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Why Atheists Change Their Mind: 8 Common Factors

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Conversions from atheism are often gradual and complex, no doubt. For many converts the road is slow and tedious, tiring and trying. But in the end unbelievers who find God can enjoy an inner peace that comes from a clear conscience in knowing they held to truth and followed the arguments faithfully.

Of course not all converts from atheism become Christian or even religious. Some converts only reach a deistic belief in God (an areligious position that God is “impersonal”) but the leap is still monumental; and it opens new, unforeseen horizons.

The factors that lead to faith are often diverse. It is clear that every former atheist has walked a unique path to God. Cardinal Ratzinger was once asked how many ways there are to God. He replied:

“As many ways as there are people. For even within the same faith each man’s way is an entirely personal one.”

Of course, the pope-to-be was not endorsing the view that “all religions are equal” but rather that there always seems to be a unique combination of factors—or steps—that move each convert towards belief in God. It also seems that some of these factors are more prominent across the board than others.

Here are eight common factors that lead atheists to change their minds about God:

1. Good literature and reasonable writing.

Reasonable atheists eventually become theists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest. They are willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads; and in many cases the evidence comes to the atheist most coherently and well-presented through the writings of believers in God.

Author Karen Edmisten admits on her blog:

“I once thought I’d be a lifelong atheist. Then I became desperately unhappy, read up on philosophy and various religions (while assiduously avoiding Christianity), and waited for something to make sense. I was initially  appalled when Christianity began to look  like the sensible thing, surprised when I wanted to be baptized, and stunned that I ended up a Catholic.”

Dr. Holly Ordway, author of Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms, describes the consequences of reading great, intelligent Christian writers:

“I found that my favorite authors were men and women of deep Christian faith. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien above all; and then the poets: Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Herbert, John Donne, and others. Their work was unsettling to my atheist convictions…”

Dr. Ordway mentions the eminent 20th century Oxford thinker, C.S. Lewis. Lewis is a prime example of a reasonable but unbelieving thinker who was willing to read from all angles and perspectives. As a result of his open inquiry, he became a believer in Christ and one of modern Christianity’s greatest apologists.

G.K. Chesterton and George MacDonald were two of the most influential writers to effect Lewis’ conversion. He writes in his autobiography, Surprised By Joy:

“In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for… A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.”

Author Dale Ahlquist writes matter-of-factly that “C.S. Lewis was an atheist until he read Chesterton’s book, The Everlasting Man, but he wasn’t afterwards…”

Ironically, it was C.S. Lewis’ influential defenses of Christianity that would eventually prompt countless conversions to Christianity—and his influence continues today unhindered. Among the Lewis-led converts from atheism is former feminist and professor of philosophy, Lorraine Murray, who recalls:

“In college I turned my back on Catholicism, my childhood faith, and became a radical, gender-bending feminist and a passionate atheist …. Reading Lewis, I found something that I must have been quietly hungering for all along, which was a reasoned approach to my childhood beliefs, which had centered almost entirely on emotion. As I turned the pages of this book, I could no longer ignore the Truth, nor turn my back on the Way and the Life. Little by little, and inch by inch, I found my way back to Jesus Christ and returned to the Catholic Church.”

For an in-depth account of Murray’s conversion, see her book: Confessions Of An Ex-Feminist.

2. "Experimentation" with prayer and the word of God.

The Word of God is living. It has power beyond human comprehension because it is “God-breathed.” God speaks to man in many ways; but especially through prayer and the reading of the inspired Scriptures. When curiosity (or even interest) of non-believers leads to experimentation with prayer or reading the Bible the results can be shocking, as many converts attest.

One former atheist who was profoundly affected by prayer and the Scriptures is author Devin Rose. On his blog, he describes the role that God’s Word played in his gradual conversion process from atheism to Christianity:

“I began praying, saying, “God, you know I do not believe in you, but I am in trouble and need help. If you are real, help me.” I started reading the Bible to learn about what Christianity said…”

Once Rose began to read the Scriptures and talk to God, even as a skeptic, he found himself overwhelmed by something very real:

“Still, I persevered. I kept reading the Bible, asking my roommate questions about what I was reading, and praying. Then, slowly, and amazingly, my faith grew and it eventually threatened to whelm my many doubts and unbelief.”

And the rest was history for the now rising Catholic apologist and author of The Protestant’s Dilemma.

Similarly, renowned sci-fi author John C. Wright distinctly recalls a prayer he said as an adamant atheist:

“I prayed. ‘Dear God, I know… that you do not exist. Nonetheless, as a scholar, I am forced to entertain the hypothetical possibility that I am mistaken. So just in case I am mistaken, please reveal yourself to me in some fashion that will prove your case. If you do not answer, I can safely assume that either you do not care whether I believe in you, or that you have no power to produce evidence to persuade me…If you do not exist, this prayer is merely words in the air, and I lose nothing but a bit of my dignity. Thanking you in advance for your kind cooperation in this matter, John Wright.'”

Wright soon received the answer (and effect) he did not expect:

“Something from beyond the reach of time and space, more fundamental than reality, reached across the universe and broke into my soul and changed me…I was altered down to the root of my being…It was like falling in love.”

Wright was welcomed into the Catholic Church at Easter in 2008.

3. Historical study of the Gospels.

Lee Strobel, the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and author of the influential work, The Case For Christ, is a prime example of what happens when an honest atheist sets out to establish once and for all whether the claims of the Gospels are reliable or not.

Strobel writes at the end of his investigation in The Case For Christ:

“I’ll admit it:I was ambushed by the amount and quality of the evidence that Jesus is the unique Son of God… I shook my head in amazement. I had seen defendants carted off to the death chamber on much less convincing proof! The cumulative facts and data pointed unmistakably towards a conclusion that I wasn’t entirely comfortable in reaching.” (p. 264)

Modern historical scholars like Craig Blomberg and N.T. Wright have advanced the area of historical theology and the study of the claims of the Gospels to exciting new heights. The results of such ground-breaking studies are one of the greatest threats to modern day atheism.

Referring specifically to the historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ in the Gospels (discussed below), former atheist and freelancer, Philip Vander Elst, writes:

“The more I thought about all these points, the more convinced I became that the internal evidence for the reliability of the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole was overwhelming."

4. Honest philosophical reasoning.

Philosophy means “love of truth.” Philosophy is meant to lead one to truth; and it certainly will, if the philosopher is willing to honestly consider the arguments from both sides and follow the best arguments wherever they may lead.

Psychologist Dr. Kevin Vost recalls his discovery of the arguments of St. Thomas Aquinas:

“Pope Leo XIII had written in the 1879 encyclical Aeterni Patris that for scientific types who follow only reason, after the grace of God, nothing is as likely to win them back to the faith as the wisdom of St. Thomas, and this was the case for me. He showed me how true Christian faith complements and perfects reason; it doesn’t contradict or belittle it. He solved all the logical dilemmas.”

Philosopher Dr. Ed Feser, in his article, The Road From Atheism, recounts the shocking effectof opening himself to the arguments for the existence of God:

“As I taught and thought about the arguments for God’s existence, and in particular the cosmological argument, I went from thinking “These arguments are no good” to thinking “These arguments are a little better than they are given credit for” and then to “These arguments are actually kind of interesting.”  Eventually it hit me: “Oh my goodness, these arguments are right after all!”

Feser concludes:

“Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much.  When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back.  As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed.  But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.”

Two fantastic books from Edward Feser include The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism and Aquinas. Also recommended is Kevin Vost’s From Atheism to Catholicism: How Scientists and Philosophers Led Me to the Truth.

5. Reasonable believers.

It has been the obnoxious position of some (not all) atheists that in order to believe in God, one must have a significant lack of intelligence and/or reason. Most atheists believe that modern science has ruled out the possibility of the existence of God. For this reason, they tag believers with a lack of up-to-date knowledge and critical thinking skills. (Of course, the question of the existence of a God who is outside of the physical universe is fundamentally aphilosophical question—not a scientific question.)

Intelligent and reasonable believers in God, who can engage atheistic arguments with clarity and logic, become a great challenge to atheists who hold this shallow attitude towards the existence of God.

Theists especially make a statement when they are experts in any field of science. To list just a few examples: Galileo and Kepler (astronomy), Pascal (hydrostatics), Boyle (chemistry), Newton (calculus), Linnaeus (systematic biology), Faraday (electromagnetics), Cuvier (comparative anatomy), Kelvin (thermodynamics), Lister (antiseptic surgery), and Mendel (genetics).

An honest atheist might presume, upon encountering Christians (for example) who have reasonable explanations for their supernatural beliefs, that the existence of God is at least plausible. This encounter might then mark the beginning of the non-believer’s openness towards God as a reality.

Consider the notable conversion of former atheist blogger, Jennifer Fulwiler. Her journey from atheism to agnosticism and—eventually—to Catholicism, was slow and gradual with many different points of impact. But encountering intelligent believers in God was a key chink in her atheist armor.

In this video interview with Brandon Vogt, Jen explains how encountering intelligent, reasonable theists (especially her husband) impacted her in the journey towards her eventual conversion.

For the full account of Jen’s conversion process, get her must-read book, Something Other Than God. Her blog is conversiondiary.com.

And then there’s Leah Libresco—another atheist blogger turned Catholic. Leah recalls the challenging impact of reasonable Christians in her academic circle:

“I was in a philosophical debating group, so the strongest pitch I saw was probably the way my Catholic friends rooted their moral, philosophical, or aesthetic arguments in their theology. We covered a huge spread of topics so I got so see a lot of long and winding paths into the consequences of belief.”

Recalling her first encounter with this group of intelligent Christians, she writes on her blog:

“When I went to college…I met smart Christians for the first time, and it was a real shock.”

That initial “shock” stirred her curiosity and propelled her in the direction of Christianity. Leah is now an active Catholic.

Finally, there’s Edith Stein, a brilliant 20th century philosopher. As an atheist, Edith was shocked when she discovered the writings of Catholic philosopher, Max Scheler. As one account of her conversion recounts:

“Edith was enthralled by Scheler’s eloquence in expounding and defending Catholic spiritual ideals. Listening to his lectures on the phenomenology of religion, she became disposed to take religious ideas and attitudes seriously for the first time since her adolescence, when she had lost her faith and and given up prayer.”

Edith Stein would eventually convert to Catholicism and die a martyr. She is now known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

6. Modern advances and limitations in science.

Antony Flew was one of the world’s most famous atheists of the 20th century. He debated William Lane Craig and others on the existence of God. But eventually his recognition of the profound order and complexity of the universe, and its apparent fine-tuning, was a decisive reason for the renowned atheist to change his mind about God’s existence.

In a fascinating interview with Dr. Ben Wiker, Flew explains:

“There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe.”

He concluded that it was reasonable to believe that the organization of space, time, matter and energy throughout the universe is far from random.

As Dr. Peter Kreeft has pointed out, no person would see a hut on a beach and conclude that it must have randomly assembled itself by some random natural process, void of an intelligent designer. Its order necessitates a designer. Thus if this “beach hut analogy” is true, how much more should we believe in an Intelligent Designer behind the vastly more complex and ordered universe and the precise physical laws that govern it (click here for William Lane Craig’s argument for the fine-tuning of the universe).

Flew continues in his exposition on why he changed his mind about God:

“The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself—which is far more complex than the physical Universe—can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint . . . The difference between life and non-life, it became apparent to me, was ontological and not chemical. The best confirmation of this radical gulf is Richard Dawkins’ comical effort to argue in The God Delusion that the origin of life can be attributed to a “lucky chance.” If that’s the best argument you have, then the game is over. No, I did not hear a Voice. It was the evidence itself that led me to this conclusion.”

Parents often describe their experience of procreation as “a miracle,” regardless of their religious background or philosophical worldview. Intuitively, they seem to accept that there is something deeply mysterious and transcendent at work in the bringing forth (and sustenance) of new human life. Flew also was able to realize (after a lifetime of study and reflection) that there could be no merely natural explanation for life in the universe.

For a more in-depth account of Flew’s change of mind on God’s existence, read There Is A God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

7. Evidence for the Resurrection.

Thanks to the phenomenal work of leading New Testament scholars, including Gary Habermas, William Lane Craig, and N.T. Wright, the case for Christ’s resurrection has become more airtight than ever.

Modern historical studies have left little doubt about what the best explanation is for the alleged postmortem appearances of the risen Jesus, the conversions of Paul and James, and the empty tomb: Jesus really was raised from the dead. Even most of today’s critical New Testament scholars accept these basic facts as historically certain (the appearances, conversions, empty tomb, etc); but they are left limping with second-rate alternative explanations in a last ditch effort to refute the true resurrection of Christ and “signature of God”, as scholar Richard Swinburne has tagged it.

The case for the resurrection of Jesus had a significant impact on the former atheist, now Christian apologist, Alister McGrath. He recalls in one of his articles:

“My early concern was to get straight what Christians believed, and why they believed it. How does the Resurrection fit into the web of Christian beliefs? How does it fit into the overall scheme of the Christian faith? After several years of wrestling with these issues, I came down firmly on the side of Christian orthodoxy. I became, and remain, a dedicated and convinced defender of traditional Christian theology. Having persuaded myself of its merits, I was more than happy to try to persuade others as well.”

For more on McGrath’s journey see his book, Surprised By Meaning.

8. Beauty.

The great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, wrote:

“Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another.”

Father von Balthasar held strong to the notion that to lead non-believers to belief in God we must begin with the beautiful.

Dr. Peter Kreeft calls this the Argument from Aesthetic Experience. The Boston College philosopher testifies that he knows of several former atheists who came to a belief in God based on this argument (for more from Dr. Kreeft, see his Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God).

In classic Kreeftian fashion, he puts forward the argument in the following way:

“There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Therefore there must be a God.

You either see this one or you don’t.”

Matt Nelson

Written by

Matt holds a B.Ed from the University of Regina and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, Canada. After several years of skepticism, he returned to the Catholic Church in 2010. Now alongside his chiropractic practice, Matt is a speaker and writer for FaceToFace Ministries and Religious Education Coordinator at Christ the King Parish. He currently resides in Shaunavon, SK, with his wife, Amanda, and their daughter, Anna. Follow Matt through his blog at ReasonableCatholic.com.

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  • David

    Did I really see the words honest and Lee Strobel in the same sentence?

    • Kevin Aldrich

      So you are saying he was a dishonest atheist?

      • David

        He's a dishonest person which is clear when you read his books.

        • Boris

          He's a typical Christian: a liar.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You need to delete your own comment.

        • JOHN_CURRIER

          I would like to explore this further. Can you give me one or two examples where Stroebel got the facts wrong (as opposed to differences of interpretation of the facts) so I can investigate on my own. Thanks a lot.

          • Hi! This is super late, but Strobel famously wrote his most popular apologetics book, The Case for Christ, pretending that it was written while he was an atheist trying to debunk the arguments of his newly-converted wife. In reality, he wrote the book many years after his conversion. The book is also a sterling example of poor journalism. He does not question or interview a single actual atheist--only Christians, mostly his fellow apologists. His reasoning is generally all over the map of bad. (Steve Shives on YouTube did a whole series debunking the book and pointing out its dishonesty and faults--highly advise you check it out if you still wonder.)

            To find debunks of Christian works, all you need to do is open a search engine and type in, without parentheses, of course: (name of book) debunk atheism. That will pull up all manner of debunks written by non-Christians with objections to the lies apologists always tell.

            To me, Strobel's biggest "sin" is his truly distasteful habit of accidentally revealing how little he thinks of other people. Last year, he famously claimed to eat at a particular Mexican restaurant purely to open up an opportunity to make a Jesus sales pitch to the servers and owners. In fact, he also claimed to deeply dislike Mexican food. His tribe LOVED that he'd do this, but to me he was telling them to be the Nice Guys of Christianity, pretending to like people just to try to sell Jesus at them. If I owned a restaurant and learned Strobel ate there despite hating the food just to try to ingratiate himself with me so I'd listen to his sales pitches, I'd throw him out on his ear and tell him not to return.

          • Ficino

            Good to see you over here, Cass!

      • Doug Shaver

        So you are saying he was a dishonest atheist?

        I've read some of his autobiographical material. He admits to having been a liar before his conversion. (And a drunk. And a philanderer. And etc.)

        As for what he is now, I've read two of his apologetics books. I can't call him a liar, because I assume he believes everything he has written. Nevertheless, not everything he has written is the truth, and if he were half as good a journalist as he claims to have been, he would have known it wasn't the truth before he wrote it.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Ha! I'll admit to continuing to be a sinner until the day I die.

          • Doug Shaver

            I don't think Strobel would deny that he is still a sinner. He would more likely say just that he no longer commits some of the sins that he used to commit.

          • Doug Shaver

            To me, sin is a theological concept, but I think it's obvious even to most atheists that nobody is morally perfect.

        • Raymond

          His books are not true journalism. They are apologetics positioned as journalism to mask his agenda.

          • Doug Shaver

            I agree. If I'd turned in anything like that when I was a reporter, I'd have been in serious trouble with any of my editors.

          • JOHN_CURRIER

            I would like to explore this further. Can you give me one or two examples where Stroebel got the facts wrong (as opposed to differences of interpretation of the facts) so I can investigate on my own. Thank you.

          • Doug Shaver

            I read the book several years ago and did not commit any of his specific errors to memory. I'm re-reading it now and will get back to you when I've found some.

          • JOHN_CURRIER

            I hope you don't take offense but that answer is pretty dodgey. How about a case or two where significant facts reported to him were in error?

          • Doug Shaver

            I hope you don't take offense

            When I make a generalization, I take no offense if asked for some specifics on which I base the generalization. It's a reasonable request.

            but that answer is pretty dodgey.

            I could take offense when accused of attempting to dodge the issue, if I were as easily offended as some people are. You asked, "Can you give me one or two examples where Stroebel got the facts wrong?" I answered that question straightforwardly: "No, I cannot."

            How about a case or two where significant facts reported to him were in error?

            As I mentioned in another thread sometime after we began this exchange, I've had to take a break from my forum activities because of other current demands on my time. With a little luck, however, I might soon have some relief from those other demands. When that happens, I'll get back to you.

          • Doug Shaver

            This exchange began when I responded to a challenge to identify any false statements made by Strobel in The Case for Christ. I said I would look for some. Shortly afterward, I followed up with an acknowledgement that I could not find any, strictly speaking, since the book was a summary of ideas presented to him by his interviewees and I assumed that he was accurately presenting everything that had been said to him. You then challenged me to find any factual inaccuracies made by the subjects of Strobel’s interviews.

            As earlier noted, it has been several years since I read The Case for Christ with close attention. My initial response to Paul was based on only a cursory re-reading of the first couple of chapters. My response to the followup challenge prompted a closer examination of the book, during which I discovered grounds for revising my initial assessment of Strobel’s own bona fides.

            For Chapter 1, Strobel interviewed Craig Blomberg for an assessment of the gospels’ historical reliability, starting with the question of what we know about their authors. According to Blomberg, “the uniform testimony of the early church was that Matthew, also known as Levi, the tax collector and one of the twelve disciples, was the author of the first gospel in the New Testament; that John Mark, a companion of Peter, was the author of the gospel we call Mark; and that Luke, known as Paul's 'beloved physician,' wrote both the gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.” Considering the context, by “the early church,” Blomberg presumably meant “the church fathers,” since we have no other sources attesting to the beliefs or teachings of the earliest Christians, aside from the canonical writings and some apocryphal literature. It is true, so far as I know, that no extant document from Christianity’s formative years credits anyone other than the traditional authors with writing any of the canonical gospels. But does this justify a claim that the patristic testimony is uniform? I think I’m justified in thinking it is not. Strobel based his entire book on an analogy with a criminal trial, and a witness’s failure to contradict an assertion is not testimony to that assertion. It is not a fact that every patristic writer testifies to the traditional authorship of the canonical gospels. Clement of Rome does not say anything about who wrote any of the gospels. Neither does Ignatius. Neither does Justin Martyr. Apologists may argue that they must have known about the gospels and known who wrote them. Perhaps so, but we do not have their testimony to that effect. Blomberg implies that we do, but we do not.

            The first explicit attribution is Irenaeus’s, usually dated around 180 CE, and from that time onward, everyone seems to have agreed with him if they mentioned the subject at all. We may note, however, that even during the third century, just because someone mentioned “Luke’s gospel” doesn’t mean they were affirming that the book was written a sometime traveling companion of the apostle Paul. Even nowadays, many scholars and lay people refer to the book as “Luke’s gospel” even while denying the traditional authorship, just because it is so much more convenient than saying “the gospel usually attributed to Luke.” I am not claiming that any ancient writer who mentioned the book actually doubted the traditional authorship. I do claim, though, that their failure to explicitly deny it is not the same as testimony to its truth.

            Furthermore, not all testimony is of equal value. Testimony is only worth something if the witness was in a position to know the alleged fact that he affirms. No patristic writer tells us how he came to know who wrote any of the gospels, except only for Irenaeus, who refers to Papias, who mentions only Matthew and Mark. He gives no hint as to why he thinks Luke and John wrote the other two gospels. For those two, Blomberg’s claim boils down to a pure argument from authority: The church fathers said so, and that is reason enough to believe it.

            Back to Strobel. He assured the reader in his introduction that he was pursuing this subject like any good journalist would. He says he interviewed his subjects with the intention “to challenge them with the objections I had when I was a skeptic, to force them to defend their propositions with solid data and cogent arguments, and to test them with the very questions that you might ask if given the opportunity.” In other words, he would pretend to be a skeptic, even though he conducted the interviews several years after his own conversion. But there is scant evidence that he did anything of the sort. I have already mentioned one objection I would have made to Blomberg’s assertion about “uniform testimony,” an objection that seems not to have occurred to Strobel. And here is a question I would have asked if given the opportunity: What reason did Irenaeus have for believing that those four gospels were written by those four men? In other words, why should I take Irenaeus’s word for it? To think it must be so just because a church father said so is not skepticism, and it isn’t good journalism, either.

            Strobel continues this disingenuity in the next chapter, when he asks Blomberg about the reliability of these authors. Strobel begins by asking, “Were these first-century writers even interested in recording what actually happened?” According to Blomberg, we should think they were because (a) Luke said that it was his intention to do so, (b) Matthew and Mark wrote in a style similar to Luke’s and so must have had the same intention he did, and (c) although John admitted to trying to persuade his readers of certain theological issues, he surely realized that in order to do this, he had to be conscientious in presenting his historical information. And that, if we’re to take Strobel at his word, constitutes “solid data” and a cogent argument. That might be good apologetics. It is not good journalism and not even a pretense of skepticism.

            So it goes throughout the book. Strobel’s claim that he was questioning his subjects the same way any skeptical newspaper reporter would have questioned them is just a sham.

            Back now to the factuality of his subjects’ claims. For his chapter on “corroborating evidence,” Strobel interviews Edwin M. Yamauchi of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and they discuss the letter of Pliny the Younger. Yamauchi says, “And it talks about the worship of Jesus as God,” but—back to the trial analogy—this assumes facts not in evidence. What Pliny actually wrote was: “They [Christians] asserted . . . that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god.” This was in Bithynia, a province along the Black Sea, quite early during the second century. Nothing in Pliny’s letter identifies this “Christ” with the man known to history as Jesus of Nazareth. Neither does Pliny say that he judged this hymn-singing to be an act of worship or that anyone told him it was. The bit about “as to a god” is obviously his interpretation of whatever he was told. We can hardly assume that the people he interrogated would have used the phrase themselves.

            Strobel and Yamauchi then discuss the references to Thallus and Phlegon, from which Yamauchi infers that we have “non-biblical attestation of the darkness that occurred at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.” It is not a fact that we have any such attestation. First, we do not have Thallus’s, or Phlegon’s, attestation to anything. Whatever they wrote has not survived. The extant references to their works are not even quotations, but paraphrases. Second, even those references are too vague to reliably establish that the darkness they mentioned was the same event that, according to the gospels, was observed in Palestine sometime around 30 CE.

            I conclude with the assertions of J.P. Moreland, the subject of Strobel’s Chapter 14. Strobel asks him, “Can you give me five pieces of circumstantial evidence that convince you Jesus rose from the dead?” Moreland says he can, that he has five propositions “that are not in dispute today” and are evidence that the resurrection actually happened.

            Now, just what is “not in dispute” supposed to mean, exactly? There is nothing that is not in dispute if we mean that you can’t find anyone anywhere who will disagree with it. You can find people who will dispute the proposition that two plus two equals four. What most of us usually mean, when we say that some proposition is not in dispute, is relative to the context of the discussion in which the proposition occurs. Within the scientific community, biological evolution—the proposition that all living organisms are related by descent with modification from a common ancestor—is a fact not in dispute, notwithstanding that every scientist knows full well that a significant fraction of the nonscientific community disputes it passionately.

            There are people who disagree with some or all of Moreland’s five propositions, and he must know that. What he must mean, when he says they are not in dispute, is that in his judgment, people who do dispute them can and should be ignored. Those people should be treated, he thinks, the way scientists treat creationists. Very well. It is his judgment, and so he is entitled to it. But Strobel is claiming to have interviewed him as though he were a skeptic. It was his intention, he said, “to force them [interviewees] to defend their propositions with solid data and cogent arguments, and to test them with the very questions that you might ask if given the opportunity.” If he had actually done that, he would not have conflated Moreland’s personal judgment with the reality of modern critical scholarship. Moreland presumably means to suggest something like this: His five propositions are accepted as facts by everyone whose judgment ought to be given serious consideration because they have whatever qualifications are necessary to make such judgments. Insofar as opinions have anything to do with it, “not in dispute” does not mean “the majority opinion.” It means either “the unanimous opinion” or, at least, “the almost unanimous opinion.” It is in this sense that biological evolution is a fact not in dispute within the scientific community.

            Of Moreland’s five propositions, at least three are disputed by scholars with relevant expertise.

            (1) “The disciples died for their beliefs.” So says Christian tradition. Plenty of competent scholars do dispute this. No disciple’s martyrdom is attested by any contemporary documentation or even secondary sources. All we have are unprovenanced stories told long afterward. And even those stories do not affirm, as Moreland implies, that anyone was killed specifically for affirming the resurrection. There is no suggestion anywhere in the traditions that any martyr could have saved his life just by denying the resurrection.

            (2) Skeptics became believers. Obviously, there were conversions. And, at least some potential converts would at first have doubted what they were hearing, and so Christians must have told them something that changed their minds. But of course, this happens with all new religions that last longer than their founders’ lifetimes. Moreland’s claim is more specific, though. He told Strobel that in Christianity’s case, it is undisputed that we know of at least two converts—James the brother of Jesus, and Paul— who could not possibly have changed their minds about the resurrection without irrefutable evidence. But there are competent scholars who do dispute it. Moreland’s account of James’s and Paul’s conversions rests on an inerrantist reading of the New Testament, and it is not a fact that inerrantism is undisputed. Absent the presuppositions of historical Christian orthodoxy, we have no idea what James believed about his brother prior to his crucifixion. As for Paul, by his own account he was not persuaded by anything that any Christian told him. What Paul himself says is that he was converted as a result of personal revelation and his reading of Jewish scripture. In neither James’s nor Paul’s case is it undisputed that they would not have converted if the resurrection had not actually occurred.

            3. “Five weeks after he's crucified, over ten thousand Jews are following him.” Moreland does not say where he gets that number 10,000. The gospels themselves report no conversions after the resurrection. In Acts, which begins six weeks after Jesus’death, the author reports the conversion of “about three thousand”Jews in response to Peter’s inaugural sermon (Acts 2:41), and at an unspecified time later, "the number of men grew to about five thousand" (Acts 4:4). Some competent authorities dispute even those numbers, which are modest compared to Moreland’s. Moreland must be relying on some extrabiblical source for his data, but he doesn’t say what source, and Strobel doesn't ask. This claim of 10,000 Jewish converts within five weeks does not constitute an undisputed fact.

          • The entire book is based on a false foundation. He claimed to be eager to investigate both sides of the issue, and yet his book is just one big Christian apologetic argument. That's fine to do, just don't pretend that it's look-at-both-sides journalism. Makes you look like a liar.

        • Jesus doesn't cure anybody of anything. If he was a liar before conversion, then he is a liar now. If he was a drunk and a philanderer then, he still is. Don't let this man anywhere near your significant other, your wallet, your kids, or your convention.

          It amazes me that Christians seriously take testimonials seriously and think their god does literally anything to change anybody or cure their bad habits and addictions.

          • Sample1

            Testimonials are a mixed bag in the advertising world. In many professions they are frowned upon by ethicists, relevant governing boards.

            Mike, fragrance and faith free.

      • VicqRuiz

        I would say that he never was truly an atheist, and that he is not honest when he claims to have been so.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          The good ole "No True Atheist" logical fallacy, eh?

          Anyway, how would you make such a judgment?

          • VicqRuiz

            I've read his "Case for Christ" and "Case for a Creator".

            The "evidence" he presents is pretty much the same stuff I've read in apologetics books and on apologetics websites for two decades. I can remember not a single case of any atheist I know being much persuaded by it.

            Yet when ol' Lee hears it, he drops to his knees as if he'd just gotten a sap across the back of the neck.

          • "The "evidence" he presents is pretty much the same stuff I've read in apologetics books and on apologetics websites for two decades. I can remember not a single case of any atheist I know being much persuaded by it."

            So how does it follow that Strobel was "never was truly an atheist", as you asserted? That doesn't seem to follow from this explanation. You've simply avoided Kevin's question.

          • David Marshall

            This article is written about atheists with open minds. In my experience, that is an exceedingly thin slice of the demographic, unfortunately. (I am a mildly prominent Christian writer myself, and the vast majority of "rebuttals" to my detailed arguments consists of snark, micro-focus on typos and other "gotcha" issues, and personal attacks.) think Strobel's books are moderately persuasive entry-level apologetic works. For those who want to dig deeper, the people he interviews are generally a good start.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I suppose a work can be persuasive without being factual. Strobel may be persuasive, but he certainly isn't factual.

          • JOHN_CURRIER

            I would like to explore this further. Can you give me one or two examples where Stroebel got the facts wrong (as opposed to differences of interpretation of the facts) so I can investigate on my own. Thanks.

        • Doug Shaver

          I would say that he never was truly an atheist

          He says he didn't believe in God, and I see no reason to question that statement. His skepticism was obviously not well reasoned, though. I forget which book I read it in (probably The Case for Faith), but he actually admits to having believed that evolution disproved God's existence.

          "Atheist" is not logically equivalent to "critical thinker."

        • CL

          Greetings VicqRuiz, That's because there's no such thing as an atheist. :-)
          We are all born with a knowing of our Creator manifest in us. We may deny it, but it exists, it is there... until the denial is removed. I wonder if anyone has ever gone to their death an atheist... a non-believer. I think not. I think on the death bed the Truth becomes clear once again... denial can no longer be sustained as the world washes away.
          Peace and blessings of God to you. :-)

      • John Blackthorne

        Lee Strobel claims he was an atheist to win brownie points. Completely dishonest.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Evidence?

    • Mike

      That's what some ppl said about leah libresco's conversion.

      • VicqRuiz

        It's possible to read what Leah wrote about religion before and after her conversion, and judge whether her claims of having been an atheist ring true (to me, they do). For Strobel and some other "converts", it's not so easy to tell.

        • Mike

          There's always that issue i agree.

        • Doug Shaver

          This is beginning to remind me of those apologists who say that we who claim to be former Christians were never real Christians.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Nicely done, Mr. Nelson.

    Now I guess the follow-up articles should be "Why Atheists DON'T Change Their Minds" and "Why Theists Change Their's"!

  • Regarding (1), I actually think the reverse is often true. Chesterton remarked on this, that it wasn't Christian writers but atheist writers that convinced him there was something to Christianity. It was the same for me. Chesterton and Lewis, more than Russell or Dawkins, helped me on my journey to agnosticism.

    • William Davis

      Yeah, I actually found myself siding with Christians a few times when I read "The God Delusion". Dawkins made some good points, but I think he is off-base on a lot in that book.

    • Mike

      How did lewis and chesterton help in that direction? i am curious as they had the opposite effect on me.

      • For C.S. Lewis, it was his Mere Christianity. I remember reading through it when I was struggling with doubts and at the end thinking, "If these are the best arguments for Christianity, then it's on a much weaker foundation than I thought." I later found some other arguments for Christian theism, or theism in general, that slowed me down and gave me some perspective, especially Joseph Ratzinger's "Introduction to Christianity".

        For Chesterton, it was a couple things. His line about free thought and fairies made me consider that supernaturalism may allow thought with licence to embrace the absurd, and as I also learned from Chesterton, licence to do what is wrong can often be slavery in disguise. Second, it was his opening to The Everlasting Man. He spoke about how getting a more objective perspective on Christianity, seeing it at the same distance as Buddhism or Islam, might help afford sufficient perspective to perceive how unique, true, and beautiful Christianity is. I tried this, and did come to appreciate the uniqueness and original beauty of Christianity. At the end of the experiment, however, I came to realise that Christianity is merely one of many faiths. I no longer found its claims compelling.

        These are not the main reasons for my agnosticism, but these authors helped me along the way.

        • William Davis

          One major point for me is that Buddhism condemned slavery from it's very inception. It took Christianity way to long to come around, not to mention the fact that Jesus and Paul seem to be unconcerned about the institution...probably because they thought the end of the age was upon us and it didn't matter. Still, if I'm going to look to an institution for moral authority, this is a pretty big deal for me.

          • Lucretius

            Honestly, I think you should get someone "famous" who posts articles on this blog to create an article on this. Like I told you on the other side of the Internet, this is a fascinating topic for me.

            Christi pax.

          • Lucretius

            I sent an email to Strange Notions. We'll see what happens.

            Christi pax.

          • William Davis

            Cool. Been busy working today, see you've still been busy over at EN. I'll probably see you again soon :) (I hope you'll have improved on your tact by then :P)

        • Mike

          fascinating as i read both and thought wow these arguments are awesome and much stronger than i'd assumed...wanna know what i think might be the diff?

          i was surrounded by a a very dismissive secularism and was raised without faith without even a cultural catholicism and so thought it was total bunk/fairy talk and so my starting point was 'low' which made the arguments seem very good to me but perhaps you thought christianity was much "stronger" and were disappointed to discover the arguments were not as strong as you'd expected...something like that.

          Plus ofc ourse i suspect you thought/think that natural science is the gold standard of "truth" whereas all the rest is really all in the same category ie interesting but not compelling.

        • Alcide Bouchard

          I think that for the overwhelming majority of people today, their choice to distance themselves from traditional moral standards is linked to personal lifestyle choices (sexuality);
          a shortsighted assessment of what truly matters, based on what is most likely to support their desire for temporary pleasures. Their conclusion therefore basically amounts
          to “I don’t want God to exist, and therefore He doesn’t."
          If this is one's mindset when 'exploring options', then one will generally see in texts what one wants to see, while downplaying the challenging aspects.

          Traditional Christian moral standards call believers to deny their desires for temporary pleasure in favor of everlasting joy that can’t be taken away (a sober assessment of what truly matters).

          This challenge isn't for the faint of heart. I honestly wouldn’t be able to give up temporary pleasures without having encountered Christ; I am not strong enough on my own.

          • Michael Murray

            Why do so many these days reject death in battle and the glorious place at Odin's table in Valhalla that it guarantees them ? Is it because they are cowards or is it perhaps because they find no evidence to support the existence of Odin or Valhalla ?

          • Alcide Bouchard

            I agree, it's only having encountered God that can change our perception of reality. Until then all stories and claims can seem like figments of human imagination. We can have a dialogue with God though. It's a matter of taking a chance that He's real and choosing to speak (in a private place of course). People do far worse things in private; it's nothing to be ashamed of. :)

          • Michael Murray

            It's a matter of taking a chance that He's real and choosing to speak (in a private place of course).

            What makes you think I and others atheists haven't taken that chance? Lots of us were raised as theists, Catholic in my case, and left because we realised we were talking to ourselves.

          • Alcide Bouchard

            I was also raised Catholic. For most of my life I was sort of practicing, but not living all that I was being taught. I was sometimes unable to forgive when someone hurt me. I had violent thoughts, was addicted to porn, and movies and entertainment in general. My priorities were messed up, and my body was becoming sick. Arthritis had spread from my knees, at 17 years of age, to all other major joints, including my hands by the time I was 38. I suffered a spinal injury at 23 (a construction accident) and constantly visited the Chiropractor to help manage the pain. I also had about a dozen planter’s warts on the soles of my feet that were becoming a problem. I was strong enough to keep working as a carpenter in order to support my family, but I hadn’t considered taking pain killers, and so I suffered constant pain for about 15 years.

            One day when I was unable to use my hands to put my socks on in the morning, I had to use my feet, and it really helped me to reconsider where my life was headed. Then I made efforts to honestly confess my sins and started to turn away from them, and I started reading my Bible every day, because I didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair by the time I was 45. So I was actively looking for answers.

            In May of 2008, alone in my office one morning, I prayed for healing and received it. The next X-ray that the Chiropractor took revealed my perfectly restored spine.
            I didn’t deserve what I received in any way, but I was open to the possibility that the Bible stories weren’t just stories. I then asked God what He wanted me to do next, and He led me through a process to forgive others by praying that He
            would bless them. I didn’t feel like praying for them, of course, but I did it anyways, and He healed the wounds in
            my heart while I was praying. I started to actually care about how they’re doing. Then I asked again “what’s next Lord?” He then led me to go ask forgiveness of someone I had hurt (my mother in law). Early the next morning I went to do just that, and that night, May 29th, 2009, is when God healed the arthritis throughout my body. I’m now able to run again, lift, and climb.

            With regard to my mind, my thoughts are peaceful, which results in good decisions and actions. I never heard an audible voice, but because I was asking God to forgive me, and wanted to see signs, I started seeing them. I saw them in the scriptures, when they would address what I was living through. I also heard signs from the people around me and preachers on TV. Of course I could have concluded that all these happenings in my life were just coincidences, but I choose to conclude that God is making Himself known to me. I humble myself, knowing that I don’t deserve any of the great things He’s doing for me. Anyone can choose to follow Him. He doesn’t have favorites, but loves us all equally.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            Their conclusion therefore basically amounts to “I don’t want God to exist, and therefore He doesn’t."

            I can't speak for other people. For myself, when I wrote the comment you replied to, I had a very different conclusion: I don't know if God exists but I hope God exists.

            Things have changed quite a bit in the intervening year. I now do think God exists. I don't think God worries about what we do in our bedrooms. I don't think God is concerned about us much at all.

          • Alexandra

            >>> I now do think God exists....

            I truly rejoice at this news, Paul. :) Cheers!

          • Lazarus

            A deist God?

            I also think that a God thinks less about our bedrooms than what we are told, but not being concerned about us much?

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            I believe that God only cares about us only insofar as we care about each other.

          • Lazarus

            I love that. That would also explain why at times God seems so distant.

          • Alcide Bouchard

            I have experienced His love firsthand, and the concern He has for all aspects of our lives...see comments below.

          • Paul Brandon Rimmer

            As have I.

  • Regarding (6), isn't the movement probably more the other way? Otherwise, shouldn't we expect a greater number of theists amongst accomplished scientists than amongst non-scientists? Why is is that we find the opposite trend?

    • Guest

      Isn't the the "more scientists are Atheists" meme problematic in and of itself?

      https://strangenotions.com/atheist-scientists/

      • So then how do you answer the question? If learning more about science helps atheists to become theists, why aren't more scientists theists?

        • Guest

          You didn't read the link did you?

          Quote"The existence of God is not a scientific question, because science restricts itself to searching for natural explanations of observed phenomena. Since God is a transcendent being who exists beyond space and time, the search for God must primarily use philosophy, or careful reasoning, and not science (even though science provides facts which can be used in philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God)."End Quote.

          • What's your name? I'd be more happy to respond if you'd follow the forum guidelines, and tell me what your name is.

            Also, are you going to answer my question? If modern advances in science help atheists to become theists, why aren't more scientists theists? Or maybe new scientific discoveries don't help atheists to become theists, because the existence of God is not a scientific question?

          • Guest

            Sorry about that I didn't realize you can't be anon here.

            No I won't give my name but this will be my last post out of respect to the rules and you may have the last word.

            >If modern advances in science help atheists to become theists, why aren't more scientists theists?

            First as the link to this very blog argues effectively the whole "most Scientists are Atheists" meme is a fallacy. Which was my point.

            Second to answer your question in the context of the Post we are talking about scientists who learn a bit of philosophy and approach their science threw philosophy.

            I am not sure who said it but most modern Scientists are Philistines when it comes to knowledge of philosophy.

            Neil deGrasse Tyson comes to mind and the most notorious next to Richard Dawkins is Stephen Hawking whom as Martin Rees said has read little by way of philosophy & thus quote "We shouldn't attach any weight to what Hawking says about god". Rees I believe is a Deist.

            >Or maybe new scientific discoveries don't help atheists to become theists, because the existence of God is not a scientific question?

            It's is a philosophical question but how you model your science threw what philosophy I would say matters a great deal.

            Most scientists channel an unconscious knee jerk Positivism which is the lens threw which they read reality & their science. AG Flew himself at the height of his Atheism in the 50's abandoned Positivism as hopelessly incoherent.

            Granted while they are not air tight proofs things like the discovery that the Universe had a beginning. The fact quantum events require an observer and even the theories the Universe began as a quantum event suggest a God. Or at least show belief in God is not unreasonable. Add to that the fact physics follows the orderly language of mathematics which shows a design.

            Of course ultimately the existence of God is a philosophical question not a scientific one. One has to prove or disprove God on that battleground.

            Bye. perhaps I will come back with a name or perhaps not.

          • It seems as though your answer is that science doesn't help atheists become theists. I would tend to agree.

            The fact quantum events require an observer and even the theories the Universe began as a quantum event suggest a God.

            Under most interpretations of quantum mechanics, an observer is unnecessary.

          • Guest

            Forgive me like Oscar Wilde I can resist anything but temptation.

            Science alone doesn't help atheists become theists. They need to add philosophy.

            >In most interpretations of quantum mechanics, an observer is unnecessary.

            True which is why "scientific" arguments for God are not air tight since Science is always changing.

            Peace.

            Sorry this time have the last word and I will resist the urge to answer no matter how very interesting your post.

      • William Davis

        Just because they aren't atheists, doesn't mean they are Christians. The cream of the crop in science do have a high propensity for atheism. I think the National Academy of Sciences is around 93% Atheist and that is just the U.S. In Asia and Northern Europe Christianity is hardly represented.

        • Guest

          What does being Christian or not have to do with anything? I give a link from this blog on problems with the "more scientists are Atheists" meme.

          Nothing more.

          • Papalinton

            What does being Christian or not have to do with anything?

            Exactly. Being Christian has nothing to do with anything. Indeed it's to do with nothing. George H Smith, American libertarian thinker and writer, best sums up:

            "God is not matter; neither is non-existence. God does not have limitations; neither does non-existence. God is not visible; neither is non-existence. God cannot be described; neither can non-existence."

            I think it is becoming increasingly clearer within the broader understanding of our expanding knowledge base that the concept of god is ideation, the formation of a mental construct predicated on our predilection for projection of an habituated theory of mind, itself a function of human thought processes. It is how we conceive of others having a thinking and active mind just like ours. And we project our theory of mind through attributing these processes onto the cosmos.

          • Guest

            I cannot resist a pot shot at you before I go since you reason so very badly.

            >"God is not matter; neither is non-existence. God does not have limitations; neither does non-existence. God is not visible; neither is non-existence. God cannot be described; neither can non-existence."

            Well unless one plans to channel one's inner Paul Tillich this is a fallacy of equivocation. Nothing or non-existence is an absence of anything. God is not that and non-existence unlike God can be explained with great ease simply take everything and subtract it. It is not a hard concept.

            As for the last bit your are moving toward a philosophical idealism if not outright slophism as such it renders impossible for you to say anything about reality including any claims Christianity or religion in general is an illusion.

            Bye.

          • Papalinton

            I guess reading up on and familiarising yourself with all the tremendous research and study into the sciences of the mind is beyond you then?

    • neil_ogi

      more christian/theists scientists are winners of nobel prizes

  • Regarding (4), do you think that all atheists are ignorant or dishonest when it comes to philosophy? Do you think it's impossible to be a reasonable atheist?

    • Anfistophanes

      Spend some time with the atheists who consistently comment on these articles and I think you'll find a resounding "yes" in response to your last question.

      • Andre V.

        Those atheists were specifically invited here to discuss their viewpoints. Your comment is offensive.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          a) "...ignorant ... when it comes to philosophy?"

          b) "Spend some time with the atheists who consistently comment on these articles..."

          c) "Those atheists were specifically invited here to discuss their viewpoints."

          I don't see where c) follows from a) and b)

          • Andre V.

            Anfistophanes was specifically referring to Paul's last sentence. In other words, he says that it's impossible to be a reasonable atheist. I find that offensive.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No, he said that the atheists who comment here are not reasonable. I think he needs a qualifier like "some" or "many" or "often," but a charitable man will read those things into a statement rather than fall victim to rash judgment.

          • Andre V.

            You seem to have difficulty in understanding that the comment was in relation to Paul's last sentence. Being charitable is one thing, being naive and / or tolerant of rudeness is another. And how about we hear from Anfistophanes himself?

          • William Davis

            Let's reverse it and say, "Do you think it is possible to be a reasonable theist?"

            Let's say I answer: "Spend some time with the theists who consistently comment on these articles and I think you'll find a resounding "yes" in response to your last question."

            All I did was switch theist for atheist. Would you still be as charitable?

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Sure.

      • William Davis

        Paul IS one of the atheist/agnostics who regularly comments here. Don't you feel silly now?

      • GCBill

        Hi, first-time commenter. Nice to meet you too!

    • Mike

      I think reductive materialists/naturalists are unreasonable bc their positions are imho unreasonable but i also think that atheism that does not entail one of those positions is pointless or at least just agnosticism in disguise.

      • I think it's a radical claim, that a particular commonly held position, theism or naturalism, is necessarily irrational. This may be too involved a question for comment threads, but I am curious. What do you think is irrational about naturalism?

        • Mike

          it's too reductive; it reduces 99.9% of life to some impersonal "force of nature" which is supposed to be intention-less pointless and yet seems to point to things etc. i also don't think that objective morality can be coherently held on naturalism as everything that is just is on the worldview there is no "right" nor "wrong" there just is.

          btw i said unreasonable not necessarily irrational but i took irrational to mean incoherent.

          • When I say that a belief is irrational, I simply mean that the belief has no good justification. Arguments attempting to justify the belief either are invalid, or rely on premises that no person could reasonably consider to be sound. It can be irrational to withhold belief if the belief is clearly rational (no person could rationally deny the belief).

            Nature appears to act without an end in mind. I find no evidence of purpose. Every event that has been well explored appears to have a natural explanation, and there is little to know evidence of the occurrence of supernatural events or activities. Outside of human and other animal activity, the universe appears to me to be completely without purpose. What is the error in my reason? What mistake in logic or delusion do I adopt, that no person could reasonably adopt?

          • Mike

            well for starters the evolutionary process seems to go from simple to complex..there's purpose there no? you seem to have goals, society has goals ends that we justify w/o recourse to nature all the time - nature seems itself to go from seed to plant etc. so from one thing to another related thing; the environment seems to 'favor' one type of plant say or animal over another by reproductive fitness.

            also how can you exclude humans and animals from 'the universe'? anyway even if you do that physics is all equations and order and 'rules' etc. how does that not seem purposeful to you?

          • well for starters the evolutionary process seems to go from simple to complex..there's purpose there no?

            Not that I can tell. The appearance of purpose seems well explained by natural selection and thermodynamics.

            also how can you exclude humans and animals from 'the universe'?

            I don't. I'm aware of nothing in naturalism that precludes the existence of purposeful animal behaviour.

          • Mike

            that's just what i mean..."natural selection" what is selection and why? why selecting? the idea of selection seems very purposeful to me.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Mike, the word 'selection' in natural selection is just a terminological matter. It does not imply that the process is purposeful. Darwin called it that by analogy with the artificial selection of domestic animals and plants by breeders.

            If he had called it something else like "differential survival" perhaps there wouldn't be this ambiguity.

            The whole idea is to demonstrate a mechanism which is not purposeful, not teleological, not driven by higher-level forces. It is a question of what happens to each individual organism, whether it survives or not, whether it breeds or not. The offspring vary, and those which are better adapted to the environment survive disproportionately.

            I agree with Paul's comments about the purposeless universe. Purpose and meaning are things we read into the universe. They are human constructs.

          • Mike

            That makes no sense i don't think...call it what you want but clearly there is a kind of selection going on; we didn't evolve from angels did we ? no we were selected for by natural mechanism from lower not higher forms of life so that means there is some kind of direction to the mechanism.

            BTW this is obvious if you look around at how environments select for adaptability for survival.

          • Raymond

            And even if there is purpose, not just the appearance of purpose, what does that imply? There is a purpose therefore God? Therefore the Christian God? Don't stop at the edge, take the leap, so we can see you fail to reach the other side.

          • Mike

            Well there's some kind of purpose for sure but what it means is another question i think...even naturalists can admit the bleeping obvious that nature/evolution itself is purposeful i think.

            i think purpose in nature means that the worldviews that presuppose no intention at all can't be correct; i think that something having purpose/order had to get it from some source of order...whether that source is the unmoved mover is another q.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Mike, you say "clearly there is a kind of selection going on" and "naturalists .. admit .. that evolution is purposeful". You are asserting there must be purpose, and that this is obvious. I disagree. It is not obvious to me.

            I hold to a naturalistic philosophy, and as I outlined (briefly), evolutionary processes are indeed purposeless, that is a central part of the theory. Not that that makes it incompatible with theism, by the way, for someone could believe God began the universe and allowed the evolutionary process to work thereafter. I do not believe that.

            Now you say "purpose in nature means that the worldviews that presuppose no intention at all can't be correct" -- this is to beg the question. Certainly, if there is purpose in nature then a worldview which denies this would be incorrect. The question is, is there purpose in nature?

            Now -- a crucial point is this. You mention higher and lower lifeforms. To regard us as "higher" than, say, bacteria is self-flattering, but it is a human viewpoint. Of course we think we are the higher ones. Other lifeforms might take a different view, if they can take a view. From the standpoint of an impersonal universe we are all much the same.

          • Mike

            How can you even study biology if there's no purpose no patterns no underlying order in your opinion?

          • Frank Pennycook

            Huh? Those three things -- patterns, purpose and underlying order -- are just very different.

            There can be patterns without purpose. I think that is true of biology. But to see it's possible, look at astronomy, with the orbits of planets and the formation of galaxies, for example. I don't think anyone thinks they are purposeful, but there are certainly patterns.

          • Mike

            i know they are different but i think they belong in the same category, call it intentionality or telos or whatever word you want but clearly what we do when we study the mechanics of the material world is find the intrinsic patterns causes effects and then we repeat and repeat and repeat the experiments to nail down the patterns as perfectly as possible. then we extract from those findings theories that explain all that order that we just systematically analyzed.

            i think maybe you see 'purpose' as somehow code for çhristian god but i don't think that that's what it implies at least not immediately. that there is purpose order regularity is a starting point from which you can go in various directions.

            anyway i think to deny purpose of some sort maybe not personal but of some sort is just plain silly to be frank as it is everywhere - some ppl believe that there is something called "the wrong side of history" as if history were the unfolding of some natural plan for example but not god's plan just some plan.

            i think you believe incoherently that there is no purpose of any sort in nature but that that doesn't mean there's no purpose to individual human life but we already know you disagree.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Hello, maybe we need to agree to disagree. I'm struggling to find any arguments to engage with in what you've said.

            I'm not (and have nowhere suggested) regarding purpose as code for a Christian god. I have been talking about purpose as such. I agree with you about the mechanics of studying nature to look for patterns. I do not think patterns are the same as purpose. I gave a non-biological illustration which you have not addressed.

            You've said that to deny purpose of some sort is "just plain silly" and you imagine I believe "incoherently". Is that it?

