This grieves me to no end to reveal these thoughts

Sent in by Steel

At 40 years old, I have lived some 25 years as a "born again" Christian, but have really struggled for the last 10 years years with what I see as a creator, who by all logical exercises, is an absentee landlord. For example:

- I cannot say that I ever had any prayer answered for my own needs, or those of others

- I have sought the healing for my many physical problems, with faith, for the healing that was promised me as a believer (even just a portion), but it was all in vain

- I have really struggled with inescapable statistics, such as:

1/3 of the world is under-fed, 1/3 is starving (The World Health Organization); every year 15 million children die of hunger; 3 out of every 4 who die from starvation are younger than 5 years old; every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger

- Does God really reward faith? (“But without faith it is impossible to please him. For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him - Hebrews 11:16). I find it hard to say yes. Ask the millions of soldiers and civilians dead in WWII alone – how many millions prayed with an immovable faith only to be rewarded with death or death of loved ones and destruction of their lands and economies?

- Why would faith be a prerequisite anyway? Ask the millions of starving children who cry out to him in innocence each day and are ignored. If my 7-year old were struggling with needs, I would not sit on my hands till he demonstrated some arbitrary level of faith. Why would the Creator?

- It is astonishing how many wars and deaths in general, were performed in God’s name (be it Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, Jedi, or whatever flavor). With Mankind as his children, why no intervention in such matters to dispel the confusion and provide relief?

Does God hear prayers? Does he answer prayer? Some contend that the only logical conclusion is: if he hears prayer, he ignores them, making him indescribably cold and sadistic. I feel a more palatable and logical conclusion, from detached observations, is that he simply refuses to hear from mankind or intervene in our affairs (or at least, in a most minimalistic way, only in unpredictable, isolated occasions and/or via semi-earthbound (possibly arbitrary) guardian angels).

- scriptural inconsistencies and downright illogical oddities (that is another thread)

This grieves me to no end to reveal these thoughts.

Well, at any rate, unrelated...here is a compilation I made, a curiosity, an academic exercise, from various sources, that may be of interest. It lists examples of the "Dying and Rising God" principal (a cornerstone of Christianity) and other biblical events/Christian tenents, which can be seen in various way in pagan belief systems. Idea of sacrifical redemption, baptism, resurrection, et cetera, are found in pagan religions, predating Christian doctrine:

1. Example: Osiris

- Egyptian of life, death, and fertility (called the All-Father)

- He is the resurrection figure, the is the oldest son of the Earth god, Geb, and the sky goddess, Nut

- He was killed by his evil brother, Set, then was resurrected.

- Osiris's wife, Isis, found his remains embedded in a tree trunk

- These ancients celebrated a eucharist. It was believed that humans were whatever they eat and that this Osirian

sacrament was able to make them celestial and immortal (earliest roots were in prehistoric cannibal tribes,

who held that the virtues and powers of the eaten would thus be absorbed by the eater).

2. Example: Mithras

- Roman solar deity (2nd Century BC – 5th Century AD)

- The name Mithras is the Greek masculine form of the Persian god Mithra, who was the mediator between

the God (“Ahura Mazda”) and the Earth.

- Referred to by followers as Redeemer, "the light of the world", and "The Good Shepherd,"

- Exhorted his followers to share ritual communion meals of bread and wine.

- His priests were called "Father"

- Mithras was born with shepherds in attendance, on the 25th of December (a date chosen by early church

fathers to honor Christ’s birth so as to not attract attention)

3. Example: Attis

- Pre-Christian Greek solar-vegetation deity

- Born in December

- Referred to as "The lamb of God,"

- Was crucified and subsequent resurrection were celebrated annually, with ritual communions of bread and

wine.

- His virgin mother, Cybele, was worshipped as "The Queen of heaven."

- Attis and Cybele's predecessors are the Babylonian Goddess Ishtar, and her consort Tammuz. It is from their

legend that we get the name for the annual celebration of the resurrection of Christ…”Easter”, a name of the

Goddess Ishtar

- Tammuz is associated with a symbol- the cross [early Christian used the Greek letter, “X” as a parallel symbol (named “christos”)]

4. Example: Odin

- Head of Nordic gods (“Father of All”)

- Odin hangs from a tree as a sacrifice to himself and was pierced in the side by his own javelin.

- He hung for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds.

(sacrifices, human or otherwise, to the gods were commonly hung in or from trees, often pierced by spears)

5. Example: Baldur

- Nordic “god of light”, innocence, beauty, joy, purity, and peace, Odin's second son

- Killed by the Loki, scheming deity (who fathered various beasts, humans, and monsters)

- He will returns after Ragnarok (end of the world good vs. evil battle of the gods…comparable to the Christian Apocalypse) to usher in an era of peace.

6. Example: Dionysus

- Greek god of the wine

- Was born from a virgin mother, a mortal woman, but fathered by the King of Heaven

- Transformed water into wine,

- He incurred the wrath of the religious authorities, who were appalled that he refers to himself as a son

of god.

- He allows himself to be arrested and tried for blasphemy - a willing self-sacrifice.

- He is found guilty and executed, only to rise from the grave three days later, where the women weeping

at his tomb do not recognize him until he assumes his divine form

- Was thought of as a liberator of mankind.

- Notions of eating and drinking "the flesh" and "blood" were popularized by the cult of Dionysus.

Thanks for indulging me.

To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .

180 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's a good post but I really do doubt it was written by a born again Christian. This is just too polished to be written from the heart. This is a solid atheist perspective. Sorry , but thats the impression I'm getting as I read it.

sailerfraud said...

More reality grievances of religion.

Despite all the lying preachers claiming humans are inherently evil and need religion to revert to the good side, reality is different.

Crime rates by Christians, including murder, rape, fraud, assult, and dirt factor rates like divorce and alcholism, are equal to the non-Christian population at best. All too often is gets even worse in the Christian population.

sailerfraud said...

You also have to face reality on the power of prayer. While you were praying to the almighty God for healing, such as from a disease, ailment, or social problem, the reality is that you could be praying to another god, or even a tree or rock, and recieve the same results.

I covered this a while back.

Logical Proof that God doesn't exist - Prayer

If God is so good and powerful, why does evil exist?

Anonymous said...

Serious illness is a severe threat to one's atheistic sanity. I had the experience of some serious waiting for a kidney transplant. Wife and other relatives and friends kept praying for me, and for a few months, I even relented on my all-my-adulthood atheism, reverting a little to the faith of my upbringing. Then, the kidney transplant came, and all I kept hearing was how thankful we should all be to god. I waivered a little, but then I gradually found out that within a few weeks or months, most of the other people who had been waiting about as long as I had also got their kidney... and so, now I'm back to reality, having realized that it was just the luck of the draw, and the right amount of patient waiting. I guess if god gave me the kidney, he had to take the donor's life in order to do it, and he also had to give me kidney failure to beging with. He could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Telmi said...

Good philosophy, Steel.

I enjoyed reading the post.

twincats said...

Hey, anonymous - Glad to hear you got the kidney you needed! As a family member of a donor (brother-in-law had a fatal stroke last summer) I can tell you that we were all very glad and thankful (to the hospital and teams it took to coordinate and harvest, not any god) that his death could benefit others in need and not be in vain. It's really been a great comfort to all of us.

Sure, we miss him but the fact that several people's lives were saved (kidneys) or improved (corneas, skin) is no small thing.

Thanks to medical science and the dedicated people who coordinate the organ donor program!

p.s. I hope we're all registered as organ donors!

Anonymous said...

There are arouund 20 crucified Christs before the time of Jesus,most with the same stories.

Virgin birth,miracles,persecution,
killed by authorities to rise from the grave and appear to followers.

If Jesus was the real thing, why would he copy all of these previous so called messiahs?

Me thinks he would distance himself from,(not copy)these so called "sons of god".

freedy

MikeG said...

I prefer to see from a different perspective. I also have lived over 25 years (closer to 30) as a born-again Christian. I have come to accept the fact that the Gospel is 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' in the sense that it is indeed a story.

It is a very beautiful story that is used to communicate divine spiritual truths, while the story itself is not historically factual and true. It is a very profound means of expressing the inexpressible. Who can put into words the understanding of the God of Heaven Who transcends human understanding. The Gospel is a means of doing that in some measure. God so loves and identifies with man that He becomes incarnate in the flesh, and through His death and Resurrection triumphs over death, and opens a door to eternal life—life after physical death. There is an abundance of virtue and Godly character imparted to the believer through faith in Christ.

I don't regret one bit the years in which I have lived by faith in Christ. When I consider the times I have been disappointed or hurt by the failures of others, I can consider the fact that that I too fall short of perfection. That does not change the goodness or faithfulness of God.

I believe that my life has been immeasurably enriched spiritually by the Gospel through the exhortations to mercy, kindness, patience, love, righetousness, peace, truth, etc., etc., and the revelation of the mercy and forgiveness and love of God.

So, I will not let bitterness find a foothold in me, but will with gratitude and an ongoing love of the truth go forward in life. As the Scripture says that the law was a tutor to bring us to Christ, I can also say that Christ was a tutor to bring us to the love of the truth.

Anonymous said...

MikeG,That all sounds great,but what about the billions of us who don't believe and are not bitter and very happy?

Will you you peacefully walk the streets of gold knowing your "good news messiah" is torturing them for eternity in hell?

peace freedy

MikeG said...

anonymous, The post that started this thread begins, "It grieves me to no end...", which sounds to me like it has some flavor of bitterness. You may have not very well read my post, but I believe that I was clearly enough saying that while I can accept and appreciate the fact that the Gospel is not historically true, I can also appreciate the fact that it communicates many divine truths and virtues which are desirable. How you would use that as a basis for your comment makes no sense to me. And if you just want to argue, I'm not interested.

boomSLANG said...

Question: Wouldn't it/doesn't it cause one to suspend logical thinking to conclude that a "Divine" being; an omnipotent and omniscient "God"; the creator of the entire Universe, would dictate it's wishes for humankind, um, "half-assed"?.. for lack of a better term?

The bible is either the inerrant inspired "Word of God", or it isn't. If parts of the bible are admittedly not up to par with what one would expect from a "Divine" and "ALL-knowing" being, who's to say that ANY of it is?

Furthermore, many of these "Divine Truths" and "virtues" are merely common sense, and yet, others are out-dated; out-moded; impractical; obsolete.... and just plain silly. Further still, even Christians cannot agree on what is "parable" and what is "gospel", which causes a divisiveness even amongst Christians.

"God inspired"?.. "unchanging"?... "objective Truth" for alll of humanity? Naaw, I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Mikeg,I've never heard of a born again xtian that does not believe the bible to historically accurate,please explain.
Do you not believe the born again experiance to be supernatural? If so than I agree.
What about hell,judgement,miracles etc,....do you believe in these things?

peace,..freedy

Dave8 said...

MikeG: "When I consider the times I have been disappointed or hurt by the failures of others, I can consider the fact that that I too fall short of perfection. That does not change the goodness or faithfulness of God."

1-Can you explain your ideal of human perfection?

2-If you aren't perfect, then all your claims aren't perfect either. So, why should anyone believe you when you imperfectly suggest anything about your idealistically perfect God; specifically in regard to goodness and faithfulness?

MikeG said...

Hey guys, I'm not interested in getting involved in a pissing match. Way better things to do. You can have it out among yourselves.

Anonymous said...

MikeG,

They aren't wanting a pissing match. You come in and make some claims and don't back them up with anything substantial. They are calling you on it. You're not used to that are you?

So, you have time to come in and say you don't want to have a pissing match. They also makes me believe you have the time to answer their questions. Me thinks you don't answer their comments and questions because you do NOT have good answers for them. It's much easier to come back and say you don't want to have a pissing match. How convenient for you.

Anonymous said...

MikeG: "Hey guys, I'm not interested in getting involved in a pissing match. Way better things to do. You can have it out among yourselves."

So, you've got to piss and run. That’s pretty rude, but consider the favor returned, need a hanky? You can wipe your virtual face off with all that free time.

boomSLANG said...

With all this talk of "piss", which, BTW, the Christian right would be foaming at the mouth if such a word were mentioned in any secular literature, let's have a look at this verse:

"But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? [hath he] not [sent me] to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?" II Kings 18:27 KJ

Anyone---where is the "Divinity" and/or "virtue" in such words?

(if you have the time, of course)

Anonymous said...

So, the truth comes out. MikeG is hording his own piss, for religious re-enactment purposes.

Hey, MikeG, you can keep the virtual hanky, and at least be considerate enough to wipe the corners of your mouth when you’ve drained your bedpan, bon appetite.

Anonymous said...

This grieves me to no end to reveal the picture of MikeG on his back, on a wikipedia page. He's truly something to behold.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urophagia

Telmi said...

Mikeg,

"God so loves and identifies with man that He becomes incarnate in the flesh, and through His death and Resurrection triumphs over death, and opens a door to eternal life—life after physical death. There is an abundance of virtue and Godly character imparted to the believer through faith in Christ"

Mikeg, you are an ignorant God-sucker. You obviously are not aware of the portrayal of your God as a malevolent,insane,genocidal maniac. Please read the Bible before coming here to spout your crap about "God so loves...".

If you hold that "the story itself is not historically factual and true", then why are you believing in it?

Personal sentiments?

MadWorld said...

"But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? [hath he] not [sent me] to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?" II Kings 18:27 KJ

Clearly then, Urophagia was already fashionable in OT times and I guess that our Mike G finds this a virtue that as a born again Cretin must be upheld %)

Nvrgoingbkeither said...

HEY STEEL,
I CAN FEEL YA AFTER MY WIFE OPENED MY EYES TOO THE TRUTH I WAS STUNNED AS WELL. I FELT MOSTLY BETRAYED AND AFTER A LIFE LIKE MINE IT'S VERY HARD FOR ANYTHING TOO DO THAT AS BAD AS XIANITY DID.
I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR POST,I FELT IT WAS VERY GEUINE.

I MYSELF SPENT SOME YEARS WITH THE XIAN GOD OF DECEPTION AND BULLSHIT.

Anonymous said...

Steel, I enjoyed your post. It's always refreshing to hear or read when someone frees themselves from religious beliefs. Welcome to the world of reality. It's the best way to live. Jim Earl

Pull The Other One! said...

MikeG (if you're still here),

You say that the story is 'not historically factual and true', but you're still putting your faith in it.

It seems to me that you're one of quite a number of people who like the idea of Christianity so much that you're willing to jump through all kinds of ridiculous hoops (that you know very well are ridiculous), just so you can sign up.

If you were on a jury, and a witness was caught several times claiming things that were not true, wouldn't you reject the whole testimony?

And shouldn't the gospel writers be more reliable than an ordinary witness in court? Isn't it more important in this particular case that they be completely honest?

But the gospel writers have also been caught out under cross-examination - altering geneologies, twisting and changing Old Testament prophesies (and non-prophesies), blindly following their own interpretations of those verses even when they don't make sense (i.e. Matthew's two donkeys - 21:1-8), and contradicting each others' 'evidence', like witnesses in court whose stories quickly begin to unravel when subject to comparison.

It claims to be the Truth!, not simply a nice story.

Anonymous said...

Steel, I also enjoyed your post. It has always been a point of contention for me to physically observe local and global human existence with the belief that an all powerful deity could possibly be doing the same without absolute intervention. No matter the crhistian defense of such atrocities, as you said, I could never think of hurting or allowing harm to come to my own child in any way. This fact is an ongoing theme that play’s itself out throughout all of nature. If it’s good enough for most animals and we that are “designed in his image”, then why is the simple concept not good enough for a god? Like everything christian, it just does not add up.
Then you take the flagrant fact that the christian myth has been plagiarized from preexisting writings................... pardon me, I had to vomit.

MikeG - I don’t feel the need to argue with you. You have more than proven your point. I’m glad that you accept that the bible is not based in historical fact. However, in a moment of shear stupidity, you would still postulate the existence of a god. This is were you invite retribution from us. If you can’t handle it, then quit crying.

Noell

Anonymous said...

Yeah, MikeG's post was cowardly to say the least. I spent most of my life following Christianity (41yrs old now). I am not without some belief, however I will never again except something without questioning it. The more I look into Christianity the more I doubt it. I enjoy reason and logical thinking much more than religion or spiritual thinking. Too many people put their beliefs before reason. The world would be a better place if people were reasonable and respectful.

Bill J.

P.S.

The truth is....pain has a way of making you see the truth!!!

speedcat said...

Hello, and about the familiar myth about dying gods, I thought I would share this:

The Aztecs tell a story about a god that challenged all the hot young warriors to wrestling matches. Day after day, he defeated all who came in response, and finally he laughed and mocked them, and said, "Is this the best you have?"

At that point, the youngest and greenest of the youth strutted forward and told the god that he was going to kick his ass.

The god sneered, and the youth threw the god onto the ground and kicked the life out of him. He buried his corpse, and from that grave grew the first stalks of corn.

MikeG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeG said...

OK, now that all the crybabies have posted their rants, I'll offer a few parting comments on this thread.

For all of you who thought it a huge point for your 'side' that I used the horribly vulgar word 'pissing match', why don't you grow up a bit and look up the expression in a dictionary. Or here, I'll post a dictionary definition for you:

"A confrontational debate; a contest of wills or egos; also called [pissing contest]."

So, to enlighten your ignorance, I used the expression correctly to indicate that I didn't post here to get into a child's play quibble with you over meaningless inaninities. (such as the fact that I used the word 'pissing match', which some of you pounced on like a school of hungry piranhas ready to devour your prey). If that's what you're about, go on and live in your playpen. I won't waste any further time indulging you.

================
"You say that the story is 'not historically factual and true', but you're still putting your faith in it.

"It seems to me that you're one of quite a number of people who like the idea of Christianity so much that you're willing to jump through all kinds of ridiculous hoops (that you know very well are ridiculous), just so you can sign up."
=============

No, I simply understand that it is a story that is used to communicate divine truths. Within it is contained the lofty and desirable virtues of love and mercy and forgiveness and kindness and truthfulness and honesty and faithfulness. It is the story of the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over depravity, of the spirit over carnality, of life over death. The teaching of the story serves the purpose of exhorting the believer to virtuous living. So, while the story itself may not be historically true, nevertheless there is the higher truth that the story is useful and effective for promoting virtuous living in the believer. That ought to be really simple and easy to understand.

boomSLANG said...

OK, now that all the crybabies have posted their rants, I'll offer a few parting comments on this thread.

Since you, like all Christians, have not one single shred of objective evidence for your "Divinely inspired virtues"; since your personal belief dead-ends at "I believe".... do you swear on the bible that your comments are "parting" comments?..as in "bye-bye"? That ought be simple enough to understand.

Anonymous said...

Sorry MikeG,
I've been a Christian for 22 years and I have to break it to you.
Christianity is a religion that makes some very definite historical claims. If these claims are false then Christianity is false and is deserving of all the venom that they pour on it here.
In addition, this site is called ex-christian for a reason. You may not agree with them( many times I don't) but treat them and their discussions with respect. This is their playground, not yours, not mine.
If you cann't abide by the house rules then take your ball and play somewhere else.
Ray

Anonymous said...

Steel,

I can appreciate where you come from. Very recently, I had my "aha" moment regarding the absurdities of the bible and religions. My journey started when I wanted to know why many gospels that were written didn't make it to the bible. The more knowledge I acquired by reading and researching has firmly put me on the upexpected path of atheism. The feelings of betrayal will fade. Your new enlightenment hopefully will inspire you to learn more about the fascinating history and truth about organized and unorganized religions. Best of luck to you! It will only get better.

speedcat said...

Hello mikeg? Speedcat here.

