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Steve, the key is that Jesus is Everyman - we are Jesus, Jesus is us. That's why the legend persists, and indeed the origin of the nativity myths. If we can use Jesus to help us see others, then as an atheist I have no problems in standing alongside my Christian friends. But so many people use Jesus as a barrier or an excuse to ignore others. A wall instead of a window. That's the sort of thing that breeds Bad Christianity, such as fundamentalism, creationism, SPUC etc. I think Christianity needs to change, to turn its back to the cross and towards the real people suffering here, in Gaza, Syria or anywhere. Cheers! -S
Steve, I so wish this would work, but I'm not sure that it would. But then would my alternative idea work either? Probably not. My alternative (and not necessarily an exclusive one) is to re-brand Ireland as an island of Love. Not flowers-in-your-hair love, not the sort of neglectful Pollyanna love that denies reality, but a real positive compassionate love, one person for another. A love that emphasises the relationships between people above petty matters like the constitutional status of the island. A love that transcends religious and secular divisions in exactly the same manner as the scandalous love that Jesus outlined in the tale of the Good Samaritan. I'm an atheist now, and The Good Samaritan was a key part of that process - in it, Jesus tells his scandalised Jewish audience that our duty to our religion and to our gods is *secondary*, indeed inconsequential, in comparison to our duty to our fellow. The priest and the Levite were being perfectly religiously observant by not defiling their purity with the blood of an injured man - they were being entirely obedient to the (ghastly and repulsive) laws of Leviticus. Yet in their obedience to religion, they were missing the humanism. The Ireland I want is the Ireland where the relation between the injured Jew and the Samaritan traveller is the key one, not the fake relationship with a supposed Saviour. Our symbol should not be the cross or crucifix, but the man tending to his injured fellow human by the side of the road. You're right in that our people need to be woken up to the consequences of violence. Astonishingly, the Cross has become anodyne, banal, humdrum. The act of the Samaritan is, in my opinion, more important than the cross. I have no interest in heaven; this world contains enough pain - and opportunities to effect change. So let's make this place an island of compassion and love. Keep up the good work.
OK. You're incapable of understanding my point. I'm wasting my time here, and your silly illeism is tedious. Beam me up, Scotty. Kirk out.
Unfortunately you have not remotely understood or addressed my argument. Once again, slowly, I am not relying simply on "man's reason". I am relying on reason tightly coupled with *what actually happens in the real world*. When there is a disjunct between the two, the real world wins; it is our reason that needs sorting out. And then you go and repeat that same old nonsense about worldviews. The problem for dear old Slicer in this is *precisely* that these worldviews are based on faith, and since many of them are wrong, the problem is not the truth-statements of the worldview, but the very fact they are based on faith. Faith is *shown* to be unreliable. Sure, you'll say that I haven't demonstrated that, but that is not an argument, it is just denialism, and it's not a heck of a lot different from the denialism of the most deluded creationist. I know you don't expect to win the argument (at least you have some insight into how rubbish your arguments *are*!), but you need to provide some basis for me (as your average Joe Bloggs) to follow *your* "faith" rather than that of Muhammad down the road. And you cannot do that. So let's not have any more of this tosh that the scientific worldview is as circular as the supernatural space pixie infested worldview of the Slicer. If you want to *criticise* (remember, not "critique" - you could try that some day if you like, but you'll need to do more work) people like Dawkins or Dennett, you need to address the actual arguments they make, not dribble out a pile of sophistry that explains why *you* personally continue to believe in gods and devils and angels and demons and pixies and dryads and Santa and the like.