          • Mike

            yes i believe that you can not be a thorough going naturalist coherently.

            i also believe that to deny intention telos direction "purpose"" in science is incoherent.

            take care and thx for the exchange.

          • Peter

            If you consider life on earth and humanity to be one-off freak events in a universe which is otherwise totally hostile to life, then it is understandable why you would apportion no meaning to the universe.

            However, if, like me, you regard the universe to be generally fertile for life and ultimately consciousness, so that humanity is but one of potentially countless sentient races, it would appear that the universe has a meaning after all, on two levels.

            First, for the widespread creation of consciousness and, second, for that consciousness to create its own purpose and be driven by it. It is the widespread creation of purpose-driven consciousness which gives the universe its meaning.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Hi Peter, I'd agree with much of what you say. I don't think I'd go so far as to say the universe has a meaning. Yes, consciousnesses are driven by self-created purpose and meaning. But does that lead to your first proposition that widespread creation of consciousness is somehow the purpose of the universe?

            It's an open question of course whether there are other conscious beings elsewhere, but given recent advances in exoplanet discovery it seems there are lots of suitable worlds. We know life started here on earth pretty quickly (in geological terms), so we can estimate it is quite likely. But consciousness or significant reflective intelligence would seem to be very very recent indeed (between 100k years or so to a few million years, depending on where you set the bar).

            So we might face the prospect of a galaxy teeming with bacteria and maybe animal and plant life, but no or very few starfaring aliens. The old Fermi paradox -- if they exist, why aren't they here? -- is still relevant.

          • Peter

            By some standards the universe is still young and we may be among the first widely-dispersed examples of intelligent life. A universe teeming with bacteria and early life may well in the aeons to come produce countless intelligent species.

            A universe which creates widespread consciousness creates purpose through that consciousness. Inasmuch as the consciousness it creates is part of the universe itself, the universe is creating its own purpose, manifested through its consciousness. The universe is creating its own purpose. It is giving itself meaning.

            A universe which is constantly evolving towards the point where it can give itself meaning, not just in one instance but potentially everywhere and at all times, is a universe which is predestined to do so. The universe is inexorably driven to create its own purpose, to achieve a particular destiny for which it was configured in the first place.

          • David Nickol

            However, if, like me, you regard the universe to be generally fertile . . . .

            I am not quite sure how one would calculate this. Considering the size of the universe, how much life must exist for the universe to be considered "generally fertile"? It seems likely to me that there have been, are, and will be other intelligent races in the universe, but it is easy to forget just have vast the universe is. The best we can do at the moment is guess, and my guess would be that the odds of two intelligent races ever finding one another are vanishingly small. That being the case, I wouldn't consider the universe "generally fertile."

          • Peter

            Of course, within relatively short distances such as a few dozen light years, perhaps there is only microbial life, but over longer distances such as hundreds or even thousands of light years, intelligent life may be present.

            However, in the aeons to come that microbial life may evolve to intelligent life, which is why I said that the universe is fertile for eventual consciousness.

          • If the universe were chock full of life, it would be easy to say that it's because God made the universe to be full of life. The abundance of life is evidence for God.

            If life in the universe is rare, or even unique, it would be easy to say that God specially set up the universe for this one example of life, a special example unlike anything anywhere else, and that this uniqueness, this rarity of life is evidence for God.

            If life didn't arise in the universe, no one would be here to make these remarks in the first place.

          • Peter

            If the universe were full of life, it would be reasonable to say that God configured it naturally to be so.

            However, if the universe were devoid of life except for us, it would not be reasonable to say that God configured it to naturally create us. There would be nothing natural about a vast isotropic universe producing life in just one point. Instead, any appeal to God's involvement would imply supernatural intervention which has thus far been falsified by science.

            The only scenario for God is a natural and not a supernatural universe and, given that we are here, a natural universe would imply more of the same.

          • The problem is that not everyone shares your interpretation. Most creationists and ID people I've met would lean toward the opposite end, that the rarity of life shows that God exists, because it shows that life requires some special intelligent intervention. That the universe has no other life (they assume this) is a sign that life cannot form solely by natural principles.

            I would suggest first convincing them of your argument, that the lack of other life in the universe somehow counts as evidence against God's existence. I'd be very pleased if you could persuade some of them.

          • Peter

            All I can do is point to the scientific evidence; it's up to them to accept or reject it. However, the science is growing leaving creationists with fewer legs to stand on. It is a courageous thing to cling to fideistic notions about creation in the face of rapidly growing scientific discovery ranging from the biological to the cosmological.

            It is precisely what causes the lack of life elsewhere to count as evidence against God's existence, that causes the presence of life elsewhere to count in favour of it. One-off life is a freak occurrence in a meaningless universe. Widespread life suggests that the meaning of the universe is to create it.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Not at all. Widespread life would mean it wasn't a freak occurrence. It would turn out to be quite likely for life to evolve on a suitable planet. Just as it's quite likely to get vulcanism on a planet with tectonic activity. A physical process. Where's the cosmic purpose?

          • Peter

            The achievement of a consciousness which gives itself purpose.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            As I watch the BBC series LIFE I am blown away by the incredible complexity that serves specific purposes. To me this points to amazing intelligence both in the life of plants and animals.

          • There is an incredible complexity, and that complexity is directed toward the preservation of genetic information, but this is because the best preserved genetic information is what endures. We see only the successful results of billions of years of genetic dead ends.

            There seems to be little overarching purpose in all of this; if there is a grand intelligence, it is definitely one that has no compunctions about animal suffering on a massive and prolonged scale.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            You wrote that "complexity is directed toward the preservation of genetic information." That is a teleological statement.

            I wonder this, why is life directed toward greater and greater complexity? Why isn't simpler and simpler the norm?

            The venus flytrap leaves are directed toward catching and digesting flies most of its time and then toward leaving them alone to feed on its nectar when it needs to pollinate its flowers.

            I don't know what animal suffering (or even plant suffering (if that is possible)) means but I suspect it means something different to the animals themselves than it means to us that observe it from the human perspective of suffering. We'd have to know a lot of animal psychology and how they experience pain.

          • David Nickol

            I wonder this, why is life directed toward greater and greater complexity? Why isn't simpler and simpler the norm?

            I think most evolutionary biologists would say that life is not directed toward greater and greater complexity. In fact, it is not directed toward anything. Of course, evolution could not have begun with highly complex organisms that evolved to become simpler ones. That really would be like the tornado assembling a Boeing from a junkyard. There had to be time for complex organisms to develop. But there had to be time for deep canyons to be carved by rivers, and yet we would not say geology is directed toward depth.

            Also note that if we take human beings to be the most complex lifeforms, there are only 7 billion of us alive. I have found estimates that the human body has a hundred trillion cells, with 10 percent of those being human and the rest being bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. It is very easy to imagine all of evolutionary history was working toward making human beings what we are today, and that we are the pinnacle of creation, but that is not how most evolutionary biologists see it.

          • I don't think that it really is, because that's not some sort of end, or right goal, or purpose. It's just a random trajectory.

            You could imagine at t = 0 some complexity happens to arise and is directed toward preservation of genetic information and some complexity arises that is not directed toward the preservation of genetic information. At t = 1, all that's left is the complexity that's directed toward the preservation of genetic information. The species itself doesn't typically care. The Earth and Universe could care less whether a particular species goes extinct or not, or whether a given instance of complexity is preserved.

            Doesn't teleology have to be more than about trajectories? Otherwise, the universe does have a purpose, since it has a trajectory. The right end of the universe is heat death.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Paul, the idea of a trajectory is fascinating, and the dominant trajectory we observe is entropy increase isn't it, towards that heat death?

            Within this overall trajectory (the second law of thermodynamics, entropy increase), life is supported as a locally entropy-reducing process only because of the existence of a concentration of low entropy (i.e. order) in the sun, which we and other organisms make use of to build structure here while it lasts. Overall the net result is still going to be radiated heat at a higher entropy than before. When the sun goes boom that will be it.

            So the thing that needs explaining is the existence of this trajectory. Why does one temporal end of the universe (the future) have a high entropy and the other end (the big bang) a low entropy?

            There's a great philosophical examination of this in Huw Price's book Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point
            http://prce.hu/w/TAAP.html

          • Thanks for the resource. I agree with you, one of the biggest mysteries in cosmology is why the low entropy initial conditions for our universe? I think Sean Carroll has shown that it is possible to answer this question without invoking the supernatural. But no one yet knows what the correct answer is.

          • Frank Pennycook

            Thanks for that -- I did a little searching, indeed Carroll has an online faq about his book From Eternity To Here (which I haven't read) and references Price, while proposing a different cosmological solution motivated by the same need to explain the apparent asymmetry we observe in terms of a larger symmetry.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I'm plucking this passage from one of Feser's blogs:

            As Aquinas sums it up: “Every agent acts for an end: otherwise one thing would not follow more than another from the action of the agent, unless it were by chance” (Summa Theologiae I.44.4). By “agent” he doesn’t mean only conscious rational actors like ourselves, but anything that serves as an efficient cause. For example, insofar as a chunk of ice floating in the North Atlantic tends, all things being equal, to cause the water surrounding it to grow colder, it is an “agent” in the relevant sense. And what Aquinas is saying is that given that the ice will, unless impeded, cause the surrounding water to grow colder specifically – rather than to boil, to turn into Coca Cola, or to catch fire, and rather than having no effect at all – we have to suppose that there is in the ice a potency, power, or disposition which inherently “points to” the generation of that specific effect. That the ice is an efficient cause of coldness entails that generating coldness is the final cause of ice. And in general, if there is a regular efficient causal connection between a cause A and an effect B, then generating B is the final cause of A.

          • I don't adopt Aquinas's philosophical system. But if I did, I would conclude from current scientific knowledge that the collective purpose of life is to die and to contribute to the overarching purpose of the cosmos: heat death.

            Between dismal purpose and no purpose, I favour no purpose.

      • VicqRuiz

        OK, then, can one be a reasonable agnostic??

        • Mike

          yes i think so.

  • William Davis

    Reasonable atheists eventually become theists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest.

    Is he trying to imply atheists who stay atheists are unreasonable and dishonest? I hope he is just trying to assure deists they are being reasonable. Either way, I would have worded that better.

    “Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much. When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back. As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed. But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.”

    This implies that atheists philosophers don't know much philosophy, which is a little silly. I realize this is Feser's quote (not the authors) but some of the best modern philosophers are atheists or just agnostics. Personally I don't think Feser is an actual philosopher because I haven't seen him come up with anything new and original (maybe he has). A philosopher always has his own philosophy, a student of philosophy knows about the philosophy of others. Feser is just a student of philosophy who follows Thomas Aquinas (Aquinas was a great philosopher by the way).

    “There were two factors in particular that were decisive. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe.”

    Like Einstein, I'm also a Spinozist (more or less), and I think this quote is a misrepresentation of Spinozism. We don't think that there is necessarily intelligence "behind" the physical universe, but intelligence is integrated into the very fabric of the universe. Thus, natural law wasn't created by the mind of God, but it IS the very mind of God at work. This is just one way to look at it (and in language I sometimes find myself talking like there is intelligence behind reality), but I'm trying to reinforce a huge break between Einstein's "God" and what most people think of God. Here is a pretty good quote:

    "Your question is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza's Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate things." -Albert Einstein

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Albert_Einstein

    Notice the part about the soul and body as one. Personally I think Spinoza has the best philosophical foundation for materialism (not necessarily reductive or any specific brand).

    • Because Christianity is neither a new philosophy nor a new morality, being Christian results from neither a lofty or great idea
      nor from an ethical choice or decision.

      Pope Quotes

    • GCBill

      "Personally I don't think Feser is an actual philosopher because I haven't seen him come up with anything new and original (maybe he has). A philosopher always has his own philosophy, a student of philosophy knows about the philosophy of others."

      This is a highly idiosyncratic understanding of philosophy that I wish you'd defend. Why must philosophers produce original ideas rather than simply be able to teach and explain old ones? And do you apply this standard consistently to other analogous "armchair" fields?

      What if someone, despite rigorous mathematical training, never produce any interesting mathematical proofs? Does (s)he cease to be a mathematician, or is (s)he just mediocre? And what if (s)he teaches the workings of the field to 1000s of students, some of whom do go on to make important advancements in our theoretical knowledge?

      • William Davis

        I think you have me here. What I should have said is that Feser isn't a pioneer of philosophy or even a notable philosopher.
        When someone studies philosophy, what does he study? The work of philosophers. But which philosophers? The pioneers who came up with new and valid philosophies. In this sense, sure Feser is a philosopher, but do you think he will make it into a philosophy book? If not, there is serious difference between Thomas Aquinas and Feser that needs to be conveyed with some kind of qualifier to the word philosopher. Do you have any suggestions? I don't think "pioneer" quite covers it either (lots of pioneers, not many relevant or even valid).

        • GCBill

          I typically use "eminent" to distinguish people who have done exceptional original work.

      • Joseph Noonan

        Someone who just explains philosophy is a philosophy teacher, not a philosopher. Someone who merely teaches math to others is a math teacher, not a mathematician. This standard applies to every field.
        If you want to call someone a philosopher despite not doing any original philosophical work, well, go ahead - there's not really any way to argue over the definition of a word like that - but you're likely to cause confusion.

        • Jim the Scott

          That sounds like yer subjective standard to me? ;-)
          Why should I hold it or not?

          Also the post yer replying to is 5 years old? How do you know what Feser has or has not done field of philosophy since then and how do we know for a fact he hasn't done anything priviously to the post?

          We don't. BTW I don't see how by yer definition a non-medical doctor can teach at medical school and not be a real medical doctor? So I am skeptical it can be applied to all disciplines or equivocal sciences.

          • Joseph Noonan

            I'm applying the definition of "teacher" and the difference between a teacher and a practitioner. Call it subjective if you want... but the meaning of any word could be called subjective by the same token, so I really don't see why you think that's significant.

            I'm not making any claims about what Feser has done since this comment was posted. I'm not even making claims about what he did before this comment was posted. All I'm saying is that philosophers have to produce original work. If Feser has done this, he's a philosopher. If not, he isn't.

            "Medical doctor" doesn't refer to a specific occupation. It refers to a degree. You don't even have to practice anything medicine-related to be an M.D. But "philosopher" is not a degree.

          • Jim the Scott

            > All I'm saying is that philosophers have to produce original work. If Feser has done this, he's a philosopher. If not, he isn't.

            Well those are yer valid opinions and you are entitled to them. I don't really agree but to be fair I don't really disagree either. I think I am indifferent. But I thank you for taking the time to respond and for the courage of yer convictions and be assured I say this without any irony or agenda. Peace be with you.

  • Most of these reasons are also given by atheists explaining their deconversion from Christianity. Reading Dawkins and Hitchens and the like. Many ex-Christians will cite actually sitting down and reading the full bible.

    But generally the problem of evil or the absence of evidence for god, are big factors.

    I think most people's minds start to change gradually and most of the resources above simply provide confirmation and build confidence. On both sides.

    Of course these are what people cite as reasons, what actually happens is perhaps a different process. I'd be interested more in empirical research rather than these few anecdotes.

    And then, whether these reasons are good reasons is another discussion as well.

    • Jon Fermin

      The problem with that however is the limits of empirical research, particularly on subjects that cannot be measured empirically because they are metaphysical in nature. for example, in the problem of evil you mentioned, that's subjects like free will and justice, as long as one has it in themselves that all things can be understood at an empirical or mathematic level, they will never understand philosophy, or truly speaking science as a concept, for that too is a metaphysical which cannot be empirically verified.

      • I'm afraid I don't follow you. We can certainly empirically study the reasons people give for becoming Christian. We can also look at external factors, such as did they marry a Christian, get incarcerated, develop a life threatening disease, buy a certain book and so on, to see if there are any clues.

        • Jon Fermin

          I was speking generally of the limits of empirical research. in one sense a sociological study can give us incidental information concerning the circumstances, and a skeptic who denies the impact of free will would handwave that all away as a deterministic reaction to environment or emotion, but none of that touches on the aspect of free will which is necissary for conversion in the first place, which is itself an aspect of a metaphysical mind, not subject to the same empirical standards.

          • William Davis

            I think I have a pretty good understanding of free will, and I definitely think it exists, but I don't think it applies to religion normally. It simply CANNOT be coincidence that people born in Muslim countries are typically Muslim, people born in Hindu countries are Hindu, Buddhist countries Buddhist, as so on. Why exactly would the "free will" of people in non-Christian countries be so different from those in Christian countries? It isn't like they don't have access to all the same information you do. The gospel is everyone where now, thanks to the internet.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Many ex-Christians will cite actually sitting down and reading the full bible.

      That is probably why there is a certain flavor of Biblical fundamentalism to many atheist pronouncements.

      • William Davis

        Yes, catching all Christians in one pronouncement is about as difficult as catching all atheists in one pronouncement. Personally I think there is a different worldview inside every single human being, we just do the best we can in trying to group them.

        • Jon Fermin

          well the point I think that is being made here is how common it is that many of the "new athiests" on the internet are former fundamentalists. not all of them mind you, I was not for one, but I found it very common that those in the new athiest circle often read the bible passages in the same way fundamentalists did, often cherry picked without the context of the entire scriptures and literally in books that had genres that did not call for literalism.

          • William Davis

            Fundamentalists are easier targets because they tend to say more absurd things. I wouldn't take comments directed toward them personally.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Firstly, in the United States, Evangelical Fundamentalism is probably the most recognizable and most politically forceful religious movement. It makes sense that many new atheists would focus their attention on fundamentalism. In general, the main premise of new atheism (besides the lack of belief in deities) is that religion on the whole is a negative force in society. Obviously, to make that argument, new atheists (of which I am one) are going to focus on the ways religion hurts the world.

            Secondly, Roman Catholicism is not as free of this fundamentalism as you would like to imagine. I think the Catholic Church has two faces. The one it shows to atheists and doubters and the other that manifests itself in many of the believers that take their faith seriously.

            I have had many Catholics act similar to their fundamentalist brethren when it comes to evolution (I know few practicing Catholics that affirm that evolution is true without various qualifiers), the historicity of the scriptures, disagreement with consensus of biblical scholarship (many Catholics on SN insist that Mathew was the first gospel, Daniel was history, and all letters attributed to Paul were written by Paul), and belief in things like talking snakes, spurious miracles, and wax corpses which don't ever decompose.

            When Catholics tell me that the Catholic Church does not really believe those things, I would object that it certainly encourages such beliefs in her members or at the very least allows it. The Church rarely makes pronouncements against the fundamentalism that I abhor, and to a certain extent endorses it. As a new atheist, I care about how religion and in this case Catholicism affects the lives of those who believe. Sophistry about what the Church actually teaches is tangential to the new atheists point that Catholicism as practiced by the most devote usually leads to bad outcomes.

            Finally, if as an atheist, I wish to show Catholicism unreasonable, using only the bare minimal claims as to what Catholicism necessitates, you would have to tell me what that is. Some Lutherans consider themselves Catholic. The Roman Church does not consider Lutherans to be Catholic. However, I would argue that by most definitions, Catholicism is not the belief system that most coherently matches to the observed world.

          • William Davis

            Well said. I've met plenty of Catholic fundamentalists on this forum. Catholic attempts to make the faith reasonable and fit current science doesn't seem that popular with the rank and file. I encourage them to keep at it though, I think the world will be better off with absolutely no fundamentalists, not necessarily no Christians. I'm fine with liberal Christianity, especially one that divorces itself from problematic (to me) doctrines like Original Sin.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I don't think one can keep liberal Christianity without keeping fundamentalism. I think all dogmatic belief systems will lead to fanaticism and fundamentalism eventually.

          • William Davis

            You might be right, but I'd rather be around liberal Christians then fundamentalists any day. I'll settle for what I can get, not like I have a choice ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            To be fair, I often worry about secular belief systems becoming just as dogmatic and fanatical as religious ones. I just think religions are most susceptible to it.

          • William Davis

            Yeah, tribalism is a human norm, so there is no reason to think humanists will be immune. As someone who believes in secularism, I think we might actually NEED a variety of belief systems for secularism to work and keep the worst forms of tribalism at bay. I'm not saying these belief system need to be what we have today, but I think there is something to be said for intellectual diversity.

          • Jon Fermin

            on your second point, the Catholic church has stated that the church itself is neutral to the question of Evolution, treating it as a matter of scientific inquiry outside it's jurisdiction rather than a matter of faith and morals. the historical evidence for this position dates back to the writings of St. Augustine in the 4th century in his document "On The Literal Meaning of Genesis" where he makes his argument for the viability of a figurative interpretation.

            As to the authorship of various scriptural books, it is traditionally beleived that gospels were written or dictated by their namesakes, whether they are or not remains an oft debated subject, the specific history I will admit I have little expertise in, and would defer with the understanding that specific authorship does not negate the essential quality or viability of the work itself as independent of it's authorship it was selected for cannonical inclusion among other books who's authorship was entirely unknown.

            As to matters of the miraculous. it's a matter of faith to acept some aspects of what the church teaches, that is no surprise, but aside from that which is dogmatically taught or part of the scope of general revelation, the faithful may accept or reject a miraculous occurance even if it has been approved by the church (IE visions of saints, eucharistic miracles, incorruptable bodies etc) approvals in this case do not strictly mean de facto miracles, but rather that all currently known natural explanations have come back either negative or inconclusive.

            The Church is a big tent, comprising billions of people and thousands of parishes, on matters that do not immediately touch on the main issue of faith and morals the church will usually take a hands off approach to let experts in their field weigh in with their perspectives leaving it open to their understanding, such matters it would qualify not as dogmatic but a matter for "prudential judgement" assuming a private decision by a well formed conscience, this in accordance with the Catholic unerstanding of subsidiarity as it applies to conscience. As to whether or not you beleive that Catholocism as practiced by it's most devout leads to a bad outcome, having lived as an atheist and as a devout Catholic, I would humbly beg to disagree. which brings me to your last point

            As to your last point, it seems that you are having difficulty comming to terms with what Catholic is by definition, and in doing so are leaving yourself open to misattributing to the Catholic Church that which may be comming from other churches. you mentioned previously why Catholocism will not press so hard onto the fundamentalists you abhor. well for one thing the church as an institutional body lacks the jurisdiction to step into someone else's church and tell them what to beleive. it can make the argument for a position and proclaim it, call their position heretical within Catholic orthodoxy and sometimes discuss it in official eccumenical talks, but it has no way of enforcing having another church outside itself do anything.

            Lutherans may consider themselves catholic (with a lowercase c, meaning universal) and within their denomination there is some univerality, very few would consider themselves Catholic (with a capital C meaning a member in union with the Holy See) and even if they did, by definition they would neccisarily need the recognition by the Holy See to even have that quality. Since they lack this fundamental quality, such claims are without merit and meaningless.

            If one with an open mind and the time for it truly wants to know what is and is not Catholic, one need only look to the documents of the Church itself, all of which are available anytime for free to download and read. "The Catechism of The Catholic Church" is a good place to start, or if that in itself is too long, "The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church" which is a summary of the Catechism.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            In this instance, I am not particularly interested in what the Church actually teaches, but rather what the most devout believe the Church teaches. I would contend that the most devout Catholics are fundamentalists.

            With regard to evolution, 26% of Catholics believe that evolution is false. I would bet a fair amount of money that that number would go up considerably, if we only asked Catholics who went to weekly mass, Catholics who attend monthly adoration, or Catholics who frequently receive the sacraments. In my experience, devout Catholics tend to disbelieve in evolution. When I was Catholic, I was one of the few Catholics that I knew, who held that evolution is established science. Spend some time on these boards, and you will notice gross misunderstandings of evolution.

            The consensus of scholars is that Mark was written before Mathew, Daniel is not historical, and not all Pauline epistles were written by Paul. Catholics who hold the opposite opinion are arguing like fundamentalists and rejecting the mainstream consensus.

            Sure, in many cases the Church withholds judgment on many miracles claims and does not force Catholics to believe in any particular miracle claim, but I am not interested in what the Church teaches at a bare minimum. I am interested in what the Church encourages people to believe and what actual Catholics believe. There are some approved apparitions like Fatima, which have a poisonness and immoral message, and there are other unapproved apparitions like Garabandal that many Catholics take seriously and often to their detriment. The fascination that many people take in miracle claims is usually fanatical, obsessive, and unhealthy. The Church often encourages it.

            Catholicsm also causes some people to cut off ties with their family and friends who are nonreligious. This is true among the most devout. This is not a good outcome.

            If you want to talk about the utility of religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, you have to consider how it affects individuals and not on the legalese of what the Church actually teaches. As someone who was raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools, and had many Catholic friends, I would say that among those who take their faith seriously (those who frequent the sacraments) it is detrimental to their lives. It is not healthy for someone to put religion before their friends, family, and their daily lives. The most conservative and fanatical order in recent memory, The Legionnaires of Christ, was founded by a man who turned to not only have kids with multiple women, but was also a child molester. I was involved in the order growing up, and the general feeling in the order was that their founder was a saint.

            If the Catholic Church is as big-tent as you imagine, why is it that when it is pointed out that 95%+ of Catholics use birth control, most Catholics on this board will say that such Catholics aren't really Catholic? If the Church likes to withhold judgment on various matters, why does the Church have a thousand page catechism (which I have read complete), and why did I study from large texts on the faith growing up? The Church is not as big-tent as you would imagine. It is only when arguing with atheists and sometime doubters that the Church expands her horizons.

            I know people who consider the current pope to be an ant-pope, and believe that most Catholics have been lead astray by Vatican II. Why is your definition of Catholic right and theirs wrong? Johnboy, who posts on here, considers Catholic to cover Roman and Eastern rites, as well as Anglican, and I believe Lutheranism as well. Why are you right in saying that only the Roman Church is Catholic? What about the Orthodox? They consider the Roman Church to be heretical. Parsing who is and isn't a full fledged Catholic (with the complete truth) is not as easy as it sounds. I would contend that those who take their Catholicism (of whatever stripe) very seriously are most likely to have bad outcomes.

            This next point is tangential to my main point, but I think it is interesting. If God wants us to find the fulness of truth in the Roman Catholic Church and that God wants us to be healthy and happy (at least spiritually), if we could find one person who is better off spiritually without Catholicism (say as an atheist), it would prove that God is not personally invested in Catholicism and that Catholicism is not the best path for everyone. I can find numerous examples to this. So I ask, if God wants us to be Catholic, so we can live a spiritually fulfilling life, why are their people who are more fulfilled spiritually in atheism?

          • Jon Fermin

            Ignatius, there is a lot here to unpack and I am not going to touch every point, but let me make a few brief points. It is not constructive to build an argument on the basis of what a majority of Catholics beleive. it's weak reasoning and is a poor basis on determine what constitutes a true Catholic position when the doctrine and dogma of the church itself is more than sufficient for a basic definition. I am a weekly mass going catholic who attends adoration, heck I even attend the latin mass from time to time and it has been my experience is that the answer to the question of evolution has been about as diverse as anyhwhere else, but also it is not a difinitive issue of the faith, never has been and never will be, it's practically a non-issue. this is miles away different than fundamentalism.

            you also ask why it is that it seems that the church expands it's boundaries only in response to doubters, I would breifly rejoinder that this is a short sighted assumption. when considering the scope of history, and number of scientific discoveries that have been made by scientists both religeous and secular, it is more proper to say that the church expands to the level that human knowledge expands, it does not declare judgement on physical realities which are outside it's scope. so if the pope has something to say about Quasars nobody in the church is going to call it authoritative, since this is outside of the scope of faith or morals. rather the reason it is heard so often that the skeptics kick against the church, it is because they conflate catholics with fundamentalists.

            it seems sadly, that your claim as to the position of the most devout is mostly anecdotal in nature, especially regarding the legionaries of Christ, who even before the revelations of Fr. Maciel, was already under internal investigation, and it was those very internal investigations which led to the revelation of his own wrongdoings. yes his order had positions which were not considered in keeping with the Church despite their penchant for external piety. piety does not a catholic make, it did not make the Jansenists, and it did not make the SSPX, nor did it make Utrechts, and it does not make the Legionaries. Now, it's too late for reunion with the Utrechts, and the jansenists were outright heretical, but the church is still working towards healing the SSPX just as surely as it is undergoing a reformation of the legionaires, but the only way they can actually do this is if you have an actual standard and authoritative body these groups are subordinate to, and that is the Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church, who unlike the lutherans and the anglicans have no historical claim whatsoever to have preserved apostolic succession, and do not hold to the same standards of faith as set down by those recorded at the earliest days of the Church, there a plethora of historical documentation dating from ignatius of antioch, student of John the apostle to Agustine of Hippo which confirm the structure, heirchy and authoritative nature of the church itself. so yes there is a diversity of opinion and charism, but if at the end of the day, it does not line up with Catholic Church teaching, it's not Catholic, end of story. As to the Orthodox, they are the only exception to this rule, they DO have apostolic succession, they do have valid sacraments, in most respects the only thing that prevents them from being called Catholic in the formal sense is their position on the primacy of the see of Peter. To which there is disagreement, but both churches recognize the points of validity that they share. they are not (Capital C) Catholic, and Catholics are not (Capital O) Orthodox. but both consider each other to have more in common with each other than we do protestant fundamentalism.

            to your last point, It seems to me that the standards of your test are arbitrary and even if provided evidence, philosophically do nothing to account for the free will actions of the Catholic to reject God's will (here represented by concern). the church itself has said as much when it has said that for those who are ignorant of Christ, they may still have the possibility of salvation. still if one beleives they have found the fullness of truth, what shame is there in proclaiming it? can it be said that there are people more spiritually fulfilled in atheism? this seems a bold claim, and one with little in the way of practical evidence. to borrow a phrase from a prominent atheist, "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." what evidence can be shown however is the claim that Catholicism is fundamentalism is specious at best.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am not concerned with what the the Church teaches in this particular argument. I am concerned with how the Church affects individuals. It is a utilitarian claim.

            I did not say that Catholicism is fundamentalism. Not even sure what that claim would mean. What I said is that there are elements of fundamentalism within Catholicism that you are downplaying. I think there are two different things that people mean when they say fundamentalism. Firstly, there is the type of fundamentalism is a fanatical and dogmatic devotion to religious beliefs. All religions have and do fall pray to this type of fundamentalism. There are certainly Catholics today who are fundamentalist in this way and this type of fundamentalism is an impulse that is built into Christianity. Secondly, we have a type of fundamentalism that means an adherence to certain Christian beliefs such as traditional biblical scholarship and the biblical texts are historical.

            Arguably, Catholicism is by definition fundamentalist in the first, because it outlines dogmas and doctrines that Catholics must believe, creates in and out groups, and declares itself correct on teachings of faith and morals. I can't be Catholic and believe that abortion is moral. If I procure one, I will be excommunicated. That is fundamentalism.

            On to the second type of fundamentalism. There are many Catholics that believe in very traditional biblical scholarship. This is a hallmark of fundamentalism. Have you ever read the Navarre Bibles? There are also fundamentalist tenancies in the Church with regard to evolution. 26% of all Catholics is a significant percentage. My anecdotal experience is that more serious Catholics are more likely to doubt evolution. In your experience this is not the case. Sadly, there are no studies that I can see to test this out. I do think that the more serious people take their religion, the more dogmatic and fanatical they become, which leads them to believe unreasonable things.

            Yes, I have anecdotal experience with the Legionaries, but I could make the argument that the type of Catholicism that they espoused was by its very nature poison. I don't think I want to get sidetracked on this topic, but if you would like I could write it out.

            With regard to apostolic succession, I do not think the early Church was as homogenous as you would imagine.

            I think in order to judge the Church's utility there are at least two different concerns. One is the macro affect the Church has on the world and the other is the micro affect the Church has on individuals.

            I think the first way the Church negatively affects the world is its penchant for dogmatism. Dogmatism is bad for numerous reasons. Firstly, it robs individuals of their individuality. Beliefs should be chosen not compulsory. The certainly should not be compulsory with the threat of hell. Catholicism has many compulsory beliefs.

            Secondly, dogmatism makes it unlikely that we will realize when we are making a mistake. If I believe I am right, because God or the Catholic Church says so, I will keep doing what I am doing (thinking that what I am doing is very good) even if what I am doing is causing harm.

            Thirdly, dogmatism unduly emphasis ideas and religious doctrines over people. Indeed, Christians are expected to lose mother and father on their path to Christ. This is a very dangerous idea. It is found in totalitarian governments and in Orwell.

            Dogmatism is related to my point earlier about fundamentalism. I think there are two things that are rather fundamental (forgive my pun) to my position. Firstly, I think that the Church as very strong dogmatic tenancies. Secondly, I believe that dogmatism in general is harmful. Perhaps you would like to weigh in on these two points.

            With regard to my last point, I do not think you understand what I was trying to get at, although that is my fault, as I did not communicate it well. This is already long enough, so I will let that point go.

            It is not my intention to make assertions without evidence. Some of my post was purely ancedotal, which I thought was obvious from the context, or I thought the point was self-evident, or I figured I should stop writing before I hit 100 pages. If there ever is anything that I say that you think I am out in right field about, I can always write more and explain my thinking (or maybe I'll find that I am wrong).

            Be well.

          • Jon Fermin

            Having dogma and definitive standings does not a fundamentalist make. Quite frankly I do think that your experience with the legionaires has left this imprint upon you and not for the better, but I argue it could hardly be considered representative. Dogma is not a dirty word, as Chesterton was want to say, “In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don't know it.”. your denial of dogma is as dogmatic as dogma itself.

            Baseball is dogmatic, If I strike out a batter can I in my own sense of individuality score myself a point? No, because it would make no sense within the definition of what baseball is. if I would do otherwise it would cease to be baseball. If I were playing basket ball and I ade the claim that I was playing baseball is it truly wrong for someone to inform me that I am by definition wrong because there are cumpulsory and essential aspects of baseball to which I am clearly not abiding?

            Dogmas are like axioms, they are the starting points. the short of it is, when one gets to the point where somethign important needs to be defined, it is no surprise that a dogmatic definition is called upon. Accepting the existence of Jesus Himself creating a church by the very nature of who God is guarantees there is something dogmatic in it, by mere fact that to not do so would violate non-contradiction. if you struggle with the fact that dogma exists, I get that, in a sense having struggled with it in principle personally I respect it, but what I cannot accept is some blanket statement that treats dogma as exclusive to the church or as essentially harmful. at some point when dealing with philosophy or theology you must have a dogma or axiom, otherwise there is no place to start from.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Dogma is essential to fundamentalism. It's abuse can certainly lead to fundamentalism.

            My experience is not solely with the Legionaries. I attended their youth groups for a few years as a teenager. I just think it is an illustrative example.

            Baseball is not dogmatic. Let us get a definition of dogma. From Wikipedia:

            Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.[1] It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system's paradigm, or the ideology itself.

            Dogmas are ideological principals or beliefs. It is related to how people perceive the world. Baseball is a game. It has rules which we agree to follow in order to play the game. Baseball is not compulsory - I can choose not to play. On the other hand, everyone must have a belief system.
            Nor are dogmas starting points like axioms. Axioms are usually fundamental things that we assume to be true, because they are either seemingly self-evident, interesting to assume, or necessary to assume. There is not a single religious dogma that is as reasonable as the axioms of Euclidean Geometry.
            In fact, many of the dogmatic statements are unreasonable. Therein lies the danger. How could I ever convince someone that a dogmatic statement that they hold to be true is wrong?

          • Jon Fermin

            You in a sense are right on the necessity of persons having a beleif system. You have just demonstrated a dogma. it is the result of understanding that even the rejection of all beleif systems is itself a beleif system itself.

            It seems that you may be under the impression that the dogma of the church itself is purely arbitrary, but rather it is a reflection of certain truths that would be necisary as starting points, based upon the acceptance of the existence of God, The circumstances of the formation the Church and her relationship to God in that formation. It does not arrive from out of a vaccum or as in idea that popped into the head of the pope one day, that's not how it works, in fact in systematic theology there are degreees of theological certainty an Idea goes through before even asking if something is dogmatic. Now, going through every dogma would be exhaustive, but if there was one in particular that you are wanting to discuss we can look at it as a case.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            No I have not demonstrated a dogma. What I said is more of a tautology. Dogmas are the exclusive province of religions, political parties, and totalitarian governments.

            The only evidence that you can give for a dogma is that some early Christians believed in them very strongly. While this is not purely arbitrary, it gives no confidence that the beliefs are actually true.
            Suppose after a great deal of thinking, reading, and praying someone comes to believe that Transubstantiation (a dogma) is false and the sacraments are unnecessary, while also holding a beliefs similar to Arianism on the Trinity.

            According to the Roman Church, should such a person fear for their immortal soul? What was the response of the Roman Church to a group of believers who held these beliefs in the 13th century in France?

            The answer to the first questions is undoubtedly a yes, and the answer to the second question is a massacre. This is the price of dogmatism, especially when it is thought that those who have the wrong dogmas possibly go to hell or that the dogmas that we have are from God.
            The leaders who massacred the Cathars thought they were doing the will of God.

            So much for Catholic dogmas being harmless.

          • Jon Fermin

            It's rather telling you have to go back 800 years into the middle ages. It would also help your position if you studied the Cathars, because it was their abandonment of Dogma that did them the most harm. for one thing, they adoped some manachaean tendencies and considered the extinction of the human body to be an aim, and with the adoption of reincarnation and the rejection of hell and they encouraged suicide among their ranks, typically by starvation. also, consider that the Vatican was well within it's right at this point to execommunicate them, which they did after all other all other options of talk failed. They did so only to find out their legate sent to perform the excommunication was assassinated. That was the event that sparked the Albigensian Crusade, what you termed a massacre, was the result of the Cathars striking first by killing a Vatican ambassador, and the retaliation by the French against them. Here quite plainly, the Cathars are not the "innocent beleivers" you have portrayed them as.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Now you are believing the Roman Church's propaganda about the Cathars. Cathar texts were destroyed by the Roman Church. What we know of their beliefs comes from their opponents. If we are going to take the Roman Church's word for what the Cathars practiced, then we should take the Roman claim that Christians ate babies seriously as well.

            It seems you have forgotten all about just war theory. The legate in question, excommunicated Raymond VI, count of Toulouse for being too lenient with the Cathars. (Nothing quote like interfering in temporal matters.) It is thought that Raymond's courtiers murdered the legate. This cannot justify a genocidal war. The Albigensian Crusade was a genocide war sponsored by the Roman Church. It cannot be justified. It was a great moral wrong.

            You basically have failed to deal substantially with any of the problems that comes with dogmatic belief system, and instead have focused on apologizing for genocide.

            I don't need to go back 800 years to find atrocities catalyzed or initiated by the Roman Church. I picked the Albegensian Crusade, because I thought it was very illustrative. Fortunately, the Church's power has waned, so the problems she causes are no longer so grand in scope.

            She still teaches children that wrong beliefs, bad actions, and thought crimes lead to eternal damnation. She opposes giving condoms to countries torn with aids. She fought to make divorce illegal. She elevates fanatics, like Mother Teresa and Padre Pio to saint hood. If the Church ever gains back substantial power, we will see witch hunts, crusades, and inquisitions again. It is the nature of dogmatic belief system, especially when they turn fanatical.

            You still have not justified why you think dogmatic belief systems are good or taken any issue with the problems I have presented with dogmatic belief systems.

          • Jon Fermin

            Let me ask you first, this is essential. when it comes to moral matters, are you of the position that there are any extant morally objective positions?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I lean towards a yes answer. Although I think we often talk about morality without properly defining what we are talking about.

            What is a moral position? In what way are they compulsory? Why is act A moral and act B immoral?

            Are we virtuous because it will make us happy? Are we virtuous because God commands?

          • Jon Fermin

            to answer that in the terms of having an objective right or wrong answer it would be necissaary to have an entirely objective reference. happiness is arbitrary in terms morality. what makes one happy may change over time, and even if ne were to take the utilitarian route and say the greatest happiness for the gretest number of people would be problematic when that which may make the most people happy may in fact be terribly wrong. Objective morality, like objective truth is dependant upon a wholy objective and unchangeable and eternal, reference, theologically speaking that is why Christians argue that with God objetive morality may exist and without Him it cannot. Related to that and perhaps anticipating such a response it seems as though you are bringing up some sort of variation on the Euthyphro Dilemma based on this principle of happiness, and I am not sure if it would work out as much as you imagine it would. Aquinas points out the Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma because it does not establish the nature of God. Goodness then as Aquinas would put it comes not from God's will (God's commands), though goodness is a quality of said commands, rather Goodness is the essential being of God Himself, to which His commands are mere expression. bringing things back to Dogma, if there is objective morality and an essentially unchangeable God with aspects that we can know something about Him at least indirectly (as Aquinas would point out, by knowing what He is not) we at least on the level of reason assuming such a nature of God, then can come to understand some foundations by which the structure of Dogma is formed. For example, If there is one God, monotheism is dogmatic, that also means a rejection of the manichean position of the cathars. if such a God is Jesus, then Christianity has a whole set of Dogmas based on the writings in the gospels, like transubstantiation, like the idea of a singular universal church, like the relationship of the trinity and what that means in particular regarding the second person of the trinity, or heck how one can even begin to talk about the trinity itself. And all of these things are interrated in a number of ways, looking at one dogma or another in isolation is an easy way to miss the forest for the trees and fall into errors concerning everything that dogma is connected to.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            With the happiness question, I was referring to the idea of why ought we be virtuous. I believe Aristotle thinks that we should be virtuous, because the virtuous life is our best opportunity at happiness. I believe Aquinas follows this train of thought and says that the virtuous life is our best chance at obtaining happiness eternally. I could be wrong here. It has been a few years since I have read either, and I am not a scholar.

            I do not think that Euthypho's Dilemma is a false one. Either:

            a) Something is good because God commands it

            OR

            b) God commands something because it is good

            Saying that God's essences is goodness begs the question: What is goodness? It is at best tautological. It also does not answer the question of why we ought to obey God. It seems that this argument is actually a variation of (b) in the dilemma.

            If one can demonstrate that there is one God, then believing in one God is not dogmatic. A dogma is a strong belief that is held in the absence of evidence, or a strong belief that your relies on a particular interpretation of evidence, while ignoring and often being fanatically opposed to other interpretations of the evidence. Dogma is about knowing propositions certainly that you have no right to be certain about. Believing things dogmatically leads to all sorts of ills, which history can attest to.

          • Jon Fermin

            and therein lies the crux of our disagreement, your position on the Euthyphro dilemma and your chosen definition for dogma, to put that last part shortly it seem your definition for dogma presupposes that Dogma is either by nature irrational or suprarational, this is simply untrue. secondly, your definition of dogma presupposes certain kinds of reactions as neccisary that are not. Now, it is fair to say that dogma does demand a certain level of assent to certain premises, but only insofar as is necissary for the definition of Catholic to be meaningful, in this light Dogma can be seen as the points by which Catholic identity are established

            Now about the Euthyphro dilemma, there is a distinct difference in saying God's nature is goodness and saying that God commands only a preexisting good. In the latter, it supposes something pre-existant to God, and therefore such a being making a command could not be God, therefore such commands are arbitrary. in the former, if goodness is an essential quality of God, then goodness is not a matter of God's command nor is it a matter of God observing an exrinsic goodness, rather, goodness is a measure of how closely a moral act matches up with the nature of God Himself, who is eternal, and unchangeable, and has within omnipotence the capacity to make a willful decsion for any moral act, and therefore would be the contingent ground for objective morality. God is goodness, as in God Himself encompasses all goodness, but goodness is not God, merely an aspect of God's unchanging nature. To put as Dostoevsky put it "If God does not exist, everything is permitted,", and by that measure, also morally arbitrary.

          • Jon Fermin

            I had a much longer post which seems to have failed to upload. as annoying as that can be I hope that perhaps this rewrite will help that much more drill down to the focus of my response. I'll keep it short and simple. If you are not interreted in what the church actually teaches but are more interrested in the perception of what you beleive the majority of who you consider devout catholics are, you are practially asking me to accept a strawman as legitimate and as the only legitimate model, and intellectually it would be dishonest for me to do so.

            For what it's worth, I do want to say concerning the legionares of Christ, it was the church's own internal investigation which led to the revelations of Fr. Maciel's serious offences, the consequences of which are utterly devastating to the order as a whole and not taken lightly by either side. Outward Piety does not a faithful Catholic make, as it was with the Jansenists and the Quietists, and so on, if one is not in union with Rome, they are not Catholic, period this is not my definition, I did not make it up. That means no lutherans, no anglicans, none, their claims are invalid, end of story. this also means some of these rad trad groups that claim they are more pope than the pope aren't valid either. Some SSPVer wants to say Vatican II was invalid, he can be as full of smells and bells as the Santiago de Compostela, but neither is he really Catholic by definition because he has rejected an authoritative pronouncement that Vatican II was an actual valid council. That being said, there is a lot of leeway for individual devotions and practice. and also for matters which the church does not teach on plenty of leeway for difference in thought. even among many people I know including myself who are the sort that spend time in devotions, adoration, and the occasional Latin Mass, there are differences of opinion on things like evolution, both for and against, but as it pertains to what it means to our identity as Catholics, these are non-issues. to make the claim that we are fundamentalists on nothing more than an anecdote and a guess is frankly a specious fishing expedition.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            I am concerned about what the Church actually teaches, but I am also concerned with how the Catholic Church as an institution affects individuals and the world.

            Why do you think I am on a specious fishing expedition? I think that on the whole the religion in general, and Catholicism in particular has a more harmful influence than a positive one. I am not trying to besmirch Catholicism. I am trying to explain why, I, as a former catholic have a negative view on the Church.

          • VicqRuiz

            I think you are quite right here, Ignatius.

            There is a dry, scholarly, carefully parsed Catholicism which is usually the variety cued up at Strange Notions.

            Then there is the emotional "shrine in the front yard and in the living room corner" variety, with which most Catholic immigrant families to the USA grew up. It is pretty heavy on the Big Guy with a Beard in the Sky concept.

          • Jon Fermin

            there is folk catholocism, then there is the actual teachings of the church. while there is much overlapping between the two, the former does not speak definitively of the latter. where there is discrepency between the two in matters of faith or morals the authority of the church universal holds precidence we can see this as early as Paul's epistles to other local churches and discussing their local issues in light of the church as a whole.

          • Andre V.

            I have noticed a lot of that former variety here. I think all religious people should be very careful of having a mind filled with religion, and no, or little of that in the heart. I would say that Catholicism, with its beauty and art and history and theology, lends itself in particular to the temptations of an intellectual hobby as opposed to a true love-filled life. That said, some of the most loving people in my life are Catholics, so to the cautious traveler both options are available.

      • Such as?

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          See Mr. Fermin just above.

          That whole 'read the Bible cover to cover' thingie, as if the text could be grasped without the con-text.

          • I don't follow, how does a Christian reading the bible cover to cover and losing faith suggest fundamentalism to you?

            What I am suggesting is that reading the full Bible actually draws out the context. When they pick certain stories, it is to contextualize things often quoted out of context.

            I'd say the book of Exodus is a prime example. We often hear of Moses and his call to let the people go. The context of hardening Pharoah's heart and slaughtering all the first born is left out.

          • Jon Fermin

            exccept when critics offer a mention of those parts of exodus, they are often broad critiques that leave out what these things mean within the context of Jewish ritual sacrifice as it applies to the passover, or to how hardening of the heart does not neccisarily mean the abolishment of free will so much as it may mean the removal of graces, to leave the will to itself. often times these same critics alledge that the slain first born are condemned, when in fact the church views them as saints having been innocent in the face of such extraordinary circumstances.

          • I had understood that this story was the origin of the Passover ritual. Please explain the proper context.

            So when exodus says god told Moses to tell Aaron to tell Pharoah to let the people go, and says god hearde Ned Pharoah's heart, so he would not let the people go, so that God's wonders be multiplied, you interpret that as Pharoah not being removed of the ability to freely choose? I think the text and the context is abundantly clear and the interpretation you impose is absurd.

            Be that as it may, we are not discussing your or my interpretation, but that of a Christian reading the Bible cover to cover for the first time and finding out that these passages exist in the first place.

            But it is not as if I am cherry picking a few verses, this is soon after God commanded Abram to kill his son. Soon after this Moses will slaughter many of his brethren for practicing religious freedom and the Jews will adopt laws requiring them to stone disobedient children to death, and prohibiting the wearing of mixed fibres. He will strike down a man for daring to touch the ark of the covenant and order the Jews to commit genocide, sparing not even the infants. He will let he devil, or someone torture Job, to see if he gives up his faith. Finally, he himself will descend and, thankfully, allow himself to be tortured to death, so that he could somehow save us, because what, he had no other option?

            I know, you will say my interpretation is all wrong and that these stories are actually those of a perfectly loving deity, and when you read them through that lens it is obvious. I agree, when you put on rose coloured lenses, everything is rose coloured.

          • Frank Pennycook

            On the question of literal interpretation -- I don't think that atheists are restricted to the literal view. We're capable of reading stories in as many varied ways as anyone else. I'm not a former fundamentalist, in fact I was raised a Catholic, but have always been an unbeliever.

            I think the examples Brian chose are good ones, because they are not incidental details but matters on which a lot rests, theologically. And that holds whether or not the story is taken literally, because if it's not literal but is supposed to teach us something, then what happens in the story matters.

            Abraham is held up by Paul as an example of righteousness (Romans 4 and elsewhere), and this is an important part of his explanation of the economy of salvation. From Genesis 22 we see that Abraham is praised by Yahweh specifically for "obeying". And what Abraham had done was to carry out, at Yahweh's command, an act of child torture -- mock execution is a form of torture. Isaac carried the wood, his father the fire and knife, he tied the boy up, put him on the pyre, raised the knife. It's pretty bad.

            It doesn't matter whether this did or didn't happen, to a real boy at a real point in history. What matters is that the story is supposed to illustrate a quality, that of obedience to divine power, which is held up as a moral ideal.

            And conveniently for the people who wrote the story, who saw themselves as descendants of this legendary Abraham, part of the promise to him was "Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies".

          • Jon Fermin

            Without having to break each passage down individually, let's consider thematically the purpose of these books. You here are mixing up sections from Genesis, Exodus Job, and Leviticus and treating them all as if they exist in the same book. Yes they all exist in the bible, but at one time each book existed in its own separate scroll. Each book of the bible within itself has its own purpose and literary style which must be taken into account before anything else, and that is one of the most common problems people have when they read the bible without the historical guidance of the Church which composed its cannon and taught it. Because of this, doubly we may miss the forest for the trees when these references come back in the New Testament and come up with our own interpretation on why Paul might praise Abraham for example or why the Levitical laws are not practiced by early Christians. That context is entirely lost because of concepts like sola scriptura. the bible itself was from the time of its compilation was always assumed to never stand by itself without an living interpretive body, the church, to contextualize this work as community rather than the do-it-yourself literalist approach of sola scriptura which is being employed here.

            Genesis for example, is not a literal history, but an allegorical one. The events in Genesis therefore are designed to impart truth through the symbolic meaning of events rather than understood on the terms of the events themselves. Hence the events of Abraham's attempts at sacrifice (important word here) are to be understood symbolically and allegorically rather than be treated as a literal and historical event. Therefore consider the language and its symbolic meaning. In your description you use the word kill, as opposed to sacrifice which is the word used in the original. The word you use is not nearly as symbolic nor does it carry with it the theme of the story or any context to how Abraham approaches the situation. Instead it oversimplifies the ideas and disregards entirely the allegorical intent, which misses everything. Symbolically speaking, what is Abraham being asked of in this story? He is being asked to give up everything he holds dear in deference to God, not just by matters of circumstances either, but by his own hand. That Abraham in the face of such a question could act with such faith and that in expressing his willingness to do was returned not with loss but the retention of all he had and more. This is the true point of what was being set in this allegory. And it is this theme of sacrifice which returns in different forms in passages which call back to the story.

