The Loser’s Compromise (cont.)

In my post on “Victoria and Holmes,” I wrote the following:

There’s a particular approach to the truth that I call the Loser’s Compromise, and it goes like this: “We can’t know the truth about X, so let’s just agree that different people are equally justified in believing whatever they like about it.” Considered superficially, it sounds open-minded and fair, because it appeals to a certain live-and-let-live quality that avoids putting anyone in the wrong. In reality, though, it’s a deceptive rationalization, and an excuse for avoiding the truth instead of embracing it.

The rest of the post explained this and gave some illustrations, but there’s just a point or two more that I’d like to add to try and clarify why this is indeed a Loser’s Compromise.

The heart of the Loser’s Compromise is that the person making the argument is trying to claim that he is “justified” in believing any conclusion he wishes to accept. The idea is that, since we can’t know which conclusion is true, the justification for any of them is the same.

That’s almost true: if indeed we cannot know which conclusion is the correct one, then all conclusions are equally UNjustified. This is the crux of the matter, because there’s a difference between all conclusions being equally justified, and all being equally UNjustified. The term “justified” implies that the believer has valid reasons for his beliefs, but in the case of the Loser’s Compromise, nobody has any valid reason to prefer one conclusion over the others.

What the Loser’s Compromise does is to try and remove the social stigma that comes from advocating beliefs that we don’t have any valid reason to believe. The believer wants to claim the social status that comes from having “justified” beliefs, and therefore uses the Compromise to claim that his beliefs are just as justified as anyone else’s.

But let’s go back to the conclusions themselves. Where we have a body of conflicting and mutually contradictory conclusions, at most one of them is going to be consistent with the real-world truth. If we say that all conclusions are equally “justified” when we know that they cannot all be equally true, what we’ve done is to redefine the meaning of “justified” so that it no longer has any relevance to the question of whether or not a particular conclusion is true.

But there’s a reason why we attach a certain social stigma to the practice of believing things when you have no valid reason for concluding that they are true. Self-deception has practical consequences that often include harm to the believer and/or those around them. Why would you want to listen to someone who was deliberately impeding their own ability to distinguish between truth and falsehoods? Why would you trust them when they regard truth and falsehood as being virtually the same in terms of what we should believe?

We rightly look down on such rationalizations and self-deceptions, because of their practical implications. The Loser’s Compromise attempts to avoid that stigma by contriving a counterfeit form of “justification” that is really just unjustified beliefs masquerading as justifiable. This is a pure fraud, a con, and ought to be thoroughly and soundly repudiated by all honest inquirers after the truth.

 
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Posted in Loser's Compromise, Realism. 95 Comments »

95 Responses to “The Loser’s Compromise (cont.)”

  1. cl Says:

    I think cl know this, innately, if not consciously, and that is why he is careful to never state any relevant axioms, or even to admit to any non-theistic axioms. This has led to him insisting that “two verses” qualifies as “the most part” when counting Biblical verses.

    That’s a damn lie R.C. Moore. You never even returned to that thread as soon as Dominic agreed with me that your claim was bunk. Worse for you, you completely redefined your original claim twice (you know, moved the goalpost) and I did NOT insist “two verses” qualifies as “the most part.” I asked you how many verses you wanted, you never cited a number, so I decided to add them one by one until you said uncle. I simply provided the second verse thinking you’d continue in your silly numbers game, but you didn’t even respond in that thread, and now you act as if I said something I did not. You made an obviously false and un-thought-out claim – just admit it, retract it, and move on. It’s not that hard to say, “Okay, I was wrong about that, but I still disagree about this.” Really.

    Instead you continue to run your mouth and psychoanalyze someone you’ve never met over the internet. Yeah, really rational. What is it with people who claim to be rationalists and freethinkers but simply refuse to take any responsibility for erroneous statements they make? What will it take? I think we should amend our definition of a miracle thusly.

    As I like to say, when you are chained to your beliefs, you constantly worry about the weakest link.

    Damn! You got me!! Take responsibility for your claims and treat this discussion seriously.

  2. R. C. Moore Says:


    That’s a damn lie R.C. Moore.

    Tsk, tsk, such coarse language. And no dispute do I see — you did only post two verses in response to my claim, and they were not even relevant. I don’t believe I moved any goalposts (others can verify), I just happen to be aware that words have more that one meaning. I do believe you are unfamiliar with the game being played.

    It is called rational thinking.


    Dominic agreed with me that your claim was bunk.

    Suddenly we use agreement by others as the yardstick? Ah, yes, you invoke the Losers Compromise to keep with the spirit of things.


    Damn! You got me!! Take responsibility for your claims and treat this discussion seriously.

    I do, when not talking to the pigeons.

  3. R. C. Moore Says:

    5keptial asked:


    How would you present MH and GH in probabalistic terms without getting into endless squabbles about the assigned probabilities? It seems tough enough to get concensus even with DD’s approach. (or does this only work sans pigeons?)

    With Bayesian inference, the who point is that you do not know the actual probabilities, but you can agree somewhat on the relative probabilities. Some are harder that others, but it turns out that a lot are very far apart. And the process is recursive — as each axiom is assigned a probability, it is fed into previous estimates.

    Here is an quick example (not the real mathematics, just some addition/subtraction to show that the actual probabilities are not essential, just the weights. Adding rankings changes outcomes dramatically)

    Hypothesis: The resurrection of Jesus is a myth.

