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Proofs of God: An Interview with Dr. Matthew Levering

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In his newest book, Proofs of God: Classical Arguments from Tertullian to Barth (Baker Academic, 2016), leading theologian Matthew Levering presents a thoroughgoing critical survey of the proofs of God's existence for readers interested in traditional Christian responses to the problem of atheism.

Beginning with Tertullian and ending with Karl Barth, Levering covers twenty-one theologians and philosophers from the early church to the modern period, examining how they answered the critics of their day. He also shows the relevance of the classical arguments to contemporary debates and challenges to Christianity.

Today, I sit down with Dr. Levering to discuss some of the thinkers highlighted in his book and whether it's possible to actually prove God exists.
 


 
BRANDON: Let's start with a basic question. Why this book? And how would you classify it? Is it apologetics? Theological history? A little of both?

DR. MATTHEW LEVERING: I wrote this book because I know personally the pain of not merely not knowing whether God exists, but not knowing what the word 'God' is supposed to mean. For many people whom I knew during my childhood, 'God' has just as much meaning as 'the Great Pumpkin'. In case the reference needs explaining, in the 'Peanuts' comic strip authored by Charles Schultz, the character Linus believes fervently in the existence of the Great Pumpkin who each year, according to Linus, rewards the most sincere pumpkin patch by manifesting himself there. There is no way to disprove the existence of the Great Pumpkin, nor is there really any way to speak rationally about him—one either believes or one does not.

My view from experience is that many atheists see belief in God as precisely such a belief for which there is nothing rational to say. It is for this reason, I think, that serious discussion of whether or not God exists is now almost completely absent from elite universities, and is largely missing from the philosophy and theology departments of even many Catholic universities and colleges.

If one reads such publications as The New York Review of Books or other journals of elite culture, books that argue for the existence of God are generally not to be found, whereas a number of high-culture (and low-culture) figures weigh in with admiration of atheism. I notice that a number of recent high-culture books on death, for example, simply take it for granted that the universe is an absurdity and death an annihilation. Thus, it seemed important to examine the arguments for God's existence.

In my book, I examine the Western tradition of arguing for and against the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God. So I'd say that the book is neither apologetics nor theological history, because the goal of the book is to survey clearly and accurately the demonstrations (or counter-demonstrations) of God's existence set forth from 21 great thinkers, many of whom were philosophers.

In my introduction, I treat the Greco-Roman philosophical arguments about God, and then turn to the biblical witness (including Wisdom of Solomon and Romans). I then show that the first Christian theologians—the Fathers of the Church—were proponents of certain fundamental arguments for demonstrating the existence of God. I move from there through the centuries, treating not only proponents of the proofs but also philosophical critics such as William of Ockham, Michel de Montaigne, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Martin Heidegger.

The purpose is to encourage students of theology as well as educated readers in general to think seriously about this topic. And the purpose is also to show that belief in the existence of God is rationally justifiable

BRANDON: You titled your book Proofs of God. What do you mean by "proof"? Is it really possible to prove God exists?

ProofsOfGod-3DDR. LEVERING: When we think of 'proof', we often think of mathematics or of natural science. In these ways, of course, one cannot prove that God exists. But there are demonstrations that begin with the finite or limited modes of existence that we see around us, and then reflect upon what is needed in order to be able to account for the existence of finite things, both in themselves and in their orderly relations. I will not rehearse these arguments here, but they are quite powerful ones.

I show in the book that Montaigne and Hume have to rely upon an absolute skepticism—the view that our intellects simply cannot know what is real about things—in order to undermine the arguments for God's existence. Unfortunately, modern scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins do not have any idea what the classical arguments for God's existence were, and they present these arguments in laughably ignorant ways.

Even a great thinker such as Immanuel Kant is cut off from the classical tradition and misrepresents it gravely, despite the fact that his skepticism about our ability to know anything in itself (as distinct from in our minds) would have meant that he would not have accepted the demonstrations. Kant, however, does argue that God's existence is necessary for the working of practical reason, and this argument is not as negligible as some might think, though it is certainly not the most persuasive path.

It should be said that the kind of demonstration of God's existence that succeeds does not define or 'comprehend' in an exhaustive sense: God always remains transcendent mystery, even though we can demonstrate that he exists.

BRANDON: Many people dismiss proofs like these because they attempt to prove only a thin slice of God, the God of "classical theism" or the so-called "God of the philosophers." But do some of the arguments prove more?

DR. LEVERING: To know rationally 'that God is'—namely that an infinite cause and source of all things exists, that sheer infinite To Be (something we cannot conceive) is at the root of everything finite—is to know the 'God of the philosophers'. This God is testified to in Scripture both in Wisdom 13 and Romans 1. In this sense, the 'God of the philosophers' is biblically attested. There is nothing wrong with knowing even a very little about God. It is actually quite exciting. So I wouldn't say that the demonstrations reach only a 'thin slice of God'. They reach the living God, since if there were a 'God' who is not infinite To Be (pure, unrestricted, simple actuality), such a 'God' would merely be another finite thing in the cosmos or multiverse of finite things.

The arguments do not establish a personal relationship between us and God, and so in this regard they are tantalizing but far from enough. If we knew that God existed but this God never reached out to us, never personally acted so as to make himself intimately known, we could only be in a state of deep frustration.

Fortunately, there is no reason to think that the 'God of the philosophers' is not also the living God who has revealed himself as supreme love and supreme mercy.

BRANDON: What can we know about God solely from reason? For what do we need revelation?

DR. MATTHEW LEVERING: We can know that God exists and that God is not composite in being or restricted in being in any way. God is infinite, perfect, the fullness of actuality and thus infinite wisdom, goodness, life, eternal presence, and so forth. We need revelation to know that God is one infinite 'essence' in three distinct Persons and thus is perfect communion, without ceasing to be supremely one (not 'one' among many, but 'one' as undivided). We need revelation to know that God the Trinity is the provident Creator who makes all things with the Incarnation as the guiding pole: that is to say, God the Trinity from the outset wills to draw creatures into union with his very own life of Trinitarian communion.

Humans are not meant to live apart from an unfathomably rich personal sharing in the divine life. The generosity of this God is utterly stunning. Even more so when we consider that we are 'bent' away from God, insofar as we often really don't want anything to do with God or with anything but a self-serving love that is not truly love at all. We sometimes imagine that the amazing vastness of space and time shows that 'God', if he exists, could not really care this much for us.

But what the vastness of space/time and the incalculable multiplicity of creatures actually confirms is the wondrous generosity of God; he loves so much into existence. Material existence requires material decomposition, but God has not made all this for everlasting nothingness. His love meets our personal yearning for communion—our yearning to be known and loved and to know and love—and goes further than we would ever be willing to go.

The universe superabundantly manifests the greatness of God, but so does the smallest human cry for interpersonal communion. The truth is that we are always underestimating God, because we try to measure God on our scale, when we can't even measure the universe or even the complexity of a living organism on our scale.

BRANDON: When Christians and atheists debate proofs for God, they often focus on a small group of prominent thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. But your book widens the discussion, offering a panoramic view that includes many other figures. Who are some of the thinkers who often get ignored in this discussion?

DR. LEVERING: The early Church Fathers deserve mention, because one sometimes finds an absurd dichotomy between (for example) the Greek East and the Latin West, or between the patristic period and the scholastic period, as though the latter in each pair had succumbed to rationalism. Indeed, Aquinas's best arguments are all found in Gregory of Nazianzus and John of Damascus, so it is a mistake to jump from Aristotle to Augustine and Aquinas. Sometimes the demonstrations of God's existence are thought to be a distinctively Thomist enterprise, and that is an error. If one is dealing with philosophical skepticism (i.e. in cases where the contention that we can know the real in itself is a non-starter), then Blaise Pascal and John Henry Newman provide helpful ways for getting out of the morass.

To my mind, it is important to actually know the arguments of Hume and Kant, especially Hume. One will then be able to see their weakness and the way in which they prop up the arguments of the more serious atheistic philosophers today.

BRANDON: In the book, you explore nearly two dozen approaches to proving God's existence. Which do you consider to be the strongest proof for God? What are some common objections to it?

DR. LEVERING: I think that Aquinas's five ways are the strongest proofs for God, but in saying this I should repeat that they are found already in the Greek Fathers. Objections to the five ways include the notion that 'being' is not real but rather is a mere predicate of an essence. To appreciate why Aquinas approaches 'being' as he does, one needs to consider two things: first, something cannot be and not be in the same way at the same time (this shows that 'being' refers to a reality not merely to a nominal predicate); second, the things we see around us are intrinsically analogous in their modes of being (a rock 'is' in a lesser way than a living tree, a tree 'is' in a lesser way than a living and self-moving frog, etc.). Aquinas's reflections on why finite things must have a non-finite source of their being are priceless, as are his reflections on the order found in non-rational things.

BRANDON: You don't just focus on theistic arguments in your book. You also cover major critics of these arguments such as David Hume. Why did Hume take issue with traditional arguments for God? Do his criticisms hold up?

DR. LEVERING: For an adequate presentation of Hume's views, I should point the reader to the book itself. But Hume's arguments depend upon denying that every effect has a cause. In Hume's opinion, we see effects that seem to have causes, but we have no grounds for extrapolating from this and deducing that all effects must have causes. Hume is aided in this opinion—which at bottom means that we know nothing about anything (radical skepticism) since all we know are the appearances of things—by a merely logical view of being, which allows him to get away with not analyzing what the deepest relationship of an effect to its cause involves.

BRANDON: You devote considerable space to thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In fact, you describe it as "disproportionate treatment...by comparison with the other eighteen centuries." What are some of the key proofs from this period?

DR. LEVERING: The great thinkers of the first eighteen centuries are fairly well identified, or at least representative figures can be chosen. But it is in the last two centuries that atheism and the response to atheism emerges in full force within mainstream culture. In the last century, furthermore, it became fashionable among theologians (Catholic and Protestant) to dismiss demonstrations of God's existence as wrongheaded and not helpful.

So I found it important to direct attention to a relatively wide array of perspectives from the last two centuries, including influential but forgotten Catholic perspectives (Maurice Blondel and Pierre Rousselot, who argue that Aquinas's five ways would be enhanced by starting not with mere finite things but with the experientially known dynamisms of volition and intellect). Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Barth have been so incredibly influential among theologians that they had to be treated. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, though now generally seen as the pillar of a discredited preconciliar theology, restates Aquinas's five ways in a clear and intelligent way in critical dialogue with modern thinkers, and so he also deserved attention—especially since I think that the five ways remain the most persuasive paths.

BRANDON: What's the one message you hope readers take away from your book?

DR. LEVERING: God is worth thinking about. Don't be an atheist without pursuing every rational discussion of God, not with the goal of resolving all mystery but with the goal of testing the mind's true limits and the possibility that reality is greater than the empirical.
 
 
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Brandon Vogt

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Brandon Vogt is a bestselling author, blogger, and speaker. He's also the founder of StrangeNotions.com. Brandon has been featured by several media outlets including NPR, CBS, FoxNews, SiriusXM, and EWTN. He converted to Catholicism in 2008, and since then has released several books, including The Church and New Media (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011), Saints and Social Justice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2014), and RETURN (Numinous Books, 2015). He works as the Content Director for Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Brandon lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their five children in Central Florida. Follow him at BrandonVogt.com or connect through Twitter at @BrandonVogt.

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  • Paul Brandon Rimmer

    Thanks for the wonderful interview. I will definitely have to get the book.

    I've come to adopt some of the classical arguments for the existence and necessity of God or Nature. Such beautiful proofs, especially those grounded in the principle of sufficient reason, have convinced me of the Unity of all things in a single Substance, and brought me to a very comfortable theistic naturalism.

    There are a few names I've not really heard of, and others I've heard of, but didn't know they said much about proofs for God. I'm curious if the author does talk about alternative proofs and perspectives on the God of the philosophers, a God who is far from monolithic. Do Spinoza's arguments, or Godel's arguments, find a place in this work?

    Either way, it looks like a worthwhile read.

    • Michael Murray

      If you go to the Amazon page for the book

      http://www.amazon.com/Proofs-God-Classical-Arguments-Tertullian/dp/0801097568

      you can see the table of contents, index and browse parts of the book in the usual Amazon format.

      EDIT: Ah I didn't need that link it's in the body of the interview.

      • Paul Brandon Rimmer

        Thanks. I looked up the index and searched the text, and found that Spinoza was mentioned all of two times. Also, there are no chapters about the great Muslim philosophers who worked on this question. There are clearly some big gaps in this work, but overall it still appears to be a worthwhile read. So I'm still going to order it.

        • Lazarus

          I'm not sure it contains much new, say compared to Fr. Robert Spitzer's recent "Proofs". So, at an exchange rate that means dollar price x 15 for me, I'm not convinced yet.

          • It's a very different book than Spitzer's.

          • Lazarus

            Your interview indicates some differences, but in what way is it really different?

          • Well first, Spitzer spends a huge portion of his book discussing scientific evidence for God. Levering features virtually none.

            Second, although there is some overlap between the two when it comes to the cosmological and psychological arguments for God, Spitzer's aim is to meticulously flesh out the actual arguments while Levering's is to offer a shallower but broader survey of various arguments.

          • Lazarus

            Thank you.

          • In truth, they're actually more like supplements. Levering's book covers "classical" proofs for God up through the mid-twentieth century, and Spitzer attempts to unveil "new" proofs for God stemming from modern philosophy and cosmology. It would be interesting to read them back-to-back.

          • Lazarus

            I've read the Spitzer (in fact, I'm reading all three of his latest ones at the moment). I will add the Levering to my reading list.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished reading it.

          • Lazarus

            I look forward to that.

    • Peter

      "...have convinced me of the Unity of all things in a single Substance..."

      Ernst Haeckel, a follower of Spinoza among others, believed in a Law of Substance where matter is immutable and eternal throughout the universe, and constitutes the substance of God.

      Belief in the immutability and eternity of matter, represented by the indivisibility and indestructibility of the atom, was held for centuries right up the beginning of the 20th century, but was later proved to be false. The atom itself had a beginning; it could be broken down into smaller particles which themselves had a beginning.

      Matter was no longer immutable nor eternal, and so neither was the substance of God. And a God whose substance is neither immutable nor eternal cannot be God.

      • Paul Brandon Rimmer

        If that was Haeckel's conclusion after studying Spinoza, then he had a poor understanding of Spinoza.

        Spinoza said to Oldenberg in his Letter 73 that "The supposition of some, that I endeavour to prove in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicos the unity of God and Nature (meaning by the latter a certain mass or corporeal matter), is wholly erroneous."

        Or from the Short Treatese "From all that we have said so far it is clear that we maintain that extension is an attribute of God. Nevertheless, this does not seem possible at all in a perfect being. For since extension is divisible, the perfect being would consist of parts." (GI/24/11-14) and later, after he argues how God's indivisibility does not contradict extension being attributed to God, he also points out "Division, then, or being acted on, always happens in the mode, as when we say that a man perishes, or is destroyed, that is only understood of the man insofar as he is a composite being and a mode of substance, and not the substance itself on which he depends." (GI/26/13-16).

