Author Topic: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn  (Read 1675 times)

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Offline screwtape

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WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« on: March 23, 2011, 09:32:51 AM »

The topic of debate is:
Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists.

This is a one-on-one debate between Voter and Velkyn.  Everyone else should post their comments in the commentary thread. 

I strongly recommend you establish engagement rules - whether you will be taking turns, how many posts the debate will last, narrow the scope of discussion, commit to a posting frequency, etc - and post them here. 
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Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 10:40:22 AM »
Voter, I'll let you have the first salvo since you are arguing against the website's position.  As we have discussed the rules of our debate on the debate challenge list, I think we can proceed.
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Offline Voter

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2011, 10:52:28 AM »
I agree. Please give me a day or so to compose my first post. Thanks.

Offline Voter

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 07:38:25 AM »
Contemplating and debating the nature of miracles can be fascinating. However, this particular formulation involving amputees fails on a rather mundane logical point. Specifically, I will show that this construction is based on a tautology, or circular reasoning.

First, let’s review the Wikipedia definition of the tautology fallacy:
A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed or that the truth of the proposition cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self-referentially. Consequently, the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived.

Many Christians assign credit to God for cures of certain medical conditions. For instance, the article on the site focuses on people who have been cured of cancer, and on a particular girl who was cured of rabies. It says that these events are ambiguous, and so their cure could be coincidence.

The author goes on to say that the regeneration of an amputated limb would be unambiguous:
When your tumor disappeared, in other words, it might simply have been a complete coincidence that you happened to pray. Your prayer may have had zero effect.

How can we determine whether it is God or coincidence that worked the cure? One way is to eliminate the ambiguity. In a non-ambiguous situation, there is no potential for coincidence. Because there is no ambiguity, we can actually know whether God is answering the prayer or not.
That is what we are doing when we look at amputees.


Notice that there is zero ambiguity in this situation. There is only one way for a limb to regenerate through prayer: God must exist and God must answer prayers. What we find is that whenever we create a unambiguous situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence.


However, he does not explain why cancer or rabies healings are ambiguous, but an amputee healing would be unambiguous.

What’s the difference?

All of these are physical maladies. We’re not comparing a physical ailment with something that’s possibly psychosomatic.

He does not claim that regeneration of a limb would violate known laws of nature. If he did, he would be incorrect. Read the wiki page on regeneration. Starfish regenerate limbs. Salamanders can regenerate “limbs, tails, jaws, eyes and a variety of internal structures.” (Aside – this must’ve been handy back in the day, as witch’s brews seemed to use a variety of salamander parts. ;) ) Some animals can even form two wholes if they’re torn in half. In humans, the liver can regenerate from as little as 25% of its initial tissue, and children can regenerate lost fingertips. If someone were to pray for one of these and it occurred, it would presumably fall into the ambiguous category, along with cancer remission and rabies cures.

The obvious question is – what’s the difference between the two groups? The author just asserts that there’s a difference, but doesn’t explain it.

What’s the one thing we can say about rabies cures, regeneration of salamander parts, cancer remission, and the regeneration of the human liver and fingertips, that we can’t say about regeneration of an amputee’s limb (specifically an adult who’s lost more than a fingertip ;) )?

The one difference is this – we’ve observed all the things in the ambiguous group. An ambiguous healing is one that’s been observed. An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.

Now let’s recall the author’s charge: What we find is that whenever we create an unambiguous situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence. In short, we never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.

We never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
 
But what’s an unambiguous healing?

An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.

That’s worth repeating.

We never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.


Now recall our definition of a tautology, or circular reasoning:
A rhetorical tautology can also be defined as a series of statements that comprise an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed or that the truth of the proposition cannot be disputed by defining a term in terms of another self-referentially.

The amputee challenge fails due to circular reasoning.

Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 01:32:47 PM »
The topic is  “Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists.”

Voter claims that claiming this is circular reasoning.  Circular reasoning, aka begging the question, is defined as “Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true.” (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html).  The proposition here in the above claim is that a healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle performed by the Bible god.  The problem with Voter’s claim is that there is no assumption of the proposition in the premise, that the Bible god exists. This argument postulates, that from the evidence we have, the bible in this case which purports to describe this “god”, one can expect healings of anything, including amputees, *if* the Bible god exists as defined by the bible.

In Brain’s essay that Voter cites, Brain says that a cure for cancer or rabies is can be considered ambiguous “capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways” (Merriam-webster.com).  In Brain’s example, he cites the cancer sufferer as also going to chemo/ having surgery and also mentions that the immune system which can also make tumors disappear. This is happening in conjunction with the prayers that the sufferer is having.  So, in this instance, there is no way to determine what caused the “cure”, it is “ambiguous”. The patient claims it was from God but there is no way to know.  As Brain said, the prayer, in these instances cannot be known to have had any effect.