            As to the passages you cited in Exodus. Exodus is first and foremost, a reflection on human struggle. if so much pain and toil can be found there, that was intentional, exodus is using the struggle of the early Jews as a means to teach to the Jews at the time of its writing (and by extension us which have followed in the tradition) the necessity and struggle of sacrifice and purification for freedom. Moses’ story is one told by a warrior people for a warrior people at the time. Its imagery is unmistakably laden with conflict and battle and violence but it is the violence of legend, rather than the violence of a war documentary, its violence is allegorical in nature, these scenes are in essence dramatizations of human struggle portrayed through allegorical history.

            The story of Job you mentioned is also allegorical in nature, but it is not allegorical history like Genesis or Exodus, rather it is a book-long parable. Job is not a literal person existing in time but is intended as a kind of everyman, or at least every man that is considered righteous. The theme of the story is simple enough. Job is prosperous and lives well. Job suffers and struggles and loses everything. Job comes to the conclusion that toil and sacrifice are natural parts of the human condition, and when given the opportunity to curse God for this, he does not. Accepting the hardship of the human condition he praises God that he survives nonetheless and in doing so, he has learned the value of hardship and sacrifice, and was restored. In essence Job takes the themes of Genesis and Exodus and combines them into a shorter single parable.
            Of all the books you do mention Leviticus is the least allegorical. Its instructions are social and litigious in quality. Its role is more as a contract for the people of the covenant and the nature of their new sacrifice, now no longer the warlike people that took the promised land, they must change the way they live but not give up the necessity of sacrifice. Leviticus is a kind of book that is not meant to be read like the others, it’s more instruction manual than story, and for the most part details the sacrificial law more than it exemplifies the moral law. This will be important when people ask why Christians do not follow Levitical laws. Christ himself was the fulfillment by His own sacrifice of the Levitical sacrifice laws; therefore what remains is the moral law. Hence in Acts, Peter being told he could eat anything, even pork.

            In the end, this is not about putting things into rose colored glasses. To do so would be to ignore the very human struggle these passages imparts, what is being asked however in the correct interpretation of these passages is how each of these struggles relates to own human struggle and what it also meant to the people that wrote it in that particular book, and what it means in the greater understanding of the relationship between God and mankind. Taking these passages out of that context robs these parts of that deeper meaning and trivializes them, conflating them with other books of the bible without specific reason only muddles and confuses the purpose. To this end, yes I can see how doing such will lead someone down the path of anger and confusion, but irrevocably so if one took the time to restore that context.

          • Jon Fermin

            Without having to break each passage down individually, let's consider thematically the purpose of these books. You here are mixing up sections from Genesis, Exodus Job, and Leviticus and treating them all as if they exist in the same book. Yes they all exist in the bible, but at one time each book existed in its own separate scroll. Each book of the bible within itself has its own purpose and literary style which must be taken into account before anything else, and that is one of the most common problems people have when they read the bible without the historical guidance of the Church which composed its cannon and taught it. Because of this, doubly we may miss the forest for the trees when these references come back in the New Testament and come up with our own interpretation on why Paul might praise Abraham for example or why the Levitical laws are not practiced by early Christians. That context is entirely lost because of concepts like sola scriptura. the bible itself was from the time of its compilation was always assumed to never stand by itself without an living interpretive body, the church, to contextualize this work as community rather than the do-it-yourself literalist approach of sola scriptura which is being employed here.

            Genesis for example, is not a literal history, but an allegorical one. The events in Genesis therefore are designed to impart truth through the symbolic meaning of events rather than understood on the terms of the events themselves. Hence the events of Abraham's attempts at sacrifice (important word here) are to be understood symbolically and allegorically rather than be treated as a literal and historical event. Therefore consider the language and its symbolic meaning. In your description you use the word kill, as opposed to sacrifice which is the word used in the original. The word you use is not nearly as symbolic nor does it carry with it the theme of the story or any context to how Abraham approaches the situation. Instead it oversimplifies the ideas and disregards entirely the allegorical intent, which misses everything. Symbolically speaking, what is Abraham being asked of in this story? He is being asked to give up everything he holds dear in deference to God, not just by matters of circumstances either, but by his own hand. That Abraham in the face of such a question could act with such faith and that in expressing his willingness to do was returned not with loss but the retention of all he had and more. This is the true point of what was being set in this allegory. And it is this theme of sacrifice which returns in different forms in passages which call back to the story.

            As to the passages you cited in Exodus. Exodus is first and foremost, a reflection on human struggle. if so much pain and toil can be found there, that was intentional, exodus is using the struggle of the early Jews as a means to teach to the Jews at the time of its writing (and by extension us which have followed in the tradition) the necessity and struggle of sacrifice and purification for freedom. Moses’ story is one told by a warrior people for a warrior people at the time. Its imagery is unmistakably laden with conflict and battle and violence but it is the violence of legend, rather than the violence of a war documentary, its violence is allegorical in nature, these scenes are in essence dramatizations of human struggle portrayed through allegorical history.

            The story of Job you mentioned is also allegorical in nature, but it is not allegorical history like Genesis or Exodus, rather it is a book-long parable. Job is not a literal person existing in time but is intended as a kind of everyman, or at least every man that is considered righteous. The theme of the story is simple enough. Job is prosperous and lives well. Job suffers and struggles and loses everything. Job comes to the conclusion that toil and sacrifice are natural parts of the human condition, and when given the opportunity to curse God for this, he does not. Accepting the hardship of the human condition he praises God that he survives nonetheless and in doing so, he has learned the value of hardship and sacrifice, and was restored. In essence Job takes the themes of Genesis and Exodus and combines them into a shorter single parable.

            Of all the books you do mention Leviticus is the least allegorical. Its instructions are social and litigious in quality. Its role is more as a contract for the people of the covenant and the nature of their new sacrifice, now no longer the warlike people that took the promised land, they must change the way they live but not give up the necessity of sacrifice. Leviticus is a kind of book that is not meant to be read like the others, it’s more instruction manual than story, and for the most part details the sacrificial law more than it exemplifies the moral law. This will be important when people ask why Christians do not follow Levitical laws. Christ himself was the fulfillment by His own sacrifice of the Levitical sacrifice laws; therefore what remains is the moral law. Hence in Acts, Peter being told he could eat anything, even pork.

            In the end, this is not about putting things into rose colored glasses. To do so would be to ignore the very human struggle these passages imparts, what is being asked however in the correct interpretation of these passages is how each of these struggles relates to own human struggle and what it also meant to the people that wrote it in that particular book, and what it means in the greater understanding of the relationship between God and mankind. Taking these passages out of that context robs these parts of that deeper meaning and trivializes them, conflating them with other books of the bible without specific reason only muddles and confuses the purpose. To this end, yes I can see how doing such will lead someone down the path of anger and confusion, but not irrevocably so if one took the time to restore that context.

          • Mila

            That was excellent!

          • David Nickol

            Are you saying that the story of Abraham taking steps to kill Isaac at God's command never happened?

          • Mila

            You know we have a saying in my culture that goes "give Him your Isaac" meaning give God what you most cherish, desire. Or sacrifice what you most want, desire for and to God.
            Every time we give to God that sacrifice we are giving God our Isaac. So maybe the event keeps happening it didn't stop with Abraham. So that sacrifice happened and it keeps happening.
            Why can't it be both historical and allegorical?

          • David Nickol

            Why can't it be both historical and allegorical?

            I would think the two are, by definition, mutually exclusive. Of course, the story could be historically true and teach an important lesson at the same time. But if it is historical, it is not allegorical, and if it is allegorical, it is not historical.

            My question is, did it happen?

          • Mila

            Well in Spanish allegory or alegoria is also used as teaching, icon, symbol.
            I think it can be both. Like genesis is clearly an allegory of what really happened to us. Perhaps we didn't eat a fruit but we certainly gained knowledge of evil. So the allegory used there represents a fact, that in my opinion is clearly visible and tangible in our human nature.
            History can be told via allegories.
            Say a few hundred years from now an author writes an allegory about 9/11. He can write that an evil cloud invaded the crystal pillars of a floating Island and evaporated them with its thunderous fire bolts. Nobody is going to believe that an actual cloud did that and discard the story as mere fiction. However the event happened and the cloud merely represents evil.

          • David Nickol

            Was there a man named Abraham, did he have a son named Isaac, and did Abraham follow God's orders to kill his son as a human sacrifice, only to be stopped by God at the last minute?

            This is a yes or no question. Why are you having such difficulty answering?

          • Mila

            I'm not having a difficulty answering it. Maybe you are not realizing the fact that I already answered you. I did say it was both. Historical and allegorical. Historical as it did happen and allegorical as it is an icon of something much greater than the mere historical event.

          • David Nickol

            Why are you having such difficulty seeing the answer can be both historical and allegorical?

            Because, as I explained, I see the two as mutually exclusive. Here is the definition of allegory from the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary:

            the written, oral, or artistic expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human conduct or experience (as in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and Spenser's Faerie Queene)

            If the story of Abraham and Isaac is an allegory, then according to the definition, Abraham and Isaac must be "symbolic fictional figures."

            The question I asked was, "Did it happen?" I didn't ask if it was merely historical. I just asked if it was historical.

          • Mila

            Read my example and maybe you would be able to see how we can have both, a historical fact told in the form of allegory.
            I already answered your questions. The problem is that you can't see that something allegorical can also be factual but told allegorically.
            I don't really see how can anyone not see that historical facts can be told as icons, references, allegory.

            "I just asked if it was historical."
            I have repeated numerous times that it was historical.

            Let's see again, in 500 years from now someone reads that a dark evil cloud evaporates with its thunderous bolts two crystal towers.
            Now that's an allegory of the 9/11 attacks. Because it is an allegory, does that mean it didn't happen?
            Same with Abraham. It did happen and it is told allegorically to also represent sacrifice, giving all to God, faith, etc.

          • David Nickol

            Let's see again, in 500 years from now someone reads that a dark evil
            cloud evaporates with its thunderous bolts two crystal towers.
            Now that's an allegory of the 9/11 attacks. Because it is an allegory, does that mean it didn't happen?

            My question about the story of Abraham and Isaac was, "Did it happen?"

            If, in 2515, people read that on 9/11/2001, thunderbolts from a dark evil cloud vaporized two crystal towers, they will not be reading history (or at least not accurate history). The answer to the question, "Did it happen?" would be, "No." That would not mean nothing happened on 9/11. It would not mean there was nothing historical behind the story of crystal towers being vaporized. It would also not mean that the story of the crystal towers could not convey some important truth 500 years from now.

            Our disagreement here is not about the story of Abraham and Isaac, but about the meaning of the word allegory.

          • Mila

            "Our disagreement here is not about the story of Abraham and Isaac, but about the meaning of the word allegory."

            Perhaps it is. For me alegoria or allegory is a reference or an icon of another thing. It could be applied to historical truth as in the case of Abraham and Isaac.

            Anyway can I ask you an unrelated question? I notice sometimes you and others type different texts in bold and italic and with a line through the text like you did below. Is there a site online where I can learn how to do that?

          • OldSearcher

            Hi, Mila

            Is there a site online where I can learn how to do that?

            Look at this:
            https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/466253-what-html-tags-are-allowed-within-comments-

          • Mila

            Thank you this is very helpful!

          • Jon Fermin

            what I am saying is that the historicity of a person such as Abraham is something utterly lost in the mists of time, empirically it is unknowable under our level of reckoning and frankly, that aspect is unimportant. what is more important is the symbolism of the story of Abraham and what it meant in terms of how this story was told to the Jews at this time, the truths it was to impart about how God is more valuable than everything and everyone we hold dear. We are not asked to make Abraham's sacrifice as he did, but we are challenged I think to evaluate the extent to which, if we have the caveat that we beleive God exists, to what priority we assign Him in our own lives.

          • David Nickol

            Hence in Acts, Peter being told he could eat anything, even pork.

            This, of course, never happened. You are referring to the Council of Jerusalem, recounted in Acts 15. The decision was that Gentile converts did not have to be circumcised and did not have to obey Mosaic Law.

            It was certainly not decided that Jews or Jewish Christians did not have to abide by Mosaic Law. Peter and other Jewish Christians were not free to eat pork after the Council of Jerusalem.

            Gentile converts were bound to certain standards:

            It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right.

            However, anyone who has had meat from an animal that was not slaughtered according and drained of blood (basically, kosher meat) is in violation of these requirements.

          • Jon Fermin

            David I am referring to Acts 10 when I refer to Peter, specifically Acts 10:9-16

          • David Nickol

            Apologies! You are right, and I am wrong.

            I must admit that I have no recollection of ever reading or hearing that story about Peter.

          • William Davis

            I agree with you completely. It was Bart Ehrman who first made me realize what you are saying, and I've done a good bit of historical research to understand the context of many of these books. In the end, however, all this just makes me more confident that Christianity is of purely human origin. I do appreciate it much more, and I specifically like the idea in the Hebrew Bible that we are to wrestle with God. I take that and reject the submit stuff.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            how does a Christian reading the bible cover to cover and losing faith suggest fundamentalism to you?

            They are famous for their read-it-yourself approach in which unschooled individuals try to parse English translations of ancient texts and interpret them in the light of their own prior commitments.

            The early Christians did not get their Faith from the Bible. The Bible was not even finalized when they were doing their thing. One might more accurately say that they got their Bible from their Faith. That is, they read certain meanings into older texts based on what they had come to believe and they composed new texts based on those beliefs. Here is how Augustine put the dangers:

            For if he takes up rashly a meaning which the author whom he is reading did not intend, he often falls in with other statements which he cannot harmonize with this meaning. And if he admits that these statements are true and certain, then it follows that the meaning he had put upon the former passage cannot be the true one: and so it comes to pass, one can hardly tell how, that, out of love for his own opinion, he begins to feel more angry with Scripture than he is with himself. And if he should once permit that evil to creep in, it will utterly destroy him.
            -- Augustine of Hippo, On Christian doctrine I.37

            That is why at least one Orthodox theologian wrote that fundamentalism is one step removed from atheism.

          • David Nickol

            The early Christians did not get their Faith from the Bible. The Bible was not even finalized when they were doing their thing.

            But there are no early Christians any more!

            It is surely true that the Bible (or at least the New Testament) was a product of the early Church and not the other way around. But somewhere along the way, the Bible became such an authoritative document that according to Vatican II, it is inerrant:

            Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).

          • Jon Fermin

            inerrent does not necissarily mean immune to missinterpretation. I can look at an instruction manual for Ikea furniture as inerrant, but if I interpretted the screws which came with the package as inessential and tried to put together my bookcase, something tells me it would not stand.

          • David Nickol

            But suppose Ikea actually claimed all of their assembly instructions were inerrant, but they were the only ones who could interpret them correctly?

            It seems to me that, strangely though perhaps understandably, there is a tendency among some Christian apologists to try to downplay the authority of the Bible. And there is also a tendency among many Catholic apologists to scoff at, or ridicule, Protestants for their understanding of the authority of the Bible. But at least according to official and highly authoritative Church documents, the Bible is inerrant. No, the early Christians didn't have the Bible: They wrote it. But there are no early Christians left today, and the Bible as "official" Catholicism now regards it is inerrant.

          • Jon Fermin

            and going back to the Ikea analogy, If I came to them and asked them to help me put together my book case and I told them that I interpreted the screws as unessicary, would they say "That interpretation is incorrect" or "well I guess if you feel that way, that's one possibly correct interpretation"? of course they would reject my interpretation, the fault was not in the manual but in the person who put it together by themselves and misinterpreted the instructions, Customer service is not going to tell me to ignore the screws, it's going to ask me to get them and include them in the bookcase. In a way, they are exercising their authority to interpret definitively. they are not claiming that others cannot read the instructions correctly, but for those that do not, they have the authority to correct and instruct in the intended interpretation of said instructions.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Note that the letter of Paul cited existed before the Scriptures were finalized.

            Folks are constantly confusing the way the Orthodox and Catholic churches use the Bible with the way the fundamentalists use it. The Orthodox, for example, say that the Faith is based on the Holy Traditions -- of which the various scriptures are one component. In fact, Orthodoxy did not even have a Bible as such. They had a book of the Gospels, a Lectionary, a Psalter, and so on.

            The Catholics, face with the Bible-thumping heresies of the West, reformulated the Holy Traditions into "the Bible and the Traditions." But in both cases, they did not hold that every Tom, Dick, and Harry reading the Scriptures on his own could arrive at correct conclusions outside the teaching authority of the Church. The meanings of the Scriptures were hammered out in long debates -- sometimes lasting centuries -- until consensus was achieved. Even so, there are many beliefs that are not found in the Bible (to the umbrage of atheists and other Bible-thumpers) and there are many beliefs that are not ruled upon even yet. Orthodox and Catholic alike may believe what they wish as long as it:
            a) Does not contradict established dogma.
            b) Does not contradict the two-fold love.

            Again, see Augustine: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1202.htm
            wherein he mentions one holy man who does not even have a copy of the Bible.

  • David Nickol

    It appears that honesty is of paramount importance. If you are an honest atheist, and you honestly approach the question of the existence of God, you will become a believer (and apparently, most of the time, at minimum, a Christian, and probably a Catholic).

    Ultimately, I think we must consider "honest atheist" for the most part to be an oxymoron. I say "for the most part" because there will always be a few people who are honest but badly misinformed (although their ignorance of the truth may be "vincible") and of course a few may be honest but feeble-minded. So I think we can classify atheists into three groups—feeble minded, ignorant, and dishonest.

    • Luke C.

      Ha! It was awfully subtle.

  • GCBill

    TYPO FIX: Section 5: "aphilosophical" to "a philosophical" please. God's existence is not an aphilosophical question. :p

    But in any case, I'm always surprised that people are surprised to encounter intelligent, reasonable people who believe different things than they do. How perfect would the correlation between intelligence/rationality and [view X] have to be for there not to be such people? I hate to say it, but it's kind of irrational to be surprised enough to reevaluate your opinions on the basis of meeting them alone.

  • Philosophy is meant to lead one to truth; and it certainly will, if the philosopher is willing to honestly consider the arguments from both sides and follow the best arguments wherever they may lead.

    Fallibly lead, right?

    • David Nickol

      Fallibly lead, right?

      No, it seems to me that the message of virtually every Christian apologists is that if an atheist (or anyone who is not a Christian) has the intelligence and the integrity to follow the arguments he or she (the apologist) puts forth, the result will be conversion to Christianity. And if the apologist is a Catholic, he or she expects the conversion of any "non-Catholic" to Catholicism.

      How could Matt Nelson be any more clear? If you are honest and seek the truth, you will reject atheism. The inescapable conclusion is that ultimately, the only reason for atheism is dishonesty.

      • No, it seems to me that the message of virtually every Christian apologist

        Way too many, to be sure ...

        How could Matt Nelson be any more clear?

        No doubt he was clear. I only meant to imply that, by omitting my adverb, fallibly, he was clearly in error.

    • William Davis

      At least I'm accustomed to over-confident "Jesus Fan Club" articles at this point. No more flying off the handle in offended rage ;)

  • George

    As Dr. Peter Kreeft has pointed out, no person would see a hut on a beach and conclude that it must have randomly assembled itself by some random natural process, void of an intelligent designer. Its order necessitates a designer. Thus if this “beach hut analogy” is true, how much more should we believe in an Intelligent Designer behind the vastly more complex and ordered universe and the precise physical laws that govern it (click here for William Lane Craig’s argument for the fine-tuning of the universe).

    how can the analogy possibly apply to the universe? is the universe the hut? well, then what is the beach??? what do you contrast the universe against to determine there's intelligent design?

  • Galorgan

    “Speaking for myself, anyway, I can say this much. When I was an undergrad I came across the saying that learning a little philosophy leads you away from God, but learning a lot of philosophy leads you back. As a young man who had learned a little philosophy, I scoffed. But in later years and at least in my own case, I would come to see that it’s true.”

    Except for all those times when it's not?

    • Ignatius Reilly

      Well, I guess philosophers like Hume, Russell, and Sartre only knew a little philosophy. :-)

      • VicqRuiz

        I've seen "My reading list is longer and thicker than yours" as an argument against atheism both here and on other religious blogs.

        By contrast, no atheist I have known has ever said, "You have to read Hume, and Spinoza, and Popper, and Russell, and ..(etc)...... then be able to soundly challenge all their claims, before you can claim that your theism is rational."

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Some Hume and Russell would do them wonders though.

  • Mila

    I think these reasons don't only apply to the path leading to faith but also to those who have faith already. Not as a reason to believe but as nice compliments, appetizers. I particularly like number 8. I never thought that I would like Antoni Gaudi but then I looked at his Cathedral in Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lYdrhYYWpg
    And there are certain things that I don't even like about it, but there is something, and I can't pin down what it is, that's not of this world.
    Other favorites are Notre Dame and the Cathedral at La Plata
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbDJbVOjjRE

    • Mila

      Oops I didn't mean to link the videos. I just wanted to post the links. :(

      • Luke C.

        Disqus embeds YouTube videos automatically from URLs. You didn't do anything wrong.

        In the future, you can do something like remove the . (dot / period) from the URL and replace it with the word "dot". For example, your first URL would look like this: youtube dot com/watch?v=5lYdrhYYWpg

        The reader would have to copy and paste the URL "phrase" into her/his browser and replace the " dot " with the actual dot / period, so it's not ideal; but it gets around the embedding problem. Not sure if there's a cleaner way.

        • Mila

          Oh! Thanks didn't know that. Will use it in the future.

  • Boris

    Lee Strobel said that when he was an "atheist" he really "knew" there was a God but didn't want to have to acknowledge it so he wouldn't have to change his evil ways. That isn't the definition of an atheist, it's what Christians believe about atheists. Lee Strobel is a liar.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      If you can't say something nasty about theism, why come to SN?

      On the other hand, have you heard of practical atheism?

      • Papalinton

        All Christians are 'practical atheists' when they remark on Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Scientology, Buddhism, Ju-ju, Wiccan, etc etc.

        Atheists, like me, simply add one more illusory religion to the list.

        • Mike

          I hope for your sake that you're right about that ;)

      • Boris

        I don't understand your first question. No, I haven't heard of practical atheism. What pseudo philosopher came up with that one?Atheism is a lack of belief in God. That's it.

  • Thought I might also mention the recent "This American Life" episode "The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind" which suggest that really, only number 5, meeting and hearing the personal stories of theists, will have any effect. I certainly found that meeting and having honest discussions with Catholics (in person) was the most helpful in moderating at least one of my opinions, on the role of religion in the political context. (However, one of the Catholics did also express troubling views in support of theocracy.)

    See Shermer's book The Believing Brian, which I think, supports this as well. it suggests that we tend to form beliefs first, and then use things like the above to justify them. I think the spark to change the mind are much more fundamental, such as close personal relationships, major life trauma, the fear of death. I think these events and experiences can play both ways.

    Personally, I would rather our beliefs and minds be changed through rational thoughts and empirical evidence. Don't think this is how it works though. It is also why I am reticent to spend hours a week for several weeks in prayer as if there were a God to hear them. I think this would be unnecessary to actually engage in communication with the God described by Catholicism, but would be an excellent way to change my neural pathways. Kind of self-brain washing.

    I've also provided some links to the stories of converts the other way.

    http://m.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/555/the-incredible-rarity-of-changing-your-mind

    http://stillsmallvoices.net/carolyn/

    http://www.michaelshermer.com/the-believing-brain/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2011/01/biblical-scholar-bart-ehrmans-personal-deconversion-problems-with-the-biblical-records/

    http://www.amazon.ca/Deconverted-A-Journey-Religion-Reason/dp/1478716568

    http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/

    • Kevin Aldrich

      "The Believing Brian." That must be a Freudian slip! ;)

      • Papalinton

        So you have shied away from reading about the latest research and study in the sciences of the brain then?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          ia ai

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I thought Dr. Kreeft's Argument from Aesthetic Experience was meant to be taken tongue in cheek. You could just as easily say "Justin Beiber's music exists therefore there is no god." Are people really convinced by that? I notice that Mr. Nelson did not provide any examples of people who converted because of this.

    • VicqRuiz

      Or, "Dubstep exists. Therefore, there is a God and he is malicious."

  • I would not deny the certainties of faith, for I enjoy them myself.

    However, I would characterize them foremost in interpersonal terms, as my realization of falling, being, growing and remaining in love, and in normative terms, per my realization of both practical and moral fruits, which flow from my experience of being loved and in love. And this entails such interpersonal value-realizations as trust, hope, fidelity, loyalty, surrender, sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, self-transcendence and so on.

    In speculative terms, I would characterize the certainties of faith as my realization of a deep inner satisfaction that there indeed exist eminently reasonable beliefs regarding reality's ultimacies. These ultimacies involve our uniquely human concerns and transcend our metaphysical heuristics. These beliefs are wholly consistent and perfectly harmonious with both my interpersonal and normative value-pursuits and value-realizations. Regarding those metaphysical heuristics, I remain decidedly agnostic, although my sneaking suspicions incline me toward the ways of the Angelic Doctor and Peirce's neglected argument for the reality of the Ens Necessarium.

    So, while the inductive testing of the natural sciences and the abductive-deductive interpretations of our philosophical inquiries have not delivered me from my reasonable metaphysical doubts, I'm still very deeply sympathetic to receiving Matt's inventory of factors into a cumulative case-like framework, along with other converging and convincing arguments, which, evidentially and plausibly, ordinarily will allow for the waxing of my faith and the waning, but not extinguishment, of my doubt. Again, I am speaking of a speculative doubt and not an existential doubt vis a vis interpersonal, practical and moral realities.

    Now, regarding our human faculties, while we are certainly situated in a radical finitude, which conditions both our intellect and will, and which renders our natural reason ineluctably fallible and natural law at least somewhat obscure --- This anthropology suffices to explain how other people of large intelligence and profound goodwill might adopt a competing interpretive stance (both evidentially and existentially) regarding reality's ultimacies, wholly within their epistemic rights and in accord with suitable normative justifications, with no less illumination of their intellect and no more impairment of their will than my own?

    This is all to suggest, then, that the dueling ad hominem tautologies --- on one side coming from Feuerbach, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Sartre and Camus, on the other side from apologists, all who pick and toss the low hanging fruit of opposing fundamentalisms --- might better engage in a more authentic dialogue that doesn't presuppose
    that an alternate worldview must necessarily be grounded in invincible ignorance, moral turpitude, anthropomorphic projection, wishful thinking and so on.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      This is brilliant and brilliant that I understand it. Now if you would just write at a 7th grade level!

      • Thanks, Kevin. I was thinking about moving on from these types of exchanges, in general, this forum, in particular, because pretty much the same issues come up over and over and I couldn't imagine having anything new to contribute, having repeated myself ad nauseam, really. But I have considered hanging around precisely because I'd like to learn a different way of saying these things and feedback and interactions from folks like you (and Geena et al at EN) could help me translate things into a more accessible form. We'll see.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Something I have done a lot for my professional writing which tends to be too academic is to run it through spellcheck to get the readability index and grade level. Then I start rewriting to get the readability number up and the grade level down. That's why I said 7th grade. It has to do with length of sentences and words.

    • Papalinton

      However, I would characterize them foremost in interpersonal terms, as my realization of falling, being, growing and remaining in love, and in normative terms, per my realization of both practical and moral fruits, which flow from my experience of being loved and in love. And this entails such interpersonal value-realizations as trust, hope, fidelity, loyalty, surrender, sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, self-transcendence and so on.

      None of these are alien in an atheist's perspective. None of these experiences need a theologic metaphysic to be realised. They are part and parcel of the natural world by which people relate to each other. They are indeed fundamental expressions of how humans relate to each other as a function of their species. A religious, and more particularly a Christian, perspective is irrelevant and unnecessary in both their actualisation and understanding of them. And we know this is a fact, because these same experiences can be just as equally, effectively and successfully couched in terms of other worldviews without compromise to their effects. So it would seem to me that a religious overlay of these properly basic human experiences do not need a theological explanation to account for them.

  • Doug Shaver

    Dr. Ordway mentions the eminent 20th century Oxford thinker, C.S. Lewis. Lewis is a prime example of a reasonable but unbelieving thinker who was willing to read from all angles and perspectives. As a result of his open inquiry, he became a believer in Christ and one of modern Christianity’s greatest apologists.

    Very interesting. In my youth, I was a prime example of a reasonable but believing thinker who was willing to read from all angles and perspectives. As a result of my open inquiry, I became a disbeliever in Christ. However, I cannot claim to have become one of modern atheism's greatest apologists, at least not if you have to be famous in order to be great. Considering how obscure I am, I think I do a pretty good job.

    • William Davis

      I actually wish we had C.S. Lewis here to debate him...that would be fascinating. Heck I'd even settle for the great Feser :)

      • Doug Shaver

        Heck I'd even settle for the great Feser :)

        Me, too. Or William Lane Craig. I'd love to go one-on-one with him. But alas, the great ones can't be bothered to engage us peons like that.

        • William Davis

          If I were them I know I wouldn't come here. It's typically easy for David to take down Goliath in this kind of setting.

          • Doug Shaver

            Easy or not, for Goliath, fighting David is a no-win situation. If he defeats David, well, it's just a kid with a slingshot. Where's the honor in that? But if David takes him down, it's a serious embarrassment.

        • VicqRuiz

          I would not debate Craig unless the topic was pretty narrowly defined.

          Time after time I've seen him lead off with a whole Gish Gallop of briefly stated arguments for Christianity - bang! bang! bang!, giving a minute or two for each.

          Then when his opponent spends rebuttal time carefully and thoroughly dissecting the first two or three of his arguments, he comes right back with, "But my opponent DIDN'T EVEN TRY to counter my arguments four through eleven! Obviously they are unanswerable and therefore God exists."

          I would love to engage him one-on-one strictly on divine command theory though. He is one apologist who's unafraid to say "Yep, God can command the Jews to slaughter the Canaanites, and it was good for them to obey him. Because he's the Boss, and what he says, goes." I almost like this position more than I do that of the apologist who tries to tap-dance through Deuteronomy.....

          • Doug Shaver

            I would not debate Craig unless the topic was pretty narrowly defined.

            I wouldn't either, if the debate were on stage and time-restricted like they usually are.

      • VicqRuiz

        You should read Feser's The Last Superstition (ideally via a library copy). There's no better example I've ever seen of how apologists talk about atheists when they don't think there are any atheists listening.

        • William Davis

          I've seen enough out of Feser to have a pretty good idea. Definitely not going to pay money for that one, lol.

        • "There's no better example I've ever seen of how apologists talk about atheists when they don't think there are any atheists listening."

          I'm curious what you think about The God Delusion or God Is Not Great or Letter to a Christian Nation, each a NYT bestselling book written by an atheist....and each significantly more polemical than Dr. Feser's book.

          Would you equally condemn their style? Do you agree that Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are excessively caustic?

          • VicqRuiz

            Of course many atheists are caustic. Vituperation is not the sole property of any world view.

          • David Nickol

            Isn't this a tu quoque argument? If Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris exhibit contempt for theists, does that mean theists are justified in exhibiting contempt for atheists?

            “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors* do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?* So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

          • If I may add a late reply to this ...

            Would you equally condemn their style? Do you agree that Richard
            Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris are excessively caustic?

            I'm an atheist, and I think Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are excessively caustic. If those three were the only atheists out there, I'd probably still be a Christian. In order to truly understand the atheist side of things, I had to read non-caustic ex-Christians--Dan Baker, John Loftus, Neil Carter, the anonymous blogger "Libby Anne" of Love, Joy, Feminism.

            Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris are very smart people, and they say some very useful things about some subjects. I love to hear Hitch talk about morality or Dawkins talk about evolution (his actual area of expertise). But they also say some very unhelpful things.

  • VicqRuiz

    This website has now been in existence for almost exactly two years.

    Does anyone know of a single atheist who has converted to Catholicism as a result of participation here??

    Jus' askin.........

    • Mike

      Well i can't but most of the atheists on here seems to me to believe in a very very theist like atheism imho; they believe in real morality w/o any transcendent source of that morality and w/o any after life; they believe in order pattern and the appearance of design in nature and the universe but deny any source of all that...short and long is that to me it seems that most of the atheists on here are cultural atheists or atheists-light.

      But i admit i don't think that non-reductive atheism can be coherent but obviously many atheists disagree. Seems to me they agree with catholics except they are very socially liberal in terms of the biggies and just seem to worship "science" instead of "god/s" and are generally more liberal than conservative in their temperament so put less emphasis on tradition and more on "What's new".

      • VicqRuiz

        most of the atheists on here are cultural atheists or atheists-light.

        There's some truth in what you say, however I expect that if any "atheists-heavy" like Dawkins or Peter Boghossian were to show up here and start posting, they'd get shown the door by Brandon in pretty short order.

        believe in a very very theist like atheism

        I think that I am open to the possibility of supernatural events. I'm also open to the possibility of the universe being a caused thing. But I am a materialist in that I can't get from where I am to "there" just by paper (or combox) exercises in formal logic.

        Lastly, this site is supposedly intended for the exchange of views between atheists and Catholics, not atheists and deists. There's a box up top on the main page titled "If Catholicism is true, then what??" I think that the Catholic authors here should spend more time explaining why Catholicism is true, rather than why there is some vaguely defined Ground of All Being and Morality up (out?) there somewhere.

        • Mike

          no brandon would not ban them if they were forthright but not insulting to catholics...i've only ever seen him ban ppl who only posted insulting rude things.

          i think that that's why i say it seems to me most of the atheists on here are really agnostic bc they say they are open to supernatural things and to a cause of the universe and purpose to our existence etc but remain unmoved by the evidence as they see it. i guess to me an atheist is someone who is "sure" or apriori denies even the possibility of those things.

          well you can't get to catholicism without laying the ground work first as without it to 99% of secularists it just sounds like fairy tales or just prejudice wrapped up in 'fancy' language...we first have to explain why materialism/naturalism can not be true and are incoherent etc.

          • Luke C.

            no brandon would not ban them if they were forthright but not insulting to catholics...i've only ever seen him ban ppl who only posted insulting rude things.

            No, Brandon banned atheists en masse and without warning, then covered up the evidence of this Great Purge by deleting over 1,000 of their comments. He banned them, not because they were insulting, but because they were incisively winning the arguments.

          • Mike

            So why hasn't he banned you yet?

            Are your arguments not as convincing as theirs were?

          • Luke C.

            Hahaha. Probably! My specialties are clinical and experimental psychology--specifically, the assessment and diagnosis of personality disorders and the classification of mental disorders. Those don't overlap too much with the content here, and I knew nothing about Catholic apologetics before coming here; so, I'm not much of a threat :)

            Plus, the Great Purge happened in January of 2014; I only heard about SN about six months ago, so I started commenting here long after most bannings happened.

          • VicqRuiz

            If the majority of atheists here on this forum are "open to supernatural things and to a cause of the universe and purpose to our existence etc but remain unmoved by the evidence as they see it", then perhaps what a Catholic apologist should do is to try and find more evidence that they haven't yet seen, rather than wasting everyone's time in another round of Thomistic cause-wrangling.

          • Mike

            problem is atheists a priori discount all but natural science testable experimental data a evidence. they in the process discount history, logic, math, metaphysics, literature and on and on...it's from the start a doomed enterprise bc they refuse to admit that not all truth and knowledge is of the natural science kind.

          • VicqRuiz

            Yeah Mike, but if God stretches forth his hand into the physical realm and changes material reality, then the evidence for this -should be- observable and testable.

            OTOH, if God confines his activity to the realms of the spirit only, then I agree with you.

          • Mike

            you're thinking of God as a tinkering mechanic...the whole thing all its regularity all the profound math relationships etc are all possible bc an order an intelligence sustains it.

            the catholic church thinks miracles happen even today especially in medicine.

          • Doug Shaver

            problem is atheists a priori discount all but natural science testable experimental data a evidence.

            Some of them do that. A lot of us don't.

            they in the process discount history, logic, math, metaphysics, literature and on and on.

            The notion that history can't be scientific is a mistake. It sometimes arises from a too-narrow definition of science. Science is not just about what you can do with test tubes in a laboratory.

          • neil_ogi

            but atheists believe science doesn't prove anything? as claimed by sean carroll?

          • Pofarmer

            Science may not ne able to absolutely prove something, but it can absolutely dissprove things. Tread carefully.

          • neil_ogi

            science disprove evolution that's why evolutionists don't believe the power of science

          • Doug Shaver

            but atheists believe science doesn't prove anything?

            Atheists do not all agree on anything about science, because atheism per se has nothing to say about science.

            as claimed by sean carroll?

            Sean Carroll is not the atheist pope. No atheist has to agree with anything he says.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Atheists do not all agree on anything about science, because atheism per se has nothing to say about science.' - then what's your authority to prove christians/theists wrong! what's your paradigm? or you are just saying that because most theories of atheists do not agree or conform to scientific inquiries, experimentations!

          • Doug Shaver

            then what's your authority to prove christians/theists wrong!

            That depends on what I'm saying they're wrong about.

          • neil_ogi

            so how do you know it's wrong? it depends on how you interpret the data? so what's the new paradigm atheists are using now?

          • Doug Shaver

            so how do you know it's wrong?

            If you will suggest a specific example, I will tell you.

            so what's the new paradigm atheists are using now?

            All atheists? There is none. We have no common authority. We don't all think the same way. We don't all believe the same things. Atheism is not a religion, not a philosophy, not a worldview.

          • neil_ogi

            if you have no common authority, then what about dawkins, krauss, dennet, hawkings, carroll? if you believe there's no God or gods, then keep your beliefs as your own and don't force it to others who believe in God, that He doesn't exists! as i've said, your belief is a belief, it is a religious one.

          • Doug Shaver

            then what about dawkins, krauss, dennet, hawkings, carroll?

            What about them? No atheist has to agree with anything they say just because they say it.

          • neil_ogi

            another excuses?

          • Doug Shaver

            Excuses for what?

          • neil_ogi

            no it doesn't depend whether that is wrong or right! actually science always change its tune? or maybe the interpretations of evolutionists are always on the wrong side! (that's why they have gut feeling that 'science doesn't prove anything'). for example, the mantra, 'the past is the key to the present', therefore there was a time that the planet earth has no oxygen, if that's so true, then there was a time that this planet has no water! (H20)!! if that's so, your 'common ancestor' never ever existed!

            the eruption of mount pinatubo here in my country, the Philippines, almost destroyed major land features of several provinces, buried several towns with lahar, and one town was under water permanently (became a 'ghost town') all happened in just days! now there is a 2 square kilometer of lake formed in its summit.(became a tourist attractions) if these events were not observed, maybe the uniformitarianists will say that the lake was the result of millions of millions of years of process!

          • Doug Shaver

            no it doesn't depend whether that is wrong or right!

            I did not say, "That depends on whether it is right or wrong." I said, "That depends on what I'm saying they're wrong about."

          • neil_ogi

            so how do you know, '"That depends on what I'm saying they're wrong about."? what paradigm are you using? true science or bad?

          • Doug Shaver

            so how do you know, '"That depends on what I'm saying they're wrong about."?

            Because, if I'm the one claiming they are wrong, I'm the one who knows what argument I am using to defend that claim.

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            Would that there could be a moratorium at SN regarding the tiresome (and false) meme that "atheism" is in any way analogous to the most prevalent forms of monotheism (i.e., Christianity, Judaism and Islam) in terms of belief structure.

            As has been explained patiently what must be thousands of times by now over the past couple years at SN by commenters still active -- as well as by many who have been banned from commenting at SN (for reasons hotly disputed, although SN does not maintain a transparent moderation board that would shed welcome light on this matter, as does Estranged Notions (http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/), where many extremely articulate, deeply-informed, and thoughtful folks banned from SN have been commenting on SN articles since Jan. 2014) -- "atheism" is not an organized, institutional belief structure having at its core an edifice of dogmatic and doctrinal beliefs promulgated by a clerical caste in which individuals who regard themselves as atheists are required to profess belief, as happens to be the case in some forms of Christianity (Catholicism, in particular), Islam and Judaism.

            "Atheism" -- at least in colloquial parlance -- means only that an individual self-identifying as an atheist asserts varying levels of certainty that no god(s) of the form venerated in any of the theistic traditions in fact exists (a harder form) or that an individual lacks belief in the existence of any god(s) of the form venerated in any of the theistic traditions (a softer form). That's it. No other "beliefs." No "church." No clerical caste that tells them what they are required to believe in order to remain faithful members in good standing.

            It also is true that science doesn't prove anything. While other commentators still active at SN who are actually scientists -- e.g., Paul Brandon RImmer, among others -- are better equipped to explain this more accurately, I'll have a go at it from a non-scientist's perspective.

            Science seeks to understand the natural, material universe we inhabit by methodological processes of observation and other means of empirical examination and, in many cases, by use of mathematical reasoning and modeling.

            Scientific laws explain certain aspects of the material world based on voluminous observations with no known exceptions; they are descriptive accounts of how specific actions occur in nature under specified circumstances and conditions. They have been defined elsewhere as: "A theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by a statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present" (Oxford English Dictionary as quoted in Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 1979). They are usually mathematically defined.

            Scientific theories are essentially accepted hypotheses that have been supported over time by testing and observation without having been falsified and which explain "why" or "how" something in the material universe happens or has come to be the way we observe it to be. Scientific theories can be disproved or falsified, but they can never, in principle, be proved. See http://undsci.berkeley.edu/glossary/glossary.php?start=s&end=z They are usually non mathematically defined.

            In this way, science must be contrasted to the claims of various revealed institutional religions (like Catholicism), which teach their believers that the clerical caste is in possession of various eternal Truths revealed by the God they worship to humanity at times in the distant past and which can never be disproven because, well . . . because they are tautologically proclaimed to be the Truth.

            (Edited for formatting of quotation.)

          • neil_ogi

            if atheism is not 'organised' religion, then why you have 'new atheist movement',, why hold meetings or conferences? why atheists have goals (e.g. no gods whatever exist)? if atheists are just atheists, then you should not actively participate even in christian/theists sites? then what's your purpose?

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            Do you seriously contend that atheism is an organized religion? On what evidence?

            I'd be interested in reading the Catechism of the Atheist Church. Can you provide a link to it for me so I can learn what dogmatic and doctrinal beliefs I am required to profess in order to be a member of the Atheist Church?

            If there is no formal catechism embodied in a writing, can you identify for me the doctrinal beliefs you claim I am required to hold to be a member of the Atheist Church?

            Remind me about at least some of the aspects, nature and characteristics of the supernatural deity I am required to profess belief in and to worship as a member of the Atheist Church.

            Can you point me to official documents promulgated by the Atheist Church that identify for me the local, national and international members of the clerical caste of the Atheist Church?

            Can you point me to an application by the official Atheist Church of the United States seeking 501.c.3 certification as a charitable or religious organization entitled to tax exempt status in the US?

            Can you point me to the buildings in any cities in which congregants in the Atheist Church gather on a regular basis to celebrate communal worship services?

            At bottom, I suppose this all boils down to what you have in mind when you speak of an organized religion. I fail to see meaningful points of commonality between individuals who consider themselves atheists because they lack belief in a supernatural being/entity/person referred to as "God" and individuals who identify with actual organized religions, typified by practices of communal worship, beliefs in a supernatural being(s) they call God, and well-defined dogmas and doctrines recorded in books deemed Holy Scripture and declared as having been revealed by the God they venerate as well as other writings by that religion's clerical caste.

            It seems the meme that atheism is an organized religion tantamount to Catholicism (or any other church or faith tradition) is little more than a tu quoque rhetorical charge seeking to charge individuals who don't profess belief in a supernatural god with the same irrational and faith-based belief structure that is a defining hallmark of organized religions.

            I would expect that religious believers would hold their own church and religious beliefs in higher regard than that. Why are some religious believers so anxious to insist that all individuals self-identifying as atheists are governed by the same belief systems as religious believers, when that is demonstrably not the case?

          • neil_ogi

            because atheists can't prove their hypotheses: theory of evolution, theory of origin of life, theory of big bang, etc. why would i believe in these fairies? the evidence for God's existence are enormous: biblical witnesses, ancient jews, cosmological and moral arguments, DNA, life itself. you can't prove that a rock, a non-living thing evolve into living thing. that's nonsense

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            The scientific theories and hypotheses you mention are just that: scientific theories and hypotheses. They are not atheistic theories. Of course, some atheists may accept some of these scientific theories and hypotheses. However, the set of all persons who accept each of these scientific theories is not co-extensive with the set of all atheists. After all, there are many religious believers who accept the modern evolutionary synthesis or the Big Bang hypothesis.

            You of course are free to choose whatever you wish to believe. Who is contending otherwise?

            I personally have no interest whatsoever in seeking to dissuade you of the reasons or the evidence you find for believing in God's existence. I sincerely hope that your religious beliefs provide hope, happiness, meaning and comfort in your life and inspire and help you to be a better person. Those are things I wish for all of us, although non-theists seek those things through means other than religious beliefs and membership in organized, institutional churches.

            I would never seek to prove that a rock can "evolve" into a living thing. Are you of the view that there are scientists anywhere who have proposed hypotheses of how inorganic rocks might through purely naturalistic, material processes transition to become living things? Citations or links to such would be interesting.

            As a parting comment, I would encourage you to seek to learn more of what science actually tries to do and teaches, rather than subscribing to horror stories and fear-mongering and the conjuring of false idols that some opponents of modern science traffic in.

          • neil_ogi

            so what type of science are you recommending for me to read? the 'just-so' stories? first of all, you need no science anymore because atheists believe that they just 'pop'! like the universe, your physicist (krauss) says that the universe just 'popped' out of nothing!! therefore all the things in the universe just 'popped'!!

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            The only point I was trying to make was that if you want to understand more about what modern science does and the knowledge and discoveries scientists have made is that it might be a good idea to read what actual scientists write. Rather than, in contrast, relying on caricatures by certain types of opponents of science more interested in rhetoric and fanning flames of distrust of science because it threatens certain forms of highly literalistic interpretations of foundational religious scriptures in different faith traditions.

            Nothing more than that.

            If you truly care about what Lawrence Krauss thinks on the subject of how the universe might have come about, I'd suggest you read some of the things he's actually written on the subject, like, for example, his recent book, "A Universe From Nothing." You might find it informative. And with apologies if you already know this, it turns out that what some physicists have in mind by the concept of "nothing" in the context of existent reality differs from the abstract, metaphysical concept of "nothing" of some philosophers or from the common meaning of that word among non-scientists and non-philosophers.

          • neil_ogi

            'science doesn't prove anything' so says your top scientists and fellows

          • neil_ogi

            quote: ', "A Universe From Nothing." -- so you want me to read this fiction? i haven't see a rock, even a small peeble 'pop' into my front, let alone the universe.. or you may want to make me believe that the 'multiverse' (trillion universes) 'pop'? it's fine for me if you believe that because after all atheists are fairy tale readers

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            I am sure that many individual atheists, just like many religious believers, have goals in their lives. But, I'm unaware of individuals who have as a goal that no "God" exist. As noted in my original post, atheism is simply a label for individuals who lack belief in any supernatural gods, typically because they see no evidence in their experience of the world upon which to base such a belief.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: ', atheism is simply a label for individuals who lack belief in any supernatural gods, typically because they see no evidence in their experience of the world upon which to base such a belief.' - and yet most of your evolutinary scientists say that the origin of life on earth is credited to 'aliens' (atheist's form of a 'creator').. this is ridiculous, why you hate 'God' as the Creator?

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            I'd be interested in the sources upon which you rely in support of your assertion that "most evolutionary scientists" credit the origin of life on Earth to "aliens."

            In any event, I suspect that most evolutionary biologists would take issue with the claim that the origins of life are properly within the domain of what the discipline of evolutionary biology studies and seeks to understand. Rather, evolutionary biology as a discipline focuses on what experts in that field regard as the well-attested fact of evolution and various theories as to the mechanisms by which biological evolution proceeds. (The most well-known to the lay public of such mechanisms is evolution by natural selection, starting with its original articulation in the mid 19th Century by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, as further refined and elaborated into what is sometimes called the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s by Profs. Fisher, Mayr, Dobzhansky, Haldane, and Wright, among others, which brought together evidence and insights from genetics and several other sub-branches of biology with principles of natural selection.)

            The study of how life might have arisen from organic compounds on Earth (or elsewhere in the universe) is a separate field of interest to some scientists. But, it is not -- to my understanding anyway -- a field of research and study within the discipline of evolutionary biology and it is a grave error to confuse study of the origins of life with the study of the biological evolution of prokaryotic organisms and multicellular plant and animal species on Earth since life originated on this planet.

            There are many books written by evolutionary biologists for the non-specialist audience which lay out this story, for those who are interested in learning about actual evolutionary biology, rather than jousting in ignorance on the plains of public rhetoric. Profs. Ernst Mayr, Stephen Jay Gould, Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins (not his more polemical writings on what I'll refer to as the "religion vs. science battle" like The God Delusion; I have in mind instead his popularizing books on evolutionary biology like The Ancestor's Tale, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, River Out of Eden, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype) all have published books in this vein that will reward patient study. I highly commend them to you.

            I also suspect that most evolutionary biologists, asked how life came to develop from organic compounds, would simply honestly state: "We don't yet know. It is possible that we may never know. But, it's a subject worthy of study and investigation."

            It is up to you to evaluate that position and compare it to the answers offered up by the imaginations of our ancestors from millennia ago possessing only primitive and rudimentary knowledge in the areas we moderns know as physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy. The kinds of answers now referred to as the creation myths of many ancestral cultures and societies, including the two separate "creation" accounts found in chaps. 1 and 2 of the Book of Genesis.

            If you are interested in expanding your base of knowledge in this area, you might also take this subject up with Geena S. and Noah L., who regularly comment at Estranged Notions (http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/) but have been banned here, or with Max Drifill, who used to comment regularly at SN, all of whom possess relevant education, training and expertise in this area.

          • neil_ogi

            why scientists can't create artificial life in the lab (of course, scientists should not use pre-existing life to do that) if life is just a natural process?

            the creation story of genesis 1 is just a summary. chapter 2 was a detailed one.

            why should i read the books you recommend? it's ok for me that your beloved physicist just declared that the universe just 'pop' out of 'nothing' therefore ALL things (living and non-living) just 'pop' out of nothing!! there's no more for you to use scientific experiementations.. you'd just fooling yourself!

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            One reason to read books written by evolutionary biologists is to learn something about modern evolutionary biology.

            And, I don't have any beloved physicist; perhaps you have me confused with someone else?

          • neil_ogi

            just accept the fact that non-living things will not evolve into living things. try harder. if non-living things become living things, then there would be no deaths in this world! just common sense still apply!

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            It is something of a non sequitur to ask most atheists or agnostics why they "hate 'God' as the Creator."

            After all, atheists, by definition, don't typically regard there as being sufficient evidence to accept that a form of the personal, "tri-omni," triune, creator God who listens to and answers prayers, who performs miracles, who otherwise intervenes from time to time in the world and human affairs, who sent His Son to take on human form on Earth to be crucified for the redemption of humanity, and who will come at the end of time to judge all humans who have ever lived, consigning the vast majority to a place or state called "hell" -- the God venerated by many Christians -- actually exists.

            But, I suppose there may be atheists who "hate" certain abstracted and postulated characteristics of a God character envisioned in various Christian, Islamic or Jewish traditions or as enshrined in the scriptures of those faith traditions.

          • neil_ogi

            so tell me, who or what created you? again, atheists have that answer: we just 'pop' (the universe just 'pop' out of nothing (krauss)

            God actually exists, the testimonies of Bible writers, ancient jews, the cosmological and moral arguments, DNA, cell, etc.

            actually, atheists have their 'creation myths' - the 'nothing' god and the alien god. don't be shy about them. you should be glad because they are well supported by 'scientific' community in U.S. and europe!

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            Sometimes banal questions merit banal answers. That banal answer in this case is the obvious: the combination of my parents' DNA.

            You are free to live in accordance with your own beliefs, religiously-based and otherwise. I have no problem with that, and have zero interest in trying to proselytize you with mine. I don't fully understand why you appear so hostile to others who happen to have different beliefs and values than your own. If that is misconstruing your actual intent, then please accept my apologies.