More twaddle. You are the one rigging the game, and furthermore you are mischaracterising my position. Here it is again. "Faith" and "Revelation" are *known* to give misleading information. They are a crap basis for making any meaningful statements about the world - and this applies even if those statements are actually true. Think on this, Slicer - even if the gods DO exist, your faith and reason are rubbish bases for believing in them. That is what I said, that is what I maintain, that is a core of my "worldview" (it's the same "worldview" that you use in medicine - I *hope*!!). It's a method. It's a refusal to accept the sort of pap that issues from priests, prophets and holy books (or post-hoc re-imaginings thereof). So you are quite wrong to suggest that I reject your view as *false* because of your "faith" etc. That is not what I am rejecting. What I reject is much more fundamental - it is your entire basis for belief; because this basis can be demonstrated to be unreliable. Heck, you even agree with me here! And then you try the old boring nonsense about how my "empiricism" is an equally guff basis for believing anything. However you are in real trouble here, because you cannot demonstrate that. All you can demonstrate is a pseudo-logical argument that is self-refuting! In other words, if you are right in your silly critique (in this case, the word "critique" is appropriate - wow!) of rationalism, then your critique itself - which is based on rationalism - has no basis. Yes, I have seen people (like McGrath, like Lennox, Like Plantinga, like Craig) come out with this argument, but in their cases they *should* know better. The problem with those johnnies is of course that they are trying out an apologia. You could call it dishonesty. Let me illustrate that in another way: "This statement is false". That is pretty much the sum total of the anti-rationalist argument. It's tiresome, it's sophomoric, and frankly does not bring home the biscuits. And of course the main reason why my "worldview" is superior (i.e. that the rationalist science-based approach beats the faith-based approach) is that it WORKS. You are spending far too much of your capacious brain trying to establish ontological bases for arguments, but this is just messing with words. Scientists base their epistemology on the *functional* - i.e. whether it actually does the job or not. It's not my assertion that "faith" and "revelation" necessarily deliver *false* statements - just that they do not provide a basis for accepting any statement as true. The existence of the gods, for instance, is a scientific question. Please line up your favoured deity and let me fire some protons at it.
Dude, get used to the pejorative comments. There is no point in your pointing out that I'm insulting you - to YOU it may seem that it weakens my argument, but if you knew the first thing about logic you would know that looks can be deceiving. You may *wish* that it would let you off the hook, but it doesn't remotely. So deal with the issues rather than pointing out the obvious. Tone doesn't bother me, and if you want me to take you seriously, I suggest it shouldn't bother you either. So on to the meat. Is my approach circular? I'm glad you accept that yours is - that fact on its own is hardly a good position from which you can launch an attack on anyone else's "worldview". If the best you can do is to suggest that MY worldview (caps intentional - let it go) is at LEAST as good as yours, this would strike most people as a weird approach. Who is to win then? Are we basing this on raw sexiness, because I don't know you well enough to know how either of us might fare. You're right in that I do not accept my approach is circular. I quite openly acknowledge that I go on evidence rather than opinion, because opinion *categorically* is a flawed guide (CS Lewis be damned). It's not that *some* people's opinions are wrong (and it's even provable that many/most are) - it is that opinion as a *category* is epistemologically hopeless. But if I find a gorilla in my car, I find a gorilla in my car. My epistemology is neither here nor there. It's not a matter of logic or reason - it is something that, if asked, I can demonstrate with reference to the real world. But your characterisation is worse than that - I don't have to nail *any* colours to a metaphysical mast - I can change my metaphysics as I wish, but Reality doesn't care, and it's what is in Reality that counts. Yes, our senses can be deceived, but science (which is basically the ongoing extension of "my metaphysics") is quite demonstrably good at increasing our understanding of the world, so just on the basis of the raw scorecard, other things (as you assert) being equal between our metaphysics, I seem to be kicking your arse ;-)
