoning life. But we have to use such claim very cautiously and present cogent reasons for doing so, as in general we want to take what people claim about their beliefs seriously.

        It’s equally fair, in principle, for a Christian or anyone else to make these claims about our belief-claims. So long as they actually can provide GOOD ARGUMENTS for those claims.

        Ultimately my problem with a Christian claiming things like “You aren’t sincere in your seeking” or “you really do believe in God even though you claim not to – my bible says so!” is that they are based on really, really bad evidence and reasoning, and that this is symptomatic of the bad reasoning that both leads to and is encouraged by their religion.

        In other words, the religion encourages “conversation-ending” beliefs and attitudes, and encourages a non-error-correcting epistemology which makes those “conversation-ending” moves particularly hard to reason with.

        Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ugh…my usual “flow of consciousness writing” and correcting of typos after posting really doesn’t work on a site that doesn’t allow editing. Sorry!

          Like

        2. I think I agree with most of this. But there is some nuance that needs to be teased out. It is one thing to say that your action A is inconsistent with your claim B. On noting this discrepancy, one need only ask for clarification so that conversation in good faith can commence. What the Christian is saying of the atheist is that we are lying about being sincere. These are not quite the same things.

          There is also the matter of accessibility. I can access claims and actions. You say that you believe going to church every week is necessary for being saved. But you do not go to church at all and yet claim you are saved. We can easily access all parts of this claim and behavior.

          However, we cannot access the state of a person’s heart. An addicts swears they want to quit. But they turn around and strait way buy some more intoxicants. Were they lying? You can’t tell because you cannot access their inner landscape. You can only say their actions externally seem inconsistent. But as we know when it comes to addiction, you can want to quit and not be able to. It is inappropriate for a person to say one is lying because they keep buying drugs.

          When I say that I am sincerely engaging in a search to see if some god exists, I could be lying or I could be telling the truth. But the Christian has no access to that. And they are predisposed to never admit one such as I could be telling the truth because if I am being sincere and do not find that there is a god, they will have to blame god instead of me. They might say my actions are inconsistent with my claim. But they have yet to demonstrate that. And they have no access to my inner workings.

          Liked by 3 people

          1. David,

            Here is one point I would like you to acknowledge then, I agree with you that neither I nor any other human being other than you have no access to your inner workings and thus when you claim to be sincere in your search for God I can’t say one way or another “yes” or “no” on it- this is truly an unfalsifiable claim (for us at least) on your part.

            Thus, obviously you do think it is valid for people to have knowledge based on unfalsifiable claims here and perhaps its the same with PBB’s via the inner witness of the H.S.

            Secondly, perhaps use this realization of unfalsifiability to realize that skeptics have no right to claim that some skeptics have died honestly not believing in God or whatever- perhaps they were life long liars or self-deluded and as we as outsiders can’t know one way or the other, than it is wrong for us to claim that God is immoral for allowing skeptics to die without fairly giving them chance to know that He exists or whatever. I just have no knowledge one way or the other if there have been sincere Atheists who died without being given a fair opportunity to believe in God, all I know is that I was sincere in my openness and search to God and true to form, He revealed Himself to me before I died.

            You can’t claim to know that some Atheists were sincere and died as such without God revealing Himself to them and yet claim that it is impossible for us to know for sure if someone was a sincere seeker or not- the latter ignorance on the part of any outsiders precludes the validity of the skeptical argument against God.

            Like

            1. Dale, do you ever consider exers had what they thought were PBB? And the witness of the HS?

              Did they have it? If they did, how can the lose it? If they were mistaken, how do believers know you aren’t ?

              I can’t work out what PBB and inner witness are beyond being something that just deeply resonates, that you really really feel is true, that seems true with all the fibres of your being, that not to believe would be unthinkable, that ‘speaks’ to your inner soul. Is that what it is?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Sarah, I have answered this on various S&S shows before, do you remember my answer then? I think it might be better if you try and remember how I’ve answered this in the past.

                Like

                1. Sorry Dale, don’t remember you answering with regards ex believers having or not having it.

                  Like

    2. Hey Bryan,

      Yes I do realize that David was generalizing there but it was obvious that he had me in mind during the show when he was saying this. I would just say this, there are insincere people out there and I think it is a mistake for you guys to say that just because I think someone is insincere now, that means there are always such.