            I can't -- and actually have no interest -- in purporting to speak on behalf of all atheists. I can speak only for myself. I don't have any creation myth. I don't know how the universe we inhabit happened to come into existence. I'm fine with that. Really.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: ' the combination of my parents' DNA.' - so where did they originate? well, i know it. they just 'pop'.. (no more science, LOL)

            quote: 'You are free to live in accordance with your own beliefs, religiously-based' - likewise!

            then why are you here? spreading your lies and false beliefs to theists and christians! then why care for us, christians?

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            I've read all your most recent comments. It seems I've said what I am able to say. Things seem to be degenerating somewhat, in my view anyway, given the tone I "hear" in a few of your more recent round of comments, so I'll respectfully bow out of this conversation.

          • neil_ogi

            so you see, i'm just asking you where did your parent's DNA come from? why not just admit that ALL the things in the universe, the universe itself just 'pop'!! as simple as that! yes, i'm repeating that 'pop' again and again until you wake up from your arrogance and stupid thoughts

          • William Davis

            Lol. The irony of you saying someone else has "stupid thoughts" is massive. You are the dumbest person, by far, that I have every met on this forum. I've met people with a little worse attitude maybe, but not nearly as foolish and uneducated. If I make any more comments to you, it will be to do nothing but mock you. It's what you deserve.
            If God/Jesus exact, you shame them greatly. You also shame your creationist position. Again, you deserve nothing but derision. Have a nice left, and fully expect me to ignore your future comments. My time would be better spent petting my dog, at least he deserves my attention, you do not.

          • neil_ogi

            so i am talking with someone who has so much intelligence like you! of course, atheists and like you have 'stupid thoughts or ideas' about the origins issues. just like what you've said, that non-living to living things was just a very, very 'rare' case.. you just claim it and i want proof. if that's true, then why there's no living things present on the moon, on other planets? isn't it just a 'stupid ideas'?? atheists now claim that 'science doesn't prove anything' - then why? or because most 'stupid thoughts' of atheists are debunked by modern science?

            quote: ' you deserve nothing but derision. Have a nice left, and fully expect me to ignore your future comments. My time would be better spent petting my dog, at least he deserves my attention, you do not.-- i just post my comments here and you replied, i never requested you to reply to my posts? why complain?

          • William Davis

            then why are you here? spreading your lies and false beliefs to theists and christians! then why care for us, christians?

            This site is here for DIALOGUE, i.e. conversation between two groups. This is something you cannot comprehend, and it is you who do not belong here. The Christian's here mostly think you are silly and would not like to be included in your "us". There a plenty of good Christian's who I really like. My Dad is a preacher, and my mom is a staunch Christian, so are my sisters. I love them all and they are good people. You are a disingenuous and very bad person. The way you behave demonstrates it. You call people names, you ignore me when I answer your questions, you repeat the same questions even though they have been answered.

            Personally I look good people no matter what they believe. They can be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, I don't care. I don't like you because you are a BAD person.

            Matthew 5

            5 When Jesus[a] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

            3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

            5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

            6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

            7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

            8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

            9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

            10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely[b] on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

            You completely fail to even try to reach for Jesus's standard. Most of the atheists on this site are more Christ like than you are. You are not a Christian, at least a real Christian who actually wants to do what Jesus taught. You can't be. You are therefore a liar.

          • neil_ogi

            you sounds like a christian preacher! do you really know what you're doing? atheists like you don't have a moral standard. you said that atheists just don't believe in the existence of God/gods.. period. so what's the dialogue you are in? you keep on pressing that God doesn't exists and yet you don't provide meaningful and rational explanations on why He dosen't exists! how many theists/christians are banned in most of atheists' websites?

            how do you know that i'm a bad person? so you see, you judged me without examining my life first. did i name calling atheists?

          • William Davis

            First, I have told you repeated that I'm not an atheist. I believe in God. The fact that you don't remember either indicates you have a bad memory, or that you aren't paying attention to anything I have to say. I'm thinking the last, since that goes right along with despicable character.

            I was raised in a Christian environment, went to Christian schools, have studied the Bible theologically and historically. My Dad is a preacher and I know enough about Christianity to be a preacher. I know enough about Christianity to say that if you are a Christian, you are the one of the worst behaved Christians on the internet (I've met a few worse at infowars). Congrats ;)

            how do you know that i'm a bad person? so you see, you judged me without examining my life first. did i name calling atheists?

            You just called Greg (a friend of mine) "stupid and arrogant". I've seen you say this to many, many people. Maybe your memory is that bad.

          • neil_ogi

            i know that you are a deist, and i only 'attack' evolution and atheists' explanations of the origins. i didn't intend to attack Greg personally, i used 'arrogant and stupid', not for Greg but for all the theories of evolutionists. remember, i always use: for example, your theory of common ancestor's 'impossible' survivability in a prebiotic soup, a 'stupid thoughts/ideas'.. that the universe came from 'nothing' as 'stupid ideas/thoughts'.. it doesn't refer to the personhood of atheists and evolutionists.

          • neil_ogi

            i know that you are a deist, and i only 'attack' evolution and atheists' explanations of the origins. i didn't intend to attack Greg personally, i used 'arrogant and stupid', not for Greg but for all the theories of evolutionists. remember, i always use: for example, your theory of common ancestor's 'possible' survivability in a prebiotic soup, a 'stupid thoughts/ideas'.. that the universe came from 'nothing' as 'stupid ideas/thoughts'.. it doesn't refer to the personhood of atheists

          • William Davis

            Good, I'm glad you were not attacking his person, but it sure came off that way.

            The reason I asked about college science classes is to get an idea of the background knowledge you possess, knowing this helps me understand you better and helps me frame responses.

            One thing I don't understand is how you can lack science training, and then come to a forum like this and tell other people they are being unscientific. You have to know something about science first.

            What you are actually doing is repeating what others you know have told you. You have these opinions, not because you know anything about science, but because you believe others in your social group. I therefore am not debating you, I'm debating the people you believe. The problem is that I can't actually communicate with the people you believe, so are conversations on science will always be pointless, and they will always be "just so" stories to you. Glad we have that out of the way.

            I'm bringing up the Bible because it is something you claim you believe, but you don't behave as if you believe it. I know how a Christian is supposed to behave because I know the Bible. The problem is, that almost all Christians behave like non-Christians, many actually worse. I've been around Christians my entire life, and their tree bears no fruit.

            Luke 13

            6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’

            It is my view, and a view I am very good at defending historically (I'm well educated in history too) that the tree of Christianity has not born fruit. It doesn't not inspire people to a higher standard, and does not make people better. Since it has failed to bring for fruit, it should be cut down and replaced with something that does. I don't believe Christianity is true, primarily because of the lives that Christians lead. The barren tree of Christian lives is the primary evidence to me that Christianity is false. I love and idealize truth, justice, and wisdom. Christianity falls short in too many areas to be true. As I non-Christian I have always found it fascinating that I behave better than so many of the Christians I have known. If I don't need Jesus to live a very moral life and strive to do right, I have proven one of the central tenants of Christianity false. Believing in Jesus does not help someone be good. Since that is true, why believe it?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'One thing I don't understand is how you can lack science training, and then come to a forum like this and tell other people they are being unscientific. You have to know something about science first.' - so tell me which science is to be believe? a science interpreted by atheists or theists? many theories embraced by atheists are unfounded, groundless and unscientific (e.g. non-living tp living things, which science already established 'laws of biogenesis', only pre-existing life begat life; a 'nothing' actually produce a 'something' - this is the most fiction science i ever heard. my wallet is still empty of money, i haven't see even a peeble 'pop' right infront of my eyes. so do you consider them as 'science'.. ??

            quote: 'The problem is, that almost all Christians behave like non-Christians, many actually worse. I've been around Christians my entire life, and their tree bears no fruit.' - so you judge 'all' christians behave like non-christians.. so you are a liar, how did you know that? it's just because i am against your belief in some way or another, you judged us like that? just a reminder: christians per se are not exempted from doing evil, the moral laws said: 'do not kill, do not bear false witness...., do not steal, etc.. so erase your assumptions that christians/theists are exempted from doing evil works. even an apostle predicts that 'in the last days, many will depart from the faith..'

            you believe in a God (not of the Bible's) and yet you doubt your God's power to create non-living into living, and rather you believe that life is just a very 'rare' case. why not just say, your God did it?

          • William Davis

            why not just say, your God did it?

            Because I'm interested in how he did it, I believe God's ways are largely knowable, he doesn't play dice. He got it right from the beginning of the universe, which was, we believe 14 million years ago. The Bible simply isn't compelling to many. If you don't believe it, it's best to be honest. I put virtue and doing the right thing over religion.

          • neil_ogi

            the Bible claims: 'in the beginning God created the universe' - so this is already a revelation. the Bible didn't explain how He created because the Bible's theme is to reveal that there is God.

          • neil_ogi

            but athiests believe in supernatural beings, like 'aliens' and 'nothing' god!

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            I don't believe in any supernatural beings.

            Doesn't it ever get tiresome launching unfounded accusations about what you imagine others supposedly believe?

          • neil_ogi

            denials? again?

          • Greg Schaefer

            Neil.

            Others will have to weigh in with reasons why they, as self-identifying atheists, attend conferences or hold meetings with others who describe themselves as atheists.

            I suspect the so-called "new atheist" movement is motivated many considerations. Perhaps as many as there are individuals who consider themselves part of the new atheist movement. I'll opine as to a couple.

            First, to announce that it is safe, in at least some 21st Century societies, to come out publicly as not being a member of an organized, institutional religion or church and not believing in a supernatural, creator, "tri-omni" God. After all, being known (or branded) as a non-believer could get one killed or imprisoned in many societies and cultures in the past. Even in a country like the US in the 20th Century, it is conventional wisdom that being branded an atheist was to be widely reviled as an immoral, untrustworthy or even inherently evil person.

            Second, to point out the shortcomings they perceive in the beliefs, doctrines and practices of various organized religions; to celebrate rational, evidence-based habits of mind; to value modern scientific ways of thinking over traditional reliance on reifications of the customs and traditions and mores of Iron Age desert societies in Palestine and Arabia recorded by the sexist, misogynistic, racist, genocidal, and inherently tribal clerics and ruling elites from those primitive times; and to inspire more enlightened, inclusive and universal ways of thinking about morality and ethics based on knowledge possessed by humanity in the 21st Century.

          • neil_ogi

            whatever you say, whatever you reason out, atheism is an 'organised religion'.. atheism is a belief system. prove first all your theories by using sciences,, but you don't believe in sciences anymore!

          • neil_ogi

            but atheists believe science doesn't prove anything?

          • Doug Shaver

            i think that that's why i say it seems to me most of the atheists on here are really agnostic bc they say they are open to supernatural things and to a cause of the universe and purpose to our existence etc but remain unmoved by the evidence as they see it.

            Agnosticism is not knowing. That isn't the same thing as admitting that one could possibly be mistaken.

      • Doug Shaver

        and just seem to worship "science" instead of "god/s"

        That could be true if you define worship broadly enough. I see no reason to define it that broadly, though.

    • Luc Regis

      Hmmm....but that would take a confession or sorts....nes't pas?

      I have not converted....but have been put on pause once or twice;-)

      • Pofarmer

        I can think of one who is much more secure on his atheism because of the abysmal arguments the "top flight" apologists present. M

    • neil_ogi

      does anyone know of a single theist who has converted to atheism because lots of atheists always quote their 'holy' wikipedia as sources of enlightened sciences? nay

      • Pofarmer

        That made no sense, but there are a raft of deconverted theists posting at Patheos Atheist, including occasionally former Catholic priests.

        • neil_ogi

          Bible even claims that 'some will depart from the faith'.. obviously, even i myself could become an atheist, due to 'emotional' problems of evil (e.g. close relative who always attend church and gives charities to the poor, and yet he was diagnosed to have malignant cancer). atheists don't like to suffer, they want lavish life

          • Doug Shaver

            atheists don't like to suffer

            And theists do?

          • neil_ogi

            what i mean is, when atheists are suffering, they blame God, and complain: 'if He is powerful, why he allows evil to exists'.. the old- fashioned complaints lodged against theists. if evil does exist, that doesn't mean that atheism is true! swallow reasoning

          • Doug Shaver

            when atheists are suffering, they blame God

            No, we don't. We'd have to think he was real in order to blame him for anything.

            and complain: 'if He is powerful, why he allows evil to exists'.

            To say "If A then B" is never to say that A is true.

          • neil_ogi

            'if i'm a president of my company, i will impose several rules, laws and regulations to my subjects. but my subjects don't want to experience hardships and pain, so they rebel against me, the one who gave them life and freedom'- ponder this

          • Doug Shaver

            ponder this

            Why? It has no relevance to anything I've said.

          • William Davis

            I've tried being patient with Neil, but I think giving up on having a conversation with him is the right path...I think it's impossible.

  • Louise

    This is great. But what about all the unreasonable and unthinking atheists?

    • Doug Shaver

      But what about all the unreasonable and unthinking atheists?

      They are proof that we are just as human as the everyone else.

  • Philosophy means love of wisdom, not of truth.

  • Luc Regis

    Hey!...you know how Jesus is often portrayed as being the face of suffering humanity...not just in the Eucharist or as represented by the pope, Cardinals, bishops, priests etc. Could it be that Jesus has been a bit misrepresented by the church over the centuries, as St. Francis of Assisi recognized. I understand the author of this song is not a prophet or a saint in the Catholic sense or tradition....but I do think her lyrics are very pertinent and very touching if one listens to them. I hope I didn't offend anyone by implying that Jesus was actually one of us.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn7rIarpQBk

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I think your idea is generally fine - it connects to "whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to me." Plus, God IS one of us as True Man.

  • Peter

    New atheism is a relatively recent construct relying on the latest scientific discoveries to falsify the claims of creationism and intelligent design which they confuse with theism. Indeed, new atheism arose in the west as a response to the modern resurgence of creationism which originated in North America, a creationism borne from historical Protestant roots.

    As long as creationists continue doggedly to cling to their beliefs, and as long as modern science continues to falsify their claims, there will always be a ready supply of new atheists emboldened by the perception that they are on the side of reason against superstition. Sadly, for as long as this situation persists, those who join the ranks of new atheism will always outnumber those who change their mind in favour of theism.

    • neil_ogi

      atheists now believe that science 'doesn't prove anything'.. so what's the new paradigm being used by atheists now?

  • Lucretius

    Ladies and Gentlemen:

    I'm a feeling absolutely overwhelm from responding to the problem of evil in these forums. Can some of you please give me a hand?

    Here is the link: http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2015/03/estranged-notions-why-something-rather.html

    Christi pax.

    • William Davis

      You should post this on the new OP, will get more hits. I'd LOVE to see more Catholics join this conversation :)

      • Lucretius

        I thought I'll let other Catholics take a turn :-)

        Christi pax.

    • neil_ogi

      the problem of evil does not necessarily means that atheism is true! the existence of evil, as the bible explains, is explained very well. i don't know why atheists are still arguing for this? here is one example that might question the omnipotency of God: if God is powerful, then why He instructed Noah to build an ark? why He not just wipe away all the sins in just a 'zap' from His finger?

      • Lucretius

        Dear Mr. Neil_Ogi:

        I thank you for your response. It seems to me that you believe that I, when I wrote this comment, was in a sort of despair regarding the Argument from Evil, being tempted to rationally accept it, while resisting this through faith, with my comment being a cry for help. If this is true, you are honestly one of the kindest people I've found on the Internet, especially since most others ignored the comment it seems.

        why He not just wipe away all the sins in just a 'zap' from His finger?

        I've found that the more I understand God, the more Strange, Mysterious, and non-understandable He and His creation are.

        The question is even more fundamental than "why did God work through Noah and an Ark?" The deep question is "why anything is what it is, and does what it does?" Why is it that pumpkins remain pumpkins? Why is that tapping a stick on a pumpkin creates a small sound, instead of turning it into a Ball Coach like a magic wand?

        Christi pax.

        • neil_ogi

          in my opinion, when God finished His creation, He allows his 'laws' to operate in order to sustain the universe and the earth. i think, evil's purpose is for 'consumation'.. (if there's no death, there will be overpopulation on earth, that's why there are preys and predators.. they are designed).

          in my country, (Philippines) poverty is widespread, but people are just easy-going, they migrate to middle east countries for work, for greener pasture; you can see filipinos all over the world!

  • neil_ogi

    the Bible already explain the problem of evil: 1. God gave us the freedom of choice (if He created us, He owns us.. He can even destroy us (death). 2. the laws of physics, nature, and entropy (all points to degeneration and eventually death) because of sin.

  • dflynn5656

    There may be a 9th reason - "When the place they go for a sense of awe and inspiration points back to an idea they rejected w/o real cause." http://www.sftag.net

  • Mark

    No. 7 is enough evidence for me to believe in God. Too bad even that isn't enough for some people. Like my brother, Joel.

  • Nanchoz

    i would add the intercession of our blessed mother virgin mary

    nobel laureate in medicin alexis carrel
    https://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/VOYLOUR.HTM

    alphonse ratisbonne
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie-Alphonse_Ratisbonne

  • EricP

    My question is the following: "If there have been thousands of religions over the years and many people have believed that they were 100 percent correct. Why should someone like myself believe in Catholicism when it could very well be another one of those failed religions?" I want to believe, I do, but I just have a hard time with faith.

    • neil_ogi

      i am a believer in God, but i don't believe 'organized' religion/churches will save me from my sins. churches don't claim they have 100% accurate in every doctrine they have. from the cosmological arguments alone, there is no doubt that a higher being (who is more personal, moral, and powerful) always exists, who is God

      • churches don't claim they 100% accurate in every doctrine they have.

        You really must be going to different churches than me.

        • Ignatius Reilly

          Please tell me you got your name from Rabelais.

          • Who?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            You. There is a sea creature called a physeter in a Rabelais novel.

            https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/rabelais/francois/r11g/book4.34.html

          • Oh that is very cool. *Bookmarks the novel and goes to wikipedia to read about Rabelais.*

            I knew that word "Physeter" had to come from some kind of mythology before scientists used it, but I haven't been able to find anything about it.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            It is a satire. Rabelais probably did not approve of such wanton violence. People should not go around destroying mythical sea beasts. I would highly recommend reading more Rabelais. You either love him or you hate him, but if you love him, you really love him.

          • Now I'm thinking of those fables that explicitly state the moral of the story at the end--because I really like your summary of the story.

            "MORAL: People should not go around destroying mythical sea beasts."

        • neil_ogi

          nope..i'm a confessed 7th-day adventist member, which doesn't hold on beliefs of 'soul', rather 'breath of life', annihilation of sinners in hell and will experience the '2nd death', the literal creation week, and sabbath observance. but i'm open to other teachings of the Bible, like: 'i am the way, the truth and the life' -that only Jesus has the power to save, and not the church (organised church)

          • I like your beliefs better than what most churches teach. Many, many churches would be eager to tell you just how wrong you are and why you shouldn't believe that.

            I confess I don't know much about 7th-Day Adventists though; mostly all I know is from reading about Ryan Bell's story.

  • Boris

    Atheists don't change their minds and become Christians. What happens is Christians claim they used to be atheists but then some great "proof" came along and convinced them to believe in angels, demons, Satan, heaven, hell... and the rest of the Christian superstitions. It isn't true.

    • neil_ogi

      anthony flew, the most well-known atheist philosopher, was just one of the converts from atheist to a believer in a God.

      • Boris

        He didn't become a Christian. Do you know why?

        • neil_ogi

          even if he didn't become a christian, at least, he eventually believed in a god (generic god) and not the God revealed by the Bible

      • William Davis

        My beliefs are largely deistic like Anthony Flew. I believe in God, but I'm quite certain Christianity is false. I tried to explain this to you before, but you ignored me.

        • neil_ogi

          christianity is true, because it based solely its belief on Jesus, his historicity. i didn't ignore you. all i did was debunked evolution

          • William Davis

            Jesus didn't say evolution isn't true, and Jesus didn't say the universe was made it 7 days. Do you think the creation events described in Genesis are literally true, if so why? It was supposed to be an instructive myth, not a science claim.

    • Doug Shaver

      Atheists don't change their minds and become Christians.

      You say so. Is there any other reason I should believe it?

      • Boris

        Yeah. Name 'em and claim 'em.

        • Doug Shaver

          Lemme get this straight. If I name an atheist who became a Christian, that will prove what you said?

          • Boris

            How can you verify this supposed conversion? Everybody is really born an atheist. So in that sense atheists become Christians. But adults rarely convert.

          • Doug Shaver

            How can you verify this supposed conversion?

            Why do I need to, unless I have some antecedent reason to think they're lying?

            But adults rarely convert.

            You're saying that in this particular case, it never happens, that whoever says it happened to them is a liar.

          • Boris

            Go ahead.

          • Doug Shaver

            First answer my question.

          • Boris

            Probably not. I can't believe anything a Christian might say.

          • Doug Shaver

            I can't believe anything a Christian might say.

            That's bigotry, pure and simple.

          • Boris

            My experience tells me otherwise.

          • Doug Shaver

            Your experience with Christians has been that none of them ever told the truth about anything?

          • Boris

            I don't know. If you say it's Lee Strobel or someone like that probably not.

          • Doug Shaver

            In that case, you are not giving me a reason to believe what you said about atheists not changing their minds.

          • Boris

            While you have shed your superstitions, you still think you have to believe stuff. You don't. If you're really an atheist you don't have to believe anything. You just say what is more likely, this or that? Rookie.

          • Doug Shaver

            If you're really an atheist you don't have to believe anything.

            You clearly don't understand the first thing about logic.

          • Boris

            I don't believe stuff. What is most likely. That's what I think.

  • Dave Segal

    Matt--as a Jew-turned-atheist-turned Catholic, I think your post was excellent. I would be very interested in seeing a follow up about the emotional healing that's often necessary for an atheist to accept God. I've known many people-including myself-who became atheists out of anger about their lives, emotional scars left by suffering through illness, bullying, loneliness, depression, anxiety, etc. Other emotionally related causes include being raised in a fundamentalist home, or being raised in an atheist home. I believe that, in many cases, the emotional and environmental factors outweigh the philosophical elements of atheism.

  • Justin

    Sorry for the late comment- you just now showed up on the Register's links (gratz!). As a former atheist, I need to throw in my own #9: pursuit of "Good." I always believed in a transcendent, moral Good that I could not find a satisfying secular argument for. However, I was fortunate that the Holy Spirit led me to a lot of people who were working good in Christ's name- if it hadn't been for those who fed the poor and clothed the naked in Jesus' name, I may never have found my way home (and to a very orthodox observance of the Catholic faith, btw). Finding the source of the Good most all humans recognize is compelling to conversion. Decisively *not* compelling to conversion were the people who think they're scoring points for the Lord by spelling "Muslim" with an "o", or those who screamed at and insulted us "nones." Firmly standing for ones' beliefs I always admired. But hatred without love? Not so much!

    • Lucky you fell in with a Catholic charity and not a Buddhist one, eh?

      • Justin

        I've never fallen in with a Catholic charity, I'm afraid (would be a great job for me, though!). To clarify, I was actually working for a secular agency when I started partnering with religious organizations and seeing the good they do (although I lived with two Buddhists at the time, now that I think of it), and worked closely with a Sikh and Muslim institution during that time in addition to about a dozen Protestant churches. Both of those non-Christian religions have a strong devotion to God that shows in their labors, as do Protestants; this helped me start to see "God" in Good, even though obviously I came to find revelation of His nature which differs greatly from that held by Sikhs, Muslims, or Protestants. I ceased being an atheist and converted to Catholicism while working for an evangelical charity (for which I still work).

  • Dhaniele

    The problemin dialogue with skeptics and atheists is that they (and we) get lost in
    abstract reasoning. Jesus avoided such abstractions and told the
    Pharisees: if you don't believe mywords, at least believe my works. It is up to the atheists to explain thevarious miraculous events that occur on a regular basis. Just to give oneexample of such a practical example:
    in 1968 the Virgin Mary was reported tohave appeared on top of a church at Zeitoun. Everyone could see her and eventake photographs. This went on for months. This is what the police report saidafter a thorough investigation: Report of General Information and ComplaintsDepartment, Cairo, Egypt, 1968:

    "Official investigations have been carried
    out with the result that it has been considered an undeniable fact that the
    Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing on Zeitoun Church in a clear and bright
    luminous body seen by all present in front of the church, whether Christians or
    Moslems." These, and very many other miraculous occurrences, are simply
    ignored by the skeptics in the sense that they just brush them aside which is
    not really a rational approach at all so that they can return to their abstract
    discourses. Such events require at least a sincere admission that they have no
    alternative explanation to the theistic one. This event (at Zeitoun) can be
    found on yahoo dot com by simply putting "zeitoun Mary halo" in the
    search. Of course, every single canonization also has its miracles which the
    doctors find inexplicable while the know-it-all skeptics again shrug off their
    expertise in an irrational way. Just recently I read of this case: It is about
    a fellow who now, years after, still enjoys perfect health. Paul Walsh was
    17-years-old when the car he was driving hit a tree on Chester Pike in suburban
    Philadelphia on an icy December night in 1983. One doctor described his head
    injuries as the equivalent of dropping an egg on a cement sidewalk. Doctors at
    Crozier Chester Medical Center could not explain how he went from being in a
    vegetative state one day and the very next was able to chat in a friendly way
    with his visitors. If atheists and other skeptics are willing to discuss these
    facts, then abstract reasoning also has a role to play; otherwise, they show
    that they are simply not sincerely interested in analyzing the facts to reach a
    true conclusion. Then, talking to them is really a waste of everyone’s time and
    just playing pointless word games.

    • Doug Shaver

      It is up to the atheists to explain the various miraculous events that occur on a regular basis.

      No, we don't have to explain anything until you give us good reason to believe it actually happened.

      • Dhaniele

        If you take the trouble to read up on the events I have listed, then you can propose some reasonable explanation as the why all the experts know less than you do. Your response is the equivalent of laughing it off since you give no rational response to the evidence in the two cases I listed. Certainly if anyone accused the church of fraud in either of these cases, the accuser would lose in a court of law.

        • Doug Shaver

          If you take the trouble to read up on the events I have listed, then you can propose some reasonable explanation as the why all the experts know less than you do.

          All the experts? Are you saying that every expert in the world, without exception, agrees that these things really happened?

          Your response is the equivalent of laughing it off since you give no rational response to the evidence in the two cases I listed.

          I have not yet even attempted a response to what you are calling evidence. You can save your sneering until (a) I have actually offered an explanation or (b) I have explicitly declined to do so.

          • Dhaniele

            Dear Doug,
            You mentioned “No, we don't have to explain anything until you give us good reason to believe it actually happened.” There is plenty of evidence that these
            things occurred (see the web). For another example you can look up on the web “Ruth Cranston” a Protestant researcher who wrote “The Miracle of Lourdes.” There she
            catalogs tons of doctors’ evidence. (She did later become a Catholic after her open minded study of the events of Lourdes.) Of course, you do not have to
            explain anything if you don’t want to, but it is totally false to apparently presume, as some do, that science is on the side of the skeptics. Quite the contrary is true. I did not sneer at you, I merely pointed out the facts which
            skeptics prefer to ignore or discount (with absolutely no rational basis). Like the holocaust deniers, skeptics of the miraculous, remain unmoved by the evidence that is there for anyone who is interested in knowing the facts.

          • Doug Shaver

            You mentioned “No, we don't have to explain anything until you give us good reason to believe it actually happened.” There is plenty of evidence that these things occurred (see the web).

            Sorry, but I don't regard "It's on the Internet" as a good reason to believe anything.

            For another example you can look up on the web “Ruth Cranston” a Protestant researcher who wrote “The Miracle of Lourdes.”

            If she was a Protestant, she already believed in miracles. She only needed to be convinced that Catholics' miracle stories can also be true.

            I did not sneer at you, I merely pointed out the facts which skeptics prefer to ignore or discount (with absolutely no rational basis).

            So, not a sneer, just an insult? As easily as you can say, "No rational person can doubt that miracles happen," I can say, "No rational person can believe that they do happen."

            Or, instead of that sort of dialogue, we could each examine the logic we're using to arrive at our respective conclusions, and the assumptions to which we are applying that logic.

          • Dhaniele

            My point was that your approach is like that of the holocaust deniers. By rejecting the testimony of eye-witnesses and other forms of documentation they really isolate themselves from reality and persist in their denials. Whether this is a rational approach or not does not seem to me to be open to discussion.

          • Doug Shaver

            If you think the evidence for miracles at Lourdes is comparable to the evidence for the Holocaust, then you and I aren't talking about the same thing when we're talking about evidence.

          • Dhaniele

            if you do not think that the official miracles of Lourdes such as those mentioned by Ruth Cranston are not just as factual as the holocaust, you have not done your homework. In any criminal trial, witnesses are part of the trial, but you do not needs hundreds or millions to establish the truth. The qualified atheist, Jewish, agnostic doctors who say that science has no explanation for such immediate cures are qualified witnesses. Then, too, Zeitoun was witnessed by tens of thousands, including the police, and probably a hundred thousand witnesses since it lasted many months. There are even photographs. What more could you reasonably ask for as proof, using the same criteria as in any criminal trial?

          • Doug Shaver

            What more could you reasonably ask for as proof, using the same criteria as in any criminal trial?

            History is not a criminal trial. There are different criteria.

          • Dhaniele

            The point is that there are living eyewitnesses and documentation.

          • Doug Shaver

            There is testimony to be accounted for.

    • I looked up the Zeitoun one. It sounds like a story that grew massively in the telling, to me. Though I can't be sure, I wasn't there. Lights reflecting off something? A hoax done by a lady in a shawl walking on the roof? I don't know. Sounds kind of like the people who say they've seen alien spaceships to me.

  • Boris

    All the evidence for this supposed resurrection is in the story itself. All the witnesses are all part of the SAME STORY. So this guy's argument is as if he is trying to prove the existence of Superman by citing the testimonies of Perry White, Lois lane and Jimmy Olson. One gigantic fail Matt Nelson.

  • Ray W.

    Is atheism not vulnerable, untenable, and indefensible? Given
    that before one can say with reasoned confidence [logical certainty] that
    "there is no G-d", in order to "know" the truth of such a
    statement, the atheist first must know everything there is to know in and about
    the universe – all knowledge without reservation. Then, gaining all possible
    knowledge, stepping outside her/ his frame of reference, she/ he can then say
    with a level of direct observational certainty that "there is no
    G-d".

    ~~ Yet here remains unsolved an immense problem. Until an
    atheist can establish her/ his claim to know all that exists in the universe,
    all possible knowledge -- and surely this includes any possible supernatural
    (or other) realm of being, which cannot by definition be known directly by
    empirical observation -- such a statement as "there is no G-d"
    continues to be meaningless.

    ~~ And who thoughtfully could trust a human being who
    claimed to know everything [though by definition G-d is a person who knows
    everything]. So, at a deep level of irony, the atheist – by claiming to know
    everything -- is claiming in fact to be G-d. And if G-d doesn’t exist, where
    dose that leave the atheist?

    • Manny Panning

      I can say with logical certainty that no empirical, objective evidence for any god, let alone one minor, Bronze Age Middle Eastern deity has ever been presented.

      Ever.

      That is a good enough basis for atheism.

      • Ray W.

        As far as I know, you are correct, entirely. You've got it right -- you're open, intelligent, and thoughtful.
        ~~ I'll keep you in my daily prayers, for what that might be worth.

    • Mike De Fleuriot

      I have looked around my room and found no god, therefore god does not exist.

      If you have a problem with this, then please point me in a direction that I can look to find a god. A word of warning though, I have also looked in lots of other places and have not found a god there either.

      Or to put it another way, everything that I have come across in my life, I have found a purely natural reason for it's existence. I have never yet experience anything that requires a supernatural reason for it's maintenance or creation. Again, if you disagree with this, then please show me something that needs a god to either or make or maintain it.

      And lastly, you will note that I do not name the god I am talking about, because a god would have to exist before it could be named or it's demands and needs addressed. Theists, don't do this, it's cheating.

      • Ray W.

        Was it Peter Kreeft, a convert from Calvinism to Catholicism, who explains this common dilemma. He suggests that "Those who seek, find." Kreeft explains it this way -- and I hope I'm being fair to his observations -- If G-d gave us overwhelming proof of His existence, this would violate our free will, since no one could resist total obvious proof. If G-d gave us insufficient evidence for Hiss existence, we would never find Him. So, instead, He gives us "enough" and sufficient" demonstrations of His existence, so those who search will find, and those who wish to ignore a supernatural dimension, can explain away what they see as attributed to totally natural causes.

        ~~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO2NGGmWBQo

        • If G-d gave us overwhelming proof of His existence, this would violate our free will, since no one could resist total obvious proof.

          The Christian Bible claims that during the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites literally saw God. He walked before them in a pillar of cloud and fire. He magicallly provided mana to eat, and quail and water upon occasion. He spoke face to face with their leader, and provided incredible, undeniable proof that he was backing this leader.

          In spite of this, the Bible claims the Israelites decided to worship a golden calf, while they were literally camped in the shadow of the mountain that had God on top of it. They complained against God. Korah tried to rebel against Moses. Even Aaron and Miriam spoke words of rebellion against Moses. In spite of overwhelming, obvious proof of God, people still exercised their free will to follow God or not.

          I don't understand why "belief without evidence" is a virtue.

          Who would you respect more, a traffic cop who clearly posted the speed limit, or a traffic cop who expected you to just 'know' what the speed limit was by talking to other drivers about it?

      • Ray W.

        If in the searching for G-d a fault exists, one can begin with the definition of G-d.
        ~~ Next, one might ask: "How wise is it to presuppose that our five senses are capable of ascertaining all knowledge, all possible states of existence? I mean, animals and bugs have senses we humans lack, entirely.
        ~~ Take the acute night vision of cats or the smell of dogs, or the ultraviolet sight of bees that allows them to find nectar sources in a daisy we see as yellow, but they see as white with dark purple markings leading them to the pollen source, or the bio-sensors in sharks that allow them bio-electrically to locate hiding and well camouflaged prey?
        ~~ GOOGLE!: "The ampullae of Lorenzini are special sensing organs called electroreceptors, forming a network of jelly-filled pores. They are mostly discussed as being found in cartilaginous fish (sharks, rays, and chimaeras); however, they are also reported to be found in Chondrostei such as reedfish and sturgeon."
        ~~ Give G-d a chance.
        ~~ You might find Pascal's wager of some interest. GOOGLE! it.

        • Mike De Fleuriot

          Lol, You think an atheist would not understand what Blaize's Bet is about?

          Okay, as I said define your god and then I will go and look for that, but you can not even do that, hell you are even afraid to spell God properly. I bet you spell that F word without the U. Do you really think you are showing respect or hiding the fact you are saying the name of your god? Childlike.

          Yes, animals have sense we lack, but NONE of them are magical or supernatural. So your statement is irrelevant, even if you thought it was clever and scored a point, it did not.

          • Ray W.

            You say: Lol, You think an atheist would not understand what Blaize's Bet is about?
            ~~ Are you speaking for ALL atheists? Are you suggesting that ALL atheists are dumber than YOU?

          • Mike De Fleuriot

            Yup, expected ad hom. Spoke like a true theist.

            Of course you have yet to answer any of the questions that I have put to this forum. Mainly because you have no answer to them. And I guess that you realise this lack within you.

          • Ray W.

            There is a certain gratuitous combative impoliteness in your eagerness to attack rather than to discuss. This youthful tone (you're likely between 17 and 22) reminds me of Mark Twain, who observed that when he was 16 he began to realize how ignorant and dumb his father was. He could see it clearly. But by the time he turned 18, just two years later, he was amazed to see just how much his father had learned.
            ~~ Would it offend you were I to recommend a course in English Grammar and Composition. Specifically, the correct grammatical form is "Spoken like a true theist".
            ~~ Now I'll give YOU the last word and wish you well, knowing in my faith-based confidence that one day -- in the distant future, I hope, or possibly tomorrow, your question will be answered definitively. Then you will know for certain whether there is a G-d.

          • Mike De Fleuriot

            Totally clueless, If there is a God, I will still come out winning. And you have no idea why I would say this. But quite a few atheists know exactly what I mean by this.

          • Pascals Wager is actually one of the most commonly encountered arguments about god. No googling needed.

            There is a certain gratuitous combative impoliteness in your eagerness
            to attack rather than to discuss. This youthful tone (you're likely
            between 17 and 22)

            Did you really accuse somebody of being combative and impolite while at the SAME TIME dismissing them as "likely too young" to have any common sense? Right after calling them stupid?

          • Ray W.

            Try not to be offended until after you have read and digested what was actually said.
            ~~ I never dismissed you as (your quote, not mine) "likely too young". Also, the notion that the young might lack common sense is YOUR spin, and appears nowhere in my words.
            ~~ Words are important, as any lawyer can testify, and they mean what they say, not necessarily what we THINK they say or what we might WANT them to say.
            ~~ If you approach what I wrote with a possible chip on your shoulder or with a rebellious attitude, then there is always a chance you might misinterpret and miss the point altogether. That often screws-up communication.
            ~~ As a college teacher since 1961, I have learned to have and share deep respect for my students. I'm always ready to learn: A couple days ago I read in an Internet blog -"Knowledge speaks; wisdom listens". That's rather nice, don't you think?

          • You say 'Don't be offended...I always respect my students and are willing to learn'... Two days ago you speculated that somebody was young and then quote Mark Twain, "who observed that when he was 16 he began to realize how ignorant and dumb his father was. He could see it clearly. But by the time he turned 18, just two years later, he was amazed to see just how much his father had learned."

          • Ray W.

            Yes, I'm willing to learn. So, what is it that you want to teach me? I'm listening.
            ~~ In his famous observation that I quoted from memory, Mark Twain was reflecting on one of the truisms of human nature -- specifically, how, when we are young (myself included here), we believe, we are quite certain, that we "know it all'. And yet, as we grow a bit older and, hopefully, more mature, we should begin to see something of the wisdom imbedded in what our parents, uncles and aunts, teachers, counselors, and well-intended others have spoken.
            ~~ Do you agree with the old saying: "Knowledge talks; wisdom listens?
            ~~ In your own case, do you mostly "talk", or do you mostly "listen"?

        • Why would a god who wanted to interact/communicate with us make us lacking the sense we would need to do so?

          • Ray W.

            You might already be familiar with the Catholic perspective and understanding on this point: As I was taught and today understand the teaching Church, God made humanity in His image. Of course, this does not mean, for example, that He has human sexual organs, but in the supernatural realm [the realm of the soul] He gave each human person a free will.
            ~~ This means that we are free to believe anything we choose, but to help us choose well -- good over evil -- we have two faculties of the soul -- and INTELLECT (to help us know the TRUTH) and a CONSCIENCE to help inform our FREE WILL, thus allowing us to choose truth over falsehood, and good over evil.
            ~~ Of course, since we are free, there is no guarantee that we will always choose good over evil. Choosing is often a struggle; and so often we choose OUR will over what G-d might wish us to choose, always a far better way.
            ~~ But like kids, even as adults we want what WE want -- e.g., wine, women, and song -- over what G-d knows is best for us. In almost every case, every choice, we do not see G-d at work. That sense comes only with G-d's free gift of faith. We may accept and direct our choices accordingly, or ignore the urge to do what is right (good). So, I was merely making the point that I believe God gives us "just enough" evidence for His existence such that those who seek, find; those who never seek, never find.

          • That's a nice summary of Catholic thinking on free will and sin, but that's not what I asked you. You said God loves us and wants us to love him, and created us to be in a relationship with him, but then likened us to creatures that lack the sense organs to be aware of the thing we're supposed to have a relationship with. I don't see how that furthers God's goals or makes the world a better place.

          • Ray W.

            Well, you really are an intense, serious, and determined person. Smart, too.

            ~~ I'm unsure how to reply here. I'm no Yoda, and I would hope to avoid simple sterile-sounding textbook answers.

            ~~ At this point, in order to expand the discussion meaningfully, would require a broader story -- an account of Paradise, the first humans who initially walked with G-d in the cool of the evening through the Garden, the test which forbade eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the temptation by Satan (disguised in the account as a snake [recall St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland], and the Fall that brought a number of tragic consequences to humanity through Original Sin.

            ~~ I don't think I'm up to all that, when far better sources are bound to be available. One starter might be the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), but referencing a book is too easy, plus doing so strikes me as a clear admission of my time and age-related limits (at 73) -- old fingers, slow brain, iffy bowels.

            ~~ Anyway, in the remote possibility that your open-minded curiosity might derive some informative answers from a less personal resource [such as a book], I would offer the Catechism. It's daunting, monumental, yet quite well done -- though I can only wonder whether you will find it helpful.

            ~~ This is the Vatican's site, so one can hardly get more "Catholic" than that --

            http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM
            Thank you for your pointed intelligent questions. --Ray.

          • I have no doubt that the Catholic Church has a good, very deeply thought-out answer to this question. I just suspect that, like so many other Christian answers to tough questions, if I took the time to read it I would just find hundreds of words that essentially say nothing. Call me closed-minded, but I really doubt there's any good reason why a person who wants a relationship with you would hide from you.

            I do recall the account of St. Patrick and the snakes in Ireland. I also recall historians and biologists saying there were never any snakes in Ireland. I also think it's interesting that the book of Genesis never once says that the Serpant was Satan. It only says "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made," as if that were the reason why a serpant would be talking to people. If you weren't familiar with Christianity and read Genesis, you would assume it was a folk tale, like the Aesop's Fables where humans and lions, wolves, and hares all converse together.

          • Ray W.

            Ah, [your phrase] “hundreds of words that
            essentially say nothing.”

            As to this decision whether “words . . . say nothing” or “something” (? have meaning) – might we together consider the famous Supreme Court phrase “shouting
            ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded movie theater”?

            [Now I must admit right away, I’m not a very clever fellow
            at 73. I’m certainly no philosopher, and I’m not certain where I might end up with this example], but let me ask you how you might consider that one word – ‘FIRE!’,
            were you in a crowded movie theater?

            I’m quite certain that hearing such a word would, at the
            very least, capture my attention. I know nothing about the “reality” of the situation, who it was that shouted the word, or whether they were reliable [trustworthy],
            or might just be playing a joke.

            Another question might be, Do I want to take a chance – risk my life/ place my life in the hands of – an unknown person and respond to such a word as authentic? What if it IS just a trick? But what if it is NOT? Am I comfortable with and can I afford to risk my life over an $8 movie ticket?

            How wise would it be to place my trust in the way the other people sitting around me acted? Are they jumping up and storming to the nearest EXIT? Is there a clear panic, or are most laughing and remaining seated while enjoying their popcorn and sodas?

            What if they, like me, are taking THEIR cue from the other
            theater goers sitting around them? What do they know -- or not know -- about the situation? Is it likely that they are in a better position to know more than I do? How trustworthy is the crowd, the mob, after all? Just because the majority of people remain in their seats tells me nothing about the possibility of an actual fire. So, is it wise to take my cue from their behavior? I‘ve heard that the majority can be “in denial” or “lulled to sleep”, as it were, by something called a sense of false security, or group think, or following some unknown leader when that leader might be quite mad, a hopeless narcissist, say, seeking attention.

            And do I have time to waste trying to figure out the truth
            of the situation before, say, a bomb ignites? Should I not think for myself, and consider running like hell for a likely nearby escape route?

            Here-in might be part of the nut, the core, of this dilemma
            regarding what Catholics think. It’s a game of “Who do you trust?” Is the source reliable? How does one "Know” [The essential epistemological question: How do we know what we know? Or, as I prefer to phrase it, How do we know what we THINK we know?]

            For Catholics, the source is God. Is He to be trusted?
            Perhaps we can never know that with the level of certainty we ascribe to scientific knowledge, but by definition, faith is [St. Paul]

            [The Vatican site for the Catechism of the Catholic Church
            to which you earlier, if indirectly, alluded –

            Either way, I must take the word on faith, even as I take
            the Word on faith. I must decide for myself. Is the person who shouted ‘FIRE!” reliable and trustworthy – that is, worthy of belief?

            One form of faith can be blind and rather foolish – (?)
            trusting a used car salesman or a Harvard attorney. On the other hand, a trustworthy faith can be rational, well reasoned, and based on logical assumptions about the nature of reality – (?) a medical doctor’s expert diagnosis.
            I suppose in the end, it boils down to a game of “Who do you trust?” How trustworthy is the source asking us to believe. For Catholics, the ultimate eminently
            trustworthy source of authority, by definition, is God.

            Peter Kreeft, a catholic convert from Calvinism and philosophy professor at Boston College asks why God remains hidden [I’m paraphrasing here from his conversion story recorded on a YouTube video at –

            Yet another resource that includes a number of aspects
            related to this question of faith comes from an unexpected source, an article, “I’m a Muslim But Here’s Why I Admire the Catholic Church” by by Tamer Nashef –

            To know the truth, in this case Truth, a Catholic would say, we must ask God to give us the grace to seek the Truth. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. In fact, the initial act of our asking God for the grace to pursue and find the Truth itself requires grace. In the end, this total dependency upon God for everything that is good requires His free gift of grace. The dying words of St. Teresa of Jesus of Avila, a 17th century nun and one of my favorite heroes, would sum up the Catholic view – “Everything is grace!” We can only acknowledge this decision of God – to remain hidden -- as a mystery. Contrary to one popular bias, not even the Catholic Church never claims to know all aspects of the Mind of God -- a ridiculous presumption. To understand God’s inner Trinitarian nature remains forever hidden. One would have to be God to understand God completely. His mind is described as infinite [in+finis = without limits, borders, boundaries], whereas our human mind is finite [restricted, limited, ringed with limits or boundaries]. We understand, for example, the we are pretty smart, yet we also recognize far smarter minds that can comprehend and explain things quite beyond our personal limits. I think I’m fairly effective at teaching basic general humanities courses, but higher algebra, or trig, or calc – Forget it! I don’t even come close. Then there’s the case of Einstein, said to be a genius as one primary example. And still, we can imagine a man even smarter than Einstein, just as
            Einstein saw further than, say, Newton. Even so, both Newton’s and Einstein’s were still human minds. Now try to imagine an omniscient [to know everything knowable] Mind, one utterly simple and infinite. Such a mind is attributed to the Divine Nature. There is no way a finite mind can ever, ever grasp, comprehend, know, and envision the content of a Mind that has no limits. What we know of God’s nature – His Trinitarian internal life, for example – is revealed. No human mind could EVER have conceived of three totally distinct Persons in a single nature that is God. Our limitations as creatures allow us to know WHAT this mystery is, but we can never know HOW it is possible or what it means. Only God Himself can ever know His own infinite internal divine Nature. This is one
            example of what is termed a supernatural mystery.

            We have a choice to say, I am sufficient and need nothing
            beyond myself to explain reality (pride), or we can admit that we have limits and those limitations will never allow us to know everything there is to know – a most humble admission made by all serious and valid science. If science “knew it all,” it would at once stop searching!

            Of course, there is that oft cited remark [poorly quoted
            from memory] – For one who does not believe, no amount of proof will ever suffice; for one who has received the grace of faith and believes and trusts in God, no proof
            is needed.

            For His own reasons it seems, God has chosen to remain
            hidden [though not distant]. He wants us to make an effort of our will to seek Him – “Seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened”. Still, He will not force Himself on us. He’s already given us all we need to find Him and in
            that, He’s made the first move. Are we willing, do we care enough, to rise up off our back pockets and begin our search?

            In conclusion, Peter Kreeft (cited above) has placed three
            possibilities before us regarding our knowing God: 1) That God would give us knowledge that He exists in such explicit and unambiguous terms, that we would have no choice BUT to believe in His existence [a move that violates our freedom to choose]; or 2) That God would give us so little knowledge of His existence that we could NEVER find Him; or 3) He could give us just enough
            evidence, such that those who seek will find, and those who don’t want to be bothered to seek will never find Him. Some effort on our part is required. A vast treasure of jewels and gold lies hidden, but there are clues designed to help us find it, well, for those who put down the channel selector, set that beer can aside, and get up off their
            arse to make the effort.

            While this is only a shabby short effort, I hope some of this is helpful.

          • Thank you for this handy demonstration of exactly what I mean by "hundreds of words that ultimately mean nothing".

            I had several things to say to you, which I ultimately deleted as I don't want to be insulting. That wasn't my point in coming here. My point about words saying something--I was drawing the difference between a long, well thought-out argument that seems logical to the casual observer, and an argument that is actually true.

            If one shouts "Fire" in a crowded theater, it's easy to verify whether or not the speaker was telling the truth. That's not what we're discussing. Instead we're talking about the lawyer afterwards who quibbles about what the definition of "is" is to explain why shouting "fire" really was necessary, or why there really was a "fire" there when nobody saw it.

            I do think you had a moment of wisdom, followed by a moment of blindness, when you said,

            How do we know what we THINK we know?]

            For Catholics, the source is God. Is He to be trusted?

            How do we know what we know is an excellent question. But you've made a mistake in saying "The source is God. Is he to be trusted?" The question is not "Can God be trusted?" but rather, "Can I trust the person who told me 'This is what God says'?" In other words, the source is not God. The source is what ancient books, traditions, and priests have told you about God. Figure out if you can trust them--unless God has personally, verbally spoken to you.

          • Ray W.

            Thank you for taking time to be rational and helpful. Your explanation makes sense, and pointing out my failure to stay on point by entangling myself and failing to remain at the level of discussion you initially intended. I'm clearly no match for your sharp mind.

          • Ray W.

            YOU SAY: "unless God has personally, verbally spoken to you."

            At Florida State University back in c. 1978-89, we students would cross campus from our dorm to the Strozier Library on our way to some classroom. I had a part-time job shelving books in the Law College Library. Daily, I walked across campus and through the student commons area. That route included the bookstore, bars/ cafés, student government offices, etc.

            Occasionally, over the years, the same young preacher would be standing atop a concrete bench, Bible in hand, shouting to anyone who would stop and listen. One day, a young fraternity-looking guy (Ralph Lauren to the hilt) shouted, "How do you know any of this shit is true?!" [Laughter from the gathering crowd].

            + The itinerant preacher replied, "Because Jesus told me to preach."

            ~ "Oh, yea? So, where did you meet Jesus?"

            + "At a Burger King. I walked in and there he was sitting in a booth. When I walked in, he stood up and beckoned to me with his hand -- 'Come!, he said'

            ~ "How did you know it was Jesus?"

            + "He was wearing long robes and had long hair and a beard."

            Well, the laughter lasted several minutes as students shook their heads and disbursed.

            In part, I guess my point would be this, either Jesus DID appear to this guy or he didn't.

            Which is more likely?

            Without several witnesses, belief would be really tough.

            In a similar way, Jesus is reported to have appeared to his apostles after the Resurrection. At the time, Thomas was missing. When the others told Thomas they had seen Jesus risen from death, Thomas said -- "Unless I see the marks in his hands and feet and put my hand into the wound in his side, I will not believe."

            [Are you a little like Doubting Thomas? Thomas must have been from Missouri, the "Show Me" state].

            It was not until the following Sunday that Jesus again appeared to his Apostles. This time Thomas was with them, according to the account. In that second occurrence, Thomas confessed his belief, because he had seen.

            In life, there are many things we never see, yet accept willingly on faith -- 1) that we have some 27' of intestines; 2) that our parents love us (demonstrated through how they treat us), 3) that gas pumps are honest (because a state agency verifies such things).

            I'll not bother you again, but I ask one question -- Are you saying that unless and until God appears to you personally, you cannot believe? And if he were to appear to you, how would you know you weren't going mad?

            How about UFO encounters reported by perfectly rational, serious, mature, otherwise dependable people, state officials, trained professional military personnel, scientists, and doctors?

            I put this example, because this is your standard for belief, remember? -- YOU SAY: "unless God has personally, verbally spoken to you."

            Are you a "Doubting Thomas" about everything in your life? Is there nothing you take based "on a rational reasonable faith"?

            How do I know that I am writing to a human being and not a super-intelligent robot? Or, maybe you're my Guardian Angel in disguise.