        From this it is clear that the eternality of matter, or even of extended regions, is not implied by the eternality of God. Although Spinoza could not have conceived of this, his thought can naturally be extended to modern physics, to view the universe as a finite block of space and time, outside of which there is no extension. This block is itself the whole of extension, and is in God, and itself from that perspective is eternal: the block is static and does not change or pass away. This last point is argued (in a way that is too long to go into in much detail here, but which has persuaded me), by Jason Waller in "Persistence through Time in Spinoza" (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Persistence-through-Spinoza-Jason-Waller-ebook/dp/B00DYS38PE/)

        There is an alternative formulation (which I do not accept, but which seems arguable), in which the universe itself is a mode of extension, and so need not be infinite or eternal in itself. The universe then is not part of God, but is in God, and the changing of the universe means that God changes. Modes in God come into existence and pass away, so the universe need not be eternal, although God is eternal. This interpretation is put forward by Yitzhak Melamed in his book on "Spinoza's Metaphysics" (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spinozas-Metaphysics-Substance-Yitzhak-Melamed/dp/0190237341/) Melamed's position is admittedly closer to what Spinoza probably thought, but further from the truth of the matter, so I tend to favor the former explanation.

        In neither of these explanations, or the alternative explanations (from, say, Curley, or Bennett, or Della Rocca) is matter, in any form or as a whole, required to be eternal. There is good reason to think that Spinoza speculated that the universe had no beginning and would have no end, but those speculations are not connected in any significant way to his metaphysics.

        EDIT TO ADD: It would be much closer to the truth to say not that matter is the substance of God, but that God is the substance of matter.

        • Peter

          "Although Spinoza could not have conceived of this, his thought can naturally be extended to modern physics, to view the universe as a finite block of space and time, outside of which there is no extension. This block is itself the whole of extension, and is in God, and itself from that perspective is eternal: the block is static and does not change or pass away"

          However, the universe as a block of time and space within God is not eternal. It has a beginning and, according to theories based on recent discoveries, will have an end. Furthermore it is not static but changing, expanding at an accelerating rate.

        • Peter

          "..God is the substance of matter."

          Matter comes from energy and the total energy of the universe is zero. Thus the substance of God is zero which means that there is no such God.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            The substance of your reading comprehension is zero.

          • Peter

            "Division, then, or being acted on, always happens in the mode, as when we say that a man perishes, or is destroyed, that is only understood of the man insofar as he is a composite being and a mode of substance, and not the substance itself on which he depends." "

            Spinoza's example of a man's body being destroyed is confusing. The destruction of a body is a rearrangement of matter and energy which are not destroyed. A man's body is a form of matter/energy. Spinoza identifies it as a mode of God's substance.

            The end of the universe would mean the end of matter/energy, the substance on which the man's body depends. If the substance on which a man's body depends comes to an end at the end of the universe, does that not equate, by Spinoza's own reasoning, to God's substance coming to an end?

            The only solution would be that Spinoza thought matter and energy to be eternal, which is contrary to what you are implying. Haeckel also considered matter and energy to be eternal, both constituting the substance of God. I can't see where Haeckel and Spinoza differ, except that the latter considered God to be more than just the universe whereas the former probably did not.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Only assuming materialism. I'm not a materialist, and neither was Spinoza.

            For Spinoza, the physical universe (including all its matter and energy) is one mode of one attribute of the one Substance (the attribute of extension). The idea of the universe (which is something altogether other than matter or energy) also is one mode of one attribute of the one Substance (the attribute of thought).

            For Spinoza, God cannot be energy, for many reasons, one of which is because my mind is in God and my mind is not made of energy. It's something that's non-physical.

        • Jim the Scott

          If I might do a brief drive by question.

          Why not just say God is the cause of matter and be a Classic Theist/Deist?

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            The reason is that I accept the principle of sufficient reason: that everything has an explanation for why it is the way it is and not another way. Everything's part of the same explanatory framework.

            God or Nature is the imminent cause of matter. But I can't accept that God would be an external cause of Nature, because that would mean something would be outside the explanatory fabric, which would violate my belief in the principle of sufficient reason.

            Now, someone might say that God could be outside of nature, but still there would be an explanation for why God is the way God is and not another way. In such a case, I would call the entirety, God + the Rest, Nature, and talk about that.

            Nature is the whole explanatory fabric, that which contains all the explanations, and which explains itself. This some people call God.

          • Peter

            The principle of sufficient reason arose in the first place by citing God as the explanation for an eternal universe in response to those who believed that the eternal universe was a brute fact not requiring an explanation.

            The principle of sufficient reason cites God as the ultimate explanation for nature, but you have extended this principle to include the requirement that even God needs an explanation and therefore must also be part of nature. In other words you claim that God and nature are synonymous.

            It seems that you have misunderstood the principle of sufficient reason as it was first set out by Leibniz. Either that or you have deliberately distorted it to encompass God as well. To that extent it no longer remains the principle of sufficient reason but becomes a separate principle that you yourself have created in order to justify your own convictions.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            No, I think I understand it rightly, although to a certain extent, it wouldn't matter whether I do or not. I think the principle as I laid it out is true, and so if it is a different principle than the principle of sufficient reason, a principle of sufficient schmeason, then I accept the principle of sufficient schmeason. Necessitarianism and monism were both seen as potential consequences of the principle of sufficient reason [Della Rocca, Spinoza (The Routledge Philosophers)]. According to Della Rocca, Leibniz arbitrarily limits the scope of the principle of sufficient reason (or expands the sort of things he would accept to be sufficient reasons; take your pick) and also applies a moral element, so his principle is different from Spinoza's, and so his rationalism is not quite as thoroughgoing.

            That's Della Rocca's contention, and I'd recommend you read his book to find out why he thinks this. The whole book is worth reading, but the most relevant parts for this argument are his Chapter 1 and 7 (for Della Rocca's interpretation of Spinoza's PSR), and Chapter 8.1 (for Leibniz's reaction to Spinoza).

            Regardless of whether it should be called the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the principle I accept is that everything has an explanation for why it is the way it is and not another way. God has an explanation for why God is the way God is and not another way. God explains God. This clearly leads to substance monism or generalism, and to necessitarianism. These are consequences of a bedrock principle that I can't find my way out of; it's as obvious to me as my own existence, so I would as soon question whether I existed or whether there existed an external reality as whether everything has an explanation.

            Admittedly, I'm in the extreme minority on this one. But there it is.

          • Peter

            During the Enlightenment the universe was considered to be eternal and matter immutable. The principle of sufficient reason arose in response to the belief prevalent at that time that the universe being eternal was a brute fact not requiring explanation. The principle pointed to God as the explanation.

            The science of the 20th century debunked Enlightenment thinking (and vindicated Church teaching) by demonstrating that the universe was not eternal nor was matter immutable. There was no longer any need for a principle of sufficient reason to explain an eternal universe because an eternal universe no longer existed.

            Instead the universe by its very nature - that is of having a beginning - demanded an explanation in its own right. The principle of sufficient reason, which arose to explain something without a beginning, became outdated and irrelevant. Consequently any recourse nowadays to this principle as an attempt to explain the universe, is outdated and irrelevant. So too are any philosophies that rely on it.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Whether 'outdated' or 'irrelevant' as an explanation for the origin or not of the universe, I think the principle of sufficient reason is true (and at the end of the day, that's what counts). I can't not think that it's true, and the rest of my present philosophy results from this principle. It wouldn't be worth debating the truth of the principle itself, since for one thing, I wouldn't know how. One thing worth debating is whether all that I draw as necessary implications are in fact implications.

            Also, Spinoza I suppose by this estimation would be reacting against Enlightenment philosophy, since he above all other philosophers, would reject that any fact is brute. There is I think a great deal of synergy, actually, between Spinoza and Aquinas. Lots of differences, but lots that's the same. Spinoza almost seems to me to be like Aquinas for naturalists.

          • Peter

            I would disagree that Spinoza rejects brute facts. His whole philosophy is based on one brute fact, namely that God/nature is the whole explanatory fabric, containing all the explanations and explaining itself.

            As a brute fact, this is no different from the Enlightenment belief that the eternal universe was the whole explanatory fabric, containing all the explanations and explaining itself.

            The only difference is that the former encompasses the material and immaterial whereas the latter only the material.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Could you clarify your disagreement? Is your position that Spinoza accepts some brute facts, even though Spinoza doesn't consider them to be brute? Or is your position that Spinoza explicitly accepts brute facts as brute?

          • Peter

            Spinoza cannot reject the notion of a brute fact since his own philosophy is based on one.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            I still dont understand your position. Do you think Spinoza knowingly or unknowingly accepted a brute fact? Also, what specifically do you think the brute fact he accepted is?

            Is it: "God/nature is the whole explanatory fabric, containing all the explanations and explaining itself" or is that a paraphrase?

            If that's what it is, do you think Spinoza thinks this is a brute fact, do you even think he thinks its a fact at all, or do you think he thinks its not a brute fact, but it really is?

          • Peter

            Whether Spinoza considered it a brute fact or not, I don't know.

            However, just as a self explaining eternal universe of immutable matter was considered a brute fact by Enlightenment thinkers, so too could an infinite single substance comprising both God and nature which is self explaining also be regarded as a brute fact.

            In both cases, the explanation for their existence, and for why they are the way they are and not another way, lies within themselves; there is no external cause or determinant. As far as identifying them both as brute facts, I can't see any difference between the two.

            It is difficult to see Spinoza rejecting the notion of a brute fact when his own philosophy appears to be based on one.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            How do you define a brute fact? Is a brute fact a fact with no explanation, or a fact with no external explanation? If something explains itself, would that thing be considered brute, as you use the term?

          • Peter

            A brute fact is a fact which needs no explanation, but that specifically means needing no explanation beyond itself. The eternal universe of the Enlightenment was considered a brute fact because it had no external explanation. Leibniz' principle of sufficient reason was an attempt to show that the eternal universe was not a brute fact because it had an external explanation which was God.

            In fact, modern naturalists such as Sean Carroll have also fallen into the brute fact trap. Carroll's attempt to explain the universe in naturalistic terms, where the explanation of the universe lies within the universe and not beyond, speculatively presupposes an eternal universe through time reversal. For him the universe is as it is, with no explanation beyond itself for it being so.

            That is no less a brute fact than the eternal universe of the Enlightenment which also was as it was with no explanation beyond itself for being so. Anything deemed infinite or eternal which contains its own explanation and requires no external explanation cannot avoid being a brute fact.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            It sounds like you think all explanations for a thing need to be external to that thing. This may be a defensible position, but it's not Spinoza's or mine.

            This position has an interesting consequence of requiring at least one brute fact. After all, if all explanations are external, then take the collection of all things that have explanations (the universe + God + whatever else). Does this collection have an explanation for why it is the way it is and not another way? If the collection of all things that have an explanation doesn't have an explanation, then it's brute. If it does have an explanation, then the explanation has to be external, it has to involve something new, some X, not in the universe + God + whatever else. That X either has an explanation or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then it's brute. If it does, then it's in the collection of all things that have an explanation.

            The requirement that all things have external explanations is inconsistent with the principle of sufficient reason. Although it may be a defensible position for some people, I reject it because it conflicts with something that I think is ground truth; something I couldn't deny even if I tried.

            As an aside, Sean Carroll indeed does accept brute facts, and thinks that the way the universe is now may be a brute fact. But by this he means that it may have no explanation even within the universe. There may be no reason, in or outside the cosmos, as to why the cosmos is the way it is and not another way. Sean Carroll, like almost all contemporary philosophers, explicitly rejects the principle of sufficient reason.

          • Peter

            Leibniz' principle of sufficient reason pointed to God as the external cause of the universe, so it's not surprising that Carroll rejects it.
            And inasmuch as Leibniz' principle of sufficient reason points to an external cause of the universe, the universe necessitating an external cause is indeed consistent with that principle.

            Furthermore, lumping God with the universe and calling it a collection of things is erroneous. God is the ultimate brute fact, the first principle of existence, upon which the universe is contingent.

            During the Enlightenment the general consensus among scientists was of the eternal universe as a brute fact. Why posit an even more fundamental brute fact such as God when there was no observable evidence of such? Why not just take the eternal universe and its fundamental features as a brute fact instead? And that's what they did.

            But of course the 20th century changed all that. The universe had a beginning and could not be a brute fact. It is therefore absurd to categorise God with the universe, since the former is a brute fact and the latter not.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            God is the ultimate brute fact

            Exactly. That's a reasonable move to make, if you accept that all explanations have to be external (and therefore reject the principle of sufficient reason).

            On the other hand, I accept the principle of sufficient reason, and therefore cannot accept that all explanations have to be external. I have to accept that at least something can explain itself. If I didn't, I'd have to accept that there's at least one brute fact, and that would contradict the principle of sufficient reason.

            I think this is one of the big reasons our beliefs about God and the universe diverge. I think we otherwise have a lot in common, in terms of a fairly thorough-going rationalism. We would both think, for example, that the universe needs an explanation.

            The universe had a beginning and could not be a brute fact.

            For someone who accepts brute facts, what does it matter that something has a beginning or not? Why can't things with a beginning be brute facts? They just happen and there's no explanation for them.

          • Peter

            "If I didn't, I'd have to accept that there's at least one brute fact, and that would contradict the principle of sufficient reason."

            Leibniz' principle of sufficient reason points to God as being the brute fact, so why would accepting a brute fact contradict that principle?

            "Why can't things with a beginning be brute facts? They just happen and there's no explanation for them."

            Eternal existence is no change but a beginning is a change. Something brings about that change otherwise it would not take place.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            You don't understand the principle of sufficient reason. The principle of sufficient reason does not allow for any brute facts (see e.g. Della Rocca 2010 [ http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/p/pod/dod-idx/psr.pdf?c=phimp;idno=3521354.0010.007 ] and Dasgupta 2014 [ http://www.shamik.net/papers/dasgupta%20metaphysical%20rationalism.pdf ])

            Notice once again, though, that this use of an explicability argument does not by itself commit one to the full-blown PSR, to the denial of brute facts in general. (Della Rocca, 2010, p. 3)

            The result is a defense of a “rationalist” metaphysics, one that constitutes an alternative to the contemporary dogmas that some aspects of the world are “metaphysically brute” and that the world could in so many ways have been different. (Dasgupta, 2014, Abstract)

            If I am wrong in this, please provide a citation, from Leibniz or from any other philosopher, that accepts both the principle of sufficient reason and any brute fact as a brute fact.

            More relevant, even if I were completely wrong about Leibniz's position, even if Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason somehow allowed for brute facts, mine doesn't. You aren't talking to Leibniz. You're talking to me. Accepting anything brute contradicts the principle I adopt. And that's the material point.

            Eternal existence is no change but a beginning is a change. Something brings about that change otherwise it would not take place.

            Why do changes need explanations?

          • Peter

            From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
            "Principle of sufficient reason, in the philosophy of the 17th- and 18th-century philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,....asserts that there is an adequate reason to account for the existence and nature of everything that could conceivably not exist. In each such case, the ultimate sufficient reason is the free choice of God."
            Clearly Leibniz has God as his brute fact.

            I am aware that I'm talking to you and not Leibniz and it is clear that the principle you espouse is not Leibniz' but your own. Calling it the principle of sufficient reason is confusing because most people would mistakenly associate it with Leibniz.

            If you reject a brute fact and claim that everything has a reason, then this becomes like Friedman's onion rings, never-ending layers of explanations, to infinity. So, in rejecting a brute fact you are creating one in your own right, an infinite regression of causes requiring no external explanation because it doesn't have a beginning.

            "Why do changes need explanations?"

            How could they otherwise take place?

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

            "Principle of sufficient reason, in the philosophy of the 17th- and 18th-century philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,....asserts that there is an adequate reason to account for the existence and nature of everything that could conceivably not exist. In each such case, the ultimate sufficient reason is the free choice of God."

            Clearly Leibniz has God as his brute fact.

            Not clearly at all, and if it is clear, where does Leibniz say "God is a brute fact"? Or where does he explicitly connect God or God's will with brute facts? It sounds instead that for Leibniz God's free choice is a sufficient reason, and there would be a sufficient reason for God's free choice as well (since God is a rational being and so makes his choices for good reasons).

