Why Would a Good God Behave So Badly?

I have many unbelieving friends who laugh when I claim the God of the Bible is both all-powerful and all-loving. As they read through the Old Testament, they point to a variety of passages and episodes where God seems to be anything butloving. They cite passages, for example, where God seems to command the pillaging and killing of Israel’s enemies with great brutality. How can a God who would command the brutal destruction of Israel’s enemies be called moral or loving? It’s easy for us to judge the words and actions of God as if He were just another human, subject to anobjective standard transcending Him. But when we judge God’s actions in this way, we are ignoring His unique authority and power. While great work has been done by Paul Copan (Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God), describing the proper context of these passages in the Old Testament, and by Clay Jones (Killing the Canaanites: A Response to the New Atheism’s “Divine Genocide” Claims), describing the view God held toward the sin of Israel’s neighbors, I would like to add the following observations about the nature of God as we consider His actions in the Old Testament:

Good God Behave Badley

God is the Greatest Artist

If you and I were in an art class together and I suddenly grew frustrated with my sketch and decided to destroy it, you wouldn’t complain in the least. If I stepped over to your easel and destroyed your sketch, however, you would certainly complain that I was doing something unjust. You see, the artist has the authority and right to destroy his or her own work. The art belongs to the artist. If there is a God, all of creation is His handiwork. He has the right to create and destroy what is His, even when this destruction may seem unfair to the artwork itself.

God is the Greatest Physician

If you or I suffered a snake bite on our elbow and were miles from the nearest hospital, a doctor might advise us (over the phone) to tourniquet the arm to save our life. In doing so, we would surely sacrifice an otherwise healthy hand to prevent the venom from spreading to our heart. But the doctor understands that this drastic action is required to prevent our death. You and I might not agree with the plan, or like the outcome, but the doctor knows best. The treatment plan belongs to the doctor. If there is a God, all of us are His patients. He has the wisdom and authority to treat us as He sees fit, even when we might not be able to understand the overarching danger we face if drastic action isn’t taken.

God is the Greatest Savior

If you and I live as though our mortal lives are all we have, we’ll often become frustrated that our lives seem to be filled with pain and injustice. But the Christian Worldview describes human existence as eternal. We have a life beyond the grave. We live for more than 80 or 90 years; we live forever, either with God in Heaven, or separated from God for all eternity. If there is a God, He is certainly more concerned about our eternal existence than He is about our mortal comfort. His plans are grander than our plans. His eternal desires are greater than our mortal desires. If there is a God, He is more concerned about saving us for eternity than He is about making our mortal lives safe.

Christians understand that there have been times in the history of humanity when God’s chosen people (those who placed their trust in Him) were in great eternal spiritual jeopardy from those who surrounded them. God understood the risk as the Great Physician and often prescribed drastic action to cut off the threat. God had the authority as the Great Artist to destroy what was His in the first place, and He also had the wisdom and compassion as the Great Savior to do what was necessary to protect the eternal spiritual life of His creation. If God failed to act in these situations, we would hardly call him all-powerful and all-loving.


 

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

Powered by ConvertKit
80 replies
  1. KR says:

    Is there any act of brutality by God that could not be excused by this line of reasoning? If the murder of every living thing on an entire planet (with some notable exceptions) can be considered good and proper, it would seem the sky is the limit. Apparently, God has a carte blanche to do whatever He pleases – because, you know, He’s God.

    Apologists tell us that God is the source of objective morality and the bulwark against nihilism but if their definition av what is good is “whatever God does”, then what protects us from God’s nihilism?

    Reply
    • Tracey says:

      Read. Mathew 3: 1-17, Jesus to Galilee to be Baptised.
      For protection, psalm 91.

      You have full authority to come against, to walk bolding up to the Thrones.
      Nothing will protect you from Gods decisions,if you don’t believe in Him. Prior to the arrival, flesh of Him the Saviour Yeshuha the Messiah, one had to attone for sins via the sacrifice of the unblemished, yearling sheep etc this animal became you, so when the High Priest-who is the one facing towards God, the One Most High, for our sins, therefore, God would examine the pure state of the animal thereby, the forgiveness of sin, for a period of time.
      With the birth and Holy Spirit anointing Yeshuha who then received the Holy Spirit, God Now Yeshuhua becomes our Saviour to atone for our sins, the BODY of Christ.
      It is the study of the Scriptures, the, knowing, comes.
      Are you without spirit are you with soul?

      Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    “If you and I were in an art class together and I suddenly grew frustrated with my sketch and decided to destroy it, you wouldn’t complain in the least”
    This analogy reduces human beings to mindless property. Yes I would complain about destroying the ‘artwork’ if it was sentient and could experience fear and pain. Comparing a person to some pencil marks on a page is a terrible argument – you wouldn’t accept it as a justification by a parent for abortion so it’s special pleading to make it here.

    Reply
    • Susan Tan says:

      What if we’re just the test model on the road to a new and improved one? We’re not and never have been indestructible and neither is the world no matter how much you want to hold God at fault.

      God is more responsible than any person. He sent His son to help yet people still keep denying their senses in favor of other explanations.

      Sin is the leaven but Jesus is the antidote to the leaven but some people are too weak so they embrace their sin and refuse the cure.

      Repentance is when God can start to work with you because it’s the point at which you acknowledge that you are a sinner and need saving. Until that moment arrives you are walking in darkness because every one is born to die but some cross over to life with Jesus on this side of the Jordan.

      And yes I am preaching not arguing because in preaching God’s scriptural explanations are strung together so we can receive His messages.

      Otherwise you can miss God’s messages squabbling over semantics and why waste time? No man knows how much time he has on this earth before he rejoins the dust but he can let Jesus build his spirit in him right now in the meantime.

      Reply
  3. Susan Tan says:

    Faith is trust in God and that includes His nature and purposes. He created everything good originally.

    Abraham originally had possession of the land through an agreement with Abimelech at the well in the Genesis passage so God isn’t leading the back to anything they didn’t own originally.

    Most people overlook Deuteronomy 20 where it tells Israelites to always seek peace before making war. Only one of the 31 nations that Israel fought made peace with them. The rest chose war.

    The Old Testament culture isn’t like ours today. They were a communal culture. They weren’t an individualistic culture like in the post-enlightenment West today.

    God owns everything by right of creation and He was doing something new with the Israelites. They were suppose to be the light to the nations. Some people claim that some of His laws were to protect His people’s genetics. For example, sexual immorality could lead to disease.
    The food laws were ahead of their time and medical doctors today vouch for their wisdom.

    I don’t know why anyone argues with the world over the Bible any way because a believer believes in God’s nature and purposes and we know we don’t know everything only God does. There is God’s way and the world’s way and you don’t control the perceptions of people determined to find fault with God. Some people are guilty of pre-judging others from a position of ignorance.

    One of the best things about the Old Testament is that it is a simple record of human examples of behavior showing the difference between God’s way and human sin. You get to see in the book what people do wrong and hopefully avoid making the same mistake yourself. So God teaches people from human examples we can choose to relate to or not.

    Jesus Christ is the best example of God’s nature. Though research into the OT laws shows they were all proportionate in punishment. God never calls for the death penalty except in cases where restitution cannot be made to the victim. The law is wrote with a concern for the victim’s rights.

    People don’t want to know God but want to find fault with Him?

    The Old Testament has a lot of warfare. At Mount Sinai the Israelites refused to ascend the mountain and hear God. They were too afraid to go up the mountain so Moses went alone.
    They could have received the gift of the Holy Spirit right there but because they didn’t ascend they didn’t receive the gift and were only left with carnal/physical weapons of war.

    The Holy Spirit was not to be given until after the Resurrection on the Day of Pentecost. When it was given our weapons changed from carnal to spiritual ones.

    Contrast this with Islam today which is still an Old Testament like religion that fights with carnal weapons. Indeed a third of the Koran is devoted to verses encouraging war on unbelievers. There is no “radical” Islam if you check what the clergy and scholars of Islam say. There is only Islam. “Radical Islam” as separate and apart from Islam itself is a media fiction encouraged to support economic and political interests.

    Spiritual warfare exists. Dsturbances in the heavenly realm are reflected on Earth.

    Reply
  4. Len Johnson says:

    If God exists and the Bible is true, then man is not mindless property. If God made man in His image and the Earth cries out when human blood is shed, man is not mindless property. If the incarnation story is true and God died that man might live, he is not mindless property.

    If naturalism is true and man is the product of a mindless process of time and chance, then he is the mindless property of cause and effect physical laws. There would be no such thing as a mind. It would be simply a physical brain–molecules in motion. There would be no absolutes. Morality would be simply a survival devices conjured up (according to Dawkins) by genes or something. There would be no basis to judge or complain about anything. That’s just the way things are.

    For your argument to have merit, you must first explain how your reason could possible know anything truly. Otherwise it is circular.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “If naturalism is true and man is the product of a mindless process of time and chance, then he is the mindless property of cause and effect physical laws. There would be no such thing as a mind”

      That’s known as the genetic fallacy.

      “If God exists and the Bible is true, then man is not mindless property”
      Non sequitur.

      “There would be no absolutes”
      Why would moral absolutes follow from the existence of a God?

      “For your argument to have merit, you must first explain how your reason could possible know anything truly. Otherwise it is circular”
      If you’re making a reasoned argument to show that God provides us with a basis for reasoning then YOU have to assume you can make reasoned arguments before you can even argue it. So you’re making a circular argument yourself. A reasoned argument that God provides a basis for reasoning may SEEM watertight to you, but you still have to assume that apparently watertight reasoning can be trusted for you to accept the argument. Perhaps reasoning is actually IMPOSSIBLE if a God exists, and you only accept arguments for the opposite down to the very faulty reasoning that naturally arises from a God’s existence.
      In short: Everyone has to assume reasoning is possible before they make reasoned arguments, and positing that a God exists isn’t an escape from making that initial assumption.

      Reply
      • Len Johnson says:

        Andy, can we discuss one thing at a time?
        Re your first comment:
        Len wrote, “If naturalism is true and man is the product of a mindless process of time and chance, then he is the mindless property of cause and effect physical laws. There would be no such thing as a mind.”
        Andy replied, “That’s known as the genetic fallacy.”
        Whatever it is known as, the question remains–are humans determined? If naturalism is true, that would be the case, would it not? Is the mind part of the brain or are they separate entities? If the brain/mind is determined by physical laws, how can it reason truly?
        I’m not taking any sides here, just want to know. Thanks.

        Reply
    • KR says:

      Len Johnson wrote: “If God exists and the Bible is true, then man is not mindless property.”

      Susan Tan just posted that we’re God’s property by right of creation – I take it you disagree with that?

      “If God made man in His image and the Earth cries out when human blood is shed, man is not mindless property.”

      Did the Earth cry out when the Canaanites and the Amalekites were slaughtered on God’s orders?

      “If naturalism is true and man is the product of a mindless process of time and chance, then he is the mindless property of cause and effect physical laws.”

      This seems self-contradictory. If we’re the product of chance we can’t be the property of natural laws since laws obviously don’t operate on chance – so which is it?

      “There would be no such thing as a mind. It would be simply a physical brain–molecules in motion.”

      You’re assuming that physical molecules cannot produce a mind. What’s your justification for this assumption?

      “There would be no basis to judge or complain about anything.”

      Sure there would – our subjective morality. This is the only kind of morality I’ve seen any actual evidence for. Feel free to demonstrate the existence of objective morality.

