Author Topic: Introductory Questions  (Read 10554 times)

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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #145 on: September 03, 2013, 12:27:13 AM »
 
     In the same way, philosophers are not referring to trivial flavour preferences when they use a word like ‘intuition’; rather, they are referring to statements like the law of the excluded middle or the first premise to the kalam cosmological argument or to moral intuitions like “it is wrong to torture babies for fun”.  Concepts like these intuitively seem to be true and ground all of our scientific and metaphysical reasoning.
To address these one by one:
     The law of the excluded middle is not an 'intuition', nor are the other two classical laws of thought.  Indeed, they are actually not particularly intuitive, in and of themselves.  It would be better to call them instinctive, similar to language.  Which is to say that we are biologically wired to incorporate them without having to think about it.
     As for the Kalam cosmological argument and others of its ilk, they are not necessarily true simply because they are intuitive.  For example, the first premise states that there must have been a first cause to the universe (because of the cause-effect chain), but we are finding that this may not have actually been the case (for example, some quantum effects are not 'caused', they simply happen).  So in this case, our intuition (which is based on our experiences here on Earth) is quite possibly wrong.

     [font=]Philosophers often use words like ‘theory’ or ‘intuition’ in ways that differ significantly from popular parlance – you ‘granted’ this point to me in your last post.  [/font]When someone offers an opinion in an everyday conversation (e.g. ‘I like chocolate’ or ‘I think my son is innocent’) it is quite clear that these sentiments do not qualify as intuitions in a technical sense.  If you are interested in learning what exactly demarcates an intuition from a non-intuition then a good place to start would be this article: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intuition/ .  The beginning of the article lists some propositions that are commonly considered to be intuitions in the technical sense of the term and you may note that the examples I gave (e.g. the law of the excluded middle) fall neatly into this category.  If you want to say that the examples I gave are not examples of intuitions then you need to give a better reason than, “they are not particularly intuitive”. 
      Saying that intuitions are ‘instinctive’ like language is simply a category mistake.  Just because biological mechanisms give us the capacity for language and the capacity for higher order logical thought doesn’t mean that intuitions and language have the same epistemological standing.  To affirm this is to commit the genetic fallacy by judging the validity or truthfulness of something like intuitions based on how we came to know it – if the examples that are gave are true then they are true regardless of how we came to know them or what biological process was involved. 
      You are correct; the cosmological argument and others like it do not carry any weight in the debate about God’s existence simply because of the intuitive nature of its premises, it carries weight because the conclusion logically follows from the premises and because the premises seem self-evidently true (or at least more plausibly true than their negations).  In the same way, scientific conclusions also rely on logically valid reasoning and must have intuitively valid background assumptions.     
Quote from: Greenandwhite
     My point is that the person who wants to study quantum mechanics or evolution or any other scientific project utilizes the same kinds of intuitive background assumptions as someone who wishes to pursue the project of natural theology.  As such, if it is reasonable to accept knowledge gained through the scientific method, then it is also legitimate to accept knowledge gained through the arguments of natural theology.
     This is logically flawed.  It is like saying that because you use the same materials for two buildings, that both are structurally sound - without considering any other aspects of the buildings.  On top of that, there is the problem that logic is only as sound as its premise.  If you start from a false premise, then no matter how good your logic is, you're going to end up with a wrong answer.  And these "intuitive background assumptions" you talk about are not the premise of an argument.  In other words, your argument here is wrong.  You cannot automatically legitimize information gained through natural theology simply because you can gain information through the scientific method using similar basic assumptions.

     [font=]I said that “if it is reasonable to accept knowledge gained through the scientific method, then it is also legitimate to accept knowledge gained through the arguments of natural theology”.  [/font]I thought it was fairly evident that my previous statement assumed the correct application of scientific reasoning and the proper use of logical principles in constructing a natural theology.  Obviously, it is possible to misuse something like the scientific method and come up with a false conclusion.  My point was that science and natural theology both depend on the same logical foundation and therefore both can (if used properly) potentially lead to actual knowledge.   
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     You claimed that rational introspection, like opinions, it is useless for obtaining knowledge since its suppositions cannot be proven.
     Actually, no, I said that you can't disprove a hypothesis with it.  That means rational introspection is useless for gaining knowledge by itself, because you can't filter out the bad data from the good.  You have to test information (no matter how you gain it) against reality to determine if it is useful knowledge.

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     You can certainly say that metaphysical intuitions cannot be proven, but that doesn’t mean that falsification is impossible.  For instance, when someone says that ‘everything that begins to exist must have a cause’ that statement, if false, is open to counterexamples.  A couple of legitimate counter examples would certainly serve to undermine my confidence in the intuitive plausibility of the claim.  In contrast, someone’s opinion about chocolate isn’t amenable to being proven or falsified in the sense in which we are talking here, and is therefore useless as a grounding premise for gaining knowledge.
There are counter-examples (albeit not proven yet).  For example, the virtual particles that cause Hawking radiation if they occur next to a black hole are not 'caused'.
     And in any case, it's been pretty well demonstrated that intuition is not reliable in many respects.  For example, in the field of probability.  For example, in the famous birthday problem, our intuition tells us that in order to have a 50% probability of a matched birthday, you need a large percentage of the total birthdays available to check.  In fact, you only need 23 randomly-picked people in a room to have a 50% chance of a birthday match - less than 10% of the total number.  Completely counter-intuitive.

     [font=]Right, but you also said in post #103 that “while it's certainly possible to use them [deductive reasoning and rational introspection]…what use would the conclusions be for acquiring knowledge?  All one would be doing is building off of an opinion, which is itself not provable”.  You equated the conclusions generated from rational introspection with ‘opinions’ and therefore implied that those conclusions would be useless in acquiring knowledge since they would be ‘unprovable’.  [/font]However, you miss my point by focusing on ‘provability’ because so long as intuitions or the conclusions of rational introspection are falsifiable then there is a way to ‘filter out the bad data from the good’.  My point regarding the potential falsifiability of intuitions is only reinforced by examples like the one you gave at the end of your post regarding the ‘famous birthday problem’.   

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #146 on: September 03, 2013, 12:31:14 AM »
     I think, when all is said and done, that the statement "morality is meaningless without a god to base it on" is demonstrably false, for the simple reason that when you base morality on a god, you're basing it on something that is external to yourself, and that could change what it means to be moral at any time.  In other words, trying to base morality on a god, whether it's an actual being or a concept, is effectively making its foundation out of sand, or mist.  In other words, morality is meaningless when based on a god....Human morality is not some kind of unchanging concept.  It's flexible, like a tree; but that flexibility depends on being well-grounded.  Which god-belief doesn't provide.
     If morality based on God is built on a sand foundation then it seems to me that you have just traded one sand foundation for another one; human beings are more than capable of changing their views of what constitutes right and wrong.  What makes you think that you would never change your subjective opinion regarding the moral values that you currently hold dear?  Simply renaming the human ability to change stances on morality ‘flexible’ doesn’t rescue you from the same type of pitfall that you say theists have fallen into. 
 
