The Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye “Post-Debate” Round Up

Just as expected, the much anticipated and hyped debate between Kan Ham (CEO of Answers in Genesis) & Bill Nye (the “Science” Guy) sparked a “mini-blizzard” of blogs and articles from people on both sides of the debate (I guess this is just one more to add to the pile).

Ham-Nye debate

If you happened to miss the debate, it will be posted here on the AiG (Answers in Genesis) website and will also available for purchase. An estimated three million people viewed the debate which was streamed live from the internet to schools, churches and colleges across America and around the world.

It is certainly easy to play “Monday morning quarterback” on these sorts of debates. Both men are to be admired for being willing to stand “in the arena” and defend their respective views and take criticism.

I thought both men handled themselves admirably, although I must say that I thought Nye was more personable and passionate when he was speaking which certainly plays to his favor rhetorically. One of Ken Ham’s strongest moments, I thought, was when he played the clips of various PhD. scientists who are  creationists and have either invented useful technologies [MRI] or have conducted peer-reviewed research, undercutting Nye’s claim that a belief in Divine creation stifles or limits science.

Nearly everyone has thoughts on what “should have been said” or “what kinds of evidence should have been used.”

I read though the various blogs and articles, however, I came across several great points which I will highlight in a moment.

Originally, I had planned on writing a point-by-point critique and evaluation of the debate, but since that has already been done on numerous other sites (which I will list below for your consideration); instead, I will review just a couple of my personal expectations on what I thought the debate would accomplish (I originally shared all six on my personal Facebook page) and whether or not they “played out” as I expected.

1. Both debaters represent a popular understanding of the respective positions on this debate (Faith & Science). It will certainly not be settled in this debate, but will spark even more debate and reams of new blogs from apologists scrambling to distance themselves from “Simple minded” creationists like Ken Ham.

As expected, I remain unconvinced that someone who was watching the debate last night will walk away with a deeper and more enlightened understanding of this complex issue (i.e. faith and science and their compatibility).

There’s certainly nothing wrong with public speakers who try to popularize complex ideas and communicate them to an broad audience (that’s what I do!), but I don’t believe that these two gentlemen were the best representatives of their respective “camps.”

As a friend of mine pointed out last night, “…they both seemed like they were giving infomercials for their respective audiences.” I agree.

Also expected and fulfilled were the reams of new blogs and articles from apologists offering alternative explanations and perspectives (I guess this one is a self-fullfilled prophecy!).

2. As a classically trained apologist (in the vein of Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, Geisler, et. al.), I cringe at the very likely possibility that Ham will “…beg the question” in his presuppositional approach to defending the Bible. When and if he uses evidence, I will rejoice and be glad.

The question that was debated was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” While this is a good question, it actually doesn’t get at the root issue which is whether or not a theistic God exists and what evidence, if any points to His existence.

At CrossExamined we don’t take an official position on the age of the earth. We have students and supporters who defend each of the mainline views on origins (i.e. Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism, etc…).

That said however, we confidently stand on evidence in support of our belief in a personal, all-powerful, space-less, timeless, immaterial Creator. We leave it to Christians to sift the evidence for themselves, as to whether or not the earth is young or old.

The question of the age of the earth is a “second order question.” The question of God’s existence is a “first order question.” In dialoguing and debating non-believers, we should not front-load the conversation with secondary questions. Establishing God’s existence is primary.

Last night Ken Ham’s very starting point for science was the Bible itself and the age of the earth. The only problem with that is that Bill Nye and perhaps millions of others, don’t accept the Bible as true because they don’t believe there is a God.

My criticism isn’t necessarily leveled against Ken Ham’s Young Earth Creationism (or some of the other evidences he presented), rather it’s against the WAY that he argued which is just as important. In beginning with the Bible, he put the cart before the horse.

Let me be perfectly clear – I am a staunch defender of Biblical inerrancy, but in order for inerrancy to be philosophically true, Truth (with a capital “T”) must exist, God must exist and naturalism (as a worldview) must be false. The space-time universe is not a closed system, so miracles and the supernatural are very reasonable possibilities.

3. The truth of Romans 1 & Psalm 19 has been in full operation since the creation of the world when there were no publicly hyped debates.

One of the great things about God’s Word is that its truths are timeless and ever relevant.

Creation itself (which is silent yet vocal – Psa. 19:3-4) is the greatest evidence for the Creator. The evidence is so great and overwhelming that there is no debate – all men are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). The age of the earth wasn’t an issue when Paul penned Romans, yet he tells us that “everyone can know that there is a Creator.”

Below are a few blogs that I found especially helpful in illuminating and evaluating the Nye/Ham debate.

Helpful Blogs About the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate On Feb 4th, 2014

Casey Luskin (Discovery Institute) Old Earth Creationist 

David Coppedge (Creation Writer) Young Earth Creationist 

Melissa Cain Travis (Houston Baptist University) Old Earth Creationist

Dr. Albert Mohler (President, Southern Seminary) Young Earth Creationist 

 

 

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207 replies
  1. Duncan Edge says:

    You nailed this one Ted! I did not see the debate but from what I’ve heard from those who did… I immediately concluded that Ham would have been better off debating the origin of the cosmos rather than the age. The moral argument as well. Great post!

    Reply
  2. Wesley Watson says:

    The whole time I was watching the debate, I kept thinking, “Man, I wish Frank Turek was up there defending God and creation.” Maybe this debate will lead to other high-profile public debates.

    Reply
  3. Stephen B says:

    You can sum up the respective positions of the two men this way:
    What would change your mind?
    Ham: “Nothing”
    Nye: “Evidence”.

    Ham’s position seems to be that we can’t know anything if we weren’t there to witness it, which pretty much rules out the whole of forensic science.

    The debate was a complete walkover for Nye – even Christian websites are running polls showing 90+% support for Nye as the victor in the debate.

    Reply
  4. Charles says:

    I haven’t seen this debate either but I am not surprised from what I’ve been hearing. It seems it was about as predictable as the outcome of the ’92 Olympic Basketball Tournament. I was listening to a podcast last night with a Christian physicist who’s debated Ham before who was discussing the debate. I like both Ham’s and Nye’s charisma and they are both likeable but they seem to be the polar extremes of both theistic and atheistic camps and not very convincing. I’m looking forward to watching it when I get a chance.

    Reply
  5. Toby says:

    I agree with Stephen. Ham comes right out and says that he wouldn’t change his mind because god has revealed himself to him. Which is the same thing that William Lane Craig says and Frank as well.These arguments are just rhetorical toys, far removed from any actual reasons people believe (which is why the majority [nearly all] of believers I talk to have never heard of any of these arguments). Apologists arguments belong in religion or philosophy classes and have nothing to do with science.

    Ham very clearly makes arguments from authority. “Look, scientists that are creationists, therefore creation should be taught in schools!” That’s not evidence for creationism, it’s evidence that there are scientists that can believe in creationism.

    Nye was very much right that you cannot make any predictions about the world with creationism. It’s an unprovable answer. It’s an answer before a question is even asked.

    Reply
    • Queezer says:

      There is room to nay Nye too as Bible concepts hint at knowledge requiring at least 20th century insights and technology. Testable? Who could know the end from the beginning but God? The Christians’ “ancient book” seems right up to date in every age to the present.
      The Bible describes complexifying information flowing from an adequate Source to establish in an orderly fashion what we’ve always perceived as our physical universe. Non biblical scolars have also concluded there is promise in basing our anaysis of obervations in a root of information content. Some liken our world to a writing, one big message. Since 1953 we’ve agreed there is writing in our cells, stored in what was first called a “blueprint molecule.” Creationism predicts with outstanding accuracy as man’s investigation power increases.

      Reply
  6. Luke says:

    Was anyone else really surprised by this:

    At CrossExamined we don’t take an official position on the age of the earth. We have students and supporters who defend each of the mainline views on origins… We leave it to Christians to sift the evidence for themselves, as to whether or not the earth is young or old.

    I was under the mistaken impression that the apologists here accepted the orthodox scientific view of the formation of the universe (big bang, formation of atoms, formation of stars, formation of planets, etc.). I’m honestly shocked — and I don’t think that’s too strong of a word — to read this.

    So much of the argumentation used by Dr. Turek relies on the scientifically accepted age and formation of the universe, that this position, honestly, doesn’t make much sense to me.

    I was just surprised.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  7. Charles says:

    “What about Nye do you find unconvincing?”

    I’m listening to it as we speak and what I was referring to before was in his Youtube videos and found his arguments against teaching creation in schools not convincing.

    From what I am hearing now is that Nye has as skewed an idea of biblical theology as Ken Ham has of verifiable and falsifiable scientific evidence. The two are really only missing each other in regards to a)worldview, b)theology, and c)context of the culture and language of Scripture. For instance; the book of Job is placed in the Canon with poetic books because of its literary structure but has a rather detailed account of creation that could support an old earth/universe. Job’s account was written before Genesis yet expounds upon the Genesis account with details that support it as well as natural science.

    What many fail to look at is the culture of the time and fail to use careful exegesis to determine what the writers were actually saying in order to interpret correctly. This is to try to get as close as possible to knowing what people were thinking 2000 to 4500 years ago. I don’t see how science and theology contradict.

    One thing I do agree with Ken Ham on is this notion that ancient people were somehow not as intelligent as people are today. Frankly, and I’ve mentioned this before; its possible they may have been more intelligent than us. Technological advances are great but too much reliance on evolving technology takes us further away from fundamental knowledge. Just think of Morse Code versus satellite communications. If the economy were to tank and grids began to overload causing a catastrophic communications loss; how would we transmit important information? (I know Ham Radio exists; but I’m just using Morse Code as an example if we lost everything – and to avoid the pun.)

    Reply
  8. Charles says:

    “At CrossExamined we don’t take an official position…”

    Luke,

    Maybe the key word here is the word “take”. In other words; they are simply reluctant to subscribe to one position unlike some other Christian sites. Instead; they probably would rather leave this matter as subjective to the individual to encourage free thinking. IMHO.

    Reply
  9. Luke says:

    Charles said: Maybe the key word here is the word “take”. In other words; they are simply reluctant to subscribe to one position unlike some other Christian sites. Instead; they probably would rather leave this matter as subjective to the individual to encourage free thinking. IMHO.

    Charles, I totally get that.

    What I’m saying is that crossexamined.org is saying something like this:

    “We can know G-d exists because science tells us that the big bang happened 13.7b years ago, not that we’re saying that the big bang happened 13.7b years ago.”

    Is that in any way an unfair summary? (I’m totally open to being wrong on this. It’s an honest question.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  10. Charles says:

    “Is that in any way an unfair summary?”

    Luke,

    I see your point. Written like that it does sound self defeating. I mean; they obviously hold a position but maybe its just not “official”. Who knows? Perhaps they are still working out that detail for themselves and leaving it open to discovery.

    Reply
    • Matt Cash says:

      Charles and Luke:

      This bit of info may help.

      Frank Turek has gone on record saying that the age of the universe, with regards to the creation debate, doesn’t matter. The universe needed a creator whether the Big Bang happened six thousand years ago or 13 billion years ago.

      Reply
  11. Marc says:

    I, too, admit that Bill Nye was the better presenter in the debate. However, Ken Ham was the one who actually understood and addressed the real issue. The crux of Ken’s argument was not that we can’t know about the past because we weren’t there. The issue, which only Ham addressed, is that of presuppositions. We all have the same evidence, but we are going to interpret it according to our presuppositions. It’s unfortunate that there was no cross examination period so that Ken could have brought this out more, because frankly, most people listening to the debate will not have picked up on it. People just don’t think at that level anymore.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      We all understand Ham’s ‘issue’ – it’s just a completely unworkable and pointless issue, and self-defeating too. He denies the very basis of science while enjoying all its benefits. Ham sees it as a ‘presupposition’ that someone’s finger prints don’t change from one day the next, so he’d deny that finger print evidence should be admissible in court. In fact, the whole of forensic science should be chucked out, according to his viewpoint. It’s nonsense.

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Ham’s position (which I agree with) is that without the Christian worldview there is no rational justification for believing in the uniformity of nature. Nye simply assumes (but has no rational justification for his assumption) that the future will be like the past. That the finger print evidence will not change overnight. Ham brought this up multiple times in the debate and Nye never responded. In that sense Nye is piggybacking off the Christian worldview even as he denies the existence of GOD.

        Reply
      • Mike says:

        Ham’s position (which I agree with) is that without the Christian worldview there is no rational justification for believing in the uniformity of nature. Nye simply assumes (but has no rational justification for his assumption) that the future will be like the past. That the finger print evidence will not change overnight. Ham brought this up multiple times in the debate and Nye never responded. In that sense Nye is persupposing the Christian worldview even as he denies the existence of GOD.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          Wait a minute, we’re told miracles are evidence of God, as they show the uniformity of nature being broken, and that would require a supernatural intervention. Now you’re telling us that miracles would actually be evidence AGAINST the existence of God, as they would suggest nature isn’t uniform? Make up your mind!

          Which is it – would someone’s fingerprints changing be evidence of supernatural, or are their fingerprints staying the same evidence of supernatural? If the latter, what’s your justification for that?

          Reply
          • Mike says:

            A miracle is an exception to the rule. The fact that there is an exception to the rule doesn’t eliminate the rule. The problem for atheists is that they have no rational justification for believing there are such things as laws of nature. Sciense does not make sense within an atheistic worldview. All an atheist can say is that in the past we have seen what appear to be regularities in nature. They have no justification for believing these regularities apply to anything not observed.

          • Mike says:

            To directly answer your question – in the Christian worldview, GOD is not an arbitrary GOD that violates the laws of nature for no reason at all. Thats why miracles are so rare. Thats why I would be sceptical if someone claimed a miracle. Personally, if it became clear there was no natural explanation I would consider it a miracle. And I do believe miracles occur. But I would not appeal to miracles as evidence for GOD.

          • Mike says:

            One thing I need to clarify in my last statement. When I said that I would not appeal to miracles as evidence for GOD I meant that I use a presuppositional approach – as opposed to an evidencial approach – to apologetics. This approach shows that the atheistic worldview can’t account science, logic, etc and thus reduces to irrationality while the Christian worldview does account for science, logic, ethics, etc and so should be accepted. That’s all I was trying to say.

          • Stephen B says:

            “no rational justification for believing there are such things as laws of nature”

            The laws are descriptive, not prescriptive. They simply describe how we’ve observed things work. Saying we’ve no reason to believe they exist is nonsensical. We observe them. If the laws changed it would be evidence for the supernatural. Things staying the same is what happens when no outside influence works on them.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            “Things staying the same is what happens when no outside influence works on them.”

            And how do you know that? How exactly did you come to have this insight into the ultimate nature of reality?

          • Stephen B says:

            “And how do you know that?”

            It’s the argument Christians are always offering! That everything needs a cause. Again, you guys need to make up your mind. I’m always hearing apologists saying that everything that happens needs a cause – now you’re saying that without a God we should expect the laws of nature to suddenly randomly change for no reason. Which is it?

            Can you give me an example of a ‘law of nature’ that you think might not stay the same if there wasn’t a God? Can you give an example of how that might play out? Can you explain why it is unreasonable to assume, say, that someone’s finger prints won’t change, given that we know of no mechanism that could affect that change?

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            No, I want you to answer my question. You asserted that “Things staying the same is what happens when no outside influence works on them.” So presumably the laws of physics will stay the same as always because no outside influence (I assume you mean God) works on them. Fine, I’m simply asking how you know what you claim to know. Did you find this in a physics book? No, you made it up!

          • Stephen B says:

            I didn’t make it up, and I already explained why.

            The laws of logic are axiomatic. To suggest they could be any other way is nonsensical – you contradict yourself as soon as you attempt to deny the laws of non-contradiction.

            If there are other laws you’re talking about, that you think need an explanation, please let me know what they are. Meanwhile, you refuse to answer any if my own questions, or explain what non-supernatural force is meant to be changing these laws, or how they’re meant to change on their own.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            I didn’t say anything about the laws of logic. I asked about the laws of physics. You asserted that “Things staying the same is what happens when no outside influence works on them.” So how do you know that the laws of physics (for example the law of gravity) aren’t going to change because no external influence is affecting them? The only one in a position to answer that question is GOD and you are certain not him. So go ahead and give it a shot. Tell me how you know what you claim to know.

            As for your other questions, why should I respond when you haven’t answered my first question.

          • Stephen B says:

            If the laws of gravity were going to suddenly stop, are you really saying that would be more evidence that God does NOT exist than that God DOES exist? That’s nonsense. If such a thing happened Theists all over the world would be claiming it was proof of the supernatural! We know how gravity works – look up your Einstein. Why would that change?

            And I’m trying to answer your questions.

          • Stephen B says:

            By contrast, you cannot have any faith that the laws will remain constant. Not only is the bible lacking any promises that they’ll stay the same (unless you loosely interpret the most oblique of references), it actually has many examples where God actually DOES suspend the laws. You can say it’s rare but you have no idea how rare it actually would be – how do you know He doesn’t tinker around all the time for reasons you can’t fathom? If you’re going to play ‘how do you know’, how do you know the God of the bible isn’t just another God’s creation, or that the God of the bible isn’t tricking you all the time for his own amusement. To say a God if the nature you believe him to have wouldn’t do that is simply begging the question.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            “No, Mike, if you want to assert the laws of nature can change it’s up to you to propose the mechanism that would change them. Several times you’ve failed to propose one. I’ll give you another chance to offer one” Actually at that point in the conversation you were the one making the assertion and I was simply pointing that you had not provided a justification for your assertion.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            “Problem is, you have to ASSUME that God isn’t tricking you in order for you to trust the Bible’s promise that God is making the world intelligible.” Just like you have to ASSUME there aren’t evil demons messing around with your science experiments. Tell me, why is it that you are doing exactly what you are accusing me of doing?

            “Introducing an all-powerful being into science makes any knowledge impossible – it requires far more assumptions. There’s no experiment whose results couldn’t be influenced or altered by this being.” Exactly. The only way knowledge is possible is if there is an all powerful God who is morally trustworthy. Exactly like the God of the Bible. If there is no God then there is no justification for supposing the uniformity of nature and induction goes out the window. The world reduces to complete insanity. But if this God is the trickster you talked about the world also reduces to insanity. The only way we can have a sane world is if we have a morally trustworthy God (just like the God of the Bible). And since we both agree that the world isn’t insane (after all, why are we having this conversation if we don’t agree it’s sane) the God of the Bible must exist. That’s why I always argue for the God of the Bible and not some generic God.

          • Stephen B says:

            “Just like you…”

            Right, so you agree your position is no better than mine.

            “The only way knowledge is possible is if there is an all powerful God who is morally trustworthy.”

            Even if that were true, there’s no way you can know it’s true. It’s an unfalsifiable proposition – it’s impossible for you to tell the difference between that reality and one created by an untrustworthy trickster God.

            Meanwhile, as I pointed out before, we have Laws such as gravity, which we explain via theories such as Relativity. The latter is quite sufficient to explain the former, without any need to reference a God. You say the world be insane without a God, but give no reason why. A ‘clockwork universe’ that obeys strictly deterministic laws is one that is at least in theory understandable and predictable. And guess what? Science relies on such a universe existing without supernatural intervention. If such an idea disturbs you then stop enjoying the fruits of a discipline grounded in methodological naturalism.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            “Right, so you agree your position is no better than mine.” No, my position is not like yours. But why can’t you answer why question? Why do you think if is OK to evaluate my worldview according to a standard that you would never allow your worldview to be evaluated by. Why do you think it is OK to use double standards?

            “You say the world be insane without a God, but give no reason why.” Are you serious? I have asked you time after time for your justification in presupposing the uniformity of nature. And no matter how many times I ask you can’t explain how you know what you claim to know. You have no justification for assuming the uniformity of nature. Got it? I am talking about epistemology here. How do you know what you claim to know? And if you have no justification for presupposing the uniformity of nature you have no justification for assuming the validity of induction and thus no justification for the validity of the scientific method. This is just one example how a worldview without God reduces to absurdity. Science only makes sense within a theistic worldview. Science presupposes God. Why don’t you read up on the problem of induction? I get the impression the point I am making is not getting thru.

            “Even if that were true, there’s no way you can know it’s true. It’s an unfalsifiable proposition” No, if the Christian worldview is true then I am justified in believing in GOD’s revelation because if the Christian worldview is true then GOD is who he says he is. Only GOD (the Biblical God) provides an adequate foundation for human knowledge and rationality. The ultimate proof for the existence of GOD is that without the Christian worldview we couldn’t know anything.

          • Stephen B says:

            “No, my position is not like yours.”

            It is – you admitted it was, and I pointed out why too. You keep asking me to answer your questions, and I do, even though your questions don’t really make sense. Meanwhile you don’t even attempt to answer mine.

            “No, if the Christian worldview is true…”

            Right, you start with a massive ‘IF’, and then proceed from there. Problem, as I said, you’ve no way of telling IF it is. You can only say that IF it is you are justified in believing in it. But that justification is only there IF it is true… and you’ve no way of telling IF it is.

            “I have asked you time after time for your justification in presupposing the uniformity of nature”

            So you’re refusing to answer questions because you think I’m not answering? Why not just take the high ground then and be the one who answers? It just comes across like you’re giving excuses. At any rate, the obvious answer to your question is this:
            That science works is our justification.