      “For your argument to have merit, you must first explain how your reason could possible know anything truly. Otherwise it is circular.”

      We can’t know anything by reason alone. The only way to avoid the inherent circularity of using our minds to verify our minds is by testing our reasoning empirically. This is why the scientific method has been so successful: it bypasses our misconceptions, biases and wishful thinking by only accepting as true that which can be verified by our senses. Theistic claims are obviously not part of science as they cannot be tested this way – which is why theists of different stripes can’t seem to agree on what is true.

      Reply
      • Susan Tan says:

        If you can only verify by your senses then why are you trying to control the spiritual realm?

        God made both realms.

        You can attempt to illegally control the spiritual realm and dismiss it using yiur senses but what good does that do you personally?

        Christian’s know God is the potter and we’re the clay so He shapes the thought of the people that submit to Him.

        How are you going to understand a godly shaping process outside of the experience?

        Faith is experiential….You can stand outside all day rendering opinions and arguments or you can submit to the Leading of the Spirit and follow along and let God reveal Himself to you.

        Doesn’t God know who is submitted to Him? Of course, he does. Christ always confronted the Pharisees who refused to submit to his authority.

        There is a right way to proceed along the existential path in this life and a wrong way.

        Christ is the door to true life and the keeping of the commandments God’s narrow path.

        No one needs to argue so much as they need God given understanding and it takes the right attitude to receive a revelation.

        You can go down many blind paths arguing but if you genuinely can humble yourself and seek to know then God can reveal more and more to you just like He did for Derek Prince.

        Some people argue hoping you will make a mental connection and get back on the right path….But that path requires some degree of self dedication and some people have more dedication than others.

        Look at Saul on the Road to Damascus….on the wrong road like a Pharisee but determined to go the whole way and destroy Christianity until God sets him straight. He blinds Saul to get his attention and let him know he is walking in spiritual ignorance which is spiritual blindness literally then He gives him back his sight. Saul changes to Paul…(Saul means “prayed for” and Paul means “little or small”) so the prayed for one, the great Pharisee Saul who is acting on the high priet’ and Sanhedrin’s orders like Ignatius of Loyola under the pope’s, meets Jesus on the Road to Damascus and is humbled. Just like God humbled Nebuchadnessar in the Old Testament.

        God is in control but for whatever reason he reaches right out and turns Paul’s whole life around and puts him to work for him.

        Does God always work so dramatically? Not that I know of. He seems to work a bit differently for everybody but His main tool is His word which has power and will not come back void.

        So if more atheists diligently studied God’s Word and found the right teacher to assit them they probably wouldn’t be atheists any more.

        All they have to do is direct their determination away from winning arguments to taking direction from God like Prince did.

        Prince went on to become a huge soul winner for God so God won.

        God-1
        Atheism-0

        Just remember when the scriptures are hard to comprehend that God loves everyone all the time. He won’t give up on you if you don’t give up on Him.

        You’re going to run into a lot of weak teachers in Christianity who try tomdo everything for you and keep you weak and milk fed but if you don’t give up like Prince didn’t God can make you His servant.

        How do you go from being a philosophical atheist to a worldwide evangelist? That’s a miracle and proves God is in control but His ways are mysterious and require patience to learn.

        I am by no means an expert but I was able to locate people who know a lot more and Jesus gets me over the intervals. Thanks be to God.

        Reply
        • KR says:

          Susan Tan wrote: “If you can only verify by your senses then why are you trying to control the spiritual realm?”

          I don’t have any particular reason to believe there is a spiritual realm, so I’m obviously not trying to control it.

          “You can attempt to illegally control the spiritual realm and dismiss it using yiur senses but what good does that do you personally?”

          I have no idea what you mean by illegally controlling the spiritual realm. What law are you referring to and how did I break it?

          I happen to believe in rationality. By this I mean that I want to do what I can to align my beliefs with reality, or to put it another way: I want to believe as many true things as possible and as few false things as possible. The best way to do this that I’m aware of is empirical verification. It’s the only way I’ve found that doesn’t suffer from the weakness I alluded to earlier: the inherent circularity of using your mind to validate your mind.

          “Christian’s know God is the potter and we’re the clay so He shapes the thought of the people that submit to Him.”

          I know they claim to know this – but how do they justify this claim?

          “How are you going to understand a godly shaping process outside of the experience?”

          Are you saying that God can be understood? I’m asking because I’ve heard other theists say that God is beyond our understanding. In general, my view is that understanding requires verification and, as I stated earlier, I know of no other means of verification than empirical observation.

          Most of your post consists of claims for which you offer little to no justification. While your beliefs are interesting per se, I have to confess I’m more interested in why you hold them. If your beliefs are not based on empirical observation, then what method are you using – and how do you know that this method is reliable?

          As for the atheist becoming an evangelist, the trend (at least in the US) seems to be stronger in the other direction. The polls by Pew Research and others show a steady decline in religiosity in the US and the West in general. Are you aware of The Clergy Project? It’s a US website for clergy who no longer believe in the supernatural. At last count, they had 787 participants in the project. It seems there are plenty of evangelists who become atheists.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            I think those clergy are deceived then. Once you substitute the empirical explanations for the spiritual ones then you aren’t using your spiritual mind any more. cf. Romans 8:6-10

            All you did was point out the people who didn’t let God direct their steps.

            Obedient people are the ones that stand by God always.

            Faith in Hebrew is “shama” and shama means to hear and obey.

            We have our own God given principles to follow. Why water them down with worldliness?

            We come into this world naturally and become new creations in Christ.

            Spiritual successes pattern themselves on Paul who patterned himself on Jesus.

            People getting their signals confused and listening to the world ahead of God is to be expected. The prophecies even propesize about it happening.

            Perhaps, some will repent but only God knows.

          • KR says:

            “I think those clergy are deceived then.”

            You do realize that the claim can be made that it was Derek Prince who was deceived? How do we objectively determine which claim is correct?

            “Once you substitute the empirical explanations for the spiritual ones then you aren’t using your spiritual mind any more.”

            What is this spritual mind and what evidence of its existence can you provide? How do you know that what this spiritual mind is telling you is reliable?

          • Tracey. says:

            Good on you KR, you have a good heart.
            Yes one can go round the bend, using only the mind.
            God said, come lets reason together, so yes your using what is working for you….want to believe as many true things……
            This data,of clergy not believing in the Supernatural, is not by any means surprising and this would be, by my understanding at the hand of God.
            So don’t be concerned about this.
            You write, ‘I know they claim to know this – but how do they justify this claim?’
            What an excellent question, most important.
            How does a Christian substantiate their belief? by, using the gift, of “knowing,” God, it’s another level up from feelings-emotional distance.
            This is needed to, not be tripped by the mind-ego.
            Be still and KNOW, that I am God. Psalm 46:10.
            Yes the theist are correct, God is not to be understood,

            KJV.Isaiah 55:8-9For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
            neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
            9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
            so are my ways higher than your ways,
            and my thoughts than your thoughts.
            Hope this helps.

      • Tracey says:

        The earth cried out, are you referring to Kahn and Avil?
        Try to read the scripture within it’s own reference.
        There is so much more to this piece , then face value.

        Reply
      • Len Johnson says:

        KR, that is a great question re the Biblical God’s knowledge of human blood being shed—whoever’s blood it is. Here is another good question for Biblical theologians re Jesus shedding of blood on the cross for the salvation of man. Did it extend to all men or only those who believed?

        Second point:
        Len: “If naturalism is true and man is the product of a mindless process of time and chance, then he is the mindless property of cause and effect physical laws.”
        KR: This seems self-contradictory. If we’re the product of chance we can’t be the property of natural laws since laws obviously don’t operate on chance – so which is it?
        Len: Why contradictory? Maybe I did not express clearly. When I use the word chance, I am speaking of an event that occurs mechanically according to the laws of chemistry and physics that has no purpose behind it. It is contingent. It occurs because it has to occur. There was no designer. Tell me if I am wrong, but naturalism tells us that everything that occurs is determined. A particle hits B particle causing event X, all the way down a cause and effect chain that includes our brain neurons deciding to choose vanilla at the ice cream shop instead of chocolate.

        Third point:
        Len: “There would be no such thing as a mind. It would be simply a physical brain–molecules in motion.”
        KR: You’re assuming that physical molecules cannot produce a mind. What’s your justification for this assumption?
        When I speak of a mind, I am meaning an entity that is separate from the brain. An entity that can make choices, think abstractly, experience emotions, come up with original ideas like the theory of relativity, etc. An entity that is not an effect caused by brain chemistry. My question for you would be how do you explain physical molecules producing the emotion of love? I am simply skeptical of physical molecules producing a mind. I have read no good explanation on how that could be. Have you? Basically the explanation goes like this—naturalism is true, so there can be no other explanation. The mind can not be separate from the brain.

        Fourth point:
        Len: “There would be no basis to judge or complain about anything.”
        KR: Sure there would – our subjective morality. This is the only kind of morality I’ve seen any actual evidence for. Feel free to demonstrate the existence of objective morality.
        Len: Sure, you can complain/judge on the basis of your subjective morality, but what weight does that carry? Maybe some if you possess political power, but in the long run the universe dies and man along with it (according to naturalism). What is the evidence you see for subjective morality? Subjective morality is human brain dependent. True or false? If naturalism is true, then it follows that morality is simply the determined product of neuronal chemistry in the on-going chain of non-purposeful causes and effects. One’s brain chemistry says murder is okay, another’s says it isn’t. Wouldn’t both be correct? Re the evidence for objective morality, much has been written. I will mention a few, the universal agreement by humans that certain things are wrong and and certain things are good. We all recognize evil and suffering. It exists. Our conscience. Why feel guilt or remorse for actions we deem hurtful or wrong? Why do we instinctively cry unfair when we are hurt or wronged or a loved one is hurt or wronged? Altruism. Why do we applaud kindness, self-sacrifice, charity to others? What has that got to do with survival of the fittest?

        Fifth point:
        Len: “For your argument to have merit, you must first explain how your reason could possible know anything truly. Otherwise it is circular.”
        KR: We can’t know anything by reason alone. The only way to avoid the inherent circularity of using our minds to verify our minds is by testing our reasoning empirically. This is why the scientific method has been so successful: it bypasses our misconceptions, biases and wishful thinking by only accepting as true that which can be verified by our senses. Theistic claims are obviously not part of science as they cannot be tested this way – which is why theists of different stripes can’t seem to agree on what is true.
        Len: Can the scientific method be tested? How do you test your belief that morality is subjective? Science today is rooted in a naturalistic philosophy. Under the influence of the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, the machine does not merely embrace the sphere of physics, it now encompasses everything.

        Reply
        • KR says:

          Len Johnson wrote: “Why contradictory? Maybe I did not express clearly. When I use the word chance, I am speaking of an event that occurs mechanically according to the laws of chemistry and physics that has no purpose behind it. It is contingent. It occurs because it has to occur. There was no designer.”

          Then I’d say you’re using the word in a non-standard way. Chance, as I understand it, refers to something random and unpredictable (as in “game of chance” or “chance encounter”) – the opposite of something law-bound and predictable.

          “Tell me if I am wrong, but naturalism tells us that everything that occurs is determined.”

          I think it would be more correct to say it’s either determined or random. I see no reason to believe that we cannot be the result of determined and random natural causes. In fact, I’ve seen no evidence of any other kind of causes.