     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #147 on: September 03, 2013, 12:36:46 AM »
     This response doesn't answer my question and it demonstrates, once again, that you have an idea about what morality is that I reject (namely that it is 'objective' and that it has something to do with something other than human beings, aka a supernatural being etc - which you haven't demonstrated). And even if ALL of my arguments for how I see morality were proven in error this would not get you to "God did it". It would simply bring me to agnosticism, not deism or theism. Is really that hard for you to admit your own ignorance? You seem to be OK with playing Socrates only when you're shelling it out.
     The response here also brings another fallacy to the table - that I have some "belief" or dogma (like you do) regarding what morality is all about - when I do not. For the hundredth time, for me morality is about the well being of human beings (and often therefore conscious creatures). It isn't a belief. I know you so desperately want me to fall into your absolutist mind-set trap of rigidly and dogmatically holding a belief, and presenting a definition, so that you can say, "Aha! Your definition is flawed! Therefore Jebus morality is wins!"
     NOPE. Sorry, not gonna happen. Fact is, in the same manner that you have not demonstrated your Yahweh deity, you haven't demonstrated an objective morality (some absolute standard) either - and your attempt to turn the tables (a fallacy called Shifting the Burden of Proof) is lame at best - especially when I already told you that my position on morality is for me (i.e. - not a claim regarding what is or isn't "objective"). You use your own standard of morality just like I do, and just like everyone else does - except you just want to pretend that yours has some objective standard (which you haven't demonstrated).
     [font=]A burden of proof lies with the person who has made a claim; in an honest discussion that person bears a responsibility to actually back up what he has said rather than taking illegitimate refuge by using evasive tactics.  [/font]Perhaps you will recognize the following vague claim: “for me morality is about the well being of human beings”.  Prefacing that claim with the words ‘for me’ doesn’t excuse you from providing an explanation because you are making a statement about the nature of morality.  Your view is not in any way analogous to some versions of atheism (e.g. you are not arguing for ‘a-morality’) so you should stop complaining and own up to the ‘burden’ that you assumed when you made that claim. Also, you seem to think that the burden of proof can only lie on one side of the debate when; in actuality, both sides often bear a burden of responsibility to provide reasoning or evidence for their assertions – just because one side (me) bears a burden of proof doesn’t mean that the other side (you) doesn’t also simultaneously bear a similar burden.   
      One participant in a debate has fallaciously ‘shifted the burden of proof’ when, according to the Nizkor Project, “[font=]a lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B”.  [/font]I have not anywhere on this thread said that my version of morality is correct because you have not given any evidence to back up yours; therefore, I have not illegitimately shifted the burden of proof.  Before you accuse someone of a logical fallacy you should take the time to learn more than just the name of the fallacy; in other words, if you think I am guilty of a fallacy you need to explain why I am guilty of it.
      Pretty much every time I have asked you a question about your claims regarding your personal view of morality you have accused me of projecting an objective standard onto your view.  Given your repeated excuses for not being forthcoming with any answers to my questions regarding morality, I think that your understanding of the distinction between objective and subjective moral views is about as adequate as your understanding of the word ‘bolster’.  Just because a person’s moral outlook could be described as ‘subjective’ doesn’t mean that they didn’t use some rational process to arrive at their moral conclusions.  If a rational process is involved then it should also be possible to describe it as well as to define the premises upon which it is based.  The absence of such a process and description would make your moral view no better than the moral view of a person who simply rolls a die any time he is confronted with a moral choice.  Your view of subjectivity is conceptually indistinguishable from a decision making process that is purely arbitrary.  Odd, considering the fact that you bill yourself as ‘a promoter of reason’; perhaps a better moniker would be ‘evader of reasons’. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #148 on: September 03, 2013, 12:39:05 AM »
     I do not have an 'assumed' definition of what natural theology is since I use the term in the manner stipulated by the sources listed below:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/natural+theology
http://www.iep.utm.edu/theo-nat/
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/natural+theology
     Additionally, you once again refused to give any rationale whatsoever for why your understanding of the phrase 'natural theology' should be preferred to the one that I offered.  That omission makes your claim arbitrary and reflects nothing more than your own pre-existing biases.

     LOL. Yes, I am 'biased' against mythical nonsense. I love how you use the word 'arbitrary' and then point to some dictionaries as if those are going to help you. They don't, and it's actually surprising to see you attempt this line of reasoning. Did you not know that philosophy often debates questions of definitions in terms? If so, why are you using other authority figures to give you your definitions? Claiming a mere authority (or a group of them) on the definition of a term (a term which was arbitrarily defined in the first place by those who wished to use it under such contexts) is merely assuming what you need to prove - an action which earlier you attempted to take me to task on regarding the definition of "well-being", and other terms. You can't really be serious with this kind of intellectual hypocrisy.
     [font=]You can call dictionary definitions ‘arbitrary’ if you want, but the fact remains that without literary conventions like grammar, phonetics, and vocabulary it would be impossible for one person to know what any other person is talking about.  [/font]If you want to simply posit your own arbitrary definition of ‘natural theology’ that is your prerogative, but no one else will have the foggiest idea what you are talking about.  It’s interesting that given your subjective attitude regarding the meanings of various words and phrases (e.g. ‘evidence’, ‘human flourishing’, ‘natural theology’), you still assume that I should understand the views that you express on this thread – how would that be possible if the meanings of words you use are subjective and arbitrary? 
      Speaking of intellectual hypocrisy, you deny that any ‘authority figures’ should have the right to define words and instead say that “philosoph[ers] often debate questions of definitions in terms”.  This is exactly why in post #92 I asked, “which of the two premises of the kalam cosmological argument assumes God’s existence and why?” That was your chance to actually defend your view of what natural theology is, however, in post #106 you simply ignored my question and tried to change the subject.  So it is quite clear that you won’t accept an authoritative definition of a word nor will you offer any substantial reasons for your own definition.  That’s a pretty effective way of ‘promoting reason’.     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #149 on: September 03, 2013, 12:44:53 AM »
  And while I think that Median's vague proposal regarding morality fails and will continue to fail miserably no matter how much he attempts to bolster it, I think that most atheists and theists condemn the Nazi's due to similar considerations (e.g. the inherently warranted value of human dignity).
     Bolster? Really? Are you really THAT dishonest in misrepresenting my position with such gross error to attempt to make me say things I have not said? Where have I "bolstered" anything on anyone? You sir, have a serious problem with correctly representing (or even attempting to properly represent) an opposing position. On multiple occasions I readily admitted that the position of which I spoke was NOT pertaining to anything "objective", and yet you still sit there and attack it as if it was. WOW.

     [font=]Rarely has ‘lol’ been a more appropriate response to the content of a text than it was following my reading of the following rhetorical gem: “where have I ‘bolstered’ anything on anyone?”  [/font]If you were actually serious about grasping the jest of my statement in post #116 ,then I suggest that you pay a visit to www.dictionary.com or some other similar website and actually look up the meaning of the word ‘bolster’ (more specifically, refer to definition number 10 on dictionary.com and perhaps the meaning of my statement will make more sense).  Not that I think for a minute that you will do this since experience has taught me that in ‘Medianland’ dictionaries are taboo and reference to any kind of ‘authoritative’ reference source is forbidden; after all, why should we consult any expert who just might have spent a significant amount of time studying a subject when we can ask you to render a verdict.  One can’t help but wonder how your bewildering attitude towards any attempt to refer to reference material in making a point would marry to this forum’s guidelines regarding unsupported assertions. (“As such, forum members are expected to back up assertions they make, and not engage in stonewalling, shifting goalposts, changing the subject, or employing similar tactics to avoid addressing points raised against their arguments.”  http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,21732.0.html
     The only difference between an atheist and a theist is that the theist claims that while basing morality on human dignity is a coherent means of construing moral epistemology, it seems ultimately meaningless if not grounded in the existence of a supreme being.
     Wrong. The difference is much bigger than you think. You suffer from the same delusion that you do regarding a deity. You believe one exists (just like believing there is an objective morality) but haven't sufficiently demonstrated it as such - relying upon mere intuition (a feeling) and prior background assumptions you made long ago regarding the bible (along with your interpretation of it), all the while failing to acknowledge the atheists do not see morality (or what that term means) the same way you do."Most people feel X is objectively wrong" isn't a good reason for thinking there is some 'up there' standard beyond human reasoning. If it were then that logic could also apply to all sorts of nonsense that the crowed felt.
     I love how I can make a statement to the affect that atheists and theists for the most part agree on questions of right and wrong (e.g. stealing, lying, cheating, etc…) and also provide coherent justification for these conclusions by reasoning from the inherent dignity of human beings, and in response you simply state that I am wrong and proceed to deliver a diatribe about my supposed ‘background assumptions’ regarding the Bible – subject matter that is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.  For a guy who has such a poor opinion of the Bible and would like society to discard it in favor of rational discussion, you sure like to bring it up a lot.       
       Your portrayal of the concept of objective moral values (“most people feel X is objectively wrong”) isn’t any worse than your own view regarding morality.  If morality is subjective in the sense that you think (post# 126 “my position on morality is for me…you use your own standard of morality just like I do, and just like everyone else does”), then all kinds of nonsense that the crowd ‘felt’ could be justified as well.  If morality is ‘up to me’ as you say, then I don’t see how you have any justified means of condemning a sentiment that the ‘crowd’ feels as nonsensical. 

 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #150 on: September 03, 2013, 12:49:04 AM »
ParkingPlaces,
      I am quite certain that you as a person find your moral values to be meaningful; however, I am just wondering how you know that this meaning is not just illusory?  Isn’t it a fairly common argument on atheistic forums such as this one that human beings are capable of believing all kinds of falsehoods for convenience sake?  How do you know that the meaning that you ascribe to your moral outlook is not just a convenient fiction?
      Since in the previous post I was talking about foundations for moral values, I am wondering on what you are basing yours?  It certainly doesn’t sound to me as if you feel that your moral beliefs are arbitrary, so do you find your moral beliefs to be meaningful because you consider yourself as a person intrinsically valuable and by extension all other human beings as well, or are you doing some kind of a calculation to quantify something like ‘human flourishing’?
 

     I extrapolate. I've noticed that I don't like getting stabbed. I then jump to the conclusion that nobody else does either. Once I have done that, I decide that there is a moral imperative that we not stab each other. Then I go on to other things I wouldn't like having happen to me. Being robbed, raped, shot, drugged, arrested for being black, etc. Pretty soon I have a decent set of rules that I can incorporate into my moral code and feel pretty good about.

Then I move on to other things I don't like, or at least am pretty sure I wouldn't like. Being a slave, being oppressed, starving to death during a civil war, prejudices, etc. That list is pretty long, as is the first. But it doesn't take me much time to put together a set of guidelines that I think constitute moral thinking and moral imperatives. Then I go from there.

Sadly my process doesn't work. Too many selfish folks think all of those things should be on their bucket list, and they go around violating my standards on a regular basis. I gotta work on that part.