            It WORKS. Perhaps you haven’t noticed how stunningly successful methodological naturalism is as an approach to investigating what’s going on in the world. If nature was random and non-uniform – if it was subject, for example, to supernatural intervention – the scientific method simply wouldn’t work. Perhaps we’d have adopted some other method by now. Or perhaps we’d still be blaming disease on demons and earthquakes on unhappy Gods.

            If you want to offer any examples of non-uniformity then I’ll happily examine them. So far… zip. Uniformity seems to be what we have (quantuum stuff notwithstanding) and so uniformity is what we expect until counter-examples arise. This is simple pragmatism. If you want to suggest I’m not justified in expecting the sun to rise tomorrow, given that it’s done so many billions of times before, you need to explain WHY. Meanwhile, if you have a better system you’d like to propose than the scientific method, lets see what medicines it has developed, what rockets it has built…

            “Science presupposes God”

            Nope, science presupposes a LACK of supernatural intervention. You’ve got it backwards. The laws of nature, as I pointed out before, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They describe what we’ve observed.

            “Why don’t you read up on…”

            Nope again. I gave you a video link and you said I had to make any own arguments, so likewise you’ll need to do YOUR own arguing.

            In fact, don’t bother Mike. I’ve wasted enough time going round and round in circles with you. I’m just amused to think that the next time you’re ill it will be the doctors you rely on rather than prayer.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            I’ll only respond to these two points since they illustrate what I have been trying to say:

            “That science works is our justification.” Sorry but pragmatic justification is not rational justification. All this tells you is that science has worked in the past. You are only justified in assuming they will work in the present or future if you presuppose the uniformity of nature – which is what I’ve been asking you to justify.

            “The laws of nature, as I pointed out before, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They describe what we’ve observed.” Right, they only described what has occurred in the past. That does not justify you in assuming that will be the case in the present or future.

          • Toby says:

            Why do you think you’re justified assuming an A-theory of time when physics points towards a B-theory? A-theory being that there are tenses, past, present, future and B-theory that all points in time are equally real.

            Everything inside the universe is described relative to other things inside the universe and there are no preferred or special frames of reference. This is enough justification for anyone to believe that tomorrow gravity will behave exactly the same as it does today because gravity exists in all times.

        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          “We know how gravity works – look up your Einstein. Why would that change? And I’m trying to answer your questions.” But you can’t answer my question. That’s the point I am making.

          You made an assertion that things (such as the laws of physics) are not going to change because no external influence is affecting them. I asked you (twice) how you KNOW that assertion is true. And twice you have failed to explain how you KNOW what you claim to KNOW. And simply asking “why would that change?” is not an explanation of how you KNOW it will not change.

          So you have just demonstrated the irrationality of atheism. You have complete trust in science. But science presupposes the uniformity of nature – that (among other things) the laws of physics will continue as they always have. And you have just demonstrated that you can’t account for the uniformity of nature. That’s one of the best proofs of the existence of GOD – that without GOD you couldn’t know anything – the world reduces to insanity.

          I am using an indirect argument. Indirect arguments prove something is true by showing the assertion of the opposite leads to contradiction (irrationality). And that’s exactly what I have done. You assert the uniformity of nature (you trust in science) but your worldview denies you can know such a thing. Thus we have a contradiction. This principle is also known as Reductio ad adsurdum and it’s used in many places in logic and science. Thus, GOD must exist because to assert no-GOD leads to contradiction.

          “By contrast, you cannot have any faith that the laws will remain constant. Not only is the bible lacking any promises that they’ll stay the same (unless you loosely interpret the most oblique of references)” You are wrong – the Bible says exactly that.

          “it actually has many examples where God actually DOES suspend the laws. You can say it’s rare but you have no idea how rare it actually would be – how do you know He doesn’t tinker around all the time for reasons you can’t fathom?” The Bible says that GOD makes the world intelligible. Thus the sort of scenario you are talking about is not possible.

          “how do you know the God of the bible isn’t just another God’s creation or that the God of the bible isn’t tricking you all the time for his own amusement. To say a God if the nature you believe him to have wouldn’t do that is simply begging the question.” No, it’s not begging the question. The scenarios you are asserting contradict the Christian worldview. So if you want to assert them – fine. But you are criticizing a worldview that is non-Christian. Suppose I altered your worldview and started attacking it. You wouldn’t put up with that for an instant. I am not about to let you get away with that trick either. For your approach to work you have to attach my worldview – the Christian worldview.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            ” And simply asking “why would that change?” is not an explanation of how you KNOW it will not change.”

            No, Mike, if you want to assert the laws of nature can change it’s up to you to propose the mechanism that would change them. Several times you’ve failed to propose one. I’ll give you another chance to offer one.

          • Stephen B says:

            “The scenarios you are asserting contradict the Christian worldview.”

            I didn’t ask if they were compatible with your view, I asked how you know they’re not true. You’ve not answered. I’ll ask again:

            How do you know the God of the bible isn’t just the creation of another God; or that the God of the bible isn’t tricking you all the time for his own amusement?

            This isn’t a ‘trick’, they’re simple questions. Problem is, you have to ASSUME that God isn’t tricking you in order for you to trust the Bible’s promise that God is making the world intelligible. This IS begging the question – effectively it’s ‘God must be telling the truth because he told me he tells the truth’.

            Introducing an all-powerful being into science makes any knowledge impossible – it requires far more assumptions. There’s no experiment whose results couldn’t be influenced or altered by this being. You can’t even say ‘My God wouldn’t do that’, because His motives would be unfathomable to you. You can’t rule out a trickster God, because any evidence you had for another God’s existence could be fake evidence planted by that trickster God!

      • Marc says:

        Would you care to elaborate and back up these assertions? How was his argument self-defeating? How does he deny the basis of science while enjoying its benefits? It’s easy to make such bold assertions. Back them up.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          What, that Ham enjoys the benefits of science is an ‘assertion’, is it? You think he doesn’t use a car, or a TV, or toothpaste? He’s not Amish, is he? Same for you – if you think science rests on irrational assumptions, stop using computers.

          Reply
      • Queezer says:

        ” the whole of forensic science should be chucked out, according to his viewpoint. It’s nonsense.”
        You have the wrong debater. Materialist Nye would say all discussion of complex information content in living things must be banned from government funded schools as religious. That would leave CSI groups removed from police stations to church basements, supported out of their collection plate as charity/outreach.

        Reply
  12. Douglas Jack says:

    I think you did a great critique Ted I hadn’t thought of this approach, “is there truth” ,”does God exist”knowing Nye is agnostic the origins argument Ken used could have been developed. I agree that Ken”s arguments give the appearance circular reasoning, not that the Bible doesn’t stand alone on it’s own merit,but to a skeptic it’s like convincing a 17th century physicist of the theory of flight by using a flight manual. I would like to see a lot more dialogue like this with the Darwinian crowd.

    Reply
  13. Robert says:

    “The whole time I was watching the debate, I kept thinking, “Man, I wish Frank Turek was up there defending God and creation.”

    > It doesn’t matter who tries to defend Christianity. You cannot defend the indefensible. Plus Christians are at a huge disadvantage in a debate with someone who has learned the art of critical thinking because the Christian has been trained to keep their thoughts in captivity. So the Christian mind has been trained not to go certain places. The problem with that is those places are the places where the truth exists. So a Christian has no hope of ever finding the truth.

    Science has the facts and the fossils and religion has its fantasies and nothing else. Frank uses the same worn out arguments that were refuted centuries ago. The difference between Frank and Ham is that Frank has seen every one of his arguments refuted on this very blog, all of the fatal flaws that invalidate them and the logical fallacies they are founded upon have been clearly demonstrated to him. If Frank could have refuted them he surely would have but he did not because he can’t. Yet Frank still makes these arguments in his appearances and on the radio. You can draw your own conclusion on that.

    Reply
  14. Robert says:

    “the Darwinian crowd.”

    Lets’ see. That would be the 8 billion people who live on this particular planet except for a few million, most of whom happen live in the southern rural part of the United States.

    Reply
  15. Charles says:

    “Science has the facts and the fossils and religion has its fantasies and nothing else.”

    Science doesn’t “have” anything. You are also contrasting a model of measurement with organized institutions. Science either verifies or falsifies the information we are able to observe or predict. That’s it; nothing else. Any fantasy involved would be on the part of those who “believe” in the miracle of an effect that somehow doesn’t have a cause.

    Reply
  16. Robert says:

    Charles,
    Are you that literal minded that you cannot grasp the meaning of what I wrote? Or are you nit-picking and playing around with semantics because you don’t have a legitimate objection? Because you don’t. Science does indeed have the facts and the fossils that support its findings including all the findings you disagree with. Religion, Christianity has no facts, no evidence but only the fantasy of an afterlife and the threat if one doesn’t believe in such an absurdity they will be tortured for all eternity. That people can still fall for such an obvious ruse in the 21rst Century is mind-boggling to free-thinkers.

    You believe in an effect that supposedly doesn’t have a cause and you’ve been convinced by other people that this cause is God. However the stuff the universe is made of has always existed just not in its present form. So you see there is no need to imagine there is a God anymore. The universe itself is the uncaused cause giving rise to all other cause and effect. This is not a guess, an opinion, a point of view Charles. This is what we call a fact. It isn’t going to change and it isn’t going to ever be refuted. You can sleep in next Sunday. You’re welcome.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      However the stuff the universe is made of has always existed just not in its present form.

      Matter and energy can certainly change forms… Einstein shows us this. However, your assertion directly contradicts the scientific evidence for the Big Bang, which is still the accepted model of the origin of the universe. Other models have been theorized, but have no experimental data to back them up.

      We do, however, have evidence supporting the laws of thermodynamics, one of which says that energy cannot be created, and another of which says that the usable energy in the universe is running down. You have a problem here if your statement is true:

      1. If your assertion is true, then the energy in the universe was not created, so your ok on that front. However, given an infinite number of days past (you did say “always”), why do we still have available energy?

      2. If your assertion is not true, then something had to kick-start our universe and infuse it with energy… however nothing in our universe can create energy. Where did it come from?

      Reply
      • Toby says:

        If you can assume an infinite amount of time why should it be unreasonable to assume an infinite amount of energy?

        Just a random thought that popped into my head.

        Reply
  17. Queezer says:

    Ham built a $27M museum and created shock wave around the world. He’s all but building on a full-size wood ark replica.
    How about some attaboys and going to him with criticism first? Doesn’t the Bible say take up our differences one to another first? Frank bashed him onair without even knowing his Big Bang position or acknowledging why he leads with Bible statements.
    God blessed with an audience of 3 million and much worldwide TV. Suck up your losses and get out in front with your perfected versions and visions of doctrinal purity.

    Reply
  18. Robert says:

    “Ham built a $27M museum and created shock wave around the world.”

    > What do you expect when billions of people laugh at you all at once?

    “He’s all but building on a full-size wood ark replica.”

    You mean like the 600 year old man built according to the Christian book of fairy tales?

    Reply
  19. apologis says:

    The creationists should have sent Hugh Ross up against Nye. There would have been no contest.
    He is experienced in neutralizing the vacuous arguments of atheists like Peter Stenger and Christopher Hitchens. Those debates are available from reasons.org. Ross was converted from an atheistic view to Christianity from his studies of the universe and God’s word, recognizing the concordance between the two.

    It is unfortunate that the face we put forth is a man who has committed his life to promoting the young-earth position, in spite of all the scientific evidence to the contrary.

    The existence of the AIG multimillion-dollar museum does nothing but further demonstrate conflict between their position and the scientific community.

    Reply
  20. Charles says:

    Robert,

    The point is we all have the same evidence and facts and What you are trying to do is pit science against religion when the two have no actual quarrel. I’ll be honest; self righteous religiosity is the bane of Christian theology but, frankly, you are doing the same exact thing the “religious” have done for centuries. I completely comprehend your point and, no, you can’t usurp the discipline of science as purely atheistic. I, and a myriad of other Christians, don’t refute verifiable scientific developments so don’t assume we’re simple and narrow minded. You just can’t disprove God with the same evidence and it seems to frustrate you.

    Without information intelligence has no reason to exist; there is no purpose for it. So my question to you is this; do you think intelligence can precede information? That is the real argument. As a Christian that supports real science I say yes; it makes sense that information requires intelligence for its existence. From what I’ve heard from every Atheist is information can create itself. That’s the only dispute. So, I’m not afraid of science as it is no threat to faith, theology or the existence of God. Frankly; I believe science and God are supportive of one another and “religion” has the least to do with either.

    Reply
      • Toby says:

        It’s a confusion caused by calling DNA a language or code. They’ve latched on to that starting labeling many things as “information” and contend that all information comes from a grand mind in the sky. I guess otherwise we’d not have information and nothing would make sense and so forth. Essentially they’re saying that without god there would be no stability in the universe (a hydrogen atom would shift at random from hydrogen to mercury to cobalt). They’d have to be saying that because if things were stable then it’d be indistinguishable from the universe we live in and things like H = H would apply without a skygod.

        Reply
      • Terry L says:

        There’s data in tree rings. It’s not information until it is applied.

        It’s a confusion caused by calling DNA a language or code.

        That’s not a misnomer. It’s just as accurate to call the codons in DNA a code as it is to call the opcodes in a program written in a computer’s Assembly language a code. Both carry data and instructions. There’s no practical difference. One happens to run on biological hardware, the other on silicon chips.

        Well, maybe there is one practical difference; DNA carries in it the ability to build the hardware on which it runs. We’ve not yet built a computer that can do that!

        But given that… which came first… the biological hardware (which does nothing without the DNA software, or the DNA code required to build the hardware?

        Reply
  21. Charles says:

    “The creationists should have sent Hugh Ross up against Nye. There would have been no contest.”

    I agree 100%. Dr. Ross’s book “Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job” is a book every Atheist should consider reading.

    Reply
  22. Charles says:

    Stephen B,

    I’m using the word information somewhat descriptively to say that we use intelligence to understand our human experience and everything we sense. So material is and consists of information and allows us to make sense of things. As for Toby’s summation I guess I would agree; somewhat. DNA does contain “information” so why it would be considered a confusion is beyond me. I am not saying information or life can’t be self replicating, mutated or adaptive on its own but I don’t believe it can create itself.

    Reply
    • Toby says:

      Then you’re arguing against abiogenesis. It’s hard to say how rarely it might occur, but in a universe as large and as old as this do you think you have sufficient reason to even suppose it can’t have happened at least once?

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      As I pointed out, information arises naturally all the time. Tree rings are information – they tell you how old the tree is and what sort of seasons the tree lived through. Rain in a puddle is information – it tells you it’s been raining!

      As for life, it’s a continuum. You’ve got mammals at one end, veg in the middle, then at the other end you’ve got bacteria, viruses and then things we struggle to pin down whether they count as ‘life’ or merely chemical reactions.

      Reply
  23. Robert says:

    The point is we all have the same evidence and facts and What you are trying to do is pit science against religion when the two have no actual quarrel.

    > That is as untrue as any lie ever told on this planet. The Christian war on science is well documented and is still being fought today by people like Frank Turek, William Craig, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski and Michael Behe who was upset that his partcular brand of magic, Intelligent Design Magic, wasn’t mentioned in the Ham – Nye debate. Name a scientist from the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th centuries who was not persecuted by Christians.

    I’ll be honest; self righteous religiosity is the bane of Christian theology but, frankly, you are doing the same exact thing the “religious” have done for centuries. I completely comprehend your point and, no, you can’t usurp the discipline of science as purely atheistic.

    > Science doesn’t consider God or the supernatural. One reason is that no one has ever come up with a useful definition for either one of those.

    I, and a myriad of other Christians, don’t refute verifiable scientific developments so don’t assume we’re simple and narrow minded. You just can’t disprove God with the same evidence and it seems to frustrate you.

    > You must be kidding. I certainly can prove there is no God. Of course it’s difficult to prove a negative. However there are a lot of things that should or should not be true if God does or does not exist. For example there is no clear evidence of the existence of any gods which is not surprising of no gods exist. Arguments for God’s existence suffer from irreparable logical flaws, which should not be the case if there really is a God. Religion demands faith and discourages attempts to verify its claims through testing and experimentation. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion has a history of intolerance and violence, and this not likely to be true if there is a God. Science is a very effective way of gaining knowledge. Revelation and scriptural study are not, as people disagree about both and this fact is more likely to be true if there is no God. Religion attempts to suppress outside examination and criticism, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion has cruel, dangerous and repressive doctrines which it is morally incumbent upon us not to support. This should not be true if religion is true. There is a vast amount of religious confusion and disagreement between people who are members of the same religion. This fact is less surprising if there is no God. Religion is fragmented into sects that cannot agree on key issues of doctrine or ethics, and this should not be true of religion is true. Religions emerge in isolated areas and only then spread in space and time, rather than appearing in every society at once. If there is a God this should not be the case. The mind has a physical basis, and this fact is less like to be true if there is a God. There is too much gratuitous evil and unnecessary suffering. This should not be true if there is a God. Naturalism is the norm and supernaturalism cannot be verified which makes perfect sense if there is no God. The Bible contains many contradictions and historical inaccuracies, and this fact is less surprising if there is no God. For the most part belief in God is a force for stagnation and against progress. This should not be true if there is a God. Atheists are no less happy or fortunate than believers and usually more so. This should not be the case if God exists. There you have it. The case against God is a slam dunk. Take off the blinders, consider the evidence and let us know how your de-conversion is going.

    “Without information intelligence has no reason to exist; there is no purpose for it. So my question to you is this; do you think intelligence can precede information?”

    > No I do not. Information gave rise to intelligence. However a scientist named Max Tegmark proved that the universe contains almost no information and those findings have been verified. Creationists refuse to define information so their argument is moot anyway.

    That is the real argument. As a Christian that supports real science I say yes; it makes sense that information requires intelligence for its existence.

    > That is ridiculous. Not only do you deny the findings of biology, you also deny the findings of anthropology, cosmology, archaeology, geology, paleontology and who knows what else. You don’t support science, you hate and fear science. You should be brave enough to admit that.

    From what I’ve heard from every Atheist is information can create itself. That’s the only dispute. So, I’m not afraid of science as it is no threat to faith, theology or the existence of God. Frankly; I believe science and God are supportive of one another and “religion” has the least to do with either.

    > You believe in magic and fairies too.

    “The creationists should have sent Hugh Ross up against Nye. There would have been no contest.”

    > I agree. Nye would have made Ross cry like a little girl. Ross’s origins model is not taught at any college or university with a science department. It doesn’t matter who tries to defend Christianity. You cannot defend the indefensible. Ross must keep his thoughts in captivity like every other believer does. Ross is no different than Ken Ham, Frank Turek or any other Bible believer. These men all deny any finding that disputes what the Bible says. In his respect the Christians who accept evolutionary theory are no different than Ken Ham or any other creationist. Theistic evolution is just as ridiculous as creationism and maybe even more so.

    I agree 100%. Dr. Ross’s book “Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job” is a book every Atheist should consider reading.

    > An elementary school science text book is something every creationist should consider reading. Touche.

    I’m using the word information somewhat descriptively to say that we use intelligence to understand our human experience and everything we sense. So material is and consists of information and allows us to make sense of things. As for Toby’s summation I guess I would agree; somewhat. DNA does contain “information” so why it would be considered a confusion is beyond me. I am not saying information or life can’t be self replicating, mutated or adaptive on its own but I don’t believe it can create itself.

    > Fortunately scientists don’t cling to such unsupportable and dogmatic beliefs. Only people who have been trained to keep their thoughts in captivity cling to such backward beliefs.

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      “Arguments for God’s existence suffer from irreparable logical flaws” Really? Have you examined all arguments for the existence of GOD?

      “Religion has a history of intolerance and violence” Maybe that is because people have a history of intolerance and violence.

      “The Bible contains many contradictions and historical inaccuracies” Asserting it does not make it true.

      Amazing to see someone so completely blind to their own biases and prejudices.

      Reply
  24. Charles says:

    If you believe for one moment that there is a “Christian war on science” then I am afraid your delusions have gotten the best of you. Perhaps a religious war but certainly not a “Christian” war. The faith I and so many others proclaim has nothing to do with war in the sense you speak of. Who is being closed minded now? You know nothing of Christianity if you believe war with others is something Christ represents. You, my friend, have an issue with religion; period.

    Funny thing is I have no problem with that. In fact; if you bother to actually read a Bible you might take notice that “religion” is and was never the point. The direct purpose of religion is separation. I, a Christian, will be the first one to admit the very concept of “religion” was always a bad idea and it isn’t what Christianity is all about. If you’re going to read a Bible you should take the time to understand the context of what it teaches, and why, instead of prejudging the people who believe in it. Religion is not why I do what I do or believe what I believe. What is really sad is your prejudice is so blinding that you’ve never once bothered to realize how much we’ve agreed on with your continued misdirected assumptions.

    It seems you just want to argue for the sake of arguing. You want to talk about unnecessary evil and suffering? Look within yourself and understand that the very attitude you display in your hatred of Theists speaks the same language as the evil and suffering you claim to accuse Christians of.