Since we do not know of any mechanism that can regrow a limb in humans, a miracle healing an amputee would be unambiguous (clear,precise) because, at this point in time, there is no other way to regenerate a limb.  So, Voter’s claim that Brain did not clarify how the tumor’s cure could be “ambiguous”( capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways) and how an amputation would “unambiguous”(clear, precise) is false.  Brain also did not say that either this cancer or rabies was psychosomatic.

As for the rabies case, Jeanna Giese was not left to fend for her self. She had extensive medical care including being placed in a coma and having antiviral drugs administered (the Milwaukee Protocol which has worked on 5 people that I know of so far, and demonstrates science, the coming up with a therapy based on research and observation, then put into practice and it works repeatedly if not in every case). How many people have survived with only prayer and no medical assistance in the case of rabies infection? None that I know of.  Over 20,000 people die from rabies each year in places like India.

Since the rest of his argument is based on his misrepresentation of Brain’s essay, it is somewhat pointless to continue this discussion. However, I shall continue to address his claims.

Yes, some animals regenerate.  Why this supposed God has not given this ability to humans is a rather interesting question.  Planaria can split in half to form two new creatures. We are certainly more complex, with many specialized cells, than planaria. We know that there are genetic factors that allow this to happen in other animals but not us.  Human fingertips are fleshy and will not regenerate a nail if that part is gone, nor will they regenerate any bones. Speaking of fingernails, they will regrow too but we do not call people who cut their nails “amputees” as Voter seems to want to claim. We know that some parts of the body heal. There is no surprise in that nor is this what Brain is asking for the Bible god to do. Brain’s question addresses amputees (one that has had a limb amputated) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/amputee. In Chapter 5, he clearly indicates that he is talking about people who have lost limbs
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For this experiment, we need to find a deserving person who has had both of his legs amputated. For example, find a sincere, devout veteran of the Iraqi war, or a person who was involved in a tragic automobile accident. Now create a prayer circle like the one created for Jeanna Giese.
  http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/god5.htm

Has a healing for an amputation like this occurred?  No.  No matter the prayers or medical help, it has not occurred.  Voter attempts to claim that the *only* differing factor is that ambiguous (capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways) healings have occurred and that unambiguous (clear,precise) have not and attempts to redefine the terms ambiguous and unambiguous. This is a typical theist trick, in trying to change the meaning of words and quite tedious for those with a dictionary.
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The one difference is this – we’ve observed all the things in the ambiguous group. An ambiguous healing is one that’s been observed. An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.
Now let’s recall the author’s charge: What we find is that whenever we create an unambiguous situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence. In short, we never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
We never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
But what’s an unambiguous healing?
An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.
That’s worth repeating.

Well, no it’s not worth repeating since it’s patently untrue.  We know what causes healings of cancer, of fingertips, of starfish.  We know the mechanisms.  This fits well with the definition of unambiguous, clear, precise (Merriam-webster.com) And let’s put those words into the claims, you, Voter, have made (I’ll have to do some grammar tweaks for this to make sense):

1.We have observed healings capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways (original: we’ve observed all the things in the ambiguous group)
2.A healing with clear, precise reasons is one that we’ve never observed.(original: An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.)

Trying to change defintions often leads to some amusing claims by theists. :)

Now, if we do the same with Brain’s claims we get
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“What we find is that whenever we create an clear,precise situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence. In short, we never observe an answer to prayer for a healing that we know the clear,precise reasons for.”
  And
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Imagine that you pray for something -- It does not really matter what it is. Let's imagine that you have cancer, you pray to God to cure the cancer, and the cancer actually does go away. The interesting thing to recognize is that there is the possibility of understanding how you were cured in two or more possible senses or ways. God might have miraculously cured the disease, as many people believe. But God might also be imaginary, and the chemotherapy drugs and surgery are the things that cured your cancer. Or your body might have cured the cancer itself. The human body does have a powerful immune system, and this immune system has the ability to eliminate cancer in many cases. When your tumor dissappeared, it might be a coincidence that you happened to pray. Drugs, an immune response or a combination of the two might have been the thing the cured you.


Brain, and I incidentally, are asking for an unambiguous, as defined in the dictionary as clear/precise, miracle from the bible god.  Healing amputees has been demonstrated as one way to have an unambiguous miracle in that there is no known mechanism for that to work in humans at this time.  Since prayer/requests to the bible god are claimed by the bible to make miracles happen aka to have god act in a fashion requested by the person making the request, a prayer for healing of amputees should work and should provide evidence for the bible god.  This has never been demonstrated to have happened.  There have been many many claims but there is no evidence for these supposed miracles, or any other.

Why a supposedly benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being does not heal amputees is a problem for Christians and which they offer many curious reasons for, usually by trying to ignore one of those attributes of their god, or try the tactics demonstrated above.  Since we don’t see this healing, there is little, if any reason to believe in the bible god or its supposed miracles.  These claims are no different than those made by the believers of many other religions.
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Offline Voter

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 08:16:31 AM »
This post will be a response to your post. In my next post I’ll bring in my second point.