    Axioms:

    1. We have ancient texts describing the resurrection.
    Yes, objective evidence of such texts exists, and they are in general agreement. +5, total = 5

    2. But they are not in total agreement. -1, total = 4
    3. Independent writers spoke of the resurrection very soon after (Pauline letters and others) +3 (Good sources, but hearsay, even more that (1) total = 8

    4. But Paul may have written earlier that Gospels, and never met apostles. -1, +1 who knows? Leave total 8

    5. People make things up, including religions. Look at Mormonism -5 (Lots and lots of examples, and a rational basis) total = 3

    6. But we have sources confirming the NT, very earlier in 1AD and through 4AD. This is not enough time for mythmaking. +5 total = 8

    7. But of the billions who have lived, no one has ever come back to life. And we know why cells cannot regenerate after death. -10 (This is indisputable) total = -2

    8. But Jesus came back because he is God! +1 (it is mostly circular reasoning) total = -1

    9. But he never showed up again, after the Gospels, even though he very specifically claimed he would. -10 total = -11 (prophecies are a sign of fraud, none ever come true when specific)

    10. But OT prophecies predict Jesus the Messiah +1 total = -10. (We have already ranked prophecies as unreliable by specific instance)

    At this point, we run out of axioms for resurrection that are not repeats, but we still have a lot of axioms against, as we can begin to add in all the specific instances the NT wrong, and since it builds on OT, we can add them too.

    At some point, no new axioms shift the final outcome by more that a pre-determined statistical amount, and we are done.

    The best way to run this experiment is to substitute labels, so no one participating knows the real target, but nothing changes much. I have done this with a made up Eastern religion, and the Christian theists were quite happy to declare the deity false. Then when I show them the label substitutions, they get quite irate. But it is all valid.

  4. R. C. Moore Says:

    cl —

    I was curious about your claim Dominic agreed with you, so I did the heavy lifting (you should try it) and tracked it down:

    “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.

    The first claim is very objective, if one knows how to count. The second is objective and meant to be a
    argumentative.

    I did not make a two-tier claim. I made two independent claims in one sentence. You link the two because you could not disprove the first, and second was easier, so you wish to call both false by extension. (There is a fallacy for that)

    Dominic agrees on claim one: “he can make the argument that faith doesn’t play a role in the old testament,”

    you conveniently omit that, as you usually do with contradictory information.

    As far as the second,

    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.

    sorry Dominic, but a Biblical scholar you ain’t. The whole point of the OT God’s rules is that they can’t possibly be followed closely enough to prevent constant and violent punishment. God punished the son’s of Ham for multiple generations because Ham saw Noah drunk and naked. God sentenced Moses and the Israelites to 40 years of wandering for what? Sending out spies? What rule did that break?. And God killed Uzzah for instinctively trying to keep the Ark from crashing to the ground.

    The Christian Church does not follow the laws of Leviticus because they are impossible to follow: Paul substituted faith as a way of seeking God’s favor.

    Very few OT people found God’s favor, no matter what their actions.

  5. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    You can make the warden happy by following the rules, but that doesn’t get you out of prison.

  6. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Not making the argument that the OT isn’t absurd, just saying that all it took to please god back then was to barbeque a goat.

  7. cl Says:

    R.C.,

    And no dispute do I see

    Tell the TRUTH: Did I “insist that ‘two verses’ qualifies as ‘the most part’ when counting Biblical verses?” If yes, show me where I insisted such. If no, you’ve either lied or mistyped. Which is it?

    You link the two because you could not disprove the first, and second was easier, so you wish to call both false by extension.

    Keep on assuming. I link the two because both were disproved. First, you asked for faith vs. obedience in the OT. When I started supplying that, you moved the goalpost to “Pauline faith.” How can anyone find Pauline faith in the OT? – and like I said anyways – even if faith was never mentioned in the OT it wouldn’t impact my argument a single scintilla. If you could but wrap your head around that, perhaps you’d turn your attention towards my argument instead of trying to defend your own bogus atheist apologetic, which relates nothing to my argument.

    And yes, you moved the goalposts twice: You first asked for occurences of faith in the OT that were not obedience. You then changed this to “Pauline faith” which of course should not be in the OT. Then, you claimed “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” You changed this to, “self-effecting salvation is impossible on any terms.” Your original claims are patently false.

    Alas, there went ten more minutes of my life, given to someone who simply tramples them.

    Dominic,

    I’m curious to hear if you think R.C. moved the goalposts. Here’s the first half of his original claim:

    ..for much of the Bible faith is not even mentioned,

    ..which he later changed to:

    [cl needs to supply enough OT references of faith to] …show that it is ‘patently false’ that most of the Bible (the entire OT for the most part) is not about Pauline faith.

    ..and here’s the second half of his original claim:

    ..and pleasing God is impossible on any terms.

    ..which – after I provided four instances of God being pleased – he changed to (see his answer below):

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

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

    Even if we say he “clarified,” doesn’t my point stand?

  8. cl Says:

    Also, Dominic – Anywhere in the other thread, did you hear me “insist that ‘two verses’ qualifies as ‘the most part’ when counting Biblical verses?” Or do you think perhaps R.C. might be mistaken there as well?

  9. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Gah, asked to chime in on an argument over the Bible. One thing R.C. is quite correct about is that I’m no Bible Scholar. Guilty as charged on that count.

    But, starting from the beginning. This, I assume, was the first post made regarding the argument.

    R. C. Moore said:

    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.

    Two tiers, two claims, whatever… I honestly wasn’t paying that much attention to a conversation that I wasn’t a part of. Claim 1, of there being little mention of faith in the Bible, I completely agree with R.C. It was all about obedience. For example, when God spoke to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, there was no faith needed to believe in something unseen, God made both his presence and his wishes unmistakable to Abraham. He only had one choice, whether or not to obey, his beliefs were never in question.

    Now regarding the actual issue at hand, whether R.C. did any goalpost moving, the most significant factor is the fact that cl has consistently used as his definition of faith Hebrews 11:1. This is where I see R.C.’s change of phrase from “faith” to “Pauline faith” comes from. It has been cl’s position all along that the clear definition of “faith” comes from a New Testament book attributed to Paul, R.C. was simply going along with cl.

    Hence, no goalpost moving.