          “When I speak of a mind, I am meaning an entity that is separate from the brain. An entity that can make choices, think abstractly, experience emotions, come up with original ideas like the theory of relativity, etc. An entity that is not an effect caused by brain chemistry.”

          I’d very much like to see some evidence of a mind that exists separately from a brain – one always seems to go with the other. This, to me, is pretty solid evidence that the mind is a product of the physical brain.

          “My question for you would be how do you explain physical molecules producing the emotion of love?”

          We have loads of evidence that emotions are controlled by brain chemistry, psychotropic drugs wouldn’t work if this was not the case. We also know that physical alterations to the brain through surgery, trauma or disease can affect every facet of our personality – not just our emotions but our memories, creativity, language and even things like our ability to recognize faces. The effects of alcohol also clearly show that brain chemistry effects our personality, outlook and behaviour.

          “Sure, you can complain/judge on the basis of your subjective morality, but what weight does that carry? Maybe some if you possess political power, but in the long run the universe dies and man along with it (according to naturalism).”

          What weight would it need to carry? If many people agree that something is wrong, they have the power to change it. If you don’t feel that you have the power, what would objective morality add? You would still need to demonstrate that your view is the objectively correct one, how would you do that? Even after that, you would still need to convince people that they need to accept your view. I just don’t see what objective morality adds to the system and we seem to be coping pretty well without it. Democracy is a completely subjective system of making moral rules, do you think we should replace it with something else? If so, what?

          I don’t know what the ultimate fate of the universe is so I tend not to worry about it – and I don’t see what that has to do with how we treat each other right now. The fact that we won’t exist eternally doesn’t diminish the fact that we can experience pain and suffering in the here and now – wouldn’t you consider it a good thing to try to have a bit less of it?

          “What is the evidence you see for subjective morality?”

          Is this a serious question? People obviously have differing views on moral issues so they clearly can’t all be objectively correct. What more evidence do you need?

          “If naturalism is true, then it follows that morality is simply the determined product of neuronal chemistry in the on-going chain of non-purposeful causes and effects. One’s brain chemistry says murder is okay, another’s says it isn’t. Wouldn’t both be correct?”

          Not according to my subjective morality, which I seem to share with a pretty solid majority. I believe the basis of our morality is an evolutionary adaptation. We are social creatures that through our evolutionary history have depended on each other for our survival. Compassionate and co-operative behaviour would have given us clear survival benefits, so it seems reasonable that such behaviour has been passed on.

          “Re the evidence for objective morality, much has been written. I will mention a few, the universal agreement by humans that certain things are wrong and and certain things are good.”

          You’re pointing to the fact that we agree on certain moral issues but conveniently forget that there are plenty of issues we don’t agree on. If agreement is evidence of objectivity, then disagreements must be evidence of subjectivity, right?

          “Our conscience. Why feel guilt or remorse for actions we deem hurtful or wrong? Why do we instinctively cry unfair when we are hurt or wronged or a loved one is hurt or wronged?”

          I don’t see why this would require objective morality. Why wouldn’t it cause guilt if we act against our own strongly felt subjective morality?

          “Altruism. Why do we applaud kindness, self-sacrifice, charity to others? What has that got to do with survival of the fittest?”

          Altruism can be explained in an evolutionary context – look up “kin selection”. I also don’t see why a subjective morality couldn’t include altruism.

          “Can the scientific method be tested?”

          It is continuously tested – it’s the whole point.

          “How do you test your belief that morality is subjective?”

          By observing reality. I see people disagreeing on moral issues, which demonstrates that moral views can be subjective. I also study how we resolve moral disagreements and what I see is that they’re never resolved by referring to objective moral values but rather through subjective agreements. This tells me that whether objective moral values exist or not, they have no influence on our moral behaviour and are essentially irrelevant.

          “Under the influence of the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, the machine does not merely embrace the sphere of physics, it now encompasses everything.”

          Uniformity is not an assumption, it’s an observation. If we were to observe non-uniformity, we would change our theories accordngly.

          Reply
          • Len Johnson says:

            Good morning, KR!

            I have a lot going on that prevents me from replying quickly, but I will eventually. Worldview study is one of my primary interests. These forums discussions are great learning tools. How did you happen to read Wallace’s article and join this forum?

            How can natural causes in a closed system produce random results? When two chemicals are mixed can there be more than one result? When one billiard ball hits another can the resulting trajectories go off in any direction?

            Does not the law of causality, which we observe in action every day, require a cause to be capable of producing an effect. Can effect possess attributes not present in the cause. How could the theory of relativity or any other creative or abstract thought be the result of determined chemical brain action. Where is the empirical evidence (that you insist on) for that?

            The brain and the mind could be separate entities and still interact, which, as you point out, they obviously do. Their interaction does not negate the possibility that they are different entities.

            One evidence of consciousness existing separate from the brain would be near death experiences where a person’s brain activity has ceased but consciousness continues. Thousands of these have been recorded and have been tested empirically. I am not talking about unverifiable stories of heavenly visits, but verifiable awareness of events that occurred both in the vicinity of the person’s “dead” body as well as other remote locations.

            There has been much research on NDE’s and numerous books written. One I suggest is “Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation,” written in 1981 by Michael Sabom. It is considered to be a landmark in the field of near-death research. He was a pioneer. Many have been written since then. If you google the subject, you’ll find some interesting material.

            Of course, naturalism would be false if only one of these recorded and tested NDE cases is true, so a materialist must ignore the evidence and deny their possibility.

            Another example would be telepathic knowledge of events that the normal senses could not possibly be aware of. For example, there are many incidences of a person being suddenly acutely aware that a loved one on the other side of the planet was in danger or suffering acute distress.

            An excellent book to read on the possibility of consciousness not being a product of the Darwinian process is “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” by Thomas Nagel. Mr. Nagel is a noted philosopher who is an atheist. He states up front, “I hope there is no God. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be like that.” But he is also a skeptic who does not buy into consciousness being produced by matter. That takes a lot of faith.

            Emotions probably are effected by brain chemistry, but how does brain chemistry produce them in the first place? The love you feel for parents, spouse, kids, is that merely a determined, mechanical, physical result of brain chemistry? is love simply chemical reactions driven by genes? Guess we shouldn’t put so much importance into it, if that’s all it is.

            When faced with the choice of preserving your genes or saving a loved one from a burning building, which should we choose? Shouldn’t the naturalist ignore his emotions and consider which action will best preserve the species. Shouldn’t the naturalist favor the practice of eugenics?

            Yes the case for morality being subjective is changing opinions it. But that does not eliminate the possibility of objectivity. Do the basic opinions re murder, stealing, and loving your neighbor change? One thing we know for sure, man is very good at accommodating and rationalizing the desires of his heart.

            If morality is simply a matter of taste, why do we feel guilt, why do we get upset by evil, why do we seek forgiveness for hurts we have caused, why take umbrage at someone stealing your wallet? Now that we are educated shouldn’t we do away with these feelings? Why not take vengeance for wrong committed? Why not shoot your fellow workers and then yourself when you get fired or the spouse leaves you for another?

            If everything is relative, we’re in a bad fix. Majority or the guy with the biggest stick rules. And heaven help the minority that disagrees with the majority. Hitler, Stalin and Mao have shown us their fate.

            If objective morality exists, then there is a Judge on the bench and there will be a final accounting. That is a lot of weight. It is probably the real motivation for debunking the possibility of objectivity.

            If objective morality exists, then naturalism could not be true. Another reason for debunking the possibility.

            If objective morality exists, then man has free will—an idea that the naturalist can not accept, because it too will falsify materialism.

            Since when does majority opinion determine the truth of a matter? The majority once believed the sun revolved around the Earth. The majority once believed the universe was eternal. The majority once believed that life could easily originate in a warm little primordial pond. Now they are saying it was carried here by a meteor.

            The scientific method can not be proved. it assumes there is order in the universe. It assumes that certain natural laws are always applicable. It assumes there is no transcendent entity sticking his hand into the pie every now and then. These assumptions aren’t provable. You can perform a thousands tests to verify your theory, but that does not mean the next one will not.

            The basic tenet of the scientific method is simple; if experimental results don’t support a theory, the theory must be modified. Yet, experimental facts are typically ignored if they conflict with the existing paradigm of a world created without reason or design.

            Enough for today.

          • KR says:

            Hi Len,

            Thanks for your reply – a lot to go through here.

            “How can natural causes in a closed system produce random results?”

            I’m not a physicist but it’s my understanding that at the quantum level, things start behaving in a way we can’t predict. I’ve actually seen articles about random number generators based on quantum effects. Whether this is true randomness or just an effect of our limited capacity to make predictions, I’ll have to leave to the experts.

            “When two chemicals are mixed can there be more than one result? When one billiard ball hits another can the resulting trajectories go off in any direction?”

            No, at the level of molecules and billiard balls our general observation seems to be that things behave in a predictable way. That’s why we’re able to do science – and why I found your reference to chance a bit ambiguous.

            “How could the theory of relativity or any other creative or abstract thought be the result of determined chemical brain action. Where is the empirical evidence (that you insist on) for that?”

            My claim is that I know of no non-deterministic (or non-random) forces at work in the universe. I can’t prove that no such forces exist but if your claim is that they do exist, isn’t it your job to support this claim with some kind of evidence?

            “The brain and the mind could be separate entities and still interact, which, as you point out, they obviously do. Their interaction does not negate the possibility that they are different entities.”

            Sure. The problem, from my perspective, is one of parsimony. Unless the dual brain/mind model is able to explain the workings of the brain better than the current model it would simply seem to add an unnecessary layer of complexity without providing any better understanding of the brain. Do you know of any research that’s being done on this dual model?

            “One evidence of consciousness existing separate from the brain would be near death experiences where a person’s brain activity has ceased but consciousness continues. Thousands of these have been recorded and have been tested empirically.”

            Do you have any references to this work? I would be especially interested to know how it was determined that brain activity had ceased and consciousness continued.

            “There has been much research on NDE’s and numerous books written. One I suggest is “Recollections of Death: A Medical Investigation,” written in 1981 by Michael Sabom. It is considered to be a landmark in the field of near-death research. He was a pioneer. Many have been written since then. If you google the subject, you’ll find some interesting material.”

            Has any of this research ended up in peer-reviewed literature? I must admit I’m a bit suspicous of accounts that only show up in books. Peer-review is the best “quality control” I’m aware of, since it requires the author to present data and methods in such a detailed way that other researchers can replicate their work. If this is truly a verifiable, repeatable effect then it’s obviously a significant finding. The fact that the book came out 36 years ago and doesn’t seem to have had much impact on mainstream research on the brain gives me some pause.

            One can always make the claim that it’s been ignored because it challenges the reigning paradigm but this is all the more reason to provide solid data in a peer-reviewed format. Science is competitive and you don’t get any laurels for repeating what everyone else is doing. If you can show something completely new that gives us a whole different understanding of the brain, your Nobel Prize is virtually guaranteed.

            “Another example would be telepathic knowledge of events that the normal senses could not possibly be aware of. For example, there are many incidences of a person being suddenly acutely aware that a loved one on the other side of the planet was in danger or suffering acute distress.”

            Same question: has this been verified in a peer-reviewed setting?

            “An excellent book to read on the possibility of consciousness not being a product of the Darwinian process is “Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False” by Thomas Nagel.”

            I’ve heard of this book but haven’t read it. For the sake of this discussion, can you outline how Nagel shows that consciousness can’t be a product of evolution?