            At the very worst, Leibniz is failing to put into practice his own principles, letting God have different rules under the PSR. But that's his problem, not mine.

            I'll probably continue to call my principle the Principle of Sufficient Reason. I'm using it the way contemporary philosophers use it and really the way I think Leibniz uses it (even if it turns out he uses it inconsistently).

            Although... if you have a cool alternative name to suggest...

            If you reject a brute fact and everything has a reason, then this becomes like Friedman's onion rings, never-ending layers of explanations, to infinity.

            Not if some things can be their own explanations. Then there need be no infinite regress at all. Not that the infinite regress would even help, because that infinite regress would as a collection need an explanation. And so forth. That's why I can't accept as you do that explanations must be external. It would undermine a fundamental principle, my core belief that everything has an explanation.

            How could they otherwise take place?

            They just would. Their taking place would be a brute fact.

          • Peter

            You are taking your core belief that everything has an explanation as a brute fact. Your denial of a brute fact in one form is an acceptance of a brute fact in another, whether you like it or not. Every single conclusion which denies the brute fact of God's free choice as the ultimate external explanation, creates its own brute fact and yours is no exception.

            The current science however, is on the side of those who claim an external explanation for the universe, since the universe has a beginning. Of course you can speculate that it does not, or that the notion of a beginning is meaningless because of time reversal, or that the universe is a seamless part of something infinitely greater. But these remain only speculations not based on any evidence.

            Your position is not supported by any evidence and is based on an outdated philosophy. It is not surprising that you are in a minority of one.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            You are taking your core belief that everything has an explanation as a brute fact.

            Not at all. I think that the principle of sufficient reason itself also has an explanation. It may not be an explanation we humans can appreciate. It might require understanding God in God's entirety. But I do hold out hope that the explanation for the principle of sufficient reason is attainable, and will one day be attained. People are working on it.

            It is not surprising that you are in a minority of one.

            I don't know if I'm entirely alone. Michael Della Rocca and Shamik Dasgupta both accept the strong PSR. So that makes three of us, at least. I have a couple scientist friends on board here too, mostly those in string theory and cosmology. There's at least ten righteous. ;)

            But even if I were alone, I'd be ok with that. I think this is the truth, and I would not abandon the truth, even if I were the only person on Earth to accept it. Truth shouldn't give way to peer pressure, no matter how big the peer group is.

            Of course, it would be better if more people would understand and accept as many true things as possible and reject as many false things as possible. That's why I'm happy to talk with people about what I think. I can learn more and adjust my views, they can do the same.

            But one thing I can't change is my acceptance of the PSR. Nothing could convince me to abandon it, even if I wanted to. Everyone has their dogmas.

          • Peter

            I didn't say that you were taking the principle of sufficient reason as a brute fact. I said that you were taking your belief that everything has an explanation, and that includes the principle itself, as a brute fact.

            Nevertheless I am grateful for this dialogue. It has helped me focus on the ultimate brute fact of God's free choice being the external cause of reality. Any solution which detracts from this is at variance with the current science, creating instead its own brute fact based on speculation and, as you confess, some degree of dogma.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Hey, thanks for the discussion. I'm glad you're interested in these sorts of things and can be patient with me.

          • Jim the Scott

            That was informative.

            One observation. Your view seems more of a Panentheistic view vs mere pantheism. Would you say that is correct?

            Cheers, take your time answering.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            I don't know exactly what the distinction is. Is it whether the universe is/isnt identical to God or whether Nature is/isnt identical to God? Or something else?

          • Jim the Scott

            Well my memory is fuzzy in my approaching old age but one explanation I remember is the relation between the Universe and God is akin to a Soul and a Body. Another explanation is the Universe is not the whole of God but an extension of Him so the speak.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            The first explanation would distinguish my position from panentheism, because I think that the relationship between the Universe and God is akin to the relationship between a part of my body and my whole self. God is not the soul of the universe. The relationship between the Universe and the Mind of God would be much more like the relationship between my body and my soul.

            The second explanation, "Another explanation is the Universe is not the whole of God but an extension of Him so the speak." is much closer to what I think, and if that is panentheism, then that's a better term for what I believe than pantheism (if pantheism is taken to mean that God and the universe are identical, and that all of God is all of the universe and all of the universe is all of God).

          • Jim the Scott

            Of course Classic Theists and Thomist see the Intellect and the rational soul to be the same. But then one has to get into hylemorphic dualism which a thomist presupposes vs Cartesian dualism which we historically dislike.

            Still thanks for giving me an insight into your personal views. Peace out.

      • I thought that Haeckel was an atheist. So are you saying he was actually a pantheist in the vein of Spinoza, or not?

        • Peter

          Haeckel was a monist, believing that both the physical and spiritual resided in matter, and that matter together with energy was eternal and constituted the substance of God. So yes, he was a pantheist, drawing his inspiration from Spinoza and Bruno.

          • I knew he was a monist, but not a pantheist. Others elsewhere seem to think he was an atheist. Do you have a source for his religious views? I'm curious.

    • Mike

      Sorry but is this "single Substance" God or just the 'combined value' of all that exists in some abstract sense, or some thing else entirely?

      • Paul Brandon Rimmer

        The single substance explains its own existence, and is the first imminent cause of all things, so I think the label "God" fits. I think that everything taken altogether is a single substance, and any individual, like you or me, is in that single substance. I think that this kind of substance monism is required by the strong principle of sufficient reason: everything that exists has an explanation for why it is the way it is and not another way.

        • Mike

          thx. i am not sure i understand the implications of monism but the rest i agree with i think.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            We should totally talk about this sometime. I don't think you'd agree with substance monism, but I think it's interesting to contrast different ways in which Acts 17:28 can be understood.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            These are really interesting remarks Paul.

            I am curious: do you think there is any sense in which God/Nature of your theology is incomplete or "off the mark", and is there any sense in which it is tending toward something more complete / more perfect?

            And related: does the glory of your God/Nature "glow in one region more, in another less"?

            I'm not looking for a systematic philosophical answer (though if you have one, I would of course welcome it). More just looking for your impressions on these questions.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Those are both great questions. I think the first can be systematically answered "no". I don't know the answer to the second at all.

            Under the principle of sufficient reason, all of nature has an explanation for why it is the way it is and not another way. So God couldn't be any different than the way God is.

            Taken another way, I think time is a dimension like space. We in time experience this dimension differently, but I think that it has all and only the same essential properties as other dimensions. Time is extension, if you like, in a different direction. Extension is an attribute of God. Space-time is a mode in God, so God is outside time. God then can't evolve.

            For your second question, it's a great question, it's not one I really thought about before, and I don't know how to answer it. But I'll think about it.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks.

            Out of curiosity, and not related to my theological interests, but just to bone up on my physics:

            Does modern physics really not ascribe any special properties to the dimension of time in comparison to the spatial dimensions? Is the apparent directionality / asymmetry of time, the inability of the future to influence the past, really just considered to be a matter of our perspective?

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            It's unsolved and different people think different things.

            Some physicists think that retrocausality (cause and effect working opposite the direction of time) happens all the time, and some even think this retrocausality can be used to explain certain behaviors in quantum mechanics.

            Some physicists think that time is exactly like space, with every microscopic particle having no preferred direction in itself. Entropy gives time its direction. These physicists tend also to think that time had its origin with space, maybe emerging from a 4-space; that time gets its interesting properties due to local geometric effects.

            Other physicists think that time is completely different from space, and isn't a dimension at all. I would say that they are in the minority at this point, although this isn't really an empirical question at this point anyway. Some experiments might be able to show that retrocausality happens, but what experiment would show that time is a dimension like space?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Cool.

            I suppose I believe in a sort of retrocausality myself. I think there is some completeness that lies at the end of time that is calling us forward into itself. If one can conceive of that completeness as a "part of Nature", then perhaps I am some sort of monist, or at least some sort of panentheist, myself. It depends a lot on what one thinks "Nature" refers to.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Yeah, that brings up another good question, about how to distinguish retrocausality from teleology.

  • David Nickol

    One the one hand, the four blurbs on the back cover were written by people whose names don't scare me away (Paul J. Griffiths, David Bentley Hart, C. Stephen Evans, and Paul Copan). Nor am I scared away by Baker Academic as the publisher. On the other hand, the Acknowledgments contain this sentence: "Bishop Robert Barron enthusiastically encouraged the project and inspired me by his own expertise on the topic." But I bought it anyway.

    • David Nickol

      P.S. The only book anybody will really ever need has just come out: Sean Carroll's The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. I remember once an author who wrote a book titled The Universe discussed in his introduction if there was any more grandiose title, and he noted that someone pointed out to him that Sartre had written Being and Nothingness.

      • Michael Murray

        Unfortunately the mysteries of international booksellers copyright agreements mean us poor people Down Under have to wait until the 22 August to download our Kindle copies :-( .

        • Lazarus

          Same here :(

          • Michael Murray

            Geena has pointed out that Amazon has an active preview now it you want to browse.

          • Lazarus

            Thanks, I will do just that.

          • Michael Murray

            Just following up on that Geena also says that the Google Books version of the preview has more available in it to read.

      • I'm actually 100 pages into it. I'll save my thoughts for some future posts--we're devoting at least two to it.

        Though I assume (and hope) you're being facetious, just to be clear, you don't really think Carroll's book is the "only book anybody will ever need [on this topic]", right?

        • Galorgan

          Would it be possible to post a complete section of the book? Not necessarily an entire chapter, but something that contains a complete argument and the surrounding commentary perhaps.

          • That would violate copyright law. However, Carroll has given several lengthy interviews online about the book that capture his main ideas. Just do a Google search.

          • Galorgan

            Well I didn't mean without permission. I thought because he gave an interview and would presumably seek to sell more books, he would want to offer a free sample. I mean we can already get one from google preview, but it would be nice to share an excerpt to discuss among us.

          • Oh! I thought you were referring to Carroll's book--not Levering's.

          • Galorgan

            Ah and I read too quickly and thought you were talking about Levering's. Anyway then, I re-ask my question (in regards to Levering's book)>

        • David Nickol

          you don't really think Carroll's book is the "only book anybody will ever need [on this topic]", right?

          I did not say it was the only book anybody will ever need on this topic. I said it was the only book anybody will really ever need. As Sheldon Cooper would say, "Bazinga!"

      • @Steven_Jake:disqus has started reviewing Big Picture; he made it tempting to give Carroll a read, myself. The OP's note on Hume "denying that every effect has a cause" seems to characterize Carroll, as Carroll rejects the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

    • What's wrong with Bishop Barron endorsing the book? You do realize he's a respected expert in this area, right? (Also, Matthew teaches at Mundelein seminary and was hired by Bishop Barron, who was Rector at the time of the book's writing. It makes good sense to thank your boss!)

      • David Nickol

        What's wrong with Bishop Barron endorsing the book?

        First, I didn't say Bishop Barron endorsed the book. I said Matthew Levering, in the Acknowledgments, said, "Bishop Robert Barron enthusiastically encouraged the project and inspired me by his own expertise on the topic." I don't think that counts as an endorsement.

        Second, I didn't imply there was anything wrong with Bishop Barron endorsing books.

        However, book blurbs (which are basically what I am talking about here) can cut both ways. If I'm browsing in a bookstore, pick up a book, and see it has a blurb by, say, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich, I put it right back on the rack and move along. There are some people whose endorsements are, to me, the kiss of death for a book. I am not saying Bishop Barron falls into that category, but his enthusiastic endorsement of Brant Pitre's The Case for Jesus has (among other things) made me cautious about works he recommends.

        One might argue that it is unwise to judge a book by its cover, or to judge a book by the blurbs on the back, but I am basically talking about browsing for books.

        • "Second, I didn't imply there was anything wrong with Bishop Barron endorsing books."

          This was the clear implication to me. You mentioned that the blurbs didn't scare you away, nor did the publisher. But "On the other hand..."

          That implies that whatever comes next did scare you away. I don't know how else to read that.

          • David Nickol

            There is nothing wrong with Bishop Barron endorsing books. I personally may consider an endorsement by Bishop Barron a mark against a book rather than a mark in its favor. But there is nothing wrong with him endorsing books, and I presume it helps sell books to the intended audience. I am clearly not the intended audience for a book like The Case for Jesus, although since the author was featured here on Strange Notions, in an effort to be open minded, I read the book.

            I was (of course) being a bit cheeky when I wrote my original message, and you seem to be focusing on that rather than on the fact that I bought Matthew Levering's book and am reading it.

          • "I was (of course) being a bit cheeky when I wrote my original message, and you seem to be focusing on that rather than on the fact that I bought Matthew Levering's book and am reading it."

            I'm capable of focusing on both :)

            I'm happy you bought the book and I'd be interested to hear what you think about it. Matthew is one of the sharpest, most expansive thinkers I know. (On a somewhat related note, having known him for a while, I also think he's a saint.)

  • Why does the vast amount of empty, dead space and time show love? Or on the other hand, the incalculably immense suffering that seems to be inextricably wrapped up in the existence of living things throughout history? Does God love empty, dead space and time more than life, considering how much more of it there is? The suffering living beings have to endure is really the mark of an infinite love? I find it strange how this grandiose idea of God is built up in contrast with what we find within the universe.

    The last sentence seems to assume all atheists are strict empiricists, which is hardly the case.

    • Mike

      the more suffering the more likely God exists. unless all human agony and suffering and longing is at bottom just the laws of physics doing their thing.

      • Why does suffering make it more likely God exists (at least with all the attributes given above)? It does seem more likely to me that it's just the laws of physics at work, yet I do understand just how unsatisfying this would be. To me it seems like a paradox-we need a loving God to exist because so much we know seems to show there likely is none.

        • Mike

          bc i think that heinous unvarnished evil the worst you can imagine and this thought came to me while reading that "unnerving" chapter in the brothers karamazov, that that kind of evil i am convinced doesn't just do damage or wrong to a person's body via torture or an intimate relationship via incest or whatever or even a whole society via war but ultimately those things can be so unbelievably horrific that they in a sense cry out to God for vengeance.

          i have small kids so i can imagine things happening to them that are so evil that they would in my mind prove that there is something "holy" something "sacred" about their bodies their personalities etc. and so if that were to be broken violated it would to me prove that 'another' realm exists.

          personally it was what i'd describe as a deep thirst for justice that i became convinced that God exists or that there is something 'out there' that somehow cares about us. that's why to me the problem of evil has always pointed in the other direction.

          well to be honest mundane evils i think point more towards there not being God. but the really really bad stuff to my mind is one of the best if not immediately intuitive arguments for God.

          • Interesting take. I certainly do concede we have the desire for a sort of cosmic justice, and some can intuit God from this. I don't find argument like this convincing though. It's very similar to the ontological argument for me, which I think fails as well.

          • Mike

            precisely. that presence of that desire for cosmic justice is i think enough to justify a person's belief as i think it is good and natural for us to want that.

            the argument is a very strange one and very personal. i think leah libresco gives a similar reason though for her conversion.

            btw may be these types of arguments 'work' better depending on a person's underlying psychology.

          • I think this may be the worst argument for God's existence, though respecting the underlying desire. With such logic, we could believe in basically everything which is desired to be true.

            Leah Libresco appears to have thought objective morality can only be justified by God. I don't know her exact reason for that, and I'm not sure how she goes from there to Catholicism.

            That's probably true for all these arguments, true. I don't know whether I'm psychologically capable of believing in God.

