The effects of gravity and energy can be experienced; however, you cannot say you have seen gravity or energy, only its effects (unless you are willing to equate the cause and the effect as identical). Even though you have not seen the force called gravity, you still believe that it exists. Relating to the existence of God, by similar reasoning, one who experiences the effects of God is rational to believe in the existence of God, even if that experience is not shared by all people. Effects of God may include, but not limited not to, the Bible, Jesus, the resurrection, morality, visions, apparent design in nature, miracles.
1. All we ever observe of anything are its effects. Observing effects is
observing the thing in question. For example, we cannot "see" matter, in the sense you're talking about. What we see is, to put it simply, the light that has been reflected from or emitted from matter. Those are some of matter's effects, and since we observe those effects with our eyes, we can say we "see" matter. The same applies to gravity.
2. Effects are subject to interpretation. Some interpretations are reasonable. Other interpretations are mind-crogglingly stupid. Interpreting gravity to be the result of pull-down fairies would be mind-crogglingly stupid, for a number of reasons that I can cite if you really want me to. Coming to supernatural conclusions about the other things you list is a similar exercise.
3. You ignored my #2 from this part of my last post. Here it is again:
2. No original statement of criteria can be verified by its own criteria. If it could, then it is not an original statement of criteria, and the original one is the one that cannot be self-verified. Because of this, your objection is disingenuous: If you really held to it, then you would logically have to object to all criteria for assessing absolutely everything, and you don't.
I am curious as to why you engaged in such blatantly disingenuous behaviour. Care to address that?
Your definition of natural is obviously different from how I was using it. I intended "natural" to be used in a materialistic sense, that is, everything exists materially. In contrast to this, "supernatural" is something outside of the natural or beyond the material world. Using these definitions, God is a supernatural being, not comprised of materialistic objects. Additionally, just because God exists supernaturally, it does not necessarily follow that God is unable to interact with the material world and as such, we are able to know God. Within these definitions of "natural" and "supernatural", God is completely coherent. Your definition changes the entire context of my original statement and simply confuses the argument.
Our definitions of "natural" appear to be identical. I simply explain mine in more detail. Materialism refers to things that behave in a coherent manner. A "supernatural" thing that behaves in a coherent manner becomes a part of the natural, material world: It begins to be describable scientifically, etc.
So for example, a god whose thoughts in one moment are the result of the previous moment, is a naturalistic god. And the alternative is incoherent randomness.
Since you did not address the actual argument I made and simply rephrased the original statement, I am not sure if you accept the assumptions that I outlined. Before judging the effectiveness of God's response, we must assume we are capable of knowing the best possible answer and measure God be that standard. In essence, finite humans become the judge of an omniscient God. Christians would not say God is mimicking non-existence but that He has decided to act differently from how we would want Him to act.
Now you're talking like someone who believes in a supernatural god, by my definition. That being, a god who cannot be understood. Such a god shares that attribute with other things that cannot be understood, such as utter nonsense. Are you saying your god is utterly nonsensical?
Given the false dilemma, I choose neither. Further study would illustrate the fact that many interpretations are equally plausible while maintaining the integrity of the Bible.
Interpreting its stories as non-historical accounts certainly damages its integrity as a historical account. If you meant specific books, then my criticism may not apply. After all, the Bible is not really a unified document.
Moving beyond a casual glance, one can see that the Bible is composed of many kinds of literature such as poetry, narrative, law, apocryphal, etc, all being necessary read in a particular way so as to honor the original intent of the author. I personally believe that the universe is billions of years old (accepting Genesis 1 as prosaic instead on strictly historical) and that there was a large flood that potentially covered the whole earth (accepting, for various reasons, that Genesis 6-9 as more historical).
Regardless of this flood business and whatever other clearly, demonstrably false beliefs you hold, and more to your point: I'm sure there is some history in there. But it's quite biased, no? After all, the OT records the political and religious perspective of a single tribe. Even today, with all our methods of verification, stuff gets slipped into commonly-accepted history that has no business being there, such as the idea that "In God We Trust" was always on American money. Need we accept as historical fact the idea that the walls of Jericho were yelled
down as well, for example? If the "history" cannot be verified by any other source, and contains assertions that conflict with how we know the Earth to normally operate, then on what basis should it be accepted as history at all?