    As I have posted before; I have neither fear of science nor any hatred toward it and to tell another man what he fears and hates is presumptuous, ignorant and juvenile. I have nothing against Atheists but Militant atheism is nothing more than fuel for racism, sexism and all other forms of hatred. Do you honestly think Yehashua was the proponent of hate? Think for a minute; people are people regardless of belief or lack of belief. Humans are going to do what humans are going to do and that simply means no one is better than anyone else. You hold yourself to the highest moral standards yet you willingly quarrel and sling hateful rhetoric toward people you know nothing about.

    So, if you or any other Atheist wants to discuss religion, science, theology, philosophy or the five o’clock news it might help if you humble yourself and relate at the human level. You might be surprised at what you might learn. You speak of evil and suffering so that tells me that at the end of the day you’re probably a decent person with love and compassion for others but, again, your attitude towards Theists and “religious folks” tells another story.

    As far as science is concerned; you’re right, it doesn’t claim any deity, per se, but that doesn’t in any way rule out a Creator. Your presumptions and opinions may attempt to but science does not. Dawkins, Hawking, Dennett, Krauss, Harris and other militant Atheists have never been able to give empirical 100% proof that God doesn’t exist. The best they have done is to explain how within the closed system of the universe a deity may not be required for life, information or intelligence to exist. They opine that there isn’t a Creator. That is the best they, or you, can do but to indoctrinate society with atheism is no different than zealous religiosity. So, for them to proselytize as they have means atheism is as much a religion as any other.

    Reply
  25. Robert says:

    “Arguments for God’s existence suffer from irreparable logical flaws” Really? Have you examined all arguments for the existence of GOD?

    > Yes. Present any theistic argument right here I and I will prove that it is based upon a logical fallacy. So step up to the plate and I’ll knock your best arguments right out of the park.

    “Religion has a history of intolerance and violence” Maybe that is because people have a history of intolerance and violence.

    > Which comes directly from religion and is promoted by religious holy books.

    “The Bible contains many contradictions and historical inaccuracies” Asserting it does not make it true.

    > What was Solomon’s mother’s name? How many brothers did David have? Was Jesus crucified before or after the passover meal? Answer he questions and I’ll bring down the hammer.

    Amazing to see someone so completely blind to their own biases and prejudices.

    > That’s what you see in the mirror.

    Reply
  26. Luke says:

    Matt said:Frank Turek has gone on record saying that the age of the universe, with regards to the creation debate, doesn’t matter. The universe needed a creator whether the Big Bang happened six thousand years ago or 13 billion years ago.

    But the big bang is a pretty specific event and series of events. If the big bang had happened 6,000 years ago, there would be no earth. (Yes, other creations are very possible and completely plausible, and the world could have been created 6,000 years ago or .00017 seconds ago, but the method of creation could not have involved what we mean when we say ‘big bang’.

    This is like saying 1974 was a good year, whether it happened around 4 decades ago or 3 years ago. It just doesn’t make sense.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  27. Robert says:

    “If you believe for one moment that there is a “Christian war on science” then I am afraid your delusions have gotten the best of you. Perhaps a religious war but certainly not a “Christian” war. The faith I and so many others proclaim has nothing to do with war in the sense you speak of. Who is being closed minded now? You know nothing of Christianity if you believe war with others is something Christ represents. You, my friend, have an issue with religion; period.”

    > In a way you are right because Christian universities started teaching evolutionary theory over hundred years ago. So the Christian academic community is not only not fighting science they are on the front lines and are an integral part of the world’s scientific community. However your average Bible believer knows nothing of this and many assume some brand of creationism is being taught as science in Christian colleges and universities. Creationism has never been taught anywhere. It was bogus long before we discovered evolution by natural selection. So I make a distinction between Christians, about 90 percent of the faith and fundamentlist Bible believers who make up the other 10 percent. When people like William Craig, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Michael Behe write books trying to convince people evolutionary theory is not valid they are continuing a war on science that has raged for centuries. It’s the same with the climate change deniers. And from what I’ve read you are one of these evolution denying Bible believers. If you deny evolution you are in fact denying all science. Science doesn’t come ala cart.

    Funny thing is I have no problem with that. In fact; if you bother to actually read a Bible you might take notice that “religion” is and was never the point.

    > I’ll match my knowledge of the Bible and Koine Greek with anyone.

    “The direct purpose of religion is separation. I, a Christian, will be the first one to admit the very concept of “religion” was always a bad idea and it isn’t what Christianity is all about. ”

    > Constantine invented a universal religion and that is Christianity. Everything you think you know about Church history is wrong.

    “If you’re going to read a Bible you should take the time to understand the context of what it teaches, and why, instead of prejudging the people who believe in it. Religion is not why I do what I do or believe what I believe.”

    > You do what you do and believe what you believe because you have been frightened completely out of your mind by the fear of hell. At least be honest about that.

    It seems you just want to argue for the sake of arguing. You want to talk about unnecessary evil and suffering? Look within yourself and understand that the very attitude you display in your hatred of Theists speaks the same language as the evil and suffering you claim to accuse Christians of.

    > I don’t hate theists. Love the Christian, hate the Christianity is what we atheists say. Now let me ask you, how does that comment make you feel?

    As I have posted before; I have neither fear of science nor any hatred toward it and to tell another man what he fears and hates is presumptuous, ignorant and juvenile. I have nothing against Atheists but Militant atheism is nothing more than fuel for racism, sexism and all other forms of hatred.

    > That is ridiculous. I am challenging you to make that case. However I predict you will shrink from the challenge when you realize how dumb that claim really is.

    Do you honestly think Yehashua was the proponent of hate?

    > You really have to be out of touch with reality to ask an atheist a question like that. Do you think Allah was the proponant of hate?

    Think for a minute; people are people regardless of belief or lack of belief. Humans are going to do what humans are going to do and that simply means no one is better than anyone else. You hold yourself to the highest moral standards yet you willingly quarrel and sling hateful rhetoric toward people you know nothing about.

    > I’m not mean to people. But I am merciless with bad ideas and when Christians see the notions that were used to indoctrinate them proved to be false they take it personal.

    “As far as science is concerned; you’re right, it doesn’t claim any deity, per se, but that doesn’t in any way rule out a Creator. Your presumptions and opinions may attempt to but science does not. Dawkins, Hawking, Dennett, Krauss, Harris and other militant Atheists have never been able to give empirical 100% proof that God doesn’t exist. ”

    > I gave you 100% proof that God doesn’t exist and you ignored most of it and the few objections you raised got annihilated.

    “The best they have done is to explain how within the closed system of the universe a deity may not be required for life, information or intelligence to exist. They opine that there isn’t a Creator. That is the best they, or you, can do but to indoctrinate society with atheism is no different than zealous religiosity. So, for them to proselytize as they have means atheism is as much a religion as any other.”

    > That’s ridiculous. Atheists don’t need strength in numbers to cling to a failing faith the way you Christians do. We don’t see atheists getting together once or more a week and singing and screaming about what they believe or rolling around on the floor pretending to speak in an ancient language. That’s religion, YOUR religion. These men are just fighting back against people who try to foist their false religion on the rest of us or who concoct and spread lies about science. What do you expect them to do? Thankfully there are a few scientists who care enough to expose the lies people like William Craig, William Dembski, and Stephen Meyer tell.

    Reply
  28. Robert says:

    “Thus, GOD must exist because to assert no-GOD leads to contradiction.”

    This guy doesn’t even know what physical laws are. So I’d like to see him try to make this argument. Come on Mike, step up to the plate and tell us all why telling the truth about the God question is somehow a contradiction. Mike I didn’t assert there was no God. I proved it.

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Robert,

      “Come on Mike, step up to the plate and tell us all why telling the truth about the God question is somehow a contradiction.” OK. Could you explain how you justify the use of induction?

      Reply
  29. Charles says:

    Robert,

    You said: “And from what I’ve read you are one of these evolution denying Bible believers.”

    I certainly don’t deny evolution. I might have personal reservations about human origins in lieu of evolution but I don’t deny evolution.

    “I’ll match my knowledge of the Bible and Koine Greek with anyone.”

    Are you also fluent in Ancient (not modern) Hebrew? How about Aramaic? Would you happen to be a rabbinical or NT scholar? I understand most of the NT was written in Greek but the problem you will encounter is that early Church patriarchs weren’t versed in Jewish history and they weren’t versed in the Hebrew language or traditions so they couldn’t have personally written Gospels or letters with any validity. This is why so many so called Gospels and other writings are rejected. You are a Greek understudy; right, then you should know this.

    “Everything you think you know about Church history is wrong.”

    This is another bad assumption my friend. Constantine, indeed, institutionalized a “religion”. There are also these images of Jesus that have little to do with any historical accuracy to Yehashua ha Meshiach. I’ve done and continue to do a good deal of study on Church history as well as world history as it pertains to that era in time. It also takes thinking outside of the box too. Listen; I’ve read and heard about everything you have brought up historically and when careful exegesis of the Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew languages, texts and cultures are considered with archaeological finds there is really no true denial of the historical Jewish Yehashua as opposed to the “Greco Roman Jesus”. Even non Christian and Atheist NT scholars tell us this.

    “You do what you do and believe what you believe because you have been frightened completely out of your mind by the fear of hell. At least be honest about that.”

    My focus is not on hell; it wasn’t made for us. The fact that some might end up there is what frightens me; if anything. This is not because people want to go there as much as it is about rejection of our Creator. There is no reason to fear hell.

    “I don’t hate theists. Love the Christian, hate the Christianity is what we atheists say. Now let me ask you, how does that comment make you feel?”

    It’s refreshing and comforting to know that you don’t hate others.

    “> You really have to be out of touch with reality to ask an atheist a question like that. Do you think Allah was the proponent of hate?”

    Because you don’t believe in God I will grant you this one. What I was talking about was the teachings we get from the Gospels.

    “…they take it personal.”

    What we take personal are your personal attacks on other people’s intellect. If you refuse to believe something that is your choice not mine. We can’t save you and we can’t condemn you. We can only relay information and if you don’t care for that information then we shouldn’t keep bothering you with it.

    “I gave you 100% proof that God doesn’t exist and you ignored most of it and the few objections you raised got annihilated.”

    What you gave as “proof” was mostly your opinions about religion. I’ll refer, again, to your idea of too much evil and suffering in the world with, yet, another consideration and that is the “world” (we believe) to come will be devoid of evil and suffering. That this world is saturated by evil and suffering only speaks of the human corruption that has caused the evil and suffering you speak of.

    “We don’t see atheists getting together once or more a week and singing and screaming about what they believe.”

    Actually there is a movement in California of Atheist Churches organizing and holding Sunday services.

    Reply
  30. Robert says:

    Mike, your little amateur smoke and mirrors act isn’t going to work with me. You said that saying there is no God is a contradiction. Own it, retract it or forget I exist.

    Reply
  31. Mike says:

    Toby,

    It goes back to the question whether science is descriptive or prescriptive. Stephen indicated several times that science is descriptive – that it is empirical in nature. It simply describes the data. As opposed to prescription where we suppose there are really ‘laws’ out there that we can discover – even though sometimes we can be wrong about those laws. But if science is really empirical then how are you ever be justified in extrapolating beyond your experiences? People want to claim science is descriptive but then act as though science is prescriptive.

    I take it from your question that you believe that science is prescriptive. Why do you believe we are justified in extrapolating beyond our experiences? You can point out that there doesn’t seem to be a preferencial frame of reference in physics. But isn’t that belief itself is based upon a scientific theory (Einsteins theory of relativity) backed up by a limited data set. Why is it justified in extrapolating beyond that? Of course, if you believe we live in an orderly rational universe created by GOD there is no problem with extrapolating.

    Reply
    • Toby says:

      “But if science is really empirical then how are you ever be justified in extrapolating beyond your experiences? People want to claim science is descriptive but then act as though science is prescriptive.”

      Science is our means to test and describe what we observe in the universe. It’s real, it’s testable. It offers more than a presuppositional approach to mythology literature. As far as I can tell you make this argument only so you might be able to believe the world is only 6,000 years old, that the earth was made before the stars and rest of the universe.

      The universe is filled with probability. I can hold a pencil in front of me and when i let it go gravity will drag it down to the floor. Will this always happen? I can’t say with 100% certainty. But I’m justified in saying it with 99.999999% certainty that it always will. Being such I can extrapolate that it always has worked that way in the past because we don’t observe odd things like piles of trees that suddenly lost gravity and wound up deposited on top of a mountain. We observe that gravity (as well as many other forces) appear to be constant and can extrapolate that if they weren’t then our planet might be vastly different or wouldn’t have formed at all.

      “But isn’t that belief itself is based upon a scientific theory (Einsteins theory of relativity) backed up by a limited data set.”

      I guess you haven’t read frank’s book (or maybe it was a debate) where he says that relativity is one of the best tested and demonstrated theories we’ve ever had.

      “Of course, if you believe we live in an orderly rational universe created by GOD there is no problem with extrapolating.”

      I don’t think we have need of that hypothesis. Especially since it’s based on an old text (which we have others from other gods) from a land known to birth religions and prophets and resurrect the dead.

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Toby,

        Did you read the article I pointed out at Encyclopedia Britannica? Do you think that Encyclopedia Britannica is run by a bunch of fundy Christians?

        Reply
  32. Robert says:

    No Mike, you have to tell us WHY asserting there is no God is a contradiction. Besides the childish superstitions you let other people indoctrinate you with what does it contradict? Justify the use of induction? Well we can see that on Christian television all the time. Send money, plant the seed and you will get a harvest. God promises! How much money has Mike Murdock fleeced you and your family for?

    Induction is a necessary habit. You’d starve without it. So would TBN.

    Reply
  33. Mike says:

    OK, Robert.

    Induction is a process we use constantly. It would impossible to function in this world without induction. It is, as you say, a necessary habit. So we go thru life assuming that that there is a rational justification for induction (because we do believe ourselves to be rational creatures). However, within a naturalistic worldview there is no rational justification for induction.

    For those of you who think that I am making this up about the problem of induction why don’t you read the following article in the Encyclopedia Britannica : http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1311323/problem-of-induction

    I’ll quote the concluding paragraph of the article: “It is important to note that Hume did not deny that he or anyone else formed beliefs on the basis of induction; he denied only that people have any reason to hold such beliefs (therefore, also, no one can know that any such belief is true). Philosophers have responded to the problem of induction in a variety of ways, though none has gained wide acceptance.“

    Got it? No solution to the problem of induction has ever gained widespread acceptance. Why? Because there is no solution within a naturalistic worldview.

    Got it Robert. Atheists such as you go thru life assuming there is a rational justification for the use of induction but they have a worldview that indicates they could not be justified in using induction. That’s the contradiction!

    “How much money has Mike Murdock fleeced you and your family for?“ I don’t watch them and have never contributed a penny. But if you don’t like them they can’t be all bad.

    Reply
  34. Robert says:

    “However, within a naturalistic worldview there is no rational justification for induction.”

    This is a logical fallacy known as a baseless assertion. Mike is a Bible believer and so we know he cannot recognize logical fallacies. Also Mike, you cannot recognize the tactics Christianity uses to command obedience and discourage doubt, which is why you believe in magic, fairies and who knows what else. Don’t worry, we’re not trying to take your toys away from you. You can play in your fantasy world all you want.

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Robert,

      A baseless assumption? Read the article! I’ll let the the other readers judge who is living in fantasy land.

      Goodbye.

      Reply
  35. Robert says:

    Oh and I almost forgot. Once again you failed to tel us why saying there is no God is a contradiction. Strike three Dude. You cannot sit at the adult table anymore.

    Reply
  36. Luke says:

    Mike,

    I don’t want to jump in on your conversation with Robert, but you did, in a sense, invite the feedback of others.

    I’m familiar with the problem of induction and the concept of true justified knowledge, but I’m not really sure I understand the conclusion you are drawing from the problem.

    The problem of induction is a problem of philosophy, but not so much a problem of everyday life. This is what Hume is getting at in the quote you posted (“It is important to note that Hume did not deny that he or anyone else formed beliefs on the basis of induction; he denied only that people have any reason to hold such beliefs.”) The point is not that you can’t or shouldn’t use inductive reasoning and gain from it, it’s that you can’t (without solving the problem) label it ‘true justified knowledge’ or ‘justified true belief’ which is something that epistemologists like to talk about. Which is fine and interesting, but at the end of the day it is just a curiosity of philosophy. While I agree with you that philosophers don’t have a widely agreed upon resolution (though I’d argue that Popper’s objection is considered quite significant), I can’t think of a single philosopher that would conclude from this that inductive reasoning shouldn’t be trusted and can never be of extremely good use.

    It’s much like the Gettier problems. Yeah, it’s fun and wonderful to think about and discuss (and has flummoxed philosophers more, especially this century), but so what? Are we really to stop drawing conclusions and acting on them because we can’t be sure that they are what a philosopher would call knowledge?

    I like the clock example of this (for simplicity). Say it’s 4:00 and you believe it’s 4:00. You look at the clock on your desk, it says 4:00. There you go, you’ve got a ‘true justified belief” but wait! The clock was broken. You just happened to look at it 36 hours after it broke. The whole thing was an accident! Was that ‘knowledge’ then? Did you really ‘know’ it was 4:00? It’s great for philosophers to discuss, but again, no one would ever tell you to not act upon that belief because philosophy is not sure that we can properly term it knowledge.

    Is this what you, personally, are recommending?

    I mean, look at a simple example that bring together the problem of induction, the Gettier problems and how we act based upon them. You have a job interview at at 9:00 (you need about 15 minutes to get there). You are getting ready, and you look at your watch and it says 8:42. Almost time to leave! you think.

    But wait, can you really be sure? You believe it’s almost time to leave, and your watch says it’s time to leave, but are you justified in that belief? Your watch could be wrong. Even if we grant the assumption of the existence of an honest, order-keeping G-d, we can’t know that He would always, under any circumstance, always ensure that all time-keeping devices function properly (and have good evidence to assume that’s not the case). So can you be sure? Is your confidence ‘justified’ in a philosophical sense? (If you have a problem with induction when it comes to something like gravity, you surely have it much more strongly for watches. Gravity has a much better track record of being there everyday than a watch does.) And in this case, I think we’d agree that G-d won’t make sure that every watch works properly (won’t justify the assumption that the watch is working properly). (G-d may even actively make your watch display the incorrect time, because if you left according to the ‘correct’ watch, you’d have been involved in a car accident. He delayed you by 30 seconds to save you!)

    So you have the problem you’re presenting Robert with, and a case in which positing a G-d makes the problem worse. So what do you do?

    Do you leave? Or do you say, well I can’t be sure that this belief is philosophically justified or is knowledge? so I’ll just do nothing (maybe try to gather more information which is ‘justified’)?

    It seems that you are suggesting to Robert that he should do the latter. That because he can’t ensure that his inductions are ‘justified’ that he should somehow not trust them, not act on the, etc., but I have seen no reason at all for that. And again, I haven’t read a single philosopher that would suggest that conclusion is in any way justified. (If that’s incorrect, I guess my question is, let’s say Robert agrees that induction can’t lead to ‘true justified knowledge’ in a epistemological sense. What do you say should come of this?)

    Anyway, sorry to step into the argument, but I hope that’s helpful. (I’d also note that while you took the sentence ‘Philosophers have responded to the problem of induction in a variety of ways, though none has gained wide acceptance’ to conclude that this cannot occur in a naturalistic worldview, but the sentence you quoted did not limit solutions to naturalistic ones (something like ‘no naturalistic explanation has gained widespread acceptance, but an immaterial explanation is widely accepted in theistic circles.) In fact, without digging into the literature on this, I’d think you’d find a plurality to say that assuming a deity makes the induction problem more difficult. After all, it is easy to imagine an omnipotent deity changing the laws of nature, but more difficult to imagine them changing in the absence of a cause.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      ” After all, it is easy to imagine an omnipotent deity changing the laws of nature, but more difficult to imagine them changing in the absence of a cause.”

      I pointed out the same to Mike two or three times above.

      Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,
      No Luke, you are not stepping in my conversation with Robert. I thing that’s finished. And its nice to talk to someone who actually understands the problem.

      I am not questioning the use of induction. It would be impossible to survive in this world without it. The question is, how do you account for it? What is your rational justification for proceeding on the expectation that induction will work. After all, that’s what it is to be rational. To be able to provide a rational justification of why you believe what you believe. Atheists love to mock and ridicule Christians because they claim Christians can’t provide a rational justification for their belief in God. Blind faith is not acceptable. You should only believe in God if you have a reason – rational justification – for doing so. That’s what Atheists say to Christians all the time. But when Atheists are unable to provide a rational justification for their use of induction it is a ‘curiosity of philosophy’. And they assert over and over that “of course I’m justified” and act as if the question was absurd to ask in the first place. But they can’t provide a rational response to Hume’s skepticism. A response that does not involve begging the question.

      So my personnel recommendation is that you continue to use induction just as you always have. But if you care about truth you need to be able to provide a rational justification for why you trust in induction. And you can’t do that within an Atheistic worldview.

      You brought up the fact that we can’t have certainty, that we can make mistakes. Of course. But that is fundamentally different than the point Hume was making. Hume was not saying we can’t have certainty. He was pointing out that we have NO JUSTIFICATION AT ALL for assuming that induction will work. That observing the regularities of nature in the past and assuming that these regularities will continue into the future (or present) is just a ‘habit of the mind’ (as Hume put it) and has no rational justification. Their is NO JUSTIFICATION for those beliefs. And he’s absolutely correct – if there is no GOD.