            Anyway, at minimum, you provoked me to do some thinking, which I appreciate. Thanks and Good Luck.

          • Thanks. I'm glad we've been getting each other to think about this. I have always liked the story of Doubting Thomas because it points out the difference between faith in the Bible and faith today. In the Bible, Thomas said, "Show me, and then I will believe," and Jesus did it. If Jesus in the Bible worked like Jesus today, Thomas would have said, "Show me," and Jesus would have kept appearing to the other disciples but NOT Thomas because of Thomas's unbelief. I'd invite you to read this parable about Thomas if you're interested.

            In life, there are many things we never see, yet accept willingly on faith -- 1) that we have some 27' of intestines; 2) that our parents love us (demonstrated through how they treat us), 3) that gas pumps are honest (because a state agency verifies such things).

            You say these things, but you give an explanation for them all as to why I believe them. I believe my parents love me because they demonstrate it by how they treat us. I believe gas pumps are honest because a state agency verifies such things, and because I can test them myself if I choose. I believe I have some 27' of intestines because doctors have studied cadavers and actually measured the things.

            What reason do I have to believe that God wrote the Bible? Someone told someone that someone had told them it was true? The Bible promises miracles that don't occur. The Bible gives rules for life that are questionable at best. I don't think the evidence supporting the Bible is anywhere as strong as supporting those other things--the evidence is more akin to that supporting the Koran, or the Book of Mormon.

            I've always been told that Jesus wants to have a "personal relationship" with us. Was I misinformed? Can one really have a personal relationship with someone who does not talk back?

            I can't prove to you that I'm not a computer, or an angel. I would only appeal to your past experience or non-experience with such things to suggest how likely either possibility is. At any rate, I hope I've given you evidence that I'm intelligent, not just randomly stringing words together. Thanks for responding, and for being willing to listen.

          • Ray W.

            An Observation:

            YOU SAY -- "I believe I have some 27' of intestines because doctors have studied cadavers and actually measured the things."

            You're citing a generalization, a statistic here. Notice, you're using MY measurement, and I'm a stranger. Unwittingly, you have trusted my measure. Have you ever seen, directly, or personally measured YOUR own wonderfully-contrived intestines? No. Your body could represent a biological anomaly. Conceivably, you have only 25' of intestines, or 32', or 3'. Why did you accept my measure? Did you unconsciously feel, believe I might be trustworthy in this detail? And without knowing me, personally? Based on "faith"?

            ~~ You trust that you have the normal length and distribution of internal organs, that's all you can say at this point, but you do not KNOW this for a fact.
            ~~ You're basing your knowledge on what somebody else said. And you even say "doctors" in the plural as if that were sufficient proof -- without giving names.
            ~~ Are these "doctors" you know personally? Are their words trustworthy? How do you know? Who are they specifically? Maybe they're five drunk grad students who cooperated in writing and happened to get published in a minor journal article.
            ~~ Which "doctors"? As a doubting man [which I admire deeply], and a smart man/woman {just in case], why would you ever trust an unidentified collective labeled "doctors"? Or for that matter, my statement of "27'"?

            ~~ In the end, the question of God's existence seems always to come down to a question of trust, credibility, faith. For example, how do you define, what do you mean by, a "personal relationship"? For instance, must such a relationship be on your terms or on God's? In a parallel notion, the Greeks, as you probably already know, had some four different words for a friendship. What kind of a relationship are you intending? What kind of "relationship" would convince you that a God existed? What exactly would be minimally required for you to believe? What? Minimally?

          • Michael Murray

            Have you ever seen, directly, or personally measured YOUR own wonderfully-contrived intestines?

            Might have had a capsule endoscopy.

          • Ray W.

            Ah, can we ever know with absolute certainty that the scientific instrument is reliable? Capsule endoscopy -- humm. You realize, of course, that you [and I] have NEVER SEEN OURSELVES DIRECTLY [we have no idea what we really look like] -- not even in a mirror. Now, that in itself is a pretty shaky start, if you ask me. Here, I'm referring to the enormously complex mechanism of vision, which relies upon a cascading series of bit/ N-bit (nobita) electrical impulses that eventually [we presume] -- after being many times highly filtered and abstracted -- [apparently] reach the brain. And by the time our image is reflected split-second from the mirror back into our eyes, our relative position and movement have already changed, and we do not look like we would have a micro-second ago.

            If I'm off here, please correct me.

            http://www.chemistry.wustl.edu/~edudev/LabTutorials/Vision/Vision.html

            http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/bit-binary-digit

            ~~ No, never seen an inch, much less some 27 feet. But I am willing to accept reputable medical science's textbook explanation, I trust a concerted "best effort" made to learn about the world and some of the truths it contains. Others, however, might require more stringent "proof", although what passes for "proof" -- even in science -- is merely evidence. Ultimately, it appears, we must make a choice -- to remain or to evacuate that movie theater after hearing some unknown person of unknown credibility shout "FIRE!" Others, I cannot speak for. They might, for their own good reasons, demand empirical evidence for so many things that I might not.

            ~~ Hello, Michael. Perhaps I'm just too weak minded to expect the evidence others might demand. I simply don't require direct first-hand evidence of many things. I haven't the time. Am I a fool for being somewhat trusting? Possibly.

            ~~ My intention is merely to try and point out what is too obvious to us all, surely, namely, that there is MUCH we take for granted, much we cannot possibly verify directly each time we turn on a light switch and expect it to work -- even if we are, say, a genius electrician. I've other more important things in my life, just trying to live day-to-day than doubting everything I cannot verify empirically moment to moment..

            ~~ "Mommy, I don't feel so good. I got a tummy ache". [I used that excuse on occasion when a kittle kid, and it always worked. Although in my case my loving Mother -- being an R.N. and teaching at a school of nursing -- probably knew I was faking it. [And over time, as I grew older 26, 28, and got to know her better, I think I knew that all along she knew.]

          • You've kind of over-taxed your "intestines" example. I think the longer you do that, the less well the metaphor holds up. If it's really that important to you...then yes. You got me. I trusted the number supplied by a stranger that you easily could have made up. I confess the question of how big my intestines are just isn't important enough for me to expend any energy really finding 'proof'.

            Now, if you were trying to sell me a health device that would only work if my intestines were exactly 7 meters, I might want a better number than the random one supplied by someone I don't know on the internet. If I were about to do a procedure on somebody's intestines, I would definitely seek out more reliable information. If you told me that I could live forever in eternal happiness, but ONLY if I believed in the correct intestine length, I'd become a doctor and study cadavers myself.

            More important claims require more evidence, because their acceptance or rejection has more consequence. But all this is irrelevant, isn't it? Your examples 2) that our parents love us (demonstrated through how they treat us), 3) that gas pumps are honest (because a state agency verifies such things) are much more apt as metaphors for this discussion, and I've already explained why my "faith" on those matters is anything but blind.

            You haven't told me whether or not I should expect a "personal relationship" with God. To some Christians, such a relationship is how you know you're a true Christian, and not just a rules-pharisee. Some people even say, "It's not a religion, it's a relationship." But you don't tell me what you think, so I can't know if I'm strawmanning you or not.

            Because words have meanings. If you have a "relationship" with a person, it requires some things. It requires a give and take. Back and forth. Communication between the two parties. Mutual understanding and compromise. Both parties usually end up changing in response to the other. You can't just take away everything about a relationship that makes it a "relationship" and then use the excuse that it's on God's terms, not your own terms.

            A "relationship" where one person does all the talking, and the other person completely ignores you, is not a relationship.

          • Ray W.

            YOU SAY: "I confess the question of how big my intestines are just isn't important enough for me to expend any energy really finding 'proof'."
            ~~ This is my own position -- EXACTLY! EXACTLY!!
            ~~ I agree with almost everything you say in this post. I do not have the key that will unlock a relationship with the divine for anyone but myself. My Family life (I'm single and never married, so if you were married, you would have a deep reservoir of life experience to draw upon, one not available to me at 73 on July 5th -- one day late?.)
            ~~ You would make a good friend, because you permit your humanity to shine through your remarks. You are sincere, so far as I can discern, and devoted to Truth (in the absolute abstract.
            ~ Because you are already pursuing a steady course, I no longer need to write to you anymore, so it seems to me.
            ~~ Good luck! And, if it wouldn't offend you, God bless your every undertaking and continue to provide you with the graces needed to seek and find the source and foundation of Ultimate Concern, the Only Necessary Reality.

    • Ahh, the old Josh McDowell argument. I read this in Answers to Tough Questions. You can't possibly know you are right unless you claim to be omnipotent; therefore, *I* am right.

      • Ray W.

        Perhaps, you will tell me about Josh McDowell. +++ What I had in mind was Gödel's theorem -- One ref.: "Holy Logic: Computer Scientists 'Prove' God Exists" By David Knight --

        http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/scientists-use-computer-to-mathematically-prove-goedel-god-theorem-a-928668.html

        • You said an atheist can't really be an atheist without claiming to know everything (which isn't true, btw). The link you sent me said nothing on that subject. Instead, it was an article about the ontological argument -- "God is that for which no greater can be conceived".

          • Ray W.

            Please, note my language.
            ~~ I don't think I said, as you quote me -- "an atheist can't really be an atheist without claiming to know everything". Rather, I said, or intended to say, or said poorly,that an atheist can't really be an atheist without KNOWING everything (without knowing all that there is to know, all possible knowledge, everywhere).
            ~~ Now, I'm no expert on Gödel, but I understand this to be what he was saying (however poorly stated, and maybe you can help me here) -- Before one can ever claim to know everything (all that it is possible to know, all conceivable knowledge), one must somehow escape from all the confines and limitations that imprison his capacity to know, to escape or get outside of and beyond his/her basic nature.
            ~~ Now, who could ever do this?
            ~~ All human science combined is daily still discovering vast stores of knowledge we didn't know yesterday, and, presumably, with so much more remaining to learn and know. So, how could any human -- ever -- claim to know everything, when we are confined to and limited by our very nature as creatures, our particular five available senses.
            ~~ Is there any possible way to "escape" our nature and learn things we might otherwise never be capable of knowing?
            ~~ The Catholic Church teaches -- "Yes!" Through the gift of faith in things G-d has chosen to reveal -- divine Revelation.
            ~~ One central Reality G-d has chosen to reveal concerns His internal Trinitarian nature. For Christianity, this is, perhaps, the single greatest of these revelations: That He exists as three totally independent individual separate persons who share the same substance or nature. The Church teaches that we can know WHAT this supernatural mystery IS, its reality, thanks to G-d's sharing it with us, but we can never know HOW this is possible, either in this life or in the next.
            ~~ Why?
            ~~ Because to understand HOW the nature of the Blessed Trinity is possible, one must have infinite knowledge -- "infinite = without limit, with no boundaries or borders. And only G-d has infinite knowledge -- He's outside of and beyond all the physical universe, supremely and totally Other.
            ~~ As humans, we are limited "finite" beings -- we have a beginning and we have an end.
            ~~ And so far as I know, human being gather ordinary knowledge empirically -- by means of the five physical senses in combination (aka "common sense" -- the five senses working together).
            ~~ Did my effort tend somewhat to clarify, or merely confuse?

          • This has nothing to do with the Trinity. I'm willing to accept that if there's an omipotent, omniscient, all-loving being out there who created the universe just by speaking, he might be more complicated than we can understand, and "three persons in one" might be the best way he has of explaining himself. The Doctor is at least twelve persons in one, so it's not as if we can't concieve of such a thing.

            I don't think I said, as you quote me -- "an atheist can't really be an atheist without claiming to know everything". Rather, I said, or intended to say, or said poorly,that an atheist can't really be an atheist without KNOWING everything (without knowing all that there is to know, all possible knowledge, everywhere).

            You say I can't be an athiest without knowing everything. I'm an atheist. Therefore when I claim "I'm an atheist", I am claiming that I know everything, according to you.

            This is preposterous. One doesn't have to know everything to know certain propositions are true or false with reasonable certainty. I don't have to lead an expedition to the North Pole myself to conclude that Santa Claus doesn't really live there, and I don't have to spend years in Ireland doing research to conclude leprechauns aren't real.

            Could there be a god somewhere in the universe? Of course. I have no data that could prove or disprove that statement. But that's not what Christians are about. They say there is a god who came here, who interacted with people here, who continues to interact with us and expects certain things from us. We don't have to have knowledge of everything. We only have to have knowledge of the claims of Christianity, and investigate those claims.

            When I say "I don't believe in this god", I'm not saying I've proven to myself, beyond any sliver of doubt, that there's not god anywhere in the universe. I am saying that the claims of THIS religion about THIS particular god are not founded, based on my experience. Because belief in THIS particular god lends itself to certain experience that we WOULD be able to know.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Talk about woo, the author is a Chiropractic as well as being a theist.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Most atheists that I have come across, hold one common view and that is that there is no evidence for the existence of gods. And because of this fact, everything else claimed for the gods of the theists is invalid, irrelevant and unfounded. Until anyone can show that gods can actually exist, what is claimed in their names has to be rejected as unsupported.

    Imagine if you will, I was promoting the wisdom of Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, I would have to show that human/spider mutations are possible before I could expect you to take my claims about what Spidery has to say. Theist always want to give this step a pass, and I think we all know why they want to do this.

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    //1. Good literature and reasonable writing.
    and in many cases the evidence comes to the atheist most coherently and well-presented through the writings of believers in God.//

    Not really, ask any atheist and most of them will tell you that the writings of the theists helped greatly in keeping them atheist, or even leading them to atheism. Theist writings on religion are basically a collection of logical fallacies bound together with faith.

    //2. "Experimentation" with prayer and the word of God.//

    Nothing fails like prayer. Even prayer that follows the detailed correct instructions from the manual. For example:

    Dear God, almighty, all-powerful, all-loving creator of the universe, we pray to you to cure every case of cancer on this planet tonight. We pray in faith, knowing you will bless us as you describe in Matthew 7:7, Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:24, John 14:12-14, Matthew 18:19 and James 5:15-16. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

    If you read the verses in the above paragraph, you will find that saying that prayer in the way those verses talk about will make it impossible for the god of the Bible to not grant the prayer exactly as asked.

    And millions of people thought the ages have asked this and similar prayers all of which got the same result. Nothing happened.

    // 3. Historical study of the Gospels.//

    If you are going to honestly study the Gospels, take all them and read them side by side, noting the difference in the narrative. How can the word of God say different things about the same events. And are the Gospels the best method a God worthy of worship could come up with, even at the time and place in history. Consider yourself to be a God, how would YOU make sure your word was to survive unaltered thought out history and be able to be understood by every human past, present and future? Would you use the same method as the Christian God did?

  • Manny Panning

    Oh boy....where to start.....

    1) Honest atheists follow the evidence.

    Sooo,....... the evidence for God, specifically YOUR God is.......(no cheating, no. No logical fallacies or subjective claims).......

    2) Experimentation is not just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Experimentation is predicting a specific outcome, then testing the claim to achieve the specific outcome.

    For example, the best test of prayer would be to pray for something beneficial, but absolutely selfless, statistically improbable (as close to impossible as possible without crossing the threshold), then praying for it.

    So, the atheist prays for an immediate end to the drought in California in such a manner that the soil and aquifers can absorb the water without catastrophic consequences.

    If the event occurs, prayer is supported, and the claim is tested again.

    That's basic experimentation. The experiment has been done, and apparently God is more concerned with lost car keys, sports championships and awrds shows than he is with drought, starvation, genocide and rape.

    3) A "historical study" of the gospels shows so many historical inaccuracies and unsupported claims it's like making a historical study of The Man in the Iron Mask, then trying to get legislation pass based on Porthos dying for your sins.

    4) Philosophical reasoning is a search for meaning, not a search for hard answers to real issues.

    5) There are reasonable believers. One of my best friends is a Pentacostal minister in Quebec...except the church doesn't like it's ministers hanging with dirty heathens like me.

    The problem isn't the individuals, it's the institutions.

    6) Modern advances in science have blown holes in most of the "miracles" in the Bible. The only limitation on science is the means to test claims, and religious interference in inquiry.

    I don't see the Board of Governors from MIT demanding that quantum theory be preached from church pulpits, but I do see religious institutions and religiously driven politicians trying to force "creation science" and "intelligent design" onto school science curricula.

    Hint:if a)you can't ever reasonably test the claim, b)you have to change things (like the speed of light) to make your claim work, or c) if your "theory" starts with a conclusion then seeks only confirming evidence...that's not science.

    7) Evidence for the Resurrection, and you cit William Lane Craig.....refer to (c) above.

    8) Logical fallacy, appeal to emotion.Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful piece of literature, but it does not make it a rational or valid basis for life decisions.

    Matt, you have failed in your argument.

    • Greg Schaefer

      Manny.

      You say: "5) There are reasonable believers. . . . The problem isn't the individuals, it's the institutions."

      I say: Amen.

      Welcome to the conversation.

  • This is an interesting list. Thanks for posting, though I'm still not sure what to make of it.

    Number two is interesting, and a little amusing, to me because of the dozens of atheists I've met through blogs and forums, a great many of them are ex-Christians who prayed and read their Bible quite a bit as they began losing their faith. This is far more than just "experimenting" with prayer and the Bible. Even Dan Baker, now head of American Atheists, writes about going through a 'painful divorce' from God, where he wanted desperately to be wrong about not believing in God. I know for me, I prayed continually for the first 23 years of my life, as I'd been taught. As I left my faith I kept my eyes open for anything God might do to get my attention, and help me keep believing in him.

    I find that when I pray and seek the truth, I find confirmation that I'm moving in the right direction--as if the Holy Spirit is leading me out of Christianity into atheism. That makes me think the Holy Spirit and prayer are just in my own head, not real communication with a real deity. I recently read another person's story that was the same way.

    Historical study of the Gospels? It was a critical look at the gospels given to me by my Biblical Studies class at my Christian college that first made me wonder if the Bible was as accurate as I'd been taught. Not just because they showed the comparison between the Genesis story and other myths of the time--but also because of the contrast between the Synoptics and the Gospel of John, the evidence that John wasn't really written by John, etc.

    I still don't think the "evidence" for the -resurrection is as airtight as you claim. And it's weird you cite Albert Einstein's views on natural order, since he very explicitly did not believe in a personal god.

    • MR

      Historical study of the Gospels? It was a critical look at the gospels given to me by my Biblical Studies class at my Christian college that first made me wonder if the Bible was as accurate as I'd been taught. Not just because they showed the comparison between the Genesis story and other myths of the time--but also because of the contrast between the Synoptics and the Gospel of John, the evidence that John wasn't really written by John, etc.

      Yeah, that was a huge blow for me, too. A church bible study comparing the gospels made me question things it had never occurred to me to question. Then Gilgamesh..., Atrahasis....

  • Amy Gmazel

    Curiously, this list looks very, very similar to the reasons I would have given for leaving religion.

    1. Good literature and reasonable writing. I started with Bertrand Russell, "Why I am Not a Christian," an eloquent and well-reasoned piece.

    2. "Experimentation" with prayer and the word of God. I tried this every which way, because I really didn't want to lose my faith. But, more than that, I didn't want to believe anything that wasn't true. (And please, please don't cite Lee Strobel as a convincing source. If I hadn't already become an atheist by the time I read his book, I would have been one after reading it.)

    3.Historical study of the gospels. See above, but also consider that historical study shows lots of evidence that people believed in god(s). This is not the same thing as showing that god(s) exist.

    4. Honest philosophical reasoning led me away from faith. Now, perhaps honest philosophical reasoning could lead a person toward faith. I don't quite see how, since it lead me in the opposite direction, but I'll take your word for it. Please take me at my word that I gave it serious thought, and reached the opposite conclusion.

    5. Reasonable believers. This is a tough one, because there are some really reasonable believers out there. I used to be one. (That is, I thought I was reasonable - others may disagree - LOL) But, I can think they are reasonable people and still disagree with them on matters of fact and matters of opinion. In a way, it feels condescending to look at these intelligent people and think that they must have some big blind spot where their faith is concerned. On the other hand, that is the same judgment I apply to my former self, so in that way it's fair.

    6. Modern advances and limitations in science. Nope, don't use the "God Of The Gaps" argument. The freedom to explore the sciences without trying to force everything I learned into harmonizing with religion was one of the greatest freedoms I experienced.

    7. Evidence for the resurrection. It was the lack of evidence that got me. I see a lot of evidence that people believed in a resurrection. Evidence that people believed a thing is not the same as evidence of that thing.

    8. Beauty. I have to assume that you included that in order to end your list on a high note. That the world is beautiful (and ugly) I will certainly agree. When I was a Christian, I saw the beauty as the work of God, and the ugliness as a result of the fall. Now, I see both as our personal perceptions of the natural world.

    • BTS

      (And please, please don't cite Lee Strobel as a convincing source. If I hadn't already become an atheist by the time I read his book, I would have been one after reading it.)

      Could not agree more. What a phony Strobel is. I am always dumbfounded when folks cite that charlatan as a reason to believe. Christians seeking to evangelize the critical thinkers of the world should ask the likes of Stroble to step aside, because he actually hurts the cause more than helps.

  • Can you please not call people "honest" atheists? Would you like Catholics who do not accept atheist arguments to be labeled dishonest, as a corollary?

  • Phil Tanny

    Hmm, all the conversion articles are a one way street from atheism to religion. I know this is a Catholic owned site, but such discussions would be more credible if conversion was examined from all angles. As it is, the articles read a tad too much like a self congratulatory propaganda campaign.

  • Phil Tanny

    One of the largest groups of Catholics are people like myself, those who have wandered off, and those for whom Catholicism has become little more than a Sunday morning obligation quickly dispatched.

    I have no data, but I'm guessing that for every person these kind of motivational "OMG! Atheist To Catholic!!!" stories bring in the front door there are two leaving out the back. As example, have we noticed that churches are closing all over Catholicism's traditional European homeland?

    Point being, instead of an exclusive focus on "we are the spiritual parents and you are the spiritual children who need to be instructed by us" perhaps some focus might be reserved for an investigation in to why so many people who have been sold, then proceed to unsell themselves?

    Maybe stop thinking like fast talking car salesmen who have all the answers, and do some thoughtful introspection in to what is going wrong and why?

    • Sample1

      I don't claim God exists or doesn't exist.

      Why do you identify as a Catholic if you don’t profess their creed?

      Mike

      • Phil Tanny

        I'm happy to be labeled an ex-Catholic if that makes anyone happier. I honestly don't care about all the labeling.

        • Sample1

          I didn’t label you as anything. You did that yourself by saying you were part of the largest group of Catholics. And now saying you’re a fundamentalist agnostic and a typoholic, well, I have no idea what you mean and won’t hazard a guess.

          What are you claiming and how do you support it?

          For belief claims, I’m an atheist for gods (or “God”) and agnostic on all sorts of knowledge claims.

          Mike
          Edit done.

          • Phil Tanny

            I didn’t label you as anything.

            And I didn't claim that you did, so you may be pushing back at something that never happened. And anyway, if you did wish to label me, I don't object, whatever the label might be.

            well, I have no idea what you mean and won’t hazard a guess.

            Ok, no problem. I was attempting to address the question you asked, and if you've now lost interest, that's fine, no quarrel with that. I would certainly agree that how I personally do or don't label myself is not such a pressing matter.

            What are you claiming and how do you support it?

            Well, ok. Now you're asking another one sentence question you may have limited interest in. Perhaps the best answer might be that I'm posting like a madman all over the site, so should you want to learn more about my views there is plenty here to chew on.

            Short answer, I am atheist to the entire God debate in much the same way you are apparently atheist to God claims. I see no evidence that debate is going anywhere useful, so I'm exploring other ways of proceeding.

            Not trying to blow you off, just trying to determine your level of interest.

          • Sample1

            Well, I lost interest when you said (of your own longish post) that it doesn’t matter anyway.

            Have fun.

            Mike

      • Phil Tanny

        Ok, sorry, here's a better answer.

        First, there is no one Catholic creed. Yes, some people think there is, and that perspective is part of the variety contained within Catholicism.

        Second, there are also a variety of ways to be Catholic. You are right that my views don't line up with the Vatican very well, but have you noticed that for the moment at least I'm out posting almost everyone on the site, including the site owners and all the "real Catholics"? Point being, my interest in Catholic type topics can at times be intense.

        Third, I have centuries of Catholic DNA up my family tree, was baptized and confirmed, raised Catholic, and am of course a citizen of Western culture. There are elements of my "Catholicness" which are beyond choice. There is a sense in which this makes me more Catholic than those who have converted from the outside are now in strict agreement with the Vatican. They could change their mind and go back to where they came from, whereas I'm here for the duration, like it or not.

        Fourth, none of this really matters, but I suppose it's fun to type about. :-)

      • Phil Tanny

        I sometimes identify as a "Fundamentalist Agnostic", partly a joke, partly a pretty accurate descriptor. Point here is that to the degree that one questions the validity of the God debate itself the labels that define positions within that debate become ever less important.

      • Phil Tanny

        No, wait, I'm a typoholic, I remember now!

      • Phil Tanny

        Why do you identify as a Catholic if you don’t profess their creed?

        Now that I know you're not Catholic perhaps I should explain the um, somewhat snotty tone of my first reply. Catholics can sometimes be truly obsessive about defining, owning, and controlling the word "Catholic" in a manner which I often find beyond tedious. They don't seem to have noticed that the word "Catholic" doesn't appear in the Bible even once. Anyway, to the degree I aimed my impatience at you, my bad, sorry bout that.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Probably the same reason why Western Civilization has been closing all over its European homeland.

  • MR

    I read Strobel when I still considered myself a Christian, too. I remember him raising issues I didn't know I had. It had the opposite effect than intended, though I suspect the book isn't really meant to be read by anyone so much as used as a kind of placebo for Christian minds: "You don't have to read this, just recommend it and rest assured that there is an answer." They just don't tell you what a lousy answer it is.

  • MR

    Thank you, Joseph. This excellent assessment states nicely what many of us have gone through, considered and felt. Much appreciated.

    • Ficino

      It looks as though Joseph Noonan's post has been marked as spam, and it's not available. What did Noonan say? And if you still have the means to reply to him further, can you alert him that his comment is suppressed? Thanks.

      • MR

        It was his own personal journey and assessment of religious belief and why it rings false. Unfortunately I can no longer see it or respond. Pity. It was worth reading.

  • michael

    I genuinely, truly and wholeheartedly believe atheists are HAPPIER than religious people.

  • Well-informed atheists become Christians only for emotional reasons, not intellectual ones.

    • Rob Abney

      Possibly true, but they probably used emotional reasons to become atheists too.

      • My hypothesis is that there's an asymmetry. Well-informed Christians (Dan Barker, Bart Ehrman, Robert Price, and many more) can become atheists for intellectual reasons. Maybe for emotional reasons, too, though I've never seen an example.

        But the reverse is not true. Well-informed atheists do become Christians for emotional reasons but never intellectual ones.

        I've written more. My article “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You” is at my Cross Examined blog. (I'm not sure if they frown on links here, but I'll pass that along if you can't find the article.)

        • DoorknobHead

          This comment reminds me of Doug from the "PineCreek" YouTube channel who spent time in many different denominations, before becoming an atheist and has questions he asks theists and others during one-on-one interviews such as, "Have you ever seen a non-Christian professional historian become a Christian based upon an investigation into the historical record?" [no examples yet]. He also has observed patterns such as when youthful young men of a particular age-range follow women into the church and convert, or conversions during times of crisis in people's lives when the church is there to snatch them up. He has speed-round lists of questions and hypotheticals he likes to ask his theist guests. (he used to be Canadian, and he's so Canadianingly nice with theists, that many are willing to interview with Doug again and again) From my limited observations it seems like Doug and you both might have interesting lists of experience-based hypothesis concerning atheists and theists that could be compared and contrasted.

          • Yes, there always seems to be either an emotional component (wants to please a girl, say) or a lack of intellectual component (like Antony Flew being convinced by Creationist arguments).

          • Ficino

            Usually it's said of Flew that he was in his declining years and may have been of impaired cognitive ability - and that There Is a God, the book co-authored with Roy Abraham Varghese, is too much Varghese to serve as a reliable record of Flew's course of thought. But I haven't read the thing and have no intention of reading it, since I don't consider Intelligent Design to be a compelling explanatory framework.

          • I've read it and posted about it. IMO, it's not just too much Varghese, it's all Varghese. I doubt Flew wrote anything (except for the bits Varghese quoted).

            But even in his prime, "famous philosopher thinks Creationism makes sense" is completely unconvincing. "Famous biologist thinks Creationism makes sense" would be interesting.

          • Ficino

            I thought it was ID that captured Flew's assent. And I thought that ID is different from Creationism - unless you're using the latter term more widely than I thought its range extends.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I thought it was ID that captured Flew's assent.

            Not really. The ID people where just more enthusiastic and promoted him more. According to Feser it was Conways book. Flew said so in his own words.

          • I was using them interchangeably. Not entirely correct, I agree.

          • Jim the Scott

            @Ficino:disqus

            Wow what nonsense! Well I am sufficiently bored during this lockdown so I might as well smack some people around. I will try to be kind...for me at least....

            What about Ed Feser? He was an Atheist and he is a professional academic. There is nothing emotional about his re-conversion. He has probably has forgotten more argument from Atheists then you lot have yet to learn.

            Also these dismissals & slanders of Flew are brain dead anti-intellectual nonsense. Let face it most New Atheists these days are one trick ponies whose polemics never go beyond Young Earth Creationism, fundamentalist Christianity, Jesus Myth'ism and or Intelligent Design.

            They are intellectual incompetents when it comes to philosophy & Classic Theism and can't get past their positivism(which Flew himself abandoned at the height of His Atheism in the 1950's). They are the inspiration to the "Scratch an Atheist find a Fundamentalist"meme.

            As for Flew being an "ID supporter" one ignores the role Classic Theism had in his change of mind and it is often ignored by News Atheists still butt hurt over said change of mind.

            Which was IMHO overblown because toward the End old Flew did not believe in the immortality of the soul or an Afterlife. But that was enough for emotional New Atheists to dismiss him as an "Apostate" & Senile. But how can this change of mind be for emotional reasons? Whom was Flew trying to impress Above?

            From his perspective between Atheist to Deist as far as he was concerned he was going into the abyss of nothingness at the end regardless of his belief? Well? Did you lot think about that? Obviously not....

            Back to the role Classic Theism had in influencing his thought His touting of THE REDISCOVERY OF WISDOM: From Here to Antiquity in Quest by David Conway which defends Aristotle's argument for the existence of God was according to him pivotal in his rethinking of God's Existence. Feser discusses it in THE LAST SUPERSTITION pages 1-2, 5,& 269-270. Flew was a philosopher till the end. His fanboyz who clearly didn't read his work merely worshipped the idea of Flew they never followed his thought.

            If you want to play the emotion card one notes the majority of arguments I deal with these days against theism are emotional not intellectual. I live in despair I will see even one challenging argument against Natural Theology here.
            It is like playing a video game with the cheatcodes on Godmode "Pun intended". So boring....

            > Well-informed atheists do become Christians for emotional reasons but never intellectual ones

            I would like to bet real money Seidensticker thinks Aquinas' first way is an argument from physics and is based on the archaic physics of the Greeks? If so he reminds me of the Young Earth Creationist types who think "the second law of thermal dynamics refutes evolution" is a good argument. Ye it is not....

            Now I will leave you for yer hunt for low hanging fruit. I got mine for the day....

          • I realize you're busy. How thoughtful of you to share some time.

            I discuss my argument in the short article below:
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/

            I respond to Antony Flew's book here:
            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/03/the-curious-case-of-atheist-philosopher-antony-flew/

            Probably better if you respond to these article rather than my try to recreate them here.

          • Jim the Scott

            I read Flew's book and I don't care about yer polemics against ID. I don't believe in ID with its flawed Mechanistic Metaphysics & inferior "deity". So nothing could bore me more than reading yer amateur refutation of a "god" both of us are Atheistic toward. I prefer Ed Feser's criticism of ID.

            When you can refute David Conway I will consider you.

            >Probably better if you respond to these article rather than my try to recreate them here.

            I did and it is a NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy and yer basic argument is one of special pleading to get me to ignore that. I refuse.

          • You've got more free time than I do, clearly. So I'll try one more time to bring up the argument at the link I gave you since you won't respond to it. Perhaps other readers will get some value out of it.

            I've been blogging about atheism for 10 years. I really enjoy making my arguments and then engaging with people afterwards who think it was useful or think it's garbage.

            Now, imagine if I realized that I was wrong. That is, I would be that person I said didn't exist: I'm (1) very well informed about the arguments pro and con Christianity and (2) I'm becoming a Christian for intellectual reasons. Guess what I'd do. I'd blog about it! Or get interviewed or write a letter to the editor or something. I'd outline my (many) prior arguments and then respond to them with my new Christian arguments. I'd be as public as I could be.

            So where is this well-informed guy who's blogging furiously about the intellectual reasons for Christianity? That you can't provide him is no proof that I'm right (as I made clear in the post). But it's a pretty good clue.

            Or perhaps you know of someone(s) who have responded to equivalents of my top 100 arguments? Please point that person out.

          • Jim the Scott

            So basically Rob Abney called it here. What you really mean is "that you don't believe that there are any intellectual arguments that will convince you."

            >Or perhaps you know of someone(s) who have responded to equivalents of my top 100 arguments?

            Why should I shift threw yer nonsense? I dina care? So yer claim to fame is blogging about Atheism for 10 years? As far as arguments from yer own personal authority goes I note Feser has blogged much longer I think and he has a PhD.

            Here is some advice if you have 100 arguments start with yer best one not the warmed over NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy with a bonus fallacy of special pleading tacked on to convince us to ignore it is a warmed over NO TRUE SCOTSMEN fallacy.

            Sorry but I don't have to answer a flawed argument. It is beneath me. It is like the YEC fundie stomping his wee feet ranting "Why don't Monkeys give birth to humans if Evolution is true?" Or Kirk Cameron does a TV interview where he shows a plastic alligator with a bird's head glued on and exclaims "Look the missing link!".

            I can say to either of them "That is not how evolution works" but like you thy can kvetch about why I won't respond to their argument. I am not impressed either way.

            >I'm (1) very well informed about the arguments pro and con Christianity

            Don't you mean Evangelical Protestant fundamentalist young earth creationist theistic personalist Christianity?

            In all seriousness I am sure you are competent enough to bring pain and agony to that lot. But I am none of those things so it is entirely possible the bulk of yer arguments might be non-starters.

            >Please point that person out.

            In other words "Show you monkey that gives birth to people". You don't get the idea Argumentative fallacies should not be in any argument now do ya Bob?

            Ah well then. Stay safe and healthy man. I mean that.

          • What you really mean is "that you don't believe that there are any intellectual arguments that will convince you."

            That is true, but that was never my point here. My meta point here was that there is an important asymmetry in how well-informed people move from atheism to Christianity and vice versa.

            It's an interesting argument, I think. You should read it sometime.

            Why should I shift threw yer nonsense? I dina care? So yer claim to fame is blogging about Atheism for 10 years? As far as arguments from yer own personal authority goes I note Feser has blogged much longer I think and he has a PhD.

            I’d ask for a couple of Feser’s best, but I doubt that will advance the conversation. They'd probably be arguments that I've responded to before, and after perhaps an hour of study, I'd have learned nothing.

            Sorry but I don't have to answer a flawed argument.

            You mean the one about the asymmetry? Respond or not as you choose, but I’ll need a little more of an argument than simply your declaration that the argument is flawed.

            It is beneath me.

            Possibly, but who can tell? You’ve not addressed it.

            >I'm (1) very well informed about the arguments pro and con Christianity
            Don't you mean Evangelical Protestant fundamentalist young earth creationist theistic personalist Christianity?

            No. What I said.

            I am none of those things so it is entirely possible the bulk of yer arguments might be non-starters.

            Yes, possible. I guess we’ll never find out. Tragically, that cloud of doubt will haunt the rest of my days.

            In other words "Show you monkey that gives birth to people".

            No, “If you have a response to my argument, you must respond to my argument. ‘You have a flawed argument’ is no rebuttal.”

          • Jim the Scott

            >‘You have a flawed argument’ is no rebuttal.”

            No pointing out it is nothing more than (by yer own admission mind you) a NO TRUE SCOTSMAN argument with a wee argument from special pleading that I should simply ignore that fact and "answer" it anyway is the rebuttal.
            Throwing in big boy words like "asymmetry" won't change that obvious fact.

            >I’d ask for a couple of Feser’s best, but I doubt that will advance the conversation. They'd probably be arguments that I've responded to before, and after perhaps an hour of study, I'd have learned nothing.

            Then yer anti-religious polemics will be forever limited to low brow Fundamentalism and you won't be able to answer any Classic Theist philosophical arguments. Polemicing ID will be yer sole skill set.

            But that is yer choice. Stick to what you are good at then. Oh and leave the argumentative fallacies at home.

            But this clearly refutes yer claim to be "well informed". Peace be with you.

          • Yes, the No True Scotsman fallacy is a concern as I pointed out in the article. Not being omniscient, I can’t know either (1) the breadth of knowledge of apologetics or (2) the basis (intellectual or emotional) of anyone's decision to convert.

            But my argument isn’t “Bring me a convert and I will judge.” That’s the Scotsman fallacy. Rather, I asked for an example of a serious, knowledgeable atheist who likes to argue converting to Christianity for intellectual reasons who then (as you would certainly expect) points out the flaws in his prior arguments. In short, I’m looking for the example of me converting.

            If you can’t find one that doesn’t prove that I’m right, but it’s a clue. The internet is full of converts and deconverts. I’ve never found one that fits the bill.

            Throwing in big boy words like "asymmetry" won't change that obvious fact.

            Aren’t you adorable? And you take such pains to make me feel welcome here!

            Asymmetry is at the core of the argument.

            Then yer anti-religious polemics will be forever limited to low brow Fundamentalism

            And you know this how? I’m surprised that you’ve already scanned all my posts.

            Peace be with you.

            You’ve heard the Southernism “Well bless your heart!”? It often means, “Well aren’t you doing the best you can with the brains the good Lord gave a stump!” I can’t help but see the same in your parting comment. But thanks anyway.

          • Jim the Scott

            Watching you shift the goal posts with yer nebulous ill defined "argument" is most entertaining and unconvincing.

            You offer no objective or mutually agreed upon criteria for " a serious, knowledgeable atheist" and since by yer own admission you know nothing about Classical Theism vs Theistic Personalism or about philosophical arguments for the existence of God vs "Scientific" and you strongly implied by yer appeal to "evidence" you are at best only familiar with polemicizing the "Scientific" Theism (which as I noted Classic Theists reject since we maintain God is a Philosophical Question only) of ID supporters then I don't think you are qualified to present yerself here as "a serious, knowledgeable atheist". Much less judge the existence of one. Also I keep dropping Ed Feser's name and you ignore it and you have a priori told me you won't read his stuff. Feser is cited in this very article and yet you keep crowing for an "example"? If you can't take an obvious hint Bob or Yes for an answer then what is the point of you?

            Anyway it doesn't change the obvious fact this is still a bloviated NO TRUE SCOTSMEN fallacy and offering special pleading that I should ignore that and play anyway is tedious. Also futile since you cannot take a hint. How many people here have to name drop Ed Feser?

            Bob we both know you are not serious and this is a terrible argument at its core and I have explained why and offered many random criticisms all of which you ignored . I can assure you If I loose my Faith tomorrow I will look back at yer "argument" and my low view of it will remain unchanged. I will regard it with the same contempt I presently have as a Classic Theist toward Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort's Banana Argument for the existence of God. Which is substantial.

            I couldn't even see myself merely disagreeing with it but respecting it like I do the Ontological Argument (Anselm's better version not Descartes crap version) which is the traditional position of Thomists. It is just bad. I am sorry that hurts yer feeling but be assured I don't really care.

            Anyway again Peace Be with you. Which I should point out is what we Catholics say at Mass and I am an old New Yorker so I am not prone to the insult conventions of my Southern Relatives. When I insult you I will be plain and direct about it.

            Take my advice Bob. Go learn about Classic Theism. Go learn some classic philosophy and metaphysics. Then come back and try to impress me. Leave yer ID polemics at home since I am already a strong Atheist toward their "god". You must refute the God I believe in. Not the one you wish I believed in just because you are limited in yer skills.

            Cheers.

          • Many words, and yet no response to the actual argument.

            Thank you for your time.

          • Jim the Scott

            Rather I would say the same for you. In psychology we call this projection.

          • Rob Abney

            I’d ask for a couple of Feser’s best, but I doubt that will advance the conversation. They'd probably be arguments that I've responded to before, and after perhaps an hour of study, I'd have learned nothing.

            Here's one from Feser from 10 years ago, I haven't seen anything at your blog that could begin to dispute this.
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09/classical-theism.html
            I hope that it is not true that you will learn nothing.

          • Jim the Scott

            We have all name dropped Feser and yet Bob keeps begging us to give him an example?

            If there is one thing I find beyond tedious is not so much a bothersome person who can't take no for an answer but rather a bothersome person who can't even take yes for one?

            Anyway this is all old hat. His argument is the Atheist version of Kirk Cameron's Banana Argument and just as wrong.

          • I respond to the "God is simple" argument below.

            But why is this argument interesting? Is there an argument for God in there somewhere?

            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/09/rebutting-the-god-is-simple-argument/

          • Rob Abney

            You are prophetic, you didn't learn anything! Did you actually read Feser's post, it doesn't seem like it.
            Of course your own post demonstrates that you don't understand divine simplicity:

            Humanity can make complex things like a microprocessor, the worldwide telephone system, and a 747, so making this “amazingly simple” thing shouldn’t be hard.

            If humanity makes a god then that god by very definition will not be simple.

          • No, I didn't read it. It's 3600 words long. I've learned little when assigned homework like this, so I'm asking you for a summary so I can see if it's worth slogging through it. If it's time well spent, that's great. So far, I doubt it.

            I'm not seeing how you've responded to my post. Do you say God is amazingly simple like Craig claims? If so, demonstrate this. If the argument is that God is simple in the real world, I'll wonder how he's composed in the supernatural world. And if no one knows, I wonder why "God is simple" is something anyone would say.

          • Jim the Scott

            >No, I didn't read it. It's 3600 words long.

            Good grief we get this from Michael and GHF!

            > I wonder why "God is simple" is something anyone would say.

            How do you blog for ten years on Atheism and dinna know what a fallacy of equivocation is?

            See my other post on the divine simplicity.

          • Rob Abney

            I didn't assign this, you asked for it in the form of suggesting that there is nothing ther that can convince you. I'm not going to try to summarize it for you, it's not that difficult to read in it's entirety.

            I'm responding to your claims that well-informed atheists do not become Christians (Feser did as repeatedly pointed out to you), and that your blog has anything other than superficial commentary (compare your posts to Feser's).

            But, you'll find that you are free to discuss issues here, but don't just keep referring us to your blog to generate clicks.

          • I'm not going to try to summarize it for you

            Fair enough.

            I'm responding to your claims that well-informed atheists do not become Christians

            . . . for intellectual reasons.

            your blog has anything other than superficial commentary

            No one has yet responded to the actual argument I make in the post, about our inability to find a new Christian pointing out the flawed arguments he used to make when an atheist.

            But, you'll find that you are free to discuss issues here, but don't just keep referring us to your blog to generate clicks.

            Sweet! I’ve gotten one click out of you, and it only took 10 minutes of typing! I’m twisting my long mustache.

          • Rob Abney

            I'm responding to your claims that well-informed atheists do not become Christians
            . . . for intellectual reasons.

            If you read this then you'll see that he was well-informed and making decisions intellectually.
            https://strangenotions.com/the-road-from-atheism-dr-edward-fesers-conversion-part-1-of-3/

          • Thanks for the link.

            What I still need to see is for him (or any ex-atheist) go back and summarize (say) his top 10 atheist arguments and show why they were flawed.

            Does Feser cover that in his posts?

          • Jim the Scott

            You run a blog why don't you just use the search function & find out for yerself?

            Feser has a host of articles answering Hume or contemporaries like Rosenberg or clowns like Jerry Coyne.

            Here I did it for ya. No need to thank me.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=atheist+arguments

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=atheism

          • Jim the Scott

            >No one has yet responded to the actual argument I make in the post,

            You haven't made an actual argument. You have made an argumentative fallacy and we did recommend Feser as an Atheist who became a Theist and a Catholic Christian for intellectual reasons. Yer response? Boo hoo reading him is too hard!

            Really Bob whom do you expect to win over with this? Are you just trolling because you are bored? Because that is the only thing I would respect about you. I can't say I respect yer argument (or lack there of) or knowledge of theism because it is would be wrong to lie.

          • Jim the Scott

            Bob it seems is one of those internet Atheist apologists who seems to think there exists a sort of "One size fits all set of omni contra-theistic polemics" that he can use on Catholics, Mormons, Pagans and whatever without any of his objections being non-starters?

            It would be like if you or I tried to answer oh let us say a Platonic Atheist with a standard set of polemics we would use on a Reductionist Materialist Atheist and not look bloody silly in the process.

            It is like trying to point out errors in the Koran in order to dissuade a Baptist from his belief. I don't understand how he doesn't see that? Maybe he is just having a troll?

          • Jim the Scott

            You seem to be a sucker for punishment Bob?

            >Is God as simple as Plantinga or Craig imagine?

            But both Plantinga and Craig deny the divine simplicity as taught by Aquinas and Classic Theism? This is known. They are Theistic Personalists not Classic Theists. But citing Dawkins on God makes about as much sense as citing ANSWERS IN GENESIS on biology. Would it kill you Bob to read Graham Oppy or Jack Smart or pre-Deist Flew? You know, some Atheist philosopher who is competent and knows what he is talking about? As opposed to ignorant plebs?

            Dawkins is like you. He is a one trick pony who can refute Young Earth Creationist Protestant Fundamentalist anti-evolutionism. That is it! That is the limits of his and your skill set.

            Really Bob you are entitled to yer own feelings but not yer own facts and making elementary mistakes like this doesn't fill anybody with confidence you are an "informed Atheist".

            BTW the Divine Simplicity is the view that in the divine essence there are no real physical or metaphysical distinctions. Thus the divine essence is simple argo that is what we mean by saying God is simple. That theology and philosophy are complex has nothing to do with that. This is what we call the fallacy of composition.
            Example: These bricks are 2 inches tall and this 100 foot building is made out of these bricks ergo this 100 foot tall building must really be only 2 inches tall. In short ah no.......

            Also like many of the native Atheists who post here there is the fallacy of equivocation....

            >I'm not seeing how you've responded to my post.

            You have not posted anything intelligent. That is not an insult that is just a self evident fact. Maybe you are a really nice guy(I'm not)? But you are a nice who clearly doesn't know what he is talking about. When it comes to Classic Theism you are literally the equivalent to the YEC fellow with a fifth grader's knowledge of biology trying to argue with Graduate Students in genetics. It is not a good look for ye.

            No gods can exist in principle and yet it is obvious you have done no serious study of any version of theism more sophisticated than Fundamentalism and or anti-Evolutionism. You will find none of that here.

            If you cana handle that well ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Have at them and good luck to ye. I am sure you will do well.

          • You seem to be a sucker for punishment Bob?

            No, just trying to find someone who will thoughtfully engage.

            When it comes to Classic Theism you are literally the equivalent to the YEC fellow with a fifth grader's knowledge of biology trying to argue with Graduate Students in genetics.

            For someone who detests Creationism, you bring it up quite often.

          • Jim the Scott

            The real question is why are you offering arguments to us that are of low quality like that of a Young Earth Creationist?

            Do you think that will work? Does it work for the Young Earth Creationists on College level Biologists?

            Not in my experience. The definition of insanity and all that.

          • OK, thanks.

          • Jim the Scott

            >No, just trying to find someone who will thoughtfully engage.

            You first.

            (as Oscar Wilde said I can resist anything but temptation and Bob you left yerself wide open for that one.).

          • MR

            No argument for God, just "We think of God differently than you think we think of God. So there."

          • Yes, I'm getting a lot of "Well, you may well have had some success responding to Protestant arguments, but the Catholic intellectual tradition goes back a bazillion years, and no one beats our arguments." (Or something similar.)

          • MR

            Yet no actual defense of an argument beyond, "God is simple, but you have to do this complex study of my particular belief in order to understand him." Weird. Not sure how that's different from self-indoctrination.

          • Jim the Scott

            @BobSeidensticker:disqus

            So MR you think you can show me there is something unreasonable or incoherent in the concept of divine simplicity without actually learning what that concept is and what it entails yet somehow you can show me the concept is still wrong? Do tell me how does that work?

            Would it work if I said "prove Evolution absolutely true in 50 words or less without making references to information in those bias biology text books or by making me learn about the complex information in that particular science otherwise it is false and to do otherwise is self-indoctrination."

            Speaking for myself I am skeptical that would work. But it is no skin off my back since I am already default a Theistic Evolutionist.....

            My friend. One can understand a concept or try to and not believe it. I understand somewhat the Hindu concept of Karma and Dharma as taught to me by my comparative religions professor in college. I don't believe in these concepts being Catholic but I understand them.

            You don't want to understand yet somehow you think from such a position of ignorance you can rationally convince me my views are wrong?

            Good luck with that.

          • MR

            So MR you think you can show me there is something unreasonable or incoherent in the concept of divine simplicity without actually learning what that concept is and what it entails yet somehow you can show me the concept is still wrong?

            Divine simplicity is what you believe, it's not an argument that it actually exists. Why do you believe that it actually exists? Why do you believe there is a God? Did something convince you or were you raised in the tradition that a God does exist?

            Would it work if I said "prove Evolution absolutely true in 50 words or less without making references to information in those bias biology text books or by making me learn about the complex information in that particular science otherwise it is false and to do otherwise is self-indoctrination."

            If you believed that capital 'E' Evolution was absolutely true, yes, I'd expect you to at least make an attempt to lead me down that path. Do you believe that God is absolutely true? That God is divine "simplicity," then, even more so! Simplicity implies less than 50 words!

            since I am already default a Theistic Evolutionist.....

            Which speaks to me of obvious self-indoctrination. You certainly haven't tried to defend such belief.

            My friend. One can understand a concept or try to and not believe it. I understand somewhat the Hindu concept of Karma and Dharma as taught to me by my comparative religions professor in college. I don't believe in these concepts being Catholic but I understand them.

            And I understand in Catholic concepts, but don't believe them either. Help me to believe them. Provide the argument that Bob is looking for instead of being an asshole.

            You don't want to understand yet somehow you think from such a position of ignorance you can rationally convince me my views are wrong?

            Oh, I'm not trying to convince you that your views are wrong; I, and Bob, are asking you to convince us that your views are correct.

            you can rationally convince me my views are wrong?

            Good luck with that.

            I've learned that every religious person, whatever their belief, can't rationally be convinced that their views are wrong. I, certainly, could be wrong. I'm asking you to show me that you are right.

          • Jim the Scott

            Well that was a very verbose rant and completely meaningless. MR be honest with yerself. You haven't followed this thread. So yer objections have no meaning. See my other post where I explain to you (like I did with Bob) how you can use the Search function on blogs. It is not hard.

            >Divine simplicity is what you believe,

            Yes and if Bob wants to post a response to "answering" the concept like he did then he should post an informed and factually based intelligent one. He did not do this. Plantinga and Craig deny the Classic Theist view on Divine simplicity. Also his rebuttal there view was flawed. Not only was he beating a dead horse but the wrong dead horse I am afraid.

            Facts don't care about yer wee feelings.

            >Oh, I'm not trying to convince you that your views are wrong; I, and Bob, are asking you to convince us that your views are correct.

            How so? He and you came here challenging our beliefs? We didn't go to yer blog or space preaching ours.

            So you have got it in reverse.

          • MR

            use the Search function

            I'm asking you, personally, to simply explain in the next comment why you believe a) Divine Simplicity is true, b) your basic argument that God exists. I'm asking you to answer simply, were you raised in a tradition of belief or did something convince you? If convinced you, what was it?

            if Bob wants

            Yes, squirrel. I'm the one asking you now.