About your divine truth: we have no need of your divine truth, nor do we recognize your possession of it.

How did you put that drivel? "The triumph of good over evil; of righteousness over depravity; of spirit over carnality". Well mike, keep fighting, because as I read that last 2000 years of history, that finish line is a long way off. You christians fancy that you are involved in some sort of battle, but you are chasing your own tails.

I have been in my own struggle lately: knowledge over ignorance; strength over weakness; freedom over servitude. I am winning.

If the fiction of the bible gives you some comfort, by all means, keep your nose in your holy book. Also of some use is Augustine and Aquinas. If you really want to bugger your mind, go to Calvin. And when and if you turn auto-destructive, go to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Just don't come back here; you'll scare the shit out of us.

alanh said...

Mike, do you consider these Bible verses to be useful and effective for promoting virtuous living in the believer?

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16

They found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. ... And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones.... And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. Numbers 15:32-56

Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. -- Psalm 137:9

Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers... -- Isaiah 14:21

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him -- Proverbs 22:15

If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. -- Deuteronomy 22:22

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence -- 1 Timothy 2:11-15

"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together." -- Deuteronomy 22:11

...it is a shame for women to speak in the church. -- 1 Corinthians 14:34-36

Pull The Other One! said...

Mike,

You're making it sound as if you believe that the whole gospel story is some kind of Christian Aesop's fable, or one big parable.

Don't you believe that any of it actually happened? And do you really expect us to believe that the gospel writers weren't attempting to pass off the story as a historical account? (or at least most of it?)

You're an interesting case, I'll give you that, but it's difficult to make out exactly where you're coming from if you're going to be so enigmatic. Let's have a bit more information please.

MikeG said...

"Don't you believe that any of it actually happened? And do you really expect us to believe that the gospel writers weren't attempting to pass off the story as a historical account? (or at least most of it?)"
================================
Pull, A sincere and honest comment merits a like response.

I suppose that the actual facts are forever lost to history. All that has come down to us are the biblical accounts, which present inescapable difficulties if we try to try to place upon them a literal interpretation. That is obvious to anyone who studies them with any thoroughness. Nevertheless, the widely accepted understanding that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God persists. I think there are at least a couple of reasons for this.
1. Most people can't or don't study the Bible thoroughly. It is a daunting task for them, and so they are content to believe what they are told to believe.
2. People feel more secure if they can believe that their faith is in something that is absolute and perfect. And so they are willing to accept the 'infallible, inerrant' position because their faith then becomes in a sense 'infallible' and 'inerrant'.
3. At least some of the 'clergy' are content to perpetuate this understanding because they themselves have been taught it, and it is so widely believed, and it gives them more 'control' as the ministers of the 'infallible' and 'inerrant'.

So, what is the actual truth about the origins of the Christian faith? Good question. There evidently was some sort of a messianic Christ figure with a wide reputation and cult following. He's mentioned by Josephus as well as a few other contemporary historians. He may well have been crucified by the Romans as a troublemaker. James Carroll in Constantine's Sword suggests that the Resurrection account may have begun as his followers continued to meet after his death, and through their memories and affection for him seemed to feel as though he were yet present with them. Then as the cult continued and the story developed, it was embellished with passages from the Old Testament that supposedly found their fulfillment in Y'shua (Jesus). In other words, much of the story was created after the fact, using what passages of the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) were convenient and would lend Messianic character to it.

Now, having said all that, the didactic nature of the writings bears witness that they were written by people whose desire and intention was to exhort others to uprightness of heart and soul. In other words, they were written to promote the higher character and thus the greater happiness of the readers.

It's for that reason that I prefer to hold them in high regard, rather than to mock and scoff at them, as I see some seem to prefer.

Anonymous said...

MikeG
No, I simply understand that it is a story that is used to communicate divine truths. Within it is contained the lofty and desirable virtues of love and mercy and forgiveness and kindness and truthfulness and honesty and faithfulness. It is the story of the triumph of good over evil, of righteousness over depravity, of the spirit over carnality, of life over death. The teaching of the story serves the purpose of exhorting the believer to virtuous living. So, while the story itself may not be historically true, nevertheless there is the higher truth that the story is useful and effective for promoting virtuous living in the believer. That ought to be really simple and easy to understand.

Lorena responds
Bullshit!
There are better ways to find "Higher Truths" than believing in mythology. Read philosophy. It is more interesting and more true than the Bible. After all, the point of philosophy is to ask questions.

Anonymous said...

MikeG,
I accede to your list of reasons as to the bible not being the infallible and inherent word of god. If one would read through the postings of this site one would find the same astute observations have been made by almost ALL of the members here.

I also agree with you on your point that the writings were intended to “exhort” uprightness of heart and soul. And, as you do, I also hold the writers in high regard in at least to the extent that they did not have far to go using other writings as their guideline.

However, I maintain that the bibles’ promotion of higher character and greater happiness has, unfortunately, failed miserably.

Even though it is incredibly flawed, the bible is a well intended work of fiction compiled by ancient humans who borrowed it from previous stories, folklore, and religious writings.The divinity of these writings were extruded from the overactive imagination of humankind. It offers no foundation for the ludicrous possibility of being derived from any manner of truth. The bible as well as ANY other writings from any time period that postulate the existence of a deity, should never be interpreted in the literal sense.

The problem lay in the fact that an insanely large percentage of modern humanity ridiculously choose to believe that the bible is based in truth and that a god does exist!

You seem to find solace in the bible. If your desire is to suggest that there may be some overlying truth to the “knowledge of the unknowable” in the bible and that a higher form of intelligence that we can never understand is at work....................then I say, stupidity is a terrible attribute that you might do well to steer away from.

Your ambiguity remains at large. I suspect that we will never obtain a straight answer from you.

alanh said...

MikeG

Your interpretation of the Bible differs from that of the Vatican, and there is nothing definitive to corroborate your version over theirs. The didactic nature of the writings does not mean that what is written is necessarily a good guide to behavior, as the verses I quoted above show. You have a fairly benign view of the Bible, but other Christians have a much more pathological interpretation.

Pull The Other One! said...

Mike,

I'm probably in a very different time-zone from you, so I've only just read your response.

It seems that you really do see the gospel story as one big parable.

I find it strange, though, that you still refer to yourself as a 'born-again Christian' (in your first post). I hestitate to stick a label on you, because we often have labels stuck on us, but it really does seem that you're stretching the definition a bit far at the very least!

You wrote that the gospels were 'written by people whose desire and intention was to exhort others to uprightness of heart and soul'.

That may have been part of their intentions, but there was more to it than that. They also didn't hesitate to use threats and intimidation that have marred the lives of many people over the years, including a lot of the regular visitors to this site.

And although the gospel writers may have thought some of the things they were writing were true, they were definitely willing to insert their own inventions as well. For example, 'Mark' must have known that the supposed prophecy of the destruction of the Jewish temple (Mark 13:2) was complete bullshit, even if he didn't come up with it himself.

It seems that you've gone for a religion of your own making, choosing the bits of the bible that you like, while turning a blind eye to the ugly parts.

Some of the comments written in your direction have been rather harsh, but have you ever tried stating your views, as set out here, on a fundamentalist, or even mainstream Christian site? I bet you'd get a far worse reaction!

Tim said...

Everywhere I look, Christians are spewing the same thing about the "historical" Jesus! The evidence they cite is actually non-existent - much like the Jesus they are trying to buttress with evidence. Take Mike's assertions, for example.

"So, what is the actual truth about the origins of the Christian faith? Good question. There evidently was some sort of a messianic Christ figure with a wide reputation and cult following. He's mentioned by Josephus as well as a few other contemporary historians."

There were MANY messianic or preacher figures during the 1st century but we have no extra-Biblical confirmation whatsoever that there was a Jesus running around proclaiming the kindom of God. Jesus was never mentioned in the original Josephus writings. It was a later insertion into the text by, most likely, Eusebius because no Christian from the 2nd to the 4th century quoted the two displuted passages of which you refer! OMG! These two passages are completely ABSENT until they magically appear in the 4th century. Origen, who quoted from Josephus and who also wrote countless pages of Christian apologetics never ONCE quoted the TF! If the TF had been original to Josephus, there is NO WAY Origen would not have used that against the "heathens".

None of the other historians mention a Jesus by name in the 1st century.


Why do these people keep repeating these lies? Laziness? No time to do the research?

I don't know.


Tim

Asian Seeker said...

Folks,
I recently started researching on whether the Bible really accepts/ even teaches reincarnation as it was suggested by my son's TCM physician to me, and on doing some google searches, I had an eye-opening experience. I've had difficulties in various parts of the bible eg. who Cain married & who was he afraid would kill him, why the disciples asked Jesus of the man blind from birth who sinned? I've even more issues with inequities of life eg. why God allows/wills certain people from birth to a miserable life...

There are many sources but you might want to check out on writings by JJ Dewey (eg. "Reincarnation and the Bible - one life or many?" and a German writer Jan Erik Sigdell who translated his German book into English titled "Reincarnation, Christianity and the Dogma of the Church" and made it freely available on the internet for download.

I find an existentialist stance simply too unsatisfying, and would like to urge you not to throw the baby out with the bath water when you reject the Christianity as interpreted by dogma but to continue seeking. Anyway, I wish you a fruitful discovery/ recovery... (even if it's) away from organised religion...

Anonymous said...

Asian Seeker said:
you might want to check out on writings by JJ Dewey (eg. "Reincarnation and the Bible - one life or many?" and a German writer Jan Erik Sigdell who translated his German book into English titled "Reincarnation, Christianity and the Dogma of the Church"

Lorena responds

OK, let me see if I understand you correctly.

You believe in reincarnation. And because your interpretation of the Bible validates it, that makes the Bible legitimate?

The belief in reincarnation was widely popular in the times of Jesus. If it is in the Bible is because the book, like all fiction, always includes historical elements of its time.

The book you recommend may be very good, but I already knew the Bible has references to reincarnation, and I still thought the book was fiction.

Micah Cowan said...

Jesus was never mentioned in the original Josephus writings. It was a later insertion into the text by, most likely, Eusebius because no Christian from the 2nd to the 4th century quoted the two displuted passages of which you refer

I have heard this said a lot, but AFAICT from actual scholarly writings on the subject, it is only generally accepted that the phrase proclaiming him to be the Christ was an insertion (or quite possibly, an ommission, of the phrase "believed to be"). The rest of that reference is, AIUI, generally considered to be original.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus#Testimonium_Flavianum

MikeG said...

Pull,

Actually, in my first post I stated that "I have lived over 25 years... as a born-again Christian", which, if you're into precision of language, is in the present perfect tense, which refers to an unspecified time in the past and does not necessarily include the present.

I actually would describe my current status as sort of post-Christian, in the sense that I consider the years I have spent as a Christian as a growing experience which I am now content to move beyond, but without any sort of renunciation or repudiation.

I have probably done a bit more study than most, and have always held in reserve some areas of 'faith' where there were questions to which there were/are no satisfactory answers. I have over the past year or two been able to flesh out my understanding in some of those areas, and am satisfied to go forward with some clarity of mind and good understanding.

But, in going forward, I intend to carry forward with me the fact that I have had many wonderful times and met many wonderful people of faith who were/are 'serving God' to the best of their understanding. I remain united with them in the hope of the eternal life to which the Gospel makes frequent reference.

I have seen and experienced enough evidence of the awesome power of God that I neither would nor could adopt an atheistic point of view. It is simply a matter of understanding God who is greater than the Gospel or than any of the world religions, of which I still think the Gospel is the best.

Add to that the fact that the structure and order of the universe suggests a Designer rather than just random happenstance. From the galaxies and planets in their orbits, to the precision of molecular structures or amino acid sequences or the bonds of the DNA double-helix. These things didn't just happen by accident any more than the watch on your arm that tells you the precise time of day or the car that carries you across the country or the jet that carries you across the ocean came together by accident.

So, who can fathom or describe in words the understanding of the Creator? The Gospel is but one attempt to do that; and I continue to believe that it is a very good one. I am grateful for what I've learned from it, and I hold no malice toward it.

MikeG said...

Tim, it's admittedly been a long time since I studied Josephus (I've read his complete works, BTW) and the TF, but from what I recall, it is generally accepted that it is at least in part attributable to Josephus. I see that Wikipedia has a pretty good entry that speaks to the question, as well as listing some of the other 'contemporary' (at least very nearly so) witnesses.

And before you go blowing any more smoke, you might consider the fact that there's a likelihood that my studies may very well surpass your own.

Anonymous said...

MikeG,....you might be very surprised that there are some learn'd folk 'round here too.

MikeG said...

"you might be very surprised that there are some learn'd folk 'round here too."
================================
I wouldn't be a bit surprised. In fact, I was sort of hoping there might be. :)

Astreja said...

MikeG: "Add to that the fact that the structure and order of the universe suggests a Designer rather than just random happenstance. From the galaxies and planets in their orbits, to the precision of molecular structures or amino acid sequences or the bonds of the DNA double-helix. These things didn't just happen by accident any more than the watch on your arm..."

Oh dear, not the tired old "watchmaker" argument yet again.

Mike, when you resort to this rather ineffectual strategy you are committing the logical fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam (Argument from ignorance and/or personal incredulity). You cannot prove the existence of a god, designer or indeed anything else by saying that "It's too neat and tidy and organized, therefore some intelligent being must have made it that way on purpose."

Point #1: Even if there were a sentient designer out there, the existence of its "creation" does not uniquely identify the particular god you have chosen.

Point #2: Things that have regular structures, such as the various types of atoms, do tend to aggregate in collections which themselves possess regular structures. This process allows great complexity to come from simplicity.

To test this, put ten pennies on a flat surface and push them together. You can easily create a triangle-like shape, even if that was not your intention. Similarly, you could get seven soft plastic rings and push them together. Don't be surprised if the end result resembles the honeycomb in a beehive.

Point #3: The apparently orderly motion of celestial bodies can be explained quite adequately by various theories of motion and gravitation. If I tie an object to a string and swing it around my head, it will usually travel in a somewhat circular path. Now imagine gravity as the string.

You are correct when you say that various things did not happen "by accident". They happened as a direct result of a much simpler underlying phenomenon or structure.

"Random" vs. "Designed by my god" is a false dichotomy. The universe is not random. I think that it could easily be the accumulation of innumerable small structures into a very large one. I do not see the fingerprints of a designer.

.:webmaster:. said...

Mike,

If you are walking on the beach and find a watch, you realize the watch is designed because it stands out in stark contrast to the randomness of the beach. And, you know in your mind that nature does not produce watches. Plus, should you desire to do so, you can visit the watch maker in his shop, see how watches are constructed, and if you learn how, you too can make watches. You can test and KNOW that there is a designer for the watch: there he is!

Comparing watches to everything in nature is comparing apples to oranges. They are two different things. The best and most honest thing we can answer to "Where did nature come from" is "I don't know, but the best current theories available indicate this..."

The argument from incredulity (I'm amazed by this, therefore GOD exists) is emotionally appealing to many, but has a huge weakness. The argument assumes a god exists, only because the person arguing simply cannot imagine any other way for nature to exist. This is the argument used by primitive people throughout history to explain every part of nature they couldn't understand. Lightning bolts were thrown by a god. Earthquakes were from a god. Rain comes from a god. Disease comes from demon god. Fertility comes from a god. The list is endless.

Now-a-days we understand that many of the forces attributed to a god in the past are just a part of mindless nature. We can control some things, we can protect ourselves from other things, and we are still at the mercy of quite a number of these forces. However, not too many people think these forces are a god talking to us.

A creationist must simply ASSUME that a god exists. Then the creationist assigns all those things we haven't yet completely puzzled out directly to that god. Then the creationist admits that no one will ever understand how the universe came to be because the secret is secured in the hidden mind of god. So, the creationist leaves of inquiring into the subject to meditate on the mystery of his or her god.

If there is a god that made the world, then we need to study this god: What form of life is it? From where does it generate its power? What materials were used in constructing the universe? Why did it choose to create a universe where big balls of stuff flew around other balls of stuff, where some of those balls violently collide with other balls, where our little blue ball produced life, but that life lives off the deaths of other life forms... etc., etc., etc.

Saying "GOD DID IT" answers absolutely no questions at all. It does, however, make religious people FEEL as if they have answers.



When you see the sand at the beach do you think the arrangement of the sand is designed or random? The destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, was that an act of design or just an act of nature?

Really, you can't have it both ways. You can't say, "Well, this is just random nature, but over here... THAT'S DESIGN!

anyone else said...

i think if God had really turned His back on us the human violence would be unimaginable. the paranoia and self centeredness would have us looking worse than the most vicious of animals.

.:webmaster:. said...

anyone else:

You think...

And on what do you base your conclusions, exactly? For instance, on what do you base your conclusions that there is a god? On what do you base your conclusions that this god is benevolent? On what do you base your conclusions that this god is keeping life from being more violent than it is?

Violence is life. Microscopic life forms wage continual battles within our own bodies every minute. The battle these life forms wage is the battle for survival. Every living thing on earth is only able to continue living by eating some other form of life. We all live off the dead carcasses of other life forms. This is the creation of your imagined god.

alanh said...

MikeG wrote:

I have seen and experienced enough evidence of the awesome power of God...

So far it sounds like the same evidence that every other believer has, which is a whole lot of wishful thinking. Another Christian that posts here is way ahead of you, he actually produced some photos. If you have something besides the Bible, Josephus and intelligent design then let's hear it.

MikeG said...

Astreja, Web,

The bottom-line question to which it all boils down is this: Is there an intelligent, sentient, individual being who is responsible for creation and who is interested in its ongoing existence/development.

My answer to that question is: If there is, it is beyond the capacity of our human minds to comprehend in its fulness, but we can comprehend some small part that is within the limits of our capacity. To assume anything beyond that is purely faith.

Now, my personal experience has been that when I have reached out in 'faith', 'God' has responded in faithfulness. Now, I have had so many supernatural experiences in life that I used to tell people, "I don't just believe in miracles; I depend on them."

I'll share one example as an illustration. This occurred when I was young and was first beginning to seek to understand God. I had a dream which I understood to be telling me to play the number '132' (underground Mafia numbers) for 12 days. Now I had never in my life played the numbers previous to this. So, at the local bar where I had been accustomed to hang out (at this time I no longer drank any alcohol, but would still go to the bar and drink orange juice), I played the number '132' for 11 days for $1/day, during which time it never came up. On the 12th day I played it for $1.50, which was the limit, and I boxed it each way for $1 each (123, 231, etc., etc.). It came up 132, just like the dream had said 12 days previously. Now, what supernatural intelligence knew, and communicated to me, that the last digit on the advanced, declined, and unchanged on the stock exchange (which is what determined the winning number each day) would be 132, 12 days in advance? You can't explain this by arranging 10 pennies or plastic rings in a triangle, or any other physical explanation. This is but one simple example. I have also had far greater and more compelling experiences than this one.

So, does this mean that God created the universe? Obviously, that's quite a leap. But to me this, as well as other experiences, is a clear evidence that there is a prescient, supernatural, intelligent power, greater than myself, in which I can trust, and learn from, and be guided by. And it is not a large leap from that to trust that there is sensient intelligence responsible for creation and which is interested in its ongoing development.

Pull The Other One! said...

Mike,

First of all, you're not quite right about the present perfect tense, which actually denotes actions that link past and present. In your case, you probably wanted to stress that those 25 years (a past state) still have a strong influence on you now in the present.

Fair enough, but if you really wanted to make it clear that you no longer consider yourself to be a born-again Christian, you should have used the past simple tense, and left out the word 'have', like so:

I also lived over 25 years as a born-again Christian.