Not counting our genes, there are no external sources of morality. There are plenty of fake sources for fake morality, but the real stuff comes from within us. And it is actually pretty easy for anyone with a pencil and paper to come up with something that resembles my own. Except for assholes (sorry Nam, not you) and whatever else you want to call the power hungry/selfish/self-righteous idiots that make life on this planet that much harder. They are the ones insisting the morality must come from somewhere else, because what they want to call normal (be they Nazi's or Glenn Beck or Saddam Hussein) is just them trying to justify their selfishness.

Once you leave out said selfishness, morality starts to be a bit more universal. Sure, we might have to sit down and have the occasional discussion about stoning our raped daughters and stuff, because different cultures are going to occasionally have different standards. But at least we'd have something to work with if the idiots would just get out of the way.

By the way, it might all be illusion. The difference is, my illusions are better. How do I know? Yours suck.
     
[font=]I noticed that you said, “it is actually pretty easy for anyone with a pencil and paper to come up with something [a list of moral imperatives] that resembles my own”.  [/font]I agree, so [font=]you might want to be a little more cautious about saying that my grasp of morality ‘sucks’ considering the fact that you just admitted that my views regarding right and wrong are likely very similar to yours.  [/font]Also, if moral imperatives are ‘illusory’, how exactly do you find the footing to judge one illusory set of beliefs as ‘better’ than another?
      You also said that the only available external source of morality is our genes and then proceeded to characterize selfish individuals as ‘assholes’.  This seems a bit contradictory considering that the nature of genes is to be ‘selfish’ in pursuit of producing as many replications of themselves as possible.  Now, in some cases selflessness might be advantageous from a reproducibility point of view, but it certainly isn’t always the case.  Why do you think that human moral judgements somehow transcend the way that nature operates?
      If God exists and grounds moral judgements in an objective manner, then a person would recognize those values regardless of whether or not he believed in God’s existence.  Put another way, your beliefs regarding God’s existence or the existence of any other possible sources of objectivity are irrelevant in determining the actual nature of moral beliefs.  We all recognize certain moral standards; the relevant consideration is not how we came to those conclusions but rather, ‘what is the best explanation for our general agreement’. 
      The fact that you and I can generate very similar lists of moral imperatives despite the wide divergence in our belief sets, if anything, actually supports the possibility that morality is objective in nature.  The presence of certain selfish individuals who don’t see things the way we do does not take away from the objective ‘seemingness’ of moral values.  For instance, take other self-evident truths like 2+2=4 or the law of the excluded middle; I (and I would wager to say you as well) am going to consider those statements to be universally true regardless of whether or not you can find someone who doesn’t believe them.  Additionally, it does not follow from a claim that there are objective moral standards that every moral judgement we make is objectively true.  So long as at least one objective moral value can be demonstrated (e.g. the Holocaust was wrong) the existence of objective moral standards would be established.  Therefore, neither pointing to human disagreement on moral judgements nor pointing to those who recognize moral values despite their lack of belief in God is sufficient to demonstrate that morality is subjective.   
 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #151 on: September 03, 2013, 12:52:47 AM »

          Just because a general definition is adequate in one circumstance does not mean that it is adequate in all circumstances.  For instance, saying that geology is ‘the study of rock formations and movements’ might be sufficient if one was comparing geology to psychology, but it likely wouldn’t suffice if one wanted to compare the geophysical global cooling hypothesis to the hypothesis of plate tectonics.  In the former case the comparison is between two different disciplines of study while in the latter case the comparison is between two points of view within a discipline.  Someone attempting to defend the global cooling hypothesis couldn’t just say to his detractors, ‘well for me geology is just about the study of rock formations and movements’;  he would actually have to give reasons why he thought that the rocks had moved in the manner prescribed by his hypothesis.  In the same way, the discussion of objective versus subjective moral values is a specific dispute within the study of moral theory and as such, your repeated refusals to adequately clarify your views (e.g. in posts 67, 69, 80, 105, and 107) constitute nothing more than a dishonest and transparent attempt to insulate your views from any kind of criticism.

     Absolutely 100% false. And I deeply resent your BS accusation as both highly unwarranted and assumptive (just as you have done with your theology - ASSUMED it). You seem to have this idea (maybe from Josh Mcdowell, Bill Craig, or other nonsense apologists) that if my answer doesn't fit your wants/desires, as to what you think it should be, then there must be some "deeper" hiding going on (the typical religious conspiracy theory nonsense). No, you just haven't attempted to truly understand what I've stated. You clearly have the agenda of attempting to make me say something I'm not saying (Strawman fallacy) - all the while trying to accuse me of "insulating" some belief you think I have from criticism. WTF!? LOL. No dude, sorry, I don't have some belief (like you do) in a "moral law giver" in the sky (or elsewhere), nor did I provide a definition as if it applies to all (like you do).

     [font=]     Since you don’t seem to have any idea how to even start defining the phrase ‘human flourishing’ I asked you some specific questions about it in post #93.  [/font]I asked: ‘[font=]Is human flourishing best defined by physical, psychological, or social metrics or a mixture of all three?’  ‘Does it primarily apply to the individual, to the individual’s immediate group, or to humanity collectively?’  ‘How do we deal with differences of opinion regarding ‘human flourishing’ (e.g. when one person’s ‘flourishing’ collides with another person’s)?’
      [/font]You responded in post #105 by saying that not all philosophical terms can be defined non-ambiguously (apparently you feel that ‘human flourishing’ is one of them, which might make one wonder how you manage to use it in any kind of a decision making process at all).  You then ended your post by claiming that you had no idea what I was looking for??  Somehow the three questions that I asked in #93 were inadequate to even begin to give you an idea of what I might be looking for – hard to understand how you could miss those unless it is you rather than me who possibly suffers from cranial hyperostosis. 
      At any rate, I did give you a good reason why your analogy to the definition of the term ‘geology’ was inapplicable to the current discussion.  As is so typical of you, you simply flat out disagreed with my rationale without giving any reason why one should be justified in discarding my response.  In light of your repeated diatribes against any kind of authority it is rather ironic to note the authoritarian attitude you display any time I answer one of your posts.  Your only relevant answer to my post: “absolutely 100% false”.  Of course, rather than backing that blunt assertion up with any kind of reasoning, you respond in typical fashion with a long winded rant against random unrelated subjects like ‘theology’ and ‘apologists’ and something about ‘conspiracy theories’??? 
      Despite the fact that your post was utter rubbish I do have a few comments:
 First, speaking of ‘assumptions’, you should stop assuming that every theist you talk to believes exactly what you believed when you were a theist (as if you were the penultimate example of Christian scholarship before your de-conversion).  Just because you ‘assumed’ the truth of everything you believed as a Christian doesn’t mean every theist does. 
 Second, it is presumptuous of you to think that merely attaching derisive labels to any theist or theist argument should suffice to frighten any other theist from consulting them.  Perhaps you think that the mere notion that someone with your intellectual prowess has already rendered judgement should be adequate to end the discussion?  I can’t help but wonder what profound regret Campus Crusade for Christ or Biola University would feel if they could but realize what they have missed out on in employing apologists like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig.  After all, considering the fact that you have so easily found their arguments wanting surely you (before your de-conversion) would have been a much better candidate to spread the good news. 
 Third, calling someone like Bill Craig a ‘nonsense apologist’ is not only a simultaneous condemnation of all the accomplished atheist scholars how have taken him seriously but is also an apt demonstration of your own ignorance which you have prominently displayed numerous times on this thread. 
 

     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #152 on: September 03, 2013, 01:00:27 AM »

          Just because a general definition is adequate in one circumstance does not mean that it is adequate in all circumstances.  For instance, saying that geology is ‘the study of rock formations and movements’ might be sufficient if one was comparing geology to psychology, but it likely wouldn’t suffice if one wanted to compare the geophysical global cooling hypothesis to the hypothesis of plate tectonics.  In the former case the comparison is between two different disciplines of study while in the latter case the comparison is between two points of view within a discipline.  Someone attempting to defend the global cooling hypothesis couldn’t just say to his detractors, ‘well for me geology is just about the study of rock formations and movements’;  he would actually have to give reasons why he thought that the rocks had moved in the manner prescribed by his hypothesis.  In the same way, the discussion of objective versus subjective moral values is a specific dispute within the study of moral theory and as such, your repeated refusals to adequately clarify your views (e.g. in posts 67, 69, 80, 105, and 107) constitute nothing more than a dishonest and transparent attempt to insulate your views from any kind of criticism.

     As I stated in another post, I don't need to clarify anything for you. I'm not the one making the positive claim to an 'objective' morality. You are. And your weak attempts to shift the burden of proof demonstrate your utter dishonesty regarding the subject.