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The topic is  “Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists.”

Voter claims that claiming this is circular reasoning.  Circular reasoning, aka begging the question, is defined as “Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true.” (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html).  The proposition here in the above claim is that a healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle performed by the Bible god.  The problem with Voter’s claim is that there is no assumption of the proposition in the premise, that the Bible god exists. This argument postulates, that from the evidence we have, the bible in this case which purports to describe this “god”, one can expect healings of anything, including amputees, *if* the Bible god exists as defined by the bible.

Your understanding of the topic and the ways I can refute it is incorrect, or you’re being disingenuous. The proposition falls if I can show either that: a healing of an amputee would not be an unambiguous miracle, which I’ve done by demonstrating that that particular premise is built on a tautology; or if I can show that we should not conclude that such a healing should be expected from the Bible (to be taken up in my next post).

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In Brain’s essay that Voter cites, Brain says that a cure for cancer or rabies is can be considered ambiguous “capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways” (Merriam-webster.com).  In Brain’s example, he cites the cancer sufferer as also going to chemo/ having surgery and also mentions that the immune system which can also make tumors disappear. This is happening in conjunction with the prayers that the sufferer is having.  So, in this instance, there is no way to determine what caused the “cure”, it is “ambiguous”. The patient claims it was from God but there is no way to know.  As Brain said, the prayer, in these instances cannot be known to have had any effect.

I agree with the above point that the cancer and rabies cures are ambiguous and did not argue against it. But, I’m pointing it out here because you contradict yourself on this point later.

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Since we do not know of any mechanism that can regrow a limb in humans, a miracle healing an amputee would be unambiguous (clear,precise) because, at this point in time, there is no other way to regenerate a limb.  So, Voter’s claim that Brain did not clarify how the tumor’s cure could be “ambiguous”( capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways) and how an amputation would “unambiguous”(clear, precise) is false.
You’re actually proving my point with the disclaimer of “at this point in time.” In fact, you say it again later:
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Healing amputees has been demonstrated as one way to have an unambiguous miracle in that there is no known mechanism for that to work in humans at this time.

This supports my case because the exact same statement could have been made about rabies or terminal cancer in the past. Before the first documented case of spontaneous remission in a terminal cancer case, we could have said:

Healing terminal cancer cases has been demonstrated as one way to have an unambiguous miracle in that there is no known mechanism for that to work in humans at this time.

Before Jeanna Giese, we could have said: Healing rabies has been demonstrated as one way to have an unambiguous miracle in that there is no known mechanism for that to work in humans at this time.

When a case of spontaneous remission of terminal cancer was documented, terminal cancer moved from unambiguous to ambiguous.

When Jeanna Giese survived rabies, rabies moved from unambiguous to ambiguous.

If an amputee is healed, amputation can likewise move from unambiguous to ambiguous.

So, this attempted refutation actually reinforces my position.

You then make a different attempt to show a distinction between amputees and cancer/rabies:
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Well, no it’s not worth repeating since it’s patently untrue.  We know what causes healings of cancer, of fingertips, of starfish.  We know the mechanisms.  This fits well with the definition of unambiguous, clear, precise (Merriam-webster.com) And let’s put those words into the claims, you, Voter, have made (I’ll have to do some grammar tweaks for this to make sense):
First, this fails as being ad hoc. You previously said, “a cure for cancer or rabies is can be considered ambiguous.” You now say healings of cancer are unambiguous.

Further, your assertion fails on the facts. From the wiki on spontaneous remission:
Everson and Cole offered as explanation for spontaneous regression from cancer: "In many of the collected cases ... it must be acknowledged that the factors or mechanisms responsible for spontaneous regression are obscure or unknown in the light of present knowledge. However, in some of the cases, available knowledge permits one to infer that hormonal influences probably were important. ... In other cases, the protocols strongly suggest that an immune mechanism was responsible" [4]. Challis and Stam in 1989, even more at a loss, survey "In summary, we are left to conclude that, although a great number of interesting and unusual cases continue to be published annually, there is still little conclusive data that explains the occurrence of spontaneous regression."

We do not know the mechanisms. Some people are guessing at the mechanisms. It’s the same with the Jeanna Giese rabies case. The reason for the success in her case is controversial, and the procedure usually fails:
The reasons for Giese's survival under the Milwaukee protocol remain controversial. While the treatment appears to have worked as planned, her doctors suggest Giese might have been infected with a particularly weak form of the virus,[3] or that the fact that she was bitten in a site far from the brain provided her unusually strong immune system sufficient time to fight the virus. When admitted to the hospital no live virus, only antibodies, could be isolated from her body,[5] and the bat was not recovered for testing.[3]
Giese's treatment regimen has since undergone revision (the second version omits the use of ribavirin). There were 2 survivors out of 25 patients treated under the first protocol. A further 10 patients have been treated under the revised protocol and there have been a further 2 survivors.


