Answers for Nick

As I mentioned before, I’m not shutting down this blog completely, and we have a new guest in the comments, with some interesting questions. Since Nick asks such good questions, I’m promoting them to a post of their own, so that I can answer them more completely.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Comment Rescue, Unapologetics. 61 Comments »

Encore: Reality-based faith vs. superstitious faith

[Originally posted on August 21, 2007]

A commenter writes:

Belief in the existence of God or belief that there is no god requires faith.

Yes, and I’ll take it a step further: belief in reality requires a stronger and better faith than belief in superstition. And those who embrace the truth have a stronger and better faith than Christians do, because Christian faith is mere gullibility, whereas genuine faith is based on real-world truth.

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Posted in Comment Rescue, Encore, Realism. 1 Comment »

Life after death, as the Sadducees saw it.

Commenter mikespeir has a question about my claim that the Sadducees already believed in life after death.

Why do you say that? I realize we don’t have a lot to go on, but I thought it was pretty well established that the Sadducees didn’t believe in life after death.

I was only able to give a cursory reply in the comments, and indeed my early research did more to raise my own doubts than to confirm my initial statement (hence the edit to my original post). Now that I’ve looked into it a bit more, though, I’m a bit more confident in my initial assessment, and so I thought I’d take some time to share my findings.

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Posted in Comment Rescue. 22 Comments »

Why “Loser’s” Compromise?

[Update: I forgot to include the link back to Lifeguard's original comment; fixed now.]

Well, I’m back, sort of, and from the looks of things you guys didn’t miss me too much. I don’t suppose I’ll ever catch up on the comments backlog, but I’m sure you will let me know if there are any important points I’ve missed in my quick skim.

Meanwhile, I did notice this interesting comment (stuck in the moderation queue) from a commenter by the handle of “Lifeguard.”

I guess what I’m struggling with here is what the exact difference is between the Loser’s Compromise and simply acknowledging the very real possibility that despite the certainty of your beliefs you may be mistaken about which conclusion is the most justified, the best of the bunch, to say nothing of absolutely proven to be true?

That’s an excellent question, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to explain this further.

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Posted in Comment Rescue, Loser's Compromise, Realism, Unapologetics. 27 Comments »

Defining a hypothesis

R. C. Moore has an interesting comment that is at risk of being lost in the flood of recent comments, and I don’t want to let it just slip by, so I’m promoting it up here where I can answer it more easily.

RC is making the claim that my Gospel Hypothesis is not valid because it cannot be constructed via propositional logic.

DD said:


There’s no requirement that hypotheses must be formed by propositional logic. We just need to be able to predict what consequences would result from the situation described.

Sorry, I disagree, A testable hypothesis (which is the hypothesis at hand) must be valid in terms of propositional logic. You stated it yourself,

Not all statements make valid hypotheses, however. “Loki works in mysterious ways” is a statement that really covers just about any possible outcome. We can’t really look at, say, today’s weather report and tell whether it supports or refutes the statement that Loki works in mysterious ways. Likewise, inherently self-contradictory statements are untestable. If we say “Childless unmarried spouses have healthier children,” we’re not going to be able to describe an observable set of consequences against which we could compare the evidence.

The reason these hypotheses are invalid is because they cannot be correctly described using propositional logic.

You gave good examples, you just forgot some other failures, such as tautology and non sequeter.

Tautology and non-sequitur, however, are fallacies that describe incorrect conclusions, not incorrect premises. I think what’s happening here is that RC is getting a little ahead of the game and is trying to draw conclusions before we’re done defining the premises.
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Posted in Comment Rescue. 17 Comments »

Time and Singularity

Facilis writes:

The Big Bang theory says that time, space, and matter/energy all originate in the same singularity, not that they all originate in “nothing.”
And I’ve seen several philosopher make the case that such a singularity is ontologically equivalent to nothing. You are just question begging.

Because time and the material universe had the same origin, it can truthfully be said that the universe has no “beginning,” since there was never a time when it did not exist.
“Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” (Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time,)
I think I’ll go with what the expert physicists say.

I’ll go with what the expert physicists say too. The catch is that sometimes, when writing for a non-technical audience, you have to sacrifice strict technical accuracy in favor of readability. That’s why meteorologists, despite being heliocentrists, will say, “The sun will rise at 6:52 am” instead of saying “At 6:42 am the earth will have rotated to a position relative to the sun such that a line between the sun and the eye of an observer of average height will no longer intersect the body of the earth.” Though the latter version is more technically correct, it is so needlessly complex that it actually obscures the information we’re most interested in knowing.

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Posted in Comment Rescue, Science. 8 Comments »