     [font=]You’re not making a ‘positive claim to an objective morality’; no kidding, you are making a positive claim that morality is subjective in nature and as such you are required to back up your assertions.  [/font]As I have said elsewhere, you don’t seem to have a clue what the ‘burden of proof’ fallacy is anyways; it’s just another one of those fancy terms that you like to throw out occasionally in an attempt to intimidate your opponent.  The same goes for your erroneous understanding of the ‘argument from authority’ fallacy – there is a difference between a legitimate and an illegitimate argument from authority.  Not that I actually expect you to take the time to research them, but if you want to accuse me of a logical fallacy you need to explain why I am guilty of it.  My disagreeing with you or asking you to clarify or support a position that you hold is not a criterion you will find in any debate handbook.   
So once again, the accusation, "your repeated refusals to adequately clarify your views..." is itself bullshit. I have clarified my views plenty. If it's not enough for you, too fucking bad! I don't care.

     [font=]Yeah, it’s obvious that you don’t care; if you did it might be possible to have some kind of a discussion with you.  [/font]

     How about YOU "adequately clarify your views" for us. Let's start there.

     [font=]Wow, roughly 75 posts have been written since you made your initial offering on this thread and finally, miracle of all miracles, you have decided that it might not be a bad idea to actually ask me what my views on this subject are.  [/font]Are you sure you don’t want to just tell me what they are like you have done countless times before by drawing upon your inexhaustible knowledge of Christianity?  At any rate, if you want to gain an idea of my views about the nature of morality I suggest you refer to the posts I have made on this thread in response to ParkinPlaces. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #153 on: September 03, 2013, 01:05:47 AM »
     It's quite peculiar and surprising that you have decided to advance this line of reasoning, since only a few posts ago you criticized my general definition of similar terminology ("human flourishing" - which is inherently tied to your idea of "human suffering"). So now let's turn the tables and I will challenge you just like you tried to challenge me. Just how exactly do you define "human suffering"?? Please note that any definition you give will be criticized in similar fashion as you attempted with me.

     [font=]     I have not criticised your ‘general definition’ of human flourishing since you have not yet given me a definition to criticize; as such, I can’t help but wonder how you feel you might ‘criticize in [a] similar fashion’.  [/font]What I have done is criticize your unwillingness to provide any sort of a definition.  Saying that your idea of human flourishing is ‘for you’ says nothing of what you think human flourishing actually entails, although it is a positive claim about the nature of moral judgements.  [font=]Considering the fact that you have presumed to use Aristotle’s bust for your personal profile, you should make more of an effort to emulate him.  [/font]Specifically, while you can only muster two words (‘for me’) to describe the concept of ‘human flourishing’, Aristotle not only coined the phrase (‘eudaimonia’) but also wrote two books (Nichomacean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics) largely dedicated to defining the term and designating how it might fit into moral theory. 
      So what might ‘human suffering’ be? I suppose one could categorize three different types: physical suffering (sensations conceptually similar to the intense discomfort experienced upon breaking an arm), psychological suffering (mental states similar to those experienced by a POW being placed in extended solitary confinement), and emotion suffering (the intense anguish experienced by someone upon losing a loved one).  If one human being was to unjustly inflict any of those three types of suffering upon another human being it would be wrong – agreed?
 
[font=]
     What the Nazis did was an affront to human dignity, and even if they could have subjectively determined that their actions would lead to increased ‘human flourishing’ the holocaust still would have been wrong.[/font]
[font=]

     First, please clarify your definition for "human dignity". Second, had the Nazi's "determined" their actions as increasing human flourishing, the betterment of society (and they did argue this), they still would have been wrong...not because of some deity who you think dictates morality but because the facts would not have played out in their favor. Yes, there's that "suffering" thing again - which has tons to do with human flourishing btw and nothing to do with a non-demonstrable, unfalsifiable, alleged deity thing. [/font]
[font=]
 
     ‘The facts would not have played out in their favor’ is the line of reasoning that DumpsterFire is currently advancing so I will just direct you to read my responses to his posts (BTW, DumpsterFire has actually been engaging my arguments and giving actual reasons why he thinks I am wrong). 
      When I use the phrase ‘human dignity’ I am referring to the fact that human beings possess intrinsic value (value in and of themselves) and therefore should not be treated as a means to an end.  Human beings are intrinsically valuable making any attribution of instrumental value that denies this morally wrong.  So, for example, in the medical field we characterize respect for the individual as involving such considerations as personal autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence. 
 
     [/font]

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #154 on: September 03, 2013, 01:07:35 AM »
Even if we reject my version of the equation there still remains the problem of assigning values to the factors used in the equation.

And there lies the irony. YOU TOO have this same problem of assigning value with your worldview. What, do you think somehow your personal bible interpretation of your theology allows you to escape the problem of assigning value? Merely assuming your theology and then interpreting things through it (all the while criticizing those for whom you actually share the same problem) is pretty hypocritical. Sure, you can say, "Well I believe we are made in the image of God, who has commanded us not to kill. So my system is better" (or something to this effect) but, for one, your system/belief hasn't been demonstrated as true or authoritative. Secondly, countless theological/moral views depicted in that book are either hypocritical or self contradictory, and third, even if you could show that your deity existed (and was somehow the "objective" standard) this would still be a LONG way off from demonstrating that your theological interpretation and exegesis was the one to follow (as there are countless other sects out there who would disagree with you on these so-called "objective" standards, ad nauseum). So what good does it do toward the pursuit of truth (and separating fact from fiction) to criticize a perceived "subjective" standard when (in practice) your system is just as subjective.
     [font=]So besides the first sentence, none of the rest of your reply has any relevant bearing on the discussion at hand.  [/font]In this discussion I have not made any of the claims that you presume to ascribe to me.  If I present an argument, why should it be judged invalid because of other unstated beliefs that you presume I hold?  The best you could do is show that there is an inconsistency in my world view, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the argument at hand is wrong.  If a medical doctor proposed a cure for type I diabetes his research would not be invalidated by showing that he is a member of the flat earth society; his research would have to be judged on its own merits. 
      It is, however, understandable why you keep attempting to present your guesses about what I believe as evidence against my argument considering your demonstrably erroneous views about the nature of natural theology. Again, as I have said elsewhere, personal biases are not logically necessary for an argument to be valid; they may provide motivation to pursue the argument in the first place but they cannot invalidate it.  The arguments of natural theology do not ‘presume’ the existence of god; you have, on numerous occasions, failed to even attempt to demonstrate that they do, so your claim that someone proposing that moral judgements are objective assumes God’s existence is without any merit.   
      [font=]One does not need to identify or ‘demonstrate’ God or any other possible foundation for morality to be able to recognize that moral judgements possess the quality of objectivity.  [/font]An atheist could quite conceivably recognize moral values to be objective (e.g. that they exist in some abstract sense) but simply deny the other premise in the moral argument.  Saying that morality is objective in nature does not presume God’s existence; one can only derive the conclusion ‘God exists’ by logically conjoining the objective nature of moral values with its complementary premise in the moral argument. 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #155 on: September 03, 2013, 01:09:41 AM »
      Now, if you want to know if the loss of tusks has improved the ability of elephants to survive in their present environment then the answer is yes.  Look at it this way, if I took you to some unregulated area of Africa and showed you one elephant with tusks and one elephant without and asked you to place a wager on which one might survive longer, which one would you choose?  As you said in your last post, nature does not have any subjective purpose in shaping the elephant species – all things being equal the strongest will survive and that is exactly what has happened in the case of elephants, the strongest (those without tusks) have survived.  Nature has already answered the question that you posed to me in your last post.
     Now it seems you are the one missing the point. Tuskless elephants are not "stronger" than those with tusks. On the contrary, hundreds of thousands of years of natural elephant evolution have demonstrated that tusks are a beneficial adaptation. It is only because of the unnatural influence of man slaughtering them for ivory that tuskless elephants are flourishing. This would correlate to the Nazi eugenics program, in that these idiotic poachers are (unwittingly) excluding a specific trait from the population, with the end result being a weakened species. Tuskless elephants will probably do OK in the future, but nature has already dictated that elephants with tusks are better adapted for survival. Its pretty sad that what took nature many millenia to build mankind can tear asunder in a century.

