Jumping to Conclusions

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Similar to the false dichotomy fallacy, I find that the main problem Young Earth Creationists have – and even the mainstream religious – is that many of their arguments require a grand leap to reach their conclusion.

I will give an example: A common Creationist argument is the receding moon argument, where they claim that a few thousand years ago the moon would have been inside the earth, due to the fact that it has been receding since it was first ‘created.’ Ignoring the fact that the moon was not receding at a constant rate, which debunks the argument, the conclusion of the Creationist logic is that science is wrong and therefor the Bible is correct. Notice the jump?

Another example is the claim that the universe had to have a cause. Ignoring the fact that we don’t know this for sure, how come that cause is God? Why does it have to be a divine being, and more specifically, the Christian one?

If a supposed miracle happens, how does this prove the Bible to be true? This ‘jumping to conclusions’ logic is a major issue. Furthermore, it is commonly and happily used when someone has to try and rationalize a fact so that it is compatible with their religious beliefs. Such a thing happened when the age of the earth was discovered, and when scientific theories such as evolution were proven. It was quickly asserted that God ‘used’ evolution, or ‘set off’ the Big Bang. Even today this rationalization process is used by some apologists to explain natural disasters.

Not much to write about with this observation, but nevertheless it is an issue when trying to make religious arguments.

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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64 thoughts on “Jumping to Conclusions

  1. I was a yec as a Christian. I just didn’t know and most arguments or scientific evidence that pointed away from my position I ignored or panned in favor of believing God’s word

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  2. many creationist claims, including the ever popular cosmological argument or the teleological argument, require an a priori assumption, that a god is needed *and* that it is the version of the Christian god that the claimant has invented(theists love inventing gods that are in their image). If the premise is false, or unsupported by evidence, the argument using classical logic, immediately fails.
    I’ve been having a grand time recently pointing this out to various Christians and unsurprisingly, they refuse to show how their god exists and that it is the creator.

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  3. They must be those who believe in creation yet completely do not believe in the validity of scientific inquiry. It’s a pity that they don’t recognize that modern scientific theories are at best agnostic about supernatural phenomena and beings (objects/things).

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  4. Hi Everybody,

    I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth so I need to ask, are you saying that you believe the Universe has no cause? To do so would deny the Law of Causality. It is certainly within your rights to do so but that conclusion also requires a grand leap.

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    • Yes, that is what I believe. Whether the singularity ‘created itself’ or existed eternally or something like that I do not know, just like everybody else. However I must ask, how do we know that the laws of causality applied back then? How do we know that the Big Bang didn’t create those laws somehow? And finally, if God can be uncaused, who can’t the universe?

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        • I am not assuming anything, I am perfectly content to hold the position that I do not know what – if anything – caused the singularity. We don’t know what caused the singularity, we don’t know if anything caused the singularity. We don’t even know if the laws of the universe applied to the singularity. I don’t claim to have the answer, so there is no leap of faith for me to take.

          When I said that I ‘believe’ that the universe has no cause I meant it in the sense that the hypothesis that the universe existed eternally is what I support. I do not know this for sure, but for me it seems to be a logical position to hold.

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          • You’re not assuming anything?!! Don’t you at least assume that creationists are wrong?

            You could have saved us a lot of reading if you had simply typed, “I don’t know” and ended there.

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                • It is a position that no evidence contradicts. The notion that the singularity exists eternally/indefinitely works due to the fact that we don’t know whether time and space existed outside of it, or were created by it, etc. The idea is a hypothesis (a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation) unlike the God of the Gaps or any religious viewpoint, which not only raises more questions than it answers, but has no proper evidence for to begin with.

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                  • Actually, the evidence indicates that the Universe is not eternal. It began to exist at some point in the finite past. Your position is contradicted by a substantial amount of scientific evidence.

                    But we’re getting away from the original point…

                    Any claim about the origins of the universe is a faith claim, not a scientific claim. We should be able to agree to that.

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                    • And what evidence is that? I agree that the universe is not eternal – but I see no evidence that the singularity could not have existed indefinitely.

                      I agree, the origin and nature of the singularity is unknown, and to assert that it happened in a specific way requires some kind of faith.
                      But let’s not forget that the Big Bang is only a small part of science, and scientific hypothesis and theories are not the same as religious worldviews.

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                    • Nobody would argue that scientific hypothesis are the same as religious worldviews.

                      Thank you for being honest. We all embrace faith at some level. In the future, we should discuss what the nature of the singularity must be. I bet we’ll find a lot of common ground.

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    • are you saying that you believe the Universe has no cause?

      You may not find consensus among nonbelievers about this. Personally, I don’t have a position about that, i.e. “I don’t know” – but note that I don’t presume that we should have or be given the answer.

      IMO, to tweak mclasper’s words, “if God can be uncaused, [why] can’t the universe [or multiverse]?”. We don’t have evidence for the existence of any god, let alone any particular conception of a creator god who has interacted with humanity.

      AFAIK, we don’t know what may or may not be beyond our universe. I’m not claiming the multiverse exists, nor that it doesn’t – just that so far it seems like a possibility.

