Does One Need To Investigate Every Religion Before One Can Conclude That Christianity Is True?

truthRecently, I had a conversation with a friend concerning epistemology (how we come to know certain ideas to be true) and religious propositional claims. My friend asked me how I could be so confident that the evidence supports Christianity when I have not investigated every other religion to find out whether they have any evidence going for them.

This is a common talking-point that I encounter in discussions with atheists. “Have you read the Qur’an?” I am frequently asked. In the case of the Qur’an, I can claim to have read it and I have in fact studied Islam in significant depth. But I have not taken the time to study every religion in comparable detail. Does that mean I cannot conclude Christianity to be true and all other religions to be false? Of course not. By the very nature of concluding that the propositional claims of Christianity are true, one is de facto excluding other possibilities. If, for example, one concludes based on the evidence that Jesus really claimed to be divine (as I argue here), one has excluded as an option all religions that insist that Jesus did not claim to be God (such as Islam). Likewise, if one concludes based on the evidence that the Universe had a definite beginning in the finite past, one has excluded as an option all religions that assert that the Universe is eternal in the past (i.e. pantheistic religions).

It is curious that such reasoning is employed in discussions about religious questions when we rarely use such methodology in any other realm of inquiry. A homicide detective does not need to investigate every single individual in the city before he can conclude that a particular suspect committed the crime. Investigators of John F. Kennedy’s assassination did not need to investigate all of Kennedy’s contemporaries as potential suspects before they could conclude that his assassination was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald.

One does not need to weigh up the arguments pro and con for every single possible alternative that is out there in order to conclude that a certain hypothesis best explains the available data. When multiple independent lines of evidence converge on a single given hypothesis, other possibilities are by nature excluded and it becomes unnecessary to investigate every conceivable candidate hypothesis before one can reach a proper judgment. Of course, one should always be open to the possibility that one’s judgment is mistaken and be prepared to revise conclusions should new information come to light. But one certainly does not need to investigate the tens of thousands of competing religious propositional claims that are out there in order to conclude that Christianity makes sense of the pertinent available data. Moreover, the claim that one has to investigate every religious proposition in order to assert any religious position backfires on the atheist, for it renders it impossible to draw any religious conclusions — including atheism.

Nobody has the time or resources to invest in studying every religion that has ever been proposed. Although I would encourage people to, at the very least, be acquainted with the three major Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism — the only theistic religions to teach creation ex nihilo, a claim consistent with modern cosmology), for one to be rationally justified in affirming Christianity as true, one only needs to show that it possesses sufficiently good evidence to warrant belief.

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85 replies
  1. Matt N. says:

    I agree entirely, No need for the Department of Treasury to fully analyze and understand each iteration of counterfeit money when thoroughly analyzing and understanding the real thing is all that is needed to detect and eliminate what is not authentic.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      The important thing about this analogy is not whether the any of the notes in the stack are authentic, but the fact that the very term “authenticity” has meaning. That means that there is a standard to which ALL bills are compared, whether they are real or fake.

      In the same way, we get into trouble when we look for the “real” religion among all of the contenders. What one should be interested in is truth. Which worldview most closely aligns with what we observe in the universe around us, and is internally coherent?

      Reply
  2. Jon says:

    Matt N, that is a false analogy. Better analogy would be how a lay person would recognize a single authentic note in a pile of money where you can’t even be sure if one authentic is in there.

    If Christianity is true do you have to study all derivatives like Mormonism to know which path leads to heaven?

    Reply
    • Matt N. says:

      Sounds like the same thing to me, both cases using deductive reasoning based on charateristics of the authentic to isolate what is not authentic.

      I don’t believe anyone can “know” as you say. Understanding alternative beliefs can assist in apologetics, though I would not consider it neccessary.

      Reply
      • Martin says:

        Jon’s analogy is much closer to the mark, but still assumes the existence of an authentic note and knowledge of the characteristic if said note.

        Anyone can designate a note as authentic for whatever reason suits them, then use it as the standard by which to judge/invalidate all other notes. Isn’t this what happens between religions?

        Reply
        • Matt N. says:

          I don’t believe you are correct in saying anyone can denote anything as authentic and remain intellectually honest with or reasonable to themselves. Sure, anything is possible, but we are all dealing with the unfalsifiable, so it seems applicable to decide what appears most reasonable or likely based on information we have. I don’t see why abductive reason cannot be applied to form a logical world view.

          Reply
          • Martin says:

            True, it is an exaggeration to say anyone can denote anything as authentic. At the same time, as you stated, we are all dealing with the unfalsifiable (and the unprovable).

            That which appears most reasonable or likely is subject to individual subjectivity and is therefore an ever-moving target. A consensus can never be reached. This does away with any ability of the religious-minded (if they are to remain intellectually honest) to properly or completely dismiss any but the most overtly implausible of competing dogmas. Also, it makes absolute confidence in one’s own religion an impossibility.

          • Jon says:

            Matt N, you say that you don’t believe anyone can “know”, but your analogy states that Department of Treasury knows. That is the first part your analogy fails. The second part of the failure is that you assume there is one authentic in the pile you are investigating. That’s why your analogy is sugarcoated apologetics.

            Martin, I didn’t assume the existence of an authentic note. If religious people assume it then their investigation is incompatible with science.

  3. Stephen B says:

    “A homicide detective does not need to investigate every single individual in the city before he can conclude that a particular suspect committed the crime. Investigators of John F. Kennedy’s assassination did not need to investigate all of Kennedy’s contemporaries as potential suspects before they could conclude that his assassination was carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald.”

    I think Wallace here may actually be using one of my own arguments. Here it is from a post I made on this site in May, but I’ve actually used Kennedy in the analogy before too:

    “The analogy I use for my problem with the ‘I just reject one more God than you’ idea, is this:
    Three people disagree on the culprit in a murder trial, but all are convinced the evidence points clearly to murder. A fourth person claims it was just a tragic accident that left the victim stabbed fifty times, with ‘DIE!’ written in his blood on the wall, and then attempts to convince the others by saying: “We all reject at least two of the culprits as being responsible, I just reject one more than each of you!”.

    Now, I disagree that the evidence for God is as strong as the evidence that murder was committed, but the point remains that it’s two difference questions – the evidence for a God, and then the question of what God it is.”

    Reply
    • Jon says:

      Stephen B, Investigation of John F. Kennedy’s assassination is false analogy, because you have you have obvious way to eliminate contemporaries as potential suspects. To find a true religion there is not obvious way to do it. Try scientific approach by trying to disproof your hypothesis to find the truth.

      Your murder trial analogy would be better if there were 4000 people (religions) claiming different person was killed by different people, nobody can produce a single murder scene or a body (indisputable evidence), some people claim that there was no murder, just stories and your job is to find a murderer. Good luck with that.

      Reply
      • Matt N. says:

        Jon, your analogy would also have obvious ways to eliminate what is untrue through direct, circumstantial, or forensic evidence. Isn’t this how law enforcement agencies are led to a suspect in a murder investigation with or without a body? They often depend on eye witness testimony, which is considered direct evidence in the court system. How often is a jury 100% certain; they make the most reasonable decision, based on available information. Also, if science deals with and is constrained to the natural or physical world, why would it be logical to use it to find answers in the supernatural or metaphysical arenas?

        Reply
        • Jon says:

          Matt N. How would you go about eliminating some murder claims without investigating the case? Would you just ignore these even when every case has eyewitness reports?

          Most religion have their eyewitness reports. Many of them way better than Christianity. Christians don’t believe in eyewitness reports, just in Christians eyewitness reports.