In my first post I brought in cases of regeneration in other animals to show that regeneration does not violate the laws of nature. Apparently I need to spell out the ramification of that fact more clearly. From an evolutionist view, we know that the ability to regenerate has evolved at least once. If regeneration occurs in a human, there’s nothing that would stop you from speculating that it was happening again. Some evolutionists might even trumpet it as proof that we’re evolving. There wouldn’t be conclusive evidence of this at first, but as I’ve shown above, we don’t have conclusive evidence of the mechanisms for spontaneous remission of cancer or rabies cures, so firm understanding is not necessary for a phenomenon to be included in the ambiguous category.

In order to succeed on that line, you would need to prove that it would be impossible for humans to ever develop regeneration ability.

So we see again that, if an amputee is healed, the healing of amputees would merely be moved from the unambiguous category to the ambiguous category.

Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 09:34:22 AM »
I do enjoy when Voter tries to claim, with no evidence, that I fail to understand the topic and the ways he refutes it or that I am lying.  The proposition is “Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists”.  Assuming that Voter means “fails” rather than “falls”, he has not shown that a healing of an amputee would not be an unambiguous (clear, precise) miracle.   This is what we get from Christians who try to change the meaning of words. There is no tautology.  Voter is welcome to state his supposed tautology in the usual logical format.

Unfortunately, for Voter, though he claims “I agree with the above point that the cancer and rabies cures are ambiguous and did not argue against it.” , he did argue against cancer and rabies being ambiguous.  He claims that Brain did not explain how they are ambiguous, thus indicating that he does not believe that they are. “However, he does not explain why cancer or rabies healings are ambiguous, but an amputee healing would be unambiguous.”   Voter also claims  “An ambiguous healing is one that’s been observed.”  As I have demonstrated, the first is a lie and the second is an attempt to change the meaning of the word ambiguous. 

Voter then attempts to claim that I am somehow supporting his nonsense by stating that there is no ability at this time to cure amputees.  We now nor have ever had any ability to cure amputees.  We may indeed in the future, but we cannot know if we will or not.  At this point in time, and in any time previous, the healing of an amputee is unambiguous (clear, precise).  The healing of cancer or rabies would still be ambiguous (capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways), since we still know that there are ways to have survived it.  He is making baseless assumptions about the future to support his claims.  We have no idea when there was a “first spontaneous remission”.  The cancer can appear and disappear without humans knowing it was there.  For instance, there was an article in my local paper yesterday that had about a fellow who was diagnosed with hairy-cell leukemia.  He had no idea he had it and only found out because his new employeer is very proactive about health screenings.  If this remitted, how would anyone have known?  This is the very point of Brain’s main question “Why wont’ God heal amputees?”.  We get claims of healing left and right but they are all ambiguous except for amputations.  One can be bit by a rabid animal but the virus doesn’t take hold, one might have cancer but it spontaneously remits.  One could pray about those two instances and have no idea if the prayer worked.  But no one who has lost a limb has suddenly gotten a limb back with any prayer or any intervention by a human.  The cure of amputation by prayer will never be ambiguous since we can control for any ambiguity. It’s an either/or problem.  Either humans intervene or God intervenes since there is no other way for it to happen. 

Voter then makes a claim, baseless as usual, that my statement “We know what causes healings of cancer, of fingertips, of starfish.  We know the mechanisms.  This fits well with the definition of unambiguous, clear, precise (Merriam-webster.com)” is somehow “ad hoc”. I do know what “ad hoc” means but not in this vague claim. Voter, please do demonstrate this, whatever you mean by it.  He also attempts to claim that I have somehow changed my mind from cancer being ambiguous to unambiguous and he does this by taking my quote out of context.  I shall put it back:

Quote
The one difference is this – we’ve observed all the things in the ambiguous group. An ambiguous healing is one that’s been observed. An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.
Now let’s recall the author’s charge: What we find is that whenever we create an unambiguous situation like this and look at the results of prayer, prayer never works. God never "answers prayers" if there is no possibility of coincidence. In short, we never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
We never observe an answer to prayer for an unambiguous healing.
But what’s an unambiguous healing?
An unambiguous healing is one that we’ve never observed.
That’s worth repeating.

Quote
Well, no it’s not worth repeating since it’s patently untrue.  We know what causes healings of cancer, of fingertips, of starfish.  We know the mechanisms.  This fits well with the definition of unambiguous, clear, precise (Merriam-webster.com)
  Again, since Voter attempts to redefine words, this makes things rather difficult to follow.  My response was to Voter’s claim that we’ve never observed an “unambiguous healing”, which he defines as “one that we have never observed” when we have since we know what causes healings.  Do we know what causes all healings? Nope, we’re still not sure what causes spontaneous healings *yet*.  This does not mean that we don’t know how *any* cancers are healed, how fingerstips are healed or how starfish regrow themselves. I suppose I should have used the word “some” to make sure that Voter did not assume all incorrectly based on his misleading attempts to redefine words.