      You also brought up the issue of miracles. That GOD can intentionally alter the laws of nature. And I agree that that would be a problem if GOD was arbitrary and capricious and randomly changed things. But that is not the case. GOD is the one that not only created the world, GOD brings order and makes the world intelligible. And assures us that this will continue. After all, miracles presuppose a genuine order to nature that the miracles will stand out against. So you know its a miracle – and when its not. And that is what we see in the Bible. When GOD parted the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army I don’t think people were questioning whether a miracle had occurred. “Hey, maybe Moses just got lucky.” I don’t think anybody thought that. So the fact that exceptions to the rule occurs doesn’t alter the fact that the rule exists. And since GOD made the world intelligible and promises the world will remain that way, miracles don’t affect our justification for trusting in the rules.

      Of course someone could assert that maybe GOD is arbitrary and capricious. They could assert that maybe GOD can lie and is lying to us when he tells us that he is not arbitrary and capricious. Stephen B made that point. But that possibility can be discounted. Within a Christian worldview, its false because it contradicts the Christian worldview – where GOD tells us he is morally perfect and can’t lie. And within a non-Christian worldview its a meaningless statement. Because while the Christian worldview provides a foundation for rationality, a non-Christian worldview destroyed any possibility of rational coherent thought. I’ll explain.

      Lets consider the full implications of what Hume is saying. Hume points out (as you yourself have noted) that we are not rationally justified in assuming that the regularities(laws) of nature that we have observed in the past and will continue into the future (or present). But according to the naturalistic worldview, our thoughts are just complex bio-chemical processes occurring in our brains. Our ability to have rational coherent thoughts is dependent upon the laws of physics and chemistry. And if we can’t be justified in our beliefs concerning the laws of physics and chemistry there is no foundation for rationality. There would be no reason for our thoughts to have any relationship whatsoever to reality. The point is, Hume not only destroys the any sort of rational justification for our beliefs about the natural world, he also destroyed the foundation of rationality. He reduces the world to absurdity. And he’s absolutely correct – if there is no GOD. Also, I haven’t brought it up so far because I have been focusing on induction but the point I have been making about induction can also be made about other universals such as the laws of logic and the laws of logic. The laws of logic don’t make sense within a non-Christian worldview.

      So if you say “what if GOD can lie”, you are (in essence) asking me to stand in a rational world and say “what if the world is irrational”. But then that statement itself is irrational (meaningless) and can be discounted. Sort of like Wittgenstein’s analogy of a man who climbs to the top of a ladder and then throws the ladder away. Doesn’t work very well. So the statement “its possible for GOD to lie” is either false or meaningless (depending upon which worldview you are assuming).

      You make the statement: “it is easy to imagine an omnipotent deity changing the laws of nature, but more difficult to imagine them changing in the absence of a cause.” But what you can imagine is beside the point. This is about being a rational human being. About giving a reason why you believe what you believe. After all, at one point in time people thought the morning star and the evening star were two different planets. So they thought they could imagine the morning star existing and the evening star not existing. But then they discovered that the morning star and the evening star were the same plant – Venus. So what they thought they could imagine turned out to be impossible.

      Reply
      • Stephen B says:

        “Within a Christian worldview, its false because it contradicts the Christian worldview – where GOD tells us he is morally perfect and can’t lie”

        Yeah, and we already pointed out you have to assume God is honest in order to believe his supposed promise of honesty. It’s a circular argument. Worse, you have to rely on logic and induction in order to GET to that Christian worldview, when you claim yourself that you cannot use logic and induction UNTIL you have the justification.

        By the way, do you think Hume was a Christian? He certainly didn’t think induction problems led to Christianity.

        Reply
        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          You are completely misrepresenting my argument. I discussed answering the question assuming both the Christian worldview and assuming a non-Christian worldview. Both ways. You are hopeless. You will not even take the time to understand my argument. You just reject it out of hand.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            Look Mike, like look at four possibilities – there are many more, but we’ll keep it simple:
            1) God of the bible, keeps his promises.
            2) Trickster God who lied when he claimed to be honest
            3) Godless universe that runs like ‘clockwork’, according to laws understandable at least in principle.
            4) Godless universe that isn’t understandable, where laws of nature might change at any moment (we’ll leave aside that even theist Luke doesn’t see why a godless universe would be like this).

            The first two are subsets of ‘a god exists’, the latter two are subsets of ‘no God exists’. A theist assuming it’s 1 we’re in is no different to an atheist assuming it’s 3.

            Even if we start with the notion that since science seems to work, we can figure the universe does appear to work along understandable principles, you still can’t say that it has to be possibility 1 we’re in – it could equally be 3.

            You can say that we only think it’s 3 as long as the laws of nature hold up – it could turn out we’re in 4 after all at any point, so we still can’t RELY on us being in 3. But equally, the theist might only be able to believe they’re in 1 as long as the laws of nature hold up – they could be in 2 all along, and so can’t rely on it being 1.

            Please address where you think I’m misunderstanding things – simply telling me I’m an idiot isn’t helpful to the discussion or your argument.

        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          Sorry about for my comment in the last post.

          I don’t think you have let the implications of Dave Hume really sink in. As I pointed out in my last post, Hume not only destroyed the any sort of rational justification for our beliefs about the natural world, he also destroyed the foundation of rationality itself. Please re-read that section of my post. What David Hume (in effect) showed, is that option 3, epistemologically speaking, reduces to option 4. And, in effect, option 2 also reduces to option 4. So, in effect, we are left with options 1 and 4. You want to stand in a rational worldview and challenge option 1. But you don’t have a rational worldview to stand in (unless you become a Christian). In other words, if option 1 was not the case, there would no foundation for rational thought. So to assert “God can lie” would make as much sense as asserting “square circles are heavy”. They would both be meaningless.

          Reply
        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          “You can say that we only think it’s 3 as long as the laws of nature hold up – it could turn out we’re in 4 after all at any point, so we still can’t RELY on us being in 3. But equally, the theist might only be able to believe they’re in 1 as long as the laws of nature hold up – they could be in 2 all along, and so can’t rely on it being 1.”

          Let me put it this way. What worldview are yoy standing in when you make that claim?

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            No, I think my previous point still stands.

            Saying that three reduces to four doesn’t help you, as by that logic it would equally follow that one reduces to two – there is no difference.

            If we’re looking at what is POSSIBLE, then all four options are on the table. If you’re saying that two is ruled out because we can tell we’re in an understandable universe then you must also rule out four. If you’re saying that we can never rule out four completely then you must also allow that we can never rule out two completely.

            If we’re talking what we KNOW (epistemology), then one and three both allow for knowledge. If you’re talking about KNOWING whether we’re in one or three, then you can’t say “We must rule out three as it ultimately reduces to four” without also allowing that one reduces to two.

            “In other words, if option 1 was not the case, there would no foundation for rational thought”

            No, option 3 allows for it too. If you want to say 3 is epistemologically the same as 4 then I’m afraid 1 is epistemologically the same as 2.

            “So to assert “God can lie” would make as much sense as asserting “square circles are heavy”.”

            You’ve not shown that a lying God is impossible (and at any rate the bible has examples of God deceiving. 2 Thessalonians 2:11, for a start). You’re basically saying option 2 is impossible, which is not different from saying option 4 is impossible.

        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          “No, I think my previous point still stands. “ No. I don’t think it does. Everything you said in your last post: What worldview were you standing when you said it? Contrary to a point you made in your last post where you tried to differentiate options 3 and 4, you were standing in option 4. To be more precise options 3 and 4 equate to different worlds ontologically speaking. But what Hume showed is that, epistemologically speaking, option 3 reduces to option 4. And so there is no rational justification for anything you said in your last post, including the claim that “If you want to say 3 is epistemologically the same as 4 then I’m afraid 1 is epistemologically the same as 2.“

          “You’ve not shown that a lying God is impossible” How do you know I haven’t shown that? Standing in your worldview, you can’t know anything.

          It appears that you want to “step outside” of all worldviews and evaluate the situation from that perspective. But in reality there is no “outside”. After all, when we talk about worldviews, what are we really doing? We are asking, if the world was such and such, what would be the consequences of that assumption? So it really doesn’t make any sense to think in turn of “outside” a worldview.

          I am saying all this because I want to emphasize that I am not trying to play a trip. You chose to be an atheist and I am simply forcing you to live with the epistemological consequences of your choice. We can stand in a worldview and critique it, but we must be standing in that worldview. To do otherwise is senseless. That’s what I am doing when I stand in your worldview to critique it. (i.e . I am assuming your worldview is true for the sake of critiquing it). And that is what you did to my worldview when you pointed out the issue of divine deception (2 Thessalonians 2:11) so I will address that issue at the end of this post.

          I also find it interesting that when atheists debate Christian apologists that use the Classical/Evidential approach the atheists constantly appeal to science, reason and logic. Yet your position would be inconsistent with an appeal to science, reason and logic. Are you ready to repudiate your fellow atheists?

          Of course there is one other possibility. You could try to defend your worldview. If you think you can provide a rational justification for trusting in the reliability of human thought processes in an atheistic worldview – I’m listening.

          I will now address the point you brought up concerning divine deception (you brought up 2 Thessalonians 2:11). The first point to remember is that god wasn’t forcing anybody to do anything they didn’t want to do. Take a look at Matt. 8:32. The demons begged Jesus to let them enter the swine. Then Jesus says “Go”! So Jesus was in complete control but he didn’t make them do anything they didn’t already want to do. Same thing in John 13:27 where Jesus tells Judas “Do quickly what you are about to do”. Jesus was permitting Judas to do what Judas had already decided to do (he had already met with the priests and had taken money to betray Jesus). The Gospel writers were simply emphasizing that Jesus was always in control even as he permitted Judas to do what he already wanted to do. That is exactly what is happening in 2Th 2:11. Satan already hated humanity. GOD was simply permitting Satan to do what he already want to do. Also, the word translated “delusion” in 2 Th 2:11 means “working of error” in the original Greek. So God sent a “working of error” to the people. The most naturally interpretation is that this “working of error” corresponds to the “working of Satan” in 2 Th 2:9. So what the scripture seems to say is that GOD was sending Satan to cause these people to be in error. As in the first two examples I gave, Paul phrased it this way to emphasize that GOD was in control, even though he was only allowing Satan to do what he wanted to do. (Compare this to Matt 27:26, where it says that Pilate scrouged Jesus even thought he didn’t literally do it, he only ordered it to happen.) It’s not as thought GOD had to force Satan to do something he didn’t already want to do. So while GOD is holy (morally perfect) and doesn’t deceive people, he will allow people to be deceived by other entities. And who were these people who were deceived in 2 Th 2? According to the text, they were the ones who did not love the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. That is, they chose to reject GOD and believe a lie because they loved their sin. So they were condemned (the perishing ones). And GOD allowed them to be deceived.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            ““You’ve not shown that a lying God is impossible” How do you know I haven’t shown that? Standing in your worldview, you can’t know anything.”

            Now you’re simply begging the question. I might as well say that given that 1 reduces to 2 YOU can’t know anything. As soon as you argue that 1 does NOT reduce to 2, I can just say “But how can you know that, given that in your worldview you can’t know anything?”.

            If you’re playing the game that you’re starting with the idea that the other person can’t justify anything then of course you can then reject any argument against that position on the basis that… The other person can’t justify anything. Two can play that game and discussion is pointless. Or I can attempt to reason and just YOU can play that game… In which case discussion is still pointless.

            Either way, discussion is pointless, and you are the one who bailed out.

        • Mike says:

          Stephen,

          “If you’re playing the game that you’re starting with the idea that the other person can’t justify anything then of course you can then reject any argument against that position on the basis that… The other person can’t justify anything.” No Stephen, this isn’t a game. You say you are an atheist but you refuse to live with the implications of your atheist worldview. In an atheist worldview there is no justification for believing anything about the external world and no justification for human rationality. In fact I specifically pointed out, “If you think you can provide a rational justification for trusting in the reliability of human thought processes in an atheistic worldview – I’m listening.” And you didn’t take up the challenge. So you have a worldview that can’t account for rationality and when I hold you to that worldview you bail (not me).

          “Either way, discussion is pointless, and you are the one who bailed out.” No Stephen. I didn’t bail. You are the one who refused to come to grips with the implication of your worldview.

          Reply
  37. Robert says:

    “I pointed out the same to Mike two or three times above.”

    > A common creationist tactic is to ignore all criticisms of their arguments and repeat their arguments over and over and over and over again as if no objections to them were ever made. Mike doesn’t feel as though he needs to refute arguments that only look convincing to us all, even to him, but only appear valid because Satan is making them appear that way. Supernaturalists can explain away ANYTHING no matter how obviously correct it is. Bible believers who post comments on blogs and confront random people with theistic arguments in person don’t think these kinds of arguments up all by themselves. They see them on apologetic or creationist websites and then use them themselves. These websites cull them from scientific or philosophical literature, quote mine them and try to make it seem like there is a case that argues against atheism, modern science or for theistic superstitions, when there really isn’t. So believers don’t realize that the argument is flawed from the start and the people running the website know this. It’s like a manufacturer knowingly making faulty merchandise. So people like Mike go atheist hunting with their new gun and when they come face to face with the bear the gun jams and the bear eats them alive. Inductive logic might have told the hunter who has purchased faulty merchandise at this store before that the gun may not work. But faith won out over inductive reasoning once again.

    If you look on other Christian blogs you’ll see that this argument is popular right now and so it’s no surprise [using inductive logic] that it would appear in some form right here. These arguments flame out after a while and new arguments, or more often new versions of old arguments become popular. A few years ago the bacterial flagellum argument was popular, all at once all over the Internet. That was until the creationists, I mean the Design proponents, were forced to explain why God, I mean the Intelligent Designer, was intelligently designing bacteria that killed people.

    This argument is an argument against naturalism. If the naturalist cannot provide sufficient justification for induction this leaves the naturalist without any grounds to rely on induction other than faith. If we use faith to justify belief then we are no different than the theists and of course must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to have faith, as if Christianity has a corner on the market of faith. Knowledge and proof are two different concepts and this particular argument wishes to conflate the two and by doing so, confuse many more.

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Robert,

      “Knowledge and proof are two different concepts and this particular argument wishes to conflate the two”. Nonsense. If you are going to assert that I am conflating those two terms then I challenge you to back up that claim.

      Reply
  38. Robert says:

    I’m not going to be challenged by someone who holds the kind of childish beliefs you do.
    I challenged you to back up your claim that saying there is no God, or telling the truth, is a contradiction. You took the cowards way out and folded. I’m going to ignore what you say to me but I’m still going to make fun of your posts. I mean they’re low hanging fruit but you deserve the intellectual smack down you’ve gotten on this blog.

    Reply
  39. Luke says:

    Mike,

    I don’t have much to add to my original post (nor would I change any of my points), but I didn’t want to ignore the questions which you posed in your response.

    (edit: this seems rather long, but a majority of the text below, I think, is made up of quotes from Hume and a Philosophy encyclopedia. My words here are quite short and hopefully just enough to answer your questions.)

    Mike asked:It would be impossible to survive in this world without [induction]. The question is, how do you account for it?

    How do I account for our use of induction… I think Hume was probably quite close in his analysis; it’s our nature. He said, for example: nor can we any more forbear viewing certain objects in a stronger and fuller light, upon account of their customary connexion with a present impression, than we can hinder ourselves from thinking as long as we are awake, or seeing the surrounding bodies, when we turn our eyes towards them in broad sunshine. Whoever has taken the pains to refute the cavils of this total scepticism, has really disputed without an antagonist, and endeavour’d by arguments to establish a faculty, which nature has antecedently implanted in the mind, and render’d unavoidable.

    I would also note however, that I am inclined to disagree with Hume on demonstrative reasoning (if we discount G-d as a possible cause). When he says: When I see, for instance, a Billiard-ball moving in a straight line towards another; even suppose motion in the second ball should by accident be suggested to me, as the result of their contact or impulse; may I not conceive, that a hundred different events might as well follow from that cause? May not both these balls remain at absolute rest? May not the first ball return in a straight line, or leap off from the second in any line or direction? All these suppositions are consistent and conceivable. Why then should we give the preference to one, which is no more consistent or conceivable than the rest?

    To me: each of those are NOT equally conceivable and consistent, even if I discard present experience (as Hume asks us to earlier in this chapter). The reason for this is what I mentioned earlier: cause. I can, with no experience understand the cause of the motion I will no doubt witness. For any other movement, I cannot account for a cause (again, experience removed), unless I posit a G-d. (Again though, this makes the problem of induction greater in a theistic worldview). I simply do not see all of the possibilities as consistent and conceivable, because only one — absent a G-d — is conceivable to me, becuase I cannot conceive of an effect without a cause. The one motion involving a cause, is to me more conceivable than the others.

    Mike asked:What is your rational justification for proceeding on the expectation that induction will work?

    Because given our experience, there would be only one thing less rational: proceeding as if the billiard ball won’t act as we all know it will (in a real-world sense, not an epistemological one). If we accept that neither can be justified, we must still make a choice, and there is no reason to discard experience for this choice.

    We would be no more justified in believing that gravity will suddenly stop. There can be no true justified belief about that, if there can be no true justified belief that it will continue to work as it has. I am open to being shown why belief in the second is less rational than belief in the first, but until that happens it seems like the more rational of the two possible beliefs, even if neither is possible to justify. Do you disagree?

    I hope that answers your questions.

    Again, I can’t add much to what I originally wrote, so I won’t repeat it. The basic truth is, philosophy and epistemology are interesting to think about, but are not intended as a guide by which to build our lives. It is very interesting to determine what to put in the category of “knowledge” and what to put in the category of “belief” but what is the justified knowledge which tells us how we should act differently on one than on the other?

    Let me ask you a question though, the content of which I hinted at in my first post, but I’ll ask more directly. Gettier posed a very serious challenge to the idea of true justified belief as knowledge (which was Hume’s concern and is also yours).

    Let me first quote the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (A peer-reviewed academic resource, as they like to say) about the Gettier Problems and true justified beleif:

    ” Gettier’s original article had a dramatic impact, as epistemologists began trying to ascertain afresh what knowledge is, with almost all agreeing that Gettier had refuted the traditional definition of knowledge. They have made many attempts to repair or replace that traditional definition of knowledge, resulting in several new conceptions of knowledge and of justificatory support… There is no consensus, however, that any one of the attempts to solve the Gettier challenge has succeeded in fully defining what it is to have knowledge of a truth or fact. So, the force of that challenge continues to be felt in various ways, and to various extents, within epistemology. Sometimes, the challenge is ignored in frustration at the existence of so many possibly failed efforts to solve it. Often, the assumption is made that somehow it can and will, one of these days be solved. Usually, it is agreed to show something about knowledge, even if not all epistemologists concur as to exactly what it shows.”

    Since you are bothered to the extent that you seem to be by the problem of induction (and therefore find importance in knowledge as TJB) how have you dealt with the Gettier problems (or why do you otherwise discount them?)?

    If you have any further questions of me, I’ll be glad to answer. Otherwise, I’m more than glad to give you the final word on the subject.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  40. Luke says:

    Mike and Stephen,

    Since I’m just all about stepping into other people’s conversations…

    Is Mike saying that he hold ‘knowledge as true justified belief’ in G-d?

    I’ve tried to catch up, but I’m a bit confused on this point.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      He’s trying to win an argument without making an argument – he’s saying that right from the start no argument works unless you already believe in God (or at least unless a God exists – his God). And if you present any counter argument, he’ll effectively say “Ah, but if you don’t believe in a God, your argument can’t work”. It’s begging the question – he assumes X is true, and since X includes the proposition that X can’t be false, he simply says that any argument against X must be false, because Proposition X holds that they are false. Round and round and round…

      If anyone else reading who isn’t Mike has an opinion on his argument, please step forward with it, because Mike isn’t even trying to defend it any more, simply stating that any opposition to his argument must be wrong because it’s wrong by the premise of his argument!

      Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,

      Actually it is not begging the question. I was just trying to force Stephen to argue consistently with his worldview. He has an irrational worldview but wants to keep giving rational arguments in an irrational worldview. This is what is know as the transcendental argument for the existence of God. You show that the Christian worldview provides the only foundation for rationality. Therefore, the Christian worldview must be true because if it isn’t true you couldn’t know anything. Stephen tried to attack it by arguing that we don’t know anything. I responded by replying that if we can’t know anything Stephen can’t know that his criticism is meaningful. Thats when Stephen ended the discussion.

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Mike,

        Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding what you wrote.

        You claim to have a TJB of G-d, and G-d is the justification, yes?