          Science is not constrained to the natural world. You can investigate supernatural claims. For example there are studies if prayer to different supernatural entities work. Science can investigate any supernatural interaction to natural world, so the premise to your claim is incorrect. It is logical to use science to investigate supernatural. It is the only way make sure we are not fooling ourselves.

          Reply
          • Matt N. says:

            Where do I say no investigation is needed? The first sentence says “Jon, your analogy would also have obvious ways to eliminate what is untrue through direct, circumstantial, or forensic evidence”.
            “every case has eyewitness reports” ??? Does a murder/suicide have eyewitness testimony?
            Can you provide examples of the other religions with better eye witness testimony?
            Do you have any specifics of how the scientific method can be applied to abstractions or metaphysical phenomenon.

          • Jon says:

            Matt N, great that we agree that you need to investigate every murder case with eyewitness claims. Should you then investigate all religions to find out if any/one/some of them are true?

            Mormons have 12 eyewitness and written statements of their Golden plates. We know who these people where (Google Book of Mormon witnesses). Sathya Sai Baba has still living eyewitnesses of his miracles and they can testify that he is an avatar. Even today there a plenty of living people considered Gods by their followers. Just in Australia there are about 120 cults/sects (small religions) many of them have leaders who are considered miracle workers and divine beings. They all have their eyewitnesses and testimonies. Most of them have better eyewitness that Christians (You can go and talk to them).

          • Matt N. says:

            Jon, do you truly believe in miracles, the gods you refer to, and the other evidence you cite or do you just expect me to believe it? If you truly believe that evidence has merit, why are you not a Mormon? You must have parsed this evidence yourself and decided it was not valid.

          • Jon says:

            Matt N, eyewitness reports are the worst kind of “evidence”, and pretty much every time we try to investigate claimed miracles they turn out fake or having possible natural explanation. So no, I don’t think there is good evidence for miracles. Why do you believe eyewitnesses of your religion but not from other religions?

          • Matt N. says:

            Jon, I agree the testimony of one eyewitness, by itself, would not warrant belief but is still considered direct evidence as inferences are not needed. If an action was witnessed then corroborated by other witnesses and then further circumstantial and direct evidence, doubt would decrease.
            >>”Why do you believe eyewitnesses of your religion but not from other religions?”
            It is not all or nothing to me. I don’t consider either everyone is telling the truth and correct or nobody is telling the truth and all wrong. Like a jury does when presented a case, I do the best job I can to determine what is most reasonable based on the information that I have.

          • Stephen B says:

            “If an action was witnessed then corroborated by other witnesses”

            What corroboration do we have outside the bible? If the bible says ‘there were 500 witnesses’, that’s still one person’s claim, not 500. Or to put it another way, if I tell you that 500 people saw something amazing happen, that still leaves you with just MY claim to explain, not 500.

          • Jon says:

            You can easily find million LIVING eyewitnesses of Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles and him being avatar. Why don’t you believe these better eyewitnesses than what you have in the Bible? You did claim that doubt would decrease more witnesses you have. You should have less doubt about Sathya Sai Baba claims.

            You claimed that you do the best job you can to determine what is most reasonable based on the information that you have. So how do you know if other religions have better claims if you don’t investigate those? You are putting your head in the sand if you don’t investigate other religions?

  4. moose says:

    if christianity is true and all other religions are phony, does that mean that everyone else of all other religions are going to hell? the great hero jesus said hell is a place where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched—was he telling the truth about that? if so what did he mean?

    Reply
    • Louie says:

      Moose,
      Based on what I’ve read in the bible, I would guess that they are bound for hell. As far as what Jesus means by that statement about hell, I don’t know but it does not sound appealing at all.

      Reply
        • Louie says:

          Not appealing, but justified. Based on what I have read in the bible, God doesn’t find any of this appealing. Appealing would have been if Adam and Eve had just left the tree of knowledge of good and evil alone. Only my best guess, of course.

          Reply
          • Martin says:

            There is no justification for hell. The only possible reason for hell to exist is that God finds it appealing. Hell is not necessary, therefore it is a caprice.

          • Louie says:

            You have no idea if hell is necessary or not. You also have no idea if the only possible reason for it is that God finds it appealing. I don’t claim to understand it, but I would never be arrogant enough to claim it is not necessary or justified. If there is a spiritual dimension, who am I to say what does and does not work in that dimension.

          • Martin says:

            Louie,

            You have to question the worth of a so called “spiritual dimension”, inhabited by a supposedly good god, in which the eternal torture of souls is not only justified but necessary.

          • Terry L says:

            Suppose there’s a tornado coming, and I have a safe room big enough for you and my family. Suppose further that I invite you to join us, but you decline. You’re having too much fun on the golf course (like I really live on a golf course!) to be interrupted with a trip to my safe room. I beg you to come with me, but you look me in the eye and say, “Leave me alone… I don’t want anything to do with you and your safe room!”

            What is my responsibility to you? Shall I force you to safety against your will?

            While it would break my heart, if I’m going to respect your free will, then I would have to leave you to your golf game. I’m going to go in and shut the door. And believe me, when the tornado is on top of us, I’m not going to open the door… not because I hate the people knocking on the door begging to get in, but because it’s too late. I can’t open the door without risking my own family’s safety.

            It’s the same with God. He doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. He’s spent your entire life to keep you out of that place. But if you refuse him, then if he is to respect you as the free moral agent that he created, he has no choice but to leave you outside. If you’re still outside when the storm hits, that’s not his fault.

          • Stephen B says:

            “But if you refuse him, then if he is to respect you as the free moral agent ”

            A free choice is one made knowing all the salient facts. If I make a choice in a shop between cornflakes and frosties, but I don’t even know rice crispies are an option, it’s not really true to say I’ve ‘freely’ rejected rice crispies.

          • Jon says:

            Terry L said:
            It’s the same with God. He doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell. He’s spent your entire life to keep you out of that place. But if you refuse him, then if he is to respect you as the free moral agent that he created, he has no choice but to leave you outside. If you’re still outside when the storm hits, that’s not his fault.

            Jon said:
            It’s the same with Mafia. Mafia doesn’t want anyone to go hurt. Mafia has spent your entire life to keep you not getting hurt. But if you refuse Mafia, then Mafia has to respect you as the free moral agent in a situation Mafia created, Mafia has no choice but to leave you outside of their “protection”. If you’re still outside when the storm hits, that’s not Mafia’s fault.

    • Terry L says:

      If Christianity is true and all other religions are phony, does that mean that everyone else of all other religions are going to hell? (edits mine)

      Ignore the issue of God and Christianity for a moment. Yes, I did craft this example as a loose analogy, but for the moment, just consider the question.

      Five persons have a highly curable form of cancer. One person takes the treatments, another visits a witch doctor. The third denies that the cancer even exists, the fourth believes the cancer is real, but denies that the treatment will work, and the fifth doesn’t believe that a doctor exists that can cure the cancer.

      Which of them live?

      We live dangerously when we live believing a lie.

      That being said, go, search honestly, carefully and deeply, then follow your conscience. You have the right to believe what you want to believe; but you do not have the right to choose the consequences of your belief. The third patient above doesn’t have the right to live in spite of her denial of the cancer that was killing her. Belief leads to action; action leads to consequences.

      If God does NOT exist, then I want to know it, and I want to live according to the truth.

      Will those of you who claim to be atheists say the same about God’s existence?

      Reply
          • moose says:

            terry–get a grip, i asked the question first, can you answer it or not, or do you want to go off on some other b.s

          • Terry L says:

            Moose, it’s an analogy… get it? I’m trying to get you to think for yourself rather than just giving you the answer. You know, the difference between teaching a man to fish and giving a man a fish???

            My answer to your question is in your answer to my question.