    [font=]No, ‘hundreds of thousands of years of natural elephant evolution’ have demonstrated that tusks were a beneficial adaptation.  [/font]However, even though I don’t have a problem accepting the above statement I think it could conceivably be challenged.  For example, when talking about the effect on fitness that a certain trait has, how do you separate out the effects of sexual selection?  More specifically, in the case of elephants, how do you know that the presence of tusks is not a result of intrasexual selection thereby conferring very little extra survival advantage?  For instance, I can see how one male elephant possessing longer tusks than a rival male would confer a competitive advantage in fighting for a mate, but what extra benefit would it be in fending off a lion when, considering the elephant’s massive size, he could just as well clobber the lion with his trunk?  This is akin to considering that if you were planning on jumping me with your bare hands in a back alley and I routinely carried around a handgun (I don’t by BTW), I would not gain much extra benefit from adding a submachine gun to my arsenal.  What difference does it make if I stop you dead in your tracks with a  hand gun as opposed to a submachine gun – same end result.  In the same way, whether an elephant just has a trunk or has a trunk and tusks, potential predators are going to think twice before attacking.  Indeed, it would be relevant here to revisit the population explosion of the elephants in Addo Elephant National Park who don’t seem to have any difficulty whatsoever defending themselves without tusks.
      You also need to adequately justify you use of the description ‘unnatural’ when describing human influences on the elephant population.  On a naturalistic point of view we humans are just as much a part of the evolutionary process as any other animal and as such our actions are also just as natural.  Neither the fact that evolution has endowed us with cognitive faculties superior to other animals nor the fact that we can have a potentially large impact on the evolutionary process is sufficient to make our influence ‘unnatural’.  Is a volcanic eruption ‘unnatural’ simply because of the potential it has to cause dramatic changes in the evolutionary process (e.g. through widespread extinctions)?
      It is also interesting to note the value judgement that you ascribe to the results of human ‘interference’ in the evolutionary process when you describe the potential disappearance of elephant tusks as ‘sad’.  Stephen J Gould has recognized the evolutionary process to be contingent in nature; hence, as he phrases it: [font=]“wind back the tape of life to the early days of the Burgess Shale; let it play again from an identical starting point, and the chance becomes vanishingly small that anything like human intelligence would grace the replay”.  [/font]Considering the fact that evolutionary history could quite conceivably played out in such a way that neither human intelligence nor elephant tusks made an appearance on the stage of history, I am wondering why you think your statement that it would be ‘sad’ if tusks were to become a thing of the past has any meaning at all.  On a naturalistic point of view, why should one contingent state of affairs be more meaningful than another?  Are you presuming to judge nature for the ‘choices’ that she makes? 

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #156 on: September 03, 2013, 01:13:15 AM »
      Firstly, I have not presumed to defend young earth creationism at any place on this cite so I don’t think that I am required to provide scientific evidence for a universal flood. Secondly, there does appear to be a good amount of scientific evidence for not just one but several near extinction events in human history: http://io9.com/5501565/extinction-events-that-almost-wiped-out-humans and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080424-humans-extinct_2.html

Both of your links cite only two such events, info on the most recent (70k years ago) of which being acknowledged as "controversial". Here's a quote from the comments section of the first link:

"The authors actually estimate an even smaller population number for 1.2 mio. yrs. ago than is cited in this post: 18,500.
However, they base their analysis on only two completed human genome sequences. And such an analysis necessarily has to make a very large number of very generous assumptions. Their estimate number could easily be off by an order of magnitude or more.
The other work, about the supposed extinction event 70k yrs. ago is from 2003, just before the current technological revolution in DNA sequencing got under way. So the experimental methods used (micro satellite markers) are very limited and again a large number of generous assumptions had to be made. Again the numbers could be off several fold, which would then tell a completely different story."

But even if we assume that the figures are correct, the fact is it took 70,000 years to get to the level of genetic diversity we presently have. Again, you are likely correct that mankind will continue to flourish, but severe restrictions to the human gene pool are not quickly or easily overcome.

     [font=]I can’t help but notice that the bulk of your criticism consisted in citing a quote from the comments section.  Anybody regardless of academic credentials or understanding can post a comment, so I am wondering why you think I should consider the information in the quote to be accurate?  [/size]However, even if I grant you the content of the quote that you reproduced, there is a problem.  The author of the article didn’t just base credibility of near extinction events on genetic information, but also conjoined the genetic evidence to coinciding geological catastrophes.  Neither you nor the person that you quoted bothered to question the geological evidence, and even if the genetic evidence has weaknesses, it is strengthened considerably by being accurately associated with a geological event.   
      You said that “severe restrictions to the human gene pool are not quickly or easily overcome”; however, the second half of the article significantly questions your assertion.  The author notes that when a species experiences a severe truncation of available genetic diversity coupled with extreme external conditions, the two circumstances actually could speed up the process of evolution.  He even speculates that these circumstances could have been the major reason for the rapid development of human cognitive capacity.  This undercuts your claim that severe genetic restrictions preclude evolutionary progress even in the short term. 
      Finally, in post #120 you asked me to provide ‘legitimate scientific evidence’ for possible human near extinction events.  You did not ask for incontrovertible proof, so the articles that I linked in post #135 have still served their purpose.  The fact that there is controversy surrounding a testable scientific claim doesn’t mean that there isn’t any legitimate evidence available.  Some scientists are convinced by the current evidence, others are still skeptical; at any rate, it certainly isn’t unreasonable to claim that humans have faced near extinction on several occasions in the past.  [/font]

     You said yourself that “one would think that the benefits of limiting human suffering in the present would be self-evident”.  That is exactly the point I am trying to make; limiting human suffering is self-evidently good, and we recognize that without doing any calculations to determine a measured quantity of human flourishing.  What the Nazis did was an affront to human dignity, and even if they could have subjectively determined that their actions would lead to increased ‘human flourishing’ the holocaust still would have been wrong.

     For someone who seemed to be so firmly planted in the Ozymandias camp, it seems rather disingenuous of you to suddenly hop on board the Rorschach bandwagon.  :P

[font=]     Actually, I think a more accurate characterization of my views using the Watchmen analogy would be that if the Nazi’s were to use some standard of ‘human flourishing’ to defend their actions, they would then be ‘firmly planted in the Ozymandias camp’. 
I never said that I personally would agree with such reasoning, hence my statement to the effect that “limiting human suffering is self-evidently good” which holds irrespective of any attempts at an actual quantification of ‘good’. So it seems that I was actually riding the Rorschach bandwagon all along.  [/size]
 [/font]

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #157 on: September 03, 2013, 01:15:16 AM »
     Your fallacy here is that you have assumed that it is about "rights", when it's not. Rights have nothing to do with it. They are not inherent, nor have they been demonstrated as "from the divine". Rights are only available when people fight for them, allow them, and/or keep them in place.
     [font=]That’s ‘might makes right’ Median.  [/font]The founding fathers fought to usurp that very kind of erroneous reasoning; or haven’t you bothered to read the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”?  They didn’t say: “in light of our military strength, it is now evident that for us that all men are created equal…”.   

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #158 on: September 03, 2013, 01:16:57 AM »
    How about morality - can you construct an experiment to show that stealing is wrong or do you already know it is wrong before you start?

     I don't know if this counts but I can first off show historically where stealing is bad for the community as a whole.  As a rule it should be avoided based upon historical events.  A community riddled with theft and other crimes is less enjoyable and prosperous as a whole.  Polling data would indicate a lower quality of life..

Now is stealing morally wrong?   I think "morally" is subjective, and in reality is a community cultural thing, moral = good for the community to have a certain quality of life as a whole.  From this we come up with the basic laws of humanity

Stealing - is wrong because it creates strife in the community, potentially inviting more theft and annimosity.  (as such it is judged to be morally wrong)
Sex out of marriage -  Creates bastard children, who do not have fathers and a complete support system. (history has deemed this immoral because it hurts the community)
Sex with neighbors wife -  Well this cretes strife, annimosity, fights, and vendettas. (bad for community again becomes morally wrong)
...

This is why almost universally most cultural norms over eons came up with moral codes that are passed down to children.  They are based upon observation or people in antiquity.

An experiment would be simply any group of people thrust into these situations will have a higher incidents of escallating problems using observation you will be able to reproduce results over and over that allowing "immoral behavior" in the above catagories will result in a decrease in productivity and increase in injury:)


Morals are simply rules based upon human cultural experience and they are passed on by both the community and the parents.  Many Morals are good for the community as a whole rather than the individual directly. 

If I don't steal and we don't steal we will be more secure,  If I don't kill and we dont kill then that benefits me in not being killed allowing my productivity to continue.

Immoral acts usually benefit the individuals self interest over the communities best interest. 

"I want to sleep with my neighbors wife"  I get a thrill but in the end it will likely (statistically) hurt the community.
     [font=]You said that it can be historically demonstrated that stealing is ‘bad for the community’ or that it would make a community ‘less enjoyable’.  [/font]Interestingly, you didn’t see fit to actually provide any historical research that has been done on this topic; however, even if you did, would you have to wait for the conclusion of the study to know that stealing is wrong?  Stealing isn’t shown to be wrong by scientific or historical research; those kinds of pursuits only show the possible effects of such actions, but the one conducting the study already knows in advance what actions will be accepted as right or wrong regardless of outcome. 
     
When we condemn an action as morally wrong it seems that we do so for reasons that transcend mere community success; for instance, consider the claim that murder is wrong because it is not beneficial to the welfare of the community.  If I grant you this assumption how would you deal with a possible counter example where a murder would not cause any appreciable harm to the community? If someone were to murder a homeless transient who has no significant family relations and was to do it in such a way that no one ever found out, would that still be wrong?  Society is not going to suffer any loss in productivity and if no one finds out then the act of murder itself would not be a corrupting influence on anyone.  It seems to me that saying that murder is not beneficial to society is a useful guideline considering our limited knowledge about the actual consequences any specific murder, but that isn’t the same as saying it is wrong – period.  Moral judgements that we consider to be ‘right’ usually do benefit society, but that doesn’t mean that benefit to society is what makes something right or wrong.   