Voter also attempts to use quotes to support his claim of all when the quotes say “In many…” not “in all…”
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Further, your assertion fails on the facts. From the wiki on spontaneous remission:
Everson and Cole offered as explanation for spontaneous regression from cancer: "In many of the collected cases ... it must be acknowledged that the factors or mechanisms responsible for spontaneous regression are obscure or unknown in the light of present knowledge. However, in some of the cases, available knowledge permits one to infer that hormonal influences probably were important. ... In other cases, the protocols strongly suggest that an immune mechanism was responsible" [4]. Challis and Stam in 1989, even more at a loss, survey "In summary, we are left to conclude that, although a great number of interesting and unusual cases continue to be published annually, there is still little conclusive data that explains the occurrence of spontaneous regression."
Let’s see we have one quote from a book out in 1966 and one in 1989.  Now, in 1998, someone actually did research on the febrile possibility mentioned in the wiki article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10850357  and more after http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11549887 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17656812  This is how we learn how thing work, not just throwing up our hands and saying “no one understands” when convenient. 
Voter also says “Some people are guessing at the mechanisms.” I don’t know who these “some” people are but they are obviously not those I can cite.  Voter, you may wish to go beyond Wikipedia before you make claims because, even as much as I like Wiki, it can be behind the times and simply wrong. And yes, Voter, I know that the Milwaukee Protocol doesn’t work all of the time, I even mentioned that in my post, which you seem to have missed.  The cure rate is low, yes, but it is definable.  In that prayer cannot be shown to work at all, I would certainly rather have the treatment which is demonstrated to work in some cases rather than depending on prayer or nothing at all.  Do we need more research in figuring out what the defining factors of it working are? Hell yes, and we dont’ need people saying that since we don’t completely understand it, we should give up on it.
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In my first post I brought in cases of regeneration in other animals to show that regeneration does not violate the laws of nature. Apparently I need to spell out the ramification of that fact more clearly. From an evolutionist view, we know that the ability to regenerate has evolved at least once. If regeneration occurs in a human, there’s nothing that would stop you from speculating that it was happening again. Some evolutionists might even trumpet it as proof that we’re evolving. There wouldn’t be conclusive evidence of this at first, but as I’ve shown above, we don’t have conclusive evidence of the mechanisms for spontaneous remission of cancer or rabies cures, so firm understanding is not necessary for a phenomenon to be included in the ambiguous category.

Regeneration of limbs in some animals does not violate the laws of nature.  Regeneration of limbs in humans does.  If it didn’t we would see it, yes?  As it stands, we have never seen it happen.  Without intervention, be it from humans or deities, we will never see it since the human genome does not allow for it.  Voter wishes to invoke evolutionary theory.  Yes, we definitely know it has evolved at least once. &)  He claims that  “If regeneration occurs in a human, there’s nothing that would stop you from speculating that it was happening again.”  which demonstrates considerable ignorance about evolutionary theory. It does not happen randomly as Voter seems to think when he wishes to make a claim that regeneration can magically appear in the human genome. He may clarify that if he wishes. One would not need to “speculate” about anything since we could look at the DNA and the environment and see what the change was and where it came from, that pesky conclusive evidence that Voter mentions.  And nice strawman “Some evolutionists might even trumpet it as proof that we’re evolving.” 
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In order to succeed on that line, you would need to prove that it would be impossible for humans to ever develop regeneration ability.
No, we wouldn’t have to prove it “impossible”.  Theists love to make generalized claims like this in their willful ignorance of evolutionary theory and genetics.  In that we do not have the genetic basis or the evolutionary pressures to develop regeneration, there is no reason to expect regeneration to magically appear in the human genome. As it stands now, it will take intervention, by human or divine nature (yes it could be aliens but we know that theists aren’t talking about that) to make any regeneration occur.  Either of those would be unambiguous since we understand how evolutionary theory works (in broad strokes not every single detail) and how genetics (genes, epigenetics, etc ) work.  Voter’s claims rest on a lack of understanding of science, evolutionary theory, genetics and again, the attempt to redefine words.
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Offline Voter

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 12:42:29 PM »
I've read your last post and, as it's mostly repetition and I'm satisfied with my case on that point, I will proceed straight to my second point. While I'm not impressed with your arguments, I do give you kudos for sticking to the issue at hand. I noticed that some in the peanut gallery said things like, "Is Voter saying all miracles..." To your credit you stayed with amputees.

Let’s consider whether, from reading the Bible, we should expect unambiguous miracles to result from prayer.

One of the best-known passages – possible the best known – of the Bible is the Lord’s prayer. This prayer is probably recited more than any other. It’s how Jesus said we should pray. It should, therefore, be the starting point for a discussion on what we should pray for and what we should expect from prayer.

Matthew 6

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
   “‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,


We’re supposed to first praise God, then pray that His will be done – not ours.

on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
   but deliver us from the evil one.

The only material thing mentioned is our daily bread.