            Out of my five persons, only the first one is likely to survive. They are the only one who understood the truth. They understood both the danger they were in, and the cure for their condition.

            If you had cancer, would you want a phony doctor?

            If Dr. Doe has the cure to the kind of cancer you have, and all of the other doctors in town don’t, does that mean that every patient of these other dies while Dr. Doe’s patients survive?

            The major religions of the world disagree on the treatment for man’s condition. All of them agree that he’s sick, but the Hindu believes that the sickness is that we don’t know that we’re God. The Buddhist believes that our desires cause our pain, so they *desire* to get rid of their desires. The atheist denies that we even have a problem; denying the existence of sin while ignoring the mayhem that shows up on the 10:00 o’clock news every night.

            Christianity says, yes, the problem is real, and mankind cannot fix it. But God can, and has made a way… a cure, if you will… for the cancer of sin. But just as you can’t get the correct treatment for your physical cancer by going to a phony doctor, you can’t get the treatment for your sin either from a phony God.

            So you tell me, “If Christianity is true and all other religions are phony, does that mean that everyone else of all other religions are going to hell?”

            God is a God of mercy; I’m not God, and I would never claim to know with certainty the final destination of any man. God will judge them according to the knowledge of him that they had, and he will judge justly.

          • Jon says:

            moose, note the strawman:
            “The atheist denies that we even have a problem; denying the existence of sin while ignoring the mayhem that shows up”
            Atheists don’t deny the mayhem we see but they reject the supernatural part of the mayhem.

            The New Testament teaches that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. See how apologetists don’t seem to “know” if Hindus go to heaven. That popular politically correct answer would be a Fail in Christian-only Sunday Bible study class.

            Question to you: Two persons have a highly curable form of cancer.
            – The first one calls the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
            – The second person visits a doctor and takes the treatments.
            Which one of them live?

            Atheist are usually the people honestly with less bias looking for the truth about supernatural.

          • Terry L says:

            >>Atheists don’t deny the mayhem we see but they reject the supernatural part of the mayhem.

            So you do believe that there are some actions that are truly wrong… truly evil?

            What makes them evil?

            >>That popular politically correct answer would be a Fail in Christian-only Sunday Bible study class.

            I’m not interested in being politically correct, nor in pleasing my peers. Only in what is true.

            I truly do not know how God will handle this situation, and I won’t claim to know just to make someone else happy. I do have faith, given my knowledge and experience of God, that his response will be fair, and as merciful as possible.

            >>Question to you: Two persons have a highly curable form of cancer.
            >>- The first one calls the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
            >>- The second person visits a doctor and takes the treatments.
            >>Which one of them live?

            Probably both…

            You do understand that Christian visit doctors as well, don’t you?

          • Jon says:

            Terry L, there is no evil (=religious concept)

            You said “I truly do not know how God will handle this situation”. Fail again. You answered a wrong question and still claim that Bible is not clear about salvation. I think you need to read the Bible a bit to understand the path to happy afterlife.

            I know that Christian visit doctors and don’t call the elders of the church to pray over and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord. They survive by ignoring the Bible and going straight to doctor and taking the medicine.

          • Terry L says:

            >>Terry L, there is no evil (=religious concept)

            So you are saying what… that right and wrong do not exist? Is it ever acceptable to torture babies for fun?

            >>You said “I truly do not know how God will handle this situation”.

            I stand by that statement. I don’t mean to imply anything by my ignorance of God’s intentions for persons in this state, including whether he will or will not admit them to Heaven. Only that I do not presume to know the mind of God on this issue.

            I don’t even presume to know what you will have for breakfast tomorrow morning.

            >>Fail again. You answered a wrong question and still claim that Bible is not clear about salvation.

            The Bible is very clear about salvation. You and I have access to the scriptures; therefore you and I are without excuse. There is no hope for us apart from Jesus.

            What is unclear is the state of persons who have never been exposed to the clarity of the Bible. The Bible makes it plain that there is one name given under Heaven by which we must be saved, namely, the name of Jesus. It also speaks of those who do not know the written word of God and still follow the law written on their hearts and the God of nature.

            I don’t presume to understand God’s intention here. And that’s ok…. just as in science, there are topics in theology that are difficult, and perhaps even unknowable.

            What we do know is that Christians are commanded to preach the Gospel in all the world. I have my hands full handling my share of that job. It’s not my responsibility to determine the fate of those who don’t hear… it’s my responsibility to make certain that as many as possible do hear.

            >> They survive by ignoring the Bible and going straight to doctor and taking the medicine.

            Have you read the New Testament?

            Luke was a physician. Paul told Timothy to “take a little wine” as medicine for the sake of his stomach ailments.

            James did not command the sick not to seek a physician; he only reminded them that the Great Physician was available to them.

            God heals in many ways; sometimes he uses doctors. Two friends of mine have just been made cancer-free by the knowledge and skill of doctors.

            But in other times, God just steps in and does it himself. I just witnessed an example of that where a man who has had an incurable, slow-growing cancer for years is now cancer free. What’s more, it happened while he was nearly dead and his immune system was almost completely shut down! That’s not explainable by any scientific explanation.

          • Jon says:

            I didn’t say right and wrong do not exist. I said evil does not exist. It is not acceptable to torture babies. Do you think it is acceptable to torture babies if your God tells you to do so? Is right behavior relative to your Gods orders?

            Funny how you claim that the Bible is very clear about salvation, but you are not sure if Hindus go to your heaven… I’m not sure if you are Christian. Jesus, James and Paul were not unsure about this question.

            Bible does not tell you to go to physician so please do not to go beyond what is written.

            Apologist double negative obfuscation:
            “James did not command the sick not to seek a physician”
            You might as well say”
            James did not command golfers not to practice putting, so golfers should practice putting.
            Just quote the verse you refer to so we are clear about your claim.

            You claimed:
            “God heals in many ways; sometimes he uses doctors.”
            Again this is not in the Bible. You just made this up trying to align the Bible and your world view.

            Every good apologist has a story of “a man” who was nearly dead and recovered. And of course science can’t explain it but your God sounds plausible explanation. Stories of these anonymous people never include the doctors and medicine that was used in the case and it is never a limb growing back. You would never believe these stories and eyewitnesses of God’s of other religions healing people.

          • Terry L says:

            I didn’t say right and wrong do not exist. I said evil does not exist. It is not acceptable to torture babies.

            Give me one objective reason why not. No resorting to opinion, culture, or personal preference.

            Is right behavior relative to your Gods orders?

            No. Right behavior is relative to God’s behavior.

            you are not sure if Hindus go to your heaven…

            Justify this statement by what I’ve said.

            Bible does not tell you to go to physician so please do not to go beyond what is written.

            I gave you verses that clearly indicate and endorse the use of medicines. There are more, if you care to find them.

            Just quote the verse you refer to so we are clear about your claim.

            Sure thing…. just as soon as you tell me how to quote a verse that does not exist! The point I was making was that the Bible has no contraindications toward doctors or medicines. To refute the point, it would be your responsibility to cite the verse that does issue such a statement.

            You claimed:
            “God heals in many ways; sometimes he uses doctors.”
            Again this is not in the Bible. You just made this up trying to align the Bible and your world view.

            Well, perhaps not word for word, but the use of doctors and medicines are certainly implied, and are shown in a positive light over and over, in both the Old and New Testaments.

            The use of figs as a poultice
            2 Kings 20: “And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.”

            Medicines shown in a positive comparison
            Proverbs 10:22: “A merry heart does good like a medicine.”

            Christ indicates that the sick need a physician
            Luke 5:31: “Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick.”

