A quick preview

We’ve looked at the evidence, and we’ve all seen (though some of us have mixed feelings about admitting it) that the real-world evidence is consistent with the expected consequences of the Myth Hypothesis, and inconsistent with the expected consequences of the Gospel Hypothesis. “Big deal,” you may say. “So what?” After all, it’s possible that some variation of the Gospel Hypothesis will work better. Maybe by adding things and/or taking things away we can come up with a New Gospel Hypothesis that will be as consistent with the facts as the Myth Hypothesis.

Well, yes and no.

It’s true that we can try modifying the Gospel Hypothesis, or even replacing it completely with a new hypothesis created from scratch. But here’s the interesting thing: we’ve already discovered that the original Gospel Hypothesis, as I originally gave it, is inconsistent with the facts. That means that any new, true hypothesis must also be inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis, because truth is consistent with itself.

That may be too obvious to be visible, so let’s look at that again. The Gospel Hypothesis is inconsistent with the real world facts because it predicts consequences that don’t match real-world conditions. Any true hypothesis must predict consequences that do match the real-world conditions, which means they’re going to fail to match the predictions of the Gospel Hypothesis. So any new hypothesis, in order to prove more consistent with the facts than the Gospel Hypothesis, is going to need to contradict the Gospel Hypothesis in some way. The Gospel Hypothesis does not fit the facts, so to fit the facts, we’re going to have to find a hypothesis that’s inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis.

That’s going to be especially tough for the Christian apologist to pull off. But why bother? We already have a hypothesis that fits the facts perfectly. Not only does the Myth Hypothesis predict with 100% accuracy the conditions we’re going to find in the real world, it even explains why and how the Gospel Hypothesis is going to fail to fit the facts. What is the point in looking any farther?

This is a replay of the situation with the battle between the geocentrists and the heliocentrists. The heliocentrists had a hypothesis that predicted the movements of the planets with astonishing accuracy: the earth was moving just like the other planets were, in a gravitationally-dictated orbit around the sun. The geocentrists tried to maintain a competing theory: that all celestial bodies moved in mathematically perfect circles, as befits the perfect work of a perfect creator.

To try and eliminate the differences between geocentrism and heliocentrism, the geocentrists introduced the notion of “epicycles”—everything that moved through the skies was moving in a perfect circle, but the circles themselves were also being moved in circles, which in turn were being moved in circles, and so on. By building elaborate schemes of nested circles, and complicated proportions of radii, they hoped to approximate the same predictions as the heliocentrists did with their relatively simpler calculations of gravitational interactions.

What the geocentrists were doing, in short, was setting up a Loser’s Compromise: trying to eliminate the difference in the predictions of each hypothesis so that they could claim that their view could be true, and we could never know. They were pursuing the unscientific goal of irresolvable agnosticism in order to avoid having to admit that their traditional beliefs were scientifically incorrect.

But why go to all that work? Heliocentrism produces the same answers a lot more easily and reliably, without raising unanswerable questions like how you account for the mechanics it takes to cause abstract mathematical concepts like circles take up physical orbits in a physical universe so as to drive the physical motion of entire planets. Today, geocentrism is a by-word for refusing to bow to the facts.

It may indeed be possible to follow the geocentrists’ example, by creating epicyclical variations on the Gospel Hypothesis in an endless and fruitless attempt to find one that predicts real-world conditions as elegantly and accurately as the Myth Hypothesis does. But why bother? The best we could achieve by such an approach is a Loser’s Compromise. Agnosticism is not knowledge; it does not give us grounds for claiming that we are justified in concluding things we have no justification to conclude.

So that’s why I’m not particularly concerned by objections that claim my Gospel Hypothesis is flawed. Truth is consistent with itself, and even if my Gospel Hypothesis were different from what the Bible says, we can still learn a lot about real-world facts by measuring how consistent the Hypothesis is with the evidence.

And by the way, there’s no such thing as a “cherry-picked” hypothesis. “Cherry-picking” is an error that occurs during the evidence-gathering phase, after your hypothesis has been defined. It biases your conclusions by seeking out only evidence that supports your preferred conclusion and suppressing the evidence that is inconsistent with it. In our discussion of the evidence, we have not suppressed any evidence, and have even encouraged people to submit any evidence (that is, any verifiable evidence) that would be contrary to our hypotheses. No one has.

Meanwhile, back in the hypothesis stage, it is perfectly legitimate and even commendable to take a broader hypothesis and zero in on specific details for closer investigation. Truth is consistent with itself, so a valid hypothesis will hold up whether you step back and look at the big picture or zoom in and focus on the individual details. My Gospel Hypothesis is closer to the big-picture end of the scale, and that’s going to pose problems for anyone looking for an epicyclical rebuttal to the evidence I’ve presented. You can agree that the Gospel Hypothesis is not consistent with the facts, and you can offer alternative hypotheses that are inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis, but you can’t do either without admitting that there are serious flaws in traditional Christian dogma.

And you can’t come up with a hypothesis that fits the facts better than the Myth Hypothesis. The Myth Hypothesis is already 100% accurate, so the best rebuttal you can hope for is a Loser’s Compromise. And that, too, is just what the Myth Hypothesis predicts.

 
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Posted in Evidence Against Christianity, Loser's Compromise, Unapologetics. 53 Comments »

53 Responses to “A quick preview”

  1. nal Says:

    DD:

    Truth is consistent with itself, so a valid hypothesis will hold up whether you step back and look at the big picture or zoom in and focus on the individual details.

    Are you saying that the predictions from a hypothesis that zoomed in on the individual details would be no different from the predictions of a “big picture” hypothesis?

    If the individual parts interact in such a way that the whole is more than the sum of it parts, I don’t think this holds. However, it is up to those who claim that the predictions of the “big picture” hypothesis are different, to come up with specific reasons for why this is so.

  2. R. C. Moore Says:


    So that’s why I’m not particularly concerned by objections that claim my Gospel Hypothesis is flawed.

    DD, I think you need to be more honest, here, it is not that you are not “particularly concerned”, it is more that your are not “particularly interested”. It is your blog, and you do not have to be, and it does not affect the intellectual entertainment value much, but sitting on a high horse is a guaranteed to make create the appearance of elitism.


    Truth is consistent with itself, and even if my Gospel Hypothesis were different from what the Bible says, we can still learn a lot about real-world facts by measuring how consistent the Hypothesis is with the evidence.

    This is one of the worst constructs you continue to make — the mixing of philosophy and science. Truth means “philosophical truth” — and your GH as a hypothesis remains philosophical. Implying that the data (real world facts) is useful to the hypothesis is not correct. As a description of what the data already reveals, it is useful however.

    Again, you are misapplying the term hypothesis in modern usage. You are really more like Aristotle claiming flies originate from a dead carcass, based on observation only.


    And by the way, there’s no such thing as a “cherry-picked” hypothesis. “Cherry-picking” is an error that occurs during the evidence-gathering phase, after your hypothesis has been defined. It

    I know the term “cherry picked” was used, but I think what was really meant was “framing error”, which is an error that occurs during the hypothesis-forming phase, and which your GH clearly commits, diminishing its usefulness as a testable hypothesis.

  3. cl Says:

    DD,

    (though some of us have mixed feelings about admitting it)

    Well, ‘us’ must really mean ‘cl’ because Jayman and Facilis are still nowhere to be found – but now my feelings are open game for criticism? And that’s rational how?

    That means that any new, true hypothesis must also be inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis, because truth is consistent with itself.

    Correct. The glimpses of my true Gospel Hypothesis I offered in a mere paragraph yesterday are inconsistent with DD’s GH.

    That’s going to be especially tough for the Christian apologist to pull off.

    Yet, I just told you that I already did such on the thread with all the other unanswered questions – like – if your GH is not Christianity, why does it consist of distinctly Christian elements? Why is your series titled Evidence Against Christianity? Why isn’t your GH ecumenical? You might say because you’re going to factor other hypotheses in later – and that’s fine – but cannot change the fact that Jayman, Facilis and myself all made Dominic’s claim in the first two weeks of this discussion, and you handled it by denying that your GH was Christianity. I don’t care what anyone else thinks. That is the situation you have to rectify to regain my respect, not that such should mean anything to you, either. Equally regardless, your next task is to justify your claim that identical predictions entail dishonesty and rationalization. That’s BS. I showed you specifically how and why my true Gospel Hypothesis and the MH entail identical predictions.

    But why bother? We already have a hypothesis that fits the facts perfectly. Not only does the Myth Hypothesis predict with 100% accuracy the conditions we’re going to find in the real world, it even explains why and how the Gospel Hypothesis is going to fail to fit the facts. What is the point in looking any farther?

    Yeah, why look any further when we’ve proved the conclusion we’re looking for, right?

    What the geocentrists were doing, in short, was setting up a Loser’s Compromise

    Ah, yes, back to that strategy: declare your opponent the loser when a sheet of unanswered questions and bipartisan disagreement stares you straight in the face.

    trying to eliminate the difference in the predictions of each hypothesis so that they could claim that their view could be true, and we could never know.