Online ParkingPlaces

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #159 on: September 03, 2013, 08:40:30 AM »
Greenandwhite

Whatever you're trying to do with the [font=] thing isn't working, and it makes your posts much harder to read (or I haven't evolved that far  :)] Please either hit the Preview button and check out your posts to make sure they're working, or stop doing that.

I can get the process to work sometimes. At other times it doesn't. It may be broken. I would suggest you try something else. Italics, perhaps?
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline epidemic

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #160 on: September 03, 2013, 02:11:36 PM »
     [font=]You said that it can be historically demonstrated that stealing is ‘bad for the community’ or that it would make a community ‘less enjoyable’.  [/font]Interestingly, you didn’t see fit to actually provide any historical research that has been done on this topic; however, even if you did, would you have to wait for the conclusion of the study to know that stealing is wrong?  Stealing isn’t shown to be wrong by scientific or historical research; those kinds of pursuits only show the possible effects of such actions, but the one conducting the study already knows in advance what actions will be accepted as right or wrong regardless of outcome. 
     
When we condemn an action as morally wrong it seems that we do so for reasons that transcend mere community success; for instance, consider the claim that murder is wrong because it is not beneficial to the welfare of the community.  If I grant you this assumption how would you deal with a possible counter example where a murder would not cause any appreciable harm to the community? If someone were to murder a homeless transient who has no significant family relations and was to do it in such a way that no one ever found out, would that still be wrong?  Society is not going to suffer any loss in productivity and if no one finds out then the act of murder itself would not be a corrupting influence on anyone.  It seems to me that saying that murder is not beneficial to society is a useful guideline considering our limited knowledge about the actual consequences any specific murder, but that isn’t the same as saying it is wrong – period.  Moral judgements that we consider to be ‘right’ usually do benefit society, but that doesn’t mean that benefit to society is what makes something right or wrong.   

Well it is my contention that murder is considered morally wrong because people saw what it did to the community.  You bolster my claim that it is not transcendent because with in most communities there are exceptions to the murder is wrong moral code.  As you said a stranger or someone from another group is fine to be killed the immorality of murder typically is universal within your community but becomes more vague when you reach the fringes of your society.   

Murdering people who have hurt your community was and is often not considered immoral.  For most of american society it is now immoral to kill for most any reason.  Our morality is changing as our culture changes.  In iraq it is moral to kill a woman who cheats on her husband.  their culture does not see it as a problem.  In bible culture it was ok to kill your child for not showing his parents respect. 

Today it would be an abomination to murder someone who's only crime was homosexuality different cultures and time periods would not seem to define it that way. 

Being cultural in nature, morality is alway on an ever evolving sliding scale.  There are general rules that are perceived to benefit the community, some that could be the observation of the community as a whole or reflect the personal biases of a few individuals.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 02:16:34 PM by epidemic »

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #161 on: September 03, 2013, 07:46:54 PM »
Greenandwhite

Whatever you're trying to do with the [font=] thing isn't working, and it makes your posts much harder to read (or I haven't evolved that far  :) ] Please either hit the Preview button and check out your posts to make sure they're working, or stop doing that.

I can get the process to work sometimes. At other times it doesn't. It may be broken. I would suggest you try something else. Italics, perhaps?[/font]
[font=]
     Sorry, I was aware of it, but wasn't sure if it was too bothersome for other readers or not.  I have been typing my posts up on Microsoft Word and for some reason when I copy and paste into the reply field the forum software adds the  tags.  I assumed that the reason it was happening was that the font on my word document was different than that used on the forum.  I tried copying and pasting a sentence from the forum back to my word document to figure out what font is being used; however, even though I changed my word document font the problem persists.  Not sure if you have any suggestions...I could simply retype my posts although it would take a bit more time.  Again, my apologies. [/font]

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #162 on: September 03, 2013, 07:49:29 PM »
     Ok, on post #161 I typed my post directly into the reply field and the font tags still appeared - maybe it is my computer?  I am certainly not the most knowledgeable when it comes to computers or computer programs.

Online ParkingPlaces

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #163 on: September 03, 2013, 08:17:05 PM »
     Ok, on post #161 I typed my post directly into the reply field and the font tags still appeared - maybe it is my computer?  I am certainly not the most knowledgeable when it comes to computers or computer programs.

G&W

It's probably not the most important thing in the world right now. I was hoping there was an easy solution, but I guess we can all work around it if need be. You might consider typing in plain text and then highlighting text after it is pasted and doing the font change at that point, since you usually are only doing once each post.

Just an idea.

Most of us, when we want to bring special attention to a phrase in a quoted section will bold those words and then write "My bold" before starting our reply.

But as you can imagine, we atheists don't have many standards.  ;D  So you can do what you want.
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Willie

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #164 on: September 03, 2013, 10:26:26 PM »
If you paste from your word processor into a plain text editor (such as notepad), then copy again from there, that will usually get rid of any formatting codes from the word processor. Of course, another option would be to type up your posts directly in the plain text editor instead of a word processor. I sometimes type posts in a text editor instead of directly in the forum's editor in order to avoid the risk of losing text because of a timeout or crash or whatever, or for a post that needs some research that I don't have time to do all at one sitting.

Offline median

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #165 on: September 04, 2013, 10:20:25 AM »
     [font=]A burden of proof lies with the person who has made a claim; in an honest discussion that person bears a responsibility to actually back up what he has said rather than taking illegitimate refuge by using evasive tactics.  [/font]Perhaps you will recognize the following vague claim: “for me morality is about the well being of human beings”.  Prefacing that claim with the words ‘for me’ doesn’t excuse you from providing an explanation because you are making a statement about the nature of morality. 

Nope. This is where you continuously keep misrepresenting my position (attempting to turn the tables) and this is why you view what I have said as "evasive tactics". I HAVE NOT made a statement of the "the nature of morality". On the contrary, I have stated what morality means to me (a preference) - unlike you who claims to have an "objective standard" (presumably a deity which you haven't demonstrated). So no sir, you are quite mistaken here. My position on morality (as you define it) is that it is just as illusive as the deity you believe in.

Your view is not in any way analogous to some versions of atheism (e.g. you are not arguing for ‘a-morality’) so you should stop complaining and own up to the ‘burden’ that you assumed when you made that claim. Also, you seem to think that the burden of proof can only lie on one side of the debate when; in actuality, both sides often bear a burden of responsibility to provide reasoning or evidence for their assertions – just because one side (me) bears a burden of proof doesn’t mean that the other side (you) doesn’t also simultaneously bear a similar burden.

Except you haven't demonstrated that I have a burden of proof. You just keep saying it because you want me to have one so you can attempt to attack it. Again, I haven't made any assertions on the "the nature of morality". Multiple times now you have misrepresented my position (Strawman Fallacy).


      One participant in a debate has fallaciously ‘shifted the burden of proof’ when, according to the Nizkor Project, “[font=]a lack of evidence for side A is taken to be evidence for side B”.  [/font]I have not anywhere on this thread said that my version of morality is correct because you have not given any evidence to back up yours; therefore, I have not illegitimately shifted the burden of proof.  Before you accuse someone of a logical fallacy you should take the time to learn more than just the name of the fallacy; in other words, if you think I am guilty of a fallacy you need to explain why I am guilty of it.

I apologize for the false charge and rescind it, as what I meant was something different from what I stated. Happy?


      Pretty much every time I have asked you a question about your claims regarding your personal view of morality you have accused me of projecting an objective standard onto your view. 

It seems to me that you keep attempting to make me take a position that I haven't taken, namely one on "the nature of morality" and I haven't done that nor have I attempted to do so.

Given your repeated excuses for not being forthcoming with any answers to my questions regarding morality, I think that your understanding of the distinction between objective and subjective moral views is about as adequate as your understanding of the word ‘bolster’. 

Sounds good! Because I understand the term very well. Unfazed.

Just because a person’s moral outlook could be described as ‘subjective’ doesn’t mean that they didn’t use some rational process to arrive at their moral conclusions.  If a rational process is involved then it should also be possible to describe it as well as to define the premises upon which it is based.  The absence of such a process and description would make your moral view no better than the moral view of a person who simply rolls a die any time he is confronted with a moral choice.  Your view of subjectivity is conceptually indistinguishable from a decision making process that is purely arbitrary.  Odd, considering the fact that you bill yourself as ‘a promoter of reason’; perhaps a better moniker would be ‘evader of reasons’.

"Feel the Christian love!" LOL. I'm unfazed by your rants again. YOU can attempt to "describe" what I have previously stated all you like, but your doing so doesn't make your assertions regarding "the nature of morality" anymore true regarding them. Once again, I have not made an assertion regarding the nature of morality, and any attempt by you to put words in my mouth to that effect is a strawman fallacy. On the contrary, I have no idea what such "nature" could even look like, and in fact, I have been given no good reasons for thinking that such a concept is even coherent.

Btw, merely making a charge regarding what you see as "my position" (which is based on a strawman), that it is "indistinguishable from a decision making process that is purely arbitrary" without backing it up/defining your terms/etc is a little hypocritical don't ya think - since you just got done attempting to charge me with a similar claimed 'offense'.