    Regarding the second claim, that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms”, R.C. provided a definition of what he meant in a subsequent post.

    R.C. Moore said:

    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.

    I just can’t get behind this definition. If all you are arguing is whether the bible teaches its possible to please God, so what if nothing you do is enough for personal salvation? In fact, cl pointed this discrepancy out.

    cl said:

    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:

    The passages he cited, in addition to the explicit directions for making an aroma pleasing to the lord found in OT (Leviticus… God’s cook book, it’s how you know God is both male and heterosexual), show pretty clearly that God’s isn’t impossible to please.

    Final verdict, I don’t see how R.C. did any goalpost moving, his position has been consistent. However, his definition of “impossible to please” is absurd, and cl did successfully call him on that one.

    (hope all the tags and formatting come out right)

  10. Dominic Saltarelli Says:

    Lastly, regarding the number of instances that faith was mentioned in the OT. R.C. has plainly been asking for a number. Until you provide one, the question is unanswered.

  11. R. C. Moore Says:


    Gah, asked to chime in on an argument over the Bible. One thing R.C. is quite correct about is that I’m no Bible Scholar. Guilty as charged on that count.

    I was just joking, I am the worst Bible scholar of all.

  12. cl Says:

    Dominic,

    Re the first claim – yes – I introduced faith in a Pauline context. This is exactly why I’ve been denouncing R.C. concerns as irrelevant. Can you see a reason to say, “Faith isn’t in the OT” when in fact it is, and one’s opponent has introduced a verse from the NT? What’s the relevance? Is R.C. trying to say that because Pauline faith isn’t found in the OT, that my claim Hebrews states it is impossible to please God without faith becomes false? How does that work?

    I say he did move the goalpost in the first example – because he first simply asked me to provide an instance of “the word faith” in the OT vs. the word “obedience.” I did what he asked for two times, correct? Then, he says I need to show enough mention of faith to show that Pauline faith existed in the OT – when that wasn’t his original challenge at all.

    Regarding the second charge, you’re right, his re-definition of “impossible to please” is absurd – and to me, changing from “pleasing God” to “effecting one’s own salvation” clearly constitutes goalpost moving. He went from asking me to demonstrate “God being pleased” to “self-effecting salvation.”

    Lastly – was your second comment to me or R.C.? Because if it was for me, I’ve provided R.C. with mention of faith in the OT. But again, it doesn’t relate to my argument at all, and I’ve been trying to tell him that.

    Anyway, thanks for trying to help us get to the bottom of it.

  13. R. C. Moore Says:


    I’m curious to hear if you think R.C. moved the goalposts.

    I like how you run for an arbiter to quote mine cl. Interesting debate technique.

    cl said:

    First, you asked for faith vs. obedience in the OT. When I started supplying that, you moved the goalpost to “Pauline faith.”

    Well here is where is all started:

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

    If the disciples were spreading this message, I think you set the goalpost at Pauline faith. I doubt Noah much aware of the Jesus thing.

    Which is why I pointed out that faith is not in much of the Bible, meaning the OT. You found very few examples. The OT is about obedience, as opposed to the NT. And everyone has found it impossible to please God. And I don’t mean the “hey you brushed your teeth, God is pleased”. I mean the “God finally does one thing nice for all his faithful believers before they die” variety of pleasing.

    Very little OT faith, if at all. Definitely not the “myriad of examples from Genesis to Revelations”. Few examples of God doing anything nice for anybody in return for all that faith. (Without having to die first)

    Pretty much wraps that discussion up, unless you want to actually read the Bible for once, so you can discuss the facts, instead of just using it rehearse your prejudices.

    Dominic said


    I just can’t get behind this definition. If all you are arguing is whether the bible teaches its possible to please God, so what if nothing you do is enough for personal salvation? In fact, cl pointed this discrepancy out.

    Good point, I am not sure I can refute it, but I will try.

    cl as usual would not provide proof of is assertion that the “it is impossible to please God without faith”, so I took the challenge to show it is not possible to please God with faith.

    Here is the question to you: Is there any discernible difference in the quality of life of any person on this planet that could be attributed objectively to having faith in God, and being rewarded for that faith by God.

    If not, and the Christian God exists, then why not? As has been often asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, including people of the strongest faith.

    In other words, the “Problem of Evil”

    The definitive answer given by the Christian apologists to this is “original sin”. Original sin affects us all, and nothing we can do in this existence can please God enough to look past it.

    Your point is that maybe we don’t get salvation in exchange for pleasing God, but we might get something lesser. My point is that God gives no rewards that we can detect (can you or cl identify that lesser reward if it exists?), and the answer supplied for this lack of reward comes from Christians, and it is original sin.

    If God gives no rewards for faith in this life, then “he is impossible to please” IMHO, for I refuse to accept death as a reward.

    And if cl was honest, he would admit he was talking about salvation in his original comment, as he has no way of proving God offers any other rewards for faith in this life.

    Whew.

  14. cl Says:

    If the disciples were spreading this message, I think you set the goalpost at Pauline faith. I doubt Noah much aware of the Jesus thing.

    Of course Noah wasn’t aware of the Jesus thing. That’s why it was silly of you to ask me for examples of Pauline faith, and I said as much. Next time, instead of assuming I’d make such an absurd gesture, why not follow Dominic’s lead and ask okay? Do you now realize Pauline faith was not what I was talking about? Are you happy now? Pistis in Hebrews isn’t even referring specifically to faith in Christ – which is what immediately came to my mind when you interjected “Pauline faith” into the equation.

    That’s why when you first said generically, “There’s no faith in the OT” I was like, “What is this guy talking about?” There is faith, and there is obedience – both are specifically mentioned in the OT. It’s that easy. Of course the OT can’t mention Pauline faith! I never made that claim.

    Very little OT faith, if at all. Definitely not the “myriad of examples from Genesis to Revelations”. Few examples of God doing anything nice for anybody in return for all that faith.