As this is the model for Christian prayer, all other instruction on prayer should be made in light of this prayer. Prayer should always be in the spirit of your will be done.

We can see these prayer principles put into action by Jesus as the crucifixion approached:

Luke 22
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

“Not my will, but yours be done.”

We know that God turned down this request from his own beloved son. Let’s see what God said regarding Paul’s request that a physical affliction be removed from him:

2 Corinthians 12

7… Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

God’s chosen apostle to preach his word to the Gentiles, and his request for a cure was denied. Why does an amputee today have a greater claim than Paul?

Here, God further gives a reason that he may deny such requests. He wants us to rely on His spiritual strength, not our own physical strength. A mature and sincere Christian understands these principles when he prays.

Earlier in the same letter Paul made a similar observation:

2 Corinthians 4
  7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Moving on, let’s note that, while God occasionally performed unambiguous miracles, he directly says that, in general, we shouldn’t demand such miracles:

Matthew 16
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus andtested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
 2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.

And he praises those who believe without seeing such signs for themselves:

John 20
 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

So, we see that the author cherry-picked a few passages which led to his desired conclusion, rather than considering the full Biblical message on the topic. When a mature and sincere Christian prays, “Not my will, but yours be done” is always understood.

Also consider the frequency of miracles in the Bible. Seems like they happened all the time back then, right? Wrong. This idea is also a tautology. The Bible mainly records God’s direct interaction with man, and God’s direct interaction with man usually qualifies as miraculous. But, if you actually read the Bible and think about it, you’ll see that centuries go by without any mention of a miracle. Off the top of my head, we know that 400 years elapsed between the patriarchs and Moses without a miracle, and likewise between the last prophets and Jesus. Miracles were not the norm according to the Bible.

Further, we see miracles phasing out as the apostolic ministry wound down. At first, Peter and John were miraculously delivered from prison. Paul spent his end years in prison. At first, people were healed merely by having Peter’s shadow pass over them. At the end, when Timothy was frequently sick, Paul didn’t tell him to pray for healing, he told him to use wine for medicinal purposes:

1 Timothy 5
 23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

In conclusion, when the entire Bible is read and considered, we should not have an expectation of seeing unambiguous miracles.

In my next post I’ll show that, unless you admit to special pleading, the expectation of the miraculous is illogical.

Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2011, 03:09:41 PM »
It seems that Voter’s idea of a debate is ignoring the opposition’s questions and points, and only saying “I’m not impressed with your arguments”.  There are no rebuttals, no demonstrations of tautologies, nothing. This is expected and quite similar to University Pastor’s attempt to ignore what the WWGHA website was saying and to address an argument not brought up by it. If I say that something appears “baseless”, this should be the time when Voter provides evidence. He does not. 

The debate topic is “Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists.”  We have seen Voter try to claim that the healing of amputees would not be an unambiguous (clear, precise) miracle that could be expected if the God of the Christian bible exists through the attempts to redefine the words “ambiguous” and “unambiguous” and the claims that there is some type of tautology involved.  There has been no presentation of this tautology nor any rebuttal to what the correct definitions of “ambiguous” and “unambiguous” to do his claims. 

The new question is “can we expect unambiguous (clear, precise) miracles to result from prayer to the God of the Christian bible?”.  Voter has stated it as “Let’s consider whether, from reading the Bible, we should expect unambiguous miracles to result from prayer.”  IMO, one could rephrase this as “is there anything in the bible or in reality that would preclude such unambiguous (clear precise) miracles to happen, assuming that this God exists as claimed?”  Voter can post any oppositions he has to the rephrasing.

Assuming that the Bible offers an accurate picture of God, I say yes, there is plenty of verses that indicate that God, as an omnipotent (Revelation 19:6), omniscient (Hebrews 4:13), and omnibenevolent (Mark 10:18), has said that any request made of him will be fulfilled positively and quickly.  Many Christians wish to add a caveat onto this by saying that the request must be aligned with God’s will, or the prayer won’t be answered.  They also often add other caveats, depending on the particular magic decoder ring, that God won’t answer prayers for reasons of “free will”, that the request is not in the “best interest” of the person praying, or that he has some mysterious other “plan” that this would conflict with. This is the usual “yes, no and wait” claims of any theist who claims the efficacy of prayer.   Christians often accuse former theists of not praying “right” as an excuse why prayers aren’t answered, that the prayer wasn’t offered in some certain formula or for selfless ”enough” reasons.  Or that no human is “pure” or “faithful” *enough* for God to answer. So we see immediately that Christians themselves can’t agree on the point of prayer or how one should accomplish it. 