If it is used, it is only used in a supportive sense. Someone who has won a lottery is expected to before certain actions as a result, i.e. buy a house, car, go on vacation. If such actions are not performed, doubt may arise. These actions are not sufficient to prove anything, but if they do occur, lend viability to the stated claim. One would expect Christians to behave in a certain way if they thought Jesus had been raised from the dead. Because we seem such actions in the lives of the early Christians in particular, it provides some inferential weight to their truth claim.
No, they typically use it as if it were solid proof positive.
Sure, but I do not think I have used the Bible as a divine book in any of my arguments. I have referenced the Bible as I would any other book of historicity.
I never meant to imply that you had done so. And I'm sure your 2nd statement is true, though doing so is utterly unjustified. One might as well treat Epic of Gilgamesh as any other "book of historicity". Certainly the Bible gives us some information about the cultures whose contributions were selected for inclusion in it. But directly deferring to those cultures' accounts of events would be very irresponsible.
If you are more versed in textual form criticism and historical analysis than the scholars I have read, I will then defer to your judgment in regard to your opening statement.
Since I don't know who you've read, what their agenda was, and how prevalent their interpretations are among unbiased analysts, there's little I can draw from this.
As for part 2 on question 7, it partially falls in the genetic fallacy category. Regardless of who actually wrote it, the fact is the original writings have been dated, once again by respected scholars, to within a few decades of the actual events. Furthermore, given the known accuracy of the writing, precise authorship is a non-issue though there is little reason to doubt the authors are as believed.
"Known accuracy of the writing"? lol! Against what standard were the details of the writing checked for accuracy? I mean, really, do you even realize what you're saying here? The only details available are from
the very set of writings to which you refer. So how were they checked for accuracy?
As for the unknown authorship, it is
a problem when one does not have other ways of verifying the details. It means you cannot simply trust the authority of the author(s), given their anonymity.
While apparent contradictions may appear on the surface, they are not without reasonable and rational explanations. If you prefer to start a new topic on the Gospels, I would take up specific issues there. This is not meant to sidestep the issue, but merely to allow it to be addressed fully in an appropriate thread if this a serious obstacle to believing the validity of the Bible.
Oh, I agree that it's a topic worthy of a thread of its own. But I am not the most qualified here to debate it. I agree that there are reasonable and rational explanations for the discrepancies between the gospels. The reasonability and rationality of such explanations suffer when one decides apriori
that the gospels must all be true.
I'm not sure how your comments relate to my statement. The Bible is a book that has withstood the tests of historical and textual analysis. I have not personally read articles on the historicity of the Book of Mormon or the Koran; however, since the Bible has been upheld under such scrutiny, contradictions in other religious writing to the Bible would seem to be false.
I was talking about the extra-biblical accounts of early Christians. There are extra-"biblical" (for lack of a better word) accounts of the activities of early Mormons, too. They are quite well-documented. The same applies to early Muslims. Do these accounts make their respective religions likely to be correct?
If not, then why did you bring it up
I think you are confusing two statement: "God controls" and "God is in control". This is where semantics is important. A God who controls would be the type you appear to be thinking of. It is a God who dictates how everything is going to happen including how people are going to act. The God who is in control, the Christian idea of God, is one who is foundational to everything. He is the basis for lawfulness and predictability of the universe.
Your explanation of "God is in control" is utterly indistinguishable from mine of "God controls". It is God's decision to continue to provide that foundation. Being omnipotent, he could remove it or manipulate it selectively at any time. The predictability of the universe is thus, in either case, directly dependent on the will of the deity. Under your explanation, the god could equally decide to refrain from enforcing its "law" that your computer will turn on when you activate it, and instead enforce a "law" that it will turn into lava and run onto the floor. Reality is no less arbitrary under what you've described.