    I’m not going to sit here and keep giving you OT examples of faith. There’s no reason. The entire Bible is full of stories of people being rewarded for faith and also punished for disbelief. I’ve read it cover to cover multiple times and have no need to prove this to you. The absence of faith stories in the OT – even if it were real – doesn’t relate to my argument, and I’m really trying to understand why you even dragged us down that road at all. Anyways, the above is incorrect as well: God does plenty of nice things for believers in the Bible: God gave Sarah a child beyond childbearing age, God gave the Israelites the Promised Land, God blessed the Israelites crops according to their belief, etc. These types of stories occur all throughout the Bible as well.

    Pretty much wraps that discussion up, unless you want to actually read the Bible for once, so you can discuss the facts, instead of just using it rehearse your prejudices.

    You are kidding, right? You, who admitted to never having even read the entire Bible – and making arguments that clearly show it – are going to say this? Total joke. To Dominic, you say:

    cl as usual would not provide proof of is assertion that the “it is impossible to please God without faith”, so I took the challenge to show it is not possible to please God with faith. Here is the question to you: Is there any discernible difference in the quality of life of any person on this planet that could be attributed objectively to having faith in God, and being rewarded for that faith by God.

    Seriously R.C. – if you want to understand me, slow down and listen right here instead of just yapping: The assertion I made is verbatim scripture from the Bible. I’ve no need to “prove” it if my whole intent is to judge it as part of my hypothesis. You’re jumping the gun! And, you are changing your argument again. Your original argument was that “pleasing God is impossible on any terms.” I showed this to be incorrect. You now claim you meant “salvation” and you also claim by some weird mind-reading means I’m curious about that I meant “salvation.” Gimme a break! I have no idea what you meant, but I know what you said – and I know I wasn’t talking about salvation. You said, “Please God.” I took that to mean, “Please God,” not salvation. Shame on you.

    And if cl was honest, he would admit he was talking about salvation in his original comment, as he has no way of proving God offers any other rewards for faith in this life.

    No. If you were honest, you’d admit you have no way of knowing what you claim to know which is total irrationalist BS. I told you in the beginning of this comment that you misunderstood what I meant by faith in the first place. You assumed I meant “Pauline faith” (whatever that is). All this over more misunderstandings of words.

  15. Arthur Says:

    RC,

    You may remember when Deacon was taken to task for his assertion that, “If the Myth Hypothesis is true, He can’t show up, so any Scripture will have to account for that absence somehow.” Jayman quoted Galatians in rebuttal, and cl quoted Jayman in his rebuttal-part-one, backing him up with, “We can say what we may of Paul or the Bible, but one thing we can’t say is that either made excuses for God’s failure to appear.”

    Meanwhile, over here—back in the mists of time, when your current argument with him began—cl freely and unapologetically provided us with at least one example (in simple “Sunday school level” terms) of the Bible accounting for God’s absence:

    …according to the Bible, God did show up, in the very beginning. It was our sin that catalyzed God’s absence, and that God cannot dwell with sinful man sans atonement is affirmed throughout scripture, particularly in Exodus.

    So it would appear, to the ignorant and untutored layperson, that the Bible does “make excuses for God’s failure to appear,” and cl knows it. I’m sure Jayman knows it, too.

    I don’t doubt that inconsistencies like this can be recast as a skeptic’s willful misunderstanding of words (or, slightly more forgivably, dismissed as a change of subject), but that only reinforces the moral: you can’t win with the damn Bible, RC.

  16. cl Says:

    According to the Bible, in the beginning God (not Jesus) was present, in person, with Adam and Eve before the fall. Pretty basic. Also, according to the Bible, God (as Jesus) manifested to Paul (DM, not FR). Also pretty basic. My statement the Bible claims we cannot dwell in God’s eternal presence sans atonement (FR) doesn’t contradict either of these Bible claims.

    So it would appear, to the ignorant and untutored layperson, that the Bible does “make excuses for God’s failure to appear,” and cl knows it. I’m sure Jayman knows it, too.

    You’re free to think what you want, but when I say neither Paul nor the Bible “made excuses for God’s failure to appear,” I mean to say that there is no shortage of manifestation stories in scripture. Surely we can agree there, right?

  17. Arthur Says:

    Deacon’s MH says that, among other things, scripture must account for God’s current absence. You have confirmed that the Bible does exactly that.

    Therefore, when you and Jayman say that the MH is wrong on this point, and that it must be “modified or rejected” because of it, you are being inconsistent, and obviously so.

    I haven’t claimed that you made a statement which is contradicted by the Bible. I have pointed out that you made a statement (about the Bible) which is contradicted by another statement you made (about the Bible).

  18. jim Says:

    Arthur:

    To be fair, I’m not sure you CAN contradict the bible, OR contradict yourself agreeing with or contradicting the bible. Or for that matter, contradict the non-contradicting parts of the bible without not contradicting yourself. The bible is a rorschach blot, man! Or at least, it’s treated like one.

    Maybe we could all agree that the non-contradicting parts can be contradicted only by citing the contradicting parts, and then contradicting those?

  19. John Morales Says:

    I’m a little bemused.

    The thread has drifted to Biblical discussion and even exegesis, but avoided discussing the actual GH on its merits.

    Arthur,

    Deacon’s MH says that, among other things, scripture must account for God’s current absence. You have confirmed that the Bible does exactly that.

    What it says is that the god-construct of Christians is a myth.
    Perhaps you mean the GH?

    To bring empiricism into this, is it not the claim of many Christians that they’ve directly experienced their god?
    (Need I bring out quotes from to support this claim?)

    Because these people, if they truly believe the Bible is truthful and accounts for “God’s current absence”, cannot simultaneously believe that God is absent and that God is present.