Twaddle, dear boy. My reasons for excluding "faith" and "revelation" is because these sources are indistinguishable from brainfart, and the source of multiple contradictory and demonstrably *wrong* statements about the universe. For example, as you agree, the faith of creationists is misplaced. The faith of Muslims is misplaced, as is the revelation to Muhammad. And I could go on and on and on and on. Of course you would counter that *your* special wee faith and revelation are correct, and you would perhaps say that just because all these other johnnies are wrong, that doesn't mean *you're* wrong. But they would all argue the same thing, which puts us right back to evidence again. So you do not escape that easily. The kicker is that even if you are technically *correct* in your statements, you have no basis for believing them other than brain-fart, and are in no position to challenge anyone else. You say that I substitute worship of god with worship of (man's) reason. I would suggest that you *don't* worship god - you worship your rationalisations for getting around dealing with the counter-argument. You worship the *idea* of a god, without any way of getting from that to your referent. So it's not just that you haven't provided evidence - you have provided nothing but sophistry. As for why I come back here, well, I feel sorry for you. We bloggers-whom-no-one-ever-reads have to stick together ;-)
Slicer needs to wise up and actually read what I am saying. I'm actually fine with insults; it is just hypocrisy to get all prissy over me slagging off people like Plantinga - and hey, you've brought another ejjit, Eagleton, into the mix - for stepping well beyond *their* fields of knowledge. I am not claiming anything as a priori foundational - I am however claiming that if you want to derive reliable knowledge about anything, you need, as a method, to use evidence, and to use it systematically and rationally. What you are suggesting is my presupposition is nothing of the sort. I have a perfectly open mind on the topic of whether the universe was poofed into being by pixies, but you will acknowledge (indeed, you have already) that there is no *evidence* for this. Your presuppositions (and in this case the term is accurate) include the immanence of some panentheistic entity, and that's how you structure your metaphysics - no bother. But you haven't made an argument for this, much less produced any evidence, so I'm not exactly sure why I should pay that much attention.
Of course we've known about human chimeras for quite a long time now. This is interesting research, and will help in unravelling the processes of embryogenesis, including in humans.
The Slicer continues this poisoning the well nonsense instead of engaging with the points Shanemuk has raised. It is a rhetorical technique as old as time, beloved by the intellectually lame, to accuse the opponent of resorting to insults, then fold the arms and attempt to claim the moral high ground. Shanemuk suggests that Slicer has already shot this pooch with his silly jibes at Dawkins, so should tackle the argument instead of adopting the tired role of Mrs Prissy-Knickers. Slicer continues to simply assert that "god" has logic and underpins logic. It is nit for Shanemuk to logically smack this down when Slicer has not set put a coherent case. Indeed that is Shanemuk's point -Slicer is waffling. There is no content there. 10D is irrelevant - Pi is Pi in 10D, 2D, 3D. There is one TRUE answer to the 60th decimal digit of Pi, and thus is the case whether we posit a god or not. Slicer has failed to appreciate this. Slicer mumbles meaningless panentheistic cobblers and expects Shanemuk to somehow make a silk purse from this vacuous sow's ear. Shanemuk respectfully suggests that Slicer spell out exactly what he means by this business of god being both dependent on logic and at the same time defining it. Shanemuk also observes that Slicer has midunderstood his reaction to the Tipler paper, but that is for later.
You're welcome, but unfortunately all @Shanemuk hears coming from the "faith position" is whining and yelping like the proverbial scalded pup. Shanemuk does not claim humility, certainly not of the faux variety espoused by some. For entertainment purposes, Shanemuk suggests Slicer have a wee listen to the Reasonable Doubts podcast:
Slicer appears to be getting his knickers in a complex 10-dimensional knot for some reason, and accusing Shanemuk of saying things that Shanemuk has not said. Shanemuk throws the occasional Plantingism in to illustrate why he finds that gentleman to be a bit of a twit, perhaps in the same sort of fashion as Slicer seems happy to treat Dawkins. Sauce for goose and all that. And speaking of goose, Shanemuk is happy to move on to the logic business, because he perceives that Slicer has not understood the foregoing. Here is the problem. Slicer suggests that "god" incorporates logic as part of its structure. This is just an assertion Slicer appears to have pulled out of his arse, and has no more justification to back it up than that. However, Shanemuk wishes to point out that this does not help if this goddy thing is supposed to act as a foundation and guarantor of such logic, because how then is Slicer able to recognise this "god" acting logically or illogically? How is our old pal Plantinga able to say that god doesn't act illogically, say by creating square circles (not the best example, but Shanemuk kindly recycles Slicer's off-cuts), when the logic that is supposed to be part of the nature of this "god" is allegedly underpinned by the same "god"? This is the reason Shanemuk finds Slicer's effort above to be incoherent, and thus it remains. It would appear therefore to be encumbent upon Slicer to unpick this one a bit and explain why, for example, it would have been logically impossible for this "god" to set Pi to be equal to 3, which would have made mathematics a lot easier. Shanemuk thinks that Slicer realises that this would be silly, and since "god" can't be silly (Shanemuk would dispute this, and cite the entire book