See, it's clear as day now! Sorry to be pedantic, but I'm sure that if you'd left out that one word, people would have been easier on you!

Anyway, now that you've given us some more information, it seems that you're not so far from the views of at least some of us. In fact, I would say that you actually are an ex-christian, or 'post-christian', if you prefer, who happens to still believe in God. So, welcome to the club!

Of course, you're a lot more positive about Christianity than most of us. Some people really have had some awful experiences, so please bear that in mind.

Anyway, it's been an interesting exchange. Stick around, I'm sure you'll find plenty of things worth reading and discussing.

Pull The Other One! said...

Mike,

I've just read your last post, which you must have been writing at the same time as mine.

I must say, I didn't think God approved of gambling! Does he do big jackpot lottery numbers as well?

MikeG said...

Alan, Pull,

Yes, it appears that we were all compiling/posting at the same time.

Oh pedantry! Yuck! :)

"I must say, I didn't think God approved of gambling! Does he do big jackpot lottery numbers as well?"
LOL! I'm still trying to figure that one out.

"Of course, you're a lot more positive about Christianity than most of us. Some people really have had some awful experiences, so please bear that in mind."

I too have had my share of negative experiences, which were all people-related. I prefer to let them fade away into forgotteness, as is fitting. And I won't let them detract from the good experiences I've had with folks of faith who were/are of a better quality character. And I'm still awed by the faithfulness of God.

alanh said...

Mike

That's an interesting story which raises many questions, I'll focus on one: leaving coincidence aside for the moment, why is your dream evidence of a supreme being and not evidence of some unknown attribute that you yourself possess? I am extremely skeptical that any "supernatural" events exist, but if they do, why is an active being the cause, as opposed to some sort of Jungian synchronicity or undiscovered capability of the human mind?

MikeG said...

"I am extremely skeptical that any "supernatural" events exist, but if they do, why is an active being the cause, as opposed to some sort of Jungian synchronicity or undiscovered capability of the human mind?"
========================
Alan, that question is always there, latent, but beyond my ability to formulate any sort of cogent answer to. IOW, I'm open to the possibility that the human mind has the potential to achieve more than we commonly give it credit for. And I think that that potential perhaps is increased when there is a unity of like minds working together. I think that is at least part of the reason why the Christian faith is so influential—because of how believers are united in a common faith in Christ.

As far as the supernatural, in my view it is not natural to know 12 days ahead of time what the number will be as in the above account. If I could do it naturally, I would do it every day. I actually tried to dream another number just after I had that experience. I came up with 232. I did not 'box' it this time since the first number had hit exact. The number came up 322. If I had boxed it, it would have hit. I never played the numbers any more after that. But the experience helped to convince me that there was enough reality to this 'God stuff' to make it worth looking into with some seriousness. I suppose I've never quit looking, and never will. When your experience starts getting into interaction with the elements: wind, thunder, lightning, rainbows, it gets pretty awesome.

As far as an active being being the cause, I don't think it is a good idea to presume that I have those powers resident within me, but rather that I am interacting with spiritual intelligence that is exterior to myself (though in some sense intertwined), with perhaps a hierarchy of beings (in Christian parlance, angelic and/or demonic beings). This could possibly be merely the collective spirit(s) of humanity, but at least includes them. And if there is assumed to be such a hierarchy, it is not unreasonable that there might be a primary progenitor who is the original source and above all.

But, as I said, that is all beyond the ability of our human minds to comprehend in its fulness (at least beyond mine).

anyone else said...

webmaster: i base it on the worldwide belief that God has spoke to all peoples at all times. i also believe the guiding principle of life is love not violence.

.:webmaster:. said...

Worldwide belief? Really? Everyone, in all times, throughout all history, is absolutely convinced that your god speaks to all people in all times?

That's a silly statement. It simply is not true. It is assuredly nothing to base a life upon.

As to you other statement, you are telling me you have based the decisions for your life on a belief you have. But you haven't explained why you have that belief. What you aren't doing is examining WHY you believe what you believe.

That was my point with the questions. Simply having a belief is not evidence that the belief is worth having.

alanh said...

MikeG wrote:

I don't think it is a good idea to presume that I have those powers resident within me, but rather that I am interacting with spiritual intelligence that is exterior to myself

Assuming for the moment that the events you describe are real, I would say its a much better idea to presume that either you have those powers resident within you or they are natural occurrences, coincidental or not, rather than presume that some external being is acting through you. According to Occam's razor:

"when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest hypothetical entities."

In other words, the "god did it" hypothesis is the least likely. We have a high degree of certainty that you exist, we don't have ANY certainty that a spiritual intelligence exists. We can verify the existence and properties of the world around us in various ways, but the only potential evidence of a divine being is ancient human-written texts and various alleged anomalous events, events that always seem to be reported by highly biased individuals.

MikeG said...

Alanh wrote:

"when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest hypothetical entities."

In other words, the "god did it" hypothesis is the least likely. We have a high degree of certainty that you exist, we don't have ANY certainty that a spiritual intelligence exists.
=================================
Alan, but that can lead to all sorts of errant conclusions, such as that corn and old undergarments spontaneously generate mice.

“If a dirty undergarment is squeezed…a ferment drained from the garments and transformed by the smell of grain, encrusts the wheat itself with its own skin and turns it into mice…And, what is more remarkable, the mice from corn and undergarments are neither weanlings or sucklings nor premature but they jump out fully formed.”[1]

—Jean Baptiste van Helmont


You know that you have corn, and you know that you have old undergarments, and suddenly mice appear. Therefore, rather than introducing any assumption that any other influences might be at work, it is necessary to accept that the corn and the undergarments spontaneously produced the mice.

Of course that is nonsense. In the same sense, it is nonsense to assume that there must be no incorporeal spiritual intelligence simply because we cannot perceive it with our senses, or because such a thought is foriegn to our understanding.

It's in pushing the envelope and exploring ALL the possibilities (including that God exists) that we can achieve new horizons.

.:webmaster:. said...

"Of course that is nonsense"

Of course it is. What really is happening is that the magical, invisible faeries that hover precariously around human asses are able to influence the transmogrification of corn into mice.

Duh.

When ridiculous fantasizing is involved, anything can be accepted as an answer that seems to make sense.

To hypothesize that there is a super-duper entity out there is one thing. To go beyond wild hypothesis into the realm of reality, evidence must be presented. In the absence of any evidence, there is not much point in rattling on about made up beings.

Once you establish, through evidence, that such a creature as your god exists, then we would want to explore this god's methods, power sources, genesis, as well as how, where, why, when, and on and on and on. Xrays are invisible. Gravity is invisible. Stars are untouchable. Still, we can study all these things with machines, methods, and mathematics that extend our senses into these areas and beyond. What do suggest we use to study your imagined deity?

anyone else said...

i will stick with my statement. i find it very compelling that from the begining of time man has sought out God. thats not opinion, its fact that all cultures (except the very few im sure someone will cite) all had stories of their Gods. I also will stick with love being lifes guiding principle. the notion of it being violence seems naive. if we always behaved guided by the violence we are clearly capable of there wouldnt be any societies and that isnt much of a stretch to believe.

anyone else said...

the mere fact that people throught hisory clearly have a need to seek a God at least suggest there is one there to fill the need. there are no needs the do not have an object to fullfill them.

alanh said...

MikeG wrote:

it is nonsense to assume that there must be no incorporeal spiritual intelligence simply because we cannot perceive it with our senses, or because such a thought is foriegn to our understanding.


Mike, that's not what you are saying. You're saying this incorporeal spiritual intelligence IS detectable and you have detected it. You're attempting to be (somewhat) rational like most everyone else and provide evidence for your beliefs, but like all religious evidence, it is ambiguous, uncertain, inconclusive, and cannot be confirmed by intersubjective verifiability. Again, even if your evidence could be shown to be undeniably real there would still be other plausible explanations that don't involve an incorporeal spiritual intelligence.

MikeG said...

To hypothesize that there is a super-duper entity out there is one thing. To go beyond wild hypothesis into the realm of reality, evidence must be presented. In the absence of any evidence, there is not much point in rattling on about made up beings.

Once you establish, through evidence, that such a creature as your god exists, then we would want to explore this god's methods, power sources, genesis, as well as how, where, why, when, and on and on and on.


===================================

Well web, first of all, it is a bit presumptious to suppose that God, if He exists, is somehow required to validate His existence in your eyes according to criteria determined by you. That's beyond silly. If God Who through His ability created the vast universe must reveal Himself according to your ability to understand, who are but a finite mass of living cells walking about on a minute speck of dust called Earth in a speck of a galaxy called the Milky Way, then that seems to me to indicate some imbalance. Either God is smaller than He actually is, or you are bigger than you actually are. What gives you the right to demand that God reveal Himself according to your capacity for understanding, or according to criteria determined by you? As though you have the ability to comprehend His "methods, power sources, etc., etc."

That's like the little guy who says, "If God exists, let him strike me dead with a lightning bolt". And 5 minutes later says, "See, there's proof for you that God doesn't exist." Beyond silly!

I believe that the evidence of God's existence is everywhere. As the Scripture says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the Earth shows forth his handiwork". So, since there is already plenty of evidence, I think that the burden is not on God to conform His revelation to your own willingness (or lack thereof) to see and understand. But the burden is on you to acknowledge the existence of God from the evidence by which you are surrounded.

Here is the story of a man who spend more than 8 years as a hostage of the FARC guerillas in Columbia, and whose faith in God sustained him, and eventually enabled him to escape. Watch the video. While he does not specifically attribute to faith in God his survival and escape, that faith is shown in his hope that 'God' will sustain his fellow hostages whom he left behind. And there are countless similar stories of people of faith who have been sustained by their faith under similar and even more trying circumstances.

The same 'evidence' that convinces, compels, sustains, all believers is right in front of you if you will but look for it.

.:webmaster:. said...

"If God Who through His ability created the vast universe must reveal Himself according to your ability to understand ... What gives you the right to demand that God reveal Himself according to your capacity for understanding…"

How else am I going to understand anything except with my understanding?

If you are saying it is IMPOSSIBLE to understand GOD, then what in the world could we possibly be talking about? I mean, I don’t understand Nuclear Fission, so I don’t talk about it. I don’t understand heart surgery, chemical engineering, or how economics works on a global scale, so I don’t have much to say on any of those topics. If neither of us can understand GOD, then we don’t have much to say on the subject now, do we? And, neither does anyone else. If something is incomprehensible to humans, and humans do not possess the comprehensive abilities required, then NO humans are worth listening to when they start ranting about a god. The entire topic is, well... your word: silly.

Now, if you want to talk about the human capacity to rise above all expectations, to have faith in the power to overcome adversity, or even to believe that some outside power is helping, then I’ll agree completely with you. When someone is anesthetized before a surgery, the person has a better chance of survival if they “believe” they are going to be okay. So much the better if they have a strong will to live. The attitude of a person’s mind has a great deal of influence over the positive or negative outcomes of difficult situations. Belief in a powerful magic feather may be able to make even an elephant fly, but that doesn’t mean the feather is really magical. The power is in the belief, not in the object believed in.

That the universe exists is evidence that the universe exists and nothing else. The existence of stars and planets is no more evidence of your god than thunder is evidence of Thor or lightning bolts evidence of Yahweh or the Sun evidence of Apollo's chariot.

Now, about your incomprehensible god... How is it that you comprehend him/her/it again?

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeG said...

Mike, that's not what you are saying. You're saying this incorporeal spiritual intelligence IS detectable and you have detected it.
==================================
Well Alan, I'm saying that the weight of the evidence is heavy in that direction. If I had the ability to correctly dream numbers like that, you can be sure that I would do it more often. Since I don't have that ability, and I think that the likelihood is small that a little guy from Mars snuck into my window while I was asleep and implanted a chip in my brain that revealed to me the number, I am content to believe that there is incorporeal spiritual intelligence with which/whom we can interact. Of course something of that nature is not physically verifiable, but is a far more plausible explanation than anything I've seen or heard. Some things we just have to accept by faith. The scripture says of faith, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Just because something is 'not seen' does not mean it does not exist.

boomSLANG said...

Howdy.

...it is nonsense to assume that there must be no incorporeal spiritual intelligence simply because we cannot perceive it with our senses, or, because such a thought is foriegn to our understanding. [bold added]

1) No one is presupposing that there "MUST" not exist a supernatural realm and/or being. There is simply a lack of credible evidence to AFFIRM such a realm and/or such a being. As stated practically daily on this site, the onus of proof is in the hands of the one making the positive claim.

2) If a thought(concept? idea?) is "foreign to our understanding", then you are either including yourself in this set of people, or you are being disingenuous. If the former, if "God" is "foreign", or beyond our/your understanding, then you can never meet that burden of proof because we are beings with limited senses, and thus, we must rely on those senses, along with the scientific method, to determine what is "true", or most likely "true".

And I can't let this go: The notion that corn and some soiled undies makes mice, is touted as "nonsense". Agreed. However---and I'm sorry---but the suggestion that a disembodied flying man-ghost used some sort of "telepathy" to plant winning lotto numbers in some mortal dude's brain while he was sleeping seems every bit as non-sensical to me. Notwithstanding, if one insists there is a "supernatural" explanation, how can we be sure it wasn't Allah, or "Cleo", the pink invisible imp who lives on Uranus?

It's in pushing the envelope and exploring ALL the possibilities (including that God exists) that we can achieve new horizons.

3) We've already established that no amount of "exploring" would make any difference if "God" is "foreign" to our understanding..i.e.."supernatural". On the other hand, if we can "understand" this supernatural "thing", then we can conclude that it is detectable/measurable in this physical realm, with our limited physical senses. If this is the case, then we should have some evidence to measure/test/falsify by now.

Which is it?

MikeG said...

Now, about your incomprehensible god... How is it that you comprehend him/her/it again?
==================================

Web, boom,

I guess the simplest way to say it is that creation is the evidence of the Creator. Even if you prefer "from goo to you via the zoo" that doesn't rule out an originating primal intelligence governing it all.

.:webmaster:. said...

MikeG said: "I am content to believe..."

And that's at least honest. That's really all a religious person has to support their religion: feeling content to believe.

Dumbo was content to "believe" in his magic feather. Eventually he learned to fly without it.

.:webmaster:. said...

MikeG: "that doesn't rule out an originating primal intelligence governing it all."

It also doesn't rule out the Flying Spagetti Monster. Ruling out is not what this discussion is about, it is ruling in. You say "There is a god!" I say, "Really? Show me." You say, "Ah, common, isn't it obvious. Let me tell you about my dreams."

Silly.

.:webmaster:. said...

MikeG,

Here's a story. I was walking on the beach one day and noticed the random arrangement of sand everywhere I looked. Then, suddenly, I saw a watch in the sand. I instantly knew the watch could not have been created by nature, so it must have a creator.

Sound familiar?

The trouble with this story is that it admits that nature is RANDOM! For the creationist idea to work, the random arrangement of sand on the beach is not really randon IT IS DESIGNED.

Or is it that some things are designed and other things aren't designed? When a volcanoe erupts, is the devestation in its wake random or designed? When galaxies collide, are the forces released random or designed? When cancer riddles the body of a person, is the resultant lingering and painful demise random or designed?

Remember, if the universe is "designed" by a "creator" then EVERYTHING is designed.

So, when you walk along the beach, the watch should not stand out in contrast to the beach, because BOTH THINGS ARE DESIGNED.

boomSLANG said...

Mike was asked:

Now, about your incomprehensible god... How is it that you comprehend him/her/it again?

Mike responds:

I guess the simplest way to say it is that creation is the evidence of the Creator.


That answers nothing; you've only begged the question. If the "created" necessitates a "creator", then you have the infinite regress of what "created" the "creator". If the "creator" was "self-caused", then the singularity could be self-caused.

Even if you prefer "from goo to you via the zoo" that doesn't rule out an originating primal intelligence governing it all.

Awww, what an adORable little jingle that is! Outstanding, my friend! However, while that might help you remember how to caricature the non-theist position, it not suprisingly seems that you are confusing abiogenesis with evolution---two separate subjects. Notwithstanding, even though abiogenesis is only the current hypothesis for how life began, I venture to say that the "ghosts making homosapiens out of mud" hypothesis won't be replacing it any time soon = )

Dave8 said...

boomSLANG: "Notwithstanding, even though abiogenesis is only the current hypothesis for how life began, I venture to say that the "ghosts making homosapiens out of mud" hypothesis won't be replacing it any time soon = )"

Hehehehehehehe

Dave8 said...

WM: "Now, about your incomprehensible god... How is it that you comprehend him/her/it again?"

Awesome.

MikeG: "I guess the simplest way to say it is that creation is the evidence of the Creator."

And then, what makes one believe the creation is somehow different and detached from a presupposed creator?

anyone else said...

webmaster said: The trouble with this story is that it admits that nature is RANDOM! For the creationist idea to work, the random arrangement of sand on the beach is not really randon IT IS DESIGNED.
the sand is not random it is there from the crushing of rock and coral by the sea and deposited to form the shore. there is nothing random about it. I dont think Mike is suggesting magic sand but that which nature makes by very explainable means. I believe he used the watch because it is easier to see that an intelligence is behind its design. the point seems valid.

.:webmaster:. said...

It is easy to see the watch is designed, because we KNOW that people make watches. We can go to the watchmaker's shop and watch him make the watch. We can even learn how to do it ourselves. Watches are manmade.

Comparing a manmade item to anything in nature is a false analogy. Saying a designer crafted nature because people make watches (or any manmade item) is an argument of incredulity. "I can't imagine HOW the universe could exist without a creator, therefore a creator exists." The point might initially SEEM valid, but it is actually a wild assumption based on a preexistent belief that a god exists.

Real inquiry says, "OK, there is universe. Now, let's see if we can search it out and figure out where and how it came to be." Assuming first that there is a creator, and then pointing to stuff that seems designed, to prove the point, is backwards.

I could assume that ancient astronauts seeded our world with life, and then go and find stuff that supports my assumption. In fact, that's been done in "Chariots of the Gods." It's not science, it's making wild assumptions and then "believing" in those assumptions to the point that anything that SEEMS to support the assumption somehow PROVES the assumption.

The real answer to "Why is there something as opposed to nothing?" and all the other questions we have about the universe is "We don't really know just yet."

Further, even if there is a supernatural designer behind everything, then the obvious question arises: "Where did the designer come from."

It is here that theists say, "The designer just always existed!"

So, a designer, whom we must assume is incomprehensibly complex, with life, intelligence, and power, just exists. However, matter and biological life, which we must assume is significantly less complex than this designer, absolutely CANNOT just exist without having been created?

This is a paradoxical belief that is hard to rectify to a thinking mind. As soon as the theist insists that a complex designer must exist without having been designed, the theist blows the whole "Nothing can exist without a creator" argument. Surely a creator is something!

The honest seeker is not satisfied with retreating to magical superstition in unverifiable super-duper godlings. The honest seeker realizes that all manner of natural forces on our planet were once believed to be the direct actions of some supernatural deity. As science has advanced and torn away the veil of ignorance about nature, the ability to attribute many natural forces to a god has retreated. God is basically believed by theists to be the magical force behind those things about which we humans still possess a great deal of ignorance. As we discover the REAL forces ruling nature, the shroud of superstition around these things falls away.

Again, the most accurate answer we can give to hitherto unanswered questions about life and the universe is “We don’t know, but the evidence we currently have suggests this theory or that.” That’s how questions are answered. No questions are answered when we retreat to the superstitious mindset of Bronze Age peasants from a more ignorant time than our own.