    You know my motives how?

    And by the way, there’s no such thing as a “cherry-picked” hypothesis.

    Not when one starts from scratch, but when you call your hypothesis the Gospel Hypothesis, it follows that you should weigh all of the Gospel’s claims into your hypothesis, no? This is what you don’t do – and if your GH is not Christianity like you say – why do you care that I think it was cherrypicked at all? Interesting, to say the least.

    “Cherry-picking” is an error that occurs during the evidence-gathering phase, after your hypothesis has been defined. It biases your conclusions by seeking out only evidence that supports your preferred conclusion and suppressing the evidence that is inconsistent with it.

    Yes, exactly what you are doing. You call your hypothesis the Gospel Hypothesis, yet the Gospel does not permit your conclusion that God should be right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and on magazine covers. Deal with that please. To me, cherrypicking means selecting that which we want and overlooking that which we don’t. That’s exactly what you’ve done. Now, if you rename your GH the DDH or DDGH or something similar, I’d have absolutely no problem and would not have commented beyond the second week of this discussion – like Jayman and Facilis.

    Meanwhile, back in the hypothesis stage, it is perfectly legitimate and even commendable to take a broader hypothesis and zero in on specific details for closer investigation. Truth is consistent with itself, so a valid hypothesis will hold up whether you step back and look at the big picture or zoom in and focus on the individual details.

    Of course.

    You can agree that the Gospel Hypothesis is not consistent with the facts, and you can offer alternative hypotheses that are inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis, but you can’t do either without admitting that there are serious flaws in traditional Christian dogma.

    1) You are really fumbling here. Just earlier, on the likelihood of coming up with an hypothesis that is inconsistent with your GH, you said “That’s going to be especially tough for the Christian apologist to pull off.” Now you say “you can offer alternative hypotheses that are inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis.” Which is it?

    2) Why? That sounds like a different discussion altogether.

    And you can’t come up with a hypothesis that fits the facts better than the Myth Hypothesis.

    DD, the estoppel fallacy occurs when our opponent draws a line in the sand and declares the line non-crossable. I credit Dominic with coining its name. Deal with my true Gospel Hypothesis which does entail identical predictions as your MH and quit pretending.

    The Myth Hypothesis is already 100% accurate, so the best rebuttal you can hope for is a Loser’s Compromise.

    Not that my feelings matter, but to me, that’s a cheap shot and copout which betrays your good reputation as a devout worshipper of Alathea. That essentially amounts to, “All dissent is motivated by knowledge that I am correct.” That’s irrational and shows bias so strong that opposing ideas are automatically pre-declared as rationalizations. I’m really, really disappointed. For the rationalists who wish to continue the discussion, the onus is on them to show either 1) How the fact that my true Gospel Hypothesis entails identical predictions as DD’s MH entails a Loser’s Compromise, and/or 2) Why my true Gospel Hypothesis should entail predictions that are different from DD’s MH. Simply plugging one’s ears and saying, “I’m right” doesn’t amount to much – for me personally at least.

    nal,

    However, it is up to those who claim that the predictions of the “big picture” hypothesis are different, to come up with specific reasons for why this is so.

    I have, in the previous thread.

    R.C.,

    DD, I think you need to be more honest, here, it is not that you are not “particularly concerned”, it is more that your are not “particularly interested”. It is your blog, and you do not have to be, and it does not affect the intellectual entertainment value much, but sitting on a high horse is a guaranteed to make create the appearance of elitism.

    You may consider it patronizing or rude but that’s a risk I’ll have to take – for that comment alone if nothing else, I respect you immensely.

    This is one of the worst constructs you continue to make — the mixing of philosophy and science. Truth means “philosophical truth” — and your GH as a hypothesis remains philosophical. Implying that the data (real world facts) is useful to the hypothesis is not correct. As a description of what the data already reveals, it is useful however. Again, you are misapplying the term hypothesis in modern usage. You are really more like Aristotle claiming flies originate from a dead carcass, based on observation only.

    YES!!!!!!!!

    I know the term “cherry picked” was used, but I think what was really meant was “framing error”, which is an error that occurs during the hypothesis-forming phase, and which your GH clearly commits, diminishing its usefulness as a testable hypothesis.

    Like I said, DD’s argument was sufficiently addressed in the first and second weeks of this discussion, and I consider the preliminary phase of it resolved. Now that I’ve offered an (albeit perfunctory) alternative hypothesis, the ball is in DD’s court – and I’m still waiting for his answers to all that other stuff, too.

  4. jim Says:

    Duncan: Excellent, clear exposition here, but I doubt any theist will find your GH hypothesis the least bit convincing. As you’re obviously aware, your GH will be rejected on the grounds of it being incomplete. I agree with you that the caveats traditionally offered will qualitatively contradict the main premises of the GH, but the usual nuanced rationalizations will override any psychic jarring from the cognitive dissonance. I mean, that’s what apologetics is all about, right? Believers don’t want good answers. They just want something to scratch that little itch at the back of the mind that says “this ain’t kosher!”. Having said that, I’m still enjoying that part of the series; your geocentrism vs. heliocentrism illustration is a spot-on analogy, and the evil part of me merrily awaits the coming circus, and the jumping through of hoops. Although to be realistic, it’ll probably just be a re-hashing of the ‘miracles’ non-conversation, and eventually devolve into the same sort of epistemological standoff. On second thought, maybe I’ll go to the movies.

    The greater strength of your argument lies on the Myth Hypothesis side of the equation, I think. This I liken to the naturalistic side of the ‘where do morals come from?’ debate. The god solution is so convoluted, requiring explanations for the explanations for the explanations et al., and all those silly metaphysical presuppositions on top, whereas the evolutionary/psychosocial arguments are straightforward and elegant…and most importantly, coherent from the observational viewpoint. The same goes for your MH; and the further you delve into it, even beyond your primary GH/MH comparisons, the better it gets! When you look at Christianity from the MH perspective, you get that big ‘aha!’ experience. I’ve even seen it happen to ex-christians before. It offers such a great alternative context to weight commonsense observations against, as compared to the incoherent, compartmentalized thinking which typifies theistic belief, IMO.

    Anyway, good luck with the project, and congratulations on the graduation thing. I’ve got one leaving HS, and another out of college and straight into a teaching job (in the inner city, which frankly scares the crap out of me!) Well, at least they hopefully won’t end up flipping burgers like the old man…LOL! Take care, and thanks for the efforts.

  5. Eneasz Says:

    cl-
    Just earlier, on the likelihood of coming up with an hypothesis that is inconsistent with your GH, you said “That’s going to be especially tough for the Christian apologist to pull off.” Now you say “you can offer alternative hypotheses that are inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis.” Which is it?

    cl, perhaps in your haste to reply you failed to keep reading a few words further. Allow me to quote your own quotation:
    DD – you can offer alternative hypotheses that are inconsistent with the Gospel Hypothesis, but you can’t do either without admitting that there are serious flaws in traditional Christian dogma.

    I see no contradiction between DD’s two statements, unless you are claiming that apologists have no interest in denying the serious flaws in traditional christian dogma.

  6. Eneasz Says:

    Hello cl. I’m going to try to address a couple points in a somewhat serious manner, which is a bit outside my usual modus operandi. I’ll probably regret it, but here we go:

    First Point
    I read your blog post concerning DD’s hypothesis. The only new bit of info in there (that I could pick up, at least) was that you would modify the hypothesis to say “but he doesn’t show up in the present.” To quote you:

    Again, to clarify, that God would want to participate in a relationship with beings He created is all fine and dandy, and I do not dispute the validity of DD’s inference in that respect. I do dispute the “here and now” part of DD’s inference, which is unjustifiable and contrary to what the Gospel actually implies

    Tangentially, this seems like exactly the sort of Loser’s Compromise DD was talking about. But more to the point – WHY THE HELL WOULDN’T HE WANT TO SHOW UP HERE AND NOW? You’ve already stated you agree that he wants a personal relationship with as many of his creation as possible in the afterlife. Currently, less than half of the world’s population is christian. If you want to restrict it to “Real True Christians” – meaning no Catholics, Mormons, Calvinisits, etc etc – then the fraction is MUCH lower. Does God not really want a relationship with those 5+ billion people? Cuz if he showed up, here and now I can gaurentee you that 99% of the world would soon become Real True Saved Christians. The inconsistancy between what you say he wants and what he actually does is mind-boggling to say the least.

    Second point
    When Tacroy was pointing out problems with Christian dogma, he asked why God was able to walk among men as Jesus, and yet now you say God cannot show up in real life here and now because he can’t abide sin (or some such). Direct quote is below:

    If “God cannot dwell with sinful man sans atonement”, does that mean that Jesus wasn’t God?

    What was Jesus besides atonement?

    OK…. WTF??? To rephrase this: God cannot dwell with sinful man sans atonement, except for whenever he wants to, because he IS atonement. Did you not realize you were stepping into a GIGANTIC pile of self-contradictory poo-poo right there? Did you not bother to think your answer through?