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
  41. Robert says:

    Cornelius Van Til popularized this argument decades ago. Philosophers immediately pointed out that it is built on the fallacy of the false dilemma. It boldly asserts for no good reason that the Christian God is the only possible source or justification for knowledge about the world. How arrogant can you get? Christianity has only been around for 1700 years. We’re to believe no one could think until Jesus arrived on the scene. That all of the Greek philosophers who lived centuries before anyone ever heard of Jews or Christians all borrowed from the Christian worldview, in my opinion the most irrational worldview there is! People of any religion could easily claim that Christianity has to borrow from THEIR worldview and have just as much reason as the Christians do. The laws of logic do not depend on God for their existence and would not change whether there is a God or not. So based on that fact and the fallacy this absurd argument is founded upon the argument fails. It’s so ironic that those who cannot recognize the most obvious fallacies tell us we couldn’t think without borrowing from their worldview.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Sye Ten Bruggengate uses these arguments. Stephen Law had a clever response – a parody of Sye’s tactic that was actually no worse than the thing it was parodying.

      “My claim: Sye’s mind is addled and his thinking unreliable because he was hit on the head by a rock.

      Prove this is false Sye.

      Try to, and I will say – “But your “proof” presupposes your mind is not addled and you can recognise a proof when you see it. So it fails.”

      Ask me to prove my claim and I will say: “But prove to me your mind is not addled, then, Sye”. Which you won’t be able to, for the above reason. I might then add, with a flourish – “So you see, it’s proved by the impossibility of the contrary”.

      And of course I have a good explanation for why your brain is addled – you were hit by a rock.

      Is my claim reasonable, then? Of course not. It’s BS. I really can’t see how
      your position is any less of a BS position. Can you?”

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        No Steven,

        “Ask me to prove my claim and I will say: “But prove to me your mind is not addled, then, Sye”. Which you won’t be able to, for the above reason. I might then add, with a flourish – “So you see, it’s proved by the impossibility of the contrary”.” No, I am not going to allow you to shift the burden of proof onto me. You are making the claim – prove it.

        After all, that is exactly what I did when critiquing you worldview. I didn’t just assert it. I provided a rational justification for the claim. I went back to David Hume and showed how he not only destroyed any knowledge of the external world, he destroyed rationality (in an atheist worldview). And you never provided any sort of rational criticism of my argument. In fact I made this statement to you yesterday “If you think you can provide a rational justification for trusting in the reliability of human thought processes in an atheistic worldview – I’m listening.” And you never even responded.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          “And you never even responded”

          The last time I tried to actually engage with your arguments, you dismissed everything I said by saying “What worldview are yoy [sic] standing in when you make that claim?”

          In other words, effectively, you were saying that since you’d already decided that in my worldview any claims to knowledge were impossible, any arguments from me to the contrary couldn’t work by definition. You were using the conclusion that, for me, knowledge claims were impossible to dismiss the very arguments I was making against that conclusion. In short, you were begging the question.

          I might as well say to you that I’ve decided that from YOUR worldview you cannot make any knowledge claims, and then dismiss any arguments from YOU to the contrary as being made by someone who cannot make any knowledge claims.

          Stephen Law’s ‘hit on the head by a rock’ analogy is right on the money.

          Reply
          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            No, I gave a reason – do you understand what that means – why it was impossible to provide a rational justification for trusting in your rational faculties in an atheistic worldview. And you never provided any sort of rational response. Even after I tried to get you to respond.

            “I might as well say to you that I’ve decided that from YOUR worldview you cannot make any knowledge claims, and then dismiss any arguments from YOU to the contrary as being made by someone who cannot make any knowledge claims.” You still don’t understand, do you? You are suppose to give a reason for your beliefs. You never gave any sort of rational justification for questioning knowledge claims in a Christian worldview except the issue of 2 Th 2:11. And I provided a detailed response to that in my posting yesterday and you never challenged the response.

            “Stephen Law’s ‘hit on the head by a rock’ analogy is right on the money” No, its not. Its completely different.

          • Stephen B says:

            “You never gave any sort of rational justification for questioning knowledge claims in a Christian worldview ”

            Your rebuttal to my ‘four situations’ point was that ‘3 reduces to 4’. I pointed out that if you claim 3 reduces to 4, you have to accept that 1 reduces to 2, meaning that your particular Christian view (1) is no less problematic than my worldview (3).

            Your response to that was just to say ‘Ah but what worldview is that claim taking place in’. Given that that is is a non rebuttal – a non sequitur – everything you’ve said after that is irrelevant.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            I did a little review and realized I omitted a very important part of the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview is that everyone knows that GOD exists. In fact, as Paul explains in Roman Ch.1:18-25, GOD writes it on heart our hearts in such a manner that it is impossible to doubt his existence. GOD has made it known to us. It is clearly perceived and understood. This is true of both the existence of GOD and his nature. Paul also points out that the unbeliever suppresses this knowledge, but it is still there. So we know we are in worldview 1 (even though many people suppress this knowledge). That’s what worldview 1 is. So I don’t accept that there is a parallel between 3-4 and 1-2. You will have to prove that.

            Also, I don’t accept that worldview 2 is possible. You will have to prove that.

    • Mike says:

      Robert,

      “We’re to believe no one could think until Jesus arrived on the scene.” Presup apologists such as myself have never made any such claim.

      You haven’t got a clue! You truly are a fool!

      Reply
  42. Luke says:

    Mike said:
    Yes I hold that knowledge od [sic] justified true belief. And that justification comes from God.

    (Sorry, I tried to post a comment before, but it didn’t work.)

    I think od was meant to be is. (It is transposed one key to the right, on a standard English keyboard.)

    I’m having trouble understanding what you mean. You hold that knowledge = JTB, and that J comes from G-d.

    Let me go back a step, how do you describe your epistemology/theory of justification? Generally, epistemologist talk about Justification as the reason someone believes something — this is why I believe P or I know P is true because I’ve seen this evidence for P or this is how I know P is true.

    So for example, let’s say I have a TJB that my grandson is safely playing at the park across the street.

    Belief = I believe my grandson is safely playing across the street
    Truth = my grandson really is safely playing across the street
    Justification = I looked out the window and saw him on the swing

    It seems like you are saying this:

    Belief = I believe my grandson is safely playing across the street
    Truth = my grandson really is safely playing across the street
    Justification = G-d exists

    Is that right?

    Or are you saying that this applies only to G-d? So:

    Belief: G-d exists
    Truth: G-d exists
    Justification: G-d exists

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  43. Robert says:

    Of course you win the debate when the other person calls you names. Mike ignored the fact that his entire argument is built upon the fallacy of the false dilemma. How’s he going to counter the charge that his argument is built on a logical fallacy when he doesn’t know how to recognize them?

    Mike needs to first prove there is a God before he can say anything comes from this God. Mike is using he Alvin Plantinga bag of tricks from which the apologist tries to argue God into existence. This is exactly what Mike is trying in vain to do. Believers don’t understand the difference between evidence and arguments. Mike has no evidence to back up his absurd claims but theists don’t need evidence because they were argued and threatened into accepting the ridiculous dogmas and doctrines of Christianity. They can’t understand why other people cannot be frightened so they way they were. It’s because our dominant trait is not cowardice. Christianity only appeals to the base emotion of cowardice. Mike clings so desperately to what he knows is not true because he has been frightened into his beliefs by other people. His entire belief system comes from these people, not any God.

    Reply
  44. Stephen B says:

    I’m posting this at the end to make it easier.

    “The Christian worldview is that everyone knows that GOD exists.”

    Your reason for 1 not being parallel to 3 relies on assuming 1 is true. It, again, begs the question. I can equally assume 3 is true and say that’s how I know it’s true. You’re basically saying “If 1 is true, then I’ll know that 1 is true, but because 1 holds that God is honest and that God lets me know that 1 is true”.

    That doesn’t help you at all – it’s still indistinguishable from a theistic universe where the God is dishonest. In the latter, he’s not written truth on your heart but merely convinces you that he has. Your true conviction in 1 that God is honest is no different from the fake conviction of a hapless theist in 2.

    So yes, my point stands – 1 is no more epistemologically different from 2 than 3 is from 4. If you claim that I could think I’m in 3 but actually be in 4, then equally you could think you’re in 1 but actually be in 2. The fact that 1 involves its inhabitants being convinced they’re in 1 doesn’t make any difference, as those in 2 could have the same conviction.

    Reply
  45. Mike says:

    Stephen,

    “Your reason for 1 not being parallel to 3 relies on assuming 1 is true. It, again, begs the question.” No. Everything in the first paragraph except the last two sentences was simply a statement of what the Christian worldview is. However, I am also claiming that the Christian is actually the case because if it wasn’t we couldn’t know anything. We couldn’t give an account of how we know we are currently having a meaningful, rational conversation. You are trying to counter that claim by asserting that option 2 is possible. So I might be in 2 when I believe I am in 1. But how do you know option 2 is possible?

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “However, I am also claiming that the Christian is actually the case because if it wasn’t we couldn’t know anything”

      Then you need to back up that claim. So far you haven’t.

      ” You are trying to counter that claim by asserting that option 2 is possible. So I might be in 2 when I believe I am in 1. But how do you know option 2 is possible?”

      Replace 1 with 3 and 2 with 4, and the same question applies to you. How do you know 4 is possible?

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      And anyway, as I already pointed out, knowledge is possible in 3 as well. You’ve not offered a criticism of 3 that doesn’t apply equally to 1. You’ve not shown that 3 is any less possible than 1, or than 2 is any less likely than 4.

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Stephen,

        “However, I am also claiming that the Christian is actually the case because if it wasn’t we couldn’t know anything

        Then you need to back up that claim. So far you haven’t.”

        Actually I have. We only have a limited number of options and I have offered an extensive account why your worldview (option 3) can’t account for knowledge. And that account has not been challenged.

        “You’ve not offered a criticism of 3 that doesn’t apply equally to 1. You’ve not shown that 3 is any less possible than 1, or than 2 is any less likely than 4.”

        Not true. As I just pointed out, I offered an extensive (and unchallenged) account of why option 3 can’t account for knowledge. 3 reduces to 4 epistomologically and is therefore (epistemologically speaking) 3 doesn’t exist. I have provided a reason why 1 is possible. Unless you can counter that by showing that 2 is also possible, you are sunk.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          ” I have offered an extensive account why your worldview (option 3) can’t account for knowledge”

          I must have missed that; all I’ve seen so far us a criticism that would apply equally to your own view (1). Can you try again? And if you’d address the points of your fellow theists Charles and Luke it would be great.

          ” 3 reduces to 4 epistomologically and is therefore (epistemologically speaking) 3 doesn’t exist. I have provided a reason why 1 is possible. Unless you can counter that by showing that 2 is also possible, you are sunk.”

          You’ve not shown that 4 is any more possible than 2, or that 3 is any less possible than 1. Until you do, you too are sunk (at least according to your own argument), as 1 would reduce to 2 in the same way that (according to you) 3 reduces to 4.

          If I have to show that 2 is possible then you have to show that 4 is possible.

          Reply
          • Mike says:

            Stephen B, Charles, and Luke,

            I will sit down tomorrow and write out an extensive reply that hopefully will answer your questions.

          • Stephen B says:

            Cool, Mike. To save time, be aware in advance that any claims you make for 1 can most likely be made for 3, any criticism of 3 will be made by me of 1. Any requests by you to demonstrate the possibility of 2 will be replied with by the same request for 4 by me. Etc.

            In short, for any argument you make, imagine swapping 1 for 3 and 2 for 4, and vice versa etc.

          • Stephen B says:

            Seriously, your reply to my points really doesn’t have to be that longer extensive. Just explain why criticisms of 3 don’t also apply to 1, without making a reference to 2 that doesn’t also apply to 4, and vice versa. You shouldn’t need to refer at all to specifics of Christian doctrine.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            The reason the parallel between 1-2 and 3-4 break down is that, according to Christian theology, the laws of logic are a reflection of the thinking of GOD. GOD isn’t just another logical possibility like all the other logic possibilities that are determined to be possible (or not) according to the laws of logic (I. e. does it generate a logical contradiction?). GOD is the absolute. GOD’s nature determines possibility. So, if 1 is actually the case (my position) and then 2 is logically impossible.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            Therefore, your position is that 3 AND 4 are logically possible (so you can never know if you are in 3 or 4). My position is that 1 OR 2 is logically possible and I discard 2 because if 2 was the case we can’t account for the intelligibility of this world.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen,

            Please ignore my last post. I am working on something else but I want to think about it a little. Get back to you in a day or so.

          • Stephen B says:

            Mike, that gets you no closer to where you want to be. You’re basically saying that if 1 is true then 2 isn’t. So what? If any of the four are true then the others are not. We’re talking about epistemology – what we know. The fact that IF one of the four is true the others aren’t doesn’t help you at all in establishing whether it IS true. 1 and 3 are indistinguishable from each other in reality, in as much as the evidence we have available to us. Your argument gets you no closer to establishing which is actually true. All you can say is what would be the case IF 1 is true. I can also talk about what would be the case IF 3 is true. And sure – 3 can rule out the possibility of 4 too – 3 holds that things happen for a reason in our clockwork universe, so the random changes you say we’d see in 4 are simply impossible.

            You need to try again.

            Just noticed you asked me to ignore your last post. Well, I just typed out the above, so I’m posting it. Hey, you can ignore this too!

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            I don’t think there is any parallel between our two positions. Each rises or falls based upon it’s own merits.

            First I’ll state my earlier critique of your position.

            I begin with David Hume. Hume pointed out that we are not rationally justified in assuming that the principle of induction is correct. This is the principle that the laws of nature will operate now (and in the future) as they operated in the past, that in a basic sense nature is uniform and unchanging, and that therefore we may rely on past experiences to determine how to function in this world. Induction is never doubted in ordinary life, but no one has ever found a solution that philosophers are widely satisfied with. The ordinary person will usually conclude that when we relied on induction in the past it always worked, therefore we can assume it will work in the future. But as David Hume pointed out, this begs the question. The issue is whether nature will continue to behave regularly. That it has done so in the past cannot serve as a reason for believing that it will do so in the future. Unless you assume the validity of induction – the very principle that is in question. Also consider that according to the naturalistic worldview, our thoughts are just complex bio-chemical processes occurring in our brains. Therefore, our ability to have rational coherent thought assumes the regularity of the laws of nature. So if we can’t be justified in our beliefs concerning the laws of nature there is no foundation for rationality. There would be no reason for our thoughts to have any relationship whatsoever to reality. The point is, Hume not only undermines any sort of rational justification for our beliefs about the natural world, he also undermines the foundation of rationality. He reduces the world to absurdity. And he’s absolutely correct – if there is no GOD.

            Next I assert my position. Since my position is the Christian worldview, I assert that GOD is omnipotent (no one can thwart the will of GOD). Also, the Bible reveals to us in the book of Romans that the unbeliever in GOD is without excuse. The unbeliever can suppress the truth now but no one will be able to stand before GOD on judgment day and say they didn’t know. They will not be able to say “I had this conviction but I thought maybe I was being tricked”. Paul makes it clear that knowledge of GOD is plain to them. Undeniable. As I pointed out in my last post, according to Christian theology the laws of logic are a reflection of the thinking of GOD. GOD is the absolute. GOD’s nature determines logical possibility. It’s not just that a lying god is not actually the case, a lying god is logically impossible. No more possible than a square circle. GOD simply provides insight so we realize that is the case. Remember that we have a spiritual component; just as GOD is spirit. So GOD reveals these things to our spirit in such a manner that it can’t be doubted. Like the impossibility of a square circle can’t be doubted. They know it’s GOD and they know they can’t be wrong. I think you will be able to prove that it is impossible for GOD to reveal himself to people such that they know who he truly is.

            Please note the critical difference between our worldviews. You believe you are in a clockwork universe. My point is that you couldn’t know that is the case even if it was the case. However, if the Christian worldview is true (as I assert it is) then I know it is true.

            Let me put it in terms of options 1, 2, 3 4 from our earlier discussion:

            1 does not reduce to 2 but 3 does reduces to 4.

            Therefore, 1 is a worldview where knowledge is possible. And 2, 3 and 4 are worldviews where no knowledge is possible.

            Therefore:

            1) If not 1 then no knowledge.

            2) But we do have knowledge (or else we can discount this conversation)

            3) Therefore, 1

            If you have read Luke’s post you know that Luke doesn’t like Justified True Belief as a theory of knowledge. If you want to defend induction using another theory of knowledge, no problem. Please make sure to plainly state what your theory of knowledge is so I don’t have to guess.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            Sorry, I meant to say that “I don’t think you will be able to prove that it is impossible for GOD to reveal himself to people such that they know who he truly is.”

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            Let me respond to a comment you made in your last post.
            “And sure – 3 can rule out the possibility of 4 too – 3 holds that things happen for a reason in our clockwork universe, so the random changes you say we’d see in 4 are simply impossible.” I don’t think so. When we talk about possibility we usually mean logical possibility. Just because 3 is true doesn’t mean 4 is logically impossible. And if 4 is not logically impossible there is no way you could know it can’t happen.

  46. Robert says:

    “The Christian worldview is that everyone knows that GOD exists.”

    > So then Frank’s book should be titled, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be Something That Doesn’t Really Exist Anyway.” Or something like that. Right?

    Reply
  47. Charles says:

    Mike,

    I’, trying to get an understanding of the point you are trying to make as well. Are you saying that because Christianity exists humans have the capacity for knowledge or is it more along the lines of since Christianity maintains knowledge of God through revelation of Christ that God has given us the capacity for knowledge? I do think the Christian worldview makes the most sense as far as the latter but, in Robert and Stephen B’s defense, I can understand their point as well.

    Our beliefs need to be justified by the truth. The truth, with respect to worldviews, is subjective on the basis of human experience and interpretation. This is the reason for so much diversity in the Church as with “religion” in general. However; the truth, itself (Himself in our case), is not dogmatic or “religious” in terms of traditions and rituals but holds fast to the Commandments of God that are universal and consistent.

    Reply
  48. Luke says:

    Mike, not that you’ve shown much interest in answering questions from me (which is totally fine), but I just want to understand your thinking on something (feel free not to answer if you don’t wish).

    You want Stephen to show that world 2 is possible. How could he do that? Just to my mind (and maybe my thinking on this is different from most), but lots of things are possible, and I tend to assume anything is possible unless there is some reason it can’t happen.

    I admit this is kind of an area, like say quantum physics, where it’s sort of hard to wrap out minds around things. So, for example, what kind of proof can you give us that world number 1 is possible? (This will at least give me some idea of what kind of proof you’re looking for.) I mean, I actually agree with you that it’s very much possible, but if someone asked me to prove it with any sort of epistemological certainty, I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin.

    But as I said, it seems more prudent to me to talk about what stops something from being true (makes it impossible) vs proving that it is or even can be true. If you think about it, this is how science works (and I think we’ll all agree that the scientific method, even if you assert that it needs G-d to work, has worked out pretty well for humanity). Science sets up falsifiable theories. Then it knocks many of them down. The ones that remain aren’t proven or even shown to be right, they just remain possible. When there aren’t many other possibilities we tend to think of them as fact, but epistemologically, they’re usually not.

    Now, when it comes to Stephen’s world #2, I would say this proposition is unscientific because it is not falsifiable. You however, seen to say it is impossible (in other words, you seem to believe you’ve falsified it), so my question to you is: how have you done that? What makes you believe it is impossible?

    (Now perhaps you think of things in the opposite way — the reverse of the scientific method — and you think nothing is possible unless it can be shown to be true; if so that’s fine, but in this case I’d still like to see your answer to the first question.)

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  49. Luke says:

    Mike said:: We only have a limited number of options and I have offered an extensive account why your worldview (option 3) can’t account for knowledge.

    Even if you grant the assumption that the problem of induction is unresolvable, this only makes certain categories of knowledge impossible (as TJB). The problem of induction only affects empirical claims.

    From a philosophical standpoint, your point here is at best sloppy.

    Secondly though, as I’ve mentioned numerous times now, Monsiour Gettier cast much more serious doubts on k = tjb than did Monsiour Hume, yet seems to not bother you at all. This seems very selective, at best.

    You haven’t told me what theory of justification you apply toward knowledge of G-d, so I can’t comment further.

    You also haven’t shown us the real world consequences of a belief fitting under the largely discarded category of knowledge as true justified belief.

    Mike said:: And that account has not been challenged.

    I disagree. It has been challenged by many professional philosophers, and it’s been challenged by me here. There is a big diference between a lack of universal acceptance of a challange by professional philosophers and the lack of a challange. (I mentioned Popper as one significant critique.)

    And again, I can’t get over how silly it strikes me to worry about something being labeled knowledge under a theory of knowledge that has pretty much been universally discarded.

    I’ll repost the quote I provided above from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

    Gettier’s original article had a dramatic impact, as epistemologists began trying to ascertain afresh what knowledge is, with almost all agreeing that Gettier had refuted the traditional definition of knowledge. They have made many attempts to repair or replace that traditional definition of knowledge, resulting in several new conceptions of knowledge and of justificatory support. There is no consensus, however, that any one of the attempts to solve the Gettier challenge has succeeded in fully defining what it is to have knowledge of a truth or fact.

    (emphasis added)

    Mike said:: Not true. As I just pointed out, I offered an extensive (and unchallenged) account of why option 3 can’t account for knowledge.

    Again, no. At the very best, you’ve shown it for some knowledge. You’ve shown that philosophers don’t universally agree about how to justify certain beliefs in order to properly label those beliefs knowledge according to a definition many philosophers have since abandoned becuase of even bigger problems with the definition.

    (It’s as if you’re saying Gravity can’t be, becuase Newton got a few minor things wrong. No one thinks he got it all right anyway!)