            We didn't go to yer blog or space preaching ours.

            I'm not preaching my belief, I'm asking you to explain to me yours. Why do you believe what you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm asking you, personally, to simply explain...

            Request denied. Do yer own homework.

            >I'm not preaching my belief,

            If that where true you would be gone by now.

          • MR

            Do yer own homework.

            That's what I'm trying to do. I'm asking you, personally, to simply explain in the next comment why you believe a) Divine Simplicity is true, b) your basic argument that God exists. I'm asking you to answer simply, were you raised in a tradition of belief or did something convince you? If convinced you, what was it?

            If that where true you would be gone by now.

            If that were true, I'd be preaching my belief. I'm not interested in that, I'm interested in hearing why you personally believe. Were you raised in the tradition of belief? Did something convince you? If so, what? Why do you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            >That's what I'm trying to do.

            Not seriously if I had to choose to learn about evolution from reading a prominent biologist's blog (like Dawkins he is not bad on that) vs a layman I would choose the professional. You don't want to read Feser's blog then ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there.....

            The more you beg the more I want to imitate my first love and old college girl friend and refuse you. Get used to it.

          • MR

            You're welcome to refuse me, and we're welcome to wonder why.

            Why do you believe what you believe? Were you raised in a belief tradition?

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care what you wonder. I really don't care.

          • MR

            Oh, I think you do. You simply wouldn't respond if you didn't care. If you're correct in your beliefs, I care what you believe and invite you to show me. The five ways aren't convincing to me in our current understanding of the universe. There are other explanations, unless I'm missing something. Why do you find them convincing? Is that what convinced you, or does it simply bolster your already founded belief? If it wasn't what convinced you, what did? Why do you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            You just ignored my simple yes or no question to test yer knowledge of the subject (the five ways which you claim you read).

            Why should I take you seriously? I don't.

          • MR

            I'm sorry. you're going to have to reference the questions directly. It's not in this direct thread.

          • Jim the Scott

            You can click on yer disqus user name at the top of the thread and read my responses. I just asked the question in my last response.

            I will do so again.

            Do you think the first way teaches God is the creator or cause of the beginning of the universe? Yes I do? No I don't? or I don't know? are yer only answers. Multiple choice. The correct answer is there.

            Second Question do you think the first way is dependent on archaic greek physics? Yes or no etc..

            It is not hard son. You either know the basics or you don't.

          • MR

            See my answer elsewhere.

            It is not hard son.

            Condescension is always convincing.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Condescension is always convincing.

            Get used to it.

          • MR

            No, that's fine. It demonstrates to me the insecurity you have in your own belief.

          • Jim the Scott

            Rather it shows my contempt for anti-intellectualism.

          • MR

            You haven't demonstrated any intellectualism yet, just evasion.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ditto.

          • MR

            Eh? I'm not trying to defend atheism or my own beliefs; I'm trying to understand why you believe what you believe.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am not interesting in answering nebulous or open ended questions. They bore the poop out of me. You on the other hand have just claimed the first way doesn't prove an unmoved mover?

            Again how so? How do you show an essential series can be infinite? Now obviously an accidental series can be infinite which is why the world need not have had a formal beginning. We have big bang and the big crunch or multiverse etc...but how do we explain here and now?

            Do you know or did everything I just say fly over yer head?

          • MR

            Neither you nor I can know, but that doesn't mean that your explanation of an unmoved mover is correct as I noted elsewhere. Movement implies time and modern science suggests even time is an illusion. Quantum mechanics shows that we can't rely on our and Aquinas' common sense understanding of physics: infinities, causes, prime movers, beginnings of time, beginnings of movement, etc. And we don't even know what other explanations there might be. So, we can take God as a possibility, fine, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there was a) a prime mover and b) that it is necessarily God. Maybe that was good enough for a 13th-century Catholic philosopher steeped in theology, but I find it somewhat wanting.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Movement implies time and modern science suggests even time is an illusion.

            This contradicts yer second "no". Movement in metaphysics refers to potencies being actualized by something already in act. This has nothing to do with what physics you bring into it. It is a philosophical modelling not a scientific description. Category mistake on yer part. How disappointing. Here I actually hoped you really understood the argument. Ah well there may or may not be a God but clearly there is no Santa Claus.

            >Quantum mechanics shows that we can't rely on our and Aquinas' common sense understanding of physics:

            What does physics have to do with it? This is an argument from metaphysics? The act/potency distinction was even cited by Heisenberg. Wow what you don't know is not very impressive.
            You should have just been honest with me and confessed you don't understand the arguments of the five ways.

            The existence of God is known by philosophical arguments not science. if you answer philosophy with science you are doing both not only wrong but hilariously wrong.

            1949 called my son they want their positivism back.

          • MR

            And yet those supposed "acts" reflect into the real world..., causes, movement, physics, etc. That's what we can observe. When you hide behind the "philosophical" aspect, unobservable aspects, then you can make up whatever you want to fit your belief. Okay, that doesn't make them true. Sure, we can claim this is all an illusion, a reflection of Forms/Ideas on matter, emanation of the One, blah, blah. But that doesn't mean Plotinus had it right anymore than Aquinas had it right.

            The existence of God is known by philosophical arguments not science.

            Er, no it's not. It's rationalization.

          • Jim the Scott

            To me that response sounds like the Creationist who rants "But you never in the real world see Apes give birth to humans so evolution is a lie".

            In short you cannot formulate a coherent philosophical defeater.

            >And yet those supposed "acts" reflect into the real world..., causes, movement, physics, etc. That's what we can observe.

            Make up yer mind. Is change real or not? First it is an illusion to you now you reverse yerself.......incoherent.

          • MR

            I'm not looking to defeat, I'm looking to see if it's a valid argument. I don't see the need for an unmoved mover.

            Make up yer mind. Is change real or not? First it is an illusion to you now you reverse yerself.......incoherent.

            No, I'm not making claims there. I'm pointing out that there are other options. Unmoved mover is not the only option. Why do you assume it is?

            Did the Five Ways convince you or were you already a believer?

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm not looking to defeat, I'm looking to see if it's a valid argument.

            FYI a philosophical defeater is a counter philosophical argument meant to rebut a specific argument. Son you don't even know 1,2,3,4 etc or 1+1=2 yet you want me to teach you calculus?

            >No, I'm not making claims there.

            Neither am I. Why don't you get that?

          • MR

            Again, I'm not looking to rebut, I'm looking to see if it holds water. To me it's a theory. But it's one believers assume is right. I see other explanations. It's not obviously correct. Did it convince you or were you a believer beforehand? What actually did convince you, I wonder.

          • Jim the Scott

            You are really not looking for anything son. You really have nothing interesting to say. At best I find amusement in yer mistake (which are plenty) but that is it. Also I am an A$$ h*** so that motivate me even more not to give in to yer sophistry.

          • MR

            Actually you just handed it to me. I thank you.

          • Jim the Scott

            Hey whatever makes you feel good about yerself. I am a hedonist at heart too.

            BTW really son. If you wish to argue with Classic Theists learn philosophy otherwise you are as useful and as effective as the young earth creationist who rejects learning basic science and biology picking fights with college level biology majors.

            It is not a good look.

          • MR

            Eh? All you did was avoid answering questions. It's not like we came away with an understanding of why you believe. It seems pretty obvious that you believed before you met the Five Ways, which makes it seem like you're just justifying your belief.

          • Jim the Scott

            So what you did the same to me? You don't want to shoulder the burden of proof & well neither do I. But I am not in yer house you are in mine.

          • MR

            I wasn't making the claim. I want to know why you find the argument compelling. I guess, if you find the argument compelling. I don't actually believe now that your belief rests in the Five Ways.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I wasn't making the claim.

            Neither am I.....

            > I want to know why you find the argument compelling.

            Which would be futile to explain to someone who doesn't know the basics and refuses to learn and expects me to teach them after informing them I lack the ability to do so. Your behavior is so irrational right now. Mine isn't.

            > I guess, if you find the argument compelling. I don't actually believe now that your belief rests in the Five Ways.

            I should care why now?

          • MR

            Oh, I don't expect you to care or admit it.

          • Jim the Scott

            But I just did admit it?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Movement implies time and modern science suggests even time is an illusion.

            Additionally as Popper pointed out to Einstein this neo Parmenides view point undermines science. Science presupposes observable change in order to do experiments. If change is not real then the experiments that show the viability of let us say special relativity are not real and thus cannot be trusted to show us special relativity is real.

            Also again Motus is change. Any change not physical movement only. All this I know from reading Feser and other Thomists. Yikes!

          • MR

            All of which implies the universe is much more complicated than Aquinas' 13th century understanding. What seemed obvious then is not. There are other explanations.

          • Jim the Scott

            This is as meaningful (& erroneous) a response to me as the Creationist ranting about Apes not being seen giving birth spontaneously to humans.

            Son go learn some philosophy. Quickly before you hurt yerself.

          • MR

            If you mean the kind of philosophy that just leads to self-indoctrination, I'm not convinced it's worth it. But, tell me, was it really the Five Ways that convinced you or did you already believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            >If you mean the kind of philosophy that just leads to self-indoctrination, I'm not convinced it's worth it.

            That doesn't make a lick of sense. It isn't even a coherent thought.

          • MR

            That would be your self-indoctrination clouding your understanding.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ah some truth as too yer motives. So you have this meta theory my belief is based on "self indoctrination"?
            Sorry but that is too touchie feelie and boring.

            I would rather do philosophy not psychology.

          • MR

            Well, you did take great pains to avoid answering that simple question.

          • Jim the Scott

            It was something I don't normally encounter or believe existed till now. A dumb question......

          • MR

            An important one.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't agree and I don't think you have the learning to dispute it or the inclination to do the homework needed to do so. So what a pair we are...........

          • Rob Abney

            Are you unable to follow the thread? Bob is not seeking an argument other than support for his claim about well informed atheists.

          • MR

            As I noted, he explicitly asked if there is an argument for God. There is not.

          • Jim the Scott

            >As I noted, he explicitly asked if there is an argument for God. There is not.

            A text without a context is a pretext. You haven't followed the thread so yer contribution is meaningless to the matter under discussion.

          • MR

            Nice dodge. It doesn't change the fact that there is no argument for God in that text. If there is an argument, it is, as I have noted, "We think of God differently than you think we think of God. So there." Okay, well, that tells me nothing.

          • Jim the Scott

            He didn't originally ask for an argument for God. He asked for Feser's best and we gave it to him. He keeps moving the goal post and whining about reading anything we send him and it is getting old at this point.

            Stop enabling him. You don't do yer side any service doing that....

          • MR

            Again, doesn't change the fact that there is no argument for God in that text. If there is an argument, it is, as I have noted, "We think of God differently than you think we think of God. So there." It tells me nothing. I'm not choosing sides, I'm asking you to explain yours.

          • Jim the Scott

            He didn't ask for one and he didn't originally asked for one. He wanted us to answer his NO TRUE SCOTSMEN fallacy "argument" and even when we gave him an example of an ex-Atheist who became a Theist for intellectual reasons we got nothing but complaints about why he didn't want to read him and some goal post moving too.

            Stop enabling him. It is nor a good look.

          • MR

            Yes, Bob, Bob, Bob.... Why do you believe what you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            Why do you keep asking a question I have made it clear I won't answer?

            This tells me any discussion with you is futile and you are not serious. What part of "no" is beyond yer comprehension.

          • Rob Abney

            He asked about an argument for God as it relates to the article recommended to him, but that was not the issue being discussed. Go back and read the thread.
            However, there are a lot of arguments for God at SN as well as at Feser's site if you are interested.

          • MR

            Thanks, Rob.

          • Jim the Scott

            Actually Bob what you are really doing is boring us to death with Non-starter arguments and No True Scotsman fallacies.

            I mean there really is no such thing as a One Size Fits All omni anti-theist polemic or even anti-Christian one. The same is true for Atheists. This should be non-controversal to rational agents but for some reason it bug you? Why is that I wonder?

          • Jim the Scott

            >No argument for God, just "We think of God differently than you think we think of God. So there."

            Bob didn't ask for an argument for God. He came in with his NO TRUE SCOTMAN fallacy "argument" and kept challenging us to respond to it and even when we minimally did he moved the goal posts.

          • MR

            In Bob's comment that I responded to, he explicitly asks, "Is there an argument for God in there somewhere?" I'd like to see one as well.

          • Jim the Scott

            > Bob's comment that I responded to, he explicitly asks, "Is there an argument for God in there somewhere?"

            Rather he originally asked for something from Feser and we gave it to him & then he posted an irrelevant response to Plantingia and Craig on God's simplicity and got that one hilariously wrong. Everybody knows Plantinga and Craig deny the Classic Theistic view on divine simplicity.

            At best they believe God contains no physical parts which is about half the doctrine but Bob for some weird reason took that to mean the concepts of religion are complex ergo "God is not simple".

            I am sorry but one can deny the existence of all gods and still rationally conclude that was as just plain silly response.

          • MR

            So, why do you believe? Were you raised in a tradition of belief or did something convince you? If you were convinced, what convinced you?

          • Jim the Scott

            Why should I write out the biography of my life, experiences and thoughts and knowings for you and give it to you for free?

            Go read Feser's blog and do yer own homework. I dinna care what you believe or disbelieve.

            Bob came here with some lame polemic and we destroyed them. That doesn't prove the existence of any gods or God concept but that wasn't my job. If I enter yer space preaching then the burden is on me. Nor the other way around.

          • MR

            Are you Feser? I'm not asking you to believe what I believe. I'm asking you why you believe so I can determine if I should believe.

            Bob came here ....

            And raised some interesting points that you haven't even attempted to address.

            That doesn't prove the existence of any gods or God concept but that wasn't my job. If I enter yer space preaching then the burden is on me. Nor the other way around.

            Okay, so you don't want your belief system challenged. But I do, that's why I'm asking you. Why do you believe what you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            What part of request denied is unclear to you laddie?

            >Okay, so you don't want your belief system challenged.

            Well I do but that means the burden is on you to offer me the challenge and to learn it sufficiently so as not to make a fool of yerself. You don't want to do this. That's fine. ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Have at them as they are likely more yer speed. Play too yer strengths. There is no shame in that.

          • MR

            I can't learn why you believe what you believe if you're not willing to tell me. I think we both believe Answers in Genesis is nonsense. Your way is true? Great, why do you personally believe what you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care. I am not an Evangelist. I am a critic.

          • MR

            I am not an Evangelist.

            So? Are you a human being with a point of view? Tell me why you believe.

          • Jim the Scott

            Nope. I don't care.

          • MR

            I do. Why do you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            Still don't care.

          • Jim the Scott

            I already answered you now you are just repeating yerself and if you want to ignore my answer that is fine. But good luck convincing me the Divine Simplicity is incoherent.

            >I'd like to see one as well.

            Since like him you refuse to do the reading I guess you will never know. Ah well then.

          • MR

            I'm not trying to convince you that Divine Simplicity is incoherent. I'm asking why you personally believe that God exists? Is it because Divine Simplicity is coherent to you? Does that make it true? If not, what makes it true? I'm asking you explicitly. Why do you believe. If you told me, restate it explicitly here, please.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm not trying to convince you that Divine Simplicity is incoherent.

            Then off you pop. Bob clearly was with his lame link and that tied into his original meta argument regarding "informed Atheists" which shows he is not one.

          • MR

            Okay, that's your opinion of Bob, got it.

            I'm asking why you personally believe that God exists? Is it because Divine Simplicity is coherent to you? Does that make it true? If not, what makes it true? I'm asking you explicitly. Why do you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            Do you even know what the Divine Simplicity is without googling it? If not well you can google it but I don't think you can challenge my beliefs learning them on the fly........

            Anyway I don't care what you or Bob believe. You both came here challenging my belief. Away with ye.

          • MR

            I'm not here to discuss what I believe. I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I'm trying to figure out if I should believe what you believe. Why do you believe what you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm not here to discuss what I believe.

            Nether am I but you seem unable to grasp that simple concept so why should I waste my time trying to explain the five ways to you? What is in it for me? Nothing so on yer bike.

          • MR

            Are you saying you weren't raised in a belief tradition and the five ways convinced you? I've read the five ways and I didn't find them convincing. What convinced you? What did you find compelling about them? Or, perhaps you were raised in a belief tradition and they helped bolster that belief? If so, in what way?

          • Jim the Scott

            I bet you think the First Way means God is the cause of the beginning of the universe? I am right aren't I?

          • MR

            I don't think that was Aquinas' understanding, was it? I mean, are you talking Big Bang kind of stuff? He would have no concept of that. What do you think he thought the First Way means?

          • Jim the Scott

            So you told me you read the Five ways and it didn't convince you? You don't know what Aquinas meant yet you are sure it is wrong?

            Son you don't even know the basics you are a waste of mine time.

          • MR

            And you do know what he meant? Great! Tell me what he meant? Did he mean God created the universe? That's not what he's stating. What is your understanding, then? Why do you believe it to be true?

          • Jim the Scott

            Or are you one of these Genius' who thinks the First Way is dependent on Archaic and invalid Greek views of actual physics? Well?

          • MR

            This is Aquinas' philosophy, not mine. Do you think he was correct? In what way? What do you think he meant?

          • Jim the Scott

            So you won't answer me a simple yes or no question to test yer knowledge of the subject matter to see if you are worth my time? Well you failed automatically then. You are clearly not worth my time.

          • MR

            Again, this is not my philosophy. What you describe is not what Aristotle says. If you believe it to be those things, okay, on what grounds. If not, what, then is your interpretation? Why do you believe that, then?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Again, this is not my philosophy. What you describe is not what Aristotle says. If you believe it to be those things, okay, on what grounds. If not, what, then is your interpretation? Why do you believe that, then?

            We still haven't established you understand the basics of Aquinas.

          • MR

            Let's assume I know nothing. What convinced you he is correct?

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry if you know nothing discussing it with you is not interesting to me.

          • MR

            I didn't say I know nothing. You're the one who believes Aquinas to be correct (I presume), not me. My understanding could be flawed. I want to know why you believe. Why is there necessarily an unmoved mover and not some other explanation; and why would that unmoved mover necessarily be God and not some natural process? Why do you believe what you believe? Should anyone? Why?

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but yer questions are nebulous and open ended. You need to explain to me why the five ways are invalid arguments? If you can't do that well there is the door. Remember I don't care to explain to you why I believe what I believe. The burden is entirely on you to explain to me why it is wrong. If you don't want to do that it is fine. The door to Answers in Genesis is over there. Go get 'em tiger.

          • MR

            Except I'm not trying to prove him wrong. I want to know if he's right. Just because someone claims something doesn't make it true. He doesn't demonstrate that there is an unmoved mover and if there were one that it is necessarily God. Nor could he have known half of the mysteries of the universe. If I missed something that he does in fact prove that a) unmoved mover and b) = God, I'm interested in your understanding of that.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Except I'm not trying to prove him wrong.

            Then the door is over there. Bye!

          • MR

            If you don't want to engage, then stop engaging. But, if you're going to engage, I would like to know why you believe what you believe.

          • Jim the Scott

            >If you don't want to engage, then stop engaging.

            Follow yer own advice.

          • MR

            I want to engage. I want to understand why you believe in God. Did the Five Ways convince you or did you believe before that? If you believed before that, what was it that convinced you?

          • Jim the Scott

            Son you are useless to me. You think the first way is an argument from physics? You contradicted yer correct "no" answer. I had hoped you really studied the issue. Obviously you where faking it. Badly........

          • Jim the Scott

            I mean to refute the first way and show it doesn't prove the need for an unmoved mover you need to explain how an essential series can be infinite? This is not a problem with an accidental series which is why Aquinas correctly concludes the world/universe/creation could have in principle always existed with a formal beginning or creation event. But how do you solve that with an essential series? How do you make this 2+2=5? Well? It is a specific question about a specific subject? It is not open ended........

          • MR

            It's a narrow view that doesn't take into account other possibilities, certainly not modern a understanding of the universe.

          • Jim the Scott

            How so? The first way is compatible with quantum physics, multiverse theory, string theory and even special relativity. Yep I was wrong to point you toward ANSWERS IN GENESIS. UNCOMMON DESCENT is over there. Classic Theism 101. God is a philosophical question only. Not a scientific one. If you answer scientific data with philosophy or philosophy with science you are doing both hilariously wrong.

            Category mistakes! Geez this new millennial generation man...thanks for nothing public schools.

          • MR

            Sure, I love how whenever science undermines belief, people hide behind the tired "God is a philosophical question not a scientific question." You're making claims that manifest in real life and that show a disconnect with our modern understanding of the world. An unmoved mover is neither necessary nor convincing, but somehow that's sciences fault. Got it.

          • Jim the Scott

            What does science have to do with it? Materialism is a philosophical modeling of the world & it is not proven or disproven with science. Realism, conceptionalism, nominalism and or idealism. These are philosophical views not scientific ones. Same with the moderate realism of Aristotle and Aquinas.

            BTW the belief the only valid views are those which can be empirically demonstraighted by science is itself a philosophical view called Positivism not a scientific one. Ironically it can't be proven or disproven with science so by its own standards it is false or at best trivially true(if you include Philosophy as a distinct science which it clearly is).

            You need to argue philosophical defeaters here to take on these views. You clearly don't have that skill. Like I said before this is like trying to "prove" the existence of a Higgs boson by trying to dig it up in a fossil bed rather than using a LHC. Category mistakes......yer making them. It is not convincing or rational.

          • MR

            That doesn't mean that science can't inform us--and philosophy and science were once joined at that hip. don't forget. I don't think they're so far off as you claim. People were/are trying to understand the world. Aquinas was trying to understand the world through his lens. I think that fails now. And I'm not saying that science is necessarily the only valid view, it's one of the best ways that we have, true, but just because you make a philosophical claim doesn't make it true. Philosophy a distinct science? I'd roll my eyes at that, but okay. Philosophy is basically thinking really hard to try to make sense out of something. But you can think really hard and try to make sense out of wrong things, too. Science does that, too. Unmoved mover? Okay, maybe that made sense in the 13th century. Did that really convince you in the 20th, though? Or were you already a believer?

          • Jim the Scott

            >That doesn't mean that science can't inform us

            I never claimed otherwise.

            >--and philosophy and science were once joined at that hip. don't forget.

            Till positivist tried to claim the science that give us quantitative knowledge where the only legitimate sources of true knowledges except it is not possible to show this to be true quantitatively. They then fall back and try to make a qualitative rational case (i,e, do philosophy) but that undermines their whole endeavor and proves to be completely incoherent or at best trivially true. Hence Atheists like Flew abandoned positivism during the 1950's and modern New Atheist brought it back and repeated mindlessly the same mistakes. Hilarity ensues.//

            >I don't think they're so far off as you claim. People were/are trying to understand the world.

            Since you lack even basic knowledge in philosophy good luck rationally convincing me. Maybe if you bear yer testimony that will convince me? ;-)

            >Aquinas was trying to .....

            Son we both know you are not qualified to explain to me what Aquinas was trying to do. Just as i am not qualified in making any positive apologetical case for my beliefs. So I refer you to the experts. I think it is likely you don't know what experts on yer side? Here are some names. Graham Oppy, Jack Smart, Rowe....

            No need to thank me......

          • MR

            Oh, I know that I won't convince you. Nor do I think the Five Ways convinced you.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care what you think. You don't even know how to think. You reject philosophy. You might as well reject science or math and reason. New Atheism is anti-intellectual. The Atheist philosophers of old where so much better but their heirs have devolved.

          • MR

            Don't reject philosophy, not a new atheist and not anti-intellectual.... And I still don't think it was the Five Ways that convinced you.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Don't reject philosophy, not a new atheist and not anti-intellectual...

            I don't agree.

            >And I still don't think it was the Five Ways that convinced you.

            Well I don't think you understand the difference between an essential causal series vs an accidental one so any discussion would be moot.

          • MR

            So you didn't believe before you learned about the Five Ways, then?

          • Jim the Scott

            Why is me answering trivial, nebulous and open ended questions so important to you? Especially when I unambiguously tell you I refuse to do so?

          • MR

            Two reasons.

          • Jim the Scott

            Neither of which upon reflection are interesting to me. Ah well then......

          • Jim the Scott

            >He doesn't demonstrate that there is an unmoved mover

            How so? How do you show that an essential series can be infinite? Now an accidental series can be infinite (which is why the Universe can have always existed) but how do you solve that with an essential series? Well? Do you know?

            >and if there were one that it is necessarily God.

            That is not convincing. If there is an unmoved mover well that grants the lion's share to the Classic Theist. Whatever it is we take it to be God. Anything less or different can fuuu...udge off. ;-)

          • MR

            Yet the universe, or whatever underlies it, could itself have always existed and been in flux (movement/change, whatever you want to call it) and not require something outside it to get the ball rolling. An ever/always moving mover. Or some other natural force we don't yet understand that is not intelligence/nous that got the ball rolling. Why specifically God?

            Whatever it is we take it to be God.

            Just 'cause you say so?

          • Jim the Scott

            You just contradicted yer correct answer from before.

            >Yet the universe, or whatever underlies it, could itself have always existed and been in flux (movement/change, whatever you want to call it) and not require something outside it to get the ball rolling.

            Before you said "no" to my First way question. You correctly told me the first way has nothing to do with God being the creator or cause of the beginning of the universe. I further informed you Aquinas didn't believe it was scientifically or philosophically possible to prove creation had a formal beginning. Now you are contradicting that?

            > An ever/always moving mover. Or some other natural force we don't yet understand that is not intelligence/nous that got the ball rolling. Why specifically God?

            An unmoved mover by definition is not moving or moved? It might be causing the moving but it is not itself moved? Also you do realize "moved" or Motus as understood by Aquinas means something in potency being put into act by something already in act or are you going to bore me by bring up Newton (whose physics can be modeled by the Act/Potency distinction)?

            > Just 'cause you say so?

            Well if you can offer a counter argument as to how an essential causal series can be infinite I would like to hear it but it seems you are confusing that with an accidental series and you just contradicted yer former correct answer?

            Son to me you sound like the Creationist who brings up the 2nd law of thermal dynamics as an "argument for the impossibility of evolution" and about half as smart. Now I don't think you are cognitively deficient. But you need to go hit the books and do yer homework.

          • MR

            No, you're mistaking my point. An unmoved mover is simply not necessary. Just because Aquinas had some 13-century philosophical understanding of the universe doesn't mean it's correct. We can talk about Motus and we can talk about Alchemy. Just because Aquinas defined something for his use doesn't mean it's necessarily a correct representation of reality. As far as something creating the universe, that sounds nonsensical to me. When I say "get the ball rolling," I'm not referring to some kind of creation. Do you think I was saying the universe (beyond post-Big Bang iteration) was created or had a beginning? I'm not saying that, no.

          • Jim the Scott

            No you are not getting my point. You don't understand Thomism or the five ways (or philosophy in general) well enough to convince me yer rejection of them was rationally significant. It clearly wasn't.

            You don't understand the argument so you are not suited to discuss it with me till you do. Dr. B tells me Antony Flew once wrote an attempted refutations of the five ways. According to him Flew understood the arguments. Now he didn't think he was successful but according to him Flew understood the five ways (which makes his 180 with Conway all the more profound) correctly. You don't son so any discussion about it will be boring and I have one rule. Don't bore me.

            Now off you go......

          • MR

            And yet there are still other possible/probable explanations that don't require an unmoved mover, but I'm just supposed to accept a 13th century Catholic philosopher justifying his beliefs in even older outdated philosophies. Got it.

            You never answered. Did the Five Ways convince you of God, or did you believe before?

          • Jim the Scott

            Now you are like the Creationist who doubles down and repeats his lame argument that ape aren't seen giving birth to humans and he crows he is victorious when you fail to produce one....which is not convince to those of us who really understand evolutionary science and you are not convincing to someone who understands philosophy.

            >You never answered. Did the Five Ways convince you of God, or did you believe before?

            And I never will....I am not suited to do that undertaking so I won't attempt it.

          • MR

            A simple yes or no answer that you're so fond of! I think we all know the answer.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry I will not answer nebulous open ended questions even nebulous open ended question with a yes or no. It would be tedious for both of us.

          • MR

            I disagree, but I think we all know the answer.

          • Jim the Scott

            You may disagree. But for some reason you will not grant me the same curtesy?

          • Jim the Scott

            You are taking a long time to answer my last two questions? A simple yes or no will do. Yet you want me to answer yours and you put in no effort?

            I knew you where not serious. We are done.

          • MR

            Eh? Your last two are rhetorical not yes/no questions. The questions are for you to decide, not me. I want to know. I imagine many people would like to know. You don't have to answer, but as long as you're going to engage me, I'm going to keep asking. I'm happy to answer questions about my belief. No, you don't have to, but if you're going to engage me, I'm going to ask.

          • Jim the Scott

            No they are yes or no questions. Do you believe the First Way teaches God is the cause of the beginning of the Universe? Yes or no or I don't know?

            Second do you believe the First Way is dependent on archaic Greek physics Yes or No or I don't know?

            I you refuse to answer you are not worth my time.

          • MR

            I answered your question. Aquinas does not explicitly state that. Is that your understanding? Why?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Aquinas does not explicitly state that.

            I am asking you if you know what he meant? Not what he said? We Thomists know all of us. It is not a secret.

          • MR

            You claim to know. That doesn't mean either you are he are necessarily right. Why do you believe him to be correct?

          • Jim the Scott

            Yer general questions are nebulous and open ended. Thus they are not interesting. Anyway you answered correctly the first way is not an argument for the creation of the universe. Aquinas didn't believe you could scientifically or philosophically prove the world had a formal beginning. So for the sake of argument he treated the world as always existing and his arguments explains why it exists here and now.

            But I am thinking you just guessed correctly. I gave you enough hints. Dawkins thinks the First way is a version of the Kalam argument and his criticisms are comically silly.

          • MR

            And what do you think he meant? Do you believe it? Why?

          • Jim the Scott

            Rather do you know what he meant? If you don't then discussing it is not interesting. After all there is a reason why guys like Dawkins won't debate Young Earth Creationists. It is not because he is afraid of their arguments. No far from it. It is because he doesn't want to break a blood vessel correcting their blithering mistakes in science and general ignorance. I sympathize 100%.

            So why should I discuss the five ways with you for the same reason? Do you understand them?

          • MR

            My first question is, are they what convinced you to believe in God? Because if they weren't what convinced you, then it's possible you just use them as a screen to bolster your actual belief. Are they the reason you came to believe in God? You can consider that a yes/or no question since you're so fond of that. If so, why did you find them compelling. If they aren't the real, shall we say, first cause of your belief, then let's start with that.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry my house not yours. You claimed the First Way doesn't prove an unmoved mover? How so? How you show that an essential series can be infinite contrary to Aquinas' conclusions? Now obviously an accidental series can in principle be backwards infinite. But how to you show that is the case for Aquinas' argument & thus refute it?

            BTW do you understand what I just asked you? Or did it go over yer head?

          • MR

            It's based in a 13th-century religious/philosophical understanding of the universe. It doesn't actually prove anything. You really have to define what you mean by movement, infinity, causes, universe, etc. Was anything ever not in "movement?" That itself seems suspect to me. If there has always been movement why the need for a prime mover in the first place? Is that not an option? Are other natural explanations we don't know about not options. "We can't explain it; therefore God" is not a convincing argument. Is this why you believe? The five ways? Is that what convinced you of God's existence?

          • Jim the Scott

            >It's based in a 13th-century religious/philosophical understanding of the universe.

            Nope it is a response to the philosophical arguments of Parmenides who argued change is not real & it is also a counter balance to Heraclides who argued only change is real. It has nothing to do with physics at all. You failed and it is obvious yer answer to my earlier first way question was nothing more than a lucky guess.

            If you want to argue "Scientific Theism" Uncommon Desent is over there. Classic Theist don't believe God is a scientific question only a philosophical one. If you are answering philosophy with science or vice versa you are doing both very very very wrong.

          • MR

            Oh, no, you're right, Aquinas' ideas are based in even more antiquated and outdated concepts of the universe. I agree.

          • Jim the Scott

            > Oh, no, you're right, Aquinas' ideas etc.....

            Well that is a nebulous and equivocal statement. It would be like me saying Democretus the ancient Greek Atheist philosopher and atomist materialist believed erroneously the Earth was flat (Oh and BTW he did believe that while his theistic contemporaries correctly deduced it was round....just saying) so therefore I can dismiss his philosophical arguments for materialism. Sorry but that is wrong & rationally absurd.and I don't believe in Materialism...

            You are unsuited to have this discussion with me as I am unsuited to do positive apologetics. The difference between us is I own it. You OTOH......

          • MR

            The obvious point to me is that throughout history philosophers have been wrong about many, many things. Sometimes they get things right, sometimes they get things spectacularly wrong. Unmoved mover in our modern understanding today seems to me obviously wrong.

            Are the Five Ways really convincing? Did they convince you or did you already believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            It is obvious to me you don't know what an essential series is vs an accidental series vs Act/potency or even what a Philosophical defeater is so yer judgement here on the rightness or wrongness of philosophy is worthless.

          • MR

            I just don't see the necessity for a causal chain that stretches back to an unmoved mover. It's all just so much philosophical woo.

          • Jim the Scott

            What kind of causal chain? Essential or accidental?

            >It's all just so much philosophical woo.

            Says all intellectually stunted lazy New Atheists and Atheist philosophers face palm! Like I did when I saw Kirk Cameron do his Banana Argument with Ray Comfort.

          • MR

            Neither. It's the unmoved mover I see no need for.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Neither. It's the unmoved mover I see no need for.

            That is like a Young Earth Creationist saying evolution is false because Lemark's view found no experimental backing and therefore Darwin must be false too.

            Really you are bad at this. If you don't know the difference between an essential series vs an accidental one yer rejection of the unmoved mover is meaningless and trivial. Just like the YEC who doesn't know Darwin from Lemark from Stephen Gould to Dawkins from a hole in the head.

            But if you want to be an Atheist I am not stopping you. But I won't waste my time with a meaningless poop fight with a know nothing.

          • MR

            I'm not claiming it's false, I see other options. It's a theory, but not the only one. It's a theory that seems contrived.

          • Jim the Scott

            > I'm not claiming it's false,

            Then you are not saying anything I find interesting.

            >I see other options. It's a theory, but not the only one. It's a theory that seems contrived.

            So what is that to me?

          • MR

            I don't think it's anything to you. You throw up walls around your belief rather than help to understand it. It makes it all seem even less plausible.

          • Jim the Scott

            Correct yer constant pleas for me to answer yer trivial, nebulous open ended questions are nothing to me. I would say less than nothing for rhetorical effect but that would be metaphysically impossible.

            > You throw up walls around your belief rather than help to understand it.

            Rather I quite plainly and truthfully tell you I lack the competence to make a positive case and I refer you to an expert yet irrationally you want me to answer anyway? That is like demanding a doctor who tells you he lacks the training to treat yer illness treat it anyway instead of going to the specialist he recomends you see who is just down the hall.

            That is not rational behavior and you are clearly not a rational person.

            >It makes it all seem even less plausible.

            Rather it tells me you lack basic common sense. I don't.

          • MR

            Rather I quite plainly and truthfully tell you I lack the competence to make a positive case and I refer you to an expert yet irrationally you want me to answer anyway?

            Yes, because if you really do believe it, then it's convinced you in some way and that interests me. I want to know why people find this and various arguments convincing.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Yes, because if you really do believe it, then it's convinced you in some way and that interests me.

            Not really it seems since you want to learn from a self professed incompetent and not from an expert. So you really aren't interesting in knowing. It seems you are interested in me personally not my beliefs. Sorry but that is just irrational behavior on yer part and I don't share myself personally with irrational people. If you want to share feelings go talk to a woman.

            >I want to know why people find this and various arguments convincing.

            Where as I don't give a rat's festering behind about people. I want to know the arguments themselves from the strongest most competent presenter. That is not me son and it is as plain as a Bulgarian Pin up it is nor you.

          • MR

            Then perhaps it didn't actually convince you. Okay. It hasn't convinced me because our current understanding of the universe doesn't require an unmoved mover when the very fabric of space-time is itself a roiling flux of "change." One could get around it by calling the universe itself "God," I suppose, but then you're just redefining the stuff of the universe. Okay.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I do not intend to get into all the details of trying to prove God's existence from motion to someone who clearly has never studied such proofs at all.

            Still, just as an alert to you of how far your understanding is from the actual proofs, I would point out that you seem to think that the arguments go from present motion in the universe backwards in time to finding some sort of first mover that started all the motion going.

            This shows that you have never read the actual classical proof from motion, since it is classically given by both Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas as meaning a causal sequence of movers and things moved acting all at the same time here and now. It is, so to speak, a "vertical" series of moved movers one is considering, not an "horizontal" sequence going backward in time.

            As I say, I am not trying to teach you the entire argument, but merely aim to show you the extent to which you are attacking a proof that you have clearly never read or understood at all.

            While again, I don't have the time or interest to explain the whole thing to you, I have previously published a piece on Strange Notions that should give you a better understanding of the kind of thinking that actually underlies the proof from motion, which is totally removed from your apparent misunderstandings:

            https://strangenotions.com/how-new-existence-implies-god/

          • MR

            Thank you, Dennis. The article appears to me to be full of equivocation and assumptions. Regardless, again, our current understanding of the universe is not the same as Aristotle's or Aquinas' understanding of their cosmos and current models do not necessitate a prime mover nor is there any reason to believe that a better understanding of the universe would necessitate one. In any case, Aquinas and the rest could not have factored what we know today, what has been hinted at, or what we may know in the future into their theories.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is a lame response.

            >The article appears to me to be full of equivocation and assumptions.

            Rather you appear to be too lazy to learn the subject matter so you dismiss it.
            How would you feel toward a YE Creationist who reads an article listing the scientific reasons to believe Evolution and instead of interacting with it he merely says "it is full of equivocations and assumptions"? If he was honest and said "I don't understand enough science to respond to this" well that won't in principle prove him right or wrong but it would be honest and coherent.
            If you don't feel competent to answer philosophical arguments then you should own it and leave. Go find some Young Earth Creationists or ID proponents and argue their Scientific Theism. You might know enough science to be successful? But you are clearly incompetent to argue outside that sphere & it is self evident you have no desire for improvement.

            So why are you here? It is obvious not to learn and this is not a place to socialize or discuss feelings. Go watch The View for that.

            >Regardless, again, our current understanding of the universe is not the same as Aristotle's or Aquinas'

            What does that have to do with the philosophical argument for a First Cause in the first way? Like I said Democretus the Greek Atheist philosopher, Atomists and Materialist believed the world was flat not round. He said the gods did not exist and all was atoms in the void. His philosophical arguments for materialism and those of modern Atheist philosophers have nothing to do with current science. Same with the first way. I was right about you. You have positivism on the brain and you can offer absolutely no rational philosophical defeater to the conclusions of first way. So yer rejection of it is intellectually trivial. Which is fine but you have no business here arguing what you refuse to understand. Just like the YE Creationist with a fifth graders' knowledge of biology has no business arguing with Grad students over evolution especially when he refuses to learn more about science.

            Why are you here MR? It is obvious not to learn anything or teach anything.

          • MR

            Yeah, sure, I'm too stupid to understand and you're so smart that you can't give any indication you are capable of defending your own belief. Got it. Your insults and berating speak to that as well. I think there is much to be learned in just that.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Yeah, sure, I'm too stupid to understand...

            No I am sure you could rake a fundamentalist Young Earth creationist over the coals and send him crying to mommy. I am absolutely confident you could formulate devastating scientific rebuttals to any ID supporter and crush their belief in their false Theistic personalist so called god and I would personally enjoy the show. But you are lacking in offering any meaningful or informed polemics against Classic Theism.

            What makes you "stupid" (& you aren't are you?....which is tragic) is yer insistence on finding out about Classic Theism from someone who doesn't have the skill or patience or charity or ability to teach you vs those who could.

            It is in fact like you asking a doctor to treat yer illness & he informs you it is not his area of medicine and he refers you to the successful specialist down the hall but you irrationally refuse. Why would anybody do that?

            When I gave up YEC about 30 years ago I learned about Evolution from reading professionals not amateur scrubs who knew nothing.

            What is wrong with you son? Geez you don't have to believe in God too see that is the wrong move.

            Now I will try (for me) to say a few kind words. You are better than yer crappy arguments for Atheist. Good get good ones. Maybe it is dangerous. You could God forbid wind up believing in God and worst become Catholic. Yeh that would suck believe me I know from experience. Or you could become the better well informed Atheist Bob crows about.

            It is yer choice and I really don't care what you choose. But if you keep making the same irrational choice I promise you I will do everything I can to ruthlessly destroy yer ignorant musing with a ton of rational cruel arguments.

            When it come to philosophical argument and argument in general I am a strict Darwinist. Only the strong survive. Son that is not you.

            Peace be with you and stay healthy.

          • MR

            Except that you run from making arguments, which you yourself admit. You don't make rational cruel arguments. You're schtick is to simply be cruel. So when you were a YEC, was it the Five Ways that convinced you to become one, or did that come from your later Catholicism? If not, what did convince you that a God existed? Or were you raised in YEC tradition?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Except that you run from making arguments,

            No that would be you since you don't run to those who can make you good arguments for what you seek but to those who confess they cannot. I have argued yer behavior here is irrational and it is and I notice you have no answer to it? No rational justification whatsoever why I must be yer teacher and not somebody else more qualified? Why is that?

            >which you yourself admit. You don't make rational cruel arguments. You're schtick is to simply be cruel.

            Clearly I just did it is self evidently irrational to seek an argument from a person who confesses they lack the ability to do so and avoid the competent. That is you and it is absurd. Give this obvious flaw with you if I had the ability why would I waste my time on you? (BTW I notice Dr. B who is more competent then myself doesn't want to teach you either? Gee I wonder why? Well I know why! He and I talk).

            I doubt Richard Dawkins would waste his time on someone who wants to deny Evolution without wanting to learn any science. I don't want to waste my time on you for similar reasons. You refuse to learn philosophy.

            > So when you were a YEC, was it the Five Ways that convinced you to become one, or did that come from your later Catholicism? If not, what did convince you that a God existed? Or were you raised in YEC tradition?

            It gives me pleasure to deny answering yer nebulous trivial open ended questions. It further proves to me you are not really a rational atheist because the rational Atheists simply took my reading recommendations and moved on & when some came back and told me it didn't work for them and asked for more info depending on my mood I either helped them or fobbed them off.

            I don't feel bad about that which feels great.

          • MR

            Trust me, it gives me even greater pleasure that you deny it! It lays bare your farce.

          • Jim the Scott

            How so you are the one pursuing information from a self confessed know nothing vs a potential expert? That is a real farce.

          • MR

            So, you don't know why you believe what you believe? That could be true, yes.

          • Jim the Scott

            I do know why I just don't care to dictate to you my intellectual biography or my lifetime of experiences. Do yer own homework. I don't like you. You are very irrational and that is only cute in women wearing a cocktail dresses who pout.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            What you say here only serves to underline what I said before about you having no real knowledge of the classical proofs for God's existence. Even if one wishes to reject them, one first has to know what he is rejecting.

            Moreover, you clearly assume that natural science can answer every question that can be answered and do not understand the difference between natural science and philosophy. You still fail to address the distinction between a temporal regression of intermediate movers and one in which all motion takes place simultaneously. This is again simply a reflection of not knowing anything about the classical proof from motion.

            If I knew nothing but some natural science, I might speak the way you are speaking. But that would be to ignore the entire history of philosophy in treating this topic.

          • MR

            Okay, you've built a straw man. I don't assume that science can answer every question any more than I assume philosophy can answer every question. Clearly Aristotle had a flawed view of the universe built into his philosophy, nor could have have conceived of other explanations governing the universe.

          • Jim the Scott

            No Dr. B is an expert in Philosophy and if he judges you don't know enough to say anything meaningful on the five ways it is reasonable to heed him just as it is reasonable to listen to Dawkins tell a YEC with a fifth graders knowledge of science he doesn't know enough to comment on the topic.

            > I don't assume that science can answer every question any more than I assume philosophy can answer every question.

            Yet you keep making scientific objections to the first way?

            > Aristotle had a flawed view of the universe built into his philosophy,

            Democretus was a flat earther and an Atheist. So if we apply yer flawed reasoning here well....

            It is a good thing yer reasoning is flawed. Aristotle had a view of reality based on moderate realism. For you to answer him let us here yer defeaters for his views and let us hear yer positive philosophical argument from either the strong realism of Plato or the anti-realism for Parmenides or Heraclides?

            PS Everything I just wrote I think is above head but people who know some philosophy know what I am talking about. That excludes you.

          • MR

            Because the objections are valid. Aquinas based his philosophy on a flawed empirical observation. On an incomplete understanding of how the universe works. It's his flaw, not sciences.

            Democretus was a flat earther and an Atheist. So if we apply yer flawed reasoning here well....

            That goes to show your own flawed reasoning.

            Aristotle had a view of reality

            And in what way does this rescue Aquinas' flawed/incomplete understanding of the universe? Don't get me wrong, I don't blame the guy, he lived in the 13th century. Nor do I claim his flawed understanding means that God doesn't exist. Just that the argument is unconvincing in light of what we know today.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Because the objections are valid. Aquinas based his philosophy on a flawed empirical observation.

            So our sense don't tell us some thing change? That is like saying I don't really see the sky but I look out my window as I write this and know that statement is absurd. Like yer objections here.

            >Nor do I claim his flawed understanding means that God doesn't exist.

            Rather yer flawed understanding of the argument shows you cannot competently explain his argument is flawed. Go read some pre-Deist Flew for the love of Mike. Thus I laugh at you like Dawkins does at the YEC who invokes the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics against evolution or some such silliness.

            >Just that the argument is unconvincing in light of what we know today.

            How does what we know to day prove our senses don't tell us some things change(motus)?

            How does it disprove a potency is only put into act by something already in act? The best argument was from Hume but as I pointed out Ascombie dispatches that quite neatly.

            You cannot invoke a Atheism of the gaps argument against causality anymore than I can invoke a god of the gaps to prove some theistic personalist "deity" I don't think does and can exist.

            Go Pure Act or go home.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You are committing the egregious error of assuming that Aristotle's and St. Thomas's philosophies were dependent on, or perhaps even equivalent to, their "flawed/incomplete understanding of the universe."

            You clearly have no awareness of the distinctions between the ancient physical sciences, the philosophy of nature that is only in part intertwined with those sciences, and the metaphysical principles and science that can be abstracted from those prior two levels of knowledge.

            Try a little common sense here. Do you really think that, if these ancient and medieval thinkers' philosophies were completely circumscribed by the archaic science of their times, there could have been developed an Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of philosophy that would still survive rather intact even now, many centuries later. Do you really think well-paid professors as modern colleges and universities would be publishing peer reviewed articles in professional journals whose topics defend various metaphysical theses based on A-T philosophy?

            You may not agree with those philosophies, and some real philosophers may not agree with them either, -- but that is a far cry from saying that they are so dependent on an archaic science that they are not worth debating today. It would be like saying that, since the ancients thought the sun orbited around the earth, they were inherently incapable of developing a philosophy which some modern thinkers still call the "perennial philosophy."

            Your real problem is that you have never studied the history of philosophy.

          • MR

            Got it, I'm ignorant of philosophy; and Aquinas was ignorant of a complete understanding of the universe and based his philosophy on that flawed understanding. It's a wonder you're not criticizing him.

            . Do you really think that, if these ancient and medieval thinkers' philosophies were completely circumscribed by the archaic science of their times, there could have been developed an Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition of philosophy that would still survive rather intact even now,

            Of course I do! That doesn't mean they got it right! Do you really think that was a valid argument? People hang on to false beliefs for centuries.

            Do you really think well-paid professors as modern colleges and universities would be publishing peer reviewed articles in professional journals whose topics defend various metaphysical theses based on A-T philosophy?

            Of course I do! Articles that other well-paid professors, critical thinkers and other incredibly smart people disagree with as well.

            but that is a far cry from saying that they are so dependent on an archaic science that they are not worth debating today

            And I agree with you there. I think most philosophers got many things right and came to logical conclusions based on the information available to them. That doesn't mean that everything they got was right. You know that.

            Your real problem is that you have never studied the history of philosophy.

            Which is a history of many failed and mistaken beliefs. Some of which we still believe, some of which will be overturned, and some new beliefs may arise. Studying the history of philosophy doesn't mean that all philosophy, even today, is right. I'm just pointing out that there are flaws in Aquinas. It's not my fault. He wrote it, not me.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            " I'm just pointing out that there are flaws in Aquinas."

            I agree with you there. The question is how big are the flaws and do they destroy his central philosophical reasoning.

            What is clear to me is that you are rejecting the whole Aristotelian-Thomistic edifice when you admit you really have never studied it.

            You are merely assuming that it is fatally flawed because it is centrally based on an archaic scientific worldview.

            Where is your rational evidence and proof that this assumption is true -- other than that you believe it is based on your awareness of the superiority of modern science to the ancient one?

            The real evidence to support your assumption would rest on a thorough understanding the the philosophy involved as well as knowing the science. You admit you lack that knowledge of the philosophy involved.

            Therefore you are making a claim that you really have no evidence and reasoning to support.

          • MR

            Flaws certainly big enough not to convince me. Sure you can repackage it to make it look like I'm the one at fault. You haven't studied it enough, you're not smart enough. Got it. And it can't be that the arguments themselves fail to convince someone who isn't already indoctrinated, can it. Got it. Then, now that I"m reviewing..., your false and misleading claims about my own beliefs, your false framing..., I mean what does that tell me about what I can expect to learn from you? You know I'm not making those claims, that I'm not outright rejecting whole swaths of philosophical thought. That you want to dress me up in that straw man speaks to me of dishonesty and deception. I mean, you've said several fallacious things that you should know better. I don't think I have much to learn from you either.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "You know I'm not making those claims, that I'm not outright rejecting whole swaths of philosophical thought. "

            So now you claim I am misrepresenting your position -- that your claims against Thomism are reasonable and limited and that i am setting up a straw man. Let us see. Look at what you wrote up above:

            "Regardless, again, our current understanding of the universe is not the same as Aristotle's or Aquinas' understanding of their cosmos and current models do not necessitate a prime mover nor is there any reason to believe that a better understanding of the universe would necessitate one. In any case, Aquinas and the rest could not have factored what we know today, what has been hinted at, or what we may know in the future into their theories."

            So, you DID claim that "our current understanding of the universe" does "not necessitate a prime mover." You also made claims that made it clear that you were thinking of motion as an ongoing process through time.

            Now tell me why that does not mean you are using modern science so as to toss out both Aquinas's understanding of motion in terms of movers moving here and now and not going back in time -- which DOES mean you do not understand his argument from motion.

            You also claim that "Aquinas and the rest could not have factored what we know today...." This amounts to brushing aside the whole substance of A-T philosophy in the name of modern science.

            No, I have not misrepresented your position at all. You do not know Thomism and yet you are tossing out its central insights and most of its philosophy in the name of your understanding of science alone -- combined with your abject ignorance of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy.

            You have NOT supported your sweeping claims. And I can hardly dispute with someone who does not know the essential tenets of the philosophical positions he is rejecting.

          • MR

            Yeah, and you're still misrepresenting me. I get it. Deserved from my exchange with JS. Different circumstances we could have explored my comments, my actual thoughts and your thoughts. I don't think we can do so productively at this point. I'm sure you don't trust me and you've kind of poisoned the water with some of your own fallacious comments. That's okay.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Sorry if you think those things. My last reply to you was simply the result of trying to follow the logic of your own statements.

          • MR

            I particularly liked the post a couple above that which was like some kind of masturbatory fantasy of what you think I believe even when I clearly contradict it elsewhere. I can't imagine trying to tease out the flaws, dealing with your cognitive dissonance since you wrote it and will be committed to it, and then trying to get you to understand my actual stance. I'm kind of sorry I didn't engage you first in a normal conversation, but then that particular post kind of weirds me out so maybe it's best I let it go.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Frankly, had you merely stated that you did not see how Aquinas's philosophy would be sustained by our present understanding of science, that would have been a reasonable position from which to proceed to dialogue.