            “The love you feel for parents, spouse, kids, is that merely a determined, mechanical, physical result of brain chemistry? is love simply chemical reactions driven by genes? Guess we shouldn’t put so much importance into it, if that’s all it is.”

            You seem to be saying that emotions are somehow less real if they have a physical cause than if they have a non-physical cause. This seems backwards to me. If emotions have causes we can actually verify, wouldn’t that make them more real? Why would this make them less important?

            “When faced with the choice of preserving your genes or saving a loved one from a burning building, which should we choose? Shouldn’t the naturalist ignore his emotions and consider which action will best preserve the species. Shouldn’t the naturalist favor the practice of eugenics?”

            This is a complete misunderstanding of evolution, for two reasons: firstly, the theory of evolution is not prescriptive – it’s descriptive. It doesn’t tell us how to behave, it simply provides an explanatory model for how life developed into the organsims we see today. It certainly doesn’t stop us from doing all sorts of things that don’t help preserve our DNA. Secondly, there are good evolutionary models for why we would choose to act altruistically (look up kin selection).

            “Do the basic opinions re murder, stealing, and loving your neighbor change?”

            They don’t seem to – but is there any particular reason we should expect them to? Isn’t it the case that these moral intuitions would be helpful to preserve a society of social beings that need to get along with each other? Again, there are good evolutionary models (supported by game theory mathematics) to explain why compassion and co-operative behaviour would have had an evolutionary advantage.

            “If morality is simply a matter of taste, why do we feel guilt, why do we get upset by evil, why do we seek forgiveness for hurts we have caused, why take umbrage at someone stealing your wallet?”

            Why would any of this require objective morality? Even if you think there is such a thing as objective morality, you have to acknowledge the existence of subjective morality. Since we obviously disagree on various moral issues, we can’t all be objectively correct, right? These moral disagreements are often rather heated so the fact that the moral position is subjective clearly doesn’t mean it can’t be deeply felt. I don’t see why acting against such a deeply felt subjective moral intuition couldn’t be the source of guilt.

            “Now that we are educated shouldn’t we do away with these feelings? Why not take vengeance for wrong committed? Why not shoot your fellow workers and then yourself when you get fired or the spouse leaves you for another?”

            Well, what does objective morality tell us to do? How do we find this out – and how do we know that this position is actually objective rather that subjective? Vengeance is interesting. My amateurish guess is that the negative reciprocity of vengeance is just the flip side of the positive reciprocity of “I scratch your back if you scratch mine”. This reciprocal sense of fairness has been shown in other primates even from a very early age and is apparently “hard-wired” into our brains and probably has deep evolutionary roots. It has probably served us and our ancestors well but can also be a source of problems – as seen in the endless circle of retaliatory violence in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Again, evolution can help us explain why we behave as we do but it can’t tell us how we should behave.

            “If everything is relative, we’re in a bad fix. Majority or the guy with the biggest stick rules.”

            Yup, that seems to be pretty much it. Fortunately, we seem to have moved more towards the former. I’m currently involved in another discussion on this forum where I’ve posed some questions on this very issue. What I want to know is if you don’t think majority rule (= democracy) is a good idea, what would you like to replace it with?

            “And heaven help the minority that disagrees with the majority. Hitler, Stalin and Mao have shown us their fate.”

            Hardly pillars of democracy, were they? More like guys with big sticks, I’d say. I’m not saying that a democratic state could never oppress a minority but what better alternative would you like to suggest?

            “If objective morality exists, then there is a Judge on the bench and there will be a final accounting. That is a lot of weight. It is probably the real motivation for debunking the possibility of objectivity.”

            What makes this judge objective and – of course – how do we know this judge exists?

            “If objective morality exists, then naturalism could not be true. Another reason for debunking the possibility.”

            Why couldn’t there be a naturally-derived objective morality? I’m not convinced there is one but I don’t see how this necessarily follows from naturalism.

            “If objective morality exists, then man has free will—an idea that the naturalist can not accept, because it too will falsify materialism.”

            It will probably not come as any surprise to you but I don’t think there is any such thing as free will, at least not in the classic libertarian understanding of the term. This post is long enough without going into that, though.

            “Since when does majority opinion determine the truth of a matter? The majority once believed the sun revolved around the Earth. The majority once believed the universe was eternal.”

            You’re throwing in your moral claims with your truth claims and assume they’re the same thing. That’s the very point of contention and I happen to disagree. Since I don’t believe that moral claims are truth claims but rather subjective preferences, I also don’t think that majority opinions are true in any objective sense. They simply represent the majority view.

            Disagreements about truth claims concerning the nature of the physical universe can be (and have been) settled by empirical evidence. I’ve never seen a disagreement on a moral issue resolved by a demonstration of some kind of objective evidence. Have you? Again, if you don’t think a democratic system is a good form of government, what would you prefer?

            “The majority once believed that life could easily originate in a warm little primordial pond. Now they are saying it was carried here by a meteor.”

            I don’t think that’s an accurate description of the state of abiogenesis research. It’s an interest of mine and I try to keep up with the literature as best I can and I see no consensus that life could not have originated on Earth.

            “The scientific method can not be proved. it assumes there is order in the universe. It assumes that certain natural laws are always applicable. It assumes there is no transcendent entity sticking his hand into the pie every now and then. These assumptions aren’t provable. You can perform a thousands tests to verify your theory, but that does not mean the next one will not.”

            Science is not about proof, that’s for mathematics and scotch. It’s about finding the best explanation for a phenomenon we can reach, given the available evidence. Order is not an assumption – it’s an observation. Laws become laws because they have proven to be generally applicable.

            Science makes no assumptions about transcendent entities as long as it doesn’t have any means of detecting their presence or absence – it’s simply silent on the matter. We don’t perform tests to verify a theory – we perform tests to disprove it. As long as our theories pass these tests, we provisionally keep them around as our best current explanations but we never presume to have verified them as the absolute truth.

            “The basic tenet of the scientific method is simple; if experimental results don’t support a theory, the theory must be modified. Yet, experimental facts are typically ignored if they conflict with the existing paradigm of a world created without reason or design.”

            Can you provide examples of some experimental facts that are being ignored?

    • KR says:

      If you’d paid attention, you’d know that I’m not suggesting substituting a method for my own mind – I’m suggesting applying a method (empirical observation) to verify my own mind. I’m still waiting for anyone to show that there’s a better one.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Then you’re living in doubt . Letting it over rule your own judgment.

        Do you subject all your relationships to verification through the scientific methods.

        Because Christians that spend a lot of time in the scriptures will tell you that Christianity is the truth not a religion because we’re involved in a relationship.

        Relationships are based on trust not scientific tests. Though a relationship could be tested by time and circumstances. I don’t kniw anybody that is in a secure relationship that tests God.

        Testing relationships is something insecure people do to validate that they are loved, etc.

        Curt Thompson wrote an interesting book called The Anatomy of the Soul. It’s all about the 4 types of attachment in infants.

        I wish I still had a copy of that book to refer to but I lent it to someone.

        Really Christianity is a lot simpler than some people make it. God is love and He loves every person and He proved it on the Cross so nobody has to test him any more.

        Have a great day! God Bless.

        Reply
        • KR says:

          It’s not about doubt – it’s about not pretending to know that which you don’t actually know. You keep making claims and when I ask you how you’ve verified that these claims are true, you respond with more claims. This makes me suspect that you don’t actually have a reliable means of verification. You say relationships are built on trust but where does that trust come from? Our empirical experience. If a person consistently behaves in a trustworthy way, we will trust them. Trusting someone for no good reason can be described as gullibility which is not a good thing.

          If you’re in a relationship you will observe each other. This has nothing to do with being insecure, it’s just what people in a relationship do if they care about each other. This is the “testing” we continually do and which forms our empirical experience. The difference with the relationship you’re describing is that this experience is not through your senses but through some other means. What I would like to know is how you can verify that what you experience isn’t just your own mind?

          Reply
          • Susan Tan says:

            I think you have a point and so do I. There is tremendous variation based on personality types, circumstances, etc.

            Yes, I have had several ways of verifying things. Some are personal and private and too complicated to explain in this format.

            But it all goes back to what I said about trusting my own judgment.

            Your scientific bias could be learned. I never learned it. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate science or it’s benefits. I do.

            It means that I invest no final authoritative control in science over myself.

            I credit God with the authority. That’s what the headship orinciple is about in the Bible.

            Christianity is loaded with laws and principles just like science is. Only we call them doctrine or commandments.

            There are spiritual laws like the law of the double witness in the Old Testament or the clean/unclean doctrine, etc. These are spiritual princioles that guide observant Christians. Some are just more observant and better able to explain them. It is all compounded by the Old Covenant being replaced by the New Covenant.

            So science follows it’s laws and principles. Christian’s follow God’s and this is all based on God’s logic so do I trust God? Absolutely He’s a better person than I am.

          • KR says:

            Well, I still think that trusting your own judgement unconditionally is problematic – especially when it comes to beliefs we cherish. It’s when we really want something to be true that we need to be extra careful to put this belief to the test just to make sure we’re not falling prey to cognitive bias or wishful thinking. This is where the scientific method really shines.

            Anyway, I think this conversation has run its course. Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciated the exchange.

  5. ANTHONY says:

    Please produce a list of really obscene and irrelevant analogies.

    Oh, sorry, you just did.

    The Doctor analogy was possibly the worst, in view of the Hippocratic Oath. Primum non nocere.

    Reply
    • TGM says:

      I had the same immediate thought reading the Physician section of this document. Christians… you sacrifice all of your humanity by defending this delusion of a deity. Every single one of you is better than this beast you apologize for, yet you would have an ancient book convince you to defy your better judgment about good and evil.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Everyone has cognitive biases whether he realizes it or not. There are dozens of them. They help organize the human brain and let it function more efficiently.

        A Christian’s is taught to love people and to practice kindness and that is a very socially responsible bias to have except we don’t use error ridden psychology’s language to describe it. We call it having the Spirit.

        Today atheists have made an idol out of human reason and logic and want to scrap God. As if He doesn’t exist and didn’t make this world a better place.

        All it is is some people’s petty battle for control of things.

        You might not even be alive today if Christianity and Judaism hadn’t stopped worldwide infanticide. If just one of your ancestors were lost then you wouldn’t be alive today.

        So God protected you too through His sanctity of life principles.

        Ancient Greeks would leave a baby to die on a hilltop at times.

        The Vikings used to practice selectivel infancticide and kill live infants. Girls were a particular target.

        Sex trafficing of young girls is very prominent in certain areas of the non-Christian world today. Do you know who tries to get children out of the sex trafficers in India where they even force young girls into temple prostitution in some places? Christian missions.

        The Christians saving young non-Christians from sex trafficing.

        Christianity made the world a better place and continues to throughout the world with it’s values and you want what the law of the jungle in place of established values?

        A culture can regress, degenerate and go socially backwards.

        People don’t all reason equally well and some are selfish and morally backwards and can have evil heart motives or orientations and the world doesn’t need an objective set of moral standards to refer to and someone to hold them accountable?

        Oh but they do….people try to get away with a lot more than they should when they think they can and they try to talk other into relaxing their standards and permitting evil and misbehavior, too.

        It’s a pity so many atheists toss out reality in favor of idolzing human reason but no human being reasons perfectly so your idol has feet of clay and science doesn’t contain all knowledge. It should not be idolized either. If it contained all knowledge then it wouldn’t change and we wouldn’t progress….we would all already be perfect.