of Leviticus as evidence), it's not really a runner. Shanemuk suggests that Slicer realises that Pi is more fundamental than "god", and god has no option but to accept it as a constraint. Because that, essentially, is what Slicer's re-hash of Plantinga's argument amounts to. Calvin (who does not stand in high regard with Shanemuk, but Slicer is aware of that) may have suggested that "god" can do whatever the hell he/she/it wants, unconstrained by logic; Slicer and Plantinga appear to accept that "god" is indeed constrained by maths and logic, but propose the fudge that this is just because it is in god's "nature"; Shanemuk reiterates that this assertion is baseless. Indeed, Shanemuk observes that Slicer has bitten off considerably more than he can comfortably chew, and wryly comments that this is a direct consequence of trying to maintain a worldview that reduces ad absurdum all by itself :-)
Yeah, Slicer and the Muslims and the Mormons and the Hindus etc are all on this little pilgrim's progress, and they are all sure that they are right, while bagging faux humility in claiming to see through a glass darkly. But the truth is that none of these plucky little adventurers have any evidence to back up their positions, much less the moral imprecations they hurl at those of us who disagree. Shanemuk on the other hand is an atheist. He does not believe in gods, pixies and demons because there is no evidence that these beasties exist or have any interaction with the real world that we inhabit. If Slicer wishes to drop the error, Slicer would do well to be a lot more careful about what he regards as true. Let's start with the error that is Pauline theology, and extend that to the error of theism in general, the "realism" of the myths of Genesis and the resurrection of the man Jesus the Nazarene. These are errors. Interesting errors, but errors nonetheless.
Hmmm. For some reason my response didn't go through. Slicer has saddled himself with some pretty darned hefty metaphysical baggage and I really don't think he has the puff to take it anywhere near the hill, never mind up it. As for caricatures, pots should not really call kettles black, so we can leave that there. Let's have a think about Slicer's previous post, and why I called it soap. He says that logic is part of god's nature. However he knows that he cannot even remotely then say that logic is based on god, because we have to be able to see logic outside god to be able to retro-apply it to god. We don't need god to underpin Pi, for example, because Pi underpins itself. The core problem is that Slicer's idea of god is simply incoherent. But lest Slicer feel isolated in clinging to this philosophically banjaxed concept, he is in good company, for none other than Alvin Plantinga has covered himself in unglory with his attempted construction of an ontological argument for the existence of god, which suffers from a parallel but similar incoherence. The problem with Slicer's argument here is that it is simply wordplay, and does not contain any substance.
Too much soap to go into there on my iPhone, but te Plantinga, you put a lot of store by the opinions of his peers, but that is hardly relevant; it doesn't matter if he's been voted the best Hillbilly in the whole durn Appalachians by the world congress of hillbillies. It's the argument, and most philosophers regard his arguments for god as being deeply flawed. As are yours of course. More on that anon. You can't complain about me wheeling out Lennox when you wheel out Penrose or Davies - just sayin'. :-)
I've debated Norman in the past; I don't think you would find a Collins/Nevin encounter as interesting as you think. You're saying this "Kingdom" Thingy can tolerate a certain amount of frank error? Funny, but creationists like Norman don't think so. Anyway, that's a side issue; nice doggies :-)
I think you would have a really hard time making any sort of sensible case for there needing to be an underpinning to mathematics itself, and I think you have rather misunderstood the view of Penrose. Lennox does not have a great track record in this - his own offering "God's Undertaker" is a deeply flawed work, whether you approach it scientifically or more generally ("philosophically" if you like). However, you get the impression that he knows this, and he is being devious, rather than simply dim. Once again, I think you do need to use the word "critique" in a more correct sense. I am not entirely sure what field Alvin Plantinga (returning to him again) is supposed to have expertise in that makes him more able to comment on the existence or otherwise of the gods than, say, my postman. What matters is not the "authorities" but the *arguments*, and it actually matters not one whit who Paul Davies or John Lennox or Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens are - what matters is their arguments, and those of the theists are flawed. Dawkins has, for example, acknowledged that a deistic god is a possibility (no more than that) for many years - long before Davies entered the fray. That's neither here nor there; the key philosophical question that you should think about is this: if the universe never existed, what would be the value of Pi? Would that question have any meaning? I suggest that it very much does, and that gods are unnecessary to underpin mathematics. Indeed, they are unnecessary for *everything*, and quite completely cancel out of the equation.