            But, here is a sample of your own wording: "Got it, I'm ignorant of philosophy; and Aquinas was ignorant of a complete understanding of the universe and based his philosophy on that flawed understanding. It's a wonder you're not criticizing him."

            When you accuse Aquinas of basing his philosophy on a "flawed understanding" of the universe, you are making a major philosophical claim, namely, that Aquinas's philosophy was fundamentally flawed because of his flawed understanding of what we now call modern science.

            When you make the claim that Aquinas's philosophy is fundamentally flawed, and yet show you really do not understand enough of his philosophy to know the causal regressions in the proof from motion are not temporal regressions, that is when I feel the need to call you on making claims about Aquinas when your knowledge of his philosophy is clearly defective.

            More importantly, I would defend the position that Aquinas transcends the limits of medieval science when he begins and builds a metaphysics of being which does not depend on the limits of natural science.

            That is why you need to know the distinctions between the natural science found in his philosophy of physical nature and the genuinely philosophical principles that he simultaneously develops in his study of natural philosophy. And, beyond his cosmology lies the fruitful science of metaphysics, which arises from an analysis of being that transcends the study of movable being.

            The whole point is that there is a lot more to Thomistic philosophy than mere parroting of an archaic physical science -- so that your claiming that his entire philosophy is dependent on the flawed natural science of the ancients demanded correction, simply in the name of truth.

          • MR

            And again twisting my stance. Can't help yourself, can you? Sorry, I just don't see us having a good faith conversation.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Twisting [your] stance?" All I did was to take your own statements at face value. If you really did not intend their full implications about the nature of science and its relation to philosophy, you remain free to clarify.

          • MR

            So you can continue to twist? Sounds like fun. It's amusing that when I said something about Aquinas having flaws, you agreed, elsewhere I said something to the effect of putting a dent right up front; then after twice noting you were misrepresenting my words you turn around to say I claimed it was "fundamentally flawed." Third time's a charm, I guess. It may very well be fundamentally flawed, but I'm not the one who made that claim. Enjoy your straw men. I spent a long time chatting with a self proclaimed asshole, I don't relish trading that in for your dishonesty.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Aside from your descending to vulgar name calling, you insist that I misrepresent your position. But look at your own words here:

            "... Aquinas was ignorant of a complete understanding of the universe and based his philosophy on that flawed understanding."

            I do not see any careful qualification on your part here. You did NOT say based "PART" of his philosophy on that flawed understanding. You said "based his philosophy." Logically, that must be read as a statement made without qualification as to the extent of his philosophy allegedly based on that "flawed understanding."

            As such, you were attacking the whole of Thomistic philosophy as being based on archaic science.

            I think I had both a legitimate right and duty to point out your overreach and to defend Thomistic philosophy against your illogical attack. You need not take this personally, but it is the ideas proclaimed that must be addressed and refuted.

          • MR

            And elsewhere I explicitly stated that I was not saying he was necessarily wrong. That you inferred something I did not say is understandable but an honest person would say something to the effect, "You seem to be saying," or, "if you're saying...," but you repeatedly made statements to the effect of "you claim." even when I pointed out you were misrepresenting me. You're a smart guy. I don't think that's an accident. You've played your cards. I see what it will be like to have a conversation with you. As I said, I'm not going to waste my time teasing out my actual stance from your straw men.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Alright. I went back and did find an exculpatory statement in your comments:

            "Studying the history of philosophy doesn't mean that all philosophy, even today, is right. I'm just pointing out that there are flaws in Aquinas."

            My problem was the logic of your other statement was so overreaching that it needed rebuttal:

            "... Aquinas was ignorant of a complete understanding of the universe and based his philosophy on that flawed understanding."

            I am still not impressed with your claim that there is no need for a first mover because modern science sees no such need, since that way of reasoning does subordinate philosophy to science so much that it makes you fail to even consider the possibility of a simultaneous causal or mover regress. This still shows rejection of a major classic proof for God when it is clear you never studied it. On the other hand, if it is any consolation, Bertrand Russell made the same mistake in his famous debate with Fr. Copleston back in 1948 -- if my memory serves me correctly.

            I am willing to let the chips fall where they may. Truth is best served when the actual positions, not only of yourself, but also of major thinkers, like Aquinas, are properly understood. And there is a lot of philosophy that needs to be understood correctly in order to avoid faulty prejudgment of Thomism.

          • MR

            Great. Except I'm not interested in continuing a conversation with someone I know is going to willfully misrepresent me. It's dishonest and you lost my trust. I'm sorry.

          • Ficino

            On the other hand, if it is any consolation, Bertrand Russell made the same mistake in his famous debate with Fr. Copleston back in 1948 -- if my memory serves me correctly.

            I seem to remember something like this from Russell, too, but I don't see it in the debate with Copleston. As I understand Copleston, he himself seems to have been talking about an accidentally ordered series, because he initiates the notion with this: "You see, I don't believe that the infinity of the series of events -- I mean a horizontal series, so to speak -- if such an infinity could be proved ..." There, however, he seems to be talking about a series of contingent beings; he isn't making an argument from motion but a PSR argument. (In his History, Copleston describes an accidentally ordered series as "horizontal," going through time, and a hierarchically ordered series as "vertical," an "order of actually depending causes.") But then, when Copleston switches from a series of contingent beings to "the series of events," he seems to envision a series going through time. I don't find anything clear from Russell on a series of movers, whether ordered hierarchically per se or accidentally. The debate doesn't seem to have dealt with the First Way.

            In his History of Western Philosophy, Russell doesn't go deeply into the Ways, but he seems to think of the series of movers "horizontally" when he says that "It might be objected that this argument involves the eternity of movement..." Could this be what we're remembering?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Clearly, you memory of this matter is far more detailed than my own. Still, I am fairly comfortable with saying that it was Russell who was conceiving of a temporal regression, whereas I would be amazed if Copleston were to have made that mistake -- just for the simple reason that Copleston was more familiar with Aquinas's work.

            One must also concede that it is far more natural for people to think in terms of temporal regression in the first instance. It takes a bit of further reflection to address the possibility of a series of subordinated causes acting hic et nunc.

          • Ficino

            No, Copleston certainly didn't make that mistake. I too think Russell did make it somewhere, though I can't detect it in the debate.

          • MR

            Aside from your descending to vulgar name calling

            Are you referring to calling Jim a self-proclaimed asshole? That was Jim's own description of himself. That's what self-proclaimed means.

          • Jim the Scott

            Actually you called me one first I merely owned it.

            MR do you have a legitimate rational argument against belief in Classic Theism? Do you even know the difference between Classic Theism vs Theistic Personalism? Yes or no? If no then why are you here? It is not to learn anything since I referred you to experts yet you refused to dive in?

            So why are you here? There is no shame in not knowing a subject. There is a great deal of shame in trying to fake it and getting caught. Go and do some homework. (I note Fucino gave you a few leads) then come back with yer A game. We would love to have a real debate.

            Or you can just keep playing the passive agressive game you are playing....Definition of insanity and all that.

          • MR

            Ah, did I first use it? Thank you for correcting that. Beyond that, the passive aggressive game has principally been yours. I agree that I set the tone and then played along, but you've clearly not been interested in having a real conversation.

          • Jim the Scott

            >you've clearly not been interested in having a real conversation.

            Rather I don't find the "conversation" you want to have at all interesting. I told you that openly & honestly and you kept trying to force yerself on me. Why?

            I am not here to make a positive case for all my beliefs. That is a great undertaking beyond my current abilities. I have no problem in admitting that. If you are the same that is fine. But you don't get to demand I change. I don't care if you don't so what is yer problem?

          • MR

            I'm pretty sure you're the one forcing himself on me. I gave up on an honest conversation with you eons ago.

          • Jim the Scott

            Yet you keep asking the same question I refused to answer? Who does that?

          • MR

            You keep engaging, so why not try? I mean, you basically answered it, anyway.

          • Jim the Scott

            Same to you.

          • MR

            That's why you keep asking the same question over and over.

          • Jim the Scott

            Chuzpah.

          • MR

            Loneliness.

          • Jim the Scott

            @dennisbonnette:disqus

            Masturbatory fantasy? Oh wait I am guessing he is getting this from my following statement.

            >Thus the Dave Stoves' & Graham Oppy's of the world shine and the Richard Dawkins and Bob S's of the world are busy playing with Bananas with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort.

            Geez get yer mind out of the gutter!

            If you google it or go on the Tube there is a video where Kirk Cameron and Rey Comfort try to make an ID argument for the existence of God based on the "perfect design" of the Banana.

            The version I saw was edited by an Atheist who let the video play in its entirety and at the end they show a picture of some wild bananas and point out the bananas we grow are the product of thousand of years of cultivation not divine intervention and artifice. Now ironically Kirk and Roy are "correct" in that the banana is a product of ID. Our ID not the Almighty's.

            It is a cringe worthy bad argument for God and naturally I lump Dawkins and Bob in with them because some of their Atheists arguments are just as incompetent. Bob with his nebulous "well informed Atheist" mishigoss and Dawkins criticism of the five ways well......so bad. Anthony Kennedy the "hopeful agnostic" Thomistic Scholar ripped him a new one.

            Bad argument is bad argument. Theists make them and so do Atheists.

            Why this bothers anybody is anybody's guess.

          • MR

            Deep.

          • Jim the Scott

            No that would be Ficino's advice to you. He has been paying attention to the subject matter. Unlike some of us.

          • Jim the Scott

            Dr B being the gentlemen that he is is not going to be mean to you but you cannot fool him. This is his area of expertise. Fucino is a scholar who reads Aristotle in the original Greek and where is his is not a philosopher he is an accomplished academic and religious skeptic and can offer you the best help trying to craft legitimate objections to Thomistic Philosophy.
            Objection you have yet to make. I told you. Nay I warned you to do yer homework and you ignored me. You cannot recycle the standard contra ID Fundamentalist Christian polemics you learned from ex-Fundamentalists turned atheists and use them here. Odds are they are all non-starter objections. You are contradicting yer self and making a hash of it. The Bible says fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and that is true. But Socrates was said to be the wised man in antiquity since he knew that he knew not. That is also true regardless of one's view of God. It is no shame to not know something. It however is greviously shameful to not know and to try to fake it and fall on yer face while doing it. I warned you and like Cassandria to the Troyians you did not listen to me. So here we are.....

          • MR

            Gentleman? Gentlemen don't misrepresent what other people say. My trust is broken whatever expertise he may have. Maybe he and I could have started off on better footing if it hadn't been for yours and my conversation, but it's been good for me to see his cards up front.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Gentleman? Gentlemen don't misrepresent what other people say.

            He is quoting yer words(in context). He is not responsible for you not expressing yerself correctly. He like his religious skeptical counterpart Fucino is a man of great honor. He would be the last person to willfully misrepresent anybody. If not for the morality of it for the practical reason it would be self defeating (like yer conduct here).

            > My trust is broken whatever expertise he may have.

            Trust is a two way street and you have not earned any here from where I am sitting. Are you going to go back to yer wee New Atheist friends and say oh the big bad Catholics where "mean" to me and could answer my devastating questions 7 they misrepresented what I said? Nobody here cares my son.

            Why are you here son? It is not to teach us anything and it is clearly not to learn. So why are you here?

          • MR

            Oh, I totally get that I set the tone and willfully participated with you in your farce. I understand our conversation earned me no favors and poisoned the well. And I certainly have no illusions that you're interested in having a thoughtful conversation; you're simply hell-bent on browbeating and being an asshole. That's insightful for everyone. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't have enjoyed a sincere conversation here, even with you, and for a moment I thought I could pivot and have one with Dennis. But there's something particularly nefarious to have someone so willfully twist your words, particularly after you point it out. Let's not pretend y'all now want to have an actual discussion when you've played your cards so skillfully. "Hey! Come be berated, bullied and strawmanned! Fun to be had by all."

          • Jim the Scott

            Violins play in the back round.

          • MR

            No, no, don't get me wrong. I think it sends an important message.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care.

          • MR

            You've made that clear. I never expected you to.

          • Jim the Scott

            and yet....

          • MR

            And yet you're more than happy to send that message. For that I thank you.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Because the objections are valid.

            Not one of them is valid even if there is no God.

            >Aquinas based his philosophy on a flawed empirical observation. On an incomplete understanding of how the universe works. It's his flaw, not sciences.

            Again so yer senses don't detect anything real? Seriously?

            >that goes to show your own flawed reasoning.

            No it is yers carried to its logical extreme.

            You can't fake it here. You are surrounded by experts and competent amateurs.

          • MR

            Convincing.

          • Dennis Bonnette
          • Jim the Scott

            Rather like all New Atheists and Protestant Fundamentalists you believe the existence of God is a scientific question not a philosophical one. I believe the existence of God is a philosophical question alone not a scientific one.
            So all yer responses are non-starter objections & yer rejection of an Unmoved Mover is rationally trivial.
            Also you wither you realize it or not you implicitly subscribe to an incoherent philosophical position called positivism. You obviously and hilariously are ignorant of philosophy so you are limited in yer anti-religious polemics. If you had bothered to read the Feser you would know the difference between Classic Theism vs Thesitic Personalism. Theistic Personalists for the most part believes knowing the God is a scientific question and of course they are wrong. Classic Theists OTOH believe the existence of is a philosophical question only.
            Let us face it MR you can't formulate even one philosophical defeater I OTOH can do so in regards too yer positivism. As even Atheist Daniel Dannett said “There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination."

            You are profoundly hilariously ignorant of even the basics. You are the intellectual equivalent of the YEC with a fifth grader's knowledge of biology trying to argue evolution with graduate students.

            So yer arguments are tedious.....

          • MR

            Again, Aquinas is touching on things that are manifest in the universe so his theory is not strictly a philosophical exercise. Where those paths cross there is an obvious disconnect. You choose to ignore that. Fine. I don't believe that the question of the existence of a God is necessarily a scientific question, but the clear disconnect calls the philosophical theory into obvious question. Your empty insults don't change that.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am sorry but that is mere assertion that is not in anyway a compelling argument from the philosophy of science that God's existence in the Classic Theistic sense is a scientific question.

            Atheist philosopher Bradley Morton showed ID is a legitimate scientific question but so what? ID can't get us to Classic Theism. ID can't show the Designer is YHWH or Aliens or the ENGINEERS from the ALIEN reboot (which was terrible but enough pop culture) or anything about the Creator from natural theology and it gives away the store by conceded ground to the irrational pretensions of positivism. It is fairies in the garden.

            > I don't believe that the question of the existence of a God is necessarily a scientific question

            Then stop boring me and making yerself look ignorant by proposing scientific objections to God. I am a Strong Atheist toward the "Scientific" so called "god". I don't believe in it. In order for you to argue for Atheism you have to convert me to Theistic Personalism then present yer scientific polemics. I already don't believe.

            You need to learn philosophy and till you do well UNCOMMON DESCENT and or ANSWERS IN GENESIS is over there. Have at them. I predict a smart chap like you would do well. Here well get good scrub.

          • MR

            Mere assertion? Are you saying Aquinas doesn't make an empirical statement in, oh, I don't know they very first lines? Good job! He literally bases his premise in the observable world.

          • Jim the Scott

            So what? Science (in the modern sense) is the quantitative study of the mechanism in nature. What causes lightning? How is rain formed? What happens to matter in a neutron star etc?

            It is a developed discipline from the use of the scientific method. Observation and Experimentation and replication etc...

            How is this that? How do you show by experiment Aquinas; argument that to be the case without presuming that which you need to prove by other philosophical means or qualitative rational analysis?

            Whatever exists in our intellects must first exist in our senses and we rationally conclude this philosophically we don't turn on a LHC to prove it.

            Stop trying to proverbially dig up a Higg boson in a fossil bed. You look ridiculous. Show some pride man.

          • MR

            It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another

            That was Aristotle's understanding of the universe that we now know to be flawed. He bases his philosophical belief on a flawed understanding of the universe. It puts a dent right up front. I get that you don't like it.

          • Jim the Scott

            >That was Aristotle's understanding of the universe that we now know to be flawed.

            Popper doesn't know that? Atheist Philosopher and gadfly and my personal hero David Stove didn't know that? How do you know that?

            >It is certain, and evident to our senses,

            So you don't trust yer senses? How will you ever do even mere science? Since you cannot trust yer results which you have to perceive with yer senses? David Stove would have called you an irrationalist.

            >that in the world some things are in motion.

            We sense that some things change. That is self evident.

            > Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another

            Or to make it more technically correct whatever is in potency is put into act by something already in Act. That seems obvious. Now Hume tried to deny this but as Anscombe a former Atheist turned Catholic philosopher pointed out Hume conflated imagination with conception. So he would imagine a ball appearing out of nowhere on a table and claim that such an event could happen without a cause. The problem with that is he is not really conceiving of it since conception-ally in his mind when he imagines it his mind is causing the ball to appear on the table in his imagination so it ball isn't in his mind really uncaused and it cannot be. You can have an unknown cause such as quantum phenomena or you are a primitive who thinks the gods sent rain and know little about condensation but that is not conceivably of a potency being made act without something already in act bring it about.

            At best it is an appeal to Atheism of the gaps which is as bad as the god of the gaps arguments used by ID proponents and Theistic personalist and the rest of the intellectually unwashed.

            So you are obviously wrong here. Do you have a response other than to ask me another nebulous open ended question? Would you at least like to retreat and look for Flews attempted critics of the five ways so you at least give the appearance of being competent?
            Or are you a sucker for punishment pretending you understand it all?

          • MR

            Even a child knows that the senses can be flawed. Are you that naive?

            Or to make it more technically correct whatever is in potency is put into act by something already in Act.

            Sure, which he bases on: "Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another...." neither of which are necessarily true.

            That seems obvious.

            Which is my point. It seems obvious, but is not necessarily true.

            So he would imagine a ball appearing out of nowhere on a table and claim that such an event could happen without a cause.

            Which is also a modern scientific belief is it not? Crazy, I know, but not as crazy as some of that other quantum voodoo.

            but that is not conceivably of a potency being made act without something already in act bring it about.

            I believe that science suggests otherwise. Have you disproven this?

            At best it is an appeal to Atheism

            I don't appeal to atheism. I'm trying to determine the validity of the argument. To me it is clearly flawed.

            Do you have a response other than to ask me another nebulous open ended question?

            Why do you believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Even a child knows that the senses can be flawed. Are you that naive?

            Sorry but that is not the issue. Aquinas addresses that. The issue isn't that it can be flawed or that we can misinterpret them or that we can become sick and the sense fail us. Rather the issue is are they real and even if you are a brain in a box yer the machine that feeds you the false reality has to be real and you have to really sense its input.

            As to yer last question above right back at you.

            >Sure, which he bases on: "Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another...." neither of which are necessarily true.

            Now we are back to confusing the metaphysical argument here with physics. Even thought you originally and correctly told me the argument has nothing to do with archaic physics. Did you lie to me? Or is it you really didn't understand yer lucky guess? I want to believe the later for yer own sake.

            >Which is my point. It seems obvious, but is not necessarily true.

            But you then have to show why. Good luck with that and see you at Mass. ;-)

            >Which is also a modern scientific belief is it not? Crazy, I know, but not as crazy as some of that other quantum voodoo.

            No it is not. Quantum systems change when we observe them because to observe them we must disturb them and that makes us the act which actualizes their potency which is why Heisenberg said Quantum Physics would likely bring back Aristotle even thought he was more a Platonist.

            >I believe that science suggests otherwise. Have you disproven this?

            You have it backwards. You need to produce the peer reviewed evidence and none exists. We are talking qualitative modeling here not quantitative experiments. Yer positivism is showing.

            >I don't appeal to atheism. I'm trying to determine the validity of the argument. To me it is clearly flawed

            But it is clear you don't understand the argument anymore then the YEC understands advanced science when he invokes the 2nd law of thermal dynamics to "refute" evolution. One wonders if you even understand that as well? A rational being would go do his homework with a competent.

            >Why do you believe?

            Why do ask nebulous trivial open ended questions?

          • MR

            Sure the key that my understanding of what is really happening could be flawed, just as Aquinas' understanding of the universe could be flawed and not every cause has a cause, not every potency is made act without something already in act bring it about. Those things could equally be an illusion that overlies some other reality.

            Now we are back to confusing the metaphysical argument here with physics.

            Which is from Aquinas himself and from which he bases his philosophical argument. You're criticizing Aquinas, not me.

            But you then have to show why.

            No, I'm not making the claim. I see a flawed claim and am simply saying, yeah, that doesn't convince me. I'm sorry you don't like what Aristotle said, but it's like the 'l' in salmon, you might not be pronouncing it, but I can see it right there. Right there at the his opening salvo.

            Quantum systems change when we observe them....

            Yeah, and science also describes uncaused causes that aren't a first cause.

            You have it backwards.

            No, my point is that you don't know. We can't say that it doesn't prove Aquinas. I don't even say that Aquinas is necessarily wrong, simply that his understanding of the universe was clearly flawed, that he based his philosophy on a flawed understanding of the universe, and he could certainly be wrong.

            Yeah, yeah, more empty insults to cover your own insecurities. Noted.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Sure the key that my understanding of what is really happening could be flawed, just as Aquinas' understanding of the universe could be flawed and not every cause has a cause, not every potency is made act without something already in act bring it about. Those things could equally be an illusion that overlies some other reality.

            So you are an anti-realist? So you can choose between nominalism & or conceptionalism. Of course I don't think you have the competence to argue for the validity of these views. Nor do I think you can answer their defeaters. Feser does a good job of it in THE LAST SUPERSTITION. I have to read that about four times before I got it and I am good.

            >Which is from Aquinas himself and from which he bases his philosophical argument. You're criticizing Aquinas, not me.

            No Aquinas was no positivist anymore than a hardcore Calvinist or reductionist materialist is a champion of belief in free will. So you are wrong.

            >No, I'm not making the claim. I see a flawed claim

            You just contradicted yerself. You are claiming you see a flawed claim. That is making a claim.

            > that doesn't convince me. I'm sorry you don't like what Aristotle said, but it's like the 'l' in salmon, you might not be pronouncing it, but I can see it right there. Right there at the his opening salvo.

            So yer fallback is to ignore the argument itself by claiming Aristotle didn't really make the argument Aquinas and the rest of us Thomist understood him making? How does that make the argument in and of itself invalid? It doesn't? Also you are reading modern concepts into Moved(motus) I am reading it threw the lens of the philosophical tradition and making the argument. You have to answer the argument not bore me with amateur theories how you think it was cooked.

            Try again.

            >Yeah, and science also describes uncaused causes that aren't a first cause.

            Where? All I see is phenomena with an unknown cause? Some unknown natural phenomena causes quantum phenomena is the only rational option since a potency being made act without something already in Act is rationally & conceptionally absurd?

            >No, my point is that you don't know. We can't say that it doesn't prove Aquinas.

            Did you break yer bike back-peddling like that? Sorry but you made the positive claim Science disproves the act/potency distinction and I wanted yer peer review evidence? But I know it doesn't exist because that would be absurd like claiming I have peer viewed science that has Particle Accelerators proving natural selection. Category mistakes. Without then Gnu Atheist arguments would be silent which would be a mercy for all of us. Theists and Philosophical Atheists alike.

            > I don't even say that Aquinas is necessarily wrong, simply that his understanding of the universe was clearly flawed,

            Democretus understanding was even more wrong (flat earther? Hello!) but neither has anything to do with their respective philosophical arguments for either the Uncaused Cause or Materialism. For the ten thousand'th time this is a philosophical argument not a scientific one.
            Good grief son have some pride! Go do yer homework. Somewhere in Hell Atheist Philosopher are face palming and any who made it to Heaven by extra -ordinary grace are saying "Well maybe it is good he keeps screwing up? ". Just saying.....

            >that he based his philosophy on a flawed understanding of the universe, and he could certainly be wrong.

            Well for you to find out if that is true or not requires you do some homework. But for some irrational reason you don't want to learn anything?

            >Yeah, yeah, more empty insults to cover your own insecurities. Noted.

            I doubt Dawkins is insecure when he mocks the bad science of the YEC. I think he is justly amused. I know the feel quite well.

            Son I beg you hit the books. At some point I might go too far into the darkside and then Brandon will hammer me......and I won't blame him.

          • MR

            A long strawman rant. Noted.

          • Jim the Scott

            If that is what you choose to believe. Nothing I or anybody else could say could convince you otherwise. But that is ok with me. You do you.

            But do me a favor if you ever find out how to show an essential causal series can be infinite let me know? I can stop believing in God and do something else like...drum roll......become an evil dark world conquering tyrant and overlord. Someone who will make Stalin and Hitler and Mao look like Mother Theresa! Someone who would burn the world and stomp it under my feet so I may glory in it's agony!!!! The true Ubermench! Being the true bastard I am without restraints!!!! The world dictator of dictarors.....oh who am I kidding. If I stopped believing in God I won't do that.....it would be way too much work and I am lazy.

            Cheers.

          • MR

            Profound.

          • Jim the Scott

            OTOH. Let us have some fun.

            >Why do you believe?

            Could be I never found a competent New Atheist so I default to belief? But a competent New Atheist is an oxymoron. If any Atheist is competent he is by definition not a Gnu.

            Thus the Dave Stoves' & Graham Oppy's of the world shine and the Richard Dawkins and Bob S's of the world are busy playing with Bananas with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort.

            My opinion as to where you fall on this scale MR should be obvious.

          • MR

            Okay, more empty insults. Noted.

          • Jim the Scott

            You signed up for this abuse. Hell is truly locked from the inside. Really would it kill you to learn some philosophy if only to become a "more informed" Atheist or do you really want to be a scrub?

            Look if I want to improve I will but if I don't I am not going to go picking fights I canna win. Why do you not get that for yerself? Have you no pride at all?

          • MR

            Abuse? Your constant insults and berating corrupt you, not me. This is your hell.

          • Jim the Scott

            Hell is other people-Sartre.

          • Jim the Scott

            Tell me MR do you want me to answer yer nebulous question because you somehow envision you will take me on some inner journey to see how I made up my religious beliefs and invented fantasies to make myself feel better? Yeh that is about as patronizing and silly as any theists who asked you if you had or have a good relationship with yer Father because they read somewhere some notorious historical Atheists (Stalin, Marx, Hitler etc) had a bad relationship with their own fathers and they project it on too God blah blah blah blah.

            Yeh that is just patronizing and tedious. My advice learn philosophy or you will always be intellectually limited wither you are an Atheist or Theist.

          • Jim the Scott

            At best I will live large pointing out yer ignorance of Philosophy and the subject matter in general but like I said I am a critic not an artist.

          • MR

            Yes, you play your &#8203asshole role well.

          • Jim the Scott

            Thank you. That is the nicest thing you said all night and it is the only true thing...so ironic....love it.

          • MR

            M'eh.

          • Jim the Scott

            Yep....

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'd like to see one as well.

            If you really followed the thread you would have seen my post to him on how to use the search functions on blogs. It is not hard to go to Feser's blog and go to the wee search function in the upper left hand corner and type out the word "proofs".

            Here for you. No need to thank me.
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/search?q=proofs

            Might I also suggest "the five ways" or "the first cause" and if you want some theistic ammo against let us say the Kalam* argument you can find that too.

            *Feser is Agnostic toward the Kalam argument. But most Thomist are.....

          • MR

            Yes, been there, done that, but it hasn't convinced me. Why did it convince you. What specifically do you find compelling about it?

          • Jim the Scott

            Then we have nothing to talk about. Come back when you are serious.

          • MR

            I am serious. I'm asking you:

            Why did it convince you? What specifically do you find compelling about it?

          • Jim the Scott

            What part of Not interested in telling you is unclear? You are not interested in a serious discussion. You are an amusement to me. Nothing more till you actually say something interesting. Is that mean? Well the door is over there? If you stay you will get more refusals but you will prove once and for all Hell is locked from the inside.

          • MR

            I'm very interested in a serious discussion. I want to know why you believe what you believe. You seem to be dodging. Did something convince you? If something convinced me, I'd be happy to tell people what it was. Were you raised in a belief tradition? Why do you believe what you believe? I'm seriously asking.

          • Jim the Scott

            Wow you really don't understand the meaning of "no" do you? I am glad I am nor a girl and dating you.

          • MR

            I understand the meaning of no, but I'm still curious why you believe what you believe. You're just as welcome to quit responding, and we're just as welcome to wonder why you shy away from the question.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I understand the meaning of no...

            Clearly you don't and it is a simple concept thus it is futile for me to waste time discussing complex ones. Especially when there are better teachers than myself by an order of magnitude.

            >we're just as welcome to wonder why you shy away from the question.

            Wonder away I still don't care.

          • MR

            Especially when there are better teachers than myself by an order of magnitude.

            There are better teachers, perhaps, but you are a person that believes for some reason and I can learn from you. Why do you believe? I mean, I wasn't afraid to ask myself that question. I was raised in a tradition of belief. That is why I believed. That in itself I don't think is a good reason to believe. If I had been raised in a different tradition of belief, I'd likely believe something else. Why should I believe? What is a good reason to believe? Do you have a good reason to believe? Do you remember what pushed you over the edge into belief? Was it a good reason to believe?

          • Jim the Scott

            Son again you won't even answer my own simple yes or no questions so we both know you are serious or open minded.

            Do you think the First Way (you claim to have read the five ways) means God first created the universe from nothing? Do you think the first way is based on archaic Greek physics? Well?

          • MR

            I did answer. Aquinas doesn't talk about the creation of the universe or Greek physics. So, no. He imagines an unmoved mover and imagines that to be God. So you believe in an unmoved mover? Do you believe that to be God? Why?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Aquinas doesn't talk about the creation of the universe or Greek physics. So, no

            Good answer and it is the correct one. Now did you know that when you read the five ways or did you just find that out a few minutes ago googling it?

          • MR

            Are you saying I was dishonest when I said I was familiar with them and they didn't convince me? Shall I assume you also are being dishonest?

          • Jim the Scott

            Son you don't understand the word "no"? Why do you think I would think you are honest?

          • MR

            Because then that would mean I believe what you believe and I'm just bullshitting you. If you believe that, then, I guess you believe I'm being dishonest, Awright. Good job! So, anyway, why do you believe what you believe or perhaps you were raised in a belief tradition and that's why you believe? Is there a compelling argument that convinced you personally? Why?

          • Jim the Scott

            I do believe you are bull*****ing me. I don't believe you are honest. I mean you can't take no for an answer? Any Atheist I was bugging who said that I would be gone.

            Anyway I don't think you understand the five ways so yer dismissal of them doesn't impress me.

          • MR

            I see that as a tactic of yours, yes. That way you don't have to actually give an argument, right? Good for you. But I am honestly interested in why you believe what you believe. You make a great fuss that I supposedly don't answer your questions but repeatedly avoid mine. Then you call me dishonest. Awright.

            I didn't say I dismiss them. I don't find them convincing. Why is there necessarily an unmoved mover? Why is it necessarily God? Perhaps I'm missing something. Great, show me what I'm missing.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I see that as a tactic of yours, yes. That way you don't have to actually give an argument, right?

            Yes and that is what you are doing too. Except this is my house not yours. I promise if I show up on an Atheist blog preaching I will concede my burden to give a positive argument for my beliefs. But you are here so the burden is on you. You don't accept it? Well there is the door. It doesn't prove me right or you wrong but that is my final word on the subject.

          • MR

            I guess if I were trying to prove atheism "right" that's what I would be doing. I just want to know why you (and others) believe what you (and they) believe and if it's really worth believing. You make me doubt more and more that it is not.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care. You made me doubt you really understood the five ways. When you can explain to me how an essential series can be infinite then you destroy my faith. But it seems I was right contrary to yer correct answer to my earlier mulitiple choice question you do believe the first way is an argument for the creation of the universe. You are not suited to offer polemics for anything more sophisticated.

          • MR

            I'm not looking to destroy your faith. I'm looking to see if there's a reason to believe you. And I don't know why you keep going back to creation. You seem to be misunderstanding my point. I think you're making an assumption.

            Did the Five Ways convince you of God, or did you believe beforehand?

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care. I am not interested.
            You either defend yer rejection of the first way and explain to me how an essential series can be infinite or UNCOMMON DESCENT is over there. Have at them. Heck I don't believe in ID. No Thomist does anymore than a hardcore Calvinist or consistent Reductionist materialist believes in free will.

          • MR

            I haven't rejected it, you just haven't convinced me. I see no need whatsoever for an unmoved mover.

            Did the Five Ways convince you or were you already a believer?

          • Jim the Scott

            No you said you read the five ways and it didn't convince you and it is clear yer rejection is not rationally significant or informed as it pertains to the subject matter.

            Uncommon Descent or Answers in Genesis is over there. Have at them. The blind leading the blind.....

          • MR

            Did the Five Ways really convince you or were you already a believer?

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry I will not answer nebulous or open ended questions as that would be tedious for both of us.

          • MR

            That's a yes or no and an I was or wasn't answer. Not at all tedious.

          • Jim the Scott

            Soory I will not answer questions I judge nebulous or open ended even with a yes or no as I would find it tedious.

          • Jim the Scott

            BTW why is it so important to you that I make a positive case for my beliefs even after I confessed I don't have the competence to teach you anything and I refer you to an expert?

            It comes off as quite needy and it makes me want to not oblige you even more........

          • MR

            Well, if the Five Ways was really what convinced you, then you should be able to tell me why. If that wasn't what convinced you, then I would like to know what it really was.

            Did the Five Ways convince you or were you already a believer?

          • Jim the Scott

            Son you can't even tell my how an essential series can be infinite? So how can me tell you "why" about anything be useful to you? You might as well trying explaining String Theory to a five year old. Good luck with that.

          • MR

            Did the Five Ways even convince you or were you already a believer? Is there a reason you avoid this question?

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but I won't answer nebulous open ended questions. That would be tedious for both of us.

          • MR

            I fully understand, trust me.

          • MR

            My point still stands.

          • Jim the Scott

            You have a point? I am not seeing it. Is it invincible like the Emperor's cloths?

          • Ficino

            As always, Jim, you are a real card. Lots of laughs. When you think you have some insights into Aristotle, let me know, and maybe across the ocean we can knock down a pint discussing them.

            Let me know what you've published on philosophy.

          • Jim the Scott

            Wouldn't you be better off having that discussion with Dr. B? You are both the academics here? I'll stick with keeping the plebs in line & you academic Patricians types can have a go at that.

            Cheers boss. Stay healthy. See you here or at Feser's.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I did not know that these columns were meant only for those publishing in peer reviewed journals as you seem to imply here.

            Most of Jim's comments above are based on simply reading the authors described and are ad rem to the claims made about their overall positions and what affected their changes in thinking.

            His comments about the "majority of arguments" he deals with on these threads sound pretty correct to me.

            It is true that you present carefully nuanced comments usually based on citations from Aristotle's actual texts, but you are the notable exception. Moreover, what Aristotle taught is not the subject of the discussion in this particular thread.

            To me this whole discussion about who changed their beliefs and who was "well-informed" in their prior positions is quite subjective and virtually impossible to document with proper statistical methods.

          • Ficino

            I did not know that these columns were meant only for those publishing in peer reviewed journals as you seem to imply here.

            When someone writes me wise-guy stuff like this:

            "@Ficino

            Wow what nonsense! Well I am sufficiently bored during this lockdown so I might as well smack some people around."

            I write wise-guy stuff back. As Jim the Scott is often too lazy to do something or other, I was too lazy to add "/s"

          • Jim the Scott

            >I write wise-guy stuff back. As Jim the Scott is often too lazy to do something or other, I was too lazy to add "/s"

            Which I assure you I love.

            That is what I like about you Ficino. You get me.

          • Jim the Scott

            @Ficino

            >To me this whole discussion about who changed their beliefs and who was "well-informed" in their prior positions is quite subjective and virtually impossible to document with proper statistical methods.

            This is why Bob's argument and efforts are tedious and futile. It is like articles Theists write about certain historic Atheist or irreligious persons like Stalin(Atheist) or Hitler(irreligious pseudo deist) having bad relations with their fathers and the implication that contributed to their non-belief.

            Well speaking from personal experience my Father didn't really have a relationship with his Father growing up yet my Father believes in God. Also I have know many Atheists who adore their fathers.

            Bob argument is not interesting or meaningful anymore than the "Yer an Atheist because you hate yer dad meme".

            He should quit while he is behind.

          • Jim the Scott

            >But even in his prime, "famous philosopher thinks Creationism makes sense" is completely unconvincing. "Famous biologist thinks Creationism makes sense" would be interesting.

            One wonders what you do with Theistic Evolutionists?

            The Existence of God (at least in Classic Theism) is a philosophical question alone. Not a scientific question.

            Demanding a scientific case for God is in essence demanding quantitative evidence for something that is a product of a qualitative philosophical argument.
            It is like demanding someone prove the existence of a Higg Boson particle by digging it up in a fossil bed.
            It is called a category mistake. Some skeptical philosophers from 1949 called Bob. They want you to give them their positivism back.

          • The Existence of God (at least in Classic Theism) is a philosophical question alone. Not a scientific question.

            So then if I ask for evidence it's my fault. Gotcha.

          • Jim the Scott

            Pretty much just as if a person with no knowledge of Biology wants you to read his refutation of Evolution from the perspective of the New Vegetarianism is at fault for treating a subject that is a category of the Biological sciences as something to do with Vegetarianism. Again see my "digging up a Higgs Boson" analogy.

            You can't demand quantitative evidence for something that is a product of a qualitative philosophical reasoning. That is like trying to use a chemistry set to prove triangles have three sides.

            Category mistakes. You are making them and this is true even if there are no gods.

        • Rob Abney

          Did you consider CS Lewis? How about Stacy Transacos or Leah Libresco who both have articles here at SN?
          Conversely, how about posters here who were Catholic but left due to divorce or for a non-approved marriage, do you consider those emotional?

          • People go back and forth for various reasons. My point is only that (1) people very well educated on the arguments pro and con never go from atheism to Christianity for (2) intellectual reasons. I'm arguing that it's not symmetric.

            https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/

          • Rob Abney

            Your argument is weak, especially since I just named three prominent Christians who fit the description that you say doesn't exist.
            But it seems like what you are really saying is that you don't believe that there are any intellectual arguments that will convince you. And I'm sure that that will remain true as long as you continue to look at the arguments superficially.

          • Jim the Scott

            I think Bob has Positivism on the brain. For New Atheists it is their Sola Scriptura.

          • I've been blogging about atheism for 10 years. I've got a lot of posts at my blog. Take one or two posts and point out my superficial treatment and give me the correct interpretation.

        • Jim the Scott

          >Well-informed Christians (Dan Barker, Bart Ehrman, Robert Price, and many more)

          All Protestants & Theistic Personalists.....no Catholics among them. This is a Catholic Blog. From our perspective they move from one error to a more egregious error so how are they "well informed Christians" to us? If they where "well informed" they would be Catholics?

          Now that answer is obviously itself flawed but the initial article is as well so I don't fell bad about giving a silly answer to a silly question.

          Of the three of them IMHO the only real scholar is Ehrman. Price is a fringe individual with the Jesus Mytherism. I am sure Tim O'Neil would eat his lunch. An Atheist himself he rightfully calls Jesus Mythers the Young Earth Creationists of Atheism.

    • Mark

      If you consider moral knowledge an intellectual quest this is demonstrably false.

      Mostly it smells of dogmatic belief with a hint of pretension.

      • I distilled down an article into a sentence. I don't blame you for being unconvinced. Here's the article:

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/

        • Mark

          My apologies for being right from the beginning.

          Ironically the inventor of the "no true scots man fallacy" was in fact an atheist turned theist based on the fine tuning argument.

          Would you put Alister McGrath in group two or three. If it's group two, yes, you are committing the fallacy. If it's group three your claim is false.

          • Ficino

            Ironically the inventor of the "no true scots man fallacy" was in fact an atheist turned theist based on the fine tuning argument.

            If you mean Anthony Flew, it is generally held that he became a deist.

            Alister McGrath underwent a conversion while an undergraduate at Oxford. Did he know enough to be put in Bob S's group 3?

          • If you mean Anthony Flew, it is generally held that he became a deist.

            Who was also in his 80's at the time, and there are serious questions about his mental faculties at the time.

          • Mark

            Well, I'm quite certain Bob will ignore Alister's testimony or move the goalpost here. I'll let Alister speak for himself:

            "My conversion was very intellectual"

            https://youtu.be/tvA6mkXy11o

          • Ficino

            I don't think this video by itself provides enough material to know whether McGrath before conversion can be classified in Bob's group 3. McGrath talks about faith as providing knowledge that science doesn't provide. That needs unpacking - on its face, I don't know that a group 3 person would say this about faith. And McGrath talks about science as failing to give us access to explanations of ultimate significance. I don't know whether a group 3 person would fault science for that or be disappointed in it, as the young McGrath seems to have been. I get the picture from this video that McGrath in his youth was a devotee of the oft-maligned "scientism," and that his atheism was naive. But he knows his own story better than I, so I accept that he views his conversion as having been very intellectual.

          • Jim the Scott

            The problem with Bob's group 3 is it is ill defined and nebulous & by his own admission it is vulnerable to the NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy & I say that is because it is a NO TRUE SCOTSMAN fallacy. Additionally nobody can be grouped in it in principle IMHO and I note as its vulnerablity the opposite can be claimed as well.

            If he can deny McGrath was a "well informed Atheist" well I can deny he himself was a "well informed Christian" before he became an Atheist. He was a Protestant heretic & he wasn't a Classic Theist. Also he appears to have been a fundamentalist.

            Everybody and anybody can fall short of these categories because everybody and anybody can fall short of sombody's standard.

            Bob thinks an Atheist Biologist who becomes a YEC would be a "credible" example for him. Except well I don't think a YEC is a "well informed Christian".

            So there we have it.

            Now does that make his Atheism (or my Classic Theist) valid or invalid? Not really as it has nothing to do with the actual arguments for or against Faith and or any specific faith or non-belief.

            His category is meaningless to me. If anything it is a way to avoid substantive argument. Which is silly. If I don't feel like having a substantive argument I go play a Video game. I don't make up a flawed argument to do so. This weekend I obtained Legendary Status playing Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. I am awesome.

            Cheers.

          • Mark

            As far as Flew is concerned; I'd argue his affinity to deism had more to do with the rejection of theistic personalism. But generally the Catholics here, as do I, believe in the classic God. He had no problem being called a theist, but it seems didn't affirm the God of religion or special revelation but of reason. Contrary to myth, he was of perfect sound mind at his conversion. People who question mental well being at the time have likely not taken the time to listen or read the transcripts of interviews he was conducting. He plainly was of sound mind.

            https://web.archive.org/web/20051030082703/http://www.biola.edu/antonyflew/flew-interview.pdf

          • My apologies for being right from the beginning.

            Don't be silly. You should apologize for being prematurely smug.

            It's all there in the post. If I made a mistake, please point it out to me.

          • Jim the Scott

            It is a long winded NO TRUE SCOTSMEN fallacy and even confessing your are making this mistake doesn't make yer fallacious argument anymore legitimate.

            You wrote:
            Quote"I’ve never heard of anyone in Group 3, the well-informed atheists, who converted to Christianity because of intellectual arguments. Of course, this makes me vulnerable to the No True Scotsman fallacy—rejecting any counterexample with, “Oh, well that guy wasn’t truly a well-informed atheist”—but I invite you to comment with anyone I’ve omitted."

            This is like saying "Jim the Scott is a stupid poopie head! Now I realize this leaves me open to the fallacies of Ad Hominid and Poisoning the well but I want you to ignore that and take my statement seriously anyway".

            Maybe there are no gods but these rationally flawed musings of yers don't help me to get there?

          • Jim the Scott

            Bob S' entire Post is in essence an exercise in the NO TRUE SCOTSMEN FALLACY.

            "My hypothesis is that no well-informed atheist becomes a Christian for intellectual reasons."

            Watch him move the goalposts for both "well-informed atheist" & "intellectual reasons".

        • Jim the Scott

          What peer reviewed evidence and research do you have to present to me so I can trust these "groupings" are valid categories? Well?

          Or are these just yer un-scientific personal musings?
          They look like more bloviated versions of the NO TRUE SCOTSMEN fallacy.....one waits to see you move the goal posts as to what constitutes a "Well-informed atheist" whose conversion is driven solely by emotion.

          Also I would direct readers of yer musings to yer combox.
          The responses of Iabarium and Christine are most entertaining.

    • Alexandra

      Hi Bob,
      You said:
      "Well-informed atheists become Christians only for emotional reasons, not intellectual ones."

      What was the number of Atheist to Christian conversions you analyzed to draw this conclusion? And what criteria did you use to label the conversions emotional only and intellectual only? Did you find any examples that were for both reasons?

      Becoming a Catholic requires an intellectual assent. What number of those conversions you analyzed were to Catholic Christianity?

      Conversion to Catholic Christianity is usually a process, a journey, sometimes over a long period of time. Assent to faith involves a multitude of experiences, growth in knowledge, and increase in spiritual proficiency, that engages both the mind and heart. How do you assign one reason for an extended, multifactorial process?

      -
      Look up Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) as an example of an Athiest to Christian conversion that is not "only for emotional reasons".

      May you be healthy and safe.

      • Thanks for the question. My point is a lot longer than can be fit into one sentence.

        I didn't do a poll. Rather, I predicted what I'd see if an atheist (1) was well informed about apologetics and (2) converted to Christianity for intellectual reasons. I don't see that.

        I've written up my thinking below. It's not long.

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/i-used-to-be-an-atheist-just-like-you-2/

        • Alexandra

          You're welcome.

          A hypothesis is a tool. The heart of an argument is in the data to support your conclusions. You’ll first need a statically relevant sampling of Atheist to Christian conversions. (However, you won’t be able to obtain a statically representative sample if you’re trying to draw conclusions on ALL cases of conversion. It’s like saying all planets in the universe don’t have aliens. You can’t do a sampling. You’d have to investigate all planets in the universe first.)

          “I don't see that..”

          How many cases did you look at? And did it include C.S. Lewis?

          • I don't have the means to do an exhaustive poll, so I found another way to answer the question. I think it effectively makes the point.

  • Ficino

    Bob Seidensticker wrote a sequel to his article. In the sequel, he discussed the conversions of Anthony Flew, Richard Morgan, and Leah Libresco.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/10/how-could-an-atheist-convert-to-christianity/

    • Jim the Scott

      So you are causing trouble here fanning the flames?

      I love you man!:D

  • Jim the Scott

    It is like this thread is flooded with a plague of anti-intellectual fundamentalists who sole unifying factor is their lack of god belief? Amazing......

    Nickols, Greene or Ficino should post something if only to off set that phenomena.

  • I Came To Bring The Paine

    Somebody needs to apply the Heimlich Maneuver on Jim the Scott because he choking and gasping HARD over a simple question!

    • Jim the Scott

      No I simply refuse to answer a simplistic open end nebulous question and some sad people can't take no for an answer or answer "no" correctly and mean it.

      • I Came To Bring The Paine

        Why refuse to answer for the hope that is allegedly within you?
        (Apologetics 101)

        • Jim the Scott

          Tell me Paine do you still beat yer wife? Yes or No? Why refuse this question?

          Seriously I am not religiously or morally obligated to answer a simplistic, open ended and nebulous question as to do so is not in my rational judgement or conscience a legitimate way to give "an answer for the hope that is in me". You can disagree and do what you want with yerself. But subordinate to God and His Holy Church I am Captain of my soul and my word on what I will do here is final.

          Live with it.

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            Tell me Paine do you still beat yer wife? Yes or No? Why refuse this question?

            Because the question presumes I do beat my wife or that I even have a wife. Is that how you view the question of why do you believe? Because the question presumes that you do believe?

            But subordinate to God and His Holy Church I am Captain of my soul and my word on what I will do here is final.

            Why do you believe there is a God? Why do you believe in "His Holy Church"?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Because the question presumes I do beat my wife or that I even have a wife.

            You presume I find yer questions interesting enough to answer & I don't because they are nebulous and open ended. You might as well as me "How do I feel?" it would be just as tedious.

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            What's 'nebulous' and 'open-ended' about the reason you believe in a God?

          • Jim the Scott

            You are still here? We are done.

  • Jim the Scott

    The game is really simple who has the burden of proof? Well both do depending on the circumstances. If I challenge yer beliefs then the burden is on me to show my challenge is valid. If claim you should adopt my beliefs then the burden is on me to make the case for them. If I am doing neither well smeg off.

    Now let me be blunt. Making the positive case is the hard part. It is not impossible and IMHO many have met that burden to my satisfaction but I don't think you can do it in a combox in a hundred words or less. But I have no such skill to make a long case for what I believe and I feel no shame in owning that. I will when feeling kind give you references. Don't expect anything more. You will not get it.

    I am not an evangelist. I could care less what you believe or disbelieve. I am a critic. So yer bad arguments against Classic Theism or Thomism or Catholicism are mine to destroy with ruthless brutal logic & I will do so without pity or mercy and with great relish. I am a thug. Nothing more and I am not going to pretend otherwise. At best if I am feeling kind I might explain how you could have done better but that is it.

    I will try to heroically refrain from a direct personal insult like "You are stupid" or "You are a moron" but I will not shy away from telling you that you don't know what you are talking about if I judge that the case. Anybody who has a problem with that feel free to ignore me. But as I told my later girlfriend and future wife. Don't try to change me baby.

    Cheers all and God bless

    PS let me simplify and repeat what I once told Michael. I am far too lazy to make a long drawn out positive case for something. Especially if I am not getting paid. I will refer you or answer yer interesting objections if the mood fancies me and I think myself competent. Nothing more. you don't like that? Too bad......

  • Jim the Scott

    Is it wrong to refuse to answer a Sophist's sophistical question? No sir it is the height of principle regardless of yer ultimate beliefs or lack there of......

  • Grimlock

    That's a lot of anecdotes you got there. Which in and of itself makes it rather unconvincing. Since it's combined with a selection bias and a self-reported analysis after the conversion itself, I have to say that I see no compelling reason to think that these are indeed eight common factors for why atheists convert to Christianity. Maybe try again without the methodological flaws?

  • Ficino

    I read this article a while ago, but since there is now dispute on here about atheist conversion, I'll throw out some off-the-top-of-head reactions to these eight points, because that's how I roll. As to point:
    1. Not clear how it's significantly different from 4 and 5, except for Ordway. Not clear how most of these converts don't fall into Bob Seidensticker's second group, i.e. those who converted for what we could loosely call emotional reasons: cf. "Then I became desperately unhappy..." "my favorite authors..." "I found something that I must have been quietly hungering for all along, which was a reasoned approach to my childhood beliefs, which had centered almost entirely on emotion..." (Lorraine Murray speaks of reason, but it sounds as though she wanted to argue herself into reaffirming her beliefs that were originally 'centered almost entirely on emotion')
    2. Forms of contemplative exercise seem attractive, but they exist in different traditions. The problem of NT promises about prayer are in fact a factor in many de-converts' experience. [no need to remind me that there are sophisticated ways of explaining why, when we ask for bread or fish, we get stones or scorpions (: ]
    3. Historical study of the Gospels as led by LEE STROBEL???!!! C'mon, man. I take Bart Ehrman's stuff as read, and I say no more on 3.
    4. I don't accept Kevin Vost's assertion that Aquinas solved all the logical dilemmas, but I accept that Vost thought the saint had done so. As to Feser, I accept that he rekindled his childhood Catholic faith after studying Aquinas. As we all know, many do not accept the theory of Act-Potency, and I'm not proposing to reargue that now. I'm willing to allow some exceptions to Bob Seidensticker's hypothesized rule of thumb.
    5. Ditto. As to Leah Libresco, some say the fact that she had a Catholic boyfriend and hung out in a debating society in which many of her friends were Catholics, plus her young age and lack of religious education, were factors, so I'm not convinced that she counts as a counterexample to Bob's hypothesis. But I don't press the point.
    6. I don't consider ID compelling. I accept that Flew did.
    7. see on 3.
    8. see on 2.