The bible itself does have the “lord’s prayer” that Voter mentions.  Does it say “your will be done”? Yes it does.  Even if one takes this as a necessarily qualifier, not that the rest of the bible supports this, many Christians, and Voter, have the problem: “Does God’s will *never* align with a human’s prayer?” since this is what evidence supports and its follow-up, “If not, what is the point of prayer if God already knows what will be requested and has it already in his plan?”   The “lord’s prayer” has requests in it, “give us….”, “forgive us…”, “lead us…”.  Why is God being asked if requests are not answered? If God already knows his “plan”, these requests are pointless since the die has already been cast.  (and why God’s leading people into temptation intentionally is a good question too. Please God don’t lead me into something I may not be able to resist.).  Voter claims that the “The only material thing mentioned is our daily bread.” As if this makes a difference.  The prayer is full of requests. 

Voter has said that all prayers should be made in this format, that nothing matters except God’s will be done. But all requests of God aren’t made like that and supposedly those requests were answered.  We have direct requests for healing, no subservient “thy will be done”.  The centurion just asked for his servant to be healed and it was done so. The woman who was bleeding simply touched the robe of JC and was healed without him willing it. It is speculation but do you really think she wasn’t praying to be healed?  We have the father of a ill boy saying “Lord have mercy on my son.” And the boy was healed.  Now, just above this, the leper says “If you are willing, you will heal me.”  JC was willing and was done.  So we have people simply asking in faith for a special act from God and people asking if God is willing to do the act.  It seems to depend on the situation or it is a simple contradiction to Voter’s claim that everything has to be in God’s will. Are any prayers that do supposed come true (none can be shown incidentally) simply considered automatically “god’s will” and those not, not “god’s will”. This appears to be quite a circular argument along the lines of “God is good because God said he was good”,  the answered prayer is God’s will since God’s will has only answered prayers.   

We also have the verses (the first one incidentally right after JC heals the boy whose father asks for mercy): 

Quote
Matthew 17: 20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Do no Christians actually have this faith?  This is indicating a request made by faith that will happen as soon as it’s asked.  There is no “say to this mountain “move from here to there”, and by the laws of physics it will erode and eventually move a bit.” 

Quote
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.   9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
This indicates that the answer will be as soon as it is asked. Who expects to knock on a door and have to wait years for it to open or the window to open instead several counties over?  It also states that God will answer the request positively in that a father will not give something not asked for to his son.  If I would ask that an amputee be healed and made whole, why is this prayer not answered?

This is repeated in Luke 11, just below the prayer that Voter cited which in this version has nothing about God’s will:
Quote
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
   9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.    11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So we see here, there is one more problem, how are we to pray if the gospels can’t even agree with Voter and his claim “We’re supposed to first praise God, then pray that His will be done – not ours.”  Which is the “correct” way to pray?
We also have John 16
Quote
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
 
And 1 John 5 
Quote
13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
  This does have the caveat of “his will”. If something is according to God’s will, it will occur regardless, correct?  So again, the point of praying is what?  And we get back to that circular argument.
Voter mentions the request in Gesthemene, where Jesus says “not my will but yours be done.”  So we have various claims in the bible, where anything one asks will be answers and where only if it’s aligned by “God’s will” will it be answered.  God turned down the request from himself who knew what supposedly had to happen according to the rules it set up.  I would say that this is rather a special case since there is no way the request could have been accepted *if* God’s will was indeed in play and this *had* to happen.     
As for Paul, he boasts about a “weakness” like a job interviewee boasts about how their flaw is that “they work too much”. ;)  This reads as doublespeak “war is peace” “power is weakness”.  We don’t even know what this supposed “thorn” is. It is a handy excuse on why God does nothing if even an apostle can’t get healed.  It suddenly becomes God’s will. But if he had been healed, would you think that Paul would have proclaimed it across the land? You see, to bring this back to the claims of ambiguousness and unambigousness, Paul can try to have cake and eat it too.  Suddenly, no matter what happens Paul can claim that it was “God’s will”.  That’s what all Christians do.       

Voter said
Quote
Here, God further gives a reason that he may deny such requests. He wants us to rely on His spiritual strength, not our own physical strength. A mature and sincere Christian understands these principles when he prays.
  this is very common.  The only “real” aka “mature and sincere” Christians don’t rock the boat and wonder where their god is.  They ignore the verses of the bible that say that those who believe and have faith are healed.  Again we see the “yes, no and wait” of Christians who are left without any evidence of their god in these modern times.  But Paul had no problems with praying for things
Quote
Ephesians 6: 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
If everything was only by God’s will, why the effort to pray for Paul? 

Voter goes on to say that
Quote
Moving on, let’s note that, while God occasionally performed unambiguous miracles, he directly says that, in general, we shouldn’t demand such miracles
Occasionally?  Not per the bible, John 21:25.  And he also says that miracles are to be believed even if someone doesn’t believe in JC, John 10:37-38.  He has no problem in giving signs left and right, promising signs of far more than the “sign of Jonah” but says *asking* for them is “wicked”?  He certainly didn’t think Thomas “wicked” in asking for a sign since there was no damning of Thomas at all. It doesn’t say “Because you have seen me, you have been damned; blessed are only those who have not seen and yet have believed.”   We also have Paul claiming to have done “2 Corinthians 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.”  Per Paul, they didn’t stop when JC died and he did them to get believers.   