          • Mike

            some ppl desire very very VERY strongly to be the opposite sex. some men are convinced they are in the wrong body. do you think their reasoning is fallacious?
            she during her night of conversion said that she realized that someone "loved" her.
            I think it's that you can't see yourself wanting to believe in something like the Christian God. but I think that it is 'natural' 'good' and 'right' for us to want something like that. a person is not much more than a thing that cries out for justice for recompense for things to be put right. for that kind of thing not to want ultimate justice is wrong imho.

          • It's apples and oranges. Even if I agreed though, that's irrelevant to this.

            No, it would be nice if there were a benevolent deity who helped good people and punished evil. However, I don't think Christian God actually meets that criteria, and as I said the nature of the universe does not seem to support such a being existing. It may be natural and good for people to want that, but that still doesn't mean they're right.

          • Mike

            i agree, my belief is not clearly a delusion...it might be but it's not clear.

            to me it's weird that you say 'it'd be nice' bc that even though you would deny it seems to concede my point.

            the Christian God is a patient God ie a real God imho. the nature of reality imho reveals 2 'important' things 1. the existence, not pervasive but not remote either of real Evil. i mean real Real evil the stuff that makes ppl want to end their lives the stuff that makes ppl want to end other ppl's lives and 2. the existence of real and not pervasive either but not rarely found, Beauty, real jaw dropping, in explicable Beauty, something that seems too good to be true something that stops ppl in their tracks that obliterates all the evil. those 2 features i think are the end result of a certain kind of reductionism. they are both the most real features of reality imho.

            suppose ppl like me are wrong. if we aren't responsible for the desire how can we be blamed for 'following' it.

          • I thought your argument was that having this desire is evidence of God. That, as I've said, I don't agree with. How do I concede your point just saying "it might be nice if such a God did exist"? That is something different.

            I'm not sure why either of these would support the Christian God. Evil seems to count against it, and beauty doesn't justify that in my view. What is it you mean by reductionist? I'm curious at that.

            Blaming a person is different from arguing they're wrong.

          • Mike

            it's not the desire but the reason for the desire. any one can wish for anything. the violations of something sacred are the cause. but how can something be sacred before proving God? it doesn't have to be. all it does is prove that something has been violated. something unique something that only something 'supernatural' could in principle 'fix'.

            if you say 'it'd be nice' it means that you'd accept it. but since it is 'ultimate reality/God' it means to me that all things being equal you want it, which concedes that everyone ought to/does want ultimate 'reality or justice'.

            it is reductionist bc i think that all human endeavors can be reduced to those 2 things. we put a man on the moon not to study gravity say but to study how gravity could be used to save lives; we solved fermat's theorem not to prove it could be done but bc it would prove that we are beautiful/worthwhile creatures.

            we build tall buildings not bc we are good engineers but bc we want to be good/high/ppl.

          • The sense of something being sacred is not confined to theism. Maybe only something supernatural could fix the violation, but again that is not evidence for it.

            Okay, but my point is that doesn't prove those things exist just because we desire them.

            I don't think everything can be reduced that way. Funny, mostly it's atheists who get tarred as reductionist.

          • Mike

            yes all it proves imho is that there is "something" more than this 'material' universe.

            it would be very strange aka cruel imho if these violations of sacredness weren't actually happening BUT then that would mean that our deepest moral values aka don't torture babies are also illusions in which case....well what's left of our notions morality?

            if that's the case then even something as grotesque morally as slaughtering a women's new baby in front of her eyes AND doing it not bc there is a war or whatever but just for fun would turn out to be just something we imagine as being wrong but not something that is intrinsically evil imho.

          • How does it prove that?

            That might be the case yes, but this is all simply the appeal to consequences and emotional appeal. I do believe morality can be justified, but these are logical fallacies.

          • Mike

            what is a logical fallacy? how can you justify morality w/o ANY sort of 'external' reference point?

            maybe proves is too strong or the wrong word but it does at least create an intolerable contradiction: either there is something sacred or there is nothing sacred at all not even the worst stuff in which case this really is a cosmic blip an accident.

          • Saying it would be bad if our moral intuitions weren't true, and using this as evidence of "something more" which supports them. It's the appeal to consequences and emotional appeal, since you also mention that it would be cruel, etc. As for our justifying morality, there's many ways. I personally think that the Golden Rule or some variant thereof is sufficient, which doesn't require anything external.

            What are you basing something being sacred on?

          • Mike

            not all moral intuitions not even most only the most 'intense'. all i am saying is that there are some few things which are so evil that they prove (to my mind) that the things that are violated are 'sacred' which must mean that there is something 'external' by which they are sacred which to my mind means some source of 'goodness'.

            the golden rule can't be a universal general rule bc ppl want to be treated differently; the diamond rule can't either bc you don't have to i don't believe treat me exactly how i want to be treated.

            if we are a closed system say all 100% natural then to my mind anything and everything is in a sense good or natural. how can you honestly fault say criminals if all they are doing is following their nature or praise nobel winners for solving chemistry riddles bc it was just in their nature to do that. no one is praiseworthy nor blameworthy - nature is just proceeding along some predetermined track.

          • What if our moral intuitions differ? How do we determine which is right?

            I should say I'd go further than just "treat others as you wish to be treated" but also what is called the Platinum Rule: "treat others as they wish to be treated". I've called it the principle of reciprocity to cover both. I had not heard of the Diamond Rule, and I'm surprised that you'd reject it. Your reason is not clear to me here.

            Saying if everything is natural it's good is another fallacy, the appeal to nature. We don't have to do this. You can distinguish between harmful and beneficial things (i.e. medicine versus diseases). Also you seem to be assuming hard determinism. Even if you do however the same criteria applies of harm vs. benefit. I take a compatibilist view in any case.

          • Mike

            i would say that they do but what's interesting to me is that they don't when it comes to gratuitous moral evil. we all think that killing babies like the japanese apparently did in nanking for fun is so repugnant that it actually causes some ppl to fall into deep depressions and commit suicide. i am only pointing to the worst of the worst to 'prove' my thesis.

            that's what i meant by diamond, platinum. but it makes no sense as you have no moral obligation to treat me like a 'slave' for ex. even if i want you to. if i want you to chop of my leg bc i don't like it that doesn't mean you have to chop it off. some ppl want to be treated with utmost respect even when being cruel and mean and you have no moral obligation to do that. to me the diamond rule is a recipe for chaos. as then you'd even have to treat real evil maniacs as if they weren't.

            i don't mean 'good' as in moral good just good as in there is no other standard nothing external. if all is 100% 'nature' then all is 'good' or 'fine' or whatever.

            ok i am not a compatibilist to me it's not available to the atheist if he wants to be honest. but then again i am convinced that eliminative materialism is true if there is not God or gods or whatever.

            btw eliminative materialism doesn't say morality doesn't exist or that things aren't bad or good all it does say is that those things exist as illusions which at bottom means they don't exist.

            if you feel like it check out this series: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2013/08/eliminativism-without-truth-part-i.html

          • Well they obviously do even there, though not as much. The Japanese soldiers you mention apparently did not have a strong intuition that they were doing wrong. In any case, I don't think that right or wrong is decided by intuition.

            That's why the rule goes both ways. You don't want to be treated like a slave, so even if someone else does, then don't. The same goes for the rest.

            I don't think there really needs to be anything external. That doesn't seem good or fine, just "how things are".

            Why is compatibilism unavailable to an atheist? Also, why is eliminative materialism true on atheism? I don't know much about eliminative materialism and I'm not one, so it's not relevant to me what they believe about morality, whether or not what you say is correct.

          • Mike

            i wouldn't base my morality on intuitions solely either. my only point is that some few things cause such a strong moral outrage that they to my mind very strongly suggest that the things violated are in some sense 'sacred' but we've been over this before.

            yes that's what i meant, things would just be 'how they are'. again this is why i think that if there was no really really bad evil it would to my mind make God less likely.

            bc free will would be in my mind an illusion if the world is only governed by the laws of the hard sciences as it the mind/brain would also then by governed by them. i think elim materialism is the logical result of a thoroughly atheistic mindset or worldview. sometimes atheists point to 'emergent properties' to show that materialism need not be so austere but to me that proves formal causality which needs God to get off the ground.

            if there is no God or gods then surely you agree that everything 'inside' the universe is governed by the laws of the hard sciences no? but if that is so then our brains are also governed by them which means that 'all of this' is a super duper weird and strange reality but a reality that is at bottom a dream or an illusion seems to me.

          • I sympathize-I'm certainly morally outraged by things too.

            So contrary to the problem of evil, you think that it's evidence for God then?

            I disagree-there is a range of possibilities on both naturalism and supernaturalism regarding free will. The Calvinists, for instance, are also staunchly. deterministic. What is formal causality, and why does it require God?

            Why does the universe being natural mean it is a dream or an illusion?

          • Mike

            you may have never read the inquisitor chapter in the brothers karamazov but i'd recommend it for an ex of the kind of evil i am thinking about. there's a reason imho why dosto included that chapter.

            i think that if there was no morally outrageous evil it would make the case for God more difficult it would make God less likely.

            i don't know anything about calvinists etc that they believed something called pre destination so everyone was already damned or saved which seems plainly wrong.

            formal causality is what secular ppl today call emergent properties. so if the whole is greater than the sum of the parts the whole is 'emergent'. secular philosopher who've forgot about formal causality seem to be rediscovering it by calling it emergent.

            salt is poisonous gas and a flammable liquid before it becomes table salt. but what has physically changed? ONLY the number and position of exactly the same thing namely electrons. but how do electrons 'know' that if there is this many they must have these properties and if this many those properties. the reason is bc there is a sort of vlook up table if you know excel that 'tell's them this is what your 'nature' will be given this particular configuration of the same parts. if you could tell all the properties of chemical substance via physics alone this theory would be falsified btw.

            if you look into your eye and go closer and closer to the atomic level there would be only atoms of various sorts and no 'you' yet when you pull away you 'emerge'. so how is it possible that those atoms as a whole become you? the theory that gets into that is called the substantial forms. but i am working off an aristotelian metaphysics which most ppl are not familiar with.

            the reason why God is required is bc something external must "tell" or give Substance their Natures, we like to call them. w/o that there would be no Things as understand as substantial forms. i'd recommend ed feser posts for an intro though:

            for ex: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/2014/04/welcome-to-machine.html

            bc if my brain is 100% natural ie everything i think feel ponder analyze deduce is 100% natural then it wholly subject to the laws of hard science which are deterministic. if they are deterministic that must mean that my brain is and that my mind is.

            or maybe there is some part of me and you that is NOT 100% natural in which case we can engage in these chats and not be deluding ourselves that there is some air fairy thing out there called Truth.

            that thing is apparently our Intellect and our Will both of which are NOT 100% natural and NOT material.

          • I've read it-a great work of literature, and raises a lot of good questions that are not answered.

            Why would it make God less probable? The problem of evil is a problem for a reason.

            Yes, that's what I'm referring to. There are Biblical passages they cite for this. Others contradict it of course. To be honest, I think you can find a number of different views in the Bible on how people are saved.

            Ah, I see. Well think of it like this-paint is a mix of chemicals that by itself means nothing. If applied in a certain manner however it can produce a beautiful work of art. Do the parts making that up really matter? I don't think so.

            Could give me a short explanation why things require God for substance?

            Like I said, I've taken the compatibilist view here, so that doesn't bother me. Even if it did, well, too bad.

          • Mike

            i think the problem of evil of really really really bad evil supports the likely hood of God but we've been over this. i don't want to repeat my self save to say there are things that are sacred imho.

            the bible was written BY catholic church not the other way round. the authority is with the church not the bible. but that's another topic.

            your paint analogy is what we'd call an 'accidental form' not substantial. however if you mixed enough paint that all of a sudden the painting began to move then you'd be correct but have sub. form anyway. some ppl think that if enough ppl get connected to the internet that 'it' will somehow become conscious but that's just a simple mistake btw accidental and substantial forms. that would be like saying if i add enough apples to a recipe i will end up with grapefruit eventually. this also gets into the theory of potency though as there can't be anything in the effect that wasn't in the cause in some sense.

            substance is another word for "nature". certain things have natures. like carbon has a nature that electrons by the selves, neutrons and protons do NOT. in fact the 'nature' is VERY different. molecules have 'natures' that are VERY different than individual atoms. these are examples of 'emergent' properties. but where is the 'nature' encoded in a molecule? is there some writing that is very small on each atom? no and there is nothing else just what we call "chemistry". so unless there is some physics that explains why this combination of atoms results in h2o there must be some platonic thing called substantial form. again if physics could even in theory explain ALL chemistry by reference to laws of physics then this theory would be falsified. but i think consensus is that physics can't do that. patterns of electrons and protons etc determine a Whole huge array of properties yet the parts are all the same? they don't have instructions written on them anywhere and it's not physics that determines the properties. which means that there must be some platonic form at work and that requires imho something external.

            btw i'd recommend this book if you're looking for more detail, honestly an excellent book:https://www.amazon.ca/Scholastic-Metaphysics-Edward-Feser/dp/3868385444

          • Lazarus

            The Bible was compiled by the Church, not written by it..

          • Mike

            oops yes i meant to write collated not written.

          • Sure, we've been over that.

            I think that would take some evidence, and in any case the contradictions exist, but as you said that's a different issue.

            Okay, I'll have to check out that book or some others about Catholic metaphysics because honestly I don't understand it.

          • Mike

            thx for engaging i've enjoyed the discussion.

            anyway just an fyi i meant to say the catholic church compiled the bible not wrote it. also the underlying metaphysics are not technically catholic but Aristotelian. anyway i'd recommend ed feser's site for a great intro to he subject.

          • Sure, I have too.

            Oh, I understand, that's true. Yes, they took much from Aristotle. I've been reading some of Feser's stuff, it's very informative on all this.

          • David Nickol

            some ppl desire very very VERY strongly to be the opposite sex. some men are convinced they are in the wrong body. do you think their reasoning is fallacious?

            I think reasoning has very little (if anything at all) to do with it. I don't think you can reason your way out of believing your true gender is not reflected by your body (although for some people the feeling may fade with time). There is no recognized therapy to change gender identity.

            It is always interesting to me that in the religion of the Old Testament, there is no ultimate justice. There was no reward for the righteous or punishment for the wicked. And yet the Jews of the Old Testament still believed in God.

            I don't see how a desire for ultimate justice can in any way be used to prove the existence of God any more than the desire to live forever can prove life after death. And I don't see how a pass-fail system where some enjoy eternal bliss while all the others suffer eternal torment can be called just.

          • Mike

            i've read there is recognized therapy ala zucker and mchugh but that's another topic.

            it's not a desire out of thin air. it is a recognition that one thing entails another namely the worst evil you can imagine entailing the violation of something 'sacred'.

            you're straw manning heaven and hell. justice is what one truly deserves no prettier or uglier than that.

          • David Nickol

            you're straw manning heaven and hell. justice is what one truly deserves no prettier or uglier than that.

            Who deserves eternal punishment? How can eternal punishment be just?

          • Mike

            i think we're eternal creatures.

            what exactly eternity 'feels' like 'up there' and what 'punishment' 'feels' like 'up there' are somewhat up for grabs seems to me. our choices are real and have lasting consequences. also don't forget that this justice is supposedly Perfect. it will be exactly what we objectively deserve.

            plus there's purgatory and repentance and the sacrifice of Christ etc.

            plus if it's true so what if it sucks? btw that's what i often hear from atheists about a lack of justice for evil doers.

            hoping all end up in heaven is encouraged but how for example can hitchens be in heaven when he thoroughly rejected God and said so publicly? maybe he had a change of heart who knows but if he rejects God so be it no?

          • Doug Shaver

            for that kind of thing not to want ultimate justice is wrong imho.