Finally, would we consult a religious leader on the best techniques in surgery? Would we ask a theologian to offer an opinion on political/economic science? Would we defer to the statements of a pastor in regards to building a stronger bridge across San Francisco Bay? Is it smart to consult with Bible scholars when it comes to even properly filling out our yearly taxes?

I’ve said this many times: I don’t have the education or brains to really understand abiogenesis or evolution. But, when it comes to these subjects, it is clearly more prudent listen to people who study these things rather than lending authority in these matters to men of long ago who believed lightning, thunder, hurricanes, tornadoes, disease, madness, birth defects, etc., were the magic of some god.

anyone else said...

yes and the all experts (all means everyone of them) will say that the universe is highly and precisely ordered.

MikeG said...

It is easy to see the watch is designed, because we KNOW that people make watches. We can go to the watchmaker's shop and watch him make the watch. We can even learn how to do it ourselves. Watches are manmade.

[...]

Again, the most accurate answer we can give to hitherto unanswered questions about life and the universe is “We don’t know, but the evidence we currently have suggests this theory or that.”

==================================

And that is the point. I'm asserting that there is evidence of supernatural spiritual intelligence with which/whom we can interact. I gave the dream I had as an example. There are any number of similar examples that can be found if you look for them.

If you add to that the fact that the structure and order of the universe suggests intelligent design, then it is not unreasonable to postulate that the possibility of an intelligent Creator leans in the direction of probability.

I'll give as an example a hypothetical soda factory. You see a soda can. It says Pepsi on it. It's a random event. Then you see another that also says Pepsi on it. Ah! there are two, and they are identical. Is there a connection? Then you see one, similar, but it says Coke. Then you see one that says Dr. Pepper. Then you see many more that say variantly Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc., etc. Is it not reasonable to assume that there may be a soda factory, and an intelligent designer that makes a variety of cans of soda. The soda cans are not random.

Creation is the same. Every oxygen atom is the same, as is every hydrogen atom, as is every water molecule, etc., though they are all composed of the same subatomic particles. They can be classified by structure and design into the basic elements of which creation is made. Just like the soda factory takes aluminum and paint and forms it into various classes of cans of soda. Both bear the mark of an intelligent designer. Creation is not random.

And assuming for a moment that examples like I gave of the prescient dream which I had (which specified precisely a future event, which I could not possibly know of my own ability) indicate a supernatural spiritual intelligence exists, is it not reasonable to think that the possibility exists—and leans in the direction of probability—that there is an intelligence responsible for creation that is yet interested and involved in creation's ongoing development?

And if one takes the position that, "well, I can't see it and prove it, therefore I refuse to believe it", he/she thereby closes the door to all the potential that exists.

In other words, I'm saying that there is enough evidence to justify having 'faith' that there is a God who created and sustains the universe.

.:webmaster:. said...

"I'm asserting that there is evidence of supernatural spiritual intelligence with which/whom we can interact. ... I'm saying that there is enough evidence..."

Saying you assert something isn't providing evidence, Mike. Your dream is testimony of something going on in your head, but not much else.

Who or what are you ASSERTING created your imagined creator?

.:webmaster:. said...

I agree that nothing is random. Waht I don't agree with is that religoinists have shown that it absolutely requires a super-duper-pooper-scooper to bring any order.

What I was trying to bring out by using the word "random" is that ID-iots say that the appearance of a watch on a beach is evidence of a designer. The clear implication of the apologetic is that nature stands out in sharp contrast to the designed object.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say "The watch is designed, and we can tell that because it stands out in contrast to the undesigned beach."

Get it? In your world view there is absolutely no difference between the watch and the beach -- no difference at all. And seeing a watch on the beach is no different than seeing a pile of sand. Besides, in your fantasy the watch could just as well have been magically placed there by the same intelligence that magically placed the pile of sand.

Do you see the point? You are arguing against your own argument, which is self-defeating.

Now, you are convinced that your god exists -- that is plain. Please present some evidence outside of infantile armchair philosophizing or a moldering 2,000-year-old religious tome.

MikeG said...

web, if you insist on using the beach sand/watch argument, I would only say that if you were to look closely at the beach sand, you would see that the silicon molecule shows just as much evidence of a Designer as does the watch.

Jim Arvo said...

MikeG: "...I'm asserting that there is evidence of supernatural spiritual intelligence with which/whom we can interact. I gave the dream I had as an example."

Mike, I have heard many such examples myself. Here is the general pattern of such claims, including your own: 1) Event X occurred. 2) Event X is inherently improbable. 3) Therefore, it is evidence (sometimes stated as "proof") of a supernatural entity. Is that fair? Do you agree that your assertion also fits this general pattern? Other examples include remission of various diseases, circumstances conspiring to avert a disaster, foreknowledge of some event, etc. Agreed?

I have looked at quite a few such claims, and something else always emerges from them. In absolutely every case I have ever looked into, one or more of the following pertains (usually more than one):

1) The event is exaggerated. (My doctor was surprised becomes "No doctor could explain it!", and times, dates, and places are tidied up a bit to give the story a bit more impact.)

2) There is no objective recording of anything to back up the claims (thus allowing exaggeration to run rampant).

3) There is no objective assessment of the probabilities involved. (How often do people actually recover spontaneously from such a disease? How do we know the initial diagnosis was accurate and not exaggerated?)

4) There is no accounting of the "event space"--i.e. failed attempts are completely disregarded. ("My Aunt recovered from cancer after we prayed for her"; but then, thousands of people die every day, despite heartfelt prayer.)

So, Mike, I have no idea whether the lottery thing happened exactly as you report it, but let's say it did. And let's say that the odds are one in a thousand that you would get the correct three-digit number (if you exaggerated or misrecalled the day on which you were supposed to win, then the odds would be one in 500 or even better.) That, in itself, does not even warrant a raised eyebrow. First, we have no idea how many other dreams you had that did not come true, or how many other people have had similarly vivid dreams that did not come true. Second, we have no idea about the probabilities associated with those other failed prediction--i.e. someone might have a vivid dream about winning a single red/black bet on a roulette wheel (i.e. 50%), which would make failures all the more troubling for your hypothesis.

MikeG: "And if one takes the position that, 'well, I can't see it and prove it, therefore I refuse to believe it', he/she thereby closes the door to all the potential that exists."

Mike, why do you erect such a straw man? If you truly have compelling evidence, there should be no need to misrepresent the positions of those who disagree with you. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is suggesting that something does not exist if it cannot be seen and proven. That's complete nonsense. I can neither see nor prove the existence of black holes, yet there is compelling evidence that they exist; I therefore think it likely that they do. I can say the same of quarks and virtual particles. I'm also quite open to the possibility that there is life elsewhere in the universe, though I have never seen it, and it certainly has never been proven.

May I offer you a rewording of your above statement that would be more authentic? Here it is: If there is no credible evidence for it (whatever "it" may be), then I have no reason to believe it. Note that I did not say that I believe it to not exist. Do you disagree with that position? Do you feel it proper to believe in the existence of something in the absence of credible evidence? I think our time would be better spent addressing the actual issue (i.e. is there credible evidence?) rather than attacking straw men, wouldn't you agree?

Jim Arvo said...

MikeG: "...if you insist on using the beach sand/watch argument, I would only say that if you were to look closely at the beach sand, you would see that the silicon molecule shows just as much evidence of a Designer as does the watch."

Mike, it appears that you consider yourself to be a reliable judge of what has been designed; you can tell, at least in some cases, that something has been designed just by looking at the object. Is that right? (If not, please clarify.) I have a few questions about that ability:

1) How did you acquire it?

2) To what domain does this ability apply? (e.g. just to objects made of metal with discrete parts, or anything with moving parts, or anything at all...)

3) How do you know that this ability is reliable? (Have you ever set out to test it? How could you do so?)

4) Can you cite a few examples of things that have NOT been designed? (This gets back the WM's point.)

You see, if we are going to place any confidence in your (or our) intuition about what has or has not been designed, shouldn't we try to see if such intuition corresponds to anything real?

MikeG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeG said...

I deleted this once to fix a typo.

Jim, I'll reiterate briefly the number dream experience one more time, only because it is unusual and a good example of a 'supernatural event'. This event happened about 30 years ago, when I was first beginning to seek after spiritual understanding. I was in my early 20s. I knew of the numbers game (Mafia-type, I don't think there were any legal state lotteries at that time) from going to the local bar, but I had never played it, or given it any thought. I had a dream that specifically said to play the number 132 for 12 days. I had made no conscious effort to have such a dream. I played 132 for 11 days, $1/day, no box. This was the first time I had ever played a number in my life. It did not come up in those 11 days. On the 12th day, because the dream had specified 12 days, I played it for $1.50, which was the limit, and boxed it for an additional $5 which made a $1 bet on each of 123, 213, 231, 312, 321. The number came up 132, just as the dream had specified 12 days previously.

Now, immediately after this I TRIED to dream another. I came up with 232. I played it for one day only and did not box it, because the first number had hit exact. The number came up 322 (may have been 223 or some other combo). At any rate, if I had boxed it, it would have hit. I NEVER played the numbers again. Those are the only two numbers I ever played.

Now, if you want to use 1/1,000 probability, that's fine. I would say that you need to increase that by at least a multiple of 12 (actually more, I won't get into the math) because the dream specified 12 days, which is precisely when the number hit.

There is no exaggeration. That is exactly what happened. I made no attempt to continue to dream numbers. My thought at the time was, if there is that sort of power in existence, there is greater power as well, and there is no need to focus on just dreaming numbers.

I don't recall if I had yet begun to study the Bible at that specific time. For awhile during that time in my life I had been reading books in the Edgar Cayce genre, yoga, etc. When I began to study the Bible, I got rid of all the others.

So Jim, whether or not you accept it, my personal experience gives me complete assurance that there is at least that sort of supernatural spiritual power in existence. And, of course, I think it only makes sense to assume that there is greater power as well. For myself, I'm content to believe that the greatness of the power in existence likely extends to there being an intelligence responsible for creation, and that not being able to prove such with 'verifiable evidence' is an inadequate reason to doubt its existence.

In other words, I believe that the evidence is compelling that there is likely an intelligent Creator behind creation. But, like I said way back on the thread, that is beyond the capacity of our human minds to comprehend in its fulness.

And whether you think that I think myself to be a 'reliable judge' of anything is really irrelevant and adds nothing to the discussion, because the discussion shouldn't be about me. The silicon molecule has form and structure. It's not random, but has the characteristics of having been designed. So does the watch. That's where the discussion is.

.:webmaster:. said...

Mike,

I for one am pleased as punch that you are happy with your life and world view. That's just tremendous. I give you two thumbs up, a wet sloppy smooch, as my personal experience has been that people who are happy with themselves are "peachy keen."

Now, all that aside, you surely don't expect YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE to have any weight or leverage with anyone else on the planet do you?

Think about it. You are sure of your god belief because of your experiences. According to what you've said, you weren’t convinced that god exists because of someone else's story about their experiences. Your main "evidence" is your own dreams!

So, bravo to you – crescendos of applause, praise and accolades to YOU that YOU have had experiences that make YOU sure that your god loves YOU and wants to hug YOU with all his might forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

That’s soooo sweeeet.

Well, guess what Mike. I too have had experiences in my life. My experiences have convinced me beyond all shadow of doubt that there is nothing supernatural out there. In fact, my experiences have been so powerful that they are incontrovertible evidence that everything you say is the ranting of a nut job.

So, where do we go from here?

MikeG said...

web,

LOL!

.:webmaster:. said...

LOL, except that I'm not kidding.

If we are going to appeal to personal experience as the measuring rod for truth, then all discussion is pointless. I can never have your experiences and you can never have mine. Experiences are evidence of nothing at all for anyone else.

Example: My father-in-law believes Jesus talks to him. Most recently when he was struggling with the plumbing of his sink, he said he heard an audible voice that said "I AM A PLUMBER!"

Apparently "I AM" isn't enough for the old tribal deity. Now HE's a plumber, too.

Anyway, after hearing that audible voice in his head, my father-in-law tore into his sink with a vengence. When he was done, the sink was more or less fixed, and everyone heard how "Jesus showed me how to fix it!"

Pwaise the Lard!

My father-in-law has been mildly manic-depressive all his life, although he's never been treated. It is only now that his middle-aged adult children are figuring out what an insane upbringing they all had. He is not only suffering from who knows what kind of chemical imbalances in his brain, he is also a raging religious loon. This particuar story of his encounter of the third kind is one of the "cute" stories. There are literally hundreds of frightening ones, but this is not the place for those.

So you see, based on my experiences, when people blather on about bizzare personal encounters with the nether world where they receive a metaphorical handshake from GAWD, I just want to shake my head.

Here's shaking my head at you, Mike.

MikeG said...

So, where do we go from here?
==================================
Well, I don't know where you're going, but I've already gone out for a walk and some fresh air, and now I'm going back to reading a book.

God bless.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike, what was the point to repeating your story? I read it the first time. Guessing a three-digit number (if uniformly randomly distributed) is 1 in 1000. How many other times in your life did you hear a voice? How about all the millions of other people who hear voices? Do you have any evidence that these voices result in better odds than random guessing?

To be precise, the probability of winning on the 12'th day, and not before is

( 1 / 1000 ) * ( 1 - 1/1000)^11 = 0.00098905

or one in 1011.1, which is only slightly lower odds than guessing correctly on a single given day. My point was that if you are exaggerating a bit (e.g. you actually thought it would be any of the 12 days, or on the 10'th day, which you then fudged, or you "remembered", after having won on the 12'th day, that the number was 12), then the odds go up significantly. For instance, if it was ANY of the 12 days (for why would you play on the previous 11 if you were scheduled to win on the 12'th day?), then the probability is

1 - ( 1 - 1/1000 )^12 = 0.011934

or one in 83.793, and if you had, say, two days of wiggle room, then the odds are

1 - ( 1 - 1/1000)^5 = 0.00499

or one in about 200. You can claim all you like that the dream was *precisely* as you stated. Unless you recorded it in such a way that it could be verified afterward, then I have my doubts. But even if it did occur precisely as you stated, it doesn't amount to much, especially as you have no idea about all the losses under similar circumstances.

Mike: "So Jim, whether or not you accept it, my personal experience gives me complete assurance that there is at least that sort of supernatural spiritual power in existence."

Complete assurance? You've got to be joking! Does it bother you at all that this "supernatural spirit" helped you to win trivial high-odds lottery (one in 1011 if we assume your story is 100% true) yet fails to help millions of people who are in dire need?

Mike: "...not being able to prove such with 'verifiable evidence' is an inadequate reason to doubt its existence."

Again, you've got to be joking. You are saying that the absence of credible evidence is NOT A REASON TO DOUBT!? What other reason is there, Mike?

Mike: "In other words, I believe that the evidence is compelling that there is likely an intelligent Creator behind creation."

Compelling to you, perhaps. I've not heard anything even remotely compelling.

Mike: "And whether you think that I think myself to be a 'reliable judge' of anything is really irrelevant and adds nothing to the discussion, because the discussion shouldn't be about me."

I agree that the discussion should not be about you. So please explain why you think that WE should also reach the same conclusions that you have regarding "design" in nature. If you want to appeal to some objective evidence, please do! Thus far you've been appealing to intuition alone, and yours at that.

Mike: "The silicon molecule has form and structure. It's not random, but has the characteristics of having been designed. So does the watch. That's where the discussion is."

They have "characteristics of having been designed". That's your argument? That's nothing more than a dogmatic assertion. What do you base it on? Is there some way to verify your assertion? Are we to believe it on your authority? You seem to have missed the point of my previous questions.

boomSLANG said...

Mike said: "God bless."

Yes, God.....bless those who need to win the lotto. Yes, what better way to convince people of your existance than to use your magical, mystical, supernatural, universe-making powers to plant the winning lotto numbers in some mortal's head while they sleep??? Oh, and remember...don't forget to include the amount of days they'll need to play, since, well.....since you evidently aren't omniscient enough to know the exact day to play the numbers.

And dear sweet God, please don't fret over the fact that during the time you take to insure that some American dude wins the lotto, and thus, is "assured" of your existance, that there's entire countries of people that have drought, famine, and disease......while the young have botflies living in their eyes, ears, and noses. "Bzzzzzzzzz."

Nice.

God 'less.

MikeG said...

Mike, what was the point to repeating your story?
===================================

Jim, the point to repeating the story (since you asked) was to rule out the suspicions you raised, and to offer some assurance that there was no exaggeration, errant recollection, nor any of the other possibilities that you implied might make the account less than truthful and accurate. If you had simply accepted the account as true the way I first wrote it, there would have been no need to re-write it a second time. Should I assume from this that, in talking with you, that I'm not talking with someone who is accustomed to interacting within the realm of truth?

As for the math, the odds are 1/1,000 that a random 3 digit number will hit on any particular day. And actually they are the same odds that it will hit on the 12th day as on any other day. Nevertheless, it is a curious phenomenon that the dream specified 12 days, and that is the day the number hit. I would say there's more to it than coincidence. And if it doesn't raise your eyebrow, perhaps it's because you have them shut.

And since that is the only time in my life that I've ever dreamed a number (except for the one very near miss that I dreamed immediately thereafter), and it hit precisely as the dream indicated, yes in my view that is sufficient statistical significance as to provide complete assurance that it was supernatural rather than coincidence.

And, as far as the question of design, how can you account for the structure of silicon or, for that matter any of the elements, much less ALL OF THEM in their variety, without acknowledging a Designer? Of course this question is multiplied exponentially when you begin to consider the complexity of organic or biologic matter?

boomSLANG said...

Bigfoot tracker: "There are giant footprints in my back yard, thus, the only explanation is that there are domestic community gorillas on the loose, therefore, Bigfoot exists."

Skeptic: "You know, I've heard countless similar stories, and I just don't find such stories compelling enough evidence. Furthermore, people exaggerate such claims, so I have my suspicions. Your move."

Bigfoot tracker: "Okay, but I assure you---there are giant footprints in my back yard, thus, the only explanation is that there are domestic community gorillas on the lose, therefore, Bigfoot exists."

Skeptic: "What was the point to repeating your story? I read it the first time."

... the point to repeating the story (since you asked) was to rule out the suspicions you raised, and to offer some assurance that there was no exaggeration, errant recollection, nor any of the other possibilities that you implied might make the account less than truthful and accurate.

Skeptic: "Oh, I see....well that settles it, then. Thanks!"

Jim Arvo said...

Mike, you said "...the point to repeating the story (since you asked) was to rule out the suspicions you raised..."

How does repeating the story rule out my suspicions? Everybody confabulates, and everybody has a tendency to slant things toward their own world view. You are convinced that your lottery winnings are an indication of the supernatural, and you would like for everybody else to think it's amazing too. You would not be human if you were not tempted to make the story a little more "amazing" than it really was. I'm not calling you a liar. I simply realize that people's recollection of events (especially "amazing" events) is not always accurate.

Mike: "Should I assume from this that, in talking with you, that I'm not talking with someone who is accustomed to interacting within the realm of truth?"

That's quite rude, and totally uncalled for. Shall I assume that you are only accustomed to talking with people who do not challenge you on any point?

Mike: "As for the math, the odds are 1/1,000 that a random 3 digit number will hit on any particular day. And actually they are the same odds that it will hit on the 12th day as on any other day."

Yes, that's obvious. Was it not clear that I also made that assumption from the numbers I computed for you? Do you disagree with my probability of one in 1011? That's a trivial computation. I'll happily explain how I got it--I was assuming that you knew enough basic probability to understand what I wrote. Maybe that's not the case.

Mike: "I would say there's more to it than coincidence."