  20. John Morales Says:

    [belated addendum]
    I admit the concept of Orwellian doublethink accounts for the possible dichotomy re my previous comment.

  21. Arthur Says:

    Jim,

    To be fair, I’m not sure you CAN contradict the bible, OR contradict yourself agreeing with or contradicting the bible. Or…

    Aha, you’ve supported my transparent excuse for sticking my nose into this thread: I’m the bearer of a cautionary tale about trying to make use of the Bible in an argument with a Bible believer (unless you’re Deacon, who appears to have obtained a special license from God to do it).

    Morales,

    What it says is that the god-construct of Christians is a myth. Perhaps you mean the GH?

    Sorry, I meant predict. The MH predicts that one of the functions of any Scripture will be to explain God’s absence (since the MH assumes that God is absent). cl, needless to say, has denied that the Bible performs this function. The punchline is that he has also provided at least one simple, straightforward, plain-language example of the Bible explaining God’s absence, as evidence “sufficient to demolish DD’s Gospel Hypothesis” (emphasis mine).

    (Incidentally, it was our sin that did it—Deacon’s “blaming the audience” option.)

    The thread has drifted to Biblical discussion and even exegesis, but avoided discussing the actual GH on its merits.

    Okay, well, I’ve got my Drunkard’s Walk here—I’ll be right back, just as soon as I understand Bayesian logic.

  22. cl Says:

    Arthur,

    May I ask – are we in agreement that the Bible contains stories of God manifesting on disparate occasions (DM)?

    Deacon’s MH says that, among other things, scripture must account for God’s current absence. You have confirmed that the Bible does exactly that.

    If that’s what you think I confirmed, then I suggest you might be misreading me. Throughout our whole discussion on miracles – and this one – I’ve never claimed God wasn’t absent like the sun, right here, right now, in person (FR). I would say the Bible agrees with God’s absence in this regard as well – but I disagree that I’ve confirmed that scripture accounts for God’s absence – because one can’t make such a claim without the a priori presumption that the Bible stories are fabrications. Right?

    IOW, to say that “scripture accounts for God’s absence” is to essentially declare God non-existent beforehand. We don’t know whether the Bible writers wrote of genuine experiences vs. accountings for absence. So I see DD’s “Scriptural Predictions” as a bit useless. Seems to me, the only thing we can do with it is look at scriptures and process them through our own bias – the skeptic will inevitably see fabricated stories, the believer genuine facts, and neither puts us any closer to resolving the discussion, at least not that I can see. You?

    Let’s back up a bit: DD says that if his MH is true, we would expect stories about God’s presence – because the writers would have to account for God’s absence – and if there is no God, then certainly their only alternative would be to invent stories. Perhaps. Yet, here is another scenario where both hypotheses entail identical predictions (and no, I’m not trying to make the GH match the MH in terms of predictions, just pointing out another area where they do happen to match in their predictions). Why? Stories about God’s presence are also exactly what we would expect if DD’s GH were true, so how would we be able to reliably know whether the Bible writers wrote stories of fact vs. fabrications? It seems we have to prejudge in order to even judge.

    Therefore, when you and Jayman say that the MH is wrong on this point, and that it must be “modified or rejected” because of it, you are being inconsistent, and obviously so.

    That was Jayman’s claim you appear to be attributing to both of us. Unless I expressed myself poorly somewhere else, I didn’t and wouldn’t say the MH is wrong on this point at all, as its particular predictions in this regard are accurate. I’d just say this particular tenet of the MH doesn’t provide us with anything useful. How do you see DD’s “Scriptural Predictions” predictions as useful?

    From your comment to John:

    The MH predicts that one of the functions of any Scripture will be to explain God’s absence (since the MH assumes that God is absent). cl, needless to say, has denied that the Bible performs this function.

    Yes, I think we should all deny that the Bible performs this function. Don’t you? To say “the Bible performs this function” is to already declare the MH correct. The way I see it, stories about God are logical predictions of both hypotheses.

    I have pointed out that you made a statement (about the Bible) which is contradicted by another statement you made (about the Bible).

    Do you still feel this way? If so, exactly what statements about the Bible did I make that you feel are contradictory?

  23. Arthur Says:

    I submit that this…

    It was our sin that catalyzed God’s absence, and that God cannot dwell with sinful man sans atonement is affirmed throughout scripture, particularly in Exodus.

    …is an example of the Bible making “some kind of accommodation for the fact that God does not show up in real life.” Of course, I’m trusting you to accurately represent the Bible.

    I further submit that, therefore, you contradict your claim that the Bible makes no such accommodation.

    Again, I don’t doubt that this apparently barenaked inconsistency could just be me not understanding the exegetical use of all the words. But from a secular dictionary perspective, it looks pretty convincingly inconsistent.

    I think what you will want to do is explain why that quote of yours—and the rest of that comment—doesn’t describe what I think it describes.

  24. John Morales Says:

    Thanks for the clarification and addendum, Arthur.

    I think you make a good case.

  25. John Morales Says:

    cl, you appear to conflate the concept of God’s absence in the here-and-now with God’s absence from existence in your argument.
    I think Arthur’s claim is not refuted by what you wrote in response.

    I would say the Bible agrees with God’s absence in this regard [absent like the sun, right here, right now, in person] as well – but I disagree that I’ve confirmed that scripture accounts for God’s absence – because one can’t make such a claim without the a priori presumption that the Bible stories are fabrications. Right?

    No, I don’t think this is right.
    (I presume the subjunctive mood is rhetorical and not literal, and that cl is saying this.)

    IOW, to say that “scripture accounts for God’s absence” is to essentially declare God non-existent beforehand.

    I don’t see how that is necessarily entailed, as there are other possibilities (e.g. God resides in the spiritual realm, and any manifestations in scripture are exceptional events) which are more plausible.