        So if you want to settle for this life….go ahead…everyone has his choice but I am not settling.

        You get what you settle for in this world.

        Read up on Maslow’s pyramid. You can’t self actualize without meeting certain needs and one of them is spirtuality.

        And we’ve always had our spiritual leaders to help with that. Who would be a bigger expert on spiritual topics than God?

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “Christianity made the world a better place and continues to throughout the world with it’s values and you want what the law of the jungle in place of established values?”

          Who here has asked for ‘the law of the jungle?’ No-one. Secularism and humanism has dragged society forward, often with Christianity a few steps behind. If it was left to Christianity we’d still be throwing gays in jail. Many Christian nations in Africa still do throw people in jail for being gay, and people running this website think we should be more like Africa when it comes to attitudes to gays.

          When America ended slavery it was one Christian half of the country fighting the other Christian half to end it. And the slaving side explicitly cited the bible to justify slavery.

          “It’s a pity so many atheists toss out reality in favor of idolzing human reason but no human being reasons perfectly”

          You have to use human reasoning even to interpret what you think your God wants you to do. If you admit that’s imperfect then you have no idea what your God actually wants.

          “everyone has his choice but I am not settling. You get what you settle for in this world”

          Saying that a better world follows this one sounds more like settling than saying ‘This life is all you get so you need to make the most of it’.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            We get two lives. We have dual natures.

            We get the abundant living and the future.

            I am a very blessed person. I always knew God loved me and I always refuse to let the world to force me into such conformity with the weak ways of the world that I give up that knowledge.

            Our hearts and minds are arm wrestling with the world’s ideas and the weak Christians are going to get picked off.

            Have you ever heard a Christian say they are works in progress?

            You might want to meditate on that. It says God rested in Genesis. It never said He stopped working on us.

            If you let the world transmit too much of it’s thinking and ways to you then how can you be an independent thinker?

            You already admitted you bow in your own thinking to almighty science….so you have an idol to smash to be able to learn God’s ways.

            Somebody stole your personal self knowledge from you.

            Aren’t you part of the world? Read John 3:16.
            How do you dismiss that message from God.

            Your idol blocks the message and teaches you to dismiss it so you can continue to serve your false idol.

            An idol is anything we put ahead of God in our hearts which is our inner being.

            The Old Testament isn’t just about war. It’s also about who actually was God’s follower and who was following false idols.

          • Susan Tan says:

            Go read the Fruit of the Spirit passage, Andy Ryan. What is wrong with God building the Fruit of the Spirit in His people?

            Google it. Biblegateway will have it or biblehub.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “You already admitted you bow in your own thinking to almighty science”
            No I didn’t.

            “Read John 3:16. How do you dismiss that message from God.”
            I’ve seen nothing to suggest that it’s true or even makes sense.

            “An idol is anything we put ahead of God in our hearts”
            Your God is itself an idol.

  6. Susan Tan says:

    My God isn’t powerless like the idols quite a few people serve.

    He actually has power and He works through our consciousness.

    So I suggest you toss Dennett out the window with his insufficient psychological ideas.

    God is the Great Psychologist and He changes people all the time.

    Imagine Dawkins who isn’t even an expert on psychology calling a theist delusional. I am a realist. I am quite aware that there is good and evil in this world. I don’t play self deceptive games like some people or philosophers do trying to deny that the soul or sin exists.

    There are too many word games that allow deception so I study Bible concepts right from the Bible that’s how you get a working knowledge to spot the true believers from the hypocrites and the true spiritual practices from the false ones.

    Be careful who you listen to. Not everyone is spouting God’s truth though the Word always has power even in a false prophet’s mouth.

    The greatest evils are the truths mixed with subtle lies.

    You can let God define you and make something out of you or let this world into your business to meddle with you and run your life.

    I trust God more. I just had to establish the truth for myself because there is so much error and confusion these days.

    Science can’t test the spiritual realm so it has no authority over it or business meddling in it.

    Do you really think a discipline that lacks expertise in a subject should be granted authority over another discipline like spirituality?

    On the other hand God is the expert and the people who He changes are His evidence. They entered the faith process…they experience things and they become the experts on the spiritual realm in this world and the evidence.

    For anyone to say which religion is right is confusion?

    If you can’t tell truth from error using your own judgment than stop rendering an opinion until you learn.

    I have literally hundreds of atheists indicate they couldn’t tell which religion was right so how is an atheist who can’t tell religions apart an expert on anything spiritual.

    God is the expert.

    And you had better get better at examining the experts and stop making lame excuses and rationalizations. You are already behind in God’s lessons.

    Have a great life. I really need to leave cyberspace and get busy on other projects that are pressing.

    Sorry for the plain speaking but it is the only way I know to sort truth from error.

    Reply
  7. Andy Ryan says:

    “My God isn’t powerless like the idols quite a few people serve”
    I know you believe your God has all sorts of qualities, including power, but I see no evidence that it exists. So sorry, my point stands.
    “God is the expert”
    See my previous answer.
    “So I suggest you toss Dennett out the window”
    Who mentioned Dennett? For the record, I read Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and it’s a fantastic book. I’d recommend it to anyone.
    “I study Bible concepts right from the Bible”
    You already said we can’t trust our reasoning!
    “I have literally hundreds of atheists indicate they couldn’t tell which religion was right”
    You mean they didn’t agree with you that Christianity was correct.
    “Have a great life”
    I do, Susan. Hope you do too.

    Reply
  8. Susan Tan says:

    I see you misconstrued some of my statements but that’s ok. I figure Dawkins is closed minded. Just contrast him with Francis Collins the former head of the Human Genome Project. Collins has to know evolution very well yet he is smart enough to know nothing is impossible with God so he leaves God a loophole and is able to progress spiritually that way.

    I am terrible at science but I love to study people.

    The best person I ever knew long term was a Christian so I accept her life witness over the opinion of people who I don’t know.

    The real Christians do exist in this world. I have met more than one and I mean the rock solid thoroughly trustworthy kind. Truly holy as far as it is possible to be in this lifetime.

    Those people’s life witness always serve as evidence of God for me but then I am a people person who studies from life around me.

    History records quite a few of them too.

    If God wants to prove He exists through people then who am I to question His methods. I am just the clay in God’s hands.

    All the old brave Christians used to be humble and wise enough to teach absolute surrender to the next generation but you hardly hear about it today.

    You have to be brave enough to draw near to God to learn it. We saw the Hebrews fail to be brave at Mt. Sinai and look at all the trials that followed that failure. The whole human race got delayed until the Day of Pentecost.

    Peace Be With You! and watch out for the world…it lies alot….when it isn’t full of error.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      So Francis Collins is open minded because he assumes God exists and finds a loophole/gap to stuff God into, and Richard Dawkins is closed minded because he disagrees with YOU about God. What a very, er, open minded view for you to take.
      “The best person I ever knew long term was a Christian so I accept her life witness over the opinion of people who I don’t know”
      I know plenty of great people of all sorts of religions and great people with no religion at all. Perhaps you need to mix in a wider group of people.

      Reply
    • Tracey says:

      Susan.
      Those,of, the world are not those,in, the world.
      What ever the occupation the slave of it will say,agree and produce what ever is needed to make a profit for it.

      God, The One Most High is not employed by anyone for anyone, is not ruled, and or, controlled by anyone.
      This is unsettling for many as this fear is based on the man-made. Easy come, easy go.
      Remember the cornerstone that was rejected.
      You are not here to carry crosses of others for others, they must carry their own.
      Pray for them, but not be their Intercessor; petitionary.
      Mammon has no hold over Him.
      Yet He manifest in the flesh Our Sovereign Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the blood of the Covenant shed for those who believe in Him, praise Him. Amen.

      Reply
  9. Susan says:

    Well stop assuming. I have travelled widely.

    People really shouldn’t argue with atheists at all. It gives them the false illusion that they can win.

    But Christians can never lose an argument because they know “Nothing is impossible with God”. That is open mindedness knowing that.

    Nothing really depends on a single Christian argument because a Christian can misconceive ideas and argue a position poorly but our faith is not placed in ourselves or arguments. It is placed in God and “nothing is impossible” with Him so if He can’t be defeated then we can’t be.

    Blessings!

    Reply
    • KR says:

      Personally, I hope reason and rationality will win. Seeing the world as it is seems more preferable to me than seeing it as we want it to be or as some ancient scripture tells us it is. I think the first step towards being rational is to recognize that you might be wrong. The fact that you’ve closed your mind to that possibility and even convinced yourself that this makes you open-minded tells me you have quite a ways to go.

      Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Wanting to win suggest a game of chance”
      No it doesn’t. How on earth can you read ‘I hope reason and rationality wins’ and think KR is suggesting a game of chance? You’re saying you’re too busy having a life to hope that reason and rationality win out over unreasonableness and irrationality?

      “But Christians can never lose an argument because they know “Nothing is impossible with God””
      You’re saying that nothing is impossible with God but also saying that it’s impossible for a Christian to lose an argument. Holy self-contradiction, Batman!

      Reply
    • Tracey. says:

      Perfect reply Andy, for you.
      I am not writing or living that, description of yours.
      Reactive.
      Win is a chance, always has been.
      Yes no-thing is impossible for God, again, Bible interprets Bible, read your own piece, it’s an interesting conundrum.

      Reply
  10. Susan says:

    KR, you’re deliberately misreading my post to be divisive and to throw sand in theist faces.

    I believe in God. God is more rational than any human being and all powerful.

    Nothing depends on an argument. Whehter or not a human errs arguing or not is not even important and has no bearing on the exxistence of God.

    His esixtence can’t be disproved.

    Everyone knows there is a God but some people apparently want to play mind games to dismiss Him from their consciousness.

    Romans 1:20-21King James Version (KJV)

    20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    You need to stop arguning KR and examine your own motives like Jesus says to do.

    And if people would stop playing minds games with you people dignifying your dung ideas with longwinded replies then maybe you would all get the message.

    Nothing is impossible with God and He can and has even saved atheists.

    Human numbers falling away mean nothing. It just shows some people are weaker than others and rely on their own human weak minded reasoning too much and make too much of their ow reasoning ability.

    But nothing is higher than God, He made the human mind and if Francis Collins can re-examine everything and himself and have an epiphany from God then so can you.

    So why are you wasting yourself and your time on arguments when you can be seeking enlightenment?

    You had better take direction from Jesus and examine yourself like he tells everyone to do. You’re no exception to the human race. You’re just more stubborn than most in your error.

    If God says He loves His creation and younare part of His creation and He has an ultimate plan to restore everything in time then what is your problem with that?

    Examine yourself and don’t come back with another silly argument. just submit to the direction of Jesus and examine yourself. Jesus never hurt anyone. All he did was tell the truth about things, do miracles and cast demons out of people.

    Nothing is impossible with God.

    If you want to make an idol out of human reason with the mess people have made out of this world then you are being selectively obtuse to serve your own idol and block God thereby.

    Examine yourself and take direction from God. Prince did and it turned his whole life around.

    Reply
    • KR says:

      I see nothing here that shows I’ve misread your previous post. Quite to the contrary, you display exactly what I described: a complete unwillingness to examine your own beliefs and consider the possibility that you could be wrong. My ideas don’t become “dung” just because you say so – you have to actually show what’s wrong with them. If you feel up to a discussion without rants and invective, I’m right here – but you need to stop preaching to me and start having a conversation.