Yes, yes, it's very clear that you think so. Frankly, I can't imagine why, but I understand that that's what you think.

Mike: "And if it doesn't raise your eyebrow, perhaps it's because you have them shut."

Once again, that's rude and uncalled for. Do you know what an ad hominem attack is, Mike. If you don't, please look it up. See if you can stick to addressing my arguments rather than attacking me personally.

Mike: "And since that is the only time in my life that I've ever dreamed a number (except for the one very near miss that I dreamed immediately thereafter), and it hit precisely as the dream indicated, yes in my view that is sufficient statistical significance as to provide complete assurance that it was supernatural rather than coincidence." [emphasis added]

I can't imagine how you can make such a statement. One chance in 1011 is hardly a miracle. If you said it made you wonder, I wouldn't think twice about it. But to regard it as conclusive is absolutely ridiculous.

Mike: "And, as far as the question of design, how can you account for the structure of silicon or, for that matter any of the elements, much less ALL OF THEM in their variety, without acknowledging a Designer?"

How is my opinion relevant to your argument? I'm asking you to explain to us how you reached the conclusion that there is a designer. Thus far you've simply stated that it is your opinion, and just now you seem to be appealing to ignorance (i.e. you can't imagine any other explanation). You haven't even attempted to answer my questions about how you can be confident of your own assessment in this matter.

Mike: "Of course this question is multiplied exponentially when you begin to consider the complexity of organic or biologic matter?"

Mike, I think you are tossing out little sound bites without thinking them through. If you cannot support your reasoning with something objective, then multiplying it a billion fold does not remedy the problem. We've debated the teleological argument with believers here hundreds of times, so we're all familiar with the fallacies inherent in that line of reasoning--and there are quite a few of them. The argument always comes down to ignorance or personal incredulity. Thus far, you've not given us anything more.

Anonymous said...

boomslang: actually there are no giant footsteps in your backyard but there are patterns in nature and precise relationships between all of the universe. mocking it only hurts you but it doesnt hurt at all to just accept the truth of what mikeg is saying even if you dont accept God at least be honest enough with yourself to admit there is order in the universe.

Anonymous said...

so you should at least be able to tell the story there are giant foot steps in my backyard there must have been someone who made them.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anony-bots: It is a far jump from seeing something that appears designed to saying "Jesus is LAWD!"

That's the point.

And, if you want to be taken seriously, either register or post as something other than anonymous. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

and that is something that we can all agree on.

formerly known as anonymous said...

to say that the creator is Jesus Christ may be a far leap and from the posts i have read the examples dont assert it, only everyone wants to assume it. I dont think the argument is designed to make that jump and is limited to there being too much evidence of design to not recognize an intelligence behind it and thefefor claim no God.

alanh said...

MikeG wrote:

If I had the ability to correctly dream numbers like that, you can be sure that I would do it more often.

I'd be a lot more convinced that you were in tune with a supernatural being if you did do it more often, especially if it went beyond picking winning numbers. If I had a dream like that I might wonder if I had experienced some sort of paranormal phenomenon, in your case you chose a religious explanation, coincidence aside both explanations seem equally plausible. Its a very curious way for a supernatural being that created the universe to say "here I am." If this being sees fit to send messages to us humans, why did you get one and I didn't?

.:webmaster:. said...

Formally,

Every single person ranting and raving in support of creationism is a Christian -- period. ID-iots' arguments are always disingenuous, because they outright lie by saying they are not trying to say that Jesus is LAWD. BUT, without fail, every single one of them turns out to be a bible thumper.

Just admit it. All this ID rhetoric is about religion. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with science.

formerly said...

so are you saying it is not possible to observe that there is order and balance to the universe which suggests an intelligence behind it, because there are Christians who post on this site. i'm sure you must realize they are two seperate issues which shouldnt be discussed together but seperately.

.:webmaster:. said...

The conversation is amazingly annoying, because it is backwards.

Creationist:

1) Jesus is Lawd
2) The Bible says God created the Earth.
3) Some things look designed.
4) Science doesn't have ALL the answers yet.
5) Creationism is true.

Creationists are NOT interested in finding out HOW the universe came to be. They are interested in promulgating their religion. Creationists are not interested in searching out scientific answers to where we came from or where we are going as a species, they suggest they already have the answer: GOD DID IT and HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE!

It's inductive reasoning. There are no "Whoa, look at this! For this to exist in nature is very unlikely. Let's ensure it is absolutely impossible for to have happened naturally and then seek out what else may have happened to bring it about."

Creationists say: "We already believe there is a super-Ghost -- YAH. So, let's find ways to support our belief."

There is order in the universe which suggest there is order in the universe. Your underlying ASS-UMPTION is that order absolutely cannot exist UNLESS there is a god who did it.

Of course, even ASS-UMING order demands an orderer, then how could a super orderly Ghost exist unless someone even more super threw him together. Of course then, where did that super-duper Ghost come from? And so on, back and back and back.

Ok: GOD DID IT! Now, who or what did GOD? Oh, GOD don't need to be done. You mean order can JUST EXIST without anything making it orderly? Well, then if god don't need someone to do him all up pretty, then the universe don't need nothing neither.

Get it?

formerly said...

oh, i see you cant agree with there being order because you are scared of God.

Dave8 said...

formerly anony: "I dont think the argument is designed to make that jump and is limited to there being too much evidence of design to not recognize an intelligence behind it and thefefor claim no God."

Ayn Rand: "I suggest you identify the meaning of every concept you use. There is no design in nature. The consistency of nature, the fact that nature follows certain laws, is not a product of design, but of the Law of Identity--the fact that things are what they are. Since contradictions cannot exist--since the existent cannot be itself and not itself at the same time--the result is an orderly, no-contradictory universe. In material nature, nothing happens by chance or design--that's a false alternative. They happen according to the Law of Identity: things act and interact according to their natures. This is not chance. Chance is a concept pertaining only to human ignorance. When we don't know the causes of some event, we say is happened "by chance". [Radio Program, "Night Call" (March 1969)]

.:webmaster:. said...

Yeah that's it, formerly. I'm afraid of god.

Run along now. When you graduate high school, come on back.

boomSLANG said...

Anony, aka "formerly"(?) interjected:

boomslang: actually there are no giant footsteps in your backyard but there are patterns in nature and precise relationships between all of the universe.

Anony, FYI, my post was analogous, and it was in reference to another Theist's post where he simply repeated his personal testimony over again, falsely assuming that in doing so, that it would "reinforce" it, and thereby negate any skepticism from people like myself and others---people who know good embroidering when they hear it/read it.

Anony continued: ...mocking it only hurts you but it doesnt hurt at all to just accept the truth of what mikeg is saying even if you dont accept God at least be honest enough with yourself to admit there is order in the universe.

Mocking "it"? Mocking whAT?? Again, I was providing an analogy in response to MikeG's fantastic claim, and although I am perfectly aware that he is ignoring me, I take comfort in knowing that he's reading every word.

And BTW, I accept that there is order in the universe. The universe isn't static, however...and quite chaotic in certain places. If you're implying "order" = "Anthropic principle" = "personal creator"?... you get an "F" for the day.

Buh-bye now.

MikeG said...

Jim Arvo wrote

That's quite rude, and totally uncalled for.
==================================
Jim, I'll agree that it was quite rude. However I'll add to that that I did it intentionally, and it WAS totally called for.

I thought it was quite rude of you to imply that I was being less than truthful and accurate in my account. Here's the quote:

if you exaggerated or misrecalled the day on which you were supposed to win

I don't see that there was any basis for you to have made such a suggestion, other than perhaps the fact that you yourself may have acted in such a manner, and you thought to project that negative character of your own onto me. And so, your attitude seems to be, "I can do it to you, but don't you dare do it to me or I will call 'foul' (rude)." Well Jim, that's just you.

However, in the case that you are sincerely interested in dealing with the facts and the evidence, let me suggest that you view the DVD "Unlocking the Mysteries of Life". I had seen this on PBS a couple of years ago, and sometime later purchased the DVD, which has sat on the shelf unopened for about a year now. Well, I opened it and viewed it this morning. The evidence this DVD presents by reputable scientists makes a compelling argument for ID. There is no need for me to argue the question with you. You can simply buy the DVD. Someone had evidently made it available to view online, but it's not currently available. At any rate, it's well worth the few bucks it will cost you to buy it. And if you are afraid 'God' might get you if you watch it, relax—they make absolutely no 'religious' argument at all in the presentation, it's strictly scientific.

boomSLANG said...

Dave8--what an awesome quote. Thanks for providing that.

.:webmaster:. said...

Strictly scientific! HA ha ha ha ha ha ha haa ha ha ah aha hahahahh uahh flasdl fijdl f ildiy!

That film was produced by Illustra Media, a clearly evangelical film company.

"Produced by Frenzel's Illustra Media in association with Carmel Entertainment, the first DVD, The Case for Christ, will be released in the fall of 2007." - ref.

boomSLANG said...

LMAO!

MikeG said...

web wrote:
Strictly scientific! HA ha ha ha ha ha ha haa ha ha ah aha hahahahh uahh flasdl fijdl f ildiy!
==================================
web, you utterly failed to speak to the evidence presented. Do you think that "ha ha ha" means anything at all?

.:webmaster:. said...

Yes, it means you have no clue what "strictly scientific" means.

Mike. What difference does it make to you whether I agree with your position or not?

Can you answer that?

Dave8 said...

Formerly, your interpretation of what "is", does nothing to make "Is"... more or less than "it" is.

You are mentally taking "is", and trying to write your own story about it. But, it changes nothing.

My wife is a public school teacher, she plays this game with children... it's called picture writing. A picture of some event is presented, and then the children are asked to write what they think is going on.

Would you be surprised to know, how many varied stories are told about the "exact" same picture? Isn't that like writing a story about the natural snapshot of the Universe you hold in your mind?

It appears you have an interpretation that holds much contradiction, but, let me provide one more Ayn Rand statement, where she was asked to account for The Universe.

Ayn Rand: "What do you mean by "account for the Universe"? If you mean "explain what the Universe consists of, "that's the job of the special sciences, not philosophy". But if you mean "explain the existence of the Universe," my reply is: The universe does not need an explanation. "Universe" means "everything that exists"; but "everything that exists" requires no explanation. Existence exists, and only existence exists. Existence, as such, does not require an explanation; it requires study. We need to know what exists, and the nature of what exists. But the attempt to explain the "source" of existence--of the universe--involves a contradiction. Where do you stand intellectually, if you attempt to explain existence? You, the observer are part of existence." [Radio Program, "Night Call" (March 1969)]

.:webmaster:. said...

Here's a better video, MikeG: CLICK HERE.

That movie purportedly PROVES that there is a god and that HE is NOT Jesus.

.:webmaster:. said...

And here's a cute little video that proves God isn't real!

Dave8 said...

Hey boomSLANG, I agree Ayn Rand's statements are of high intellectual quality :-) I'm not sure that will help our anony or MikeG though! LMAO

formerly said...

ayn rand is declaring the law of identity is god. isnt she dead? i wonder why she who exists because she does, doesnt exists because she doesnt. How is it she ever was?

Jim Arvo said...

Mike, I started writing a point-by-point reply to your comments, but decided it wasn't worth it. Just take a step back and look at the position you are arguing from. You are actually in a position of dismissing logic and evidence, and discrediting or downplaying the empirical. If those tools were of any help to you, you would no doubt have used them in defense of your ideas. But since they seem to work against you at every turn, you are forced to attempt to disarm them. As the Web Master pointed out, you would immediately recognize as ridiculous any assertions we made were they so poorly supported.

About your rude remarks: It's comical that you try to play the "you too" game. Look at the quote of mine that you trotted out. It began "If you exaggerated or misrecalled...", which is, first, a hypothetical, and second, an observation about human nature (as I fully explained), not an accusation of lying. So, yes, you were unnecessarily rude. (This is a typical pattern. When the Christians who visit this site get cornered, being called on their logic or their unsupported assertions, they often become very rude.)

Mike, your arguments are very poor. If you cannot provide anything to differentiate your beliefs from those of countless other claims of supernatural entities, then I don't see why we are under any obligation to believe you. It's as simple as that. You can disparage logic, evidence, and reason all you like; but if you have nothing at all to offer in its place that is distinguishable from wishful thinking and logical fallacies, then we will simply classify your arguments as irrational or nonsensical, and move on.

As for ID, we have had countless debates here on that topic. I presume the "science" that you are alluding to is that offered chiefly by Behe, Dembski, and Denton. I've read their books, studied their arguments, and debated proponents of these ideas countless times. Is there anything in this DVD that goes beyond the notions of "irreducible complexity" and "specified complexity"? Does it provide anything other then dogmatic assertions that such-and-such could not have evolved via natural selection (which is what IR amounts to)? Does it offer any testable hypotheses? Does it address the numerous flaws that legitimate scientists have pointed out in the notion of ID and, specifically, irreducible complexity (e.g. the reducibility of the flagellum, the blood clotting cascade, and the Krebs cycle)? I suspect not, but please do elaborate if you think it does. I like to keep up on such theories, so when something new comes along I enjoy hearing about it directly from the proponents.

Bottom line, Mike. If you cannot clearly differentiate your beliefs from myriad other mystical belief systems (which also lack empirical evidence, but have no lack of adherents), then you will win no converts here. If you can refrain from ad hominem attacks long enough to fully appreciate what I just said, perhaps you will either focus on providing some type of credible supporting argument, or simply admit that you have none.

MikeG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeG said...

Jim,

You spent 5 paragraphs saying exactly nothing. I said way back on this thread that I didn't post here to get into a pissing match. If that's all you're about, you'll have to do it with someone else. The arguments in the DVD are compelling to any reasonable intelligent mind. The key argument is the source of the DNA. You present no refutation or alternative. All you say is "is that all they've got". Well, it's more than you've got, because you've got nothing. If you can't produce anything of substance, then it's a waste of time to even try to engage you any further. Don't expect any further response from me unless you can post something of substance.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike, it's clear you're out of ammunition, and you're just wasting our time now. Come on back when you have something to back up your assertions about the supernatural. Have a nice day.

redtail said...

Im scared to think it possible i was ever one tenth as thick headed as this guy-YIKES!!!!

MikeG said...

The refutation of the supposed reducible complexity of the flagellum. Er, ummm.... on-topic substance rather than empty rambling bluster.

Astreja said...

formerly: "oh, i see you cant agree with there being order because you are scared of God."

This has got to be the most ridiculous statement I've heard all day.

Yes, there is order in some parts of the universe.

Yes, there is chaos in other parts of the universe.

But where's this alleged god you speak of? I've never encountered any such being. And it's pretty hard to be scared of something that doesn't seem to be there.

But, even if the "order" was in fact created, why should anyone assume that it was created by the god of the Bible? Why one god and not two or three or twenty thousand? Why not the Vedic gods, the Greek gods, the Norse gods, or some god(s) that we've never heard of?

.:webmaster:. said...

MikeG,

What is your point in all this? Why does it matter to you if anyone on this site thinks you're wrong?

Please explain.

You claim to be a "post Christian," you don't believe the Bible should be taken literally, and you think God gives you dreams. So, great! You can have any belief you want. That's fine.

Now, why is it that you can't handle the fact that some of us think your beliefs are idiotic?

MikeG said...

I am re-posting a post which I posted this morning on this thread, which somehow disappeared. I did not delete it, but it nevertheless somehow disappeared. I was able to recover it. It starts here:

formerly known as anonymous wrote

"to say that the creator is Jesus Christ may be a far leap and from the posts i have read the examples dont assert it, only everyone wants to assume it. I dont think the argument is designed to make that jump and is limited to there being too much evidence of design to not recognize an intelligence behind it and thefefor claim no God."
=================================

formerly..., Thanks. You are exactly correct in stating the position I am arguing for. The evidence itself suggests design. From the form and structure of the macro-universe to the specific complexities of molecular structures—especially biological ones. That these occured by chance is virtually impossible.

As far as the historical Christ of the Bible, that doesn't even enter the picture. I myself am satisfied that the Bible is largely mythological, including the Gospel. However I still hold that it is valuable and effective for some as a religious discipline, and I hold no rancor towards it in my heart. It is those who are trying to make that the focus of this discussion who are making a straw man which they then think to pummel.

.:webmaster:. said...

MIKE!!!! MIKE!!!! MIKE!!!! MIKE!!!!!


HELLO!!!!

What is the deal? What the f#%@ do you care what we think about your religious rantings? Whatever you want to believe is fine with me. Why can't you handle the fact that some of us think you are completely wrong?

HELLO!!!!!>>>???? You think the Bible is myth, so what is the point?

EXPLAIN!!!!!!!

boomSLANG said...

Formerly: to say that the creator is Jesus Christ may be a far leap and from the posts i have read the examples dont assert it, only everyone wants to assume it.

The following was taken from Mike G's first post in this thread:

Who can put into words the understanding of the God of Heaven Who transcends human understanding. The Gospel is a means of doing that in some measure. God so loves and identifies with man that He becomes incarnate in the flesh, and through His death and Resurrection triumphs over death, and opens a door to eternal life—life after physical death. [bold added]

Call me crazy, but I think it's safe to say that the above statement "asserts" that this "intelligence" that you two have been blathering about is most certainly "Jebus". Although, the more Mike G posts, the more scatter-brained his arguments become. First it was, "God gave me the winning lotto numbers....therefore, God exists!".....now it's about "complexities need designers....therefore, God exists!"

Formerly: I dont think the argument is designed to make that jump and is limited to there being too much evidence of design to not recognize an intelligence behind it and thefefor claim no God.

Holy shit!...you're killin' me! LMAO! Please, who has said anything about there being "too much evidence of design"????? And whAT "argument"????? Hell, if some measley "molecules" are too f%cking "complex" to have happened by "chance", and therefore require a "designer", then surely no one will deny that "Jebus"...oops!..I mean, the "intelligence"...no one will deny that this alleged intelligence is less "complex" than some molecules, right? If so, chime in right now if "biological molecules" are MORE "complex" than "God". Any takers?

Right, so since your hypothesis is that "complexities" DEMAND "designers", then who "Designed" the "Designer"?

Any *intellectually honest person sees the problem with the infinite regress.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike,

Thank you for treating us to another infantile post that is "on-topic substance rather than empty rambling bluster." It never fails that when the nonsense of some bombastic visitor is exposed, they get more and more hostile. Have you read the original articles by Miller, or the actual ruling by Judge Jones, or any other paper by a competent scientist who disagreed with Behe and Dembski (which is nearly all of them)? Be honest. Have you? Or have you simply tried to find anything at all that debunks them? Let's take that link you just provided. Here is a quote directly from page 1:

"A system which meets Darwin's criterion [of being impossible to form by numerous, successive, slight modifications] is one which exhibits irreducible complexity. By irreducible complexity I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

Already, at the stage of this very definition, Behe (and by extension, Luskin also) has made a serious blunder. This statement asserts the logical equivalence of two distinct things: a system that 1) meets "Darwin's criterion", and 2) requires all its parts in order to function. Stop and read the paragraph again and make sure you understand what I just said. In sentence 1: "A system which meets Darwin's criterion is one which exhibits irreducible complexity.". In sentence number 2: irreducible complexity means "...a single system composed of several... parts... wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."