      Look, if David were making a test that God reveals Himself in 1 month or else that proves He is false, then that is an insincere test as David was a Pastor, he knows full well that this is an invalid falsification test. Next, when he puts out there that he is willing to do anything and everything within reason to see if God will reach out and then a person tries to give some reasonable steps and is promptly told no they won’t do that, then yes I think that is insincere and I have the right to say so. That said, David has since informed me that he is taking my advice and so I have praised him for that- my only concern is that he try to approach the methods he is using with all his heart and might to seriously consider if God is true and ultimately only David will really ever know if he is doing this as no one else has access to his inner mind/intentions. So, I have since praised David for at least doing what he said he would so and taking my honest recommendations by reading the Shroud source- regardless of how David comes out thinking about the Shroud evidence, this seeming change in attitude and display of openness in itself is a huge shift in David’s thinking and may lead to God giving David other opportunities that might be more persuasive to him personally.

      As to someone needing to think you are sincere to dialogue with them, not necessarily, regardless of the motivations of the person, one can take the propositions presented and evaluate them on their own merits- that said I do get annoyed when I think my interlocutor is not discussing something with me in good faith and so I get why it may turn people off and hinder people from just focusing on the propositional claims. That said, I was being sarcastic as I honestly thought you were being sarcastic on your end when you said “introduce me to your God” as though you wanted to shake hands with Him or something- it was said as a joke as I saw it and so I played along but then moved on to the serious substantive response about your needing to be a real seeker for the rest of your life if you want to “meet” God or have Him research out to you.

      Perhaps it might be helpful to you and David if you stop making connections that aren’t there such as if I feel you are being insincere in a specific case, that doesn’t mean I’m saying you are insincere as a whole or in everything you do or have done in life. Human beings are insincere in some respects yet sincere in others all the time, it is impossible for any human being to be totally honest and sincere all the time- we all sin. So yeah, I honestly thought you were being playful when you said “Intro me to God” and so I responded in kind before making my serious point- it may have been I just misread the social cues you were giving off that this was a serious request on your part so there was no overall indictment of your character by my doing this that was meant on my end.

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  17. Greetings all. It will not surprise Dale or David that I am thoroughly familiar with the famous “138-page” document on the Shroud, and find it, for the most part, so naively biased in its desperate attempt to justify John Jackson’s “fall through” hypothesis as to be worthless as a method of evangelisation. Many of the alleged criteria are guesses, many are based on evidence which has been soundly refuted, and many are explicit assumptions of the conclusion they ostensibly set out to confirm.

    Page 4 of the Critical Summary gives an example, not only of the method of data presentation, but also of all three of the failings I mention above. It includes: “The Shroud was not likely woven to these particular specifications. A more likely weaving specification for the Shroud of 8 cubits long by 2 cubits wide would conform closely with the ancient Assyrian cubit of approximately 21.7 inches (55.1 cm) that was used in the area of Palestine in the first century.”

    Note that the specification of 8 cubits by 2 cubits is considered “likely”. This assumes that the Shroud is ancient, which is what the critical summary is purportedly attempting to demonstrate. In fact, the Shroud is not four times as long as it is wide, especially if the material under the side-seam is taken into consideration. The given modern width of 114cm should therefore be increased to 116cm, four times which is 464cm, some 5% longer than its actual length. Earlier measurements of the length give a similar proportion.

    Then why, an impartial inquirer might ask, should the Shroud conform to an architectural cubit used 700 years before the time of Christ? If we must guess a first century cubit, a better bet would be that of Herod’s Palace, which has been established as 52.5cm – too small to be the standard for the Shroud, or the numerous biblically justified Jewish cubits, which are even smaller. The claim is rather clearly refuted.

    The clause: “that was used in the area of Palestine in the first century” is a wholly unjustified guess. There is no evidence whatsoever to support it.

    I do not propose to unravel all the other propositions in the same way, although a great many come apart under similar scrutiny. This post alone ought to be enough to prevent any authenticist from ever using it for proselytising again.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Just wanted to let you know that the site has moved to http://www.skepticsandseekers.squarespace.com. You can just sign in with your Disqus handle.

    Would you be interested in debating Teddi on air? Her position is that the shroud provides indisputable evidence for skeptics. And that we are unreasonable for not believing. Let me know.

    skepticsandseekers@gmail.com

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