    And more to the point: according to your Bible, Jesus was immortal. They tried to kill him, and he just came right back, no sweat. Why did he not continue to dwell among men as he had for the past 33 years? Why didn’t he simply stay here on earth, continuing to spread his message of redemption and forgiveness? You know that “evidence” that all non-christians have been asking for, for the past 2 millenia? What better evidence than an actual immortal, miracle-performing, un-aging, truth-of-god-speaking Messiah that’s been chilling in Jerusalem for the past 2000 years, is there??? That would guarantee (again) at least a 99% getting-to-spending-eternity-with-his-creation-in-the-afterlife rate. Why in the name of all that is holy did he decide to scamper back off to heaven within a few days/weeks of being resurrected, when staying could have had such an unparalleled positive effect? Do you realize how morally bankrupt your position is?

    That is all.

  7. cl Says:

    jim,

    Believers don’t want good answers.</blockquote.

    Nice argument. Never heard that one before. I disagree with your second comment as well. DD’s first statement didn’t feature the same qualifier as his second. Incidentally, it’s a moot point over a sub-claim that has no bearing to the original discussion.

    Eneasz,

    Tangentially, this seems like exactly the sort of Loser’s Compromise DD was talking about.

    I’m sorry DD poisoned your mind by implying those who dissent are losers who compromise.

    WHY THE HELL WOULDN’T HE WANT TO SHOW UP HERE AND NOW?

    According to the Bible, it is impossible to please God without faith – but even if I didn’t have that answer to offer – that we can’t think of a reason is no reason to indulge arguments from ignorance, is it?

    The inconsistancy between what you say he wants and what he actually does is mind-boggling to say the least.

    There is no inconsistency, because I’ve not claimed God wants to show up and prove His existence.

    They tried to kill him, and he just came right back, no sweat. Why did he not continue to dwell among men as he had for the past 33 years? Why didn’t he simply stay here on earth, continuing to spread his message of redemption and forgiveness?

    According to the Bible, it is impossible to please God without faith, and the disciples continued to spread the message.

    That would guarantee (again) at least a 99% getting-to-spending-eternity-with-his-creation-in-the-afterlife rate.

    I don’t know this, so I won’t pretend to.

    Why in the name of all that is holy did he decide to scamper back off to heaven within a few days/weeks of being resurrected, when staying could have had such an unparalleled positive effect? Do you realize how morally bankrupt your position is?

    I doubt you’ll ever be able to see my position as anything else until you unpack your presuppositions.

    Let’s stay on topic: My responsibility was to show how DD’s so-called Gospel Hypothesis is no gospel hypothesis at all, and I’ve succeeded. The ball is now in my opponents hands, and they need to show either that DD’s GH is compatible with the full gospel, or they need to dispute my true GH, or something else – but this whole business of calling people losers because two hypotheses cast identical predictions seems like the real compromise to me.

    Can anyone justify the claim that identical predictions entail rationalization? I’d like to see that one.

  8. cl Says:

    Sorry guys. Mangled that comment. This:

    I disagree with your second comment as well. DD’s first statement didn’t feature the same qualifier as his second. Incidentally, it’s a moot point over a sub-claim that has no bearing to the original discussion.

    Was in response to Eneasz, not jim.

  9. R. C. Moore Says:

    jim said —

    Believers don’t want good answers. They just want something to scratch that little itch at the back of the mind that says “this ain’t kosher!”

    I am a non-believer who wants good answers, because I find them interesting. The believers of course find them relevant.


    The greater strength of your argument lies on the Myth Hypothesis side of the equation, I think. This I liken to the naturalistic side of the ‘where do morals come from?’ debate. The god solution is so convoluted, requiring explanations for the explanations for the explanations et al., and all those silly metaphysical presuppositions on top, whereas the evolutionary/psychosocial arguments are straightforward and elegant…and most importantly, coherent from the observational viewpoint. The same goes for your MH; and the further you delve into it, even beyond your primary GH/MH comparisons, the better it gets! When you look at Christianity from the MH perspective, you get that big ‘aha!’ experience. I’ve even seen it happen to ex-christians before. It offers such a great alternative context to weight commonsense observations against, as compared to the incoherent, compartmentalized thinking which typifies theistic belief, IMO.

    This is my opinion also, I personally find the GH a better as a description of belief system, and the MH a well supported hypothesis that answers why some people believe what is described in the GH.

    The MH, unlike the GH is also falsifiable, and testable. And by tossing the GH, one can began to explore the more subtle questions to be asked.

    This borders on an argument of style, I know, but DD’s false dichotomy has led him to omit critical data available to us in this discussion.

    I have brought it up before, and reintroduce it now — The well known comments of Papias concerning Mark and the Apostle Peter must be factored into any discussion of the Myth Hypothesis. I am a non-believer, but this one datum (several others exist) falsifies the MH.

    If the MH is falsified, we need an alternative hypothesis.

  10. cl Says:

    ..DD’s false dichotomy has led him to omit critical data available to us in this discussion.

    YES.

  11. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “My responsibility was to show how DD’s so-called Gospel Hypothesis is no gospel hypothesis at all, and I’ve succeeded. The ball is now in my opponents hands, and they need to show either that DD’s GH is compatible with the full gospel, or they need to dispute my true GH, or something else – but this whole business of calling people losers because two hypotheses cast identical predictions seems like the real compromise to me.”

    You know, I heard that just saying you’ve won an argument means you’ve won it. I should try it sometime.

  12. jim Says:

    R.C.- I could have phrased that better. Let’s change it to ‘believers would LIKE good answers, but there really aren’t any, so they’ll accept pretty much any stand-in’.

  13. R. C. Moore Says:


    You know, I heard that just saying you’ve won an argument means you’ve won it. I should try it sometime.

    Have you ever noticed that when a scientist admits, in the face of new evidence, that he/she is wrong, it is a sign of greatness. When a philosopher admits he/she was wrong, you wonder why you should ever believe them again.

    In science, you have to prove when you are right, and admit when you are wrong. I trust science because of that.

    In philosophy, you have to keep insisting you are right, creating larger and larger philosophies to absorb any problems, or your career is over. I distrust philosophy because of that.

  14. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl —

    According to the Bible, it is impossible to please God without faith, and the disciples continued to spread the message.

    Not much of an response, because for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms. Sons of Ham, Uzzah, children playing, Lot’s wife, the list goes on and on.

    And the disciples spread the message? Paul was not at the Last Supper that I recall. The disciples simply maintained a mystical little cult built around Peter and James. I know of no documents showing the disciples traveling the Middle East spreading the word.

    Makes you wonder why those who knew Jesus were reluctant to tell others.

    Very unconvincing response to be repeated so many times.

  15. Arthur Says:

    cl,

    I respect you [RC Moore] immensely.

    If this is true, in the sense that people commonly use the word, then you should consider not waving him off when he tells you stuff.

    RC,

    This is one of the worst constructs you continue to make — the mixing of philosophy and science. Truth means “philosophical truth” — and your GH as a hypothesis remains philosophical. Implying that the data (real world facts) is useful to the hypothesis is not correct.

    I haven’t quite figured out what the problem is. I mean, I don’t want scientists drawing philosophical conclusions from their data either, but why would Deacon not be permitted to bring real-world facts to bear on his abbreviated Gospel? When, on this blog, has the truth ever been looked for anywhere else?

  16. John Morales Says:

    Actually, science as we know it developed from (and in many ways remains) natural philosophy – that is, critical thinking applied to nature.

  17. R. C. Moore Says:


    Actually, science as we know it developed from (and in many ways remains) natural philosophy – that is, critical thinking applied to nature.

    Modern science is not natural philosophy though, in the way alchemy is not chemistry.

  18. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    The irony in your last remark was beautiful, and my invitation to a cogent argument still stands.

    R.C.,

    Not much of an response, because for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms. Sons of Ham, Uzzah, children playing, Lot’s wife, the list goes on and on.

    Patently false. Faith is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation – but I don’t expect you to know because you’ve already conceded to limited familiarity with the source material. Not that such should preclude cogency, of course.

    Very unconvincing response to be repeated so many times.

    I’ve made the argument from Hebrews twice now, and that R.C. Moore thinks a response is unconvincing means nothing. You have to show how the Bible’s argument fails, and you have not. As DD said, denial is not an argument.

    Arthur,

    Apparently you would like to hear more bickering about ad hominem and all sorts of other nonsense. I do not. Judge me accordingly.

  19. Arthur Says:

    What?

  20. R. C. Moore Says:


    Patently false. Faith is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation – but I don’t expect you to know because you’ve already conceded to limited familiarity with the source material. Not that such should preclude cogency, of course.

    Really — how many times if the word “Faith” found in the Old Testament? And in what percentage of books? And where in Genesis?

    Once again you attempt to simply “assert” a refutation. Looking at the actual Bible, until the New Testament, obedience is much more relevant than faith.

    You continually screw up the one area you claim to be “expert” in. One of many reasons I call your arguments unconvincing.