You should have looked at yourself in the mirror when you made that "evader" charge.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 10:30:44 AM by median »
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Offline median

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #166 on: September 04, 2013, 10:51:15 AM »
     [font=]You can call dictionary definitions ‘arbitrary’ if you want, but the fact remains that without literary conventions like grammar, phonetics, and vocabulary it would be impossible for one person to know what any other person is talking about.  [/font]If you want to simply posit your own arbitrary definition of ‘natural theology’ that is your prerogative, but no one else will have the foggiest idea what you are talking about.  It’s interesting that given your subjective attitude regarding the meanings of various words and phrases (e.g. ‘evidence’, ‘human flourishing’, ‘natural theology’), you still assume that I should understand the views that you express on this thread – how would that be possible if the meanings of words you use are subjective and arbitrary? 

You are attempting to characterize the debate over specific definitions of terms as "subjective attitude"? I suppose you could clarify more about what you mean there. Philosophy has a very long history of discussing/debating the definitions of terms and just because someone wants to debate you on the definition of a term (and all you want to do is use the dictionary) doesn't in anyway make the debate about a "subjective attitude" (whatever you mean by that).

Regarding your assertion #2, that I assume that you should understand the views presented on this website, you are in error again. On the contrary, I do not make that assumption. Attempting to have someone understand doesn't in any way guarantee they will. Errors in communication are a common occurrence (especially when online).


      Speaking of intellectual hypocrisy, you deny that any ‘authority figures’ should have the right to define words and instead say that “philosoph[ers] often debate questions of definitions in terms”.  This is exactly why in post #92 I asked, “which of the two premises of the kalam cosmological argument assumes God’s existence and why?” That was your chance to actually defend your view of what natural theology is, however, in post #106 you simply ignored my question and tried to change the subject.  So it is quite clear that you won’t accept an authoritative definition of a word nor will you offer any substantial reasons for your own definition.  That’s a pretty effective way of ‘promoting reason’.     

WTF? So because I didn't answer a question in the specific way in which YOU wanted me to that must mean your position is the correct one? LOL. For the sake of this discussion, I could assume your definition of "natural theology" and doing so wouldn't prove your deity OR your "objective morality". So how about actually demonstrating the deity you believe in or why you think there is an "objective morality"?
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 10:54:28 AM by median »
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Offline median

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #167 on: September 04, 2013, 12:00:31 PM »
     [font=]Rarely has ‘lol’ been a more appropriate response to the content of a text than it was following my reading of the following rhetorical gem: “where have I ‘bolstered’ anything on anyone?”  [/font]If you were actually serious about grasping the jest of my statement in post #116 ,then I suggest that you pay a visit to www.dictionary.com or some other similar website and actually look up the meaning of the word ‘bolster’ (more specifically, refer to definition number 10 on dictionary.com and perhaps the meaning of my statement will make more sense).  Not that I think for a minute that you will do this since experience has taught me that in ‘Medianland’ dictionaries are taboo and reference to any kind of ‘authoritative’ reference source is forbidden; after all, why should we consult any expert who just might have spent a significant amount of time studying a subject when we can ask you to render a verdict.  One can’t help but wonder how your bewildering attitude towards any attempt to refer to reference material in making a point would marry to this forum’s guidelines regarding unsupported assertions. (“As such, forum members are expected to back up assertions they make, and not engage in stonewalling, shifting goalposts, changing the subject, or employing similar tactics to avoid addressing points raised against their arguments.”  http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,21732.0.html

As is so often the case in debates and/or online discourse, what is meant by words that are stated stands as more significant than the words themselves. Look deeper! This is what you are missing regarding many of my statements here. It seems you are context dropping. You seem to be in a land of assuming what is meant, instead of trying to clarify. What I meant was that I have not attempted to support a position on "the nature of morality". It seems you desperately want me to though. Yes, contrary to your "thinking", I have double checked the meaning of 'bolster' and I'm fine with what I meant by what I stated. Instead of jumping to the attack you should have asked what was meant.

Secondly, dictionaries are not "taboo" according to me, but they are also not the ultimate authority on definitions of terms in a debate context. You should know that. Furthermore, I know the forums guidelines and I'm fine with them. Your misrepresentation of what I have stated doesn't translate to a violation of those rules.


     The only difference between an atheist and a theist is that the theist claims that while basing morality on human dignity is a coherent means of construing moral epistemology, it seems ultimately meaningless if not grounded in the existence of a supreme being.


   
Quote
I love how I can make a statement to the affect that atheists and theists for the most part agree on questions of right and wrong (e.g. stealing, lying, cheating, etc…) and also provide coherent justification for these conclusions by reasoning from the inherent dignity of human beings, and in response you simply state that I am wrong and proceed to deliver a diatribe about my supposed ‘background assumptions’ regarding the Bible – subject matter that is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.  For a guy who has such a poor opinion of the Bible and would like society to discard it in favor of rational discussion, you sure like to bring it up a lot.

First, theists/atheists don't actually agree on questions of right and wrong. Most the theists I know ("born again" Christians) do not agree on those things you mentioned (situations of stealing/lying/killing/etc). Secondly, you didn't "reason from" dignity. All you did was CLAIM IT saying, "the inherently warranted value of human dignity." Third, I brought up the bible (not b/c I like to) but b/c I think it is likely your foundation for the claims regarding human dignity, etc. Is it not? As a professing Christian, do you not believe that the bible is God's word and that it is the authority? If so, then no it is not irrelevant to this discussion b/c you have made an assertion regarding "human dignity" for which you are attempting to argue has no meaning without the deity you believe in, which is depicted in that book.

 
       Your portrayal of the concept of objective moral values (“most people feel X is objectively wrong”) isn’t any worse than your own view regarding morality.  If morality is subjective in the sense that you think (post# 126 “my position on morality is for me…you use your own standard of morality just like I do, and just like everyone else does”), then all kinds of nonsense that the crowd ‘felt’ could be justified as well.  If morality is ‘up to me’ as you say, then I don’t see how you have any justified means of condemning a sentiment that the ‘crowd’ feels as nonsensical. 

I wasn't portraying the entirety of the concept of objective moral values. I was responding to your previous assertion regarding theist/atheist "agreement". Second, "justified" isn't a term that I accept when it pertains to what you are calling morality. This  is another example of how you are misunderstanding and misrepresenting what I have stated. "Justified" has nothing to do with it and just because YOU label what I have stated as "subjective morality" doesn't mean your characterization is correct. We could both be in the position of lacking a foundation for what you call "morality" and that wouldn't make the concept any less absurd or unsubstantiated.
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Offline median

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #168 on: September 04, 2013, 12:28:45 PM »

     [font=]     Since you don’t seem to have any idea how to even start defining the phrase ‘human flourishing’ I asked you some specific questions about it in post #93.  [/font]I asked: ‘[font=]Is human flourishing best defined by physical, psychological, or social metrics or a mixture of all three?’  ‘Does it primarily apply to the individual, to the individual’s immediate group, or to humanity collectively?’  ‘How do we deal with differences of opinion regarding ‘human flourishing’ (e.g. when one person’s ‘flourishing’ collides with another person’s)?’
      [/font]You responded in post #105 by saying that not all philosophical terms can be defined non-ambiguously (apparently you feel that ‘human flourishing’ is one of them, which might make one wonder how you manage to use it in any kind of a decision making process at all).  You then ended your post by claiming that you had no idea what I was looking for??  Somehow the three questions that I asked in #93 were inadequate to even begin to give you an idea of what I might be looking for – hard to understand how you could miss those unless it is you rather than me who possibly suffers from cranial hyperostosis.

And so is the term "ambiguously" used differently in different contexts. I reject your notion that one cannot have a general definition/understanding of the meaning of a term and henceforth make decisions based upon it. There are numerious terms in language, whose necessary and sufficient conditions are vehemently debated and not agreed upon (both in and out of philosophical circles), and this may in fact indicate a problem with our language (as both Quine and Derrada have noted), not necessarily a problem with us using terms. But even if I did not define "human flourishing" in the way in which you would like this doesn't say anything as to whether or not I can make choices regarding what it means to me.

I will answer the rest later.



   
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Offline median

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #169 on: September 04, 2013, 05:24:12 PM »
      Despite the fact that your post was utter rubbish I do have a few comments:
 First, speaking of ‘assumptions’, you should stop assuming that every theist you talk to believes exactly what you believed when you were a theist (as if you were the penultimate example of Christian scholarship before your de-conversion).  Just because you ‘assumed’ the truth of everything you believed as a Christian doesn’t mean every theist does. 
 Second, it is presumptuous of you to think that merely attaching derisive labels to any theist or theist argument should suffice to frighten any other theist from consulting them.  Perhaps you think that the mere notion that someone with your intellectual prowess has already rendered judgement should be adequate to end the discussion?  I can’t help but wonder what profound regret Campus Crusade for Christ or Biola University would feel if they could but realize what they have missed out on in employing apologists like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig.  After all, considering the fact that you have so easily found their arguments wanting surely you (before your de-conversion) would have been a much better candidate to spread the good news. 
 Third, calling someone like Bill Craig a ‘nonsense apologist’ is not only a simultaneous condemnation of all the accomplished atheist scholars how have taken him seriously but is also an apt demonstration of your own ignorance which you have prominently displayed numerous times on this thread. 