            Of course it's wrong not to want ultimate justice. But it's also wrong to suppose that you're going to get something just because you want it badly enough.

          • Michael Murray

            Reminds me of the old parenting line

            "I want doesn't get".

          • Mike

            not suppose but hope for.

          • Doug Shaver

            OK, as long as we don't forget the difference between hoping and expecting.

          • Mike

            maybe this is why Christians say Christ came into the world to justify that hope?

          • Doug Shaver

            As I understand Christian teaching, belief in Christ justifies the expectation that ultimate justice will prevail, ultimately.

          • Mike

            so let's say hope but a hope that will not disappoint.

      • Peter

        All human agony and suffering and longing is at bottom just human beings wanting to do their thing.

        Stephen Fry blames God for causing children's cancer. Of course he, Fry not God, drives a car. I wonder how many millions of urban children have been affected in varying degrees by half a century of excessive exhaust fumes.

        • Mike

          God indirectly 'causes' everything literally as he is the first cause of reality itself.

          • Peter

            If I were a crowbar manufacturer I wouldn't want the police knocking on my door if a burglar had used one of my crowbars to break into a property.

          • Mike

            you must not be a leftist ;)

          • David Nickol

            A crowbar manufacturer is in no way analogous to God, or vice versa. According to the Christian view, God is ultimately responsible for all of creation. God is ultimately responsible for the fact that there is such a thing as cancer. He is also responsible for the fact that children are susceptible to cancer, whatever the cause. Pollution from automobile exhaust causes cancer, but then again, so does sunlight.

      • Doug Shaver

        the more suffering the more likely God exists.

        So, if there were no suffering, atheism would be vindicated?

        • Michael Murray

          There was a proviso though:

          unless all human agony and suffering and longing is at bottom just the laws of physics doing their thing.

          Which seems a good summary of how I think the universe behaves.

          • Doug Shaver

            I noticed that, but it was logically problematic. He was arguing in effect: If suffering cannot be explained without God, then suffering is evidence of God, and the greater the suffering, the more compelling the evidence.

        • Mike

          it would to my mind make it much much more likely. but i should specify a specific kind of suffering something truly evil.

      • Truth Seeker

        Have the laws of physics ever been known to fail?

        • Mike

          that would be an oxymoron.

          • Truth Seeker

            Walking on water sounds like a failure of the laws of physics.

  • Peter

    What about the scientific proofs of God?

    The universe having a beginning.
    The knife-edge low entropy conditions of the early universe.
    The entropy-driven evolution of the universe towards local complexity and life.
    The ubiquity of the building blocks of life and the multiplicity of planets.
    The capacity for life to acquire intelligence and consciousness, such as ourselves.
    Our ability to comprehend the universe and marvel at its order and rationality.
    Our capability of recognising the entire venture as the product of a great Mind.

    • Mike

      those can be good but apparently they are all based on probabilities whereas metaphysical proofs are like math ie certain.

      • Only if the premises are all true, which is hardly a given.

        • Peter

          Which of the seven premises is untrue?

          • Those seem more like conclusions. However, all the premises for them are questioned, at least in regards to them being proofs of God.

        • Mike

          true but some ppl deny that even if the premises are true the conclusions necessarily follow it seems to me.

          • Yes, that too.

          • Doug Shaver

            The conclusions either do or do not follow from the premises. That is a matter of logical fact, not anyone's judgment. If they do follow, then those who deny it are just revealing their ignorance of the rules of logical deduction.

      • Peter

        Metaphysical proofs may be a certainty to some people, but the reality is that they are not understood by most and are hotly contested by many who claim to understand them.

        I'm not saying they are wrong, far from it, but that their impact as a tool of modern apologetics is not as great as one would hope.

        • Mike

          it's too bad that most ppl don't bother looking into them as they are interesting in their own right.

          • Doug Shaver

            I have looked into them because, as a philosopher, I do find them interesting. But "interesting" does not entail "correct."

      • There is nothing about a proof being metaphysical that entails it is certain. What metaphysical proofs were you thinking of?

        • Mike

          see doug above or below somewhere. he agrees that if premises truth what follows must be.

  • Galorgan

    "Don't be an atheist without pursuing every rational discussion of God, not with the goal of resolving all mystery but with the goal of testing the mind's true limits and the possibility that reality is greater than the empirical."

    The same (or similar) goes for theists, right?

    • Of course! Who would deny it?

      • Galorgan

        Just seems weird to focus on atheists (rather than both sides) when the book is not an apologetics book.

      • Galorgan

        Actually, more than that, I don't think I've ever seen a theist tell somebody dabbling (or somebody who is already a theist) to not "be a theist without pursuing every rational discussion of God."

        • Mike

          that would be like an atheism telling a friend not to be an atheism until they've read all of russell nietsche etc.

          • Galorgan

            Yes

          • Mike

            but that's an impractical standard. we all want ppl to agree with us and so we accept them as one of us even if they don't know 10% of the arguments for our side or whatever. some ppl have a strong feeling that there is no God no purpose in the universe and so follow it; others have the opposite intuition.

          • Galorgan

            If it's an impractical standard to hold members of "one's own" group, then it's an impractical standard to hold members of another group, no?

          • Mike

            impractical yes but not unwise.

          • Galorgan

            What do you mean?

          • Mike

            just that you should always insist on higher standards for the view that is wrong in your opinion. that's just common sense it seems to me.

          • Galorgan

            So you think atheists should insist on higher standards for theists (than they do for other atheists) and theists should insist on higher standards for atheists (than they do for other theists)?

          • Mike

            no of course not not in principle. but practically you help ppl along don't you? if someone gives a really bad reason for atheism you don't tell them they aren't atheists yet do you?

          • Galorgan

            If someone gives a really bad reason for theism but says they are a theist, I don't tell them that they aren't a theist. Do you do either of those?

          • Mike

            no but i say there are good/better reasons.

          • Doug Shaver

            if someone gives a really bad reason for atheism you don't tell them they aren't atheists yet do you?

            No, because atheism is not defined by why anyone disbelieves in God. But if someone expresses disbelief for bad reasons, and if the context is appropriate, I certainly do my best to set them straight. I'm not interested in promoting atheism per se. I'm interested in promoting the kind of thinking that led me to atheism.

          • Mike

            i thought it was nothing more than not believing in God? anyway i think i agree with you.

          • Doug Shaver

            It is just not believing in God. But one can, if asked why they don't believe, respond with a good reason or a bad reason. "There is not enough evidence" is a good reason. "The Bible contains contradictions" is a bad reason.

          • VicqRuiz

            It seems a well established principle of most of the apologists here that naive, unlettered faith is acceptable, but naive, unlettered skepticism is not.

          • Lazarus

            Good luck in finding a skeptic who would admit to those two qualities ;)

          • David Nickol

            VicqRuiz is correct, thought. It doesn't matter who the theist or the atheist categorizes himself or herself. That really isn't the issue. Simple faith is seen as a virtue. Simple disbelief is not. Instilling simple faith in the youngest and most naive children is seen as a duty. The idea of instilling disbelief in children probably horrifies most religious people.

          • Lazarus

            I do agree, I had my tongue firmly in cheek. My own experience also shows a perception that simple disbelief points to sinfulness, willfulness, even laziness, and that it can be "fixed". Simple belief though is a virtue, a grace and is to be admired.

            Anomaly noted ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            My own experience also shows a perception that simple disbelief points to sinfulness, willfulness, even laziness, and that it can be "fixed".

            Those people need to get out more.

          • VicqRuiz

            I have several Catholic friends whom I doubt have ever cracked the cover of a serious work of philosophy or theology. Yet their faith is real, and I do not question that or demand that they read Hume or Spinoza or Popper or even Ingersoll (much less Hitchens or Dawkins) before they essay to defend that faith.

            I have read a few serious works of philosophy and theology, but I will never in my lifetime get around to reading them all, and I expect the same courtesy from theists in this matter that I show to them.

          • You can't instill disbelief in children without at least covertly giving them a basis which goes undoubted, so that the very act of doubting has a foundation firm enough to do the doubting. This is why Wayne C. Booth is correct in saying, "A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist." (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

            Another way of saying this is that "disbelief is parasitic on belief". Popular conceptions of Descartes foul this up, because it seems like he was successful in doubting everything, and yet was able to make a way forward. But in fact this is false and philosophers now acknowledge this. Had he truly doubted everything, he would not have been able to speak. Radical skepticism is stillborn.

            So, there's nothing more noble in disbelief than belief, because both require canons of belief. Indeed, the instilling of disbelief as more important than belief is a great way to be a dick to people, because you attune yourself to everything that is wrong about what they say, even if there are kernels of goodness. Therefore, the celebration of a child having a good foundation is to affirm less than the celebration of a child having learned to doubt.

          • David Nickol

            You're absolutely correct. I just quoted you to Brandon Vogt (above) rather than try to say it in my own words.

          • "It seems a well established principle of most of the apologists here that naive, unlettered faith is acceptable, but naive, unlettered skepticism is not."

            Doesn't seem that way to me, but I guess it depends what you mean by "acceptable." Do you mean praiseworthy? Admirable? Adequate?

            Naive, unlettered faith may be adequate for salvation but it's certainly not praiseworthy or admirable. I don't know why you think Christians believe that...

          • VicqRuiz

            I don't know why you think Christians believe that...

            http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2013/05/25/pope_open_the_door_to_faith/en1-695466

            And I quote:

            "The faith of the People of God – observes the Pope - is a simple
            faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it."

          • Doug Shaver

            Naive, unlettered faith may be adequate for salvation but it's certainly not praiseworthy or admirable. I don't know why you think Christians believe that...

            I think some Christians believe that because I've heard them say so. I am aware that other Christians don't think it.

            And in making that observation, I'm not just picking on Christians. I've seen the same sentiment -- that with respect to certain beliefs, there is some kind of moral virtue in holding those beliefs without making any attempt to inquire into how or even whether they might be justified -- expressed in contexts having nothing to do with salvation or any other religious issue.

          • Mike

            no i wouldn't say that. the point here is to welcome all even simple expressions of faith. i suspect the same happens on ES. we're 'both' trying to persuade and that's good and healthy.

          • Darren

            "Trust and obey
            for there's no other way
            to be happy in Jesus
            than to trust and obey"

          • Mike

            what's wrong with that? mocking someone's belief in hope and charity and love is lame.

          • Darren

            Mike wrote,

            what's wrong with that? mocking someone's belief in hope and charity and love is lame.

            Who says I am mocking? I am providing an exemplary Christian culture data point supporting VicqRuiz contra Brandon Voght.

            If anything, it looks to be Brandon who judges such a thing negatively.

            Naive, unlettered faith may be adequate for salvation but it's certainly not praiseworthy or admirable. I don't know why you think Christians believe that...

            Perhaps you should debate the matter with him.

          • Mike

            you're mocking and you don't even know it! not surprising.

          • Darren

            Mike wrote,

            you're mocking and you don't even know it! not surprising.

            Sigh... to put on my psychoanalysis hat for a moment...

            It is not I that is mocking, it is you. Having long observed you, I conclude that no, you do not actually believe in God. You just are terrified of a cosmos without God and so you cling to the pretense that you believe. Not actually believing, you are uncomfortable with simple expressions of your own faith, such as saying the name of your own God (your stated discomfort with "Jesus", thus the ludicrous use of "jc"). The discomfort you feel due to your disdain for your own pretend-belief system you transfer to the Other, in this case the pernicious atheist.

            Shrug.

            Normally I would leave you alone with your own denial in the hope that it provides some comfort and is mostly harmless. You are just so darned obnoxious about the transference part, and you espouse some pretty darn not-harmless viewpoints, so just figured I would go on record this one time that you might fool some people, but not everyone buddy boy.

            I now return you to your regularly scheduled cognitive dissonance.

          • Mike

            i got you didn't i?

            btw how many other ppl have you psycho analyzed on here?

          • Hi. Am just commenting here as I now understand better the personality behind your observations regarding my interest in Kant. I will still maintain that I do find correlates with respect to the two 'trinities', and indeed some attempts as in the proposed concept of apperception, are less like the empty concepts which I often regard as the basis for super-structures! generally. Please understand that I feel relieved that with respect to any future communication, I will not fall into the mode of people pleasing that my daughter has alerted me is a tendency of mine; being a possible explanation, and which is most probably a remnant of my upbringing. For me it merely reflects but an attempt to make translations between 'languages'. I do not believe I have been able to develop any kind of belief -'system'. And if you consider the additional requirement of the three C's- there are contradictions in interpretations of Kant as well as Christianity, etc. etc. which at least suggest that I'm not the only one who suffers, occasionally or chronically the traumas of inCoherence. In the future I shall at least attempt to find some Correspondence, for at least you, as well as I do exhibit a Consistent tendency towards irony!!!) :)

          • I'm curious about something. From a sociological study (N ≈ 2000), 70% of 18–23-year-olds in the US believe in the conflict thesis. Do you think that the US public education system has engaged in your interpretation of "trust and obey"?

      • David Nickol

        I think almost any religious person would deny it. VicqRuiz below puts it well when he says, "It seems a well established principle of most of the apologists here that naive, unlettered faith is acceptable, but naive, unlettered
        skepticism is not."

  • VicqRuiz

    "I know personally the pain of not merely not knowing whether God exists,
    but not knowing what the word 'God' is supposed to mean."

    I don't know these things either. Yet my condition seems to cause me no pain.

    If there is a loving God, he will treat me lovingly. If there is a malicious God, or no God at all, to brood about it in my earthly life is of no value.

  • I happened to have to some time to kill and checked the religion section of a big box bookstore.

    There were thousands of books on religion the overwhelming majority Christian. About a dozen by the pope. Maybe 50 from an atheist or secular perspective.

    I did a survey. There were 5 books from an atheist perspective on the question of the existence of gods. There were 25 from a Christian perspective. One of Sam Harris' books none by hitchens, Dawkins or Dennet.

    There was also a copy of Aquinas' summa theologica.

    I have to say I was a little surprised at how little atheist material was there and how much from a Christian perspective.

    Terrible anecdotal evidence, but I think it's not the case that there is little apologetics vs counter apologetics.

    • Mike

      i think it's bc generally speaking if you're interested in the big questions you're going to be a christian. i think it's easier to dismiss the whole area even general philosophy if you're a happy content secular atheist type person.

      • That may be so, but that is not what he said, or what I was responding to in my comment.

        He says "If one reads such publications as The New York Review of Books or other journals of elite culture, books that argue for the existence of God are generally not to be found, whereas a number of high-culture (and low-culture) figures weigh in with admiration of atheism."

        However, if one goes to a bookstore one finds five times as many books on arguments for the existence of god by Christians than one does by atheists. This seems to contradict what he is saying.

        • That very clearly does NOT contradict what Dr. Levering said. He was talking about "publications or journals of elite culture" and you were talking about brick-and-mortar bookstores. Those are very different things.

          Also, you're comparing the number of Christians books in the religion section to atheist books. But he's comparing the number of books actually arguing for God vs. books actually arguing for atheism, as reviewed in these mainstream publications and journals. Again, very different things.

          You're making too much of this, Brian.

          • David Nickol

            I have not made a survey, but it is my impression that in publications like The New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books, "pro-atheist" books (especially by the New Atheists) get a certain amount of attention, but they do not generally get good reviews.

            Levering refers to Proofs of God within the book itself as a textbook. Having spent my entire career since 1972 in the textbook industry, I can tell you that textbooks don't get reviewed in "publications or journals of elite culture" (nor should they, as a rule).

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I glanced over the last two years of issues of the New York Review of Books, and there was not a lot of reviews about atheism or theism. I made a very cursory survey, and there was three reviews on religious topics. One on St Paul and two on Islam.