  21. cl Says:

    Who abides by that which they do not have faith in? Again, denial is not an argument. You have to show where my claim is incorrect. The writer of Hebrews directly contradicts your claim, and you haven’t touched that. As far as the OT is concerned, a good place to start with your argument that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms” would be an explanation of how Abraham and numerous other patriarchs pleased God. Citing a few examples of where people displeased God and omitting the examples where people pleased God is nothing more than cherrypicking.

    You continually screw up the one area you claim to be “expert” in.

    Your opinion means nothing, I’ve never claimed to an expert in anything, and I find it interesting that you say such things when you’ve conceded to never reading the Bible cover to cover. Not that my opinion should mean anything, but you’re like the creationist arguing against evolution while simultaneously showing significant ignorance on the subject. Don’t you find that the least bit troubling?

    The Bible clearly states it is impossible to please God without faith, and both Testaments contain myriad examples of people pleasing God via faith. Even a perfunctory reading reveals as much.

  22. R. C. Moore Says:


    I’ve made the argument from Hebrews twice now, and that R.C. Moore thinks a response is unconvincing means nothing. You have to show how the Bible’s argument fails, and you have not. As DD said, denial is not an argument.

    I think not understanding that quoting Hebrews, a source not admitted to this discussion as either factual as relevant, indicates the extreme denial you labor under cl.

    Your logic is completely self referential — why is your argument from Hebrews convincing? Because you are convinced by it.

    Buttressing apologetic arguments with the apologetics in Hebrews does show the independence of thought required to be convincing on this topic.

  23. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    You’re quite persistent. Where do you find the energy for all this? I usually get bored with debates after about 3 days. I’ve been following bits of this one from the sidelines because I see DD trying something similar to what I’ve tried to do in the past, and I’m curious as to what he has up his sleeve once the modified GH gets the same treatment as the original GH.

  24. cl Says:

    R.C.,

    I think not understanding that quoting Hebrews, a source not admitted to this discussion as either factual as relevant, indicates the extreme denial you labor under cl.

    Who the hell made you the arbiter of allowable evidence? How is the claim that without faith it is impossible to please God not relevant? It’s actually very relevant to the discussion, if you think about it. Again, if the best you can do is to deny sans explanation, I’m not that worried.

    Your logic is completely self referential — why is your argument from Hebrews convincing? Because you are convinced by it.

    No. My argument from Hebrews shouldn’t be thought of in terms of convincing vs. unconvincing, as both are matters of personal opinion. My argument from Hebrews either permits the conclusion deduced from it, or it does not. All you are doing is denying that it permits the conclusion, while refusing to show how, then trying to disallow my evidence when you can’t show how. But hey, you’re the one who has to look in the mirror every morning.

    You have claimed that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms,” yet both Testaments contain myriad examples of people pleasing God via faith. Can you explain this discrepancy? Or will you simply continue to deny and insult?

    Dominic,

    I don’t know where my energy comes from. I wish you could see all the other stuff I do in between posts.

    ..I’m curious as to what [DD] has up his sleeve once the modified GH gets the same treatment as the original GH.

    Why presuppose it will?

  25. John Morales Says:

    … and this is why I tend no not respond to a certain poster, under DD’s ROE; it is also why I admire his patience and tolerance.

    If and when DD chooses to make a linkage between the GH and the Bible, he will do so. Until then, I consider objections on that basis are either obtuse or disingenuous.

    PS I am most amused by someone’s continual references to Facilis, with whose (past) posts in another forum I am familiar.

  26. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    I presuppose because I see that as the whole point of this exercise. Establishing a method that doesn’t rely on Biblical accounts as evidence. Biblical accounts can be used to formulate any number of Gospel Hypothesis, but DD is aiming specifically (I assume from reading his posts) at removing Biblical accounts as evidence for evaluating whether any given GH is actually true.

    One question I have for you though, that may help stave off confusion in the future, is how do you know what you know? (the act of associating certainty with an idea)

    Let me elaborate. As an atheist myself, I answer that question by saying there are different ways of knowing that blend into each other along a spectrum such that they are not distinct from each other in any meaningful way. The first and most basic is sensory observation, we know what we see, hear, and feel. This leads to knowing through reason and logic, allowing us to know things that we don’t directly experience. Lastly, you have faith, which I define simply as “trust in a person”. Sort of “knowledge by proxy”, where you can know something that you’ve neither experienced nor figured out for yourself so long as your source is trustworthy and reliable.

    These fall along a spectrum since the very act of thinking requires at least rudimentary building blocks to make thoughts out of: sounds, colors, etc… From this, reason and logic allow a person to have more complex thoughts that extend beyond their immediate surroundings. And from this, you can then finally understand things a person tells you (you can know what he knows).

    For example, I’m looking at my keyboard. It’s black. I know its black, I’m looking at it right now. When I bought it, it was in a box with the image of a black keyboard on the front, and there were other boxes there of the same model that also had images of black keyboards on them, thus I reason that I don’t have the only black keyboard of this model, there are others, even though I haven’t actually seen them. If my friend whom I trust tells me he also bought the same keyboard and that it was black too, but he threw it away years ago, I know then that he also had a black keyboard, even though I’ll never see it and would never have been able to deduce that he did on my own.

    In my own adventures over the Internet, it seems to me that the religiously minded have fundamentally different understandings of how we know what we know. Many invert the spectrum and put faith first, calling all other knowledge a consequence of faith, with our senses being the least reliable, others more aggressively compartmentalize “types” of knowing as though they are actually distinct from each other (like saying faith is just as valid as seeing with your own eyes, since your eyes can be fooled just as well as a person could lie to you).

    In this case, regarding DD’s analysis of the Gospel Hypothesis and Myth Hypothesis, I see him as doing his best to establish the answer I just gave regarding how to go about knowing things (first experience, then reason, and faith as a distant and easily dismissed third) above as the best approach for bridging the gap between certainty and actually being correct.

    However, if you have a fundamentally different approach to knowing (associating certainty with an idea), then even if you get past your objection at calling the Gospel Hypothesis ‘Gospel’, you’ll still be talking past each other rather than actually debating (though, granted, that’s what most debates seem to be regardless).

    This may seem a bit tangential, but I’m looking ahead and all I see is a head on collision train wreck, which is usually all that ever happens.

  27. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    If and when DD chooses to make a linkage between the GH and the Bible, he will do so. Until then, I consider objections on that basis are either obtuse or disingenuous.

    I would agree with you if DD’s hypothesis was not prefixed with the word Gospel, and/or if DD addressed the following squarely: Don’t you find it the least bit disappointing that DD denies his GH is Christianity, yet it consists exclusively of distinctly Christian pre-conceptions about God? Everybody can say whatever they want about me, but to date, nobody has even touched that question – among many others.

    I mention Facilis only to show that at least four people have now made the same objection to DD’s GH. The way you’ve described what Facilis may have said in another forum seems irrelevant here.

  28. cl Says:

    Dominic,

    Establishing a method that doesn’t rely on Biblical accounts as evidence. Biblical accounts can be used to formulate any number of Gospel Hypothesis, but DD is aiming specifically (I assume from reading his posts) at removing Biblical accounts as evidence for evaluating whether any given GH is actually true.

    Correct, and by doing so, DD creates arguments against something that is no longer the Bible, and what Christian should give a rat’s arse about that? I am not the least bit impressed that DD can claim to self-define God and knock Him down. As an analogy I’ve made several times to no avail – if I were to claim the Evolutionary Hypothesis predicts that we should see monkeys turning into men right here, right now, in person – wouldn’t you look at me with raised eyebrows? Going further, if I then based my claim that the Instantaneous Creation Hypothesis seems more likely because we don’t see monkeys turning into men right here, right now, in person – would you not laugh aloud? Such is exactly the experience a Christian has when reading DD’s arguments here.

    Again, DD needs to reserve the name Gospel Hypothesis for the hypothesis that best fits the Gospel claims. His first hypothesis offered is no gospel hypothesis at all, and hence has no value in a discussion titled Evidence Against Christianity.

    ..there are different ways of knowing that blend into each other along a spectrum such that they are not distinct from each other in any meaningful way…

    For example, I’m looking at my keyboard. It’s black. I know its black, I’m looking at it right now. When I bought it, it was in a box with the image of a black keyboard on the front, and there were other boxes there of the same model that also had images of black keyboards on them, thus I reason that I don’t have the only black keyboard of this model, there are others, even though I haven’t actually seen them. If my friend whom I trust tells me he also bought the same keyboard and that it was black too, but he threw it away years ago, I know then that he also had a black keyboard, even though I’ll never see it and would never have been able to deduce that he did on my own.

    I can agree with all of that, and it feels like you didn’t take the thoughts as far as you wanted to. What are you actually asking me? I don’t see that DD and myself engage in different ways of knowing.

    If DD’s GH is not Christianity as he claims, why do you suppose it consists exclusively of Christian pre-conceptions about God?

  29. R. C. Moore Says:


    Who the hell made you the arbiter of allowable evidence?