  26. John Morales Says:

    Well, it’s quiet around here… so I’ll append another (rather pedantic) observation:

    to say that “scripture accounts for God’s absence”

    is semantically different from to say that “scripture purports to account for God’s apparent absence”, which I think is more akin to the intended claim.

  27. cl Says:

    I’m still convinced we’re all talking past each other but I’m always willing to dig deeper.

    Arthur,

    I’m not really following you, and not that my opinion matters, but I don’t think it’s 100% fair that you declare me contradictory without answering a question I’m asking to help me understand where your mind is at: Are we in agreement that the Bible does not support the claim that God does not show up. It does support the claim that God is not right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers. So, the Bible both contains stories of God showing up, and provides a reason why we shouldn’t see God right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers. Are we in agreement on all of these points?

    John,

    It would probably help (me at least) if you addressed the above question also..

  28. cl Says:

    Pt. II, for whatever it’s worth.

  29. Arthur Says:

    Are we in agreement on all of these points?

    cl… it’s me, Arthur. I’ve never read the Bible, any of it. But I’m perfectly willing to take your word that it “provides a reason why we shouldn’t see God right here, right now, etc.” I submit that, inasmuch as the Bible provides such a reason, it offers an explanation for God’s apparent absence and fulfills a particular MH prediction to that effect.

    This is not to mention any of the other stuff you said (about things not seen and all that) which seem to me to perform the same function; and this is regardless of whether or not the Bible also “contains stories of God showing up.”

    I recognize that you’re making a case for lexical ambiguity here—

    …the Bible does not support the claim that God does not show up. It does support the claim that God is not right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers.

    —but this seems awfully nit-picky to me. The MH assumes that God is a fiction. In order to pass for fact, an important part of that fiction will be its explanation of His absence from the real world. Clearly the Bible offers such an explanation. You yourself have offered it as a challenge to the GH.

    I submit for your consideration the possibility that your challenge to the GH compromises your challenge to the MH.

  30. cl Says:

    I submit that, inasmuch as the Bible provides such a reason, it offers an explanation for God’s apparent absence and fulfills a particular MH prediction to that effect.

    With that clarification, I have no problem with your statement.

    I recognize that you’re making a case for lexical ambiguity here—

    …the Bible does not support the claim that God does not show up. It does support the claim that God is not right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers.

    —but this seems awfully nit-picky to me.

    Let’s call the claim that God does not show up – ever, at all, to anyone, in person – A. Let’s call the claim that God is not present right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers B. Don’t you see an actual difference between the two claims? B does not entail A. Hence, the Bible can (and does) support B and not A.

    Clearly the Bible offers such an explanation. You yourself have offered it as a challenge to the GH.

    The Bible offers an explanation of B, but nothing in that contradicts my statement that neither Paul nor the Bible makes excuses for God’s failure to appear. I interpret “failure to appear” a la A as delineated above – which the Bible does not support. Paul claims God (as Christ) appeared to him, and other writers in both testaments also claim God appeared to them. So when I say neither Paul nor the Bible make excuses for God not showing up, I mean neither Paul nor the Bible support the claim that God has not shown up ever, at all, to anyone, in person (A as delineated above). Hebrews (hence the Bible by association) does offer an explanation of why God’s universally undeniable presence is not currently transpiring.

    I look at it like this: If the biblical description of reality is correct, it would be reasonable to expect stories of disparate manifestations from the spiritual realm. For example, occasionally in scripture, angels and other beings manifested to humans. It’s also reasonable to me that biblically, we should expect God’s absence. That’s the larger case I’m trying to argue here, and it’s antithetical to the GH.

  31. cl Says:

    Also –

    I submit for your consideration the possibility that your challenge to the GH compromises your challenge to the MH.

    Can you paraphrase what you think my challenge to the MH is? Do you associate my position with Jayman’s? I asked this question two comments ago: “That was Jayman’s claim you appear to be attributing to both of us. Unless I expressed myself poorly somewhere else, I didn’t and wouldn’t say the MH is wrong on this point at all, as its particular predictions in this regard are accurate. I’d just say this particular tenet of the MH doesn’t provide us with anything useful. How do you see DD’s “Scriptural Predictions” predictions as useful?”

  32. John Morales Says:

    cl, good clarification.

    It would probably help (me at least) if you [me] addressed the above question also.

    Sure.
    “Are we in agreement that the Bible does”
    1. not support the claim that God does not show up. – Yes.
    2.
    [supports] the claim that God is not right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers. – Possibly, depending on interpretation.
    3. contains stories of God showing up – see [1].
    4. provides a reason why we shouldn’t see God right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and magazine covers. – See [2].

    Are we in agreement on all of these points?

    On [1] yes, on [2] conditionally yes.

    It’s also reasonable to me that biblically, we should expect God’s absence. That’s the larger case I’m trying to argue here, and it’s antithetical to the GH.

    I’m not convinced that’s the typical Christian interpretation, though I grant it’s an existent and valid one.

    I’ve just done a Google search on the term “bible “presence of god”“, here are the first 3 hits of 3,150,000:
    ================
    In God’s Presence is Full Joy and Pleasure, Bible Promises In God’s presence is fullness of joy; At His right hand are pleasures forever. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. And He said, “My Presence will …
    http://www.seekgod.org/bible/godspresence.html – Cached – Similar pages
    ===
    How can I make God’s presence real in my life? | Christian Bible … 30 Jan 2009 … Questions from Bible Readers … Sometimes, in God’s kindness, that’s exactly what happens. You know God is here. But other times, when you …
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/questions/spirituallife/godspresence.html – Cached – Similar pages
    ===
    How can I make God’s presence real in my life? | Christian Bible … 30 Jan 2009 … The Bible reveals God is everywhere at all times, so you know, with your intellect, that God is always with you. Sometimes you’re especially …
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/questions/spirituallife/godspresence2
    ===