            A fast one is being pulled here. Levering is claiming that the elite cultural gate keepers are ignoring theistic philosophy, while promoting atheism as a de facto truth. Levering provides no evidence. The burden of proof is then shifted to those of us who are skeptical of Leverings claim.

            Perhaps these books aren't getting reviewed because they aren't particularly interesting or noteworthy.

          • Sure if he is just aiming at an elite or academic audience fine. I'm not part of that audience, I'm a lay person.

            I did compare the books arguing for and against the existence of God and the ratio was 5 to 1 in favor of God. If it was just books on religion vs atheism. It was thousands in favor of religion.

          • Lazarus

            I'm not sure that we should read too much into this. Religion, or let's focus just on Christianity, has so many topics to write about - apologetics, mysticism, Marianology, prayers, comparative religion, conversion stories, hagiographies, religious history - a seemingly endless list of topics.

            Atheism on the other hand, at least at this stage, seems to have its own type of apologetics, deconversion stories and life-without-God type of books. What else can really be said?

          • Oh for sure. I'm really just reacting to a sentiment I've inferred. That there had been this wave of "new" atheism and that the apologetic arguments are fighting for a voice. That people may question the existence of gods and not have good access to these arguments. Really I was reacting to my inference which may have been wrong, that books like these are needed, because no one is writing about apologetics. I really just wanted to see if this was the case, or what one would find at a bookstore. What we find these days seems to be lots more books supporting the existence of gods than challenging it.

            We hear that Aquinas' arguments are unknown by philosophers. I thought it interesting that his summa theologica was being sold in an bookstore and in the religion section, not the philosophy section.

        • Mike

          bc elites are embarrassed by traditional classical religion except boutique buddhism.

      • Doug Shaver

        It was my interest in the big questions that led me out of Christianity. I started asking, "Why should I believe any of this?" and my Christian mentors didn't have any good answers.

      • Truth Seeker

        Aren't most people in the world neither Christian nor "secular atheist types"?

        • Mike

          yes.

    • I visited a bookstore in SF and found no section on religion. How's that for a counter-anecdote?

  • My thanks that this article directed me to the work of Epicurus, to begin, and the subsequent realization that yes, the scientific perspective we have today could possibly be described as: at last finding 'the evidence'. I was somewhat disappointed however, in not finding any reference to the many neo-Thomistic writers, as well as writers on theology, including even Derrida and his 'Acts of Religion', and his study of Heidegger's philosophy from a post-Hebrew?/Jewish (which word is best?) point of view. (Edit: I do note the title of the book, but he does include Wittgenstein, who had no proofs). But, in doing my 'back checking' I did find a work in my library that I believe I am ready to read. It is by a Catholic theologian, Jean-Luc Marion, who, together with all of his analysis of Cartesian and phenomenological philosophies has also written: -are you ready for this?- God without Being - which at least from reading the back cover suggests it is an examination of 'our vanity' - in possibly the many ways of what we call our 'worship' of 'God', and thus could perhaps analyze the varying kinds of 'religious practice' that could even be called 'idolatry'. Yes, Catholicism is a 'big tent'.
    This, I assume, would be a book which includes an examination the psychological 'nature' of man/woman kind, rather than the/a mere, empty, logic??? format, I would suspect. And from the intro, etc., and from reading the Google account, this would be consistent with what appears to be his rejection of the causative proofs, of AT, and is rather an attempt to convey the 'idea' of God as a Loving God. Period. Will see what develops through a reading.

    So thanks to this post, for re-directing my interests for me. Have also left a summary of my conversations with a few of you, and a link to what I hope could be for you, as it was for me, some kind of summary on that last 'post'....(My little safir's (safire's) are not always equal to a 'revelation')...but thankfully, at least the titles of those post-modern works are beginning to make a little more 'sense' to me. And also some evidence that these psychological aspects recognized by 'religions' - are also being examined and even 'encouraged' today by many, even new subscribers to various forms of what may or may not correctly be called - scienticism. I shall not attempt to 'trump' that!!!! I shall however, read this book of 'vanities'!!! as, if I may proceed from the last comment, this might entail the re-discovery that such vices!!! may be very difficult to avoid!!!

  • Doug Shaver

    When we think of 'proof', we often think of mathematics or of natural science. In these ways, of course, one cannot prove that God exists.

    Mathematics uses deductive reasoning, and science uses inductive reasoning. Don’t they exhaust the possibilities? What other kind of proof is there?

    But there are demonstrations that begin with the finite or limited modes of existence that we see around us, and then reflect upon what is needed in order to be able to account for the existence of finite things, both in themselves and in their orderly relations.

    Are those demonstrations deductive, inductive, or something else?

    • Forgive me- I 'can't help' - myself. Maybe you can. To begin of course we have Pierce's abduction and the 'reductions' of various kinds - but if you 'reduce' something that cannot be explained scientifically, as I assume the case is with consciousness, couldn't that also be called 'denial'? (Just asking!)

      And then I have already mentioned Kant's Transcendental 'Deduction'. In his philosophy it is assumed that the 'apperception' is somewhat complete, or holistic, an assumption I have questioned on the basis of my own deduction that I can neither be called a scientist or a saint. This perhaps 'assumes' many things. 1. The meaning of transcendental is not necessarily related (at least directly) to some 'out of the purview of time and space' - being or condition, although time and space themselves are deemed to be a product of intuition, or for want of a better, alternative name, a perception. 2. There can also be rational as well as empirical perceptions, but this would be another 'topic'. (Don't you love my scares-)
      So perhaps I can bring in the possibility that all of those Humean associations are somehow related not only to our external perceptions/intuitions but the accumulation of these as memories and what the images (from perception) are referred to, as they are retained through the imaging process, as our imagination. 3. That all words, i.e. language, are dependent on a process of induction or/and deduction would be something fantastic to explore!
      Thus, your question raises what is of most interest to myself: that is Heidegger's question for all of us: the challenge to understand 'how' we think, within both a personal and social/scientific context. Would love to be able to tackle this 'job' truly scientifically, as my thought experiments in this regard can entail getting me into some 'difficulties'...So maybe at this point, I'll give over this 'argument' to a particular scientific study of the how, and a study regarding whether the neurons might work within a unified or chaotic state. (Indeed, even as an excuse/justification for any in-coherence- following Nietzsche, the only way to bring about a (higher?) order is through chaos. (or suffering?) It is a result more often of the et et rather than the aut aut!! - or an expansion of the scope the subject matter under investigation, consideration. Nietzsche is far more poetic in his choice of words though.
      You can take it from here, and decide whether or not you want to make an induction or a deduction, regarding this comment, either within an imaginative or scientific or even a 'religious' context,.
      P.S. Do you think his 'apperception' implies a conscious 'agent' - and if Transcendental Deduction' provides the basis of 'universal judgments' does that mean that alternatively, or even concurrently, the judgments of particulars, within every life- as per his The Power of Judgment, prioritize within the empirical source of his paradigm, the inductive. Would this perhaps involve a two way process, or the circularity perhaps between idea and agency, that is attributed to the 'process'? involved in Cartesian deduction/induction. (All the best, Doug...)
      (Edit: I at least tried a re-write of the last sentence!). The following link will hopefully serve as an example of a possible kinds of 'chaos' from which could arise a higher order, relevant to a particular case. Although, there is still some stigma associated with the reference of this term, the thought processes involved in such states as those involving a multi-dimensional content are perhaps indicative of any complex process of thought which extends beyond what is colloquially referred to as 'the comfort zone'....
      http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/05/23/brain.aww095

      • I had to come back. I have just listened through two videos. the first was from Vogt's blog with a presentation of W. Craig on philosophy: http://brandonvogt.com/video-william-lane-craig-philosophy-offers-new-evangelization/. The second in importance, for me, I actually saw, empirically, at an earlier time. It recaps, again for me, what could be referred to as the cultural context spoken about by Mr. Craig. I couldn't help but put the following 'endorsement' (edit- of situational ethics) within the context of a university discussion on lying within a Kantian analysis. http://www.nationalmemo.com/endorse-chris-cuomo-calls-trumps-hypocrisy-infidelity/
        If I may continue to speak from personal experience. My 'induction' into the world of Analytic philosophy, was not in the 50's and 60's, but throughout the seventies. Yes, I am aware of A. J. Ayer, et. all. I was seeped in this tradition for about a decade. Indeed within American and Canadian universities there was little choice. Mr. Rorty changed this emphasis within his philosophy, resulting in his 'removal' from a Philosophy Dept. and in him going to a Literature Department. With Mr. Rorty there was still the problematic whether religion could/can prevent humanity from addressing the 'cruelty' that can be found in this world, if it placed a prior commitment to 'god'... and yet perhaps unknown to him, he did indeed uphold a Christian tradition that 'for the sake of God', demands such an immediacy within the human context. It is possible however, that he denies the 'reality' of such a 'universalization' context, as that of a God, whether within a personal, human, or divine, context - from the Christian god, to buddha, to jahweh, to brahman Please notice there is no capitalization!!!!. e e cummings did it first!!!! How do you sign your name? IIOK!! (or ifionlyknew) Oh! these examples of the 'conventional truths', within Buddhist philosophy.
        In any event, putting these contexts together, helped me form, what to my self-understanding, is another step in my attempt to 'synthesize' my life-experience.
        On the basis of the political video I forwarded to family, and in which I expressed my concern that the politics of today has much 'deeper implications', perhaps you too will 'garner' (correct word?) that a revolution would demand from us not only a political but an individual context. Perhaps these comment boxes are not the means to accomplish this. Perhaps it really would be best to merely tell my 'story', than attempt to follow the juxtaposition of the various points of view I am indebted to find on these web-sites, and on my Google searches generally. What I am convinced of is that the need for change/transformation - you may choose the word - this will allow me not to scare you....must be considered deeply, culturally, and whatever word you wish to use for religion/spirituality, psychology, etc. etc. - and not just externally, within a political, external, empirical context.

        This comment is a result of 'how I put the 'contradictory' aspects of the two videos I submit, 'together'. Words! Which would you choose - synthesis, choice of paradigm, insight, - I believe there is a value in why the Analytic philosophers, with their use/mention distinction and as well - the Posts...Modern or not - also employ purposely, that 'scare tactic'. Yes, the written word is indeed becoming more important than verbal communication. We have emoticons, and 'scare quotes', that perhaps make an attempt to make up the difference. Despite this, there remains 'content' within the words we speak of which we are 'unaware'. What I am most indebted to the Ayer's of this world was the idea of a descriptive metaphysics. Languages may indeed produce - games (Wittgenstein) - as there are purposes and directions of which we may only have an assumed knowledge, and like 'games' are indeed 'diverse'. The words are scary because they cannot be 'defined' precisely. Who was the pre-Socratic who spoke of reality as a kind of 'conflict?' mediated through.... love....There are many variations on this idea...yes the ideas in philosophy repeat, repeat, repeat...as words speak us, and we know not of what we speak.
        Contradiction/dialectics/dialogics - linear logics vs. process - ???? What words does one choose? How can science ignore the possibility that we have not achieved the definitive answers in our philosophies nor in science, as spoken about in the Craig video, when the theory of Darwin suggests that 'even perhaps psychological and intellectual' evolution may also proceed through processes of seemingly 'arbitrary' selection. (edit: I also viewed a presentation where it was 'demonstrated', that the speed of light is set by agreement, because 'in fact' there is variation!! Interesting???) Within today's context, therefore, it does not surprise me that the philosophers of old, found the need to postulate a 'necessary' being, and all of the other 'philosophical concepts' that denote, if not connote the 'rational'. (Look EN - again no capitalization of being!....like is that what really matters??? or is this tradition but a means of attempting to 'endorse' (the scare is because of a possible reference/association to a political context!) the 'idea' that there could possibly be realities beyond the nominal characteristics of language and that words can indeed be understood to be, or at least suggest!!! 'more' than that they are taken for as mere 'tokens???')

        Edit: What is most important is that scientific methodology I have learned is now proposing to investigate a 'rational mysticism' as well other empirical and rational studies. :https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3345230-gods-within But are these necessarily more developed than Christian traditions of prayer, contemplation and meditation? Or perhaps Jewish and Vedic traditions. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3332306/jewish/When-Meditation-Is-Not-Kosher.htm Yet, the idea of science being thus 'engaged' pleases me! because for a long time I considered the good 'angelic doctor' to have produced the first philosophy of mind! (Edit: Time-Consciousness to 'God'? or the 'Eternal'!!) https://thomism.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/gradual-approach-to-eternity/ so yes! how I should like to learn to think like an 'angel' - the good kind of course. More important could such scientific studies produce politician/philosophers within the category of 'principalities' to rule over us? Surely such a development would be an improvement, one might think. But then I remember the poem Invictus and find this: http://www.guyfinley.org/free-content/audio/3818?utm_source=TwitterAndFacebook&utm_medium=StaffPosts

      • Doug Shaver

        Do you think his 'apperception' implies a conscious 'agent' - and if Transcendental Deduction' provides the basis of 'universal judgments' does that mean that alternatively, or even concurrently, the judgments of particulars, within every life- as per his The Power of Judgment, prioritize within his paradigm the inductive.

        My apologies. I cannot answer because I do not understand.

        • Oh my goodness. Truly? On reading your reply I thought of two possible alternatives. Either I would have to write an analysis of what I wrote, that could extend to a volume ... .or that surely you are joking. In other words I can't explain the obtuse character you find in my question. I 'believe' that I can make sense of this rather long quote, but where to begin I know not. I think the best alternative is to go back to making my philosophical questioning within the context of memories of real-lived experience. I 'believe' I can treat my musings with more humor that way, at least. Or just follow what might be interpreted as 'The end of philosophy', as the need to simply cease, rather than to think I can reach any 'goal' with it all.

          Thanks so much Doug for your honest appraisal. The reason I questioned the existence of 'agency' parallels the questioning of such concepts as 'God', 'Person' and/or 'Consciousness' - as if within this milieu I have found the need to 'establish evidence' and/or 'prove' my case!!!!! Please try to see some humor in my comments. Thanks.

          • Doug Shaver

            I 'believe' that I can make sense of this rather long quote, but where to begin I know not.

            I doubt that any response I could make would be worth the effort you would need to expend in order to clarify yourself.

          • I shall take this comment within the duality of possible interpretations it suggests with respect to my competence or lack thereof. Although I would hope to avoid falling within the last comment mentioned in this article, I can, accept the other 'descriptions'. I appreciate the 'humor's' - whether they are assigned as medical or linguistic/legal (for want of a better word) categories. Thanks Doug. You did 'pick up' on my cue.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_compos_mentis

          • Doug Shaver

            My observation depended on no particular assessment of your competence, and I intended no disparagement. It sometimes happens that an interlocutor will ask me to clarify something I've said and I must decline, not because I could not make it clear enough for them to understand but because doing so would require more time than I have available. It is possible that if I had taken the time, the interlocutor would have responded with something very enlightening, but that is a risk I must take when I decide how much time I will allocate to these discussions. I was merely opining in your case that if you were to take the time to make yourself clearer, it is unlikely that your effort would be rewarded with any comment from me that would make the effort worth your while.

    • Phil

      Hi Doug -- Most classical and even modern "proofs" for the existence of God use both standard deductive and inductive reasoning. They are formulated using valid deductive logical form and their premises are inductively argued for using experience and reason.

      When one normally debates with the "validity" of a certain "proof" they aren't arguing about the deductive form of the proof, but are arguing against one of the inductive premises. (Since if you can show one of the premises to not be true, then you deny the deductive conclusion.)