    Not the arbiter. Just the guy who asked you to back up your repeated claims. It is very simple, how many times is faith (as opposed to obedience) mentioned in the Old Testament? This is not foundational to any of my arguments, but yours.

    This is of course a side discussion, but it once again demonstrates that you continue to make assertions that are proven wrong. You then try to shout down (coarse language again, I note) the error.

  30. R. C. Moore Says:

    Dominic said —


    Many invert the spectrum and put faith first, calling all other knowledge a consequence of faith, with our senses being the least reliable, others more aggressively compartmentalize “types” of knowing as though they are actually distinct from each other (like saying faith is just as valid as seeing with your own eyes, since your eyes can be fooled just as well as a person could lie to you).

    What you are describing is (I think correctly) an inversion of Bayesian Inference for hypothesis testings. Where one would normally begin with an as objectively true axiom as possible, and then begin to recursively add new axioms, with estimated weightings to build towards and overall likelihood of “truth”, religion begins with the most unlikely of axioms, calls it highly reliable, and then only grudgingly reduces this “truth” when confronted with new evidence.

    This is the same processed used by others we would consider out in left field — conspiracy nuts, UFO believers, ghost hunters, etc. Religion gets a special pass, historically, but the standard still holds.

  31. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    Ultimately, I was asking to see how you justified Biblical evidence as being admissible. What is faith to you, and why? Since faith is what is required to trust in Biblical accounts, especially those that describe God.

    That’s where this whole thing is going. You haven’t gotten there yet, but from my vantage, that’s going to be a real issue before too long. Once the Bible starts getting put through the materialist wringer, it never stands up to scrutiny. Invariably, the defense erected by the religious is to attack materialism itself. This is what I see happening, every single time. Hence, the impending derailment I see coming once DD gets back and moves ahead having established that hypothetical Gods can be tested and dismissed based on real-world expectations (unless he has something up his sleeve that I haven’t seen before, which is why I’m still lurking). The defense is always… always, that there’s more to reality than what we experience, and nothing has actually been disproved, and the only way to know these impenetrable mysteries is through faith.

    Therefore, I’m asking what your position is regarding how we know things, particularly the validity of faith, or how you define faith, before the ineffectual head-butting starts.

    I defined it as simply “trust in a person”. Do you see that as a sufficiently comprehensive definition? And how do you rank it in comparison to sensory experience and inductive/deductive reasoning for acquiring accurate ideas?

    [unnecessary tangent]
    Bear in mind, I saw the same problem with calling the Gospel Hypothesis the “Gospel” Hypothesis as you did, but I think you’re overreacting, since you’ve been involved from the beginning and knew more about what was going on than I did at the time.

    You have your own understanding of Christianity, but do bear in mind that there really truly is no such thing as ‘Mere Christianity’ in spite of C.S. Lewis’ attempt to convince us all otherwise. There really are groups of people who call themselves Christian, who read the same bible as you, and have come up with radically different, incompatible ideas about God than what you may have. The GH could very well fit some of these groups view of God to the letter (something I would attest to from personal experience, but you have no reason to believe my testimony, since you don’t even know me, I’ll leave it to you to discern the relevance of that).

    So while I agree that DD’s milksop sky daddy version of the Gospel Hypothesis could use some tightening up from a theological viewpoint given my own understanding of the Gospels, I wouldn’t say it justifies an emotional reaction from someone who doesn’t even believe in it. Disproving an evolutionary theory by observing that men aren’t spontaneously turning into monkeys serves an important purpose in establishing the criteria for disproving any theory regarding evolution, namely the primacy of observable evidence.

    Now, if the method used for disproving the proposed evolutionary hypothesis is “The Oracle said so.” Then I’d argue. Otherwise, why should I care if the hypothesis has the word ‘evolution’ in it, there’s all manner of evolutionary theories.
    [/tangent]

  32. cl Says:

    R.C.,

    You told me that quoting Hebrews was not relevant to this discussion. If you don’t see that as acting like an arbiter, there’s not much I can do.

    I’ve backed up my claim. The Bible says it is impossible to please God without faith, in those exact words. You attempt to dispute this claim by asking how many times the word occurs in the Old Testament, and I told you that early on as Genesis, we find examples of people believing and pleasing God via their faith. For example Abraham, the original patriarch. You have not responded to that.

    DD has been pre-emptively calling any hypotheses that predict identical consequences as his MH ‘loser’s compromises.’ I have shown that the true GH should predict identical consequences as his MH – because without faith, it is impossible to please God. Therefore, it follows that God won’t act unilaterally like DD requests, because such would override faith. These aren’t my ideas, but the Bible’s. I judge the Bible on face value, by the claims it makes for itself. That’s all I ask of DD as well.

    Again, you have not supported your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” Both Testaments contain myriad examples of people pleasing God via faith which directly contradicts your claim. As Paul said, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    Can you explain this discrepancy? Either your claim about the Bible is false, or mine is. I’ve shown instances of people pleasing God via faith in both Testaments now. You have not shown that no Bible characters pleased God via faith – which is what you’d need to support your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.”

  33. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    R.C.,

    I’m with Bertrand Russell in calling man a rationalizing animal rather than a rational one. I always have a good laugh when I catch myself being one. Some are just more so than others, just the same as some people are taller than others, I suppose.

  34. R. C. Moore Says:

    No, no cl, trying to start another conversation is not allowed. Tsk, tsk. You have failed to supply any evidence for your claim whatsoever.

    You said:

    I said:


    Not much of an response, because for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms. Sons of Ham, Uzzah, children playing, Lot’s wife, the list goes on and on.

    and you said:


    Patently false. Faith is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation – but I don’t expect you to know because you’ve already conceded to limited familiarity with the source material

    Patently false is what you said, cl. The OT is, anyway you slice it, “much of the Bible”, and faith is not mentioned. And Abraham was rewarded for obedience, not faith, as you define it in your argument, because the Lord’s command was not in question — Abraham fully expected to lose his child.

    I think you must have failed Sunday Bible school, or Christian Apologetics has so twisted your thinking you miss the point of everything.

    I just love the incredible chutzpah of Christians who toss away entire religions at the drop of a hat to make it all about them. Just because the NT and Paul declares the Abraham story to be about Christian faith, why, it must be! and just another sign of how wrong all those Jews are. They can’t even get their own mythology straight!

  35. cl Says:

    Dominic,

    I was asking to see how you justified Biblical evidence as being admissible.

    The same way DD justifies his GH is as admissible: By drawing logically tenable conclusions entailing specific predictions that are as difficult as possible to dispute. For example – again – the Hebrews thing. The Bible says without faith it is impossible to please God. Wouldn’t it be a logical prediction that God would do nothing to disallow faith then? Wouldn’t God showing up right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and on magazine covers – as DD claims the Gospel claims – nullify faith? What other possible deductions can you imagine from “Without faith it is impossible to please God?”

    As I’ve told DD, this religious dissonance you cite means nothing to me. The same dissonance exists in politics, diplomacy and science.

    I define faith as belief and/or hopeful expectation. Faith and knowledge are two different things, but I will say that if God and revealed knowledge are real – it’s certainly reasonable that faith could lead one to revealed knowledge. At the same time – from the purely scientific angle – knowledge professed to be obtained by faith alone is not veridically useful until corroborated by real-world experience. Prophecy rings a bell.

    I saw the same problem with calling the Gospel Hypothesis the “Gospel” Hypothesis as you did, but I think you’re overreacting, since you’ve been involved from the beginning and knew more about what was going on than I did at the time…

    ..while I agree that DD’s milksop sky daddy version of the Gospel Hypothesis could use some tightening up from a theological viewpoint given my own understanding of the Gospels, I wouldn’t say it justifies an emotional reaction from someone who doesn’t even believe in it.

    As far as my regular life goes, I don’t give a rat’s ass about DD’s GH. The ‘overreacting’ comes from dealing day after day after day with insulting people who prefer addressing me vs. my arguments. I don’t see why my detractors can’t admit what you have.

    Lastly – just of curiosity to hear you explain – do you disagree that there is more to reality than what we experience? If not, do you disagree that such is useful as an argument? If so to the latter, why?

  36. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl said —


    Again, you have not supported your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.

    I will answer this, not because any onus is actually on me, but because your apologetics are so weak, it doesn’t really take much effort.

    Original sin. Any way to escape it? Is anyone not cursed at conception on this planet, according to evangelical Christian belief?

    Is there any act that can be taken by the parents of a child, to please God, and avoid their child being cursed due to a transgression over 6000 years ago? Anyway to avoid a life of evil and hardship, due to sin-filled “free-will” actions required by this curse?

    Nothing can be done get back paradise on Earth, while still living?

    I define this as “impossible to please”, as would most rational people: inescapably being held for a 6000 year old failure of arbitrary obedience.

  37. cl Says:

    R.C.

    Again – who obeys that which they do not have faith in? Do you obey that which you do not believe in? Is not obedience an act of faith? Nonetheless, I’ll play semantics with you:

    It is very simple, how many times is faith (as opposed to obedience) mentioned in the Old Testament?