      Reply
  11. Susan Tan says:

    I already examine my beliefs. I don’t have to do it publicly with you. What do you think doctrinal studies are? I have refined my beliefs several times as happens a lot with people.

    You want to argue with people to exert control over them. To meddle with things they are already decided about.

    I decided to re-enter the creative process with God a long time ago. He builds whole new natures in people and you think you will come along on your own authority and meddle with people?

    You’re not a psychaitrist and if you were you wouldn’t be more competent than God.

    You want me to examine things that are impossible for me to re-examine. I know nothing is impossible with God because Christ said so and he is the image of God.

    God can create this world any way he wants. I really don’t care to learn about evolution. That doesn’t mean I dismiss it. God can use any means at his disposal.

    What you are really asking is for an entry to come in and destroy my spiritual beliefs which you should have no access to because you’re not a spiritual authority.

    So you want illegal access and control from a position of ignorance.

    You never trusted God enough to take Him at His word. That is why you have to examine yourself privately and deal with it.

    These public attempts at debunking people’s privately held beliefs isn’t the best way to establish the truth.

    Read up on interpersonal boundaries.

    I don’t give some internet person that I don’t even know in real life access to my most treasured possession which is Jesus.

    I trust Jesus but I don’t trust most people and I certainly don’t trust an atheist with my belief system. I have run into too many militant troll atheists online who disrespect people.

    If you don’t respect God then you probably don’t respect people. Some people are guilty of living in fear by over respecting i.e. fearing people and they end up men pleasing others out of fear of not fitting in with the group.

    But the people that can really think spiritually in this world are holy and they are going to be a small minority and by the looks of things these days a very small minority.

    It takes time to get to that level of holiness and you don’t get there by making a poor trade for the cheap ideas of this world.

    So no I am not going back to square one to play self deceptive mind games with people.

    I just try to follow what Jesus says to do and God.

    Proverbs 3King James Version (KJV)

    3 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

    2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

    3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

    4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

    5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

    6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

    7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

    You might get some scripturally lazy Christian to make some concessions to you because a lot of them like logic and philosophy contrary to what Paul said about it being vain.

    Just because you have a mind God gave you doesn’t mean you should use it any way you want to. There are limits to what the human mind can handle.

    God builds new minds in His people so why would I scrap it to start over?

    I am already being tutored by the best mind in the universe in the scriptures. Jesus Christ was the Logos.

    Stop bowing to your idol “reason”. Using it to dismiss a Person: God.

    Your thinking isn’t greater than God’s.

    It’s your problem that you think He doesn’t exist.

    It’s not mine so why are you foisting your problem on to me?

    Stay in the scriptures. Persist in them like Prince did with humility and let God enlighten you.

    I am ordained since 2015. I am not going to go back and pretend I am not fully dedicated to God at this point in time am I? I recently applied to a missionary organization so I am well past the point of re-examining ideas that I already examined.

    There is too much to examine in the doctrine itself to keep me occupied to go back to square one isn’t there?

    I am embroiled in a doctrinal dispute right now with most of Christianity as a matter of fact.

    But God will make a way….or maybe things will stay just where they are if that is His will.

    So I am way too deep in the doctrine now to go back for anyone.

    Like I said God has made a whole new person out of me…but one can always improve even more spiritually can’t he?

    There is no reason for me to argue if I am unshakeable in my faith is there?

    I’m unshakeable so I should be giving those who are confused a few pointers shouldn’t I?

    So avoid me if you don’t seek enlightenment.

    You have to be humble to be enlightened. Like Moses was. All the apostles that Jesus trained were humble.

    Think about whether or not something in your life disposes you towards pride. Learning could increase pride.

    1 Cor. 1:26, KJV
    “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:”

    You are no exception to the human race just because you learned to rationalize differently.

    You are just as loved by God as everyone else…you just refuse to register that fact for whatever personal motive you serve. What we entertain in our hearts motivates our acts doesn’t it?

    You need to google all the “love verses and passages” and meditate on them.

    God gave us the scriptures to deliberate on. People call it “chewing the cud”. Cud is clean food that God uses to raise His holy people who are wholly devoted to Him.

    Reply
    • KR says:

      I’m not here to destroy anyone’s beliefs, I just want to know what people believe and their reasons for believing it. I may do it in a polemical way but that’s just because I can’t seem to let a bad argument pass me by without pointing it out. You seem very defensive and at this point I don’t see much good coming out of this conversation, so I think we should just call it a day.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        You should be studying Jesus’ life against all the other world religious leaders like Buddha, Mohammed, etc.

        Did you know Jesus makes the greatest claims and he seems to be the only one that gets his name blasphemed and is raged against by the nations cf. Psalm 2.

        I have no time to argue religion. I am too busy sorting truth from error in Christianity itself to really care about worldly arguments.

        Jesus Christ is the truth and he is the one with the best relationship with and knowledge of God.

        Apologetics is the place where the false cults are debunked.

        Why do apologists debunk false religions and cults?

        To help people sort out and establish a relationship with Jesus.

        That’s why the beginning and end of all of Christianity is Jesus Christ. He’s even called the Alpha and the Omega.

        Christians study to be approved.

        2 Timothy 2:15King James Version (KJV)

        15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

        Until you study the Bible seriously you can’t even mount a good defense of God’s truth.

        God is the revealer of truth so if you want to know the truth you need to become a genuine seeker like the Bereans were not an arguer first. Pride can get into the mix when you are arguing so how can you determine for yourself the truth.

        This is a life changing truth that a lot of people who don’t understand that turn into a battle over origins but there are still plenty of people giving evidence today through their testimony that God changed them.

        When you claim the title ‘atheist’ you are claiming by that title that you have established the truth for yourself a certain way.

        But atheists never accept burdens of proof so how did you establish anything if you can’t disprove God exists?

        All you did was accept man’s rationalizations in place of God’s.

        Nothing is impossible with God. I believe in Him and recognize that nothing is impossible with Him so I agreed to play by His rules. But to learn them I have to get into His book and study Jesus Christ closely and what he does and says. I could always pick out Jesus from the crowd without comparing him with Mohammed and Buddha just by his words but maybe you need to do a deeper comparison.

        Pray for the revelation from God. See the Lord’s Prayer. Christians don’t really pray just any prayer. God’s not the cosmic bellhop.

        We pray for God’s will to be done and it is God’s will to save everyone. All you really have to do is accept God at His Word and don’t keep confusing the Old Testament times with the New Testament times. All the world is carnal and living in the Old Testament time. A true Christian though is living a whole new life in New Testament times. But a lot of people are confused between the Old and the New Testaments but Christians are spiritual people. We should be reasoning from spiritual to spiritual. The carnal minded reason from spiritual to literal.

        King James Bible
        Romans 8:6
        For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

        Most Christians don’t accept worldly explanations in place of God’s because they know they are loved by God and there is a lot more serenity and power in that than settling for the explanations of some people who don’t even try to seek or understand God. Richard Dawkins says in the preface to the God Delusion that he hates priest’s language. So if he didn’t learn God’s language then how does he understand God. Still he won’t stop being angry at God.

        Christ is a better role model than Dawkins is.

        1 John 4
        18There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because He first loved us.

        Reply
        • Andrew.ryan@incisivemedia.com says:

          ” he seems to be the only one that gets his name blasphemed and is raged against by the nations cf. Psalm 2.”

          People don’t rage and blaspheme against Mohammed and Allah? Where have you been living the past fifteen years?!

          Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          ” he seems to be the only one that gets his name blasphemed and is raged against by the nations cf. Psalm 2.”

          People don’t rage and blaspheme against Mohammed and Allah? Where have you been living the past fifteen years?!

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            People are taught by the unspiritual example of others to use Jesus’
            name as an expletive.

            I saw a Vietnamese woman once using his name as an expletive. Where did she learn to do that?

            Words have power. They have the power to bless or curse us. There is power in the tongue. How did Hitler move so many Germans? Didn’t he use a cursed tongue to do it? Lots of people claim he was a hypnotic speaker and Hitler was an occultist. An occultist believes in spiritual power and they seek to obtain it, too.

            If you learn God’s ways you won’t be blaspheming the name of Jesus with impunity. You will learn to watch your words and that is self control to be able to control what you say and learn to only say things of true value.

          • Susan says:

            It could be there are so many unbelievers in this world because they let the world sow false ideas in their heads. It is very easy to range widely in your mind off the paths that God likes His people to pursue. Even Christians do it. Christians have even adulterated Christianity trying too hard to accommodate unbelievers.

            It could be why God calls His people His sheep….because we range this world in our minds and we can end up in danger doing that because this world contains a lot of traps.

            But Christians are suppose to be dedicated to certain core principles that help build Christ’s identity in us.

            Why do some atheists have so much trouble seeing true Christianity? Probably because instead of focusing on Christ they focus on all the false symbology that entered the Catholic church through paganism’s early absorption in the Church’s history.

            We do help people as much as possible in Christianity but we never are suppose to give up our core identity to please other people. The Bible calls that menpleasing.

            There must have been a lot of paganistic men pleasers in early Christianity trying to get into Christian ranks and that is why we have had so many persistent problems in the church across long spans of time.

            People bring their worldly ideas right into the church and try to change it to accommodate what they want instead of submitting to the Spirit’s leading and being who God wants them to be.

            Google The Pagan Origins of the Catholic Church by Dr. Ernest L. Martin and read it.

            We’re trying to walk from carnality into spirituality. Though some scholars today make false concessions to paganism like it is acceptable. It really isn’t. God’s ways are higher but it takes time to raise people out of paganism into the light. So sometimes even the whole Church backslides like Catholicism did with it’s sale of the free grace of God. Sometimes the unspritual people even get into high places in the Church that’s why Luther, Tyndale and Wyciffe led the Reformation. To get people back to learning God’s ways and you don’t learn God’s ways by tolerating, accommodating or practicing the world’s ways. It requires dedication to learning God’s ways and people were designed to be God’s temples and temples are usually dedicated. See how Solomon dedicated God’s temple in the Old Testament.

            And dedication requires motivation and motivation comes from faith which is the gift of God. Everyone should be seeking the gift of God which leads to a transformed life but not everyone has the same attitude or educational advantages,
            does he?

          • Susan says:

            I think you made an error here.

            God defines blasphemy and you can’t blaspheme a false prophet or deity can you?

        • Andy Ryan says:

          “I don’t know anyone that actually uses Mohammed’s name as a curse word”

          There’s been an international ‘blasphemy day’ for quite some time now when people make a big show of deliberately blaspheming Mohammed. I believe it’s passed you by, but you shouldn’t make sweeping statements without researching first.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            Well I see your mind is made up. There’s no burden of proof on a Christian. God only tells us to supply an answer in the right tone, of course.

            I don’t accept philosophical burdens of proof any more that the world likes to thrust on Christians because Jesus proved it all on the Cross. Besides he also said his burden is light.

            Why take on a burden of proof to argue against someone who’s mind is already made up and has prejudged God. That is nonsense.

            I learned a lot debating but I learned a lot more from studying. I already knew people were stubborn and debating just confirms that. But to be approved by God that requires a little extra effort and he likes genuine truth seekers and students of His Word.