    • Jim the Scott

      Leah Libresco long since broke up with her boyfriend(they are friends now) and I don't think they where dating when she converted the last I heard. My wife read her when she used to read Mark Shea's blog. Leah likes the argument and at the time she was arguing to convince her boyfriend to challenge his beliefs. She was an interesting individual. She is an open person. She like to comment on how she has bisexual tendencies and how now that she is a Catholic she can't in principle indulge them but she doesn't think it is a problem to admit she is sometimes attracted to women. Her conversion is intellectual in terms of her discovery of the importance of moral theology and how she discovered Catholics have it correct. Bob's dismissal of her is lazy like virtually all his arguments.

      Bob's superficial article is pointless. Also as for this article on this thread you are taking way too seriously and literally. It is at worst trivial and at best it is a giving of general advice on how to lead Atheists to belief. It has no utility beyond that and it is not a rigorously researched game plain on how to convince Atheists that God exists and the Catholic Faith is true.

      It is about marketing nothing more . Which is fine. It is perfectly legitimate for Atheists parallel advice on how to lead us poor misguided godbothers to "Reason". I would admit that is at best what Bob's article could be. But it is soley meaningful to Atheists who already disbelieve. Just as this article is just for believers.

      As for Flew he only sees ID compelling because he finds the philosophical arguments in Classic Theism and classic philosophy he rediscovered in Conway compelling. Atheist Philosopher Bradley Monton showed ID is by any objective standard really a science in its own right but so what? If it proves successful we could know YHWH made us or Alien geneticists. Thomist reject ID as it really concedes to much ground to the Philosophical Mechanists and positivists and allows them to get away with their incoherent BS.

      Hey I find the Fine Tuning Argument to be the best "scientific argument" for God but if I wasn't already convinced by the philosophical arguments I don't see how it could be compelling in and of itself?

      Anyway I am glad you are here Ficino. You are not boring. I can offer no higher praise. :D

      ditto what Dr. B says about ya.

      • Ficino

        Anyway I am glad you are here Ficino. You are not boring. I can offer no higher praise. :D

        You too, Jim - and I have learned things from you over the years, so rock on and stay well.

        • Jim the Scott

          Ditto!

  • Jim the Scott

    Is it rational to answer an irrational question? No it is not. But it is rational to refuse to answer it directly and to explain in detail why you think it an irrational question.

    The person asking the irrational question can either defend the question and attempt to make a rational argument as to why their question is not in fact irrational or they can continue to mindlessly repeat it and prove themselves at best a troll not a true seeker.

    Do we know anybody here like that?

    • Grimlock

      What's the alleged irrational question?

      • Jim the Scott

        Read my interactions with MR on this thread for yer answer. Or not.

        • Grimlock

          It's a rather long interaction, with what appears to be several different queries. Perhaps you could be so kind as to direct me to the specific comment wherein the question was posed?

          • Jim the Scott

            He keeps asking me to in general to tell him why I believe in God and the question itself is trivial open ended and nebulous. If you want to discuss a specific argument for the existence of God that is fine but he is not interesting in specifics only "feelings" or whatever and he asks a lot of other personal questions and he won't answer many questions himself and he irrationally demands I answer questions I flat out refuse to answer.

            He is not serious. That is about the gist of it.

          • Grimlock

            Thank you for the summary.

            I think that if I were to ask you about the epistemic justification you hold for your belief in a god, I'd probably take a slightly different (though similar) approach. Perhaps something along the lines of asking which argument you find the most compelling, and why you find it compelling.

          • Jim the Scott

            Well at least you are being more specific so I will lightly oblige you.

            The Five Ways, Argument from Reason, Most Classic Cosmological Arguments, I am Agnostic toward the validity of the Kalam Cos Arg and like most Traditional Thomists I find the ontological argument flawed but if I fancied it I would choose Anslem's version over Descartes hands down. I reject "Scientific Arguments" for God as I think they are category mistakes. We Classic Theists believe the question of God is a philosophical question only not a scientific one. So all objections to "Scientific" arguments are non-starters to me.

            This of course means potential and ambitious Atheists who wish to critique this need to learn Philosophy and how to formulate philosophical defeaters for the arguments I listed. If I hear even one argument how ID isn't valid or the world "science" I will go blind from rolling my eyes and I must repress the urge to scream "WRONG GOD! OYE!". Category mistakes don't make them.
            Cheers.

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            The Five Ways, Argument from Reason, Most Classic Cosmological Arguments

            What's so convincing about them?

            We Classic Theists believe the question of God is a philosophical question only not a scientific one.

            What convinced you that a God exists to begin with?

          • Jim the Scott

            If I won't answer MR's nebulous simplistic & open ended questions why should I answer you?

            I listed the arguments go look them up or not. I don't care.

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            Because you allegedly believe for some reason and I'd like to know what that reason is.

            I listed the arguments go look them up or not. I don't care.

            Why do you not care?

          • Jim the Scott

            Get used to disappointment. Why do you care that I don't care?

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            I care about finding an answer to a question you are Hell bent (pardon the expression) on avoiding. I find it interesting that you have no problems declaring your belief in God and what 'Classical Theists' believe, and yet one simple question seems to leave you extremely uncomfortable - and that question is simply - 'Why do you believe'?

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care. Bye.

          • Grimlock

            Thank you for the elaboration.

            If you don't mind, I'd like to dig a bit into this remark of yours:

            I reject "Scientific Arguments" for God as I think they are category mistakes. We Classic Theists believe the question of God is a philosophical question only not a scientific one. So all objections to "Scientific" arguments are non-starters to me.

            I'm not sure to what extent you wish to exclude scientific considerations from the discussion. For instance, several of the arguments that you mention rely on conceptions of how the world works. Metaphysical principles, if you will.

            It seems clear to me that if scientific results are in tension with or explicitly contradict these conceptions of how the world works, that's a problem for these conceptions of how the world works. (Because then it appears that the world does not in fact work that way.)

            Which in turn implies a problem for arguments that rely on these conceptions or principles.

            Do you have any thoughts about this? (Apologies for the open-ended question.)

          • Jim the Scott

            >If you don't mind, I'd like to dig a bit into this remark of yours:

            Not at all since you seem sensible unlike Paine or MR.

            > I'm not sure to what extent you wish to exclude scientific considerations from the discussion.

            As much as a physicist would "exclude" archeology in searching for a Higgs Boson. It has nothing to do with it in principle and it is an absurd category mistake to say otherwise or it falls into the incoherences found in hard or soft versions of positivism(that is when we try to make God a scientific question).

            > For instance, several of the arguments that you mention rely on conceptions of how the world works. Metaphysical principles, if you will.

            I note science is the quantitative search for knowledge and philosophy and metaphysics is the qualitative search for knowledge and thought there is a broad relation between them as with all intellectual disciplines but to mix and match them and equivocate them is rationally incoherent and I would also say illegitimate. If you intend to give me a "scientific" argument for or against God I will tune you out because no "god" you come up with or refute can be God as known in Classic Theism. So it is a non-starter for moi.

            Science really has no place in this discussion anymore than archeology techniques are relevant to the search for a Higgs Boson. Category mistakes. Put yer shovel away and buy a LHC. Do you want to know if there is a God? Pick up a book of philosophical proofs and demonstrations have at them. Leave yer LHC at home. The God Particle has nothing to do with God. It is just a marketing name Lederman came up with to sell his book.

            >It seems clear to me that if scientific results are in tension with or explicitly contradict these conceptions of how the world works, that's a problem for these conceptions of how the world works. (Because then it appears that the world does not in fact work that way.)

            Only if you believe in a god-of-the-gaps and I am a strong Atheist toward that type of "god". Science produces data and philosophy interprets it.

            In metaphysics we contemplate being and though it is a rational exploration it is not a logical one I am told(on that I would have to defer to a past discussion between Fucino and Dr. B which when I have the time I should look at but I hear things .......

            The Scientific Theism of ID and the like is wrong headed and whatever "god" it produces if it can I dismiss as I am a Classic Theist not an idolator.

            >Which in turn implies a problem for arguments that rely on these conceptions or principles.

            No it is a category mistake nothing more. All Classic Cosmological arguments(including Aquinas) for example presuppose for the sake of argument the past eternal existence of the universe without a creation event. The Kalam & Bonaventure who argued an infinite past is impossible are the sole exceptions and I find Aquinas rebuttal of Bonaventure convincing.

            >Do you have any thoughts about this? (Apologies for the open-ended question.)

            No you ask interesting questions so I can't help but want to answer them and I thank you for the interesting questions which explore specific themes. Well done.

          • Grimlock

            Not at all since you seem sensible unlike Paine or MR.

            I am confident that given enough time, I can change this impression you have of me.

            On a less flippant note, I'm not sure if I'm getting my point across very well. I'll try to use a concrete example.

            Let's use the Kalam argument as a concrete example, since you're agnostic towards it. One of the premises here are something along the lines of,

            P: Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

            This appears to me to be a metaphysical premise, or a description of how the world in general works.

            Consider, then, for the sake of argument that some scientific result provided a case of something beginning to exist without a cause. This would contradict the metaphysical principle P above, and indeed prove it false. A scientific result would in such a way influence our metaphysical principles.

            Now, having assumed for the sake of argument that this happens, I see two ways forward:
            1. Allow a scientific result to influence our metaphysical principles, and dismiss P as false.
            2. Ignore the scientific falsification of P, and hold onto P as true.

            In the case of (1), it seems clear that science is indeed in principle a relevant consideration for metaphysical arguments.

            In the case of (2), one's metaphysics has become separated from our world, and one is no longer investigating a model of reality but an inaccurate model of reality.

            There might, of course, be other options that I haven't thought of.

          • Jim the Scott

            I strongly disagree wither yer premises here. But that is OK and I will tell you why in spite of yer self professed senselessness. :D. Enjoy the ride my friend.

            >Consider, then, for the sake of argument that some scientific result provided a case of something beginning to exist without a cause. This would contradict the metaphysical principle P above, and indeed prove it false.

            I don't think that is at all possible anymore that it is possible some archeologist will be digging in a fossil bed and find a Higgs boson particle. My problem with the idea that you can use science to falsify metaphysics is it is a clear category mistake and is just an incoherent idea spawning from Positivism whose incoherence is legendary. Philosophy alone as the sole criteria to know reality is as absurd as positivism/scientism & I am not saying the two disciplines don't interact or inteplay but it is clear Philosophy is the preeminent discipline after all you need philosophy of science to know what is a scientific question in the first place before you try to use this science in a vain effort to "disprove" some view of metaphysics vs doing the sensible thing like formulating a philosophical defeater. Just as I would tell an idiot Archeologist looking for a Higgs Boson in a hole in my backyard to feck off and go buy a LHC. (It will cost him a few billion for that but that is hardly my problem. Get out of my yard! :D).

            Also I might venture in yer attempted criticism of the Kalam you might be making Hume's fundamental mistake as Anscombe notes of conflating conception with mere imagination. You can imagine a ball appearing on a table suddenly and say that happened "uncaused" but you really can conceive of it. How can science prove a physical phenomena is uncaused vs a mere unknown cause? It can't anymore than science can show us an instant of 2+2=5. We can conceive of a potency becoming act by an unknown something already in Act but we really can't conceive of that happening without the something already in Act.

            So the whole atheist/agnotic/skeptic anti-causality scheme is clearly unsound. both philosophically and scientifically.

            Cheers.

          • Grimlock

            My problem with the idea that you can use science to falsify metaphysics is it is a clear category mistake and is just an incoherent idea spawning from Positivism whose incoherence is legendary.

            I think this is the core of our disagreement. You might claim that it's a category mistake, but I do not see why this is so.

            As far as I can tell, it's quite straightforward. If you have a metaphysical principle, that you use to map the world, and the world disagrees with the metaphysical principle, that means the metaphysical principle doesn't map onto the world well enough.

            To me, that's rather the same as saying that if the map and the terrain disagrees, then the terrain is wrong. Or perhaps that the terrain can't falsify the map.

            I gather that we disagree on this, but I'm struggling to see precisely why you hold to a different opinion.

          • Jim the Scott

            Except that metaphor doesn't tell me anything as to how science can coherently falsify metaphysics anymore than the crazy Archeologist in my analogy can find a Higgs Bosen with a pick axe and shovel vs using a LHC like a sensible physicist.
            How can science for example falsify the act/potency distinction when it pretty much needs to presuppose it to do experiments? After all if you don't have science experiments that measure real change and except the change as real then how can you do science?
            It saws the limb upon which you are sitting right off. All science presupposes methodological realism so how can you use science to falsify realism?
            Science is the search for quantitative knowledge yet philosophy is the search for qualitative knowledge. It is in principle impossible to test the qualitative scientifically which is why many philosophically illiterate scientists especially physicists tend to ignore or abstract away the qualitative.

            Here you should read Feser's take down of scientism/positivism.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/scientism-roundup.html

            AG Flew abandoned Positivism/Scientism in the 1950's at the height of his Atheism. Some modern Atheists like Rosenberg still advocate for it but their reasons are thin gruel. While sensible Atheists like Nagel might admit it is obviously wrong.

            BTW while we are at it other misguided individuals who are reading our fine exchange might want to take a look at this and disabuse themselves of their quantum physics fairy stories about causality. They sound like Fundamentalists who believe false finding of Noah's Ark stories only more credulous.

            Fallacies Physicists fall for.
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/07/fallacies-physicists-fall-for.html

            Cheers my friend.

            Remember claiming you can use science to falsify metaphysics makes about as mush sense as saying you can observe the Andromeda Galaxy using a microscope. Category mistakes. Don't make them.

          • MR

            Thank you for making my point in a coherent way. JS rejects this, but it seems clear to me that our common sense model of reality is certainly inaccurate and that there is even intriguing evidence that there may indeed be uncaused causes. Jim can no more prove the model he bases his view on is the correct model than science can currently prove otherwise. The question is open. They seem to have a tactic here of demanding you prove otherwise, but my stance has always been, not that science proves they are wrong, but that they haven't convinced me they are right. Even if AT philosophy were internally consistent, if the model of reality on which it is based is flawed, you can study it to your heart's content and it would still be wrong. That is the hurdle they take great pains to obfuscate. Jim's response seems to boil down to, "You can't prove I'm wrong, so 'get out of my yard!'" That doesn't make for a convincing argument to convince someone you're actually right.

          • Rob Abney

            there is even intriguing evidence that there may indeed be uncaused causes.

            This is quite a claim, will you explain? What is an uncaused cause? and what is the intriguing evidence?

          • MR

            Quantum physics suggest things pop into existence all the time without apparent cause. There may be a cause we cannot detect, there may not be. Certainly the counter intuitive world of quantum theory shows us that our common sense understanding of reality is indeed flawed. If your philosophy is based on a flawed version of reality, it certainly could be wrong if those flaws undermine the basic assumptions of your philosophy. That is an open question. I don't claim you're wrong. I'm simply not convinced that those assumptions are valid.

          • Rob Abney

            So based upon a system that describes events, QM/physics, and that system has been unable to describe causes in certain effects, then you will reject a metaphysical principle that explains causality.
            Have you ever studied causality, such as the four causes: material, efficient, formal, and final? It's much more complicated than saying something pops into existence, it is not what you would call a common sense model.

          • MR

            I don't reject anything. Not even that you might be right. My question boils down to:

            Are your assumptions about reality that underlies your philosophy sound?

          • Rob Abney

            That's deep thinking but you'll have to be much more specific if you want to question all of reality.

          • MR

            My question is simply, are your assumptions about reality that underlies your philosophy sound? Are they?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            So, you really think you can get something from absolutely nothing at all? No, I am not talking about a quantum vacuum, which is the lowest possible energy state. I am talking about absolutely nothing. That is what philosophers mean by "nothing."

            I guess that explains how magicians get live rabbits out of their hats. And how we can sell that bridge in Brooklyn.

          • MR

            Mankind has been shown throughout history that his assumptions about reality are flawed. Science has in fact shown that the assumptions we make about reality are flawed. I'm in no position to assume my own assumptions about reality are sound, much less yours. Can you prove that your assumptions true? Even science is humble enough to say we don't know. Forget the religious implications, we simply don't know. Maybe you do.

            Are your assumptions about reality that underlies your philosophy sound?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            An assumption is literally something "taken up" without evidence.

            An immediately evident first principle is not a mere assumption, since it is its own evidence. You cannot, and need not, prove a first principle.

            Instead of repeating seeming truisms, use your own mind for a minute and try to convince yourself that you really could possibly get anything from absolutely nothing. You cannot honestly do it.

          • MR

            And why do you assume absolutely nothing? Even you assume God. I don't assume anything. My question to you is:

            Are your assumptions about reality that underlies your philosophy sound?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "I don't assume anything."

            Are you kidding? First, you seem to be assuming that everything anyone holds is based on mere assumptions. So, you do have assumptions.

            Second, you assume, "Even you assume God." You know nothing about why I hold that God exists. That is just another one of your many assumptions.

            As I said, to assume is to take up without evidence. For heaven's sake, I guess I have to tell you that I even wrote a book on the PROOFS for God's existence. PROOFS are not the same thing as assumptions, by the way.

            Third, there you go again -- assuming that my philosophy is based merely on assumptions about reality. You really do not know the basis for certitude even though I explained in my previous article on certitude.

            I assume you have not read it. Why don't you start there?

          • MR

            Great, then it sounds to me like the answer should be very simple for you:

            Are your assumptions about reality that underlies your philosophy sound?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Now, having assumed for the sake of argument that this happens,"

            I could assume for the sake of argument that 2 +2 =5.

            What follows from that impossible claim?

            When what is impossible is assumed to be possible, then anything whatever becomes possible.

            You cannot simply "assume" a universal metaphysical principle can be scientifically disproven, since, if it is a true principle, it cannot be disproven by any means whatever -- and your "assumption" would therefore be an impossible assumption.

          • Jim the Scott

            Grimlock is a stand up guy but he is clearly making Hume's mistake & the mistakes of positivism.

            Science cannot disprove metaphysics in principle anymore than you could use a large hadron collider to disprove natural selection or prove punctuated equilibrium.

            It is absurd.

          • Grimlock

            I'm not sure I understand you properly. Are you saying that in principle, no metaphysical principle can hypothetically be falsified by a scientific result?

            That is, even if a scientific result appears to contradict a metaphysical principle, then the scientific result is necessarily false or in some sense flawed?

          • Ficino

            Perhaps relevant to your and Dr. B's discussion is the question, what qualifies a metaphysical thesis - or a thesis propounded by a metaphysician - as a universal principle? For example, if someone propounded the thesis that multiplicity is an illusion and that there really exists only one thing, that thesis is propouned as a universal one - it is meant to apply in all contexts - but is it a principle? That is, is it a starting point of any argument, one such that no argument can be constructed without its already governing the structure of the argument?

            As an A-T man, Dr. B must oppose rigid monism. He might say that a monist can't, strictly speaking, be refuted, any more than a solipsist can be refuted, but that the rigid monist's position lacks all credibility because it does not "save the phenomena," as Plato said a good dialectic must do.

            I don't know whether this helps. Basically I'm wondering whether a metaphysician who holds to certain universal metaphysical principles, which can't be disproven "by any means whatever," could allow that various metaphysical theses, or theses propounded by people who "do metaphysics," can be rejected by arguments that make use of empirical premises.

          • Grimlock

            Thank you, that does strike me as a very useful input to our discussion. In particular your final remark. I'm not going to claim that every (universal?) metaphysical principle has to be rejected due to empirical results. Rather, I'm taking a more modest position that some metaphysical principles can be influenced and indeed refuted by empirical investigations.

            I also think it's worth to keep in mind that this discussion initially started when investigating to what extent Jim would prefer to exclude scientific considerations from discussions of God.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            if you understand metaphysical principles properly, you will see why no scientific experiment can falsify them.

            They are based on understanding what is necessarily entailed in the concept of being, which the mind forms universally from the first experiences with reality.

            The universality of the first premises derived from understanding the concept of being exclude the very possibility of any contrafactual experimental proofs.

            For example, anyone who ponders it clearly can see there are no exceptions to the principle of non-contradiction, even for God, if he exists. This immediately also shows both the transcendental character and analogical nature of being.

            I ran into a scientific materialist who claimed he could prove that the principle of non-contradiction was false by showing something like the wave-particle duality of photons. What he did not notice was that, to take his subatomic observations, he had to presume that they were as he read them, and not their contradictory. That is, he was presupposing the PNC in his very attempt to disprove it!

            If you start with the assumption that anything can be disproven by empirical verification, of course, you will never realize that some truths do not fall under that claim, namely, genuinely metaphysical first principles.

            Incidentally, the principle that everything that begins to exist has a cause is a secondary variant on these principles. Think of it this way. If something begins to exist, it must first not exist. But non-being cannot beget being. Therefore, if being comes to be and it cannot come from non-being, it must come from something else, which we call a cause. This is not my favorite way to approach this Kalam principle, but it still works if you think carefully.

          • Ficino

            The PNC is one principle that I too endorse, as far as it applies to propositions. I do not accept that it applies to things. To say (with Aristotle et al.) that it does invokes theory-laden treatments of " being", to which many of us do not subscribe. Dr. B and I have discussed problems with the term "being" at length. Such problems come up, for example, here:

            If something begins to exist, it must first not exist. But non-being cannot beget being.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            My problem is that I have absolutely no problem with your example! :)

  • Ficino

    @MRussula:disqus

    I'm a skeptic about claims for the existence of the God of classical theism (I don't need on this board to worry about the false god of theistic personalism - whew!). Some suggestions, which you of course may take or leave. I suggest that Thomism is one of the most robust attempts to establish the existence of said God through philosophical argument. I think there are missing rivets in its hull, letting in water... but what matters here is your perception. So if you are going to reject it, you can do that on the authority of the majority of philosophers active today, and that's an economical response. Of all the philosophers I know who hold academic appointments, the Thomists can be counted on two hands. Or, you can dig into the structure of the system and see whether it leaks water.

    If you dig in, some questions to consider:
    1. the theory of Act-Potency. This is major. Dennis has been trying to school you. Is it the case that nothing can become F unless something else, already F, brings it to be F?
    2. the work done by "being." Does it make sense to say that things "have being"? This will be relevant when you get to questions about whether there are fixed essences in nature, and about whether it makes sense to say that in God, essence and existence are identical.
    3. whether the Aristotelian syllogistic is an adequate framework for logical demonstration
    4. the notion of "nature" as a ground for law.
    5. does the fact that concepts are not made of matter require that the intellect, for it to operate upon concepts (or universals), be an immaterial substance? Or is it only a property of a material substance? Or...

    I'll stop now. My point is to urge you, if you're going to dispute with Thomists, either A) just to go with authority, on the view that life is short; or B) dig into what they actually hold. For starters, you can't argue cosmological arguments with Thomists without understanding what is a series of causes ordered hierarchically per se.

    All best, and hoping for some higher level discussion down the road, F

    • MR

      Thanks, Ficino. Interesting points to consider. Will consider them for future. Appreciate the comment.

    • Mark

      Great response F. One minor quibble is appeal to authority. Arguments that are convincing yet fallacious shouldn't be advocated for lovers of truth. Dr. Muniz won a Nobel Prize in medicine in 1949 for the frontal lobotomy technique. Herds of highly educated experts can be dead wrong.

      • Ficino

        Arguments that are convincing yet fallacious shouldn't be advocated for lovers of truth.

        Of course. Most people aren't in a position at a given time to study in depth a sub-field that is new to them, though, and of course I don't concede that philosophers who decline to sign on to Thomism are necessarily guilty of fallacious reasoning when they so decline. MR will have to consider where to direct his energies. As I said, though, I agree that if someone is going to challenge the First and Second Ways (plus other stuff), one should be clear on what Thomists claim about causal series.

    • Jim the Scott

      Yeh that bit is a wee bit off (appeal to authority/popularity) but the rest is some good ground to plow to make these discussions more challenging.
      But we can give ya pass because you have more than done yer homework. Indeed given yer academic knowledge you are in a position like Dr. B to assign homework.

      Well done sir.

  • God Hates Faith

    As someone who went from a 100% certain theist, to an atheist, here is my critique of your list...

    (2) There have been many studies on intercessory prayer. The best studies show they work about as well as chance. In other words, they work as well as praying to a magic rock. People think prayer works due to confirmation bias (humans are predictably irrational). Most people who pray confirm beliefs they want to be true, which is why Mormons believe their prays are confirmed, just like Protestants, and Catholics, etc.

    (3) An honest historical study of the gospel should include both sides of the discussion. Bart Ehrman has written several books which argue persuasively that the gospels are basically Jesus fan-fiction, since most weren't even reliable enough to make it into the Bible, and the ones that did were oral stories for decades before being written by a non-eyewitness.

    (5) There are smart and reasonable people who believe(d) in astrology, or alchemy, or conspiracy theories. Humans are predictably irrational in the way we can compartmentalize beliefs.

    (6) God of the gaps arguments are weak. 99.99999999999999999999% of the universe is hostile to human life. Yet some want to pretend it was designed for us...

    (7) There is no reliable evidence for Yeshua's resurrection. There are stories written decades after the fact by people who heard stories, and never claimed to have first hand witness of the resurrection. (See 3 above).

    (8) Simply because humans have an evolutionary preference for certain things is not evidence for a deity.

    • Mark

      2) Show me how to blind study God. Prayer doesn't change God's will. "Most people who pray confirm beliefs they want to be true which is why Mormons believe their prays are confirmed." I don't even know what that means but I'm glad I'm not a Mormon.

      3) Ehrman's claim to fame is that he is atheists Biblical scholar that believes Jesus did really exist. So theists reference him against the atheist religious cult of mysticism and atheist revere him for his ideologies. Your use of "fan-fiction" is a tell you have nothing meaningful in an opinion on biblical scholarship. Ehrman uses such propaganda type jargon to sell books; his scholarly work is more respectable. At the end of the day, most of his criticisms of the NT are only a problem for fundie theology. This is what happens when you take Fr. Brown's work out of the context of Catholic theology. I leave it at that. Wait, read Pitre and your opinion of Ehrman's work may change. Who am I kidding?

      5)There are smart and reasonable people who believe in scientism and knowingly use fallacies such as false equivocation to shore up their beliefs.

      6)Gap-based arguments and criticism are often ideologically motivated. Science fills the gaps with unobserved natural explanations all the time. Are virtual particles real? The sword cuts both ways if you want to swing it.

      7) The resurrection is the most important event in the history of mankind. Even if it wasn't true, and the whole Bible "fan fiction", God is still a rational conclusion.

      8) Claiming an evolutionary preferences without objective scientific validity is a gap argument. The only evidence I see is evidence of your faith in the ideologies of the scientism cult.

      • God Hates Faith

        I fear this conversation may go the same way as our previous one, where you I counter your arguments, and you simply repeat yourself... but I am bored ; )

        (2)

        Show me how to blind study God.

        The same way you blind study any supernatural claim--with good science. Have you heard of James Randi?

        I don't even know what that means but I'm glad I'm not a Mormon.

        It means Mormons (and Protestants and Catholics) each pray and get the confirmation they are looking for (that their religion is true). Prayer leads to confirmation bias, not truth.

        (3) So, you haven't read any of Ehrman's actual books?

        (5) So, you agree that humans are predictably irrational, and therefore should not rely on the authority of "smart people believe X, so I should too"?

        (6) First, a fallacy doesn't cease to become a fallacy just because someone else uses it. Second, WTF are virtual particles, and are do the majority of scientist claim they exist, or is it merely a placeholder idea (theory)?

        (7) That is a conclusion, not an argument.

        (8) Do you want links to evolution 101? (I don't debate flat earth conspiracies, just like I don't debate evolution deniers). Even if evolution were not true, to assert without evidence that Zeus or Vishnu or Yeshua is responsible is still a fallacy.

        • Mark

          2) I've never prayed my religion is true. I'm confident confirmation bias is a universal human condition and that skeptics confirm their bias equally as well. James Randi found a way to blind omniscient God from a quantitative prayer experiment? I looked on PubMed and didn't find anything.

          3) No, I've read at least four of his academic papers. Maybe more if he's coauthored. I've read some of his blog, which is where I've seen him use "fan-fiction" in reference to the Gospel of John. No, I've never paid for the subscription portions of his site which he claims goes to a charity.

          5) No, Actually I perceive humans given enough time to develop predictably use their sense experience to gain tremendous rational knowledge and some irrational knowledge. I also see smart people who know better make rational arguments with obvious fallacies because they perceive them as convincing even though they are intrinsically flawed.

          6) Most particle physicist accept un-observable intermediate particles also known as virtual particles. They are only known to exist because of indirect consequences. So yeah, Sean Carroll or Krauss say they exist. Krauss would say they are a un-observable something that comes from nothing... lol

          7) Yes that's a conclusion. Like "there is no reliable evidence" and apply that to every 1st or 2nd hand testimony of an event. Concluding something is not true because you dismiss any evidence contrary to your conclusion based on ideology is not rational. If you can point to where the contemporary extra-biblical evidence is that claims the writings were fan-fiction I'm open to being wrong. If you can point to other fan-fiction in ancient manuscripts I'm open to being wrong. But I'm not, and Dr. Erhman sells books to atheists that want their confirmation bias supported and believe fan-fiction is a genre of ancient manuscripts.

          8) No. But I know what objective scientific evidence looks like. So I'll just take your objective qualitative or quantitative evidence or really any type of non-anecdotal evidence of evolutionary preference in reference to human aesthetics. Or you can admit your counterclaim is anecdotal and we can move on.

          • God Hates Faith

            (2) Many have prayed and confirmed their biases. Here is a simple google result on studies regarding intercessory prayer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer

            I also recommend you google James Randi.

            (3) Enough said. Your sweeping conclusion is not supported by evidence. My point about Ehrman stands. If you want to argue specifics about Ehrman's positions, read some, and let me know.

            (5)
            "I'm confident confirmation bias is a universal human condition..." - Mark

            "So, you agree that humans are predictably irrational..." - GHF

            "No..." - Mark

            Seems like you disagree with yourself. Perhaps you agree with me that we shouldn't just rely on "smart" people as authority.

            (6) I don't care what Krauss says. That is his opinion. Based on your definition of virtual particles, it seems like they are a placeholder idea. That is not the same as making a god of the gaps fallacy. If you don't understand the difference, please let me know.

            (7) I already pointed to the contemporary extra-biblical evidence that claims the writings were fan-fiction (Ehrman).

            If you can point to other fan-fiction in ancient manuscripts I'm open to being wrong.

            Gladly. Many "gospels" were considered Jesus fan-fiction and didn't make it into the Bible. So, we know Jesus fan-fiction was a thing.

            The Gospel Of The Ebionites.
            The Gospel Of The Nazarenes.
            The Gospel Of Philip.
            The Gospel Of Truth.
            The Gospel Of The Savior.
            The Infancy Gospel Of Thomas.
            The Gospel Of Peter.
            The Gospel Of Thomas.
            The Gospel Of Mary Magdalene
            The Gospel Of Judas

          • Mark

            2) I want a scholarly article that blinds God from prayer. I've read about 20 or so scholarly peer reviewed studies on the subject. Most of them are partial to prayer, which I don't care, because you can't blind God. The only ones I find value in is specific to specialty use and outcomes when dealing with theist or atheist patients. Using science to try to prove or disprove the creator and sustainer of science is just plain stupid.

            3) You don't know what fan-fiction genre is. I don't need to read his book to know that. He has interesting points, but terribly unconvincing to most biblical scholars and myself. I don't need to critique him, many more respected historians have done just that. He's been embarrassingly wrong on a few things, but I have to. I appreciate he has owned up to them.

            5) I do agree we shouldn't rely on smart people. I think I can concede your original point: "Humans are predictably irrational in the way we can compartmentalize beliefs." My point was that mostly, humans are incredibly rational of most beliefs. For example: putting on a coat, not touching fire, not eating paint chips. You could grant belief in the classic God is a rational belief and scientism is irrational. But really your point was to falsely equivocate an irrational stances with God. All the examples you gave are scientifically falsifiable. God is not.

            6) I understand the difference perfectly. It's okay to define into existence gaps of knowledge if you're a scientism cult member. It's not if you're a theistic personalist. They are both an argument from ignorance fallacy. You've provided a perfect example with your claim beauty is evolutionary preference.

            7) You've veered into left field. Your original claim was that the fan-fiction was written "sometime decades" after the event. I'd like to see a biblical scholar or historical scholar or literary scholar beside Bart use the term fan-fiction for any of the NT. Giving me a list of Gnostic gospels when I asked for fan-fiction doesn't support your or Bart's assertion. The term fan-fiction was first used in the 20th century. It is literary malfeasance to suggest ancient writings are fan fiction genre.

            8) Just for the sake of future argument GHF; I'm not consulting wikipedia. When I ask for academic scientific literature and you give me a wiki you fail to make any point. If you want to look at the wiki references and give me a scholarly reference I'll be happy to look at that. Wiki is not peer reviewed, it is internet douche reviewed. This particular wiki only references magazines and a book. Here is a seering review of the book also found in the wiki reference, but the least seering of 3 reviews I read:

            https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/a-new-review-and-critique-of-richard-prums-book-on-sexual-selection

            I not doing your homework again. This wiki is a perfect example of scientism cult material. Anecdotal - Move on.

          • Ficino

            No, I've never paid for the subscription portions of his site which he claims goes to a charity.

            At present, Ehrman is offering free two-month memberships. If you are interested in the question, was there a Johannine community, try it out. That's a topic underway there, by a colleague of Ehrman who argues there was not a Johannine community.

  • Jim the Scott

    Classic Theists roll their eyes at so called "Prayer experiments" (wither "successful" or not) they are the playthings of Fundamentalist Christians and their fundamentalist counterparts the New Atheists. They are really "Invisible Jinni" experiments. Nothing more. God of the Gaps is for Theistic Personalists and ID supporters and has no meaning to any Classic Theist of any faith tradition.

    God is not a being in time who exists here and now and listens to yer prayers and decides over time whom he will listen to and whom he will not based on the force of yer persuasion and praying has nothing to do with making a wish or "feeling the force".

    God from all eternity knows what prayers will be said and wills Once from all eternity which He will head and whom He will disregard and in that single act of Will by which He does absolutely everything causes the Universe to unfold accordingly.

    How do you test for that? Well you don't and you can't even in principle and even a few experiments I read done that seem to be "positive" toward the existence of pray as understood by them I dismiss. It is absurd & another category mistake(big surprise there..not).

    You cannot experiment on somebody without their permission(how do you get God to co-operate?) and you cannot do a double blind experiment on a hypothetical Divine Omniscience and as Jesus tried to tell the Devil in the Desert God has no obligation to answer yer prayers as a test.

    Would it kill the local skeptics whose don't understand Classic Theism to learn at least a few Philosophical defeaters? These non-starter arguments are beyond tedious.

    • Grimlock

      A tangential point...

      God is not a being in time who exists here and now [...]

      That sounds like it's incompatible with the A-theory of time.

      My reason for saying that is that from God's perspective, it would seem that past, present, and future events are real. From our perspective, future events might not seem "real", but I'd say that God's perspective must be the more accurate one.

      However, the future being real doesn't really jive with the A-theory as far as I can tell.

      What do you think?

      • Jim the Scott

        I am tired right now but want to go to bed but you ask such interesting questions. I have to reward it with answers.

        >That sounds like it's incompatible with the A-theory of time.

        I wasn't being very precise. So to quote Feser "But this brings us to another objection sometimes raised against the claim that God is timeless. If God causes Socrates to exist in 469 B.C., then Socrates’ existing then must be simultaneous with God’s eternity. And if God causes Barack Obama to exist in A.D. 1961, then Obama’s existing then must be simultaneous with God’s eternity. But if some time t1 is simultaneous with some time t2, and t2 is simultaneous with t3, then t1 must be simultaneous with t3. And in that case, it would follow that Socrates’ existence is simultaneous with Obama’s existence. But obviously that is absurd. So (the objection concludes), the claim that God is timeless leads to absurdity.40 The problem with this objection, though, is that it misses the point. It treats timeless eternity as if it were a point in time, for only if it were a point in time could it be simultaneous with some point in time. But the whole idea that God exists timelessly is precisely that he does not exist at some point in time, but rather outside of time altogether.41"END QUOTE.

        Feser, Edward. Five Proofs of the Existence of God (pp. 201-202). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

        (I should note in spite of the clever title Feser is not discussing the Five Ways of Aquinas which he does in his other works. He selects five historic proofs and explores them. At best two are linked to Aquinas).

        >However, the future being real doesn't really jive with the A-theory as far as I can tell. What do you think?

        I used to think I believed in B Theory but later A Theory but now I think the whole A vs B Theory thing is skewed but that is another topic I don't want to get into and I am not qualified to discuss.

        I believe some form of Presentism is true. I am open to different versions.

        • Grimlock

          Thank you for a thorough answer.

          The respond from Feser appears to be aimed at an objection to the idea of God existing timelessly. I'm not actually disputing that (at least not now). Rather, I'm posing a challenge between the compatibility of such a position on God's relationship to time and the A-theory of time.

          I used to think I believed in B Theory but later A Theory but now I think the whole A vs B Theory thing is skewed but that is another topic I don't want to get into and I am not qualified to discuss.

          [...]

          I believe some form of Presentism is true. I am open to different versions.

          I can appreciate that the discussion between A-theory and B-theory gets far too technical. The waters we are treading appears somewhat more shallow, fortunately.

          Holding to presentism still appears to be in tension with the view that God exists timelessly. At least if that means that to God's perspective, the future - as we see it - is in fact real, as that directly contradicts presentism. As Wikipedia puts it, "Philosophical presentism is the view that neither the future nor the past exist."

          The only way I can see out of this would be to hold that, even to God's perspective, our future does not exist, and that God somehow exists timelessly, but only in relation to our present (and possible our past). But that seems... well, somewhat limiting on God.

          What do you think?

          (I should note in spite of the clever title Feser is not discussing the Five Ways of Aquinas which he does in his other works. He selects five historic proofs and explores them. At best two are linked to Aquinas).

          I've heard about that book, and at some point I'll hopefully get around to digging into the arguments.

          • Jim the Scott

            Feser outlines a defense of Presentism in his book "Aristotle's Revenge" so if you are so inclined you might want to check it out. Feser notes the problem with the argument (often championed by Craig and other Theistic Personalists and or Atheistic critics of Classic Theism) that God doesn't or can't know what time it is NOW is it treats God's knowledge as something He knows by observation which is anthropomorphic TP nonsense. God doesn't know something because he is literally observing us but rather God knows Himself as the cause of us existing with time. So he is not literally observing anything he simply knows. Also I note there are different conceptions of the concept of Time and equivocating between let us say philosophical metaphysical descriptions of time (i.e. Aristotle's Time is the measure of change) vs modern concepts of spacetime can cause confusions.

            Myself when I was introduced to the odd concept Special Relativity was scientific "proof" Presentism was false I found of all the different solutions one I was rather fond of was the one that the present is merely local so speaking of a Universal presentist reference frame is meaningless.

            If you and I are way outside each other's lightcone because we are light years apart it is simply meaningless to ask how the present for each of us is simultaneous to the other but that doesn't make our local present any less real with out respective light cones.

          • Grimlock

            Thank you for the book recommendation!

            Feser notes the problem with the argument (often championed by Craig and other Theistic Personalists and or Atheistic critics of Classic Theism) that God doesn't or can't know what time it is NOW is it treats God's knowledge as something He knows by observation which is anthropomorphic TP nonsense. [...]

            This is, I'm sure, interesting. But it's a bit of a tangent to the point that I'm making. Speaking of which,

            [...] So he is not literally observing anything he simply knows. [...]

            This seems to reinforce the point that, to God, our future is indeed real. While to our limited perspective, the future might not be real, I'd take God's perspective over ours any time when it comes to determining what's real.

            Near as I can tell, this means that we still have a rather serious tension between presentism and how you view God's relation to time.

            For the record, I'm inclined towards B-theory myself. So I'm not making this point as an argument against God's existence.

          • Jim the Scott

            I see, Feser does say some elements of B Theory could be combined with the Act/potency distinction thought he doesn't think it is a good fit. Still in my experience there is an idea among some that we experience time A theory and God "experiences" is B Theory thought I would deny God has experiences He simply knows thing by knowing Himself as their creator creating them and sustaining them.

            It is as good a metaphor as any. God can know things before He wills they be created so I don't think they have to be real at that point. Aquinas argues. God can know potential things before they are made actual and God can know what potential will be made actual.

            One just has to remember not to make Craig's mistake of treating God's Eternity as a reference point outside of Time connected to every other reference point.

      • Jim the Scott

        Ps in case I wasn't clear Feser's believes in A Theory or Presentism so he like moi believe God's Timelessness is compatible with it.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Is Feser the reason you believe that Presentism is true? If not, then what convinced you?

          • Jim the Scott

            If you really cared you would research it yerself. You don't and neither do I.

          • I Came To Bring The Paine

            Me engaging with you is the research. Nobody knows the reason why you believe what you believe except you. I want to know why Jim the Scott believes in a God, so whom do I ask? Jim the Scott, of course.

          • Jim the Scott

            M'eh.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      Were you a Classical Theist who became a Catholic, or were you a Catholic who became a Classical Theist?

      • Jim the Scott

        Bye.

  • I Came To Bring The Paine

    Questions That Thomists Cannot or Will Not Answer:

    What convinced you that Thomas Aquinas' view of reality is correct?

    What convinced you that Act-Potency is valid?

    What convinced you that the Unmoved Mover existed?

    What convinced you that the Unmoved Mover was God?

    What convinced you that God exists?

    • Mark

      1/ Aquinas view is in accord with the moderate realism of Aristotle which I view is best way to describe the fundamental nature of reality. This is a presupposition of reality I bring, that is that properties are real; especially properties of meta-ethics.

      2/ When my intellect was developed enough to sense change I was convinced change did really happen. It was before I understood what convinced as a concept was. Lately, it's the most likely way to make sense of QFT.

      3/ I haven't seen the proof refuted after 2k years of trying.

      4/ Only the God of classic theism has that essential attribute.

      5/ Arguments from morality. For morality to be binding, God must exist. Otherwise I'd be an arshole. I used to be really good at it.

      Do I get a reward for playing?

      • Jim the Scott

        Brother Mark my man!

        Here is a question or more.

        What convinces you that asking nebulous, vague and open ended questions is the correct way to explore a specific & complex subject matter?

        Why do you need to waste time hearing people's personal testimony rather than examine the arguments themselves?

        Why do you fear reading experts and insist on badgering persons who deny they are experts? Additionally since at least two Atheists who have done the relevant reading have shown up and have not done any of these things you are doing?

        You can tell these people are ex-fundamentalists or ex-Mormons because giving a testimony seems to be important to them rather than mere thinking?

        But I thank God for the Old Atheists who have show up to offer legitimate challenges. I wasn't bored.

      • MR

        Thank you, Mark. Appreciate that you actually answer instead of stonewalling.

      • BTS

        Hi Mark, I'm still pondering all this, going through my dark decade of the soul, so to speak.
        #1 As Brian Blais has said on his blog, our intuitions don't always track reality. We need a way to sort it out and to me, science is the best hope. Philosophy is the fun and winding road that sees you wandering to the edge of the cliff, and science is the tool that helps you decide if you should jump or not.

        #2 Not a Thomist and have not studied the act-potency thing yet. I have no comment on that one!

        #3 I think the best you can say on unmoved mover is a stalemate. It's not testable so no one can claim victory. We are relegated to scratching our heads until we die to find out.

        #4 God of classic theism does literally nothing for me. The best hope for me personally in being/staying a theist would be some sort of personal experience. Still waiting for it. I don't understand how a god "out there" does us any good. Ok, yeah, he created us, etc etc, but what else? Why give us only a bunch of really ambiguous religions and scriptures? Shouldn't everyone get some really good evidence?

        On #5...that argument used to be strong for me, but is tapering off. I've seen some really good arguments that morality is not binding or objective only because of god. It seems to me that a more creative god would not decree morality, but rather let us develop it on our own over eons. A more interesting project.

  • Jim the Scott

    "Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the cluelessness of New Atheists is their strange compulsion to comment at length on books they admit they have not read."
    -Professor Edward Feser

    PS I would add or a subject matter they claim to want to discuss but refuse to learn anything about.

  • BTS

    Lee Strobel, the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune and author of the influential work, The Case For Christ, is a prime example of what happens when an honest atheist sets out to establish once and for all whether the claims of the Gospels are reliable or not.

    The minute an apologist even mentions Lee Strobel in any fashion I immediately begin to question the critical thinking skills of that author.

    Please, please, please stop using that obvious hack as an example. You're doing way more harm than good and I know many staunch believers who agree with me. Surely there are far better examples. Strobel's "conversion" is paper thin. My wife - who is a believing Catholic - and I (the Catholic turned skeptic) were hooting and hollering at the screen for the entirety of the film "The Case for Christ." It is that bad.

    • Jim the Scott

      >Please, please, please stop using that obvious hack as an example.

      As long as you return the favor. Yer responses to Dr B have not been all that impressive.

    • Ficino

      My wife - who is a believing Catholic - and I (the Catholic turned skeptic) were hooting and hollering at the screen for the entirety of the film "The Case for Christ." It is that bad.

      I have wanted to start a fun project: watching movies that are critically rated as BOMB. Maybe I'll start with this one!

      • BTS

        Check out MST3000!!
        "Mystery Science Theatre 3000"
        on Netflix

  • BTS

    It has been the obnoxious position of some (not all) atheists that in order to believe in God, one must have a significant lack of intelligence and/or reason.

    As a Catholic-turning-skeptic who has done a ton of research, I don't see that. Of course there are obnoxious folks on both sides. Of course skeptics think that many believers are intelligent. What I see are skeptics calling out believers for not recognizing their blind spots and their special pleadings.

    Most atheists believe that modern science has ruled out the possibility of the existence of God.

    I don't think that is accurate. From what I've seen in thousands of articles and podcasts is skeptics/atheists/whatever playing the waiting game and asking for better evidence that directly points to god, not a pile of ancient circumstantial evidence.

    For this reason, they tag believers with a lack of up-to-date knowledge and critical thinking skills. (Of course, the question of the existence of a God who is outside of the physical universe is fundamentally aphilosophical question—not a scientific question.)

    It seems that believers only define god that way in order to escape any scientific inquiry. Defining god as outside the physical universe comes across as an attempt to define the problem away. If god interacts with the physical universe in any way whatsoever (answering prayers, sending Mary to Fatima, miracle cures, the incarnation, etc) then these claims ought to be subject at least in some sense to skeptical scientific inquiry. It is not merely a philosophical question.

    Intelligent and reasonable believers in God, who can engage atheistic arguments with clarity and logic, become a great challenge to atheists who hold this shallow attitude towards the existence of God.

    You need a qualifier on that sentence. Let me propose an emended version:

    Better version:
    Intelligent and reasonable believers in God, who can engage atheistic arguments with clarity and logic, and who admit that clarity and logic only go so far before they need to take a considerable leap of faith become a great present no challenge to atheists who hold this shallow attitude towards the existence of God personally are waiting for better evidence or a powerful unexplainable conversion experience.

    • Mark

      It seems that believers only define god that way in order to escape any scientific inquiry.

      BTS, I say this to you with all sincerity as you continue to sink into cynicism toward God because he lacks scientific evidence. It seems to me you've yet to ponder the presuppositions of scientific inquiry. I say this, because I often see you demand scientific evidence for God as above. If you truly have pondered science's presuppositions, how would you respond to someone who asks you for evidence of such assumptions? There are two basic assumptions about reality and 5 basic assumptions about the physical universe that are needed to do modern scientific inquiry that cannot in principle be scientifically evidenced. This is because in the search for knowledge you cannot begin in a vacuum. If you think you can you're not acknowledging your own presuppositions. The worst part of the cult of scientism is their hypocritical view of knowledge. So if I asked you for evidence for the assumptions of science: rationality, accessibility, contingency, objectivity, and unity of reality - and you gave me scientific evidence, you're committing the mistake of circular reasoning. BTW BTS these assumptions are all the same assumptions Catholics have, indeed they are from the Judeo-christian and Greek intellectual traditions.

      • BTS

        It seems to me you've yet to ponder the presuppositions of scientific inquiry.

        Nope, I've studied and dissected this extensively.

        Mark, no disrespect intended, but I've heard that line about circular reasoning from apologists so many times...science is about what is the best explanation, that's it. Shear away all the baloney take a parsimonious look at what's happening, what is the real cause of a phenomena. How many times has a supernatural cause actually been found? Zero.

        Carl Sagan in the "The Demon-Haunted World," explains how science is our best way of of knowing the universe and he concludes by discussing the Garden of Eden story. Paraphrased: Science is after the way things REALLY are, not how we want them to be." https://youtu.be/cIANk7zQ05w

        I completely acknowledge my own presuppositions...we have to start somewhere. I've used all the same tools as you to assess religious belief and I find it wanting. You're not in my head so you can't change that.

        The worst part of the cult of scientism is their hypocritical view of what can be known and what cannot.

        "Cult of scientism..."
        That is just the apologist's way of smearing people who refuse to take unjustified leaps. "Cult of scientism" is an invented term used to make it appear that apologists are the logical ones and scientists are not.

        Here is why I don't trust Thomism to be true:
        I would add as an analogy that there’s nothing about our experience on the Earth to suggest that the Earth is round or that it orbits the sun. It may be logically possible to have a flat planet, but not physically realizable in our universe (note: the spherical nature of planets is due to the spherical form of the law of gravitation). Our intuitions do not always track the truth, and truth should be our goal.

        As a scientist, I am accustomed to cases of seemingly obvious things being false, and of seemingly impossible things being true irrespective of our intuitions. Thus, strictly philosophical arguments are not enough to demonstrate the existence of something.
        -Brian Blais on his blog

        https://bblais.github.io/posts/2019/Feb/11/book-review-unbelievable-by-justin-brierley/

        When I look around I see a reality that comports moreso with god NOT existing than existing. Sunsets, rainbows, happy feelings, birthday parties, puppies, and invented feel-goods from going to Mass are not going to change that. Edit (If they do change me, I promise I will admit it)

        Were this 1950 and no internet, I would probably never had learned what I learned. I would probably still be a believer.

        BTW BTS these assumptions are all the same assumptions Catholics have, indeed they are from the Judeo-christian and Greek intellectual traditions.

        Catholics claim to accept science but they only accept science until it contradicts dogma, and then they start bending the truth and trying to fudge the doctrines to fit the data. It should be the other way around! Nearly every piece of evidence in science points to No Adam and Eve, for example. There was no garden of eden. Based on my trust of my own critical thinking skills, what should I do? Fake it? Pretend to believe in order to please others? I can't do it. In my heart of hearts, I think the Genesis story is total bunk. So what do I do with that? I can fake it, or ignore it, believe there's no god, or believe that god allows us to get things colossally wrong for long periods of time until we self correct?

        It's not cynicism, it's reality. I'm actually pretty fun to hang out with.
        How do you know that god is not using ME to get to YOU to question your presuppositions?

        Richard Feynman labeled the very discussion you and I are having as the central question of our time! (Neat, at least we're two fairly smart people). I would argue it's not reasonable or good or fair of god to hold us to believe all Catholic dogmas when our (Yes, fully-informed) conscience rebels.

        The Central Question of our time: The [increasing] tension between our two heritages - Richard Feynman

        He concludes, appropriately, like a scientist rather than a dogmatist — by framing the right questions rather than asserting the right answers:

        I don’t know the answer to this central problem — the problem of maintaining the real value of religion, as a source of strength and of courage to most [people], while, at the same time, not requiring an absolute faith in the metaphysical aspects.

        https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/05/11/richard-feynman-science-religion/

        • Ficino

          "We usually suppose that in order to exert a causal influence, an object must do so at some particular time and place, and this would not be possible for an object lacking spatio-temporal location. It is usually supposed that the cause of an event is another event and that all events involve change of some sort. Objects which are unchangeable and unable to be influenced in any way by the activities of the spatio-temporal world cannot enter into