    “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end [shall be]: for they [are] a very froward generation, children in whom [is] no faith.” (Deut. 32:20, ‘emuwn – faithfulness, trusting.)

    Clear example of FAITH (not obedience) mentioned in the OT, and also a clear example of LACK OF FAITH displeasing God – directly upholding the argument from Hebrews. How many more mentions of faith in the OT will it take before you quit insulting me?

    Funny that you conflate “pleasing God” with “salvation” while insulting my knowledge. You have not supported your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” Although it might preclude self-effected salvation, original sin does not preclude “pleasing God on any terms,” and neither does our inability to restore to perfection this side of life. If your argument was that nobody can effect their own salvation, I’d agree with you, but your argument is that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” If that is your argument, you have to show that no person in the Bible has ever pleased God on any terms, or that the Bible claims nobody can please Him on any terms – but good luck – you’ll need it:

    “But do not forget doing good and sharing with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

    “..doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ…” (Hebrews 13:21)

    “To walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10)

    “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)

    How do these four verses I found in five minutes parse against your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms?”

  38. R. C. Moore Says:

    Hey cl, this is fun! Back and forth disputes on Biblical verses. Just like the history of Christianity.

    You gave us:


    “And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end [shall be]: for they [are] a very froward generation, children in whom [is] no faith.” (Deut. 32:20, ‘emuwn – faithfulness, trusting.)

    Clear example of FAITH (not obedience) mentioned in the OT, and also a clear example of LACK OF FAITH displeasing God – directly upholding the argument from Hebrews. How many more mentions of faith in the OT will it take before you quit insulting me?

    Well, thanks for proving my point, that faith is not mentioned in much of the Bible, and providing a single quote about God’s jealousy about other God’s, and hatred for non-believers, not so much any Pauline version of faith — or are you saying that is what Paul is talking about — faith means belief in the one God only, and he will hate you if you don’t. Not faith so much as fear, I would say.

    Here is more of passage you quote, for context:


    32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.

    32:17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

    32:18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

    32:19 And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. (32:19-20)

    32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.

    32:21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

    Oh yeah, that is all about faith.


    How many more mentions of faith in the OT will it take before you quit insulting me?

    Well, more than one would be nice, but really, enough to show that it is “patently false” that most of the Bible (the entire OT for the most part) is not about Pauline faith.


    Again – who obeys that which they do not have faith in?

    Many who wish to stay alive in fascist theocracies I would hazard to guess.

    You change the Christian meaning of faith to meet your needs, so apologetic!


    “But do not forget doing good and sharing with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)

    But still that sin. Your life, no matter what you do for God, will be statistically indistinguishable from anyone else who also does good with out faith.


    “..doing in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ…” (Hebrews 13:21)

    A pat on the head from Jesus! But sorry, I still have to give your child gross deformities. Original sin you know!


    “To walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10)

    Wow, now suddenly fruit and knowledge is a good thing! Don’t tell that to Eve. Oh, and by the way, while God is now happy about fruit and knowledge, gotta stick with the whole original sin thing. Wouldn’t want to let people think the omniscient God changes his mind.


    “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:20)

    I love the irony. Obey your parents, it makes God happy. Not so happy he removes that original sin though. I mean come on, what do you expect from a loving God — forgiveness?


    How do these four verses I found in five minutes parse against your claim that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms?”

    They prove my point quite well. No matter how pleased you make God, you are still stuck with original sin. Which damns you to a life is evil, indistinguishable from that of non-believers.

  39. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl —

    I found this you left in a comment May 31:

    Correct. The glimpses of my true Gospel Hypothesis I offered in a mere paragraph yesterday are inconsistent with DD’s GH.

    But found nothing relevant on May 30. What gives?

  40. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    Calling faith “hopeful expectation” is certainly one way of putting it. How you define faith is quite important given your emphasis on it’s role in understanding God.

    Remember, my definition was simply “trust in a person”. Considering the passages you’ve cited from Hebrews about how it’s impossible to please God without faith, how would faith stop being possible if God manifested himself more often? It may be obvious to you if the passage meant that it is impossible to please God without hopeful expectation, but consider also the possibility that God simply wants you to trust him? How would that be taken away if he showed up in real life? We meet people everyday, that doesn’t take away our ability to choose who to trust.

    In fact, showing up in real life would facilitate that decision, because then you actually have a choice to make, and something real to put your trust in, rather than agonizing over whether there’s even a God there to trust. And the trust would be sincere, like the trust shared between your closest friends and family.

    So if God was here, undeniable, and real, and promised you eternal life if you loved him above all, and others as yourself, would it not still be an act of trust to do so? After all, you get your reward after you die, so there’s no way to independently verify that God is telling the truth, you’ll just have to trust him.

    So, as you can see, aspects of God gleaned from the Bible aren’t automatically correct just because they come from the Bible, due to differences in interpretation. The repeated references to religious dissonance are quite relevant, since one man’s strawman is another man’s idol.

    It’s why I put little emphasis on faith as a form of knowing, it’s more of a last resort to be put aside at the first sign of doubt in favor of a higher fidelity approach. Faith is based on words (or The Word, if you prefer), and as such is susceptible to the most distortion and is the least reliable.

    It’s also why I asked what your own position was regarding how you know what you know. It’s going to become increasingly pertinent the longer you decide to tough this out. Expect things to get downright esoteric in spite of DD’s best efforts to maintain a solid, analytical approach.

    Now, regarding the actual scope of reality relative to our experience, I’ll have to admit agnosticism on that number.
    The only thing that makes me a self-proclaimed atheist is the fact that the act of thinking is a causal process, and there’s no way that I can see to justify the belief that a timeless eternal God “decided” to create the universe before causality existed.

    The fact that there could more to reality that we can experience is to simply argue ignorance. Anyone can do it and there’s no thinking involved. If you try playing the mystery card, anything goes and suddenly you’re in Flying Spaghetti Monster territory and all bets are off. There’s nothing actually wrong with it, per se, because the only way one could discredit it is to genuinely know everything, but its not terribly useful either. If someone wants to argue that something is a certain way or is definitely going to happen, then its up to them to show at its at least reasonable. Once you start arguing that the utterly mysterious could interact with our reality at any moment, then there is no criteria for reasonable. Literally anything could happen at any time, and nothing is reasonable.

  41. Arthur Says:

    Dominic,

    As fair warning, here are some cl quotes I excerpted from a recent conversation. My question was simpler than yours: “Where do you get reliable information on God?”

    I learned what he means when he says “agnostic,” but “reliable” is anyone’s guess. As far as “knowing” and “believing”—forget about it.

  42. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Arthur,

    He said that there’s a difference between knowing and believing. Seems simple enough to me.

    He qualifies as a “weak” Christian, the ones who take up Pascal’s wager and choose to err on the side of caution. Daniel Dennett described such people as ones who “believe in belief”.

    From my point of view, there’s nothing wishy-washy or vague about anything he’s said. My question has been answered to my satisfaction.

  43. Arthur Says:

    He qualifies as a “weak” Christian, the ones who take up Pascal’s wager and choose to err on the side of caution.

    Clearly, then, it is the verb “to assume” I should have been trying to figure out.

  44. cl Says:

    R.C.,

    They prove my point quite well. No matter how pleased you make God, you are still stuck with original sin.

    Incorrect. We were never arguing about original sin. The argument that we can’t self-effect salvation is different from the argument that “for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” The latter is the argument you originally made. Self-effecting salvation is impossible on any terms, and had you typed what you now claim you meant, I would have agreed. In my opinion, concession to sloppiness (which is only a minor offense) would behoove pursuit of truth much more so than the amateur atheist apologetics you currently engage in. With nothing more than a handwave, you continue to conflate pleasing God with salvation when your original claim doesn’t support the motion and neither do the Bible’s original languages. Deal with that.

    You asked me where faith vs. obedience occurred in the OT. I provided an instance. There are others, but I’m really amused that you don’t yet seem to understand that whether or not faith is mentioned in the OT has no bearing on the fact that faith is intrinsically connected to the unseen in Hebrews, and that in Hebrews it states without faith it is impossible to please God. Even if faith were never mentioned in the OT, such would cannot change this fact of the Bible, and if we’re evaluating the Bible, we have to evaluate it on its own facts and merits, right? (Here’s something else to think about, and maybe it will give you a hint: I can use my own argument here to form a powerful argument for contradiction in the Bible, but such has no bearing on the discussion we’re in. Just encouraging you to more fully explore the issue). R.C., think about this: Let’s presume the word pistis never occurred anywhere else in the Bible except Hebrews 11. How would that change the fact that Hebrews 11 specifically defines pistis in connection with the hopeful expectation of things unseen? That’s the supporting pillar of my alternative hypothesis. That’s what you need to refute, and declaring it invalid because you mistakenly believed faith didn’t occur substantially in the OT amounts to cherrypicking on a faulty presupposition.

    ..found nothing relevant on May 30. What gives?

    I guess I shouldn’t assume you’re keeping up with all these discussions, but it’s pretty obvious you assumed May 30 meant ‘this thread.’ Do your own research.