            Jeremiah 29:13
            You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

            God’s people are suppose to be biblically literate. We don’t even need a theology degree to be God’s people. God qualifies those He calls.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “Well I see your mind is made up”
            What do you mean? You said “he seems to be the only one that gets his name blasphemed and is raged against by the nations” and I pointed out that that is false. It’s false to the point of being nonsensical – both Jews and Muslims have been targeted for mass genocide for their religion, you can regularly see big rallies against Islam with people ‘raging’ against Mohammed and Allah. And your reaction to me pointing out you said something false is to say “well I see your mind is made up”?
            If correcting fictions with fact makes me ‘stubborn’ then sure, I’m stubborn.
            “There’s no burden of proof on a Christian”
            If you make a claim then yes the burden of proof is on you.

      • Len Johnson says:

        You requested excerpts from Thomas Nagel’s book. Here are some from first 20 pages. Let me know if you want more. Len

        Reply
        • Len Johnson says:

          5 – Physico-chemical reductionism in biology is the orthodox view, and any resistance to it is regarded as not only scientifically but politically incorrect. But for a long time I have found the materialist account of how we and our fellow organisms came to exist hard to believe, including the standard version of how the evolutionary process work. The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes.

          …it seems to me that, as it is usually presented, the current orthodoxy about the cosmic order is the product of governing assumptions that are unsupported, and that it flies in the face of common sense.

          7 – My skepticism is not based on religious belief, or on a belief in any definite alternative. It is just a belief that the available scientific evidence, in spite of the consensus of scientific opinion, does not in this matter rationally require us to subordinate the incredulity of common sense. That is especially true with regard to the origin of life.

          …almost everyone in our secular culture has been browbeaten into regarding the reductive research program as sacrosanct, on the the ground that anything else would not be science.

          …certain things are so remarkable that they have to be explained as non-accidental if we are to pretend to a real understanding of the world…

          9 – …the problems of probability are not taken seriously enough

          It is no longer legitimate simply to imagine a sequence of gradually evolving phenotypes, as if their appearance through mutations in the DNA were unproblematic…

          With regard to the origin of life, the problem is much harder, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available.

          11 – Whatever one may think about the possibility of a designer, the prevailing doctrine cannot be regarded as unassailable. It is an assumption governing the scientific project rather than a well-confirmed scientific hypothesis.

          14 – If evolutionary biology is a physical theory—as it is generally taken to be—then it cannot account for the appearance of consciousness and of other phenomena that are not physically reducible. So if mind is a product of biological evolution—if organisms with mental life are not miraculous anomalies but an integral part of nature—than biology cannot be a purely physical science. The possibility opens up of a pervasive conception of the natural order very different from materialism—one that makes mind central, rather than a side effect of physical law.

          15 – Materialism requires reductionism; therefore the failure of reductionism requires an alternative to materialism.

          But if no plausible reduction is available, and if denying reality to the mental continues to be unacceptable, that suggest that the original premise, materialist naturalism, is false, and not just around the edges.

          16 – My guiding conviction is that mind is not just an afterthought or an accident or an add-on, but a basic aspect of nature.

          Science is driven by the assumption that the world is intelligible. That is, the world in which we find ourselves, and about which experience gives us some information can be not only described but understood…Without the assumption of an intelligible underlying order, which long antedates the scientific revolution, those discoveries could not have been made. What explains this order?

          17 – The intelligibility of the world is no accident. Mind, in this view, is doubly related to the natural order. Nature is such as to give rise to conscious being with minds; and it is such as to be comprehensible to such beings.

          18 – The intelligibility that makes science possible is one of the things that stand in need of explanation.

          20 – The fundament elements and laws of physics and chemistry have been inferred to explain the behavior of the inanimate world. Something more is needed to explain how there can be conscious, thinking creatures whose bodies and brains are composed of those elements.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            Hi Len,

            Thanks for the quotes. Let’s get into it:

            “Physico-chemical reductionism in biology is the orthodox view, and any resistance to it is regarded as not only scientifically but politically incorrect.”

            I see this stated now and then, usually from a religious point of view. What I never see is a scientific alternative that can actually be tested. If a materialistic model is the only one open to empirical investigation, why shouldn’t we use it? If there are alternative models that can be investigated, why aren’t the proponents of these models doing anything about it?

            If the resistance to “physico-chemical reductionism” only consists of armchair critics that aren’t willing to put their ideas to the test, why should anyone care? The reductionism they deride has brought about huge advances in medical science, what exactly has “non-reductionism” contributed?

            “The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes.”

            We’d need some elaboration on what the exact problems are. The fact that Thomas Nagel finds something unbelievable obviously tells us nothing about its veracity.

            “My skepticism is not based on religious belief, or on a belief in any definite alternative. It is just a belief that the available scientific evidence, in spite of the consensus of scientific opinion, does not in this matter rationally require us to subordinate the incredulity of common sense.”

            So he has no alternative, it just runs contrary to his common sense. It seems Thomas Nagel has a problem with science in general. Our common sense is often tainted by cognitive biases and wishful thinking. The whole point of the scientific approach – and the reason for its success – is that it bypasses these problems by only accepting that which is supported by the empirical evidence.

            There have been many occasions where science has opposed common sense and science has always prevailed. Quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity are often counter-intuitive but are supported by mountains of evidence – our GPS navigation system wouldn’t work without the theory of relativity.

            “It is no longer legitimate simply to imagine a sequence of gradually evolving phenotypes, as if their appearance through mutations in the DNA were unproblematic…”

            What exactly is not legitimate? To propose hypotheses? As long as we can test them empirically, they would seem to be an integral part of the scientific method so what’s not legitimate about them? Until Thomas Nagel can explain exactly what the problem is (beyond his own incredulity) and provide an alternative explanation, what he’s offering is an intellectual dead end.

            “With regard to the origin of life, the problem is much harder, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available.”

            Does Nagel offer any specific critique of the models proposed by people like Jack Szostak, John Sutherland, Matthew Powner, Nick Lane, Michael Russell and others? To simply state that the problem is hard seems a bit of a truism – I’m sure all the above mentioned researchers would agree but so what? Beating cancer is obviously a hard problem – should we therefore surmise that “reductionist science” can’t solve it and simply give up? Unsolved problems is the very reason we do science in the first place so to use them as an argument against the scientific method seems a bit odd.

            “Whatever one may think about the possibility of a designer, the prevailing doctrine cannot be regarded as unassailable. It is an assumption governing the scientific project rather than a well-confirmed scientific hypothesis.”

            No-one I know of has made the claim that the “prevailing doctrine” is unassailable. The critique of the proponents of some kind of designer is that they have failed to present any testable hypotheses, which means they’re not contributing to the search for answers to the unanswered questions. So far, “reductionist science” seems to be the only game in town and will remain so until an alternative has been presented.

            “If evolutionary biology is a physical theory—as it is generally taken to be—then it cannot account for the appearance of consciousness and of other phenomena that are not physically reducible. So if mind is a product of biological evolution—if organisms with mental life are not miraculous anomalies but an integral part of nature—than biology cannot be a purely physical science.”

            This seems entirely circular. What justification does Nagel provide for his claim that consciousness is not physically reducible? How does he demonstrate that consciousness is not an emergent property of the physical brain?

            “Materialism requires reductionism; therefore the failure of reductionism requires an alternative to materialism.”

            What failure? To explain consciousness? What specific observation shows that our present model is wrong? What evidence is there that consciousness can exist independently of a physical brain? NDE:s? How has it conclusively been demonstrated that there can be consciousness without any brain activity?

            “But if no plausible reduction is available, and if denying reality to the mental continues to be unacceptable, that suggest that the original premise, materialist naturalism, is false, and not just around the edges.”

            I don’t suggest we deny anything, I’m suggesting we follow the evidence. Nagel seems more interested in making broad, unsubstantiated claims than supporting them with actual, empirical observations. That may be the prerogative of a philosopher but as a skeptic and an empiricist I find it entirely unpersuasive.

            “My guiding conviction is that mind is not just an afterthought or an accident or an add-on, but a basic aspect of nature.”

            What exactly does this mean? What predictions can we derive from this hypothesis and how can we test them?

            “Science is driven by the assumption that the world is intelligible.”

            No, it’s not. Science is driven by our desire to understand how the world works. In order to do science we need only to assume that we exist and that we can make objective observations of the world. Intelligibility requires predictability. The fact that we can make predictions about how the world works which can later be empirically confirmed is not an assupmtion – it’s an observation.

            “What explains this order?”

            The question itself rests on an assumption – that the default state is disorder, making order a mystery that needs explaining. What is the justification for this assumption? Does Nagel provide any reason why it couldn’t be the other way round?

            I realize it’s impossible to get a complete picture of an entire bok from a small collection of quotes but I see nothing here that justifies the claim that consciousness can’t be a product of evolution.

  12. Susan says:

    I don’t argue much these days.

    I only did it in the past to help God confer enlightenment on people.

    But you have to be in the right frame of mind and attitude to receive the enlightenment.

    Reason does not trump a revelation from God.

    Like I said you are just as loved by God as the next person but are you humble enough and in the right state of mind to receive him?

    Don’t deceive yourself. Ask yourself that question and don’t let yourself off the hook. Pray on it.

    You don’t need to win an argument or self vindication. You need a whole new transformed life like everyone does and only Jesus can give it.

    Reply
  13. james warren says:

    I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for more than 40 years. For me, Jesus is “the norm” of the Bible.

    For me, Jesus was a man. I hold that to be a statement of FACT.
    Jesus is also for me Messiah, Lord, God, Son of God, Savior, etc. I hold these to be statements of FAITH.

    So Christianity is all about looking at the man Jesus and seeing the ultimate disclosure of God in him.

    I prefer to let Jesus speak for himself. All of the exalted titles were added to Jesus long after he died.

    The Jesus I pay attention to is the one who described the Kingdom of God on EARTH and used parables and powerful short sayings to do so.

    I often catch myself thinking that if believers could stop worshiping Christ and start following Jesus then nothing would stop the faith that we love. I am noticing that those theologically elevated terms like Son of God, Redeemer, Savior, Christ, etc. are no longer interesting, compelling or persuadable in today’s global culture.

    Reply
  14. Susan says:

    Christianity isn’t philosophy. We don’t make claims. We assert the truth.

    If you would stop substituting an artificial philosophical language for the truth then you might learn something.

    I am taking off so you can find someone to argue with. Like I said I hardly argue these days. I am more an evangelist than an apologist and just telling the truth is a more direct method of learning things then engaging in mental gymnastics or fisticuffs.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “We don’t make claims. We assert truth”
      The latter is itself a claim. Asserting something doesn’t make it true, or I could just assert than I’m a millionaire! And given the thousands of sects of Christianity, all of whom disagree with each other on at least SOMETHING, it is logically impossible for ALL to be right. So drop the special pleading – you’re making truth claims.
      “I hardly argue these days”
      You should stop completely – you’re terrible at it.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        You know what Andy you just did what every atheist a Christian debates with seems to do.

        You resort to an ad hominem attack and throw the first punch at a person personally.

        You can verbally punch me all day and I can turn my cheek all day and you know what you still didn’t disprove the existence of God.

        All you did was throw a verbal punch or stone.

        Nothing is impossible with God and He still exists no matter how much you spout off about my personal imperfections.

        I never claimed to be perfect.

        Some people like Derek Prince who was a companion of Wittgenstein and a philosophical atheist don’t make an idol out of human logic.

        You could buy Prince’s book and see what he knows that you don’t or you can sit up on message boards verbally abusing Christians. Your choice.

        Whether or not I am perfect doesn’t disprove the existence of God.

        Even if you are smarter than me that doesn’t disprove God.

        Prince is probably smarter than both of us.