    (And again, this is all if you simply dismiss theories of justification, such as foundationalism, which philosophers used to push back on Hume as early as Kant. Most theistic philosophers — a la Platinga — subscribe to some version of foundationalism, by the way.)

    You literally act as if post-Hume every philosopher adopted his skepticism. I hope we don’t have to point out that this isn’t true.

    Here’s another thing that I’ve pushed back on this whole idea with, but let me make it more clear. Let’s just say you are right. So what? If you talk to any good scientist, they will tell you that they know nothing with 100% certainty. They’ll say things like “our best idea is” or “what we’re almost certain is happenens.” No scientist worth his salt claims to absolutely know anything. So again, let’s just grant you everything you say. What if Stephen agrees and says (and I suspect he would) I don’t know anything with 100% certainly.

    So what?

    Is that what you want him to admit?

    I’m a theist and I’ll admit that I can’t be 100% certain of anything. G-d could have created the world NOW; the momory I have of staring this message was implanted in my newly created mind. I can never be 100% certain that this hasn’t happened. There simply can be no TJB about this (without some sort of foundationalism). So what?

    You seem to imply that Stephen is acting irrationally by acting on “knowledge” that’s not really (epistemologically) “knowledge” but as I said above:

    Mike asked:What is your rational justification for proceeding on the expectation that induction will work?

    I answeredBecause given our experience, there would be only one thing less rational: proceeding as if the billiard ball won’t act as we all know it will (in a real-world sense, not an epistemological one). If we accept that neither can be justified, we must still make a choice, and there is no reason to discard experience for this choice.

    You yourself said that it’s best to proceed in the same way whether the label “knowledge” can be applied or not. So in the end, even you admit it changes noithing. So what’s the point?

    You criticized my use labeling the problem of induction as a “curiosity of philosophy” (it’s been more famously called “the scandal of philosophy”) but unless you derive a difference in behavior based upon the categorization (let’s say ‘true knowledge’ vs. ‘approaching certainty’) then it is nothing more than an academic point, because you, like everyone else, don’t derive any consequence from it.

    There’s a gauche term about engaging in a certain contest, in which you seem to very much want to partake. You just want to say that your level of certainty is higher by some tiny percentage. I have to be honest with you, I’m not sure anyone really cares.

    Given the amount of philosophical challenges to epistemological knowledge you ignore (Gettier, newly created world with the appearance of age) to focus on the one challenge you like, I’m not sure anyone is really interested in your contest (maybe I’m wrong though).

    And as I’ve pointed out before, you make a big deal out of the lack of a universally accepted answer to Hume among professional philosophers, as if this lack only applied to materialistic philosophies, but not to sacred ones. This just isn’t the case! If universal acceptance among professional philosophers is our standard, then it sinks you as badly as it sinks Stephen. (And I absolutely stand by my contention that the introduciton of a deity would be found to make the problem of induction worse to a strong preponderance of philosophers. Even at best, you are engaging in special pleading in the extreme.)

    And again, this is all over a largely discarded definition anyway!

    But yes, even if you completely become a skeptic (as Hume was, I think it’s fair to say), this doesn’t make the use of induction in decision making irrational, it simply makes truth claims irrational.

    Mike said:: 3 reduces to 4 epistomologically and is therefore (epistemologically speaking) 3 doesn’t exist.

    Can someone explain to me what this means?

    What does it mean to reduce something epistomologically? (I plead total ignorance of this, and am curious. I did the google, but can’t find a meaning for this usage.)

    Whatever the above means, what is the proposed relatiomnship (reworded for not-so-smart-people) between 3 and 4?

    Since ontology is the branch of metaphysics dealing with what does and doesn’t exist, what does it mean to not exist epistemologically?

    (Does this whole statement imply that per Hume we could never justify knowledge that we are in 3, so we must assume we are in 4? Because per Hume, we could never justify knowledge that we are in 4, so therefore we would have to assume we are in 3. Obviously this doesn’t work — in either direction! As I said though, I don’t actually know what this is trying to say. That’s just my best guess.)

    Mike said:: I have provided a reason why 1 is possible.

    I asked about this above, so I’m sorry that I simply missed it. Can someone please repost what Mike said?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,

      So many things to respond to. I don’t know where to start.

      It appears to me that the Gettier problem goes to the issue of certainty. The Gettier problem shows that even if our eyesight (for example) is reliable we can still be fooled. We might think we are looking at a house when we are actually looking at a picture of a house (without realizing we are looking at a picture) with the house in the picture sitting directly behind the picture. So our belief that there is a house sitting there in front of us is a true belief and we think we are justified in that belief – but we are not. And certainly if this was a world where Gettier conditions occurred frequently it would be difficult to function in this world. But fortunately that is not the case. Our life experience shows us that these conditions are very rare. So it shows us we should approach some of our beliefs with a little caution. Double check if something is particularly important or we are getting into an area we have never been before. But overall we get along just fine. You brought up the point that modern philosophers have scrapped JTB because it can’t handle the Gettier problem. By why scrap something that works 99.99% of the time? It seems to me that Gettier is a curiosity of philosophy. No big deal.

      However, the problem of induction appears to be another matter. What Hume shows us (if we accept JTB) is that we are never justified in our beliefs concerning the external world. So while Gettier shows we are wrong concerning the justification of our beliefs maybe 0.001 % of the time (or some small number like that) Hume shows us we are wrong concerning the justification of our beliefs 100.00 % of the time. In that sense, the problem of induction is like the ultimate Gettier problem. What I find so strange is that philosophers want to treat Gettier as a big deal while downplaying the significance of the problem of induction. Why isn’t it the reverse?

      Its not that I am wedded to JTB. Actually I like Alvin Plantinga’s theory of Warrant. Its just that bringing it up seemed irrelevant because it presupposes the validity of induction just like JTB.

      You said in an earlier post: “How do I account for our use of induction… I think Hume was probably quite close in his analysis; it’s our nature.” But why is that a justification (or warrant, or whatever)? Isn’t that begging the question?

      In my opinion the issue of the validity of JTB as a theory of truth is a red herring. The fundamental problem is that when you look at the different justifications presented for induction you see how really desperate they are. Just my opinion.

      “And I absolutely stand by my contention that the introduction of a deity would be found to make the problem of induction worse to a strong preponderance of philosophers.” How about you? In my earlier post to you I tried to answer your concerns. I would like to get a little more detail on why you consider it a problem.

      “Mike asked:What is your rational justification for proceeding on the expectation that induction will work?

      I answeredBecause given our experience, there would be only one thing less rational: proceeding as if the billiard ball won’t act as we all know it will (in a real-world sense, not an epistemological one). If we accept that neither can be justified, we must still make a choice, and there is no reason to discard experience for this choice.” How about the possibility that our inability to give an account of induction be taken as an indication there is something wrong with our underlying assumptions about the world (worldview)? You asked me multiple times “So what?”. That is the “So what?”. We go thru life assuming there is a rational justification (or warrant, or whatever) for our use of induction. But if, based upon our basic assumptions about the world, there isn’t a justification (or whatever) for induction, then haven’t we generated a contradiction? So, if we are going to consistent, either we drop induction (which is impossible) or accept something is wrong with our worldview. Of course we could presuppose there is an explanation out there we just haven’t been smart enough to see. I don’t see any other alternatives.

      Luke, I hope you will answer this. I am interested in your opinions.

      Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,

      One additional comment. You mentioned Poppers critique of the problem of induction. Please remember that Popper showed that scientific theories can only be disproved, not proven. So he didn’t really find a solution to the problem of induction.

      Reply
  50. Robert says:

    Last night the History Channel ran that Big History, the 8 major events that shaped our world. There is a very comprehensive [for a TV show] description of Collective Knowledge, how our human ancestors have shared knowledge in the past. Of course the biblical worldview denies the existence of our ancestors so it wouldn’t do any good to give a Bible believer the scientific explanation for knowledge. Or anything else for that matter.

    Reply
  51. Robert says:

    Actually nobody really believes in the Christians God anymore. And I mean NOBODY. There are about 2 billion people trying to believe out of fear but they just can’t quite do it. Science has made that impossible.

    Reply
  52. Robert says:

    Now Frank isn’t going to like that statement. However if Mike can claim everyone believes in his God then I should be able to claim that no one does. There is a clear double standard for the presentation of ideas on this blog.

    Reply
  53. Luke says:

    Mike,

    I’m going to try to answer you as briefly as possible. I will go through and provide replies to any direct questions you asked me.

    To reply to your post though:

    As you admit, Gettier is a problem both in theory and quite rarely in practice.

    Induction is a problem only in theory and never in practice.

    Yet you see the first as a small problem to be dismissed, and the latter as very serious challange.

    When I put it that way, do you see why your criticism doesn’t seem consistent?

    (I’ll be glad to expand on all of this, but I am trying really hard to just get to the point and leave out the overexplanation.)

    I’ll go through later and answer all direct questions you asked.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  54. Jim says:

    I disagree about Ted’s assumptions on Ham’s approach. I almost left Christianity 15 years ago as it is clear in my mind that Genesis clearly teaches a young earth and everything I was hearing in education was old earth. From Ham’s presentation, I was able to see that all of the “old earth” evidence is not as solid as it appears and that young earth is very viable as it has not been conclusively proven untrue nor can it be.

    And now I enjoy the peace of standing firm on God’s word. None of this would be possible without the message Ham presented in the debate.

    Reply
  55. Jim Lex says:

    The article states that Ham put the “cart before the horse” by starting with the Bible as his foundation for his arguments. And it would be better for him to have started with Truth (God). But his purpose wasn’t to prove God exists. Even more, “in the beginning was the word and the word is with God and the word WAS GOD. (emphasis mine) So by logical reasoning, starting with the Bible is starting with Truth, God.

    Albeit, it isn’t arguing for God’s existence as that isn’t the topic. I do want to also say that I have heard Frank live, read his book and very much like and support your efforts.

    Reply
  56. Andrew says:

    Your most recent podcast discussed the issue of steady-state constants with regards to the age of the earth, as well as the veracity of the long day of Joshua etc.

    I’m an aircraft component engineer, and just like Bill Nye my degree is in mechanical engineering. I’m also a Christian, because the Gospel is true (and veritably so, read Cold Case Christianity if you haven’t examined the evidence for yourself).

    I’m not alone, we have a weekly Engineering Bible Study at my workplace which regularly includes 15-20 engineers – and WE ALL AGREE that regardless of who you believe the designer is, the sophistication of what we observe testifies clearly that ALL LIFE MUST HAVE BEEN DESIGNED.

    Regarding the speed of light, there has been some debate within the field of research concerning its constancy: http://www.setterfield.org/report/report.html

    Regarding the long day of Joshua, here’s an interesting possibility: http://xwalk.ca/orbital.html

    Regarding the philosophical matter of evolutionism/scientism and the nature of knowing (epistemology), I recommend the following C.S. Lewis essays:

    The Funeral of a Great Myth: http://goo.gl/fHG73I

    On Obstinacy in Belief: http://goo.gl/Mibmje

    Cheers,
    Andrew Sawyer

    Reply
  57. Luke says:

    Hi Mike,

    I’ll start with a brief comment, then move on to your questions.

    You don’t see Gettier as a big deal. That’s fine. Here is the problem though. You presented the problem of induction as a big deal because philosophers haven’t agreed on a solution to it. You’ve mentioned that multiple times and pointed us to encyclopedias to drive home the point. But if you use the opinions of professional philosophers as a way to judge, than you have to accept their judgment in other cases too. If you pick out the parts you like and discard those you don’t, you’re not putting forth a coherent view. This is the only reason I brought it up.

    Mike asked:You brought up the point that modern philosophers have scrapped JTB because it can’t handle the Gettier problem. By why scrap something that works 99.99% of the time?

    Because philosophers want the right answer, not the almost right answer. You never know when k=tjb will fail you, so you can never know that you hold knowledge. And because of that, we need to redefine knowledge itself away from what we thought it was.

    Mike asked:What I find so strange is that philosophers want to treat Gettier as a big deal while downplaying the significance of the problem of induction. Why isn’t it the reverse?

    Because Gettier showed that our definition of knowledge doesn’t work. Now we’re not even sure what knowledge even is. That’s a big deal. Why would the idea that we can’t account for some facts as ‘knowledge’ under a definition we don’t even use anymore be a bigger problem? And it’s not like there has never been an answer to Hume, there are just different schools of thought that have popped up in response to skepticism (that’s largely all epistemology is, in a sense). You can refer to my post above this one for a concise statement of another difference between the two problems. (While any answer to Gettier takes us away from the definition of knowledge Hume was addressing.)

    About accounting for induction, Mike asked:But why is that a justification (or warrant, or whatever)? Isn’t that begging the question?

    It’s not a philosophical justification. It wasn’t intended to be. Sorry if that’s what you were asking for. (I did give some ideas on that aspect of it though.) Here, I was just commenting on where it comes from, or how I account for it’s existence. I thought that was your question.

    I have no idea how it would be begging the question, so based on my current grasp, I’d say no. If you believe it begs the question, you can state how and I might agree with you.

    In relation to my contention that a strong preponderance of professional philosophers finding induction more problematic with a deity than without, Mike asked: How about you? I would like to get a little more detail on why you consider it a problem.

    I already said above that I would agree with the philosophers. As far as your reply, I understood you to say two things. The breakdown of the laws of nature (which you labeled miracles) happens for a good reason and that the fact that the laws of nature do break down (for miracles) lets us know they are otherwise stable. To say that “I know the laws of nature will always be the same (which induction requires) because they sometimes change, but only for good reason” is incomprehensible, so I don’t really think it helps. In fact, your reply demonstrates the point that induction in the presence of an omnipotent deity can never be certain.

    Hume said that the use of induction required the presupposition that the laws of nature are uniform. He said we can only assume this, but can’t justify it (in the classic philosophical sense — which you’ve now called a red herring anyway).

    Therefore if the laws of nature are uniform, induction will work, but we can’t epistemology justify it as knowledge (under the classic definition).

    For induction to be knowledge in the classic sense, you need the following:

    1. The laws of nature are consistently uniform. (T)
    2. The belief that the laws of nature are uniform. (B)
    3. Justification for the belief that the laws of nature are uniform.(J)

    This all started due to your assertion that Stephen can’t have #3. So he lacks one of the necessary conditions to categorize beliefs generated by induction as knowledge.

    You, Mike, say that #1 is not true (miracles, as you labeled them, show that the laws of nature are not uniform). You lack #2, since you don’t hold a belief in #1. And you lack #3, because well frankly you don’t have the belief, which you would need, because it’s hard to give justification to something you don’t even have. Even if we say you did have #3 (we can acknowledge evidence for theories we don’t believe), you would still face an infinite regress problem for your justification. You mentioned Platinga, but Platinga is a foundationalist. He doesn’t believe that belief in G-d is evidentially justified, he simply says it doesn’t need to be (it’s a basic property).

    So in short, you are much further from providing the conditions necessary for induction than Stephen is. I don’t actually consider this a problem, personally, but it’s why I (and I believe a strong majority of professional philosophers) see it as a bigger problem for you than for Stephen.

    About my answer about the rational justification for proceeding on the expectation that the laws of nature won’t change, Mike asked: How about the possibility that our inability to give an account of induction be taken as an indication there is something wrong with our underlying assumptions about the world (worldview)?

    I have no idea why it would indicate such a thing, but I’ll be glad to listen to a reason why it does. I think what would challenge the assumption that the laws of nature don’t change would be an observed change in the laws of nature. Look, I can’t prove with 100% certainty that my wife really loves me (how often have we heard Christians say that they can’t judge another’s heart?). Should the fact that I can’t justify my belief to the satisfaction of some philosophical skeptic make me question not only that fact, but my entire worldview? I find that to be nonsense, quite frankly. Again, I’ll be glad to listen to reasons why this is true, but for now, I see none.

    Our worldview only changes the way we interpret the world, but doesn’t change the truth of it. A worldview can only add beliefs, which would themselves need justification to count as classical knowledge, so I’ll go as far as saying that I can’t see how this would be true. Again, it would be easier if you would state your conclusions and reasons for them, instead of simply asking about the possibility of such conclusions.

    Mike asked:But if, based upon our basic assumptions about the world, there isn’t a justification (or whatever) for induction, then haven’t we generated a contradiction?

    I don’t see how. But as with your above question, if you see such a conclusion, it’s best to tell me specifically what that is, instead of simply asking if I see it too. What contradiction do you see? Can you put it in the form of a syllogism perhaps, so it may be clear to me as well?

    I’d like to give a brief comment about your follow up post; you said:You mentioned Poppers critique of the problem of induction. Please remember that Popper showed that scientific theories can only be disproved, not proven.

    As I already mentioned above, science doesn’t claim to to prove theories, it only claims to disprove faulty ones. Therefore, I don’t see what the problem is. This seems perfectly consistent to me. It would seem silly to criticize science for failing to do something it hasn’t set out to do.

    Mike said:Luke, I hope you will answer this. I am interested in your opinions.

    Gladly. I’ve answered your direct questions (I went through your post and used the find function to find question marks, which is my usual procedure when answering these posts.) If there is something you wished for me to comment on, but didn’t directly ask about, feel free to ask about that as well. I have no problem answering any questions or offering clarification.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Hi Luke,

      You say that you believe in induction because it is in our nature, but you don’t see that as begging the question. It is begging the question because the fact that following your nature in the past worked is irrelevant to the question of whether following your nature in the future will work until you presuppose that nature is uniform (thus and induction will work). That is begging the question.

      You also seem to think that I believe we need absolute certainty for knowledge. I don’t believe I ever said that. If I did I misspoke because I don’t believe we do. My concern about induction is not that we don’t have certainty but that we have no justification (or warrant or whatever) at all.

      “Because philosophers want the right answer, not the almost right answer. You never know when k=tjb will fail you” I have to say I find your answer quite surprising. You were critical of what you believed was my earlier requirement for certainty (even though, in fact I don’t believe you needed certainty for knowledge). Now you are saying we should scrap JTB because it doesn’t work 100.00% of the time, it only works 99.99% of the time. And there is no problem with accept a belief (induction) that requires circular reasoning 100% of the time. We do see things differently.

      Your criticism of my position on induction (reliance on GOD) involves the issues of miracles. You say my position undermines the uniformity of nature. Why? Are you saying nature must be uniform 100% of the time? You appears to be saying that (please correct me if I am wrong). But why? I don’t have absolute certainty about anything (except GOD). I get by just fine. When I get on an airplane, I don’t think “maybe we are going to crash because GOD will change the laws of aerodynamics.” I may worry about running into bad weather or maybe there’s something wrong with the airplane but I don’t worry about GOD changing the laws of aerodynamics. GOD makes the world understandable and promises he will do so until the end of the age. And the miracles he does are rare enough that they doesn’t makes the world any less understandable. When GOD parted the Red sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army I don’t think people came back the next day wondering if it the Red Sea was going to be parted again. They knew it was a miracle, a one time event, and it didn’t make the world any less intelligible. Now if this world was upheld by an arbitrary, capricious god who regularly changed the laws of nature for no reason at all, then I would be concerned. But that is not the Biblical GOD. You appear to be creating a problem where none exist. All the while accepting a belief (induction) that requires circular reasoning 100% of the time.

      I have no problem with setting a very high standard in evaluating miracle claims, especially in science and medicine. So there would be no change in the way science, medicine operates. And, according to the Christian worldview, we have good reason to live our lives trusting in the uniformity of nature. But there is a fundamental problem with your position. By arbitrarily and completely ruling out the possibility of miracles you are abandoning the search for truth. Because you are saying we must reject the possibility of a miracle even if it does happens. So if Jesus descends from heaven and appears before 100,000 people and talks to them; it doesn’t matter. It didn’t happen because miracles by definition don’t occur. Science becomes a search for the best naturalistic explanation, not a search for the truth. Truth becomes irrelevant.

      Its getting late so I’ll respond to your other points later.

      Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,

      Sorry – I was a bit slow but I think I caught on. You are saying you are not begging the question because human nature (what we naturally believe) is sufficient to warrant our belief in induction. Is that correct?

      Reply
  58. Stephen B says:

    Mike: “I don’t think you will be able to prove that it is impossible for GOD to reveal himself to people such that they know who he truly is.”

    I don’t need to argue that such a thing is impossible. The key part is not that successful ‘positives’ can’t occur – ie someone correctly identifying a Godly revelation. The key part is you can’t rule out FALSE positives. It’s not impossible for someone to THINK God has revealed Himself when actually He hasn’t.

    People of different religions can all think they’ve had their own deity reveal Himself (or Herself, or themselves). Even if we allow that a God may exist, you would need to have a pretty ‘New Age’ religious view – along the lines of ‘they’re all the same God really’ – to reject the conclusion that at least some of these people are incorrect about having a genuine revelation.

    In short – an all-powerful God could make Himself known in such a way that a person KNOWS that it’s a genuine revelation. But equally a person could THINK that a God has genuinely revealed Himself when in fact He hasn’t. So, epistemologically speaking the two situations are indistinguishable, whether they happen in #1 or #3. In fact, you can’t even rule out that the deceitful God of #2 isn’t tricking you in some way – He could be all-powerful too, and could make you think whatever he wants.