    Well, more than one would be nice, but really, enough to show that it is “patently false” that most of the Bible (the entire OT for the most part) is not about Pauline faith.

    So now you’re moving the goalposts on us? Here’s your original claim: “..for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” That’s the claim I said was ‘patently false,’ and it is. It is not my responsibility to show that it is patently false that most of the Bible or the entire OT for the most part is not about Pauline faith. Of course “Pauline faith” is not mentioned in the OT! Again, if that’s what you meant, concession to sloppiness (which is only a minor offense) would behoove pursuit of truth much more so than the amateur atheist apologetics you currently engage in.

    “To walk worthily of the Lord to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and growing by the full knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:10)

    Wow, now suddenly fruit and knowledge is a good thing! Don’t tell that to Eve. Oh, and by the way, while God is now happy about fruit and knowledge, gotta stick with the whole original sin thing. Wouldn’t want to let people think the omniscient God changes his mind. (R.C.)

    Really? With many other comments like this one, you are really just rambling.

    Dominic,

    First off, because you seem so reasonable, may I ask what you think of R.C.’s original claim that “..for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms?” Do you think scripture supports R.C.’s two-tier claim? Do you think I responded adequately to him? Why or why not? I really want to get him off my back. Maybe another atheist can help.

    Now, back to our discussion. First off, a very general remark – don’t you think it’s a reasonable argument that hopeful expectation and trust in a person are in the same subset of psychological states? It’s important to note I’m not categorically or biblically equating them, either.

    Considering the passages you’ve cited from Hebrews about how it’s impossible to please God without faith, how would faith stop being possible if God manifested himself more often? It may be obvious to you if the passage meant that it is impossible to please God without hopeful expectation, but consider also the possibility that God simply wants you to trust him? How would that be taken away if he showed up in real life? We meet people everyday, that doesn’t take away our ability to choose who to trust.

    Although many skeptics and atheists poke fun at semantics, yours is certainly a reasonable question. To me it seems concurrent with manifestation that hopeful expectation would be nullified, because that for which we were once hopefully expecting would now be revealed before us. Trust in the person of God may or may not become impossible concurrent with manifestation, and this depends on whether we define trust in the person of God as believing that He will fulfill his promises, or something else. If the former, such is impossible because God’s promises (in the sense of having a loving relationship with God) are contingent on His showing up. If the latter, feel free to elaborate on your definition of trust in the person.

    To clarify, God’s presence would in no way preclude our trusting Him in the most basic sense of the word trust, and note that the most basic sense of the word trust isn’t the word expounded upon in Hebrews 11. The original languages of the Bible use many words for trust, including chacah, batach and ‘aman as a few examples from the Old Testament; and elpiz?, peith? and pisteu? as a few examples from the New Testament. But faith, defined specifically in the original languages and in my arguments from Hebrews 11 as pistis, is also defined specifically as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Doesn’t it follow logically that as soon as God manifests, God is no longer unseen and pistis is no longer necessary?

    In fact, showing up in real life would facilitate that decision, because then you actually have a choice to make, and something real to put your trust in, rather than agonizing over whether there’s even a God there to trust.

    I disagree that there would be a choice to make. What is your opinion of those who choose to deny the sun?

    So if God was here, undeniable, and real, and promised you eternal life if you loved him above all, and others as yourself, would it not still be an act of trust to do so?

    I suppose about as much an act of trust as it’d be to believe the sun will rise tomorrow. Who wouldn’t believe what such an undeniably majestic and powerful Being was saying? Yes, it’s a reasonable argument that such would be an act of faith as well, in the sense of hopeful expectation. It could not retain its connection to “things not seen,” however, unless by God showing up we mean something different than our pre-agreed sun analogy where God’s visible presence is undeniable (by pre-agreed, I assume everyone in this discussion is familiar with DD’s claim that God’s presence should be as unmistakable as the sun’s).

    After all, you get your reward after you die, so there’s no way to independently verify that God is telling the truth, you’ll just have to trust him.

    Sure. But God would still be seen, right? Hence pistis as specifically defined in Hebrews impossible?

    So, as you can see, aspects of God gleaned from the Bible aren’t automatically correct just because they come from the Bible, due to differences in interpretation.

    I don’t make that claim, and I now I better understand your previous questions about how I claim to know what I claim to know. The claim you refer to above is a classic apologist argument I’d wish to avoid being associated with. Apologists frequently resort to the argument from interpretation when things aren’t going their way, and I say that’s bunk. Especially in its key matters, in my experience, we can use sufficient processes of logic and reason to deduce scripture’s specific meanings. In response to the argument from interpretation, how is the fact that pistis – and not chacah, batach, ‘aman, elpiz?, peith? or pisteu? – was specifically elaborated on by its respective writer as intrinsically connected to things unseen? To me, the only counterargument would be to pick apart some other word – but who knows – such might prove useful.

    The repeated references to religious dissonance are quite relevant, since one man’s strawman is another man’s idol.

    I disagree. Via sufficient processes of reason and logic we can justifiably burn all sorts of straw. In fact, that’s exactly what’s happening here as DD’s GH smolders. The reason for all this religious dissonance (in my opinion) is that the vast majority of believers don’t exercise their God-given gifts of critical thinking, logic and reason. Many simply descend into emotionally-controlled arguments which tend to further accentuate the lack of said sufficient processes. If the subset of believers I allude to would but only even read and critically consider the book so many profess to live by, we’d see an immediate increase in the trend of religious convergence proportionate to the number of people in that subset who made the leap. We’d also see more atheists – because unlike DD – I won’t imply that consistently unbiased use the tools of sufficient reason only lead to theism.

    It’s why I put little emphasis on faith as a form of knowing,

    I bet if we talked long enough we’d find that you put quite a bit of emphasis on faith as a form of knowing, but that’s an aside.

    It’s also why I asked what your own position was regarding how you know what you know.

    Now that I’ve explained in fuller detail, what part of my answer did you find unsatisfactory?

    Expect things to get downright esoteric in spite of DD’s best efforts to maintain a solid, analytical approach.

    To me – with two posts already throwing around the word ‘loser’ while 1) the discussion is not even resolved yet, 2) DD’s not responded to my challenge to a real-time, one-on-one, peer-reviewed discussion, and 3) a sheet of bipartisan unanswered questions stares DD in the face – I submit that we’ve already departed from a solid, analytical approach.

    Now, regarding the actual scope of reality relative to our experience, I’ll have to admit agnosticism on that number.
    The only thing that makes me a self-proclaimed atheist is the fact that the act of thinking is a causal process, and there’s no way that I can see to justify the belief that a timeless eternal God “decided” to create the universe before causality existed.

    I’ll definitely take you up on this discussion, as DD has made a variant of this argument that just so happens to be on the list of unanswered questions I mentioned. Stay tuned.

    The fact that there could more to reality that we can experience is to simply argue ignorance.

    I asked you two questions: First, do you believe that there is more to reality than we can experience, or not? Second – presuming we both answer affirmatively to the question – I agree that to use this fact as a justification for belief entails problems. That’s not the argument I’m making, and why I distinguished between the fact and the argument in my question. I would never tell you, “I believe in God because there is more to reality than we can experience.” Now, that there is more to reality than we can experience might have some weight as a minor supporting element in a sub-claim involving the plausibility of the spiritual realm, or something similar.

    If someone wants to argue that something is a certain way or is definitely going to happen, then its up to them to show at its at least reasonable.

    That’s what I’ve done in my exegesis of Hebrews.

    Once you start arguing that the utterly mysterious could interact with our reality at any moment, then there is no criteria for reasonable. Literally anything could happen at any time, and nothing is reasonable.

    I disagree strongly. Provided the objects and the capabilities exist in actuality, whatever you have in mind by “utterly mysterious” can interact with our reality at any moment. That does not make the phenomenon itself unreasonable. Nothing can happen that is not reasonable.

  45. ThatOtherGuy Says:

    “…and that in Hebrews it states without faith it is impossible to please God.”

    Wait wait wait, didn’t you just get done quoting passages in which God WAS pleased by things that weren’t faith?

  46. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    “First off, because you seem so reasonable, may I ask what you think of R.C.’s original claim that “..for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms?” Do you think scripture supports R.C.’s two-tier claim? Do you think I responded adequately to him? Why or why not? I really want to get him off my back. Maybe another atheist can help.”

    I’d say no. Since my understanding of the Bible is that what pleases God is obedience, he can make the argument that faith doesn’t play a role in the old testament, but that doesn’t support saying the OT God was impossible to please. The two tier approach misses the mark on the second step. In fact, the OT God is pretty easy to please, since all you have to do for him is follow the rules and do as he says.

    Your response is pretty much what I would have said in the same situation.

    “Now, back to our discussion. First off, a very general remark – don’t you think it’s a reasonable argument that hopeful expectation and trust in a person are in the same subset of psychological states? It’s important to note I’m not categorically or biblically equating them, either.”