            Luke referred to as the “beloved physician”
            Colossians 4:14: “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”

            Every good apologist…

            Thank you for the compliment! 😉

            …has a story of “a man” who was nearly dead and recovered. And of course science can’t explain it but your God sounds plausible explanation.

            I only refer to him as “a man” and neglect to identify the doctors to protect their privacy. This is the internet, you know! I’m not publishing any identifiable information about them without their permission.

            However, he’s willing to speak with anyone about it. If you’re not afraid of publishing your personal information, give me a way to get your phone number, and I’ll have him give you a call.

            You would never believe these stories and eyewitnesses of God’s of other religions healing people.

            Actually this is not true, but to explain why is going to lead to the mother of all rabbit-trails. Let’s stick to the topic at hand.

          • Jon says:

            Terry L,I don’t have “objective” reason why it is not acceptable to torture babies, and neither do you. If you have then demonstrate it, not just claim it. (I think science can show what is right human behaviour)

            I’m glad you agree that in your world view right behavior is relative to God’s behavior. When God orders and helps you to torture babies in your world

            view it is morally right. I guess you think Abraham did the right thing to try to kill Isaac. I hope you are not my neighbour and get an idea that God want you to kill me.

            See your bait-and-switch:
            I said: “Bible does not tell you to go to physician”
            you responded: “I gave you verses that clearly indicate and endorse the use of medicines [Luke was a physician. Paul told Timothy to “take a little wine” as medicine for the sake of his stomach ailments].”
            Notice how Paul is not a physician. Paul did not say go to Luke or other physician. Please don’t take medical advice to stomach pains from the letter from your non-qualified Church leader who hasn’t examined you. You should not follow Bible’s example, but go see a doctor. Bible did not “endorse” the use of medicine and I can’t believe you think Paul set a good medical example!

            My refutation of “God heals in many ways; sometimes he uses doctors” still stands. You did not address this. You just claimed that “use of doctors and medicines are certainly implied, and are shown in a positive light over and over”

            No need to talk to your healed anonymous source. I think his friend knocked on my door couple of months ago. This guy from local Baptist church told me that this anonymous guy is one of his congregation member, who can provide me a personal witness of his cancer miracle healing.

            You said my claim “You would never believe these stories and eyewitnesses of God’s of other religions healing people.” is not true. That is a lie. You don’t believe that claimed Hindu God healed anyone. You have your own explanation against millions of LIVING eyewitnesses that fits your world view. Please be honest.

          • Terry L says:

            Terry L,I don’t have “objective” reason why it is not acceptable to torture babies

            In this case, the only reasons why one should not torture babies are subjective, and therefore subject to change.

            If it’s subject to change, then it’s possible that in a different time and/or place, the torture of babies might be acceptable, or even encouraged.

            When God orders and helps you to torture babies in your world view it is morally right.

            According to your statement above, we don’t need God to tell us that the torture of infants is acceptable. You’ve done that for us!

            …and neither do you.

            When did everyone on this board come to understand what I do and do not have and know? Can we stop with the arrogance? It doesn’t help your case!

            If you have then demonstrate it, not just claim it.

            The only claim I’ve made was in response to a question of yours. I’ll be glad to go into it in more detail if you want.

            But this conversation started when I asked you a question. I’m just trying to fully understand what you meant when you said that evil does not exist. It’s quite confusing to me at this point. You condemn the torture of infants (“It is not acceptable to torture babies.” : Jon) then you claim that you have no objective reason to make that statement (above). Then, oddly enough, you try to give me an objective reason (“I think science can show what is right human behaviour.” : Jon)

            About that, how can science tell us what we ought and ought not to do?

            You do understand the difference between “objective” and “subjective”, don’t you?

            This guy from local Baptist church told me that this anonymous guy is one of his congregation member, who can provide me a personal witness of his cancer miracle healing.

            Obviously not the same guy, as we do not attend a Baptist church. Regardless, I’m through with this rabbit. I know what I’ve seen, and what this man went through. My offer to you stands… give me a way to contact you and I’ll put you on the phone with him on my dime. But I don’t expect you to do so; you’re so certain that you’re right (or perhaps scared of being wrong) that you refuse to examine the evidence that’s right in your local area.

            You said my claim “You would never believe these stories and eyewitnesses of God’s of other religions healing people.” is not true. That is a lie. You don’t believe that claimed Hindu God healed anyone. You have your own explanation against millions of LIVING eyewitnesses that fits your world view. Please be honest.

            You don’t know me, sir! You have no idea what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced, what I’ve studied, or what I believe. You have no reason to insult me and call me a liar. To be told what I believe by one who doesn’t know me is annoying, but doesn’t rise to the level of an insult. To say that what I said was a lie, a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, is completely uncalled for. I’ve made incorrect statements on this site before, and happily withdrawn the same when I realized my error. But not once, to the best of my knowledge, have I ever knowingly posted something I know to be untrue.

            The only reason I didn’t tell you why your assertion is incorrect is because I know what would happen: We would be drawn off on another rabbit trail when what I really want to talk about is my original question to you. If you still want me to address it either after this discussion or offline, I’ll be glad to tell exactly why.

    • Jon says:

      moose, Christianity is not true. At best one or some denominations have the right path to salvation. For example the Catholics view is that there is not salvation outside [Catholic] Church, so if they are right Protestants and Mormons go to hell. If Mormons are right other Christians are not etc.

      Reply
      • Terry L says:

        >>Christianity is not true.

        How do you logically arrive at this statement given the rest of your post? It’s a complete non sequitor!

        Reply
        • Jon says:

          Terry L, Christianity includes Catholics, Protestants, Mormons etc.
          Catholics, Protestants and Mormons make mutually exclusive claims, so logically some of those are not true i.e offer the path to a happy afterlife.
          Because Christianity includes mutually exclusive claim it is not true. At best small part of it is true.

          Most likely all of them are wrong (even considering modern Christians are nothing like the people who walked with Jesus)

          Reply
          • Terry L says:

            So here’s your logic:

            1. Bill and Bob both claim to be Christians.
            2. Bill and Bob disagree on how to get to Heaven.
            3. Therefore Christianity is false.

            ???

            That’s a complete non-sequitor. You haven’t proven anything other than, “people who claim to be Christians disagree”.

          • Jon says:

            Terry L, I never said “Bill and Bob both claim to be Christians”. I said Bill and Bob ARE Christians. Look it up; Catholics and Protestants ARE Christians. Please don’t smuggle in a No True Scotsman fallacy to declare a straw man non-sequitor.

          • Terry L says:

            >Terry L, I never said “Bill and Bob both claim to be Christians”. I said Bill and Bob ARE Christians.

            Then I’ll have to ask, what do you mean by “Christian”?

          • Jon says:

            Terry L, sorry I don’t play apologist word games. Like I said please look it up in the dictionary or Wikipedia who Christians are if it is not clear to you. It is clear to everyone else.

          • Terry L says:

            It’s not a game. You used a word, but words can mean different things to different people. It’s not unreasonable for me to ask exactly what you mean by the term “Christian”, as even the dictionary is likely to give you several answers, and what you mean might not exactly meet any of them.

            Please don’t just throw an argument out on the table, and then refuse to clarify when asked to defend it.

            >>It is clear to everyone else.

            That’s fine. No one else has bothered to respond, so you’re stuck with me, and I’m not certain of exactly what you mean by the word.

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            The point is that even the best sources of intel can be wrong (flat earth, sun rotates around earth, the speed of light being constant is now in question), so one should not follow the herd just because. To say all the dating methods converge is another tough pill to swallow. If you believe that life forms are billions of years old, then yes I agree with you that 500, 10,000 or even 100,000 years seems a minor difference. If you believe that life forms are 10,000 years or less, then any difference greater than 50 years is a large difference.