      -------
      A side note--I've never been a big fan of the word "proof" since we tend to think 100% certainty when it comes to that word. But in the end, there is actually no such thing as 100% certainty, even in the physical sciences. About the closest one can come to 100% certainty is a mathematical/geometrical proof. But even then one is making certain philosophical assumptions that would make it more like 99.9999% certain, but never 100%.

      • Doug Shaver

        When one normally debates with the validity of a certain "proof" they aren't arguing about the deductive form of the proof, but are arguing against one of the inductive premises. (Since if you can show one of the premises to not be true, then you falsify the deductive conclusion.)

        The validity of an argument has nothing to do with whether any premise is true. When you challenge the truth of a premise, you challenge the argumenjt's soundness, not its validity.
        And no, disproving a premise does not falsify the conclusion. All it does is negate the logical utility of that argument, or any other argument, that depends on that premise.

        I've never been a big fan of the word "proof" since we tend to think 100% certainty when it comes to that word.

        I don't have a problem with it, as long as my interlocutor and I can agree on what kind of proof we're discussing. Lots of people do understand the difference between proof and certainty.

        • Dear Doug. In finding this after making my last comment to you please be assured that I (edit believe I) understand this discussion about logic and arguments, validity and soundness, premises and conclusions. I have simply been attempting to find a description of the 'mind?' or 'physical source even' that would be the basis for such a distinction as that between deductive and inductive - But if you people do find my attempt to convey these ideas as 'incoherent' as did the evil-overlord, I shall not be dismayed. I may hopefully stop commenting but I will not lose 'faith' in myself, as it is just my 'nature' to be continuously 'musing' about such issues....thanks.

          • Doug Shaver

            I have simply been attempting to find a description of the 'mind?' or 'physical source even' that would be the basis for such a distinction as that between deductive and inductive

            The distinction is not based on any notions about the mind or its source. It is based on simple observation, like the distinction between land and sea.

          • Yes. Does the 'fact' that we are able to make a relationship between the land and sea- or space and time - or the exterior or internal - the natural world and -well call this what you will? - or other distinctions such as in the first case 'induction' from particulars, and in the latter a 'deduction' based according to Kant - on 'apperception' -some kind of more general context, (a kind of universal? which would include our individual thought history). Would this 'deduction' provide a basis from which a dynamic relationship between the two could at least suggest some active principle or 'agency' or something, that can relate in some way to both....I'm probably still too vague here--- But I do feel, that I somehow could 'define' my 'self'? as a 'being' existing somehow? between two such 'spheres'....inner and outer- seeking -unity within this 'relativity'???----And now - I probably have really crossed the boundary into magic after all, attempting to 'walk on water' - and 'move mountains'---....please - just call me 'crazy'
            Edit: I realize that references to 'external' reality are all called 'observations' and that we can observe our 'voices' and are aware of that 'homoculous' that does this observing - but is it possible to 'observe' the actual 'apperception' (as a process or as a 'deduction'?)...Kant talks about, ... I attempted to do this.... but--- (another 'story').... In any case after Kant I can understand why initially there were so many Idealist philosophers... attempting to become Buddhas? who finally came to the conclusion that 'god is dead' because we had finally understood....what? or rather had become 'enlightened', perhaps?....

            Just attempting to put the 'pieces' together, although I'm not yet convinced I can think for myself.....So don't worry if you're not convinced either....(And yes, I do 'believe' that consciousness is related somehow to time, (as with Bergson) and that perhaps there is a spatial reality that is moved by such----I'm not the only one who has had such thoughts!....I have learned through 'observation'.....It's all 'relative' in any case...!!!

          • Doug Shaver

            The sea floor is that portion of the earth's crust on which the sea rests. We could regard it as an extension or continuation of the land, which is just that portion of the earth's crust that is not covered in water. With that in mind, we could say that the sea rests on land or is supported by land. Analogously, inductive reasoning rests on deductive reasoning. Without deductive reasoning, we would have no basis for inductive reasoning. But this is a point rarely recognized by philosophers when they attempt to differentiate the two modes of reasoning.

          • My goodness this extension of a metaphor as an empirical description 'mirrors' what I was attempting to do, perhaps. I have understood the relationship of induction to deduction from the opposite advantage? point of view. Do we really know for instance that all men are mortal, or is this basis of argument really the result of a deduction, which indeed could possibly be challenged by Hume's distrust of same because of how we got there, that is by an initial 'induction'.

            What constitutes the all.... ( wish I could study math, set theory, etc. I understand why philosophers are generally from these sciences)....Would we perhaps discover many 'kinds of all'.....if the epistemology were related to an ontological context. All of my thoughts regarding what would be included within the Kantian apperception, would certainly suggest a different 'all', would they not, than those within the logical deductions of Aristotle. How could these distinctions be made: denotative vs. connotative, etc. etc. And of course there are many different kinds of logic, including Hegel's science of logic, propositional logic, the logic of Vedic traditions, etc. etc.

            J.S. Mill 'demonstrated' that it is through the observation of particulars that we come, through a leap, to the basis of deductions expressed in terms such as the 'all' in all men are mortal. At one time I was familiar with 'all' of Aristotle's chart: his syllogisms, and contraries, etc. etc. This 'all' goes against Hume's 'problem of induction'.- would you agree? Thus my initial shock that Kant's apperception was the basis, and/or result or an 'assumption': of a 'deductive' reasoning, or indeed demonstrated that perception of 'particulars' necessarily demanded such in order that we could make any intelligent utterance. Apperception then is in kind: 'a priori' to experience? (Edit: And perhaps it is language generally, (in itself? or as perseity) that can be understood to be a priori', in contrast of course to a posteriori. Kant then would follow Descartes?)

            Another point. I'm still somewhat skeptical and am attempting to explore just what might be the 'meaning' of his usage of the term 'deduction'. Your placement of the sequence within logic as beginning with deduction, suggests to me, that in this instance, as a merely logical rather than a epistemological/ontological relationship, you might be more Kantian than 'me'. How would this be reconciled to the theist/atheist conundrum? To what is regarded, as is suggested within this paragraph, as epistemological vs. ontological?

            It is also most important that this is the means by which Kant refutes Hume's empiricism: by establishing such, a concept, as an 'a priori' - I'm still attempting to weigh Kant in this regard against Hume, and cannot at this point accept whether this is a kind of 'absolute' framework in which, or by which Kant establishes this a priori, or perhaps more explicitly the origins and development of language within a temporal context. Yes, how is it that we have 'language'?

            There is also his 'concept' of 'a synthesis' . Kant does have two kinds - one from the empirical world, which is characteristic of empirical statements (a posteriori) generally, and then he asks-how is the synthetic a priori possible - not only within this 'apperception' of what we usually associate with 'concepts', but he asserts as the basis both of mathematics and 'metaphysical' reasoning???? all of which I interpret are related somehow to self-consciousness???? (Edit: after signing off...but of course apperception includes all the memories, etc. which could as thoughts be the basis of synthesis, just as in life the data of empirical reality is similarly processed by more, or through 'associations'....what? - directly. What within the processes of apperception would 'determine' the choices made within any transcendental deduction. Or in other words, 'how' do we 'map' the 'territory'????)

            Also, is it this 'a priori' which is the essential aspect of the two 'trinities'? - The Catholic, yes, but a faculty of reason which also gives us the Kantian ideas of freedom/space; immortality/time, and God(?). To conclude....Although yes, I do 'immerse' myself in the arguments....live them through, so to speak, please believe, that I have not yet identified with the third idea, whether as a Kantian transcendental Ideal or 'please God', a 'reality'....(Edit: Indeed space, time, etc. are conceived by Kant to be 'empirical?' -but rational? -intuitions, because they are not of a 'particular'. but on the contrary, 'universal' in scope. ???)

            (So was this an argument? or what?) :) No winners! No losers!!! I trust!! No conclusions, on my part anyway.... Some day perhaps I can be more 'academic'!!! and consequently more 'argumentative'. Until then, I have merely attempted another summary of my 'personal experience' in relation to this puzzle.....(and I am really considering the consequences that follow if the priority of 'deduction' - is correct within the Kantian context- even if it means I have lost all! 'argument'.-- logically. because of the limitations of my apperception.....(thanks.)

            Edit: So: land would be the deductive? etc . etc. My apologies (to me) for not following up on the metaphor, and choosing logic over 'poetry'... I really missed out, messed up, on that one! Thank you for indulging my interests....Trilogies: Aristotle: ethos, logos, pathos. Christianity, goodness, truth and beauty. Biblical? God, law, and order. Will, Reason or Intelligence, and....what? soul? or Nature!!! etc. etc. I find it amazing that so many different concepts can be placed within this paradigm as correlatives with one another.....I've possibly not searched wide enough....and should explore the more scientific four elements or Heidegger's Fourfold...or the 12 cosmological gods and all of their counterparts,etc. etc. Or other 'opiates of the people'? like football, or the fashion displays given by Hollywood stars and politicians, perhaps.....

          • Doug Shaver

            I have understood the relationship of induction to deduction from the opposite advantage? point of view. Do we really know for instance that all men are mortal, or is this really the result of a deduction, which indeed could possibly challenge Hume's distrust of same.

            I assume you’re alluding to the prototypical argument “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal.” That is a deductive argument. The inductive-deductive distinction is about the logical relationship between an argument’s premises and its conclusion. It has nothing to do with whether, or how, we might justify our acceptance of the premises. I would say that “All men are mortal” is the conclusion of an inductive argument. That does not mean, however, that any argument in which it is a premise becomes an inductive argument.

            Hume did not distrust deduction. It is often said that he distrusted induction, but I think this arises from a misunderstanding of what he said on the subject. He did say that he could find no way to justify induction by any appeal to logic. Nevertheless, he said, we cannot avoid using inductive reasoning, and we cannot avoid acting on the assumption that it really works when used correctly. It could be argued (though never by me) that he advocated having faith in inductive reasoning.

            This is what everyone calls the problem of induction, and Hume is typically credited with being the first philosopher to raise it. He seems to have believed that the problem was unsolvable, and the current consensus seems to be divided between those who agree with him and those who think that even if the problem has a solution, no one has found it yet. Or, if anyone has found it, the philosophical community in general does not yet agree that it is a real solution.

            wish I could study math, set theory, etc. I understand why philosophers are generally from these sciences

            I’m not sure what you mean by “from these sciences.” What you say was probably true three or four hundred years ago. Nowadays, most philosophers have some familiarity with math and set theory, but only a few have actually earned degrees in those fields, and fewer still have actually worked in any field but philosophy.

            I'm still somewhat skeptical and am attempting to explore just what might be the 'meaning' of his usage of the term 'deduction'. Your placement of the sequence within logic as beginning with deduction, suggests to me, that in this instance, you might be more Kantian than 'me'. How would this be reconciled to the theist/atheist conundrum?

            I took one course in Kant while getting my degree, and I know little about him beyond what I remember from that course. I reject his claim that some a priori truths are synthetic, so I think it’s safe to say that I am no Kantian.

            J.S. Mill 'demonstrated' that it is through the observation of particulars that we come to that conclusion, through a leap, to the basis of deductions expressed in terms such as the 'all' in all men are mortal.

            I have read some of Mill’s work but not studied it in any depth, so I can’t say much for or against his epistemology in general. One thing I do remember is that he thought all mathematical knowledge was empirical knowledge. I cannot agree with that.

            At one time I was familiar with all of Aristotle's chart of syllogisms, and contraries, etc. etc. This all goes against Hume's 'problem of induction'.- would you agree?

            Aristotle attempted to codify logic in about the only way anyone could before symbolic logic was developed during the 19th century. As such, his work is of great historical significance, but I judge it to be of no modern relevance. Relevant or not, I fail to see an inconsistency between Aristotle’s logic and Hume’s analysis of inductive reasoning.

          • Thanks for your consideration in responding to my comment.

            Quote: It has nothing to do with whether, or how, we might justify our acceptance of the premises. (or - that it becomes an inductive argument)

            Of course not, I have to practice being more clear with such distinctions. I'm not really confused on this issue.

            Quote: He did say that he could find no way to justify induction by any appeal to logic.

            Yes, like Mill also made it some kind of 'leap of faith'...Don't you find it 'interesting' that logic does not justify logic---- if I am expressing this correctly....Your other comments about philosophers, etc. - oh yes - but I'm thinking of those great!! ones, or 'the rationalists' and of course such people as Husserl and Wittgenstein, and Russel, et al. Great mathematical philosophers!

            Quote: I reject his claim that some a priori truths are synthetic, so I think it’s safe to say that I am no Kantian.

            Yes, as did the analytic philosophers, generally, particularly the positivists. But I have noticed recently some reversals on this. Kant, as you know, placed intuition as the basis of I believe, all our 'ideas',which is perhaps in contradiction to the a priori nature he gives to 'concepts'....I just hold these 'doubts' at a kind of distance....as I have no solutions, but merely continue to look for alternative possibilities in the hope I can understand the 'arguments' better. Oh, and on Mill, yes that's amazing, for even though he was an empiricist, there does seem to be some kind of agreement with Kant - if he acknowledges the intuitive aspect of what we call 'perception'....But there's 'big gaps' here, between them, in subject matter, word choice, etc. yes? And of course I am always amazed at the different interpretations individuals can give to any of these guys.

            As for Kant- within modern philosophy his was possibly the pace setter, an update of Aristotle, perhaps, and like him I believe, all the different schools following him adopted different elements and segments according to their interests. None of them attempted to bridge the gap between the empirical reality and the transcendental ideality - in the way that he did though. And then came Kierkegaard and the poet- Nietzsche!!! and things started to get 'personal'!!!

            So in conclusion, yes, Aristotle's logic was based on words,and logic today is appropriately called propositional logic. I made some changes to my original post- I'm always attempting to be more 'coherent' -if only for my own sake, as I did not expect you to read it so late... I mentioned in the process some other logics - as you know - Hegel's -scientific??? logic, Vedic logic, among them. And then, perhaps one could say, "I have a 'logic' of my own". The analytic philosophers wanted no reference to any 'psychological' considerations. Remember? Such a logic, however might be essential within rhetoric, narratives, etc. I still hope that I will find the 'fortitude' to put an end to this particular interest in internet 'philosophy' and return to literature, ...--yet, I read the comments, and feel somehow that this gives me some 'idea' of your individuality. Perhaps you will grace me again with your comments and response, if I continue. I know not. I truly appreciated your feedback. My thanks again for the 'interaction'.

            Edit: and of course the original problem: What is apperception? and what is its basis, in that Kant describes it as being a deduction? From What. All of our experience as recorded by all those neurons, (as in the link I gave on a study regarding schizophrenia) This use of the term 'deduction', is I have merely suggested, not 'necessarily' a logical distinction in the sense that it is used to contrast with induction, maybe? It just 'sets me off' attempting to imagine 'how' I could possibly make a deduction on the basis of all my prior experience. Why does Kant call the apperception a Transcendental (i.e. beyond the empirical) Deduction? in contrast to what he calls a Judgment with respect to reason within the natural world of beauty, order, and is described as that sapient reason which from particulars we can, but not always, rise to a comprehension of a universal? Why is one a deduction, the internal one, and the other an induction, the empirical one? if I have not a coherent understanding of this, and I'm just missing the point or something I would really like to be set straight! Thanks.

            Edit: Edit: Just reading over the comment on this. Phil says: quote: They are formulated using valid deductive logical form and their premises are inductively argued for using experience and reason.
            Now if I could only 'see' this solution within 'context' perhaps I would 'understand'. Formulation! deductive logical 'form'.....Is that what the a priori is - the importance of the morph over the matter/hyle within A/T metaphysics? Does the apperception go 'really deep' to the what? - core of being! Did Kant give up his belief in G/god in his old age, or not? Thanks all. Will remember this. Some day it may all 'come together'. now...(she begins to play her harp).... and love one another, right now!!!!