    Reply
  59. Stephen B says:

    Mike: “That it has done so in the past cannot serve as a reason for believing that it will do so in the future.”

    Regarding Hume, Luke is dealing with Hume/Popper etc very well, so I don’t need to get involved with that line of argument. Suffice it to say, Luke already answered the above – assuming it will suddenly change seems MORE irrational that assuming it won’t change.

    All the appearances seem to back up that we are living in a ‘clockwork’ universe, one in which induction works. Feel free to give me a reason to think it might stop working. But if you’re about to jump out of a plane, and you’ve got the choice of a parachute or a pillow to help you reach the ground safely, you seem to be arguing that there’s nothing rational about choosing the parachute, even if you’ve just seen ten men before you get turned into jam after choosing the pillow.

    As Luke says, your line of argument here is an amusing piece of philosophy at best, but doesn’t actually mean anything with regards to the way we live our lives, nor should it. It certainly doesn’t get you any closer to theism.

    “There would be no reason for our thoughts to have any relationship whatsoever to reality.”

    If there was no relationship between our thoughts and reality then we’d have died out as a species, replaced quite easily by a species that more accurately modelled reality. Look up the criticisms of plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism for more on that.

    “However, if the Christian worldview is true (as I assert it is) then I know it is true.”

    But you could equally THINK it was true if you were in #2, #3, or #4. And thinking something is true is not really any different from knowing it’s true. Only an outside observer can say someone ‘knows’ something is true rather than merely ‘thinks’ it is true. And you don’t have access to that all-knowing ‘outside observer’ unless you beg the question by assuming God exists and is giving you this information. Again, a man in #1 who has this outside observer is indistinguishable from a man in #2, #3, or #4 who merely THINKS he has that outside observer.

    So I believe the parallel still stands. You’re still no closer to identifying which of the four you are in.

    Reply
  60. Stephen B says:

    “Just because 3 is true doesn’t mean 4 is logically impossible. And if 4 is not logically impossible there is no way you could know it can’t happen.”

    I’d say that a clockwork universe DOES rule out things happening for no reason. It’s simple cause and effect – apologists often cite this to rule out a universe being created with nothing to cause its creation.

    Anyway, one could make the same argument about #1 and #2. You’ve said nothing to suggest a trickster God is LOGICALLY impossible, merely that if #1 is true then #2 isn’t. Which is just a way of saying “If God is trustworthy then He isn’t UNtrustworthy”.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Imagine someone saying they dreamt about a talking rhino last night, and they’re now convinced it was real. “It’s a rhino who can appear to people in their dreams”, he explains. Neither of us would be impressed. Now, if he adds that he knows it was real because the rhino has the ability to make you KNOW he is real, should either of us be any more convinced of his story? No, because it’s begging the question – the rhino’s magical abilities to make you KNOW he is real have to be assumed before you can believe it.

      Epistemologically, there’s no difference between a) A man who genuinely got visited in his dreams by a magical rhino who was able to make the man KNOW it wasn’t just a dream; and b) A man who just dreamt he met a magical rhino, and became convinced the rhino was real. The first guy could say: “I KNOW the rhino was real, whereas that other guy just THINKS he knows!”. But that second guy is equally convinced that he knows. And he can tell you how he knows – the rhino in his dream convinced him, and that rhino has the POWER to make you know!

      So you’re a guy saying God has the power to let you KNOW, so that’s how you know, but that’s indistinguishable from a guy who just THINKS God has let him know.

      In short, as I pointed out a few posts back, the specifics of Christian doctrine you believe in have no relevance. Any attempt to use them to argue a point is question-begging, as the specifics only apply IF they are true. You can’t use those specifics to argue for the truth of the specifics. Any of the specifics can simply to countered with an alternative scenario involving a trickster God who convinced you that your arguments were true. Simply saying that your specifics rule out such a God doesn’t help – convincing you that His existence is impossible could merely be part of the trickster God’s deception

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Stephen B,

        “Mike: “I don’t think you will be able to prove that it is impossible for GOD to reveal himself to people such that they know who he truly is.”

        I don’t need to argue that such a thing is impossible. The key part is not that successful ‘positives’ can’t occur – ie someone correctly identifying a Godly revelation. The key part is you can’t rule out FALSE positives. It’s not impossible for someone to THINK God has revealed Himself when actually He hasn’t.”

        And you are contradicting your earlier position. Whether I could be tricked by a trickster god in worldview 2 is irrelevant. After all, you can’t know anything in worldview 4. The claim you have been making (at least up to this point) was that there was a parallel between worldviews 1-2 and 3-4. I am showing that parallel does not exist. The important point is my claim that I can know I’m in worldview 1 if I am in worldview 1. That an infinite omnipotent GOD can reveal himself to creatures he created in such a manner that these creature knows who he truly is. And if that is the case I have a foundation of knowledge in worldview 1. And my other claim is that you can’t know you are in worldview 3. Thus you don’t have a foundation for knowledge in worldview 3. If both claims hold up, then there is not a parallel between worldviews 1-2 and 3-4 and in such a case my position should be accepted because my position provides a foundation for knowledge and reason and yours doesn’t. We can’t know we are having a meaningful, rational conversation right now unless my position is true. You go on and on about worldview 2 but how do you know that worldview 2 is even possible? Let’s consider this in the next paragraph.

        “Only an outside observer can say someone ‘knows’ something is true rather than merely ‘thinks’ it is true. And you don’t have access to that all-knowing ‘outside observer’ unless you beg the question by assuming God exists and is giving you this information.”

        Here is where we have a fundamental difference. According to the Christian worldview, GOD is the ultimate. He determines possibility. Logic reflects his nature. According to the way I see the world, worldview 1 is true and worldviews 2, 3 and 4 are logically impossible (because GOD determines possibility). Worldviews 2, 3 and 4 are no more conceptually coherent than square circles. But according to the way you see the world, all these possibilities are real. Usually people say that logic determines what’s possible. If it creates a contradiction it’s impossible. Otherwise it’s possible. But whatever you call it, you believe there are all these other possibilities that are on the table. So there are two radically different conceptions of reality. And you just assume your conception of reality is correct. You don’t know it’s correct, you just assume it’s correct. You beg the question. So how do we choose between these two conceptions of reality? My position is that if the two claims I made above (worldview 1 doesn’t reduce to worldview 2 but worldview 3 does reduce to worldview 4) hold up, my position should be accepted because my position provides a foundation for knowledge and reason and yours doesn’t. And we do agree the world is rational (or else why are we having this conversation?).

        There are two options available for you to undercut my argument. Option 1 is for you to show that it isn’t be the case that I know am in worldview 1 when I am in worldview 1. That an infinite, omnipotent GOD can’t reveal himself to creatures he created in such a manner that these creature knows who he truly is. So contrary to a statement you made in your last post that is exactly what you have to do in order for option 1 to succeed. How you are going to do that I haven’t got a clue. Simply saying you can’t see how it could happen therefore it can’t happen isn’t enough. In in my last post I postulated how GOD MIGHT do it. Not saying he does it that way. He does it however he chooses to do so. But you’ve got to show that can’t happen for option 1 to succeed. Just as I am showing you that you can’t know you are in worldview 3 if even if you are in worldview 3. That is exactly what I did in the first part of my last post where I discussed induction. Option 2 is to show that I am wrong. That you can know you are in worldview 3 if you are in worldview 3. So far that’s not going very well:

        “Suffice it to say, Luke already answered the above – assuming it will suddenly change seems MORE irrational that assuming it won’t change.” And its begging the question. Even if, based upon past experience, that assumption turned out to be valid in the past, there is no justification for assuming it will be the same in the future unless you assume the validity of induction. You are begging the question.

        And:

        “Feel free to give me a reason to think it might stop working.” No, I gave a detailed explanation showing how induction is begging the question. Now the burden is on you to show it is not.

        And:

        “If there was no relationship between our thoughts and reality then we’d have died out as a species, replaced quite easily by a species that more accurately modelled reality.” No one is questioning the reliability of our senses. That’s not the issue. The issue is how you can give an account of how you know your rational faculties are reliable (based upon your worldview).

        So:

        If both options 1 and 2 fail then I will have shown that my conception of reality does account for human rationality and your conception of reality reduces to irrationality. And so my conception of reality should be accepted.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          ” The important point is my claim that I can know I’m in worldview 1 if I am in worldview 1″

          But you can think you’re in #1 if you’re in any of the other three, so that doesn’t get you anywhere. I already dealt with that. You knowing it in one and simply thinking you know it in the others is indistinguishable.

          ” Whether I could be tricked by a trickster god in worldview 2 is irrelevant. After all, you can’t know anything in worldview 4.”

          It’s entirely relevant. You could be in #2 and yet insist you are #1, because you insist that the God of #1 has given you the knowledge you are in #1. In fact you could still be convinced of that even though you are in #3 or #4. People are convinced they are right and yet are wrong all the time. That you are convinced an omnipotent God who has the power to let you truly KNOW stuff, has let you truly KNOW it, doesn’t mean you truly do, any more than that guy with the rhino dream in my last post has made a logically tight argument that we should take his dream seriously.

          ““Feel free to give me a reason to think it might stop working.” No, I gave a detailed explanation showing how induction is begging the question. Now the burden is on you to show it is not.”

          Begging the question or not, simple pragmatism is a good enough reason to use induction – science works. You ignore the conclusions of science if you want, I’m going with the method that keeps curing people and manages to get planes to fly!

          Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          If you want a short answer: epistemologically, a person who knows and a person who just thinks he knows is indistinguishable. It’s impossible to know if you’re the first guy or the second.

          Reply
          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            Up until now, you maintained that the critical issue was that the relationship between 1 and 2 was identical to the relationship between 3 and 4. These are your words from 21 Feb:

            “In short, for any argument you make, imagine swapping 1 for 3 and 2 for 4, and vice versa etc.“

            So your position today directly contradicts your position from 21 Feb.

            And your defense of induction based upon pragmatism begs the question. Just because it worked in the past is no justification it will work in the future unless you presuppose the uniformity of nature. So your are again begging the question.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            “Begging the question or not, simple pragmatism is a good enough reason to use induction “

            Your position shows that atheism can’t provide answers to the difficult philosophical questions.

          • Stephen.brolan@yahoo.com says:

            “So your position today directly contradicts your position from 21 Feb.”

            There’s no contradiction at all Mike. None at all. I never said it was ‘the critical issue’. I said that to save time, be prepared that any argument you made for 1, I would most likely make for 3, etc. in my last post I said that that *particular* claim of yours could be made by a person in any of the three other situations 2, 3 or 4, and that they’d believe it with the same certainty as you, and so your certainty is no justification for believing it is due to you being in #1′ and is therefore no support at all for your worldview.

            “Your position shows that atheism can’t provide answers to the difficult philosophical questions.”

            I just gave you a good pragmatic reason – your own position that we have no justification for trusting the parachute instead of a pillow is simply absurd. And you’ve provided no theistic answer that doesn’t beg the question.

            Again, what’s the difference between someone in #1, who has been given justifiable knowledge by an omnipotent being, and a deluded man in any of the other three who wrongly believes he’s been given justifiable knowledge by an omnipotent being? They’re both certain. If there’s no difference in their certainty, there’s no way of telling if a person with those beliefs is in #1 or not, meaning your theism gives you no greater footing, and no better answer to the problem of induction.

          • Stephen B says:

            “So your position today directly contradicts your position from 21 Feb.”

            There’s no contradiction at all Mike. None at all. I never said it was ‘the critical issue’. I said that to save time, be prepared that any argument you made for 1, I would most likely make for 3, etc. in my last post I said that that *particular* claim of yours could be made by a person in any of the three other situations 2, 3 or 4, and that they’d believe it with the same certainty as you, and so your certainty is no justification for believing it is due to you being in #1′ and is therefore no support at all for your worldview.

            “Your position shows that atheism can’t provide answers to the difficult philosophical questions.”

            I just gave you a good pragmatic reason – your own position that we have no justification for trusting the parachute instead of a pillow is simply absurd. And you’ve provided no theistic answer that doesn’t beg the question.

            Again, what’s the difference between someone in #1, who has been given justifiable knowledge by an omnipotent being, and a deluded man in any of the other three who wrongly believes he’s been given justifiable knowledge by an omnipotent being? They’re both certain. If there’s no difference in their certainty, there’s no way of telling if a person with those beliefs is in #1 or not, meaning your theism gives you no greater footing, and no better answer to the problem of induction.

          • Stephen B says:

            You’ve also not explained why an all-powerful trickster God couldn’t fool you into thinking you had true justified beliefs. That makes just as much sense as saying a non-trickster God could give you justified beliefs.

            I think we’re going round in circles now. So you can have the last word if you want it.

          • Stephen B says:

            Oh, one last thing – I should add that any explanation attempting to rule out the trickster God is vulnerable to a counter-argument that the trickster God may be just CONVINCING you that the explanation is valid. A trickster God with unlimited power could easily convince you He does not exist, down to befuddling your brain into accepting invalid logical arguments against His existence.

            So you have to beg the question by assuming He doesn’t exist before you can accept any argument against His existence.

            This is why presuuposisitionalist arguments are self-defeating. Once you go down that path you can’t argue against anything.

          • mike says:

            Stephen B,

            I’ll take one more attempt at explaining this and let it go.

            Scenario 1: I know that I am in worldview 1 if I am in worldview 1. But you can’t know you are in worldview 3 even if you are in worldview 3. In this case worldview 1 accounts for human rationality. Worldviews 2, 3, 4 lead to irrationality. So we should accept worldview 1. Because in this scenario worldviews 2, 3, 4 aren’t even coherent concepts. They undercut themselves. Before we even try to determine whether a concept is true or false we have to determine if it is coherent. So if someone asserts “babababa”, we don’t even try and determine if its true or false. Its simply meaningless. Since worldviews 2, 3, 4 are irrational, in those worldviews there would be no reason to believe anything is coherent. Including the concepts that we call worldviews 2, 3, 4. They would be no more meaningful than asserting “babababa”. And so worldviews 2, 3, 4 are discounted because they don’t mean anything. And worldview 1 is accepted.

            Scenario 2: I can’t know I am in worldview 1 even if I am and you can’t know you are in worldview 3 even if you are. All four worldviews lead to irrationality and so the entire scenario is meaningless and thus can be discounted.

            Scenario 3: I can’t know that I am in worldview 1 even if I am in worldview 1. But you do know you are in worldview 3 if you are in worldview 3. Then we should accept worldview 3 by the same reasoning process I gave for scenario 1 but with worldview 1 replaced by worldview 3 and worldview 2 replaced by worldview 4.

          • Stephen B says:

            “Scenario 1: I know that I am in worldview 1 if I am in worldview 1.”

            But you’d still think ‘I know I’m in worldview 1’ even if you were NOT in 1, so that gets you nowhere. You’d be just as sure! What would you/ could you say to someone from another religion who told you he KNOWS he’s in 1a, which is his religion’s version of 1? He tells you he KNOWS he’s in 1a because his (non-Christian) God lets him know, and that’s how he KNOWS your God doesn’t exist. All you’d both have to offer is your certainty.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            “But you’d still think ‘I know I’m in worldview 1′ even if you were NOT in 1, so that gets you nowhere.” But in SCENARIO 1, ‘NOT in 1’ is meaningless. It would have no more meaning than “babababa”. It wouldn’t even make sense to ask whether ‘NOT in 1’ is true or false. Its meaningless. Its trying to give a rational justification for believing the world is irrational. Its self refuting.

            “What would you/ could you say to someone from another religion who told you he KNOWS he’s in 1a, which is his religion’s version of 1?” That’s a completely different issue. In that case I would get into the specifics of his worldview and my worldview. That he couldn’t have a rational justification for making the claims he wants to make.

          • Stephen B says:

            “But in SCENARIO 1, ‘NOT in 1′ is meaningless.”

            Begging the question.

            If you allow for an all powerful being, convincing humans of a falsehood is just as possible as convincing them of the truth. Thus it’s impossible for anyone to ‘know something for certain’. Saying ‘an all powerful being could do it’ is like saying He could create a square circle. You can never know you’re not in 2. Saying it makes no sense to talk of 2 is no better than saying: “But in SCENARIO 2, ‘NOT in 2′ is meaningless.”

            And any argument against a deceiving God must beg the question by assuming he’s not tricking us into accepting the validity of that very argument!

            Try it – any argument that such a God doesn’t exist, I can just say “Ah, but the deceiving God might just be convincing you that’s a good argument!”

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            “Begging the question.” No. In scenario 1 its true by definition. By the way we defined the scenario.

            “And any argument against a deceiving God must beg the question by assuming he’s not tricking us into accepting the validity of that very argument!” So you are postulating we could be deceived right now. In that case I can ignore the argument you are making right now. You are simply postulating total skepticism, which undercuts itself. And if you are going to take that position then you have no right to criticize Ken Ham and his claims.

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            “If you allow for an all powerful being, convincing humans of a falsehood is just as possible as convincing them of the truth. Thus it’s impossible for anyone to ‘know something for certain’.” Like I said already, worldview 2 undercuts itself and can be discounted. Its not begging the question.

  61. Luke says:

    Mike,

    I see that you said you will respond to other points later, so I’ll go ahead and just say that I’ll let you have the last word on all of this. I’ve made my points and there’s no point in saying the same thing over and over. That said, I will respond to any direct questions in your post, as I always set out to do. (I do want to point out though, that I answer the questions you asked. For example, you asked a question about why philosophers in general believe something, and I answered that question, but you attributed that viewpoint to me and were surprised by it. So when I answer your questions, it’s not always my opinion or my view, because that’s sometimes what you ask for.)

    Anyway, if you have any further questions, I’ll be glad to answer, but I’ll let you have the last word, as I said, and you can always refer to my previous posts.

    Mike asked:Your criticism of my position on induction (reliance on [a deity]) involves the issues of miracles. You say my position undermines the uniformity of nature. Why?

    Just to be clear, you have used the term miracles, not me, but be that as it may, it undermines the uniformity of nature, because nature is either uniform or it’s not. You are saying it’s uniform most of the time which is another way of saying it’s not really uniform.

    Mike asked:Are you saying nature must be uniform 100% of the time?

    For induction to work 100% of the time, yes.

    Mike asked:You appears to be saying that (please correct me if I am wrong). But why?

    Becuase the uniformity of nature is a requirement for induction to generate knowledge in the empistemological sense. It’s not me that’s saying that. It’s Hume’s argument that you have based this whole discussion on. If you don’t like Hume’s argument that’s fine (a lot of people don’t), but you can’t just change the parts you don’t like and keep citing it as Hume’s argument. To quote Hume from Treatise: that instances of which we have had no experience, must resemble those of which we have had experience, and that the course of nature continues always uniformly the same. (emphasis added)

    That’s why.

    For a brief comment, Mike said:But there is a fundamental problem with your position. By arbitrarily and completely ruling out the possibility of miracles you are abandoning the search for truth.

    I have literally no idea where you got this. I need to work onmy writing apparently (I’ve known that for some time.)

    Okay, that looks like all of your questions. If you have any more, I’ll be glad to answer.

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Mike said: “But there is a fundamental problem with your position. By arbitrarily and completely ruling out the possibility of miracles you are abandoning the search for truth.”

      Luke: “I have literally no idea where you got this. I need to work onmy writing apparently (I’ve known that for some time)”

      There’s nothing wrong with your writing. You were talking about the problems that miracles cause for induction. Mike took a leap from that to assume you were a) Ruling out the possibility of miracles and b) Were doing so arbitrarily. Neither assumptions are warranted by anything you said.

      Reply
    • Mike says:

      I only have one comment:

      “To quote Hume from Treatise: that instances of which we have had no experience, must resemble those of which we have had experience, and that the course of nature continues always uniformly the same. (emphasis added)
      That’s why.”

      It’s good to point out both sides. But I’m not sure of its relevance for my position. After all, Hume was an atheist. He may have simply have never considered the position I am arguing for since my position is impossible if there is no god – which is what he assumed. And if that is the case we do need 100% uniformity. Don’t know for sure since I am not a Hume scholar.

      Reply
  62. Luke says:

    Mike,

    I just saw that you posted a short follow up. (Sorry, personally, I don’t like the way this forum engine puts newer “replies” above older ones. I think it makes it easy to miss something.)

    Mike asked:You are saying you are not begging the question because human nature (what we naturally believe) is sufficient to warrant our belief in induction. Is that correct?

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear. I’m not saying that at all. As I said before, when you asked how I account for induction, I was answering a question of how I account for it’s existence and how we came to use it, not how I justify it in terms of tjb. I quoted Hume, who was doing much the same. He believed this was true, but didn’t offer it as an effective justification in the classic sense (in the classic sense). That’s all, really.

    I don’t believe that I said it wasn’t begging the question. I just said I didn’t see that, and asked how you believed it was. The reason I don’t see it is that to me to say “I think x exists because it’s just part of our nature” isn’t a formal argument nor does it assume anything (except maybe that we have traits which could together be labeleed a nature).

    I’ve never commented about whether or not I think induction can lead to tjb for several reasons (some of which I’ve mentioned here), I haven’t devoted the brain power to come to a conclusion (these things take serious time to be done right; I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to write a post-graduate level philosophy paper, but it’s not something I have interest in doing for fun.)