    Overlap is not unreasonable, but they’re not impossible to distinguish either. You can derive hopeful expectations without any sort of testimony from another (imagine a dice game, c’mon snake-eyes!), and you can also trust a person’s word absolutely (“jump, I’ll catch you”). So I wouldn’t say they are classifiable as being in the same subset of psychological states. I associate the same feeling of certainty with knowing that a keyboard is black if my best friend tells me so as with seeing the keyboard with my own eyes, and this feeling is very different than the one I would experience if he told me my next roll of the dice would win the pot.

    “Although many skeptics and atheists poke fun at semantics, yours is certainly a reasonable question. To me it seems concurrent with manifestation that hopeful expectation would be nullified, because that for which we were once hopefully expecting would now be revealed before us. Trust in the person of God may or may not become impossible concurrent with manifestation, and this depends on whether we define trust in the person of God as believing that He will fulfill his promises, or something else. If the former, such is impossible because God’s promises (in the sense of having a loving relationship with God) are contingent on His showing up. If the latter, feel free to elaborate on your definition of trust in the person.”

    This serves to reveal our respective biases and assumptions that went into the definitions. My bias was in what we are supposed to be trusting God in. The unspoken assumption that gets included in my thought processes are that the objective basis for Christian morality are strictly utilitarian. Do as he says, and you go to heaven, disobey, and you go to hell. So even if God showed up in real life, you still have that choice of obeying or disobeying, because the actual consequences don’t come until after you die. So even if God himself shows up and tells you personally what the consequences of your life and actions are, you still have the choice of which consequences you prefer.

    Conversely, it seems you’ve had a different bias regarding what one was hopefully expecting. I’m guessing you equate the heavenly reward with a personal relationship with God, thus making them one and the same (which also explains your objection to the GH, namely that if he showed up in person, we’d all be in heaven right now, am I right?)

    I’ve been arguing from the position that God showing up wouldn’t take away our right and ability to trust what he tells us, since the heavenly reward does not equate to an unmistakable awareness of God, and I would say you are equating the two.

    If we were debating and never cleared this up, we’d be doing nothing but talking past each other the whole time.

    Now regarding the last point regarding the impact of agnosticism on reasonable expectations:

    “I asked you two questions: First, do you believe that there is more to reality than we can experience, or not? Second – presuming we both answer affirmatively to the question – I agree that to use this fact as a justification for belief entails problems. That’s not the argument I’m making, and why I distinguished between the fact and the argument in my question. I would never tell you, “I believe in God because there is more to reality than we can experience.” Now, that there is more to reality than we can experience might have some weight as a minor supporting element in a sub-claim involving the plausibility of the spiritual realm, or something similar.

    To the first question, I answered agnostic. I entertain the possibility, but possibility doesn’t graduate to belief until something points me in that direction. We’re pretty much on the same page in this regard, like I said, my original question was answered to my satisfaction.

  47. cl Says:

    ThatOtherGuy,

    Yes. That’s what was meant by my following comment to R.C. Moore: “Here’s something else to think about, and maybe it will give you a hint: I can use my own argument here to form a powerful argument for contradiction in the Bible, but such has no bearing on the discussion we’re in. Just encouraging you to more fully explore the issue.”

    Dominic,

    I’d say no… Your response is pretty much what I would have said in the same situation.

    I appreciate your candid opinion.

    I’ve been arguing from the position that God showing up wouldn’t take away our right and ability to trust what he tells us…

    I agree that God showing wouldn’t take away our right and ability to trust what he tells us. However – as defined by DD – God showing up must nullify our faith in “things unseen,” correct?

    If we were debating and never cleared this up, we’d be doing nothing but talking past each other the whole time.

    I agree, and that’s why I appreciate people like you who seem clearly motivated by the desire to understand as opposed to the desire to be right.

    I entertain the possibility, but possibility doesn’t graduate to belief until something points me in that direction.

    Don’t you think it’s a valid observation that reality has always been more than we imagined? We used to think Earth was all there was. Then we realized the solar system. Then we realized we hang in an expanse of 14 billion light years. Now we’re wondering on solid preliminary grounds if perhaps things exist outside this 14 billion light year expanse.

    OTOH, even if we grant that yes, it seems there’s always more to reality than we imagine – again – I don’t think such can rationally sustain any and all beliefs equally – nor would I say such would preclude attainment of omniscience, which would be the only position where the statement “there is nothing more to reality than what we know” could possibly be correct.

    At any rate, thanks for the refreshingly clear discussion.

  48. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    “I agree that God showing wouldn’t take away our right and ability to trust what he tells us. However – as defined by DD – God showing up must nullify our faith in “things unseen,” correct?”

    Only if “things unseen” consists only of God.

    “Don’t you think it’s a valid observation that reality has always been more than we imagined? We used to think Earth was all there was. Then we realized the solar system. Then we realized we hang in an expanse of 14 billion light years. Now we’re wondering on solid preliminary grounds if perhaps things exist outside this 14 billion light year expanse.”

    This justifies agnosticism regarding the full nature and content of reality at large.

    As with all questions, I answer this one with an unspoken bias as well. In my experience, whenever someone raises the issue of there being more out there that we know in the context of a religious apologetic, it’s because they are simply making room for a specific belief they have that isn’t at all grounded in *anything* we do know (such as God being outside the universe). It’s my irritation with these individuals which makes me especially careful in answering questions regarding the limits of knowledge and reason as they pertain to holding certain beliefs.

    I expect DD has the same bias, hence the “Loser’s Compromise”.

  49. cl Says:

    Dominic,

    Sorry to lag in responding. Honestly, I’m tiring of this discussion – but not the debate. Even though I’ve got thick skin, it’s easy to get discouraged from returning when you know it’s just a big trash talk party – those are never rational.

    Only if ‘things unseen’ consists only of God.

    Valid distinction, and I’ll get to that. I figured I’d wait and give you more to work with. I’ve written like 7,000 words in response to this series so far. Part 1 is on my blog, but we’ve already discussed most of its claims. Part 2 is coming, and I’m still trying to decide the best angle to take. Probably going to introduce my own positive hypothesis. Whatever angle I end up taking, I will address your concerns.

    This justifies agnosticism regarding the full nature and content of reality at large.

    Well, “at large” is a bit of an escape clause in this statement, but I’ll still disagree. There are many, many issues which cannot be dismissed by the agnosticism card – and future discoveries don’t preclude provisional truths. For example, if we found that God did create the universe, that doesn’t mean science is wrong – just some of the conclusions we drew from it.

    It’s my irritation with these individuals which makes me especially careful in answering questions regarding the limits of knowledge and reason as they pertain to holding certain beliefs.

    Like I said, I’ve never said and will never say, “I believe in God because there is more to reality than we can know,” so we should be good from here on out. Commenter jim attached that stigma to me long ago – and although you said you also got the idea from my statements – I’d be interested in hearing which specific comments of mine gave you the idea. I’m willing to bet E-Prime comes up again.

    Anyways, thanks for everything.

  50. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    cl,

    we could pick things up at your blog if you preferred, just let me know and I’ll head over.

  51. cl Says:

    Dominic,

    Sounds great to me. If you’d like – feel free to drop by and add my feed, or leave a comment on any pre-existing thread. That way I can notify you of my next post should I not come around here over the next few days (right now there is no reason to).

  52. cl Says:

    R.C. Moore,

    …more than one would be nice, but really, enough to show that it is “patently false” that most of the Bible (the entire OT for the most part) is not about Pauline faith.

    “Behold, his soul [which] is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Hab 2:4)

    If you say “That’s not Pauline faith,” I’ll say, “So now you’re moving the goalposts on us?”

    Then I’ll remind you that you made a two-tier claim and you have zero response to the second tier, as I’ve shown. In fact, twice now, you’ve moved the goalpost, as any reasonable observer can see from your original claim:

    ..for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned, and pleasing God is impossible on any terms. R.C. Moore

    That’s the claim I said was ‘patently false,’ and it is. Again, it’s true that self-effecting salvation IS impossible according to scripture – as we both later agreed – but if that’s what you meant, that’s what you should have wrote. Back to the first tier – New Testament writers speak of Old Testament faith, too. But don’t take my word for it, because remember – I don’t know anything about science, or apparently the Bible either, as you now claim.

    What I do know is that it’s NOT my responsibility to disprove that most of the Bible or the entire OT for the most part is not about Pauline faith. Of course “Pauline faith” is not mentioned in the OT! How could it be if it’s intrinsically connected to the risen Savior? This is clearly a poor argument. Again, if that’s what you meant, concession to sloppiness (which is only a minor offense) would behoove pursuit of truth much more so than the amateur atheist apologetics you currently engage in.

    Now – kind sir – please leave me well alone – unless and only unless you’re going to say something positive or at least constructive, and/or unless you’re willing to make some concessions, and/or from here forward you give me the same respect you’d give, oh I don’t know – John Morales, Arthur or anyone else here.

    Try it, you’ll see it works both ways. If we can get far enough, I’ll gladly remove your presence from my “Blog of Infamy.” Gladly!

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