Now, this a blunder because this equivalence is not a matter of definition, yet Behe and the vast majority of his followers treat it as such. One can actually test (at least in principle) whether a system or structure requires all its parts to function (and let's stipulate right now that there are many such systems and structures with this property), yet one cannot by this very test determine whether it meets "Darwin's criterion". Miller and others have clearly explained why the two ideas are not equivalent by showing that the parts of a so-called irreducibly complex structure or process can serve other functions, and hence evolve via natural selection. Behe continually ignores this in his writing (Luskin's claims to the contrary not withstanding), and even goes so far as to offer yet a third "definition" of an irreducibly complex system that he apparently also sees as equivalent: Namely, that the parts of the system cannot be subject to selective pressures independently, as all are required simultaneously to form a useful (and therefore selectable) system or process. This is the same fallacy in another guise (although this one is even more blatant). Here Behe clearly assumes that any selective pressure on the parts can only result from the current structure in which they are found. The vast majority of biologists will tell you that this is a fallacy.

This fallacy has been refuted time and again. Miller and others have argued persuasively using methods of mainstream science (including peer-review, not books targeted for the lay public), that evolution operates by co-opting existing structures, putting them to new uses. That's why I mentioned the flagellum, and the blood clotting cascade, and the Krebs cycle. There are also structures identified by paleontologists that would meet Behe's second definition of IC, but demonstrably not the first (e.g. the evolution of the mammalian inner ear). Note how Luskin deals with this. He says "The ability the find function for some sub-part, such as the injection function of the Type III Secretory System...does not negate the irreducible complexity of the final system." I urge you to read his paper carefully and explain to all of us here how he supports this assertion. As a hint, here is an excerpt from page 4: "IC operates on a collection of parts, not each individual part. Even if a separate function could be found for a sub-system, the latter would not refute the irreducible complexity and the unevolvability of the system as a whole." Thus, Luskin attempts to define his way out of this quagmire, just as Behe does. That doesn't work. Note that he ends up asserting essentially what he set out to show. It's no surprise, as the original definition is circular.

Luskin also asserts many times that Miller got Behe's definitions wrong. In a sense, he has a point. Miller always takes one of Behe's definitions rather than taking them both. Why does he do this? Because it's an empirical question as to whether the two definitions are equivalent! If one simply assumes them equivalent, then one has begged the question. (Actually, it's worse than that, because the two definitions have already been demonstrated to NOT be equivalent, so assuming them to be equivalent is to assert a falsehood.) Because of his sloppy definition, Behe and his followers continually equivocate and accuse others of getting the definition wrong. When one strips away this equivocation, there is little more than a circular argument remaining: Behe's IC structures cannot evolve because, by definition, they cannot evolve.

Now, Mike, you will no doubt try to impress us with how much biology you know, and how thoroughly you have studied evolution and "intelligent design". No doubt your prowess in these areas will be at least as impressive as your mathematical skills. I look forward to your substantive comments.

Dave8 said...

formerly: "ayn rand is declaring the law of identity is god."

If all is "existence", and all of "existence" is all that "exists", then... even the very words you are using, are "part" of that existence, even the word God you use, does nothing to make "existence" more or less than it "is".

"You" are taking the word "existence", and trying to suggest it is "synonymous" with "god". Ayn Rand, never said existence was better characterized by the word god, that's your claim.

You like words obviously, that have little to no meaning, enjoy, I like the word existence, and your god is subordinate to that claim, oops, suppose you may want to look around existence, uh, that's a natural one, for your god, likely you'll find that it hasn't gone far, it's likely still in your natural "mind".

formerly: "isnt she dead?"

Yeah, she passed away, but not before she was asked if her philosophy had room for God...

Ayn Rand: "No. My philosophy includes only what man can perceive, identify, and demonstrate by means of reason. It doesn't permit the invention of "facts", or the acceptance of anything on faith--that is, without rational demonstration. But there is no evidence for any kind of God, afterlife, or mystical dimension." [Radio Program, "Night Call" (March 1969)]

If you didn't get it tyro, if all that exists, is existence, then that is "all" we can know "of", "about", "around", "within", and "not" without. If you want to "prove" something "outside" of your very "existence", then go for it, would like to hear how you were able to escape yourself and reality in the process.

formerly: "i wonder why she who exists because she does, doesnt exists because she doesnt. How is it she ever was?""

How is it you are? If your only argument against the Law of Identity is to become nihilistic for all that exists, then you are disingenuous, for you discredit yourself in the process, nice.

And, by the way, your mental signature has been giving you away for a while now. Nonetheless, attempt to answer the statements made by providing examples that show an exception to the rule of the Law of Identity, and “not” be creating words as synonyms so that you can semantically prove the word God exists.

Ontologically, figure out how you prove your own existence, give us your claim, and let’s see if it holds water. If it does, let’s try and see if Ayn Rand ever existed. If you want to be nihilistic, then annihilate yourself, if you want to assert that you only exist semantically, and that bio-matter and substance are irrelevant to the test for existence, then fine, figure out how to link words to existence without the aid of bio-form, if you want to make that point… When/if you can finally make a chain of links that aren’t contradictory, and that doesn’t rub you out of existence, then, good job, welcome to the real world, and give us your algorithm.

Dave8 said...

formerly, if you want to help Mike with his mathematical homework, here's the formula for the Law of Identity, just to get you started.

Algebraic expressions:

Addition; a+0=a and 0+a=a
Multiplication; a(1)=a and 1(a)=a

Identity equates to the operand/Universe, notice that "a" in the addition expression, doesn't require "anything" more than what "is" to be more than it "is"... notice in the multiplication sequence, that "a" is the universe, and obviously there are only "1" of them, and logically, almost as if one were expecting it to make sense... the answer equates exactly back to the original operand "a", no more, no less.

Doesn’t it just jump out and say; bingo, or… do you look at it, and think to yourself; you know what, I see “a” and it in fact does represent “all” that exists, but… there has to be “more” than “a”… wait, can there be “more” than “a”? I mean, doesn’t “a” represent all that exists… Good luck with your tutoring, Mike doesn't seem to be up to par with you, and your witty comments.

MikeG said...

"Miller and others have clearly explained why the two ideas are not equivalent by showing that the parts of a so-called irreducibly complex structure or process can serve other functions, and hence evolve via natural selection."
==================================
Jim, that's a thoroughly weak argument, because merely arguing that something *can* occur (such as that the TTSS could have developed independently and then been incorporated into the flagellum) does not meet any, much less come anywhere near meeting ALL of the requirements for evolution of the flagellum. Neither does it diminish the IC of the flagellum.

And to argue whether or not it is a matter of *definition* is only to dodge into a red herring and to evade the merits of the arguments. Even granting that the two definitions differ proves nothing of any substance, but it's only a question of form. IOW, a straw-man.

The fact remains that Miller neither made a case for the evolution of the flagellum, nor did he diminish the strength of the IC argument.

As the link I posted points out, it would have been necessary for the flagellum to have co-opted ALL of the parts simultaneously, each of them having been sufficiently developed through selection. Then it would have had to be able to aggregate them, syncronize, coordinate and assemble them.

Miller never even attempted to make such an argument, or anything close to it. All he did was pulled a fast one on a less-than-astute judge. There are good judges and bad judges. This was one of the latter.

Your whole argument seems to be about *definitions*, which is to completely dodges the substance of the arguments. Miller claims the TTSS could have been co-opted. Even if that's granted (which it's not), what about the other 75% of the apparatus? What about Minnich's proof that knocking out any one of the 35 genes causes the flagellum to lose its function? With the TTSS you're talking about 10 of them. Neither Miller nor the Judge addressed ANY of that. Bad politics is all it was. And worse science. But you seem to have liked it.

And if your math further up this thread is any example, I'll rather trust my own any day.

.:webmaster:. said...

Well, it appears that MikeG has deigned to dismiss and ignore my question as to his motive for posting here.

Since he has elected to remain silent on this point, I'll posit a hypothesis: MikeG is only posting here to evangelize for his religion.

And, he is just a bit disingenuous in the way he is going about it.

From earlier in this discussion:

MikeG wrote:
"I actually would describe my current status as sort of post-Christian"
MikeG wrote:
”Well web, first of all, it is a bit presumptious to suppose that God, if He exists, is somehow required to validate His existence in your eyes according to criteria determined by you. That's beyond silly."
MikeG wrote:
"Hey guys, I'm not interested in getting involved in a pissing match. Way better things to do. You can have it out among yourselves."
MikeG wrote:
"OK, now that all the crybabies have posted their rants, I'll offer a few parting comments on this thread…"
MikeG said:
"And before you go blowing any more smoke, you might consider the fact that there's a likelihood that my studies may very well surpass your own."
Then MikeG goes on and on about his dreams and posts a link to a creationist video. But, he's not Bible thumper, so he says. He's a post-Christian who doesn't believe the Bible is much more than myth, and who thinks a god talks to him in his dreams.

Mike, sincerely, you and my father-in-law would get along famously.

However, it appears to me that you have made your case on this thread. It's also fairly obvious that no one has changed their mind. So, as I've asked twice before, what is your point here?

anyone else said...

i thought the point was it is reasonable to believe there might be a designer because there is no inconsistency with that conclusion and those things that are easily observable from the workings in the universe. why he might be posting, maybe it is because that it is a reasonable point to make and this is an open forum and when you arent taunting him you are asking him questions.
I would add to his statement not only does it appear there is an intelligence behind a design but that it also appears to be designed for the purpose of supporting life.

.:webmaster:. said...

It is designed for supporting life?

That's like saying water is designed for drinking, cows are designed for hamburgers, and space is designed for exploring.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The earth had the right conditions for life to develop, that's all. And, if life doesn't adapt to the environment, it goes extinct. The world is not DESIGNED to help us survive. We have adapted to survive the way the world is.

Don't believe me? Get naked and live outside with no shelter for the next year or two. See how long you last.

anyone else aka anonymous aka formerly known as annoymous aka formerly said...

I will also add that i am unashamedly a Catholic Christian and Jesus has done amazing things in my life I cant prove that to your satisfaction and i wont try but i would like to respectfully challenge mikeg to not settle for postchristian but keep wrestling with God. seek and you will find. if you are interested in discussing Christianity specifically or anything else for that matter. i would be happy to post my email or we could keep posting here amid the detractors. maybe even connect up with a small home group that meets on tuesday nights the conversation there is much more polite and respectfull and there are others there who are weighing the Christian claim. it would be easy enough using an instant messenger.

formerly said...

yes it is exactly like saying water is for drinking that is the point.

formerly said...

and i would like to thank every one for being polite compared to the outright profanity i have had to endure in the past this thread was reasonbly well conducted and i again thankyou.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike: "...merely arguing that something *can* occur (such as that the TTSS could have developed independently and then been incorporated into the flagellum)..."

Not only CAN it occur, there is evidence that such a thing DID occur. And thank you for admitting that Behe's example of irreducible complexity does not refute natural selection. In order for Behe's example the meet "Darwin's criterion", it must be IMPOSSIBLE for natural selection to produce it. It must be IMPOSSIBLE. That is what Darwin meant, that is what Behe claims, and that is what all his followers (which are essentially all laymen) mean. That's an enormous claim (kind of like "god exists!") which would require some very carefully-constructed reasoning and/or some rather spectacular forms of evidence. Behe comes nowhere near this--not even in the ballpark. All he has is the ASSERTION that definition 1 and definition 2 are equivalent, and this is even counter to what the evidence indicates. Behe's ideas pose no problem at all for evolutionary biology, and virtually every evolutionary biologist will tell you the same thing: simultaneous dependence on all current parts DOES NOT IMPLY unevolvability. To assert this implication is to be both dogmatic, as there is no way to actually demonstrate this even if it were true, and blind to the evidence, as there are numerous example that show it just aint so.

Mike: "Even granting that the two definitions differ proves nothing of any substance, but it's only a question of form. IOW, a straw-man."

That was very predictable. Let me make this so plain that you cannot miss it. Behe makes this argument: X is equivalent to Y, and X is observed to be the case, therefore Y is the case. One can even weaken this somewhat, and still retain the crux of Behe's argument: X ==> Y, X, therefore Y. (To make sure you're following me: He claims the existence of structure that cannot operate if one part is removed implies that the structure cannot evolve. Since we observe the former, the latter must be the case.) This is classical modus ponens. To defeat such an argument, one must either 1) show that the implication is not valid, or 2) show that the premise does not hold. I have no problem at all with the premise (even though Behe is sloppy about this as well--I'll mention that later), but the implication is FALSE. Not ONLY is it unproven, it had been shown to be outright FALSE (in the case of the evolution of the mammalian inner ear, for example).

Mike: "The fact remains that Miller neither made a case for the evolution of the flagellum, nor did he diminish the strength of the IC argument."

The fact remains that he did both. Evolution posits that complex structures evolve by co-opting previous structures that served other purposes. Darwin himself was keenly aware of this, and catalogued dozens of beautiful examples in nature that appear to demonstrate this phenomenon (many of which have been subsequently supported by biochemistry). Therefore, if evolution is true, it predicts that within each "complex" structure there will be components that served other purposes within ancestors of the organism. Miller and many others point to very concrete evidence of this. But all that is need is ONE such example, and Behe's theory is falsified. Behe claims that NO SUCH STRUCTURE CAN EVOLVE. Not only has he failed to PROVE this, there is abundant evidence that it is FALSE. I can't make that any more clear.

Mike: "As the link I posted points out, it would have been necessary for the flagellum to have co-opted ALL of the parts simultaneously, each of them having been sufficiently developed through selection..."

No, that is not true. This brings up another error that Behe makes; this one is in him premise, which I normally let slide. But, since you bring it up, I'll address it. Behe ASSUMES that certain structures such as the flagellum have what I will call "property 2"--they cannot function if any one part is removed. While this is indeed plausible for a flagellum, there are a number of problems. First, this remains untested (and Behe apparently has no interest is seeing it tested). Second, it ignores the fact that even a very poorly functioning structure can confer a significant benefit to the organism. Third, it ignores the fact that the "broken" flagellum may have served another purpose (even if poorly). Fourth, it assumes that the functioning flagellum could only have formed from the components that it currently possesses (i.e. it ignores the fact that a functioning structure can change once it is formed, losing redundant parts). Actually, there is quite a long list. Why not do some reading on your own, so I needn't explain all of this myself?

Mike: "Then it would have had to be able to aggregate them, syncronize, coordinate and assemble them."

No, not at all. This is nothing but an assertion about what MUST have been the case. This shows an acute lack of understanding as to how old components can be combined in new ways. The first working flagellum (or whatever) was most likely extraordinarily inefficient, both in terms of function and in terms of materials. The above reasoning assumes (incorrectly) that the first working flagellum would contain exactly the parts that it does today, which is nonsense. When one recognizes that there were very likely redundancies, most of these seeming "puzzles" disappear. I know what you're thinking. That just speculation! Right? Yes, a good bit of it is speculation, but there is also some concrete evidence that this has happened in some structures. The point is, in order for Behe's theory to work, it must be IMPOSSIBLE for such a scenario to work. Again, the onus is on Behe to demonstrate this impossibility (as his argument depends critically upon it). As there are numerous plausible scenarios for how it would be possible, Behe has not met this burden.

Mike: "Miller never even attempted to make such an argument, or anything close to it. All he did was pulled a fast one on a less-than-astute judge. There are good judges and bad judges. This was one of the latter."

Wow. Let me ask you this again. Have you read the actual decision? Have you read any opinions from the VAST majority of scientists who are in full agreement with Miller? It's astonishing that you can swallow Behe's claptrap and claim that it is Miller who is "pulling a fast one".

Mike: "Your whole argument seems to be about *definitions*, which is to completely dodges the substance of the arguments."

I showed that Behe tried to PROVE something by equivocating on his definition of irreducible complexity. When one is CAREFUL about the definitions, one can see more clearly what needs to be proven in order for Behe's idea to work. Not only does he fail to prove it, he ignores substantial evidence to the contrary. Please try to follow what I'm saying. It's not that difficult. I have absolutely not attempted used definitions to prove anything. Behe attempted this slight of hand, and I called him on it.

Mike: "Miller claims the TTSS could have been co-opted. Even if that's granted (which it's not), what about the other 75% of the apparatus?"

That's easy. It's currently unknown. It takes years of tedious work to track these things down. Evolution predicts that all of it will have served other purposes. Behe insists that this is not so--based on no evidence whatsoever, as this type of argument is not even supportable by evidence.

Mike: "What about Minnich's proof that knocking out any one of the 35 genes causes the flagellum to lose its function?"

You're not following this discussion, Mike. Yes, knocking out parts of complex structure may well cause it to cease working. Yes, I agree with that completely. Most biologists agree with that completely. No problem. What does that show? Behe thinks it indicates a structure that cannot evolve. Nearly all of the scientific community thinks that's nonsense, for the reasons I've (partly) articulated above.

Mike: "Bad politics is all it was. And worse science. But you seem to have liked it."

I appreciate careful reasoning that takes account of all available evidence. That is what Miller and the rest of the scientific community have on their side. Behe has poorly-thought-out definitions, and unfounded assertions. It's funny you should mention "politics". Have you no idea how agenda-driven the Behe camp is? Please, read the court decision. I know it will be painful for you, but it may start to give you some insight into the shoddy thinking and ulterior motives of the ID camp.

Mike: "And if your math further up this thread is any example, I'll rather trust my own any day."

I love it! I absolutely love it! I want to see your analysis of the probabilities I computed for you. Please! That's high school mathematics, Mike. It barely even qualifies as mathematics. If you think there is something wrong with what I wrote, please do spell it out and I guarantee we'll all have a good laugh. Looking forward to it with great anticipation.

As a side note, I'll point out what I often do: If you cannot get the trivial stuff right--if high school mathematics eludes you, Mike--how in the world do you expect to have any credibility in the realm of science? How it is that you believe your opinions trump those of 99% of the scientific community? I'd love to hear an answer to that.

MikeG said...

anyone else wrote
why he might be posting, maybe it is because that it is a reasonable point to make and this is an open forum and when you arent taunting him you are asking him questions.
===================================
anyone else,

That says it about as clearly as it can be said. There's no sense in walking away and conceding a valid point simply because it gets mocked or jeered at.

anyone else wrote
i would like to respectfully challenge mikeg to not settle for postchristian but keep wrestling with God. seek and you will find.
==================================

I have loved Christ with my all, and only leave faith in him behind after being 100% convinced that story written in the Gospels is not historically accurate and true. That doesn't make it evil. It's merely a means of passing on faith in God, who is in a sense 'unknowable'. The bottom line is, "truth is where it's at"; and while the Gospel communicates many spiritual truths, it's not a historically true account. So, while I still love the Gospel for the truths it teaches, I can't remain mentally enslaved to it.

anyone else wrote
I will also add that i am unashamedly a Catholic Christian and Jesus has done amazing things in my life
===================================

This website, which I've put together over the years, may be of some help to you. Like I said, "truth is where it's at," and you might find some truths there that will be helpful to you. And, thanks for your good input on the thread.
==================================================== =====================================================
webmaster wrote:

Well, it appears that MikeG has deigned to dismiss and ignore my question as to his motive for posting here.
===================================

web, you seem to be more interested in focusing the discussion on 'religion' and on trading barbs, neither of which I'm interested in.

webmaster wrote:
However, it appears to me that you have made your case on this thread. It's also fairly obvious that no one has changed their mind. So, as I've asked twice before, what is your point here?
===================================
Trust me, I'll not likely be spending as much time here as I have over the past few days. I actually had hoped to find a bit of intelligent interaction with people who can relate to living and loving life without the constraints of a Christ-focused faith. I've seen some of that, but there's a bit more acerbity than I was looking for. I prefer to move beyond the Christian faith without rancor. There's too much good woven into it, and I've had too many good experiences in it, to take a position inimical to it.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike, if you want intelligent interaction, interact intelligently. If you want polite discussion, be polite.

Please don't forget to answer this one simple question: Given that a random event has a probability of 1/1000 of occurring, what is the probability that it will occur on the 12th trial, and will NOT occur on any of the previous 11 trials? (I've already given you the answer: it is 0.00098905, or one chance in 1011.1)

Can we agree that mathematics, and probability in particular, is an essential tool of science? Can we agree that understanding how to use such a tool is a prerequisite to conducting sound scientific investigations? Can we agree that logic is also a fundamental tool of science? Can we agree that critical thinking is essential to science? I hope so.

Finally, can we agree that it is not prudent to analyze an argument by examining one side only? If you agree, can you please list for me some of the books/papers by mainstream evolutionary biologists that you've read (i.e. those who disagree with Behe, Dembski, and Denton)?

Please don't call this a "pissing match". You have stated your strong opinions and cast many aspersions in the process. If you don't wish to be challenged on your position, then you sure picked a peculiar site to post at.

MikeG said...

Jim, Actually I was just looking at your last post (re Behe, Miller, flagellum), and wondering if it's worth the effort to put the time into cobbling together a response. It's probably not, because I can raise points, to which you in turn will raise points, with neither of us in the end convincing the other. When you start talking about what's possible and impossible it's largely conjecture, with the only thing actually impossible being the ability for anyone to prove what actually DID occur. So, the discussion becomes in the end futile and a waste of time.

With the math, it's more simple and concrete, but not especially of any more merit for a topic of discussion. Your math is correct from the perspective from which you approach it. And while a p-value of .000989 is significant, a smaller p-value can also be arrived at by taking the 1/1,000 probability of the number occurring on any particular day, and then taking the 1/12 probability of the number occurring on one specific day out of 12, both of which were specified in the dream, which gives a p-value of .0000083. Then, if you take into account the fact that this was a once in a lifetime event (at least up until that time) where there was one occurrence and no misses, you can add a probability factor to the equation of 1/7,659 (guessing I was 21 years old at the time), which takes the p-value to somewhere in the range of 1 x 10^-9. So, there's all sorts of things you can do with numbers and possibliities and probabilities to argue a point.

There's no way for me to prove that there's an intelligence behind creation, nor for you to disprove it. The only honest thing either of us can do is to just admit, "I don't KNOW, but this is where I see that the evidence seems to point." Your beliefs probably aren't any different after this thread than previous to it. I know mine aren't. The interaction's been good, but I'm going back to the book I've been reading.

As far as your saying that I've cast aspersions, I'll bring your attention to the fact that you first drew the sword with your suggestions that I was exaggerating or that my recall was errant, etc. If you choose a confrontational approach, that's likely what you'll get in return. So any aspersions you perceive are a fruit of a root that traces back to you. It's not unlikely that you'll have some sort of a retort for that as well, regardless of how true it is.

boomSLANG said...

Mike G: I actually had hoped to find a bit of intelligent interaction with people who can relate to living and loving life without the constraints of a Christ-focused faith.

....and in the process, you've found some people who can "relate to living and loving life" without the constraints of an "Intelligent Designer"-focused faith.

Additionally, you haven't talked one iota about "love", or "life", as they pertain to humanity.....no, interestingly, you've only blathered on about "spiritual truths", as they pertain to your "post-Christian" hand-book, and how this alleged "Designer" singled YOU out, in the way of "telepathically" planting the winning lotto numbers in your brain while you slept. It's a fantastic claim, Mike. People aren't buyin' it, Mike. You have no evidence, Mike. Give it up, Mike...at least, give it up on this site.

Maybe go to a Muslim site, and chew the "Divine" philosophical fat with them. Tell them about how you won the lotto, how you aquired the numbers by "God", and then prove to them that it wasn't "Allah" who "enlightened" you.

You've been, and are still being, disingenuous, Mike.

.:webmaster:. said...

MikeG :"web, you seem to be more interested in focusing the discussion on 'religion' and on trading barbs, neither of which I'm interested in."

Mike if you aren't interested in discussing religion or trading barbs, then why the initial BARBS from you, and why all the talk about GOD planting numbers in your head?

And Mike, all your rudeness regarding Jim Arvo's mathematic abilities is hilarious.

No, you're not here to push a religion or trade barbs. Nope, not you.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike: "When you start talking about what's possible and impossible it's largely conjecture, with the only thing actually impossible being the ability for anyone to prove what actually DID occur. So, the discussion becomes in the end futile and a waste of time."

Mike, do you understand what Behe's argument is? You've been touting it, right? Don't you know what it is? He claims that it is IMPOSSIBLE for something like the flagellum to evolve through natural selection. I did not introduce "impossibility" into the discussion; Behe did. It's HIS claim. Have I no right to address his claim and show that it is unfounded if I so choose?

What is the opposite of "impossible," Mike? Would that be "possible"? To show that an argument about impossibility is incorrect, is it not perfectly appropriate to address what is possible? Science deals with incomplete information--always. I cannot prove to you or anybody else that the flagellum evolved. But I can point to the evidence that it did, I can spell out possible pathways for it to have happened, I can point to analogous structures for which the direct evidence is stronger, and I can expose fallacious arguments to the contrary. Have you any objection to anything I just said?

Mike: "...while a p-value of .000989 is significant, a smaller p-value can also be arrived at by taking the 1/1,000 probability of the number occurring on any particular day, and then taking the 1/12 probability of the number occurring on one specific day out of 12, both of which were specified in the dream, which gives a p-value of .0000083."

Stop. Let's look at what you just did. You multiplied (1/1000) by (1/12). Why? It seems you are claiming that something had a chance of one in 12. What event, specifically, had a chance of one in 12? The random event had a chance of one in 1000. When you talk about the result of a specific sequence of trials, it turns into a joint probability (assuming the probability is the same on each given day). Your factor of 1/12 is completely specious. If you flip a fair coin 12 times, what is the chance that it comes up TTTTTTTTTTTH? It's 0.5^12, which is 0.00024414, or one in 4096 (exactly the same odds as any other specific sequence). There is no factor if (1/12)--the 12 is an exponent, not a factor.

Mike: "Then, if you take into account the fact that this was a once in a lifetime event (at least up until that time) where there was one occurrence and no misses,..."

You played that lottery every day of your life up until that point? Is that what you are claiming?

Mike: "you can add a probability factor to the equation of 1/7,659 (guessing I was 21 years old at the time),..."

What does it mean to "add a probability factor"? The joint probability of two events is the product of their probabilities. And now you've invented some other probability, apparently having nothing to do with the lottery. If that's what you are basing your argument on, then please admit that the lottery itself has little to do with what you believe.

Mike: "...there's all sorts of things you can do with numbers and possibliities and probabilities to argue a point."

Sure. You can make up all sorts of factors, then add and multiply as the urge strikes you. It doesn't mean there is more than one correct answer.

Mike: "There's no way for me to prove that there's an intelligence behind creation, nor for you to disprove it. The only honest thing either of us can do is to just admit, 'I don't KNOW, but this is where I see that the evidence seems to point.'"

I agree! I actually agree with you, Mike! That may be a first. Now, please remind me who has been claiming to KNOW whether or not there is an intelligence behind everything that is "complex"? My remarks have been squarely aimed at debunking the positive claims. There is no way, even in principle, for me to DISPROVE the existence of a designer. The words PROOF and DISPROOF have no place in empirical discussions, as I've stated repeatedly. Haven't I flogged that dead horse enough?

Mike: "Your beliefs probably aren't any different after this thread than previous to it..."

Right. All you did was to rehash the same fallacious arguments that all the other proponents of ID tout. Why should fallacious reasoning change my opinion? You would need to show me that the reasoning is NOT fallacious. You've not done that.

Mike: "As far as your saying that I've cast aspersions, I'll bring your attention to the fact that you first drew the sword with your suggestions that I was exaggerating or that my recall was errant, etc...."

Still grasping at those straws are we? Aren't you embarrassed to be complaining about my suggestion that you *might* have "exaggerated or misrecalled"? That's one heck of a sword, isn't it Mike? Especially considering that I went ahead and computed probabilities based on events being precisely as you reported (in addition to several nearby scenarios for illustration).

Here's a little experiment, Mike. Ask me the following question. Jim, is it possible that you've either exaggerated or misrecalled _________ (fill in the blank). Do you want to guess what my answer will be? If you cannot figure it out, go ahead and ask the question. I try to live in the real world, Mike. In the real world people make mistakes all the time. People tend to remember things in a way that makes sense to them, and accords with their world view. If you take umbrage at that, then all I can say is that you have an unrealistic view of human nature.

Mike: "If you choose a confrontational approach, that's likely what you'll get in return. So any aspersions you perceive are a fruit of a root that traces back to you. It's not unlikely that you'll have some sort of a retort for that as well, regardless of how true it is."

I start by being polite to visitors here. In general, I try to be consistently more polite than they are (although, I readily and publicly admit that this is not always the case). When visitors such as you resort to ad hominem attacks, and make silly and insulting remarks about how any intelligent person would believe such-and-so, then my replies become more pointed. I have no problem dealing with confrontational individuals. No problem at all. You can throw any unsavory remark at me that you wish--it will not help your argument in the least. If you want to argue facts, I'll argue facts. If you want to discuss mathematics and science, I'll discuss mathematics and science. History and philosophy? No problem. Theology? That's a lot of fun. In short, I'll happily deal with anything you want to throw out there, and so will dozens of others here. But I'll also go toe-to-toe with you if you want throw down the gauntlet.

One more thing. If you want to switch now to being 100% civil, I'll be happy to do the same (as always). Cease all personal attacks, focus on the facts, and I'll do the same. It's up to you.

MikeG said...

Jim, while I can appreciate the fact that you take the time to type up somewhat lengthy and detailed posts, my personal preference is to be more concise, so don't feel bad if I don't respond in the same detail. But I'll answer a few of your points.

Mike, do you understand what Behe's argument is? You've been touting it, right? Don't you know what it is? He claims that it is IMPOSSIBLE for something like the flagellum to evolve through natural selection.

Regardless of what Behe claims, impossible is impossible to prove. So, it's an impossible hurdle. And while Miller has perhaps taken a step towards trying to prove *possible*, he has come nowhere near clearing the hurdle. My opinion is that the weight of the argument still weighs heavy on the side of Behe, et al.

Stop. Let's look at what you just did. You multiplied (1/1000) by (1/12). Why? It seems you are claiming that something had a chance of one in 12. What event, specifically, had a chance of one in 12? The random event had a chance of one in 1000. When you talk about the result of a specific sequence of trials, it turns into a joint probability (assuming the probability is the same on each given day). Your factor of 1/12 is completely specious. If you flip a fair coin 12 times, what is the chance that it comes up TTTTTTTTTTTH? It's 0.5^12, which is 0.00024414, or one in 4096 (exactly the same odds as any other specific sequence). There is no factor if (1/12)--the 12 is an exponent, not a factor.

We're not dealing merely with the probability of the number coming up 132, which probability remains constant at 1/1,000. We're dealing with the probability of two events, both of which have their own probability factor. In addition to the 1/1,000 likelihood of the number occuring on any particular day, you have the added specificity of it occuring on one specific day out of the 12. The probability of BOTH factors occuring is 1/12,000. The odds of the number coming up are the same on the 12th day as on any other day. The 1/12,000 odds relate to the probability of the DREAM to not only predict the number, but to predict it specifically on the 12th day. I REPEAT, the odds of the number coming up on the 12th day are still 1/1,000; but for the dream to specify the 12th day adds a degree of specificity that raises the bar by a multiple of 12. Then if you take into account the fact that it is a one-time positive event, with no negatives (misses) in 21 years (not factoring in that I played it for the first 11 days which did not hit), then you can factor in an additional 1/7,659. And all this is for is to rule out coincidence. If I played the numbers every day of my life, it would be nothing more than coincidence. The fact is that I never played them but this one time. That's more detail than should be necessary, but the math is valid.

What does it mean to "add a probability factor"?

Try Google "probability factor".

As far as the rest of your comments, I try to be 100% civil all the time. When you began to call into question what I posted and suggested that my recounting of it might be less than accurate, I merely responded in kind. I try to give people the benefit of a doubt until I see a reason to call them into question. I suppose that's not necessarily alwsys good. Admittedly there have been rare instances when I wish I'd been more suspicious of certain people sooner.

And I didn't post here to throw down the gauntlet. But, it's a simple fact that the supernatural exists, which opens up the door to all sorts of possibilities. One of those possibilities is that there is a 'supernatural' Creator. Here that seems to have a tendency to raise some hackles, which perhaps I should have expected due to the name of the site.

boomSLANG said...

But, it's a simple fact that the supernatural exists

....::yawn::

It's a simple "fact" in his own mind, based on what he "thinks" was a meta-physical experience, which, in reality, was more likely an improbable coincidence. Furthermore, for him to take his subjective experience, and tout it as objective "Truth"?....well, that is not so "simple", as he has discovered........well, should have discovered---especially considering where he's chosen to solicit his fantastic claim.

Oh, and remember folks---"Complexity" demands a "Designer"....so by that assertion, only ONE of two things can be true. Either, 1) there is an infinite regress of "Designers", canceling out the idea of such a thing, or 2) The "Designer" is NOT "complex", therefore, not likely capable of doing half the things it's "creations" claim it can do...including, using "telepathy" to implant the winning lotto numbers in some dude's head.

Jim Arvo said...

Mike: "Regardless of what Behe claims, impossible is impossible to prove. ...while Miller has perhaps taken a step towards trying to prove *possible*, he has come nowhere near clearing the hurdle."

That is your opinion, Mike, and you are quite welcome to it. As far as I can tell, that opinion is based on almost nothing; certainly not careful study. The vast majority of the scientific community disagrees with you, and can cite well-documented cases of "all-or-nothing" structures that have apparently evolved (I keep citing the example of the mammalian inner ear). If you want to disregard that evidence, nobody can force you to look at it. But then, don't expect anybody to take your opinion seriously either. Okay?

Mike: "...In addition to the 1/1,000 likelihood of the number occuring on any particular day, you have the added specificity of it occuring on one specific day out of the 12. The probability of BOTH factors occuring is 1/12,000."

No! You are confused. If you are given that an event has equal probability of happening on one of 12 days, and that it will happen on exactly one of those days, then yes, the probability of it happening on any one day would be 1/12. But that's not the situation with the lottery. We have an event that has a probability of 1/1000, and we have 12 successive trials. The question is, what is the probability that it will occur on the 12'th trial, but not on the previous 11 trials. That is the probability you must compute if you want to answer the question What is the probability that this was a coincidence? Let's take this step by step.

1) The probability of NOT winning on day 1 is ( 1 - prob of winning ), or ( 1 - 1/1000 ). Agree?

2) The probability of NOT winning on day 2 is the same: ( 1 - 1/1000 ). Agree?

3) The probability of winning on NEITHER day 1 NOR day 2 is ( 1 - 1/1000 )*( 1 - 1/1000 ), as this is a simply the joint probability of two INDEPENDENT events. Agree?

4) Continuing the process, the probability of NOT winning on days 1, 2, 3, ... 11 is ( 1 - 1/1000 )^11. Agree?

5) The probability of WINNING on day 12 (independent of anything else) is 1/1000. Agree?

6) The JOINT probability of WINNING on day 12, and NOT WINNING on the previous 11 days is the product of the probabilities, as they are independent events. Thus, the probability is ( 1 / 1000 ) * ( 1 - 1/1000 )^11. Agree?

If you disagree, then please point to the specific step in which you think I've committed an error. (I can't believe I've been reduced to writing at this level.)

Mike: "The 1/12,000 odds relate to the probability of the DREAM to not only predict the number, but to predict it specifically on the 12th day."

No, that is incorrect. You are treating the one in 12 and a separate probability. If you assume a properly-functioning lottery, there is no such additional random variable. Everything is a function of the 1/1000 probability of guessing correctly in each trial. You did not cast a twelve-sided die, and then place your bet. You placed a bet on each of 12 successive days, and the chances of winning on each day were the same. The chance of winning on the 12th day, and NOT the previous 11 is one in 1011.1, as I've computed for you in gory detail. That is the probability of things happening PRECISELY as you described, BASED ON CHANCE ALONE.

Mike: "I REPEAT, the odds of the number coming up on the 12th day are still 1/1,000; but for the dream to specify the 12th day adds a degree of specificity that raises the bar by a multiple of 12."

I REPEAT: No, it does not. There is no "multiple" of 12 anywhere in sight. Multiplying by 12 makes absolutely no sense in this context. Raising to the POWER of 12 (actually 11) is what is called for, as it is a JOINT probability. There is no independent probability of one in 12.

Here is a simple exercise for you. What is the probability of tossing a die twice, and getting a 6 on the second toss but NOT on the first. Answer: ( 5/6 ) * ( 1/6 ) = 5/36. Please show me where you would insert a factor of (1/2) to account for the fact that the 6 occurred on the second trial. That's what you're arguing, right? That's complete nonsense.

Mike: "Then if you take into account the fact that it is a one-time positive event, with no negatives (misses) in 21 years..."

No misses?! Does that mean you actually PLAYED the lottery during that time? You did not, did you? Mike, I have a penny in my hand and I will flip it. What are my chances of getting "heads" with one flip? Do I need to account for the fact that I had no "misses" since the time I was born (because I never tried)? That's crazy, right? Right!

Mike: "The fact is that I never played them but this one time."

So those are the ONLY trials that are relevant. You can't make up previous "non misses" to make the probability seem more impressive. Can you not see that?

Mike: "That's more detail than should be necessary, but the math is valid."

I can only hope you're joking, Mike. I teach (among other things) graduate courses in mathematics and probability. What you have demonstrated here is a sequence of extraordinarily elementary errors, befitting a high school student. If your math is "valid", then you should be able to explain why my math is not. There are not two correct answers to this trivial exercise. This is about as elementary as it gets, Mike. It's nothing more than discrete probabilities and independent events. It's completely trivial.

I asked "What does it mean to 'add a probability factor'? Mike replied "Try Google 'probability factor'."

Sigh. Let me ask again: What does it mean to add a probability factor? Note the words add and factor. You cannot add a factor, Mike, unless you're shooting from the hip, tossing around numbers in an arbitrary way.

Mike: "As far as the rest of your comments, I try to be 100% civil all the time. When you began to call into question what I posted and suggested that my recounting of it might be less than accurate, I merely responded in kind...."

Responding in kind would be to suggest that what I said was not accurate. You went well beyond that, Mike. You suggested that my eyes were closed, that I was not among the "intelligent" who agree with your position, that my posts say nothing, that my comments were "bluster", etc. etc. You are quite rude, Mike. Shall I now add disingenuous to that?

Mike: "...it's a simple fact that the supernatural exists..."

A simple fact? Okay, Mike. I think I'm through trying to have a discussion with you. Good day.

Dave8 said...

Mike: "But, it's a simple fact that the supernatural exists, which opens up the door to all sorts of possibilities. One of those possibilities is that there is a 'supernatural' Creator. Here that seems to have a tendency to raise some hackles, which perhaps I should have expected due to the name of the site."

Once again, not wanting to be another master of the obvious here, but... a contradiction exists when one suggests that there is more (-super) than what "is". Perhaps, you should define the meaning of your term, supernatural, I seem to have a problem when using dictionary terms, because words still have to be put into context.

Taking the –super to mean, “more” than natural, Mike, how are you able to escape your natural experience, to suggest "more" of "anything"?

There isn't -super/more, there "is" and your ability to appeal to the possibility that there may be "unknowns" and "uncertainties" according to even the best of scientific investigation.