      There is no way I know of to tell what a universe generator may be like – no reason to assume it would be sentient.

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      • Of course you don’t know. Nobody does.
        Your statement that there is no evidence for the existence of any god is opposed to your statement that you “don’t have a position about that”.

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        • Of course you don’t know. Nobody does.

          Many religious believers (fundagelical Christians in particular) think they do.

          Your statement that there is no evidence for the existence of any god is opposed to your statement that you “don’t have a position about that”.

          No – the “that” about which I was saying I don’t have a position is the question of whether the universe has a cause – not the questions of (1) whether any gods exist at all (no position either); or (2a) whether some particular proposed god does exist, and (2b) if so whether that god has given any revelation to humanity (I don’t think so); or, (3) if the universe has a cause, whether that cause is sentient, or would be something that people would categorize as a “god” (no position).

          My position on (2b) is not based on faith – it is based on things like my examination of the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection – finding it wanting, finding evidence against it – considering the outsider test for faith, and the widely divergent religious views among humanity, realizing that they can’t all be true, and starting with the null position that none are – among other things.

          If you have evidence for a god claim, feel free to present it.

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          • Whoa! How did we jump from universal first cause to Jesus?

            My original post was a simple assertion. Every claim about the origins of the Universe requires faith. Would you disagree?

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            • No – there is evidence for the big bang, for instance. One can (1) understand the evidence and find out compelling, obviating the need for faith, and/or (2) hold the position provisionally, such that it may change with new evidence. Both of these stand in contrast to the faith.

              Again, what claim of universal origins have I made that requires faith?

              Also, what do you mean by “faith”? Is it a good thing? Why / why not?

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              • By faith, I mean being convinced that something is true though you cannot prove it with 100% certainty. Faith is deciding that the evidence is “good enough”.

                There is evidence that the Law of Gravity is true but we can’t say with 100% certainty because we haven’t tested it everywhere in the universe. We can hold the Law of Gravity provisionally but that’s neither intellectually compelling nor practically useful.

                To answer your question, faith is not just a ‘good’ thing, it’s a necessary thing. Without faith, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

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                • By faith, I mean being convinced that something is true though you cannot prove it with 100% certainty.

                  That kind of certainty is a red herring. We don’t need a feeling of absolute certainty in order to function.

                  There is evidence that the Law of Gravity is true but we can’t say with 100% certainty because we haven’t tested it everywhere in the universe.

                  If scientists discover new things about gravity that change our current understanding, it may change our understanding of the mechanism, or the context in which certain laws or equations are true – like relativity did to Newtonian gravity – but that doesn’t change our experience, or make Newtonian gravity “wrong” – it’s just incomplete.

                  You personally experience gravity every day, you see other people and things affected by it, you can cite no counterexample against it, and scientists have constructed very consistent and functional models of many aspects of how it works. Are you seriously comparing this to particular religious truth claims, e.g. about a particular magical invisible non-human person existing eternally and creating the universe? None of which can be demonstrated.

                  To answer your question, faith is not just a ‘good’ thing, it’s a necessary thing. Without faith, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

                  I await your evidence that demonstrates that your “faith” is evidentially supported. For clarity, please specify what claim you are supporting – the claim in which you have faith – when you do.

                  Meanwhile, I get out of bed just fine without faith, thanks.

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                  • That ‘red herring’ is often the atheist response to statements like, “any claims about the origin of the Universe are faith claims”.

                    My original faith claim remains: The Universe began to exist in the finite past and therefore has a cause.

                    You personally experience the Law of Causality every day, you see other people and things affected by it, you can cite no counterexample against it, and scientists have constructed very consistent functional models of many aspects of how it works. Is that sufficient evidence to justify my faith?

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                    • I don’t take a position one way or the other on whether the universe has a cause. Some cosmologists (e.g. Lawrence Krauss) are proposing models where it doesn’t have a cause. I haven’t looked into it; I have no idea if they might be right. For all I know, you might be right that it does have a cause. Hard to say, I figure, since we’ve never observed a universe come into existence, and I don’t know how we can extrapolate to that. I admit some ignorance there… Did I mention not taking a position?

                      But isn’t your position more than just “the universe has some (undefined) cause”? Aren’t you claiming that that cause is a particular sentient being – a “god”, who is an invisible person (not human), who presents as a male, whose name is YHWH, who revealed information about himself and his wishes in writings that were collated into what Christians call the bible… etc.? And yet no such thing as an invisible person god has been demonstrated; the bible (which? there are at least 3 different Christian collections of books that I know of) has plenty of contradictions and immoral teachings; and I suspect you regularly dismiss others’ claims about their gods (Shiva, Allah, Zeus, etc).

                      So no, if I’m correct in what your beliefs are (am I?), I don’t think they are evidently justified. If they were, what would you need faith for?

                      Consider the multitude of mutually contradictory, undemonstrated religious claims that have been made throughout history. Can faith be used to help people cling to false claims? Is there some mechanism by which faith can be shown to move people toward truth? If not, is it a good thing?

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                    • I’ve not made any claim other than the Universe is caused. No point in trying to convict a murderer until we establish that we’ve found a body.

                      I’m suspicious that what you call “not taking a position” is more accurately described as not ADMITTING your position. Lawrence Krauss is a good example of what people do when they don’t like what the evidence indicates. And if you wish to keep insisting that you operate without faith, you shouldn’t be a Lawrence Krauss disciple.

                      Intellectual integrity determines how a person answers the following questions.

                      If you were sitting in your living room one evening and you heard a loud ‘bang’ come from the kitchen, would you remain calmly seated, ‘not taking a position’ on whether or not that noise had a cause? Or would you go to the kitchen to try and discover the cause of the noise? If a small ‘bang’ in your kitchen has a cause, why wouldn’t the explosion that produced the Universe also have one?

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                    • No point in trying to convict a murderer until we establish that we’ve found a body.

                      That’s my point, is that you haven’t established your foundational point, which kneecaps the rest of your argument.

                      I’ve not made any claim other than the Universe is caused.

                      I meant the claims inherent in your beliefs, not whether or not you’ve started them explicitly here. Would you please stop dodging and tell me if I’ve represented your position accurately?

                      I’ll grant for the sake of argument that the universe has a cause.

                      I’m suspicious that what you call “not taking a position” is more accurately described as not ADMITTING your position. Lawrence Krauss is a good example of what people do when they don’t like what the evidence indicates. And if you wish to keep insisting that you operate without faith, you shouldn’t be a Lawrence Krauss disciple.

                      It’s disappointing to be accused of dishonesty this way. What is your evidence for your accusation?

                      And how the hell do you jump from my citing a possibility – admitting that I haven’t looked into it in detail, and I haven’t read his book – to calling me his disciple?

                      Intellectual integrity determines how a person answers the following questions.

                      Character impugning noted. (I don’t think I’ve given you just cause to warrant that inference, so from my POV it suggests your arguments don’t stand on their own.)

                      If you were sitting in your living room one evening and you heard a loud ‘bang’ come from the kitchen, would you remain calmly seated, ‘not taking a position’ on whether or not that noise had a cause? Or would you go to the kitchen to try and discover the cause of the noise?

                      It’s not a good analogy just because you call them both “bangs”.

                      Of course I would go investigate an (1) unusual, but (2) not unprecedented, (3) sudden perception (noise), with the (4) potential for causing harm or damage. And (5) based on similar experiences, I would have good reason to think that I might be able to discern the cause.

                      The only similarities I see are that they are both events and (1) the unusual part.

                      If a small ‘bang’ in your kitchen has a cause, why wouldn’t the explosion that produced the Universe also have one?

                      Our entire experience of causality has occurred within spacetime. The big bang is thought to be the beginning of spacetime, so how can we know if the same rule applies?

                      Anyway, I still say you might be right that the universe has a cause – I’m not convinced, but I find it plausible. So again, can we please move on to whatever you’re trying to convince me that that cause is?

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                    • We can ‘move on’. The murder analogy was an attempt to slow down the rate at which we’re moving. I can’t go from ‘there may be a first cause but I’m not sure’ to ‘justify all Biblical inconsistencies’ in one step.

                      I was not impugning your character. I had no way of knowing how you would answer those questions. Your response was honest.

                      You’ve left the back door open. At any point in our dialogue you can return to ‘it’s plausible but I’m not convinced’ and I have no rebuttal. But I’m a plucky fellow so I’ll make another claim.

                      We agree that reality before the big bang is unknowable. Any claims about what did (or didn’t) exist before the big bang are pure speculation. So the physical Universe is the only place from which we can draw evidence.

                      Whatever caused the beginning of spacetime must be outside of spacetime and not subject to the laws of the Universe. So, at the very least, this first cause is:
                      Eternal (time didn’t exist yet)
                      Non-material (material didn’t exist yet)
                      Powerful (capable of producing time and matter)
                      Intelligent (capable of producing intelligent beings)

                      Are we still plausible or have I already started spouting religious mumbo-jumbo?

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                    • At any point in our dialogue you can return to ‘it’s plausible but I’m not convinced’

                      I never meant to imply otherwise wrt the proposition that there may be some cause for the universe. (Speaking only for myself, there.) Maybe rereading some of my earlier comments will show that?

                      …Too much speculation in your closing list, AFAICT.

                      Eternal – if there is a universe generator, why must it be the primary mover? Does a primary mover even make sense? If a “god” could just exist, why can’t some larger non sentient reality just exist? How can we say anything about how things work outside of time, if such is possible?

                      Non-material – how do you know no material existed? How can you rule out string theory, multiverse hypotheses, and the big bounce, for instance?

                      Intelligent – how did you conclude that it is sentient?

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                    • Again, speculation is all we have. I admitted that before posting my list. Everything I am saying is a faith claim.

                      Eternal – First cause is the definition of a primary mover. No reason to suppose “god” as some kind of middleman. A universe generator would still require a cause. The strings proposed in string theory require a cause.

                      Non-Material: I don’t understand your question. The concept of pre-Universe matter is incoherent. We’re talking about the beginning of matter as we understand it. There was no matter before there was matter…

                      Intelligent – I concluded that first cause is sentient because I am sentient. There is no evidence that intelligence is ever produced from inert matter.

                      I cannot distill an infinite God into a easily manageable paragraph. Honestly, I can’t explain how my own consciousness works. I don’t know what thoughts are.

                      I read something from C.S. Lewis a few years ago that bothered me. He said, “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

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                    • Again, speculation is all we have.

                      Can you name any other context besides religion in which is it considered good or virtuous to claim knowledge when speculation is all you have?

                      Everything I am saying is a faith claim.

                      Do you see now why I think “faith” is what believers say when they have insufficient evidence? If so, how does that help one discern truth from fiction?

                      Eternal – First cause is the definition of a primary mover. No reason to suppose “god” as some kind of middleman. A universe generator would still require a cause. The strings proposed in string theory require a cause.

                      Are you familiar with logic fallacies? This one is “special pleading”. If all those other things would also require a cause, you’ve not given sufficient reason why a “god” wouldn’t. You don’t get to define a thing (god) into existence.

                      Non-Material: I don’t understand your question. The concept of pre-Universe matter is incoherent. We’re talking about the beginning of matter as we understand it. There was no matter before there was matter…

                      Multiverse hypotheses – imagine our universe is not the only one. Or big bang = big bounce (though this seems less likely to me).

                      Intelligent – I concluded that first cause is sentient because I am sentient.

                      Inability to imagine any other way doesn’t make an evidence-free speculation the default answer. No insult intended, but the logic fallacy here is known as an “argument from ignorance”.

                      There is no evidence that intelligence is ever produced from inert matter.

                      I’m not sure whether this is quite on the mark. I don’t think abiogenesis is proven, but research is ongoing.

                      Anyway, there is no evidence of the alleged existence of any mind existing without a brain as a substrate – and without matter, to boot. There is not even a mechanism proposed by which this is possible. It seems to me that god hypotheses lack explanatory power, and discourage people from seeking scientific explanations, and consequently from understanding how reality works.

                      Besides that, there’s lots of evidence for the theory of evolution, which has lots of explanatory power for how our intelligence arose, and evidence for its claims. (It just doesn’t get you life from non-life – that’s abiogenesis, a separate area of study.) And yet, even if evolution wrong, that doesn’t make religious claims correct by default.

                      Besides that, you (for instance) were “created” by the natural process of your parents reproduction. There’s no evidence of a human/animal brain being designed by some architect.

                      I cannot distill an infinite God into a easily manageable paragraph. Honestly, I can’t explain how my own consciousness works. I don’t know what thoughts are.

                      “I can’t explain X, therefore Y.” X = consciousness, Y = god. I think this qualifies as another argument from ignorance, and/or “god of the gaps” explanation.

                      I can’t explain consciousness either. I don’t assume that I ought to be able to. And I don’t think any god hypothesis explains it, it just says, “he did it – by magic”.

                      I read something from C.S. Lewis a few years ago that bothered me. He said, “Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

                      I’m not sure I understand what he means for your “thinking to be true”? Does it mean having beliefs that comport with reality? If so, then off the cuff, I’d say you do this by testing your ideas by investigation – skeptical inquiry – search for evidence – try to falsify, see what remains – and demonstrate what you can. Not knowing all the answers (e.g. what is consciousness, what is the nature of reality) doesn’t preclude you from knowing some (2+2=4). The milk jug / map analogy is a bad one.

                      Does a concept disturbing you say anything about its potential truth or falsehood? OTOH, do you think you could frame it differently and be inspired instead of disturbed? That reminds me of this post by Godless Mom, Atheists Deny Themselves This One Question?

                      Keep in mind, an atheist need not believe that no gods exist. He/she need only not believe that any do. Agnosticism and atheism are not mutually exclusive. Many (most?) atheists are agnostic atheists.

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                    • The beginning of this discussion was an admission that both of us were employing faith to arrive at our conclusions. I gave you my theory on the characteristics of a first cause. I am familiar with logical fallacies but thought that we had established a safe zone for discussing theoretical possibilities. There is no evidence for Abiogenesis. It is a “science of the gaps” theory. It’s fine to claim Abiogenesis as your theory. It is not correct to say that theory is better than any other religious claim.

                      Inquiry starts with a theory. A theory is often speculative. And as you correctly stated, we don’t have to know everything but we can know some things. You claim a neutral position but it seems you have ruled out the possibility of God as a starting point which makes you a materialist. That’s cool. But the discussion can’t move forward unless both of us are willing to put up a theory.

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                    • I was disappointed to see that you didn’t answer these questions of mine from my previous comment:

                      1. “Can you name any other context besides religion in which is it considered good or virtuous to claim knowledge when speculation is all you have?”

                      2. “how does [faith] help one discern truth from fiction?”

                      3. “Does a concept disturbing you say anything about its potential truth or falsehood? OTOH, do you think you could frame it differently and be inspired instead of disturbed? That reminds me of this post by Godless Mom, Atheists Deny Themselves This One Question?

                      The beginning of this discussion was an admission that both of us were employing faith to arrive at our conclusions.

                      No – it was you accusing me of using faith, and me explaining how I’m not, and you failing to demonstrate otherwise.

                      I gave you my theory on the characteristics of a first cause.

                      Which I picked apart.

                      I am familiar with logical fallacies but thought that we had established a safe zone for discussing theoretical possibilities.

                      You seem to be advocating for belief that is not warranted by the evidence. Or, if it is warranted, you haven’t yet demonstrated so.

                      There is no evidence for Abiogenesis. It is a “science of the gaps” theory. It’s fine to claim Abiogenesis as your theory. It is not correct to say that theory is better than any other religious claim.

                      I don’t think “no evidence” is accurate, but true that it’s not settled science. There are other hypotheses.

                      It is pretty outside my wheelhouse, so I won’t pursue it, except to note that there’s plenty of tangible, repeatable evidence for the existence of both nonliving matter and living organisms. Not so for any god that I’m aware of, so it seems that whether true or not, abiogenesis has got a leg up to start.

                      Inquiry starts with a theory. A theory is often speculative.

                      Hypothesis, not theory.

                      And then we investigate and inquire, like my replies to your propositions…

                      And as you correctly stated, we don’t have to know everything but we can know some things. You claim a neutral position but it seems you have ruled out the possibility of God as a starting point which makes you a materialist.

                      I haven’t ruled out the possibility of any gods. But I see no evidence for any yet.

                      I do however try to minimize my assumptions when seeking truth, so I refuse to start with the assumption of the existence of things undemonstrated (gods, pixies, whatever). If you think I should, please explain why.

                      That’s cool. But the discussion can’t move forward unless both of us are willing to put up a theory.

                      Absolutely not – your truth claims must first stand or fall on their own merits. After that, if both yours and competing claims both appear to be standing, then they can compete against each other.

                      If we apply your proposed methodology to a courtroom, then we’d haul in two suspects, and the jury has to pick which one is guilty. If both are innocent, that would be a travesty of justice.

                      Continuing the analogy, you seem to be “accusing” some particular god of existing (eternally) and creating the universe. (It’s hard to tell though, since you won’t lay out your claims.) If the trial is over now, I rule “not guilty”, as you (prosecutor) haven’t met your burden of proof.

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                    • 1. I can name no context, including religion, where it is virtuous to claim knowledge when speculation is all we have. It is not ‘claiming knowledge’ when a statement is preceded by a disclaimer that “this is speculation”.

                      2. As I said before, faith is believing in something though it can’t be proven with 100% certainty. Despite your insistence to the contrary, people employ faith constantly. If the word makes you uncomfortable, we can use “hypothesis” instead. Certainly we can agree that a hypothesis is useful in differentiating between truth and fiction.

                      3. A new idea might disturb me but I don’t take that as a negative. It means I have to ponder it. It means that my hypothesis is being tested. It’s unsettling because I am face to face with the notion that I might be wrong. But if I’m wrong, I want to know it. Finding the truth is inspirational.

                      I was disappointed to see that you didn’t acknowledge being a materialist.

                      You did acknowledge that there are other theories besides Abiogenesis. I advocate one of those alternate theories. Your statement “whether true or not, abiogenesis has a leg up to start” is interesting. How would you respond if I said, “whether true or not, theism has a leg up to start”?

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                    • This has gone on for a while. Please state plainly the position that you’re arguing for. What do you believe about God/gods / the supernatural, and why do you believe it?

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                    • Again…

                      I am a theist.
                      I see order and intelligence in the Universe.
                      I experience consciousness.
                      There is no scientific evidence of consciousness coming from inert matter.
                      No scientific evidence of intelligence coming from chaos.
                      So my hypothesis is that the Universe was created intentionally by an external intelligence.

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                    • Generally theists believe that the deity (deities) have made some specifics about themselves known to humanity (revelation), as opposed to deism. Is there some particular god(s) you believe exist?

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                    • The universe requires an explanation. Life requires an explanation. Consciousness requires an explanation. Morality requires an explanation. Mankind’s urge to discover meaning and significance requires an explanation.

                      The gospel of Christ explains those things better than anything else I have discovered so far.

                      Why should I not be a Christian?

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                    • [X] requires an explanation.

                      OK, but let’s not presume that we should necessarily be given the answers, or have them all already. Besides, “goddidit” doesn’t really explain anything – it just points to a magic, undemonstrated, invisible being as the explanation, and special pleads that he (it) doesn’t need an explanation.

                      Moreover, there is much disagreement among believers in “God” about who or what he/she/it is. As a Christian, your belief isn’t just “‘God’ did it, but “YHWH did it” – and that “he” presents as a male, he cares about and makes rules regarding human affairs, he required blood sacrifice when people don’t do what he says (why?), he has a son (who “is him”, because somehow God is one but also two/three persons?), his son came to earth as Yeshua and performed miracles and died to get rid of the blood requirement, then he rose from the dead, all of this “revelation” is captured in the Christian bible (protestant, Catholic, orthodox?), etc.

                      It raises more questions than it purports to answer, and many of those new questions raised we should expect to have answers to, if the bible god is benevolent, powerful (omnipotent), and intelligent (omniscient).

                      Morality requires an explanation.

                      We are a social species, and morality (e.g. golden rule) benefits us as a whole. People who wrong others repeatedly will be shunned or punished, so it’s in their own self-interest not to do that.

                      Moral answers are often situational and rarely black and white, but reason and empathy are good guides.

                      The bible is often a bad guide to morality. YHWH is temperamental, and often overreacts (e.g. 2 Sam 6, death for the guy who tried to catch/straighten the ark of the covenant when the ox carrying it stumbled; killing Ananias and Sapphira for lying; eternally retributively punishing people (no hope of rehabilitation), by death or eternal conscious torment, for finite crimes, or for simply being unconvinced of his existence). He causes or commands genocide (Noah’s flood; Israel at Canaanites). He endorses slavery (even the NT says “slaves, obey your masters”), among other shortcomings.

                      Also, the whole notion of blood atonement makes no sense, and there isn’t even consensus among Christians today, 2000 years later, about why Jesus had to die, or how his supposed sacrifice accomplished anything. Besides that, substitutionary atonement – a common explanation – is immoral. If you commit a crime, can someone else serve your sentence?

                      Mankind’s urge to discover meaning and significance

                      Best not to jump to a speculative conclusion based on what makes us feel good.

                      Also, nonbelievers find (subjective) meaning elsewhere. Many would argue that the Christian concept of “objective meaning” is actually subjective, too.

                      Why should I not be a Christian?

                      Besides the above, there’s no evidence that YHWH exists, that anyone (Jesus) could possibly rise from the dead into a new indestructible body, or that he did so (if the legends are even based on a real man). The bible is full of contradictions, inconsistencies, nonsense, and unsubstantiated claims – many of which are types of events (“miracles”) that we’ve never observed, and know of no mechanism to accomplish (magic).

                      … Back on topic, even if we could honestly and evidentially conclude that “God” created the universe, to say that it’s the Christian YHWH would be jumping to a conclusion.

                      Like

                    • We certainly don’t want to jump to conclusions!

                      I should not be a Christian because there are questions that remain unanswered. Am I interpreting your response correctly?

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                    • Again, I don’t want to misunderstand you. But the responses are getting too long for me to efficiently respond to them in the tiny reply box.

                      Here’s a link to my full response: https://goo.gl/3KBoLX

                      The discussion has gotten away from the initial premise. Where do we stand on the subject of every worldview requiring a leap of faith?

                      Like

                    • The key point you’re missing in your long response is that if the Christian god hypothesis were true – if there’s a benevolent, intelligent (omniscient), powerful (omnipresent) god who created everything including us, and he wants us to know it, and the bible is his communication to us – then it logically follows that there shouldn’t be nonsense or contradictions or God behaving badly etc in the book, and the “questions” that I raised should be answered – if they’d even be questions at all. You ought to have evidence for the particular god claims, but you don’t.

                      On the contrary, all these are consistent with Christianity’s claims being false. And in that case, we wouldn’t necessarily have answers to the remaining questions, so no contradiction there.

                      … Care to revise anything?

                      To your question here, no, it does not require faith to say “I don’t know” [how the universe came to be].

                      Like

                    • Got it.
                      We shouldn’t expect to have all the answers to how the Universe originated unless we believe that God created it. Theism is invalid because it doesn’t answer every question with exacting detail. Naturalism is valid because it doesn’t answer every question with exacting detail but is open to consider a new hypothesis (as long as that hypothesis isn’t God).

                      I never asserted that it requires faith to say “I don’t know”.

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                    • [JB:] The discussion has gotten away from the initial premise. Where do we stand on the subject of every worldview requiring a leap of faith?

                      [ratamacue:] To your question here, no, it does not require faith to say “I don’t know” [how the universe came to be].

                      [JB:] I never asserted that it requires faith to say “I don’t know”.

                      What then is the “leap of faith” of which you’re accusing everyone, including me?

                      Like

    • It is a common creationist argument that if the moon was receding (that is, moving away) from earth at a constant rate, 20,000 years ago it would have been inside the earth. This is supposed to prove the creation ‘theory’. The creationists are correct in part, but the moon has not been receding at a constant rate, so it renders the argument useless.

      Like

      • Yes, I understand that, but no one EVER said that. We will usually say ” It would have hit the Earth and caused a explosion”, or ” The tides would have increased.” But never “…inside the Earth.”

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  5. To carry your argument one step further, let’s say that that you just met someone and they told you that they were Moses. Yes, the read deal, supposedly. Would you believe them? You don’t even know what Moses looks like since you never met him before (and there weren’t pictures in his day). Of course, Moses is suppose to be dead, anyways. To make it even harder to believe, what if you didn’t meet Moses but simply heard a voice which said that it (the voice) was Moses. What are the chances that you would believe a “voice” or would you pay a visit to your psychiatrist instead? Especially, since you, as an author, had just written a book about Moses and why the world shouldn’t believe anything that he was supposed to have believed in. Of course, I’m really drawing an analogy to Paul and his vision.

    Like

  6. This is my reply to John Branyan’s “full response” at https://goo.gl/3KBoLX

    This mostly seems like an attempt to turn my words back on me, but overall, the logic doesn’t follow.

    [X] requires an explanation.

    OK, but let’s not presume that we should necessarily be given the answers, or have them all already.

    I’ve not presumed either of those things.

    I’ll hold you to that.

    Besides, “goddidit” doesn’t really explain anything – it just points to a magic, undemonstrated, invisible being as the explanation, and special pleads that he (it) doesn’t need an explanation.

    The “undiscovered-naturalistic-law-did-it” doesn’t really explain anything

    No, it doesn’t explain e.g. “what caused the big bang” – and it doesn’t purport to do so (contra god hypotheses).

    Besides which, I’m not saying that it’s necessarily so. But you’ve not given sufficient reason to conclude that a “god” exists, let alone did anything – and I’m not yet convinced that we’re even able to investigate such a thing.

    – it just points to a magic, undemonstrated, invisible force as the explanation, and special pleads that it doesn’t need an explanation.

    Magic is by definition not “natural”. Magic (of the non-sleight of hand sort) has not been shown to exist – “natural” is all that has. Once any “magic” or “supernatural” things are observed and explained, they move out of the metaphorical realm of magic or supernatural, and into the realm of the natural.

    In general, “invisible forces” have been observed, and reliable theories developed about them which produce useful and repeatable results. Not so any gods.

    And I’m not saying that it doesn’t have an explanation. I am saying we don’t know it yet (if we ever will).

    Moreover, there is much disagreement among believers in “God” about who or what he/she/it is.

    There is much disagreement among non-believers about how the universe came to exist without God

    Some disagreement is to be expected if no god has revealed him/her/itself / the answers to us. It is not expected under a revelatory benevolent god hypothesis.

    As a Christian, your belief isn’t just “‘God’ did it, but “YHWH did it”

    And your belief is “I don’t know what did it”.

    “I don’t know” is not a belief; it’s lack of a belief.

    Mind you, I do believe that your particular god hypothesis is false. For some reasons touched on here, others presented on my blog, and others that I have yet to write about. (I don’t have to know the right answer to be able to determine that certain proposed answers are wrong. e.g. I don’t know what -541568577 * 41235 is offhand, but I know it’s not 7.)

    Is your criticism that I’ve advanced a hypothesis? That’s not conducive to scientific inquiry.

    No – my criticism is that you are advocating for a hypothesis that you haven’t shown deserves any credence, which doesn’t really explain anything, which is in part unfalsifiable, and can be shown false in many areas where it is falsifiable.

    and that “he” presents as a male, he cares about and makes rules regarding human affairs, he required blood sacrifice when people don’t do what he says (why?), he has a son (who “is him”, because somehow God is one but also two/three persons?), his son came to earth as Yeshua and performed miracles and died to get rid of the blood requirement, then he rose from the dead, all of this “revelation” is captured in the Christian bible (protestant, Catholic, orthodox?), etc.

    These are all questions that have nothing at all to do with whether or not God created the Universe. There is little point in discussing the characteristics of a being that doesn’t exist.

    This may be worth revisiting later.

    It raises more questions than it purports to answer, and many of those new questions raised we should expect to have answers to, if the bible god is benevolent, powerful (omnipotent), and intelligent (omniscient).

    So now you are expecting answers? What happened to not presuming that we should be given answers?

    I expect answers from the worldview that purports to give them – one that believes we’ve been given divine revelation. I do not expect easy answers of the origin of the universe or the nature of reality from a worldview that does not claim divine revelation. Since it does not appear that we have such answers (yet), that is inconsistent with the christian god hypothesis.

    Morality requires an explanation.

    We are a social species, and morality (e.g. golden rule) benefits us as a whole.

    Speculative.

    People who wrong others repeatedly will be shunned or punished, so it’s in their own self-interest not to do that.

    Speculative.

    Moral answers are often situational and rarely black and white,

    Speculative.

    I thought your “requires an explanation” here was suggesting that a god hypothesis is the only plausible hypothesis for morality, so I presented alternatives. I think I’ve done better than “speculative” here, but I’m mainly aiming for “morality does not require a divine explanation”. Would you agree to that?

    but reason and empathy are good guides.

    Speculative.

    What else do you have to go on? I’ve pointed out several examples where the Christian God is a bad guide.

    Who’s reason and empathy do we look to for those guides?

    Our own. Hopefully we reach some consensus. Sometimes we do; sometimes we don’t. Wishing for it to be otherwise doesn’t make it so.

    YHWH is temperamental, and often overreacts (e.g. 2 Sam 6, death for the guy who tried to catch/straighten the ark of the covenant when the ox carrying it stumbled; killing Ananias and Sapphira for lying; eternally retributively punishing people (no hope of rehabilitation), by death or eternal conscious torment, for finite crimes, or for simply being unconvinced of his existence). He causes or commands genocide (Noah’s flood; Israel at Canaanites). He endorses slavery (even the NT says “slaves, obey your masters”), among other shortcomings.

    Are these moral judgments black and white or are these the situational ones to which you referred earlier?

    Does it somehow support your god hypothesis in either case?

    Also, the whole notion of blood atonement makes no sense,

    Is that absolutely true?

    It’s “as far as I can tell”, and it’s not what you’d expect under the Christian benevolent omniscient omnipotent god hypothesis.

    and there isn’t even consensus among Christians today, 2000 years later, about why Jesus had to die, or how his supposed sacrifice accomplished anything.

    Is that a fact?
    Is it possible that you are mistaken on this point?

    It is a demonstrably true fact, AFAICT. Hypothetically possible that I could be mistaken on both points, I guess, but it seems unlikely. Here are a couple of citations, if you like.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_in_Christianity
    https://carm.org/substitutionary-atonement-jesus-christ

    (Mind you, I said there’s not consensus on how (or why) his supposed sacrifice accomplished anything – not whether it supposedly did – Christians generally do think so.)

    Besides that, substitutionary atonement – a common explanation – is immoral.

    Who says?

    If you commit a crime, can someone else serve your sentence?

    Depends on whether or not substitutionary atonement is allowed.

    It isn’t allowed in our legal system. But I’ll rephrase: would such scapegoating be moral even if it were legal?

    Mankind’s urge to discover meaning and significance

    Best not to jump to a speculative conclusion based on what makes us feel good.

    You’re denying that mankind has the urge to discover meaning?

    Interesting framing of your question, as if the only option is to have some supposedly “objective” meaning imposed on us from outside.

    Also, nonbelievers find (subjective) meaning elsewhere.

    Ah. So mankind DOES have the urge to find meaning.

    I think people in general have a desire for meaning – whether “discovered” or “created”. I’m not convinced that everyone does in the way that you mean it – but then I’m not sure exactly what you mean.

    Nonbelievers finding (subjective) meaning elsewhere is a faith statement that cannot be proved scientifically.

    It was just a general observation, contra your apparent implication that everyone desires externally-imposed “objective” meaning. I was not making an absolute statement.

    Beyond that…I’m not really sure how to make sense of your objection here.

    Many would argue that the Christian concept of “objective meaning” is actually subjective, too.

    Many would argue that there is no God. So what?

    Just throwing that out there. That’s a whole topics in itself, and I don’t care to defend it now.

    Why should I not be a Christian?

    Besides the above, there’s no evidence that YHWH exists,

    Speculative.

    that anyone (Jesus) could possibly rise from the dead into a new indestructible body,

    Speculative.

    or that he did so (if the legends are even based on a real man).

    Speculative.

    If there is evidence, then a benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent deity would have made it clear.

    If you have evidence, feel free to present it. Otherwise, Christianity goes into the pile with all the other religions and superstitions.

    The bible is full of contradictions, inconsistencies, nonsense, and unsubstantiated claims

    This statement requires a priori knowledge that God does not exist.

    Do you say the same of every other religious text? What is your standard of evidence there? (1) What seems most probable – that the claims are true or false? Or (2) how can I twist reality and the text to make them fit?

    Granted, I haven’t demonstrated the contradictions etc. here, but it can be shown. And presumably you have the Internet at your fingertips…

    many of which are types of events (“miracles”) that we’ve never observed

    You are assuming that miracles can’t happen unless you’ve personally observed them?

    You are assuming that leprechauns can’t follow rainbows unless you’ve personally observed them?

    (Do I really have to elaborate here?)

    and know of no mechanism to accomplish (magic).

    We don’t know the mechanism that accomplishes consciousness. Do you believe your thoughts are real?

    Yes, since I experience them. Likewise, others around me act and react in ways that suggests they have thoughts, too.

    What does this have to do with your god claims?

    …Back on topic, even if we could honestly and evidentially conclude that “God” created the universe, to say that it’s the Christian YHWH would be jumping to a conclusion.

    Wrong.
    Concluding that “God” created the universe would give us a starting point to investigate the various God claims of religion.
    We would then be able to find a God who matches up with the evidence.

    And yet, we still have to put the word in quotes, because it doesn’t even have an agreed upon meaning. Maybe the universe generator (if there is such a thing) isn’t sentient – in which case, no point calling it a god.

    Or maybe it’s indifferent to and uninvolved with humanity – in which case we’re unlikely to be able to detect or discover it, and there’d be no good reason to try to serve it.

    If some benevolent, sentient being, powerful and intelligent enough to create the universe wants us to know about it, would you expect some small portion of the population to be unable to demonstrate the truth of their supposed revelation, and outsiders would be punished? Or would you expect clarity and clear-cut demonstrable facts, and even consensus as a result?

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  7. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this web site needs a lot
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    Like

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