        • Louie says:

          Jon:

          I agree that there are several interpretations of christianity (the bible). Do they all agree, no they do not. But neither do all scientists. Some scientiest make claims that are mutually exclusive, but that does not mean we give up on science. We keep seeking truth, and follow it where it leads, whether it agrees with our world view or not.

          Reply
          • Jon says:

            Louie, unlike religion science does not rely on claims made by people. Science relies on evidence, and ideas not supported by evidence are discarded. Gravity is true independent of your world view, but religious “truths” depend on your world view. So please don’t confuse science and religion.

          • Louie says:

            Science says nothing, scientists do, don’t be confused about that reality. These scientists are people with emotions and world views. This blog is proof of that as we all have the same “data” but different interpretation of the data.

          • Jon says:

            Louie, you are the one who is confused. Existence and strength of gravity does not depend on emotions and world views. Scientific method is designed to eliminate personal biased, emotions and world views. A blog is not a “proof”, and this blog tries to give best possible view of Christianity, not unbiased view. This blog is opposite of science.

          • Louie says:

            I agree 100% that science should be as you state it. With gravity, you are correct, that is real science since it can be observed and repeated with the same results over and over. Grouping gravity with the age of the earth, age of bones and life coming from soup, and so forth is when I have problems with it. That it is no longer “science”; those items are claims made by people. Since we cannot prove any of it, it takes leaps of faith to believe, yet it is referred to as science.

          • Stephen B says:

            Louie, the line you draw between gravity and those other sciences doesn’t exist. It’s all the same science, all equally backed up by evidence, peer-review etc. Dating of bones etc is just as backed up and accepted in mainstream science as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (which explains gravity).

            Note also the difference between simply seeing something fall and saying ‘Yup, that’s gravity’, and the science of actually EXPLAINING why things fall.

          • Terry L says:

            >>Note also the difference between simply seeing something fall and saying ‘Yup, that’s gravity’, and the science of actually EXPLAINING why things fall.

            And that’s the problem. The study of origins is a forensic science, and thus is different. You can’t go back and recreate the big bang; therefore it’s not observable. You don’t have millions of years it would take to truly replicate evolution; therefore it’s not observable.

            All you can do is observe bits and pieces of the theory, and then hypothesize about the way those bits and pieces work together over the long haul. And that’s where interpretation comes into play.

            >>and the science of actually EXPLAINING why things fall.

            Science never explains why; only how. Science can tell you how the internal combustion engine works; that doesn’t tell you the why the internal combustion engine is there to work in the first place. For the answer to “why”, you have to assume a design and a designer; something that methodological naturalists rule out from the beginning.

          • Louie says:

            Sorry, not buying it. There is a line. I swallowed that whole geologic time column fairytale when I was an ignorant fool in school. Then I seen tree trunks passing through “millions of years” worth of dirt layers, and human footsteps in bedrock next to raptor footsteps and soft tissue on a “million year old” dinosaur bone, I became very suspicious of “science”.

          • Jon says:

            Louie, sorry that you have trouble with science and dating methods, religions tend to do that to people. And you don’t seem to understand the relationship with “prove” and science. Science does not need faith. Faith is a religious thing. The good thing about dating is that you can actually do it yourself if you have access to equipment or get it done fairly cheaply in unis or labs. Carbon/Argon/Potassium/etc dating and your personal calibration of test is easily available for anyone with small amount of money. And scientists who are Christians and study dinosaurs disagree with you (Google Dinosaur Shocker smithsonianmag). But let us hear your theory about it.

            Terry L, sorry you don’t understand science.
            You said:
            “You can’t go back and recreate the big bang; therefore it’s not observable.”
            Actually we can observe the afterglow, effects and results of big bang. We don’t need to recreate it to study it.
            You said:
            “You don’t have millions of years it would take to truly replicate evolution; therefore it’s not observable.”
            Actually we don’t need millions of years. We can and have observed evolution including many speciations (see for example Lenski experiment)
            You said:
            “Science never explains why; only how.”
            Science actually explains why for example sky is blue. Science answers “why” questions.
            You said:
            “For the answer to “why”, you have to assume a design and a designer;”
            We have answer to why sky is blue and it is not a designer and you don’t have to assume a designer.
            You said:
            “to assume a design and a designer; something that methodological naturalists rule out from the beginning.”
            Science does not “rule out [a designer] from the beginning”. You just made this up.
            Terry L, note that all you world view claims are wrong. You should reconsider your world view.

          • Louie says:

            Jon:
            My opinion is that the bones are just not that old. I base that on things that I mentioned previously and many more like them. I’m glad you picked up on my distrust of dating in particular and not science as a whole. I am an engineer and know much about math and science. I enjoy science (especially geology) when the science is backed up by truth and proven facts. We live in an awesome world, no matter where it came from.

          • Terry L says:

            Jon:

            “You can’t go back and recreate the big bang; therefore it’s not observable.”
            Actually we can observe the afterglow, effects and results of big bang. We don’t need to recreate it to study it.

            Straw man fallacy. Observing the effects of an event is not observation of the event itself. Unless you can recreate the event, it is impossible to bring the full weight of the scientific method (which requires repeatable testing) on that singular event. Instead (as you rightfully point out), we are left examining the remnants of the event, and making our best guesses about the cause.

            You said:
            “You don’t have millions of years it would take to truly replicate evolution; therefore it’s not observable.”
            Actually we don’t need millions of years. We can and have observed evolution including many speciations (see for example Lenski experiment)

            We can, and have, observed minute changes in existing organisms. We have never seen bacteria change into a housefly, or anything other than bacteria. Not observable.

            You said:
            “Science never explains why; only how.”
            Science actually explains why for example sky is blue. Science answers “why” questions.

            Another straw man. In the way I used the term, that’s still a “how” question. We know how the atmosphere scatters the sunlight and allows us to see more blue until late in the evening when reds dominate. What we don’t know is “why” it was blue, and not some other color of the spectrum. (I think a purple sky would be interesting…)

            You said:
            “to assume a design and a designer; something that methodological naturalists rule out from the beginning.”
            Science does not “rule out [a designer] from the beginning”. You just made this up.

            [Sigh.] Do your research. I didn’t say “science”. I said “methodological naturalists”. That’s yet another straw man.

            And I guess the skeptics over at rationalwiki made this up too, huh?

            “Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful, and result in the creation of scientific “dead ends” and God of the gaps-type hypotheses. To avoid these traps scientists assume that all causes are empirical and naturalistic; which means they can be measured, quantified and studied methodically.” — [rationalwiki.org/wiki/Methodological_naturalism] (Emphasis mine).

            As even this definition identifies methodological naturalism as an assumption, the writer implicitly admits that this is a presupposition on the part of the adherent to this limitation. Therefore, they rule out God and the supernatural before they even start to review their data. They don’t allow God to even be a hypothesis. Therefore when they discover that the universe cannot have a natural origin, they’re left scratching their heads, looking for loopholes in some of the most established science in the world.

            Terry L, note that all you world view claims are wrong. You should reconsider your world view.

            Given that your refutations actually aren’t, I think I’ll pass.

          • Jon says:

            Louie, your opinion about the ages of the bones are irrelevant until you come up with alternative dating method which get assessed by peers. Sorry I was not clear; I really meant that you do distrust science. And you are wrong that you know much about science when you think humans and dinosaurs lived together.

            BTW I’ve been to petrified forest in Canary Islands. Creationists in 20 million years from now can use it as “tree trunks passing through “millions of years” worth of dirt layers”.