        So find Derek Prince’s book Gifts of the Spirit and see his reasoning on how he found God.

        Very few people find God arguing about him. Maybe nobody. God tells us to be diligent seekers of Him.

        All you are doing is trying to dispel Him by substituting my reasoning for His but He still exists no matter how you or I gum up the works.

        Nothing is impossible with God.

        Ad hominem all day…..I am used to it….I have argued with hundreds of atheists and they always throw the first verbal punch (ad hominem attack).

        Why do you do that? Is it impossible for you to respect the image of God in everyone?

        Go read Prince and stop resorting to antics….You did resort to intellectual fisticuffs just like I said you would when you resorted to an ad hominem argument against me.

        Like I said ….ad hominem against me….all day…but it makes you look mean spirited and it doesn’t disprove God exists.

        Nothing is impossible with God.

        You need God, Andy. For Him to give you more peace and self control if nothing else. But He also gives all the gifts of the spirit to those that ask for them like Paul said to do.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Susan, you keep saying you’re going to stop but then keep going! You’re complaint of an ad hominem would hold weight if I was saying you’re wrong due to some reason other than your poor and easily debunked arguments. I haven’t done that. You keep telling me read this or that, but haven’t yourself once addressed the points I’ve made in reply to your arguments.
          “All you did was throw a verbal punch or stone”
          I think perhaps you’re confusing my posts with someone else’s. I pointed out why your points failed. In response you avoided the point by loftily claiming yourself immune from needing to defend your burden of proof.
          “Even if you are smarter than me that doesn’t disprove God”
          I never claimed it did. I addressed the points Wallace made in his above blog, and I answered your points. At no point have I argued there is no God.

          Reply
  15. Susan says:

    Well have a good day. I am not arguing. I am trying to correct your perspective. These forums are not ideal places to argue.

    If you want to know who God is then you can’t argue Him into or out of existence. You have to play by God’s rules and build an understanding of exactly who He is from the ground floor up based on the scriptures.

    A Christian has an experiential encounter with God. See John 3:3-5 and John 6:44.

    Do you know if any of those fallen away Christians had an experiential encounter with God or not? Or are they some superficial statistic taken from a poll based on labels? A Christian has substance though and an experiential encounter with God and polls don’t even know to ask things like that.

    These arguments backed up by stats are deceptive. I don’t know if any of those Christians who reasoned their way from Christianity that you mentioned had an experiential experience of God, do I? How do I know they aren’t just weak to temptation and decided to pretend God doesn’t exist to suit themselves?

    Stats don’t always prove what you think. You can punch holes in statistic methodolgies, etc.

    Well anyways I told you about Prince because some how he was smart enough to seek to know the right way.

    I have spent years reading some of the best Bible teachers grounded on God’s perspective not the world’s so why would I use the world’s ways to communicate when it is better to use God’s perspective and ways to determine things?

    I am after the family relationship with God. So was Prince apparently because he said he was an unbeliever yet he converted. I was never an unbeliever at any time in my life. I came close to being an agnostic briefly but thank God I never fell into that strongly.

    I ran into a woman once who said she was agnostic and that thatnwas better than being a Christian and I asked her why and she told me that she thought questioning was more humble or some such nonsense. She seemed determined to be agnostic.

    But as I told her there is no reason to question anything unless you get an answer.

    Imagine I ask someone where the bathroom is and I didn’t get a clear answer.

    That is nonsense. Someone sowed a spirit of confusion in the woman’s head and she is congratulating herself on not being able to make up her own mind on an existential life changing matter with eternal destiny implications.

    That’s like saying where’s the door while your house is burning down instead of deciding to go out the nearest door or window when it is right beside you.

    But people get their egos wrapped around all kinds of silly notions.

    I have to get off line soon. I am in the middle of home repairs and moving.

    So nice talking to you. I hope you manage to start trying to see things from God’s perspective. That is why He gave the Bible, y’know.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Imagine I ask someone where the bathroom is and I didn’t get a clear answer”
      I’d prefer someone admitted they don’t know where it is than confidently send me in the wrong direction.
      Good luck with your home repairs.

      Reply
  16. Andy Ryan says:

    “Imagine I ask someone where the bathroom is and I didn’t get a clear answer”
    I’d prefer someone admitted they don’t know where it is than confidently send me in the wrong direction.
    Good luck with your home repairs.

    Reply
  17. Len Johnson says:

    Good morning, KR

    First off, Thomas Nagel is a smart guy—a highly respected scholar who was widely admired in the atheist world as one of their spokesman until he wrote “Mind and Cosmos.” He can defend the reasons for his skepticism better than I. If you are really looking for an explanation for his skepticism, you’ll have to read the book or correspond with him directly.

    Re peer review: Are you referring to the establishment gatekeepers who decide which articles toe the party line? A better question would be are any of these NDE events recounted by Dr. Sabone and numerous other authors true. If one is true than naturalism is false. Of course, you have to discount them.

    The two big problems with the naturalism worldview—one, it lacks explanatory power, and, two, you can’t live with it.

    “Just-so” stories are just that—Kiplingesque speculation that would only satisfy a child or one who wants to believe. Like you, I am a skeptic who wants to see the evidence. Explanations of how matter might have produced immaterial entities like consciousness and information are not evidence or very satisfying to those of us who are not true believers.

    If naturalism is true, human life is simply an interesting anomaly in the universe. It would be a cruel joke except there is no joker. I guess natural selection could be considered the joker if she were teleological. My love for my wife is just a survival mechanism?? Boy, that’s great to know.

    Enjoy your day! Len

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “The two big problems with the naturalism worldview—one, it lacks explanatory power”
      Odd statement. Methodical naturalism has explained a huge amount. By contrast, citing the supernatural doesn’t explain anything. It’s just explaining a mystery with a bigger mystery. How many times in history have people used the supernatural to explain something only for it to be ultimately discovered that a natural explanation is the right one? Clue: Many times. It never happens the other way around.
      “It would be a cruel joke except there is no joker”
      Sorry, but ‘X is true because I don’t like the alternative’ is not a compelling argument.
      “Boy, that’s great to know”
      Anyone I know who failed to repent to exactly the right God before they died is now in hell? Boy, that’s great to know.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Some people don’t believe in hell. It’s too bad people in philosophical circles want to beat the problem of evil and justification til it’s a dead horse but they won’t research afterlife positions.

        Reply
    • KR says:

      Hi Len!

      “First off, Thomas Nagel is a smart guy—a highly respected scholar who was widely admired in the atheist world as one of their spokesman until he wrote “Mind and Cosmos.””

      I’m sure Nagel is a smart guy but there are plenty of other smart guys that find his thesis unconvincing. It’s not Nagel’s intelligence that’s being questioned, it’s the validity of his ideas. I’ve read an abbreviated defense of those ideas that Nagel wrote for New York Times in 2013 and I’ve also read some reviews of the book. All in all, the impression I got from the quotes you provided hasn’t changed: Nagel makes sweeping statements that he seems to believe should be accepted as a given (i.e. that reductionist science can’t explain consciousness) without bothering to provide much of a justification for them. This isn’t likely to convince a skeptic.

      One of the reviewers, physicist Sean Carroll, points out that if it’s true that the laws of physics cannot account for consciousness, this means that matter must have somehow deviated from these laws for consciousness to ever come into existence in the first place. In other words, we can derive a clear prediction from Nagel’s thesis: we should be able to observe deviations from the laws of physics, not just in conjunction with consciousness but also in non-conscious matter. The problem with this is obviously that the laws of physics is the sum total of everything we’ve been able to observe concerning the behaviour of matter and energy. If we had observed deviations from what we considered to be laws of physics, those laws would obviously have been adjusted accordingly.

      “Re peer review: Are you referring to the establishment gatekeepers who decide which articles toe the party line?”

      No, I’m referring to the best system we have for evaluating the quality and validity of scientific research. Anyone can claim that their work is being unfairly excluded from peer-reviewed journals but if you want to convince me that valid brain research is being silenced by partisan gatekeepers you need to show me that this research has actually been submitted to peer-reviewed journals and refused on dubious grounds. There are also plenty of non-peer reviewed journals where research articles can be published on-line, has evidence (including data and methods) of immaterial minds been presented in any such journal?

      I find it difficult to believe that actual, verifiable evidence of non-physical consciousness could be kept out of the public domain, considering the importance such a finding would have and the many people with big pockets and well-oiled media operations that would be interested in spreading the word. We would simply never hear the end of it. If someone claims to have explosive new evidence that would put mainstream science on its head but doesn’t publish it in a way that makes it actually testable, my bs-meter will immediately go into the red.

      ““Just-so” stories are just that—Kiplingesque speculation that would only satisfy a child or one who wants to believe. Like you, I am a skeptic who wants to see the evidence. Explanations of how matter might have produced immaterial entities like consciousness and information are not evidence or very satisfying to those of us who are not true believers.”

      Science is about constructing models that explain the observed data. If you or anyone else have a better model than the current one, let’s see it. Nagel seems completely uninterested in providing one.

      “If naturalism is true, human life is simply an interesting anomaly in the universe. It would be a cruel joke except there is no joker. I guess natural selection could be considered the joker if she were teleological. My love for my wife is just a survival mechanism?? Boy, that’s great to know.”

      As you yourself stated, the question that matters is: is it true? So what if life is just “an interesting anomaly” from some kind of distant, impersonal vantage point. That’s not where we’re viewing it from, is it? From my perspective, life is amazing and precious. Could this subjective experience be the result of completely deterministic (or possibly random) forces of nature? I don’t see why not. As far as I’m aware, these forces are the only ones we’ve been able to observe. If you think there are other forces at play, show me the data.

      Reply
  18. Susan says:

    Naturalism has really made a hash out of some people’s spiritual sensibility.
    When it teaches a person to suppress their abilities to form a relationship with a higher power in favor of other explanations then a great hoax could have been played on the naturalist.

    The more information you have and the more choices the more confusing this world can be.

    So people start to create science to help them form knowledge based opinions and start to substitute it for their own reasoning faculty.

    But it could be science just becomes a barrier to forming a relationship with God and if you take too much pride in what you know then you become too self involved to seek to know God any more but it bothers you that you feel like an outcast of society so you start to find fault with the people different from yourself. If you can’t fit in then you can do what Dawkins does and lambast them.

    But it wasn’t impossible for Dawkins to be both an evolutionist and a theist. He just chose to be. There are famous evolutionists who are Christians.

    So a belief in naturalism and a belief in God aren’t mutually exclusive but a person could make them that way in his own mind.

    A naturalist is just reasoning from the earth upwards.

    While a theist is reasoning from the heavens downwards.

    And Jesus is in the middle between heaven and earth reconciling the two.

    So you can have a downward self limiting view or you can have an upward more motivated view of life.

    Faith is motivational. It isn’t self limiting.

    There are people in this world that have faced such serious trials that they claim that only God brought them through all of them..

    I think everyone should have a good Bible education but most of the world doesn’t seem to be receiving it for one reason or another. No wonder so many people make mountains out of molehills in their own minds.

    But if God is in charge then the mountains recede into mole hills for those who believe in Him. Like the Red Sea Crossing. That Red Sea must have looked like an impossible obstacle for the Israelites to cross until God parted the waters.

    People suffer from all kinds of problems in the Bible but the Bible also shows God resolving them all.

    It’s just some people can follow directions and take direction from God and some people can’t.

    See Deuteronomy 28. The blessings and curses passage in the Bible. Who gets blesssed and why?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *