October 06, 2011

A Moral Argument as Proof of God’s Existence

The human conscience bears witness that there are both right and wrong actions. The most renowned Christian apologist of our day, Dr. William Lane Craig, has presented a logical argument in the form of a syllogism that highlights both the existence of objective morality and God's existence, which he has developed into a larger argument. While I agree with Most of Craig's moral argument, I substitute Dispensationalism for his Divine Command Theory as a means of explaining the details.

I. The Basic Moral Dilemma of Atheism
II. A Critique of Wielenberg's Atheist Objective Morality
III. An Objective Moral Ideal in Christ
IV. Sociopolitical Object Lessons
V. Dispensationalism and God's Moral Agency
VI. Common Objections to Theist Morality

The most renowned atheist of our day, Mr. Richard Dawkins, seems to be in a moral dilemma. He is a self-proclaimed Militant Atheist who aggressively judges the beliefs of religious people, saying that these beliefs are basically an intolerable threat to society. And yet at the same time, Dawkins would have us believe that there is no objective basis for making moral judgments. He affirms, “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.”[1]

Dawkins doesn't seem to be aware of the basic logical contradictions of his beliefs and statements. He doesn't seem to be aware that the more vehemently he denounces religion, the more positively he is supporting the truth of God's existence, according to the brute logic of Craig's moral argument:

Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.[2]


Atheists tend to make a variety of moral judgments, such as, “Hitler’s act of genocide against innocent people was immoral." However, if they would take the time to stop and consider the implications of their beliefs and statements, it may prove to be fruitful. If, as most atheists believe, our social moral code is based merely on ever-changing, evolutionary, sociobiological functions, then how can an atheist objectively judge the actions of Hitler? The definition of objective morality is the idea that something can be shown to be right or wrong based on some fixed standard, without regard to relative human feelings and opinions.

If we are all merely animals, on what authority would right and wrong judgments ultimately be based? For example, if a fish randomly kills and eats another fish, it isn't considered morally wrong. Yet, if a human randomly kills and eats another human, we do consider it morally wrong. With his tongue in cheek wit, Craig calls this human moral prejudice speciesism. And he proposes that the human conscience is, in fact, tuned to an objective standard of moral truth and that is why atheists are faced with this dilemma. If you believe that torturing babies for fun is morally wrong without question, then this implies you believe objective morality exists. But if you believe there is a possibility torturing babies for fun may be acceptable morally for certain cultures because evolution and the social indoctrination of those cultures has produced such results, then you are justified in adhering to moral relativism. If you believe objective morality is more in line with your views, then is it a strong reason to believe that naturalism is a false worldview.

Moral Schizophrenia

As Craig has pointed out, Dawkins can't seem to make up his mind whether right and wrong exist. But no matter which view he is supporting at any given moment, he tries hard to sound convincing. In this quote Dawkins says he doesn't believe in evil or good:

"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation... The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."[3]

But then in another quote he says doing good or evil or doing the right thing are valid considerations:

"It's been said before but needs to be said again: if you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them.”[4]

As an alternative to the schizophrenia of Dawkins' confused relativism, some atheists have offered arguments for an objective basis for morality without God's existence. For example, Erik Wielenberg has proposed that there is an objective moral realism that simply exists without God. But his argument seems to have many logical problems.

II. A Critique of Wielenberg's Atheist Objective Morality

The core of Erik Wielenberg's argument is based on the idea that “basic ethical facts” exist which have “no foundation outside themselves”.[5] His “brute ethical facts’ correspond to states of affairs which are supposedly true in all possible worlds. Wielneberg’s main premises are, 1) Pain is intrinsically bad. 2) Inflicting pain for fun is morally wrong. 3) It is just to give people what they deserve.

A. Pain is intrinsically bad

In addressing Wielneberg’s first premise, I would offer there are four reasons why pain may not be considered intrinsically “bad” as an objective basis for moral judgments.

1. Firstly, the feeling of pain is based on a complex biological system and is created by a series of impulses. A fire burns the skin. Nerves in the skin connect to nerves in the fingers and arms. These nerve impulses reach the brain. The brain conveys the message to the skin that there is pain in that location. So, when and where is the “bad” pain actually experienced? According to an article in Science Daily, all forms of pain, even emotional feelings, can be traced to specific locations in the human brain.[6]

If pain is based on biological impulses and depends on many functions throughout the human body, it is not likely that this same state of affairs applies in all possible worlds, in accordance with the evolutionary scenario. Possible life forms on other planets would not necessarily experience any pain at all. If pain is the primary "brute fact" basis of moral judgments, as Wielenberg claims, then a planet with no pain would be a planet with no morality. Does that really make sense?

2. Secondly, pain is an inconsistent and is primarily a subjective phenomenon that is experienced on a personal level. For a sensitive person with a low tolerance for pain, a particular experience may be extremely painful. The same exact experience may only be slightly annoying to a person who is extremely callous. How is pain to be considered an objective moral referent if the exact same experience is painful and “immoral” for one person, and only slightly annoying and “moral” for another? For these reasons, pain cannot be considered a consistent moral referent.

3. Thirdly, pain is merely a messenger of information. Pain is merely a signal and a messenger of a prior issue. It is not rational to blame the messenger for the message. All pain has a cause. A lot of pain can be traced back to a bad decision that some person had made. It is not the pain but the person who made the bad decision that caused the pain that should rationally be deemed morally “bad” in this respect. Therefore, pain cannot be considered morally “bad” in and of itself.

4. Fourthly, many people derive real pleasure from receiving and inflicting real pain, and this undermines the belief that pain would be considered intrinsically bad for such people. Sadism and sadomasochism are becoming more socially acceptable, with Diesel brand Jeans actually promoting ads in mainstream fashion magazines glorifying S&M themes. The human body releases endorphins, epinephrine and norepinephrine in accordance with certain levels of pain and these kinds of experiences can become addictive for people who indulge in S&M behavior.[7] If some atheists truly enjoy suffering, then on what basis can other atheists claim that pain is intrinsically and morally bad?

B. Inflicting pain for fun is morally wrong.

1. Moral eclecticism disproves the above premise for reasons noted in the prior point. According to many atheists who practice sadomasochism, inflicting pain for fun is morally acceptable. Wielenberg's one example of torture is not a catch-all for all people and for all behavior regarding pain. He has not given a reason why people who enjoy giving and receiving pain should consider it immoral.

2. Moral speciesism disproves this point. I've seen cats catch mice and play with them, seriously harming them in the process, and I've never heard anyone claim that animal-on-animal abuse is immoral. If people want to claim Inflicting pain for fun is morally wrong for homo sapiens, then to claim it is OK for animals is a form of speciesism. Like racism, speciesism should probably be considered immoral for people who want to make the kinds of moral claims Wielenberg desires to make according to an atheist moral framework, if Wielenberg's claims are to be considered valid.

In a May 21, 2000, the New York Times described some of the values young G.W. Bush gained growing up in Midland, Texas. Nicholas D. Kristof quoted Bush's childhood friend Terry Throckmorton: "'We were terrible to animals,' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. 'Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,' Mr. Throckmorton said. 'Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up.'"[8] An atheist can say that these acts are a bit cruel and wrong, but without any moral and righteous standard, on what basis would this kind of moral judgment be made?

C. It is just to give people what they deserve.

1. Concepts of justice are extremely relativistic. Wielenberg's sentence sounds nice, "It is just to give people what they deserve." But how exactly are atheists to define the word “just” and the proper enforcement of justice? For example, Marxists have believed it is just to forcibly distribute land and property equally. The statement, "It's just to give people what they deserve" could be used to support Marxists or to protect capitalists who worked very hard for their land.

And consider this example: On May 21, 2009, While standing in front of the glass-encased US Constitution at the National Archives, President Obama gave a speech denouncing the Bush administration's "ad-hock" justice system, while in the very same speech Obama promoted the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo prison who've never been legally tried in court.[9] Obama believes his definition of justice is better than that of the Bush administration's, when. in reality, it seems to be a continuation of the exact same kind of attitude.

In Obama's speech he stated, "In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man."[10] Actually, prolonged and indefinite detention without a trial has no justifiable basis in the US Constitution. In becoming president, President Obama swore to uphold the US Constitution, and yet he apparently doesn't believe it is a valid or healthy legal document. According to Obama, “The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties."[11] Within the context of the speech that included that quote, Obama was implying that we need “positive liberties”, that is, the government needs to control society more and more for the so-called greater good. Obama had also said the US Constitution “reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”[12] What specifically was the “fundamental flaw” he was referring to? It seems it was that the US Constitution does not promote Socialism.

2. Moral obligation is extremely relativistic in politics, especially  today. In his book, Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama wrote “It’s not just absolute power that the Founders sought to prevent. Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth..."[13] I would agree that Obama's statements show quite a bit of audacity. But the audacity seems to have more to do with his use of insidious Orwellian Newspeak and Blackwhite-speak, rather than the virtues of hope.

History testifies that The US Founding Fathers were paleoconservatives who viewed civil rights as a necessary result of God's existence. This is evidenced by what they agreed upon in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."[14] Believing in God is tantamount to believing in absolute truth. According to the Founding Fathers, the moral obligation of government is based upon the existence of absolute truth.

That one sentence from The Declaration of Independence has been called the best known sentence in the English language.[15] But though it may be memorized by many, in our postmodernist society there is a great discrepancy as to what basic civil rights consist of and if they are truly inalienable as the Declaration of Independence proclaims. We have the Neoconservative George W. Bush and the Socialist Barack Obama telling us that invasive government and the indefinite and prolonged detention of prisoners without a trial are good things. And then on the other hand we have the outspoken testimony of Founding Father Patrick Henry saying, “Give me liberty, or give me death”[16] These two opposing viewpoints are as different as night and day. And so when you consider Wielenberg's premise, "It's just to give people what they deserve" you need to ask, "On what basis can you decide what people deserve?" Do people deserve to simply surrender their civil rights for the perceived good of the society, as Bush and Obama seem to believe? Or do people deserve inalienable rights and freedoms irrespective of government opinion, as the US Founding Fathers believed?

3. Questions of justice and duty depend on a valid starting point. The starting points for morality that Wielenberg has chosen are not shown to be necessary starting points. If there is no absolute objective reference point for morality, then any system, like Wielenberg's will be subjective, not objective. Wielenberg's attempt to attach moral value to pain and to make moral 'states of affairs' moral starting points is subjective and therefore fraught with problems and contradictions.

For the Christian, the existence of God's good nature as Creator is a truly objective moral starting point because God is transcendent, eternal and unchanging. God's nature and goodness sets a high standard for morality. But for those who believe we are nothing more than animals, then the "rule of the jungle and the “survival of the fittest” would logically follow as the only “brute ethical facts”. If there is no verifiable and objective moral foundation for atheists, then, as Nietzsche pointed out, it’s just a dog-eat-dog Darwinian world where the strongest and most ruthless animals survive. For all these reasons Wielenberg's premise "It's just to give people what they deserve" is shown to be a bit meaningless as a moral starting point. There are more fundamental bedrock issues that need to be addressed before Wielenberg's premise can be established with any kind of moral authority. Without an objective moral starting point, there cannot be objective morality.

III. An Objective Moral Ideal in Christ

A. A moral ideal exists. Another approach to understanding morality is to ask if there is any functional moral ideal. The Beatles, considered the most influential rock groups in history, wrote the song, “All you Need is Love” which has sociopolitical as well as romantic connotations. Though John Lennon seemed to despise Jesus Christ, Lennon was actually affirming Jesus’ central moral thesis with his song. Once Jesus was asked a question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”[17]

B. Jesus exemplified the moral ideal. Jesus lived without sin as He obeyed the Ten Commandments. He also showed sincere love towards God and His fellow man. In offering Himself as a propitiation for our sins, His love was demonstrated in the most practical and effective manner. At first it may seem this ideal moral code is overly simplistic and overly difficult. But as Chuck Smith has stated, “Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work.”[16] And the work of God on the cross has allowed us to partake of God's righteousness simply by receiving God's atonement and righteousness by faith.

C. The moral life is a work in progress. Tangible progress can be observed when holiness is a sincere goal. As wonderful as the born-again salvation experience may be, according to scripture the struggle with sin will not cease until Christians are with God in the afterlife. 1 Corinthians 15.51 and 1 John 3.1 show that we will “be changed” and ‘we will be like him” in our heavenly home. It will only be after this divine, heavenly union with Christ that sin will not be an issue. Only those willing to submit to God in this life will be transformed in the next life. Though we have no chance of achieving this perfect state in this life as a functioning society, communities that have adopted the ideals of goodness that Jesus supported have been for the most part happy, peaceful and prosperous ones.

IV. Sociopolitical Object Lessons

1. When love reigns, laws don't need enforcement. The Apostle Paul highlighted the theme of love and the law. He wrote, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”[19] Ideally, there is no need to enforce legal statutes when love is supreme because people have a genuine respect and value for each other.

When I bought my first house and moved to Red Hook Brooklyn, I found I had to adjust to the environment. I had to chain and lock my plastic garbage cans otherwise they would be stolen. I also learned I had to lock the door to my grungy dirt-floor basement after a crack-head apparently ripped out the copper pipe with his or her bare hands. When I moved to Southampton, NY, however, I found I could leave home with the front door open all day without needing to be very concerned. The ideal moral condition for the world is for mutual respect and benevolence. When the English Quaker William Penn founded the city of Philadelphia in the US, he chose a name which means “The City of Brotherly Love” based on the root words “adelphos” meaning brotherly and “philos” meaning love. Penn named the city Philadelphia because he envisioned a city where anyone of any color or background could live together in peace and harmony.

2. A free people requires a strong moral basis for democratic government. A US Founding Father, John Adams, once said in a speech, “"We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."[20] Adams and other US Founding Fathers recognized that the internal self control and character of the citizens were extremely important for the success of any free country.

3. Relativistic teaching has produced an immoral and unstable society. If there is no internal self control then there would have to be more outside government control. The prison population in the US had been small and steady until the early 1970’s when the prison population began to explode in the US and now it is the largest prison population in the world by percentage and by virtue of the total national head count.[21] This growth in the prison population was likely influenced by the teaching of moral relativism in the public school system, which began before these grave prison statistics began appearing. The historical prison population chart, attached, shows the graphic spike in numbers.

3. Evolution does not appear to be producing wiser people. According to the theory of evolution, homo sapiens should be evolving into a wiser, more sublime and harmonious species. But the opposite is seen to be true in society. There is a lot of hatred in the world, wars continue as usual, while corruption and immorality are on the rise. Jesus predicted in Matthew Chapter 24 that this social devolution would increase in the End Times. Though I believe the theist roots of the United States were the main reason it was a successful and a good society for so long, I don’t entertain any fantasies that the US population at large is interested in returning to these roots. Nevertheless, the principles of God’s Word remain a sure foundation for those who apply them, whether it is a family setting, a church or an entire nation. And those who ignore or oppose these principles will, on the contrary, find themselves in a most unhappy situation.

4. Countries with strong spiritual values have happier and healthier people.[22] The largest county in the world with an atheist sociopolitical foundation is China. It is one of the more repressive countries on the planet, where there is little freedom of expression and a great deal of what we would typically call human rights abuses. Countries of the former Soviet Union, where atheism was heavily promoted, presently retain the highest suicide rates in the world. While countries that are the most religious retain the lowest levels of suicide rates according to Gallup polls.[23] The American Journal of Psychiatry reported “Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.”[24]

The study of nations provides object lessons on the relationships between the underlying philosophies of nations and the relative prosperity and happiness of their citizens. On another level, the study of history as outlined in scripture provides object lessons on God's dealings with people in various epochs of history. This type of study of the epochs is called Theological Dispensationalism.

V. Dispensationalism and God's Moral Agency

A. Theological Dispensationalism helps explain God's moral agency. Dispensationalism is a theological system that interprets God’s relationship to humanity as a series of 7 or so stages in which new and different environments exist and God’s revelation to the people is uniquely specific to each time. It requires separate research to learn the details of Dispensationalism.[25] But It has been described as a method of literally interpreting the Bible towards understanding how God fulfills His will, work, and purposes toward mankind through unique epochs, while emphasizing the uniqueness of Israel throughout. Moral agency is defined as a person's ability to make moral judgments and take actions that conform with moral truth.

B. The manifestation of God's glory is the underlying purpose of the universe. In reviewing history from a spiritual perspective it's possible to see the underlying emphasis of God's plan, as outlined in Romans 11:36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” All creation and all history is ordered by God for God’s ultimate glory. In order to understand the logical and moral basis of the universe, it’s necessary to keep God's perspective in mind. Though I follow William Lane Craig’s moral argument to a certain point, it seems I must part paths at his agreement with Divine Command Theory. As far as I understand it, Command Theory implies that moral absolutes exist independent of God’s existence. Though I find this particular point in conflict with scripture, I do find the rest of Craig’s moral arguments to be perfectly fine.

C. People misunderstand God's actions because they don't consider the big picture in relation to the historical dispensations. Looking into the scriptures, we often don't understand the moral basis for God's actions in history because we don't look into the specific context of the epoch in which a moral problem seems to exist. When history and the entire Bible are viewed through the lens of a Dispensationalist view, however, it all makes sense. There are many variations of Dispensationalism and it should not be assumed that a proponent of a theory adheres to any one specific version. One overall theme of the dispensations is that each epoch plays a role in unveiling and teaching the need for a complete and utter redemption. Theologians typically define seven dispensations, though some propose more and others less.

1. Innocence
2. Conscience or moral responsibility
3. Human Government
4. Promise
5. Law
6. Church
7. Kingdom

D. Each dispensation has a specific purpose. We are presently in the Church age with the next age being the Millennial Kingdom. In this particular list, the Tribulation is not counted as a separate epoch and neither is the final age of perfection, though they could be. A study on the significance of each dispensation would be a lesson in itself. But, as an example, consider the first epoch. In the Garden of Eden there was no suffering, no disease, no injustice or pain and human needs were met fully. Despite all this, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Today, many people will say, “I don’t believe in God because suffering, disease, injustice and pain exist.” But Adam is an object lesson showing why this is not a valid critique of God’s justice. God had given them an idyllic world. Even without the lusts of the sin nature and a state of moral innocence, yet they disobeyed. Atheists often criticize the Bible because they believe it is self-contradictory. We have nude campsites like the Garden of Eden in one chapter and then clothing is required for moral purposes in the next chapter. Dispensationaism offers an explanation for these types of discrepancies.

C. Complete redemption is the only solution. After Adam and Eve chose sin and disobedience in the Garden of Eden, people were given a moral conscience to discern good and evil and God gave them guidelines on how to live happy and healthy lives. But despite these things society increasingly became corrupt and sinful. This epoch was culminated by the great flood and the next epoch based on human government became another object lesson as Babylon became an object lesson. In a separate study all of these epochs could be analyzed to show how man's only hope is a complete redemption in heaven. The final accounting of God's moral purpose won't be understood until the end of time, however, many atheists attempt to judge God's actions without ever having tried to seriously read through the scriptures and understand them.

D. The final moral accounting is a future event. According to the Dispensationalist view, there are very specific reasons why God allowed history to unfold the way it has and history is based upon a progressive revelation of God's will and ways. Some may wonder, “Is it just for God to treat so many different people in so many different ways?” It’s important to remember that God knows all our thoughts and hidden motives, and He is the one who is qualified to judge us fairly. The accounting of our lives will not occur until after our physical deaths when we are face to face with God. Based on God’s full knowledge and His eternal perspective, His evaluation of us will be true and just, as described in the book of Revelation:

“And I heard the altar respond: ‘Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.’"[26]

VI. Common Objections to Theist Morality

A. If God were good, no evil would exist.

The mere fact that an atheist would acknowledge that evil exists implies that evil is a real phenomenon and that moral evil is not merely a product of our minds in a sociobiological evolutionary scenario. The logic of good and evil relates to the logic of free choice. In the big picture, it’s better to have free choice in a world where good and evil exist rather than to have no free choice at all. This is true because our personal destinies and mental attitudes of happiness or sadness are largely directed by the choices we make with our free will. It is logical, therefore, to conclude that free-choice is better than a robot-like existence:

Jesus showed that our free choice is such a powerful mechanism that we can choose to love enemies who may actually persecute us. But it is shown in scripture that this ability is based primarily on our willingness to submit to God. Only in submitting to God do we have the spiritual power to actually live-out our choice to genuinely love our enemies with God’s love.

B. Why Would God Send People to Hell?

Another objection to theist morality is the idea that God would send people to an eternal hell for choices they’ve made in this brief life. Jonathan Edwards addressed this in his essay "The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners." Edwards argued that because God is "a Being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory," He is therefore "infinitely honorable" and worthy of absolute obedience. Edwards clarified that "Sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and deserving of infinite punishment."[27] In the sermon, Edwards emphasized how God offers salvation by grace and faith to those who would receive God's gift of eternal life simply by repenting and receiving Christ's atonement. Francis Schaeffer agreed with Edwards' theology on hell and said himself the doctrine of hell must be taught "with tears."[28] We as human tend to think of guilt and punishment in terms of our relationships with each other and our own brief lives here on earth. Our laws our based on our perceived civil rights between equals. If we break the law, we are guilty technically until justice is served, or we die, whichever comes first.

But if we look at things in an eternal perspective, we aren’t offending an equal when we sin, we are offending the eternal and holy God. The guilt has no end until it is satisfied with justice. According to God’s infinite justice, we should all be condemned eternally for our sins against our Creator. However, out of mercy God paid the penalty of sin with Jesus’ death on the cross. Christ on the cross was an act of infinite propitiation in answer to our infinite guilt against an infinite and holy God. The reason why someone like Rob Bell would tend to disagree with the concept of hell I believe has to do with an under appreciation of God’s infinite holiness.

References

[1] Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene (1976, 2006), xxi.
[2] YouTube, William Lane Craig, Richard Dawkins on the Moral Argument for God, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-OjSKr79aQ&feature=player_embedded)
[3] Dawkins, Richard, God's Utility Function," Scientific American, November, 1995, p. 85
[4] The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (1996), Pg. 4 of transcribed text.
[5] [Philosophy Papers, "IN DEFENSE OF NON-NATURAL, NON-THEISTIC MORAL REALISM", Erik Wielenberg, FAITH AND PHILOSOPHY, Vol. 26 No. 1 January 2009 (http://philpapers.org/archive/WIEIDO.1.pdf)
[6] Science Daily, Where's Your Pain? New Insights Into How The Brain Processes Pain Location
(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328073315.htm">http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070328073315.htm)
[7] Webster's Online Dictionary, Definition: SADOMASOCHISM
[8] New York Times, GEORGE W. BUSH'S JOURNEY A Boy From Midland, A Philosophy With Roots in Conservative Texas Soil, NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, May 21, 2000, 61st through 64th paragraphs (http://partners.nytimes.com/library/politics/camp/052100wh-gop-bush-bio.html)
[9] Obama Endorses Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Some Now at Guantanamo
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/21/AR2009052104045.html)
[10] Washington Independent, Boo Bush’s Ad-Hoc-ism! Yay Obama’s Ad-Hoc-ism!
(http://washingtonindependent.com/44093/boo-bushs-ad-hoc-ism-yay-obamas-ad-hoc-ism)
[11] Bottom of Form 1Obama Bombshell Redistribution of Wealth Audio Uncovered
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck&feature=player_embedded
[12] OBAMA SAYS CONSTITUTION DEEP FLAW CONTINUES TODAY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11OhmY1obS4&feature=player_embedded
[13] Obama, Barack. The Audacity of Hope. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006.
(http://www.aproundtable.org/tps30info/foundersandabsolutetruth.html)
[14] US Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
[15] Lucas, "Justifying America", 85.
[16] Henry, Patrick, Quote from a speech he made to the Virginia Convention. It was given on March 23, 1775, at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia
[17] Matthew 22.36-40, NIV
[18] Blue Letter Bible, Ephesians 6:16, (http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/Chuck_Smith/sn/sermon.cfm?contentID=5554)
[19] Romans 13.10, NIV
[20] Adams, John  (1735-1826) Founding Father, 2nd US President, Oct. 11, 1798; Address to the military
[21] New York Times, U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations,
(http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/americas/23iht-23prison.12253738.html)
[22] Gallup, Very Religious Americans Lead Healthier Lives, (http://www.gallup.com/poll/145379/Religious-Americans-Lead-Healthier-Lives.aspx)
[23] Gallup, In More Religious Countries, Lower Suicide Rates
(http://www.gallup.com/poll/108625/More-Religious-Countries-Lower-Suicide-Rates.aspx)
[24] Conservapedia, Atheism and Suicide (http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_suicide) Original reference, Psychiatry Online, The American Journal of Psychiatry, Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt,
(http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303)
[25] Theological Studies, What is Dispensationalism,  (http://www.theologicalstudies.org/resource-library/dispensationalism/421-what-is-dispensationalism)
[26] Revelation 16.7, NIV
[27] Edwards, Jonathan, The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners, sermon/essay, 1734
[28] Christian Research Institute, The Doctrine of Hell, (http://www.equip.org/articles/the-doctrine-of-hell?msource=EC091112WKLY&tr=y&auid=5580223)

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104 comments:

  1. Hm...Rick, you do seem to have some huge problems with reading skills, as Havok has pointed out. You are mostly repeating the arguments that were shot down in your previous articles. Do not have the time now to post a long comment, will do later on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous,

    You claim I have huge problem with reading skills. That's very interesting.

    Havok had made comments at the previous article puporting to justify Wielenbergs' argument for an objective atheist moral system. I believe in this article my additional comments have refuted Wielenberg's argument.

    Havok also made comments regarding apparent discrepancies between the morals of the Old Testament and the New Testament. I've presented reasons why there is no necessary contradiction and how Dispensationalism accounts for the apparent discrepancies.

    At one point Havok wrote I was foolish to believe there was no objective basis for atheist morality. But his latest opinion seems to be that there may not be an objectibe basis.

    Changing your mind isn't such a big problem. But when you deny you are doing it, and it's all in writing, that's not good.

    The evolution (or denial) of an atheist debator... Look at his first comment:

    "If you were actually interested in learning, rather than simply "being right", you'd have found some references to some non theistic moral realism systems (both naturalistic and non-naturalistic), realise that there are currently quite a few live options, and retract your foolish points concerning the lack of an "objective morality" without God." (from comment August 18th at aticle, Atheism and Chinese Dead Baby Pills: Any Connection?)

    And then later Havok wrote:

    "I'm not particilarly convinced that morality is an objective feature of reality." (from comment at article, Philosophical Atheist, Before you Commit Suicide Read Ecclesiastes, September 13th)

    After he denied that he had flip-flopped, I clarified the meaning of the sentence he wrote:

    "In your final statement you did NOT write:

    "Retract your foolish points concerning the lack of EXAMPLES OF objective morality without God."

    No, you wrote:

    "retract your foolish points concerning THE LACK of objective morality without God."

    “…Havok, perhaps you assumed you had written the former, but you didn't. I hope you understand the critical difference in meanings between the two sentences.”


    Instead of admitting that he'd flip-flopped, he then claimed the problem was my misunderstanding:

    Rick: "I’ve pointed out when you’ve backpeddled and flip-flopped."

    Havok: "which seem to be instances of misunderstanding on your part Rick."
    (from comment at article, Philosophical Atheist, Before you Commit Suicide Read Ecclesiastes, September 13th)

    There is a big problem when someone enters a debate, where words are quite important, and he or she attempts to shift blame to the other person for mistakes made. Whether Havok really meant what he wrote or not, only God knows. But, nevertheless, what he wrote has a specific meaning and when the words are correctly interpreted it shows he flip-flopped.

    A more sincere response would have been perhaps to write "I guess I made a mistake when I wrote that sentence." But to claim that the words he wrote have a different meaning or that I misunderstood what was clearly spelled out seems quite disingenuous.

    Semantics and reading apprehension aside, I'd be curious to know, Anonymous, if you personally believe there is an objective basis for atheist morality?

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  3. Anonymous,

    I want to make it clear that there isn't anything wrong with flip-flopping, in and of itself. Essentially, that's just changing your mind. But if there is a denial of obvious flip-flopping then that reflects a moral problem.

    Because atheists don't have any anchored reference point for morality, serious moral problems can arise with regard to the reinterpretation of reality. The condition of society today is approaching the state of George Orwell's novel 1984.

    It's amazing to me that Obama can call Bush's justice system "ad-hock" while advocating indefinite and prolonged imprisonment without a trial. and it's amazing to me Obama can stand in front of the original US Constitution and claim the majority of Founding Fathers did not belive in objective, absolute truth.

    It's very similar to Orwell's novel 1984:

    "crimethink" in the newest edition of Newspeak—impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom, rebellion and so on. One character, Syme, says admiringly of the shrinking volume of the new dictionary: "It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."

    "To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies-- all this is indispensably necessary."

    The Newspeak word Blackwhite is defined as follows:

    “ ...this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink."

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  4. Incredible...so much was writen, but almost nothing new from the previous posts, which have already been countered...

    R:Dawkins doesn't seem to be aware of the basic logical contradictions of his beliefs and statements.

    The contradiction is only seen by you, Rick. There are things I disagree with Dawkins, but his position is logicly sound. Again, you have taken this quote out of context not bothering with listening to his point of view. Hope you forgive my slopiness and laziness for only citing his position from memory without the exact quote. We are indeed survival machines, but a glitch in the system of evolution (according to Dawkins) created a unique moral system for humanity. That bug in the evolutionary system made us exceptional and priceless. If you do insist, I might find the exact quote, but I hope that my summarizing is enough.

    R:Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists

    First of all, you still need to prove that objective morality exists.
    Secondly, you need to prove that Wielenberg s system of objective morality without a deity is impossible. (both of those prerequisites were pointed out in your previous article)

    R:If, as most atheists believe, our social moral code is based merely on ever-changing, evolutionary, sociobiological functions, then how can an atheist objectively judge the actions of Hitler?

    In the 3rd Riech the deeds of Hitler were perfectly moral. Just as were in 16th century Spain the deeds of Torquemada the notorious inquisitor. But from a rational perspective, they were incredibly harmful to humanity. They killed unique and priceless beings for some dubious short-terme political benefit.

    R:Yet, if a human randomly kills and eats another human, we do consider it morally wrong.

    That depends on the culture. For some cannibals in New Guinea that is perfectly moral. As Havok has pointed out, the point of reference can be different.

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  5. R:It is not the pain but the person who made the bad decision that caused the pain that should rationally be deemed morally “bad” in this respect. Therefore, pain cannot be considered morally “bad” in and of itself.

    Yes, pain is a uselful mechanism, but pain is almost always caused by a negative occurence. It goes hand-in-hand with the negative. A fire alarm ringing is a "bad" thing. It would be logical to prevent the alarm from ringing in the first place by stoping the cause. Same way it is better to prevent pain from occuring in the first place.

    Having the ability to experience pain is good. But one should do its best to avoid activating that mechanism.

    R;Fourthly, many people derive real pleasure from receiving and inflicting real pain, and this undermines the belief that pain would be considered intrinsically bad for such people.

    As I have pointed out before, some people have a damaged sense of reality. Because of some trauma in the past or in the present, an individual starts to associate pain with something positive. Same thing as morphine can be seen as positive by a drug addict.

    R:If people want to claim Inflicting pain for fun is morally wrong for homo sapiens, then to claim it is OK for animals is a form of speciesism.

    Animals do not have a sense of morality since they are much more primitive than Human beings. It would be the same as asking a blind man to describe a drawing you made without telling him anything about it. Same thing with children and teenagers who do not understand what is right and what is wrong. Their intuitional mechanism has not developed yet.

    Besides, animals are not inflicting pain for fun. By "playing" with the mice, cats learn about their behavior and sharpen their predatory skills.

    R; But how exactly are atheists to define the word “just” and the proper enforcement of justice?

    "Justice" for me is also a flabby point in Wielenberg s system. I can only quote Havok s response to you on August 21. I have only two questions - what is so bad about socialism? And what is so bad about positive liberties like the right for a minimum wage, health care and education?

    Rick: The actual and objective act is to "give others" something. But when he writes to give others "what they deserve" this is no longer objective, it is subjective. According to atheism, who is to say what someone deserves and why?
    H:I've looked closely Rick. The brute ethical fact of justice exists when someone is given what they deserve (which is basically the definition of justice). Now, there may be some debate as to whether some punishment or reward is just (or cruel etc), but that would, on Weilenberg's view become more of an epistemological matter, rather than an ontological one.

    Rick: His justice is in no way independent of a mind, only the action the "giving" is conceptually objective in his example, not the interpretation of the action.
    H:And you don't seem to understand just what Weilenberg is saying.
    When someone is punished or rewarded in an appropriate manner, then "justice" supervenes on this act. This is, according to Weilenberg, independent of mind.

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  6. R:For the Christian, the existence of God as Creator sets high standards for morality.

    You need to prove that point, since the bible is prone to different interpretention.

    R:But for those who believe we are nothing more than animals, then the "rule of the jungle and the “survival of the fittest” would logically follow as the only “brute ethical facts”

    You are talking about a minority.

    R:A moral ideal exists.

    You need to prove that Jesus is the moral idea. To me he looks more like a fictional character. The historical evidence are slim. Eye-accounts are very unreliable, since any oral story tends to exaggerate the truth. Furthemore, the bible was heavily edited which does not add credibility to it. Finally, which interpretention of the Bible is true? How come yours is the one?

    And even if Jesus and all his miracle were real, this does not cancel the many "immoral" acts of the omnibenevolent god who generated the great flood and so on. Besides, why should an omnipotent and gracious deity send its only son to a painful death and condemn a good chunk of its beloved humanity to eternal damnation while personnaly passing judgement? Couldn t God think of something better even if disobedience to him is the heaviest sin? And would you be able to accept a "happy" life in Heaven if one of your beloved ones ended up in hell?

    R:When love reigns, laws don't need enforcement. The Apostle Paul highlighted the theme of love and the law.

    That is a nice idea, a great utopia. But a utopia has some problems with reality. Your example with Brooklyn and Southampton is puzzling to me. Were Southampton residents more religious or what?

    R:Relativistic teaching has produced an immoral and unstable society.

    And you came to that understanding how? The could be a lot of other different reasons for a jump in prison population much more convincing than a drop in morals. And frankly, same thing was said by the ancient greeks.

    Can t stop myself from citying a historical anecdot:
    One of elders was complainig to the king of Sparta that morals are upside-down in their time. The king answered him: -Well...it is a good thing!
    -How come?
    -In my youth an other elder was saying the same thing, so it must mean we switched to the right way.

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  7. R:Evolution does not appear to be producing wiser people.

    Hm...we stoped witch hunts, christians no longer start religious wars, science is no longer persecuted for non-biblicle premises, tolerance towards minorities is rising, unequality between different people is disappearing, slavery was abolished,,,Truly dreadful...We should go back to biblical time where all those things flourished or we could move to Afghanistan where the majority lives by the blessed middle ages standart...

    R;Countries with strong spiritual values have happier and healthier people.[20] The largest county in the world with an atheist sociopolitical foundation is China. It is one of the more repressive countries on the planet, where there is little freedom of expression and a great deal of what we would typically call human rights abuses. Countries of the former Soviet Union, where atheism was heavily promoted, presently retain the highest suicide rates in the world. While countries that are the most religious retain the lowest levels of suicide rates according to Gallup polls

    And you came to the conclusion how? How were you measuring happiness? Why do you consider chinese as miserable? And since in the countries of the former soviet union, religion is also on the rise, why can t you blame religion for a modern high suicide rate? )

    Look the numbers of suicide during the existance of the SU and in modern China. Even more funny, the highest suicide rates per capita occure in Switzerland and Sweden.At least try to be objective, Rick

    We have already discussed the suicide thing, do I really need to repeat the argument about education?

    R:All creation and all history is ordered by God for God’s ultimate glory. In order to understand the logical and moral basis of the universe, it’s necessary to keep God's perspective in mind

    The good old Jesuit arguemant...evil only serves to God s ultimate glory. Genocide, rape, bigotry are all part of the great plan...sounds like a crappy plan to me, but our Lord works in mysterious ways...exactly the same way as any psychopath..

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  8. R:People misunderstand God's actions because they don't consider the big picture in relation to the historical dispensations.

    Let us not get into details and limit ourselves to the flood. What is the big picture in genocide and the difference between Hitler with his big picture? Jews are also sinners in your book, than why do you condemn Hitler?

    R:Even without the lusts of the sin nature and a state of moral innocence, yet they disobeyed

    What was the purpose of the tree of knowledge? What was the use of creating temptation in the garden of Eden? If you had a gun and told your innocent kid not to touch it, what would the probable outcome be if you left the gun in an easy-to-reach ungarded place? How could Adam and Eve choose sin if they had no idea what it was?

    R:It is logical, therefore, to conclude that free-choice is better than a robot-like existence:

    Isn t life in Heaven pricisely a robot-like existence without a possibility to make a choice?

    R:At one point Havok wrote I was foolish to believe there was no objective basis for atheist morality. But his latest opinion seems to be that there may not be an objectibe basis.

    Havok from the start did not believe in an object morality and it was easy to understand to me from your early debate. Why do you think Havock used inverted commas with object morality in that "flip-flop" quote? Him beleiving in it, was only your own assumption. He never claimed that personnaly. You started nitpicking with words, complaining that the word "example" was not inserted. And Havok did apologize for not making himself clear on September 14 at 9:09 pm. The fact that you missed his apology only proves his point about poor reading skills. Though, your poor reading skills result not from some physical deficiency, but most likely from an ideological one.

    And you are still foolish to believe there is no objective basis for atheistic morality, since some atheists do have them. Personnaly, I do not consider reason as something sound enough to claim that my moral system is objective.

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  9. Anonymous,

    Your comments are all over the map. But you need to take some time and really think before your posts. Consider your first comment:

    “The contradiction is only seen by you, Rick. There are things I disagree with Dawkins, but his position is logicly sound.”

    I just presented a video of an international speaker, WL Craig, in front of a full classroom showing his audience specific quotes of Richard Dawkins that show obvious logical contractions and you write,

    “The contradiction is only seen by you.”

    Are you taking private Newspeak and Newthink classes with President Obama?

    And then you write “His position is logically sound.”

    Even after all the specific quotes by WL Craig and the ones I originally posted.

    Just to clarify this for you, I just added even more specific quotes on good and evil and doing the "right" thing. In this quote Dawkins says he doesn't believe in evil or good:

    "The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation… The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."[3]

    But then in another quote he says doing good or evil or doing the right thing are valid considerations:

    "It's been said before but needs to be said again: if you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them.”[4]

    I've warned several times that I'd have to ignore you if you continuously make non-sensical, time-wasting comments. It really does seem to be what you want from me. I don't get it, but have your way. There's only so much time in a day.

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  10. Rick, as Anonymous said, your just repeating yourself. You don't seem to understand the concept of intrinsic moral values, and continue to make invalid claims against Weilenberg's position because of this.
    There doesn't seem much point in interacting with this part of your post since you seem unwilling and unable to learn anything about positions contrary to your own.

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  11. Rick: After Adam and Eve chose sin and disobedience in the Garden of Eden, people were given a moral conscience to discern good and evil and God gave them guidelines on how to live happy and healthy lives.
    Which is logically inconsistent. Without a moral conscience (which you plainly state was given to people after Adam and Eve), Adam & Eve were in no position to make a moral judgement, nor was God in a position to judge them, to use your own example, in the same way we don't judge a fish which eats another fish.
    It's a good thing that Adam & Eve (and the Genesis myth) have been ruled out by scientific investigation, else someone might take your claim seriously :-)

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  12. Rick: This epoch was culminated by the great flood...
    Which didn't happen in history - your position, relying as it seems to, on incorrect details, isn't looking too hot right now Rick. Perhaps you should have gone with WLC's divine command theory? :-)

    Rick: He is the one who is qualified to judge us fairly. The accounting of our lives will not occur until after our physical deaths when we are face to face with God.
    I assume you're like other Christians regarding this future judgement - that belief in Jesus gets you off the hook, while lack of belief, regardless of the life you led, gets you eternally tortured.
    That isn't justice Rick. That's just ridiculous :-)

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  13. Rick: The mere fact that an atheist would acknowledge that evil exists implies that evil is a real phenomenon and that moral evil is not merely a product of our minds in a sociobiological evolutionary scenario.
    Completely false Rick.
    It's simply adopting the view of your opponent and demonstrating from within how logically inconsistent it is.
    The problem of evil is very much a problem for Christianity, one which is yet to be overcome.


    Rick: The logic of good and evil relates to the logic of free choice. In the big picture, it’s better to have free choice in a world where good and evil exist rather than to have no free choice at all. This is true because our personal destinies and mental attitudes of happiness or sadness are largely directed by the choices we make with our free will. It is logical, therefore, to conclude that free-choice is better than a robot-like existence:

    It isn't logical to conclude this at all.
    It also isn't logical to claim that free will inevitably leads to evil/suffering, since God supposedly but does no evil (assuming he existed).

    Rick: According to God’s infinite justice, we should all be condemned eternally for our sins against our Creator.
    "God's infinit justice" reeks of post hoc reasoning to justify what (some) find in the bible.

    Rick: However, out of mercy God paid the penalty of sin with Jesus’ death on the cross.
    This does not follow. If a finit transgression against an infinite being leads to inifinite punishment, then the payment Jesus made must be inifinte in order to cancel it out, and ensure "Infinite Justice" is served (assuming some logical means of substitutionary punishment can be worked out, which I doubt).
    Jesus did not suffer eternally (in fact, being God, he didn't suffer at all), and therefore this so called sacrifice is not sufficient.

    Rick: Christ on the cross was an act of infinite propitiation in answer to our infinite guilt against an infinite and holy God.
    Just words Rick. There is no indication that Jesus's sacrifice was infinite in any measure - at best he gave up a long weekend (depending on which Gospel you follow).

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  14. So Rick, as seems usual, you provide misinterpretations of opposing view points, and present a seriously flawed position of your own.

    You also, I hope, realise that Dispensationalism seems to be very much a Divine Command theory, since it relies upon the wil/nature of God for the definition of Good. This means that your position likely falls prey to accepting the existence of brute ethical facts of exactly the sort Weilenberg talks about, as I've tried to get you to realise over and over.

    I'd like to say it was a nice try, but really it was pretty bad :-)

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  15. Oh, unless you slipped it in someplace I didn't notive, you still failed to justify the premises of WLC's moral argument.

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  16. Ok, Rick...You got me...You are not the only one who misunderstands Dawkins, I did forgot about Craig )
    Though, it does not change the core idea about you and Craig not understanding the point of view of Dawkings and there not being any contradiction. Looks like I will still have to search for the exact quote...If your had kindly provided an electronic version to those quotes, my life would have been easier like in the case of Havok...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XtvWkRRxKQ

    Again I am going to try to paraphrase Dawkings so you understand it. The mechanism of natural selection which drives evolution is indeed ruthless and that mechanism is neither good or evil. It just abides to the laws of biology like gravitation abides by the laws of physics. That was specificly what he was speaking about in your quotes - "The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference" He speaks about the foundations, a general idea!

    In your second quote, he speaks about humanity, a specific case. Human being are both individualistic and group beings. Because of that paradox, a glitch in the foundation of evolution occured and morality was born.

    And, Rick, the -blha-blha-blha, I can t hear you- strategy is a little crude. Do try to think of smth more eloquent next time.

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  17. H:The problem of evil is very much a problem for Christianity, one which is yet to be overcome.

    Havok, you made a mistake here, the Jesuites solved that problem a long time ago. evil only serves to God s ultimate glory. Genocide, rape, bigotry are all part of the great plan...

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  18. Anonymous: Havok, you made a mistake here, the Jesuites solved that problem a long time ago. evil only serves to God s ultimate glory. Genocide, rape, bigotry are all part of the great plan...
    Is that a punt to mystery or dropping of God's omnibenevolence?
    The first is a complete non-answer, and can only serve as a security blanket to someone of faith.
    The second is a successful move, but then this is not the God Christians claim exist, nor does it seem to be a being worthy of worship.

    Ps. I suspect you were a little tongue in cheek in your claim :-)

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  19. Well, it is the answer of Jesuits give and they consider it solved )

    Besides, since when is religion consistent and logical? Following the teaching of the monkeys "see no evil - speak no evil - hear no evil" is a very effective way to counter any paradox

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  20. Oh! And I forgot to ask you, Havok. Do you see any paradox in Dawkin s stance? A second opinion just might convince our stubborn friend to at least read and think about the content of the message.

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  21. Anonymous, do you mean the 2 quotes which Rick has in his initial post?

    No, I don't think so. I'm not certain of Dawkins' actual stance on ethics, but his claim that at bottom there is no good and evil would mean there is no room in his ontology for intrinsic, non-reducable good/evil in the universe.
    This does not mean, however, that he is claiming there is no objective good/evil in the world, as he may believe morall value is an emergent property (assuming he's proposing objective morality). Dawkins could also be refering to good/evil in a non-objective manner, which would be consistent with a non-objective morality - the sort which Rick continues to misunderstand and misrepresent.

    So, the short answer is no, I don't see a contradiction in Dawkins' 2 statements.

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  22. Ie. Dawkins seems to be, at most, a naturalist when it comes to morality, as opposed to Weilenberg, who is a non-naturalist.

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  23. Anonymous: Well, it is the answer of Jesuits give and they consider it solved
    Well, in the same spirit, I claim that the origin of the universe and abiogenesis solved - "Nature did it, but I don't know how". Same punt to mystery, and so just as valid a response. I suspect the Jesuits wouldn't appreciate the reversal of special pleading, however :-)

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  24. Havok,

    Before I address some of your comments I'd like to ask you a moral question. Do you think it's wrong to deny you wrote something that you did actually write?

    Some of your points seemed to be good ones:

    H: Without a moral conscience (which you plainly state was given to people after Adam and Eve), Adam & Eve were in no position to make a moral judgement, nor was God in a position to judge them.

    R: I've never actually lived without a conscience, so I'm not speaking from first-hand experience. But as far as I understand it, a child can learn to trust the will of a parent by simply doing what he or she is told out of love and respect for the parent. Guilt is not a necessary quality of obedience.

    The consience is however required with regard to the feeling of guilt after a sin has already been committed.

    H: It's simply adopting the view of your opponent and demonstrating from within how logically inconsistent it is. (When atheists acknowedge evil and good.)

    R: That can happen sometimes, no doubt. But usually there is some clue in the language that implies someone is merely playing "Devil's advocate." In the quote I posted by Dawkins I see no such language clue:

    "It's been said before but needs to be said again: if you want to do evil, science provides the most powerful weapons to do evil; but equally, if you want to do good, science puts into your hands the most powerful tools to do so. The trick is to want the right things, then science will provide you with the most effective methods of achieving them.”[4]

    H: If a finit transgression against an infinite being leads to inifinite punishment, then the payment Jesus made must be inifinte in order to cancel it out..."

    R: You may not consider taking on all the sins of all the world's history to be a quantatively infinite punishment. But how do you know the cross's punishment did not entail an infinitely qualitative punishment from a spiritual perspective?

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  25. Rick: Before I address some of your comments I'd like to ask you a moral question. Do you think it's wrong to deny you wrote something that you did actually write?
    Because I value honesty, it goes against that value to lie in this fashion.

    Rick: I've never actually lived without a conscience, so I'm not speaking from first-hand experience.
    And yet you make an example using children, and you were a child at one stage. You may not remember it, but you seem to be incorrect in this statement.

    Rick: But as far as I understand it, a child can learn to trust the will of a parent by simply doing what he or she is told out of love and respect for the parent. Guilt is not a necessary quality of obedience.
    Children also do things against the will of parents. When they do so we don't tend to punish them as harshly as we might because they lack understanding.
    In the myth, your God showed no such understanding, reasoning or compassion. For a being which is supposedly the embodiment of love, this is simply ridiculous.

    Rick: That can happen sometimes, no doubt. But usually there is some clue in the language that implies someone is merely playing "Devil's advocate." In the quote I posted by Dawkins I see no such language clue:
    So, you obviously think you know what Dawkins' view of morality is - is he a relatavist, an emergent objectivist, or something else?

    Rick: You may not consider taking on all the sins of all the world's history to be a quantatively infinite punishment.
    It would not be a quantatively infinite punishment, since though vast, all the sins of the world would still be finite.

    Rick: But how do you know the cross's punishment did not entail an infinitely qualitative punishment from a spiritual perspective?
    According to orthodox Christianity, Jesus IS God. It seems that God, by very definition, cannot suffer. Therefore Jesus did not/could not suffer.

    Of course, since you disagree with this, it would then be up to you to demonstrate this to be the case - you can't simply punt to mystery and expect to be taken seriously.

    Oh, and you need to demonstrate that some kind of substitutionary punishment/suffering does in fact entail that justice is done (especially when such a thing certainly goes against our everyday conceptions of justice).

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  26. Just a litte more on "Dispensationalism".
    It seems to me that this is more of a normative ethical claim, rather than a metaethical claim. Divine command theory, of the type WLC accepts, is metaethical in nature.
    Metaethics encapsulates the metaphysics/ontology of moral facts.
    Normative ethics is the field of how we ought to act or what is right and wrong.

    So, while you're a dispensationalist, you're also, as far as I can tell, a divine command theorist, since the right's and wrongs, good and evil of dispensationalism is grounded in the nature, will and commands of God.

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  27. I am extremly tired with that "flip-flop" accusations of Rick. To make things clear once again about Rick s reading disability I shall quote Havok s post from the 18th of August in a more precise manor.

    R: Anonymous had made a point, "no intelligent atheist..." would adopt cannibalism, but I'd like to point out that since atheist morality isn't grounded, even the most advanced industrial societies can organize systems that are found to be horrific morally in retrospect.
    H:Well Rick, since neither you nor anyone else has established that, in fact, objective morality of the sort you're arguing for actually exists, you can't really say that any morality is definitely grounded.
    R: Consider Nazi Germany. I viewed gloves made out of human flesh in the WW2 museum in Kiev, Ukraine. Gloves, lampshades, fertilizer and many other products were made out of human flesh in an advanced society specifically because of this relativistic morality.
    H:There are quite good arguments that ALL moral systems are relative. It is quite certain that morality changes through time and between cultures, even those who have been expressly Christian (and therefore would have been most likely to have an "objective" moral system).
    H:Now, perhaps instead of simply repeating WLC's assertions that his premises 1 & 2 hold, you could go to the trouble of arguing that they're true


    Any logical conclusion would be that Havok does not support the concept of an objective morality. In the "flip-flop" quote, the evidence of Havok s supporting objective moralism is extremly slim. Given the whole picture, as Rick always asks to do when discussing the Bible, no flip-flop were made.

    Furthemore, Havok did apologize for not being clear enough on the subject to you on September 14th at 9:09 pm.

    So, what should a decent human being do in this case, Rick? If I were in your shoes, I would apologize for introducing a red herring

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  28. Havok, please do not Rick off the hook. I am dying to know how he is going to try to get away from that one.

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  29. Havok,

    I had written: Do you think it's wrong to deny you wrote something that you did actually write?

    You answered: Because I value honesty, it goes against that value to lie in this fashion.

    R: So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes? It seems that is what you are implying.

    R: I've never actually lived without a conscience, so I'm not speaking from first-hand experience.

    H: And yet you make an example using children, and you were a child at one stage. You may not remember it, but you seem to be incorrect in this statement.

    R: A child can learn to trust the will of a parent by simply doing what he or she is told out of love and respect for the parent. In my understanding, guilt is not a necessary quality of obedience.

    H: Children also do things against the will of parents. When they do so we don't tend to punish them as harshly as we might because they lack understanding.
    In the myth, your God showed no such understanding, reasoning or compassion. For a being which is supposedly the embodiment of love, this is simply ridiculous.

    R: The first part of your comment is true.. However, Adam was not a child when he disobeyed God. And when you wrote “God showed no such understanding, reasoning or compassion” I don’t believe that is accurate. God had warned Adam of the consequences of Adam’s disobedience and God met Adam in the condition he was in and helped him despite the curse of death and disease that would come upon creation.

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  30. H: So, you obviously think you know what Dawkins' view of morality is - is he a relatavist, an emergent objectivist, or something else?

    R: Dawkins does not seem to be interested in accurately defining his beliefs philosophically. He has a very low regard for philosophy because he believe science is the most important knowledge. Dawkins seems to be a bit egotistical and immature in this regard.

    Because he has little or no interest in philosophical (and logical) justification, his comments reveal many logical contradictions. It may be worth writing an article about this. But for now, some comments of his…

    “There is no absolute truth. You are committing an act of personal faith when you claim that the scientific method, including mathematics and logic, is the privileged road to truth. Other cultures might believe that truth is to be found in a rabbit's entrails, or the ravings of a prophet up a pole. It is only your personal faith in science that leads you to favor your brand of truth.” (Devil's Chaplain)

    "Science has no methods for deciding what is ethical. That is a matter for individuals and for society" (A Devil’s Chaplain, p.34)

    Dawkins is correct that science has no methods for deciding what is ethical. But it doesn't logically follow that "that is a matter for individuals and for society", unless objective values don't exist. (Japanese commentary
    http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/2009/04/richard-dawkins-moral-relativism.html)

    Dawkins cannot rationally defend his own moral position, because it depends in his personal opinion alone (not on an absolute and objective standard).

    "Now, if you then ask me where I get my 'ought' statements from, that's a more difficult question. If I say something is wrong, like killing people, I don't find that nearly such a defensible statement as 'I am a distant cousin of an orangutan"

    Dawkins is EXPLICIT in his moral relativism and his intellectual unability to offer a rational justification for moral decisions and beliefs: "I couldn't, ultimately, argue intellectually against somebody who did something I found obnoxious. I think I could finally only say, "Well, in this society you can't get away with it" and call the police"

    in the same interview: "The second of those statements is true, I can tell you why it's true, I can bore you to death telling you why it's true. It's definitely true. The statement 'killing people is wrong', to me, is not of that character. I would be quite open to persuasion that killing people is right in some circumstances"

    6)If moral values are relative, then pornography, paedophilia, infanticide, abortion, zoophilia and other sexual pervertions aren't intrinsically wrong or bad. It explains why secular humanists are receptive and tolerant (and in many cases endorse) these behaviours or practiques (but at the same time, they're extremely intolerant and hostile of religion, spirituality and scientific research into parapsychological phenomena, suppressin and discrediting serious efforts of research through the so-called "organized skepticism").

    You can see the intrinsic irrationality, negativity and dishonesty of the worldview of metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism. It's a purely negative, anti-religious philosophy; but it's intrinsically immoral and potentially dangerous for society and the sanity of individuals.

    Dawkins is a secularist bigot. (The Oxford Dictionary defines a bigot as ‘an obstinate or intolerant adherent of a point of view.')

    The later commentay was not mine but from the blog where the quotes were found. I agree with most of it.

    http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/2009/04/richard-dawkins-moral-relativism.html

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  31. Havok,

    H: It would not be a quantatively infinite punishment, since though vast, all the sins of the world would still be finite.

    R: There are a few ways of looking at it. There is a time element and a qualitative element.

    You seem to want to quantify sins as "finite" but it seems you are applying a materialist measure for a spiritual phenomenon.

    The main problem with sin is the guilt of the sin, which remains indefinitely until there is a pardon and/or or justice.

    Then there is the "seriousness" of the sin, which does not relate to the offender, as much as it relates to the offended. For example, If you go 80 miles an hour on a highway you can get a fine.

    However, if you or anyone goes that same speed by a construction zone you can get a much higher fine and worse, lose your license. It doesn't matter so much who is in the car, it matters where the offense occurred and who it was against.

    If you have seriously offended the infinite God with rebellion, no amount of construction zone offenses would be able to amount to the guilt of that one offense against an infinite and holy God.

    As David pointed out, all our sins and offenses are ultimately against God.

    "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge." Psalm 51.4

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  32. Rick: So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes? It seems that is what you are implying.
    This looks like more evidence of your inability to understand alternative view points.
    If someone does not value honesty, then I can try to convince them (and I think there are compelling reasons to value honesty - secular reasons). If I am unable to convince them, then while I believe them lying is wrong, they will not think so.
    Incidently you are in exactly the same position with your supposed "objective morality". If I don't care that you believe your God condemns homosexuality (because your god doesn't exist), then you are likely to be unable to convince me that homosexuality is wrong. Instead of appealing to your God's commands, however, you could try to appeal to values I do have, in order to convince me that homosexuality is wrong.
    You and I agre (I assume) that honesty is valuelable, and therefore lying is (generally) wrong, even though we have different reasons for holding that value (yours being an appeal to a non-existent being).

    Rick: The first part of your comment is true.. However, Adam was not a child when he disobeyed God.
    Please do try to stay consistent Rick. First you said that Adam had no understanding of Good and Evil - no moral sense, and equated this with Children through analogy. Now you seem to be saying that Adam DID have some moral sense, as an adult (like you and I appear to have).
    You need to get your story straight before you try to convince someone of it (not to mention the fact that Adam didn't actually exist, therefore this is all a hypothetical).

    Rick: And when you wrote “God showed no such understanding, reasoning or compassion” I don’t believe that is accurate.
    Of course you don't, because your ideology won't let you see your supposed all good God as behaving badly.

    Rick: God had warned Adam of the consequences of Adam’s disobedience and God met Adam in the condition he was in
    And just like a child without a sense of morality, Adam disobeyed God. And instead of treating Adam like we would a child, and chastising him, trying to teach him, and being somewhat lenient on him, your deity behaves like a jilted lover, kicking humanity out of the garden, bringing death, disease and pain, as if Adam knew it was wrong to disobey God (which he could not have known prior to the eating of the fruit).

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  33. Rick: Dawkins does not seem to be interested in accurately defining his beliefs philosophically.
    Neither do you (and neither do I). We're not professional moral philosophers, after all.

    Rick: He has a very low regard for philosophy because he believe science is the most important knowledge.
    Well, science is the best (I wouold say only) method of investigating reality which has reliable results (revelation simply sucks as a means of knowledge).
    Much philosophy is scientificically uninformed and not much more than "mental masturbation" - to see if it actually is true, you need to go out into the world and find out.
    Of course, logic, math etc (ie. formal systems) can generate knowledge, but that is only valid within the specific formal system being used (and again, we need to go out into the world to validate claims about the world). Quantum Mechanics is a great example of this, since it does not conform to the formal system of two-values classical logic. Therefore statements about quantum systems (rather than classical systems) made within the two-value classical logic, are likely to be mistaken (and humans therefore created another formal system - quantum logic - in order to model these systems).

    Rick: Dawkins seems to be a bit egotistical and immature in this regard.
    Coming from the person who seems to believes that literally millions and thousands of professionals are wrong (about the theory of evolution and moral philosophy respectively) and a very small handful of ideologicall motivated people who ahppen to agree with you are right, this is the high of hypocrisy.

    Rick: Dawkins is correct that science has no methods for deciding what is ethical.
    Science has no way to decide what values we "ought" to have, but it can certainly inform us as to the results of holding various values, and whether a set of values in the real world is reasonably consistent.

    Rick: Dawkins cannot rationally defend his own moral position, because it depends in his personal opinion alone (not on an absolute and objective standard).
    I doubt his view is that naive Rick, and none of the quotes you provide show that it is. He seems to hold a position not too dissimilar to my own (going by your quotes) - there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.

    Rick: Dawkins is EXPLICIT in his moral relativism and his intellectual unability to offer a rational justification for moral decisions and beliefs
    And the following quote equally applies to your position.
    If someone murders another human being, but does not acknowledge the source of your supposed objective moral values, then what can you do other than say your god will get him in the end? You can't convince him that he's wrong (though you may be jusified in your belief that he is wrong).

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  34. Dawkins: "I would be quite open to persuasion that killing people is right in some circumstances"
    Which you are committed to agree with Rick. If god comanded you to kill someone (which your holy book described many instances of) then according to your warped system of morality, it would be right to kill people (the horrific genocides in the bible come to mind - lucky they're mostly unhistoric).

    Rick's quuote from other blog: You can see the intrinsic irrationality, negativity and dishonesty of the worldview of metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism.
    No, but I can see your own ignorance and inability to understand alternative views on full display.

    Rick: It's a purely negative, anti-religious philosophy;
    Wrong again. I have no problem with religion as such. All I ask is that religious statements made in the public sphere be justified with hard evidence. This is not done, and religion is given a free pass in this regard. This is special pleading.

    Rick's quote from other blog: but it's intrinsically immoral and potentially dangerous for society and the sanity of individuals.
    Only if you're correct (which, happily, you aren't).

    Rick: The later commentay was not mine but from the blog where the quotes were found. I agree with most of it.
    You both seem as ignorant and immune to argument and evidence, as well as knowledge, as each other.

    Rick: You seem to want to quantify sins as "finite" but it seems you are applying a materialist measure for a spiritual phenomenon.
    Rick, I don't really care how you qualify "sin", as long as you justify your claims.
    The only way the supposed "atonining sacrifice of Jesus" could actually be sufficient to absolve the sins of all people is if those sins are finite in nature (since Jesus' suffering was not infinite).
    Actually, scratch that. Since, as I pointed out above, Jesus is supposedly God, and God seemingly cannot suffer, then Jesus' supposed suffering was all an illusion - no sins have been atoned for by Jesus non-suffering.

    Rick: If you have seriously offended the infinite God with rebellion, no amount of construction zone offenses would be able to amount to the guilt of that one offense against an infinite and holy God.
    An no amount of God itself (or, at least, one of it's abberant personalities) not-suffering will make up for this supposed infinite sin.

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  35. And, as per Anonymous' request, I'd really like you to appologise for mischaracterising and demonising me as regards to a non-existent "flip flop" of position.

    Unless of course you don't actually value honesty and reasonable behaviour... :-)

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  36. Havok, Anonymous, thank you very much for this excellent exchange and the arguments and examples you provide, which seem very convincing to me. I'm taking notes ! :-)

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  37. Rick does make an excellent object lesson in the ridiculous nature of some beliefs - some thanks should go to him as well :-)

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  38. Rick: You seem to want to quantify sins as "finite" but it seems you are applying a materialist measure for a spiritual phenomenon.

    There is a set of interesting paradoxes here...

    1) If sin is an infinite mesure, than Jesus sacrifice was useless...Sin was erased by Jesus once, but it came back almost momentarely through sin of people from other regions of the Planet...

    2) There is also the possibility that the sacrifice of Christ was so powerfull, that all sin was eradicated in a transcended fashion from the past and the future. In that case we have nothing to worry about.

    3) Jesus sacrifice did not eradicate anything at all, he only offered a rare vaccine against hell. If you are lucky enough, you can learn about the crucifiction of some poor carpenter in Judea and proclaim him as your saviour, that provides you an insurrance for a possible after-life trial. Though, too bad for all those native Americans and other populations, who were a little late hearing about Christ.

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  39. Havok,

    R: So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes? It seems that is what you are implying.


    H: This looks like more evidence of your inability to understand alternative view points.
 If someone does not value honesty, then I can try to convince them (and I think there are compelling reasons to value honesty - secular reasons). If I am unable to convince them, then while I believe them lying is wrong, they will not think so.

    R: I’m trying to understand your viewpoint. Please forgive me if I find it difficult to follow. I’m trying to follow the syntax of your logic:

    1. I asked you if dishonesty is wrong, and you replied as follows:

    2. “Because I value honesty, it goes against that value to lie in this fashion.”

    3. So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes?

    4. If someone does not value honesty, then I can try to convince them (and I think there are compelling reasons to value honesty - secular reasons).

    At this point I need to clarify with some questions:

    5. I’m a bit confused about the difference between personal values and right and wrong. From what I see today, the norm of secular society around the world is for bankers and politicians to exploit the public for personal gain. So let me ask you, Havok...

    A. If a majority of the public believes dishonesty is OK, then is it then OK?

    B. If personal values are the measure of morals, then why should your morals be considered more valid than another person’s?

    C. Why should anyone listen to your personal opinion about morals if they have their own strong feelings and opinion?

    H: Please do try to stay consistent Rick. First you said that Adam had no understanding of Good and Evil - no moral sense, and equated this with Children through analogy. Now you seem to be saying that Adam DID have some moral sense, as an adult (like you and I appear to have).

    R: It wasn’t adulthood that gave Adam a moral conscience, but it was a result of disobedience and the fall. My point was the correct decisions don’t have to be based on a conscience. My example of the child was simply to point out the trusting nature of a child allows the child to obey more easily without second-guessing. An adult such as Adam could have had the same innocent and trusting nature of a child. No conflict.

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  40. R: Dawkins does not seem to be interested in accurately defining his beliefs philosophically.


    H: Neither do you (and neither do I). We're not professional moral philosophers, after all.

    R: I can’t speak for you, but I desire to understand truth and to be able to test my beliefs logically. You don’t have to be a professional philosopher to understand the basics of logic. The bottom line is that Dawkins and many atheists are so committed to their worldview that they don’t seem to care if they cannot logically explain themselves on a very basic level.

    H: Well, science is the best (I wouold say only) method of investigating reality which has reliable results. …Much philosophy is scientificically uninformed and not much more than "mental masturbation" - to see if it actually is true, you need to go out into the world and find out.

    R: you need at least a combination of science and logic to begin to understand the universe. Science does not address the logic of thinking and how to understand truth; therefore it is limited to a very specific arena of observing facts about the visible world. Science alone as a philosophical basis for understanding meaning in the universe (positivism) is a dead end. It doesn’t work logically. The New World Encyclopedia states, “Today, among most philosophers, positivism is dead, or at least as dead as a philosophical stance or movement ever becomes…”[6]

    H: Of course, logic, math etc (ie. formal systems) can generate knowledge, but that is only valid within the specific formal system being used (and again, we need to go out into the world to validate claims about the world). Quantum Mechanics is a great example of this, since it does not conform to the formal system of two-values classical logic. Therefore statements about quantum systems (rather than classical systems) made within the two-value classical logic, are likely to be mistaken (and humans therefore created another formal system - quantum logic - in order to model these systems).



    R: We need both logic and science, at a bare minimum. Even if logic needs to be adjusted in the case of quantum physics as a phenomenon, the basic principles of logical deduction remain valid in reasoning. If not, there is no point in having a debate.

    R: Dawkins seems to be a bit egotistical and immature in this regard.
 (about having no desire to test his beliefs logically)

    H: Coming from the person who seems to believes that literally millions and thousands of professionals are wrong (about the theory of evolution and moral philosophy respectively) and a very small handful of ideologicall motivated people who ahppen to agree with you are right, this is the high of hypocrisy.
.

    R: So you believe truth is based on consensus, not logic. ☺ So you should be quite happy to join in the corruption gradually taking over the world. ☺ But it does make me wonder. If moral truth is based merely on personal values, then why are you wasting your time here at this blog? It seems you aren’t quite convinced of your own beliefs. ☺

    H: Science has no way to decide what values we "ought" to have, but it can certainly inform us as to the results of holding various values.

    R: Yes, but even after all the statistics showing Christianity produces happier, healthier people and a more stable society, the fact is, people like you will remain committed to atheist ideologies.

    R: Dawkins cannot rationally defend his own moral position, because it depends in his personal opinion alone.

    H: I doubt his view is that naive Rick, and none of the quotes you provide show that it is.

    R: Very funny. Dawkins’ own quotes show moral schizophrenia. But like Obama’s Orwelling Newthink, you look right at them and then claim there is no problem.

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  41. H: He seems to hold a position not too dissimilar to my own (going by your quotes) - there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.

    R: You are truly amazing Havok. Let’s watch your continued grand flip flop in action:

    1. “retract your foolish points concerning the lack of an "objective morality" without God." (August 18th)

    2. "I'm not particilarly convinced that morality is an objective feature of reality." (September 13th)

    3. “there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.” (October 8)

    As far as flip-flops go, this is a one and a half double gainer. But the most amusing thing is your persistent denial that you’ve flip-flopped.

    H: If someone murders another human being, but does not acknowledge the source of your supposed objective moral values, then what can you do other than say your god will get him in the end?

    R: Thankfully, the basic civil codes regarding things like murder are still somewhat in line with the Ten Commandments. However, Obama is doing his best to murder US citizens without a trial and have everyone cheer along. Are you cheering with him, Havok? He’s the president of the US, so his truth is probably better than yours ☺

    H: No, but I can see your own ignorance and inability to understand alternative views on full display

    R: I wouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment; Havok It’s kind of hard to follow the views of someone who is always changing his position. I believe I understand your basic moral view now, at least as it stands today. But you could write something completely different tomorrow. And that seems to be the trend. As someone who appreciates scientific evidence, I’ve found that patterns and statistic help to show the true nature of things. The grand flip-flop of Havok seems to be over, but there may still be some unexpected twists and turns, or maybe you will give a nice reversal before you splash into the water. The judges are still waiting in anticipation.

    Let’s review. Two months ago you wrote I was foolish to believe there was no objective morality without God. And today you claim that is the exact position you hold, as quoted:

    “there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.”

    Are you sure you want to stick with that? Is that your final answer? If so, that’s pretty scary. Imagine an entire world of people who believe their own personal opinion is the final arbiter of moral truth. Yikes.

    H: Since, as I pointed out above, Jesus is supposedly God, and God seemingly cannot suffer, then Jesus' supposed suffering was all an illusion - no sins have been atoned for by Jesus non-suffering.

    R: That’s a new one to me. Can you explain why it is that Jesus as the incarnate God “cannot suffer?”

    H: And, as per Anonymous' request, I'd really like you to appologise for mischaracterising and demonising me as regards to a non-existent "flip flop" of position.

Unless of course you don't actually value honesty and reasonable behaviour... :-)

    R: I’m not sure what you mean here. These three comments occurred at my blog with your name next to them:

    1. “retract your foolish points concerning the lack of an "objective morality" without God." (August 18th)

    2. "I'm not particilarly convinced that morality is an objective feature of reality." (September 13th)

    3. “there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.” (October 8)

    If you still deny you have flip-flopped, Havok, I can think of only three possible answers:

    1. You somehow did not write these comments.

    2. The English language has changed.

    3. Call a counseling hotline immediately.

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  42. Since I have become the invisible holy spirit in the eyes of Rick, I will need someone to repost my comment )

    Rick, reread Havok s post from 18th of August...

    1)"H:Well Rick, since neither you nor anyone else has established that, in fact, objective morality of the sort you're arguing for actually exists, you can't really say that any morality is definitely grounded."

    In that sentence Havok doubts that morality is an objective phenomena..or do you disagree?

    2)"H:There are quite good arguments that ALL moral systems are relative. It is quite certain that morality changes through time and between cultures, even those who have been expressly Christian (and therefore would have been most likely to have an "objective" moral system)."

    How can an objective morality change through time? If Havok was supporting the existence of object morality, he would not have said that

    3)"H:Now, perhaps instead of simply repeating WLC's assertions that his premises 1 & 2 hold, you could go to the trouble of arguing that they're true"

    Why would someone, who believes in objective morality ask Rick to prove, that objective morality exists?

    3)"If you were actually interested in learning, rather than simply "being right", you'd have found some references to some non theistic moral realism systems (both naturalistic and non-naturalistic), realise that there are currently quite a few live options, and retract your foolish points concerning the lack of an "objective morality" without God."

    Now comes the turn of the famous "flip-fop" quote...The main complaint of Rick is that Havok did not write "the lack of examples for "objective morality" without God".

    Thirst of all, why would Havok put "objective morality" in inverted commas? If Havok did believe that "objective morality" existed, he would not have done so. He was only using Rick s terminalogy here.

    Secondly, Rick is quite apt at irritating his opponent. Even though he claimed, that the are no atheistic systems with "objective morality", when provided with one, he still refused to admit he was wrong (and still persists to this day). He did not even criticise the core of Wielenberg s system, instead he started to complain about the mechanism of human cognition of right and wrong in that system (a different subject, though closely related). The only thing that can be reproached to Havok is that he became emotional and did not make himself clear enough for Rick.

    Thirdly, for some curious reason, Rick did not notice the "flip-flop" until September 13th. Why could he not specify Havok s stance on August 18th? Any human being can make a mistake and be misunderstood, but Havok s statement on August 18th would not make any sense if he supported objective morality. However, Rick still nitpicks with a small phrase, where Havok did not even assert that he believed in "objective morality".

    P.S. Rick also claims that Havok never admited making a mistake, however, that is false. Havok did apologies on September 14th at 9:09 pm for the mistake of not making himsel clear enough.

    "H:You may have taken it to mean more than this, and I apologies for not being clearer."

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  43. P.P.S. With the third "flip-flop" -ought- is also put in inverted commas. Please, Rick, study a little bit about English Grammar and the use of inverted commas

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  44. Rick does seem rather adept at avoiding answering difficult questions regarding his own position and claims.

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  45. P.P.P.S. And you should be ashamed of hearing something like that, from someone with a horrible grammar and spelling

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  46. Rick: I’m trying to understand your viewpoint.
    It looks more like you're trying to find a "gotcha" rather than legitimately trying to understand my position.

    Rick: 3. So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes?
    No it would not be, since I have reasons as to why honesty should be valued. Even if I'm unable to convince another person with those reasons (they may simply be unreasonable), I'm still in a position to claim that they're wrong.
    Cheating on income taxes is slightly different, since paying taxes is a part of the "social contract" we all sign on to when we begin working (well, when we agree to live in a society, but we don't pay them until we start working).

    Rick: 5. I’m a bit confused about the difference between personal values and right and wrong.
    Mostly because you're trying to claim that right and wrong simply must be something "out there" (though how you get that with the will/nature of a person - God - you've still not bothered to clarify).

    Rick: A. If a majority of the public believes dishonesty is OK, then is it then OK?
    No, because there are valid, rational reasons as to why honesty should be valued. They may not be rationally coercive to everyone, however.

    Rick: B. If personal values are the measure of morals, then why should your morals be considered more valid than another person’s?
    Personal values which are inconsistent, incoherent, or unjustified shouldn't be given as much creadence as those which are reasoned and reasonable.

    Rick: C. Why should anyone listen to your personal opinion about morals if they have their own strong feelings and opinion?
    This is what we do all the time Rick - we negotiate values with people. I can give no water tight reason as to why someone should listen to me (just as you cannot for your position). All I can do is try to convince someone that they should hold a particular value in the event that they do not (which is the same position you're in).

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  47. Rick: R: It wasn’t adulthood that gave Adam a moral conscience, but it was a result of disobedience and the fall.
    So as far as making moral decisions and understanding right, wrong, good and evil, Adam was like a child prior to the fall. Got it.

    Rick: My point was the correct decisions don’t have to be based on a conscience. My example of the child was simply to point out the trusting nature of a child allows the child to obey more easily without second-guessing. An adult such as Adam could have had the same innocent and trusting nature of a child. No conflict.
    Yet we treat children (and those whose decision making is, for want of a better term, "defective") differently when they choose poorly or are disobedient.
    Your God did not do this, therefore every parent in the world would seem to be a better moral example in this regard than your God, which is a logical contradiction since your God is supposed to be the most moraly praiseworthy being.
    You've neatly exposed the falsity of your own beleifs - thanks Rick.

    Rick: : I can’t speak for you, but I desire to understand truth and to be able to test my beliefs logically.
    There is a different between that and developing a rigorously investigated and complete defence of your beliefs.

    Rick: You don’t have to be a professional philosopher to understand the basics of logic. The bottom line is that Dawkins and many atheists are so committed to their worldview that they don’t seem to care if they cannot logically explain themselves on a very basic level.
    Dawkins, I'm sure, can make a far better defence of his beliefs than the out of context quotes you've provided, as can (and do) I.
    You also attempt to do this, but trip yourself up repeatedly on beliefs that are logically inconsistent and contrary to empirical facts - you really should try to avoid it.

    Rick: you need at least a combination of science and logic to begin to understand the universe.
    Science encompasses the use of logic Rick. To think otherwise is to demonstrate an ignorance of what science does.

    Rick: Science does not address the logic of thinking and how to understand truth;
    Science certainly does address how we think, ways in which we trip ourselves up. Various cognitive biases, motivated reasoning and other areas investigate this.

    Rick: therefore it is limited to a very specific arena of observing facts about the visible world.
    Science can (and does) investigate anything which has an effect in reality (ie. empiricism). If something has no effect then science cannot investigate it, but we can happily ignore it because it may as well not exist.

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  48. Rick: Science alone as a philosophical basis for understanding meaning in the universe (positivism) is a dead end.
    Science as the only current means of arriving at reliable knowledge concerning reality is still very much live, however. Not only is it live, but it is the only live option, since other "ways of knowing" are either unjustified or known to be terribly unreliable.
    Please stop trying to equate anyone who takes science and it's results seriously as a logical positivist - it's mistaken and only makes you appear ignorant.

    Rick: So you believe truth is based on consensus, not logic. ☺
    I've warned you over and over about putting words in my mouth Rick.
    The scientific consensus on evolution is a valid argument from authority.
    You've demonstrated a vast ignorance (and an unwillingness to rectify said ignorance) regarding moral philosophy.
    Therefore, on both counts it is valid to infer that our best current knowledge on those topics comes from the professionals and not some crank on an internet blog.

    Rick: So you should be quite happy to join in the corruption gradually taking over the world. ☺
    If by coruption you mean the seeming innexorable move away from religious morality, towards a more consistent and coherent set of moral principles which are more humane and strive to treat all people fairly and equally, then I am happy to be a part of that.
    If you mean corruption in it's traditional negative sense, then I see little evidence that it is in ascendance in society.

    Rick: But it does make me wonder. If moral truth is based merely on personal values, then why are you wasting your time here at this blog? It seems you aren’t quite convinced of your own beliefs. ☺
    You are again attributing a position to me that I do not hold.
    I'm here on this blog because you make numerous false statements and unjustified claims, and since I value honesty, I'm simply trying to convince you of this.
    I also value education, so I'm trying to get others to increase their knowledge (as well as increasing my own).

    Rick: Yes, but even after all the statistics showing Christianity produces happier, healthier people and a more stable society, the fact is, people like you will remain committed to atheist ideologies.
    So you believe we should leave the "people" believing falsehoods because they're comforting to them?
    I'm committed to honesty, even if it isn't as comforting as your delusional Christian beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Rick: Very funny. Dawkins’ own quotes show moral schizophrenia. But like Obama’s Orwelling Newthink, you look right at them and then claim there is no problem.
    No they don't Rick. When Dawkins is speaking of "good and evil" he is not speaking of them existing in an objective sense (since he seems to be something of a relatavist). Similarly, when I speak of you being wrong (ie. your Christian beliefs are wrong), I'm not saying they're wrong in an absolute sense, but simply that since I value honesty, and have good reasonas as to why I do, and believe that you should to (and suspect that you do), then to be consistent with this value, you should give up your false believes (ie. the truth of Christianity).
    If you don't care about honesty and consistency, and I'm unable to convince you care about them, then while I can still say you're mistaken, from your own set of values (ad-hoc, unjustified and inconsistent as they seem to be) you can say that belief in falsehood is not wrong (since it seems you value comfort and happiness over truth).
    It's pretty simple Rick, and your claims of an objective standard existing in your imaginary God don't actually serve to help you either - you need to convince others to share your values too.

    Rick: You are truly amazing Havok. Let’s watch your continued grand flip flop in action:
    As Anonymous has pointed out (again), your claims of a flip flop are unfounded and a red herring.
    If you value honest dialog (and you do claim to), then you'll apologise.
    In the absence of an apology i'll assume you simply don't care about honest communication.

    Rick: Thankfully, the basic civil codes regarding things like murder are still somewhat in line with the Ten Commandments.
    And yet I don't give a rats arse what the 10 commandments say (which version?).
    If I saw nothing wrong with murder and you trying to convince me otherwise, citing the 10 commandments would do nothing. Do you see that?

    Rick: However, Obama is doing his best to murder US citizens without a trial and have everyone cheer along.
    Try to avoid dragging politics into this Rick.

    Rick: He’s the president of the US, so his truth is probably better than yours ☺
    You truly are ridiculous. I would have a hard time writing a Poe as good as the comments you make sincerely.

    Rick: Havok It’s kind of hard to follow the views of someone who is always changing his position.
    Since I didn't actually change my position, I'm not sure who it is that you're referring to?

    Rick: I believe I understand your basic moral view now, at least as it stands today.
    Judging by your comments above you still have no understanding.

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  50. Rick: As someone who appreciates scientific evidence, I’ve found that patterns and statistic help to show the true nature of things.
    Laughable coming from the person whose worldview relies upon the existence of Adam & Eve and a global flood.
    You don't value scientific evidence Rick, at least not whe it comes into conflict with your wishful thinking. On other threads you've dismissed scientific evidence (embracing the refuted and unjustified claims of intelligent design, as well as ignoring historical investigation).

    Rick: Are you sure you want to stick with that? Is that your final answer?
    Pretty much. If I were trying for philosophical rigour I'd go into far more detail (though I think I've provided quite a lot as it is).

    Rick: If so, that’s pretty scary. Imagine an entire world of people who believe their own personal opinion is the final arbiter of moral truth. Yikes.
    Welcome to reality Rick. People do this anyway. People have always done this. Belief in your God hasn't helped. I'd argue that it actively hindered, since a "revelation" that God wants you to kill someone becomes a moral obligation.
    Far better to have an understanding of how reality is, and engage in reasoned dialog concerning it (rather than burying your head in the sand as you seem to).

    Rick: Can you explain why it is that Jesus as the incarnate God “cannot suffer?”
    Can God suffer Rick?
    Can God be hurt, or be deprived of anything?
    The answer to both is no, therefore I see no reason to think that God can suffer. Since Jesus was supposed to be God, Jesus could not have actually suffered. I think they used to call acceptance of that Docetism.

    ReplyDelete
  51. And still absolute silence from Rick regarding the justification for his claims, re morality being objective and only God being a possible "grounding" for said objective morality.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Rick, you might find this post helpful for your understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Rick: So you should be quite happy to join in the corruption gradually taking over the world.
    You may be interested in Steven Pinker's new book "The better Angels of our nature: Why violence has declined", which sounds like a fairly rigorous exposition of how things have and are getting better.
    You may not be as certain of your "world wide corruption" and moral decline claims afterwards (a review from Peter Singer and a link to a TED talk from Pinker from a few years ago regarding the myth of violence).

    ReplyDelete
  54. Curse you, Havok! I have spent the whole night reading because of you... Do try to provide less exciting links, I am not that young and I need my beauty sleep.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Anonymous, judging by your posting times, you seem to be in a similar-ish time zone to me (Australian EST).

    Hopefully Rick's silence is an indication that he too is doing some reading :-)

    ReplyDelete
  56. More from Pinker. It looks like a transcript of his "History of Violence" presentation, for those who don't like video :-)

    ReplyDelete
  57. H: It looks more like you're trying to find a "gotcha" rather than legitimately trying to understand my position.



    R: Your basic position is illogical and I would truly like to understand how you would try to prove an illogical position. You’ve already confessed you see no objective basis for your atheist moral principles and, now you are attempting to show you do have a basis for making moral judgments.

    R: So, if someone does not “value honesty”, it may be OK for that person to tell a lie or perhaps cheat on income taxes?


    H: No it would not be, since I have reasons as to why honesty should be valued.

    R: Yes, I know that you have reasons, but you haven’t shown why another person isn’t equally justified with his or her reasons.

    H: Why are your moral reasons better than another person’s, if it’s all ultimately based on personal opinion?

    H: Even if I'm unable to convince another person with those reasons (they may simply be unreasonable), I'm still in a position to claim that they're wrong.


    R: You can claim whatever you want to, but that doesn’t make you right. Why should anyone listen to your claims?

    H: Cheating on income taxes is slightly different, since paying taxes is a part of the "social contract" we all sign on to when we begin working (well, when we agree to live in a society, but we don't pay them until we start working).
.

    R: If moral truth is based ultimately on personal opinions, then why should atheists agree to some arbitrary social contract if they don’t want to. You haven’t given a convincing reason for atheists not to cheat on taxes.

    R: A. If a majority of the public believes dishonesty is OK, then is it then OK?


    H: No, because there are valid, rational reasons as to why honesty should be valued. They may not be rationally coercive to everyone, however.

    R: The reasons may be “valid” to you but not to anyone else. In Ukraine the entire society operates through bribery, which has become accepted as the norm. You have not offered a “valid” reason to value honesty if bribery is expedient for most people.

    R: If personal values are the measure of morals, then why should your morals be considered more valid than another person’s?


    ReplyDelete
  58. H: Personal values which are inconsistent, incoherent, or unjustified shouldn't be given as much creadence as those which are reasoned and reasonable.



    R: In Ukraine the majority of people consistently and coherently believe bribery is justified and normal and that’s just how the world works. I’m happy for you, Havok, that you can say “I have reasons as to why honesty should be valued.” But you would be a minority in Ukraine and you don’t have any convincing reasons why people should be honest like you. Bribery is more “reasoned and reasonable” in that culture, so I guess your morals are wrong for Ukraine.

    R:. Why should anyone listen to your personal opinion about morals if they have their own strong feelings and opinion?


    H: I can give no water tight reason as to why someone should listen to me (just as you cannot for your position). All I can do is try to convince someone that they should hold a particular value in the event that they do not (which is the same position you're in).

    R: Well, you haven’t convinced me and you wouldn’t convince anyone in Ukraine either. And you are wrong in writing I can give no water-tight reason because I have already proven logically there is an objective basis for morality in God’s existence.

    R: It wasn’t adulthood that gave Adam a moral conscience, but it was a result of disobedience and the fall.


    So as far as making moral decisions and understanding right, wrong, good and evil, Adam was like a child prior to the fall. Got it.

    R: Yes, Adam had a sense of innocence similar to a child’s sense of innocence, that’s correct.

    H: Dawkins, I'm sure, can make a far better defence of his beliefs than the out of context quotes you've provided, as can (and do)

    R: No, he can’t, and that’s why he will never debate WL Craig.

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  59. H: Science can (and does) investigate anything which has an effect in reality (ie. empiricism).

    R: The underlying nature of reality depends on the nature of truth. Your presupposition that empirical reality is all that is “effective” simply isn’t true.

    This is one of the main reasons why positivism is a dead philosophy. Science does not investigate the nature of truth, which is a more foundational question than the nature of empirical materialist facts. Just because you and Dawkins say the nature of truth is unimportant doesn’t mean it is. Greater thinkers than both of you have wrestled with the question of truth:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/

    There are many reasons why empiricism cannot be considered the only method of understanding truth.

    “The inductive argument is based on evidence from the History of Science, namely the many instances where empirical methods produced significantly less useful knowledge products than
    theoretical methods.

    · Empirical methods merely enabled Galileo to discover the law of falling, whereas theoretical
    methods enabled Newton to discover the theory of Mechanics.

    · Empirical methods merely enabled Ohm to discover the law of electrical resistance, whereas
    theoretical methods enabled Maxwell to discover the theory of electrodynamics.

    · Empirical methods merely enabled Proust to discover the law of constant proportions in
    chemical reactions, whereas theoretical methods enabled Dalton to discover the atomic theory
    of chemistry.”

    The Poverty of Empiricism
    http://inform.nu/Articles/Vol8/v8p189-210Mende.pdf

    As noted at another website: Here are a few criticisms that can be laid against Hume. These objection come largely from a phenomenological point of view:

    1) Hume's notion of "impression" does not account for the way that we actually do experience colors and qualities. When I see a red house, for instance, I do not just an impression of red by itself, but the redness *of* something. A "secondary quality" such as color cannot be abstracted from the thing to which it belongs. In this way, empiricism is no more faithful to experience than rationalism.

    2) A similar point: empiricism does not acknowledge that experience is contextual. When I see a thing, I do not see it in isolation from the world. It is always given in a context: the chair is on the floor, next to a table, in a room, etc. There is always a "background" against which a thing appears.

    3) Empiricism does not give the mind an active role in cognition. For Hume's empiricism, the mind is just a passive receiver, except for its role of ordering what it receives.

    Rick: So you should be quite happy to join in the corruption gradually taking over the world.


    H: You may be interested in Steven Pinker's new book "The better Angels of our nature: Why violence has declined", which sounds like a fairly rigorous exposition of how things have and are getting better.


    You may not be as certain of your "world wide corruption" and moral decline claims afterwards (a review from Peter Singer and a link to a TED talk from Pinker from a few years ago regarding the myth of violence).

    When I referred to corruption I referred to bankers and politicians exploiting the population. I made no reference whatsoever to violence.

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  60. H: In the absence of an apology (for stating you flip-flopped) i'll assume you simply don't care about honest communication.

    R: So, I guess that means you should probably call a psychological counselor. Because anyone with an elementary level of English can see that you’ve made a flip-flop here:

    
1. “retract your foolish points concerning the lack of an "objective morality" without God." (August 18th)



    2. "I'm not particilarly convinced that morality is an objective feature of reality." (September 13th)



    3. “there is no objective means to establish what values a person "ought" to have.” (October 8)

    You are perhaps in a state of denial about reality or you have an inability to admit when you’ve made a mistake in judgment, or possibly both.

    Because it is fairly obvious by now that your denial of flip-flopping is a denial of the basic meaning of the English language, it is not surprising that you would also have a denial of the basic logic that proves God’s existence as well. Your denial of God’s existence is completely consistent with your denial of reality in other areas.

    R: He’s the president of the US, so his truth is probably better than yours

    H: You truly are ridiculous.

    R: From what you’ve been writing, moral truth is based on our “social contract” when we “agree to live in society” and Obama is the one in charge of that social contract. Besides, Obama seems to have a lot of authority and mass media behind him, which most people find very convincing. Therefore it’s only logical, according to your rationale, that Obama’s truth is much better than yours for the greater good of society.

    R: I can’t speak for you, but I desire to understand truth and to be able to test my beliefs logically.

    H: There is a different between that and developing a rigorously investigated and complete defence of your beliefs.



    R: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, Havok. You don’t need a PHD in philosophy in order to think logically, you simply need to be open minded enough to be able to abandon illogical viewpoints.

    R: Can you explain why it is that Jesus as the incarnate God “cannot suffer?”


    H: Can God suffer Rick?
Can God be hurt, or be deprived of anything?
The answer to both is no, therefore I see no reason to think that God can suffer.

    R: I asked you to explain why Jesus could not have suffered and all you have done is repeated the same answer. You have given absolutely no answer as to why. Are you sure this isn’t Anonymous commenting in Havok’s name? Or, Havok, maybe you are also taking Obama’s Newspeak lessons?

    H: And still absolute silence from Rick regarding the justification for his claims, re morality being objective and only God being a possible "grounding" for said objective morality.

    R: The simple argument I’ve presented is justified by your answers:

    Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    (Check – As an atheist, Havok has decided neither of these exist.)

    Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
    (Check – Havok insists dishonesty is wrong, but cannot explain how or why)

    Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
    (Check – Havok denies the English language has any real meaning, so it’s not really surprising he also denies the logical conclusion of God’s existence.)

    ReplyDelete
  61. Rick: Your basic position is illogical and I would truly like to understand how you would try to prove an illogical position.
    You haven't shown it to be illogical, all you've done is asserted this to be the case.
    Considering you continue to mischaracterise any alternative moral system, I find your assertions to be rather arrogant.

    Rick: You’ve already confessed you see no objective basis for your atheist moral principles and, now you are attempting to show you do have a basis for making moral judgments.
    You're assuming that to make any sort of moral judgement, an objective basis is required, yet this is also merely an assertion on your part.

    Rick: Yes, I know that you have reasons, but you haven’t shown why another person isn’t equally justified with his or her reasons.
    If the alternative position is more justified and consistent than my own, then I would probably find their reasons convincing. So what?

    Rick: You can claim whatever you want to, but that doesn’t make you right. Why should anyone listen to your claims?
    Why should anyone listen to you Rick? You don't even have rational reasons for your claims - you simply punt to revelation and mystery.

    Rick: If moral truth is based ultimately on personal opinions,
    You're misrepresenting things again Rick. It's a little more nuanced than that, though you seem unable to comprehend that this could be the case.

    Rick: then why should atheists agree to some arbitrary social contract if they don’t want to. You haven’t given a convincing reason for atheists not to cheat on taxes.
    For a start, it's not arbitrary - there are good reasons for it.
    Second, by being a part of the society you are tacitly agreeing to some social contract, whether you realise it or not.
    Rick, you don't seem to understand what the term "arbitrary" means, not anything about contractarianism as it relates to morals and ethics.

    Rick: The reasons may be “valid” to you but not to anyone else.
    This might be the case. The same can be said of your morality (a point you've completelyt neglected). Your claim that I ought to do good because it is what God wills (or in line with his nature, or however you think you can ground these things) fails simply because I don't beleive your God exists - you're reasons are not valid to me.

    Rick: In Ukraine the entire society operates through bribery, which has become accepted as the norm. You have not offered a “valid” reason to value honesty if bribery is expedient for most people.
    Bribdery tends to be both inefficient and a reducer of trust. Trust is a basic tenant of living ins a social setting. While bribery may be expedient right now, it is not a reasonable way in which to structure society, not least because those who cannot afford the bribes are disadvantaged. To advocate for bribery and against honesty is an inconsistent position.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Rick: In Ukraine the majority of people consistently and coherently believe bribery is justified and normal and that’s just how the world works.
    They're mistaken and you agree with me on this.

    Rick: But you would be a minority in Ukraine
    No I wouldn't be because if you value living in society then bribery is not something you should promote (for various reasons I've touched on).

    Rick: and you don’t have any convincing reasons why people should be honest like you.
    Yes I do Rick, as I've been sketching.
    Bribery also tends to destabalise societies due to the inequalities it engenders. Another perfectly good reason to be against it.

    Rick: Bribery is more “reasoned and reasonable” in that culture, so I guess your morals are wrong for Ukraine.
    It is more accepted and it makes some things easier (for some segement of the population) at the expense of efficiency and other segments of the population. It is not more reasoned or reasonable than my position, simply more pragmatic in the current cultural climate of the Ukraine.

    Rick: Well, you haven’t convinced me and you wouldn’t convince anyone in Ukraine either.
    And 60% of everyone in the world is not convinced by your claims. So what?

    Rick: And you are wrong in writing I can give no water-tight reason because I have already proven logically there is an objective basis for morality in God’s existence.
    No you haven't. You've asserted it, but you haven't demonstrated that God exists, that morality is objective, nor that morality can be grounded in God's existence.
    You have a LOT of work to do Rick, and your continued misunderstanding of and hostility towards learning anything about moral philosophy in general and alternative moral systems specifically is not helping you at all.

    Rick: Yes, Adam had a sense of innocence similar to a child’s sense of innocence, that’s correct.
    So God was unable to take this into account and Give Adam another chance, as a normal parent would do for a child. You've just proven that your God is less morally praiseworthy than any normal parent, which is a logical contradiction (since your God is usually claimed to be the most morally praiseworthy being possible), which indicates that your God doesn't exist.
    Also, since Adam did not actualyly exist, and the Genesis creation myth is just that - a myth, there is really no need to delve further into the incoherence of your position.

    ReplyDelete
  63. Rick: No, he can’t, and that’s why he will never debate WL Craig.
    WLC is a skilled debater, but his arguments are lousy. He's just very practiced at presenting them (and doing so quickly).
    He has been schooled on various topics in several debates, and yet continues to use the same arguments in later debates (assuming he doesn't revisit the same false argument in the same debate). His Kalam argument is a classic example of this - his physics is simply wrong (ie. outdated), which means his argument doesn't work. He knows this. He's been informed of this on a number of occasions. He still uses the argument because it sounds convincing if you don't understand the physics or know that he's mistaken.

    He's not interested in the truth. He's interested in "saving souls". I don't see a problem with Dawkins not debating him given the above points.

    Rick: The underlying nature of reality depends on the nature of truth. Your presupposition that empirical reality is all that is “effective” simply isn’t true.
    If something has an effect, we can measure it empirically. If something doesn't have an effect, then it might as well not exist, since it cannot effect us.
    Think neutrino's, which only very rarely interact with baryonic matter. For most intents and purposes we can ignore the fact that neutrino's exist. You're seem to be claiming that something which never interacts with baryonic matter can still have some kind of an effect on baryonic matter - this is an incoherent statement.

    Rick: Science does not investigate the nature of truth, which is a more foundational question than the nature of empirical materialist facts.
    Empiricism is how we find out about the world, everything else is armchair speculation.
    If you have a better method of investigating reality, then I'm all for it, but you'd best avoid unreliable methods (ie. revelation) and special pleading (assuming God exists).

    Rick: Just because you and Dawkins say the nature of truth is unimportant doesn’t mean it is.
    Not sure I ever said the nature of truth is unimportant. All I said was that intersubjective empiricisim (a broad view of science) is currently the best, most realiable (and probably only) means of gaining knowledge about reality outside of our heads.

    Rick: There are many reasons why empiricism cannot be considered the only method of understanding truth.
    You keep using the term truth where I've only used the term reality. You're misrepresenting my claims once again - it really is rather tiring that you insist on doing this Rick.

    Rick: When I referred to corruption I referred to bankers and politicians exploiting the population. I made no reference whatsoever to violence.
    It's part of a general trend Rick. The recent global economic crisis is really not that severe. The people doing the exploiting are quite few in number, though their influence is economically large.
    Basically, your point fails.

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  64. Rick: Because anyone with an elementary level of English can see that you’ve made a flip-flop here:
    So you care far more about "scoring points" than honest discourse or the truth?
    I suspected this to be the case, given the way in which you continually construct strawmen of opposing arguments, even when you're corrected in your understanding.

    Rick: moral truth is based on our “social contract”
    You have a perverse and far too simplistic view of things Rick.
    You refuse to be educated.

    Rick: Obama is the one in charge of that social contract.
    I'm Australian.

    Rick: Besides, Obama seems to have a lot of authority and mass media behind him, which most people find very convincing.
    So what? Does he have reasons for his positions?
    I don't really care who holds what position, I care about their reasons for doing so. You can't seem to get this through your thick skull - you have a childish impression of how you think morality simply must be in the absence of your God, and you are completely unable to alter this belief regardless of the arguments put to you.

    Rick: Therefore it’s only logical, according to your rationale, that Obama’s truth is much better than yours for the greater good of society.
    Again, you understand absolutely nothing Rick.

    Rick: I asked you to explain why Jesus could not have suffered and all you have done is repeated the same answer. You have given absolutely no answer as to why.
    I gave you a logical argument Rick. Tell me where I'm mistaken, or I'll simply assume you're to dense to understand.

    Rick: Premise 1: If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
    Asserted without argument. I'll happily dismiss it.

    Rick: Premise 2: Objective moral values exist.
    Asserted without argument. I'll happily dismiss it.

    Rick: Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
    A conclusion derived from false premises might be true, but certainly doesn't follow. You need to establish your premises, or try a different argument.

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  65. Rick, another concern for your position is that it may well be inconsistent or incoherent. This post summarises a paper from Steve Maitzen which argues that claiming both a divine command metaethic and traditional theism as true is logically contradictory.
    As I pointed out some comments ago, contrary to your statement in the initial post, you do hold to a divine command metaethic, and as such it seems that your position may run afoul of this argument.

    Of course since you "know" that your position is correct (with considerable certainty by little epistemological justification) you're unlikely to bother reading the argument, since I'm fairly sure you'd see it as a waste of your time.

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  66. Havok, I have a request to you. Can you try to teach Rick about the use of inverted commas? I know it is most likely futile, but I still think you should try that.

    P.S. I live in Moscow, but my sleep hours are extremely messed up. So your guess about my time zone was incorrect 8)

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  67. Anon: Havok, I have a request to you. Can you try to teach Rick about the use of inverted commas? I know it is most likely futile, but I still think you should try that.
    Rick likely already believe he "knows" how to use them and understand them, therefore any further attempt would be a waste of his time.

    Anon: P.S. I live in Moscow, but my sleep hours are extremely messed up. So your guess about my time zone was incorrect 8)
    Well, it seems like you might as well be living in a similar time zone - at least that way you'd get to see the sun :-)

    ReplyDelete
  68. H:Rick likely already believe he "knows" how to use them and understand them, therefore any further attempt would be a waste of his time.

    That goes for everything said by Rick in this blog. If you do not press him on at least one inconsistency, this debate will go on forever, skipping from one point to another.

    H:Well, it seems like you might as well be living in a similar time zone - at least that way you'd get to see the sun :-)

    The sun? Or you mean that plasma ball in the sky! Hm... maybe I do need to get out of my basement more often...

    ReplyDelete
  69. Anon: That goes for everything said by Rick in this blog. If you do not press him on at least one inconsistency, this debate will go on forever, skipping from one point to another.
    Even when pressed he seems to simply ignore arguments against his position. He is certain he's correct, therefore everything else is absolutely mistaken.

    Anon: The sun? Or you mean that plasma ball in the sky! Hm... maybe I do need to get out of my basement more often...
    You might enjoy Corey Doctrow's
    "Eastern Standard Tribe" - the protagonist lives according to a specific time zone regardless of where he actually is, to ease his interaction with the people in that time zone :-)

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  70. H:Even when pressed he seems to simply ignore arguments against his position. He is certain he's correct, therefore everything else is absolutely mistaken.

    The only thing I can think of is to repeat the same argument over and over, refusing to move on, until Rick addresses them. Most likely it will lead to being ignored, so do it only in case of being tired with him )

    H:You might enjoy Corey Doctrow's
    "Eastern Standard Tribe"

    Thanks for the advice, will read it eventually. Though, I have so much things I need to read and write, that it will take a while

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  71. Found an interesting lecture of Alan Wallace about the consciousness and metaphysical. He argues about a middle ground between theism and atheism.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=983112177262602885&q=alan+wallace#

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  72. Interesting video, but I found it less than convincing.

    He seems to be arguing for top down causation for emergent phenomena and that reductionism is false (though doesn't argue for the claim).
    He takes issue with the hypothesis of neurological correlates of mental phenomena, and claims that it is a dogmatic assumption, but from my reading it is more an hypothesis which is open to falsification (which is yet to happen).
    Also, his main argument, that we need to take a different approach to the study of mental phenomena/consciousness doesn't seem well supported. He seems to take issue with scientists trying to prove their hypothesis incorrect, and argues for "introspection" but doesn't dwell on whether the methodology he is arguing for is actually possible. He also seems to ignore the seemingly obvious fact that Buddhists have been "studying the mind" in this fashion for ~2000+ years, through introspection, and yet they don't seem to have come up with much in the way of scientific understanding of the mind.

    But as I said, still and interesting discussion.

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  73. There are also several things I disagree with Wallace. However, he does have a point, when he says that the esoteric and occult is largely understudied. Even if most of the cases are purely pranks and falsifications, there are some, which are clearly genuine (placebo effect, deep meditation). The trigger to those effects from a neurological perspective is incomprehensible.

    As far as I understood him, he does not provide any methodology, he just put forward the idea to try and merge scientific methods and esoteric traditions (through some trials and errors maybe?).

    And the problem with Buddhists is that from the start they did not bother much with classical scientific principals and created their own system. They did develop some precise technics (meditation, physical exercises) to achieve "enlightenment", but the process itself is mostly intuitional. Though, they do seem to be able to tell immediately at what level their adepts are ("energetic flows" and so on).

    Trying to merge Buddhist principals and scientific ones might be impossible, but it is worth a try in my opinion.

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  74. Anon: The trigger to those effects from a neurological perspective is incomprehensible.
    I'm not sure what is so incomprehensible about them - the mind/brain is deeply interconnected with feedback loops etc.

    Anon: As far as I understood him, he does not provide any methodology, he just put forward the idea to try and merge scientific methods and esoteric traditions (through some trials and errors maybe?).
    Which is something of a problem, since I don't see that the methodologies are compatible.

    Anon: Though, they do seem to be able to tell immediately at what level their adepts are ("energetic flows" and so on).
    The term energy is almost as abused as the term quantum :-)

    Anon: Trying to merge Buddhist principals and scientific ones might be impossible, but it is worth a try in my opinion.
    Taking the subjective reports of the practitioners as data does seem to be reasonable, coupled with neuroscience, psychology, physiology etc. I don't see how to "merge" the subjective, unreliable first person perspective with the (more) objective, (more) reliable), intersubjective perspective, except to use the first person reports as (often unreliable) insight into mental processes (which is how neuroscience, etc are done I believe).

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  75. H:I'm not sure what is so incomprehensible about them - the mind/brain is deeply interconnected with feedback loops etc

    The principal of the mechanism at work from a neurological perspective is more or less clear. The problem lies in the initial trigger. Like in the placebo or nocebo effect, why does it occur? There is no visible mechanical stimulation, yet the body starts to react. Why does it affect some, but not others?

    H:Which is something of a problem, since I don't see that the methodologies are compatible.

    I think that neither of us is an expert on Buddhism, so our speculations are not very founded.

    H:The term energy is almost as abused as the term quantum :-)

    True, however, it is at least easier to understand than "the concept of Chi" 8)

    H:I don't see how to "merge" the subjective, unreliable first person perspective with the (more) objective, (more) reliable), intersubjective perspective, except to use the first person reports as (often unreliable) insight into mental processes (which is how neuroscience, etc are done I believe).

    Well, no one knows how to "merge" the objective and subjective in this case. If someone finds the answer, they will definitely receive the Nobel prize. That is why we focus for now on neurological aspects even if the method does have some limitations.

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  76. Anonymous: The problem lies in the initial trigger. Like in the placebo or nocebo effect, why does it occur? There is no visible mechanical stimulation, yet the body starts to react. Why does it affect some, but not others?
    With placebo, there is certainly mechanical stimulation - it is simply unrelated to the effect being studied. There is also the expectation in the mind/brain of the patient which given the interconnectedness of the brain with itself and the rest of the body, it isn't too surprising that there is a physiological effect.

    Anonymous: True, however, it is at least easier to understand than "the concept of Chi" 8)
    The concept of "Chi" has nothing to do with the scientific notion of energy, and is a pre-scientific theory, akin to vitalism, and does not refer to something which exists in reality (though it is a useful mental tool).

    Anonymous: Well, no one knows how to "merge" the objective and subjective in this case. If someone finds the answer, they will definitely receive the Nobel prize. That is why we focus for now on neurological aspects even if the method does have some limitations.
    The subjective is already taken into account in current science - it's just not taken as being a veridical account of objective reality. As I understand it, the subject's subjective account of things is basically taken as being what the subject believes they feel (which is not the same as what they actually feel or believe, since we're often very good at fooling ourselves).

    Just look what happens when our host is absent - we start having an interesting (I hope) and productive conversation :-)

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  77. H:With placebo, there is certainly mechanical stimulation - it is simply unrelated to the effect being studied. There is also the expectation in the mind/brain of the patient.

    The mechanical stimulation is irrelevant. A magic wand or a prayer can do the trick.

    The interesting part would be the expectations of the brain/mind. One could achieve the same result even without the illusion of outside stimulation. The brain/mind alone can alter the body in ways incomprehensible for modern science (curing cancer and so on). For example, some Tibetan monks can alter their body temperature at will. The question would be, how do they activate different parts of their brain to achieve that result?

    H:The concept of "Chi" has nothing to do with the scientific notion of energy, and is a pre-scientific theory, akin to vitalism, and does not refer to something which exists in reality (though it is a useful mental tool).

    To me it is mostly a semantic discussion. In the West we call the phenomena "energy" and the East they call it "Chi". Since we do not fully understand the brain, it would be foolish to discard the concept off hand.

    H:The subjective is already taken into account in current science - it's just not taken as being a veridical account of objective reality.

    It is more about how much it is taken into account. In the end, what matters is the final result. For example, they was a baseball player in India who lost his feet in an accident, but, since he refused to believe they were lost, his life never changed. He was fooling himself, completely lost in denial, but because of that he managed to continued living a healthy life.

    It is extremely hard to make a distinction between what we actually feel and what we think we are feeling. The brain/mind is strong enough to alter our body to fit the illusions. That is why in Eastern medicine there is no concept of incurable diseases. In that aspect, it is superior to its Western counterpart.

    H:Just look what happens when our host is absent - we start having an interesting (I hope) and productive conversation :-)

    Well, Rick did make me think a lot. He reminds me of a protagonist from a Danish movie - "Adam s apples". I really recommend it to understand the mind of a religious person 8)

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0418455/

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  78. Anonymous: The mechanical stimulation is irrelevant. A magic wand or a prayer can do the trick.
    That would still be external stimulation.

    Anonymous: The interesting part would be the expectations of the brain/mind. One could achieve the same result even without the illusion of outside stimulation.
    I think the current evidence shows far greater effect from "sham" practice as compared with expectations alone. I believe that things like acupuncture and homeopathy, which have been shown to be nothing more than placebo, produce a larger effect than less "invasive" placebo interventions (such as Reiki for instance).

    Anonymous: The brain/mind alone can alter the body in ways incomprehensible for modern science (curing cancer and so on).
    Unexplained doesn't equate with incomprehensibility.
    The body can also alter the brain in remarkable ways - it's a big interconnected whole.

    Anonymous: For example, some Tibetan monks can alter their body temperature at will. The question would be, how do they activate different parts of their brain to achieve that result?
    The wouldn't activate different parts of their brain. I'm speculating a little here, but altering your body temperature would most likely be the result of contracting muscles, which would the generate heat. The monks would likely have learnt to make their muscles undergo something akin to a contraction without the normal effort, bulging etc associated with it (and/or utilising internal muscles and smooth muscle etc). There doesn't seem to be any indication that anything "magical" is going on.

    Anonymous: To me it is mostly a semantic discussion. In the West we call the phenomena "energy" and the East they call it "Chi". Since we do not fully understand the brain, it would be foolish to discard the concept off hand.
    "Energy" in physics and chemistry is simply the ability of a physical system to do work on another, and is broken into different "sources" - chemical, gravitational (potential), etc. The term is also strongly associated with electromagnetic radiation.
    "Chi" is, as I understand it, a specific claim, akin to vitalism, that there is some "mystic" energy running through the body which can be harnessed by the will (or blocked to cause illness etc). This sort of mystical energy has no scientific basis and seems to be nothing more (and nothing less) than a mental focus technique.

    Anonymous: It is more about how much it is taken into account. In the end, what matters is the final result.
    Actually, I'd say that methodology is what matters most. If your methodology does not result in justifiable claims, then what you get at the end is not knowledge even if it corresponds with reality.

    Anonymous: For example, they was a baseball player in India who lost his feet in an accident, but, since he refused to believe they were lost, his life never changed.
    His life would have changed - he would not have been able to run as fast or has a good balance. He simply adapted to his new predicament and learnt to walk on stumps (or whatever prosthetic he used).

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  79. Anonymous: He was fooling himself, completely lost in denial, but because of that he managed to continued living a healthy life.
    As our host amply demonstrates, being delusional is not particularly healthy :-)

    Anonymous: It is extremely hard to make a distinction between what we actually feel and what we think we are feeling.
    Agreed.

    Anonymous: The brain/mind is strong enough to alter our body to fit the illusions.
    The mind/brain is able to fool itself into thinking it's perception of the body is reflective of reality when it is not.

    Anonymous: That is why in Eastern medicine there is no concept of incurable diseases. In that aspect, it is superior to its Western counterpart.
    I don't see that as making it superior. There are diseases which are (on present technology) incurable. I would think that a realistic recognition of this would be superior rather than ignoring reality as it is and opting for some fantasy.

    Anonymous: Well, Rick did make me think a lot. He reminds me of a protagonist from a Danish movie - "Adam s apples". I really recommend it to understand the mind of a religious person 8)
    I'll check it out - thanks!

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  80. H:I think the current evidence shows far greater effect from "sham" practice as compared with expectations alone.

    I do not consider homeopathy and acupuncture to be part of the placebo effect. At least those methods affect far more patients than the classical "pill". Though, I am also skeptical about Reiki and other healing practices like that. But I do consider meditation another matter.

    H:Unexplained doesn't equate with incomprehensibility.
    The body can also alter the brain in remarkable ways - it's a big interconnected whole.

    That is true. But I have some doubts, that the mechanism can be explained without some new discoveries or incorporation of some other traditions.

    And as far as I remember Eastern techniques, their main premises would be the interconnection between the physical and metaphysical. Or else it would be impossible to study as you pointed out with the soul discussion.

    H:There doesn't seem to be any indication that anything "magical" is going on.

    Well, the "magic" and "mysticism" of today is the science of tomorrow )

    Altering one s body temperature would mean to control perfectly one s heart rhythm. It exceeds the calm/excited degree and a few years ago it was considered impossible. The initial mechanism still starts with the brain, though.

    H:This sort of mystical energy has no scientific basis and seems to be nothing more (and nothing less) than a mental focus technique.

    The problem would be that Science and Buddhism have different priorities and have built different systems which may be incompatible even.

    However, mental focus techniques do work in most cases. Science does not really offer an explanation for them yet, but Buddhism does (granted, in a very vague way). At least it can be used as a starting point to science.

    H:Actually, I'd say that methodology is what matters most.

    Again, it is about different priorities. Is it about expanding knowledge and systemize it or about reaching a personal mental balance and health?

    But to be honest, esoteric practice can be very harmful. During the perestroika era, "healing" through TV was very popular. Many seriously diseased people started to fall into denial about their curable illness. You can guess the consequences.

    H:As our host amply demonstrates, being delusional is not particularly healthy :-)

    Some are just unable to live on without such illusions. Not everyone values honesty.

    H:The mind/brain is able to fool itself into thinking it's perception of the body is reflective of reality when it is not.

    That would be the main problem. The brain/mind and body has its limits.

    H:I don't see that as making it superior. There are diseases which are (on present technology) incurable.

    At least some slim hope of a cure is better than no hope at all. The body is incredible and the placebo effect does prove that an incurable disease today can be cured by the body itself somehow. It does not mean that Eastern medicine is content with its level of advancement. It does search for more efficient ways of treatment.

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  81. Anonymous: I do not consider homeopathy and acupuncture to be part of the placebo effect. At least those methods affect far more patients than the classical "pill".
    Double blind trials tend to weight against your belief here. In the case of homeopathy, there is so much basic science which runs against it's claims, that considering it as being possibly effective seems irrational to me.

    Anonymous: Though, I am also skeptical about Reiki and other healing practices like that.
    Reiki and other "energy" therapies tend to abuse the term energy in order to sound plausible.

    Anonymous: But I do consider meditation another matter.
    It depends on what you're claiming for meditation ;-)

    Anonymous: And as far as I remember Eastern techniques, their main premises would be the interconnection between the physical and metaphysical.
    I'm not sure what you mean by that. Could you explain in a little more detail?

    Anonymous: Well, the "magic" and "mysticism" of today is the science of tomorrow )
    It's never been that way in the past, why would that change in the future?
    It seems to me that the "magic" and "mysticism" of the present becomes the delusion and false belief of the past :-)

    Anonymous: Altering one s body temperature would mean to control perfectly one s heart rhythm.
    Not perfectly. Breathing can control your heart rate to a degree.

    Anonymous: It exceeds the calm/excited degree and a few years ago it was considered impossible.
    Which doesn't mean that magic happens. It would just mean that on current evidence, it doesn't appear possible. This would only be a serious problem if someone were claiming a complete theory.

    Anonymous: The initial mechanism still starts with the brain, though.
    Which is entirely physical in nature, implying no "magic" happens here either (though we don't understand it in great detail yet).

    Anonymous: The problem would be that Science and Buddhism have different priorities and have built different systems which may be incompatible even.
    It likely comes down to considerations of epistemology. I'm not familiar enough with Buddhist epistemological claims to be able to say much regarding compatibility with scientific epistemology. Suffice to say that things like subjective experience and "revelation", which are hallmarks of most religious systems, are not reliable sources of knowledge and therefore any epistemology which relies upon these sources of information appear to be flawed by definition.

    Anonymous: However, mental focus techniques do work in most cases. Science does not really offer an explanation for them yet, but Buddhism does (granted, in a very vague way). At least it can be used as a starting point to science.
    I would be surprised if there weren't people looking into focus techniques of this sort, and while science doesn't have an answer as yet, I don't think buddhism has a valid explanation either, especially if it relies upon non-existent "Chi" energy as a part of it's claims.

    Anonymous: Again, it is about different priorities. Is it about expanding knowledge and systemize it or about reaching a personal mental balance and health?
    While an invalid methodology might gain you mental balance and health (for example, Rick's subjective and irrational methodology for knowledge seems to keep him somewhat balanced), it does not therefore follow that information gained through using such methodology equates to knowledge concerning reality (or even about oneself).

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  82. Anonymous: At least some slim hope of a cure is better than no hope at all.
    It depends though. The "Gonzales Protocol" which is purported to be a cure for cancer, leads to suffering on the part of the person since it is a fairly tough protocol. It has been demonstrated to not offer any benefit over standard care (and I believe, in the case of a recent-ish trial, showed negative benefit).
    Such "slim hope of a cure" would be, in my opinion, far worse than a realistic assessment of reality as we understand it ;-)

    Anonymous: It does not mean that Eastern medicine is content with its level of advancement. It does search for more efficient ways of treatment.
    Which brings us back to questions of methodology. If the search is conducted via methods which are unable or unlikely to lead to knowledge concerning reality as far as disease goes, then the search would seem to be pointless.

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  83. H:Double blind trials tend to weight against your belief here.

    As I understand, our body uses even the microscopic elements in homeopathy as a model to reproduce the same elements itself.

    And acupuncture has shown consistent results, which does not appear in the case of the placebo effect.

    H:It depends on what you're claiming for meditation ;-)

    I am speaking about different techniques used in the East to alter the body. The most primitive would be the ability to block pain signals which is already being used in medicine when anesthetics are undesirable. This is exactly what I mean as the interconnection of the mind and body.

    H:It's never been that way in the past, why would that change in the future?

    In the past the maritime tides were considered a magical mystery and are still considered magical by some Fox News anchors )

    H:Not perfectly. Breathing can control your heart rate to a degree.

    That is the mystery since those monks do seem to control their heart to a degree superior to what modern science believe is possible. When I say it is "magic" I am just saying we do not have an understanding of the process today (just like the tide was "magic" in the past). This sort of knowledge is not well incorporated in modern science, but it is more or less explained in the religious/medical system of Buddhism.

    H:Which is entirely physical in nature, implying no "magic" happens here either (though we don't understand it in great detail yet).

    The main issue would be that we do not have a good understanding of it yet. I believe we should be open to any possibility, including the possibility of some metaphysical capacity of the brain.

    H:It likely comes down to considerations of epistemology. I'm not familiar enough with Buddhist epistemological claims to be able to say much regarding compatibility with scientific epistemology

    That makes two of us )
    I fully acknowledge, that the Buddhist concepts might be incompatible with science, but we will never know for sure, unless some scientist does try merge them.

    H:I would be surprised if there weren't people looking into focus techniques of this sort, and while science doesn't have an answer as yet, I don't think buddhism has a valid explanation either, especially if it relies upon non-existent "Chi" energy as a part of it's claims

    Scientist do study these techniques, but there has been limited progress for now. The buddhist explanation might be completely off the mark and is incredibly opaque, but it can be a good start to study the phenomena. For now modern science appear to be in an impasse.

    H:Such "slim hope of a cure" would be, in my opinion, far worse than a realistic assessment of reality as we understand it ;-)

    Depends largely from the person. Some would try anything just to stay alive even if it would mean being chained to bed for the rest of one s life.

    H:Which brings us back to questions of methodology.

    Eastern and Western medicine have different methodologies, but both are working in their own way. For some illnesses it is better to visit Europe, while for others - Asia. Each system has its pros and cons. Uniting them would be a goal for the future.

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  84. Anonymous: As I understand, our body uses even the microscopic elements in homeopathy as a model to reproduce the same elements itself.
    That may be the claim. In most homeopathic remedies there is no actual "active ingredient" left - it's just water. And the claims that water has a memory are unfounded.
    Even in homeopathic remedies which have some active ingredient, the claim of "like cures like" is unfounded, and the whole idea goes against the dose response curve of scientific reality.

    Anonymous: And acupuncture has shown consistent results, which does not appear in the case of the placebo effect.
    It has been demonstrated that where you place the needles makes no difference. It has also been shown that puncturing the skin is not necessary (sham needles which contain something sharp to cause a sensation of the needle without penetrations. Hidden in a sheath so that neither the practitioner nor the patient knows which needles they're using). It shows a marginally higher level than "no intervention" mainly, I believe, because of the touchy feely quality of the practitioner - bedside manner is important :-)

    Anonymous: The most primitive would be the ability to block pain signals which is already being used in medicine when anesthetics are undesirable. This is exactly what I mean as the interconnection of the mind and body.
    It wouldn't be blocking pain signals, as the nerves would still be firing. It would be a mental technique to ignore the subjective sensation of pain.

    Anonymous: In the past the maritime tides were considered a magical mystery and are still considered magical by some Fox News anchors.
    Fox is often hilarious!
    Many things which have been considered magical or divine have been found to be mundane. My point was that the magical component has never survived critical enquiry and adequate explanation (which is why I'm fairly convinced that some form of materialism/physicalism is likely correct, and why I'm also convinced that methodological naturalism/intersubjective empiricism is the best (and possibly only) means of gaining reliable knowledge of reality).

    Anonymous: When I say it is "magic" I am just saying we do not have an understanding of the process today (just like the tide was "magic" in the past).
    Fair enough.
    I think the heart beat could be explained by feedback in the brain. The available level of mental and physical capacity which can actually be placed under "conscious control" is a grey area, though we do have some reasonable knowledge of the boundaries of that fuzzy zone :-)

    Anonymous: The main issue would be that we do not have a good understanding of it yet. I believe we should be open to any possibility, including the possibility of some metaphysical capacity of the brain.
    While I agree in principle, we need to ensure that we're being epistemologically responsible with our methodology.
    I'm still unsure what you mean by "metaphysical" here.

    Anonymous: For now modern science appear to be in an impasse.
    I don't really see that. I see science making rather great strides in understanding the mind/brain at present. Though it is still early days and there is much we do not understand, I don't think that is surprising given that the brain is basically the most complex item we know of.

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  85. Anonymous: Some would try anything just to stay alive even if it would mean being chained to bed for the rest of one s life.
    This is true, but if the "chaining someone to the bed" gave them 6 months of life, and giving them palliative care also gave them 6 months of life, I know which one is the more reasonable option to choose - false hope is no hope at all.

    Anonymous: Eastern and Western medicine have different methodologies, but both are working in their own way.
    While it may have arisen in the West (due to the influence of the sciences I would guess), there really is no "Western" and "Eastern" medicine. There is that which has been shown to work, that which has been shown not to work, and things whose efficacy has yet to be established.
    A lot of things which fall into the "Eastern Medicine", like the ubiquitus "Complementary and Alternative Medicine" has been shown not to work (homeopathy, accupuncture, Reiki, Energy Healing, Gonzales protocol for cancer, iridology and many/most of the practices of naturopaths, etc). Some of it has been shown to be of marginal benefit (Chiropractic for lower back pain, for instance). And some of it has no demonstrated efficacy(many so called sures for cancer simply have no evidence in support of their claims). Many of them go against basic science (homeopathy).
    Some things in medicine are in the same boat. Some has been shown not to work (antibiotics for viral infections, injecting "glue" into cracked vertabra), some has been shown to work (antibiotics for bacterial infections, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer) and many are in the trial stage, or have limited evidence for efficacy (the previously mentioned cracked vertabra was only recently found to be of no benefit, but was being used in practice).
    When something is found to be efficacious (such as massage, diet and exercise, etc) they become a part of established medicine (not "Eastern" or "Western" or "Alternative").

    Anonymous: For some illnesses it is better to visit Europe, while for others - Asia. Each system has its pros and cons. Uniting them would be a goal for the future.
    There is no need to unite them. Simply test interventions in solid, rationally designed double blind placebo controlled trials (after assessing the intervention for its likely scientific merit, and carry out earlier in vitro and animal studies of course) :-)

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  86. H:This is true, but if the "chaining someone to the bed" gave them 6 months of life, and giving them palliative care also gave them 6 months of life, I know which one is the more reasonable option to choose - false hope is no hope at all.

    Science does not have all the answers and accepting the fact of a terminal disease is not easy. The mental condition is also very important for the state of the patient and a medical sentence to death can drastically affect the condition of the sick person. If one has nothing to loose, why not try something else?

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  87. Hm... for some reason my commentaries seem to disappear...

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  88. H:That may be the claim. In most homeopathic remedies there is no actual "active ingredient" left - it's just water. And the claims that water has a memory are unfounded.

    But it does seam to work and the success rate far exceeds the 20% of the placebo effect. We just need to find the reason.

    H:It has been demonstrated that where you place the needles makes no difference. It has also been shown that puncturing the skin is not necessary

    1) Some ares of the body do not require an exact point for stimulation.

    2) Puncturing the skin is not necessary, it is just easier to use needles than to remember all the places that were touched or to use excessive physical force to stimulate a difficult point. Chiropractic use the same basis as acupuncture and for a long time it was considered "sham" practice.

    3) The most convincing evidence for acupuncture in my opinion would be the ability to diagnose all the major disease of the patient, depending on the reaction from the stimulation.

    H:It wouldn't be blocking pain signals, as the nerves would still be firing. It would be a mental technique to ignore the subjective sensation of pain.

    Blocking pain = Blocking the mind = Ignoring the pain. It would be mostly a semantic discussion in my opinion.

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  89. H:My point was that the magical component has never survived critical enquiry and adequate explanation

    I do agree with you here. Magic potions against headaches ended up being Aspirin. I just believe that when science finds itself in an impasse it should at least start from something. Even if the assumption is ridiculous.

    H:We do have some reasonable knowledge of the boundaries of that fuzzy zone :-)

    I am no neurosurgeon, so I will trust you on that one 8)

    H:I'm still unsure what you mean by "metaphysical" here.

    By "metaphysical" I mean the "Chi" phenomena and so on. Since we do not have an explanation for those techniques, we do not really have a choice, but to study those alien esoteric systems. Some information from them at least should be useful. After all, the phenomena of radiation was also unknown in the past and was only speculation, so the existence of some invisible "Chi" is not that improbable.

    H:I don't really see that. I see science making rather great strides in understanding the mind/brain at present.

    Science is constantly making progress, but we are still far away from understanding those techniques. We can either wait for some breakthrough in a similar field or try to work for now with what we got.

    H:This is true, but if the "chaining someone to the bed" gave them 6 months of life, and giving them palliative care also gave them 6 months of life, I know which one is the more reasonable option to choose - false hope is no hope at all.

    Accepting the fact of a terminal disease is not easy and there is always the slim possibility of a mistake. The mental condition is also very important for the state of the patient and a medical sentence to death can drastically affect the condition of the sick person. If one has nothing to loose, why not try something else?

    H:When something is found to be efficacious (such as massage, diet and exercise, etc) they become a part of established medicine (not "Eastern" or "Western" or "Alternative").

    That would be the ideal way, but, unfortunately, it boils to much more than that. First of all, medical care has become an incredibly huge business. The pharmaceutical industry alone is about billion of dollars. If a method to cure a person through meditation was discovered one can be sure of a strong opposition, despite the possible efficiency of such practice. The interest of Corporations often come first, that is why the WHO accepted the GMO, even if it was clear that additional studies where needed.

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  90. Anonymous: But it does seam to work and the success rate far exceeds the 20% of the placebo effect. We just need to find the reason.
    It's my understanding that in properly conducted, placebo controlled, double blind studies, the difference between placebo and homeopathy is not statistically significant.
    Proponents of Homeopathy don't like these studies, and tend to nit pick them, but also fail to do them on their own. THe studies which show some action for homoepathy tend to be loosly controlled - the sort of study which may indicate further attention is needed, but not the sort of study you base claims of efficacy upon.

    Anonymous: 1) Some ares of the body do not require an exact point for stimulation.
    The double blind study's which have come out recently, which compare no treatment (the practitioner just does the bedside manner part), actual acupuncture in the "proper" location (needles in specific locations), sham acupuncture in the "proper" location (gives the patient a sharp jab but does not enter the skin), actual acupuncture in a more or less random location, and sham acupuncture in a more or less random location. The "needles" were in a sheath, so the practitioner didn't know if they were using needles of sharpened tooth picks (I'm not sure, off the top of my head, whether or how they controlled the location variable).
    The results of the study were that the controll group receiving nice bedside manner, recieved some benefit, while the other 4 groups received greater benefit. The difference between the 4 groups was not statistically significant.

    Anonymous: Blocking pain = Blocking the mind = Ignoring the pain. It would be mostly a semantic discussion in my opinion.
    It seems that pain, being a subjective feeling in response to the firing of C-fibres (I think) would be a prime candidate for ignoring through concentration (pain is also, incidently, something which responds very well to placebo).

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  91. Anonymous: I do agree with you here. Magic potions against headaches ended up being Aspirin. I just believe that when science finds itself in an impasse it should at least start from something. Even if the assumption is ridiculous.
    I agree. I'm not sure that science is at an impasse regarding the mind however. Progress is being made in leaps and bounds.
    It's not surprising that we don't know everything as neuroscience is a very young field (imaging technology of sufficient resolution is quite recent) and the brain is incredibly complex.

    Anonymous: I am no neurosurgeon, so I will trust you on that one 8)
    Neither am I, but I (try to) read a lot :-)

    Anonymous: By "metaphysical" I mean the "Chi" phenomena and so on. Since we do not have an explanation for those techniques, we do not really have a choice, but to study those alien esoteric systems.
    We do have an explanation - mental focus/concentration techniques. We have no evidence to support the traditional understanding of "Chi" and lots of evidence against it, so I'm inclined to accept the naturalistic account, even though it isn't a "complete" explanation.

    Anonymous: Some information from them at least should be useful. After all, the phenomena of radiation was also unknown in the past and was only speculation, so the existence of some invisible "Chi" is not that improbable.
    Except that, thanks to various conservation laws and a fairly detailed understanding of biology, chemistry and physics, there is no room left for "Chi" to fit in - we understand how our bodies are fueled and have a fairly good understanding of how individual cells function, and no where do we find "Chi", nor do we find an energy gap of sorts.
    What we should be studying (and I suspect some people are) is what is going on in the mind when people employ these focus/concentration techniques.

    Anonymous: We can either wait for some breakthrough in a similar field or try to work for now with what we got.
    I'm all for working with and from what we already know. A belief in "Chi" is not knowledge since it is not backed up by scientific evidence.

    Anonymous: If one has nothing to loose, why not try something else?
    If one has little to nothing to gain, why undergo unecessary suffering?

    Anonymous: If a method to cure a person through meditation was discovered one can be sure of a strong opposition, despite the possible efficiency of such practice.
    Since it would be a non-drug intervention, such research is unlikely to come from a drug company. As such it would be widely available. Since it would be widely available, and most medical professionals care more about their patient's health than buying another car, you can be sure that this cure would be prescribed routinely. I don't see that the drug companies could stop it.
    Also, such a thing ought to show up in statistical studies of population groups, but I don't think that is the case (after controlling for other variables).

    Anonymous: The interest of Corporations often come first, that is why the WHO accepted the GMO, even if it was clear that additional studies where needed.
    GMO's generally are fine - we've been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years through selective breeding. While approval may have been slightly too fast, the vast majority of so called concerns about GMO's are sparked by an irrational fear of them rather than evidence (or so it seems to me).

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  92. I felt this needed an additional comment:
    Anonymous: After all, the phenomena of radiation was also unknown in the past and was only speculation
    I think that while radiation was responsible for some unexplained phenomena at the time, an understanding of it came about due to Maxwell and his theories of electro magnetism. Maxwells equations, which matched well with reality regarding electric and magnetic fields, also showed that an "electro-magnetic wave" which would propagate at the same speed light had been measured at, existed. After this, experimenters started trying to produce/record such waves.
    My point is that during the whole process, even when it was speculative, hypothesis concerning radiation were treated as speculative by scientists.
    What I see a lot of alternative medicine, eastern mysticism proponents do is treat their supposed phenomena as real, and then go about trying to demonstrate this reality. This seems to be why clinical studies which show no statistical significant effect above placebo for acupuncture, for example, don't tend to conclude that acupuncture doesn't work, but that something is going on in the control and/or placebo groups which needs to be understood. The phenomena being studies is assumed to be effective, and the results don't matter.

    I'm not saying you're doing this here, as I think we agree on much, and some of the places we disagree is likely due to language and or culture (you're Russian, correct?) and resulting miscommunication.
    I'm just trying to indicate what seems to be a pattern for "true believers", whether it's acupuncture, homeopathy or God :-)

    Speaking of which, Rick has been absent for at least a week now. I wonder if he'll venture back any time soon :-)

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  93. H:Proponents of Homeopathy don't like these studies, and tend to nit pick them, but also fail to do them on their own.

    It just means that further studies are needed. Though, for a long time homeopathy was considered mainstream and proven by modern science.

    H:The results of the study were that the controll group receiving nice bedside manner, recieved some benefit, while the other 4 groups received greater benefit. The difference between the 4 groups was not statistically significant.

    I must admit that I am not aware of this study. However, what do you mean by bedside manners? There still was some stimulation I believe. As for the other 3 methods, I do not think that they cannot be discarded as placebo effect, since needles are not needed for acupuncture.
    Besides, one needs several seances to achieve some definite result. Was it done in a one-time sitting?

    And speaking from personal experience (which can make me biased) acupuncture did help me a little with the symptoms of my vitiligo (a genetical disease that causes some depigmentation of the skin). It might be part of the placebo effect (even if I did not have much expectation and did not care much in the first place), but it does puzzle me how come in that case the treatment was not a complete success and why it took me several months to go through.

    H:It seems that pain, being a subjective feeling in response to the firing of C-fibres (I think) would be a prime candidate for ignoring through concentration.

    Can t argue with that. But it does not make it any less interesting.

    H:It's not surprising that we don't know everything as neuroscience is a very young field.

    Maybe I am just impatient and I am not an expert on the subject either, it is not even in the field of my major interest. 8)

    H:We do have an explanation - mental focus/concentration techniques. We have no evidence to support the traditional understanding of "Chi" and lots of evidence against it.

    First of all, not everyone agrees with the exact definition of "Chi" even in the East. Secondly, we do not have any understanding yet of how that focus/concentration is being done. "Chi" can be used as speculation about the mechanism at work.

    I do not think that we have enough evidence to discard "Chi" completely. We know a lot about the body, but there is still a lot of gray areas.

    H:If one has little to nothing to gain, why undergo unecessary suffering?

    We often undergo unnecessary suffering to gain some peace of mind and avoid some greater mental suffering.

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  94. H:Since it would be a non-drug intervention, such research is unlikely to come from a drug company. As such it would be widely available.

    I disagree with you on that point. Huge corporations have a big range of measures to sabotage unwanted progress. One example would be the invention of the hybrid car (the concept was invented in the 1970s, but the patent was bought by an oil company and the invention only was implemented several years late). A second example could be the crusade against chiropractic (years of trials and accusations of "sham" practice). There are countless other examples.

    H:GMO's generally are fine - we've been genetically modifying plants and animals for thousands of years through selective breeding.

    Selective breeding and genetically modified products are not the same thing. In the first case the subject are already compatible, while in the second one - compatibility is forced upon.

    There have been some alarming studies about GMO. Like all the rats who were being fed by GMO soya turned out infertile after the third generation. Or some bananas which made men lose weight and women gain weight. Not to mention the ecological disaster going on - GMO plants started to mutate with wild plants and are spreading around (being from Australia, you should know how an alien form of life can influence the habitat). And we have no idea what can happen to people who are eating meat from cattle, which was fed GMO banned for human consumption.

    At least if a catastrophe occur, it is going to hit our decedents, so we can relax and pollute as much as we want 8)

    H:My point is that during the whole process, even when it was speculative, hypothesis concerning radiation were treated as speculative by scientists. What I see a lot of alternative medicine, eastern mysticism proponents do is treat their supposed phenomena as real, and then go about trying to demonstrate this reality.

    Personal bias is always present, be it for or against. The deal would to accept the possibility and try to be as open-minded as possible.

    I am a little skeptical about the presented clinical studies (partly because of personal experience, partly because of a possible forgery). Furthermore, there are several studies which endorse acupuncture, so someone is definitely lying or mistaken here 8)

    And if we consider WHO as the main authority, they acknowledged acupuncture to be effective enough to be expanded and studied.

    H:I'm just trying to indicate what seems to be a pattern for "true believers", whether it's acupuncture, homeopathy or God :-)

    I agree that blind faith cannot lead to anything good. However, I also believe that a good scientist should be open to any possibility, including pigs flying out of one s arse.

    H:Speaking of which, Rick has been absent for at least a week now. I wonder if he'll venture back any time soon :-)

    I am sure that he is writing another article about the Antichrist or something similar.

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  95. Anonymous: It just means that further studies are needed.
    I don't think it does. The good studies show no effect from homeopathy, and homeopathy contradicts so much basic science that I really don't see the need to continue - it has failed to demonstrate any efficacy and is not even a plausible intervention.

    Anonymous: Though, for a long time homeopathy was considered mainstream and proven by modern science.
    Scientific medicine is only fairly recent on the scene, as I understand it. Whether homeopathy was ever considered proven by science, it never actually has been.

    Anonymous: However, what do you mean by bedside manners?
    The practitioner still did some non-intervention touchy-feely stuff, making the person feel like they were being looked after, without actually doing any acupuncture (sham or otherwise).

    Anonymous: There still was some stimulation I believe.
    As far as I'm aware there was no stimulation - this was the controll group.

    Anonymous: As for the other 3 methods, I do not think that they cannot be discarded as placebo effect, since needles are not needed for acupuncture.
    Needles are needed for acupuncture. What you seem to be thinking of is acupressure.
    Specific points are still needed for both acupuncture and acupressure.

    Anonymous: Besides, one needs several seances to achieve some definite result. Was it done in a one-time sitting?
    I'm not sure whether there was repeated treatment or not - I'd have to track down the study.

    Anonymous: ...but it does puzzle me how come in that case the treatment was not a complete success and why it took me several months to go through.
    Many diseases are self limiting, and many regress to the mean, meaning they get worse, then better, then worse etc. I'm not sure about the details of your specific disease, but often people will seek out treatment when things are getting worse, and the course of treatment carries on while the issue gets worse and then starts to get better. This is a completely normal part of the progression of the illness, but in these instances the intervention is claimed to have helped (when it likely did not).

    Anonymous: I do not think that we have enough evidence to discard "Chi" completely. We know a lot about the body, but there is still a lot of gray areas.
    We know enough about physics, chemistry and biology to disregard CHi as a probable/likely explanation until and unless there is something which requires something like it for an explanation.
    We're not at that stage when it comes to neurology, and so I don't see that CHi should be included as a serious possibility.

    Anonymous: One example would be the invention of the hybrid car (the concept was invented in the 1970s, but the patent was bought by an oil company and the invention only was implemented several years late).
    The oil company may have buried the concept, but it's not exactly unobvious. AS I think current hybrid cars show, they've only recently become viable due to technological reasons (battery capacity, energy density, materials tehcnology etc), not because an oil company shelved a patent.

    Anonymouys: A second example could be the crusade against chiropractic (years of trials and accusations of "sham" practice).
    Chiropractic is, for the most part, sham practice. There have been attempts in the past to move chiropractic to a more reality based foundation (as occurred to osteopathy in the US), but such moves have been strongly resisted by Chiropractors and have never gained much traction.

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  96. Anonymous: Selective breeding and genetically modified products are not the same thing. In the first case the subject are already compatible, while in the second one - compatibility is forced upon.
    There are differences, in that the genetic variation needs to be present in the breeding stock in order to expose a particular trait, while GMO's can have the genetic variability added to them. They're not all that different in the end, however.

    Anonymous: There have been some alarming studies about GMO. Like all the rats who were being fed by GMO soya turned out infertile after the third generation. Or some bananas which made men lose weight and women gain weight.
    I'm not aware of those studies. I do know there is a lot of hype and fear regarding GMO's, and much of the noise surrounding their claimed danger is very hyperbolic.

    Anonymous: Not to mention the ecological disaster going on - GMO plants started to mutate with wild plants and are spreading around (being from Australia, you should know how an alien form of life can influence the habitat).
    While it's not great that this happens, it happens in nature all the time, and we've done it with non-GMO plants and animals.

    Anonymous: And we have no idea what can happen to people who are eating meat from cattle, which was fed GMO banned for human consumption.
    Unless the GMO feed can cause mutations (which I doubt, since the stomach breask down basically all food into it's molecular building blocks prior to absorbtion, regardless of the source), then the meat would be the same as if the cattle were not fed GMO products.

    Anonymous: Furthermore, there are several studies which endorse acupuncture, so someone is definitely lying or mistaken here 8)
    The studies I've seen concerning acupuncture, which have decent controls, tend to conclude that acupuncture works. What is curious is that the data they draw from does not support this conclusion (there is no statistically significant difference). So the proponents of acupuncture seem to be ignoring their own data.

    Anonymous: And if we consider WHO as the main authority, they acknowledged acupuncture to be effective enough to be expanded and studied
    I try to consider reality as the main authority :-)

    Anonymous: also believe that a good scientist should be open to any possibility, including pigs flying out of one s arse.
    It's not only about being open (or closed) minded. We only have limited resources, which to me means that if something, like homeopathy, requires water have a "memory", something which runs against basic physics and chemistry, and if that something shows no effect above placebo, we're safe concluding that said thing is likely to be simply a placebo.

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  97. H:The good studies show no effect from homeopathy, and homeopathy contradicts so much basic science that I really don't see the need to continue

    Then modern medicine needs to catch up with science, since homeopathy is quite popular 8)

    H:As far as I'm aware there was no stimulation - this was the controll group.

    Than maybe it was the result of placebo effect. But I wonder what where the initial illness that was treated.

    H:Specific points are still needed for both acupuncture and acupressure.

    In some cases no specific points are needed, an approximate area of the body suffices. Acupuncture and acupressure have the same basis and there is little difference between them as far as I know.

    H:Many diseases are self limiting, and many regress to the mean, meaning they get worse, then better, then worse etc.

    Your guess is definitely off the mark this time. I got acupuncture because my parents were concerned, even it did not bother me at all. It is mostly a cosmetic matter, one s body is covered with "stains", they are permanent and are not supposed to disappear (only additional ones can appear). No relapse is possible. It can be treated to some extent with lasers, but with limited success. But the same effect was accomplished with acupuncture. You can check about the disease on wikipedia.

    H:We're not at that stage when it comes to neurology, and so I don't see that CHi should be included as a serious possibility.

    I still think it could be studied. For now we can only understand simple processes of the body, while Chi addresses the more complex ones. The alternative would be to wait a couple decades or even more.

    H:The oil company may have buried the concept, but it's not exactly unobvious.

    But they did manage to delay the research in that field for quite some time. It only reemerged in the 1990s.

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  98. H:Chiropractic is, for the most part, sham practice. There have been attempts in the past to move chiropractic to a more reality based foundation (as occurred to osteopathy in the US), but such moves have been strongly resisted by Chiropractors and have never gained much traction.

    I am a little ignorant in that sense, I must confess. However, I do know that chiropractors did manage to win several court cases and proved there about the efficiency of their practice.

    H:They're not all that different in the end, however.

    That is debatable.

    H:I'm not aware of those studies. I do know there is a lot of hype and fear regarding GMO's, and much of the noise surrounding their claimed danger is very hyperbolic.

    There is fear from ignorance, but there is also fear from studies. A complete testing of GMO products could take at least a hundred years and no private company would survive that long without compensating the expensive research. Lobbyists are very active in pushing GMO to the market.

    H:While it's not great that this happens, it happens in nature all the time, and we've done it with non-GMO plants and animals.

    In nature things like that are rare. And we have observed first-hand how destructive it is for the environment with Australia. I doubt that man-eating tomatoes will appear, but the habitat in some regions might become hostile for human life.

    H:Unless the GMO feed can cause mutations, then the meat would be the same as if the cattle were not fed GMO products.

    We know about mad-cow disease, which started because cattle was fed scrapes from the meat industry. There is no guarantee that GMO is harmless in this case.

    H:So the proponents of acupuncture seem to be ignoring their own data.

    I am no expert on the subject, but I thought peer researched papers would have pointed out such contradiction.

    H:I try to consider reality as the main authority :-)

    Since humans perceive reality at as subjective level, we still need some authority besides reality 8)

    H:If something, like homeopathy, requires water have a "memory", something which runs against basic physics and chemistry, and if that something shows no effect above placebo, we're safe concluding that said thing is likely to be simply a placebo.

    I agree here. But is the effect truly at the placebo level, meaning at a 20% rate? I am not completely convinced here.

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  99. Oh! And I need to apologize, I made a mistake. The GMO that makes gain/loose weight depending on gender is not a banana, it is a type of corn

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  100. Havok,

    You wrote, "You're assuming that to make any sort of moral judgement, an objective basis is required, yet this is also merely an assertion on your part."

    R: I don't doubt that you can propose "any sort" of moral judgment as a relativist, but was I propose is that moral relativism can only offer an illogical and unhealthy moral code.

    As you seem to wholeheartedly support moral relativism now, I thought you might appreciate the following article,

    Proof Moral Relativism is False

    http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/10/proof-moral-relativism-is-false.html

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  101. Rick: I don't doubt that you can propose "any sort" of moral judgment as a relativist, but was I propose is that moral relativism can only offer an illogical and unhealthy moral code.
    You can propose it all you want, but what you actually need to do, to support your claims, is to demonstrate it.
    Even were you to do so (and your linked blog post fails miserably, so don't bother referring to it further), you would still need to demonstrate that your specific moral system is (very probably) true.

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  102. I just noticed you link here from your "Know God" page.
    Pretty pathetic to claim to have rebutted something when in actuality you've done little more than misunderstand and argue against strawmen.

    I've been waiting for you to actually support your contentions on this point for over 6 months now Rick (note the date on the preceding comment), with not a peep from you. And yet you continue to arrogantly proclaim "victory".

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