            Edit: Edit: Edit: 5/26/16. An excerpt: From a letter to my family after posting the farewell to dreams by John:

            Get this. The Apperception, is that which represents? the unity within our thought and precedes independent specific particular judgments within the compass of nature. We have the capacity for instance to recognize a contradiction only because of a latent awareness of what is required of unity. Are we always up to this? As I stated on the site, I'm neither a saint nor a scientist! (Did they get my irony). So after much effort may I put this forth.

            Kant's response to Humean empiricism, (which presents the problem of induction, the thesis that thought is primarily the result of association of ideas, and that morality is primarily based on sentiment), rests on the supposition that within our nature, (they had no cat-scans then) the human being is constantly seeking to find unity within one's self or being. Now we know all about those neurons, etc. etc.and their constant interaction, presumably now to bring about specific intellectual actions, or thoughts.

            Kant's apperception is grounded on a Transcendental Deduction. Is this merely 'logical'. I asked. One chap was most obliging in interacting with me and insisted that Deduction preceded Induction. (Hume's problem of induction). I won't go into details, but yes, with great effort, now i can see the 'truth'. It helped to Google the terms, and to be able to minimalize the definition, and yes within a quantitative summary, as being either an additive or in the case of deduction, a subtractive process. Reference to an a priori of concepts would thus involve within a broad context that which enables language, generally.. This should/could/would? negate all those theories of reductionism, don't you think.? Is language the demonstrative proof that there is something more than a materiality about the human condition? Does language, which is I believe unanimously considered to be rule governed, in other words, imply 'consciousness'.

            Explain more? Yes. Say: within a constant process all of the neurons in our mind, say our unconscious thoughts are being filtered through, and constitute the basis of an all, on which the utterance of words, language etc. is formed. We can make subjective synthetic judgments within this context of memory and imagination, etc. in the way that such synthesis is made within the empirical external world. Thus there is the possibility of synthesis, within either the a priori, or a posteriori context. This would be a kind of 'universalization' process. And thus our judgments, will, and choices, including words, are the result of a process that is basically deductive, when given within a language context. Please let me know if this is yet not clear and distinct. Boy have I, am I, struggling with this one. (I have filed away further references to morality, and rationality as not being 'necessary' to this specific issue.) Edit: But, on reading about the works of Chomsky, I believe this attempt to understand Kant has at least resulted in my finding an entirely 'new' way (for me) to approach the 'language philosophers. Little by little, I believe they say....

          • Doug Shaver

            Don't you find it 'interesting' that logic does not justify logic---- if I am expressing this correctly

            Actually, I think it’s too obvious to be interesting. We can’t even begin to do any thinking without logic. That’s all the justification it needs, in my judgment.

            yes, Aristotle's logic was based on words, and logic today is appropriately called propositional logic.

            Actually, it’s just called logic, generically. When it’s called propositional logic, that is usually to distinguish it from predicate logic, which is just propositional logic plus quantification and identity. In some contexts, both propositional and predicate logic may be distinguished from other kinds of logic, such as modal logic or syllogistic logic, which was what Aristotle developed.

            I mentioned in the process some other logics - as you know - Hegel's -scientific??? logic, Vedic logic, among them.

            I must confess to being quite ignorant of Hegel. When I took Philosophy 101, he was mentioned briefly during the course, and I’ve had no occasion to study him since then. I later took a course in Eastern philosophy, but we didn’t get to the Vedic writings. The instructor chose to limit the syllabus to Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism.

            The analytic philosophers wanted no reference to any 'psychological' considerations. Remember?

            Yes, I remember. And I’m certainly sympathetic to their motivations, but a philosophy that simply ignores psychology is unlikely to be a useful philosophy, in my judgment.

            Why is one a deduction, the internal one, and the other an induction, the empirical one? if I have not a coherent understanding of this, and I'm just missing the point or something I would really like to be set straight! Thanks.

            I would have to know you much better before I could formulate a credible diagnosis of your difficulty. For an initial guess, though, it seems to me that you’re not so much missing the point as trying to assimilate too many points simultaneously without having established a solid basis on which to judge their relative merits.

            Perhaps you will grace me again with your comments and response, if I continue. I know not. I truly appreciated your feedback. My thanks again for the 'interaction'.

            You’re very welcome. When I can understand you, you’re pretty interesting.

          • Quote: For an initial guess, though, it seems to me that you’re not so much missing the point as trying to assimilate too many points simultaneously without having established a solid basis on which to judge their relative merits.

            Runaway intuition? Sample commented that I, like Luke Breuer, attempt to analyze too many different things all at once. Yes. I'm always trying to 'bring things together' which yes - is the opposite of analysis. I've always understood logic to be an account of the way, or perhaps, form, of our thinking, and understand that 'in itself' - perseity!! it is just an abstract structure without content within such a context. One can 'google' that term! 'per se'. But I can leave this.

            In any case, I'm so 'happy' that we agree about the ban on psychology, way back then, but that possibly explains why 'analytic philosophy' is 'analytic philosophy'!! Psychology, yes - I think that is the real 'content' of how we think! Perhaps...

            I've pretty well been an 'auto-diktat' I think its called. I found Hegel fascinating. Couldn't get enough of his Phenomenology of Spirit. All the different stages of mental development throughout history, and in different cultures. Yes, Hegel put philosophy within the 'temporal sphere'. So his scientific logic, was an extension of this Phenomenology, built upon Kant's Category of Quality, from Being, Nothing, and Becoming to well-- through sensation -mathematics -- to the point where we are so self-aware we don't need God anymore. But as he places Being and Nothing as thesis and antithesis, perhaps he did not begin with a concept that initially expresses the 'idea' that Being is actuality, as essence = existence. Could nothingness be a kind a spatial category, perhaps or another 'kind' or state of consciousness, as in Sartre, and Buddhism? Perhaps this then is some kind of a temporal (and thus scientific) explanation of the universe, from the 'get go'. If then, the AT God is not 'represented' in this scientific study, then it wasn't really Nietzsche, (alone) who 'killed him', as derived from for instance: Thus Spoke Zarathustra)! With Hegel: -The State would instead become God....The Geist. His logic is 'actually' a formalized scheme of dialectics.. Back to Plato..!!

            The Vedic philosophy accepts 'contradiction'. But it's not a 'formal' philosophy. (Hopefully that's an adequate/correct term) It's all one tradition; Buddhism is just a branch of it - they allow everything from polytheism to atheism, it's all up to the individual. It's called Sanatana D'harma. Hinduism was bestowed upon them as a name during the Islamic invasion. The d'harma is most important- a methodology for living life. Gods can be explanations or summations of experience or express the various synthesis of thought. The Gods are thus, (in a way) secondary. And in any case, the major ones are the cosmological 'constants', for want of a better word. But Brahman (Brahma within a more particular context- like -he's really human, the Atman, possibly translated as the soul.), ties the whole thing together....and a most important thing is that the Eastern tradition has never had the concept or practice of any sort of blood sacrifice, etc. etc. Is this a possible explanation for Ghandi's comment about the lack of civilization within the Western tradition? I merely 'wonder'. And the Indian caste system- read Plato's republic - same categories!!!

            You stumped me on propositional logic vs. predicate logic. I can't 'imagine' what would be involved in 'quantifying' logic, but with a mention of 'identities', I can't help somehow of thinking once again of possible 'gods'! I've seen some of the posts of logical 'equations' that look like the long form of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Didn't get anywhere near that when I studied Symbolic logic. Nope. Can't try to do something like that anymore. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" I believe is the 'saying'. I'm quite happy attempting to 'put it all together' - what I have been able to read that is, to find correlates, etc. Hopefully I can make this a real sign-out. Thanks for your comments.

          • Doug. This song was written on the occasion of the break-up of the Beatles in 1970, as a farewell. It is not about belief, as in a system of ideas, you will note, but believing IN something. So. Please enjoy this 'bit of philosophy'!! His conclusion stated later was if there was a God, then it included all of 'us'... Please note - there is also a release of this song made as a memoriam, after he was killed in 1980; a version follows the initial video. Belief - in concepts as distinguished from what?- believing in realities. Whatever! In thinking this over, perhaps this song is an extension of his previous song: All you need is love. Hopefully, I can simply follow his example and become post-post!!!!
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ5PQppudHc

            This is a post/post. Ask and thou shall receive. This and other posts from Just Thomism received 5-26. https://thomism.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/lecture-on-kant/
            This and other links are also available.
            https://thomism.wordpress.com/2016/05/26/limits-of-thought/

            post/post/post. Maybe I really am 'hooked'. I am 'imagining' at this moment that the Kantian trilogy with the resultant emphasis on the temporal sphere is not incompatible with AT. Do I remember correctly, for instance that science speaks of two ways of looking at time, the hierarchical structure associated with eternal ideas, and/or abstract thought, as well as the 'realities' of the lived experience within the horizontal dimension. Perhaps I shall be able to express this better with further thought, and more 'experience'.
            http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1351301?eng=y&refresh_ce
            post/post/post/post...And as an addition to the lexicon of Catholic philosophers, may I present a list of comparable Jewish contributors to our tradition. Would love to add to this the contributions of Islam, the sanatana d'harma, and oh so many others, but I will have enough to do I 'imagine' following the courses I have already subscribed to. Indeed, this listing of 'Jewish authors' made me realize how extensive my involvement has been with this 'culture'. I have also, for such a long time compared the Jewish to Irish humor, and of course the poets produced within this context, such as James Joyce, and his comments on the Enlightenment, both of which I have concluded were a response to hardship and 'suffering', and perhaps the belief that such 'acceptance' can be a kind of revelatory salvation, indeed. Please enjoy then, the humor in this 'post'.....
            http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/3211475/jewish/Introduction-101-Authors-Who-Didnt-Write-the-Bible.htm
            All ways.....
            http://veda.wikidot.com/sanatana-dharma

        • Phil

          Hey Doug,

          I agree 100%; I was using "validity" in a more colloquial sense at that point. It was a quick response and I just wasn't as precise with language as I could have been. I apologize if it was confusing.

          • Doug Shaver

            No problem. Happens to all of us.

    • We also think of legal proof which I think is a much better framework. This is inductive argument, but the key is the standard of proof.

      I would suggest a civil standard of proof would be reasonable, whether it is more likely than not that a god exists. This is much lower than mathematical, scientific or criminal standards.

      • Doug Shaver

        I suspect we'll never see a deductive proof with uncontroversial premises. I would accept a sufficiently cogent inductive proof. I was just noting that Levering seemed to suggest that in order to prove God's existence, we need a proof that is neither deductive nor inductive.

  • Lazarus

    I then bought the book against my initial instincts that it's just another apologetic paint-by-numbers, which I've really had enough of for now, and I must say, some 20% into the book, it really does have a fresh approach, an interesting way of presenting the arguments. So far I'm certainly impressed.

  • neil_pogi

    even a child will think that there must be a 'designer' or a 'creator' involved when he sees wonderful works of nature (the different colors and fragrances of flowers, pets)

    atheists will question theists, 'which god or gods'?

    i happened to see some written message in the sand: 'mary loves john'... i know that it is the work of an intelligent being but i don't know who wrote it. (which writer? john, luke, mary, martha, neil, or luis)..

    • Doug Shaver

      even a child will think . . . .

      Why should I be interested in a belief system that offers immature thinking as an example of intellectual virtue?

      • neil_pogi

        but atheists always say that: 'an infant or a child is born an atheist'... how can you respond to that?

        • Doug Shaver

          how can you respond to that?

          I respond by saying that they're being silly. Only some atheists say infants are atheists. The rest of us know better.

          • neil_pogi

            you use again the 'some atheists say that, and others don't' argument

            another excuse?

          • Doug Shaver

            you use again the 'some atheists say that, and others don't' argument

            Yes, and I will keep on using it as long as you keep on misrepresenting atheists.

          • neil_pogi

            i didn't misrepresent atheists because in the first place, i am not an atheist :-)

          • Doug Shaver

            You don't need to be one of us to misrepresent us.

            Quoted from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misrepresent:

            Simple Definition of misrepresent
            : to describe (someone or something) in a false way especially in order to deceive someone : to give someone a false idea about (something or someone)

          • neil_pogi

            i only read what atheists are saying about some issues, like this: 'babies are born atheists' - https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-reasoning-behind-the-claim-All-children-are-born-atheists

            about the origin of the universe: atheists believe it just pop'
            about the origin of life: atheists believe that it evolved from non-living matter

            i never made personal claims on atheism. i just base that on internet's sources

          • Doug Shaver

            i never made personal claims on atheism. i just base that on internet's sources

            The Internet is a source of information, but any source is worthless if you don't know how to evaluate it. You clearly have no idea how to evaluate sources except on the basis of whether they agree or disagree with whatever you already believe.

          • neil_pogi

            can you evaluate the 'truthfulness' of your claim that life evolve from lifeless matter? just only one example..

            evaluate it thru experimentations.

          • Doug Shaver

            can you evaluate the 'truthfulness' of your claim . . . .

            We all do that every time we assert a claim. Whenever we assert anything, we must have evaluated it to be true.

            just only one example..

            What are you asking for an example of?

          • neil_pogi

            why not read my entire posts?

          • Doug Shaver

            I do. This entire post does not tell me what you want an example of.

          • neil_pogi

            or are just making out of fool me again?

          • Doug Shaver

            another excuse?

            Truth is always a sufficient excuse for denying falsehood.

          • neil_pogi

            truth has always been there. only atheists can't accept it

          • Doug Shaver

            You have no idea what I can or cannot accept. All you know about me is what your dogma tells you, notwithstanding anything I could say to the contrary.

          • neil_pogi

            for example, science says: that only life comes from existing life. atheists denied that.

            quote: 'truth has always been there. only atheists can't accept it'

          • Doug Shaver

            for example, science says: . . . .

            Why should I think you know anything at all about what science says? Can you give me the title of one book, written by a scientist, that you have read in its entirety?

          • neil_pogi

            i only knew that only 'life comes from existing life'.. which science says and supports

            just make an argument that life evolved from lifeless matter. that's your claim, and i have no obligation to get some research of 'Can you give me the title of one book, written by a scientist, that you have read in its entirety?'

            the burden of proof is in your shoulder.. so don't shudder it

          • Doug Shaver

            i only knew that only 'life comes from existing life'.. which science says and supports

            You have made it obvious that you don't know what science says and supports.

            just make an argument that life evolved from lifeless matter.

            I will, but not until you give me the title of a book, written by a scientist, in which the author explicitly states that life cannot evolve from lifeless matter.

            the burden of proof is in your shoulder.

            You made a claim about what science says, and I have denied your claim. If you can make the claim without evidence, then I can deny it without evidence.

          • neil_pogi

            then tell me! i don't have to say it again!

          • Doug Shaver

            then tell me!

            Until you produce some evidence for your claims, I don't have to tell you anything except that you're wrong.

          • neil_pogi

            so the evidence, 'lfe comes from existing life'.. is not refutable... it's on your part to provide your evidence that 'life evolve from non-life'

  • neil_pogi

    science says: 'neither energy is created nor destroyed'

    a human can create beautiful things out of his 'intelligent' energy..

    too much energy that is not guided can cause chaos and destruction (ex: too much sun can cause sunburn and skin cancer; an atomic bomb explosion can not create ordered things but destruction).

    therefore, only 'intelligent' energy can create things that are useful and beautiful..

    therefore, God really exists!

    • neil_pogi

      i want you doug to respond to the above post. i want to hear your opinion on this!