    If I were to try, I’d start by critiquing Hume for his assertion that the billiard ball is equally likely to go in any direction, if our experience is discounted. I think he is wrong there (as I mentioned), and while I think all directions are possible, they are not equally likely. I’d also apply an beyesian evidential argument to induction, and I would guess that I’d come up something there that would give us some pretty high odds to trust inductive reasoning. Would all of that be enough to qualify as tbj in my view? I honestly don’t know. Either way, again for reasons I’ve mentioned, I’m not too concerned about it.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Luke

    Reply
  63. Luke says:

    Mike,

    You said: Like I said already, worldview 2 undercuts itself and can be discounted.

    Why/how does it undercut itself, and why/how can it be discounted?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Luke: “Why/how does it undercut itself, and why/how can it be discounted?”

      Mike said it’s because: “You are simply postulating total skepticism, which undercuts itself”

      It doesn’t undercut itself, it simply shows the end result of Mike’s pressupositionalist arguments, and postulating the existence of a supreme being.

      He can’t dismiss it just because he doesn’t like that it undermines his knowledge claims. I might as well say that questioning induction results in total skepticism. He’s the one saying we need to account for it when it’s worked perfectly well for us for hundreds of years, not me.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Notice also that Mike obviously doesn’t think we can dismiss situation 4 for the same reason, though it is similarly postulating a position of total skepticism, and therefore undercutting itself. If he’s allowed to say 3 reduces to 4, we can say 1 reduces to 2. If 2 is dismissed simply as total skepticism, then so should 4 be.

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Stephen B,

        No, both worldviews 2 and 4 lead to skepticism and undercut themselves. And worldview 3 reduces to worldview 4 and so worldview 3 also leads to skepticism. Only worldview 1 avoids skepticism and so should be accepted. That’s what I have been saying all along.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          Mike, you’ve not shown why 3 reducing to 4 doesn’t also apply to 1 reducing to 2. Your argument is special pleading – if you can simply dismiss 2 as being extreme skepticism, and you admit that 4 is extreme skepticism too, then 4 should be similarly dismissed. 1 doesn’t reduce to 2 because 2 is extreme skepticism? Then 3 doesn’t reduce to 4 for the same reason.

          “Like I said already, worldview 2 undercuts itself and can be discounted. Its not begging the question.”

          Cool, then worldview 4 also undercuts itself and can be discounted.

          I really don’t think you’ve thought this through, as all your arguments can be used against yourself.

          If you claim 2 is simply impossible (and I really don’t see why an all-powerful trickster God is any less possible than an all-powerful God who never tricks at all), then I reserve to right to claim the same for 4.

          Look, if you want to claim you think 1 seems more likely than 3, that’s fine, but none of these arguments get you any closer to showing there’s anything illogical about accepting 3.

          Reply
    • Mike says:

      Luke,

      I am making a transcendental argument. That only worldview 1 provides the preconditions of intelligibility. Only in worldview 1 can we account for how we know things. And so to argue that maybe we are in 2, 3 or 4 is absurd. You would be making a rational argument that the world is irrational.

      Reply
  64. Luke says:

    Mike,

    Why does skepticism undercut itself?

    Do you believe that something can only be true if it can be proven?

    Do you believe an unintelligible world cannot exist? Or simply that we could never know we were in said world if it did?

    How does world 3 not “[provide] the preconditions of intelligibility”? The problem of induction (which you’ve abandoned anyway) ceases to be a problem if we accept the “clockwork universe” as a “precondition”, does it not?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Yes, I don’t see the difference between accepting a) a non-decieving God as a precondition and b) accepting a clockwork universe. If we’re dismissing worlds that ‘undercut themselves’ then we have to chuck out both 2 AND 4, meaning Mike can no longer use his ‘3 reduces to 4’ argument. Induction works fine in a clockwork universe. The only time when induction fails is when you’re, say, an army figuring that your opponents are trapped by a body of water, and then the laws of physics get suspended, the water parts and your opponents. And that supposedly happened in situation 1!

      Reply
      • toby says:

        A clockwork universe can get you a cellular phone, universe #1 can get you stoned for working on a holy day . . . probably not much chance of ending up with a cell phone.

        Reply
  65. Mike says:

    Stephen B,

    I have answered your points over and over and over and nothing gets thru. You simply repeat your earlier point again and again. Further discussion is useless.

    Luke,

    I have abandoned the problem induction? Totally false.

    And if you are prepared to accept skepticism then it is useless to continue this conversation.

    I’m done. Bye.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “I have answered your points over and over and over and nothing gets thru.”

      Yes, and I pointed out the fallacies in your points over and over. You’re just using special pleading, ignoring the implications of your own arguments.

      “And if you are prepared to accept skepticism…”

      Mike, you’re the one saying that it’s irrational to expect a pencil to obey the laws of gravity when we drop it, despite the laws of gravity being the same every time we observe them. You’re the one advocating scepticism to the absurd degree here, not us.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      At no point did anyone else say they were ‘prepared to accept skepticism’, people were just questioning why you were willing to a) dismiss 2, and hence say that 1 didn’t reduce to 2, but wouldn’t accept b) that the same argument would mean you had to dismiss 4 and hence say that 3 didn’t reduce to 4.

      Reply
  66. Luke says:

    Mike said:I have abandoned the problem induction?

    Mike, you said that it is “totally false” that you have abandoned making this argument. I guess I must apologize for having misunderstood. I made the mistake since a bedrock of induction is the uniformity of nature (you can go back and look at the link you first posted about this, and see how often it mentions the concepts of uniformity and the future being like the past), and you deny the uniformity of nature, so I couldn’t see how you hadn’t abandoned the idea as a problem.

    (To say something is uniform most of the time, is just another way of saying it’s not uniform. Uniformity is a bit like faithfulness. It’s not of much use to be faithful to one’s spouse 99.9% of the time.)

    The uniformity of nature is literally the bedrock of the induction process. You deny it.

    That’s fine and I think it’s a perfectly reasonable view, but it’s not one that goes well with telling others about how unjustified their use of induction is.

    So that’s why I made the mistake, and as I said: I apologize.

    Mike said:I’m done. Bye.

    Peace to you sir. I wish you well.

    Luke

    Reply
  67. Mike says:

    Luke,

    I’ve changed my mind and would like to make one further point. Just in case you check this site.

    If so, I think your criticism of my position misses the mark. Your position comes down to asserting that the uniformity of nature must hold true 100% of the time because David Hume says so. But I don’t see the relevance.

    My position is that induction isn’t justified (in a materialistic worldview) because (as Hume pointed out) it begs the question. I never asserted that induction wasn’t justified just because David Hume said so.

    In an earlier my post, I gave an extensive explanation why my position provided us with a rational justification for trusting in the uniformity of nature. I’ll repeat it here:

    Your criticism of my position on induction (reliance on GOD) involves the issues of miracles. You say my position undermines the uniformity of nature. Why? Are you saying nature must be uniform 100% of the time? You appears to be saying that (please correct me if I am wrong). But why? I don’t have absolute certainty about anything (except GOD). I get by just fine. When I get on an airplane, I don’t think “maybe we are going to crash because GOD will change the laws of aerodynamics.” I may worry about running into bad weather or maybe there’s something wrong with the airplane but I don’t worry about GOD changing the laws of aerodynamics. GOD makes the world understandable and promises he will do so until the end of the age. And the miracle he does are rare enough that they doesn’t makes the world any less understandable. When GOD parted the Red sea and destroyed Pharaoh’s army I don’t think people came back the next day wondering if it the Red Sea was going to be parted again. They knew it was a miracle, a one-time event, and it didn’t make the world any less intelligible. Now if this world was upheld by an arbitrary, capricious god who regularly changed the laws of nature for no reason at all, then I would be concerned. But that is not the Biblical GOD. You appear to be creating a problem where none exist.

    And:

    I have no problem with setting a very high standard in evaluating miracle claims, especially in science and medicine. So there would be no change in the way science, medicine operates. And, according to the Christian worldview, we have good reason to live our lives trusting in the uniformity of nature.

    Your only response was to cite David Hume. I don’t see how Hume’s opinion is relevant to my position (unless some justification is provided).

    Just in case you check this site.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      Mike, if YOU are still checking the site, can you answer this.

      You said: “No, both worldviews 2 and 4 lead to skepticism and undercut themselves.”

      Given that you used the ‘undercutting’ nature of 2 to explain why you could dismiss it, and therefore avoid the problem of ‘1 reducing to 2’, why does the ‘undercutting’ nature of 4 not mean we can similarly dismiss it, and avoid the problem of 3 reducing to 4.

      This seems a fairly important flaw in your argument. Can you at least understand why this point of contention is preventing anyone accepting your argument?

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Stephen B,

        The point I have been making is that you couldn’t know you are in 3 even if you are in 3. So it doesn’t help you to be in 3. You are in the same position epistomologically speaking whether you are in 3 or 4. But 1 and 2 are not the same epistomologically speaking. My position is that I am in 1 and I know I am in one.

        Reply
        • Stephen B says:

          That doesn’t really answer my question Mike. You dismissed 2, so you know 1 doesn’t reduce to 2. You also dismiss 4, but you don’t follow the previous logic of saying 3 can’t reduce to 4.

          “My position is that I am in 1 and I know I am in 1.”

          You are only able to have that certainty by dismissing the notion of 2 – If 2 exists then it’s perfectly possible to be fooled into certainty by the the God of 2. If I am allowed to dismiss the notion of 4 (and you have argued that I can), then I can similarly be confidence that I am in 3.

          “But 1 and 2 are not the same epistomologically speaking”

          Perhaps, but 1 & 3 look pretty similar to me. Why couldn’t a man just like you exist in 3 and be convinced he was in 1? He feels certainty, he’s convinced that the God of 1 has allowed him to KNOW he’s in 1, but in fact he’s just in 3 and what he thinks is knowledge is nothing of the kind.

          “you couldn’t know you are in 3 even if you are in 3”

          By that logic, neither would you. You say it yourself: If you were in 3, you wouldn’t know it. You’d still think you were in 1. Therefore any claim by you that you KNOW you’re in 1 must beg the question by rejecting you’re in 3 and simply don’t know it.

          [In fact, I’m happy to say 1 and 3 are both possible; my point is that your argument for ruling out 3 doesn’t work].

          Luke, can you pitch in on this particular line of argument to help prevent Mike and me going round in circles? I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about, and another person’s rephrasing of it might help Mike understand.

          Reply
        • Mike says:

          Stephen B,

          Another way to put it is that if you can’t know that you are in 3 instead of 4 then 3 undercuts itself just like 4 does.

          Reply
          • Stephen B says:

            Sure, and if you can’t know that you are in 1 instead of 2 then 1 undercuts itself just like 2 does.

            When I presented you with that, you rejected it on the grounds that 2 was extreme scepticism. Using that argument, you should also reject 4 for the same reason.

            If 2 and 4 are off the table, then neither 1 nor 3 ‘reduce’ to anything.

            If 2 and 4 are NOT off the table, than both 1 and 3 are equally vulnerable to ‘reducing’ to 2 and 4 respectively.

            Your main claim to being in 1 seems to be that God has MADE you sure, but this is indistinguishable from the false certainty of a man in any of the other situations. People are falsely convinced they KNOW things all the time – your certainty is not convincing to anyone else.

          • Stephen B says:

            Situation 1:
            Mike is sure God exists, a certainty given to him by God
            Stephen is sceptical – he accepts a God is possible, but he simply doesn’t see the evidence. Apparently God has decided not to give Stephen that certainty.

            Situation 2:
            Mike has been fooled by a trickster God into thinking the God of 1 exists. That trickster God has either failed to convince Stephen the God of 1 exists, or has fooled Stephen into suspecting no God exists at all.

            Situation 3:
            It’s a Godless, clockwork universe. Mike has become wrongly convinced the God of 1 exists. Stephen has pretty much got the measure of how the universe works.

            Situation 4:
            It’s a Godless, random universe, that just so happens so far to operate exactly the same way as Situation 3. Mike has become wrongly convinced the God of 1 exists. Stephen is wrong that the universe is intelligible, but so far, luckily for him and the rest of us, it still maintains the appearance of being intelligible, but might stop being like that any moment…

            Is that how you see the four possibilities [albeit you rule out three of them]?

            If so, can you explain why you feel you can rule out all but 1?

          • Mike says:

            Stephen B,

            ““you couldn’t know you are in 3 even if you are in 3″

            By that logic, neither would you. You say it yourself: If you were in 3, you wouldn’t know it.”

            Thats right, and I wouldn’t know anything. Neither would you. If you were in 3 you couldn’t know you were in 3 and also you would have no clue whether 2 was a rational, coherent concept. Remember, you are the one asserting 2, not me. You couldn’t know 2 is any more meaningful than asserting “babababa”.

          • Stephen B says:

            “Thats right, and I wouldn’t know anything”

            OK, so when you say you know you are in 1, you don’t. Because you could just be ‘Mike in 3, who thinks he’s in 1’.

            So your claims of being on a higher footing with regards to justifiable knowledge simply don’t hold water.

            Neither of us can know for certain whether we’re in 1 or 3. At best we can say that 2 and 4 lead us nowhere – they are pointless untestable hypotheses, and we can both agree that the universe has the appearance of intelligibility, and that the scientific method works very well for us.

          • Stephen B says:

            “You say it yourself: If you were in 3, you wouldn’t know it.””

            I wouldn’t KNOW it in the sense of having absolute certainty, but then I never claimed absolute certainty. I can say that I’ve yet to see compelling evidence I’m in 1, and that the universe seems, so far, to have every appearance of being a Godless, clockwork universe. It doesn’t look like 4 to me, given its uniformity. If the mischievous God of 2 exists then he’s currently refraining from monkeying around with the universe, and similarly the God of 1 seems to be hiding very well too, if He exists.

            I don’t think the kind of certainty you talk about actually exists, for you or anyone. At least, it’s possible for someone to be absolutely certain about something, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be wrong. It’s possible to find two people who are both absolutely certain about mutually contradictory ideas – given that they both can’t be right, it’s obvious that certainty ≠ knowledge.

  68. Mike says:

    Stephen B,

    Again you are postulating total spepticism. In which case your last comment can be disregarded – it undercuts itself. You want to give a rational argument the world is irrational. It doesn’t work.

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Stephen B,

      “““you couldn’t know you are in 3 even if you are in 3″

      By that logic, neither would you. You say it yourself: If you were in 3, you wouldn’t know it.””

      Correct: So its either 1 or skepticism and skepticism undercuts itself. That leaves 1. Unless you postulate skepticism – in which case I can ignore everything you have said so far.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “Again you are postulating total scepticism”

      No I’m not. I’m not postulating total scepticism at all. Total scepticism is the end result of 2 and 4. Rejecting both of those puts you in 1 or 3. Saying we can’t determine which of 1 & 3 we are in is NOT total scepticism. You’re confusing ‘We can’t know everything with 100% certainty’ with ‘It’s impossible to know anything at all’.

      Reply
      • Mike says:

        Stephen B,

        ” You’re confusing ‘We can’t know everything with 100% certainty’ with ‘It’s impossible to know anything at all’.”

        No, I do not maintain we have to have 100% certainty to have knowledge. My claim is that if you are in 2 or 4 (and 3 since you can’t know if you are in 3) its not that you don’t have certainty, its that you have no justification for any belief.

        Reply
  69. Stephen B says:

    “Correct: So its either 1 or skepticism and skepticism undercuts itself.”

    No, it’s either 1 or 3. Neither are ‘radical skepticism’. Both are intelligible universes. In a clockwork universe you’re able to use science to understand the workings of that universe. That’s NOT radical skepticism.

    If you’re allowed to reject 2 then I’m allowed to reject 4, meaning neither of our world views ‘reduce to skepticism’. If the only reason you’re able to reject 2 is that it leads to radical skepticism, then you must allow me to reject 4 for the same reason. In fact you’ve already rejected 4 yourself! How can saying 3 reduces to 4 make any more sense that saying 1 reduces to 2?

    Reply
    • Mike says:

      Stephen B,

      “No, it’s either 1 or 3. Neither are ‘radical skepticism’. Both are intelligible universes. In a clockwork universe you’re able to use science to understand the workings of that universe. That’s NOT radical skepticism.”

      Agreed both 1 and 3 are intelligable. But if you can’t know you are in 3 it does you no good. If GOD reveals himself to me so that I know I am in 1 then we are back to the following: its either 1 or skepticism and skepticism undercuts itself.

      Reply
  70. Mike says:

    Stephen B,

    “No, it’s either 1 or 3. Neither are ‘radical skepticism’. Both are intelligible universes. In a clockwork universe you’re able to use science to understand the workings of that universe. That’s NOT radical skepticism.” Agreed both 1 and 3 are rational. But it does you no good if you can’t know you are in 3. And if I am in 1 an all powerful GOD can let me know I am in 1. (Unless you can prove otherwise). And so we are back to 1 or spepticism.

    Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “My claim is that if you are in 2 or 4 (and 3 since you can’t know if you are in 3)”

      …you can’t know you are in 1 any more than know you are in 3. It’s the same thing.

      “And if I am in 1 an all powerful GOD can let me know I am in 1”

      HAS an all powerful God shown you that? Seriously, is THAT your claim?

      I’ve already pointed out that there’s no epistemological difference between an all-powerful God letting someone know something in 1, and some guy in 3 just THINKING that an all-powerful God has let him know something. They’re both equally convinced.

      “Unless you can prove otherwise)”

      I think the claim ‘An all-powerful God has convinced me’ is YOUR claim to back up, Mike. It’s not up to me to prove it hasn’t happened.

      “If GOD reveals himself to me so that I know I am in 1…”

      Again, that’s a big IF. A Hindu might claim that Vishnu revealed Himself and so the Hindu KNOWS that Vishnu exists.

      You would NOT accept that as proof of Vishnu’s existence, would you?

      You would say it’s a circular argument to say that because Vishnu has the power to convince the man, therefore the fact that the man is convinced is proof that Vishnu exists.

      So too is your certainty not evidence, let alone proof.

      Your claim to KNOWING you are in 1 is baseless. It’s not possible to KNOW you are in 1 (short of having a big visitation from God, where a simple delusions can be ruled out).

      “My claim is that if you are in 2 or 4 (and 3 since you can’t know if you are in 3) its not that you don’t have certainty, its that you have no justification for any belief.”

      You are welcome to make that claim – but you’re the one advancing radical scepticism here not me. If I point out that it’s special pleading to leave 1 out of the above claim, given that knowing you are in 1 is no more possible than knowing you are in 3, then that’s not ME being radically sceptic, it’s simply pointing out that radical scepticism is the end result of YOUR claim.

      Reply
    • Stephen B says:

      “But if you can’t know you are in 3 it does you no good. If GOD reveals himself to me so that I know I am in 1…”

      Cut to the chase, Mike – is it your contention that God has in fact revealed Himself to you in this way?

      1) If not, then this whole business is nonsense.

      2) If yes, then you’re still having to maintain that only you and other people who have had such visitations can have justified true beliefs.

      3) You’ve still got to explain why your own exclusive claim to justified true beliefs is superior to people of other religions who claim THEIR Gods have visited them, and who claim your visitation claim is simple delusion.

      4) You’ve still no way of convincing agnostics like myself who haven’t had visitations. And in fact, by your own logic, agnostics like myself shouldn’t even be justified in ACCEPTING your arguments, since without such visitations we have no basis for justified true beliefs!

      Reply
  71. Mike says:

    Stephen B,

    “I think the claim ‘An all-powerful God has convinced me’ is YOUR claim to back up, Mike. It’s not up to me to prove it hasn’t happened.” Yes it is. After all I gave a reason why you couldn’t know you were in worldview 3 even if you were in worldview 3. I discussed this extensively in a couple of my earlier posts. I explained the problem of induction and pointed out not only how it undercuts any knowledge of the external world it also undercuts any claims to rationality. Thus you couldn’t know you were in worldview 3 even if you were in worldview 3 because you couldn’t know anything. I’m simply claiming we each have the same burden of proof. Now the burden is on you to do the exact reverse and show I couldn’t know I was in worldview 1 even if I was in worldview 1.

    Worldviews are proven indirectly. They can’t be proven directly because they are your ultimate assumption about the world. It’s not like reasoning about other facts in the world. You can’t say that you have another fact that proves your worldview. If that were the case, your worldview wouldn’t be your ultimate assumption. It wouldn’t be your worldview. Therefore, worldviews are proven indirectly. They are proven by showing the impossibility of the contrary. By showing the contrary position contradicts itself. So if my position is possible (because it doesn’t contradict itself) and your position is impossible (because it contradicts itself) then my position should be accepted because it’s the only worldview that can account for the intelligibility of the world (which we both agree is the case – or else why are we having this conversation). We come back to the situation: worldview 1 or skepticism. And skepticism undercuts itself.

    You also brought the issue of other religions (Vishnu) and I have already answered your question. That is a different discussion than the one we are having right now. This discussion is Christian vs Atheism. Bringing up that situation now is trying to change the rules in the middle of the game.

    “Cut to the chase, Mike – is it your contention that God has in fact revealed Himself to you in this way?” I have already answered that question but I’ll answer it again. Yes he has revealed himself to me this way just like he has revealed himself to everyone this way. Some people accept the truth and other people suppress the truth.

    Reply

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