I think the main problem some theists have is recognising that a/ we are animals, and b/ a process of the same impersonal forces that created all the other animals. I read a very strange (read: completely barking crazy) book called "Should Christians Embrace Evolution", contributed to and edited by my old Genetics prof, Norman Nevin. There is a *lot* of paranoia and dishonesty in its pages (heck, it even has a chapter by Steve Fuller), but one of the main themes was that you can't accept Christianity without accepting that Adam and Eve were *really* the first people on Earth, about 6-10kYA. Now I know that virtually *no* theists in biology take that position; we know that humans have never bottlenecked down to 2 individuals (or 5, genetically, if we include the myth of the Flood) at *any* point since we branched off from the other Great Apes. That's something that these particular theists need to deal with, and to be honest, although Dennis Alexander makes a feeble effort, and John Lennox & Alister McGrath also accept the mythicality of Genesis, there are really no theistic "big hitters" taking the creationists on. The notable exception is, of course, Ken Miller, for whom I have a great deal of respect.
Have a look for Elaine Ostrander's research on doggie genomics - these cute pooches are very closely related to each other, and to wolves, of course. The difference in size between these doggies is principally down to *one* genomic region - the region around IGF1. Interestingly this region is also involved in human growth (not surprisingly of course, since we share a common ancestor with dogs, cats, fish, archaea ;-), and some of the growth disorders that Shanemuk encounters in clinic are associated with this region too.
Oh, I can criticise Plantinga all right (and I'll "critique" him some time if I can be arsed - I think I have done this before) - science is my domain, not his, and you don't have to be an expert in syllogisms to pull his crappy logic apart. Maybe his problem is that his opponents in the field of analytic philosophy are just analytic philosophers, not people who actually know very much. Remember, it does not matter if one is a "respected authority" - interested amateurs like our good selves potentially have contributions and refinements to make. So Alvin is entitled to talk about biology, even though he does so ignorantly and erroneously. He is even entitled to call Dawkins "jejune", despite writing a review that is itself a model of the jejune genre (see what I did there?). As for the physics, I don't pretend to understand it all, but I know what makes sense in my little head, and there you go. Materialism is not bleak in the least - to know that love, joy, etc are features of horizontal relationships without the need to beam in the proverbial magic space pixie is a wonderful and liberating thing. As for Frank's paper - dunno. I still feel the need to know Why There Is Anything At All, and whatever way I twist that puppy, it still always seems to end up with Maths. I am not aware of any theist (for example) crazy enough to suggest that "god" underpins mathematics itself, although there seem to be plenty of atheists (Hawking included - you see fit to "critique" him - you should look up that word in a dictionary, dude :-) who are happy to wave the old metaphorical (obviously!) hand and dismiss the very question of existence as not meaning very much. Au contraire, I opine, it is the very key to what a Theory of Everything needs to encapsulate.
Hiya Slicer, and thanks for dropping by my little bloguette - I'll need to work on some material! Yeah, god particle my arse, but at least the Standard Model had a Higgs-shaped hole, whereas we humans really do not need gods to explain love, joy, morality, purpose, sex, weather, parsnips or blogs. I agree with your physicist author; fundamental particles are really patterns in how space-time is twisted & folded at the Very Small level. Even our division into fields and bosons is really just one way of looking at things, and possibly not even the best. You are right to eschew "god of the gaps" arguments - these never end well for theists :-)Best strategy is to stick to banal sophistry - worked for Plantinga! ;-)
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Dec 15, 2011