    Conversely, here are the first 3 hits of 250,000 for bible “absence of god”:
    ================
    Touch of Torah – The presence of God’s absence | New Jersey Jewish … 5 Mar 2009 … The absence of God in the story of Esther (see also the … It so troubled the Jews who translated books of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in …
    http://www.njjewishnews.com/njjn.com/030509/torahPresenceOfGods.html – Similar pages
    ===
    bethinking.org – Your Course – Fictional Absence – Introduction … Fictional Absence – Introduction: the Practice of the Absence of God …. And this ‘article of faith’ is most certainly basic to the Bible (as it is, …
    http://www.bethinking.org/your-course/fictional-absence-introduction–the-practice-of-the-absence-of-god.htm – Cached – Similar pages
    ===
    Biblical Foundations of the Power and Politics There are three levels of power realities in the Bible: One is the Imperial …. there is a rejection and absence of God’s Reign in the imperial rule, …
    http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=3 – Cached – Similar pages
    by KY Bock
    ===

    My personal experience and this quick sampling indicate both views are existent, but the formeer (God’s presence) is more represented than the latter (God’s absence).

  33. Arthur Says:

    cl,

    It’s also reasonable to me that biblically, we should expect God’s absence. That’s the larger case I’m trying to argue here, and it’s antithetical to the GH.</blockquote

    I’m sure you realize—right?—that if you agree that the Bible fulfills the MH prediction to provide an explanation for God’s absence, then my issue goes away. It was never very complicated.

    Of course, now I’m stuck wondering why it was so hard for you to just say so. Your comment is almost entirely about why, in spite of agreeing with the MH, it was allowable for you to say all those things that made it sound like you didn’t agree. You’re right; it’s a free country.

    I asked this question two comments ago: “That was Jayman’s claim you appear to be attributing to both of us. Unless I expressed myself poorly somewhere else, I didn’t and wouldn’t say the MH is wrong on this point at all, as its particular predictions in this regard are accurate.”

    In that same comment you also said:

    Yes, I think we should all deny that the Bible performs this function [that is, that it does as the MH predicts]. Don’t you? To say “the Bible performs this function” is to already declare the MH correct.

    This is not different people “talking past each other.” This is the same person talking past himself.

    PS: If you want to distance your position from Jayman’s, you should consider not quoting him as part of your rebuttal. Where (I assume) you meant to concede the MH’s point, you quoted Jayman instead. One could be forgiven for thinking that you agreed with him.

  34. » Why “Loser’s” Compromise? Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] I did notice this interesting comment (stuck in the moderation queue) from a commenter by the handle of “Lifeguard.” I guess […]

  35. cl Says:

    Hello all… Just doing my usual perusal of the backlog, and I found a few things I either missed or didn’t comment on the first two times:

    Lifeguard said,

    ..a LOT of us bloggers out there would benefit from a little dose of the attitude I described in the paragraph above. To say nothing of how that might transform the tone of some of these apologetic discussions.

    I agree!

    Dominic,

    R.C., John Morales’ definition lines up with cl’s. cl has stated several times that he doesn’t equate knowledge with belief.

    Thank you for listening to me.

    R.C. said,

    Otherwise he could not equate belief with knowledge. Or am I the befuddled one?

    Please listen to Dominic. Re-reading this thread, I noticed that you never acknowledged my actual position, or the fact that you were the befuddled one regarding said position.

    John Morales,

    I’m not convinced that’s the typical Christian interpretation, though I grant it’s an existent and valid one.

    Hey, that’s better than a swift kick in the balls I guess, though I’m curious: Why aren’t you convinced that expectation of God’s absence (a la FR) is not the typical Christian position?

    My personal experience and this quick sampling indicate both views are existent,

    I disagree. None of the sources you cited support claims that God should be present/existent right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and on magazine covers. Although there are certainly exceptions, God’s presence as defined in scripture – especially the NT – is more along the lines of metaphorical, spiritual, “present only in world view” as DD previously described. Thus, when Bible writers speak of “God’s presence,” we cannot assume a priori that they speak of God’s sun-like presence, which is the correct scope of our argument per DD’s GH.

    Arthur,

    ..now I’m stuck wondering why it was so hard for you to just say so.

    You initially expressed yourself incompletely, and I’m not going to assume. Note that as soon as you added clarification, agreement was swift.

    This is not different people “talking past each other.” This is the same person talking past himself.

    Well, sounds like you’ve already made up your mind on this point, but I disagree. Nothing in the two pertinent statements of mine is contradictory, and this comment suggests we’re still talking past each other.

    If you want to distance your position from Jayman’s, you should consider not quoting him as part of your rebuttal. Where (I assume) you meant to concede the MH’s point, you quoted Jayman instead. One could be forgiven for thinking that you agreed with him.

    Honestly, I would suggest closer reading and asking more questions. Note that Dominic had zero problem understanding my POV.

  36. R.C Moore Says:


    None of the sources you cited support claims that God should be present/existent right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and on magazine covers.

    But the source I cited, multiple times, that you have studiously ignored, does.

  37. John Morales Says:

    cl, I don’t want to post a bunch of links again, but Googling “god’s real presence” brings up quite a number of hits. I will quote from just one:

    Western Christianity has had a very hard time seeing and believing in God’s Real Presence among the baptized. Yet the chief sign of God’s presence anywhere in this world, in any physical structure in this world, is the assembly of God’s own people. Jesus said, “I am with you always.” We Episcopalians believe God is truly present in his world, not truly absent, in many ways.

    (source: Newsletter from the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, New York), Volume 7, Number 37, July 31, 2005.
    URL: http://www.stmvirgin.org/article24984.htm

  38. John Morales Says:

    cl,

    Why aren’t you convinced that expectation of God’s absence (a la FR) is not the typical Christian position?

    The dichotomy between real life and the putative reality of God was a causal basis for my deconversion, sometime before puberty.
    This is of personal significance.