          • Jon says:

            Terry L, you don’t seem to understand what straw man fallacy. I’m refuting your argument not mine. Re Big Bang – We don’t need to create a sun to observe what happens inside sun. We can be there to observe it, but we know from afterglow (sun ray 8 mins later), effects and results what happens there. So unlike your claim it is possible to bring the full weight of the scientific method on that singular event. You can repeatedly test Big Bang effects. You can even do it tomorrow if you want.

            Here is an example of moving the goal post fallacy:
            First you said “You don’t have millions of years it would take to truly replicate evolution; therefore it’s not observable”
            When I refuted that you changed to “We have never seen bacteria change into a housefly… Not observable.”
            We don’t need to seen bacteria change into a housefly to know evolution to be true and you know it, but even that would not convince you because it does not fit in your world view. You just move the goal post when you are refuted.

            Again, we (excluding you) actually know is “why” sky was blue (and “how” it happens), and not some other color of the spectrum. We know why green flashes happens after sun set and why it is not some other color. We know why sky is black in moon, and we know what colour sky would be in different planets with different atmosphere. We also know why our sky is not purple. I answered your example so my answer can not be a straw man. Science can answer why questions.

            Like I said science does not “rule out [a designer] from the beginning, methodological naturalists do.
            If you had read a bit further of your own source you would have come across this:
            “another popular approach is to claim that the supernatural can be studied using the scientific method.. [this includes] mainstream religious researchers claiming to study the power of prayer.” As I said prayer studies have been done. Templeton Foundation has funded one famous double blind study using the same scientific method new drugs are tested.

            So no straw man from my part but notice your own bait-and-switch:
            You talk about “Science” but hide your assumption that all scientist are or have to be methodological naturalists. I would claim that most scientists believe that any event in natural world can be studies independent of the origin of the event.

            Methodological naturalist rule out God, other scientists don’t. So what? Methodological naturalism has become an assumption based on long line of evidence so it is justifiable position. If you demonstrate a repeatable supernatural effect (like prayer) you’ll prove them wrong and many of them will change their assumptions. BTW most God believing Christians are methodological naturalists in their research. Just read their scientific studies in popular journals and you notice that they assume no supernatural effect in their study (They assume devil not mess up their study)

            Notice you mis-attributed fallacies to me and I refuted your all your claims, but you will still deny that you need to change your world view.

          • Terry L says:

            Re Big Bang – We don’t need to create a sun to observe what happens inside sun.

            Improper analogy. Unless it’s died within the last eight minutes, the sun is still there, still shining, and very observable. The events happening inside the sun are continuously repeating and therefore are observable to us.

            The last big bang we know of happened 14 billion years ago, and we are still in the afterglow (as you call it) of that one singular event.

            You can repeatedly test Big Bang effects.

            Bait and switch. I didn’t mention the effects of the big bang, but the big bang itself.

            We don’t need to [see] bacteria change into a housefly to know evolution to be true and you know it,

            Here is an example of moving the goal post fallacy:… “We have never seen bacteria change into a housefly… Not observable.”

            I didn’t move the goalpost… I said exactly the same thing. My original premise was that we don’t have enough time in a single lifetime to observe evolution. Out of haste, I did neglect to use the qualifying “macroevolution”, which is the example I gave you later.

            To refute my point, give me one example where we have observed one kind of creature morphing into another kind. I’m not talking about a difference in a bird’s beak length or a change in the color of a butterfly, and I’m not talking about postulating such a change from fossilized remains. I’m talking about actually observing the change in kind while the change is happening.

            Science can answer why questions.

            Ok…. I’ll try this one more time. Let’s use an analogy this time:

            Consider an automobile: one can ask the question, “why does the engine run?” Science can certainly explain to you all of the laws of physics that describe what happens as the fuel combusts inside of the engine. It can tell you how the resulting energy can be turned into motion that drives the car forward. I won’t disagree with you there.

            But that’s not the kind of “why” question I’m referring to. Can science tell you why the car is blue and not red? Can it tell you why the designer used steel instead of titanium for a certain part? Can it tell you why the designer built the car in the first place? No!

            All of the first set of questions can be turned into “how” questions. How does the engine run? How does the fuel burn inside the cylinder? How does the resulting explosion get changed into motion?

            The second set doesn’t work that way: if you answer the question “How is the car blue and not red?”, you get a different answer than if you ask “Why is the car blue and not red?” The first speaks to the physical characteristics of the car; the second to the intentions of the designer.

            In fact, you can’t even ask a true “why” question without assuming a designer, because that type of question assumes a purpose.

            And returning to that…

            You talk about “Science” but hide your assumption that all scientist are or have to be methodological naturalists.

            I made no such assumption. I’m well-aware that not all scientists fall under this label, which is why I used the precise term and not “scientists”. And why I corrected you when you inappropriately changed the term from “methodological naturalists” to the more-inclusive “science” when you half-quoted me.

            And since you brought it up…

            As I said prayer studies have been done. Templeton Foundation has funded one famous double blind study using the same scientific method new drugs are tested.

            I have to wonder how serious anyone could be to attempt something like this. I don’t know how this could ever be done. The assumption that you can study prayer like any drug has an unspoken fallacy: the fallacy that prayer is like a cosmic vending machine and is not dependent on the will of an actual, personal God who may choose to answer with a “no”. It would be similar to studying the effect of kids asking their fathers for a candy bar, and ignoring the fact that the father has a will of his own, for reasons of his own. The same dad that says “Yes” on Monday might say “No” on Tuesday because his child is asking too close to mealtime. (And he might not tell the child why he answered differently.) How can you possibly study that as you would a new medicine?

            I would claim that most scientists believe that any event in natural world can be studies independent of the origin of the event.

            Glad to hear it!

            So what do you say when the scientific evidence shows positive evidence that the event could not have been caused by any natural cause?

            If you demonstrate a repeatable supernatural effect (like prayer) you’ll prove them wrong and many of them will change their assumptions.

            Again, God is not a cosmic vending machine, where you put in a prayer and five “Our Fathers” and get what you want. If I always got what I wanted when I prayed, every atheist on this site would already be believers! Even Jesus was given a “No” by his father as he prayed in the garden before the crucifixion.

            Prayer is more about aligning our will to God’s will, than his to ours.

            BTW most God believing Christians are methodological naturalists in their research.

            And that’s fine. Miracles are, by definition, rare events. One should not expect to see supernatural intervention every time one turns around. Were that the case, we would simply call it a natural phenomena that we don’t yet understand.

            But the Christian researcher in this case would be open to miracle as a hypothesis when their research continually ruled out any natural explanation. The naturalist refuses to even allow for the possibility. Which is the more open-minded position?

          • Louie says:

            Jon:
            Okay, my theory is that the bones are not that old. I base that theory on science saying that flesh does not stay soft for millions of years, the footprints in the riverbed in Texas and paintings of dinosaurs & humans in Central America. A petrified standing forest, that is awesome! It backs up my feelings about he geologic column also, since the trees I’ve seen through seams of earth actually take the appearance of the earth layering, don’t think rock would do that. I’ve even seen it where 2 differnent layers of the tree trunk became part of a coal seem. This would not happen with a pertrified forrest. Thank you for that. I’ve seen the footsteps side by side in Texas, and the paintings in caves and soft tissue telling me that its possible dinosaurs and humans lived together. I’ve not seen good evidence telling me they did not. As far as me not knowing much about science, I’ll be the bigger person and leave that alone.

          • Jon says:

            I agree torture babies are subjective. It could be possible that in a different time and/or place, the torture of babies might be acceptable. If you could save the whole human race by torturing one baby (or let’s say Jesus) I could be convinced that it is the right thing to do.

            We don’t need gods to tell us how to behave. There a plenty of Philosophies that offer better moral guidelines. Would you agree ordering multiple genocides is morally wrong?