Stating your opinion regarding what you think of my posts doesn't effect me. So just stop it and move on b/c it sounds childish.

1. I haven't assumed every theist believes exactly as I did (that is your assumption regarding me - FAIL), and I didn't 'just assume' everything I believed as a Christian (although there were many things, and I see hints of those same assumptions in your arguments). Perhaps you can tells us your testimony as to how you became a Christian and then (assuming you're willing to be honest) we can evaluate if you made assumptions or not.

2. I'm not following you here. Please clarify.

3. Flinging more poo doesn't sway my opinion that Craig's arguments are nonsense. Neither does it require that I degrade those who have challenged him. Confronting nonsense doesn't degrade he/she who does so (which is one of the reasons I'm engaging you here!). Further, merely claiming I am ignorant regarding something (definitions of terms, etc) based in your assumptions of my statements, isn't a demonstration that I am in fact ignorant. It's rather a demonstration that you haven't attempted to understand and/or clarify what is meant - and you've shown that multiple times here. One would expect a different result from someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, don't you think?
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Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #170 on: September 05, 2013, 12:12:36 AM »
     As is so often the case in debates and/or online discourse, what is meant by words that are stated stands as more significant than the words themselves. Look deeper! This is what you are missing regarding many of my statements here. It seems you are context dropping. You seem to be in a land of assuming what is meant, instead of trying to clarify. What I meant was that I have not attempted to support a position on "the nature of morality". It seems you desperately want me to though. Yes, contrary to your "thinking", I have double checked the meaning of 'bolster' and I'm fine with what I meant by what I stated. Instead of jumping to the attack you should have asked what was meant.
     The meaning I was intending to convey when I used the word 'bolster' was the same meaning that is listed in definition #10 on www.dictionary.com.  You say that you have double checked the meaning of the word 'bolster'; so, I would like to know what reference you used and the definition that you referred to. 

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #171 on: September 05, 2013, 12:37:33 AM »

     Since you don’t seem to have any idea how to even start defining the phrase ‘human flourishing’ I asked you some specific questions about it in post #93.  I asked: ‘Is human flourishing best defined by physical, psychological, or social metrics or a mixture of all three?’  ‘Does it primarily apply to the individual, to the individual’s immediate group, or to humanity collectively?’  ‘How do we deal with differences of opinion regarding ‘human flourishing’ (e.g. when one person’s ‘flourishing’ collides with another person’s)?’
      You responded in post #105 by saying that not all philosophical terms can be defined non-ambiguously (apparently you feel that ‘human flourishing’ is one of them, which might make one wonder how you manage to use it in any kind of a decision making process at all).  You then ended your post by claiming that you had no idea what I was looking for??  Somehow the three questions that I asked in #93 were inadequate to even begin to give you an idea of what I might be looking for – hard to understand how you could miss those unless it is you rather than me who possibly suffers from cranial hyperostosis.

     And so is the term "ambiguously" used differently in different contexts. I reject your notion that one cannot have a general definition/understanding of the meaning of a term and henceforth make decisions based upon it. There are numerious terms in language, whose necessary and sufficient conditions are vehemently debated and not agreed upon (both in and out of philosophical circles), and this may in fact indicate a problem with our language (as both Quine and Derrada have noted), not necessarily a problem with us using terms. But even if I did not define "human flourishing" in the way in which you would like this doesn't say anything as to whether or not I can make choices regarding what it means to me.
     My issue is not that you "did not define 'human flourishing' in the way in which I would like"; my issue is that you have not made any effort to define it at all - no definition, nothing.  If someone asked my to describe the car that I drive and I simply said that my car is 'for me', would that tell them anything that they didn't already know? 
     Consider the following statement that you have made: "not all philosophical terms can be defined non-ambiguously".  Why doesn't the thrust of that statement apply to the words that make up that statement itself (e.g. 'philosophical', 'defined', 'non-ambiguously',...), and if that is the case then why, on your view, does that statement have any meaning at all?  Quine and Derrada might have theorized about the 'necessary and sufficient conditions' for prescribing meanings to the words we use, but I'll bet that regardless of their conclusions they actually had a genuine discussion with their detractors.  You are just compounding the excuses that you made in your last flurry of posts. 
     



 
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 12:54:52 AM by Greenandwhite »

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #172 on: September 05, 2013, 01:17:49 AM »
     Nope. This is where you continuously keep misrepresenting my position (attempting to turn the tables) and this is why you view what I have said as "evasive tactics". I HAVE NOT made a statement of the "the nature of morality". On the contrary, I have stated what morality means to me (a preference) - unlike you who claims to have an "objective standard" (presumably a deity which you haven't demonstrated). So no sir, you are quite mistaken here. My position on morality (as you define it) is that it is just as illusive as the deity you believe in.
     Really, perhaps you should refer back to post #63 where you said, "morality is about human well being" and "perhaps the best place to start is to discuss/debate what morality is about".  Making a statement of the following nature, "morality is..." is making a statement about the nature of morality.  Also, in your second statement you said that we should "debate what morality is about"; you did not propose that we debate what morality is not about.  If you had said that morality is not about objective moral standards then perhaps I would bear a greater burden of proof; however, you didn't say that and to ignore your opening salvo in this debate is extremely disingenuous to say the least.  Incidentally, judging from previous experience, I should have known better than to think that when you proposed a 'debate' you actually meant it - I don't plan on making that mistake again. 
P.S. You also said in post #63 that "moral judgements are not just statements of opinion...many of those questions can be answered by science".  Now, you have on numerous occasions falsely accused me of ascribing 'objectivity' to your point of view.  Interesting, because I was under the impression that science makes objective claims about what is true or false; if science makes statements that are objectively true and you feel that moral questions can be answered by science then you actually have proposed an objective standard of morality - haven't you?
     

Offline Greenandwhite

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Re: Introductory Questions
« Reply #173 on: September 05, 2013, 01:34:11 AM »
      Despite the fact that your post was utter rubbish I do have a few comments:
 First, speaking of ‘assumptions’, you should stop assuming that every theist you talk to believes exactly what you believed when you were a theist (as if you were the penultimate example of Christian scholarship before your de-conversion).  Just because you ‘assumed’ the truth of everything you believed as a Christian doesn’t mean every theist does. 
 Second, it is presumptuous of you to think that merely attaching derisive labels to any theist or theist argument should suffice to frighten any other theist from consulting them.  Perhaps you think that the mere notion that someone with your intellectual prowess has already rendered judgement should be adequate to end the discussion?  I can’t help but wonder what profound regret Campus Crusade for Christ or Biola University would feel if they could but realize what they have missed out on in employing apologists like Josh McDowell and William Lane Craig.  After all, considering the fact that you have so easily found their arguments wanting surely you (before your de-conversion) would have been a much better candidate to spread the good news. 
 Third, calling someone like Bill Craig a ‘nonsense apologist’ is not only a simultaneous condemnation of all the accomplished atheist scholars how have taken him seriously but is also an apt demonstration of your own ignorance which you have prominently displayed numerous times on this thread. 

Stating your opinion regarding what you think of my posts doesn't effect me. So just stop it and move on b/c it sounds childish.

1. I haven't assumed every theist believes exactly as I did (that is your assumption regarding me - FAIL), and I didn't 'just assume' everything I believed as a Christian (although there were many things, and I see hints of those same assumptions in your arguments). Perhaps you can tells us your testimony as to how you became a Christian and then (assuming you're willing to be honest) we can evaluate if you made assumptions or not.

2. I'm not following you here. Please clarify.

3. Flinging more poo doesn't sway my opinion that Craig's arguments are nonsense. Neither does it require that I degrade those who have challenged him. Confronting nonsense doesn't degrade he/she who does so (which is one of the reasons I'm engaging you here!). Further, merely claiming I am ignorant regarding something (definitions of terms, etc) based in your assumptions of my statements, isn't a demonstration that I am in fact ignorant. It's rather a demonstration that you haven't attempted to understand and/or clarify what is meant - and you've shown that multiple times here. One would expect a different result from someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, don't you think?
     You didn't say that Dr. Craig's arguments were nonsense; rather, you said in post #134 that Dr. Craig was a "nonsense apologist".  I have watched a lot of Dr. Craig's debates and I have seen many of his opponents respectfully disagree with him, but none of them have presumed to use the nonsensical language that you use to describe him. 
     My claim that you are ignorant of the meaning of a term is not based on an 'assumption'; it is based on an actual dictionary definition and a sentence written by yourself ("when have I ever 'bolstered' anything on anyone") where context has nothing to do with the applicability of the word 'bolster'.  It is also laughable that you claim I have not made any attempt to understand what you have meant in your posts.  I have asked and challenged you over and over and over again to define and clarify your terms and position to no avail.  Your intractable attitude in this regard is one I would hope not to see in any Christian or atheist.