Voter then brings up the frequency of miracles and that they didn’t’ happen all of the time. I’m not quite sure what this has to do with the question “can we expect unambiguous (clear, precise) miracles to result from prayer to the God of the Christian bible?”  First, JC was supposedly around 3 years per the bible? And he did approximately 27 miracles.  That’s about 1 and a third miracles a month.  Seems like quite a few in a fairly short time especially when the bible claims “john 21:25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”  I agree with Voter, there weren’t so many back in the OT over supposedly thousands of years (no evidence for a single one of them though).  How this is a tautology, I have no idea. Voter, please clarify. We do not know anything of the sort that there were 400 years between the patriarchs and Moses or the last prophets and Jesus, miracles or not.  They did become pretty common when JC supposedly exists.  This lack of miracles and then a bunch does not say we cannot expect an unambiguous miracle from Bible God.  It is interesting that Paul does tell Timothy not to expect to be healed by God but by wine. Again it seems that the faithful have to rely on reality rather than some god. 

At the end, Voter is trying the common Christian claim that for some mysterious reason God decides to “phase out” miracles. This is always amusing when you have other Christians sure that miracles are happening all of the time.  Who do we believe? Christians who claim that God is not performing miracles or those who say he is?  Reading and considering the bible, which I have done, does not indicate that we should not expect unambiguous (clear, precise) miracles to result from prayer to the Bible god.  In fact, even if we allow for just the faithful to be responded too, it does indicate that prayers will be answered by God and miracles will commence. 
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Offline screwtape

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2011, 09:59:31 AM »
I noticed that some in the peanut gallery said things like, "Is Voter saying all miracles..."

Let's not worry about the peanut gallery in this thread.  Just worry about the comments of the two participants.  If you would like to answer the peanut gallery in the peanut gallery thread, you are free to do so.

Let’s consider whether, from reading the Bible, we should expect unambiguous miracles to result from prayer.

Velkyn answered this, but let's also try to not let the topic wander into new territory.  Thanks.
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Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 01:27:02 PM »
Voter, we don't have a time limit on our discussion but I do expect you to respond in a timely manner.  IF you have a reason why you cannot, have the courtesy to say so.  If you are indeed done with the debate, have the courtesy to say so.  I'm waiting for evidence to support your claims for the stated topic of this debate. 

As Screwtape has noted, I did answer your attempt to change the topic.  I am willing to even proceed with that one, if Screwtape would split it off. 

You claimed to know much about debating.  From your performance here, I would have to doubt that claim.  You need to address my points, Voter, not just make vague accusations about them or ignore them.
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Offline Voter

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2011, 01:41:32 PM »
Voter, we don't have a time limit on our discussion but I do expect you to respond in a timely manner.  IF you have a reason why you cannot, have the courtesy to say so.  If you are indeed done with the debate, have the courtesy to say so.  I'm waiting for evidence to support your claims for the stated topic of this debate. 

As Screwtape has noted, I did answer your attempt to change the topic.  I am willing to even proceed with that one, if Screwtape would split it off. 

You claimed to know much about debating.  From your performance here, I would have to doubt that claim.  You need to address my points, Voter, not just make vague accusations about them or ignore them.
I'm very busy at work but would like to continue.

I have no idea why either of you think this:
Quote
Let’s consider whether, from reading the Bible, we should expect unambiguous miracles to result from prayer.
is not directly related to the topic:
Quote
Current healing of amputees would be an unambiguous miracle which can be expected if the God of the Christian Bible exists.

It's just a slightly different wording of the second half of the topic, and something which the articles on the site examine at length, if not in depth or breadth.

And regarding debating, no, I don't need to continue rehashing your points in every post, and I'm free to ignore those that I think are repetitive or red herrings. That's how debating works, sweetie.

Offline velkyn

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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2011, 02:11:15 PM »
they are different topics, not the same.  You are not expected to rehash anything; you are expected to address points brought up by the opposition.  And you are not free to do what you want to in a debate.  You are expected to participate honestly, not picking and choosing what you want or don't want to address.  No kidding I'd love debates too if I could ignore anything I wanted.  My wouldn't that be easy!  Sorry, debate doesnt' work like you would try to claim at all.   http://www.actdu.org.au/archives/actein_site/basicskills.html
« Last Edit: March 31, 2011, 02:14:29 PM by velkyn »
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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2011, 05:27:58 PM »
I am willing to even proceed with that one, if Screwtape would split it off. 

I'm happy to do it.  If Voter wants to do it here[, I can make it a second debate topic.  Or I can move out to General Discussion.  Let me know.
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Re: WWGHA: Voter vs Velkyn
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2011, 08:25:59 AM »
Thanks, Screwtape. I think it should be split off as another debate "room" since Voter was unable to handle the amount of posts in the general forum. However, if Voter insists that he can ignore what he wants in a debate, I fear that any debate is essentially pointless and becomes only a venue for preaching on Voter's part.
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