Your appeal to natural uncertainty or unknowns doesn't do one thing to support an extra-universe. That's like saying, yeah, I wasn't able to do my math homework last night because I didn't have enough knowledge, but... now that I know I am ignorant in mathematics to some degree, I can freely revel in that ignorance, and even leverage that ignorance in order to propose a meta-cosmology as a logical and scientific fact.

alanh said...

Mike, you went off the rails when you brought up intelligent design. There is a huge body of evidence supporting evolution that you haven't acknowledged, and the evidence put forth for intelligent design (which is not a scientific theory) is very weak at best. You would be better off reconciling your belief in a supernatural creator with evolution, as some scientists do. The best anecdotal evidence you have is your dream, but assuming it was real, and assuming it was not a coincidence, it is still more likely that it was due to some natural phenomenon rather than a "supernatural" one.


it's a simple fact that the supernatural exists,

It would be a simple fact if it were simple to verify.

MikeG said...

I can only hope you're joking, Mike. I teach (among other things) graduate courses in mathematics and probability.
==================================
Not a joke Jim. Just have a lot of other things on my mind. And while it's true that there are 12,000 possible number combinations in the 12 days, and the one specific combination brought out in the dream DID occur, it's also true that only 1,000 are possible on day 12, which brings it all back to 1/1,000 odds. P=.001 is still waaayyy significant, and a sort of amazing experience. The 12 days specified in the dream SEEMS to add more significance at first thought than it actually does. Anyway, in my view, it's still supernatural for it to be a one time event with that accuracy, and can't be explained by coincidence. At least it wasn't on a test. If it were, I would have been ready for it, and would have gotten it right.

As far as the rudeness, you sure dish out plenty of it yourself, and when it comes back to you, you start to cry. You set the tone in your first post. Here it is:

===================================
I have looked at quite a few such claims, and something else always emerges from them. In absolutely every case I have ever looked into, one or more of the following pertains (usually more than one):

1) The event is exaggerated. (My doctor was surprised becomes "No doctor could explain it!", and times, dates, and places are tidied up a bit to give the story a bit more impact.)

2) There is no objective recording of anything to back up the claims (thus allowing exaggeration to run rampant).

3) There is no objective assessment of the probabilities involved. (How often do people actually recover spontaneously from such a disease? How do we know the initial diagnosis was accurate and not exaggerated?)

4) There is no accounting of the "event space"--i.e. failed attempts are completely disregarded. ("My Aunt recovered from cancer after we prayed for her"; but then, thousands of people die every day, despite heartfelt prayer.)

So, Mike, I have no idea whether the lottery thing happened exactly as you report it, but let's say it did. And let's say that the odds are one in a thousand that you would get the correct three-digit number (if you exaggerated or misrecalled the day on which you were supposed to win, then the odds would be one in 500 or even better.) That, in itself, does not even warrant a raised eyebrow. First, we have no idea how many other dreams you had that did not come true, or how many other people have had similarly vivid dreams that did not come true. Second, we have no idea about the probabilities associated with those other failed prediction--i.e. someone might have a vivid dream about winning a single red/black bet on a roulette wheel (i.e. 50%), which would make failures all the more troubling for your hypothesis.

===================================

So, in your very first post to me you began by implying that I was likely being less than truthful, and that, even if I was being truthful, the odds "don't even merit a raised eyebrow." Well Jim that's TOTALLY disingenuous. There aren't many things that require p<.001.

And your "100% civility" didn't even last a single post, which says plenty to me about what you really are, and aren't. Since YOU chose the 'uncivil' mode (again), I'll just dish it right back to you, again.

MikeG said...

dave, alan,

We see claims of supernatural or paranormal events all the time. I myself have had plenty of such experiences, and some more unusual than the number dream. Some have just put me in permanent awe. Some things there just aren't any 'natural' explanation for. And some seem to clearly indicate that we are surrounded by intelligence which is concerned with and involved in our lives. When walking with Christ, it was easy to just say, "it's the Holy Spirit". So, if we say, "I'm content to no longer put faith in Christ," to what do we now attribute this power, or these events? That's for another time or even another thread. I'm out for the nite.

.:webmaster:. said...

Mike,

Your arrogance in speaking for ANYONE besides yourself is astounding. "WE" don't see supernatural events all the time. You might see things you interpret as beyond the realm of this universe, but that doesn't mean everyone else has these hallucinations. Your presumption is bordering on lunatic.

"To what do we now attribute this power, or these events?"

That's an easy one: Christian delusion.

One more thing: Your "post-Christian" mask is off -- your covert evangelism has become overt.

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Anyone besides me curious as to how these numbers were "revealed" to MikeG in his "supernatural" dream?

Mike G: I had a dream which I understood to be telling me to play the number '132'.

Like, in the dream, did he see "12" partridges in a pear tree?..and from there, he "understood it" to mean "THESE ARE LOTTO NUMBERS, MIKE"...? Or, did he see the numerals "1 - 3 - 2" just floating in the air? Or maybe he was dreaming that he was in an episode of Naruto?...episode "132"? Or did he actually "hear" the voice of "Jesus"?...oops!...I mean, the "Designer"? Or how about this---maybe he saw Roman numerals: "CXXXII"......?

Also, the "12 days"...how was the number "12" revealed to him? Again, did he "see" the number "12" floating around in his head? Or was the number symbolically revealed?..like, maybe he "saw" a dozen eggs, and he "understood" that to mean "12 days"? Or maybe he had "12 disciples" on his mind before bed?

He also said that the "lotto" was just one of the many "miracles" that he "depends" on. He depends on them. I'd be curious to hear some of his other "miracles".......no, waIT!!!...what the hell am I sayin'?????...no I wouldn't. = )

(that's not "rude" because he's not reading my posts)

Dave8 said...

Let's see MikeG, so your dream is "super-natural"? What a fine naturally created word that is, to define what isn't, care to pick one of the definitions below, in order to place your use of the concept "supernatural" into some context so we know what you are talking about.

Supernatural:
1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/supernatural

Jim Arvo said...

Mike said "So, in your very first post to me you began by implying that I was likely being less than truthful,.."

I think you have a serious reading comprehension problem (which is not uncommon among our visitors, I'm sad to say). My comment was clear from the start, and I even went on to explain it to you multiple times. But you need to pin the acrimony on me. Go ahead and try, Mike. All the posts are here for anybody to read if they wish to do so. It has become increasingly evident to me, and probably to anybody else who's been paying attention, that you're a few bulbs short of a chandelier, and you simply cannot tolerate having your whacky opinions challenged.

By the way, thanks for quoting my first post verbatim. It was a matter-of-fact assessment of what I have observed. If you had actually read it and understood it, you would see that it was not an indictment of you--I said that I had no idea whether it applied to you or not (although it's now clear that several of the points do apply to you). As for something happening with odds of one in 1011, I'm sorry, it's not that big a deal, especially when we have no idea how many other times in your life you had to opportunity to "win" something with similar odds (and I'm NOT talking about lotteries!) that you also would have touted as a "miracle" had it happened. More significantly, it ignores all the other people who play lotto numbers and such based on a dream--and fail.

But all of this is lost on you isn't Mike? I could explain and explain and explain. It doesn't matter. One reason I spent so much time on that trivial probability problem was to see just how entrenched you were on something so utterly trivial and so obviously wrong. Look how much explaining it took to get through to you on that painfully simple problem of high school math. And I'll bet you still don't get it. Right? You probably still think there is a factor of (1/12) in there. Am I wrong about that?

I keep asking you this Mike--but I know you'll never answer. If it's so hard for you to grasp trivial math, how is it that you think you have great insights into science, particularly when you have not even studied the methods or the discoveries of science? Why do I say the latter? Three reasons: 1) you refuse to list any books/papers that you've read by mainstream scientists, 2) you've not shown the faintest inkling of knowledge in science despite many long exchanges, and 3) you exhibit an appalling lack of curiosity and critical thinking, both of which are vital to the study of science (and both of which one gains by studying science).

Mike: "As far as the rudeness, you sure dish out plenty of it yourself, and when it comes back to you, you start to cry...."

Yes, I'm giving you a generous helping right now, as no other approach seems to work with you. I think you are too dense and/or obstinate and/or disingenuous to reason with. As for me "crying"... All I can say is you have a vivid imagination, and perhaps a somewhat inflated opinion of yourself. My guess if that you see yourself as a mighty adversary (which would be nothing short of delusional).

I think it's fairly clear what happened here, and I'll bet others will agree. Your position was challenged, you could not defend it, and you got upset. It happens all the time, Mike. Visitors like you nearly always blow a cork when they find that their poorly-thought-out arguments do not wash here. I know this will never happen, but... educate yourself, Mike. I don't know how old you are, but it's never too late to start thinking earnestly. Just ask some of the regulars here.

At the moment I do not intend to continue this fruitless discussion with you. I've already wasted far too much of my valuable time on it.

Dave8 said...

MikeG: "We see claims of supernatural or paranormal events all the time. I myself have had plenty of such experiences, and some more unusual than the number dream."

A cognitive/perceived -super "natural" event or "experience" doesn't = a separate domain of Universal reality.

The domain of the Universe falls under one word "Nature". In order to suggest anything more exists, one has to contradict themselves by suggesting they intellectually, physically, etc., somehow removed themselves from the Universe as a third party, and were able to distinguish between two entirely different universes and realities.

The Law of Identity suggests, that a person "is", and nothing more, if you accept that you live in Nature then what seems -super has to be an "extension" of what you already "know", naturally.

It is physically and logically impossible to take a natural cause/effect and move to suggest a -super natural effect/cause. There can be only "one" reality, where a lot of awe may exist, and where experiences abound that suggest such.

What I am talking about is physical/material reality, not aesthetic perception.

What I mean, is that if I look at a pile of lumber in my backyard, I may envision a nice piece of furniture I can build, where another person sees firewood. Same pile of lumber, same Universe, seen from a totally different perspective.

The "awe" is in the personal perception and appreciation for what one has experienced, the "awe" of Nature never left, it's been there all along.

Now, I personally have had some "awe" inspiring, life changing moments in my life, events that are unique to me, and beyond intellectual explanation, yet, I find that attractive in our Universe - mystery is fun.

However, when I seek out answers, one thing I always attempt to do is rule out "conflict" and "contradiction", else there is no best way to put an answer into a consistently understood context.

In order to do that with my experience(s), I have to first assert that I live in "one" reality, which then places me in a position of "ignorance" about my reality to some degree. We have a choice to make at this point; we can assert that a different reality exists and immediately create contradiction by which nothing can ever truly be known with any veracity, or we can seek to better understand ourselves and our reality, and all the awe potential it holds.

In speaking of contradiction. Here is how I've seen this thread evolve...

1-Equating the word Existence with the word God, if "both" are equal, then nothing new presents itself. It's like suggesting 1=1, where the number one on the left side of the equation is spoken in French, and the number one to the right side of the equation is spoken in English.

Now, I am partial to logic and reason, as the core concept by which to discern the veracity of a claim(s). In this equation, the word God and Existence are being semantically inspected, but in order to go any further, one would have to provide more context to the term God & Existence.

The context that I've seen the word God used;
-Political
-Social
-Psychological
-Economic
-Moral/Ethical
-Legal
-Biological
-Etc.

The word "God" is nothing more than a "word". When used in a political context, the word "God", becomes a political "tool", and subservient to the politcal agenda.

The same logic holds true, when the word God is used in other contexts as well. However, the "context" that means "most" to me, is a "relational" context, not a "conceptual" one.

I desire to assign a word to reality, and verify the word and its relationship that I am a part of. If that is not possible; the word God, by default, becomes a semantic "tool", and I by-pass the word "God" as meaningless, and move to the core issue, and that is what someone is trying to gain or how they are attempting to influence using the word.

The reason I bring this up... is because... well, saying -super natural is along those same lines, is it not? I mean, our experiences of the Universe may be "extra-ordinary", but not "extra-Universal", right.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Hope no one minds if I jump in...

We see claims of supernatural or paranormal events all the time.

Sure. We hear or read claims concerning the supernatural regularly. What we don't hear or read about is hard evidence supporting those claims. Instead, we are expected to take on faith that the offered anecdotes (i.e., personal stories) are 100% true. With the well-documented variety of human failings related to such stories, I'll wait for the hard evidence before accepting such claims.

Some things there just aren't any 'natural' explanation for.

There is a certain degree of irony to statements like this. A person can imagine all sorts of supernatural causes for dreams, etc. but can't imagine there is a natural explanation. An overactive lack of imagination? But I digress. This is a near-perfect example of compartmentalization in action. Mike, if that confuses you, a brief description can be found by following the link.

Here's the rub, Mike: Occurrences whose odds may be calculated at one-in-a-million (1/1,000,000) happen 300 times a day in the U.S.., and 6,000 times a day worldwide. A 1/1,000 chance (or, more correctly according to Jim's math, 1/1011.1) pales in comparison, occurring 300,000 times a day in the U.S. and 6,000,000 times a day worldwide. Per day, Mike!

Supernatural implies something that breaks the laws of nature which, by extension, includes such things as chance. Sorry, but 1/1000 (or even 1/12,000 to use the erroneous math you presented earlier) odds occurs too frequently to qualify.

Have a nice day!

J. C. Samuelson said...

Forgot to mention that the number of occurrences for various odds took into account only those that affect the human population. The number of occurrences increase exponentially when one considers all the discrete elements of nature (e.g., plants, animals, etc.).

Take, for example, the number of incidents in which a bird and an aircraft collide, commonly called a "birdstrike." In this case, though it involves humans, we are not interested in calculating the odds of such incidents having an effect on humans. We are interested in the effects on birds.

According to one study in Australia, from 1992-2001 there were 1,381 incidents, with 142 of them resulting in some sort of aircraft damage. There are no statistics, however, on how often birds might survive these impacts. Indeed, there seems to be no real way of knowing with certainty how many do, since an aircraft can't exactly stop to check on the bird(s) it just collided with. However, in theory a bird could survive such an impact depending on relative speed, angle in relationship to the aircraft at the time of impact, and other variables. Though the mathematics of it are beyond me, we can surmise that in Australia, of the 1,239 birdstrikes that did not result in aircraft damage (which most certainly killed the bird(s) in question), at least some of the birds survived, though no doubt they would be injured. Now, as infrequent as birdstrikes may be (5.2 strikes per 10,000), it is much less likely that a bird survives one. Perhaps only 1 of the 1,239 we mention did survive, if any did at all. But if it happens, regardless of how infinitesimal the chance may be, do we suppose divine or supernatural intervention on behalf of the bird? Of course not! It was pure chance, nothing more.

A similar argument might be offered for things like how often a deer survives being hit by a train, or a chipmunk evades a hawk, or a leaf falls perfectly balanced on a blade of grass, or a rock erodes in such a way that it resembles the Mona Lisa, or any other extremely unlikely event you might imagine. When you're discussing supernaturalism, keep in mind the enormous role chance plays in our lives.

Anonymous said...

noone would bet against there being a God with those odds other than you mr. samuelson and what is your grand prize if you win. nothing, not even the realization your life never happened. enjoy your winnings.

MikeG said...

Dave8 wrote
The same logic holds true, when the word God is used in other contexts as well. However, the "context" that means "most" to me, is a "relational" context, not a "conceptual" one.

I desire to assign a word to reality, and verify the word and its relationship that I am a part of. If that is not possible; the word God, by default, becomes a semantic "tool", and I by-pass the word "God" as meaningless, and move to the core issue, and that is what someone is trying to gain or how they are attempting to influence using the word.

==================================
Agreed. It's when the awe-inspiring event is 'relational', and seems to occur for no other reason than that 'God' is saying "here's a sign that I'm with you", that that the event inspires the most awe. And when, over the course of life, there are sufficient number of such events which are so extraordinary/awe-inspiring (supernatural), it leaves little doubt that there is a God.

Dave8 said...

MikeG: "Agreed. It's when the awe-inspiring event is 'relational'"

-MikeG is 100% natural.
-MikeG has experiences.
-Thus, 100% of MikeG's experiences are natural.

In order to suggest there is more than the Natural Universe, you must challenge the premise that you are 100% natural or that you have experiences.

Notice, the second you have an experience, it becomes natural, because "you" MikeG, are part of Nature. The greater implication, is that for every experience you have, you absorb it into your natural being, making "it" just as natural as "you" are, even if you "think" about the concept of another dimensional reality, it's still part of your natural cognition.

================================

MikeG: "And when, over the course of life, there are sufficient number of such events which are so extraordinary/awe-inspiring (supernatural), it leaves little doubt that there is a God."

Frequency analysis. The more one experiences an event, the more ordinary it becomes. The less one experiences an event, the less ordinary it becomes, but then, there becomes the hurdle that one may have had a fluke event.

So, MikeG, the question becomes, when does the extraordinary become the ordinary? Ten personal experiences? What if we were to ask everyone on this blog, how many extraordinary experiences they've had in life, wouldn't that suggest that what was considered extraordinary is likely more ordinary than previously thought?

I mean, between me and you, it seems we've had a lot of awesome experiences, that seems pretty ordinary between us, the larger the group with such experiences, the less ordinary to me. Having ordinary experiences that are awesome, is something worth living for... it's the enjoyment one can look forward to in life.

I do have a question though, since we share the same type of experiences of awe, in each our own way... Why is it so hard for some to accept that Nature is capable of presenting us with a state of existence, where we can experience awe?

I mean, why do you believe so many people, immediately disregard Nature as a solution, when there is already so much evidence of awe that abounds, in order to elect a solution that totally disregards all of the awe of the observable reality in which we live?

Dave8 said...

Correction: "...the larger the group with such experiences, the more ordinary to me."

J. C. Samuelson said...

'Nony enlightened us with...

noone would bet against there being a God with those odds other than you mr. samuelson and what is your grand prize if you win. nothing, not even the realization your life never happened. enjoy your winnings.

Actually, quite a lot of people "bet against there being a God." 30 million or more just in the U.S.. And, in any event, I don't live my life on the basis that someday I'll get a prize. I already have my prize - my life, my family, my world.

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here." ~ Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins

Anonymous said...

let me translate that for you. you are going to die and this will have never happened and meant anything i (richard dawkins) am saying this meaningless nonsense because i hate you and want you to share the emptiness of death i am selling. i cant honestly say that there is any hope in the future i cant prove there will be poets better than keats and you will never hear their words because there is nothing but death and no scientists will ever bring you back from nothingness only a creator can do that and there isnt one. 1 corinthians 15:32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. (at least St. Paul is honest)
to accept there is a God will be the most couragious thing you will do dont let a thief like dawkins steal it from you.
Peace

J. C. Samuelson said...

Crap. I fed a troll. And a clueless, hateful little one at that.

.:webmaster:. said...

It happens :)

boomSLANG said...

My gosh.....'so much intellectual depth and insight.

Okay...

Stop! stop!..... you are scaring us, Anonymous Christian # 4,537,689,476.

Will you leave now? Oh, wait... I guess you already did....or is this the "rapture" ?

lol

Jim Arvo said...

I've seen nothing approaching intellectual honesty from you, Anonymous. Until you show some your posts will be essentially ignored.

Anonymous said...

your comments make less sense when my posts get removed. no doubt censoring is to be expected. i guess your going to preach more of your integrety again.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anony-bot.

You are acting like a troll. If you want to be taken somewhat seriously, or allowed to continue posting, at least post under a pseudonym instead of "anonymous."

Thanks.

boomSLANG said...

Anony-Christian, have you formulated an argument yet? Then again, if a simple grammatical "contraction" has you stumped, maybe our expectations are "2 hi"? lol

(I know, I shouldn't...but jESUS cHRIST!.... it's tough not to)

Anonymous said...

i did and you erased it like the cowards you are. shown up by a teenager i dont blame you.

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