If there was no such immutable foundation to the universe, science would be impossible. What keeps the law of gravity from constant fluctuations? Why does the speed of light never change? To answer materialistically, nothing does which means it could change at any moment. From a theistic viewpoint, God's existence provides the necessary foundation to the order and lawfulness of the universe.
This is either a lie, or you have no clue of what materialism is about, even on a most basic level of understanding. Since you seem to be a bright lad, I'm going to tentatively go with "a lie".
There are no laws of gravity. The speed of light may change. What we in have science are observations of what happens in practice. Theories and laws are descriptive, not prescriptive. "Law" is a misnomer, often disingenuously equivocated by religious apologists with the legal definition of the word "law".
Regarding the need for a foundation, under a naturalist philosophy, physical reality is
the foundation, and science describes how it works. Since it is taken to be non-conscious and subject to cause-and-effect, we don't have to worry about the random incoherence that the momentary whims of a supernatural god could cause.
This is entering deeper philosophical territory. In libertarian free will, the choice is always made by the individual "self". "I" choose A but COULD have chosen B. No other force or caused decided for me.
And what I am saying is that the "self" has a state of being. That state of being is what determines choices, just as you describe. The results are not random. Simply put, choices are determined by the definite state of what the person wants.
In determinism, there is no "I". All apparent choices are simply another step in a long, long, long chain of cause and effect. Synapse A fired so you "choose" A. In other words, you NECESSARILY choose A; it could not have happened differently, you could not have acted any other way.
There is still an "I" in determinism. That "I" makes choices based on what it wants, just as in the libertarian case. Any attempt to avoid determinism is an appeal to incoherent randomness.
1. Evolution directly may not, but Darwinian evolution is a strictly materialistic account development of life; as such, most who accept evolution also accept a materialistic worldview of which determinism follows necessarily.
Putting aside my objection above: This has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution - Darwinian, Lamarckian, or otherwise. It is merely a re-statement of your objection to materialism. Why are you pretending that it is a point of its own?
2. What "causes" you to have any particular thought? It seems rational to accept that the apparent intelligent design of DNA is because it was actually intelligently designed. Additionally, information coming from an omniscient God seems more plausible than information coming from an undirected, random process.
What causes me to have a particular thought are (1) my thought-process leading up to it, and (2) inputs that may have altered that thought process.
And no macroscopic process ever observed has been random. For example, structures in exposed sedimentary rocks may show beautifully complex sequences of truncating, parallel curves:
Yet, this happened through a gradual and natural process rather than by the deliberate arrangement of a geological artist. It's not random - it's the result of cause-and-effect along an entropic gradient (sun evaporating water, water eroding sediments, flowing downhill and depositing them, etc.)
If all the complexity we see in the universe was directly ordered by your god, then it is entirely arbitrary and random - God's will could have been anything, unconstrained as it is by prior experience and inputs. The odds that things are the way they are would be basically 1/infinity without such materialistic constraints.
Once again, I fail to see how determinism follows from omniscience. If I happen to know that you will receive a car on your birthday, it does not follow that I have either caused you to receive a car on your birthday or necessitated that you will receive a car on your birthday. All that my foreknowledge guarantees is that you will get a car. I could just as easily had known you were getting a bike. Likewise with omnipotence, while I may possess the ability to determine all things, I does not follow that I necessarily must determine all things. I can decide not to interfere,
Omniscience does not cause
determinism, I agree. Rather, it requires
determinism. If you know that I will receive a car on my birthday, then receiving a car on my birthday must have been pre-determined. If it wasn't, then you couldn't know for sure that it would happen. Omniscience extends this to every minute detail of existence. All must have been pre-determined in order for pre-knowledge to be possible.
As much as I enjoy the challenge of covering such a wide range of topics in one post, might I suggest that it be pruned to one or two of particular interest as to allow a more focused discussion.
Also, to all the challenges to my original post by others, I will try my best to respond appropriately and as my time allows. Thanks
Yeah, this has a lot of topics.