    I was born in Madrid, Spain in 1960 and spent a number of years boarding in Jesuit schools (I was expelled from two of them). I was strongly inculcated with religion as a child, and in my childish way was a True Believer™

    Anecdote: On one ocassion, my entire dormitory group (I included, of course) over one weekend were convinced after lessons that Judgement Day would occur before monday’s Mass. I don’t recall the specifics, but I recall my disappointment when such didn’t occur. That’s my first awareness of the apparent lack of deific activity in the world, and the hypocrisy of the faithful.

    Was I an untypical Christian, then? There were millions like me in Spain, Catholicism was the mandatory State religion.

    Anyway, that’s one reason why. There are others, less visceral.

    I hope this answers your question.

  39. cl Says:

    R.C.,

    Honestly, I don’t recall what source you’re talking about. Feel free to refresh my memory – or – continue to assume I’m ‘studiously ignoring’ you.

    John Morales,

    Re your comment June 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm, I noted the pertinent portion of the link had to do with the Lord’s Eucharistic presence, which is a near-exclusively Catholic tenet. Further, the context is “among the baptized,” whereas DD’s GH posits that God should be right here, right now, in person, on the evening news and on magazine covers – not just to the baptized – and not in a metaphorical or spiritual presence – but in person like the sun, for anyone with eyes to see. I have never met a person who calls themselves ‘Christian’ that believes the Bible supports that idea, and that’s why I asked why you weren’t convinced that expectation of God’s absence (a la FR) is not the typical Christian position.

    However, that doesn’t fully address the issue. If our definition of presence / existence is not the definition DD proffers in his GH – IOW, if it permits metaphorical or spiritual components – then I agree with you that most all people who call themselves ‘Christian’ would not consider God as absent from the world. So it really just boils down to what definition we’re adhering to when we discuss your claim, I suppose.

    Your second comment was quite interesting and I want to say thanks for sharing personal backstory. I want to respond to your comment a bit more fully, in a way that won’t be criticized for lack of direct relevance to our discussion here. So – I will – as soon as I can get to your other comments over at my place (tonight or tomorrow).

  40. John Morales Says:

    cl, I guess I too don’t know anyone who claims to have met God as a physical manifestation.

    OK, fine, for the purposes of discussion I concede that Christians think God is present spiritually and metaphorically, but is otherwise absent in real life, unlike in Biblical times, and that this is what’s expected from Scripture.
    Of course, spiritual and metaphorical entities aren’t real entities, but conceptual only.

    Unless you wish to establish the existence of the supernatural (I think Randi’s $1M offer is still going), you’re as much as saying Christians believe in an imaginary god only, thereby.

  41. John Morales Says:

    cl:

    So it really just boils down to what definition we’re adhering to when we discuss your claim, I suppose.

    Let’s define ‘real existence’ as ‘existence other than in human imagination only’.
    E.g. Fortuna* does not exist, in the real world, except in the sense that the Christian god does. Stories and paintings and statues are not what they represent.


    * Interestingly, the Christian concept of Providence is essentially the de-anthropormisation of Her original attribute, whilst the anthropomorphic imagery lives on in Christian countries as Lady Luck.

  42. cl Says:

    John Morales,

    I concede that Christians think God is present spiritually and metaphorically, but is otherwise absent in real life, unlike in Biblical times, and that this is what’s expected from Scripture.

    Thanks. Although, I’d certainly quibble over “Biblical times.”

    Of course, spiritual and metaphorical entities aren’t real entities, but conceptual only.

    Why speak on that which you do not know, as if you do? You yourself said the supernatural has not been established, right? I suppose where we part ways is that you think unestablished claims are fair grounds to declare false, even though the factual truth of the matter is unestablished?

    Unless you wish to establish the existence of the supernatural (I think Randi’s $1M offer is still going), you’re as much as saying Christians believe in an imaginary god only, thereby.

    I disagree again, unless we want to conflate unestablished with imaginary. I’m not willing to make that conflation.

  43. cl Says:

    DD,

    There’s a particular approach to the truth that I call the Loser’s Compromise, and it goes like this: “We can’t know the truth about X, so let’s just agree that different people are equally justified in believing whatever they like about it.” Considered superficially, it sounds open-minded and fair, because it appeals to a certain live-and-let-live quality that avoids putting anyone in the wrong. In reality, though, it’s a deceptive rationalization, and an excuse for avoiding the truth instead of embracing it.

    Honestly – do you understand yet that this is not (and has never been) my position? If so, can we converge here? I’ve never once stated or implied that if we can’t know the truth about something, people are equally justified in believing whatever they like about it. What I have said and what I still say is that when two or more hypotheses are equally consistent with all of the available evidence, although provisional belief in either would be rationally justified, truth claims remain unsustainable until further evidence favors one hypothesis over another. Truth claims are entirely different philosophical beasts than rationally justified beliefs.

    So, when you say, “the only honest option is agnosticism,” I can agree – if we’re discussing the making of truth claims – but not if we’re discussing what constitutes rationally justified beliefs.

    Although we’re not necessarily factually correct 100% of the time when we do so, it’s certainly rational to believe in that which is supported by evidence, right?

  44. Deacon Duncan Says:

    cl—

    Honestly – do you understand yet that this is not (and has never been) my position?

    Who is claiming that this is your position?

    Truth claims are entirely different philosophical beasts than rationally justified beliefs.

    What is the value of defining “rationally justified” in such a way as to divorce it from any connection with the issue of whether or not the conclusion is true? Seems to me that’s the philosophical equivalent of counterfeit money.

    For that matter, what’s the point of “believing” something if by “believing” you mean something that has nothing to do with asserting the truth of your conclusion? Why not just say, “I am justified in deceiving myself, since I care nothing for whether the ideas I embrace are true”?

  45. cl Says:

    [Moved to the forums.]