            It is not arrogant to point out that you don’t have something (three heads, $200B, objective morality etc). So get over your non-answer and if you have it demonstrate that you have objective morality.

            So how about you answer my question:
            “When God orders and helps you to torture babies in your world view it is morally right?”

            Science is the best tool we have to get close to objective morality. It can easily answer ought questions, if you grant some premises just like you grant premises in any other scientific, religious and philosophical research. If you grant for example that living is generally better than death, minimising suffering is generally good, happiness is better than unhappiness, human flourishing is good or similar statements. If one or some of those (different studies can select different premises) are acceptable premises you can easily study morality and answer ought questions. You could study for example is going to doctor generally a correct behaviour if you are sick (ought-question) or should we follow Paul’s example and take advice from non-qualified people. I see that you did not comment if you still think Paul’s advice was good…

            No point talking to someone over the phone. Sathya Sai Baba’s followers would not convince you or me over the phone.

            I didn’t call you a liar. Please read my comment again. I think you believe what you say. But I know you; you are a Christian, so you don’t believe that Hindu God is real and heals people. So let’s be honest about that.

          • Jon says:

            Louie, let me be a smaller person and restate that you don’t understand science.
            – You don’t have a “theory”; you have a hypothesis.
            – You “theory” (=hypothesis) is not based on science, at least you don’t provide any scientific evidence or method.
            – I pointed out that people who study this disagree with you and you ignore this issue
            – You have your “theory” in which you add more supporting evidence. You should try to disprove it and consider counter evidence. Remember you should offer a better hypothesis to current dating methods. You already ran away from this problem.
            – You use the word “flesh” which exaggerates your claim. A BIG no-no red flag
            – Your evidence is backs up by your “feelings”. A BIG no-no red flag.
            Your language and method is opposite to science showing that you are unfamiliar with science.

          • Jon says:

            Terry L (sorry my previous comment went to wrong spot) point is that we can study one off events like Big Bang with scientific methods (repeatable and only observe effect). Maybe a better example would be how we study other single events like a particular supernova explosion. Science can do some repeatable tests even if it the event is not repeated.

            I don’t know what you mean by Creationist made up words “macroevolution” and “kind”. You seem to required more than speciation during human life time and you set the bar purposely in a wrong place. You don’t seem to understand evolution. Maybe you should read about it before asking me to provide examples of thing evolution does not claim (your claim that we should see new “kinds” during our life time.)

            Science can tell why car is blue and not red. We can investigate the proprieties of paint. We can investigate who selected the colour and why. We can investigate the machine that painted the car. Science can investigate and get answers why the designer used steel instead of titanium for a certain part. It can check all car and all reasons for those selections and even more.
            Science can investigate and get answers why the designer built the car in the first place. It can investigate all designers, market, reason.

            Science can investigate and get answers to “How is the car blue and not red?” and “Why is the car blue and not red?” Scientific method is build for this this king of inquiry. Get data, make hypothesis, test it, try to falsify it, repeat. This is done ALL THE TIME in real world by universities and research companies to provide information about competition in car industry. Research covers physical characteristics of the car and the intentions of the designers.

            Your “true “why”” question does not need to assume a purpose. Your starting point could that you don’t assume it. Use your “true “why”” question with why/how sky is blue. No designer assumption is needed to get an answer.

            We talked about science. You introduced methodological naturalists. I said not all scientists are methodological naturalists. I think we agree.

            Regarding prayer studies
            You have a premises: “the fallacy that prayer is like a cosmic vending machine”, “my view of “personal God” correct” and “Miracles are, by definition, rare events.”
            Take a scientific approach and assume: I don’t know if prayer is like a cosmic vending machine or if my view is correct or if miracles are rare events. Let’s study it. Challenge your assumptions and that is how you find the truth.

            It is a bit like studying if asking dad for candy bar. Does asking dad/mum/friend have positive/negative/no effect on outcome? Any correlation or non-correlation would be interesting to know. Then you can try to falsify the study, establish causality etc.

            Christians like you make all kinds of miracle claims, but the moment someone what to have a objective look at these claims they all cry that “you can test God” or “is not a vending machine” (Even Bible tells us how to test God). This is closing your mind to open investigation enable the survival of religion. What happened to objective truth?

            One the other hand you state “when the scientific evidence shows positive evidence that the event could not have been caused by any natural cause”. Christians often claim that you can’t test God but there is positive scientific evidence of his work. I can’t figure that out.

            You asked: “So what do you say when the scientific evidence shows positive evidence that the event could not have been caused by any natural cause?”
            This is great news. Please let me know about it and where I can read this study. I can’t wait to see this positive evidence to ~prove negative (I know this can be done, but its not easy).

            People are more open-minded if they are open to miracle, alchemy, astrology, aether theory, homeopathy etc. But after numerous studies its time to make up your mind and close your mind to false beliefs. Especially if you are open minded only to your religious miracles (and rationalize Hindu miracles as demonic etc) you have set yourself to fail and abandoned honesty.

            You said:”God is not a cosmic vending machine, where you put in a prayer and five “Our Fathers” and get what you want”
            But Jesus disagreed with you and said:
            “truly I tell you that if two of you [Christians] on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

          • Louie says:

            Jon:
            You are correct, flesh was an incorrect word to use. I have no method of dating the bones, and I knew it was a hypothesis and not a theory. I have a day job, and time limits me from being as thorough as I’d like to be on this blog at times, sorry. I have no issue with the soft tissue being present either, only people that think they are old have an issue with that. I do not care if some scientists disagree’s with me, as they most likely believe that we came from primordial soup as well, which they cannot prove either. Lets not forget they all thought the earth was flat at one point. Feelings have nothing to do with facts. The fact is, that every dating method I am aware of is based on assumptions. I used to trust carbon dating, but that has been shown to deliver wild numbers in numerous cases, so I had to walk away from that one too. I just want truth, and perhaps one day we will have the ability to date items without question, and put alot of things to rest. I’ll accept the bones being old, just like you should accept them being young. I will follow truth where it leads.

          • Stephen B says:

            Louie: “Lets not forget they all thought the earth was flat at one point.”

            Who is ‘they’ here? The Greeks knew the earth wasn’t flat thousands of years ago. Exactly how far back do you think we have to go before we can say that ‘scientists believed the earth was flat’? I’m pretty sure we in fact SHOULD forget they all thought that, because quite simply they didn’t.

            “The fact is, that every dating method I am aware of is based on assumptions.”

            Don’t you find it a massive coincidence too far that even though we have multiple different dating systems, which use completely different principles, they all converge on the same rough ages for the age of the earth, the age of fossils etc?

            If they were all making serious errors, and ‘faulty assumptions’, you really wouldn’t expect them all to agree so closely, would you? If you don’t understand why, then you don’t understand how differently the contrasting dating systems work.

          • Louie says:

            Stephen:
            This thread is too long! I posted my reply in the wrong spot. In short, depending on how old you believe things are will determine whether they really converge.

          • Jon says:

            Louie, I get you, we’re all busy and have time limits. I agree that we should understand and challenge the assumptions behind any scientific work. I retract my incorrect claim that you don’t understand science and I apologize for unnecessary harsh language I used. All the best.

  5. Robert says:

    Why would anyone assume any religion is true? They’re all ridiculous. Intelligent, educated people reject them. All of us.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      I don’t “assume” any religion (or a-religion) is true. I look at the evidence.

      I’m assuming that an “intelligent, educated” person such as yourself has responded to some of my posts on the other blog entries… I’ll check that later when I get time.

      Reply
  6. Robert says:

    “I don’t “assume” any religion (or a-religion) is true. I look at the evidence.”

    > What evidence? There isn’t any evidence to support any of your Christian superstitions. What is this evidence? The truth is you don;t know the difference between arguments and evidence. If you did you would not be a Christian.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      >>What evidence? There isn’t any evidence to support any of your Christian superstitions. What is this evidence?

      Robert, you’ve already proven that despite my best efforts to convince you to do so, you’re not willing to dialog with me. Tell me why I should continue to waste my time writing responses to you that you’re going to ignore?

      >>The truth is you don;t know the difference between arguments and evidence. If you did you would not be a Christian.

      You’ve told me many times what I do not know. I keep asking you to enlighten me, but you refuse.

      Why do you visit this site?

      I’ve had very interesting discussions with Toby, Stephen, and many others on this site who disagree with my views of God’s existence. I’d love to do the same with you… but I can’t do it on my own.

      I’ve given you the benefit of a doubt… I’ve wanted to believe that you would start to participate, but until I see that happen, I’m going to have to follow some good advice that I was given on another site years ago…

      Don’t feed the trolls!

      If/when you decide to actually offer real discussion rather than these childish drive-by attacks with no real substance, let me know.

      I hope you resolve whatever it is that’s made you so bitter and angry.

      Reply
  7. Robert says:

    Terry,
    You cannot dialog with me because I have asked for something you don’t have: evidence for your beliefs. So you call me a big meanie and think that gets you off the hook. I don’t care. You still bought the biggest lie ever told and YOU’RE the one who has to spend the rest of his life in intellectual servitude to false beliefs because of it. Not me. Have fun with that.

    Reply
    • Terry L says:

      Once again, I keep asking you to enlighten me, but you refuse. You claim I don’t have what I’ve already given, and to which you have not responded.

      >I don’t care.

      Then why are you here?

      Reply
  8. Stephen B says:

    Louie, that they converge is a simple matter of fact. It’s not about how many years or few years between the figures, it’s about to what decimal place they agree. If they’re all within 99.99% of each other (or whatever), then that is compelling, and that remains so regardless of how far apart they all are from a single outlier that used a different form of method entirely to reach its figure.

    If we use five completely different methods to measure the depth of the Grand Canyon, and they come with figures a foot or so apart from each other, this doesn’t stop being compelling simply because someone else reckons it’s actually only a few inches deep.

    So yes, you still need to account for how all these different methods could all converge to such close figures, given that even if they rested on faulty assumptions, they’d all have to be DIFFERENT assumptions that coincidentally still produce virtually the same age.

    You mention ideas since discarded like the sun going round the earth, a flat earth etc. For a start, don’t you see that these are ideas held on to for religious reasons in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary? In this analogy, the Young Earth idea is very much in the same basket as the flat earth being orbited by the sun.

    But even that aside, accepting ‘old’ fossils is no more ‘following the herd’ that accepting the germ theory of disease. We follow them because it’s supported by overwhelming evidence; the herd here is made up of experts!

    Reply
  9. Terry L says:

    Jon:

    Moving down from thread above…

    Science can do some repeatable tests even if it the event is not repeated.

    True, but that’s a different kind of science. You’re not performing an experiment many times and studying the results, you’re looking for similar results among smaller experiments, and interpolating the data to the singular event. This is by necessity a more inexact science, and requires interpretation by the scientist. The presuppositions made by the scientist will (again, by necessity) have a great impact on what the findings are. As Frank says, “Science doesn’t say anything; scientists do!”

    Maybe you should read about it before asking me to provide examples of thing evolution does not claim (your claim that we should see new “kinds” during our life time.)

    I understand the theory of evolution, and I understand that evolution does not make the claim that we should see new kinds (i.e. bacteria turning into mice or birds turning into cats) in a single lifetime. That’s EXACTLY my point! Leave out the “in a single lifetime”, and evolution certainly DOES make the claim that bacteria can evolve into mice (or similar creatures). But if it cannot happen in a single lifetime, then that part of its claims is simply NOT observable!

    Science can investigate and get answers why the designer built the car in the first place. It can investigate all designers, market, reason.

    “Designers”, “markets” and “reason” all assume an intelligence. You’re studying people, not the car! Study the car and tell me why the designer built it! It cannot be done. You have to communicate with the designer to know that, or the designer must leave you a message in the car… perhaps something written in the owner’s manual. Studying the car’s engine will not tell you exactly why the designer built it.

    But it will give you clues… you can see whether the engine is optimized for power, speed or efficiency, which could point to either a work truck, a race car, or a family sedan. But that very observation precludes any type of evolution; evolution denies the existence of a design. Oddly enough, you will agree that you can get clues (not specifics) about the designer from the design of a car, but deny the very existence of design in the universe!

    Take a scientific approach and assume: I don’t know if prayer is like a cosmic vending machine or if my view is correct or if miracles are rare events. Let’s study it.

    Studying the efficacy of prayer by simply considering only the prayer and the results obtained leaves out crucial information. If you’re going to study, as has been mentioned, the effects of a child asking his father for candy, how good are your results going to be if you ignore the fact that the father is a human being with desires, will, and plans of his own? If you don’t take this into consideration, then your dataset is flawed.

    In Christianity, we don’t pray to an impersonal force, but to a being with personality and will. Science (not including psychology, sociology, etc.) is not equipped to handle this type of scenario. You drop a stone, and it falls. You throw a ball, and it flies according to the laws of physics. In other words, they have no choice but to react to their stimuli the way they do. But a personal being can make a choice! By ignoring this personality, you’re never going to be able to understand prayer. Nor does such a study consider that sometimes prayer doesn’t change our circumstances… sometimes it changes us so that we can better deal with our accept our circumstances.

    Challenge your assumptions and that is how you find the truth.

    And what assumptions are you making?

    Christians like you make all kinds of miracle claims, but the moment someone what to have a objective look at these claims…

    I’m not certain exactly what you meant by the rest of this sentence. I’ve offered to put you on the phone with my friend on my own dime. I can’t do more than that unless you come here to meet him in person. I stand behind what I’ve written.

    One the other hand you state “when the scientific evidence shows positive evidence that the event could not have been caused by any natural cause”. Christians often claim that you can’t test God but there is positive scientific evidence of his work. I can’t figure that out.

    Let me help!

    Suppose I were to say to you, “I deny that your father exists! I’ve never met him, and the odds are that I never will. Therefore, I deny that he exists!”

    “But wait a minute”, you say, “I wouldn’t be here if my father didn’t exist!”

    I respond, “If he’s real, then tell him to give me a million dollars!”

    You’d tell me that I was crazy… and rightfully so.

    The simple fact that YOU exist is evidence sufficient to believe that your father exists. I know your father is real because of the effect (you) that he had. However, that doesn’t mean that I can demand anything that I want from him. Even if he is as rich as Bill Gates, he may not choose to give me a million dollars just to prove he exists, when the very proof of his existence is there in the form of his son.

    This is great news. Please let me know about it and where I can read this study.

    Combine the big bang theory with the laws of thermodynamics. We have solid evidence that both are true, but they cannot both be true… unless the universe is not a closed system. The energy, matter, order and information came from somewhere. All scientific data says it cannot self-generate. It must have come from a source outside of our universe. Materialism denies the existence of any such source.

    its time to make up your mind and close your mind to false beliefs.

    No. It’s time to open your mind to evidence, and to follow it where it leads. Closed minds are always dangerous! If you misinterpret the evidence and mistakenly embrace a lie while sincerely believing it to be truth, and then close your mind, you are trapped… unable to comprehend even that you’ve made a mistake, and unwilling in your arrogance to even examine the evidence against your position.

    I’ve changed my position on several beliefs over the years because I found new evidence that pointed in a different direction.

    Reply

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